Saturday, February 13, 2010




Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday spoke to members of the Pontifical Academy of Life. He said that the rights which guarantee the dignity of the human person should be applied to the first moments of human life, when the person is at is weakest.He said the dignity of human life comes from God, and scientists working in the fields involving bioethics should never imagine what they hold in their hands is only easily manipulated inanimate matter. The Holy Father said the Church always affirms the natural law should be a barrier to any state legislating against the dignity of life.


Pope Benedict XVI visited the Major Roman Seminary at St. John Lateran on Friday evening for prayer and dinner to celebrate with the seminarians the feast of their patroness. Addressing the gathering, the Pope emphasized the need to apply the "dynamism" of the missionary to the practice of their faith and to live it with joy.The Holy Father was joined by all of the seminarians from the Diocese of Rome for his visit, which was held on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Trust, the seminary's patroness. As reported in L'Osservatore Romano, in his reflections during the Lectio Divina with the seminarians, Benedict XVI emphasized that Christ, in giving himself for us, also gave us "the novelty of the gift."This, said the Holy Father, is how "God made himself known" and "showed himself in the face of Christ."Pope Benedict explained that God is "true omnipotence." In Him and in His suffering out of love for us, we observe that the missionary aspect is not something exterior to the faith, but is “the dynamism of faith itself." Those who come to know Jesus are also privy to the joy that comes from sharing Him with others, he told the seminarians."If one has found joy," the Holy Father added, "he has found everything and sees everything in the light of divine love."The Holy Father elaborated that this joy must have its base in a sound spiritual life that is nurtured by prayer at all times."We must learn to pray for the great reality, for the divine reality, because He gives himself to us, he gives his Spirit and that's how we can respond to the demands of life and help others in their suffering."L'Osservatore Romano reported that the papal visit marked the first time that seminarians from all of the diocese's five seminaries had gathered to celebrate the vigil of the feast of the Major Seminary's patroness together. There were about 200 seminarians in attendance along with rector Msgr. Giovanni Tani, Cardinal Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome Agostino Vallini and other representatives from the diocese, the seminaries and the Papal Household.


