Wednesday, February 17, 2010





17 FEB 2010 (VIS) - "Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the Lenten path that lasts forty days and which leads us to the joy of the Lord's Easter", the Pope said at the beginning of his catechesis during today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Recalling the formula, "Convert and Believe in the Gospel", the Holy Father affirmed that "conversion means changing the direction of the path of our lives. (...) It is going against the current when the "current" is a superficial, incoherent, and illusory way of life that often drag us down, making us slaves of evil or prisoners of moral mediocrity. Nevertheless, through conversion we tend to the highest measure of Christian life, we trust in the living and personal Gospel who is Jesus Christ. He is the final goal and the profound path of conversion, the path that we are all called to travel in our lives, allowing ourselves to be illuminated with his light and sustained by his strength, which moves our steps". "'Convert and believe in the Gospel' is not just the beginning of the Christian life, but the accompaniment of all our steps, renewing and penetrating all aspects of our lives. Each day is a moment of favour and grace, (...) even when there is no lack of difficulties, weariness, and missteps, when we are tempted to abandon the path that follows Christ and retreat into ourselves and our selfishness without paying attention to the need to keep ourselves open to the love of God in Christ in order to live the very logic of justice and love". Benedict XVI emphasized that "faced with the innate fear of our end, and most of all in the context of a culture that tends in many ways to censure reality and the human experience of death, the Lenten liturgy reminds us of, on the one hand, death, inviting us to reality and wisdom, but on the other hand encourages us especially to grasp and live the unexpected newness that the Christian faith reveals in the reality of death itself". "The human being", he continued, "is dust and to dust it will return, but it is dust that is precious in God's eyes because He created humanity, destining us to immortality. (...) Jesus the Lord also wanted to freely share in human frailty with each person, above all through his death on the cross. But it was precisely this death, full of his love for the Father and for humanity, that was the way of glorious resurrection, the means by which Christ became the source of grace given to all who believe in Him and participate in the same divine life". The Pope highlighted that the distribution of ashes "is an invitation to spend the time during Lent as a more aware and more intense immersion in the paschal mystery of Christ, in his death and resurrection, through participation in the Eucharist and a life of charity that is born of the Eucharist and which finds its fulfilment in it. "With the distribution of ashes", he concluded, "we renew our commitment to follow Jesus, letting ourselves be transformed by his paschal mystery so that we may conquer evil and do good, so that we can let our 'old selves', tied to sin, die and let the 'new person' be born, transformed by the grace of God".AG/LENT/... VIS 100217 (590)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico as apostolic nuncio to Montenegro. Archbishop D'Errico is currently apostolic nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina.NN/.../D'ERRICO VIS 100217 (30)


CNA report:
The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Ruben Salazar, has called on both the FARC rebel group and the country's government to depoliticize Colombia's hostage situation.
For ten months, FARC has continued to announce the “imminent” release of the 24 soldiers and police officers it is holding hostage. However, due to disagreements over the terms of release, no one has been freed.
Bishop Salazar told reporters that the hostages have not been released due to political issues.
The bishop added that the role of the Colombian bishops in the liberation process is to be present and to ensure that everything is done properly. However, he warned, “it’s up to the government and to FARC to put the process of liberation into motion.”
“What matters to us is that the hostages are released. The problem is that they are being constantly toyed with in one way or another."
FARC currently holds a significant number of hostages and is demanding that 500 terrorists be released from prison in exchange for their freedom.


CNA report:
Some 18,000 emails led to the cancellation of a photo exhibit that was to take place at the Contemporary Culture Center at the University of Granada, Spain. The display was to include photos of Christ as a homosexual, the Virgin Mary as a prostitute, St. Joseph as a camel and the Nativity Scene as a brothel.
Protests against the exhibit came as the watchdog website published an alert about the event that was scheduled to open on February 15.
The website reported that in just four hours, 18,000 emails were sent protesting the exhibit and demanding it be canceled. That same day officials announced the event would not take place.


