Sunday, March 7, 2010




Asia News report:
In the Angelus and his visit to a Rome parish, Benedict XVI points out that what happens, including pain, must provide an opportunity to overcome the illusion that we can live without God, who “since he always wants what is good for his children, sometimes allows as part of the inscrutable plan of his love that they experience pain in order to find a greater good.” Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The invitation to convert, which characterises Lent, calls on people to read history as well as suffering from the perspective of faith, “through God’s eyes, who, even when he acknowledges that human beings experience pain, does so as part of a plan of love. This is the lesson drawn from today’s Gospel, which Benedict XVI illustrated before 20,000 people, who crowded St Peter’s Square for the Angelus at noon. He did the same at the start of the morning during a visit to the Rome Parish of San Giovanni della Croce, in Castel Giubileo, in the northern part of the diocese.
“In the excerpt from today’s Gospel,” the Pope said during the Angelus, “Jesus is asked about some sad events, such as the killing of some Galileans inside the temple on order of Pontius Pilate and the crushing of passers-by under the falling tower of Siloam (Lk, 13:1-5). Confronted with the facile notion that evil is the consequence of divine punishment, Jesus proclaims God’s innocence for he is good and cannot wish evil upon anyone. Warning against the idea that tragedies are the immediate effect of the personal faults of those who endure them, he says, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! (Lk, 13:2-3)”.
“Jesus invites us to read these facts differently, placing them in a perspective of conversion,” the Pontiff said. “Such tragedies and sad events should not arouse our curiosity or desire to discover would-be offenders. With God’s help, they must give us an opportunity to reflect and overcome the illusion that we can live without God and strengthen our resolve to change our lives. In the face of sin, God reveals himself full of mercy; unfailingly, he reminds sinners to shun evil, grow in his love and help their neighbours in need in concrete ways to live the joy of grace and eternal death. The possibility of conversion requires us to learn to read the facts of life from the perspective of faith, moved by the sacred fear of God. In light of suffering and loss, true wisdom means letting ourselves be moved by the precariousness of existence. It also means reading human history through the eyes of God, who, since he always wants what is good for his children, sometimes allows as part of the inscrutable plan of his love that they experience pain in order to find a greater good.”
Equally informed by today’s Gospel, during his visit to the Rome parish the Pope pointed out that Jesus demands, “a greater commitment in the path of conversion because shutting oneself off from the Lord, not taking the path of conversion, leads to death of the soul. During Lent, God invites each one of us to change our life, to think and live according to the Gospel, to correct our way of praying, doing things, working and relating to others. Jesus makes this appeal to us, not with sternness for its own sake, but because he is concerned about our welfare, happiness and salvation. For our part, we must respond to him with a sincere inner effort, asking him to make us understand in what way we must convert.”
Lastly, the Holy Father in today’s Gospel also focused on the “perspective of mercy”. “Referring to the use of time, Jesus presented the parable of the fig tree planted in an orchard, which turns out to be unfruitful (cf Lk, 13:6-9). The exchange between the owner and the gardened shows, on the one hand, how merciful God is, patient and willing to give man the time to convert; and on the other, the need to start to change one’s life within and without in order not to lose the opportunity that God’s mercy provides us to overcome our spiritual idleness and reciprocate our filial love for God’s love.” During his visit, Benedict XVI praised the parish’s openness to Church movements and new communities. “I urge you to continue with courage in this direction,” he said, “but do so by bringing in all groups as part of a united pastoral plan.”



CNA report:
Father Benjamín Piovan, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Saltillo, Mexico, traveled to Mississippi recently to talk with Bishop Joseph Latino about a movement among the people of Saltillo to have a Mississippi priest declared a saint.
The priest, Father Quinn, 66, died of a heart attack in Saltillo on Jan. 9, 1997. He had been pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish since January 1969.
Bishop Latino said Father Piovan asked his approval to print a prayer card asking God to eventually declare Father Quinn a saint.
The bishop told Father Piovan he doesn’t have any problem encouraging the people of the Diocese of Jackson to pray for Father Quinn. But, Bishop Latino said, according to Canon Law seeking sainthood for an individual is requested by the local ordinary, the bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo, José Raul Vera López.
Father Piovan also informed Bishop Latino of documentation he has obtained about a miracle attributed to Father Quinn.
On Nov. 21, 2009, the Diocese of Saltillo celebrated a Mass to observe the 40th anniversary of the coming of Father Quinn to Saltillo. During Mass, Bishop Francisco Villalobos, who was the Bishop of Saltillo during Father Quinn’s years there, spoke about the sanctity of the priest.
And this year, on Jan. 7, Father Piovan celebrated a Mass at St. Michael Church in Saltillo to mark the 13th anniversary of Father Quinn’s death. During Mass, several people gave testimonies about cures they credited to his intersession.
The grounds where the Diocese of Saltillo plans to build a new St. Michael Church in memory of Father Quinn were blessed the same day. An altar in the church, that will have a capacity to seat 400 people, will be dedicated in Father Quinn’s honor. This altar will contain the names of all those who contribute to the construction of the new church.
Mexican journalist Jesús Salas Cortés is writing a book about Father Quinn’s life and ministry in Saltillo and is planning to publish it later this year.
During his ministry in Saltillo, Father Quinn built 15 chapels of which seven are now parishes.
Following Father Quinn’s death, the diocesan mission, sponsored by the Diocese of Jackson and the Diocese of Biloxi, moved its base-mission from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish to St. Michael Parish.
Printed with permission from Mississippi Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Jackson.


Asia News report:
Kachchatheevu welcomed the two-day celebration. The island belongs to Sri Lanka and is located in the strait that separates the island nation from India. The occasion gave participants an opportunity to share hopes and renew with tradition, in an area shared harmoniously by Tamils from both sides. New Delhi (AsiaNews) – More than 4,000 Tamil pilgrims from Sri Lanka and India took part in two days of celebration that started on 27 February in honour of Saint Anthony on Kachchatheevu, a small island 24 kilometres from Rameshwaram and 70 from Jaffna, in the middle of the strait that separates India from Sri Lanka. More than a hundred boats carrying about 3,000 pilgrims came from India under escort of the Indian Navy, which eventually handed them over to the Sri Lankan Navy. About a thousand pilgrims from Nedundeevu and the Jaffna Peninsula were already on the island.
When the Indians arrived Saint Anthony’s flag was raised. Mass was celebrated in the evening before a large crowd. Not all of the 4,000 worshippers could fit in the church and had to follow the service from the adjacent square; next came the Via Crucis and the blessing. The faithful spent the night on the island, and got up early in the morning for the 6:30 am Mass, celebrated by Fr Amalraj, parish priest of Nedundeevu, and Fr Michaelraj, parish priest of Rameshwaram. Government officials attended the ceremony and the car procession. Around 10 am, pilgrims began making their way home.
A “spiritual joy prevailed among the pilgrims of India and Sri Lanka at Kachchatheevu, Tamils of both countries witnessed expressions of solidarity, particularly among the fishing communities,” Fr Jebamalai Raja SJ, coordinator of the Ecumenical Christian Forum for Human Rights, told AsiaNews. “As no one is actually living in Kachchatheevu, people brought their cooked meals and shared with one another in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood like early Christian communities.”
Once part of the Zamindari of the Raja of Ramnad, Kachchatheevu Island was ceded by India to Sri Lanka in 1974 as part of a maritime boundary agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Indian fishermen were guaranteed access to the island’s waters. Indian pilgrims also retained the right to visit the Church of Saint Anthony without a visa or permission from Sri Lanka.
However, “for various reasons the traditional fishing rights of Indian fishermen were denied at Katchadeevu. In the past, whenever Indian fishermen went near Katchadeevu to fish, they were beaten up, injured, killed and their boats destroyed by Sri Lankan Navy,” Fr Jebamalai said.
By contrast, the feast day of Saint Anthony has become a moment of peace. “After 27 years, the Sri Lankan government granted pilgrims the permission to celebrate the feast day. Fishermen from both countries were able to meet, and ties of love and unity binding Tamils on both sides have been strengthened. Everyone shared the same hopes, aspirations and plans.”