Catholic ONline report: Laura Chinchilla gives us hope. It is time to run Pro-Life, Pro-Family and Pro-Freedom candidates for public office.
President - elect of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla and Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) – I write as a U.S. Citizen who loves my country and is deeply concerned over its loss of a moral compass. This is most obvious when we consider the acceptance of the term “abortion right” in the media. First of all, abortions do not have rights, people do. And, no-one has a right to take innocent human life, period. The notion that freedom of choice includes a “right” to reach into a womb and kill our youngest neighbor at any time and for any reason with surgical strikes or chemical weapons is simply evil and reveals a culture on a downward spiral. We are losing a true understanding of freedom, its essential connection to truth, and the obligations it entails. Legal abortion amounts to a commodification of human persons. They are relegated to the status of products to be used rather than persons to be received as gifts in what has become a culture of consumerism. I write as one concerned over the growing attacks on marriage and the family founded upon it. Marriage - and the family founded upon it - is the first society and the building block of any just and truly human society. The hostility revealed by efforts to paint those who defend marriage and family as a threat to the Nation is a sign of a growing intolerance among those who claim to be "tolerant" and a disdain for the existence of objective truth. We are experiencing the dangerous results of what Pope Benedict rightly called the “dictatorship of relativism.” I write as one concerned that our economic crisis has a moral basis and legislation alone cannot eradicate its root cause. Few are addressing the cause or offering the proper remedies, accepting instead the jingoism of the Statist “left” or the atomism of the increasingly libertarian “right” and thinking that economic manipulation will somehow fix it all. I write as one worried about the growing efforts to paint anyone who dares to insist that defending the dignity of every human person and protecting marriage and the family founded upon it serves the common good of society as trying to “impose” religion. I write as one convinced that the Social teaching of the Catholic Church offers principles and insights which, if applied in the formulation of public policy, could help our Nation at this critical time. We are without leaders of substance and principle and we are desperately in need of them. So, I am encouraged with the election of the new President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla. She is precisely the kind of leader the world needs in this time of need. I was also delighted to read her first exchange upon hearing of the results of the election with Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena. It was reported by the Catholic News Agency: ******* “Radio Fides, the official radio station of the Archdiocese of San Jose, released a phone conversation between the archbishop and the president-elect. The prelate congratulated Chinchilla adding that he was proud she would become “the first female president to lead us in the executive branch...My prayer is with you.” He went on to note that “the Church and the State are independent but not indifferent to each other.” For this reason, he continued, “those programs in which the human being is at the center will always have our support. May God enlighten you so your policies will embrace those most in need. I know that you are a worthy person and of your great intentions to make Costa Rica better.” For her part, Chinchilla responded, “I am grateful for the gestures of the Catholic Church in the creation of a climate of harmony...I will always be appreciative of the Church’s advice, which is welcome.” She thanked the archbishop for his words, which she said were “very heartfelt and based on the social doctrine of the Church.The latest papal encyclical (Caritas in veritate) sheds much light on this.” Chinchilla also expressed her commitment to the “defense of the truth and the values the Church proclaims. I will strive to keep them at the center of my administration.” She continued “Let us ask for strength of our patroness, Our Lady of the Angels,” said Chinchilla, who then traveled to the shrine to give thanks for her election victory.” ****** The new president of Costa Rica is its first Woman President. More importantly she is a Woman of principle, substance and dedication to the truth. She is a feminist, but of the “New Feminism” style championed by the Venerable John Paul II - not the strident Planned Parenthood counterfeit. She also truly cares about the poor, including those whom Blessed Teresa of Calacutta called the “poorest of the poor”, our first neighbors in the womb. She campaigned on an unapologetically Pro-Life platform, including openly opposing the so called “morning after pill.” Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreachdirector for the National Right to Life Committee told that President Elect Chinchilla's win, "wasn't just a victory for the ruling party, this was a victory for women's lives and this was a victory for the unborn children of Costa Rica. In a decade where we have seen outside influences ferociously attempt to change the laws that protect unborn children in Latin America, Chinchilla's victory offers a set-back for pro-abortion forces in central America". On November 28, 2009, she proudly marched and participated in the "March for Life and Family", the Costa Rican equivalent of our own Annual March for Life in the United States. The March defended the dignity of every human life against the evils of abortion and euthanasia. The march also called for the protection of marriage against efforts by homosexual equivalency activists who seek to replace it.Yes, the Homosexual equivalency activists are trying in Costa Rica, as in the United States, to steal the word “marriage” and engage in a kind of social alchemy in a dangerous cultural revolution. They call relationships incapable of achieving the ends of marriage something they will never be. They then want to use the Police Power of the State to enforce their cultural revolution. The President elect is married with a teenage son. She is a friend of marriage and the family and will defend both against all who threaten their primacy. She is eminently qualified, academically and professionally, for the important office she has been elected to. She graduated from the University of Costa Rica, and received her master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. She has worked on judicial reform and public security issues much of her career. She is admired for her policy expertise, communications skill and work ethic. Her political credentials are equally impressive. She served in the José María Figueres Olsen administration as vice-minister for public security (1994–1996) and minister of public security. (1996–1998) From 2002 to 2006 she served in the National Assembly as a deputy for the province of San José. She was a vice-president under the second Arias administration (2006–2010) but resigned in 2008 to obtain her Party’s nomination and prepare for her run for the Presidency for the Presidency in 2010. She won the Office in a landslide. So, some good news from beautiful Costa Rica. A Pro-Life, pro-Marriage and Pro-Freedom Catholic Woman has been elected President. It is time to get to work in our own Nation, running Pro-Life, Pro-Family and Pro-Freedom candidates for every public office.


Catholic Herald report:
The ad limina visit to Rome of the Bishops of England and Wales turned into a happy occasion for Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, who celebrated his 59th birthday on February 1. It was the day when the Pope addressed the bishops. Bishop Conry's episcopal brothers marked the joyful celebration by giving him a sumptuous birthday cake. Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary of Westminster, offered the following reflections on the recent ad limina visit to Rome of the bishops of England and Wales. "Every five years or so, all the bishops of England and Wales travel together to Rome for their ad limina visit. All bishops around the world are required to do this. Our ad limina began in the final days of January. "It's my first, and there is plenty to do to fill the ten days of the visit. We present detailed reports about our dioceses and Catholic life, describing parish life, schools and ministries, and all the diverse activities and priorities. We record the changes and developments in recent years and reflect on our plans and vision for the future."The bishops are invited to visit the various congregations in Rome, each of them dealing with different aspects of faith in Church and Society." The Bishops of England and Wales celebrated Mass at the Venerable English College in Rome. Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool gave the homily in which he said: "To every priest; and everyone open to formation for ordination, the martyrs' picture insists: priest and victim. I am grateful that in my own years of formation priest and victim were spoken in one breath. It is a cause of great harm that the word victim tended to disappear, especially in debates about who may be called to ordination: words such as right, power, set apart, do not sit easily with the Lamb of God slain; the fulfilment, the accomplishment of Isaiah's suffering servant songs (Jn 1:29-34; Rev 5:6). "Our travels to Rome, our discussions and our audience with the Holy Father are a very clear reminder and expression of our place in the global Church. All that we try to achieve in our dioceses here in England and Wales, and all that each individual contributes, is all part of a much greater Church, each part of which is celebrating successes and facing challenges in their own particular ways. "We have co-responsibility for our world and for each other." Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about his forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain in his address to the Bishops of England and Wales during the visit. The audience took place on the morning of February 1. He said there were many signs of living faith among the Catholics of England and Wales.


