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.





CNA reports that saying he shared the “secret joy” of his audience, Pope Benedict dedicated his Angelus address to the blessing of the "Bambinelli," the baby Jesus figurines to be used in family, school and parish Nativity scenes all over Rome. The central message of the liturgy on the Third Sunday of Advent was the apostle Paul´s invitation to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice the Lord is near!"Pope Benedict XVI spoke on a cool, rain-sprinkled afternoon in Rome."The Mother Church," he explained before the Angelus, "while she accompanies us towards the holy feast of Christmas, helps us rediscover the meaning and the delight of Christian joy, so different from that of the world."The Pope noted that so many families, teachers and catechists come to St. Peter's Square to have their baby Jesus figurines blessed. He remarked that he is filled with great joy at their presence and interest in keeping alive the tradition. He also said it is necessary to “try to live in the everyday reality of what Christ's Nativity represents, which is the love of Christ, his humility and his poverty.The blessing of the Bambinelli, he added, “reminds us that the Nativity is a school of life, where we can learn the secret of true joy. This doesn't consist of having many things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in making ourselves a gift to others and in loving ourselves."Pope Benedict alluded to the Holy Family, who didn't seem to be “a very fortunate family” but were still "filled with intimate joy because they loved and helped each other and most have all they were sure that their story is the work of God, Who is made present in little Jesus."The shepherds would have also been joyful in seeing the Lord despite their meager conditions, the Pontiff explained, because in the infant Jesus they would have recognized, with the help of their faith, "the sign of God's promise coming true for all men who love Him."True joy, he said, consists in its feeling that our personal and communal existence is fulfilled by “a great mystery, the mystery of the love of God.""To rejoice we need not only things, but also love and truth, we need a God that is near, that warms our heart and responds to our profound expectations. This God is manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary.""Thus," concluded the Holy Father, "that 'Bambinello' that we put in the stable or the cave is the center of everything, the heart of the world."After the Angelus, the Pope invited the faithful and pilgrims to pray with him for the four priests killed in Africa last week, so that the Lord “may take them into His House, console those that cry for their loss and bring, with His coming, reconciliation and peace."(SOURCE:



CNA reports that the Christian Liberation Movement this week urged Cuba's National Assembly to return sovereignty to the people because Cubans have fought for the “well-being of all, not for the power of only a few.”
“If lawmakers are not willing to fulfill this duty immediately, they should hold the referendum proposed by the Varela Project so that the people can vote on the beginning of a new age of liberty with rights for all, the liberation movement said in a statement.
The Varela Project seeks peaceful democratic change in Cuba
The movement added that Cubans lack fundamental rights that are denied by the Communist government. “They deny freedom in the name of justice, but power is monopolized by a small group that has all of the privileges while the poor majority continues to be poor and has no voice to express themselves.”
The poor also do not have opportunities “to improve their lives.”
For this reason, the movement said, it is the duty of the National Assembly to give Cubans the possibility to freely associate, to establish their residence in any province, to be able to leave and re-enter the country without asking permission, to generate their own sources of work, to elect their leaders and to express themselves freely without fear of incarceration.”
“History confirms that when power is the goal of those who govern, they are not at the service of the people, but rather they put the people at the service of their own power. They call this a revolution, which they want us to accept unconditionally, although many Cubans have dreamed and fought for the well-being of all and not for the permanent power of a few,” the movement said.
“Rights are not negotiable,” the movement said, and “Cubans have a right to have rights because we are human beings and God created us freed.”
The CLM said Cubans who want change must demand it without fear. “We Cubans can and should be the protagonists of our history. Let us unite in hope because we can peacefully achieve these changes that will mean freedom, rights and reconciliation.”(SOURCE:



CNA reports that Irish Catholics can expect "major reorganization" within the Church following the meeting between the Pope and Irish prelates on Friday regarding child sexual abuses by clergy in the Archdiocese of Dublin, according to an article published in the Irish Times. It is not yet known how far reaching these structural changes will be.Archbishop of Armagh Sean Cardinal Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attended a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, and other leaders from Vatican dicasteries to voice concerns and discuss solutions following the Nov. 26 release of a report detailing the sexual abuses of priests in the archdiocese.Cardinal Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, told The Irish Times it was a "good meeting" with the Pope and expressed his regret to "be back here again to discuss the painful question of child sexual abuse."In a statement released Friday afternoon after the meeting, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his intention to address the Irish faithful in a pastoral letter that will "clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation." There was no indication of when that Papal correspondence can be expected, but with the sense of urgency surrounding the issue within the Irish Church it will likely be sometime soon.Archbishop Martin told the Times that the pastoral letter could include measures for "a very significant reorganization of the Church in Ireland."He also told the News Daily on Friday, "I really think we need a renewal." Efforts in that direction, he added, will include "working very hard on the question of child protection," a renewal of parish life and the involvement of more lay people within the organization of the Irish church.There will also be some changes within the Catholic hierarchy. The resignation of the Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray is expected as a result of his involvement in covering up the abuses. It is unclear if any other bishops will be stepping down at this time. According to the Times, Archbishop Martin has written to Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Dublin Dermot O'Mahony, asking him not to carry out confirmations in the coming year and not to be part of the diocesan administration “in any way."The archbishop also asked Bishop O’Mahony to distance himself from the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, which takes disabled children to Lourdes each year at Easter. The bishop resigned on Dec. 6.More specific details of how the archdiocese will address Irish Catholics in the coming days are not yet known, but members of the communications corps from the Irish Catholic bishops' conference are "on-call" awaiting instructions from the prelates upon their return from Rome, a communications officer with the bishops' conference told CNA. The officer said that she would not expect a statement from the archdiocese until Monday.(SOURCE:



UCAN reports that Catholics and Protestants have mounted a joint Christmas campaign, at a church they share, to help needy widows.

Catholic youths receiving a donation forwidows at the Calvary Church hall in Karachi
Since the beginning of Advent, Catholic and Protestant youths have been manning a collection point they set up at Calvary Church in Pahar Ganj, a Christian neighborhood in North Nazimabad Town, Karachi.
Various Christian denominations share Calvary Church in this southern metropolis. The collected donations of food and clothing are being stored in a hall they also use for conventions.
Blessed Christian Foundation (BCF), a coalition of 25 Churches, launched the ecumenical donation drive on Dec. 4. Advent, the four-week preparatory period for Christmas in the Church's liturgical calendar, began this year on Nov. 29.
"We have collected 9,000 rupees (US$108) and several items of clothing so far. Pamphlets for donations have also been distributed among hundreds of Christian families," Daniel Murad told UCA News. The Catholic youth said the donations will be given to 70 widows on Dec. 20.
BCF has been helping Christian widows and their children since it was founded in 1993.
However it is not the only Christian organization working to help widows. The pastoral team of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore, northeastern Pakistan, is also continuing an annual tradition of distributing gift hampers of basic commodities to widows around Christmas.
Every Sunday in Advent, Sister Teresa Yaqoob stands with lottery tickets at the entrance of Holy Cross Catholic Church in a Christian community in Lahore. "It's not about winning prizes, you are supporting those in need," she tells parishioners. Each ticket costs 10 rupees.
The Franciscan Tertiary Sister of Lahore has so far sold 2,000 rupees' worth of tickets. "Several nuns, catechists and laypeople are also selling lottery tickets. Food hampers will be bought from what has been raised and given to widows on Dec. 20 after a small Christmas fun fair at the cathedral," she told UCA News.
Meanwhile, younger members of St. Joseph's Church in Hyderabad are collecting food hampers and bottles of mineral water for tribal people in the Thar Desert, along Pakistan's southeastern border with India.
Franciscan Father Samson Shukardin said he has had young people raising funds door-to-door since his last visit to Nagarparkar, Sindh province, in late October.
"During winter nights, the temperature drops to less than 9 degrees Celsius in the Thar Desert. ... Water and warm clothing are the best possible gifts for them," he told UCA News.



