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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: MON. JAN. 25, 2010

















CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: MON. JAN. 25, 2010: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: CATHOLIC CHURCH WILL ALWAYS STAND ALONGSIDE HAITIANS-
AMERICA: ARGENTINA: CHRISTIANS DEFEND TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE-
EUROPE: ROME: DIOCESE RE-LAUNCHES CAUSE FOR FR. MATTEO RICCI-
AFRICA: UGANDA: ARCHBISHOP VISITS MUSLIM LEADERS-
ASIA: INDIA: 2 CHURCHES ATTACKED-
AUSTRALIA: PRIVATE HOSPITALS WILL CUT TIME FOR SURGERY WAIT-





VATICAN


CATHOLIC CHURCH WILL ALWAYS STAND ALONGSIDE HAITIANS





(VIS) - Made public today were two telegrams sent by the Holy Father on 16 January to Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti, and to Archbishop Louis Kebreau S.D.B. of Cap-Haitien and president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, for the earthquake which devastated the country on 12 January, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of people. Benedict XVI tells President Preval of his "profound sadness" at the tragic event and assures him of his "fervent prayers for all the people affected by this dreadful catastrophe. I also pray", the Pope continues, "that a spirit of solidarity may enter people's hearts and that calm may reign in the streets, so that the generous aid arriving from all countries may bring comfort to everyone, and that people who have today lost everything may be consoled by knowing that the international community is truly concerned about them". The Holy Father expresses his appreciation for "the commitment shown by both Haitians and foreigners, sometimes at risk of their own lives, to do everything in their power to search for and rescue survivors". And he assures the president that the Catholic Church, "through her institutions, will remain - and not only in these moments of great commotion - alongside the people who have been so sorely tried by this tragedy, and will, to the limit of her powers, help them regain the chance to build a better future". In his telegram to Archbishop Kebreau, the Pope mentions the tragic death in the earthquake of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, and of many faithful, priests and consecrated people. "At this sad hour", he writes, "I invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help that she may become 'Mother of tenderness', and that solidarity may triumph over isolation and individualism in people's hearts". The also Pope praises "the rapid mobilisation of the international community, collectively touched by the fate of Haitians", and reaffirms that, through her institutions, the Church "will not cease to make her contribution to the emergency efforts and to the patient reconstruction of devastated areas".TGR/HAITI EARTHQUAKE/PREVAL KEBREAU VIS 100125 (360)








MESSAGE TO NEW PATRIARCH OF SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to His Holiness Irinej, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, for his recent election to that office. In the English-language message he congratulates the new Patriarch and prays "that the Lord may grant you abundant gifts of grace and wisdom for the fulfilment of your high responsibilities in the service of the Church and the people entrusted to you. "You succeed Patriarch Pavle, our brother of happy memory, who was a pastor both fervent and esteemed, and who bequeathed to you a spiritual inheritance that is rich and profound", the Pope adds. "As a great pastor and spiritual father, he effectively guided the Church and maintained its unity in the face of many challenges. I feel bound to express my appreciation of his example of fidelity to the Lord and of his many gestures of openness towards the Catholic Church. "I therefore pray that the Lord will grant Your Holiness the inner strength to consolidate the unity and spiritual growth of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well to build up the fraternal bonds with other Churches and ecclesial communities. Let me assure you of the closeness of the Catholic Church and of her commitment to the promotion of fraternal relations and theological dialogue, in order that those obstacles which still impede full communion between us may be overcome. May the Lord bless our common efforts in this regard, so that the disciples of Christ may again be united witnesses before the whole world to His salvific love".MESS/ELECTION PATRIARCH/IRINEJ VIS 100125 (280)








MEETING OF SPECIAL COUNCIL FOR AFRICA OF SYNOD OF BISHOPS VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - A communique was released late this morning concerning the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which held its second meeting in the Vatican on 19 and 20 January. The communique explains that during the course of the meeting the members of the council discussed the problems they are facing, "observing how the Church in various African countries finds herself at the necessity of defending the people from injustice. The lack of peace stimulates the Church to make a strong commitment to mediation and to welcoming those who suffer the consequences of intestine wars. "Reconciliation continues to be a challenge for the African Church, which must be reconciled in herself in order to become credible in her preaching and social activities", the communique adds. On the subject of inter-religious dialogue, the participants in the meeting spoke of the "efforts being made to create bonds of understanding and collaboration, especially with Islam which is the continent's most widespread religion. It is to be hoped that the fundamentalist groups become increasingly disowned and marginalised by the official representatives of Islam", says the communique. The members of the council likewise studied the proposals that emerged from the Synod - held in the Vatican in October 2009 - "which will serve as a foundation for further study and as a contribution to the composition of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation". The next meeting of the Special Council for Africa will take place on 27 and 28 April.SE/SPECIAL COUNCIL/AFRICA SYNOD VIS 100125 (270)