Asia News report:
The family of Bishop Jia Zhiguo have been requesting his release for months, but they have not been answered. Two other bishops missing for years in police custody: Bishop James Su Zhimin and Bishop Cosma Shi Enxiang. The two priests released belong to the diocese of Zhengding.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Despite repeated requests of Catholics and their families, Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, underground bishop of Zhengding (Hebei), will remain under sequester during the festivities of Chinese New Year, which begins tomorrow. With him, two other underground bishops remain segregated in unknown places in the hands of police.
Meanwhile, police in Zhengding areas have in recent weeks released two priests of the diocese: Fr. Hu Baoguo, vicar general, was released on Jan. 29 at 10 pm, Fr. Ma Hong'en was released on 6 January. Underground priests were often targeted and subjected to periods of imprisonment to force them to join the Patriotic Association, the state body that wants to build a National Catholic Church, separate from Rome.
In recent months, the family of Bishop Jia, and especially his nephew, along with lay leaders of the diocese have constantly appealed to the leaders of the Religious Affairs Bureau to free the bishop for the New Year celebrations, which are an important appointment for families to come together. But today it was confirmed that the bishop will remain in police custody.
Bishop Jia Zhiguo was arrested on 30 March, 2009, as the Vatican Commission on China held a closed-door encounter. At the conclusion of the meeting, a statement by the Vatican asked for his release (see: 31/03/2009 Police arrest underground Zhengding bishop Jia Zhiguo and 02/04/2009 Vatican's "sadness" over arrest of Bishop Jia Zhiguo. The Church and formation).
Catholics of Zhengding and the village of Wuqiu, home to the cathedral, continue to "pray for his release and his return to pastoral work." According to AsiaNews sources, "Mgr. Jia is in good health and his mind is clear". The prelate’s nephew was able to visit his uncle in late January.
During his detention, with Bishop Jia has been allowed to celebrate Mass alone and to read the Compendium of the Pope's letter to Chinese Catholics issued in May 2009. A few police officers charged with overseeing Bishop Jia's cathedral are present only on Sundays. The Bishop was also absent at the memorial Mass to commemorate a year after the death of his uncle, Fr Joseph Jia Fuqin, who died December 26, 2009.
Bishop Jia Zhiguo was arrested on 30 March, during a close encounter of the Vatican Commission on China. At the conclusion of the rally, a statement by the Vatican has asked for his release (see: 31/03/2009 seized by the police Msgr. Jia Zhiguo, underground bishop of Zhengding 02/04/2009 and "pain" of the Vatican to stop Msgr. Jia Zhiguo. The Church and training).
Just like Bishop Jia, two other bishops remain seized in police custody in unknown locations.
The first is Bishop James Su Zhimin (diocese of Baoding, Hebei), 75, arrested and disappeared since 1996. In November 2003 he was seen in a hospital in Baoding, controlled by the police, where he underwent treatment for the heart and eyes. But after a few days he disappeared again. The second is Mgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang (diocese of Yixian, Hebei), 86, who was arrested and disappeared April 13, 2001. Bishop Shi, ordained a bishop in '82, had been in prison for 30 years. The last time he was arrested in December '90, and released in '93. Since then he has lived in forced isolation until his latest arrest.
AsiaNews sources say that there are some underground priests in prison. And some other underground bishops in isolation.