CISA reports a round the-clock national photo exhibition initiative on Kenya’s 2007 -2008 post-election violence has been launched in Nairobi.
The exhibition was launched on Monday December 7th by Dr Ozonnia Ojielo, UN-DP Deputy Country Director on behalf of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who brokered peace negotiations in that country.
The photo exhibition titled, Picha Mtaani by award winning photographer Boniface Mwangi aims to provide a platform for national reflection and promote peaceful co-existence among communities in Kenya’s seven most election conflict affected provinces to foster healing and reconciliation.The photo exhibition also aims to challenge target communities to play their role in the reconciliation and reconstruction process following the 2007 post-election violence.
During the launch Dr Ojielo said, “This initiative by Picha Mtaani is one of the steps that will keep communities on the path towards improved peace and social cohesion for the future as a necessary prerequisite for Kenya’s social and economic development and integration.”
Ojielo also said that “it is critical that we look to the future, identifying the potential contributors of tomorrow and working with them today to achieve the goal of enhanced peace and security in this nation., it is for this reason that we are particularly pleased to support this youth-led initiative that has a focus on rebuilding peace within affected communities and in particular targeting youth.”
He mentioned that youth peace clubs in the country will be mentored by district peace communities and supported by national youth organizations to engage in a number of activities to promote peace within communities.
The US ambassador to Kenya Michael Renneberger applauded the new initiative and affirmed US’ commitment to ensure that Kenya attains lasting peace in the coming years.
According to Mwangi who is the director of the exhibition, The Picha Mtaani initiative will be soon rolled out to other towns in the country and youth are invited to volunteer.The photo exhibition will be held for three days at the “Jobless Corner” outside The Hilton, Moi Avenue, Nairobi. The UN-funded initiative focuses on reconciliation through photographic exhibitions and debate. (SOURCE:



Cath News reports that more than 8000 motorcycle riders travelled from Glenelg to Hahndorf Oval in South Australia to make Christmas present donations to St Vincent de Paul, to be distributed to disadvantaged children, The Advertiser reports.
About $250,000 worth of toys were collected at this year's 31st annual Motorcycle Riders Association SA Toy Run, with about 20,000 people gathering at Hahndorf.
Motorcycle Riders Association SA president Phil McClelland said it was always a buzz to see the colour and character of the event.
"It is one of the first of its kind in Australia and it is the largest continual annual event of its kind in the southern hemisphere," he said. "This is a celebration of motorcycling and, through St Vincent de Paul, the winners are the needy children of South Australia."

Mr McClelland said he was pleased to shine a positive light on motorcyclists.
"It's great to have tradition and this event just keeps growing and growing every year," he reportedly said. (source:


Our Lady of Guadalupe
Feast: December 12
Feast Day:
December 12
More on Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

