Monday, July 26, 2010
CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: MON. JULY 26, 2010: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: POPE-PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR AUGUST FOR UNEMPLOYED/HOMELESS-
VATICAN- CARDINAL OUELLET, ENVOY TO CENTENARY MEMBERTOU BAPTISM-
POPE- ANGELUS: THOSE WHO PRAY ARE NEVER ALONE-
POPE- PRAYERS FOR 19 DUISBURG VICTIMS, AND VISIT TO SANTIAGO-
ASIA-THAILAND- BOMB BLAST KILLS 1 AND INJURES 10-
AMERICA- USA: PROFESSOR RECEIVES $100, 000 AFTER FIRING FOR COMMENTS-
ASIA: INDIA: CATHOLIC CHURCH DEMOLISHED IN VILLAGE-
EUROPE- IRELAND: 200, 000 ON ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE IN HONOR OF ST. PATRICK-
EUROPE- FRANCE ENCLOSED NUNS TO RELEASE MUSIC CD WITH UNIVERSAL-
AUSTRALIA- BISHOP'S CONFERENCE QUESTIONS POLICIES ON MIGRATION-
AFRICA- BURKINA FASO: INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC JOURNALIST CONFERENCE-
POPE-PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR AUGUST FOR UNEMPLOYED AND HOMELESS
Radio Vaticana report: People without work or homes or who are otherwise in serious need, will be the focus of Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions this August. Each month the Holy Father issues general and missionary prayer intentions, to encourage Catholics worldwide to pray for particular intentions. In August, Pope Benedict is asking people to pray that the homeless and unemployed may find understanding and welcome, as well as concrete help in overcoming their difficulties.
His mission intention is that that the Church may be a “home” for all people, ready to open its doors to any who are suffering from racial or religious discrimination, hunger, or wars forcing them to emigrate to other countries.
source and papal images http://www.radiovaticana.org/en1/Articolo.asp?c=410909
CARDINAL OUELLET, ENVOY TO CENTENARY MEMBERTOU BAPTISM
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
VATICAN CITY, 24 JUL 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints: Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary; Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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ANGELUS: THOSE WHO PRAY ARE NEVER ALONE
VATICAN CITY, 25 JUL 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the balcony overlooking the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered there.
"These are the first words of Sacred Scripture we learn as children. They are impressed in the memory, they mould our lives, they accompany us unto our last breath", said Benedict XVI. "This prayer also comprehends and expresses the material and spiritual requirements of human beings. ... And precisely because of our everyday needs and difficulties, Jesus exhorts us forcefully: ... 'Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you'.
"This is not a request for our own desires to be satisfied, but for our friendship with God to be kept alive", the Pope added. "This was the experience of the ancient Desert Fathers, and of contemplative people in all times who, through prayer, became friends of God". In this context he quoted words of St. Teresa of Avila who encouraged her nuns to "beseech God to deliver us from these perils for ever and to keep us from all evil! And although our desire for this may not be perfect, let us strive to make the petition. What does it cost us to ask it, since we ask it of One Who is so powerful?"
"Each time we pray the Our Father", the Pope concluded, "our voice mingles with the voice of the Church, because one who prays is never alone. ... May the Virgin Mary help us rediscover the beauty and profundity of Christian prayer".
PRAYERS FOR 19 DUISBURG VICTIMS, AND VISIT TO SANTIAGO
Turning then to address Spanish-speaking faithful, Benedict XVI mentioned the Feast of James the Apostle, who has been "venerated since time immemorial at Compostela" and whose cult is "so deeply rooted in your countries. In this Compostela Holy Year", the Pope went on, "I too hope to go there to join pilgrims in the month of November, on a trip during which I will also visit Barcelona. Following the footsteps of St. James, let us continue the journey of our lives while bearing constant witness of faith, hope and charity".
THAILAND- BOMB BLAST KILLS 1 AND INJURES 10
One person was killed and 10 others injured in the explosion at a bus stop in front of a superstore located near the main site of anti-government protests earlier this year.
The blast was the first act of violence in the heart of the Thai capital since the protests ended on May 19 leaving 90 people dead and more than 1,800 injured.
“This violent act must not distract Thais in efforts to return peace to the country,” said Bishop Phibul Visitnonthachai of Nakhon Sawan.
“We have to hope for a better future after the unprecedented violence and divisions. However, all Thais will have to help build a conducive, peaceful atmosphere in the country,” said the bishop, who heads the Thai bishops’ commission for the law and economy.
The bomb attack came on the same day as a by-election in which a candidate from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party defeated the candidate of the red-shirt backed Puea Thai Party.
Sarawut Pathumrat, an adviser to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, said those responsible for the blast wanted to maintain divisions.
However, “the government must heed growing calls for an end to the state of emergency where it’s possible to lift it,” he said.
“The election gave us the opportunity to take that small first step after we hit rock bottom. The government’s task is to do everything possible to make sure all elections in the future are free and fair,” he said.
Local media quoted a senior army official saying it was unlikely the blast was connected to the by-election.
USA: PROFESSOR RECEIVES $100, 000 AFTER FIRING FOR COMMENTS
LifeSiteNews.com report — The San Jose/Evergreen Community College District has agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a biology professor who was fired for her answer to a student's question about homosexuality.
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing Professor June Sheldon agreed to dismiss the suit after the district agreed to remove Sheldon’s termination from her record and pay her $100,000 for lost work. The district had initially argued that its professors have no free speech rights in the classroom, but a federal court rejected that argument and determined that “a teacher’s instructional speech is protected by the First Amendment.” Sheldon is now teaching at a different college.
“Professors shouldn’t be fired simply for doing their jobs as educators. Professionally addressing both sides of an academic issue according to the class curriculum is not grounds for dismissal; it’s what a professor is supposed to do,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel David J. Hacker.
“This is a favorable settlement for Ms. Sheldon, but we remain concerned, for the sake of all faculty members, about the district’s view of academic freedom, as expressed in court, in contradiction to its policy.”
Sheldon, an experienced adjunct professor who taught a human heredity course at San Jose City College, answered a student’s inquiry in June 2007 about how heredity affects homosexual behavior. According to the Sheldon's account, she briefly introduced positions on both sides of the issue that was to be explored in a later class, and explained that the issue is complex and is still being debated by the scientific community. As part of her response she recited research of a well-known German scientist who had found a possible relationship between prenatal stress and male homosexuality, and concluded by noting that "homosexual behavior may be influenced by both genes and the environment."
The school launched an investigation after a student in the class lodged an informal complaint that deemed Sheldon’s comments “offensive and unscientific,” and claimed that Sheldon had said that there "aren't any real lesbians." Sheldon was recommended for removal from the adjunct seniority rehire preference list and terminated by the district’s board of trustees in February 2008.
The district’s “Academic Freedom” policy states: “The common good depends on the free search for truth and its free expression; to this end, faculty and students hold the right of full freedom of inquiry and expression.”
At the same time, the district argued in a brief that Sheldon “is an employee and does not have a First Amendment cause of action for the Defendants’ regulation of her in-class speech” and that the district “must be able to control the in class conduct and speech of those teachers.”
