Tuesday, December 14, 2010





TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 11: Matthew 21: 23- 27


VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORT) - This morning the Pope made a pastoral visit to the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe on the outskirts of Rome, where he celebrated Mass. As of the year 2009, the parish community has a new church, dedicated to that Polish Franciscan saint and martyr.

In his homily, the Pope highlighted how "Advent is a pressing invitation to us all to allow God to enter ever more deeply into our lives, our homes, our neighbourhoods, our communities, that we may have light amidst so much darkness and so much daily fatigue".

Noting how "with the passage of time the parish community has grown and become partly transformed, with the arrival of many people from the countries of Eastern Europe and other States", the Pope underlined the importance "of creating opportunities for dialogue and favouring mutual understanding between people from different cultures, backgrounds and social conditions".

"Here, as in all parishes", he said, "it is necessary to begin with those 'close by' then reach those 'far away', in order to bring an evangelical presence into the places in which we live and work. In parishes, everyone should be able to enjoy an adequate formation and to experience the community dimension which is a fundamental characteristic of Christian life", a community "that involves everyone, united in listening to the Word of God and in celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist".

Commenting then on today's Gospel reading in which John the Baptist asks whether Jesus is the Judge Who will change the world, or whether we must wait for another, Benedict XVI affirmed that "many prophets, ideologues and dictators have come and said: 'No, not him! He has not changed the world! We have!' And they created their empires, their dictatorships, their totalitarian regimes which were meant to change the world. And they did change it, but destructively. Today we know that all that is left of these grand promises is great emptiness and great destruction".

"The Lord, in the silent way characteristic of Him, replies: 'See what I have done. I have not brought a bloody revolution, I have not changed the world by force; but I have lit many lights which together form a great path of light over the millennia".

The Pope then turned his attention to St. Maximilian Kolbe "who volunteered to die of hunger in order to save the life of a married man", to St. Damian de Veuster "who lived and died with and for lepers", and to Mother Teresa of Calcutta "who brought light to so many people who, after a life spent without light, died with a smile because they were touched by the light of God's love.

"And so we could go on", he added, "and we would see, as the Lord said in His reply to John, that it is not violent revolution or great promises that change the world, but the silent light of truth, of God's goodness, which is the sign of His presence and gives us the certainty that we are fully loved, that we are not forgotten, that we are not the result of chance but of a will to love".

The Pope concluded his homily by highlighting how "God is close, ... but we are often far away. Let us, then draw close, let us come into the presence of His light, let us pray to the Lord and, in the contact of prayer, let us become a light for others".

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VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORTS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the following communique on the subject of U.S. State Department documents published by the website Wikileaks.

"Without venturing to evaluate the extreme seriousness of publishing such a large amount of secret and confidential material, and its possible consequences, the Holy See Press Office observes that part of the documents published recently by Wikileaks concerns reports sent to the U.S. State Department by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

"Naturally these reports reflect the perceptions and opinions of the people who wrote them and cannot be considered as expressions of the Holy See itself, nor as exact quotations of the words of its officials. Their reliability must, then, be evaluated carefully and with great prudence, bearing this circumstance in mind".

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VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed as members of the Congregation for Catholic Education Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and of the Co-ordinating Council of Pontifical Academies.

- Appointed Bishop Lino Fumagalli of Sabina - Poggio Mirteto. Italy, as bishop of Viterbo (area 2,161, population 187,500, Catholics 183,400, priests 177, permanent deacons 10, religious 310), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Lorenzo Chiarinelli, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, having returned from his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

Following a Roman tradition on this third Sunday of Advent, the Pope blessed statuettes of the Baby Jesus which were brought to the square by some two thousand local children and which are destined to be placed in nativity scenes in homes, schools and parishes.

Quoting a passage from today's reading of the Letter of St. James - "Be patient therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord" - the Holy Father said: "I believe it is important, in our time, to underline the value of constancy and patience, virtues which were part of the everyday baggage of our forebears, but which seem less popular today in a world which exalts change and the capacity to adapt to new and diverse situations. Without detracting from these aspects, which are also human qualities, Advent calls us to strengthen that inner tenacity, that resistance of heart which enables us not to lose hope as we wait for a good that is late in coming, but to await it - indeed, to prepare for its arrival - with confidence".

