Friday, December 3, 2010



TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 3: Matthew 9: 27- 31



VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORTS) - At 9 a.m. today in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Pope and the pontifical family attended the first sermon of Advent.

The theme of this year's meditations which were delivered, in keeping with tradition, by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, is taken from the Gospel of St. John (16, 33): "'Take courage; I have conquered the world!'. Towards a re-evangelisation of the secularised world".

The remaining Advent sermons will be given on 10 and 17 December.



VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received the Letters of Credence of Fernando F. Sanchez Campos, the new ambassador of Costa Rica to the Holy See, to whom he expressed his contentment at the Jubilee Year the nation is currently celebrating to mark the 375th anniversary of the discovery of the image of Our Lady of the Angels, the national patroness.

The Pope referred to Costa Ricans as "a people who centuries ago welcomed the evangelical seed, to see how it would sprout forth in countless educational, healthcare and humanitarian initiatives. Thus the children of your land well know that in Christ the Son of God man can always find the strength to combat poverty, domestic violence, unemployment and corruption, seeking social justice, the common good, and the integral progress of human beings. No-one must feel themselves to be detached from the attainment of these exalted goals", he said.

"In this context", the Pope continued, "the public authorities must be the first to seek out what is of benefit to everyone, working principally as a moral force that augments each individual's freedom and sense of responsibility. This must not undermine the fundamental values which support the inviolable dignity of the person, beginning with the unswerving protection of human life. In this context I am pleased to recall that it was in your country that the Pact of San Jose was signed, which expressly recognises the value of human life from conception. Thus it is to be hoped that Costa Rica does not violate the rights of the unborn with laws that legitimise in vitro fertilisation or abortion".

The Holy Father then turned his attention to a new legal agreement which will, he said, "reaffirm the long history of mutual collaboration, healthy independence and mutual respect between the Holy See and Costa Rica", helping to guarantee "their traditional and fruitful understanding - more stably and more in keeping with current historical circumstances - with a view to the greater good of the country's religious and civil life".

"I have made special mention of Costa Rica in my prayers, because of the tragic consequences of the torrential rains that affected the country", said Benedict XVI. "I also asked God that the nation may continue to follow the paths that make her a beacon for peace in the international community. To this end it is important that those who guide the country's destiny do not hesitate to reject impunity, juvenile delinquency, child labour, injustice and drug trafficking, encouraging such important measures as security in cities, adequate education of children and young people, due attention to those in prison and effective healthcare for everyone, ... as well as programmes to ensure that people can achieve a dignified standard of living and find decent work. Moreover, it is vital that new generations should acquire the conviction that conflicts cannot be won by mere force, but by converting hearts to goodness and truth, eradicating poverty and illiteracy, strengthening the rule of law and stimulating the independence and effectiveness of the law courts".

"A great contribution in this direction will be made if one of society's fundamental and irreplaceable pillars is strengthened: the stability and union of the family. This institution is suffering, perhaps like no other, the effects of the broad and rapid transformations of society and culture; nonetheless, it must not lose its true identity. ... Thus, no measure will be in vain if it favours, safeguards and supports marriage between a man and a woman".

"Protecting the natural environment will facilitate the defence of peace, because the two are intimately related", the Holy Father concluded. "Costa Rica has distinguished itself in the field of environmental protection and the search for a balance between human development and the safeguarding of natural resources. ... I encourage all Costa Ricans to continue to work towards what favours true human development, in harmony with the creation, while avoiding spurious and false interests, and lack of foresight in a field of such transcendent importance".

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VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2010 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI received members of the International Theological Commission, who have just completed their plenary assembly.

"Your reflection on the Christian vision of God", the Pope told them, "can be a precious contribution to the life of the faithful, as well as to our dialogue with believers of other religions and with non-believers".

In "theo-logy", the Holy Father explained, "we seek, through the 'logos', to communicate what 'we have seen and heard'. ... We can think about God and communicate what we think because He has gifted us with reason in harmony with His own nature. ... Indeed, knowing God in His true nature is also the sure way to ensure peace. A God Who was not perceived as a source of forgiveness could not be a light along the path of peace".