All Africa report:
Three more people have died as a result of floods in parts of Kenya, according to the latest statistics from the Kenya Red Cross and government officials.
Kenya Red Cross communications director Titus Mung'ou on Saturday told the Nation a woman died in Marsabit North after being swept away by floods.
A man and his daughter were swept away as they tried to cross Isinya River in Kajiado North district on Thursday.
Area district commissioner Mr Mwangi Kahiro said the man had attempted to carry his daughter across the swollen river but succumbed to the raging waters. The bodies were swept 10 kilometres downstream, he said.
This brings the number of the dead from the floods to nine.
And the Red Cross is also warning that the situation in the Tana Delta could become critical if the rains are to continue and the dams on the Seven Forks Hydroelectric project get full.
"The water could be released downstream and the people on the Tana Delta will therefore need to be on the lookout if the rains continue," said Mr Mung'ou on the telephone.
He said reports from the Lake Victoria and Budalangi flood monitoring systems indicate rivers in that area are close to overflowing their banks. He said the rivers are about 0.2 metres away from breaking their banks and residents would have to move to higher ground immediately.
Water from the Cherangany Hills and Mt Elgon are the main cause of the river's perennial flooding.
The number of those who have been left homeless also increased after about 70 families lost their semi-permanent houses to floods in Migori and Uriri districts in South Nyanza.
The residents of Oruba, Pand Pieri, Nyasare and Rapogi estates were left without shelter after their mud-walled houses were brought down by the heavy rains that have pounded the region for the last three days.
He urged area residents to avoid any swollen rivers.
Residents of Mandera also require assistance as the town's entire water system had been destroyed by the floods after River Dauwa in Ethiopia broke its banks.
Mr Mung'ou said toilets had collapsed in the area. Red Cross would from Saturday begin sing a helicopter to reach the distressed in those areas, he said.
In Garbatulla, five people who had been missing by the end of the day on Friday were found perched on trees on Saturday. More than 200 livestock have died in the area from the flooding. But the situation is yet to reach the alarming levels, said Mr Mung'ou as the figures of those affected remain below 2,000.
Families that had been displaced by the floods in January are however yet to go back to their homes and are still living in camps, he said, meaning more rains in the area would make it worse for them.
In Migori, the flood victims who escaped unhurt sought refuge in the homes of relatives and friends as they made plans to rebuild their structures.
The region also experienced flash floods on some roads and estates.
Murram roads leading to the Lake Victoria beaches of Muhuru were flooded, paralysing transport for hours to the chagrin of stranded commuters and fish mongers.
Water levels in Rivers Kuja and Migori that had dropped drastically shot up immediately following the heavy downpour.
The government has issued flood alerts in parts of Coast, Eastern, Western, Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces and sent disaster preparedness teams to parts of the North Rift that are thought to be susceptible to landslides.
On Thursday, Kenya Army and Kenya Police helicopters, together with those from Lewa Conservancy, were deployed to help evacuate people stranded in tourist lodges in the Samburu area due to flooding.


CNA report:
On Thursday, the Von Hildebrand Legacy Project announced a list of speakers who will be presenting at its upcoming conference in Rome. “We are privileged to have twelve wonderful plenary speakers, each of whom represents a particular tradition, background, academic discipline, and point of view,” said John Henry Crosby, founder of the the Von Hildebrand Legacy Project on Thursday. “The majority are philosophers, of course, but we have also invited theologians, churchmen, political figures, public intellectuals, and those who represent the creative imagination.”
Speakers at the upcoming event include Alice von Hildebrand, Rocco Buttiglione, Roberta Green Ahmanson, John F. Crosby, Charles Morerod OP, Michael Waldstein, Joseph Bottum, Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, Michael Novak, Robert Spaemann, Josef Seifert and John Zizioulas.
The conference will be held from May 27-29 at the University of Santa Croce (Holy Cross) in Rome, to celebrate the renowned 20th century philosopher, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and to explore one of his seminal works “The Nature of Love.” The book was published in English for the first time last year.
“Our conference,” John Henry Crosby told CNA on Jan. 22, “seeks to explore the question, 'what is love?'” “We want to think deeply about what love is, what it is not, and how we can all learn to live it more deeply,” he added.
The Hildebrand Legacy Project was founded in 2004 by John Henry Crosby with the help of his father, Franciscan University professor John F. Crosby, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and friend Anthony Gualandri as an initiative “to promote the thought and spirit of Dietrich Von Hildebrand by preserving his memory and disseminating his writings, especially in the English speaking world.”


Cath News report:
Catholic Network Australia (CNA) has announced the completion of its core telecommunications network, initially linking 1,622 schools and education offices across the country.
While Catholic schools will be the first to benefit the network, it is envisaged that all Australian Catholic agencies and parishes will be able to participate over time, the organisation said.
"We are immensely proud that for the first time, schools from geographically diverse locations such as Rockhampton, Bunbury, Port Pirie, Sale and Wagga Wagga are all connected together on a single national network," said Francis Moore,the CNA Board of Directors Chairperson.
The project, in partnership with Telstra Corporation, will also increase high-speed broadband connectivity to schools in order to enhance virtual learning, collaboration and administration.
Telstra CEO David Thodey said: "Broadband is fast becoming the blackboard of the 21st century and opening up opportunities for our students that their parents only every dreamt of.
"The completion of the Catholic school core network represents a quantum leap for K-12 education in Australia because it is the first national school network of its type in the country."
CNA is managed by Catholic Network Australia Ltd, a subsidiary company of Catholic Resources Ltd.

Sts. Perpetua & Felicity
Feast: March 7
Feast Day:
March 7
7 March 202 or 203, Carthage, Roman Province of Africa
Patron of:
Mothers, Expectant Mothers