"So while the District promised freedom, it still wanted the right to censor and punish faculty for speech it disliked," said Hacker. "This is a dangerous position that all faculty should be concerned about, lest they fall into the same trap as Professor Sheldon."
ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit Sheldon v. Dhillon in June 2008 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.
The Alliance Defense Fund is also fighting on behalf of an Illinois professor who was fired on similar grounds by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Dr. Kenneth Howell was punished after a student complained about Howell's email to students in a Catholicism course that explained the Catholic position on homosexuality, which the student called "hate speech." http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/jul/10072604.html
INDIA: CATHOLIC CHURCH DEMOLISHED IN VILLAGE
UCAN report: Catholics in Nagaland state closed all their schools for one day in protest at the demolition of a village church, allegedly by Baptists.
“We will not react hastily as Christians, but remain patient and make decisions carefully,” said Father Carolous Neisalhou, vicar general of Kohima diocese which covers the entire northeastern Indian state.
The village inter-denominational tussle in this Christian majority state has been going on since 1973 when several villagers resisted efforts to start a Catholic church.
In 2001, the village council said “to maintain unity” the village will have only one Church – the Baptist Church.
Earlier this year, however, 17 people wrote to the village elders saying they had formed a Catholic community and had started raising funds to build a place of worship.
In April, village authorities wrote to the parish priest of nearby St. Peter’s Church opposing the construction, saying the majority of villagers have agreed “that there would be only one Church in the village.”
The priest wrote to police along with 21 other people calling themselves Catholics, declaring their right to have a church.
They then built a wooden structure.
But before it could begin services, a crowd pulled it down. Church sources said of the 20 families who had embraced Catholicism, 11 families were pressured into recanting.
The Catholic Association of Nagaland has appealed to the state governor, the chief minister and other top officials to ensure that Catholics enjoy “freedom of religion” as guaranteed in the Indian constitution.
The school protest was to show “our disappointment and hope that such events do not occur in future,” said Rocus Chasie, a Catholic leader.
IRELAND: 200, 000 MAKE THE ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE IN HONOR OF ST. PATRICK
Mayo Mountain Rescue said around 15-20 people suffered injuries, with at least 10 having to be taken from the mountain by stretcher. The bulk of the injuries consisted of sprains, lower-leg and head injuries, as well as cuts and bruises. Mayo Mountain Rescue said visibility was at 20 metres.
image of croagh http://media-files.gather.com/images/d71/d634/d744/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
patrick image http://www.sanpatricio.us/st_patrick.jpg
FRANCE ENCLOSED BENEDICTINE NUNS TO RELEASE MUSIC CD WITH UNIVERSAL
Cath News report: Benedictine nuns living in seclusion in southern France have beaten 70 other religious orders to a deal with Universal Music, the label that is home to artists including Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones.
The nuns' album of Gregorian chants is set to be released in November.
The sisters are neither allowed to leave the convent or receive guests and only communicate with visitors through a grill. "I passed the contract through the grill, they signed it and passed it back," said Dickon Stainer, chief of Decca Records, a unit of Universal, in a statement.
BISHOP'S CONFERENCE QUESTIONS POLICIES ON MIGRATION
Cath News report: The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) together with the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has slammed bipartisan policies on migration as "without foresight or hindsight."
The Coalition government yesterday announced that if elected, they would cut overseas migration from 300,000 to 170,000. The planned cuts will focus on family and student visa programs, while skilled migration would largely be quarantined.
Mr Abbott said the Coalition would keep skilled migration numbers up, but would crack down on "dubious educational and family-reunion applicants", said the bishops in a statement.
Labor leader Julia Gillard similarly announced last week that she does not believe that a "Big Australia" with a population of approximately 36 million by 2050 is desirable either; a policy which is at odds with her predecessor Kevin Rudd who announced the "Big Australia" policy as asylum seekers arrived off our shores.
Gillard maintains that already, however, the Labor government has started reducing migration, and is already on the way to arriving at 145,000 net migration.
Bishop Joseph Grech, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference delegate for Migrants and Refugees, expressed distress at both parties' ignorance of the rich contributions of migrants to Australian society in their respective policy statements and questioned why both sides of politics are bowing down to pressure at migrants' expense.
"Both parties are arguing that higher levels of migration will put strains on the country's infrastructure, however, it is the job of the Government to look to sustainable infrastructure, regardless of migration levels", he said.
"In our 2008 document, Graced by Migration, we demonstrated that Australia needs migration. The various migration movements have offset the impact of Australia's declining birth rate; they have contributed to the nation's economic well-being and they have added to our reputation as a unified nation specially committed and equipped to the creation of cultural and religious diversity."
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference believe that by cutting down the migration program that there would be no economic gain for citizens of this country, rather we would lose the valuable contribution that migration brings.
BURKINA FASO: INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC JOURNALIST CONFERENCE IN AFRICA
All Africa report: The International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP) will for the first time hold its world conference in Africa.
This year the organisation will discuss, "Media at the Service of Justice, Peace and Good Governance in a World of Inequalities and Poverty."
The meeting is scheduled to take place from September 12 to 19 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Organizers expect the conference to be "an excellent occasion for understanding the real life in Africa and its various aspects" and "a unique forum to debate issues that affect Africa with experts in Africa on African soil," according to Zenit.
At the same time a convention will also be held for journalists aged 35 and younger, who will participate in the International Network of Young Journalists.
Information:Feast Day: July 26
Patron of: Fathers, Grandparents
Joachim (whose name means Yahweh prepares), was the father of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If we were to obey the warning of St. Peter Damian, we should consider it a blameable and needless curiosity to inquire about those things that the Evangelists did not deem it advisable to relate, and, in particular, about the parents of the Blessed Virgin (Serm. iii de Nativ. B.M.V.). Tradition nevertheless, grounded on very old testimonies, very early hailed Saints Joachim and Anne as the father and mother of the Mother of God. True, this tradition seems to rest ultimately on the so-called "Gospel of James", the "Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary", and the Pseudo-Matthew, or "Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Childhood of the Saviour"; and this origin is likely to rouse well-founded suspicions. It should be borne in mind, however, that the apocryphal character of these writings, that is to say, their rejection from the canon, and their ungenuineness do not imply that no heed whatever should be taken of some of their assertions; side by side, indeed, with unwarranted and legendary facts, they contain some historical data borrowed from reliable traditions or documents; and difficult though it is to distinguish in them the wheat from the tares, it would be unwise and uncritical indiscriminately to reject the whole. Some commentators, who believe that the genealogy given by St. Luke is that of the Blessed Virgin, find the mention of Joachim in Heli (Luke, iii, 23; Eliachim, i.e. Jeho-achim), and explain that Joseph had, in the eyes of the law, become by his marriage the son of Joachim. That such is the purpose and the meaning of the Evangelist is very doubtful, and so is the identification proposed between the two names Heli and Joachim. Neither can it be asserted with certainty, in spite of the authority of the Bollandists, that Joachim was Heli's son and Joseph's brother; nor, as is sometimes affirmed, from sources of very doubtful value, that he had large possessions in herds and flocks. Much more interesting are the beautiful lines in which the "Gospel of James" describes how, in their old age, Joachim and Anne received the reward of their prayers to obtain issue. Tradition has it that the parents of the Blessed Virgin, who, apparently, first lived in Galilee, came later on to settle in Jerusalem; there the Blessed Virgin was born and reared; there also they died and were buried. A church, known at various epochs as St. Mary, St. Mary ubi nata est, St. Mary in Probatica, Holy Probatica, St. Anne, was built during the fourth century, possibly by St. Helena, on the site of the house of St. Joachim and St. Anne, and their tombs were there honoured until the close of the ninth century, when the church was converted into a Moslem school. The crypt which formerly contained the holy tombs was rediscovered on 18 March, 1889.
