Friday, August 27, 2010










Radio Vaticana report: “Violence among followers of different religions, is, unfortunately, a pressing subject, at least in certain areas of the world”, says Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, President of the Vatican’s Council for Inter-religious dialogue. This is why - he adds in his message marking the Islamic feast of Id al-Fitr and the end of Ramadan – Christians and Muslims must work together to overcome it.

The theme for this years message was also the topic of discussions at the last meeting of the Pontifical Council and al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions.

In his message published Friday, Cardinal Tauran shares the meeting’s conclusions. He notes the many causes for violence including: “the manipulation of the religion for political or other ends; discrimination based on ethnicity or religious identity; divisions and social tensions”, as well as “ignorance, poverty and underdevelopment”.

The Cardinal invites civil and religious authorities to “offer their contributions” for a solution “for the sake of the common good of all society” and calls on civil authorities to “safeguard the primacy of the law by ensuring true justice to put a stop to the authors and promoters of violence”.

Cardinal Tauran also urges Christians and Muslims “to recognize what we have in common and to respect differences, as a basis for a culture of dialogue”; he recalls “the importance of education towards respect” at home, in the school, in churches and mosques.

“Teaching by religious leaders, as well as school books which present religions in an objective way, have, along with teaching in general, a decisive impact on the education and the formation of younger generations”.

Only in this way, he concludes “we will be able to oppose violence among followers of different religions and promote peace and harmony among the various religious communities”.


Catholic Online REPORT: Doctors find 24 nails driven into body
A Sri Lankan maid returned to her native country needing dire medical help after her employers in Saudi Arabia brutally tortured her. Physicians discovered 24 nails that had been driven into the maid's body.49-year-old maid L.G. Ariyawathi was hospitalized suffering from severe pain at a facility about 100 miles away from capital, Colombo, according to media reports.
49-year-old L.G. Ariyawathi was hospitalized suffering from severe pain at a facility about 100 miles away from capital, Colombo, according to media reports.
She told a local newspaper that her employers tortured her with the nails as punishment. "They (employer and his family) did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body," Ariyawathi told local newspaper reporters.
She said she traveled to Saudi Arabia in March and was paid only two month's salary, with her employer withholding three months' salary to buy an air ticket to send her home.
Doctors say the nails in her body range from one to two inches.
While the initial puncture wounds have healed over, the doctors told the Associated Press that Ariyawathi finds it difficult to walk because she has two nails in her knee and two in her ankles. Another needle is in her forehead, and the rest are in hands.
"Her condition is stable, but we are giving antibiotics and painkillers," her physician said, adding that doctors will begin removing the nails this week.

The 24 nails are "inside the body due to torture meted out by her Saudi employer," Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, deputy minister of economic development, said in a statement on a government website.
Abeywardena said the government would "report about this matter to the Saudi Government and provide her adequate compensation."
Ariyawathi had allegedly been too afraid to complain about the abuse to Saudi authorities, fearing that her employers might not let her return home. She also did not report the abuse to Sri Lankan officials, until she was hospitalized.
About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, nearly 400,000 of them in Saudi Arabia alone.


Agenzia Fides REPORT– Three humanitarian workers operating in the Swat Valley, in the northern part of the country, have been killed by Pakistani Taliban while working to bring aid to flood victims. The attack of the fundamentalists, which has also caused several injuries in two villages, took place between August 24 and 25. The tragic news was communicated to Fides by Fr. Robert McCulloch, a priest of the Columban Fathers, a missionary in Pakistan for over 32 years, and was confirmed by local humanitarian organizations. The news of the attack and the death of the three workers - Fides sources say - was withheld by Pakistani military and civilian officials, who tried to prevent the news from leaking into the mass media (given its delicate and serious nature), for fear that word of such incidents could discourage aid agencies working in the area.
The attack by the Taliban on two villages in the Swat Valley, located in the Northwest Frontier Province, left several seriously injured. Also, the fundamentalist groups looted the homes and shops of the two villages, Fides has learned from NGO sources engaged in social development and helping flood victims in the Swat Valley.
"The purpose of these attacks is an attempt to maintain absolute control of the territory in the Swat Valley, where even prior to the flooding there were clashes between the Pakistani army and the fundamentalist militia,” Fr. Robert told Fides. The priest works with eight of his confrères in assisting flood victims.
Just yesterday, the U.S. government and Pakistani authorities had warned about potential attacks of the Taliban on humanitarian workers. Many organizations working in the area, Christian and non-Christian, have spoken clearly saying that they will not be intimidated. Caritas and the Pontifical Mission Societies have told Fides of their intention to continue the work of humanitarian assistance for IDPs without any discrimination. Catholic aid workers in Pakistan told Fides they were "concerned but not surprised by such violent events. Threats and attacks on schools, NGOs, Christian institutions, and centers involved in social services have been occurring for several years in the Swat Valley. The Pakistani Taliban are thus trying to destabilize the local and national government, sowing terror among the population and imposing their law.”
Christians and other religious minorities are among the main victims. Last March, 6 workers from the Christian-based humanitarian NGO "World Vision" were killed by an explosion in the Mansehra district, also in the Northwest Frontier Province.