Cath News report:
Thousands of Sydneysiders brought parts of the city to a halt yesterday in a flashmob freeze co-ordinated by Caritas Australia as it called for the Australian government to 'Stop Global Poverty'.
At least 400 participants froze simultaneously at Martin Place, at 1:10pm with signs, costumes and messages written on their hands.
The freeze, carried out in collaboration with organisations for the Make Poverty History Coalition, saw thousands of ordinary Australians, including students in classrooms, join the global pledge to eradicate extreme poverty and call for Australia to realise its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals, Caritas said in a statement.
Other oganisations that took part include St Vincent's Hospital and St Vincent's Private Hospital in Darlinghurst, with staff freezing on the footpaths of Victoria Street. No operations were affected.
"Caring for the needs of people who are poor and marginalised is something that resonates very loudly within our mission and values at St Vincents Hospital and St Vincents Private Hospital. Consequently we are very proud to support Caritas in the STOP for POVERTY campaign" said Lisa McDonald, St Vincent's Mission Integration Manager.
Caritas CEO Jack de Groot said: "Achieving change for communities living in abject poverty is a mammoth task, one which requires urgent action from all of us. It's inspiring to see so many people taking part today to show their resolve to stop global poverty.
"In the year 2000 the Australian Government, along with 189 other countries, committed to halving poverty around the world by 2015 and achieving eight Millennium Development Goals to address the dehumanising conditions facing billions worldwide.
"With the clock ticking down to 2015, still more than 2 billion people are profoundly affected by poverty worldwide and progress to achieve universal primary education and access to health services in impoverished communities is lagging," Mr de Groot said.

UCAN report – Maumere diocese’s Caritas office has issued a dengue alert following the deaths of 10 children in the past few weeks.
Caritas and local authorities have urged people on the Catholic majority island of Flores, in East Nusa Tenggara province, to launch an extensive clean-up campaign in their villages, including houses and schools.
According to Caritas director Divine Word Father Claus Nauman, the dengue outbreak has spread rapidly in the area over the past three weeks and 10 Catholic children, aged 4-10, have died due to the mosquito-borne disease.
As of last weekend, more than 300 people were hospitalized in state-run TC Hillers Hospital in Sikka district, the Catholic-run St. Gabriel Hospital in Kewapante sub-district and St. Elisabeth’s Hospital in Lela sub-district.
Asep Purnomo, a Catholic doctor who heads TC Hillers Hospital, acknowledged that the number of dengue patients in his hospital is high.
Father Nauman said the local Caritas office and the local government’s health service is urging everyone to clean out their water containers and burn garbage.
People are taking action. Catholics are cleaning up their parishes, and students are doing the same in both Catholic-run and state-run schools.
Father Nauman said that Divine Word Bishop Gerulfus Kherubim Pareira of Maumere had earlier asked all priests and Catholics to work together with the local government’s health service in dealing with the menace.
We “aim to reduce the number of dengue patients and prevent new outbreaks occurring,” he told UCA News.
He said between 2006 and last year, the diocese’s Caritas office had worked together with the local health service to combat the disease with twice-weekly clean up drives. “But the local government withdrew its support earlier this year,” he said.


