Sunday, December 6, 2009





A large crowd of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square to recite the Angelus with the Pope this second Sunday of Advent. Referring to the todays Gospel passage, the Pope recalled how the evangelist Luke warns that the Gospel is not a legend, but the history of a true story, and that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical figure inserted in a specific context. The second item worthy of note, then said the Pope, is that after this historical introduction, the subject becomes the Word of God, presented as a force that descends from above. And he concluded: "Dear friends, the most beautiful flower to sprout from the word of God is the Virgin Mary. She is the beginning of the Church, the garden of God on earth. While Mary is the Immaculate; the Church is in constant need of purification because sin undermines all its members. There is a constant and ongoing struggle within the Church betweeen the desert and the garden, between sin that dries up land and grace that irrigates it so it produce abundant fruits of holiness. Therefore, let us pray to the mother of God to help is in this time of Advent to straighten our paths and be led by the Word of God.



The Catholic Herald reports that England's heritage chief has said that some Catholic dioceses "simply do not get the point" when it comes to preserving historic and beautiful buildings. Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said the Church's approach to its historic buildings varied hugely across the country. Other dioceses, he said, were "outstanding" in the way they took account of their heritage. He was speaking ahead of the launch of a survey of England's cathedrals which showed that they are in better condition now than they have been for centuries. He said it was "incredibly important" that dioceses considered not only the Church's mission but also the value of its buildings when closing churches. "Congregations themselves have great affection for these buildings," he said. Mr Thurley also urged dioceses not to close churches simply because they were expensive. He said it was much better to close a church without any architectural value because it could more easily be converted and re-used. Closing a listed building, he said, "gives everyone a huge headache". Dozens of churches in the north of England are expected to close in the next few years due to shrinking congregations and a drastic shortage of priests. In the Diocese of Lancaster alone almost 40 parishes have been earmarked for closure in the next decade. One parish, St Patrick's on Barrow Island, closed last week. In Preston, five out of eight churches were recommended for closure last year, including the Grade I listed St Walburge's, although the diocese has yet to decide their fate. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who spoke at the English Heritage event this week, said dioceses with historic churches in places where they were no longer needed faced "extremely difficult decisions".But he said there was "a growing awareness of the importance of Catholic heritage, not least in architectural terms". He said an "eye-opener" for many people had been A Glimpse of Heaven, a 2007 book celebrating the beauty of Catholic places of worship.He also said more and more dioceses were taking up the English Heritage Taking Stock scheme, which assesses the value of all the buildings owned by a particular diocese. On Tuesday English Heritage announced that England's cathedrals were in their best condition "for many, many centuries" thanks to £250 million spent on repairs. Mr Thurley said there had been an "incredibly concerted period of really hard work" to get cathedrals back into shape after urgent problems were discovered in 1991. Now only a handful of Anglican cathedrals needed repairs urgently. Catholic cathedrals were relatively new, he said, and therefore did not need the same kind of major repair work as the large, medieval Anglican buildings. But he said Catholics monitored cathedrals less rigorously than Anglicans. "Catholic cathedrals wait until the repairs are urgent before they get on with the work," he said. "There isn't a consistent annual reporting process. The Anglicans have got it down to a fine art."In the long run, he said, the Catholic approach could potentially be more costly. "If you spend money up-front on a small problem, it stops it becoming a big problem. One thing which stops that is regular inspection," he said.He said only five per cent of planned repair work was at Catholic cathedrals, adding: "You can't be confident that this is the full story."But he said it was "fantastic" that Catholic cathedrals had responded so well to the English Heritage survey and he praised the work of Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, chairman of the Patrimony Committee of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. He also said he was "delighted" that Archbishop Nichols had attended the survey's launch.The Archbishop said his speech would emphasise that Catholic churches and cathedrals were "first and foremost places of prayer, not multi-purpose buildings". This point, he said, was "not always understood" by people in government and by those responsible for Britain's grant-making policy.The event also marked the launch of Creativity and Care: New Works in English Cathedrals, a book that showcases recent improvements to Anglican and Catholic cathedrals. It celebrates re-ordering and glass confessionals at Leeds Cathedral, mosaics at Westminster Cathedral and a rotunda at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.(SOURCE:



CNA reports that Cardinal Estanislao Karlic, Archbishop Emeritus of Parana, Argentina, encouraged the participants of 3rd Plenary Assembly of the Christian Life Movement to be true missionaries of Christ by always resorting to prayer and the Eucharist.
On the second day of the assembly, which runs December 1-8, Cardinal Karlic delivered the keynoted address on the theme, “The spiritual life as the foundation of apostolic fruitfulness.”
“We are all elected by God for a mission,” he said, and we must become “other Christs in order act as missionaries of Christ.”
“How do we live this missionary mystery? We must discover ourselves in this mystery, believe it, celebrate it, live it and pray it,” he explained.
The cardinal noted that in order to celebrate and communicate the mystery, one must first live the experience of “being given by God in order to later give Him away.” God “comes to us and when He makes His dwelling in us, his temple, then we are able to communicate Him” to others.
“The encounter between men must be an encounter of mutually communicating God to one another. That is friendship; it’s not only giving things or giving one’s self, its giving God,” he added.
Cardinal Karlic recalled that prayer “implies friendship as well as intimate and frequent dialogue with the One who is loved.” In this way one learns to dialogue with God in order to learn how to convey Him in the apostolate to others, said the cardinal.
He added that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life, from which everything flows and towards which everything leads.(source:



Asia News reports that promoted by Msgr. Malcolm Ranjith to support the work of Caritas - Sedec in the Diocese of Mannar. The donations are intended to build a reception centre for children of Adampan in Manthai West division, and to help homeless refugees. Also for scholarships for orphans, children of soldiers disabled by war.
Colombo (AsiaNews) - The Church of Colombo has launched a special Christmas collection to help refugee children in the district of Mannar, orphans of war and children of soldiers killed or who remain disabled during the conflict. Mgr. Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of the capital of Sri Lanka, addressed to all the faithful a letter entitled "Our call to love the poor". The fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday, December 13th, but the Bishop is calling on parishes of the diocese to extend the initiative throughout the period of Advent.
The initiative is being coordinated by Seth Sarana, head of the Office for Human Development of the Church of Colombo, who will send donations to the National Caritas - Sedec which is entrusted with the implementation of projects.
The money will be used in particular for the construction of a shelter in Adampan in Manthai West division which is part of the Diocese of Mannar. The project is aimed at children of refugee families. With funds raised the bishop of Colombo will also support the studies of children of soldiers who were killed or remained disabled during the conflict. Part of the donations will also be used for operations in favour of the poor refugees who have been left homeless.
"Christmas this year should be a time of strong solidarity on our part to all the people who are suffering," says the bishop in the letter. He adds: "I appeal to all the faithful, asking them to make a sacrifice for the happiness of these children at Christmas."
For years, the Church in Sri Lanka has been engaged in assisting so-called Internnally displaced persons (IDPs) and the same collection of 13 December launched for Advent by the Bishops Conference of the island. But the collection of Christmas will be the beginning of a renewed and continuing support for the needs of refugees and victims of war. Archbishop Ranjith invites the faithful to contribute to the Diocesan Fund for charity during the whole year to come so as to create "a more vigorous assistance program". The Bishop calls on the parishes of the diocese to make this help routine and has proposed that in future money that would have been allocated to decorations during his pastoral visits be given instead to the Fund.
To support the construction of the Adampan center and contribute to scholarships the bank details are: 1190030812 Current Account, payable to Seth Sarana - Columbus at Commercial Bank of Ceylon - Borella, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka - Swift Code CCEYLKLX. To support the project for the poor homeless bank references are current account 1190033006, payable to the Archbishop of Colombo at the Commercial Bank of Ceylon - Borella, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka - Swift Code CCEYLKLX. (SOURCE:



The joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) today spoke out against the "cowardly" attack against its forces yesterday that claimed the lives of three blue helmets.
Two soldiers were also seriously wounded in the incident that took place at about 4:45 pm local time, when a platoon comprising 20 Rwandan peacekeepers escorting a water tanker was attacked by unknown gunmen in Saraf Umra in North Darfur.
The Rwandan blue helmets, who had arrived in the area less than two weeks ago, returned fire with restraint since there were civilians in the area, sending the attackers fleeing.
In a press release issued in El Fasher, UNAMID called on the Sudanese Government "to identify the perpetrators, arrest them and bring them to justice."
Yesterday's attack also sparked condemnation by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"The Secretary-General deplores this attack on AU-UN peacekeepers in Darfur," he said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, expressing his condolences to the families of the fallen peacekeepers and reiterating his appreciation "for their service and commitment to the search for peace in Darfur."
The deadly attack brings to 20 the number of UNAMID armed personnel killed in a hostile confrontation since the mission deployed at the start of 2008. In July 2007 a joint police and military patrol from the preceding AU mission was ambushed by at least 200 attackers, leaving seven peacekeepers dead and 22 wounded.
Yesterday's incident follows the shooting and wounding of three other peacekeepers, also by unidentified gunmen, in West Darfur in October, and the killing of another in South Darfur in May, as well as the kidnapping of two UNAMID civilian staff members in August in West Darfur. They are still being held.
In his latest report on UNAMID last month, Mr. Ban said increased threats to international staff, including "extremely alarming" kidnappings, military action by Chad, Sudan and rebels, and Government limits on peacekeepers' movements continued to hamper efforts to stabilize the Sudanese area torn apart by nearly seven years of war.
At least 300,000 people are estimated to have died and 2.7 million more have been driven from their homes in the fighting between the Government, its militia allies and various armed groups.
Almost two years after being set up, UNAMID has still only reached 69 per cent of its authorized troop strength - 14,638 military personnel out of the total 19,555, and 4,449 police - and still lacks key military elements, including two medium transport units, a level II hospital, an aerial reconnaissance unit, and 18 medium utility helicopters.(SOURCE:



Cath News reports that Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart will contact police over concerns

the Church's investigator Peter O'Callaghan QC, tipped off two priests that they were under investigation by detectives for alleged sexual abuse.
Depending on the advice he receives from police, Archbishop Hart has also said that he may review the process used for 13 years by the Melbourne archdiocese to privately investigate more than 450 cases of Church sexual abuse, The Age reports.
"He will await the outcome of the discussions with the police (before deciding whether to conduct a review)," a spokesman for the archbishop is quoted saying.
The newspaper reported yesterday that Mr O'Callaghan told two priests via their lawyers that they were the subject of police probes, without the consent of detectives, before police had interviewed them and while the inquiries were at a covert stage.
Archbishop Hart has also said he was unaware until yesterday that a police detective had, earlier this year, expressed concern to Mr O'Callaghan about the way his process interacted with that of the police, the report said. (source:



St. Nicholas
Feast: December 6
Feast Day:
December 6
270, Patara, Lycia
6 December 343, Myra, Lycia
Major Shrine:
Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Italy.
Patron of:
Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, prostitutes, repentant thieves, many cities.

