Sunday, February 20, 2011








TODAY'S GOSPEL: FEB. 19: MARK 9: 2- 13



Radio Vaticana report: Praying for our persecutors part of Christian witness, says Pope
“We are all called to love unconditionally, as today’s Gospel reminds us, and to place ourselves generously at the service of our neighbour”, said Pope Benedict Sunday. In his greeting to thousands of pilgrims and visitors to St Peter’s square for the Angelus prayer the Holy Father said “when we suffer for evil, persecution, injustice, let us avoid revenge, vengeance and hatred, and pray for our persecutors. Overcome evil with good. We entrust all adversity to God to achieve freedom and peace of mind”.

Pope Benedict dedicated his reflections before the Angelus prayer this week to the Sunday readings and Gospel. The "perfection" to which Jesus invites us to "live as children of God is actually doing his will" and Jesus himself tells us: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven "(Mt 5.44 to 45). Whoever receives the Lord into their lives and loves him with all his heart is capable of a new beginning. He manages to carry out the will of God: to create a new form of life inspired by love and destined to eternity".

He said “The apostle Paul adds: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3:16). If we are really aware of this reality, and our lives are deeply molded by it, then our witness is clear, eloquent and effective. "

The Holy Father also looked ahead to Tuesday next, February 22nd, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter: “To him, the first of the apostles, Christ himself entrusted the task of teacher and pastor for the spiritual guidance of the People of God, so that they may rise up to Heaven. I therefore urge all pastors to " assimilate that “new style of life” which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles " (Letter Proclaiming Year for Priests)”.

Finally in greetings to English speaking pilgrims he noted “In particular I greet the young singers from the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London. The Cardinal’s motto, “Amare et Servire”, is a beautiful expression of the Christian way of life”.


UCAN REPORT: A former assistant vice postulator, who had a role in the canonization of St Alphonsa, India’s first woman saint, was killed yesterday while trying to save the life of a woman who’d become entangled in a power line.

Father Mathew Thondamkuzhy, parish priest of St. George Church Lalam in Kerala’s Palai diocese, died while trying to save his domestic help, Vicar General Father George Choorakkat said.

The 63-year-old woman, Achamma George, became entangled in the high-voltage power line while working in the church grounds.

Father Thondamkuzhy, who was 72, rushed to try and save the woman after hearing her cries for help, said Father Choorakkat.

“He tried to use a plastic rod to save her, but was also electrocuted,” he added.

Electricity Board engineers found the two bodies when they went to switch off a transformer before doing maintenance work.

“We found the bodies in a partially charred state,” said Uthup Varghese, one of the engineers.

Father Thondamkuzhy once served as an assistant vice postulator for the cause of Saint Alphonsa who became India’s first woman saint and the first canonized saint of the Syro-Malabar rite.

As assistant vice postulator he helped the vice postulator in preparing documentation, collecting artifacts and investigating reported miracles that were used to elevate the nun to sainthood.


Agenzia Fides REPORT – The Pastoral Letter written by the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, published at the conclusion of the Annual Plenary Assembly this year, is called “Construir en justicia, inspirados por Dios - El Desarrollo Humano” (Build in justice, inspired by God - Human Development). Throughout its 67 pages, the document proposes an updated vision of society in Guatemala and of the Church's presence given the many challenges that society faces. “There is a pessimism that arises from the Country's ethical and social deterioration,” write the Bishops in the introduction, “but the Christian faith has the power to realise a moral renewal and succeed in a construction program for the Country.” The document, received by Fides, calls for moral conversion and the ability to build a future together full of human feeling, with a strong human society and an united conscience.
Among the issues that are under discussion, the Bishops cite: the situation of the family, environmental degradation, lack of respect for life, the increase in violence and crime, the general poverty of the people, the corruption of the State, and the poverty of the public education system.
Faced with this situation in the Country and in society, the Bishops suggest a focus on the human person with dignity would constitute the foundation of Christian social ethics. It is therefore important to defend the rights of the human person. Also to be considered as the basis for society is the family and the exercise of political authority for the common good. The economy must seek to achieve integral human development and promotion. “It is necessary to point out that education is the fundamental basis for an equal participation in today's world. From the moment that is the primary responsibility for parents, the family becomes a strengthened unit for transmitting the necessary values for the welfare and development of all those who are part of it, as well as for society,” say the Bishops.
Finally, the Letter presents the appeal of the Bishops to urgently awaken the much-needed moral conscience to tackle corruption and economic, financial, legal, health, educational, social, cultural, environmental and political issues.