CISA report:
As we begin the season of Lent this year, we will share with you the message of Lent. This year, the Bishops of Kenya through the Peace and Justice Commission have settled on the Theme of “Towards Healing and Transformation” to guide in reflection and prayer.Towards Healing and Transformation Jesus’ ministry was focused on healing and the transformation of the people. He knew very well that people were bound to be tempted and be persuaded to lead a life that was not worthy of their calling as children of God. His whole ministry then was to transform them into His own image and likeness. “Have the same attitude as Christ…” (Philippians 2: 6) was Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians. Today, more than ever before, we are called to re-examine our Christian vocation in relationship to what is happening in Africa today. If we call ourselves ‘Christians’ then we must witness to that name in word and deed. To transform people, we must help them to reclaim their hope in God. Many people seem to have become selfish and greedy and are no longer interested in the truth. We seem to have forgotten that we are brothers and sisters, we have one father in heaven, and we have an after life preceded by our final judgement before God. Hence there is need for us to renew our faith in Christ so that he can reign in our lives. The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which met at the Vatican from October 4 to 25, 2009, focused its discussions on varied issues affecting the Church in Africa. The 2010 Lenten Campaign themes have been linked to the Synod’s deliberations. The Synod emphasised the need for us in the continent to respect our diversity. We have to replace any hatred for our brothers and sisters with love. We must encourage one another to be truthful and objective when we relate with people, especially of other communities. The events of late 2007 and early 2008 taught us that unless we do this, we shall all be disoriented. In propositio 6 of the Synod, this is well expressed: “The Synod Fathers now launch a heartfelt appeal to all those who are at war in Africa, which causes so much suffering for their people: ‘To stop the hostilities and be reconciled!’ “They ask all African citizens and governments to recognise their brotherhood and sisterhood and promote good initiatives, which encourage reconciliation and permanently strengthen it at all levels of society. They invite the international community to give strong sup-port to the struggle against all manoeuvres, which destabilise the continent and persistently give rise to conflicts.” In propositio 32, the Synod Fathers had this to say: “The Church, as servant of reconciliation, has the mission of reconciling all things in Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19). In carrying out this mission, the Church acknowledges and respects the rich ethnic, cultural, political and religious diversities of African peoples by seeking unity in diversity, rather than in uniformity, by emphasising what unites, rather than what divides and by tapping into the positive values of these diversities as a source of strength to forge social harmony, peace and progress.” If we can follow the counsel of the Synod Fathers, then we will heal and transform our country. The Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission has started its work. If we would like to address historical injustices in Kenya, then this is the time. As the atrocities of the 2007-2008 post- election violence are being addressed, we still have an obligation to look into all injustices in a constructive and productive manner. This is the time for one to give evidence of how their community has been deprived of its rights and give proof. In this way, communities will look at themselves more objectively and will, in turn, address all underlying issues in a sincere and committed manner. The topics of this Lenten Campaign are meant to help you to reflect further on issues that will bring about a just and peaceful community and to try to address the issue of conflict between many communities in Kenya. In the first week, we focus on Food Security and Poverty. It is very worrying that more than 10 million Kenyans are facing starvation from prolonged famine. We need to start thinking of how we can use our God given land to feed ourselves. Many people believe that violence in our country is rooted in poverty. However, experience teaches us that violence and criminal activities cut across all socio-economic levels of our society. Aware that all people need secure conditions to live with dignity and hope, let us look for ways during this Lenten season to reduce poverty in our communities and also to stop blaming the poor for all criminal activities. During the second week, we shall discuss the Constitution and Governance and reflect on how the two are related. A deficient Constitution has opened the doors to conflict and abuse of power at local and national levels. Contentious issues in the Draft Constitution should not derail people’s desire to get a document that reflects their aspirations and the wishes of all communities. We are invited in the third week to reflect on Environmental Care. Our fragile planet is endangered and our commitment to our environment should lead us to be more responsible stewards of the earth and its resources for the benefit of us all and generations to come. The fourth week is dedicated to Healing and Reconciliation. We have all experienced conflict and injury and are in need of healing and reconciliation. But for these to happen, we must admit our guilt and seek forgiveness. Security is of great concern to all and in the fifth week, we examine the issue of Insecurity. We all need a country in which our lives and property are safe and safety must begin at our homes and villages. I wish you a blessed lent and pray for our country. Archbishop of Kisumu and Chairman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Zacchaeus Okoth.