St. Joachim was honoured very early by the Greeks, who celebrate his feast on the day following the Blessed Virgin's birthday; the Latins were slow to admit it to their calendar, where it found place sometimes on 16 Sept. and sometimes on 9 Dec. Assigned by Julius II to 20 March, the solemnity was suppressed some fifty years later, restored by Gregory XV (1622), fixed by Clement XII (1738) on the Sunday after the Assumption, and finally raised to the rank of double of the second class by Leo XIII (1 Aug., 1879).
Information:Feast Day: July 26
Patron of: Housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers, and miners
Of St. Anne we have no certain knowledge. She is not mentioned in the New Testament, and we must depend on apocryphal literature, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back only to the second century.
In this document we are told that Anne, wife of Joachim, was advanced in years and that her prayers for a child had not been answered. Once as she prayed beneath a laurel tree near her home in Galilee, an angel appeared and said to her, "Anne, the Lord hath heard thy prayer and thou shalt conceive and bring forth, and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world." Anne replied, "As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life " And thus Anne became the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The devotion of St. Anne was known in the East in the fifth century, but it was not diffused in the West until the thirteenth. A shrine at Douai, in northern France, was one of the early centers of the devotion. In 1382 her feast was extended to the whole Western Church, and she became very popular, especially in France. Her two most famous shrines are at St. Anne d'Auray in Brittany and at St. Anne-de Beaupre in the province of Quebec.
She is patroness of housewives, women in labor, cabinet-makers, and miners. Her emblem is a door. St. Anne has been frequently represented in art, and the lovely face depicted by Leonardo da Vinci comes first to mind in this connection. The name Anne derives from the Hebrew Hannah, meaning "grace."
IMAGE SOURCE http://static.open.salon.com/files/rsz/crop_351x485/files/st._anne_picture1216944112.jpg
Matthew 13: 16 - 17
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: SUN. JULY 25, 2010: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: POPE: OFFERS CODOLENCES OVER 19 DEATHS IN GERMANY AT FESTIVAL-
VATICAN: POPE: ANGELUS MESSAGE-FOLLOW CHRIST'S EXAMPLE-
ASIA: PAKISTAN: WOMEN IN PRISON FOR 14 YEARS FOR BLASPHEMY RELEASED-
EUROPE: 20 COUNTRIES SUPPORT FOR FREEDOM TO HAVE CRUCIFIXES-
AFRICA: RWANDA: PUMPS INSTALLED BY NGO HELP BRING WATER-
AUSTRALIA: MACKILLOP AWARD GOES TO JOURNALIST DESPOJA-
AMERICA: USA: USCCB OFFERS SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES-
POPE: OFFERS CODOLENCES OVER 19 DEATHS IN GERMANY AT FESTIVAL
(Radio Vaticana report) The Pope said today that his thoughts and prayers were with those who lost their lives at a music festival in Duisburg, Germany.
He was speaking during his Sunday Angelus in the Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence in the Roman Hills. Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday expressed his deep sorrow over the deaths of young People in his native Germany who were attending an annual music festival.
Hundreds of people were also injured in the crush in an overcrowded tunnel that served as the sole entrance to the festival and added he was also praying for them and for the families of all the victims at this time of great suffering.
IMAGE OF DUISBURG http://www.thelocal.de/national/20100725-28725.html
POPE: ANGELUS MESSAGE
The Pope was speaking on Sunday during his Angelus address at the Papal Summer Residence of Castelgandolfo were he also went on to stress the importance of Lord's Prayer.
Being young the Pope added becomes the equivalent of following Christ.
Every time we recite the Our Father, our voice is intertwined with that of the Church and those who pray are never alone.
Finally, the Holy Father who is officially on his summer holidays reminded the estimated 3,000 pilgrims gathered that Sunday the 25 was the Feast Day of the Apostle James, Patron Saint of Compostela, who the Pope recounted left his father and his job as a fisherman to follow Jesus.
The Holy Father also dedicated a special thought to the pilgrims who have travelled in great numbers to Santiago de Compostela and said he hoped to join the faithful at this Spanish shrine as part of his a visit to Barcelona in November.
PAKISTAN: WOMEN IN PRISON FOR 14 YEARS FOR BLASPHEMY RELEASED
Asia News report: Zaibul Nisa had been arrested on vague blasphemy charges. The judge who released her is dismayed by her long and unjust confinement. Her lawyer complains that she “was sent to jail and then forgotten by everyone.”
Expressing his “dismay” over her long and unjust confinement, the chief justice of the Lahore High Court, Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, "ordered the release of Zaibul Nisa after no evidence was found against her," a court official said.
Nisa was arrested in the town of Rawat, near the capital Islamabad, after a local resident filed a complaint at a police station that someone had desecrated the Koran, defence lawyer Aftab Ahmad Bajwa said.
Nisa's name was not even mentioned in the police complaint, Bajwa explained, and “Nobody, not even her relatives, pursued the case. She was sent to jail and then forgotten by everyone”.
Police arrested her on the basis of the infamous blasphemy law, namely article 295, sections B and C, of the Pakistan Penal Code, which respectively impose life in prison on anyone defiling the Qur‘an and the death penalty on anyone defaming Prophet Mohammed.
However, very often blasphemy charges are falsely laid or motivated by sordid reasons, generating scandals and stirring angry people to seek mob justice. For example, two Christian brothers (one a Protestant clergyman) accused of writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet Mohammed were shot dead last Monday outside a court that was going to acquit them.
20 COUNTRIES SUPPORT FOR FREEDOM TO HAVE CRUCIFIXES
The governments of Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Romania, the Russia Federation, and San Marino, have submitted formal briefs to the court. The governments of Albania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine have openly criticized the initial judgment.
Support for Italy’s Catholic heritage has also come from non-Catholics. Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and all Russia has spoken of the case as “unifying the Christian Churches” against the advance of secularism, while the Metropolitan (Bishop) Hilarion Alfeyev has proposed a Constitution “of a strategic alliance between Catholic and Orthodox,” aimed at defending the Christian tradition “against the secularism, liberalism, and relativism that is prevalent in modern Europe.”
The case was brought by Soile Lautsi, a naturalized Italian citizen of Finnish origin, who objected to the presence of crucifixes in her children’s classrooms. She complained, and the court agreed in November last year that the presence of a crucifix where her children could see them was a violation of their religious freedom. She was awarded €5000 (about US $7200) compensation.
