Sunday, December 19, 2010










TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 19: Matthew 1: 18- 24


Pope Benedict XVI speaks about St. Joseph before Christmas
Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the foster-father of Jesus, St. Joseph, during the last Angelus address before Christmas.
“On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are filled with joy because the Lord is at hand. We heard in today’s Gospel about the promise made to Joseph, that his wife Mary was to bear a child who would save his people from their sins. This child would be called Emmanuel, meaning that from now on, God is truly with us, he lives among us and shares our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our fears,” he said in his English remarks. The Holy Father said Saint Joseph is presented as a “righteous man” in the gospel passage, faithful to God’s law, and ready to do his will. For this reason, he becomes a party to the Mystery of the Incarnation, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He called on the Church to venerate Jesus’ lawful father, because in him we see new man, who looked to the future with confidence and courage, who disregarded his own goals, but entrusted himself completely to the infinite mercy of the One who fulfils prophecies and opens time to salvation. Pope Benedict concluded his address by entrusting all pastors to Saint Joseph, universal patron of the Church, urging them to quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world.


CBN REPORT: Entire families camped out Saturday night in California in order to participate in the 29th annual "Miracle on 1st Street" at the Hollenbeck Youth Center in Los Angeles.

Some Hollywood celebrities were also there to hand out free toys and help bring some big smiles to several thousand needy children's faces.

The event spanned more than five blocks. Members of the local community donated the Christmas gifts and volunteers made sure each child went home with a present.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cloris Leachman and Tom Sizemore were among the celebrities who personally distributed the toys to the children.

"I see so much love around them. Somebody's around them, taking care of them. They look well taken care of and loved," Leachman said.

"Not only do they get a gift to go home with, they get a day they're going to remember for the rest of their lives," explained Daniel Hernandez, founder and CEO of the Hollenbeck Youth Center.

"Just to get off yourself and help someone. I was a poor kid, and I know how much it meant to me. It's just been a great experience for me," Sizemore said.

A local police business council and the Oscar de la Hoya Foundation sponsored the event.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Bishop Wei Jingyi, bishop of Qiqihar, defines illicit ordinations as wounds in the body of the Church of Christ. Solidarity with the bishops forced against their will to participate in events organized by the Chinese government.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Mgr Wei Jingyi, underground bishop of the diocese of Qiqihar (Northeast China), today expressed his support for the statement against the Eighth Assembly of the representatives of Chinese Catholics published yesterday by the Vatican.

In a pastoral letter Msgr. Wei urged the faithful to pray more for the Church in China which is going through “a particularly difficult time", as expressed last December 1 by the Pope in his call for the Chinese Church.

Besides the convocation of the assembly, Bishop Wei cited the illicit ordination in Chengde held before the Christ the King feast day, which gravely violated Church regulations and doctrine. The act of ordaining illicitly “seriously wounded the Church and cast a wound in the Body of Christ. We also have to admit the Chinese religious policy is a serious setback,” he said. The Bishop points out that in the face of the convocation of the Dec 7-9 assembly, during which the leaders of the two organizations were elected (the president of the council of Chinese bishops and leader of the Patriotic Association), “we expressed sympathy and concern” for those were coerced to take part in the illicit ordination and the assembly.

In response to the Pope’s call to prayer for the Church in China, Mgr. Wei called for his faithful to have adoration of Blessed Sacrament, to recite the rosary and to ask to Mary, Help of Christians and Our Lady of China, as well as to St Joseph to make intercessions for the Church in China. Meanwhile, a priest in mainland China told AsiaNews today that the Holy See has shown some “gesture of firmness in Church principles”, and that it will “restore confidence” in the authority of the Holy See as faith is the heart of the Church.

Another priest also said the communiqué is “like a ray coming out before Christmas”, a good time for the Church in mainland and the government to reflect. Some of the faithful are concerned, however, about the intervention of the authorities during the Christmas celebrations and stressed that it would have been better if the message were released after the holidays.,-pray-for-China-20294.html


ALL AFRICA REPORT: Religious leaders in Ivory Coast have called for six days of prayer and fasting for peace.

In a joint statement released on December 9 the leaders said, "Therefore, in the name of God, we recommend six days of fasting and prayer for peace in country, from December 13-18, 2010."

The religious leaders "further stated, "Faced with the looming threat, we make this solemn appeal not to yield to provocations and violence from whatever side they come from; not to utter words of ethnic, religious and nationalistic exclusion; not to commit acts of intimidation, threat and unproductive provocation."

"After having rejoiced about how the first round of elections occurred, we are now concerned about the turn of events in the few days leading up to the second round," they said.

Côte d'Ivoire now has two Presidents with two respective Prime Ministers and their governments.On December 3, the Constitutional Council annulled the results declared on December 2 by the Election Commission under which the winner of the election was Alassane Ouattara with 54 percent of the vote, and instead they declared that the winner of the ballot held on November 28 was the outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo.