Founders of the Orders of Servites
Feast: February 17
Feast Day:
February 17

Between the years 1225 and 1227 seven young Florentines joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin—popularly known as the 'Laudesi' or Praisers. It was a period when the prosperous city of Florence was being rent by political factions and distracted by the heresy of the Cathari: it was also a time of general relaxation of morals even where devotional practices were retained. These young men were members of the most prominent families of the city. Whether they were all friends before they joined the Laudesi is not clear, but in that confraternity they became closely allied. The eldest was Buonfiglio Monaldo, who became their leader. The others were Alexis Falconieri, Benedict dell' Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Ricovero Uguccione, Gerardino Sostegni, and John Buonagiunta. They had as their spiritual director James of Poggibonsi, who was chaplain of the Laudesi, a man of great holiness and spiritual insight. All of them came to realize the call to a life of renunciation, and they determined to have recourse to our Lady in their perplexity. On the feast of the Assumption, as they were absorbed in prayer, they saw her in a vision, and were inspired by her to withdraw from the world into a solitary place and to live for God alone. There were difficulties, because, though three of them were celibates, four had been married and had ties, although two had become widowers. Suitable provision for their dependents was arranged, and with the approval of the bishop they withdrew from the world and betook themselves to a house called La Carmarzia, outside the gates of Florence, twenty-three days after they had received their call. Before long they found themselves so much disturbed by constant visitors from Florence that they decided to withdraw to the wild and deserted slopes of Monte Senario, where they built a simple church and hermitage and lived a life of almost incredible austerity.
In spite of difficulties, visitors sometimes found their way to the hermits and many wished to join them, but they refused to accept recruits. So they continued to live for several years,—until they were visited by their bishop, Ardingo, and Cardinal Castiglione, who had heard about their sanctity. He was greatly edified, but made one adverse criticism: 'You treat yourselves in a manner bordering on barbarity: and you seem more desirous of dying to time than of living for eternity. Take heed: the enemy of souls often hides himself under the appearance of an angel of light . . . Hearken to the counsels of your superiors.'
Again the solitaries gave themselves up to prayer for light, and again they had a vision of our Lady, who bore in her hand a black habit while an angel held a scroll inscribed with the title of Servants of Mary. She told them she—had chosen them to be her servants, that she wished them to wear the black habit, and to follow the Rule of St. Augustine. From that date, April 13, 1240, they were known as the Servants of Mary, or Servites.
They were clothed by the bishop himself, Buonfiglio being elected their superior. According to custom they selected names by which they should thenceforth be known, and became Brothers Bonfilius, Alexis, Amadeus, Hugh, Sostenes, Manettus and Buonagiunta. By the wish of the bishop, all except St. Alexis, who in his humility begged to be excused, prepared to receive holy orders, and in due time they were fully professed and ordained priests. The new order, which took a form more like that of the mendicant friars than that of the monastic orders, increased amazingly, and it soon became necessary to form fresh houses. Siena, Pistoia and Arezzo were the first places chosen, and afterwards the houses at Carfaggio, the convent and church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence, and the convent at Lucca were established. Meanwhile, although the Servites had the approval of their immediate superiors, they had not been recognized by the Holy See. It was only in 1259 that the order was practically recognized by Alexander IV, and not until 1304 over sixty years after its foundation-that it received the explicit and formal approbation of Bd. Benedict XI. St. Bonfilius had remained as prior general until 1256, when he begged to be relieved owing to old age. He died on new year's night, 1261.
St. Buonagiunta, the youngest of the seven, was the second prior general, but not long after his election he breathed his last in chapel while the gospel of the Passion was being read. St. Amadeus ruled over the important convent of Carfaggio, but returned to Monte Senario to end his days. St. Manettus became fourth prior general and sent missionaries to Asia, but he retired to make way for St. Philip Benizi, upon whose breast he died. St. Hugh and St. Sostenes went abroad—Sostenes to Paris and Hugh to found convents in Germany. They were recalled in 1276, and, being attacked by illness, they passed away side by side the same night. St. Alexis, the humble lay-brother outlived them all, and he was the only one who survived to see the order fully and finally recognized. He is reported to have died at the age one hundred and ten.


Matthew 6: 1 - 6, 16 - 18
"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
"Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

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