The ruling said, “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities ... restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”
The Italian government is appealing the ruling, arguing that it violates the provisions in the Italian constitution that specify the special status of Catholicism in the country. The ECHR heard oral arguments in the appeal on June 30, 2010 and a judgment is expected in November.
The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), a Strasbourg-based NGO that campaigns for freedom of religion and expression, has been granted intervener status by the Court. In a media release, the group said that the case is symbolic of a greater struggle that is ongoing in Europe over the region’s cultural and spiritual identity; on the one side are proponents of the total secularization of Europe, and on the other are those who “desire an open Europe, one that is faithful to its identity and historical roots.”
“Confronted with this attempt at a complete de-Christianization of Europe, 20 European countries joined in an unprecedented approach to reaffirm the legitimacy of Christianity in Europe,” said the ECLJ.
Before the Lautsi ruling, the ECHR considered matters like the public display of religious symbols in public classrooms to fall under the sovereignty of the member States. Under its own rules, the court is required to respect the culture and traditions of each particular member state, intervening only in cases of what it considered indoctrination or abusive proselytism.
But the Lautsi ruling, the ECLJ maintains, marks a paradigm shift in which the ECHR has declared that the Convention on Human Rights requires European member states to be “areligious.” In other words, ECLJ director Gregor Puppinck, said, “in order for a state to be democratic, it must renounce its religious identity: this is pure secularization.”
The message sent by nearly half the member states of the Council of Europe to the Court and the forces of secularization is clearly one affirming the “social legitimacy of Christianity in European society.”
“Behind the legal arguments made in the defence of identities, cultures, and Christian national traditions, these 20 countries have publicly affirmed and defended their faithfulness to Christ himself, reminding Europe that the presence of Christ in society is of great benefit to all,” the ECLJ release said.
RWANDA: PUMPS INSTALLED BY NGO HELP BRING WATER
Agenzia Fides REPORT- Also in the region of Byumba, northern Rwanda, difficult access to water renders life difficult for more than 65,000 people. Two years ago the Italian NGO Movimento Lotta Fame nel Mondo (MLFM) started work to find water sources and dig and build a 40 km waterway to solve at last the problems of water-shortage and deriving issues of poor hygiene, public health and environment protection. Two months ago in the hills Byumba water had been pumped at 1950 metres, this was followed by the implementation of the distribution network to the surrounding hill villages. Already 12 of the 57 planned pumps have been completed: this means the hill people of Jamba have clean and safe water. One of the pumps will serve the elementary school in Kagamba, which has 700 pupils. The remaining 45 pumps should be ready in the first three months of next year. However MLFM will continue to flank interventions of education to hygiene, public health and environment protection for the local people, fundamental for the success of the project. (AP) (23/7/2010 Agenzia Fides)
MACKILLOP AWARD GOES TO JOURNALIST DESPOJA
Cath News report: Archbishop Philip Wilson has presented the inaugural Mary MacKillop Award to Adelaide journalist Shirley Stott Despoja at the 20th annual Catholic Archbishop's Media Citations.
The award is in recognition of her outstanding contribution to journalism, CathComm SA said in a media statement.
Ms Stott Despoja, who began her career at The Anglican in Sydney and was a leading columnist and arts editor at The Advertiser in the 1960s and 70s, was nominated for her regular column, The Third Age, published in The Adelaide Review.
Archbishop Wilson said he was pleased to be able to present the award, which commemorates the 20th year of the citations in this special year of Mary MacKillop's sainthood, to such an esteemed writer and champion of equality and social justice.
"Mary MacKillop herself was a great correspondent and also challenged the social norms of the day," he said.
"Ms Stott Despoja's efforts to break the stereotypes of ageing and challenge her peers to be feisty and opinionated would undoubtedly be applauded by Mary."
Other award winners include Katelin Nelligan of the News Review Messenger, for a compelling series on child abuse and neglect in the northern suburbs and Ian Henschke of ABC Stateline, in recognition of coverage of stories which have a positive impact on people's lives (Breast cushions, Professor Nordin and Birthing Kits).
USA: USCCB OFFERS SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES
These guidelines are offered as a synthesis of best practices. They include material compiled from church entities, for-profit corporations, and non-profit organizations. Suggestions and comments are welcome at CommDept@usccb.org
In this document, “church personnel” is defined as anyone—priest, deacon, religious, bishop, lay employee, or volunteer—who provides ministry or service or is employed by an entity associated with the Catholic Church.
Department of Communications
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).—Pope Benedict XVI, 44th World Communications Day message (2010)
Social media are the fastest growing form of communication in the United States, especially among youth and young adults. Our Church cannot ignore it, but at the same time we must engage social media in a manner that is safe, responsible, and civil.
As Pope Benedict XVI noted in his message for the 44th World Communications Day (2010), this new form of media “can offer priests and all pastoral workers a wealth of information and content that was difficult to access before, and facilitate forms of collaboration and greater communion in ways that were unthinkable in the past.”
The Church can use social media to encourage respect, dialogue, and honest relationships—in other words, “true friendship” (43rd World Communications Day message ). To do so requires us to approach social media as powerful means of evangelization and to consider the Church’s role in providing a Christian perspective on digital literacy.
Before beginning work on social media guidelines, you may want to read both the 43rd and 44th World Communications Day messages. These are available at 43rd World Communications Day Message and 44th World Communications Day Message.
The Church and Social Media: An Overview
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines social media as “media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues.”
A longer and perhaps more philosophical definition is offered by Jon Lebkowsky, a longtime social media specialist, on his site, weblogsky.com:
Social Media is a fundamental transformation in the way(s) people find and use information and content, from hard news to light entertainment. It’s an evolution from broadcast delivery of content—content created by a few and distributed to many—to network delivery, where content can be created by anyone and published to everyone, in a context that is “many to many.” Said another way, publication and delivery by professionals to mass audiences has changed—now publication and delivery can be by anyone, professional or not, to niche audiences through networks of many channels. This is because the means of production are broadly accessible and inexpensive.
As a result of all this, attention and mindshare are fragmented, there’s emphasis on relationship, new forms of media are conversational, and transaction costs for communication approach zero.
Social media offer both opportunities and challenges to Catholic organizations. These can be grouped into three primary categories:
Online social media communities are vast and are growing at a rapid pace. For example, there are more than 400 million active users on Facebook, which is greater than the population of the United States. Given the size and scope of these communities, they offer excellent forums for the Church’s visibility and evangelization.
The key question that faces each church organization that decides to engage social media is, How will we engage? Careful consideration should be made to determine the particular strengths of each form of social media (blogs, social networks, text messaging, etc.) and the needs of a ministry, parish, or organization. The strengths should match the needs. For instance, a blog post may not be the most effective way to remind students of an event. However, a mass text message to all students and their parents telling them that the retreat begins at 9 a.m. may be very effective.
Because of the high volume of content and sites, and the dynamics of search engines and computer networking, social media require constant input and monitoring to make the Church’s presence effective. To keep members, a social networking site, such as a blog, needs to have new content on a regular basis. In the case of social media, the axiom “build it and they will come” is not applicable. It is important to set internal expectations regarding how often posts will be made, so that your followers can become accustomed to your schedule.
