Friday, January 28, 2011









TODAY'S GOSPEL: JAN. 28: MARK 4: 26- 34




VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2011 (VIS REPORT) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received thirty members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA

The commission was founded in 2003 as the result of an initiative by the ecclesial authorities of the family of Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The first phase of dialogue, between 2003 and 2009, "resulted in the common text entitled 'Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church'", said the Holy Father. "The document outlined aspects of fundamental ecclesiological principles that we share and identified issues requiring deeper reflection in successive phases of the dialogue. We can only be grateful that after almost fifteen hundred years of separation we still find agreement about the sacramental nature of the Church, about apostolic succession in priestly service and about the impelling need to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the world.

"In the second phase, the Commission has reflected from an historical perspective on the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion down the ages", the Pope added continuing his English-language remarks to the group. "During the meeting this week you are deepening your study of the communion and communication that existed between the Churches until the mid-fifth century of Christian history, as well as the role played by monasticism in the life of the early Church.

"We must be confident that your theological reflection will lead our Churches not only to understand each other more deeply, but resolutely to continue our journey decisively towards the full communion to which we are called by the will of Christ", he said.

"Many of you come from regions where Christian individuals and communities face trials and difficulties that are a cause of deep concern for us all", Benedict XVI concluded. "All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches, sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities".

AC/ VIS 20110128 (370)


VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

- Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

- Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, apostolic nuncio, accompanied by members of his family.

- Francis Martin-Xavier Campbell, ambassador of Great Britain, on his farewell visit.

- Suprapto Martosetomo, ambassador of Indonesia, on his farewell visit.


CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: Missionary and husband tried to outrun gunmen in Reynosa

Fifty-nine-year-old American missionary Nancy Davis has been fatally shot in Mexico. Authorities say that Davis and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

Authorities say that missionary Nancy Davis and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

Authorities say that missionary Nancy Davis and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Fifty-nine-year-old American missionary Nancy Davis has been fatally shot in Mexico. Authorities say that Davis and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

According to the Pharr Police Department in Texas, "the gunmen were attempting to stop them and the victims accelerated in efforts of getting away from them. At a certain point the gunmen discharged a weapon at the victim's vehicle and a bullet struck the victim Nancy Shuman Davis on the head."

Davis' husband, Sam Davis drove their truck "at high rate of speed" to the Pharr International Bridge, which crosses the Rio Grande. Nancy Davis was taken to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are assisting in the investigation.

The Mexican Interior Ministry says they are investigating the incident "for the purpose of clarifying the facts and act accordingly to punish the person or persons responsible."

Merton Rundell, a professor in the missions department at Indiana's Union Bible College & Academy and a family friend, told CNN the couple had lived in Mexico since the 1970s and worked with the Gospel Proclaimers mission in Mexico.

Longtime friend Maryanne Wheeler, who worked with the Davises in the 1990s, said Nancy Davis' death was a great loss.

"They breathed Mexico," Wheeler said. "That's their love.

"For 40 years she has gone around Mexico, trying to be there as a nurse, a friend, as a spiritual adviser and has loved them. They lost the best," she said. "They had a petite lady who had the tenacity of a bulldog and was there for you."


CatholicHerald report:

Walsall primary children enjoy prayerful carol service

Pupils built a ‘living nativity scene’ on the altar at St Mary’s the Mount church, Walsall

Children from St Mary’s the Mount Roman Catholic Primary School, Walsall, took part in a carol service at St Mary’s the Mount Catholic church in December. As readings, carols, and class items were performed, pupils from one of the classes gradually built a ‘living nativity scene’ on the altar (Photograph: J Lopuszynski)