CNA REPORT- Polish clergymen rocketed down ski slopes to pay tribute to their beloved Pope and countryman, and to compete for a trophy in the John Paul II Cup.

The 14th annual Alpine Skiing Championship for Polish Priests and Seminarians took place in Wisla, Poland on Feb. 12.

One of two priests that organize the event annually, 37-year old Fr. Gregory Szwarc, told CNA that the event was revived in 1998 by a group of Franciscan priests who did so in memory of a similar tournament from the past.

They have a “good pattern” to follow, said Fr. Szwarc. “Our Pope John Paul II went skiing so that is why we gave the competition his name.”

The tournament divides priests into four age groups and also pits seminarians against each other in a separate category. Events are based around an 800 meter slalom race.

The clergy begin the competition with the traditional opening run down the mountain in their black cassocks. They shed the official Church clothing in favor of full ski suits before the real competition.

Members of the priests' immediate families are also eligible to participate in a “doubles” race, with the fastest pair down the mountain taking the gold.

This year, 30 priests and 7 seminarians from all over Poland participated in the event, a sizable increase from the 26 who competed a year ago. The downhill race also drew 17 entrants in the family category this year.

Those who took gold in the priest categories were: Fr. Chris Sontag of Our Lady of the Rosary in Lędziny; Fr. Henry Urbas, SDB, from Krakow; Fr. Damian Copek from the parish of St. Mary in Katowice; and Fr. Simon Kos from the parish church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Katowice-Dęba.

Winners receive a special trophy, a John Paul II cup.


CNS REPORT -- For several of the cloistered Carmelite Sisters at Mount Carmel Convent, their life of prayer began in their families, when they were children.

"My dad taught me to pray for others," said Sister Bernadette, one of the younger sisters. She said her father told her he knew sisters who prayed for everyone, and she asked if they could pray for her, too. She said she began corresponding with the sisters and was drawn to their life of prayer.
Sister Bernadette is among 16 sisters in a contemplative community at Mount Carmel Convent in Nairobi. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Sister Constanza, who professed her final vows in January, said she attended Mass each morning because she did not live far from the local church. Each evening, her family gathered to pray the rosary and other evening prayers.

"I decided to give myself to the Lord for myself and for the salvation of souls," and the best way seemed to be contemplative life, she said.

In an interview with Catholic News Service Feb. 16, several of the sisters talked about the path that led them to nearly continuous prayer each day.

"I never dreamed of becoming a nun," said Sister Monica, who now serves as novice mistress for the order. In college, she met some Catholic students who began praying the rosary together, then attending daily Mass. One of the students wanted to become a Franciscan priest, and as he talked more about the saints, her interest grew.

She said she was filled with "a desire to belong to Christ."

Sister Regina, a young nun who works with aspirants, said her family prayed the rosary and intercessions every day.

"I came from a praying family," she said with a smile. She said she felt called to pray, "especially for priests."

Not all of the sisters are from Kenya. Sister Agnes, from India, said a friend of her sister was becoming a Carmelite, and "somehow that mystique of Carmel drew me very strongly."

The cloister was founded by Carmelites from Dublin in the mid-20th century. When the archbishop of Nairobi visited Cleveland, he asked the Carmelites there for help, and six nuns and three postulants flew to Kenya in 1951.

Three U.S. sisters who entered as postulants -- Margaret, Jean and Mary -- remain, now as some of the oldest members of the order.

Sister Margaret, originally from Pittsburgh, said when she was a teenager, she had visited the Carmelites in Cleveland, and they invited her to go with them to Kenya. They "took a chance" and took her along, she said. Since then, she has only traveled home to be with her mother when she died.

She and Sister Agnes spoke of how much the area around the cloister has changed. Today, it has been built up and surrounded by affluent homes. When they arrived, they were the only building on the hill, and they could see Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro in different directions. Now the city is too built up to see far, they said.

The two were there during the eight-year Mau Mau Uprising that started in 1952, and the Mau Mau, a tribal group, had a hideout in the valley. Sister Agnes said one of the local priests talked to the Mau Mau, who promised never to trouble the sisters, because they were holy.

