CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: SUN. MAY 2, 2010: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: GOD HELPS US TO FACE AND OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES-
AFRICA: KENYA: CATHOLIC NUN WHO SERVED THE POOR DIES-
EUROPE: SPAIN: ONLINE SERVICE FOR PILGRIMS TO LIGHT CANDLE AT SHRINE-
AMERICA: USA: BISHOPS RELEASE STATEMENT ON IMMIGRATION REFORM-
ASIA: CHINA: RIGHTS GROUPS CRITICIZE 4 PRISONERS SENTENCED TO DEATH-
AUSTRALIA: RUDD GOVERNMENT PLEDGS TO PROTECT SERVICES-
GOD HELPS US TO FACE AND OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES
GOD HELPS US TO FACE AND OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2010 (VIS REPORT) - The Holy Father today made a pastoral visit to the Italian city of Turin, for the exposition of the Holy Shroud.
Following a brief meeting with local citizens in the city's Piazza San Carlo, at 10.45 a.m. the Holy Father presided at Mass in the same square.
In his homily Benedict XVI referred to the difficulties of living a Christian life, in which context he recalled "people who live their lives in truly precarious conditions, because of lack of work, uncertainty about the future, physical and moral suffering. I am thinking of families, of young people, of the elderly who often suffer solitude, of the marginalised, of immigrants", he said.
The Pope went on, despite these many problems "it is precisely the certainty we receive from faith, the certainty that we are not alone, that God loves each of us without distinction and is close to each with His love, that makes it possible to face, to live and to overcome the burden of daily problems".
The Pope encouraged families "to experience the Christian dimension of love in simple everyday activities, in family relationships, overcoming division and misunderstandings, in cultivating the faith which makes communion ever stronger".
"I also wish to encourage the efforts being made, often with difficulty, by those called to administer the public weal", and their "collaboration towards the common good and towards making the city ever more human and inhabitable".
The Holy Father particularly encouraged young people "never to lose hope, the hope that comes from the risen Christ, from God's victory over sin, hatred and death".
Turning his attention then to the Holy Shroud of Turin, the Pope highlighted how "in it we see, as if reflected, our own sufferings in the suffering in Christ. ... For this reason the Shroud is a sign of hope. Christ faced the cross in order to place a limit to evil, in order to make us see, in His Easter, the anticipation of the moment in which, for us too, every tear will be wiped away and there will no longer be death, mourning, lamentation or fatigue".
Benedict XVI concluded by encouraging the faithful of Turin "to remain firm in the faith you have received, the faith that gives meaning to life, that gives the strength to love. Never lose the light of hope in the risen Christ, which is capable of transforming reality and making all things new; in a simple and concrete way in the city, in neighbourhoods, in communities, in families, live the love of God: 'love one another as I have loved you'".
Following Mass, and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope noted how the Virgin Mary is venerated in Turin as Our Lady of Consolation. "To her I entrust this city and everyone who dwells here", he said. "Mary, watch over families and over the world of work; watch over those who have lost faith and hope; comfort the sick, those in jail and everyone who suffers; Mary Help of Christians, support the young, the elderly, and people in difficulties. Mother of the Church, watch over the pastors and the entire community of believers, that they may be 'salt and light' in the bosom of society".
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YOUNG PEOPLE: BE PART OF THE GREAT MOSAIC OF THE CHURCH
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. today, the Pope returned to Piazza San Carlo where he met with young people from the archdiocese of Turin and surrounding dioceses. Following a welcome speech by Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, and a greeting from the young people, the Pope delivered his address.
Recalling how twenty-five years ago John Paul II wrote a Letter for young people focusing on Jesus' meeting with the rich young man who asked Him what me had to do to gain eternal life, Benedict XVI said: "Today it is not easy to talk about eternal life and things everlasting because the mentality of our time tells us that nothing definitive exists; everything changes, and changes quickly. In many cases, 'change' has become a watchword, ... and in this way you young people are also led to think that it is impossible to make definitive choices that commit you for life".