Continuing his commentary on the Letter, in which the Apostle proposes the example of the patience of farmers as they await their crop, Benedict XVI said: "Farmers are not fatalists but the model of a mentality which harmoniously unites faith and reason. On the one hand they know the laws of nature and skilfully carry out their work while, on the other, they trust in Providence because certain fundamental things are not in their hands but in the hands of God. Patience and constancy are, indeed, a blend of human commitment and trust in God.

"'Strengthen your hearts' says the Scripture. How can we do this?" the Pope asked. "How can we strengthen our hearts which, in themselves, are somewhat fragile and become even more instable in the culture which surrounds us? Help is not wanting: we have the Word of God. For indeed, while everything else passes and changes, the Word of the Lord does not pass. If the events of life make us feel lost and all our certainties seem to crumble, we have a compass to find our way, we have an anchor so as not to drift with the current".

In this context, the Holy Father recalled "the model of the prophets; that is, of the people whom God has call to speak in His name. The prophet finds his joy and strength in the Word of the Lord and, while men and women often seek happiness by following ways which turn out to be mistaken, he announces the true hope, the hope that does not delude because it is founded on the faithfulness of God. All Christians, by virtue of their Baptism, have received prophetic dignity. May each of us rediscover this and nourish it by listening assiduously to the divine Word".

After praying the Angelus the Pope addressed some words to the children of Rome. "Dear young friends", he said, "when you place the statuette of the Baby Jesus in the grotto or the manger, say a prayer for the Pope and for his intentions.Thank you!"


Agenzia Fides REPORT- His name is Fr Miroslaw Karczewski and he was the 45 year old priest of the Convent of Friars Minor (OFM Conv) killed on the afternoon of Monday, 6 December in the rectory of the parish of St Anthony of Padua in Santo Domingo de Los Colorados (in Ecuador), in the north of the country, about 300 km from Quito. The priest was part of the Polish province in the Order of the Friars Minor and for five years was working in the parish of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, in the province of Tsáchila.
According to information gathered by Fides, the priest was to celebrate Mass at 7:00 pm, but he did not appear. The parishioners went to look for him at home, and found him dead. Father Juan Luna, head of the Franciscans of Ecuador, said in a statement that the priest had cuts to his neck and to other parts of the body, from which it follows that he struggled with the murderer. It seems that when Fr Miroslaw opened the rectory to his attackers, he was alone. After they killed him, hitting him with a large crucifix, the criminals stole the priest's mobile phone and computer. Police said that the priest had already been assaulted a year ago in his house, and had laid eyes on the criminals who threatened to kill him if he denounced them.
From the General Curia OFM Conv. we learn that Miroslaw belonged to the Province of St Maximilian Kolbe (Poland - Gdansk). Born in 1965 in Polczyn Zdrój, he was ordained a priest in 1993 in Koszalin. After his ordination he worked for two years in the convent of St Maximilian in Gdynia. In 1995 he left for Ecuador. Most recently he was the guardian of the convent of St Anthony of Padua in Santo Domingo de los Colorados.


ASIA NEWS: The girl has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, accused of murdering an infant, son of the woman that Rizana worked for. In three mosques meetings were organized to pray and sign the "Save Rizana” petition. The signatures will be sent to the king of Saudi Arabia, hoping he will grant clemency for the girl. Since 2007, Fr. Sigamony, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, has been working for the release of Rizana.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - In Sri Lanka Muslims and Catholics are mobilizing together to save the life of Rizana Nafeek, the Muslim maid sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a newborn. Yesterday, three mosques in the district of Galle in southern Sri Lanka, hosted prayers in for the girl, and organized a petition to be sent to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, asking him to grant a pardon and save the life of the young Sinhalese woman.

Fr. George Sigamony, national director of Caritas Sri Lanka, has been working for the release of Rizana since 2007. Since the beginning of this case, he has appealed to all Catholics to pray for the salvation of the girl.