From their most valuable genuine acts, quoted by Tertullian, l. de anima, c. 55, and by St. Austin, serm. 280, 283, 294. The first part of these acts, which reaches to the eve of her martyrdom, was written by St. Perpetua. The vision of St. Saturus was added by him. The rest was subjoined by an eye-witness of their death. See Tillemont, t. 3, p. 139. Ceillier, t. 2, p. 213. These acts have been often republished; but are extant, most ample and correct, in Ruinart. They were publicly read in the churches of Africa, as appears from St. Austin, Serm. 180. See them vindicated from the suspicion of Montanism, by Orsi, Vindicae Act. SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis.
A violent persecution being set on foot by the emperor Severus, in 202, it reached Africa the following year; when, by order of Minutius Timinianus, (or Firminianus,) five catechumens were apprehended at Carthage for the faith: namely, Revocatus, and his fellow-slave Felicitas, Saturninus, and Secundulus, and Vibia Perpetua. Felicitas was seven months gone with child; and Perpetua had an infant at her breast, was of a good family, twenty-two years of age, and married to a person of quality in the city. She had a father, a mother, and two brothers; the third, Dinocrates, died about seven years old. These five martyrs were joined by Saturus, probably brother to Saturninus, and who seems to have been their instructor: he underwent a voluntary imprisonment, because he would not abandon them. The father of St. Perpetua, who was a pagan, and advanced in years, loved her more than all his other children. Her mother was probably a Christian, as was one of her brothers, the other a catechumen. The martyrs were for some days before their commitment kept under a strong guard in a private house: and the account Perpetua gives of their sufferings to the eve of their death, is as follows: "We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: 'Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?' He said: 'No.' I replied: 'Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian.' At that word my father in a rage fell upon me, as if he would have pulled my eyes out, and beat me: but went away in confusion, seeing me invincible: after this we enjoyed a little repose, and in that interval received baptism. The Holy Ghost, on our coming out of the water, inspired me to pray for nothing but patience under corporal pains. A few days after this we were put into prison: I was shocked at the horror and darkness of the place, for till then I knew not what such sort of places were. We suffered much that day, chiefly on account of the great heat caused by the crowd, and the ill-treatment we met with from the soldiers. I was moreover tortured with concern, for that I had not my infant. But the deacons, Tertius and Pomponius, who assisted us, obtained, by money, that we might pass some hours in a more commodious part of the prison to refresh ourselves. My infant being brought to me almost famished, I gave it the breast. I recommended him afterwards carefully to my mother, and encouraged my brother, but was much afflicted to see their concern for me. After a few days my sorrow was changed into comfort, and my prison itself seemed agreeable. One day my brother said to me: 'Sister, I am persuaded that you are a peculiar favorite of Heaven: pray to God to reveal to you whether this imprisonment will end in martyrdom or not, and acquaint me of it.' I, knowing God gave me daily tokens of his goodness, answered, full of confidence, 'I will inform you tomorrow.' I therefore asked that favor of God, and had this vision. I saw a golden ladder which reached from earth to the heavens; but so narrow, that only one could mount it at a time. To the two sides were fastened all sorts of iron instruments, as swords, lances, hooks, and knives; so that if any one went up carelessly he was in great danger of having his flesh torn by those weapons. At the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of an enormous size, who kept guard to turn back and terrify those that endeavored to mount it. The first that went up was Saturus, who was not apprehended with us, but voluntarily surrendered himself afterwards on our account: when he was got to the top of the ladder, he turned towards me and said: 'Perpetua, I wait for you; but take care lest the dragon bite you.' I answered: 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he shall not hurt me.' Then the dragon, as if afraid of me, gently lifted his head from under the ladder, and I, having got upon the first step, set my foot upon his head. Thus I mounted to the top, and there I saw a garden of an immense space, and in the middle of it a tall man sitting down dressed like a shepherd, having white hair. He was milking his sheep, surrounded with many thousands of persons clad in white. He called me by my name, bid me welcome, and gave me some curds made of the milk which he had drawn: I put my hands together and took and ate them; and all that were present said aloud, Amen. The noise awaked me, chewing something very sweet. As soon as I had related to my brother this vision, we both concluded that we should suffer death.
"After some days, a rumor being spread that we were to be examined, my father came from the city to the prison overwhelmed with grief: 'Daughter,' said he, 'have pity on my gray hairs, have compassion on your father, if I yet deserve to be called your father; if I myself have brought you up to this age: if you consider that my extreme love of you, made me always prefer you to all your brothers, make me not a reproach to mankind. Have respect for your mother and your aunt; have compassion on your child that cannot survive you; lay aside this resolution, this obstinacy, lest you ruin us all: for not one of us will dare open his lips any more if any misfortune be fall you.' He took me by the hands at the same time and kissed them; he threw himself at my feet in tears, and called me no longer daughter, but, my lady. I confess, I was pierced with sharp sorrow when I considered that my father was the only person of our family that would not rejoice at my martyrdom. I endeavored to comfort him, saying: 'Father, grieve not; nothing will happen but what pleases God; for we are not at our own disposal.' He then departed very much concerned. The next day, while we were at dinner, a person came all on a sudden to summon us to examination. The report of this was soon spread, and brought together a vast crowd of people into the audience-chamber. We were placed on a sort of scaffold before the judge, who was Hilarian, procurator of the province, the proconsul being lately dead. All who were interrogated before me confessed boldly Jesus Christ. When it came to my turn, my father instantly appeared with my infant. He drew me a little aside, conjuring me in the most tender manner not to be insensible to the misery I should bring on that innocent creature to which I had given life. The president Hilarian joined with my father, and said: 'What! will neither the gray hairs of a father you are going to make miserable, nor the tender innocence of a child, which your death will leave an orphan, move you? Sacrifice for the prosperity of the emperor.' I replied, 'I will not do it.' 'Are you then a Christian?' said Hilarian. I answered: 'Yes, I am.' As my father attempted to draw me from the scaffold, Hilarian commanded him to be beaten off, and he had a blow given him with a stick, which I felt as much as if I had been struck myself; so much was I grieved to see my father thus treated in his old age. Then the judge pronounced our sentence, by which we were all condemned to be exposed to wild beasts. We then joyfully returned to our prison; and as my infant had been used to the breast, I immediately sent Pomponius, the deacon, to demand him of my father, who refused to send him. And God so ordered it that the child no longer required to suck, nor did my milk incommode me." Secundulus, being no more mentioned, seems to have died in prison before this interrogatory. Before Hilarian pronounced sentence, he had caused Saturus, Saturninus, and Revocatus, to be scourged; and Perpetua and Felicitas to be beaten on the face. They were reserved for the shows which were to be exhibited for the soldiers in the camp, on the festival of Geta, who had been made Caesar four years before by his father Severus, when his brother Caracalla was created Augustus. St. Perpetua relates another vision with which she was favored, as follows: "A few days after receiving sentence, when we were all together in prayer, I happened to name Dinocrates, at which I was astonished, because I had not before had him in my thoughts; and I that moment knew that I ought to pray for him. This I began to do with great fervor and sighing before God; and the same night I had the following vision: I saw Dinocrates coming out of a dark place, where there were many others, exceeding hot and thirsty; his face was dirty, his complexion pale, with the ulcer in his face of which he died at seven years of age, and it was for him that I had prayed. There seemed a great distance between him and me, so that it was impossible for us to come to each other. Near him stood a vessel full of water, whose brim was higher than the statue of an infant: he attempted to drink, but though he had water he could not reach it. This mightily grieved me, and I awoke. By this I knew my brother was in pain, but I trusted I could by prayer relieve him: so I began to pray for him, beseeching God with tears, day and night, that he would grant me my request; as I continued to do till we were removed to the damp prison: being destined for a public show on the festival of Caesar Geta. The day we were in the stocks I had this vision: I saw the place, which I had beheld dark before, now luminous; and Dinocrates, with his body very clean and well clad, refreshing himself, and instead of his wound a scar only. I awoke, and I knew he was relieved from his pain.
"Some days after, Pudens, the officer who commanded the guards of the prison, seeing that God favored us with many gifts, had a great esteem of us, and admitted many people to visit us for our mutual comfort. On the day of the public shows my father came to find me out, overwhelmed with sorrow. He tore his beard, he threw himself prostrate on the ground, cursed his years, and said enough to move any creature; and I was ready to die with sorrow to see my father in so deplorable a condition. On the eve of the shows I was favored with the following vision. The deacon Pomponius, methought, knocked very hard at the prison-door, which I opened to him. He was clothed with a white robe, embroidered with innumerable pomegranates of gold. He said to me: 'Perpetua, we wait for you, come along.' He then took me by the hand and led me through very rough places into the middle of the amphitheatre, and said: 'Fear not.' And, leaving me, said again: 'I will be with you in a moment, and bear a part with you in your pains.' I was wondering the beasts were not let out against us, when there appeared a very ill-favored Egyptian, who came to encounter me with others. But another beautiful troop of young men declared for me, and anointed me with oil for the combat. Then appeared a man of prodigious stature, in rich apparel, having a wand in his hand like the masters of the gladiators, and a green bough on which hung golden apples. Having ordered silence, he said that the bough should be my prize, if I vanquished the Egyptian: but that if he conquered me, he should kill me with a sword. After a long and obstinate engagement, I threw him on his face, and trod upon his head. The people applauded my victory with loud acclamations. I then approached the master of the amphitheatre, who gave me the bough with a kiss, and said: 'Peace be with you, my daughter.' After this I awoke, and found that I was not so much to combat with wild beasts as with the devils." Here ends the relation of St. Perpetua.