However, the Pope asked, "is it true that in order to be happy we have to make do with small and fleeting moments of joy, the which, once over, leave bitterness in our hearts? Dear young people, this is not true freedom, happiness cannot be attained in this way. Each of us was created to make, not provisional and reversible choices, but definitive and irrevocable choices which give full meaning to existence. We see this in our own lives: we would like every beautiful experience which fills us with joy never to end. God created us with a view to the 'forever'. In each of our hearts He placed the seed for a life that creates something great and beautiful".
"In his dialogue with the rich young man, Jesus indicated life's greatest wealth: love. To love God and others with all of ourselves. ... For humans, who are mortal and limited beings, nothing is greater than participating in God's life of love. Today we live in a cultural context that does not favour profound and disinterested human relationships, on the contrary, it often leads us to close in on ourselves, inducing individualism. ... But the hearts of the young are by nature sensitive to true love. Thus, with great trust, I address myself to each of you and say: it is not easy to make something great and beautiful of your lives, it is demanding, but with Christ everything is possible".
"Experience this meeting with Christ's love in a strong personal relationship with Him; experience this in the Church and primarily in the Sacraments", Benedict XVI exhorted the young people. "Christ's love for the young man of the Gospel is the same as that He has for each of you. It is not a love confined to the past, it is not an illusion, it is not reserved for the few. ... May each of you feel yourselves to be a 'living part' of the Church, unafraid, involved in the work of evangelisation ... with your brothers and sisters in the faith, and in communion with pastors, avoiding individualist tendencies even in the life of faith, in order deeply to absorb the beauty of being part of the great mosaic that is the Church of Christ".
The Holy Father gave the example of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, the twentieth anniversary of whose beatification falls this month. He "put his Christian formation into practice with great commitment, giving a simple and effective witness of his faith", said the Pope recalling how Blessed Frassati's motto was "live, don't just get by". In this context, he invited his audience "to discover that it is worthwhile committing yourselves for God and with God, responding to His call in all your choices, the fundamental and the mundane, even when there is a price to pay".
"May the Holy Shroud", he concluded, "be an invitation for you to inscribe the face of God's love into your hearts, in order to become, in your own lives and among your peers, a credible expression of the face of Christ".
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SHROUD OF TURIN: AN ICON OF THE MYSTERY OF EASTER SATURDAY
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At the end of his meeting with some 20,000 young people, the Holy Father travelled by car to the cathedral of Turin where he venerated the Holy Shroud which is on public display from 10 April to 23 May.
The Pope was received by the pastor and the canons of the metropolitan chapter. He paused in adoration before the Eucharist in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament before moving on to the high altar where he venerated the Holy Shroud.
The Holy Father then read out a special mediation entitled "The Mystery of the Holy Shroud", which is the subtitle of the main theme of the exposition: "Passio Christi - Passio hominis".
"The Holy Shroud", said the Pope, "is the icon of this mystery. ... It is, in fact, a burial cloth which covered the body of crucified man, corresponding in every detail to what the Gospels tell us about Jesus. ... Easter Saturday is the day in which God is hidden. ... In our time, and especially having traversed the last century, humankind has become particularly receptive to the mystery of Easter Saturday. The concealment of God is part of the spirituality of modern man, essentially, almost unconsciously, like an ever-expanding emptiness in the heart. ... Following the two world Wars, the concentration camps, the gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our age has increasingly become an Easter Saturday. The darkness of that day is a call to everyone who questions themselves about life, particularly to us as believers. We too are involved in this darkness.
"Yet nonetheless the death of the Son of God, of Jesus of Nazareth, has an opposing aspect, one that is completely positive, a source of consolation and of hope", the Holy Father added. "And this leads me to think that the Holy Shroud is like a photograph, which has both a 'positive' and a 'negative'. This is, in fact, true: the darkest mystery of the faith is at the same time the brightest sign of a limitless hope. Easter Saturday is the 'no-man's-land' between death and resurrection, but then the One entered this 'no-man's-land', and crossed it with the signs of His Passion for mankind".