In Galle on 10 December last - the World Day for Human Rights - the imams of three other mosques have shown their solidarity by dedicating a few minutes of the noon prayer for Rizana. They also signed the petition to be sent to the Saudi king. On the same day, many Catholics went to the church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Jaela (Gampaha District) for the weekly novena and signed the "Save Rizana” petition.

A statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (Ahcr), released today, said that "A campaign entitled" Save Rizana ", organized by Janasansadaya and Ahcr was launched in Galle 10 December 2010, the World Day for Human Rights ". According to that statement, more than 1,500 people participated in this campaign.

The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has officially asked for a pardon for Rizana, according to an announcement released by the presidential secretariat.

Rizana Nafeek has been locked in a Saudi prison since 2005. The Muslim girl, originally from a poor family in the village of Mutur (the eastern district of Trincomalee), had arrived in Saudi Arabia at just 17 years - with a false passport - to work as a maid. If the sentence is confirmed by the king, she could be executed at any time.,-Muslims-and-Catholics-together-to-save-the-life-of-Rizana-Nafeek-20237.html


ALL AFRICA REPORT: Catholic nuns from the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood marked 125 years since inception at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Riruta, Kenya on December 8.

The occasion was marked with pomp and glamour at a Mass presided over by Bishop Alfred Rotich, Chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Social Communication.

During the occasion Sr Mary Frances Starker marked her golden jubilee and two other nuns, Sr. Therese Nduku Munywoki and Sr. Juliana Mwende Muya made their final professions.

In his speech at the main house of the nuns in East Africa, Bishop Rotich admired the discipline and integrity with which the nuns carry on their activities and noted the need for evangelization especially to the young so that they grow up knowing what integrity means.

In a letter dated November 15, His Eminence John Cardinal Njue of the Archdiocese of Nairobi singled out the education of the girl child among the many works the congregation has done in Nairobi and Kenya in general.

"Education is the gateway to opening opportunities in the world and by educating the girl child you have not only educated one person but the nation," the letter said.

"Your presence in the Archdiocese of Nairobi is being felt and seen through the good work manifested by administrators, managers and mothers who passed through your hands when they were young."

Apart from the tremendous work in the education sector the nuns are also involved in medical, catechetical and social work in the society.
In another letter dated October, 2010 to friends and benefactors, the provincial mother superior, Sr. Magna Pittig observed, "We thank God for his guidance for our congregation throughout these 125 years we appreciate all who have found us as associates and we ask for God's grace that we may live our beautiful charism even more faithfully and be authentic witnesses to the redeeming love of Christ in our service to the church in east Africa."

The congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood was founded in South Africa in 1885 by Abbot Francis Pfanner and Mother Paula Emunds. It arrived in Kenya in 1909.


IND CATH. NEWS REPORT: The scheduled Winter 2010 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops' Conference was postponed last week due to bad weather. In its place a special one day meeting was held today in Maynooth. Bishops issued the following statement on the economic situation in Ireland:

As we meet today we are conscious that the recent dramatic events in our national economy have given rise to exceptional levels of fear, anger and disillusionment. Demands for assistance with basic things like food, fuel and clothing from organisations such as Saint Vincent de Paul are up as much as 35% from this time last year. In Northern Ireland, the number presenting as homeless has almost doubled in the past six years, while in the Republic it has doubled in the past sixteen years.

Organisations working with the homeless are expressing concern about their ability to respond to the level of need. The spectre of high levels of unemployment confronts our nation once again, with its demoralising impact on individuals and communities and the upheaval of emigration facing many Irish families. Large numbers of people have also become weighed down by unexpected levels of debt, the fear of losing their home, the prospect of losing their job, the dread of their business failing or the impact of cuts to their pay, pension or benefits. In many homes across the country the outward appearance of wealth and comfort masks exceptional levels of anxiety and material

