Saturday, April 3, 2010





RadioVaticana report: Dear Brothers and Sisters,An ancient Jewish legend from the apocryphal book “The life of Adam and Eve” recounts that, in his final illness, Adam sent his son Seth together with Eve into the region of Paradise to fetch the oil of mercy, so that he could be anointed with it and healed. The two of them went in search of the tree of life, and after much praying and weeping on their part, the Archangel Michael appeared to them, and told them they would not obtain the oil of the tree of mercy and that Adam would have to die. Subsequently, Christian readers added a word of consolation to the Archangel’s message, to the effect that after 5,500 years the loving King, Christ, would come, the Son of God who would anoint all those who believe in him with the oil of his mercy. “The oil of mercy from eternity to eternity will be given to those who are reborn of water and the Holy Spirit. Then the Son of God, Christ, abounding in love, will descend into the depths of the earth and will lead your father into Paradise, to the tree of mercy.” This legend lays bare the whole of humanity’s anguish at the destiny of illness, pain and death that has been imposed upon us. Man’s resistance to death becomes evident: somewhere – people have constantly thought – there must be some cure for death. Sooner or later it should be possible to find the remedy not only for this or that illness, but for our ultimate destiny – for death itself. Surely the medicine of immortality must exist. Today too, the search for a source of healing continues. Modern medical science strives, if not exactly to exclude death, at least to eliminate as many as possible of its causes, to postpone it further and further, to prolong life more and more. But let us reflect for a moment: what would it really be like if we were to succeed, perhaps not in excluding death totally, but in postponing it indefinitely, in reaching an age of several hundred years? Would that be a good thing? Humanity would become extraordinarily old, there would be no more room for youth. Capacity for innovation would die, and endless life would be no paradise, if anything a condemnation. The true cure for death must be different. It cannot lead simply to an indefinite prolongation of this current life. It would have to transform our lives from within. It would need to create a new life within us, truly fit for eternity: it would need to transform us in such a way as not to come to an end with death, but only then to begin in fullness. What is new and exciting in the Christian message, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was and is that we are told: yes indeed, this cure for death, this true medicine of immortality, does exist. It has been found. It is within our reach. In baptism, this medicine is given to us. A new life begins in us, a life that matures in faith and is not extinguished by the death of the old life, but is only then fully revealed.To this some, perhaps many, will respond: I certainly hear the message, but I lack faith. And even those who want to believe will ask: but is it really so? How are we to picture it to ourselves? How does this transformation of the old life come about, so as to give birth to the new life that knows no death? Once again, an ancient Jewish text can help us form an idea of the mysterious process that begins in us at baptism. There it is recounted how the patriarch Enoch was taken up to the throne of God. But he was filled with fear in the presence of the glorious angelic powers, and in his human weakness he could not contemplate the face of God. “Then God said to Michael,” to quote from the book of Enoch, “‘Take Enoch and remove his earthly clothing. Anoint him with sweet oil and vest him in the robes of glory!’ And Michael took off my garments, anointed me with sweet oil, and this oil was more than a radiant light … its splendour was like the rays of the sun. When I looked at myself, I saw that I was like one of the glorious beings” (Ph. Rech, Inbild des Kosmos, II 524).Precisely this – being reclothed in the new garment of God – is what happens in baptism, so the Christian faith tells us. To be sure, this changing of garments is something that continues for the whole of life. What happens in baptism is the beginning of a process that embraces the whole of our life – it makes us fit for eternity, in such a way that, robed in the garment of light of Jesus Christ, we can appear before the face of God and live with him for ever.In the rite of baptism there are two elements in which this event is expressed and made visible in a way that demands commitment for the rest of our lives. There is first of all the rite of renunciation and the promises. In the early Church, the one to be baptized turned towards the west, the symbol of darkness, sunset, death and hence the dominion of sin. The one to be baptized turned in that direction and pronounced a threefold “no”: to the devil, to his pomp and to sin. The strange word “pomp”, that is to say the devil’s glamour, referred to the splendour of the ancient cult of the gods and of the ancient theatre, in which it was considered entertaining to watch people being torn limb from limb by wild beasts. What was being renounced was a type of culture that ensnared man in the adoration of power, in the world of greed, in lies, in cruelty. It was an act of liberation from the imposition of a form of life that was presented as pleasure and yet hastened the destruction of all that was best in man. This renunciation – albeit in less dramatic form – remains an essential part of baptism today. We remove the “old garments”, which we cannot wear in God’s presence. Or better put: we begin to remove them. This renunciation is actually a promise in which we hold out our hand to Christ, so that he may guide us and reclothe us. What these “garments” are that we take off, what the promise is that we make, becomes clear when we see in the fifth chapter of the Letter to the Galatians what Paul calls “works of the flesh” – a term that refers precisely to the old garments that we remove. Paul designates them thus: “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like” (Gal 5:19ff.). These are the garments that we remove: the garments of death.Then, in the practice of the early Church, the one to be baptized turned towards the east – the symbol of light, the symbol of the newly rising sun of history, the symbol of Christ. The candidate for baptism determines the new direction of his life: faith in the Trinitarian God to whom he entrusts himself. Thus it is God who clothes us in the garment of light, the garment of life. Paul calls these new “garments” “fruits of the spirit”, and he describes them as follows: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22).In the early Church, the candidate for baptism was then truly stripped of his garments. He descended into the baptismal font and was immersed three times – a symbol of death that expresses all the radicality of this removal and change of garments. His former death-bound life the candidate consigns to death with Christ, and he lets himself be drawn up by and with Christ into the new life that transforms him for eternity. Then, emerging from the waters of baptism the neophytes were clothed in the white garment, the garment of God’s light, and they received the lighted candle as a sign of the new life in the light that God himself had lit within them. They knew that they had received the medicine of immortality, which was fully realized at the moment of receiving holy communion. In this sacrament we receive the body of the risen Lord and we ourselves are drawn into this body, firmly held by the One who has conquered death and who carries us through death.In the course of the centuries, the symbols were simplified, but the essential content of baptism has remained the same. It is no mere cleansing, still less is it a somewhat complicated initiation into a new association. It is death and resurrection, rebirth to new life.Indeed, the cure for death does exist. Christ is the tree of life, once more within our reach. If we remain close to him, then we have life. Hence, during this night of resurrection, with all our hearts we shall sing the alleluia, the song of joy that has no need of words. Hence, Paul can say to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life. We are already held for ever in the love of the One to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given (cf. Mt 28:18). In this way, confident of being heard, we make our own the Church’s Prayer over the Gifts from the liturgy of this night: Accept the prayers and offerings of your people. With your help may this Easter mystery of our redemption bring to perfection the saving work you have begun in us. Amen.


CNA report: Ten thousand young people met in the Archdiocese of Quito in Ecuador last month and promised to remain chaste until marriage and defend life from conception to natural death.
According to Amparo Medina of the organization, Prolife Action, which organized the event, the thousands of young people attended a concert and listened to testimonies “about the truth regarding the businesses of death, contraception and abortion.”
“The young people heard testimonies from women who were at the doors of abortion clinics but who, with the help of Prolife volunteers, came to understand what an abortion truly is, received help and said yes to life. The shouts of excitement from the young people upon seeing these babies and their mothers was a yes to life,” Medina said.
After the different events, the young people made a promise to live chastely until marriage and to live in marriage faithfully until death. “We will hold these events again in support of the lives of our children and our families for an Ecuador free of the empire of death, contraception and abortion,” Medina stated.