"In that 'time-beyond-time' Jesus Christ 'descended to Hades'. ... God-made-man reached the point of entering into the extreme and absolute solitude of man, where no ray of love reaches, where total abandonment reigns, where there is no word of comfort: 'Hades'. Jesus Christ, by dwelling in death, crossed the threshold of this ultimate solitude in order to lead us to cross it with Him. ... Human beings live because they are loved and can love. And if love has penetrated even into the place of death, then life has arrived there too. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone: 'Passio Christi - Passio hominis'.
"This is the mystery of the Holy Shroud! It was from there, from the darkness of the death of the Son of God, that the light of a new hope shone forth: the light of the Resurrection. And I feel that, looking at this sacred cloth with the eyes of faith, something of this light is perceptible. ... The power of the Shroud is this: from the face of this 'Man of suffering' who bears on himself the passion of men of all times and places, including our passions, sufferings, difficulties and sins, ... there emerges a solemn majesty, a paradoxical lordship".
"How does the Holy Shroud speak?" Pope Benedict asked. "It speaks with blood, and blood is life. The Shroud is an icon written in blood; the blood of man who has been whipped, crowned with thorns, crucified and wounded in the right side. The image on the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of his life. Each trace of blood speaks of love and of life. ... It is like a spring murmuring in silence, and we can perceive it, hear it, in the silence of Easter Saturday".
Having concluded his meditation, Benedict XVI greeted cloistered nuns from various orders present in the diocese, and members of the committee of the Holy Shroud. He then moved on to the Little House of Divine Providence where, at 6.30 p.m. in the church of Cottolengo, he met with sick people.
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GOD MAKES THE OFFER OF OUR SUFFERING FRUITFUL
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 6.30 p.m. today the Pope met with sick people in the church of the Little House of Divine Providence, founded in 1832 in the suburbs of Turin by St. Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo (1786-1842).
"This meeting of ours", said the Holy Father at the beginning of his remarks, "tones in well with my pilgrimage to the Holy Shroud, in which we can read all the drama of suffering but also, in the light of Christ's Resurrection, the full meaning this has for the redemption of the world".
Speaking of St. Giuseppe Cottolengo Benedict noted that, "though traversing dramatic moments in his life, he always faced events with serene trust. Attentive to perceiving the signs of God's paternity, he recognised the Lord's presence and mercy in all situations and, in the poor, saw the most familiar image of His greatness".
"From the very beginning, the basic foundation of his work was the exercise of Christian charity towards everyone, which enabled him to recognise great dignity in all men and women, even those on the margins of society. ... Thus for this saint, taking on the burden of so much human suffering meant creating close, familiar and spontaneous relationships, founding structures capable of expressing such closeness with a family-like atmosphere that still continues today".
The Pope assured the sick people that they have an important mission. "Living your sufferings in union with the crucified and risen Christ, you participate in the mystery of His suffering for the salvation of the world", he said. "Offering our pain to God through Christ, we can share in the victory of good over evil, because God makes our offering, our act of love, fruitful".
And he went on: "This house is one of the fruits born from the cross and resurrection of Christ, and it shows that suffering, evil and death do not have the last word, because life can arise again from death and suffering".
"In this place", the Holy Father concluded, "we can better understand that, if the passion of man was assumed by Christ in His Passion, nothing will be lost. The message of this solemn exposition of the Holy Shroud ('Passio Christi - Passio hominis') is particularly evident here".
His visit over, and having greeted a number of the sick people present in the church of Cottolengo, the Pope made his way to Turin airport where, at 8 p.m., he boarded his return flight to Rome. Having landed at Ciampino airport, he then travelled back to the Vatican by helicopter.
KENYA: CATHOLIC NUN WHO SERVED THE POOR DIES
All Africa report: A Catholic nun, who has served for many years as head of the development Office of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, now Caritas Nairobi is dead.
The late Sister Mary Teresa Wacheke, 55 and a member the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi congregation died on April 24 at a Nairobi Hospital.
At a requiem Mass, held at Nairobi's Holy Family Minor Basilica was described as nun with a big heart for the poor. The late nun joined the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi congregation in 1976 and professed in 1978.
"Her involvement in various aspects of rehabilitating street girls in Nairobi stands out," remarked Mr. Joseph Murang'a, in a tribute to the late Catholic nun during the requiem Mass, presided over by the retired Archbishop Ndingi Mwana 'Nzeki of the metropolitan archdiocese of Nairobi.