Faced with these challenges it would be easy to descend into a culture of negativity, defeatism and despair. While important questions have to be asked about how this situation has arisen, a preoccupation with blame and recrimination alone would be futile and distract from the urgent task of building a more just, sustainable and prosperous future. We believe the inevitable pain of the current situation should be shared justly, with a special concern for the most vulnerable and least well off.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St Paul appeals: "Encourage one another and build one another up...For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:11,13). As Christian leaders, we echo this call to the Irish people today. As we prepare for the coming of 'God-with-us', in the celebration of Christmas, we pray for a spirit of national solidarity and hope. We pray for a renewal of confidence in our ability to work together for the good of all and to address the adverse circumstances that confront our nation at this time. The people of Ireland have always shown resilience when faced with situations of great challenge in the past. We believe in our ability as a nation to address the challenges that confront us now. We also recognise that in an interdependent global economy, addressing our present economic difficulties involves responsible cooperation with European as well as other international governments and institutions. This engagement is part of a wider solidarity in which we participate, both as contributors and recipients, in the development of the global common good. Our current financial circumstances do not remove our responsibility as a nation to provide assistance to others. We express the hope that Ireland will maintain its renowned and respected commitment to international development aid.

One of the strongest grounds for hope is that Ireland is blessed with people of extraordinary generosity, good neighbourliness and social concern. Knowing that someone cares, that someone is willing to listen and help can mean as much to a person or family in financial distress as the help they receive with material needs. There is no substitute for good neighbourliness and human friendship. We take this opportunity to appeal for a new mobilisation of good neighbourliness and practical care for others in our local communities, of people giving generously of their time and talents as well as their money and goods to tackle poverty and social exclusion. We ask people to become involved in the many Parish organisations, such as their local Society of St. Vincent de Paul, that provide vital support to those enduring hardship as part of the Christian mission of a Parish community. Mindful of the practice of the early Church of the sharing of goods so that no-one was in need (Acts 2:44), we ask individuals and parishes to reflect on how they can contribute to a practical 'communion of goods' at this time, sharing with others not only money but also food, clothing and other material goods they are not using or have to spare.

The elderly are among the most vulnerable in any community. Spending time with the elderly and ensuring that they are safe, warm and receiving sufficient food and other necessities is also a vital expression of our Christian neighbourliness and solidarity.

Our relationship with God and with each other gives us strength for the future. Prayer and solidarity are an essential part of hope. In Advent we pray for the coming of one 'who will reign as true king and be wise, practising honesty and integrity in the land' (Jer. 23:5). On 2nd January 2011, the first Sunday of the New Year, the Gospel of St John will proclaim that the 'light has come into the world, the true light that gives light to everyone', a light which the darkness has not overcome. We ask Parishes across the country, North and South, to dedicate this first Sunday of the New Year to prayer for the needs of our whole island at this time. We ask them to pray for politicians, civil servants, economists and those who order our commercial, economic and financial life that they will receive the wisdom and courage to build our economic future on the principles of justice, solidarity and the common good with a particular concern for the vulnerable and the poor. Christian leaders will be coming together to plan additional days of prayer across the island in the months ahead. We encourage the political community itself and all Irish citizens to rally the human, social, intellectual and spiritual resources of our country in a united effort to build our financial economy and ensure it achieves its human and social ends.

In responding constructively to the present crisis we have an opportunity to build an economy in which profit and growth are at the service of people, an economy which brings benefit to all our citizens, especially the children of our nation, the elderly and the most vulnerable. As Ireland prepares to host the Fiftieth International Eucharistic Congress in 2012, let us acknowledge our urgent need for 'Communion with Christ and with one another', the theme of the Congress. It is in such communion and solidarity that there is real cause for hope.

Source: Irish Catholic Media Office



Archbishop Denis Hart, screenshot of image by Jeremy Yuen on the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne website

Archbishop Denis Hart has led a "groundbreaking" ceremony for a new seminary buidling at the St Benedict's parish in Burwood, Melbourne, blessing the site and saying it will be used for a "holy and wonderful" purpose, according to a report by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

"This seminary will be used for people who want to found their faith on Jesus Christ, and people who are members of the baptised and are seeking to enter into the mystery of being a priest," Archbishop Hart said in the ceremony last Sunday at the site for the Missionaries of God's Love (MGL) Melbourne seminary.

Fr Chris Ryan MGL, Rector of the MGL house of formation, said the seminary building will provide residential accommodation, office space, a chapel, library, seminar room, computer lab and gym for seminarians.

