Wednesday, February 16, 2011








TODAY'S GOSPEL: FEB. 16: MARK 8: 22- 26




VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2011 (VIS REPORT) - In his general audience today, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope focused his attention on St. John of the Cross, "spiritual friend to St. Teresa and, with her, reformer of the Carmelite religious family. (IMAGE SOURCE; RADIO VATICANA) Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pius XI in 1926, he is traditionally known as the 'Doctor mysticus', the Mystical Doctor", the Holy Father said.

John was born to a poor family at Fontiveros near the Spanish town of Avila in 1542 and entered the Carmelite order at Medina del Campo. Ordained a priest in 1567, it was on the occasion of his first Mass that he met Teresa, "who explained to him her plan for the reform of the Carmelites". In his renewal of his religious profession John took the name "of the Cross" and collaborated enthusiastically in the process of reform, something "which brought him great suffering", and even led to his imprisonment following an unjust accusation. While preparing a journey to Mexico he fell seriously ill and died in December 1591. He was beatified by Clement X in 1675 and canonised by Benedict XIII in 1726.

St. John of the Cross, said Benedict XVI, "is considered one of most important lyric poets of Spanish literature. He wrote four major works: 'Ascent of Mount Carmel', 'Dark Night of the Soul', 'Spiritual Canticle' and 'Living Flame of Love'.

"In his 'Spiritual Canticle' St. John outlines the soul's journey of purification", the Holy Father added. "The 'Living Flame of Love' continues in the same line, describing in greater detail the condition of union with God. ... 'Ascent of Mount Carmel' outlines the spiritual itinerary from the point of view of a progressive purification of the soul, which is necessary in order to scale the heights of Christian perfection, symbolised by the summit of Mount Carmel".

The Pope continued his catechesis by explaining how "the 'Dark Night of the Soul' describes the 'passive' aspect; in other words, God's contribution to the process of purifying the soul. Human effort alone, in fact, is incapable of reaching the deepest roots of a person's bad inclinations and habits. It can halt them but not eradicate them completely. To do this, we need a special action by God which radically purifies the spirit and disposes it to the union of love with Him".

"The rate of increase of faith, hope and charity goes hand in hand with the work of purification and with progressive union with God, until attaining transformation into Him. When this goal is reached, the soul is immersed in Trinitarian life itself. ... This is why the Mystical Doctor held that there is no true union of love with God that does not culminate in Trinitarian union".

The Pope completed his remarks by asking whether the life of St. John of the Cross has anything to say to everyday Christians, or whether it is an example only for the few select souls who can follow the path of purification and mystical ascesis. "The journey with Christ, travelling with Christ ... is not an additional weight to the already sufficiently-heavy burden of our lives", he said. "It is something totally different. ... It is a light, a power which helps us carry our everyday burden. ... Allowing ourselves to be loved by Christ is the light which helps us to carry the daily burden, and sanctity is not a task we must accomplish on our own, a very difficult task. ... Let us ask God to help us become saints, to allow ourselves to be loved by God, which is the vocation and true redemption of us all".

AG/ VIS 20110216 (630)


VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Emanuel Messias de Oliveira of Guanhaes, Brazil, as bishop of Caratinga (area 14,927, population 678,000, Catholics 569,000, priests 76, religious 150), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Helio Goncalves Heleno, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Teodoro Mendes Tavares C.S.Sp., vicar general of the prelature of Tefe, Brazil, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Belem do Para (area 2,082, population 2,090,000, Catholics 1,527,000, priests 152, permanent deacons 49, religious 687), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Miguel Arcanjo - Ilha de Santiago, Cape Verde in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1993.

- Appointed Fr. Jose Francisco Falcao de Barros of the clergy of the diocese of Palmeira dos Indios, Brazil, pastor of San Vincenzo de Paoli and chaplain of the military police in the State of Alagoas, as auxiliary of the military ordinariate of Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Paulo Jacinto, Brazil in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1991.


Cambodian villagers displaced by border fighting (Photo courtesy of Caritas Cambodia)

The Catholic Church in Cambodia says it deeply regrets the “needless loss of human life” during border clashes with Thailand last week and appealed for a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

The fighting has also caused “serious injuries, the destruction of sacred places and irreparable damage to a world heritage site,” a February 14 statement said.

“The Catholic Church of Cambodia calls on all communities, national and international organizations to urgently cooperate at all levels to help stop conflict around the Preah Vihear Temple,” said the statement signed by Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh.

“We pray to almighty God that the Good Lord will bless the two sides with peace and guide the leaders of both countries to resolve this conflict by peaceful means and to avoid further shedding of blood,” it continued.

Long Sophal, a Church worker with the Jesuit Service in Cambodia, said he hopes Thailand and Cambodia heed Bishop Schmitthaeusler’s words.