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Poverty and social injustice, bad governance, the persistent insecurity, the bad start to democracy in many Countries, the corruption, the urgency of reconciliation and the integral formation of the person. These are the challenges to evangelization and the affirmation of human dignity which were analysed at the fourth West African Continental Meeting of the International Forum for Catholic Action (FIAC) which concluded on 23 January in Dakar, Senegal (see Fides 19/1/2011).
According to information sent to Fides, the meeting on the theme: “Life, bread, peace and liberty. For a prosperous, peaceful, reconciled Africa” was attended by 100 representative from Catholic Action Movements in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, together with members of the international FIAT Secretariat from four countries (Italy, Spain, Romania and Burundi).
At the end of the meeting, attendees took on the commitment to particularly “promote and defend Christian values in all areas of life,” and “to get to know better and wisely and coherently integrate our cultures in light of the Gospel”, to promote “interreligious and inter-cultural dialogue” and reflection “on ecclesiality, laicism, organicity and collaboration with the Hierarchy: the four notes of the “Apostolicam Actuositatem” (no. 20) that characterize the Catholic Action Movement.
The lay members of Catholic Action in Western Africa recommended to the ecclesiastical hierarchy to “promote the formation of the laity for greater effectiveness of the Church's mission” and to “create a synergy of reflection and action, at all levels, among Pastors, consecrated and lay people, based on joint responsibility in communion,” without forgetting to “provide the structures for the coordination of the lay apostolate for subsequent human, material and financial resources to achieve its goals.” They also called them to “create the conditions for dialogue with politicians and leaders of civil society in order to promote the common good and the rule of law.” The Secretariat of the IFCA, finally, was requested to continue to “promote this type of formation seminar at international, continental, regional and diocesan levels.”
FIAC remembered Bishop Jacques Sarr of Thiès and President of the Episcopal Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity in Senegal, who died on 18 January (see Fides 21/01/2011), as “a man of God totally dedicated to serving the Church, who had a vision of hope for Africa.”


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The land for the dead is located in a forest near the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu. For the extremists, the area is sacred. The government decision comes after years of disputes and clashes with the Hindu community reluctant to give space to other faiths. Often Christians and Muslims were forced to bury more dead in the same grave.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The government of Nepal is set to allow Christians, Muslims and Baha'is of the capital to bury their dead in the forest of Sleshmantak close to the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. The decision has sparked protests by Hindu fundamentalists, who consider the forest part of the sacred temple.

Hindus cremate their dead and do not build cemeteries. In recent years, Kathmandu has been subjected to a heavy real estate speculation. This has limited the availability of free land and reduced the areas that were once intended for cemeteries for Christians, Muslims and Baha'is, most often forced to bury many bodies in the same grave.

Narayan Sharma, Protestant Bishop of Nepal, says: "We are not at fault. We acted according to the government's decision. The Hindus must be aware of the rights of other religions." According to the Christian Federation of Nepal there are already 200 tombstones in the Sleshmantak area. Christians have paid 6 to 10 euro for each grave.

Despite protests from the Hindus, Minendra Rijal, Minister for Culture, said that after centuries of Hindu monarchy "the country is now secular and all Hindus should also take into account the needs of other religions."



Margaret Mary Flynn ibvm


Margaret Mary Flynn ibvm, CEO of CentaCare in Western NSW, has been appointed as Provincial Leader, Loreto Sisters Australia, according to report on the Loreto Sisters Australia website.

She has worked to improve the quality of life in rural and indigenous communities and has been successful in lobbying government to provide significant funding for remote rural areas of NSW.Margaret Mary established CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes, in the largest and poorest diocese in NSW, in 1996 and is a vigorous champion of the rights of women and indigenous communities.

Margaret Mary said she felt honoured to be nominated by fellow Loreto Sisters.

Christine Burke ibvm, current provincial leader said, "Margaret Mary is recognised as an innovative and creative leader, and will bring with her to Loreto Centre and its entire works, an enviable insight into the issues facing rural Australians, as well as her many gifts in administration, counselling and spirituality. We are indeed blessed that she has accepted this new call."


St. Thomas Aquinas


Feast: January 28


Feast Day:January 28

1225, Roccasecca, in Lazio, Italy

Died:7 March 1274, Fossanuova Abbey, Italy
Canonized:July 18, 1323, Avignon, France
Major Shrine:Church of the Jacobins, Toulouse, France
Patron of:Catholic universities, colleges, and schools

The great outlines and all the important events of his life are known, but biographers differ as to some details and dates. Death prevented Henry Denifle from executing his project of writing a critical life of the saint. Denifle's friend and pupil, Dominic Prummer, O.P., professor of theology in the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, has taken up the work and is publishing the "Fontes Vitae S. Thomae Aquinatis, notis historicis et criticis illustrati"; and the first fascicle (Toulouse, 1911) has appeared, giving the life of St. Thomas by Peter Calo (1300) now published for the first time. From Tolomeo of Lucca . . . we learn that at the time of the saint's death there was a doubt about his exact age (Prummer, op. cit., 45). The end of 1225 is usually assigned as the time of his birth. Father Prummer, on the authority of Calo, thinks 1227 is the more probable date (op. cit., 28). All agree that he died in 1274.