While the international community has recognized the victory of Ouattara, fear of fresh violence in the country is growing, also fuelled by ethnic division.

Today the European Union should establish "restrictive measures against Côte d'Ivoire, which refers to those who are obstructing the peace process, and in particular, those who do not want to accept the election results," the leaders said.

The country has been suspended from the activities of the African Union.



NEWS.COM.AU REPORT: THE Catholic Church is instructing parishioners to lobby federal MPs against voting for gay marriage, suggesting they base arguments on the natural order and the importance of a biological relationship with children rather than on marriage being a religious institution.

As pressure mounts inside the Labor Party for a change in the party's policy officially banning such marriages, both the gay lobby and now the Catholic Church are intensifying their efforts to win the debate.

MPs are consulting their constituents after a Greens motion urging politicians to seek the views of their electorates on changing marriage laws was passed last month in the House of Representatives with Labor's support.

In an open letter, the church tells its members that as "the Greens continue their assault on the culture of life . . . every Catholic should let federal legislators know that marriage and family, the cornerstone of society, must be protected at all costs."

"Marriage between a man and a woman is not a religious construct but a natural institution found across all cultures and religions. The "talking points" to be used by parishioners have been prepared by the Sydney Archdiocese, the Catholic Women's League and the Knights of the Southern Cross.

"Marriage is a unique kind of sexually complementary union with a natural orientation to life," reads the key argument.

To counter the argument used by the gay lobby that children are an optional extra for marriage and marriage is not connected to having children, the church suggests that heterosexual married couples that are infertile have a greater right to be married "because their lovemaking is designed to give life".

"Allowing two men or two women to marry would involve a fundamental change in our understanding of marriage, from a life-giving and sexually complementary union to a personal, romantic relationship with no true communion or connection to procreation," it says.

The church also said allowing gay marriage would trivialise the meaning and dignity of motherhood and fatherhood.

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Agenzia Fides report - “The world needs priests because it needs Christ. If the world no longer has Christ it will degenerate. Therefore investment in the formation of priests is the best investment in the future of our society,” says Fr Leo Maasburg, national director of the Pontifical Mission Society in Austria (“Missio Austria”) in a statement sent to Fides.
Fr Maasburg announced the launch of the “Priests from three continents” collection, at the initiative of Missio, which will take place on 6 January 2011 throughout the Country. This initiative aims to ensure the “spiritual supply” from nations in the southern hemisphere. Each year the Pontifical Society supports more than 80,000 seminarians and novices around the world on their path to the priesthood.
“Material assistance can only ensure immediate survival, but they do not give meaning to life. Priests assist and view the person in an integral way and assist, as it were, with drinking water and holy water!” says Fr Maasburg.
In Countries in the southern hemisphere there is no shortage of vocations. In Africa, Asia and Latin America the number of requests for admission to seminaries is high. Often good candidates have to be rejected because they lack the funds for training and places to house them. In Europe there is, on average, a priest for every 3,525 people but the support for the formation of new priests is lacking, especially in countries where a greater number of priests is needed. In Oceania there is a priest for every 7,340 inhabitants, one in Latin America for every 8235, one in Africa for every 27,335 and in Asia one in 50,030.


Bl. Urban V


Feast: December 19


Feast Day:December 19
Born:1310 Grizac, Languedoc, France
Died:December 19, 1370 Avignon, France

Guillaume de Grimoard, born at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310; died at Avignon, 19 December, 1370. Born of a knightly family, he was educated at Montpellier and Toulouse, and became a Benedictine monk at the little priory of Chirac near his home. A Bull of 1363 informs us that he was professed at the great Abbey of St. Victor at Marseilles, where he imbibed his characteristic love for the Order of St. Benedict; even as pope he wore its habit. He was ordained at Chirac, and after a further course of theology and canon law at the universities of Toulouse, Montpellier, Paris, and Avignon, he received the doctorate in 1342. He was one of the greatest canonists of his day; was professor of canon law at Montpellier, and also taught at Toulouse, Paris, and Avignon; he acted successively as vicar-general of the Dioceses of Clermont and Uzès, was at an unknown date (before 1342) affiliated to Cluny, became prior of Notre-Dame du Pré (a priory dependent on St. Germain d'Auxerre), and in 1352 was named abbot of that famous house by Clement VI. With this date begins his diplomatic career. His first mission was to Giovanni Visconti, Archbishop and despot of Milan, and this he carried out successfully; in 1354 and 1360 he was employed on the affairs of the Holy See in Italy; in 1361 he was appointed by Innocent VI to the Abbacy of St. Victor at Marseilles, but in 1362 was once more dispatched to Italy, this time on an embassy to Joanna of Naples. It was while engaged on this business that the abbot heard of his election to the papacy. Innocent VI had died on 12 Sept. The choice of one who was not a cardinal was due to jealousies within the Sacred College, which made the election of any one of its members almost impossible. Guillaume de Grimoard was chosen for his virtue and learning, and for his skill in practical affairs of government and diplomacy. He arrived at Marseilles on 28 Oct., entered Avignon three days later, and was consecrated on 6 November, taking the name of Urban because, as he said, "all the popes who had borne the name had been saints". The general satisfaction which this election aroused was voiced by Petrarch, who wrote to the pope, "It is God alone who has chosen you".

