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Posted on 01/22/2019 01:45 AM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jan 21, 2019 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- With a motu proprio released Jan. 19, Pope Francis put the Sistine Chapel Choir under the administration of the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, appointing Mons. Guido Marini, who is the master of ceremonies for papal liturgies, to the helm, and entrusting him with drafting the choir’s new statutes.
This decision has apparently two main reasons behind it: it is the first step of a wider reform that will end with the shutdown of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household; and it is a way to strengthen control over the choir after the turmoil of a financial scandal still under investigation.
The Sistine Chapel Choir is the most ancient choir in the world, its history dating back to the 7th century. It is normally comprised of 20 men (tenors and basses) and 30 boys (sopranos and altos).
In the Jan. 19 motu proprio, Pope Francis noted that, since its foundation, the choir has been “a high place for artistic and liturgical expression at the service of the solemn celebrations of the Pontiffs, initially into the splendid chapel after which it was named, and then in St. Peter’s Basilica or wherever pontiffs deemed its work needed.”
Pope Francis also noted that the choir was managed by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household because of this special link with the pope, though “enjoying autonomous administration,” under, by the way, some guiding constraints.
Though the office of Master of Ceremonies was established in the 15th century, it was Pope St. John Paul II that shaped the office into its current form, with proper legislation and competencies, through Pastor bonus, the 1988 apostolic constitution that regulates functions of tasks of the offices of the Roman Curia.
Marini has been at the helm of the office, as master of papal liturgical celebrations, since 2007.
Jan. 19, the pope established that Marini will have the task “of leading all the Sistine Chapel Choir activities in liturgical, pastoral, spiritual, artistic and educational fields,” in order to make “always more perceivable in it and in its members the primary end of sacred music.”
Pope Francis also entrusted Marini with the task of drafting statutes for the choir, that will be an update of the regulations of the choir approved by Pope St. Paul VI in 1969.
In addition, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Guido Pozzo “superintendent of the economy of the Sistine Chapel Choir,” with the only task of “the care of the economic administration of the Chapel.”
Before this decision, the Sistine Chapel Choir was under the competency of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, and the administration was managed by layman Michelangelo Nardella.
Nardella has been suspended while under investigation for financial scandals that involved the Sistine Chapel Choir administration.
News about a financial scandal involving the Sistine Chapel Choir broke in July 2018 and were confirmed by the Holy See Press Office in September 2018.
The Holy See Press Office, in a declaration delivered Sep. 12, 2018, stated that “Pope Francis, some months ago, authorized an investigation on the economic-administrative aspects” of the Sistine Chapel Choir, and underscored that “the investigations are still ongoing.”
The investigations of the Vatican public prosecutor came after two internal investigations conducted by Archbishop Mario Giordana, a retired apostolic nuncio.
The allegations were of reported money laundering, aggravated fraud against the Vatican City State, and embezzlement. The investigations targeted Nardella and the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, Mons. Massimo Palombella.
According to reports, Nardella and Palombella allegedly transferred some concert proceeds to an Italian bank account and used the money for personal expenses.
When the news broke in July, Andrea Tornielli, now editorial director of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, penned an article in La Stampa July 4, explaining that “it was true that it has been opened (opened, not concluded), an administrative (not criminal or civil) lawsuit against Nardella for a mistake he made.”
Tornielli went on to say that “this mistake has nothing to do with contracts, management of funds.” Nardella instead allegedly “sent to a conference a message attributed to the Pope using an old (and authentic) text of Pope Francis from a similar occasion without asking for the required authorization from the Secretariat of State.”
The investigation continued, and in September 2018 the Holy See Press Office made a public announcement about ongoing investigation.
With the motu proprio this month, Palombella keeps his position as director of the choir, while the pope made the decision to make Pozzo the manager.
In the end, the Sistine Chapel Choir loses its administrative autonomy, and the pope will exercise more oversight.
Another consequence is that the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household loses another piece of its responsibilities, making it appear just a matter of time before Pope Francis shuts down the entire office.
Led by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefecture organizes official visits to the pope, tickets to and the organization of the general audiences, and the activities of the Apostolic Palace.
Pope Francis might absorb part of the office within the Secretariat of State: the visits of heads of State to the pope should be managed by the office for protocol, while there could be another office for the management of the tickets for general audiences.