A CHURCH UNITED IN THE MULTIPLICITY OF HER CHARISMS VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope quoted an excerpt of the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, from today's liturgy, in which the Apostle compares the Church to the human body. "The Church", the Holy Father explained, "is conceived like a body of which Christ is the Head, and it forms a united whole with Him. "However", he added, "what the Apostle is seeking to communicate is the idea of unity in the multiplicity of charisms, which are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to these charisms the Church is a rich and living non-uniform organism, fruit of the one Spirit Who leads everyone to profound unity, absorbing diversities without eradicating them and creating a harmonious whole". The Church "prolongs the presence of the risen Lord over history, especially through the Sacraments, the Word of God, the charisms and pastoral ministry in the community. Therefore, it is precisely in Christ and in the Spirit that the Church is one and holy; in other words, an intimate communion which transcends human capacities and supports them". In this context the Holy Father turned his attention to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which comes to an end tomorrow, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. To mark the occasion the Pope will preside at the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, with representatives of other Churches and Christian communities present in Rome. "We will", said Pope Benedict, "invoke from God the gift of the full unity of all Christ's disciples" because "the communion of Christians ... makes the announcement of the Gospel more credible and effective". Finally the Holy Father spoke of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists, whose feast falls today. And to that saint, who taught that "the call to sanctity is addressed to everyone, and that each has his or her place in the Church", he entrusted his own recent Message for the World Day of Social Communications.ANG/CHARISMS UNITY/... VIS 100125 (370)








MAY BLESSED SAMSO STIMULATE COURAGEOUS WITNESS OF FAITH VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2010 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled how yesterday in the Spanish city of Mataro near Barcelona, the beatification took place of Servant of God Josep Samso i Elias, "a Catalan priest and martyr killed during the Spanish civil war. Like a true witness of Christ, he died forgiving his tormentors", said Benedict XVI. "For priests, and especially pastors, he represents a model of dedication to catechesis and charity towards the poor". Greeting Spanish-speaking pilgrims present at the Angelus, the Holy Father expressed the hope that, in this current Year for Priests, the example of Blessed Samso i Elias "may serve as a stimulus to priests in the diligent exercise of their pastoral ministry, and encourage the faithful always to give firm and courageous witness of their faith".ANG/BLESSED SAMSO I ELIAS/... VIS 100125 (160)








AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Nine prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, on their "ad limina" visit: - Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops George Stack, Alan Stephen Hopes and John Arnold. - Bishop Declan Ronan Lang of Clifton. - Bishop Brian Michael Noble of Shrewsbury, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Mark Davies. - Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff. - Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns S.M. of Menevia. On Saturday 23 January he received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. - Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome. - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. - Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. - Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.AL:AP/.../... VIS 100125 (180)








OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father: - Appointed Fr. Monfort Stima, vicar general of the archdiocese of Blantyre, Malawi, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 9,166, population 4,600,000, Catholics 1,133,850, priests 78, religious 287). The bishop-elect was born in Neno, Malawi in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1986. - Appointed as members of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Archbishop Velasio De Paolis C.S., president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava, Slovakia; Bishop Filippo Iannone O. Carm. of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo, Italy; Bishop Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.SS.R. of Garanhuns, Brazil, and Bishop Ryszard Kasyna, auxiliary of Gdansk, Poland. - Appointed Msgr. Piero Pioppo, nunciature counsellor and prelate of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), as apostolic nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Savona, Italy in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985. On Saturday 23 January it was made public that he appointed Fr. Vincenzo Pisanello of the clergy of the archdiocese of Otranto, Italy, episcopal vicar for administration and pastor of the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Galatina, as bishop of Oria (area 921, population 183,300, Catholics 180,000, priests 117, permanent deacons 6, religious 265), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Galatina, Italy in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.NEA:NA:NN:NER/.../... VIS 100125 (260)