"No theological system can subsist if it is not permeated by the love of its divine 'Subject', if it is not nourished by dialogue (that is, by acceptance in the theologian's mind and heart) with the divine 'Logos', Creator and Redeemer". In this context the Pope explained that theology "must remain faithful to the nature of ecclesial faith: centred on God, rooted in prayer, and in communion with the other disciples of the Lord as guaranteed by communion with Peter's Successor and the entire college of bishops".

Benedict XVI then highlighted how "the theologian never starts from naught, rather he considers the Fathers and theologians of Christian tradition to be his masters. Rooted in Sacred Scripture, read with the Fathers and the Doctors, theology can be a school of sanctity, as shown by Blessed John Henry Newman. Discovering the permanent value of the wealth handed down from the past is an important contribution that theologians make to the field of the sciences".

"The social commitment of Christians necessarily derives from the manifestation of divine love. Contemplating the revealed God and practicing charity towards others cannot be separated, though experienced under different charisms. In a world which often appreciates many of Christianity's gifts (such as the idea of democratic equality, which comes from evangelical monotheism) without understanding the roots of its ideals, it is particularly important to show that the fruit dies if the roots of the tree are cut. There is, in fact, no justice without truth, and justice cannot fully develop if is horizon is limited by the material world. For us as Christians, social solidarity always has an eternal perspective".

Benedict XVI concluded by highlighting how "theologians cannot work in solitude; they need the ministry of the pastors of the Church, just as the Magisterium has need of theologians who carry out their service to the full, with all the asceticism this implies".

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VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy, for the death yesterday at the age of 80 of Cardinal Michele Giordano, archbishop emeritus of that see.

"Having learned with great sadness the news of the death of Cardinal Michele Giordano, archbishop emeritus of Naples, I wish to express to Your Eminence and to the entire diocesan community, as well as to the relatives of the late cardinal, my profound commiseration at your pain, while my thoughts turn affectionately to that dear brother who served the Gospel and the Church so generously. With gratitude to the Lord I recall his intense pastoral activity, first at Trursi-Lagonegro then at Matera-Irsina, and finally in the archdiocese of Naples, and raise fervent prayers to God to welcome him in His peace. At the same time, upon those weeping his demise, I impart the comfort of a heartfelt apostolic blessing".

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VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Bishop Agidius Zsifkovics of Eisenstadt, Austria.

- Eight prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Jose F. Oliveros of Malolos.

- Bishop Antonio R. Tobias of Novaliches.

- Bishop Jesse E. Mercado of Paranaque.

- Bishop Francisco C. San Diego of Pasig.

- Bishop Leo M. Drona S.D.B. of San Pablo.

- Bishop Prudencio P. Andaya C.I.C.M., apostolic vicar of Tabuk.

- Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Imus.

- Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez of Kalookan.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

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VATICAN CITY, 3 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Alexander Pyone Cho, currently "fidei donum" priest in the diocese of Salina, U.S.A., as bishop of Pyay (area 80,937, population 9,000,000, Catholics 25,000, priests 37, religious 67), Myanmar. The bishop-elect was born in Oatshitpin, Myanmar in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1975. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Devellerez Thaung Shwe, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, presented by Bishop Joaquin Carmelo Borobia Isasa, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Stefan Zekorn of the clergy of the diocese of Munster, Germany, rector-pastor of the Marian shrine of Kevelaer and canon of the cathedral chapter of Munster, as auxiliary of Munster (area 15,265, population 4,335,600, Catholics 2,007,335, priests 1,165, permanent deacons 270, religious 2,827). The bishop-elect was born in Datteln, Germany in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.

- Appointed Msgr. Carmelo Pellegrino and Fr. Alfred Simon O.S.B., respectively official and consultor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as relators of the same congregation.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The target of the bomb attack were hundreds of pilgrims expected for the monthly Mass at the shrine of the Virgin Mary. Perpetrators behind the planned attack still unknown, but police reveal that they are experts. The shrine, founded in 1936, is an important pilgrimage site for Catholics of Prambanan.

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) - In the courtyard of the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Sendand Sriningsih (District of Prambanan, Yogyakarta) a disabled child discovered four bottles filled with gasoline, cables and detonators, last December 1. According to local Catholics and Mr. Ignatius Lastoyo Warne, site manager of the sanctuary, the bomb had a specific purpose: to kill hundreds of pilgrims from neighboring parishes who attended the monthly Mass in the shrine town, on December 2. Search operations are still ongoing.