Social media can be powerful tools for strengthening community, although social media interaction should not be viewed as a substitute for face-to-face gatherings. Social media can support communities in a myriad of ways: connecting people with similar interests, sharing information about in-person events, providing ways for people to engage in dialogue, etc.
A well-considered use of social media has the ultimate goal of encouraging “true friendship” (43rd World Communications Day message ) and of addressing the human longing for meaningful community.
Social media provide tools for building community. Membership in communities also requires accountability and responsibility. Users of social media expect site administrators to allow dialogue, to provide information, and to acknowledge mistakes. The explosion of information available to social media consumers has meant that they often only use information from trusted sites or sites recommended by those whom they trust.
While not every demand or inquiry can be met, it is important that creators and site administrators of social media understand how much social media are different from mass media and the expectations of their consumers. Creators and consumers of mass media generally accept their one-way conversations (letters to the editor being the exception). Social media’s emphasis is on the word “social,” with a general blurring of the distinction between creators of content and consumers of content. Many communication experts are describing the adaption of social media as a paradigm shift in how humans communicate, a development as important as that of the printing press and the discovery of electronic communication.
Definitions provide clarity and a common language. They are even more important in guidelines for social media, since the usage of terms is rapidly evolving.
Web 2.0: The term “Web 2.0” is commonly associated with Web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing. A Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with other users, to change website content, to provide reaction to content, to share the site’s content with others, or to filter content being provided by the site creator. This is in contrast with non-interactive websites, where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them.
* Example: Amazon.com’s inclusion of users’ reviews and offering of recommendations based on the consumer’s past use of the site make it a Web 2.0 site.
Blog: A blog (a contraction of the term “web log”) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
* Examples: There are many types of blogs on sites throughout the Internet. They are common for celebrities, writers, journalists, etc. WordPress is one of the more popular tools used to create blogs.
Micro-blog: This form of multimedia blogging allows users to send brief text updates or to publish micromedia such as photos or audio clips, to be viewed either by anyone or by a restricted group, which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, digital audio, or through a Web interface. The content of a micro-blog differs from a traditional blog in that it is typically smaller in actual size and aggregate file size. A single entry could consist of a single sentence or fragment, an image, or a ten-second video.
* Example: Twitter is a form of micro-blogging in which entries are limited to 140 characters.
Social network: A social network is a Web 2.0 site that is entirely driven by content of its members. Individuals are allowed flexibility in privacy settings; in posting text, photos, video, links, and other information; and in level of interaction with other members.
* Examples: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr are often included in lists of social networking sites, although sometimes YouTube and Flickr are designated as multimedia sharing sites, while Twitter is currently more often designated as a micro-blogging application.
Ministry website:3 An Internet website/tool created by employees, clerics, and volunteers for the sole purpose of conducting diocesan/affiliate business.
Personal website: A social network page, blog, or any Internet website/tool created by employees, clerics, and volunteers primarily to share personal communication with friends and associates.
When developing guidelines for church personnel to use social media, consider including the following elements:
Define appropriate boundaries for communications. These should be in sync with diocesan codes of conduct for other areas, such as the diocese’s standards for protection of children and young people, Internet acceptable use policies, etc. Define what is considered confidential information, verifiable consent, personal identifiable information, contact with a minor, etc.
Topics that are in current debate will generate more comments/responses. These include issues in which the Church’s teachings are often in contrast to some popular positions (gay rights, abortion, immigration reform, health care reform). In other words, the Church’s social justice teachings, including the pro-life aspects of those teachings, often elicit unfavorable comments. Some people determine that those topics will not be engaged with on official sites. Others provide guidance on how to engage in dialogue around these topics. (See “Rules of the Road” below for examples.)
Include examples of Codes of Conduct that should be posted on social networking sites. Codes of Conduct are for visitors to the site. These codes should always be brief and immediately apparent to visitors. Visitors should also be made aware of the consequences of violations of the Code of Conduct.
The Code of Conduct on the USCCB’s Facebook site is as follows: “All posts and comments should be marked by Christian charity and respect for the truth. They should be on topic and presume the good will of other posters. Discussion should take place primarily from a faith perspective. No ads please.”
Always block anyone who does not abide by the Code of Conduct.
Define instructions. Include instructions on how to report, block, etc., on the more popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This provides guidance for those church personnel who may be entering into social media for the first time.
Provide recommendations on how to deal with difficult “fans.” Give church personnel permission to trust their instincts on blocking repeat offenders of a site’s Code of Conduct. Argumentative participants can easily change the tone of every post. A good way to determine if they should be blocked is to go to their profiles and browse through the pages that they have “fanned.” Do not allow those unwilling to dialogue to hold your site and its other members hostage.
In particular situations, the moderator might determine it is best to ask a member to take a conversation “offline.” These offline conversations can be conducted in person, over the telephone, or through private e-mail. The site moderators should be able to refer to the appropriate resources, such as the pastor, program director, diocesan communication office, etc.
Provide trusted sites for reference, and recommend that site administrators have a thorough knowledge of these sites. Often a link to the parish, diocesan, USCCB, or Vatican site can provide necessary information, thereby helping redirect the tone and substance of an online conversation.
Remind site administrators they are posting for a broad audience. Social media are global platforms. Online content is visible to anyone in the world who comes to their sites.
Establishing a Site
Websites or social networking profile pages are the centerpiece of any social media activity. The following are recommended guidelines for the establishment of a site. These can apply to a profile or fan page on a social networking site such as Facebook, a blog, a Twitter account, etc.
Site administrators should be adults.
There should be at least two site administrators (preferably more) for each site, to allow rapid response and continuous monitoring of the site.
Do not use personal sites for diocesan or parish programs. Create separate sites for these.
Passwords and names of sites should be registered in a central location, and more than one adult should have access to this information.
Be sure those establishing a site know these key “Rules of the Road”:
Abide by diocesan/parish guidelines.
Know that even personal communication by church personnel reflects the Church. Practice what you preach.
Write in first person. Do not claim to represent the official position of the organization or the teachings of the Church, unless authorized to do so.
Identify yourself. Do not use pseudonyms or the name of the parish, program, etc., as your identity, unless authorized to do so.
Abide by copyright, fair use, and IRS financial disclosure regulations.
Do not divulge confidential information about others. Nothing posted on the Internet is private. Don’t cite others, post photos or videos of them, link to their material, etc., without their approval.
Practice Christian charity.
Social Networking with Minors
Be sure to have permission from a minor’s parent or guardian before contacting the minor via social media or before posting pictures, video, and other information that may identify that minor.
Parents must have access to everything provided to their children. For example, parents should be made aware of how social media are being used, be told how to access the sites, and be given the opportunity to be copied on all material sent to their children via social networking (including text messages). While parents should be provided with the same material as their children, it does not have to be via the same technology (that is, if children receive a reminder via Twitter, parents can receive it in a printed form or by an e-mail list).
Church personnel should be encouraged to save copies of conversations whenever possible, especially those that concern the personal sharing of a teen or young adult. (This may be especially important with text messaging.)
