Sunday, December 13, 2009




We are now on the third Sunday of Advent. In the liturgy today echoes the call of the Apostle Paul: "be always happy in the Lord, I repeat: you are welcome... the Lord is near!" (Fil 4, 4-5). The mother church, while us towards Holy Christmas, helps us to rediscover the sense and taste of joy Christian, so different from that of the world. This Sunday, in a beautiful tradition, Roma children are to bless the baby Jesus, that arise in their Nativity statuine by the Pope. And, indeed, see here in Piazza San Pietro many children and young people, together with parents, teachers and catechists. Dear, there I greet everyone with great affection and I thank you for coming. I am delighted to know that your family is preserved the tradition of the Nativity. But not just repeat a traditional gesture, as important. We must try to live in the reality of everyday that representing the Nativity, i.e. the love of Christ, his humility, his poverty. It is what that St. Francis in Greccio did: represented live the scene of the Nativity, to contemplate and worship, but above all to be able to better implement the message of the son of God, to love our has spogliato of everything and was made small child.The blessing of the "Bambinelli" - as we say in Rome - reminds us that the crèche is a school of life, where we can learn the secret to true happiness. This consists in having so many things, but feel loved by God, do you gift for others and wish you well. Look at the Nativity: our Lady and St. Joseph does not seem to be a very lucky family; have had their first child in the midst of great inconvenience, but are full of intimate joy, because you love, it will help, and above all are certain that in their history is at work God, what has been present in the little Jesus. And pastors? That is why would rejoice? That baby change certainly their condition of poverty and marginalization. But faith helps them to recognize the "child wrapped in swaddling, embedded in a manger", "sign" make the promises of God to all men "that he loves" (Luke 2,12.14), also for them!This, dear friends, what is the true joy: you hear that our personal and community lives is visited and filled by a great mystery, the mystery of God's love. For joy we need not only things, but love and truth: we need a near God that heats our hearts, and responds to our deep expectations. This God is manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. So that Bambinello put in the hut or the cave is the center of everything, is the heart of the world. Please name, source of true joy because every man as the Virgin Mary, is able to accept the God that is done as the center of their lives.[01860-01.01] (SOURCE: WWW.VATICAN.VA)



Catholic Online reports: Several years ago I had the privilege of being given a tour of the grounds of what would later become the campus of “Ave Maria University”.