Release from Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ireland:
Homily by Cardinal Seán Brady for Easter Sunday
St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh
Last night we blessed the Easter fire and the paschal candle. They symbolise the light of the Risen Christ breaking into the world to scatter the darkness of sin and death. During the blessing, five grains of incense, in honour of the five wounds of Christ, were placed into the candle in the form of a cross. Then I prayed: “By his holy and glorious wounds, may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us. Amen.”Today we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. We recall His victory over the powers of evil that had long held humankind captive. We rejoice in the freedom that Christ has won for us. We look to the future with hope. As the great Easter hymn, the Exsultet, proclaims: “The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.”St Paul tells us that Christ, having been raised from the dead, can never die again. Death has no power over Him any more. If this is so, if we can rejoice that Christ is truly victorious, why do we focus so much on His wounds that we even mark them on the Paschal candle as a permanent reminder?We do so because Christ did not simply rise from the dead: He rose with His wounds. On the evening of that first Easter Sunday, He appeared to His disciples and showed them His wounded hands and side.We might well ask: if God the Father could raise Jesus from death, why could He not do the relatively simple job of healing the wounds of His Passion? The wounds of Christ remain on His glorified body as a simple but powerful reminder that although the sins of the past can be overcome and atoned for, they cannot be wiped from the page of history.God takes sin and its consequences seriously. He does not pretend that evil never happened or that it doesn’t really matter. Too often, those who have been hurt by others are casually told to ‘forgive and forget’, or ‘to let bygones be bygones’. The physical resurrection of Jesus teaches that we cannot choose to simply forget the past, skip by it, pretend that it never happened. We must fully face the truth of what occurred in the past. We should not try to flee the consequences of those offences, which can continue to mar the lives of those who suffered because of them.The lives of survivors of child sexual abuse, the faith of members of the Church, and the credibility of Church leadership, have all been wounded grievously by the evil deeds of priests and religious who exploited their position to wreak havoc on the lives of helpless children. Those wounds were aggravated by serious mismanagement on the part of bishops and other leaders in the Church. Those wounds, like the wounds on the body of the risen Christ, will not go away. We must take them seriously. We can only move on into the future if we first own our own personal misdeeds. We have to recognise the harm they have done and be resolved to do whatever is necessary to atone for the crimes that have happened and prevent their reoccurrence.Once again, I apologise with all my heart to all survivors of clerical child sexual abuse. At the Good Friday ceremonies in Dundalk I pledged that proper reparation would be made for the harm that has been caused and I renew that pledge this morning.Last week I met with individual survivors of abuse and with representatives of survivors’ groups. Having listened to their accounts of the terrible hurt they have endured, I am resolved to continue to keep the safeguarding of children central to the Mission of the Catholic Church in Ireland. We all have a critical part to play in safeguarding children.I am convinced that by committing ourselves fully to the challenges of reform, healing and renewal, the wounds of the past, like those of the risen Jesus, have the greatest chance of being transformed. By destroying all arrogance, pride and corruption in the Church, by becoming the humble, just and caring community of disciples that Christ intended us to be, we may look back at this historic moment and see in it God’s life-giving and transforming grace.
But, if we are to engage in the work of reform successfully we must first undertake an honest and incisive investigation of the causes of the scandals of the past. The Holy Father has suggested various contributing factors to this crisis, such as:
A misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal that led to a failure to bring offenders tojustice;
A tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures, and;
Inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life, as well as;
Insufficient formation in seminaries and novitiates.
We have to reflect deeply on these dimensions of the current crisis and act on them with determination. The voice of Catholic lay-people needs to be heard on these and other aspects of this crucial matter.Pope Benedict referred to a tendency in Irish society to favour the clergy and other leadership figures above the laity. He calls it one of the elements that gave rise to the present crisis. To remedy the situation, the lay-faithful need to be supported in becoming more aware of their equal dignity in the Church by virtue of their Baptism.While the ordained priesthood has a specific character and role, Baptism makes us all sharers in the office of Christ, priest, prophet and pastor. All baptised people are called to be co-responsible for the well being of the Church. Co-responsibility requires that lay-people be equipped to live out their baptismal calling and commitments and to be aware of their rights and duties in the life of the Church.Therefore, to build up knowledge and a sense of self-worth among the faithful people of God, in whatever way I can, I will continue to promote improved programmes of religious instruction for our schools and better faith formation for adults in our Diocese. Together we can rebuild Christ’s Church and make this a time of new beginning, of true resurrection for us all.Finally, Pope Benedict refers to a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal. The result was failure to follow proper procedures and, until more recent