"She was very much concerned with many programmes including Rescue Dada Rehabilitation Centre for street girls, Cardinal Maurice Otunga Centre for the youth and Kwetu Home of Peace," added Mr. Murang'a, who said he had worked with the late Sister Wacheke for 12 years.
Through her efforts, the Development Office of the Archdiocese Nairobi has grown from strength to strength in various ways, such as the institution of many programmes, among them peace-building, promotion of women entrepreneur and peer counselling, added Mr. Murang'a, currently Capacity-building Programme Officer for Caritas Nairobi Office.
In his remarks, Retired Archbishop Ndingi described the late Sister Wacheke as a courageous woman who "cherished seeing and participating in development programmes for the sake of both physical and spiritual welfare of the human being.
He also praised the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi congregation has having "donated" one of their sisters to serve in the Development Office of the Archdiocese.
SPAIN: ONLINE SERVICE FOR PILGRIMS TO LIGHT CANDLE AT SHRINE
London Telegraph report: It is the perfect solution for the cash rich, money poor believer. The world famous cathedral in Santiago de Compostela has started an online service where armchair pilgrims can pay to light a virtual candle in the shrine of St James.
The cathedral, with the help of internet company mivela.com, literally "mycandle.com", set up the website for worshippers without the time or energy to complete a physical pilgrimage to Spain.
Instead, the faithful can pay 1.39 euros, light a candle on the electronic board beside the shrine, the Guardian reports. They can also send text offerings via mobile phone that will illuminate the digital candelabra - a computer screen mounted on a metal stand decorated with the Cross of St. James.
The Italian Job challenge: Hang on lads, I've got a great idea . . .Those who book the first 20 candles on the board get 31 minutes of candle time in which to say their prayers, while late-comers get just 11 minutes."That is enough to say a prayer," David Doñas of mivela.com, told the paper.
The cash-strapped cathedral also plans to create a new digital income stream with half a million payments a year.
The Cathedral is one of about 10 churches in Spain to offer the online candle service, including places of worships in Ourense, Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz and La Linea de la Conceptión.
"About 99 per cent of the priests were enthusiastic about the proposition" Mr Doñas said
USA: BISHOPS RELEASE STATEMENT ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
USCCB report: Immigration Reform Framework Needs Work, But ‘Important First Step’ In Legislative Process, Say U.S. Bishops
Urge bipartisan action affirming rule of law, human rights in 2010
See need to address root causes of migration
Urge not using immigration reform to promote same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops called the introduction of a framework on immigration reform by Senate leadership, April 29, an “Important first step” in the process of achieving enactment of comprehensive reform legislation. The framework, developed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and endorsed by Senate leadership, attempts to lay a road map for launching negotiations toward a bipartisan immigration reform bill.
The bishops’ position was outlined April 29, by Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration.“We urge members of both parties to begin a process toward introducing and enacting bipartisan legislation which affirms the rule of law and basic human rights,” Bishop Wester said.
Bishop Wester pointed to flaws in the framework that require revision, including a controversial provision that would permit same-sex couples to receive immigration benefits equal to married couples. He also pointed out that enforcement measures in the framework should not violate basic rights, and that policies that address the root causes of migration should be addressed.
Bishop Wester urged Congress to begin discussions on the issue, with the goal of passing legislation in 2010.
“We call for a robust but civil debate. This issue can no longer wait and should not be politicized or held hostage to ideology. Our immigration system is badly broken and is in need of immediate repair,” Bishop Wester said.
The statement follows.
Statement of Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration
April 29, 2010
Release of Immigration Framework in U.S. Senate
The U.S. Catholic bishops have consistently spoken out on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform and have urged its enactment. Today’s introduction of an immigration framework in the U.S. Senate is an important first step in the process of achieving the enactment of a comprehensive measure. We urge members of both parties to begin a process toward introducing and enacting bipartisan legislation which affirms the rule of law and basic human rights.
While we support the general direction of the framework, including a legalization of the undocumented and improvements to our employment and family-based immigration systems, we strongly oppose extending marriage-like immigration benefits to same-sex relationships. This proposal threatens to undermine the opportunity to bring together the Congress and the American people around a common solution to the important challenge of immigration reform.