Paul Henkels

I was given this tour by its President, Nick Healy. The College was already in operation, utilizing the buildings which now house the Law School in Naples, Florida until the campus was built. The tour was of vacant, undeveloped land in what was then a part of the town of Immokalee, in Collier County, Florida. During the tour and over lunch afterward I heard the hopes, the vision and the dynamic mission of this new Catholic University dedicated to Our Lady. Building the Campus and the town were not a matter of “if” but only “when” to President Healy. That is how men and women of faith speak! It made my heart leap. I have long believed that the most important work at the beginning of this Third Christian Millennium is the training of future leaders for a new missionary age of the Catholic Church. I have known Nick Healy for years. We both worked together for a time at what became the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He was Vice President for University Relations and I was first the Dean of Students and then the Dean of Evangelization. We were also both lawyers and that gave us a common bond and a similar approach. We were honored to help Fr. Michael Scanlan, a man of deep vision and dynamic faith, turn that little Catholic College into what it has now become, a jewel in the crown of the renewal of Catholic higher education. Each of us, like the little boy in the Gospel account, gave our loaves and fish, placing them in the hands of the Lord. We knew were a part of a miracle, even when things were hard. Jesus Christ, the One to whom Father Michael rededicated that College, multiplied all of those resources many of us offered back then. He multiplied them and performed a miracle which is still underway at that wonderful Catholic University. Nick is a man who believes what the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, that “…faith IS the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen”. (Heb. 11:1) As the years unfolded I was not at all surprised to see him respond to the Lords’ next invitation. It was given through Catholic philanthropist, business entrepreneur and visionary Tom Monaghan. Nick was invited to help him to build the first new Catholic College in the United States, Ave Maria. Tom Monaghan wanted to build this College within the context of a faith based community. He wanted to build a campus and the town of Ave Maria, figuratively and physically, around a magnificent new Church. There is nothing small about any of Tom Monaghan’s undertakings! That was true when he was in business and it is true now as he dedicates the remainder of his years to serving the Lord and His Church. He is an example of how, to paraphrase the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas, “grace perfects nature”. I have been associated with several works built on faith in my life. However, my heart has always been most drawn to educating, training, forming and commissioning the next generation. They are the ones who will carry forward the “New Evangelization” to which the Church is committed in this new missionary age. That is why I have spent the last few years, now in my fifties, pursuing a PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America. I want to help. I believe that that at some point I will be invited by the Lord, working through one of His servants, to embrace another missionary assignment associated with a Catholic College. It will take the recovery of our Catholic Colleges and Universities – as well as the building of new ones - to accomplish our missionary challenge in this pregnant hour and critical time in the history of the Church. We need Catholic Colleges and Universities which are fully dedicated to being Catholic Colleges and Universities. Given my own temperament, I am drawn to big visions. In our early years of marriage I used to tell my wife that I wanted to help build a “New Notre Dame”. So, on that day, as I heard the vision of Ave Maria University from Nick Healy, my spirit soared because I realized that it was already underway! Over the years I have followed the story of Ave Maria University - through its advances, its struggles and its perseverance in faith. After all, I know that all works of faith experience all of these realities.Progress in the Lord's work is never easy. Over those same years I have crossed paths with Nick on occasion. Whenever I have, I have been inspired, I believe by the Holy Spirit, to encourage him and extend my pledge of prayer and solidarity. For example, when our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States, I had the joy of being with the Deacons at the Mass in Washington, DC. As we were processing out and returning to our makeshift “sacristy” at the end of the Liturgy, I passed Nick. He did not see me. However, I knew I had to turn around, find him in that massive crowd and encourage him to persevere. I did so. It was a time of struggle for the University. He greeted me with his characteristic warmth and I spoke words of faith to a man of faith. It is with joy that I now write about some more Good News for Ave Maria University. On the heels of receiving a four million dollar ($4,000,000) gift to build an athletic facility, the University announced on Friday Dec 5, 2009, that it has received a five million dollar ($5,000,000) gift from the Henkels Foundation in honor of the late Paul Henkels, a devout Catholic gentleman, husband, father, businessman, disciple and philanthropist who went home to the Lord in January of this year. I had the privilege of spending some time over the years with Paul and his wonderful wife Barbara, working on some important Catholic efforts. Their love for the Lord and His Church was always an inspiration. They were always there to support authentically Catholic efforts because they loved the Lord and they understood their vocation as members of His Church to give themselves to the Lord's work. As well as being dedicated to the defense of the fundamental human Right to Life, they were champions of one of the most important social justice issues of our age, parental choice in education. They founded an organization called “Road to Educational Achievement through Choice” (REACH) which helped to enact Pennsylvania’s educational and improvement tax credit that provided companies with a 90 percent tax credit for donations made to a scholarship fund to provide educational choice for disadvantaged children. Paul and Barbara were genuinely charitable; they “walked the walk” as they say. Paul was the CEO of Henkels & McCoy, Inc., an engineering and construction company, and successful in his career. However, I only found out after Paul’s death that at the age of 26 he had started a foundation to which he pledged one-third of his salary throughout that successful career. It did not surprise me. These are wonderful Catholics who understood their Baptismal vocation and did not simply grouse about the challenges we face in the contemporary age but put their hands to the plough and worked to effect real change. He and Barbara founded two classical Catholic grammar schools and they knew the importance of genuinely catholic education. Paul was instrumental in helping Tom Monaghan build Legatus, an association of Catholic CEOs and presidents dedicated to fidelity to the Church and assisting in her saving mission, particularly in the world of commerce. He also served as the Chairman of the Board of Ave Maria University. The five million dollar gift from the Henkel’s Foundation will be used to construct an academic building which will bear his name. Speaking of the gift, President Nick Healy told the Press, “It’s a tremendous gift because it’s unrestricted, so it could be used for any purposes of the university, and those purposes are determined by the board of directors”. Tom Monaghan, founder and Chancellor of the University said “We are deeply honored and humbled by the generosity of the Henkels Foundation…Paul was a stalwart leader among Catholic laity in the United States for decades. His activity, generosity and leadership not only at Ave Maria University, but for Catholic education and many Catholic causes, were instrumental and will be missed. Naming our principle classroom facility the Paul M. Henkels Academic Building is a fitting tribute to such a great man, and we are extremely thankful to the Henkels Foundation for donating the funds to make this happen.”
The Paul M. Henkels Academic Building will be dedicated at a University ceremony in February 2010. I last saw Barbara a few months ago at the “Catholic Leadership Conference.” She looks great. It has been a number of years and I remember thinking that she hasn’t aged! As always, she was lovely and dignified, offering everyone that warm smile which is one of her many gifts. Everyone present offered their support and solidarity in the loss of her friend, husband and co laborer in the Gospel. It was clear that she intended to carry on their work. This latest gift to Ave Maria University simply confirms that fact. Paul and Barbara’s son (also named Paul) made a comment following at his father’s funeral in January, 2009 which summarizes Paul's life and the work which continues through his foundation, “He didn't practice what he preached… He practiced what the Lord preached.” Amen! I rejoice over this Good News for Ave Maria University. It will help this important Catholic University to train the “living stones” needed for this new missionary age of the Catholic Church. I also invite all of our readers to pray for their important mission. (SOURCE:



CNA reports that the Birmingham Oratory has announced that it will work closely with the Cardinal Newman Society of America to promote and fundraise for the Oratory in the United States. The partnership will help develop archives facilities and a visitor’s center in view of Cardinal Newman’s likely beatification in 2010.
Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, a prominent 19th century theologian and convert to Catholicism, founded the Birmingham Oratory in 1848.
“The Fathers of the Oratory are very grateful to the Cardinal Newman Society of America for offering them this influential platform in the USA to achieve these goals,” Fr. Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, commented in a Dec. 11 statement.
Fr. Chavasse’s new work will involve extensive periods of travel in the United States during 2010.
Fr. Felix Selden of the Vienna Oratory, the Delegate of the Holy See for the Congregation of the Oratory throughout the world, has been in England visiting the Oratories of Birmingham, London and Oxford before what could be an historic year.
“Fr. Paul has taken on a vital work to make the Birmingham Oratory ready to receive the pilgrims and scholars who will come as a result of the beatification,” Fr. Selden commented. “I am grateful to the Cardinal Newman Society of America and to Father Richard and the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory for their generous assistance.”
The Oxford Oratory has released Fr. Richard Duffield to move to Birmingham, where he will assist the community there in its work both for the Oratory and for the Cause of Cardinal Newman’s beatification.
Cardinal Newman's beatification is expected to take place in 2010, according to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. (SOURCE:


CISA reports that from the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) to all our Brothers and Sisters of the Catholic Church in Africa and its Islands, to all men and women of good will, and especially to all who are infected by HIV or affected by AIDS: greetings and best wishes to you all on World AIDS Day 2009. The theme this year "Universal Access and Human Rights" challenges discriminatory laws, policies and practices that stand in the way of access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. This fits well within the theme of the II Synod of Bishops for Africa: The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: "You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world."The Church is second to none in facing HIV in Africa and caring for people infected and affected. Earlier this year, responding to a journalist en route to the continent, Pope Benedict XVI said: "The most efficient, most truly present player in the fight against AIDS is the Catholic Church herself." And we African Bishops know he is right. Constantly present among millions of Africans who are badly affected by the pandemic, we see how AIDS continues to ravage our populations, even if it is slipping down the agenda of governments, civil society and international organizations. At a time when official concerns about the pandemic are receding, we re-affirm theologically that the Body of Christ has AIDS, and express our pastoral determination as Family of God to provide fitting responses. For our continent is still the worst afflicted.We plead for sustained support to meet the needs of many. Assistance is as sorely needed as ever. HIV and AIDS have not gone away, despite premature impressions to the contrary. The assumption that treatment is now available to everyone is false. Only a third of those who need treatment get it and, after two years, only 60% are still on treatment; for every two people on treatment, five are newly infected. Globally new HIV infections are still outnumbering those going on treatment and those dying of AIDS. The number of orphans, abused, vulnerable and infected children continues to grow exponentially. Stigma remains a powerful enemy. The Church knows very well the real impact of HIV and of AIDS upon her sons and daughters, and it will be so for decades to come. Although ART requires a lifelong commitment to staying on the drugs, in sub-Saharan Africa a goodly number of ART patients stop taking their meds within two years because they can't afford the regular transport costs to the hospital or don't have access to sufficient food to make drug adherence possible.The pandemic gravely compromises development and justice. The global recession and economic downturn have a detrimental impact on our brothers and sisters infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Climbing prices of food and other basic necessities are hampering progress of treatment, because people cannot afford the food essential to support their medication. Further, increased hunger and desperation are making people resort to sex as a means of survival. So any response that attempts to tackle HIV and AIDS in isolation is doomed to fail.For the tide to turn, the impact of all contributing factors must be recognised and tackled holistically: wars; fragile or failing states; inequality between men and women; the ravages of climate change and many more. All these make the poor even poorer, more dispossessed, more vulnerable to HIV and, if infected, more likely to develop AIDS.HIV-AIDS is not just a medical problem and investing in pharmaceutics alone will not work. Foreign governments and UN agencies are now pushing for investment in national healthcare systems in countries of Africa as their strategy for addressing HIV along with malaria and tuberculosis. With the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, we seriously warn that the problem cannot be overcome by relying exclusively or primarily on the distribution of prophylactics. Only a strategy based on education to individual responsibility in the framework of a moral view of human sexuality, especially through conjugal fidelity, can have a real impact on the prevention of this disease. The Church's understanding of marriage as the total, reciprocal and exclusive communion of love between a man and a woman prompts the most effective behaviours for preventing the sexual transmission of disease: namely, abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage. We address ourselves particularly to our youth, in whom we firmly believe. Let no one deceive you into thinking that you cannot control yourself. Abstinence is the best protection. For those who are not married, it is also the only moral course of action. Accordingly, formation of the human person is the true recipe, the key to it all, and we are intent on preparing you to be tomorrow's salt of the earth and light of the world, active, generous and responsible members of society and Church.SECAM thanks all those who are so generously involved in this difficult apostolate of formation, love and care. May international Catholic solidarity continue supporti ng the long-term commitment of the Church in Africa to raise awareness, to accompany the infected and the affected, to form the youth, and to face this great challenge - along with many others - in a spirit of inclusivity, reconciliation, and greater harmony in families, communities, parishes and all dimensions of Church life.May or Holy Mother Mary, Queen of Africa and Health of the Sick, intercede for us at the throne of grace. Amen.+ Polycarp Cardinal Pengo Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania President of SECAM