AUSTRIA: 88 MONKS IN CISTERCIAN MONASTARY AND VOCATIONS INCREASING press report: in the Cistercian Monastery Heiligenkreuz in the Vienna Woods the number of monks has increased to 88, meaning a doubling in recent years and the highest number of employees in the nearly 900 history. The average age of the monks is 47 years.

"A wave of young people who want to share our lives recently existed in the middle ages", p. Karl Wallner, Professor of theology at the Teutonic order's College and youth pastor is happy.

To the secret of so many appeals he says: "There are especially the liturgy in Gregorian chant to the standards of the II Vatican Council and our commitment to the Pope and ecclesiastical Magisterium."
In recent weeks Abbot Gregor Henckel Donnersmarck dressed a seven young men in the novitiate, six novices have filed the "temporal" vows, five novices extend seven monks decided to place the "final vows" and four monks were ordained by Bishop Lackner deacons

Heiligenkreuzer however, also need to take a "disposal": your previous prior Christian Feurstein was elected Abbot of monastery rein in Styria and 21. Introduced August in his Office.
"Interesting is that all entrants made their first contact with us over the Internet." "Some have visited the site of the monastery several times until they found the courage to visit the monastery also life then finally".
"Usque ad mortem"
Mary Ascension laid Patrozinium day of Holy Cross, the seven young monks had already temporal vows their solemn profession now, the final vows "usque ad mortem" are to death:
P.Johannes Paul Chavanne and P.Mag. Both Wiener, P.bacc.phil are Tobias Westerthaler. Edmund Waldstein is lower Austrian P.Mag. Damian Lienhart and P.Dipl.Ing. Styrians and P.Dipl.kfm are Emmanuel Heissenberger. Dr. oec. Lic. theol. Justinus bad luck and P.Mag. Placidus Beilicke come from Germany.

You have different appeal routes, but are all just over 20. One is microbiologist, a Certified Business Economist, Economist, a graduate engineer for water management. More about some of them "Chant - life paradise" is in the book can be read. The vows were 120 priests and religious and over 700 believers and family members who filled the whole pen courtyard at the subsequent festive Agape.


Catholic online report: This relatively young order that began with just four nuns in 1997 has now grown to nearly 100. After graduating from Harvard University, Mary Anne Marks has her heart set on a new life with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. This remarkable young woman -- indeed, this flourishing young order of Sisters -- is a light in our darkened culture and a ray of hope that without a doubt, the Church is being renewed and strengthened for the task of reaching our lost world with the truth of Jesus Christ, the "New Evangelization." Let her inspiring story encourage you that all is not lost! WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - I've heard the phrase many times from those who homeschool that the primary goal is not to get your kids into Harvard but Heaven. The point being that faith formation and solid anchoring in the life of Christ is of far greater importance than calculus or chemistry.

Mary Anne Marks has surely made Heaven her final goal, plus she got into Harvard to boot! This inspiring woman, who graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University this past spring (and delivered her commencement address in Latin, no less) is now looking toward her future as a Catholic nun, discerning her vocation among the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI.

These wonderful Sisters enchanted millions of people when they appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in February. Seeing their lively, joyful, youthful faces seemed to shatter the notion that Catholic nuns are all old, boring, dour and cranky. These Sisters were radiant with life, lit from within by a fierce love of Christ and His Church, and just to see them on the TV screen was to want that tangible joy and freedom they had.
This relatively young order that began with just four nuns in 1997 has now grown to nearly 100 in only thirteen years, and the average age of the Sisters is 26. Mary Anne Marks hopes to join their community soon, beginning her year of aspirancy and postulancy this fall.
She was recently interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online, and it was impossible not to be energized with hope after I read their candid exchange. She is young yet extremely mature, intelligent and grounded. She is rooted in the faith and life of the Church. She's devout, happy, eager to teach and serve, ready to be challenged. She has an unabashed affection for the Lord and a craving for His Presence in the Eucharist. In a very real way, she is the future of the Church, and that is very exciting.
As for that tired old secular rant that the Church is a misogynistic empire that oppresses women - forget it. She'll have none of it:

"From its earliest years, the Church's doctrine of the equality of all humans as beloved children of God and its reverence for Mary as the spouse and mother of God elevated women to a status previously unheard of. In our own times, the Church's unequivocal opposition to practices such as abortion and contraception, which harm women physically and psychologically, and threaten to render them victims of their own and others' unchecked desires, makes the Church a lone voice above the chaos, promoting women's dignity and happiness."