St. Saturus had also a vision which he wrote himself. He and his companions were conducted by a bright angel into a most delightful garden, in which they met some holy martyrs lately dead, namely, Jocundus, Saturninus, and Artaxius, who had been burned alive for the faith, and Quintus, who died in prison. They inquired after other martyrs of their acquaintance, say the acts, and were conducted into a most stately place, shining like the sun: and in it saw the king of this most glorious place surrounded by his happy subjects, and heard a voice composed of many, which continually cried: "Holy, holy, holy." Saturus, turning to Perpetua, said: "You have here what you desired." She replied: "God be praised, I have more joy here than ever I had in the flesh." He adds, Going out of the garden they found before the gate, on the right hand, their bishop of Carthage, Optatus, and on the left, Aspasius, priest of the same church, both of them alone and sorrowful. They fell at the martyr's feet, and begged they would reconcile them together, for a dissension had happened between them. The martyrs embraced them, saving: "Are not you our bishop, and you a priest of our Lord? It is our duly to prostrate ourselves before you." Perpetua was discoursing with them; but certain angels came and drove hence Optatus and Aspasius; and bade them not to disturb the martyrs, but be reconciled to each other. The bishop Optatus was also charged to heal the divisions that reigned among several of his church. The angels, after these reprimands, seemed ready to shut the gates of the garden. "Here," says he, "we saw many of our brethren and martyrs likewise. We were fed with an ineffable odor, which delighted and satisfied us." Such was the vision of Saturus. The rest of the acts were added by an eye-witness. God had called to himself Secondulus in prison. Felicitas was eight months gone with child, and as the day of the shows approached, she was inconsolable lest she should not be brought to bed before it came; fearing that her martyrdom would be deferred on that account, because women with child were not allowed to be executed before they were delivered: the rest also were sensibly afflicted on their part to leave her alone in the road to their common hope. Wherefore they unanimously joined in prayer to obtain of God that she might be delivered against the shows. Scarce had they finished their prayer, when Felicitas found herself in labor. She cried out under the violence of her pain: one of the guards asked her, if she could not bear the throes of childbirth without crying out, what she would do when exposed to the wild beasts. She answered: "It is I that suffer what I now suffer; but then there will be another in me that will suffer for me, because I shall suffer for him." She was then delivered of a daughter, which a certain Christian woman took care of, and brought up as her own child. The tribune, who had the holy martyrs in custody, being informed by some persons of little credit, that the Christians would free themselves out of prison by some magic enchantments, used them the more cruelly on that account, and forbade any to see them. Thereupon Perpetua said to him: "Why do you not afford us some relief, since we are condemned by Caesar, and destined to combat at his festival? Will it not be to your honor that we appear well fed?" At this the tribune trembled and blushed, and ordered them to be used with more humanity, and their friends to be admitted to see them. Pudens, the keeper of the prison, being already converted, secretly did them all the good offices in his power. The day before they suffered they gave them, according to custom, their last meal, which was called a free supper' and they ate in public. But the martyrs did their utmost to change it into an Agape, or Love-feast. Their chamber was full of people, whom they talked to with their usual resolution, threatening them with the judgments of God, and extolling the happiness of their own sufferings. Saturus smiling at the curiosity of those that came to see them, said to them, "Will not tomorrow suffice to satisfy your inhuman curiosity in our regard? However you may seem now to pity us, tomorrow you will clap your hands at our death, and applaud our murderers. But observe well our faces, that you may know them again at that terrible day when all men shall be judged." They spoke with such courage and intrepidity, as astonished the infidels, and occasioned the conversion of several among them.
The day of their triumph being come, they went out of the prison to go to the amphitheatre. Joy sparkled in their eyes, and appeared in all their gestures and words. Perpetua walked with a composed countenance and easy pace, as a woman cherished by Jesus Christ, with her eyes modestly cast down: Felicitas went with her, following the men, not able to contain her joy. When they came to the gate of the amphitheatre the guards would have given them, according to custom, the superstitious habits with which they adorned such as appeared at these sights. For the men, a red mantle, which was the habit of the priests of Saturn: for the women, a little fillet round the head, by which the priestesses of Ceres were known. The martyrs rejected those idolatrous ceremonies; and, by the mouth of Perpetua, said, they came thither of their own accord on the promise made them that they should not be forced to any thing contrary to their religion. The tribune then consented that they might appear in the amphitheatre habited as they were. Perpetua sung, as being already victorious; Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus threatened the people that beheld them with the judgments of God: and as they passed over against the balcony of Hilarian, they said to him; "You judge us in this world, but God will judge you In the next." The people, enraged at their boldness, begged they might be scourged, which was granted. They accordingly passed before the Venatores, or hunters, each of whom gave them a lash. They rejoiced exceedingly in being thought worthy to resemble our Saviour in his sufferings. God granted to each of them the death they desired; for when they were discoursing together about what kind of martyrdom would be agreeable to each, Saturninus declared that he would choose to be exposed to beasts of several sorts in order to the aggravation of his sufferings. Accordingly he and Revocatus, after having been attacked by a leopard, were also assaulted by a bear. Saturus dreaded nothing so much as a bear, and therefore hoped a leopard would dispatch him at once with his teeth. He was then exposed to a wild boar, hut the beast turned upon his keeper, who received such a wound from him that he died in a few days after, and Saturus was only dragged along by him. Then they tied the martyr to the bridge near a bear, but that beast came not out of his lodge, so that Saturus, being sound and not hurt, was called upon for a second encounter. This gave him an opportunity of speaking to Pudens, the jailer that had been converted. The martyr encouraged him to constancy in the faith, and said to him: "You see I have not yet been hurt by any beast, as I desired and foretold; believe then steadfastly in Christ; I am going where you will see a leopard with one bite take away my life." It happened so, for a leopard being let out upon him, covered him all over with blood, whereupon the people jeering, cried out, "He is well baptized." The martyr said to Pudens, "Go, remember my faith, and let our sufferings rather strengthen than trouble you. Give me the ring you have on your finger." Saturus, having dipped it in his wound, gave it him back to keep as a pledge to animate him to a constancy in his faith, and fell down dead soon after. Thus he went first to glory to wait for Perpetua, according to her vision. Some with Mabillon,1 think this Prudens is the martyr honored in Africa, on the 29th of April.
In the meantime, Perpetua and Felicitas had been exposed to a wild cow; Perpetua was first attacked, and the cow having tossed her up, she fell on her back. Then putting herself in a sitting posture, and perceiving her clothes were torn, she gathered them about her in the best manner she could, to cover herself, thinking more of decency than her sufferings. Getting up, not to seem disconsolate, she tied up her hair, which was fallen loose, and perceiving Felicitas on the ground much hurt by a toss of the cow, she helped her to rise. They stood together, expecting another assault from the beasts, but the people crying out that it was enough, they were led to the gate Sanevivaria, where those that were not killed by the beasts were dispatched at the end of the shows by the confectores. Perpetua was here received by Rusticus, a catechumen, who attended her. This admirable woman seemed just returning to herself out of a long ecstasy, and asked when she was to fight the wild cow. Being told what had passed, she could not believe it till she saw on her body and clothes the marks of what she had suffered, and knew the catechumen. With regard to this circumstance of her acts, St. Austin cries out, "Where was she when assaulted and torn by so furious a wild beast, without feeling her wounds, and when, after that furious combat, she asked when it would begin? What did she, not to see what all the world saw? What did she enjoy who did not feel such pain. By what love, by what vision, by what potion was she so transported out of herself, and as it were divinely inebriated, to seem without feeling in a mortal body?" She called for her brother, and said to him and Rusticus, "Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings." All the martyrs were now brought to the place of their butchery. But the people, not yet satisfied with beholding blood, cried out to have them brought into the middle of the amphitheatre, that they might have the pleasure of seeing them receive the last blow. Upon this, some of the martyrs rose up, and having given one another the kiss of peace, went of their own accord into the middle of the arena; others were dispatched without speaking, or stirring out of the place they were in. St. Perpetua fell into the hands of a very timorous and unskillful apprentice of the gladiators, who, with a trembling hand, gave her many slight wounds, which made her languish a long time. Thus, says St. Austin, did two women, amidst fierce beasts and the swords of gladiators, vanquish the devil and all his fury. 'the day of their martyrdom was the 7th of March, as it is marked in the most ancient martyrologies, and in the Roman calendar as old as the year 354, published by Bucherius St. Prosper says they suffered at Carthage, which agrees with all the circumstances. Their bodies were in the great church of Carthage, in the fifth age, as St. Victor2 informs us. Saint Austin says, their festival drew yearly more to honor their memory in their church, than curiosity had done to their martyrdom, They are mentioned in the canon of the Mass