"It will be a facility that will provide the vital material resources that are necessary for the formation of priests and brothers for the service of the Church, living and ministering under the charism that we have been given as Missionaries of God's Love."

St Benedict's parish, Burwood is under the care of the MGLs, a consecrated group of priests, brothers and sisters, founded by Father Ken Barker in Canberra in 1986. As well as working with the poor and marginalised, the MGLs have a particular calling to youth ministry.

Twenty seminarians are expected in 2011 and 23 in 2012. The seminary, which will be built behind the presbytery, is expected to be completed in 12 months.

Fr Ryan said over $700,000 has already been raised towards the building costs of the seminary, with a further $250,000 required.


St. Lucy


Feast: December 13


Feast Day:December 13
Born:284, Syracuse
Died:304, Syracuse
Major Shrine:San Geremia, Venice
Patron of:blind; martyrs; epidemics; salesmen, throat infections

The glorious virgin and martyr St. Lucy, one of the brightest ornaments of the church of Sicily, was born of honourable and wealthy parents in the city of Syracusa, and educated from her cradle in the faith of Christ. She lost her father in her infancy, but Eutychia, her mother, took singular care to furnish her with tender and sublime sentiments of piety and religion. By the early impressions which Lucy received and the strong influence of divine grace, Lucy discovered no disposition but toward virtue, and she was yet very young when she offered to God the flower of her virginity. This vow, however, she kept a secret, and her mother, who was a stranger to it, pressed her to marry a young gentleman who was a pagan. The saint sought occasions to hinder this design from taking effect, and her mother was visited with a long and troublesome flux of blood, under which she laboured four years without finding any remedy by recourse to physicians. At length she was persuaded by her daughter to go to Catana and offer up her prayers to God for relief at the tomb of St. Agatha. St. Lucy accompanied her thither, and their prayers were successful.

Hereupon our saint disclosed to her mother her desire of devoting herself to God in a state of perpetual virginity, and of bestowing her fortune on the poor: and Eutychia, in gratitude, left her at full liberty to pursue her pious inclinations. The young nobleman, with whom the mother had treated about marrying her, came to understand this by the sale of her jewels and goods, and the distribution of the price among the poor, and in his rage accused her before the governor Paschasius as a Christian, the persecution of Diocletian then raging with the utmost fury. The judge commanded the holy virgin to be exposed to prostitution in a brothel" house; but God rendered her immovable, so that the guards were not able to carry her thither. He also made her an over-match for the cruelty of the persecutors, in overcoming fire and other torments. After a long and glorious combat she died in prison of the wounds she had received,—about the year 304. She was honoured at Rome in the sixth century among the most illustrious virgins and martyrs, whose triumphs the church celebrates, as appears from the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, Bede, and others. Her festival was kept in England till the change of religion, as a holy day of the second rank, in which no work but tillage or the like was allowed. Her body remained at Syracusa for many years; but was at length translated into Italy, and thence by the authority of the Emperor Otho I to Metz, as Sigebert of Gemblours relates. It is there exposed to public veneration in a rich chapel of St. Vincent's Church. A portion of her relics was carried to Constantinople and brought thence to Venice, where it is kept with singular veneration. St. Lucy is often painted with the balls of her eyes laid in a dish: perhaps her eyes were defaced or plucked out, though her present acts make no mention of any such circumstance. In many places her intercession is particularly implored for distempers of the eyes.

It is a matter of the greatest consequence what ideas are stamped upon the ductile minds of children, what sentiments are impressed on their hearts, and to what habits they are first formed. Let them be inured to little denials both in their will and senses, and learn that pleasures which gratify the senses must be guarded against, and used with great fear and moderation: for by them the taste is debauched, and the constitution of the soul broken and spoiled much more fatally than that of the body can be by means contrary to its health.

There are few Lucys nowadays among Christian ladies, because sensuality, pride, and vanity are instilled into their minds by the false maxims and pernicious example of those with whom they first converse. Alas I unless a constant watchfulness and restraint both produce and strengthen good habits, the inclinations of our souls lean of their own accord toward corruption.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 11: Matthew 21: 23- 27

Matthew 21: 23 - 27
23And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"
24Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?'
26But if we say, `From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet."
27So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.