“We are always against war because everyone suffers, so we must support a call for peaceful solutions,” he said.

Other organizations also voiced their support for the Church’s appeal.

Duong Savong, director of the Catholic Catechesis Center, said the statement, “Made us reflect that the fighting not only brought suffering to Cambodians, but to all from both sides.”

The February 4-7 border clashes reportedly killed at least eight people – three in Thailand and five in Cambodia – and injured many more, as well as displacing thousands.


CBC REPORT: A Quebec municipality is making an almighty effort to get donations to fight a court ruling banning prayers at city council.

An illustration of Jesus Christ himself sits on the city's Internet page, his eyes questioning and palm open, above a French-language logo that translates as "Donations, prayer on trial."

Click on the Messiah and another page opens up, where several handy payment options are offered including cheques delivered in person and donations by phone and Internet.

Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay says the very future of Quebec's francophone culture and Roman Catholic heritage are at stake.

In a verdict rendered last week, Quebec's human-rights tribunal ordered the crucifix removed from Saguenay's assembly room, demanded an end to prayers at council meetings, and asked the city to pay $30,000 in penalties. It ordered that the sum be paid to the citizen who complained about the prayers.

But Saguenay city hall is fighting back.

"Where are we French-Canadians going with our values?" Tremblay asked during a fiery statement to reporters announcing the appeal bid Wednesday.

"Where will we French-Canadians be in 50 years?"

Although the request for appeal hasn't been filed yet, Tremblay says the city's lawyers believe it stands a good chance.

It's the latest salvo is the bubbling debate over identity in Quebec, which has seen one controversy after another about how much tolerance should be shown for other people's religious views.

Occasionally the debate focuses, as it has in Saguenay, on the habits of the traditional francophone Roman Catholic majority. More often, though, it has been about Muslim women's veils and Sikhs' ceremonial daggers.

Last week, members of the provincial legislature unanimously banned the Sikh kirpan from the premises.

The move came after a group of Sikhs scheduled to attend hearings on the wearing of religious headgear were stopped by security guards when the ceremonial daggers tripped metal detectors.

Some legislators said the move was based on security concerns. Some said it was to preserve the national assembly's secular character.

The Parti Quebecois' critic for secularism, however, said Wednesday that she agrees with keeping the crucifix perched above the provincial legislative chamber because it reflects 400 years of history.

Saguenay's mayor was also keen to talk history Wednesday.

In his address to reporters, Tremblay confidently stated that in the entire history of the human race, there had never been a precedent for such persecution as that suffered by his administration.

"In the history of the world, and we verified this just for fun, this has never happened," Tremblay said.

"Not even in antiquity, not even in the Middle Ages — a mayor punished for saying a prayer!"

Tremblay bemoaned the hefty legal fees that an appeal could entail and said he would like to see them paid through donations rather than on the shoulders of taxpayers.

He stressed that he was not a religious "extremist," but merely wanted to fight back against what he perceived to be an imbalance in Quebec society.

He wondered why the majority, francophone Catholics, have to leave their faith at home when minorities seem to enjoy so many rights.

"Here, it seems that reasonable accommodation is good provided it is not for Catholics," he said, pointing out that 90 per cent of his fellow townsfolk are Catholics.


Lancashire: Shrine Our Lady of Fernyhalgh  survives fire | Our Lady of Fernyhalgh, Ladyewell

Our Lady of Fernyhalgh
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: An ancient Marian Shrine near Preston in Lancashire survived a small fire on Monday. The Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Michael Campbell said in a statement that just after 8am on Monday, the Parish Priest of St Mary’s, Fernyhalgh and Director of Ladyewell Shrine, Fr Tom Hoole, discovered a fire and called the fire brigade immediately.

"Flames, smoke and heat spread from the fire until the blaze was eventually brought under control. An investigation is currently under way but the Fire Service has said that, at this stage, the cause was not thought to be arson," Bishop Campbell said.

That afternoon the Bishop visited the scene and discovered that the chapel and shop were almost completely destroyed. He said: "The rest of the house is intact but has suffered much smoke damage. The relics and other religious artefacts seem, on the whole, to be intact but have also suffered from the smoke. The fire crews were able, on Father Tom Hoole’s instructions, to remove the Blessed Sacrament before the chapel was almost completely consumed."

"Obviously, at this time, our support and prayers are with Father Tom Hoole and his dedicated team. Ladyewell Shrine, along with the local area, has suffered from much turbulence over the centuries and survived and flourished. It will do so again.