times, to bring abusers to justice in the civil courts. I realise that, however unintentionally, however unknowingly, I too allowed myself to be influenced by that culture in our Church, and our society. I pledge to you this morning that, from now on, my overriding concern will always be the safety and protection of everyone in the Church – but especially children and all those who are vulnerable. We have already committed substantial resources to devising and implementing world-class safeguarding policies. Some of you may have lingering concerns that nothing has changed in the Church. I promise you, it has changed radically. There is now no hiding place for abusers in the Church. Our policy is to do whatever is necessary to protect the vulnerable and ensure justice for all.I also welcome the Apostolic Visitation announced by the Holy Father in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland. It will play a vital part in the process of rebuilding and renewal. I pledge to co-operate fully with it and to implement all its recommendations. It is my intention to propose to the Holy See that the Diocese of Armagh would be one of those Dioceses which will be visited as part of the Apostolic Visitation announced by Pope Benedict.I also welcome the proposal of a nation-wide mission to be held for all bishops, priest and religious in Ireland. May it help us to draw nearer to Christ, crucified and Risen. I am well aware of the feelings of the priests and religious as a result of all that has happened. I hope that despite everything, they will experience the joy of Easter in the sure knowledge that Christ is truly risen.In the process of renewal, healing and reform that lie ahead, we must take the person of Jesus Christ as the role model we should follow. In this way we arrive at a vision of the virtuous life – the sort of life we ought to live if we are to fulfil the goal of our vocation.We take heart from St Peter in today’s Gospel – he believes the women, he acts on what they say, and goes to see the empty tomb for himself. After his denial of Jesus three times, he surely had the deepest sense of shame at his past failings. Yet he knew that Jesus had given him a big responsibility when He said to him – “But I have prayed for you Simon that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me you must strengthen your brothers”.
Peter was determined to fulfil his responsibilities. I realise that I have many past failures and inadequacies – for which I am sorry and apologise. I realise that I also have been given a great responsibility to God and to you, for leadership and renewal in the Church. I take that responsibility very seriously, a responsibility which, with the help of God, I hope to fulfil at all times to the best of my ability. I am immensely grateful for the support of your prayers at this time as I implore God’s grace and wisdom for the work that lies ahead.By the grace of the words of the Risen and glorified Lord, may the Church in Ireland be truly transformed; may our past scars lead us to a more humble service of the One who gave His life in service of us all. May we never forget our past but learn from it, learn, in particular, from its most painful lessons.The Risen Christ broke through the dark dungeon of evil and death. On this glorious Easter morning He calls us to arise with Him – for the first sign of dawn is at hand. With St Paul we say – ‘Awake O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will give you light’.AMEN


Asia News report: Israel carries out 13 strikes overnight targeting four Hamas weapons factories. The operation is in retaliation against rocket attacks into Israel and the killing of two Israeli soldiers. Palestinian Christians complain about obstacles that prevent them from visiting the holy places. The patriarchs of the Holy Land release an Easter greetings message.Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Three children were slightly injured in a series of raids by the Israeli military last night in the Gaza Strip. Israeli F16 fighter planes and helicopters carried out a number of strikes in response to rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel, and the killing of two soldiers on 26 March. Meanwhile Palestinian Christians complain about the obstacles put up by Israel that are preventing them from getting to Christian holy places for Easter celebrations.
According to the BBC, Israeli aircrafts struck Gaza 13 times last night. Military sources in Israel said that four weapons factories were the target of the operation. Israel also hit a Hamas post near Khan Yunis, not far from where two Israeli soldiers and two Hamas fighters were killed in clashes last week.
A cheese and diary factory was equally hit in Gaza City and a metal foundry was destroyed in Nusseirat, in the central part of the Strip.
Three children, aged two, four and 11, were slightly injured by flying glass in a raid on the Sabra district, in the western part of Gaza City.
Israel’s raid came in response to recent rocket attacks into Israel. The Israeli army said a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Israeli town of Ashkelon late Thursday, causing damage but no casualties.
"Israel will not tolerate terroristic activity inside Gaza that threatens Israeli citizens," the Israeli military said in a statement.
Palestinian sources reported that Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over parts of Gaza yesterday warning residents of retaliation for last Friday's killings of the soldiers in Khan Yunis.
For international analysts, the latest events must be seen against a broader background in which both sides are engaged in military preparations” for a possible large-scale conflict. Even though the Israeli military is not seeking war, it has been preparing for a possible military escalation since the end of its ‘Cast Lead’ operation in December 2008 and January 2009, which left 1,400 Palestinians dead.
For their part, Christians say Israeli security measures are limiting access to the city’s holy places, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “In the last two or three years, it was like a military zone,” a human rights activist said.
