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opinion/commentary View Comments

'Help is finally here.'
By The Editors
Source: Catholic New York
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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New Year's is a time for resolutions, and New York's Catholics will be making them just like everyone else, vowing to lose weight and exercise more, to save money and pay down debt, to spend quality time with family and friends and to learn something new -- like Photoshop or French.

We'd like to see a lot of Catholics add to their list as well a commitment to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days, to receive the sacraments often, to be actively involved in their parish and to donate time and/or money to helping the poor.
But New Year's isn't only about resolutions. It's also a time to celebrate, and this year all New Yorkers have something special to celebrate.

In the last days of 2010, with Congress winding down its session, the long-stalled bill to cover the cost of ongoing medical care for 9/11 rescue and recovery workers overcame a major hurdle with its approval in the Senate. The bipartisan vote, which took many in Washington by surprise, was followed quickly by passage in the House and an announcement that President Obama would sign the bill into law.

New York's Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who pushed hard to negotiate a compromise with their Republican colleagues, called the Dec. 22 vote "the Christmas miracle we've been looking for."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan and Queens, who sponsored it in the House with fellow Democrat Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan and Republican Peter King of Nassau County, joyfully told 9/11 responders and survivors: "Help is finally here."

The emergency workers and 9/11 families that packed the Capitol were rightfully jubilant at the news.

We share their happiness.

We also want to take the opportunity to thank Mayor Bloomberg, city officials, and the entire New York congressional delegation for their steadfast support during years of intense debate on the bill.

We've called for passage of the measure -- known formally as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act -- before. And although the costs and time frames are reduced from the original, the legislation goes a long way toward repaying those heroic and selfless workers who spent days, weeks and months breathing the toxic dust and smoke of the ground zero rubble after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The $4.3 billion, five-year measure provides $1.8 billion for health care for first responders and others at the World Trade Center site and $2.5 billion to reopen the Victims Compensation Fund for five years.

The argument for doing this has been made many times, on this and on other editorial pages and by our public officials. But it's worth making again.

The firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers who were the first responders did not hesitate at the site of the burning World Trade Center towers as they rushed to save the thousands of people trapped inside. The recovery workers who spent months digging through the noxious rubble in a search for human remains displayed remarkable courage as they carried out a grim and dangerous task.

And even though the majority of rescue and recovery workers were from the New York metropolitan area, the 9/11 attacks were not directed only at New York. The attacks were aimed at all Americans, on our nation and our values. We applaud Congress for recognizing that and addressing it.


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Peter of Alcantara: Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. 
<p>Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.</p><p>Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."</p><p>In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.</p><p>As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.</p><p>He was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Remember the widow’s mite. She threw into the treasury of the temple only two small coins, but with them, all her great love…. It is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself. —Pope John Paul II

 
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