In the sixteenth century, the Blessed Virgin, moved with pity for the Aztec people who, living in the darkness of idolatry, offered to their idols multitudes of human victims, deigned to take into her own hands the evangelization of these Indians of Central America who were also her children. One of the Aztec gods, originally considered the god of fertility, had transformed himself over time into a ferocious god. A symbol of the sun, this god was in continuous battle with the moon and the stars and was believed to need human blood to restore his strength; if he died, life would be extinguished. Ever new victims, to be offered to him in perpetual sacrifice, therefore seemed essential.
An eagle on a cactus
Aztec priests had prophesied that their nomadic people would settle in the place where an eagle would be seen perched on a cactus, devouring a serpent. This eagle appears on the Mexican flag today. Having arrived on a swampy island, in the middle of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs saw the foretold sign: an eagle, perched on a cactus, was devouring a serpent. This was in 1369. There they founded their town Tenochtitlan, which would become Mexico City. The town expanded to become a city on pilings, with many gardens abounding in flowers, fruit, and vegetables. The organization of the Aztec kingdom was very structured and hierarchical. The knowledge of their mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, architects, doctors, artists, and artisans was excellent for that time. But the laws of the physical world remained scarcely known. Tenochtitlan drew its power and wealth primarily from war. The conquered cities had to pay a tribute of various foodstuffs and men for war and sacrifices. The Aztecs' human sacrifices and cannibalism are almost unequaled throughout the course of history.
In 1474, a child was born who was given the name Cuauhtlatoazin ("speaking eagle"). After his father's death, the child was taken in by his uncle. From the age of three, he was taught, as were all young Aztecs, to join in domestic tasks and to behave in a dignified manner. At school, he learned singing, dancing, and especially the worship of many gods. The priests had a very strong influence over the population, whom they kept in a submission bordering on terror. Cuauhtlatoazin was thirteen years old when the great temple at Tenochtitlan was consecrated. Over the course of four days, the priests sacrificed 80,000 human victims to their god. After his military service, Cuauhtlatoazin married a young woman of his social status. Together they led a modest life as farmers.
In 1519, the Spaniard Cortez disembarked in Mexico, leading 500 soldiers. He conquered the country for Spain, yet was not lacking in zeal for the evangelization of the Aztecs. In 1524 he obtained the arrival of twelve Franciscans to Mexico. These missionaries quickly integrated into the population. Their goodness contrasted with the harshness of the Aztec priests, as well as that of some conquistadors. They began to build churches. However, the Indians were reluctant to accept Baptism, primarily because it would require them to abandon polygamy.
Cuauhtlatoazin and his wife were among the first to receive Baptism, under the respective names of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. After his wife's death in 1529, Juan Diego withdrew to Tolpetlac, 14 km from Mexico City, to the home of his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who had become a Christian as well. On December 9, 1531, as was his custom every Saturday, he left very early in the morning to attend the Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, at the Franciscan fathers' church, close to Mexico City. He walked past Tepeyac Hill. Suddenly, he heard a gentle and resounding song that seemed to come from a great multitude of birds. Raising his eyes to the top of the hill, he saw a white and radiant cloud. He looked around him and wondered if he was dreaming. All of a sudden, the song stopped and a woman's voice, gentle and graceful, called him: "Juanito, Juan Dieguito!" He quickly climbed the hill and found himself in the presence of a very beautiful young woman whose garments shone like the sun.
"A church where I will show my love"
Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she said to him, "Juanito, my son, where are you going?"—"Noble Lady, my Queen, I am going to the Mass in Mexico City to hear the divine things that the priest teaches us there."—"I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here."
Juan Diego went straight to the bishop. Bishop Zumárraga, a Franciscan, the first bishop of Mexico, was a pious man and full of zeal, who had a heart overflowing with kindness towards the Indians. He heard the poor man attentively, but fearing an illusion, did not put much faith in his story. Towards evening, Juan Diego started on his way home. At the top of Tepeyac Hill, he had the pleasant surprise of meeting the Apparition again. He told her about his mission, then added, "I beg you to entrust your message to someone more known and respected so that he will believe it. I am only a simple Indian whom you have sent as a messenger to an important person. Therefore, he didn't believe me, and I do not want to greatly disappoint you."—"My dearest son, "replied the Lady, "you must understand that there are many more noble men to whom I could have entrusted my message and yet, it is because of you that my plan will succeed. Return to the bishop tomorrow... Tell him that it is I myself, the Blessed Virgin MARY, Mother of God, who am sending you."
On Sunday morning after the Mass, Juan Diego went to the bishop's house. The prelate asked him many questions, then asked for a tangible sign of the truth of the apparition. When Juan Diego went home, the bishop had him discreetly followed by two servants. At Tepeyac Bridge, Juan Diego disappeared from their sight, and despite all their searches on the hill and in the surrounding area, they could not find him again. Furious, they declared to the bishop that Juan Diego was an impostor who must absolutely not be believed. During this time, Juan Diego told the beautiful Lady, who was waiting for him on the hill, about his most recent meeting with the bishop. "Come back tomorrow morning to seek the sign he is asking for," replied the Apparition.