Today, when young women apply to join the order, the sisters require that they finish high school and begin some other course work, Sister Monica said.

"It gives them time to mature a bit," she said.

Sister Regina, who works with the aspirants, said she checks to see if candidates are "determined to live the life."

"Does she feel called because she has other things she is afraid to face or does she feel called because God is calling her?" she said.

An aspirant will join the sisters for three months to see if a contemplative life is something she really wants. The day begins with the prayers of the morning office at 5:20 and ends around 10 or 10:30 p.m. Other than a couple of hours of recreation, the day is spent in prayer. While the sisters work -- sewing vestments and altar linens, printing greeting cards and making Communion hosts -- they meditate. Meals, cooked by the sisters, are eaten in silence while one nun reads -- to nourish the soul.

The sisters pray for their own intentions -- pregnant women and mothers, priests, events in the world -- as well as intentions of those who ask, including Muslims, Hindus and Protestants.

Sister Bernadette said they prayed for Americans before the 2008 elections "because we have our American sisters."

"It's not just like we are here for Kenya," added Sister Regina.


CATH NEWS REPORT: Three years after the Australian Government's historic apology to the Stolen Generations, Jesuit Father Frank Brennan says Indigenous people are still being singled out by policies which deny them the opportunity to speak for themselves, reports Province Express. He singled out compulsory income management of welfare payments in Indigenous communities. While the government reduced the discriminatory effect of these provisions by extending them to all Territorians, Fr Brennan said serious objections remain. The prominent human rights advocate said in an article on Eureka Street that special measures introduced as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) are yet to be repealed, despite calls to do so. "Most of the peak national bodies in the welfare sector have expressed principled objections to compulsory income management except for proven cases of recipients failing to discharge parental obligations," said Fr Brennan. He cited Catholic Social Services: 'Adequate income support is an entitlement. It should not be a tool for governments or public sector managers to grant, withhold or modify in an effort to achieve "outcomes".' 'Special measures' taken in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory aim to reduce alcohol-related harm, to protect children from being exposed to prohibited material, to improve the delivery of services and to promote economic and social development, and to promote food security. "I am prepared to concede the need for special measures in relation to alcohol and pornography, provided such restrictions are sought by local community leaders and are workable," said Fr Brennan. "The other special measures are more questionable, especially given the compulsory acquisition of land that is the birthright of Aboriginal people. "Let's hope that by the fourth anniversary of the Apology, our statute books are stripped of measures which single out Aborigines for special treatment except in those instances where that treatment is voluntarily sought if not by the overwhelming majority of persons affected, then at least by community leaders speaking for their communities plagued by the abuses of pornography and excessive alcohol consumption."


St. Conrad of Piacenza


Feast: February 19


Feast Day:February 19

1290, Piacenza, Province of Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Died:February 19, 1351, Noto, Province of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Patron of:cure of hernias

Hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, date of birth uncertain; died at Noto in Sicily, 19 February, 1351. He belonged to one of the noblest families of Piacenza, and having married when he was quite young, led a virtuous and God-fearing life. On one occasion, when he was engaged in his usual pastime of hunting, he ordered his attendants to fire some brushwood in which game had taken refuge. The prevailing wind caused the flames to spread rapidly, and the surrounding fields and forest were soon in a state of conflagration. A mendicant, who happened to be found near the place where the fire had originated, was accused of being the author. He was imprisoned, tried, and condemned to death. As the poor man was being led to execution, Conrad, stricken with remorse, made open confession of his guilt; and in order to repair the damage of which he had been the cause, was obliged to sell all his possessions. Thus reduced to poverty, Conrad retired to a lonely hermitage some distance from Piacenza, while his wife entered the Order of Poor Clares. Later he went to Rome, and thence to Sicily, where for thirty years he lived a most austere and penitential life and worked numerous miracles. He is especially invoked for the cure of hernia. In 1515 Leo X permitted the town of Noto to celebrate his feast, which permission was later extended by Urban VIII to the whole Order of St. Francis. Though bearing the title of saint, Conrad was never formally canonized. His feast is kept in the Franciscan Order on 19 February.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: FEB. 19: MARK 9: 2- 13

Mark 9: 2 - 13
2And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them,
3and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
4And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
5And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah."
6For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.
7And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."
8And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.
9And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.
10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.
11And they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah must come?"
12And he said to them, "Eli'jah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
13But I tell you that Eli'jah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."

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