Exodus 3: 1 - 8, 13 - 15
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Mid'ian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.
And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt."
When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I."
Then he said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the LORD said, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings,
and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per'izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites.
Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, `What is his name?' what shall I say to them?"
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.'"
God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel, `The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Psalms 103: 1 - 4, 6 - 8, 11
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

1 Corinthians 10: 1 - 6, 10 - 12
I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
and all ate the same supernatural food
and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did.
nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come.
Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Luke 13: 1 - 9
There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus?
I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo'am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?
I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?'
And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure.
And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"





vatican radio:
Before beginning his remarks to them, the Holy Father mentioned the recent landslides in the Bududa region of the country, saying "I offer prayers to Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, that He may grant eternal rest to the souls of the deceased, and give strength and hope to all who are suffering the consequences of this tragic event".He then turned his attention to the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held last autumn. It was, he said, "memorable in its call for renewed efforts in the service of a more profound evangelisation of your continent. The power of the word of God and the knowledge and love of Jesus cannot but transform people's lives by changing for the better the way they think and act."In the light of the Gospel message", he added, "you are aware of the need to encourage the Catholics of Uganda to appreciate fully the Sacrament of marriage in its unity and indissolubility, and the sacred right to life. I urge you to help them, priests as well as the lay faithful, to resist the seduction of a materialistic culture of individualism which has taken root in so many countries. Continue to call for lasting peace based on justice, generosity towards those in need and a spirit of dialogue and reconciliation".And he continued his English-language remarks to the prelates: "While promoting true ecumenism, be especially close to those who are more vulnerable to the advances of sects. Guide them to reject superficial sentiments and a preaching that would empty the cross of Christ of its power; in this way you will continue, as responsible pastors, to keep them and their children faithful to the Church of Christ. ... Continue to sustain all who with generous hearts assist displaced persons and orphans from war-torn areas. Encourage those who care for people afflicted by poverty, AIDS and other diseases, teaching them to see in those whom they serve the suffering face of Jesus."Renewed evangelisation gives rise in turn to a deeper Catholic culture which takes root in the family", said the Pope, noting how the bishops' reports show that "programmes of education in parishes, schools and associations, and your own interventions on topics of common interest, are spreading a stronger Catholic culture. Great good can come from well-prepared lay people who are active in the media, in politics and culture", he explained, highlighting how such people need to be well versed in Catholic social doctrine."Bishops, as the first agents of evangelisation, are called to bear clear witness to the practical solidarity born of our communion in Christ. In a spirit of Christian charity dioceses that enjoy more resources, both materially and spiritually, should assist those that have less. At the same time, all communities have a duty to strive for self-sufficiency. It is important that your people develop a sense of responsibility towards themselves, their community and their Church, and become more deeply imbued with a Catholic spirit of sensitivity to the needs of the universal Church".The Holy Father concluded: "Your priests, as committed ministers of evangelisation, already benefit greatly from your fatherly concern and guidance. In this Year for Priests ... exhort them to prayer and vigilance, especially with regard to self-centred, worldly or political ambitions, or excessive attachment to family or ethnic group. Continue promoting vocations, providing for due discernment of candidates and for their proper motivation and formation. ... Priests and religious require constant support in their lives of celibacy and consecrated virginity. By your own example, teach them of the beauty of this way of life, of the spiritual fatherhood and motherhood with which they can enrich and deepen the love of the faithful for the Creator and Giver of all good gifts".

UCAN report — A bureaucratic tangle is delaying attempts by Missionaries of Charity (MC) nuns to give orphan babies up for adoption.
On Aug. 31, 2009, the Chhattisgarh state government allowed the nuns to give babies up for adoption, listing the nun’s center as a licensed agency for promoting domestic adoption.
“With great difficulty we got permission. But only the process is on now,” said Sister Marie Ananda, superior of the MC nuns in the state capital of Raipur.
The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party) now rules this central Indian state.
Only government approved agencies can give children up for adoption. Before the state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, the nun’s center in Indore was a licensed agency.
Even after this division, the nuns in Chhattisgarh used to take abandoned babies of “unwed mothers” to Indore, in Madhya Pradesh, some 720 kilometers to the west, to place them for adoption.
But in September 2009, as the nuns were taking four two-month-old babies by train to Indore, a group of Hindu fanatics pulled them out mid-way.
The application process for the babies, started months ago, was nearing completion in Indore but the fanatics blocked the nuns and took them to a police station, accusing them of “human trafficking” and “converting” the babies to Christianity.
Police brought the nuns and the babies to a nearby convent.
Since the incident, the nuns could not give 43 babies up for adoption, including 10 with physical disabilities. However, “we can’t refuse children since several unwed mothers seek our help,” MC regional superior Sister Mamta told UCA News.
The superior also noted that the nuns have given babies for adoption to mostly childless Hindu couples for more than 50 years.
Sister Ananda said two social welfare centers, supported by some Hindu organizations, work against the nuns and their center. “They want us to close our institution,” she added.
Chhattisgarh’s rules for adoption also make the process lengthy. The norms want foster parents to take babies for three months before actually adopting them through a court order.
The rules also stipulate that the names of foster parents should be published in the government gazette.
“Many adoptive parents will not like their names to be published,” Sister Ananda said.
She said the process has been on for the past three months to give eight babies to foster parents. However, “only after the court order, can they be completely given,” she added.