The Shrine's website says: 'Devotion to Our Lady of Fernyhalgh goes back to the 11th century. Since the Reformation a devotion to Our Lady as Queen of Martyrs has developed, which is reflected at Ladyewell in the reliquary, the presence of the Burgess Altar and the chapel of the English Martyrs. There has never been an apparition of Our Blessed Lady at Fernyhalgh just continued prayer and petition over seven centuries. Even during penal times, apart from a period of five years, the shrine attracted pilgrims and was the focus of local Catholic prayer. A secluded spot, only four miles from the centre of Preston and in close proximity to a very busy motorway, surrounded on three sides by ancient and protected woodland, Fernyhalgh has retained it tranquil and sylvan charm.'

For more information see:



Screenshot of The Catholic Weekly report


A portrait of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop is the feature work of several paintings by Sydney artist Paul Newton that are headed to Italy for the Domus Australia pilgrim centre, reports The Catholic Weekly.

"The narrative of the collection of paintings – 32 paintings in all – is to highlight figures from our short history, and those who have had a big impact on the Church in Australia.""This is going to be an Australian pilgrim centre in Rome, and although it's not exclusively open to Australian pilgrims, it's obviously aimed primarily at them," Mr Newton said.

A new version of Mr Newton's portrait of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, which was unveiled at St Mary's Cathedral during World Youth Day 2008, will be hung in the sanctuary behind the chapel's main altar.

"There are seven side altars in the church and then obviously the main altar at the front," he said.

The pilgrim centre chapel collection will also include portraits of Archbishop John Bede Polding; St Thomas More; Cardinal John Henry Newman; Pope John Paul II; Mother Teresa; the soon-to-be beatified Vietnamese priest Cardinal Van Thuan; Josephite co-founder Fr Julian Tenison Woods; the first Australian Sister of Mercy, Mother Ursula Frayne; the first Australian Sister of Charity, Mother Mary John Cahill; pioneer priest Fr John Therry; and Caroline Chisholm.

"It's been fascinating for me because I've been doing a lot of research as I approach each of these paintings," Mr Newton said.

The 235cm x 180cm portrait of St Mary MacKillop is one of the most anticipated paintings
in the collection.


Agenzia Fides REPORT- “It is difficult for a protest, even a peaceful one, to be held in Malawi. At least for now the silence holds. The organisers of the march were arrested, the bikes have gone back to their villages and the vuvuzela (plastic horns) silenced. The reason remains the same as ever: lack of 'proper procedures'; the permit to protest that is recognised by the city is not approved by the state police, the same people who were given orders to shoot to kill,” Fides was told by Father Piergiorgio Gamba, Monfort missionary, who has lived and worked in Malawi for many years.
On 14 February, the “Big Bicycle March on the Fuel Crisis” had been organised in the capital, Lilongwe, to protest against fuel shortages in the Country. The demonstrators had intended to march on bicycle in front of the Parliament and Government headquarters with whistles and vuvuzela. The police blocked the demonstration and arrested several organisers of the protest.
“To have organised a demonstration, albeit unsuccessful, is already a good start that will increase awareness of the Country's current situation, which seems to have been taken back in time by the current political administration, fortified by an election victory that gave them absolute majority in Parliament. In this way, we also learn the value of voting and political participation, which remains the primary task of every citizen,” said the missionary.
“If the invitation of the Bishops of Malawi to read the signs of the times is valid, this could be the time that responds to a political and social situation almost in decay,” says Fr Gamba. “There is no fuel in the Country. Despite the increase in prices that makes a litre of gasoline 1.3 euros, you can not buy it. Trade, transportation and even basic necessities are no longer assured. The lack of foreign currency to secure imports, a refrain that has virtually shut down several small industries in the Country, is resulting in the exponential growth of chronic unemployment. There are also laws that restrict freedom of information, others that the local courts re-introduce, that conjure up the horrors and killings during the 30 years of dictatorship.” These are all symptoms that preoccupy and contribute to creating a climate, not seen throughout the years of democracy, reaffirmed in Malawi in 1994, concludes the missionary.


St. Onesimus


Feast: February 16


Feast Day:February 16

HE was a Phrygian by birth, slave to Philemon, a person of note of the city of Colossæ, converted to the faith by St. Paul. Having robbed his master and being obliged to fly, he providentially met with St. Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, who there converted and baptized him, and sent him with his canonical letter of recommendation to Philemon, by whom he was pardoned, set at liberty, and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served. That apostle made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians, and afterwards, as St. Jerome and other Fathers witness, a preacher of the Gospel and a bishop. He was crowned with martyrdom under Domitian in the year 95.


TODAY'S GOSPEL: FEB. 16: MARK 8: 22- 26

Mark 8: 22 - 26
22And they came to Beth-sa'ida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him.23And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?"24And he looked up and said, "I see men; but they look like trees, walking."25Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.26And he sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."

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