Landulph, his father, was Count of Aquino, Theodora, his mother, Countess of Teano. His family was related to the Emperors Henry VI and Frederick II, and to the Kings of Aragon, Castile, and France. Calo relates that a holy hermit foretold his career, saying to Theodora before his birth: "He will enter the Order of Friars Preachers, and so great will be his learning and sanctity that in his day no one will be found to equal him" (Prummer, op. cit., 18). At the age of five, according to the custom of the times, he was sent to receive his first training from the Benedictine monks of Monte Cassino. Diligent in study, he was thus early noted as being meditative and devoted to prayer, and his preceptor was surprised at hearing the child ask frequently: "What is God?" About the year 1236 he was sent to the University of Naples. Calo says that the change was made at the instance of the Abbot of Monte Cassino, who wrote to Thomas's father that a boy of such talents should not be left in obscurity (Prummer, op. cit., 20). At Naples his preceptors were Pietro Martini and Petrus Hibernus. The chronicler says that he soon surpassed Martini a grammar, and he was then given over to Peter of Ireland, who trained him in logic and the natural sciences. The customs of the times divided the liberal arts into two courses: the Trivium, embracing grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the Quadrivium, comprising music, mathematics, geometry, and astronomy . . . . Thomas could repeat the lessons with more depth and lucidity than his masters displayed. The youth's heart had remained pure amidst the corruption with which he was surrounded, and he resolved to embrace the religious life.

Some time between 1240 and August, 1243, he received the habit of the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted and directed by John of St. Julian, a noted preacher of the convent of Naples. The city wondered that such a noble young man should don the garb of poor friar. His mother, with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow, hastened to Naples to see her son. The Dominicans, fearing she would take him away, sent him to Rome, his ultimate destination being Paris or Cologne. At the instance of Theodora, Thomas's brothers, who were soldiers under the Emperor Frederick, captured the novice near the town of Aquapendente and confined him in the fortress of San Giovanni at Rocca Secca. Here he was detained nearly two years, his parents, brothers, and Sisters endeavouring by various means to destroy his vocation. The brothers even laid snares for his virtue, but the pure-minded novice drove the temptress from his room with a brand which he snatched from the fire. Towards the end of his life, St. Thomas confided to his faithful friend and companion, Reginald of Piperno, the secret of a remarkable favour received at this time. When the temptress had been driven from his chamber, he knelt and most earnestly implored God to grant him integrity of mind and body. He fell into a gentle sleep, and, as he slept, two angels appeared to assure him that his prayer had been heard. They then girded him about with a white girdle, saying: "We gird thee with the girdle of perpetual virginity." And from that day forward he never experienced the slightest motions of concupiscence.

The time spent in captivity was not lost. His mother relented somewhat, after the first burst of anger and grief; the Dominicans were allowed to provide him with new habits, and through the kind offices of his sister he procured some books—the Holy Scriptures, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard. After eighteen months or two years spent in prison, either because his mother saw that the hermit's prophecy would eventually be fulfilled or because his brothers feared the threats of Innocent IV and Frederick II, he was set at liberty, being lowered in a basket into the arms of the Dominicans, who were delighted to find that during his captivity "he had made as much progress as if he had been in a " (Calo, op. cit., 24). Thomas immediately pronounced his vows, and his superiors sent him to Rome. Innocent IV examined closely into his motives in joining the Friars Preachers, dismissed him with a blessing, and forbade any further interference with his vocation. John the Teutonic, fourth master general of the order, took the young student to Paris and, according to the majority of the saint's biographers, to Cologne, where he arrived in 1244 or 1245, and was placed under Albertus Magnus, the most renowned professor of the order (on chronology of this period see Prummer, op. cit., p.25). In the schools Thomas's humility and taciturnity were misinterpreted as signs of dullness, but when Albert had heard his brilliant defence of a difficult thesis, he exclaimed: "We call this young man a dumb ox, hut his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world."