CNA report:
Early this week, a delegation of Catholic bishops from the U.S. toured Port-au-Prince, the recently-devastated capital of Haiti. During their stay, the prelates visited the Louverture Cleary School, a tuition-free, Catholic, co-ed, secondary boarding school for under-privileged Haitian children.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez, and other members of the U.S. delegation, were accompanied by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio to Haiti. Together, the bishops toured and surveyed the damage to the city, in an effort to determine how to best spend the money that U.S. Catholics donated following the country's earthquake.
The bishops stopped at the Louverture Cleary School (LCS), which is run by The Haitian Project (THP), a charity founded in the early 1980’s by St. Joseph's Parish in Providence, R.I., to assist the people of Haiti.
“I believe it added an opportunity to see the hope in Haiti,” Deacon Patrick Moynihan, THP’s president told CNA.
Deacon Moynihan also writes a weekly column, "Both Oars In," for CNA.
According to the Boston Globe, Deacon Moynihan met the delegation after they celebrated an early morning Mass with the Daughters of Mary, a religious order who lost 15 sisters when the quake leveled their house. He then showed the bishops around the school, which suffered minimal damage during the massive earthquake. Two buildings need extensive repairs, and the other buildings will have modifications to help cope with the increased seismic activity following the earthquake, explained Deacon Moynihan. Four fallen wall sections also need to be replaced, but the school is in a position where it can help the surrounding community.
“We are aware that being left standing means that we are to commit more deeply to our mission of producing gifted, civic minded leaders for Haiti. Our school model has always been: We are ready to rebuild Haiti. We know what we were being prepared to do,” said the deacon.
The delegation also toured the surrounding neighborhood. “We wanted the Cardinal and Archbishop to see that we are a village--like a community around a monastery,” said Deacon Moynihan. He noted that he showed the delegation the site where THP is “ replacing a mud house with a concrete house--the original house was damaged in the quake.
“We will be doing at least 10 housing projects, some repairs and some full rebuilds. This is part of dedication to the community and service.”
The prelates, accompanied by the deacon, then visited the graves of Archbishop Joseph Miot and Fr. Charles Benoit, the vicar general of Port-au-Prince, who were killed during the earthquake. Deacon Moynihan pointed out that the lettering on Archbishop Miot’s tomb was done by a THP volunteer, Kristin Zeiler.
After the visit, Cardinal O'Malley promised to tell Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence, that THP is “doing a great job.”
For more information about The Haitian Project, visit:


CNA report:
In response to a sexual abuse claim that surfaced this week involving a member of the famed boys’ choir of Regensburg, where the Pope’s brother served as director for 30 years, the local bishop came to Fr. Georg Ratzinger’s defense noting that the instances of abuse took place before he was in charge.
Officials are revisiting the case that came to light this week involving a former student and member of the "Domspatzen," or Cathedral Sparrows choir in Regensburg. According to the Associated Press, the victim said he was sexually abused in the 1960s during his time with the choir.
According to a letter sent to the parents of current members of the boys' choir written by Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg, two now-deceased religious had already been condemned for abuses at the choir’s accompanying school. One of them was removed from his position as teacher and vice director of the institution in 1958 and the other was taken out of the school before his condemnation in 1971. They both died in 1984.
According to the bishop's letter, the results of these cases were made public at that time and "they are considered closed in the legal sense."
Bishop Müller added that the cases did not coincide with Fr. Georg Ratzinger's time there.
Fr. Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict and director of the choir from 1964 to 1993, told Bavarian public radio Bayerischen Rundfunk this week that he was not aware of the abuses.
L'Osservatore Romano released the bishop's words along with a message expressing the support of the Holy See for the diocese, offering its "availability to analyze the painful question decisively and in an open way."
"The main objective of the clarification by the Church is to render justice to the victims," he continued.
To date, the reported cases of abuse in Germany involve 18 of Germany's 27 dioceses, according to the Italian agency ASCA, and involve the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Jesuits, Benedictines and Capuchins. Bishops' conference investigations are being led by Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier.
Holy See vice-spokesman, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, told reporters on Friday that the Vatican is taking the situation in Germany "very seriously."


CISA report:
The Roman Catholic Church in Zambia has said that it will not support any political party in the country but will instead involve itself in the electoral process to enhance good governance.Speaking during the launch of the Caritas Zambia 2011 election strategy in Lusaka yesterday, Zambia Episcopal Conference secretary general, Joe Komakoma said the Church would remain independent and not support any party."The role of the Church in its involvement in the electoral process is to promote good governance and ensure people start voting for credible leaders who will develop this country."Accountability and transparency should be the core of whatever we do publicly, whether as politicians or ordinary citizens," Father Komakoma said.He said there was need for political parties in Zambia to promote internal democracy.Fr Komakoma said there was a tendency by some political parties to emphasise loyalty to the party, thereby denying their members an opportunity to hold conventions and elect office holders."Some parties have tended to have self-appointed leaders with very limited internal debate on key issues."Information is not easily shared or widely disseminated. Documents such as party constitutions or manifestos are not easily obtained or are a preserve of a few," he said.The essence of the Caritas Zambia 2011 Elections Strategy would be to ensure the country had effective and acceptable electoral laws and practices, which should be adhered to by the various stakeholders.Fr Komakoma said Caritas Zambia had noted the gaps in the electoral laws which were compromising the quality of elections and democratic governance.He said through the Caritas Zambia 2011 Elections Strategy, the church would contribute to the attainment of a credible and conducive electoral process ahead of next year's polls."Caritas Zambia is committed to addressing all aspects of the electoral process rather than focusing on the 2011 elections as an event."The project will encompass dialogue on electoral policies, the legal framework and electoral related procedures," Fr Komakoma said.Caritas Zambia’s executive director, Sam Mulafulafu said the organisation would ensure the strategy was publicised even in the remotest parts of Zambia.


Cath News report:
Catholic Priest Peter Doohan and Anglican Priest Charlie Murry have praised the community spirit at a multi-faith service in the flood-hit town of Charleville, in Queensland's south-west.
Flood water from Bradley's Gully, which runs through the centre of the town, caused damage to roads and homes in the past week, ABC reports.
Father Doohan's home was among those damaged in the town. "I looked at the place and said a few choice words in Latin," he said. "It has been a fairly horrific time and it's been a very fragile time.
"I've felt a whole lot of mixed emotions and probably just the helplessness of it. You can't stop the water - it just keeps coming, and coming higher."
Father Murry says the community is holding together well. "People's passions have started to kick in," he said.


St. Norbert
Feast: June 6
Feast Day:
June 6
1080 at Xanten, Germany
6 June 1134 at Magdeburg, Germany
1582 by Pope Gregory XIII
Patron of:
invoked during childbirth for safe delivery; Magdeburg, peace