All Africa report:
THE Archdiocese of Kampala has designed a programme to eradicate poverty from villages. Under the programme, Christians will be mobilised to start micro-finance organisations and banks at village level.
The church, through its development organisation, Caritas, will also help Christians build churches and clinics in every village as a means of enhancing development.
This was revealed by the Archbishop, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, during celebrations for the International Day of the Catholic Sisters and Brothers, which was held at Rubaga Cathedral on Sunday.
Lwanga asked the Brothers and Sisters to support the programme, which he said would give spiritual, economic and social empowerment to Christians at the grassroots.
Through the village micro-finance organisations, the people would also be mobilised to save and invest in income-generating activities, Lwanga explained.
"Many of our people have serious problems. When they fail to get appropriate solutions to these problems, they try mischievous and often dangerous means. This is why we have issues like drug abuse, domestic violence, human sacrifice and devil worship," he observed.

Cath News report:
Government funding for non-profit organisations must go up to enable the groups to deliver better community services and to pay their staff properly, said a Productivity Commission report.
The report into the $43 billion sector has called for a broad overhaul of funding and tax arrangements for the nation's 600,000 non-profit organisations, which employ around one in 12 Australian workers, The Age reports.
However, yesterday Catholic Health Australia warned that tax policy directions proposed in the Commission's report could lead to a pay cut for health and aged care workers, and "destabilise" hospital services in the county.
"The Commission has described fringe benefits tax concessions for employees of not-for-profit organisations as ineffective," CHA chief executive Martin Laverty said.
The commission says the sector relies on 4.6 million volunteers providing the equivalent of $15 billion of work, but the cost of using volunteers is rising, and Australians are volunteering fewer hours.
The commission found the use of fringe benefit tax concessions by non-profit hospitals put private operators at a competitive disadvantage, but warned that the government would need a long transition period to remove the exemptions, because so many organisations were dependent on perks such meal allowances and car parking to subsidise low salaries.
But CHA said that "removing fringe benefits tax exemptions for employees of not-for-profit entities, including hospitals and aged care providers, would force nurses, carers and other workers to take an involuntary pay cut of around $50 a week.
"The alternative would be for Catholic hospitals to make up the difference at a cost of $72 million per annum. It would be impossible to wear this cost without cutting back on services - many of which provide health care to Australia's most disadvantaged people," Mr Laverty said.


St. Catherine de Ricci
Feast: February 13
Feast Day:
February 13
23 April 1522 at Florence, Italy
2 February 1590 at Prato, Italy
29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV

The Ricci are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany. Peter de Ricci, the father of our saint, was married to Catherine Bonza, a lady of suitable birth. The saint was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, she was formed to virtue by a very pious godmother, and whenever she was missing she was always to be found on her knees in some secret part of the house. When she was between six and seven years old, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. This place was to her a paradise: at a distance from the noise and tumult of the world, she served God without impediment or distraction. After some years her father took her home. She continued her usual exercises in the world as much as she was able; but the interruptions and dissipation, inseparable from her station, gave her so much uneasiness that, with the in consent of her father, which she obtained, though with great difficulty, in the year 1535, the fourteenth of her age, she received the religious veil in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat, in Tuscany, to which her uncle, F. Timothy de Ricci, was director. God, in the merciful design to make her the spouse of his crucified Son, and to imprint in her soul dispositions conformable to his, was pleased to exercise her patience by rigorous trials For two years she suffered inexpressible pains under a complication of violent distempers, which remedies themselves served only to increase. These sufferings she sanctified by the interior dispositions with which she bore them, and which she nourished principally by assiduous meditation on the passion of Christ, in which she found an incredible relish and a solid comfort and joy. After the recovery of her health, which seemed miraculous, she studied more perfectly to die to her senses, and to advance in a penitential life and spirit, in which God had begun to conduct her, by practicing the greatest austerities which were compatible with the obedience she had professed; she fasted two or three days a week on bread and water, and sometimes passed the whole day without taking any nourishment, and chastised her body with disciplines and a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin. Her obedience, humility, and meekness were still more admirable than her spirit of penance. The least shadow of distinction or commendation gave her inexpressible uneasiness and confusion, and she would have rejoiced to be able to lie hid in the centre of the earth, in order to be entirely unknown to and blotted out of the hearts of all mankind, such were the sentiments of annihilation and contempt of herself in which she constantly lived. It was by profound humility and perfect interior self-denial that she learned to vanquish in her heart the sentiments or life of the first Adam—that is, of corruption, sin, and inordinate self-love. But this victory over herself, and purgation of her affections, was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer; for by the union of her soul with God, and the establishment of the absolute reign of his love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from all earthly things. And in one act of sublime prayer she advanced more than by a hundred exterior practices in the purity and ardour of her desire to do constantly what was most agreeable to God, to lose no occasion of practicing every heroic virtue, and of vigorously resisting all that was evil. Prayer, holy meditation, and contemplation were the means by which God imprinted in her soul sublime ideas of his heavenly truths, the strongest and most tender sentiments of all virtues, and the most burning desire to give all to God, with an incredible relish and affection for suffering contempt and poverty for Christ. What she chiefly laboured to obtain, by meditating on his life and sufferings, and what she most earnestly asked of him, was that he would be pleased, in his mercy, to purge her affections of all poison of the inordinate love of creatures, and engrave in her his most holy and divine image, both exterior and interior—that is to say, both in her conversation and her affections, that so she might be animated, and might think, speak, and act by his most Holy Spirit. The saint was chosen, very young, first, mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, was appointed perpetual prioress. The reputation of her extraordinary sanctity and prudence drew her many visits from a great number of bishops, princes, and cardinals—among others, of Cervini, Alexander of Medicis, and Aldobrandini, who all three were afterwards raised to St. Peter's chair, under the names of Marcellus II, Clement VIII, and Leo XI.
Something like what St. Austin relates of St. John of Egypt happened to St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Ricci. For having some time entertained together a commerce of letters, to satisfy their mutual desire of seeing each other, whilst he was detained at Rome she appeared to him in a vision, and they conversed together a considerable time, each doubtless being in a rapture. This St. Philip Neri, though most circumspect in giving credit to or in publishing visions, declared, saying that Catherine de Ricci, whilst living, had appeared to him in vision, as his disciple Galloni assures us in his life. And the continuators of Bollandus inform us that this was confirmed by the oaths of five witnesses. Bacci, in his life of St. Philip, mentions the same thing, and Pope Gregory XV, in his bull for the canonization of St. Philip Neri, affirms that whilst this saint lived at Rome he conversed a considerable time with Catherine of Ricci, a nun, who was then at Prat, in Tuscany. Most wonderful were the raptures of St. Catherine in meditating on the passion of Christ, which was her daily exercise, but to which she totally devoted herself every week from Thursday noon to three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday. After a long illness she passed from this mortal life to everlasting bliss and the possession of the object of all her desires, on the feast of the Purification of our Lady, on the 2nd of February, in 1589, the sixty-seventh year of her age. The ceremony of her beatification was performed by Clement XII in 1732, and that of her canonization by Benedict XIV in 1746. Her festival is deferred to the 13th of February.
In the most perfect state of heavenly contemplation which this life admits of, there must be a time allowed for action, as appears from the most eminent contemplatives among the saints, and those religious institutes which are most devoted to this holy exercise. The mind of man must be frequently unbent, or it will be overset. Many, by a too constant or forced attention, have lost their senses. in he body also stands in need of exercise, and in all stations men owe several exterior duties both to others and themselves, and to neglect any of these, upon presence of giving the preference to prayer, would be a false devotion and dangerous illusion. Though a Christian be a citizen of heaven, while he is a sojourner in this world, he is not to forget the obligations or the necessities to which this state subjects him, or to dream of flights which only angels and their fellow inhabitants of bliss take. As a life altogether taken up in action and business, without frequent prayer and pious meditation, alienates a soul from God and virtue, and weds her totally to the world, so a life spent wholly in contemplation, without any mixture of action, is chimerical, and the attempt dangerous. The art of true devotion consists very much in a familiar and easy habit of accompanying exterior actions and business with a pious attention to the Divine Presence, frequent secret aspirations, and a constant union of the soul with God. This St. Catherine of Ricci practiced at her work, in the exterior duties of her house and office, in her attendance on the sick (which was her favourite employment, and which she usually performed on her knees), and in the tender care of the poor over the whole country. But this hindered not the exercises of contemplation, which were her most assiduous employment. Hence retirement and silence were her delight, in order to entertain herself with t. Creator of all things, and by devout meditation, kindling in her soul the fire of heavenly love, she was never able to satiate the ardour of her desire in adoring and praising the immense greatness and goodness of God.


Mark 8: 1 - 10
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them,
"I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat;
and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way."
And his disciples answered him, "How can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?"
And he asked them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven."
And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.
And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, he commanded that these also should be set before them.
And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.
And there were about four thousand people.
And he sent them away; and immediately he got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the district of Dalmanu'tha.

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