Make everyone aware of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which is federal legislation that oversees how websites interact with children under age 13.
Personal sites of church personnel should also reflect Catholic values. Businesses are cautioning their employees that, while employees have a right to privacy and confidentiality regarding what their employers know about them, an employee’s use of social networking—because of its very nature—means he or she relinquishes some privacy and could be construed as representing the company’s ethics and values. Likewise, church personnel should be encouraged to understand that they are witnessing to the faith through all of their social networking, whether “public” or “private.”
Many employers and church organizations ask their personnel to consider including a disclaimer on their personal sites, especially if employees/church personnel are highly visible in the community and/or post material related to church work/ministry on their personal sites. One example: “The views expressed on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.”
How to Report and Monitor
Ask church personnel to report unofficial sites that carry the diocesan or parish logo to the diocesan communication office or pastor. It is important that the owner (the diocese or the parish) is able to protect its brand and identity.
Inform church personnel whom to contact on the diocesan level (most likely the communication office) if they find misinformation on a site. This is especially important when responding to an incorrect wiki, such as Wikipedia, Masstimes.org, etc.
Have a clear policy on whether diocesan personnel should be expected to respond to defamatory, libelous, or slanderous comments—not original postings, but comments—on a site, such as a blog. Some policies indicate that the diocesan communication office will provide a response to a major news outlet’s blog or a popular blogger, but not to every comment on those blogs or to other bloggers.
Consider posting these and similar policies and notices on your organization’s social networks.
For media inquiries, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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St. James the Greater
Feast: July 25
Born: 1st century
Died: 44, Judea
Major Shrine: Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia (Spain)
Patron of: Veterinarians, equestrians, furriers, tanners, pharmacists
The son of Zebedee (q.v.) and Salome (q.v. Cf. Matt., xvii, 56; Mark, xv, 40; xvi, 1). Zahn asserts that Salome was the daughter of a priest. James is styled "the Greater" to distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less," who was probably shorter of stature. We know nothing of St. James's early life. He was the brother of John, the beloved disciple, and probably the elder of the two. His parents seem to have been people of means as appears from the following facts. Zebedee was a fisherman of the Lake of Galilee, who probably lived in or near Bethsaida (John, 1, 44), perhaps in Capharnaum; and had some boatmen or hired men as his usual attendants (Mark, 1, 20). Salome was one of the pious women who afterwards followed Christ and "ministered unto him of their substance" (cf. Matt., xxvii, 55, sq.; Mark, xv, 40; xvi, 1; Luke, viii, 2 sq.; xxiii, 55-xxiv, 1). St. John was personally known to the high-priest (John, xviii, 16); and must have had wherewithal to provide for the Mother of Jesus (John, xix, 27). It is probable, according to Acts, iv, 13, that John (and consequently his brother James) had not received the technical training of the rabbinical schools; in this sense they were unlearned and without any official position among the Jews. But, according to the social rank of their parents, they must have been men of ordinary education, in the common walks of Jewish life. They had frequent opportunity of coming in contact with Greek life and language, which were already widely spread along the shores of the Galilean Sea. Some authors, comparing John, xix, 25, with Matt., xxviii, 56, and Mark, xv, 40, identify, and probably rightly so, Mary the Mother of James the Less and of Joseph in Mark and Matthew with "Mary of Cleophas" in John. As the name of Mary Magdalen occurs in the three lists, they identify further Salome in Mark with "the mother of the sons of Zebedee" in Matthew; finally they identify Salome with "his mother's sister" in John. They suppose, for this last identification, that four women are designated by John, xix, 25; the Syriac "Peshito" gives the reading: "His mother and his mother's sister, and Mary of Cleophas and Mary Magdalen." If this last supposition is right, Salome was a sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and James the Greater and John were first cousins of the Lord; this may explain the discipleship of the two brothers, Salome's request and their own claim to the first position in His kingdom, and His commendation of the Blessed Virgin to her own nephew. But it is doubtful whether the Greek admits of this construction without the addition or the omission of kai (and). Thus the relationship of St. James to Jesus remains doubtful.
The Galilean origin of St. James in some degree explains the energy of temper and the vehemence of character which earned for him and St. John the name of Boanerges, "sons of thunder" (Mark. iii, 17); the Galilean race was religious, hardy, industrious, brave, and the strongest defender of the Jewish nation. When John the Baptist proclaimed the kingdom of the Messias, St. John became a disciple (John, i, 35); he was directed to "the Lamb of God" and afterwards brought his brother James to the Messias; the obvious meaning of John, i, 41, is that St. Andrew finds his brother (St. Peter) first and that afterwards St. John (who does not name himself, according to his habitual and characteristic reserve and silence about himself) finds his brother (St. James). The call of St. James to the discipleship of the Messias is reported in a parallel or identical narration by Matt., iv, 18-22; Mark, i, 19 sq.; and Luke, v, 1-11. The two sons of Zebedee, as well as Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew with whom they were in partnership (Luke, v, 10), were called by the Lord upon the Sea of Galilee, where all four with Zebedee and his hired servants were engaged in their ordinary occupation of fishing. The sons of Zebedee "forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him" (Matt., iv, 22), and became "fishers of men". St. James was afterwards with the other eleven called to the Apostleship (Matt., x, 1-4; Mark, iii, 13-19; Luke, vi, 12-16; Acts, i, 13). In all four lists the names of Peter and Andrew, James and John form the first group, a prominent and chosen group (cf. Mark, xiii, 3); especially Peter, James, and John. These three Apostles alone were admitted to be present at the miracle of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark, v, 37; Luke, viii, 51), at the Transfiguration (Mark, ix, 1; Matt., xvii, 1; Luke, ix, 28), and the Agony in Gethsemani (Matt., xxvi, 37; Mark, xiv, 33). The fact that the name of James occurs always (except in Luke, viii, 51; ix, 28; Acts, i, 13—Gr. Text) before that of his brother seems to imply that James was the elder of the two. It is worthy of notice that James is never mentioned in the Gospel of St. John; this author observes a humble reserve not only with regard to himself, but also about the members of his family.