Along with that, it is also rumored Pope Francis will shutdown the Apostolic Camera, that is, the body that manages the Church’s patrimony during the sede vacante. The Apostolic Camera is composed of seven members and led by a Cardinal Camerlengo. The position of camerlengo has been vacant since July, when Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, camerlengo, passed away.
It is said the administrative functions of the Apostolic Camera will be transferred to the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. The transition in sede vacante might be managed by the Secretariat of State.
Posted on 01/22/2019 01:31 AM (CNA Daily News)
Panama City, Panama, Jan 21, 2019 / 04:31 pm (CNA).- The 15th international World Youth Day is set to begin Tuesday, Jan. 22 in Panama City, Panama.
The massive gathering of Catholic youth, which takes place every two or three years, this year will be held for the first time in Central America.
Pope St. John Paul II established World Youth Day in 1985. The first international gathering was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1987.
The purpose of World Youth Day is threefold: a celebration of and putting trust in the young; giving young people a chance to make pilgrimage; and to give young people a chance to encounter the worldwide Catholic community.
The theme for this year’s gathering is taken from Mary’s affirmation of God’s will in Luke 1:38: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
The festivities in Panama end Jan. 27. Here are 5 things you need to know about this year’s World Youth Day (in Spanish, Jornada Mundial de la Juventud or JMJ).
1. How many pilgrims?
Past World Youth Days have typically been held during the northern hemisphere’s summer— August, July, etc. This year the event takes place during the southern hemisphere’s summer, and though Panama lies entirely in the northern hemisphere, it is going to be hot! The forecast for the week shows highs above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for most days.
The timing this year also means WYD is taking place during the school year for young people from the Northern Hemisphere, so it remains to be seen how many young people from the United States will be able to make it. At last count, 11,000 young people from the U.S. are registered. Around 36,000 US youths attended the last WYD in Poland, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference.
In addition to pilgrims, the United States is sending more than 30 bishops, including Cardinals Sean O’Malley of Boston, Blase Cupich of Chicago, and Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
Alessandro Gisotti, interim Director of Vatican press office, said as of Jan. 18 that 150,000 young people from 155 countries had signed up as pilgrims, which would make for a smaller group than had attended in previous years— around 2 million pilgrims attended the last World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, and in 1995 an estimated 5 million attended in Manila, Philippines.
However, the international media coordinator for the Archdiocese of Panama has said more recently that at least 408,000 pilgrims have signed up, and the number is expected to grow. Organizers say they expect a crowd of at least 500,000 people for the final mass on Sunday, Jan. 27.
Paul Jarzembowski, World Youth Day national coordinator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said they have seen more young people in their 20s participating in this WYD, whereas in years past more of the pilgrims have been teenagers.
2. A man, a plan, a canal...Panama!
Panama is a small Central American nation of about 4 million people. Overall, the country is about 85% Catholic.
Most of the events will be held on Cinta Costera, a 64-acre peninsula jutting into the Panama Bay, which has been renamed Campo Santa Maria la Antigua for WYD.
Pilgrims are also encouraged to check out the historic district of Panama City, Casco Viejo, and to visit the seven historic churches located in the district: La Catedral Metropolitana, La Merced, San Francisco de Asís, San José, San Felipe de Neri, Santo Domingo, and Santa Ana.
Panama City, the capital of the county and home to about 1.5 million people in the metro area, is home to the world-famous Panama Canal, the waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Construction on the canal was completed in 1914 by the US Army Corp of Engineers, at a cost of the lives of nearly 28,000 workers who undertook the project. Today, nearly 14,000 ships cross through the canal each year, the majority bound for the United States.
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez has been a strong supporter of the WYD effort ever since it was announced in 2016 that the next event would be held in his country.
“As a Panamanian,” he told Vatican News, “I feel honored that our country will be at the heart of the world for a few days, pumping the Pope’s message of hope, unity, solidarity and concern for those in need.”
3. Follow the action
For English-speaking pilgrims attending WYD, there are several special events that will be conducted in English while you’re down there.
For example, the USCCB along with the Knights of Columbus and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students are co-sponsoring an event called “Fiat” in Panama City on Jan. 23 at 7pm EST. The event will feature renowned Catholic speakers and musicians. The English and Spanish-speaking event will be livestreamed on FOCUS’ YouTube channel.