We also have concerns about the increases in enforcement resources contained in the framework.
Over the past several years, the United States has poured billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, which has not only not solved the problem but in some cases led to the abuse of migrants. We would support the inclusion of provisions which address “push” factors that compel migrants to come to the United States, such as the lack of economic development in sending countries, so that migrants can remain in their countries and support their families in dignity.
We stand ready to work with the Administration and our federal elected officials of both parties to address these concerns and to improve the legislation in all areas. We call for a robust but civil debate. This issue can no longer wait and should not be politicized or held hostage to ideology. Our immigration system is badly broken and is in need of immediate repair.
CHINA: RIGHTS GROUPS CRITICIZE 4 PRISONERS SENTENCED TO DEATH
Asia News report: Criticism from human rights groups and the European Union. But 70% of people in Taiwan support the death penalty. Premier Wu: Even democratic countries like U.S. and Japan maintain capital punishment.
Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The execution of four prisoners on death row has been criticized by human rights groups and the European Union. But Premier Wu Den-yi defends the right of the State to enforce the death penalty, as with the United States and Japan. Even the majority of the island's population supports the death penalty.
The sentencing to death of four prisoners in Taipei, Taichung and Tainan occurred last April 30 and is the first execution to be carried out by the state since 2005, when Taiwan also agreed to a moratorium. But capital punishment is supported by much of the public (at least 70%) and particularly by the relatives of victims. The Minister of Justice, Tseng Yung-fu (see photo), signed the conviction order on 28 April. He entered office in March after the resignation of Wang Ching-feng, contrary to the death penalty.
A human rights group, the Foundation for the reform of justice, has condemned the actions of the minister and accused him of having wanted to hasten the executions at all costs. The European Union also issued a statement in which "deplores" the death sentences.
Yesterday Premier Wu defended himself saying that "not all democratic nations have abolished the death penalty" and cited as examples the United States and Japan.
At present in Taiwan there are 40 prisoners awaiting execution. The four killed were guilty of kidnapping and killing of kidnapped (one a primary school child) and various other murders.
RUDD GOVERNMENT PLEDGS TO PROTECT SERVICES
Cath News report: Catholic Health Australia has welcomed the Rudd Government's pledge, following the Henry tax review, to rule out any changes that "harm the not-for-profit sector".
Treasury secretary Ken Henry's tax review, released on Sunday, recommended "streamlining" not-for-profit tax concessions and replacing them with government grants, said an AAP report in the Sydney Morning Herald. He wanted to abolish fringe benefit tax concessions.
"On behalf of our 75 not-for-profit hospitals and 550 not-for-profit aged care operators, CHA has been urging the government for some time to retain these important tax concessions," chief executive Martin Laverty said in a statement.
The concessions enabled Catholic hospitals and aged-care facilities to stay competitive as employers, and to keep essential health services running, he said.
"Without them staff would suffer pay cuts, and some services would be forced to close," he said.
Dr Henry's review had recommended replacing FBT with direct government funding, finding that the FBT concessions provided an unfair competitive advantage, enabling the eligible organisations "to pay the market wage at a lower cost".
"This distortion is particularly problematic in relation to hospitals where nursing shortages are an ongoing concern," the report cites from the review.