Several incidents scattered through the Synoptics suggest that James and John had that particular character indicated by the name "Boanerges," sons of thunder, given to them by the Lord (Mark, iii, 17); they were burning and impetuous in their evangelical zeal and severe in temper. The two brothers showed their fiery temperament against "a certain man casting out devils" in the name of the Christ; John, answering, said: "We [James is probably meant] forbade him, because he followeth not with us" (Luke, ix, 49). When the Samaritans refused to receive Christ, James and John said: "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?" (Luke, ix, 54; cf. v. 49). On the last journey to Jerusalem, their mother Salome came to the Lord and said to Him: "Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom" (Matt., xx, 21). And the two brothers, still ignorant of the spiritual nature of the Messianic Kingdom, joined with their mother in this eager ambition (Mark, x, 37). And on their assertion that they are willing to drink the chalice that He drinks of, and to be baptized with the baptism of His sufferings, Jesus assured them that they will share His sufferings (ibid., v. 38-39). James won the crown of martyrdom fourteen years after this prophecy, A.D. 44. Herod Agrippa I, son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, reigned at that time as "king" over a wider dominion than that of his grandfather. His great object was to please the Jews in every way, and he showed great regard for the Mosaic Law and Jewish customs. In pursuance of this policy, on the occasion of the Passover of A.D. 44, he perpetrated cruelties upon the Church, whose rapid growth incensed the Jews. The zealous temper of James and his leading part in the Jewish Christian communities probably led Agrippa to choose him as the first victim. "He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword." (Acts, xii, 1-2). According to a tradition, which, as we learn from Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., II, ix, 2, 3), was received from Clement of Alexandria (in the seventh book of his lost "Hypotyposes"), the accuser who led the Apostle to judgment, moved by his confession, became himself a Christian, and they were beheaded together. As Clement testifies expressly that the account was given him "by those who were before him," this tradition has a better foundation than many other traditions and legends respecting the Apostolic labours and death of St. James, which are related in the Latin "Passio Jacobi Majoris", the Ethiopic "Acts of James", and so on. The tradition asserting that James the Greater preached the Gospel in Spain, and that his body was translated to Compostela, claims more serious consideration.
According to this tradition St. James the Greater, having preached Christianity in Spain, returned to Judea and was put to death by order of Herod; his body was miraculously translated to Iria Flavia in the northwest of Spain, and later to Compostela, which town, especially during the Middle Ages, became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the world. The vow of making a pilgrimage to Compostela to honour the sepulchre of St. James is still reserved to the pope, who alone of his own or ordinary right can dispense from it (see VOW). In the twelfth century was founded the Order of Knights of St. James of Compostela.
With regard to the preaching of the Gospel in Spain by St. James the greater, several difficulties have been raised:
• St. James suffered martyrdom A.D. 44 (Acts, xii, 2), and, according to the tradition of the early Church, he had not yet left Jerusalem at this time (cf. Clement of Alexandria, "Strom.", VI, Apollonius, quoted by Euseb., "Hist. Eccl." VI, xviii).
• St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (A.D. 58) expressed the intention to visit Spain (Rom., xv, 24) just after he had mentioned (xv, 20) that he did not "build upon another man's foundation."
- The argument ex silentio: although the tradition that James founded an Apostolic see in Spain was current in the year 700, no certain mention of such tradition is to be found in the genuine writings of early writers nor in the early councils; the first certain mention we find in the ninth century, in Notker, a monk of St. Gall (Martyrol., 25 July), Walafried Strabo (Poema de XII Apost.), and others.
• The tradition was not unanimously admitted afterwards, while numerous scholars reject it. The Bollandists however defended it (see Acta Sanctorum, July, VI and VII, where other sources are given).
The authenticity of the sacred relic of Compostela has been questioned and is still doubted. Even if St. James the Greater did not preach the Christian religion in Spain, his body may have been brought to Compostela, and this was already the opinion of Notker. According to another tradition, the relics of the Apostle are kept in the church of St-Saturnin at Toulouse (France), but it is not improbable that such sacred relics should have been divided between two churches. A strong argument in favour of the authenticity of the sacred relics of Compostela is the Bull of Leo XIII, "Omnipotens Deus," of 1 November, 1884.
FOUNDRESS AND SUPPORTER OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Information: Feast Day: July 25
Born: 368 Constantinople
Died: 25 July 408 at Nicomedia
St Olympias, the glory of the widows in the Eastern church, was a lady of illustrious descent and a plentiful fortune. She was born about the year 368, and left an orphan under the care of Procopius, who seems to have been her uncle; but it was her greatest happiness that she was brought up under the care of Theodosia, sister to St Amphilochius, a most virtuous and prudent woman, whom St Gregory Nazianzen called a perfect pattern of piety, in whose life the tender virgin saw as in a glass the practice of all virtues, and it was her study faithfully to transcribe them into the copy of her own life. From this example which was placed before her eyes she raised herself more easily to contemplate and to endeavour to imitate Christ, who in all virtues is the divine original which every Christian is bound to act after. Olympias, besides her birth and fortune, was, moreover, possessed of all the qualifications of mind and body which engage affection and respect. She was very young when she married Nebridius, treasurer of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, and who was for some time prefect of Constantinople; but he died within twenty days after his marriage.
Our saint was addressed by several of the most considerable men of the court, and Theodosius was very pressing with her to accept for her husband Elpidius, a Spaniard, and his near relation. She modestly declared her resolution of remaining single the rest of her days; the emperor continued to urge the affair, and after several decisive answers of the holy widow, put her whole fortune in the hands of the prefect of Constantinople with orders to act as her guardian till she was thirty years old. At the instigation of the disappointed lover, the prefect hindered her from seeing the bishops or going to church, hoping thus to tire her into a compliance. She told the emperor that she was obliged to own his goodness in easing her of her heavy burden of managing and disposing of her own money; and that the favour would be complete if he would order her whole fortune to be divided between the poor and the church. Theodosius, struck with her heroic virtue, made a further inquiry into her manner of living, and conceiving an exalted idea of her piety, restored to her the administration of her estate in 391. The use which she made of it was to consecrate the revenues to the purposes which religion and virtue prescribe. By her state of widowhood, according to the admonition of the apostle, she looked upon herself as exempted even from what the support of her rank seemed to require in the world, and she rejoiced that the slavery of vanity and luxury was by her condition condemned even in the eyes of the world itself. With great fervour she embraced a life of penance and prayer. Her tender body she macerated with austere fasts, and never ate flesh or anything that had life; by habit, long watchings became as natural to her as much sleep is to others; and she seldom allowed herself the use of a bath, which is thought a necessary refreshment in hot countries, and was particularly so before the ordinary use of linen. By meekness and humility she seemed perfectly crucified to her own will and to all sentiments of vanity, which had no place in her heart nor share in any of her actions. The modesty, simplicity, and sincerity, from which she never departed in her conduct, were a clear demonstration what was the sole object of her affections and desires. Her dress was mean, her furniture poor, her prayers assiduous and fervent, and her charities without bounds. These St Chrysostom compares to a river which is open to all and diffuses its waters to the bounds of the earth and into the ocean itself. The most distant towns, isles, and deserts received plentiful supplies by her liberality, and she settled whole estates upon remote destitute churches. Her riches indeed were almost immense, and her mortified life afforded her an opportunity of consecrating them all to God. Yet St Chrysostom found it necessary to exhort her sometimes to moderate her alms, or rather to be more cautious and reserved in bestowing them, that she might be enabled to succour those whose distresses deserved a preference.
