Saturday, November 27, 2010







TODAY'S GOSPEL: NOV. 27: Luke 21: 34 - 36


Pope on the “miracle of life” and the “darkening of souls”
Radio Vaticana:
On Saturday evening, St Peter’s Basilica was the focal point for a global event, a vigil of prayer for nascent life. The first of its kind and expressly wanted by Pope Benedict XVI, the event involved the universal Church, with Catholics coming together in prayer in their homes, parishes, religious communities and cathedrals across the world.
In his homily, Pope Benedict said: “there are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being”.

He also warned against the “darkening of consciences” towards the innate value of life, affirming that the unborn child “has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought”.

We publish a draft Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s homily for First Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent:

Dear brothers and sisters,

With this evening's celebration, the Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new liturgical year beginning with its first stage: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord. In this Advent period we will once again experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and cared for us to the point of becoming a man. This great and fascinating mystery of God with us, moreover of God who becomes one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During the season of Advent we feel the Church that takes us by the hand and - in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary - expresses her motherhood allowing us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

While our hearts reach out towards the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, the Church's liturgy directs our gaze to the final goal: our encounter with the Lord in the splendour of glory. This is why we, in every Eucharist, "announce his death, proclaim his resurrection until he comes again" we hold vigil in prayer. The liturgy does not cease to encourage and support us, putting on our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which the whole Bible concludes, the last page of the Revelation of Saint John: "Come, Lord Jesus "(22:20).
Dear brothers and sisters, our coming together this evening to begin the Advent journey is enriched by another important reason: with the entire Church, we want to solemnly celebrate a prayer vigil for unborn life. I wish to express my thanks to all who have taken up this invitation and those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in different situations of fragility, especially in its early days and in its early stages. The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.

Man has an unmistakable originality compared to all other living beings that inhabit the earth. He presents himself as a unique and singular entity, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension. This is also suggested in the text of the First letter to the Thessalonians which was just proclaimed: "May the God of peace himself - St. Paul writes - make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ "(5:23). Therefore, we are spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limits of our material condition, at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome Him in us. We operate in earthly realities and through them we can perceive the presence of God and seek Him, truth, goodness and absolute beauty. We savour fragments of life and happiness and we long for total fulfilment.

God loves us so deeply, totally, without distinction, He calls us to friendship with him, He makes us part of a reality beyond all imagination, thought and word; His own divine life. With emotion and gratitude we acknowledge the value of the incomparable dignity of every human person and the great responsibility we have toward all. " Christ, the final Adam, - says the Second Vatican Council - by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.... by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. "(Gaudium et Spes, 22).

Believing in Jesus Christ also means having a new outlook on man, a look of trust and hope. Moreover, experience itself and reason show that the human being is a subject capable of discernment, self-conscious and free, unique and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly things, that must be recognized in his innate value and always accepted with respect and love. He has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought. Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. In this vein we find the Church's concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life: "from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care " (ibid., n. 51).

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary's womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: " he who will be a man is already one" (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.
Unfortunately, even after birth, the lives of children continue to be exposed to abandonment, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence or exploitation. The many violations of their rights that are committed in the world sorely hurt the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad landscape of the injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make mine Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: " respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!"(Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 5). I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life.

To the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love, we entrust our commitment and prayer in favour of unborn life . We do in the liturgy - which is the place where we live the truth and where truth lives with us - worshiping the divine Eucharist, we contemplate Christ's body, that body who took flesh from Mary by the Holy Spirit, and from her was born in Bethlehem for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!


CNA REPORT: Catholic bishops across the U.S. are urging the all of the faithful to unite their prayers with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, Nov. 27, in an unprecedented worldwide vigil for unborn life.

The Pope will celebrate a special Vespers service that Saturday evening at St. Peter's Basilica, heralding the first Sunday of Advent. Pope Benedict has recommended that “parishes, religious communities, associations and movements” join him for evening prayer, in “churches throughout the world.”

The season of preparation for Christmas, the Pope said on Nov. 14, “is a favorable time to invoke the divine protection of every human being called into existence, and to give thanks to God for the gift of life we have received from our parents.”