Roses, in the middle of winter!
Returning home, the Indian found his uncle ill, and the next day, he had to stay at his bedside to take care of him. As the illness got worse, the uncle asked his nephew to go look for a priest. At dawn on Tuesday, December 12, Juan Diego started on the road to the city. Approaching Tepeyac Hill, he thought it best to make a detour so as not to meet the Lady. But suddenly, he perceived her coming to meet him. Embarrassed, he explained his situation and promised to come back when he had found a priest to administer last rites to his uncle. "My dear little one," replied the Apparition, "do not be distressed about your uncle's illness, because he will not die from it. I assure you that he will get well... Go to the top of the hill, pick the flowers that you will see there, and bring them to me." When he had arrived at the top of the hill, the Indian was stunned to find a great number of flowers in bloom, Castillian roses that gave off a very sweet fragrance. Indeed, in the winter, the cold allows nothing to survive, and besides, the place was too dry for flowers to grow there. Juan Diego gathered the roses, enfolded them in his cloak, or tilma, then went back down the hill. "My dear son," said the Lady, "these flowers are the sign that you are to give the bishop... This will get him to build the church that I have asked of him."
Juan Diego ran to the bishop. When he arrived, the servants made him wait for hours. Amazed at his patience, and intrigued by what he was carrying in his tilma, they finally informed the bishop, who, although with several people, had him shown in immediately. The Indian related his adventure, unfolded his tilma, and let the flowers, which were still shining with dew, scatter to the floor. With tears in his eyes, Bishop Zumárraga fell to his knees, admiring the roses from his country. All of a sudden, he perceived, on the tilma, the portrait of Our Lady. MARY's image was there, as though printed on the cloak, very beautiful and full of gentleness. The bishop's doubts gave way to a sure faith and a hope filled with wonder. He took the tilma and the roses, and placed them respectfully in his private oratory. The next day he went with Juan Diego to the hill where the apparitions had taken place. After having examined the sites, he let the seer return to his uncle's house. Juan Bernardino had been completely cured. His cure had taken place at the very hour when Our Lady appeared to his nephew. He told him, "I have also seen her. She even came here and talked to me. She wants a church to be built on Tepeyac Hill and wants her portrait to be called 'Saint MARY of Guadalupe.' But she didn't explain to me why." The name "Guadalupe" is well known by the Spanish, because in their country there is a very old sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The news of the miracle spread quickly. In a short time, Juan Diego became well-known. "I will spread your fame," MARY had told him, but the Indian remained as humble as ever. To make it easier to meditate on the Image, Bishop Zumárraga had the tilma transported to his cathedral. Then work was begun on the construction of a small church and a hermitage for Juan Diego on the hill of apparitions. The next December 25, the bishop consecrated his cathedral to the Most Blessed Virgin, to thank her for the remarkable favors with which she had blessed his diocese. Then, in a magnificent procession, the miraculous Image was carried to the sanctuary that had just been completed on Tepeyac Hill. To express their joy, the Indians shot arrows. One of them, shot carelessly, went through the throat of a participant in the procession, who fell to the ground, fatally wounded. A great silence fell and intense supplication rose to the Mother of God. Suddenly the wounded man, who had been placed at the foot of the miraculous Image, collected himself and got up, full of vigor. The crowd's enthusiasm was at its peak.
Millions of Indians become Christian
Juan Diego moved into his little hermitage, seeing to the maintenance and cleaning of the site. His life remained simple—he carefully farmed a field close to the sanctuary that had been placed at his disposal. He received pilgrims in ever larger numbers, and enjoyed talking about the Blessed Virgin and untiringly relating the details of the apparitions. He was entrusted with all kinds of prayer intentions. He listened, sympathized, and comforted. A good amount of his free time was spent in contemplation before the image of his Lady. He made rapid progress in the ways of holiness. Day after day, he fulfilled his duty as a witness up until his death on December 9, 1548, seventeen years after the first apparition.
When the Indians had learned the news of Our Lady's apparitions, an enthusiasm and joy such as had never been seen before spread among them. Renouncing their idols, superstitions, human sacrifices, and polygamy, many asked to be baptized. Nine years after the apparitions, nine million Indians had converted to the Christian faith—nearly 3,000 a day! The details of the Image of MARY moved the Indians deeply—this woman is greater than the sun-god since she appears standing before the sun. She surpasses the moon god since she keeps the moon under her feet. She is no longer of this world since she is surrounded by clouds and is held above the world by an angel. Her folded hands show her in prayer, which means that there is Someone greater than she...
Even in our time, the mystery of this miraculous Image remains. The tilma, a large apron woven by hand from cactus fibers, bears the holy Image, which is 1.43 meters tall. The Virgin's face is perfectly oval and is a gray color verging on pink. Her eyes have a profound expression of purity and gentleness. The mouth seems to smile. The very beautiful face, similar to that of a mestizo Indian, is framed by a black head of hair that, up close, is comprised of silky locks. She is clad in a full tunic, of a pinkish red hue that no one has ever been able to reproduce, and that goes to her feet. Her bluish-green mantle is edged with gold braid and studded with stars. A sun of various shades forms a magnificent background, with golden rays shining out.