ACTS OF THE ORIENTAL CHURCHES VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Church, having duty consulted with the Holy See, has adopted the following provisions and, with the prior assent of the Holy Father, has proceeded with the following episcopal elections: - Erected the new eparchy of Pathanamthitta, India, appointing Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom Kalloor of Marthandom, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy. - Appointed Fr. K. M. Vincent Kulapuravilai, professor at St. Mary's Malankara Major Seminary, as bishop of the eparchy of Marthandom (area 1,684, population 1,977,000, Catholics 63,988, priests 39, religious 190), India. The bishop-elect was born in Anakkarai, India in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991. - Erected the new eparchy of Puthur, India, appointing Bishop Geevarghese Mar Divannasios Ottathengil of Battery, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy. - Appointed Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas Konnath, auxiliary of Trivandrum, India, and apostolic visitor for North America and Europe, as bishop of the eparchy of Battery (area 75,000, population 1,767,000, Catholics 27,675, priests 88, religious 284), India. - Appointed Fr. Samuel Kattuakallil, vicar of the archieparchy of Trivandrum, India, as auxiliary of the same archieparchy (area 4,636, population 5,935,000, Catholics 251,000, priests 257, religious 868). The bishop-elect was born in Kadamanitta, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1978. - Appointed Fr. Stephen Thottathil, professor of moral theology and dean of theology at Malankara Seminary, as auxiliary of the archieparchy of Tiruvalla (area 11,120, population 5,435,000, Catholics 37,648, priests 132, religious 344), India. The bishop-elect was born in Ranni, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1979. - Appointed Fr. Anthony Valiyavilayil O.I.C., chancellor of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Curia, as bishop of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Curia. The bishop-elect was born in Adoor, India in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1980.ECE:NER:NEA/.../... VIS 100125 (310)





AMERICA
ARGENTINA: CHRISTIANS DEFEND TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE

CNA report:
A Catholic bishop in Argentina has joined local evangelical leaders in opposition to same-sex “marriage.” The two groups have released a statement stressing that Christians in Tierra del Fuego, located in the southern part of Argentina, believe in “the value of every family constituted by one man and one woman.”
In their statement entitled “The United Declaration,” Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin of Rio Gallegos and the leaders of the Evangelical Church of Tierra del Fuego said that, as Christian leaders of different creeds grounded in the Word of God, they oppose “the attempt to make same-sex unions equal to marriage.”
The statement stressed that the group's intention was not simply to oppose the local government, since the “political identity of government” often changes, but rather to work and watch out “for the values that sustain a healthy society.”
Nevertheless, “the truth is clear and we shall preach it,” they said, noting that they will not shrink from “denouncing sin.”
The statement also expressed that the truth of marriage, understood as the union between one man and one woman, is non-negotiable because it is a truth that has existed “since the beginning of life on earth.”
The coalition warned that violating the laws given by God will only result in “debauchery and chaos” for society. It is “for this reason that we continue to underscore the value of every family constituted by one man and one woman, open to life, as a school of peace, love and fraternity,” the religious leaders concluded. (SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholics_and_evangelicals_unite_to_defend_marriage_in_argentina/









EUROPE
ROME: DIOCESE RE-LAUNCHES CAUSE FOR FR. MATTEO RICCI

CNA report: The cause for the beatification of Jesuit missionary and Servant of God Fr. Mateo Ricci will be re-launched on Sunday evening after a Mass at the Cathedral of San Giuliano in the diocese of Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino.
The first session of the Diocesan Tribunal for his cause of beatification will be held after the Mass. According to Fides, the ecclesiastical court will hear a number of witnesses to ascertain the missionary’s current fame and reputation for holiness.
An historical commission has also been established to collect all the writings and documents attributed to Fr. Ricci, as well as those documents referring to him.
The commission will conclude with a critical study of his writings and will deliver a judgment on the authenticity and value of the documents relating to him.
Also on Jan. 24, Father Matteo Ricci Hall at the Palazo Sarnari will be inaugurated and blessed. The hall will be used for the celebrations planned for 2010.
Fr. Ricci was born in 1552 in the Marche town of Macerata. He became a Jesuit priest and a scholar of mathematics and astronomy before leaving for the Far East at the age of 26.
Ricci spent four years in Goa on the west coast of India before traveling to China. There, he settled in Zhao Qing in the southernmost Guangdong Province and began studying Chinese. During his time there he produced his global Great Map of Ten Thousand Countries, which revolutionized the Chinese understanding of the rest of the world.
A copy of the map recently went on display at the Library of Congress in the United States.
In 1589 the Jesuit moved to Zhao Zhou and began sharing European mathematics discoveries with Chinese scholars. He became known as “Li Madou” and was renowned for his extraordinary memory and knowledge of astronomy. He eventually became a member of the court of Ming Emperor Wanli.
In 1601 he was allowed into the Forbidden City of Beijing, where he worked until his death in 1610.(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/diocese_to_re-launch_beatification_cause_for_missionary_fr._matteo_ricci/