Although it is common for the Pope to encourage prayer for particular intentions, the request for a coordinated worldwide vigil –to be held on the same date and approximately the same time, in all dioceses– is highly exceptional. Several bishops' comments have indicated that nothing comparable has ever occurred in the history of the Church.

While many Americans may be occupied with the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and the shopping blitz of “Black Friday,” bishops across the country are encouraging believers not to neglect the Pope's historic call to prayer.

“At this moment in history,” Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco wrote, “when societies are endorsing the killing of human beings as a solution to social, economic, and environmental problems, the Holy Father is reminding us of the necessity and power of prayer to protect human life.”

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta stressed that those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church should nevertheless join their prayers with those of the Pope and his flock throughout the world. He also encouraged those who cannot attend a vigil service, due to other commitments, to participate to the best of their ability.

“I invite all Christians to begin the Advent season uniting in prayer for God's protection and help for human life,” he wrote. “All are welcome to take part in a special prayer on November 27 whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays.”

The Diocese of Davenport in Iowa has produced a booklet that will allow families who are unable to attend the full services, to join in some of the same prayers that Pope Benedict XVI will pray at St. Peter's on the night of the vigil. That booklet is available from the diocese's website, at

All of the vigils will feature exposition of the Eucharist and and benediction, with most slated to include the Church's traditional evening prayer of psalms and petitions. Some parishes will also be hosting Marian processions and recitation of the Rosary. While most participating parishes will hold services during the evening, some have scheduled them earlier, or in conjunction with a vigil Mass.

Those planning to attend should confirm times and parish participation, either through the Internet or by contacting their local diocese before the Thanksgiving holiday, since offices may be closed the following Friday.


ROME REPORT: The official website for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid has added a new feature to their website. An interactive map allows viewers to see how many participants have signed up to attend World Youth Day from every country. By dragging your mouse over a country one can view the exact number that have registered with the official site

France is leading the way with close to 45,000 young people planning to attend. Italy is in second with over 36,000 and the host country of Spain lists 22,000 already preparing for the meeting.

Some countries only have one or two signed up such as Morocco and Sierra Leone. While their numbers may dwindle in comparison to other countries, they are nonetheless important in providing an overall representation of the world.

So far close to 200,000 participants in total have signed up for World Youth Day to take place in Madrid next August.




On the eve of balloting for the presidential elections to be held Sunday, 28 November, mixed signals are coming from the Côte d'Ivoire. On one hand, the two candidates, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, last night launched an appeal for calm to voters during a televised debate. Secondly there is the killing of a pro Gbagbo demonstrator in the west of the Country, the region where cocoa plantations are concentrated and where indigenous peoples (considered pro Gbagbo) and immigrants from the north of Côte d'Ivoire or of foreign origin (considered pro Ouattara) live together.
For the past week there have been several incidents of clashes between protesters of the two camps, with some injuries, but no casualties.
Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan and spokesperson for the group of religious leaders for the “peaceful” elections, urged Ivorians to remain calm and act responsibly. “We implore the two candidates, in the name of God, to conduct an electoral campaign that allows us to go to the polls in complete peace. By committing ourselves to have the wisdom and dignity necessary to avoid cheap debates, we wish to invite fellow citizens to do likewise. We must consolidate peace at any cost.”
Bishop Kutwa also confirmed that whoever is elected President will have to embody national unity: “Once again, we would like to record that the presidential election is not and never will be the consecration of a religion, ethnic group, or a region. What we seek is to have a President who rises above all clans, tribes and religions; a president capable of leading our Country and those who inhabit it, to its full development.”
The group of religious leaders has indicated 24, 25 and 26 November as moments of prayer and fasting for the ballot to be conducted in an atmosphere of peace.



The Director of Jesuit Refugee Service International, Fr Peter Balleis SJ, has called on Australia to live up to its reputation as a tolerant and multi-cultural nation by showing compassion to boat people, writes Catherine Marshall in Province Express.

Visiting Sydney on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of JRS, Fr Balleis said although Australia receives relatively small numbers of refugees, it is important that JRS Australia keeps their cause on the agenda, particularly on behalf of boat people.