When Lopez asked her about changing her plans to go to graduate school and giving up her freedom because she felt God wanted her to enter the convent, she replied, "Part of the answer is that when Love asks you to be His spouse, you don't quibble about the when and where. The other part is that anything worthwhile in life requires an ongoing, freely willed surrender of one's freedom."

It hardly needs saying what a refreshing contrast this is to the obsession with self that dominates our culture. Mary Anne clearly understands the significance of the counter-cultural nature of the call to religious life:

"Religious are called to witness by their life and garb to supernatural realities: God's existence, His immeasurable love for each person, and the fact that our duty and happiness lie in returning His love. That witness becomes increasingly important as a culture's materialism and corresponding distaste for the supernatural increase."

Speaking of happiness, she has some wise-beyond-her-years thoughts on that, as well.

"Happiness is the sense of peace and joy that stems from knowledge of and union with the One Who created us and Who loves us infinitely. We will attain it fully in heaven, but we can achieve it to a significant extent beforehand by battling our desire to remain independent of God, ignoring the voices that label religion boring and unnecessary, and better acquainting ourselves with Truth through study and prayer."

She offers some road-tested advice for young girls today who may be considering the religious life but don't know where to go or who to talk to about their questions.

"Spend a bit of time each day talking to Jesus, before the Blessed Sacrament if you can, or in a quiet place free of distractions. Start with 15 minutes and work up to half an hour. You can't know what He desires for you if the two of you aren't good friends. Ask Him and His mother for guidance. And check out some community websites, maybe starting with those listed on the website of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. If a group piques your interest, send the vocations director an email and see what happens! Vocations directors are not recruiters; they are seasoned religious with long experience helping young women to discern God's will for their lives."
I admit that what surprised me most about the interview was learning that Harvard has given rise to many religious vocations in recent years. Mary Anne explained, "A couple of years ago, a young man who finished Harvard in three years entered the seminary in St. Louis. A little further back, a young woman who attended Harvard and lived in the same women's residence that I did joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. One of my friends, whom I met while she was pursuing a degree at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, joined the Religious Sisters of Mercy two years ago. This July 25, two young men from Harvard joined the Eastern Province of the Dominicans."

Who would've thunk it? And even more surprising was the response she received from some faculty members when they learned of her decision to enter the convent:

"A kind but thoroughly unsentimental professor who had been very encouraging of my intention to apply to graduate school, ended our discussion of my change of plans by opening her arms and declaring quietly, 'I am going to give you a hug, because this is a big decision, and I admire you for it.' When I remarked to yet another professor on the many positive responses from faculty, he replied that he wasn't surprised that academics could appreciate the appeal of a life of contemplation and of single-minded pursuit of a spiritual goal."

(Maybe there's hope for Harvard after all!) The entire interview is terrific and well worth the read. I think my favorite part, though, was this:
Kathryn Lopez: "You are a Harvard graduate. Aren't you surrendering all the possibilities that entails by entering a convent?"
Mary Anne Marks: "Yes, if one doesn't see becoming a well-educated, intellectually alive nun as one of the possibilities."
God bless you, Mary Anne!


Cath News report: Mary MacKillop's canonisation is going to be a massive event in the tiny South Australian town of Penola, where she established her first school.
Amid speculation that up to 20,000 pilgrims might attend the celebrations, the Church is trying to plan for a Mass on the canonisation day, October 17, according to an AAP report inthe Sydney Morning Herald.
Father Richard Morris, Chaplain for the Mary MacKillop Penola celebrations, is urging people to register in advance, and the church has called in a professional ticketing company, Venuetix, to help figure out numbers. The will be no fees charged for attending.
"This will be the biggest day in Penola's history, but the problem is we don't know quite how big," Fr Richard said in a statement yesterday.
"We're asking anyone who wants to attend to register with Venuetix, so we can get an idea of just how large a crowd we will have to greet and seat.
"There will be no charge for attendance, but we want everyone to be comfortable and we want to ensure we can fit them all in."
"The whole town is preparing for this day and can't wait to share it with the many pilgrims who want to be a part of it," Fr Richard said.


All Africa report: The Catholic Church has raised "deep concern" over staggering preparations for next year's elections and suggested review of "appointment of the Electoral Commission" as part of wide reforms to forestall likely anarchy.The Episcopal Conference, which brings together all the 32 current and retired Catholic bishops, in a June 11, 2010, pastoral letter but circulated to media houses yesterday, expressed dissatisfaction with government's and the Electoral Commission's handling of pre-vote activities. Deeply concerned

"We write with passion and deep concern that the road towards the 2011 general elections is creating a lot of anxiety, doubts, fear and moments of hopelessness among people of God," the letter says in its preamble.