BISHOP, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: May 2
Information:Feast Day: May 2
Born: 295 at Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 2 May 373 at Alexandria, Egypt
San Zaccaria, Venice, Italy
St. Athanasius, known as the "champion of orthodoxy," was born about the year 297, in Alexandria. There is a tradition, related by Rufinus, that he first attracted the notice of Patriarch Alexander as he was playing at baptism on the seashore with other small boys. After watching young Athanasius perform the rite, the prelate called the boys to him and by questioning satisfied himself that the baptisms were valid. He then undertook to have these boys trained for the priesthood. Athanasius received an excellent education, not only in Christian doctrine, but also in Greek literature and philosophy, rhetoric, and jurisprudence. He knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and learned theology from teachers who had been confessors during the terrible persecutions under Maximian. In youth he appears to have formed friendships with several hermits of the desert, especially with the great Antony, whose biography he was to write. He was reader to the patriarch, and in 318 became his secretary. During this period he wrote a discourse,
In Egypt two strong and often divergent forces had early appeared in the Christian Church: the conservative hierarchy in Alexandria, represented by the patriarch or bishop, and the theologians of the schools, who cared little for tradition and stood for free reasoning on theological subjects. The leaders of the latter party had sometimes been obliged, like the famous Origen, to go into exile. There were also schisms over the distribution of authority in the Church and over doctrinal questions. It was probably about the year 323 that one Arius, a priest of the church of Baucalis, began to teach that Jesus, though more than man, was not eternal God, that he was created in time by the Eternal Father, and could therefore be described only figuratively as the Son of God. The patriarch demanded a written statement of these doctrines. With only two dissenting voices the bishops condemned them as heresy, and deposed Arius, together with eleven priests and deacons of Alexandria. Arius retired to Caesarea, where he continued to propagate his ideas, enlisting the support of Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and other Syrian prelates. In Egypt he had already won over many of the metaphysicians, as well as Meletius, bishop of Lycopolis, and leader of a dissident group. Theology being the topic which most deeply engaged men's minds, the Arian controversy interested all classes of the population. The heretical propositions were publicized in the form of songs set to popular tunes, and these were chanted in the forums and carried by sailors from port to port.
Athanasius, as the patriarch's secretary, took a prominent part in this great Church struggle. It is probable that he even composed the encyclical letter announcing the condemnation of Arius. We know that he was present, as an attendant on Alexander, at the famous Council of Nicaea, summoned by the Emperor Constantine to determine matters of dogma. There the sentence against Arius was confirmed, and the confession of faith known as the Nicene Creed promulgated and subscribed. This gathering of churchmen influenced Athanasius deeply, and, as a modern writer has said, the rest of his life was a testimony to the divinity of the Saviour.
Shortly after this Alexander died, and Athanasius succeeded him, although he was not yet thirty. One of his first acts was a tour of his enormous diocese, which included the great monastic settlements, especially the Thebaid. He ordained a bishop for Abyssinia, where the Christian faith had recently been established. Yet in spite of his best efforts, there was strong opposition. The Meletians made common cause with the Arians, and the movement, temporarily discredited by the Council of Nicaea, was soon again rampant in Asia Minor and Egypt.
In 330 the Arian bishop of Nicomedia, Eusebius, returned from his exile and before long had persuaded the aging Constantine to write to Athanasius, bidding him readmit Arius into communion, in the interests of unity. Eusebius sent an ingratiating letter in defense of Arius, but Athanasius held to his conviction that the Church could have no communion with heretics who attacked the divinity of Christ. Then Eusebius wrote the Egyptian Meletians urging them to impeach Athanasius for personal misconduct. They brought charges that he had levied a general tribute of linen for use in his own church, and made other petty accusations. At his trial before the emperor, Athanasius cleared himself and returned in triumph to Alexandria, bearing with him a letter of approval from Constantinople.His enemies now accused him of having murdered a Meletian bishop named Arsenius, and summoned him to attend a council at Caesarea. Knowing that his supposed victim was in hiding, Athanasius ignored the summons. In 335 an order came from Constantinople to appear before another assembly at Tyre, packed by his opponents and presided over by an Arian who had seized the see of Antioch. Realizing that his condemnation had been decided on, Athanasius abruptly left the council and took ship for Constantinople. There he accosted the emperor as a suppliant in the street and obtained an interview. So completely did he vindicate himself that Constantine summoned the bishops to Constantinople for a retrial of the case. Then, for some unexplained reason, he suddenly changed his mind. Before the first letter arrived, a second was sent, confirming the sentence and banishing Athanasius to Treves. During this first exile, Athanasius kept in touch with his flock by letter.