In 1245 Albert was sent to Paris, and Thomas accompanied him as a student. In 1248 both returned to Cologne. Albert had been appointed regent of the new , erected that year by the general chapter of the order, and Thomas was to teach under him as Bachelor. (On the system of graduation in the thirteenth century see PREACHERS, ORDER OF—II, A, 1, d). During his stay in Cologne, probably in 1250, he was raised to the priesthood by Conrad of Hochstaden, archbishop of that city. Throughout his busy life, he frequently preached the Word of God, in Germany, France, and Italy. His sermons were forceful, redolent of piety, full of solid instruction, abounding in apt citations from the Scriptures . In the year 1251 or 1252 the master general of the order, by the advice of Albertus Magnus and Hugo a S. Charo (Hugh of St. Cher), sent Thomas to fill the office of Bachelor (sub-regent) in the Dominicanat Paris. This appointment may be regarded as the beginning of his public career, for his teaching soon attracted the attention both of the professors and of the students. His duties consisted principally in explaining the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard, and his commentmies on that text-book of theology furnished the materials and, in great part, the plan for his chief work, the "Summa theologica".

In due time he was ordered to prepare himself to obtain the degree of Doctor in Theology from the University of Paris, but the conferring of the degree was postponed, owing to a dispute between the university and the friars. The conflict, originally a dispute between the university and the civic authorities, arose from the slaying of one of the students and the wounding of three others by the city guard. The university, jealous of its autonomy, demanded satisfaction, which was refused. The doctors closed their schools, solemnly swore that they would not reopen them until their demands were granted, and decreed that in future no one should be admitted to the degree of Doctor unless he would take an oath to follow the same line of conduct under similar circumstances. The Dominicans and Franciscans, who had continued to teach in their schools, refused to take the prescribed oath, and from this there arose a bitter conflict which was at its height when St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure were ready to be presented for their degrees. William of St. Amour extended the dispute beyond the original question, violently attacked the Friars, of whom he was evidently jealous, and denied their right to occupy chairs in the university. Against his book, "De periculis novissimorum temporum" (The Perils of the Last Times), St. Thomas wrote a treatise "Contra impugnantes religionem", an apology for the religious orders (Touron, op. cit., II, cc. vii sqq.). The book of William of St. Amour was condemned by Alexander IV at Anagni, 5 October, 1256, and the pope gave orders that the mendicant friars should be admitted to the doctorate.

About this time St. Thomas also combated a dangerous book, "The Eternal Gospel" (Touron, op. cit., II, cxii). The university authorities did not obey immediately; the influence of St. Louis IX and eleven papal Briefs were required before peace was firmly established, and St. Thomas was admitted to the degree of Doctor in Theology. The date of his promotion, as given by many biographers, was 23 October, 1257. His theme was "The Majesty of Christ". His text, "Thou waterest the hills from thy upper rooms: the earth shall be filled with the fruit of thy works" (Ps. ciii, 13), said to have been suggested by a heavenly visitor, seems to have been prophetic of his career. A tradition says that St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas received the doctorate on the same day, and that there was a contest of humility between the two friends as to which should be promoted first. From this time St. Thomas's life may be summed up in a few words: praying, preaching, teaching, writing, journeying. Men were more anxious to hear him than they had been to bear Albert, whom St. Thomas surpassed in accuracy, lucidity, brevity, and power of exposition, if not in universality of knowledge. Paris claimed him as her own; the popes wished to have him near them; theof the order were eager to enjoy the benefit of his teaching; hence we find him successively at Anagni, Rome, Bologna, Orvieto, Viterbo, Perugia, in Paris again, and finally in Naples, always teaching and writing, living on earth with one passion, an ardent zeal for the explanation and defence of Christian truth. So devoted was he to his sacred task that with tears he begged to be excused from accepting the Archbishopric of Naples, to which he was appointed by Clement IV in 1265. Had this appointment been accepted, most probably the "Summa theologica" would not have been written.