It adds: "Elections by their nature should and must provide our electorate with regular opportunities to peacefully comment, challenge, change and review their government ...As the country is preparing for general elections in 2011, we religious leaders cannot ignore Uganda's problems of tyranny, war, violence and fraud."

The 32 bishops, who spiritually shepherd more than 10 million Ugandans, say they decided to speak out on the upcoming ballot to "avoid what may cause confusion and animosity among our people".

They raise issue with stolen votes in previous elections, the role of the army in elections, late enactment of laws and fund releases to the EC as well as operational "shortcomings" that have eroded public confidence in the electoral body. "An effective and accountable Electoral Commission is required to guarantee free and fair elections," the clergymen wrote. "There is, therefore, a pressing need to tackle areas where the EC has been inefficient. However, this requires a strict review of the appointment and management of the Electoral Commission."

Governance. Government Spokesperson Kabakumba Masiko yesterday said the Catholic leaders' push to re-constitute the EC is not about to happen. This, she said, is partly because it would require constitutional amendment by lawmakers presently combing their constituencies to secure re-election.

Speaking to this newspaper by telephone, Ms Masiko said, "We have also had shortcomings with the Catholic Church some of whose leaders engage in lesbianism or sleeping with the very Christians they are supposed to shepherd. "Should we also demand reforms in their appointment? This Electoral Commission is competent, effective and efficient and requires the support of every stakeholder to organise credible elections."

In the pastoral letter, the prelates, whom President Museveni has previously warned to keep off politics, said the Church represents the moral conscience of a nation and she is expected to spell out what is good or bad, right or wrong, in the political life of a community.


St. Monica

Feast: August 27

Information: Feast Day: August 27

Born: 322 at Tagaste (Souk Ahrus), Algeria

Died: 387 at Ostia, Italy

Major Shrine: Sant'Agostino, Rome

Patron of: patience, married women, homemakers and housewives, mothers, wives, widows, alcoholics, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, and victims of (verbal) abuse

Widow; born of Christian parents at Tagaste, North Africa, in 333; died at Ostia, near Rome, in 387. We are told but little of her childhood. She was married early in life to Patritius who held an official position in Tagaste. He was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was of course a gulf between husband and wife; her almsdeeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a veritable apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.

Three children were born of this marriage, Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and her grief was great when Augustine fell ill; in her distress she besought Patritius to allow him to be baptized; he agreed, but on the boy's recovery withdrew his consent. All Monica s anxiety now centred in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. He was sent to Madaura to school and Monica seems to have literally wrestled with God for the soul of her son. A great consolation was vouchsafed her -- in compensation perhaps for all that she was to experience through Augustine -- Patritius became a Christian. Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to prosecute his studies, and here he fell into grievous sin. Patritius died very shortly after his reception into the Church and Monica resolved not to marry again. At Carthage Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he ventilated certain heretical propositions she drove him away from her table, but a strange vision which she had urged her to recall him. It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, "the child of those tears shall never perish." There is no more pathetic story in the annals of the Saints than that of Monica pursuing her wayward son to Rome, wither he had gone by stealth; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield, after seventeen years of resistance. Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Cassiacum, after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. Africa claimed them however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Civit' Vecchia and at Ostia. Here death overtook Monica and the finest pages of his "Confessions" were penned as the result of the emotion Augustine then experienced.

St. Monica was buried at Ostia, and at first seems to have been almost forgotten, though her body was removed during the sixth century to a hidden crypt in the church of St. Aureus. About the thirteenth century, however, the cult of St. Monica began to spread and a feast in her honour was kept on 4 May. In 1430 Martin V ordered the relics to be brought to Rome. Many miracles occurred on the way, and the cultus of St. Monica was definitely established. Later the Archbishop of Rouen, Cardinal d'Estouteville, built a church at Rome in honour of St. Augustine and deposited the relics of St. Monica in a chapel to the left of the high altar. The Office of St. Monica however does not seem to have found a place in the Roman Breviary before the sixteenth century. In 1850 there was established at Notre Dame de Sion at Paris an Association of Christian mothers under the patronage of St. Monica; its object was mutual prayer for sons and husbands who had gone astray. This Association was in 1856 raised to the rank of an archconfraternity and spread rapidly over all the Catholic world, branches being established in Dublin, London, Liverpool, Sidney, and Buenos Ayres. Eugenius IV had established a similar Confraternity long before.
TODAY'S GOSPEL: ST. MONICA: Matthew 25: 1 - 13

Matthew 25: 1 - 13

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.

3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;

4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'

7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'

9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.

11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.'

12 But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
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