On 20 November King John of France visited Avignon; his main purpose was to obtain the hand of Joanna of Naples, ward of the Holy See, for his son Philip, Duke of Touraine. In a letter of 7 November Urban had already approved her project of marriage with King James of Majorca, a king without a kingdom; by so doing the pope safeguarded his own independence at Avignon, which would have been gravely imperilled had the marriage of Joanna, who was also Countess of Provence, united to the Crown of France the country surrounding the little papal principality. The letter written by Urban to Joanna on 29 Nov., urging the marriage with Philip, was probably meant rather to appease the French king than to persuade the recipient. The betrothal of the Queen of Naples to James of Majorca was signed on 14 Dec. The enormous ransom of 3,000,000 gold crowns, due to Edward III of England from John of France by the treaty of Bretigny, was still in great part unpaid, and John now sought permission to levy a tithe on the revenues of the French clergy. Urban refused this request as well as another for the nomination of four cardinals chosen by the king. John also desired to intervene between the pope and Barnabò Visconti, tyrant of Milan. He was again refused, and when Barnabò failed to appear within the three months allowed by his citation, the pope excommunicated him (3 March, 1363). In April of the same year Visconti was defeated before Bologna. Peace was concluded in March, 1364; Barnabò restored the castles seized by him, while Urban withdrew the excommunication and undertook to pay half a million gold florins.

The Benedictine pope was a lover of peace, and much of his diplomacy was directed to the pacification of Italy and France. Both countries were overrun by mercenary bands known as the "Free Companies", and the pope made many efforts to secure their dispersal or departure. His excommunication was disregarded and the companies refused to join the distant King of Hungary in his battles with the Turks although the Emperor Charles IV, who came to Avignon in May, 1365, guaranteed the expenses of their journey and offered them the revenues of his kingdom of Bohemia for three years. War now broke out between Pedro the Cruel of Navarre and his brother Henry of Trastamare. Pedro was excommunicated for his cruelties and persecutions of the clergy, and Bertrand Duguesclin, the victor of Cocherel, led the companies into Navarre; yet they visited Avignon on their way and wrung blackmail from the pope. The Spanish war was quickly ended, and Urban returned to his fomer plan of employing the companies against the Turk. The Count of Savoy was to have led them to the assistance of the King of Cyprus and the Eastern Empire, but this scheme too was a failure. Urban's efforts were equally fruitless in Italy, where the whole land was overrun with bands led by such famous condottieri as the German Count of Landau and the Englishman Sir John Hawkwood. In 1365, after the failure of a scheme to unite Florence, Pisa, and the Italian communes against them, the pope commissioned Albornoz to persuade these companies to join the King of Hungary. In 1366 he solemnly excommunicated them, forbade their employment, and called on the emperor and all the powers of Christendom to unite for their extirpation. All was in vain, for though a league of Italian cities was formed in September of that year, it was disolved about fifteen months later owing to Florentine jealousy of the emperor.

Rome had suffered terribly through the absence of her pontiffs, and it became apparent to Urban that if he remained at Avignon the work of the warlike Cardinal Albornoz in restoring to the papacy the States of the Church would be undone. On 14 September, 1366, he informed the emperor of his determination to return to Rome. All men rejoiced at the announcement except the French; the king understood that the departure from Avignon would mean a diminution of French influence at the Curia. The French cardinals were in despair at the prospect of leaving France, and even threatened to desert the pope. On 30 April, 1367, Urban left Avignon; on 19 May he sailed from Marseilles, and after a long coasting voyage he reached Corneto, where he was met by Albornoz. On 4 June the Romans brought the keys of Sant' Angelo in sign of welcome, and the Gesuati carrying their branches in their hands and headed by their founder, Blessed John Colombini, preceded the pope. Five days later he entered Viterbo, where he dwelt in the citadel. The disturbed state of Italy made it impossible for Urban to set out to Rome until he had gathered a considerable army, so it was not till 16 Oct. that he entered the city at the head of an imposing cavalcade, under the escort of the Count of Savoy, the Marquess of Ferrara, and other princes.