If you can’t make it to this year’s World Youth Day, there are several ways to follow along at home. The official hashtags for WYD this year, which you can follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are #Panama2019, #FranciscoEnPanama, and #JMJestáAqui / #WYDisHere. You can also follow @cnalive on Twitter and @catholicnewsagency on Instagram for updates from Panama City.
If you’d still like to attend an event in person, there are several WYD events taking place throughout the US at the same time as the international gathering in Panama. These include festivals with speakers, music and more in cities like Washington DC, Seattle, Honolulu, and others. The complete list can be found here.
4. Latin American saints and spirituality
Organizers of the event are already talking about the infectious energy of Panama City, and the likelihood that, especially with the appearance of the first pope from the Americas, the event will be very focused on a Latin American flavor of Catholicism. Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama City told Vatican News that he expects most of the pilgrims to come from Latin America.
Images of St Oscar Romero, a very popular and beloved Salvadoran archbishop, will likely be a very visible figure among the Latin American pilgrims. Romero, a tireless advocate for the poor, was assassinated while celebrating mass in 1980, likely by a right-wing death squad. Pope Francis canonized Romero late last year.
This is also the first World Youth Day to overlap with the World Meeting of Indigenous Youth, at which nearly 400 indigenous young people gathered ahead of the WYD celebrations in rural Panama.
5. A visit from Pope Francis
The big question everyone is asking: When will I get to see Pope Francis? Here are a few highlights from his schedule.
Pope Francis will arrive in Panama Wednesday, Jan. 23. The next day, Jan. 24, he will have a meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez at 9:45 am, followed by a meeting with the Central American bishops at 11:15 and then a welcome ceremony to mark the beginning of World Youth Day at 5:30 pm, which will be held at Campo Santa Maria la Antigua.
On Jan. 25, he will meet with young detainees for a penitential service, and later that evening will preside over a “Via Crucis” (Way of the Cross) at Campo Santa Maria la Antigua.
On Saturday morning, Jan. 26, Pope Francis will dedicate the altar of the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua, and that evening will lead a vigil with the young people in Metro Park. Finally, the following morning the Holy Father will preside over the closing mass for WYD at 8 am.
Posted on 01/22/2019 00:46 AM (CNA Daily News)
Tula de Allende, Mexico, Jan 21, 2019 / 03:46 pm (ACI Prensa).- The bishops of Mexico have offered prayers and condolences following Friday's explosion of a fuel pipeline which killed at least 79 people in Hidalgo state.
The Jan. 18 blast occurred after a pipeline in Tlahuelilpan municipality, about 10 miles northeast of Tula, was punctured by suspected fuel thieves. As many as 800 people were converged around the gushing gasoline to fill containers when the blaze took place.
“We are offering all our prayers and Masses, as well as our solidarity with the families of the victims, the injured and those missing,” the president and secretary general of the Mexican bishops' conference said in a Jan. 19 statement.
“We appreciate and encourage the the company and consolation” offered by Bishop Juan Pedro Juárez Meléndez of Tula and his priests, “in hospitals and funeral chapels, to the relatives of all those affected by this accident.”
The bishops prayed for the eternal rest of the deceased and the health of those injured or missing.
The scramble to collect the gasoline came amid a shortage at the pumps produced by the government's fight against the theft and adulteration of fuel, which costs the country around $3 billion a year.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has charged that fuel theft has occurred with complicity within the government and Pemex, the state-owned oil company.
He recently began shutting down pipelines, using trucks and trains to transport fuel instead.
The Tula-Tuxpan pipeline which exploded in Tlahuelilpan had been closed since late December, and was reopened Jan. 16.
Both López Obrador and the governor of Hidalgo have urged citizens not to engage in fuel theft.
"Besides being illegal, it puts at risk your life and those of your families. What happened today in Tlahuelilpan should not be repeated," governor Omar Fayad said on Twitter.
Posted on 01/21/2019 23:35 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2019 / 02:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has called civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. an exemplar of the “artisans of peace” called for by the pope.
King “was a messenger and true witness to the power of the gospel lived in action through public life,” read the statement from the president of the USCCB to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“We are thankful for the path forged by Dr. King and the countless others who worked tirelessly and suffered greatly in the fight for racial equality and justice. As a nation and as a society, we face great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead.”