The great veneration with which this saint has been honoured, both in the Greek and Latin churches for many ages, and the great number of altars and churches which have been everywhere erected in his memory, are proofs of his extraordinary sanctity and of the glory which he enjoys with God. The Emperor Justinian built a church in his honour at Constantinople, in the quarter called Blaquernae, about the year 430, and he was titular saint of four churches in Constantanople. All accounts agree that he was a native of Patara, in Lycia. We are told that in his infancy he observed the fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays, refusing to suck the breasts on those days. Happy are they who, from their infancy and innocent age, are inured to the exercises of devotion, penance, and perfect obedience. St. Nicholas increased his fervour in these and all other virtues with his years, especially when he had devoted himself to a religious life in the monastery of Holy Sion, near Myra, of which house he was made abbot by the archbishop, its founder. Charity in comforting and relieving the distressed seemed his characteristical virtue. Amongst many other instances, it is related that when three young virgins were exposed through distress to the danger of falling into vicious courses, he, for three successive nights, conveyed to them through the window a competent sum of money for a fortune for one of them, so that they were all portioned and afterwards happily married. Lycia was a large ancient province of Asia, in which St. Paul had planted the faith. Myra, the capital, three miles from Patara and from the sea, was an archiepiscopal see, founded by St. Nicander, of so great dignity that in later ages, thirty-six suffragan bishoprics were subject to it. This metropolitan church falling vacant, the holy abbot Nicholas was chosen archbishop, and in that exalted station became famous by his extraordinary piety and zeal, and an incredible number of stupendous miracles. The Greek histories of his life agree that he suffered imprisonment for the faith, and made a glorious confession in the latter part of the persecution raised by Diocletian: and that he was present at the great council of Nice, and there condemned Arianism. The silence of other authors make many justly suspect these circumstances.
The history of the translation of his relics place his death in 342. He died at Myra and was buried in his own cathedral. The relics of St. Nicholas were kept with great honour at Myra, till they were translated into Italy. Certain merchants of Bari, a seaport in the kingdom of Naples situated on the Adriatic Gulf, sailed in three ships to the coast of Lycia; and watching an opportunity when no Mohammedans were near the place, went to the church in which the relics of St. Nicholas were kept, which stood in a desert place three miles from the sea, and was guarded by a small community of monks. They broke open the marble coffin in which the sacred bones lay, and carried them off to their ships; the inhabitants, upon the alarm given, pursued them to the shore with horrible outcries, but the Europeans were got safe on board. They landed at Bari on the 9th of May 1087, and the sacred treasure was deposited by the archbishop in the Church of St. Stephen. On the first day, thirty persons were cured of various distempers, imploring the intercession of St. Nicholas, and from that time the tomb of St. Nicholas of Bari has been famous for pilgrimages. The authentic history of this translation, written by John, at that time archdeacon of Bari, by order of the archbishop, is extant in Surius.
St. Nicholas is esteemed a patron of children, because he was from his infancy a model of innocence and virtue, and to form that tender age to sincere piety was always his first care and delight. To impress on the minds of children perfect sentiments of devotion, religion, and all virtues, with an earnestness in all duties, is a task often as delicate as it is important. Instructions must be made sensible and adapted by similes, parables, and examples, to the weakness of their capacities. Above all, they are to be enforced by the conduct of those with whom children converse. They learn their maxims, imbibe their spirit, and are moulded upon their example. A child which sees those who are about him love their own ease and ever seek what best pleases their senses; still more, if he observes them to be choleric, peevish, vain, slothful, or impatient, will naturally cherish these passions and yield up the government of himself to them, instead of learning by tractableness, humility, meekness, and self-denial, to subdue and govern them. And so in all other points. Precepts and exhortations lose their force when contradicted by example; and whilst the infant sees everyone study to please himself in everything, in flat opposition to the rules of the gospel which he hears preached from their mouths, he seems tacitly persuaded that such a conduct is reconcilable with those very maxims which condemn it.



Baruch 5: 1 - 9
Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.
Put on the robe of the righteousness from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting.
For God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.
For your name will for ever be called by God, "Peace of righteousness and glory of godliness."
Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height and look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them.
For they went forth from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God's command.
For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

Psalms 126: 1 - 6
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb!
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Philippians 1: 4 - 6, 8 - 11
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.


Luke 3: 1 - 6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae'a and Trachoni'tis, and Lysa'ni-as tetrarch of Abile'ne,
in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca'iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari'ah in the wilderness;
and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

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