"Something I’d like to say explicitly is that those people who risk their lives on these boats, they are the more desperate and poor. Asylum seekers don’t generally come by boat, they come through the airport. [Boat people] cannot get a plane ticket, cannot get a visa, they are desperate."

Fr Balleis said it was inhumane for the media and public commentators to portray the weakest and the poorest of people as the enemy. These people "have no other option but to flee for their lives'.

"People are stateless in Burma, in Bangladesh – what hope do they have? Sri Lanka is a defeated population; I would probably leave also if I was a Tamil. We have to stand up for them, to be there and plead for their cause. Australia has a lot of space and has always been an immigration country.

"It’s had a much more open attitude and we can build on that. If you lose it, it will send a bad signal to others. You know even from the very first moment that this country has always integrated people. So if you become closed, what can we say about [a country like] Germany which has much more of a monoculture?"

Fr Balleis said JRS was facing a new set of challenges as it entered its fourth decade.


UCAN REPORT: About 20,000 Muslims, Christians and tribespeople joined a two-hour parade in the southern Philippine city of Zamboangato mark the start of “Mindanao Peace Week“ on Nov. 25.

Representatives of civil and military organizations, business and labor groups and urban poor communities also joined the event to express “concern for peace and commitment to peace-building” in Mindanao.

Claretian missioner Father Angel Calvo said the annual celebration was a time for residents to renew their commitment to peace and peace-building.

Father Calvo heads the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace that has spearheaded the “Week of Peace” celebration since 1998.

“We have come out together to the streets to show our common concern for peace and to celebrate our diversity,” he said.

Professor Ali Yacub, who spoke on behalf of the Islamic community said Muslims in the city invite everybody “to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice – the two commandments of love of God and neighbor.”

Italian missioner Father Giulio Mariani said “the demand of our mission is for a deepened understanding of other religious communities, their religiosity and their theologies, attitudes of genuine respect and reverence for other beliefs and spiritualities.”

A statement by Protestant Churches said they were “united to manifest the same promise to pursue our common aspirations to see peace not simply an abstract idea but rather a real fruit of hard work and unity.”

Indigenous peoples said in a joint statement that they renew their commitment “to work to uplift not only our own tribes but for the greatness of all.”

“Our initiatives will ultimately bring about a harmonious relationship among the indigenous people through regeneration of culture and other peoples to achieve peace,” they said.


St. Virgilius


Feast: November 27


Feast Day:November 27
Born:8th century Ireland
Died:784 at Salzburg, Austria
Canonized:10 June 1233 by Pope Gregory IX
Patron of:Salzburg, Austria; Slovene

Virgilius was a scientist before his time, and in his monastery of Aghaboe in Ireland he was known as "the Geometer" because of his knowledge of geography. In 743, he left Ireland for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land but got no farther than the court of Pepin, the father of Charlemagne. In 745, Pepin defeated Odilo, duke of Bavaria, and sent St. Virgilius to be abbot of the monastery of Sankt Peter and in charge of the diocese of Salzburg.

In accordance with the Irish custom, the bishop was subject to the abbot, who was the real head of the diocese. This was contrary to continental custom, and so Virgilius consented to be consecrated bishop. His most notable accomplishment was the conversion of the Alpine Slavs; moreover, he sent missionaries into Hungary.

In his first days at Salzburg, he was involved in controversies with St. Boniface, one over the form of baptism, which the pope decided in Virgilius's favor. Virgilius also expressed a number of opinions on astronomy, geography, and anthropology, which to Boniface smacked of novelty, if not heresy. He reported these views to Rome, and the pope demanded an investigation of the bishop of Salzburg. Nothing came of this and apparently Virgilius was able to defend his views.

Virgilius built a grand cathedral at Salzburg, baptized the Slavic dukes of Carinthia, and sent missionaries into lands where no missionary had yet gone. Returning from a preaching mission to a distant part of his diocese, he fell sick and died on November 27, 784. When the Salzburg cathedral was destroyed by a fire in 1181, the grave of Virgilius was discovered and this led to his canonization by Pope Gregory IX in 1233.

His feast is kept throughout Ireland and in the diocese of Salzburg.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: NOV. 27: Luke 21: 34 - 36

Luke 21: 34 - 36
34"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare;
35for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.
36But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."
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