The return of the pope to Rome appeared to the contemporary world both as a great event and as a religious action. The pope now set to work to improve the material and moral condition of his capital. The basilicas and papal palaces were restored and decorated, and the Papal treasure, which had been preserved at Assisi since the days of Boniface VIII, was distributed to the city churches. The unemployed were put to work in the neglected gardens of the Vatican, and corn was distributed in seasons of scarcity; at the same time the discipline of the clergy was restored, and the frequentation of the sacraments encouraged. One of Urban's first acts was to change the Roman constitution, but it may be questioned whether "the sacrifice offered to the Pontiff as the reward of his return was the liberty of the people" (Gregorovius).

On 17 October, 1368, the emperor joined the pope at Viterbo. Before leaving Germany he had confirmed all the rights of the Church, and Urban hoped for his help against the Visconti, but Charles allowed himself to be bribed. On 21 Oct. the pope and emperor entered Rome together, the latter humbly leading the pontiff's mule. On 1 Nov. Charles acted as deacon at the Mass at which Urban crowned the empress. For more than a century pope and emperor had not appeared thus in amity. A year later the Emperor of the East, John V Palaeologus, came to Rome seeking assistance against the infidel; he abjured the schism and was received by Urban on the steps of St. Peter's. These emperors both of West and East were but shadows of their great predecessors, and their visits, triumphs as they might appear, were but little gain to Urban V. He felt that his position in Italy was insecure. The death of Albornoz (24 Aug., 1367), who had made his return to Italy possible, had been a great loss. The restlessness of the towns was exemplified by the revolt of Perugia, which had to be crushed by force; any chance storm might undo the work of the great legate. At heart, too, the pope had all a Frenchman's love for his country, and his French entourage urged his return to Avignon. In vain were the remonstrances of the envoys of Rome, which had gained "greater quiet and order, an influx of wealth, a revival of importance" from his sojourn; in vain were the admonitions of St. Bridget, who came from Rome to Montefiascone to warn him that if he returned to Avignon he would shortly die. War had broken out again between France and England, and the desire to bring about peace strengthened the pope's determination. On 5 Sept., 1370, "sad, suffering and deeply moved", Urban embarked at Corneto. In a Bull of 26 June he had told the Romans that his departure was motived by his desire to be useful to the Universal Church and to the country to which he was going. It may be, too, that the pope saw that the next conclave would be free at Avignon but not in Italy. Charles V joyfully sent a fleet of richly adorned galleys to Corneto; the pope did not long survive his return (24 Sept.) to Avignon. His body was buried in Notre-Dame des Doms at Avignon but was removed two years later, in accordance with his own wish, to the Abbey Church of St. Victor at Marseilles. Miracles multiplied around his tomb. His canonization was demanded by King Waldemar of Denmark and promised by Gregory XI as early as 1375, but did not take place owing to the disorders of the time. His cultus was approved by Pius IX in 1870.

Urban V was a man whose motives cannot be called in question: his policy aimed at Eurpoean peace; shortly before his death he had given orders that preparations should be made to enable him personally to visit and reconcile Edward III and Charles V. He had shown great zeal for the Crusade. On 29 March, 1363, Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus and titular King of Jerusalem, appeared at Avignon to appeal for assistance against the Turks, and on 31 March (Good Friday) Urban preached the Crusade and gave the cross to the Kings of France, Denmark, and Cyprus; the chivalrous King John, who was to have been chief commander, died a quasi-prisoner at London in 1364, and though the King of Cyprus captured Alexandria (11 Oct., 1365), he was unable to hold the city. The crusading spirit was dead in Europe. In an age of corruption and simony Urban stood for purity and disinterestedness in church life: he did much for ecclesiastical discipline and caused many provincial councils to be held; he refused to bestow place or money on his relatives, and even caused his own father to refund a pension bestowed on him by the French king. His brother, whom he prompted to the cardinalate, was acknowledged by all to be a man most worthy of the dignity. The pope's private life was that of a monk, and he was always accessible to those who sought his aid.

But Urban was a patriotic Frenchman, a defect in the universal father of Christendom. He estranged the English king by the help given to his rival, and aroused hostility in Italy by the favour shown to men of his own race whom he made his representatives in the States of the Church. He was a great patron of learning, founded universities at Cracow (by a Bull of 1364) and at Vienna (by a Bull of 1365), and caused the emperor to create the University of Orange; he revised the statutes of the University of Orléans; and gave great assistance to the universities of Avignon and Toulouse. At Bologna he supported the great college founded by Albornoz and paid the expenses of many poor students whom he sent thither. He also founded a studium at Trets (later removed to Manosque), but his greatest foundations were at Montpellier. His buildings and restorations were considerable, especially at Avignon, Rome, and Montpellier. He approved the orders of Brigittines and Gesuati, and canonized his godfather, St. Elzéar of Sabran.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 19: Matthew 1: 18- 24

Matthew 1: 18 - 24
18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;
19and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
20But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
21she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
22All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).
24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,
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