Palestinians argue that such measures violate Israel’s claim that it respects freedom of worship in the city. At present, it is unclear whether West Bank Christians will be allowed into Jerusalem for Easter celebrations.
Palestinian news agency Ma’an has reported that crossings into the city are not open and an atmosphere of closure prevails.
In the meantime, the 13 patriarchs who head the Churches of the Holy Land issued a message of holiday greetings, inviting the faithful to “share the Good News” about Christ’s resurrection, a sign of “Hope, encouragement and perseverance” at a time of difficulties and challenges for Christians.
“We know the power of sin and death,” they write, “but we also know the power of the resurrection”, which is connected to “forgiving sins” and healing relationships “within families and within the family of nations”.
“We have huge responsibilities and great challenges,” they noted, but “we are full of hope.”
“We ask for prayers, for us and for all of you, brothers and sisters in Christ, the ‘living stones’ of the Holy Land,” so as to conduct “the fight for justice, peace and reconciliation”.


All Africa report: ALTHOUGH cremation has been a subject of intense debate among Zambia's Christian communities, it is now being touted as the best possible answer to the shortage of burial sites in most parts of the country.
Notably, local authorities in Lusaka and Chipata particularly say they have now run out of land for burial sites and this is prompting some people from certain circles of society to start considering cremation.
According to Wikipedia, the online global encyclopedia, cremation is the process of reducing dead human bodies to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments.
This process is accomplished through high temperatures and evaporisation.
But contrary to popular belief, the cremated remains are not ashes in the usual sense, but rather dried bone fragments that have been pulverised, typically in a device called an electric cremated remains processor (known as a cremulator or pulverisation may be done by hand).
It leaves the bone in a fine sand-like texture and colour, able to be scattered without need for mixing with any foreign matter.
The weight can be anything from appoximately 1.8kg for adult females and 2.7kg for adult males.
In Zambia, which has traditionally been burying its dead from time immemorial, the shortage of land for burial sites has become a public issue of concern.
The capital city Lusaka has now seen the opening up of two new private cemeteries, Mutumbi Cemetery and Remembrance Park and Leopards Hill Memorial Park respectively, where people can bury their dead at a fee.
But majority Zambians are failing to afford burying their deceased at such sites because of the huge costs involved.
For one to bury their dead at Mutumbi Cemetery, for instance, one has to pay between K1.5 million and K5.5 million.
Leopards Hill charges K2.5 million for a single graveyard and K5.5 to K10 million for a family plot.
Lusaka City Council (LCC) public relations manager, Chanda Makanta confirms that the city has run out of land for public burial sites, adding that the rate at which people are dying in Lusaka and countrywide is worrying.
Cremation maybe the only solution, she says.
But the concept of cremation has been received with mixed feelings from some Zambians, who argue that the practice is not anywhere near the Christian religion to which Zambia subscribes.
Ms Makanta said: "People should accept that a dead body has no feelings and it is as good as dead.
It will not feel any pain if cremated.
This issue (argument) of Zambia being a Christian nation will not help us because there is no land and not everyone can afford burying at private cemeteries because of the charges.
"Which district can accept that you take ifitumbi (dead bodies) there instead of development?
I do not think Chibombo District, our nearest here, can accept that we bury people there.
Of course, all the districts are in a hurry to develop and they cannot accept that you take graves there instead of buildings.
"I do not want to say that we have failed but the fact is we are trying our best to find an alternative land.
"We have had offers from people that we should buy their land like in Ng'ombe but we have to inspect and get satisfied," she said.
And Chipata Municipal Council says it has run out of burial sites because the two burial sites, St Anne's and Mchini, have run out of space.
Town Clerk Golden Banda confirmed that the local authority was waiting for the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) to gazette another possible land as a burial site.
"Yes, we have run out of space at our two cemeteries. It is a sad situation because people have now gone beyond the boundary burying their loved ones. At the moment, we are still waiting for ECZ to give us alternative land," Mr Banda confirmed.
Again, cremation was his preferred solution as an alternative.
But will Zambians accept it considering that theirs is a Christian nation?