Yielding to the requests of his brethren, he on several occasions took part in the deliberations of the general chapters of the order. One of these chapters was held in London in 1263. In another held at Valenciennes (1259) he collaborated with Albertus Magnus and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V) in formulating a system of studies which is substantially preserved to this day in the of the Dominican Order (cf. Douais, op. cit.). It is not surprising to read in the biographies of St. Thomas that he was frequently abstracted and in ecstasy. Towards the end of his life the ecstasies became more frequent. On one occasion, at Naples in 1273, after he had completed his treatise on the Eucharist, three of the brethren saw him lifted in ecstasy, and they heard a voice proceeding from the crucifix on the altar, saying "Thou hast written well of me, Thomas; what reward wilt thou have?". Thomas replied, "None other than Thyself, Lord" (Prummer, op. cit., p. 38). Similar declarations are said to have been made at Orvieto and at Paris. On 6 December, 1273, he laid aside his pen and would write no more. That day he experienced an unusually long ecstasy during Mass; what was revealed to him we can only surmise from his reply to Father Reginald, who urged him to continue his writings: "I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value" (, Prummer, op. cit., p. 43).

The "Summa theologica" had been completed only as far as the ninetieth question of the third part (De partibus poenitentiae). Thomas began his immediate preparation for death. Gregory X, having convoked a general council, to open at Lyons on 1 May, 1274, invited St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure to take part in the deliberations, commanding the former to bring to the council his treatise "Contra errores Graecorum" (Against the Errors of the Greeks). He tried to obey, setting out on foot in January, 1274, but strength failed him; he fell to the ground near Terracina, whence he was conducted to the Castle of Maienza the home of his niece the Countess Francesca Ceccano. The Cistercian monks of Fossa Nuova pressed him to accept their hospitality, and he was conveyed to their monastery, on entering which he whispered to his companion: "This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it" (Ps. cxxxi, 14). When Father Reginald urged him to remain at the castle, the saint replied: "If the Lord wishes to take me away, it is better that I be found in a religious house than in the dwelling of a lay person." The Cistercians were so kind and attentive that Thomas's humility was alarmed. "Whence comes this honour", he exclaimed, "that servants of God should carry wood for my fire!" At the urgent request of the monks he dictated a brief commentary on the Canticle of Canticles.

The end was near; extreme unction was administered. When the Sacred Viaticum was brought into the room he pronounced the following act of faith: "If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament." Then he added: "I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied, and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life" (Prummer, op. cit., p. 45). He died on 7 March, 1274. Numerous miracles attested his sanctity, and he was canonized by John XXII, 18 July, 1323. The monks of Fossa Nuova were anxious to keep his sacred remains, but by order of Urban V the body was given to his Dominican brethren, and was solemnly translated to the Dominican church at Toulouse, 28 January, 1369. A magnificent shrine erected in 1628 was destroyed during the French Revolution, and the body was removed to the Church of St. Sernin, where it now reposes in a sarcophagus of gold and silver, which was solemnly blessed by Cardinal Desprez on 24 July, 1878. The chief bone of his left arm is preserved in the cathedral of Naples. The right arm, bestowed on the University of Paris, and originally kept in the St. Thomas's Chapel of the Dominican church, is now preserved in the Dominican Church of S. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, whither it was transferred during the French Revolution.

A description of the saint as he appeared in life is given by Calo (Prummer, op. cit., p. 401), who says that his features corresponded with the greatness of his soul. He was of lofty stature and of heavy build, but straight and well proportioned. His complexion was "like the colour of new wheat": his head was large and well shaped, and he was slightly bald. All portraits represent him as noble, meditative, gentle yet strong. St. Pius V proclaimed St. Thomas a Doctor of the Universal Church in the year 1567. In the Encyclical "Aeterni Patris", of 4 August, 1879, on the restoration of Christian philosophy, Leo XIII declared him "the prince and master of all Scholastic doctors". The same illustrious pontiff, by a Brief dated 4 August, 1880, designated him patron of all Catholic universities, academies, colleges, and schools throughout the world.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: JAN. 28: MARK 4: 26- 34

Mark 4: 26 - 34
26And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground,27and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.28The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.29But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."30And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?31It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."33With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it;34he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

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