In 337 Constantine died, shortly after his baptism by Eusebius of Nicomedia, and his empire was divided among his three sons, Constantine II, Constantius, and Constans. Many of the exiled prelates were now recalled. One of the first acts of Constantine II, who had sovereignty over Britain, Spain, and Gaul, was to allow Athanasius to return to his see. Two years later Constantine II was to be killed in battle in Aquileia. The patriarch reentered Alexandria in seeming triumph, but his enemies were as relentless as ever, and Eusebius of Nicomedia had completely won over the Emperor Constantius, within whose portion of the empire Alexandria was situated. New scandals were invented and Athanasius was now accused of raising sedition, promoting bloodshed, and keeping for himself corn intended for the poor. A Church council which met at Antioch again deposed him, and ratified an Arian bishop for Alexandria.
In the midst of all this confusion a Cappadocian priest named Gregory was forcibly installed as patriarch of Alexandria by the city prefect, pagans and Arians having now joined forces against the Catholics. Confronted unceasingly by acts of violence and sacrilege, Athanasius betook himself to Rome to await the hearing of his case by the Pope. A synod was summoned, but the Eusebians who had proposed it failed to appear. The result was a complete vindication of Athanasius, a verdict afterwards endorsed by the Council of Sardica. Nevertheless he found it impossible to return to Alexandria until after the death of Gregory, and then only because Emperor Constantius, on the eve of a war with Persia, thought it politic to propitiate his brother Constans by restoring Athanasius to his see.
After an absence then of eight years, Athanasius was welcomed back to Alexandria in 346, and for three or four years there was comparative peace. But the murder of Constans in 350 removed the most powerful support of orthodoxy, and Constantius, once he found himself ruler of both West and East, set himself to crush the man he now regarded as a personal enemy. At Arles in 353 he obtained the condemnation of Athanasius from a council of Gallic bishops, who seem to have been kept in ignorance of the importance of the issues. Two years later at Milan he met with more opposition from the Italian bishops, but when with his hand on his sword he gave them their choice between condemnation of Athanasius and exile, by far the greater number yielded. The few stubborn bishops were exiled, including the new Pope Liberius. He was sent into isolation in Thrace until, broken in body and spirit, he too gave his consent to the Arian decrees. Athanasius held on for another year with the support of his own clergy and people. Then one night, as he was celebrating a vigil in the church of St. Thomas, soldiers broke in. Athanasius was instantly surrounded by his people, who swept him out into the safety of darkness; but for six years thereafter he had to live in hiding. His abounding energy now expressed itself in literary composition, and to this period are ascribed his chief writings, including a
The new emperor, Jovian, a soldier of Catholic sympathies, revoked the sentence of banishment and invited Athanasius to Antioch, to expound the doctrine of the Trinity. Jovian's reign lasted only a year, and his successor in the East, Valens, succumbed to Arian pressure in Constantinople and in May, 365, issued an order banishing again all orthodox bishops who had been exiled by Constantius and restored by his successors. Once more the worn and aged prelate was forced to flee. The ecclesiastical historian, Socrates, tells us that Athanasius hid himself this time in his father's tomb, but a better- informed writer says that he spent the months in a villa in a suburb of Alexandria. Four months later Valens revoked his edict, fearing possibly a rising of the Egyptians, who were determined to accept no other man as bishop. Joyfully they escorted him back. Athanasius had spent seventeen years in exile, but his last years were peaceful. He died in Alexandria on May 2, 373. His body was twice removed, first to Constantinople, and then to Venice.
While the theological controversies which marked this period may seem both complex and remote, they were an important milestone in the history of the Church, Athanasius rendering an outstanding service. The statement of Christian doctrine known as the Athanasian Creed was probably composed during his life, but not actually by him. In his works there is deep spiritual feeling and understanding, and as Cardinal Newman said, he stands as "a principal instrument after the Apostles by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world."
TODAY´S MASS READINGS
5TH SUN. OF EASTER
Acts 14: 21 - 27
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Ico'nium and to Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.
24 Then they passed through Pisid'ia, and came to Pamphyl'ia.
25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attali'a;
26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.
27 And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
Psalms 145: 8 - 13
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
10 All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O LORD, and all thy saints shall bless thee!
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power,
12 to make known to the sons of men thy mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of thy kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
Revelation 21: 1 - 5
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
3 and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;
4 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
5 And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."
John 13: 31 - 33, 34 - 35
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified;
32 if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.'
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."