"The reason Christians have always been careful to practise burial is because we believe in a bodily resurrection. Though the buried body will decompose in time and sometimes there are occasions in which Christians die in ways which render burial impossible like in the sinking of ships, in house fires or being eaten by a lion when at all possible we bury because it is our sure hope that the same individual will be raised in the same body, only changed because we shall have no sin," explains the Bishop.
In the Bible, the physical body is regarded as the corruptible seed for the resurrection of the incorruptible body in the same manner that when planted, a seed first decomposes before the new plant comes forth.
Throughout the Bible, the destruction of a human body or of an object by fire is used as a sign of divine wrath.
Examples abound in the Bible like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis19 verse 24, the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 verses. 1-2 and some examples of men who rebelled with God's people like Korah in Numbers 16 verses 35 and in 1 Corinthians 14 verse 12.
"God made you a three-part being, these include body, soul, and spirit. Mind you, God created all three parts for Himself. Every part of your existence, including your body, should be dedicated to His glory. You have no right to use any part of God's creation as you wish. He is the Creator. He has the full rights to dictate how His creations are treated. Let the local authorities find new burial sites because we shall not accept cremation here in Zambia," says Bishop Ndhlobvu.
But the sad reality is that while until recently burial prevailed almost universally as the common method for disposal of the dead in most Christian nations, cremation which in the past was looked upon as something practiced only by those totally ignorant of the Bible, trends are now changing.
And the debate is still raging: "While the weight of Christian tradition clearly favours burial, the Bible nowhere explicitly condemns cremation. Since 1963, the Roman Catholic Church has permitted cremation while 'earnestly recommending' burial as the preferred mode of disposal," says Peter Chikwanda, a professed Catholic Christian.
Mr Chikwanda notes that cremation cannot in any way prevent the sovereign God from calling forth the dead at the end of time, adding that the Bible should not be used as a proof text either for the necessity of burial or for cremation.
"The real question for Christians is not whether one is buried or cremated but how we live as in living a life that pleases God. Because at the end of it all and when all is said and done what will matter is one being faithful to God. On that Day of Judgment, we will all stand before God, those who will be alive by then and the dead, cremated or buried," believes Mr Chikwanda.
And several other people feel that cremation is more environmentally-friendly than embalming (preparations for burial) practices used.
It is also believed that many chemicals used in embalming are known toxins.
However, there is some evidence that crematoriums, where bodies are cremated, produce their own pollutants, which might be a health hazard.
Financially, cremating a body is far more cost-effective than burial.
Burial requires the purchase of a burial plot, a coffin, and huge amounts of money to buy food for feeding the mourners, among others.
Yet, cremation can mean simplifying funeral arrangements for family members, something many people say could be ideal considering that grieving family members need not to be overwhelmed after a loss!


Cath News report: The Royal Agricultural Society, organiser of the Sydney Easter Show, has told the Bible Society NSW there was no space available at the event for its "Jesus. All About Life." stall.
The Bible Society said it has also received communication that it was not able to secure the space for the stall due to its religious nature, according to a media statement.
"It's a curious thing that an event bearing the name "Easter" has disallowed anything to do with the very thing Easter is all about - the death and resurrection of Jesus," says CEO of Bible Society NSW, Daniel Willis.
Bible Society said it would still hand out thousands of resources it had prepared for the show, and has invited churches, Christian ministry groups and youth to its offices on Thursday to collect them.
Meanwhile, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is urging the Sydney Royal Easter Show organisers to rethink their refusal.
"This is a family event held at the most sacred time of the year on the Christian calendar and one would have thought it was entirely appropriate to provide space for the Bible Society stall," ACL NSW Director David Hutt said today.
"When was it decided that religion should be kept out of an Easter event and expunged from family activities?"