The fact that the tilma has remained perfectly preserved from 1531 to this day is inexplicable. After more than four centuries, this fabric of mediocre quality retains the same freshness and the same lively color as when it was new. By comparison, a copy of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe painted in the 18th century with great care, and preserved under the same climatic conditions as Juan Diego's, had completely deteriorated in a few years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a painful period of revolutions in Mexico, a load of dynamite was put by unbelievers at the foot of the Image, in a vase of flowers. The explosion destroyed the marble steps on the main altar, the candelabras, all the flower-holders. The marble altarpiece was broken into pieces, the brass Christ on the tabernacle was split in two. The windows in most of the houses near the basilica were broken, but the pane of glass that was protecting the Image was not even cracked. The Image remained intact.
The most moving experience of my life
In 1936, an examination conducted on two fibers from the tilma, one red and the other yellow, led to an astounding finding—the fibers contained no known coloring agent. Ophthalmology and optics confirm the inexplicable nature of the Image—it seems to be a slide projected onto the fabric. Closer analysis shows that there is no trace of drawing or sketching under the color, even though perfectly recognizable retouches were done on the original, retouches which moreover have deteriorated with time. In addition, the background never received any primer, which seems inexplicable if it is truly a painting, for even on the finest fabric, a coat is always applied, if only to prevent the fabric from absorbing the painting and the threads from breaking the surface. No brush strokes can be detected. After an infrared analysis conducted on May 7, 1979, a professor from NASA wrote, "There is no way to explain the quality of the pigments used for the pink dress, the blue veil, the face and the hands, or the permanence of the colors, or the vividness of the colors after several centuries, during which they ordinarily should have deteriorated... Studying this Image has been the most moving experience of my life."
Astronomers have observed that all the constellations present in the heavens at the moment Juan Diego opened his tilma before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, 1531, are in their proper place on MARY's mantle. It has also been found that by imposing a topographical map of central Mexico on the Virgin's dress, the mountains, rivers and principal lakes coincide with the decoration on this dress.
Ophthalmological tests have found that MARY's eye is a human eye that appears to be living, and includes the retina, in which is reflected the image of a man with outstretched hands—Juan Diego. The image in the eye conforms to the known laws of optics, particularly to that which states that a well-lighted object can be reflected three times in an eye (Purkinje-Samson's law). A later study allowed researchers to discover in the eye, in addition to the seer, Bishop Zumárraga and several other people present when the image of Our Lady appeared on the tilma. And the normal microscopic network of veins in the eyelids and the cornea of the Virgin's eyes is completely recognizable. No human painter would have been able to reproduce such details.
Three months pregnant
Gynecological measurements have determined that the Virgin in the Image has the physical dimensions of a woman who is three months pregnant. Under the belt that holds the dress in place, at the very location of the embryo, a flower with four petals stands out—the Solar Flower, the most familiar of Aztec hieroglyphs, and which symbolized for them divinity, the center of the earth, heaven, time, and space. On the Virgin's neck hangs a brooch, the center of which is decorated with a little cross, recalling the death of Christ on the Cross for the salvation of all mankind. Many other details of the Image of MARY form an extraordinary document for our age, which is able to observe them thanks to modern technology. Thus science, which has often been a pretext for unbelief, helps us today to give prominence to signs that had remained unknown for centuries and that science is unable to explain.
The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe bears a message of evangelization: the Basilica of Mexico is a center "from which flows a river of the light of the Gospel of Christ, spreading throughout the earth through the merciful Image of MARY" (John Paul II, December 12, 1981 ). In addition, through her intervention on behalf of the Aztec people, the Virgin played a role in saving innumerable human lives, and her pregnancy can be interpreted as a special appeal on behalf of unborn children and the defense of human life. This appeal has a burning relevance in our time, when threats against the lives of individuals and peoples, especially lives that are weak and defenseless, are widespread and becoming more serious. The Second Vatican Council forcefully deplored crimes against human life: "All offenses against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia... all these and the like are criminal: they poison civilization ; and they debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the Creator" ( Gaudium et Spes, 27). Faced with these plagues, which are expanding as a result of scientific progress and technology, and which benefit from wide social consensus as well as legal recognition, let us call upon MARY with confidence. She is an "incomparable model of how life should be welcomed and cared for... Showing us her Son, she assures us that in Him the forces of death have already been defeated" (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, March 25, 1995, nos. 102, 105). "Death and life are locked in an incredible battle; the Author of life, having died, lives and reigns" (Easter Sequence).
Let us ask Saint Juan Diego, canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002, to inspire us with a true devotion to our Mother of Heaven, for "MARY's compassion extends to all those who appeal to her, even when this appeal is nothing more than a simple 'Hail, MARY'" (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori ). Especially if we have fallen into serious sin, she who is Mother of Mercy will obtain for us the Mercy of God. (SOURCE;


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.