UCAN reports that Ranjit Biswas and Ashim Gomes have more in common than having physical disabilities and being abandoned by their families when young.

Missionaries of Charity Brother JosephMurmu (hand in pocket) seen here withShanti Bhaban residents in Khulna diocese
Both men received an education and are able to support themselves thanks to the Missionaries of Charity (MC) Brothers.
Every person living in Shanti Bhaban (home of peace) "has a grieving past," notes Brother Joseph Murmu, who is in charge of the center for boys with physical and intellectual disabilities in Khulna diocese.
Some of their families "refused to take care of them," he said when interviewed recently. Other families could not afford the cost of treatment and other expenses for the children and brought them to the home.
"We nurture them with love and care because we believe that they are children of God and have the right to live a full life. We live with them like a family," Brother Murmu said.
Children born with disabilities are often seen as a curse in local society, especially among poor and less-educated families, and are sometimes thrown out onto the streets to face an uncertain future
The MC home in southern Khulna diocese has been a beacon of hope since 1976 for these helpless and destitute boys. The center, located near the Catholic cathedral in Khulna, southwestern Bangladesh, remains to this day the only free-of-cost Catholic Church center for boys with disabilities.
Biswas and Gomes told UCA News their stories.
Biswas, now a Catholic, was born in 1985 with normal use of only one leg. His Hindu mother left him at the children's home the MC nuns run in Dhaka.
"The nuns looked after me until 1990, when I was handed over to the brothers," he recalled. "They helped me complete primary education, and when I lost interest in studies, they offered me vocational training."
He learned tailoring and can now support himself.
Gomes was born partially blind into a Muslim family. He would have ended up living on the street except for Shanti Bhaban.
"The brothers offered me everything necessary for my life including education. I passed my Secondary School Certificate examinations and later became the cook in the center," said the young man.
Now 26 and married, with two children, Gomes lives in a separate house the brothers provided.
Both stories are an inspiration to 12-year-old Russell, an autistic boy whose parents were waiting to send him off alone on a bus when the brothers intervened. He has been receiving help and support since they brought him to the center a few years ago.
In all, Shanti Bhaban cares for 35 male residents. Several, like Biswas, have been baptized at their request after living there.