King is remembered as a Baptist minister and the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and as the founding president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was assassinated in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Cardinal DiNardo noted the US bishops' recent pastoral letter on racism, which aims to “name and call attention to a great affliction and evil that persists in this nation, and to offer a hope-filled Christian response to this perennial sickness. Racism is a national wound from which we continually struggle to heal.”
“Today, remembering how Dr. King contended with policies and institutional barriers of his time, many which persist today, we renew our pledge to fight for the end of racism in the Church and in the United States. We pledge our commitment to build a culture of life, where all people are valued for their intrinsic dignity as daughters and sons of God,” the cardinal wrote.
“We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to study the pastoral letter, and to study and reflect upon Dr. King’s witness against the destructive effects of racism, poverty and continuous war.”
Cardinal DiNardo also called “on everyone to embrace our ongoing need for healing in all areas of our lives where we are wounded, but particularly where our hearts are not truly open to the idea and the truth that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.”
He concluded quoting King's words that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Posted on 01/21/2019 22:28 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2019 / 01:28 pm (CNA).- A wave of media attention engulfed this weekend a group of students who attended last week’s annual March for Life in Washington, DC. The students, most of whom attend Catholic high schools in Kentucky, were accused on Saturday of harassing and taunting a Native American drummer, but subsequent revelations revealed a decidedly more complicated picture.
Videos began to circulate on Saturday that depicted portions of a Jan. 18 incident close to the Lincoln Memorial, in which students who had attended the March for Life were part of a confluence of demonstrators near the Memorial, some from a Washington-based religious group called the Black Israelites, and some from the Indigenous Peoples’ March, which took place in Washington on the same day as the larger March for Life.
Initially, the portions of the video that emerged, and quickly went viral, depicted a crowd of teenage boys chanting, dancing, and doing the “tomahawk chop” cheer, while a Native American man played a drum in chanted in close proximity to one teenage boy, who stood squarely before the drummer, without saying anything as the drumming and chanting continued directly in front of him.
The drummer was soon identified as Nathan Phillips, an elder of the Omaha Tribe and Native American rights activist.
The students were described in some media reports as “surrounding” Phillips, or “taunting” him, and became the subject of widespread condemnation from media figures and some Catholic leaders, who accused them of disrespect, racism, and antagonism. Some students were wearing hats depicting the 2016 campaign slogan of President Donald Trump, “Make America Great Again,” some commentators and social media figures suggested the hats could be evidence of racist motives on the part of the students.
Within hours, the school some of the students attended, Covington Catholic High School, along with the Diocese of Covington, issued a statement condemning “the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general…We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person”
“This matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” the statement said.
“We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, and Kentucky’s metropolitan archbishop, issued a statement shortly thereafter.
“I join with Bishop Foys in condemning the actions of the Covington Catholic students towards Mr. Nathan Phillips and the Native American Community yesterday in Washington. I have every confidence that the leadership of the Diocese of Covington will thoroughly investigate what occurred and address those all involved in this shameful act of disrespect,” Kurtz wrote Jan. 19.
Similarly, the March for Life itself also tweeted a statement criticizing the reported actions of the students.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland, (D-NM), tweeted Saturday: “This Veteran put his life on the line for our country. The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.”
However, even as initial footage went viral, facts began to emerge that pointed to a more complicated narrative. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Phillips approached the students, who, he claimed, were chanting “Build that Wall,” a chant associated with Trump’s call for a security wall, or fence, at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Phillips initially told The Washington Post that he was surrounded by the students after he approached them with his drum, and that “It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial.’ I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”
Later, emerging video footage demonstrated that several of those demonstrating alongside Phillips approached the students, with some telling them to “go back to Europe,” and swearing at them. And a 2015 report emerged in which Phillips claimed to have been the victim of a racist attack by students at Eastern Michigan University, whom, he told Fox 2 at the time, he approached, and who, he said, eventually taunted him with racial slurs and threw an unopened beer can at him. No charges were filed in connection to that incident.
Subsequent media reports and videos recounted that the high school students had been the subject of taunts by the Black Israelite group, demonstrating nearby, and that Phillips claimed he was trying to intervene between the two groups. However, Phillips did not identify himself or his intentions to the students when he approached them, rather, he continued drumming and chanting.