St. Richard
Feast: April 3
Feast Day:
April 3
1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, England
3 April 1253 at Dover, England
1262 by Pope Urban IV
Major Shrine:
Chichester Cathedral
Patron of:

St. Richard was born at the manor of Wiche, famous for its salt wells four miles from Worcester, being second son to Richard and Alice de Wiche In order to keep faithfully his baptismal vows, he from his infancy always manifested the utmost dislike to gay diversions, and ever held in the highest contempt all worldly pomp: instead of which his attention was wholly employed In establishing for himself a solid foundation of virtue and learning. Every opportunity of serving others he regarded as his happiness and gain. The unfortunate situation of his eldest brother's affairs gave him an occasion of exercising his benevolent disposition. Richard condescended to become his brother's servant, undertook the management of his farms and by his industry and generosity effectually retrieved his brother's before distressed circumstances. Having completed this good work, he resumed at Paris those studies he had begun at Oxford, leading with two select companions, a life of piety and mortification, generally contenting himself with coarse bread and simple water for his diet; except that on Sundays and on particular festivals he would, in condescendence to some visitors, allow himself a little meat or fish. Upon his return to England, he proceeded to become master of arts at Oxford, from whence he went to Bologna, in Italy, where he applied himself to the study of the canon law, and was appointed public professor of that science. After having taught there a short time, he returned to Oxford, and, on account of his merit, was soon promoted to the dignity of chancellor in that university. St. Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury. having the happiness of gaining him for his diocese, appointed him his chancellor, and intrusted him with the chief direction of his archbishopric; and Richard was the faithful imitator of his patron's piety and devotions. The principal use he made of his revenues was to employ them to charitable purposes, nor would he on any terms be prevailed on to accept the least present in the execution of his office as ecclesiastical judge. He accompanied his holy prelate in his banishment into France, and after his blessed death at Pontigni, retired into a convent of Dominican friars in Orleans. Having in that solitude employed his time in the improving himself in theological studies, and received the order of priesthood, he returned to England to serve a private curacy, in the diocese of Canterbury. Boniface, who had succeeded St. Edmund in that metropolitan see, compelled him to resume his office of chancellor, with the care of his whole diocese. Ralph Nevil, bishop of Chichester, dying in 1244, king Henry III. recommended to that see an unworthy court favorite, called Robert Passelew: the archbishop and other prelates declared the person not qualified, and the presentation void: and preferred Richard de Wiche to that dignity. He was consecrated in 1245. But the king seized his temporalities, and the saint suffered many hardships and persecutions from him and his officers, during two years, till his majesty granted him a replevin: upon which he recovered his revenues, but much impaired. And as, after having pleaded his cause at Rome before pope Innocent IV. against the king's deputies, and obtained a sentence confirming his election, he had permitted no persecution, fatigue. or difficulty to excuse him to himself for the omission of any part of his duty to his flock so now, the chief obstacles being removed, he redoubled his fervor and attention. He, in person, visited the sick, buried the dead, and sought out and relieved the poor. When his steward complained that his alms exceeded his income: "then," said he, "sell my plate and my horse." Having suffered a great loss by fire, instead of being more sparing in his charities, he said, "Perhaps God sent us this loss to punish our covetousness;" and ordered upon the spot more abundant alms to be given than usual. Such was the ardor of his devotion that he lived as it were in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. He preached the word of God to his flock with that unction and success which only an eminent spirit of prayer could produce. The affronts which he received, he always repaid with favors, and enmity with singular marks of charily. In maintaining discipline he was inflexible, especially in chastising crimes in the clergy, no intercession of the king, archbishop, and several other prelates could prevail with him to mitigate the punishment of a priest who had sinned against chastity. Yet penitent sinners he received with inexpressible tenderness and charity. While he was employed in preaching a holy war against the Saracens, being commissioned thereto by the pope, he fell sick of a fever, foretold his own death, and prepared himself for it by the most melting ejaculations of divine love and thanksgiving. He died in an hospital at Dover, called God's House, on the 3d of April, in the year of our Lord 1253, of his episcopal dignity the ninth, of his age the fifty-sixth. His body was conveyed to Chichester, and interred before the altar which he himself had consecrated in his cathedral to the memory of St. Edmund. It was removed to a more honorable place in 1276, on the 16th of June, on which day our ancestors commemorated his translation. The fame of miraculous cures of paralytic and other distempers, and of three persons raised to life at his tomb, moved the pope to appoint commissaries to inquire into the truth of these reports, before whom many of these miracles were authentically proved upon the spot; and the saint was solemnly canonized by Urban IV, in 1262.


Mark 16: 1 - 7
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salo'me, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen.
And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?"
And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; -- it was very large.
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed.
And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him.
But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you."
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