AFRICA
UGANDA: ARCHBISHOP VISITS MUSLIM LEADERS

CISA report:
Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, chairman of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) on January 20 made his first visit to the Muslim seat at Old Kampala where he advised Muslims to unite.Archbishop Lwanga was accompanied by over 150 Roman Catholic priests from Kampala Archdiocese and was received by Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje.The Archbishop said, “We are here to demonstrate our oneness in Christ because we are all ancestors of Abraham.”He called for unity among Catholics and Muslims if peace is to reign in the country.“We are brothers and sisters as seen from creation. This brotherhood should be maintained and we as religious leaders should carry it on to God’s subjects so that we live in peace and harmony,” Archbishop Lwanga said.“Concentrate on what builds us than what disunites us, because our goal is to achieve development which we cannot attain without unity,” said Sheikh Mubajje. The Sheikh added, “you handle your misunderstandings calmly, unlike us Muslims and I admire you for that. Conflicts are everywhere: among individuals, families, and groups; they seem normal although dangerous. However, if handled well, they can enhance development.” Sheikh Mubajje, also advised the church leaders to concentrate on peace as a form of promoting unity among Ugandans of different faiths to ensure future development.The visit, which was coordinated by the IRCU, was part of the activities of the Kampala Archdiocese Catholic Priests’ workshop that has been going on at Ggaba since Sunday. The five-day workshop is an annual activity organized by the Catholic Church to renew faith and educate its leaders.44 percent of Uganda’s 28.3 million people are Catholic; 42 percent are Protestant, and 12 percent are Muslim. (SOURCE: http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/story.asp?ID=4362






ASIA
INDIA: 2 CHURCHES ATTACKED

Asia News report:
Hindu extremists are blamed for this morning’s attacks in the dioceses of Mysore and Karwar. The Holy Family Parish Church was attacked in Inkal (Mysore diocese); it had been also attacked by a group of 70 Hindus in 2002. Christians are increasingly worried. Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Indian State of Karnataka was the scene of new anti-Christian attacks when two churches were desecrated and damaged. The first incident occurred after midnight in the village of Thernamakki (diocese of Karwar). Unidentified people vandalised the grotto of the local church, and broke its windows. The second incident took place in Inkal, a village in Mysore diocese, where someone desecrated the statue of the Virgin located in the compound attached to the Holy Family Parish Church. Another attack occurred on 22 January when members of the Sri Rama Sene, a rightwing Hindu party, tried to desecrate the cross of a church in Mundalli (diocese of Karwar), but were chased away by members of the congregation. Police arrested eight of them the next day.
According to Mgr Derek Fernandes, bishop of Karwart, this morning’s attack was the work of Hindu activists. Recently, a local Hindu leader made threats against Christian buildings in retaliation for the mistreatment of Indians in Australia.
“Attacks against religious minorities are up,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC). “We are very concerned about the continued attacks against Christian communities in Karnataka.”
“The greatest tragedy caused by such attacks against innocent Christians is the lack of justice,” he said. “This happens in Orissa, Karnataka and other Indian States.”
So far, no Hindu leader has ever been jailed for the violence. In both Orissa and Karnataka, local authorities have refused to stop Hindu groups that continue to incite violence against Christians, George said.
The Holy Family Parish Church had suffered another attack, on 27 February 2002.
At that time, some 70 Hindu activists armed with blades, knives and iron rods stormed the building during Mass and attacked women and children. They accused the local Christian community of forcibly converting local people.
Police arrested the attackers but later released them on bail. (N.C.)( SOURCE: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Two-churches-attacked-in-the-State-of-Karnataka-17444.html