St. Norbert was born at Santen, in the duchy of Cleves, in 1080. His father, Heribert, count of Gennep, was related to the emperor, and his mother derived her pedigree from the house of Lorraine. The rank which his birth gave him was rendered more illustrious by the excellent qualifications of his mind and body. His application to his studies was equal to the quickness of his parts, and he went through his academical exercises with extraordinary applause. But being at first blinded by the flattery of the world, he suffered himself to be carried away by its pleasures and pastimes, and had no higher thoughts than how he might live in honor and at his ease. He even received the ecclesiastical tonsure with a worldly spirit; and though he was instituted to a canonry at Santen and ordained sub-deacon, he neither changed his spirit nor his conduct. Being naturally inclined to mirth and gayety, he was the soul of all parties of pleasure, and by living in a circle of diversions, he drowned his soul in a round of vanities and trifling amusements, and was a stranger to serious reflection on himself, which would have opened his eyes. He would not be prevailed on to receive any higher orders for fear of a greater restraint on his conduct; and he led the same manner of life in the court of his cousin, the emperor Henry IV., who appointed him his almoner. God beheld with compassion the heart of this young nobleman enslaved to the world, in which he in vain sought that contentment and quiet of mind which no earthly advantages can afford, and which it is in the power of virtue alone to give. But to break his secret chains an extraordinary grace was necessary; and God awakened him from his spiritual lethargy by an alarming accident. Norbert was riding to a village in Westphalia, called Freten, in pursuit of his pleasures, mounted on a horse richly caparisoned, and attended by only one servant, when, in the midst of a pleasant meadow, he was overtaken by a violent storm, accompanied with dreadful thunder and lightning. Finding himself at a great distance from any shelter, he was overwhelmed with perplexity and fear, and while he was going on briskly, having set spurs to his horse, a ball of fire, or lightning, with a loud clap of thunder, fell just before his horse's feet, burned the grass, and cleft the earth. The poor beast, thus affrighted, threw his rider who lay like one dead for near an hour. At last coming to himself, like another Saul, he cried out to God, in the bitter compunction of his heart, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" To which the divine grace interiorly suggested this reply, "Turn away from evil, and do good: seek after peace, and pursue it." Being thus humbled in the full career of his passions, he became upon the spot a sincere penitent. Returning no more to the court, he withdrew to his canonry at Santen, there led a life of silence and retirement, wore a hair shirt next his skin, and spent his time in tears, holy prayer, and meditation. Now taking a serious review of himself and the world, he detested his past ingratitude to God, and his folly in serving a deceitful world which mingles in all its delights much gall and bitterness, far outweighing the false and momentary pleasure. The remembrance of the divine mercy which had spared him, while many others had been cut off in their sins, and in a moment been buried in hell, pierced his heart to the quick, and drew daily from his eyes streams of tears, by which he endeavored to wash away the stains of his soul. The fire of divine love thus kindled in his heart, gained strength every day by his fidelity, and by fresh supplies of grace. But his conversion was completed by a retreat which he made in St. Sigebert's monastery near Cologne, and by the pious exhortations of Conon, the holy abbot of that house, who was made soon after bishop of Ratisbon. Norbert was at this time in the thirtieth year of his age.
After his conversion, he employed two years in preparing himself for the priesthood, which he received from the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, together with the order of deacon, his fervor seeming a sufficient cause for such a dispensation. At the time of his ordination, he appeared in a lambskin cassock tied with a cord, and thus published to the world, that from that moment he renounced all its vanities. After his ordination, he returned to Conon, and made, under his direction, a severe retreat of forty days to dispose himself by tears, prayer, and fasting to say his first mass, which he came back to Santen to celebrate with his chapter. After the gospel was sung at high mass, he mounted the pulpit, and made a most pathetic sermon on the vanity of the world, the shortness of human life, and the insufficiency of all created beings to satisfy the heart of man; and he indirectly inveighed against the disorders of his colleagues. In a chapter which was held the next day, he pointed them out more distinctly, and pressed a reformation so vigorously, that several of them became perfect converts, and loudly condemned their past irregularities. But others, who could not bear that their sores should be touched to the quick, burst out into intemperate rage against him, and not content with ill-usage, they accused him to the pope's legate as an innovator, a hypocrite, and one who covered pernicious designs under the specious presence of zeal for a reformation of manners. The saint, having before his eyes the sins of his past life, confessed that he deserved all manner of contempt and ill treatment, and rejoiced under injuries and afflictions Nevertheless, reflecting on what he owed to God's honor, he purged himself before the legate, in a council held at Fritzlar, in 1118. Soon after, inflamed with an ardent zeal to live to God alone, he resigned all his ecclesiastical preferments into the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, and sold his own estate, giving the money to the poor, reserving only to himself ten marks of silver, a mule, and sacred vestments and ornaments for the altar. Thus divested of all that could engage his stay in his own country, he travelled barefoot to St. Giles's in Languedoc, where pope Gelasius II. was at that time. He threw himself at his holiness's feet, and with extraordinary compunction, made to him a general confession of his whole life, begging absolution of all his past disorders, especially of the irregularity committed in his receiving the holy orders of deacon and priest at the same time, with out observing the interstices prescribed by the canons, though it had been done by the dispensation of his diocesan; and cheerfully offered himself to make any satisfaction. He obtained of the pope faculties to preach the gospel where he judged proper. It was then the depth of winter. Yet he walked barefoot through the snow, and, inflamed with an ardent love of God, and desire of promoting his glory, seemed insensible to the rigors of the season. His whole life was a perpetual lent, and he never took his meal till evening, except on Sundays. He preached penance with incredible fruit over the provinces of Languedoc, Guienne, Poitou, and Orleanois. Till he came to Orleans, he had been accompanied only by two laymen; but, passing through that city, was joined by a subdeacon, who desired to assist him in his mission. His three disciples all fell sick, and died at Valenciennes, in Hainault, in 1119. In that city Burchard, bishop of Cambray, who had been acquainted with the saint in the emperor's court, meeting him, was extremely edified with his humility, penance, and zeal; and Hugh, his chaplain, quitting his hopes and prospects in the world, resolved to accompany Norbert in his apostolical labors: this great man afterwards succeeded him in the government of his order. With this companion, the saint preached penance through all Hainault, Brabant, and the territory of Liege. The people crowded to hear him wherever he came, and his sermons, enforced and illustrated by an evangelical life, procured the conversion of great numbers, reconciled those that were at variance, and engaged usurers and others to make restitution of their ill-gotten goods.
Pope Calixtus II. having succeeded Gelasius II. in 1119, Norbert went to Rheims, where his Holiness held a council soon after his exaltation. The prelates of that assembly were no less charmed with the eloquence, wisdom, and piety of this great servant of God, than amazed at the austerity of his penance, which some advised him in vain to moderate. He was introduced to the pope, who was one of the greatest men that had filled the apostolic chair, by Bartholomew bishop of Laon, and obtained a fresh grant of the privileges and faculties he had received from his predecessor. That prelate earnestly requested that his Holiness would allow him to fix the holy man in his diocese, that he might employ him in reforming the regular canons of St. Martin's church at Laon. The pope readily consented, but these canons could not be induced to submit to his severe regulations. Wherefore the zealous bishop gave the holy man the choice of several places to build a house. The saint pitched upon a lonesome valley called Premontre, in the forest of Coucy, where he found the remains of a small chapel, which bore the name of St. John, but stood in so barren a soil that the monks of St. Vincent at Laon, the proprietors of it, had abandoned it. The bishop bought of them this desert piece of land, and there built a monastery for the saint, who assembled out of Brabant thirteen brethren, desirous to serve God under his direction. Their number soon increased to forty, who made their profession on Christmas-day, 1121. The saint gave them the rule of St. Austin, with a white habit, destining them, in imitation of the angels in heaven, to sing the divine praises on earth. Their manner of living was very austere; but their order is no other than a reformation of regular canons. It was soon spread over several parts of Europe. Among the foundations made by our saint, that of St. Michael's at Antwerp was attended with circumstances which were illustrious proofs of his zeal. That town was then in the diocese of Cambray, and consisted at that time but of one parish, which fell into the hands of an unworthy pastor, by whose sloth and irregular conduct the flock was sunk into great disorders. Tankelin, a bold and eloquent heretic, took his advantage of this unhappy state of the church at Antwerp, and openly asserted that the institution of the priesthood is a fiction, and that the eucharist and other sacraments are of no service to salvation. He drew after him three thousand persons, who believed him a great prophet, and were ready to commit any outrages to support his impious extravagances. After he had spread his errors in the dioceses of Utrecht, Cambray, and the adjacent churches, luring the people with magnificent banquets, and practising the most filthy abominations of the Gnostics, he was slain in 1115, in those tumults which himself had raised, meeting with the usual fate of the authors of seditions and disturbers of the public peace.