The discovery of these four homemade bombs occurred when a local Catholic, owner of a stall near the shrine, found his son playing with the suspect material: fluid-filled bottles, cables and detonators. The bombs failed to explode only because of human imprudence. The village chief, after seeing the bomb, called the police and military personnel, who immediately rushed to the scene.

Mgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, Archbishop of Semarang, has asked the site manager to implement tighter security measures to avoid any provocative behavior by foreign "infiltrators". He said: "This is a serious challenge; we must fight any behavior that can destroy religious harmony."

Brigadier General Ondang Sutarsa, Yogyakarta police chief, confirmed that the materials found near the shrine of the Virgin Mary were used to create a bomb. During a press conference, the general explained: "This is a bomb is small, but highly flammable, since the cable was attached to bottles full of petrol." Gunpowder and matches were also found on the site.

Any Pudjiastuti, a police spokesman, said: "We do not yet have concrete evidence on who is responsible. But it is very clear that these are experienced people, since the materials were well assembled. "

The shrine of the Virgin Mary was founded in 1936, when Fr Harjosuwondo, a Jesuit from the parish of Wedi, Mr. Wongsosentono, local village chief, and Bei Sutopanitro, catechist, decided to create a place of pilgrimage for Catholics in Prambanan.,-foiled-attack-on-Catholic-shrine-20167.html


Film: Of Gods and Men | Xavier Beauvois, Of Gods and Men, Michael Lonsdale, Lambert Wilson

The monks of Tibhirine
Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men opens in the UK today. If you only go to one more film this year - see this one. It is Catholic cinema at its best - beautifully filmed, with a haunting soundtrack, sensitive performances and a gripping human story that deals with faith, community, ecumenism, and the meaning of vocation.

Set in a monastery in the Atlas Mountains in Algeria, it is based on the true story of a group of Cistercian monks who got caught up in the Muslim fundamentalist uprising in the mid 1990s. They are a contemplative order, gathering for Mass and singing the Office throughout the day, studying and working quietly in the kitchen and gardens. But they also have strong bonds of friendship in the Muslim community in which they live. One monk, Brother Luc, (Michael Lonsdale), runs a medical clinic for the villagers - he also has a useful stock of children's shoes; they sell their honey at the market and are invited to attend village celebrations. The Superior, Brother Christian, played by Lambert Wilson, studies the Koran and is friends with the local Mullah.

When a group of Croatian workers are murdered, the authorities urge the monastery to accept a military guard, but they refuse, because the villagers don't have any protection. As more foreigners are killed the monks are urged to leave, and they deliberate slowly and carefully over this. One tells the villagers they are “birds on a branch, not sure whether to fly”, but the villagers tell them they are the branch itself, providing protection from the chaos beyond. Finally the monks unanimously decide to stay in solidarity with their Muslim friends.

This group of middle aged and elderly men are very endearing and totally believable. There is a very touching scene when one elderly monk falls asleep in bed with his glasses on, book in hand, and his brother monk gently removes them and covers him with a blanket. Lambert Wilson gives a masterful performance as leader of the community; his inner struggles play in silence on his features.

The tension builds when a group of Muslim fighters break into the monastery just before Christmas Midnight Mass and Fr Christian calmly tells them that he can't help them because it is a sacred day. He quotes from the Koran and the fighters leave them to continue their celebration.

In another gut wrenching episode the monks continue to sing while a helicopter gunship swoops round and round over the rooftop. One says that "staying here is as mad as becoming a monk in the first place."

Near the end, Brother Luc decides to serve wine and play a record of Swan Lake during their evening meal. The camera gently moves around the table playing on the smiles and tears of the men's faces in a scene which is the moral and emotional heart of a remarkable film.


CBN REPORT: With the holiday season in full swing, many Americans are looking for television entertainment suitable for the entire family.

Two holiday movies debuting this weekend include "A Walk in my Shoes," scheduled to air Friday on NBC, and "Christmas With a Capital C," which will premier Sunday on the GMC Network.