The devil assailed her by many trials, which God permitted for the exercise and perfecting of her virtue. The contradictions of the world served only to increase her meekness, humility, and patience, and with her merits to multiply her crowns. Frequent severe sicknesses, most outrageous slanders and unjust persecutions succeeded one another. Her virtue was the admiration of the whole church, as appears by the manner in which almost all the saints and great prelates of that age mention her. St Amphilochius, St Epiphanius, St Peter of Sebaste, and others were fond of her acquaintance and maintained a correspondence with her, which always tended to promote God's glory and the good of souls. Nectarius, Archbishop of Constantinople, had the greatest esteem for her sanctity, and created her deaconess to serve that church in certain remote functions of the ministry, of which that sex is capable, as in preparing linen for the altars and the like. A vow of perpetual chastity was always annexed to this state. St Chrysostom, who was placed in that see in, 398, had not less respect for the sanctity of Olympias than his predecessor, and as his extraordinary piety, experience, and skill in sacred learning made him an incomparable guide and model of a spiritual life, he was so much the more honoured by her; but he refused to charge himself with the distribution of her alms as Nectarius had done. She was one of the last persons whom St Chrysostom took leave of when he went into banishment on the 20th of June in 404. She was then in the great church, which seemed the place of her usual residence; and it was necessary to tear her from his feet by violence. After St Chrysostom's departure she had a great share in the persecution in which all his friends were involved. She was convened before Optatus, the prefect of the city, who was a heathen. She justified herself as to the calumnies which were shamelessly alleged in court against her; but she assured the governor that nothing should engage her to hold communion with Arsacius, a schismatical usurper of another's see. She was dismissed for that time and was visited with a grievous fit of sickness, which afflicted her the whole winter. In spring she was obliged by Arsacius and the court to leave the city, and wandered from place to place. About midsummer in 405 she was brought back to Constantinople and again presented before Optatus, who, without any further trial, sentenced her to pay a heavy fine because she refused to communicate with Arsacius. Her goods were sold by a public auction; she was often dragged before public tribunals; her clothes were torn by the soldiers, her farms rifled by many amongst the dregs of the people, and she was insulted by her own servants and those who had received from her hands the greatest favours. Atticus, successor of Arsacius, dispersed and banished the whole community of nuns which she governed; for it seems, by what Palladius writes, that she was abbess, or at least directress, of the monastery which she had founded near the great church, which subsisted till the fall of the Grecian empire. St Chrysostom frequently encouraged and comforted her by letters; but he sometimes blamed her grief. He bid her particularly to rejoice under her sicknesses, which she ought to place among her most precious crowns, in imitation of Job and Lazarus. In his distress she furnished him with plentiful supplies, wherewith he ransomed many captives and relieved the poor in the wild and desert countries into which he was banished. She also sent him drugs for his own use when he laboured under a bad state of health. Her lingering martyrdom was prolonged beyond that of St Chrysostom; for she was living in 408, when Palladius wrote his Dialogue on the Life of St Chrysostom. The other Palladius, in the Lausiac history which he compiled in 420, tells us that she died under her sufferings and, deserving to receive the recompense due to holy confessors, enjoyed the glory of heaven among the saints.
Information: Feast Day: July 26
Died: 251, Asia Minor
Patron of: bachelors, transportation (drivers, sailors, etc.), travelling (especially for long journeys), storms, epilepsy, gardeners, holy death, toothache
St. Christopher, a martyr, probably of the third century. Although St. Christopher is one of the most popular saints in the East and in the West, almost nothing certain is known about his life or death. The legend says: A heathen king (in Canaan or Arabia), through the prayers of his wife to the Blessed Virgin, had a son, whom he called Offerus (Offro, Adokimus, or Reprebus) and dedicated to the gods Machmet and Apollo. Acquiring in time extraordinary size and strength, Offerus resolved to serve only the strongest and the bravest. He bound himself successively to a mighty king and to Satan, but he found both lacking in courage, the former dreading even the name of the devil, and the latter frightened by the sight of a cross at the roadside. For a time his search for a new master was in vain, but at last he found a hermit (Babylas?) who told him to offer his allegiance to Christ, instructed him in the Faith, and baptized him.
Christopher, as he was now called, would not promise to do any fasting or praying, but willingly accepted the task of carrying people, for God's sake, across a raging stream. One day he was carrying a child who continually grew heavier, so that it seemed to him as if he had the whole world on his shoulders. The child, on inquiry, made himself known as the Creator and Redeemer of the world. To prove his statement the child ordered Christopher to fix his staff in the ground. The next morning it had grown into a palm-tree bearing fruit. The miracle converted many. This excited the rage of the king (prefect) of that region (Dagnus of Samos in Lycia?). Christopher was put into prison and, after many cruel torments, beheaded.
The Greek legend may belong to the sixth century; about the middle of the ninth, we find it spread through France. Originally, St. Christopher was only a martyr, and as such is recorded in the old martyrologies. The simple form of the Greek and Latin
The existence of a martyr St. Christopher cannot be denied, as was sufficiently shown by the Jesuit Nicholas Serarius, in his treatise on litanies, "Litaneutici" (Cologne, 1609), and by Molanus in his history of sacred pictures, "De picturis et imaginibus sacris" (Louvain, 1570). In a small church dedicated to the martyr St. Christopher, the body of St. Remigius of Reims was buried, 532 (Acta SS., 1 Oct., 161). St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) speaks of a monastery of St. Christopher (Epp., x., 33). The Mozarabic Breviary and Missal, ascribed to St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636), contains a special office in his honour. In 1386 a brotherhood was founded under the patronage of St. Christopher in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, to guide travellers over the Arlberg. In 1517, a St. Christopher temperance society existed in Carinthia, Styria, in Saxony, and at Munich. Great veneration was shown to the saint in Venice, along the shores of the Danube, the Rhine, and other rivers where floods or ice-jams caused frequent damage. The oldest picture of the saint, in the monastery on the Mount Sinai dates from the time of Justinian (527-65). Coins with his image were cast at Wurzburg, in Wurtermberg, and in Bohemia. His statues were placed at the entrances of churches and dwellings, and frequently at bridges; these statues and his pictures often bore the inscription: "Whoever shall behold the image of St. Christopher shall not faint or fall on that day." The saint, who is one of the fourteen holy helpers, has been chosen as patron by Baden, by Brunswick, and by Mecklenburg, and several other cities, as well as by bookbinders, gardeners, mariners, etc. He is invoked against lightning, storms, epilepsy, pestilence, etc. His feast is kept on 25 July; among the Greeks, on 9 March; and his emblems are the tree, the Christ Child, and a staff. St. Christopher's Island (commonly called St. Kitts), lies 46 miles west of Antigua in the Lesser Antilles.
TODAY'S MASS READINGS
17TH SUN. ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
Genesis 18: 20 - 32
20 Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomor'rah is great and their sin is very grave,
21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know."
22 So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
23 Then Abraham drew near, and said, "Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
25 Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
26 And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27 Abraham answered, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
29 Again he spoke to him, and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it."
30 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."
31 He said, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it."
32 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
Psalms 138: 1 - 3, 6 - 8
1 I give thee thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing thy praise;
2 I bow down toward thy holy temple and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness; for thou hast exalted above everything thy name and thy word.
3 On the day I called, thou didst answer me, my strength of soul thou didst increase.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou dost preserve my life; thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and thy right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfil his purpose for me; thy steadfast love, O LORD, endures for ever. Do not forsake the work of thy hands.
Colossians 2: 12 - 14
12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Luke 11: 1 - 13
1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."
2 And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread;
4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation."
5 And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
7 and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'?
8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
9 And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"