Phillips told the Detroit Free Press Sunday that the students “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals," and he intervened to stop the attack. He said the students then turned their anger toward him.
"There was that moment when I realized I've put myself between beast and prey," Phillips said. "These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that," he said.
"The Black Israelites, they were saying some harsh things, but some of it was true, too. These young, white American kids who were being taught in their Catholic school, their doctrine, their truth, and when they found out there's more truth out there than what they're being taught, they were offended, they were insulted, they were scared, and that's how they responded. One thing that I was taught in my Marine Corp training is that a scared man will kill you. And that's what these boys were. They were scared," Phillips said.
Video footage did not show the students attacking the members of the Black Israelite movement, who are heard to shout disparaging remarks at the students, most of them concerning the Catholic Church and Trump.
The student at the center of the firestorm, identified as Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann, issued a statement Sunday night.
Sandmann said he and his fellow students were waiting for their bus after the March for Life, when “ we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.”
“The protestors said hateful things. They called us ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘white crackers,’ ‘faggots,’ and ‘incest kids.’ They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would ‘harvest his organs.’ I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.
In response to those taunts, students began chanting “school spirit chants,” with permission of a chaperone, Sandmann said. He said he did not hear students chant other things.
“After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.”
“The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face,” Sandmann recounted.
“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”
“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”
While Sandmann said that he heard protestors tell the students that he had “stolen” Native American land and should “go back to Europe,” he urged calm from his fellow students.
“I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protester. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.”
“I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence,” Sandmann said.
The student said that he had provided his account to the Diocese of Covington.
After a fuller picture of events emerged, many media and Catholic figures apologized for their initial characterization of the event, with some admitting they had made judgments without sufficient information.
The March for Life tweeted Sunday night that “Given recent developments regarding the incident on Friday evening, March for Life has deleted its original tweet and removed our statement on this matter from our website. It is clear from new footage and additional accounts that there is more to this story than the original video captured. We will refrain from commenting further until the truth is understood.”
The Diocese of Covington has not indicated what the next steps will be in its investigation of the matter.
CNA attempted to contact the Diocese of Covington and the Archdiocese of Louisville. Neither was available for comment as of press time.
Posted on 01/21/2019 19:00 PM (Saint of the Day | AmericanCatholic.org)
Saint Vincent of Zaragossa
Saint of the Day for January 22
(d. c. 304)
Saint Vincent of Zaragossa’s Story
Most of what we know about this saint comes from the poet Prudentius. His Acts have been rather freely colored by the imagination of their compiler. But Saint Augustine, in one of his sermons on Saint Vincent, speaks of having the Acts of his martyrdom before him. We are at least sure of his name, his being a deacon, the place of his death and burial.
According to the story we have, the unusual devotion he inspired must have had a basis in a very heroic life. Vincent was ordained deacon by his friend Saint Valerius of Zaragossa in Spain. The Roman emperors had published their edicts against the clergy in 303, and the following year against the laity. Vincent and his bishop were imprisoned in Valencia. Hunger and torture failed to break them. Like the youths in the fiery furnace, they seemed to thrive on suffering.
Valerius was sent into exile, and Dacian, the Roman governor, now turned the full force of his fury on Vincent. Tortures that sound very modern were tried. But their main effect was the progressive disintegration of Dacian himself. He had the torturers beaten because they failed.
Finally he suggested a compromise: Would Vincent at least give up the sacred books to be burned according to the emperor’s edict? He would not. Torture on the gridiron continued, the prisoner remaining courageous, the torturer losing control of himself. Vincent was thrown into a filthy prison cell—and converted the jailer. Dacian wept with rage, but strangely enough, ordered the prisoner to be given some rest.
Friends among the faithful came to visit him, but he was to have no earthly rest. When they finally settled him on a comfortable bed, he went to his eternal rest.
The martyrs are heroic examples of what God’s power can do. It is humanly impossible, we realize, for someone to go through tortures such as Vincent had and remain faithful. But it is equally true that by human power alone no one can remain faithful even without torture or suffering. God does not come to our rescue at isolated, “special” moments. God is supporting the super-cruisers as well as children’s toy boats.