Focus on the Family film critic Bob Waliszewski reviewed both films on the CBN News Channel's Midday News, Dec. 3.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - A young Camillian priest and songwriter has reworked some of the most traditional Christmas carols, introducing African sounds and added parts within the songs, sung in the Moré dialect, one of 16 dialects of Burkina Faso, belonging to a nomadic ethnic group. The title of this work, “Christmas nee Africa” revolves around the word “nee” which in Moré has a relational and communal meaning, slightly more anthropological. In fact, “nee” means “with, for, in”. In this case, “nee Africa” means “with Africa” and does not relate solely to the continent, to its geographical location, but predominantly to people, indicating the bond between people, sharing with each other. The root of “nee” comes from the Moré word “needa”, man, understood as being, and from “neesala”, man understood as a mystery that defies rational understanding. The initiative will be for the benefit of the Camillian missions in Burkina Faso.


Cardinal George Pell


Australian society will become increasingly coarse and uncaring, indeed cruel on occasion, if Christian principles are excluded from public discussion, said the Archbishop of Sydney, George Cardinal Pell, reports The Catholic Weekly.

The secularists pursuing this aim will not be successful, but such an outcome will require regular struggle from religious activists, who understand that education devoid of moral considerations and with God excluded cannot guarantee even an increase in civility, much less a better, more just and compassionate society," the cardinal said in his homily at the Mass of Installation of General Peter Cosgrove as the third chancellor of Australian Catholic University at St Mary's Cathedral last Sunday.

Cardinal Pell said all the Christian certainties which we celebrate at Advent "constitute the bedrock" of Australian Catholic University.

"Human life has a meaning and purpose; truth is open to inquiry and can accurately describe reality; we are part of nature and must take responsibility for and be stewards of creation; personal fulfilment is best found through the service of others," he said.

"It is better to know than not to know, to respect tradition, be admiring of excellence, better to be open in hope to the future.

"As Christian believers in a Catholic institution we follow Psalm 119 in viewing God's word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, so that the search for truth and the cultivation of professional expertise should go hand in hand with the pursuit of virtue."


St. Francis Xavier


Feast: December 3


Feast Day:December 3
Born:April 7, 1506, Javier, Navarre
Died:December 3, 1552, China
Canonized:March 12, 1622 by Gregory XV
Patron of:African missions; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; Bombay, India; China; East Indies; Fathers of the Precious Blood; foreign missions; Goa India; India; Tokyo, Japan; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; navigators; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith

Born in the Castle of Xavier near Sanguesa, in Navarre, 7 April, 1506; died on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China, 2 December, 1552. In 1525, having completed a preliminary course of studies in his own country, Francis Xavier went to Paris, where he entered the college de Sainte-Barbe. Here he met the Savoyard, Pierre Favre, and a warm personal friendship sprang up between them. It was at this same college that St. Ignatius Loyola, who was already planning the foundation of the Society of Jesus, resided for a time as a guest in 1529. He soon won the confidence of the two young men; first Favre and later Xavier offered themselves with him in the formation of the Society. Four others, Lainez, Salmeron, Rodriguez, and Bobadilla, having joined them, the seven made the famous vow of Montmartre, 15 Aug., 1534.

After completing his studies in Paris and filling the post of teacher there for some time, Xavier left the city with his companions 15 November, 1536, and turned his steps to Venice, where he displayed zeal and charity in attending the sick in the hospitals. On 24 June, 1537, he received Holy orders with St. Ignatius. The following year he went to Rome, and after doing apostolic work there for some months, during the spring of 1539 he took part in the conferences which St. Ignatius held with his companions to prepare for the definitive foundation of the Society of Jesus. The order was approved verbally 3 September, and before the written approbation was secured, which was not until a year later, Xavier was appointed , at the earnest solicitation of the John III, King of Portugal, to evangelize the people of the East Indies. He left Rome 16 March, 1540, and reached Lisbon about June. Here he remained nine months, giving many admirable examples of apostolic zeal.

On 7 April, 1541, he embarked in a sailing vessel for India, and after a tedious and dangerous voyage landed at Goa, 6 May, 1542. The first five months he spent in preaching and ministering to the sick in the hospitals. He would go through the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. When he had gathered a number, he would take them to a certain church and would there explain the catechism to them. About October, 1542, he started for the pearl fisheries of the extreme southern coast of the peninsula, desirous of restoring Christianity which, although introduced years before, had almost disappeared on account of the lack of priests. He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of Western India, converting many, and reaching in his journeys even the Island of Ceylon. Many were the difficulties and hardships which Xavier had to encounter at this time, sometimes on account of the cruel persecutions which some of the petty kings of the country carried on against the neophytes, and again because the Portuguese soldiers, far from seconding the work of the saint, retarded it by their bad example and vicious habits.