Cath News reports that NSW Premier Kristina Keneally is in "utter agreement" with the teachings of the Catholic Church but wants female priests, the vow of celibacy relaxed and believes abortion "should be safe, it should be available ... and it should be rare".
In an interview for Radio National's Sunday Profile program, US-born Keneally defended her views on faith, BigPondNews reports.
"When it comes to the core teachings of the church, who Jesus was, what he taught, what his message was, I'm in complete and utter agreement with the church" Ms Keneally told the ABC program.
She also thinks women should be ordained as priests but said she won't be consulting Cardinal George Pell anytime soon on the idea, the report states.
"Look, my views are my views," Ms Keneally said.
"I don't think that it's my role to use my position in public life to try and have that debate."
She would not speculate on whether clerical celibacy had impacted on the level of sexual abuse by priests worldwide.
"Well, let me say this: I suspect that there are a lot of Catholics who would make excellent priests who currently don't have the opportunity to do that because of either their gender or their marital status," she is cited saying.
Ms Keneally opposes embryonic stem cell research but says her views on abortion are similar to those of former US president Bill Clinton.
"... That abortion should be safe, it should be available ... and it should be rare."
In her 1995 masters thesis at Dayton University, Keneally devoted her 64-page paper to the role of women in Christianity, proposing that theology should cast God as a woman as well as the male Jesus, the Daily Telegraph reports.
"The hypothesis ... offers Christian women, many of whom are long starved for language which explicitly recognises the female sex, too, is capable of being in imageo Christi and acting in persona Christi, with affirmation of what they have long known," she wrote. (SOURCE:


St. Lucy
Feast: December 13
Feast Day:
December 13
284, Syracuse
304, Syracuse
Major Shrine:
San Geremia, Venice
Patron of:
blind; martyrs; epidemics; salesmen, throat infections

The glorious virgin and martyr St. Lucy, one of the brightest ornaments of the church of Sicily, was born of honourable and wealthy parents in the city of Syracusa, and educated from her cradle in the faith of Christ. She lost her father in her infancy, but Eutychia, her mother, took singular care to furnish her with tender and sublime sentiments of piety and religion. By the early impressions which Lucy received and the strong influence of divine grace, Lucy discovered no disposition but toward virtue, and she was yet very young when she offered to God the flower of her virginity. This vow, however, she kept a secret, and her mother, who was a stranger to it, pressed her to marry a young gentleman who was a pagan. The saint sought occasions to hinder this design from taking effect, and her mother was visited with a long and troublesome flux of blood, under which she laboured four years without finding any remedy by recourse to physicians. At length she was persuaded by her daughter to go to Catana and offer up her prayers to God for relief at the tomb of St. Agatha. St. Lucy accompanied her thither, and their prayers were successful.
Hereupon our saint disclosed to her mother her desire of devoting herself to God in a state of perpetual virginity, and of bestowing her fortune on the poor: and Eutychia, in gratitude, left her at full liberty to pursue her pious inclinations. The young nobleman, with whom the mother had treated about marrying her, came to understand this by the sale of her jewels and goods, and the distribution of the price among the poor, and in his rage accused her before the governor Paschasius as a Christian, the persecution of Diocletian then raging with the utmost fury. The judge commanded the holy virgin to be exposed to prostitution in a brothel" house; but God rendered her immovable, so that the guards were not able to carry her thither. He also made her an over-match for the cruelty of the persecutors, in overcoming fire and other torments. After a long and glorious combat she died in prison of the wounds she had received,—about the year 304. She was honoured at Rome in the sixth century among the most illustrious virgins and martyrs, whose triumphs the church celebrates, as appears from the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, Bede, and others. Her festival was kept in England till the change of religion, as a holy day of the second rank, in which no work but tillage or the like was allowed. Her body remained at Syracusa for many years; but was at length translated into Italy, and thence by the authority of the Emperor Otho I to Metz, as Sigebert of Gemblours relates. It is there exposed to public veneration in a rich chapel of St. Vincent's Church. A portion of her relics was carried to Constantinople and brought thence to Venice, where it is kept with singular veneration. St. Lucy is often painted with the balls of her eyes laid in a dish: perhaps her eyes were defaced or plucked out, though her present acts make no mention of any such circumstance. In many places her intercession is particularly implored for distempers of the eyes.
It is a matter of the greatest consequence what ideas are stamped upon the ductile minds of children, what sentiments are impressed on their hearts, and to what habits they are first formed. Let them be inured to little denials both in their will and senses, and learn that pleasures which gratify the senses must be guarded against, and used with great fear and moderation: for by them the taste is debauched, and the constitution of the soul broken and spoiled much more fatally than that of the body can be by means contrary to its health.
There are few Lucys nowadays among Christian ladies, because sensuality, pride, and vanity are instilled into their minds by the false maxims and pernicious example of those with whom they first converse. Alas I unless a constant watchfulness and restraint both produce and strengthen good habits, the inclinations of our souls lean of their own accord toward corruption.



Zephaniah 3: 14 - 18
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival. "I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

Isaiah 12: 2 - 6
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted.
"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."

Philippians 4: 4 - 7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3: 10 - 18
And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?"
And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you."
Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people.

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