The combustion, however, continued still to rage with no less fury than ever, and to fill the whole country with desolation. The reputation of the sanctity and erudition of Norbert attracted the eyes of all Europe; and the canons of Antwerp, in this distress of their church, being joined by Burchard their bishop, who resided at Cambray, implored his charitable assistance. The saint lost no time, and arrived at Antwerp with a select number of his canons who labored under his direction. Such was the success of this mission, that in a short time the people were undeceived, the heretics converted, abuses reformed, and the city restored to its former tranquillity and lustre. The clergy of Antwerp settled St. Michael's church on the saint and his order; and removed the ancient college of secular canons to our Lady's, which in 1559 was erected by pope Paul IV. into a cathedral, when Antwerp was made a bishop's see. The bishop of Cambray confirmed the donation of St. Michael's to the saint in 1124. St. Norbert revived the devotion of the people to the holy sacrament of the altar, and its frequent use, which heresy had interrupted, and had the comfort to see this church flourish in piety before he returned to his first settlement. His order was then much increased, and contained ten abbeys and eight hundred religious men. Among others who embraced his rule, count Godfrey, a nobleman of high renown in the empire, put on the habit at Floreff near Namur, and led an exemplary life in that convent, serving God in the humble quality of a lay-brother. Several other persons of distinction fled from the corruption of the world to the sanctuaries established by this great director in the paths of salvation. His institute had been approved by the legates of Calixtus II., but a more solemn confirmation being judged necessary, St. Norbert undertook a journey to Rome in 1125. Pope Honorius II., who had succeeded Calixtus II. in the close of the foregoing year, and was a great encourager of learning and of good men, received him with all possible marks of respect and affection, and granted all he desired, as appears by his bull, dated in the February following. The saint at his return to Premontre, put the abbey of St. Martin's at Laon under his rule, which the canons then demanded, though they had rejected it six or seven years before. The abbey of Viviers in the diocese of Soissons made the same step. Theobald, a prime nobleman of France, desired to embrace his order; but the saint diverted him from that design, showing him that God, by the situation in which he had placed him in the world, pointed out what he required at his hands; he made him sensible that his obligations to his family and bleeding country were ties in conscience, and that by faithfully acquitting himself of them, he would most effectually labor to advance the honor, and accomplish the will of God.
Norbert having completed the great work of the establishment of his order, was obliged to quit his monastery, to be placed in a more exalted station for the benefit of many. The count of Champagne, who did nothing of importance without the advice and direction of our saint, took him into Germany, whither he was going to conclude a treaty of marriage between himself and Maud, a niece to the bishop of Ratisbon. After the death of the unhappy emperor Henry V., Lothaire II., duke of Saxony, was chosen king of the Romans in 1125, though he was only crowned emperor at Rome in 1132, by pope Innocent II. This excellent prince, whose reign was equally glorious and religious, was holding a diet at Spire when the count and St. Norbert arrived at that city. Deputies from the city of Magdeburg were come to the same place to solicit Lothaire for an archbishop in the room of Roger, who died the year before. Two persons were proposed for that dignity; but Lothaire preferred Norbert to them both. At his name the deputies rejoiced exceedingly; and, indeed, the saint was the only person not pleased with the nomination. The pope's legate, cardinal Gerard, who afterwards sat in St. Peter's chair under the name of Lucius II., made use of his authority to oblige him to comply. The deputies of Magdeburg took him with them to that city, where he was met at a distance by the principal persons, and by his clergy. He followed the procession barefoot, and was conducted to the church, and thence to his palace. But his dress was so mean and poor, that the porter shut the door against him, saying: "Why will you go in to disturb my lords?" Those that followed cried out: "He is our bishop." The saint said to the porter: "Brother, you know me better than they do who have raised such a one to this dignity." In this high station the austerity of his life was the same he had practiced in a cloister, only his humility was snore conspicuous. By the joint weight of his authority, eloquence, and example, he made a great reformation both; in the clergy and laity of his diocese; and by his strenuous and undaunted resolution, he recovered a considerable part of the lands of his church which had fallen into the hands of certain powerful secular princes. But his zeal made those his enemies whom his charity could not gain to their duty They loaded him with injuries, decried him among themselves, and encouraged one another in their disobedience and contempt of his person, calling him a stranger, whose manners were opposite to theirs. To such an excess did their rage carry them, that some even made attempts upon his life. One who saw himself obliged by the saint to renounce his licentious manner of life, hired a villain to assassinate him under presence of going to confession on Maundy-Thursday. The saint was apprized of his design, as some authors affirm, by revelation, and he caused him to be searched as he came in, and a dagger was found upon him. Another shot an arrow at the saint, which only missed him to wound another that was near him. Of these villanies Norbert only said, without the least emotion: "Can you be surprised that the devil, after having offered violence to our divine Head, should assault his members?" He always pardoned the assassins, and showed himself ever ready to lay down his life in the defence of truth and justice. By this patience and unshaken courage, ha in three years broke through the chief difficulties which obstructed the reformation of manners he labored to introduce, and from that time he carried on the work, and performed the visitation of his diocese with ease and incredible success. He continued still to superintend the observance of discipline in his order, though upon his episcopal consecration he had left the government thereof to his first disciple Hugh. The fourth general chapter consisted of eighteen abbots.
After the death of pope Honorius II. an unhappy schism divided the church. Innocent II. was duly chosen on the 14th of February, 1130: notwithstanding which, Peter, the son of Leo, under the name of Anacletus II., was acknowledged at Rome, and by Roger duke of Sicily. The true pope was obliged to fly into France, where he held councils at Clermont, Rheims, and Puy in Velay. St. Bernard and St. Norbert labored vigorously to prevent or remedy the disorders which the schism brought into many places. St. Norbert assisted for this purpose at the council which the pope assembled at Rheims in 1131. Upon his return home, the emperor Lothaire, who resolved to march with an army to Rome to put Innocent II. in possession of the Lateran church in 1132, carried our holy bishop with him in that expedition, trusting that his piety, prayers, and zealous exhortations, would contribute very much to the success of his undertaking; and the event answered his expectations. The saint returned to Magdeburg, where he fell, ill, and after four months' tedious sickness, died the death of the just on the 6th of June, in the eighth year of his episcopal dignity, the fifty-third of his age, of our redemption 1134. He was canonized by Gregory XIII. in 1582. Pope Urban VIII. appointed his festival to be kept on the 10th of June. His body remained at Magdeburg till that city embraced the Lutheran doctrine and revolted. The emperor Charles V. laid siege to it; but was prevailed upon to withdraw his army for a great sum of money. In the reign of Ferdinand II. the Lutheran magistrates, at the request of the Norbertine order, and of many princes, consented that the body of St. Norbert should be removed out of their city. The emperor ordered that it should be translated to Prague; which was done with great pomp in 1627. The sacred treasure was carried into that city by fourteen abbots with their mitres on, and laid in the church called of Mount Sion, all the orders of the city attending the ceremony in the most solemn and magnificent procession.
St. Norbert is usually painted holding a ciborium in his hand. He is distinguished by this symbol on account of his extraordinary devotion to the blessed sacrament. He inculcated in all his sermons the frequent use of this divine food, being sensible from daily experience, and from the words of truth itself, that a neglect, and much more a distaste or loathing of the holy communion, is a deplorable symptom of a most dangerous state in a spiritual life.


Luke 15: 1 - 3, 11 - 32
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
So he told them this parable:
And he said, "There was a man who had two sons;
and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them.
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.
And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want.
So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.
But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."'
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet;
and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry;
for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
"Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.
And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.'
But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!'
And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"