AUSTRALIA
PRIVATE HOSPITALS WILL CUT TIME FOR SURGERY WAIT

Cath News report:
Catholic Health Australia says the Federal Government could cut 89,000 people from elective surgery waiting lists in a year by adopting a Queensland model which contracts private hospitals to treat public patients.
CHA said Queensland's Surgery Connect program had reduced the numbers of public elective surgery patients waiting longer than the medically acceptable times by 19 percent in 20 months, the Courier-Mail reports.
It had also reduced by 46.1 percent those waiting for surgery that needed to occur in 12 months.
"We've estimated that by utilising the spare capacity in private hospitals, you could treat 89,000 additional patients in year one," said CHA CEO Martin Laverty.
"We think this is the fastest way that the Commonwealth can contribute to improving the performance of public hospitals and making sure that people who've been waiting unreasonable times for their surgery get access to health care faster."
It would require an outlay of about $450 million in the 2010-2011 budget and an additional $5 million would be needed annually to fund a brokerage service, matching public patients with private hospital providers, but Mr Laverty said it is money "that would have to be spent at some point in time".
Queensland-based Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' president Ian Gough said, however, that Surgery Connect had problems which needed to be resolved before the scheme was taken on nationally. Australian Medical Association federal president Andrew Pesce said adopting Surgery Connect nationally would be a "short-term solution to a long-term problem".
Mr Laverty is also reported by the AAP as saying that CHA is opposed to Labor's plans to means test the 30 percent private health insurance rebate.
"We've said to the Government ... any measure that takes away incentives to take up private health insurance will see public hospitals deal with an increased workload," he said. (SOURCE: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=19014