In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year, and although he reaped an abundant spiritual harvest, he was not able to root out certain abuses, and was conscious that many sinners had resisted his efforts to bring them back to God. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to Molucca Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ternate, Baranura, and other lesser islands which it has been difficult to identify. It is claimed by some that during this expedition he landed on the island of Mindanao, and for this reason St. Francis Xavier has been called the first Apostle of the Philippines. But although this statement is made by some writers of the seventeenth century, and in the Bull of canonization issued in 1623, it is said that he preached the Gospel in Mindanao, up to the present time it has not been proved absolutely that St. Francis Xavier ever landed in the Philippines.

By July, 1547, he was again in Malacca. Here he met a Japanese called Anger (Han-Sir), from whom he obtained much information about Japan. His zeal was at once aroused by the idea of introducing Christanity into Japan, but for the time being the affairs of the Society demanded his presence at Goa, whither he went, taking Anger with him. During the six years that Xavier had been working among the infidels, other Jesuit missionaries had arrived at Goa, sent from Europe by St. Ignatius; moreover some who had been born in the country had been received into the Society. In 1548 Xavier sent these missionaries to the principal centres of India, where he had established missions, so that the work might be preserved and continued. He also established a novitiate and house of studies, and having received into the Society Father Cosme de Torres, a Spanish priest whom he had met in the Maluccas, he started with him and Brother Juan Fernandez for Japan towards the end of June, 1549. The Japanese Anger, who had been baptized at Goa and given the name of Pablo de Santa Fe, accompanied them.

They landed at the city of Kagoshima in Japan, 15 Aug., 1549. The entire first year was devoted to learning the Japanese language and translating into Japanese, with the help of Pablo de Santa Fe, the principal articles of faith and short treatises which were to be employed in preaching and catechizing. When he was able to express himself, Xavier began preaching and made some converts, but these aroused the ill will of the bonzes, who had him banished from the city. Leaving Kagoshima about August, 1550, he penetrated to the centre of Japan, and preached the Gospel in some of the cities of southern Japan. Towards the end of that year he reached Meaco, then the principal city of Japan, but he was unable to make any headway here because of the dissensions the rending the country. He retraced his steps to the centre of Japan, and during 1551 preached in some important cities, forming the nucleus of several Christian communities, which in time increased with extraordinary rapidity.

After working about two years and a half in Japan he left this mission in charge of Father Cosme de Torres and Brother Juan Fernandez, and returned to Goa, arriving there at the beginning of 1552. Here domestic troubles awaited him. Certain disagreements between the superior who had been left in charge of the missions, and the rector of the college, had to be adjusted. This, however, being arranged, Xavier turned his thoughts to China, and began to plan an expedition there. During his stay in Japan he had heard much of the Celestial Empire, and though he probably had not formed a proper estimate of his extent and greatness, he nevertheless understood how wide a field it afforded for the spread of the light of the Gospel. With the help of friends he arranged a commission or embassy the Sovereign of China, obtained from the Viceroy of India the appointment of ambassador, and in April, 1552, he left Goa. At Malacca the party encountered difficulties because the influential Portuguese disapproved of the expedition, but Xavier knew how to overcome this opposition, and in the autumn he arrived in a Portuguese vessel at the small island of Sancian near the coast of China. While planning the best means for reaching the mainland, he was taken ill, and as the movement of the vessel seemed to aggravate his condition, he was removed to the land, where a rude hut had been built to shelter him. In these wretched surroundings he breathed his last.

It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542-2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many infidels. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He was canonized with St. Ignatius in 1622, although on account of the death of Gregory XV, the Bull of canonization was not published until the following year.

The body of the saint is still enshrined at Goa in the church which formerly belonged to the Society. In 1614 by order of Claudius Acquaviva, General of the Society of Jesus, the right arm was severed at the elbow and conveyed to Rome, where the present altar was erected to receive it in the church of the Gesu.

TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 3: Matthew 9: 27- 31

Matthew 9: 27 - 31
27And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David."28When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord."29Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you."30And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, "See that no one knows it."31But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

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