TODAY'S SAINT


Conversion of St. Paul
Feast: January 25
Information:
Feast Day:
January 25

This great apostle was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. At his circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, he received the name of Saul. His father was by sect a Pharisee, and a denizen of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia: which city had shown a particular regard for the cause of the Caesars; on which account Cassius deprived it of its privileges and lands; but Augustus when conqueror, made it ample amends by honoring it with many new privileges, and with the freedom of Rome, as we read in the two Dions and Appian. Hence St. Paul, being born at Tarsus, was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire. His parents sent him young to Jerusalem, where he was educated and instructed in the strictest observance of the law of Moses, by Gamaliel, a learned and noble Jew, and probably a member of the Sanhedrin; and was a most scrupulous observer of it in every point. He appeals even to his enemies to bear evidence how conformable to it his life had been in every respect. He embraced the sect of the Pharisees, which was of all others the most severe, though by its pride the most opposite to the humility of the gospel. It was a rule among the Jews that all their children were to learn some trade with their studies, were it but to avoid idleness, and to exercise the body, as well as the mind, in something serious. It is therefore probable that Saul learned in his youth the trade which he exercised even after his apostleship, of making tents.
Saul, surpassing all his equals in zeal for the Jewish law and their traditions, which he thought the cause of God, became thereby a blasphemer, a persecutor, and the most outrageous enemy of Christ. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and by keeping the garments of all who stoned that holy martyr, he is said by St. Austin to have stoned him by the hands of all the rest6 to whose prayers for his enemies he ascribes the conversion of St. Paul: "If Stephen," said he, "had not prayed, the church would never have had St. Paul."
After the martyrdom of the holy deacon, the priests and magistrates of the Jews raised a violent persecution against the church at Jerusalem, in which Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. He procured them to be scourged in the synagogues, and endeavored by torments to compel them to blaspheme the name of Christ. And as our Saviour had always been represented by the leading men of the Jews as a n enemy to their law, it was no wonder that this rigorous Pharisee fully persuaded himself that By the violences he committed, his name became everywhere a terror to the faithful. The persecutors not only raged against their persons, but also seized their estates and what they possessed in common, and left them in such extreme necessity, that the remotest churches afterwards thought it incumbent on them to join in charitable contributions to their relief. All this could not satisfy the fury of Saul; he breathed nothing but threats and the slaughter of the other disciples." Wherefore, in the fury of his zeal, he applied to the high priest and Sanhedrin for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as public examples for the terror of others. But God was pleased to show forth in him his patience and mercy: and, moved by the prayers of St. Stephen and his other persecuted servants. for their enemies, changed him,, in the very heat of his fury, into a vessel of election, and made him a greater mall in his church by the grace of the apostleship, than St. Stephen had ever been, and a more illustrious instrument of his glory. He was almost at the end of his journey to Damascus, when, about noon, he and his company were ml a sudden surrounded by a great light from heaven, brighter than the sun. They all saw the light, and being struck with amazement, fell to the ground.. Then Saul heard a voice, which to him was articulate and distinct; but not understood, though heard by the rest : ? Christ said not: Why cost thou persecute my disciples? but me: for it is he, their head, who is chiefly persecuted in his servants. Saul answered: ? Christ said: :—" to contend with one so much mightier than thyself. By persecuting my church you make it flourish, and only prick and hurt yourself." This mild expostulation of our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, strongly affecting his soul, cured his pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out: ? What to repair the past? What to promote your glory? I make a joyful oblation of myself to execute your will in every thing, and to suffer for your sake afflictions, disgraces, persecutions, torments, and every sort of death. The true convert expressed this, not in a bare form of words, nor with faint languid desires, nor with any exception lurking in the secret recesses of his heart; but with an entire sacrifice of himself, and au heroic victory over the world with its frowns and charms, over the devils with their snares and threats, and over himself and all inclinations of self-love; devoting himself totally to God. A perfect model of a true conversion, the greatest work of almighty grace! Christ ordered him to arise and proceed on his journey to the city, where he should be informed of what he expected from him. Christ would not instruct him immediately by himself, but St. Austin observes, sent him to the ministry which he had established in the church, to be directed in the way of salvation by those whom he had appointed for that purpose. He would not finish the conversion and instruction of this great apostle, whom he was pleased to call in so wonderful a manner, but by remitting him to the guidance of his ministers; showing us thereby that his holy providence has so ordered it, that all who desire to serve him, should seek his will by listening to those whom he has commanded us to hear, and whom he has sent in his own name and appointed to be our guides. So perfectly would he abolish in his servants all self-confidence and presumption, the source of error and illusion. The convert, rising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. Providence sent this corporal blindness to be an emblem of the spiritual blindness in which he had lived, and to signify to him that he was henceforward to die to the world, and learn to apply his mind totally to the contemplation of heavenly things.. He was led by the hand into Damascus, whither Christ seemed to conduct him in triumph. He was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas, where he remained three days blind, and without eating or drinking. He doubtless spent his time in great bitterness of soul, not yet knowing what God required of him. With what anguish he bewailed his past blindness and false zeal against the church, we may conjecture both from his taking no nourishment during those three days, and from the manner in which he ever after remembered and spoke of his having been a blasphemer and a persecutor. Though the entire reformation of his heart was not gradual, as in ordinary conversions, but miraculous in the order of grace, and perfect in a moment; yet a time of probation and a severe interior trial (for such we cannot doubt but he went through on this occasion) was necessary to crucify the old man and all other earthly sentiments in his heart, and to prepare it to receive the extraordinary graces which God designed him. There was a Christian of distinction in Damascus, much respected by the Jews for his irreproachable life and great virtue; his name was Ananias. Christ appeared to this holy disciple, and commanded him to go to Saul, who was then in the house of Judas at prayer: Ananias trembled at the name of Saul, being no stranger to the mischief he had done in Jerusalem, or to the errand on which he was set out to Damascus. But our Redeemer overruled his fears, and charged him a second time to go to him, saying: For tribulation is the test and portion of all the true servants of Christ. Saul in the mean time saw in a vision a man entering, and laying his hands upon him, to restore his sight. Ananias, obeying the divine order, arose, went to Saul, and laying his hands upon him, said: Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he recovered his eyesight. Ananias added: Saul then arose, was baptized, and took some refreshment. He stayed some few days with the disci. pies at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues, that Jesus was the Son of God, to the great astonishment of all that heard him, who said: ? Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.(SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/conversionofstpaul.asp





TODAY'S GOSPEL

Mark 1: 1 - 18
1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
3
the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight -- "
4
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5
And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6
Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
7
And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
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I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
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In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
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And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
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and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
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The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
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And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.
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Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
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and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
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And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
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And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men."
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And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
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