Tuesday, March 15, 2011












RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope sends financial aid to Japan
At the weekend, Pope Benedict XVI sent a charitable donation of $100,000 U.S. dollars to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan to help victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the Asian nation last Friday.

Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, an official at the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office responsible for papal donations to charities, told Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure that they are working closely with the bishops, Caritas Internationalis and other aid organisations to determine how to respond to the greatest needs of Japan’s people.

Calling it “a major tragedy,” Msgr. Figueiredo cited Japan as the latest in a string of major disasters, including the 2004 tsunami in Asia, a devastating earthquake and flooding in Pakistan and the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti a little more than a year ago.

“The first thing we must do is really to pray… for these people to give them hope.” He said.

“Obviously, material, concrete aid is necessary. The Holy Father has sent through this Pontifical Council the sum of one hundred thousand dollars to the (Japanese) Bishops’ Conference simply because this is the quickest way the funds can get to those dioceses most affected. Also the bishops are the first responsible for charity in the diocese and they know the needs of the people.”

“We are keeping a close monitor on the needs… Often there’s the immediate response which is good. The Holy Father himself asked for this immediate response. But then in time, the tragedy is often forgotten. This is what we experienced in Haiti… so the Church wants to be there not only in the short term but especially in the long term where many of the secular agencies have gone and there’s no one to help.”


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The Christian Federation of Malaysia express the disappointment, anger and despair of Christians in a statement: "It would seem that the authorities are conducting an ongoing program, surreptitiously and systematically against Christians in Malaysia, denying them access to the Bible in the Malay language. " The block tied to the controversy on the use of the word "Allah" to refer to God

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The largest Christian organization in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, said it is "fed up" of the government's refusal to allow the distribution of tens of thousands of Bibles. It argues that it is an affront to religious freedom. It is a rare protest by the Christian Federation of Malaysia. It 's also a sign of growing impatience among the religious minorities, over the dispute, now years old, on the government ban on the use of the word "Allah" as a translation of the word "God" in the Bible and Christian religious texts in the Malay language.

Federation president, Bishop Ng Moon Hing said that the authorities are holding 30 thousand copies of the Bible in Malay in a port of the island of Borneo. This is the latest attempt by Christians to import Bibles, particularly from Indonesia, after previous attempts failed. There are no problems for texts in English.

The Federation has issued a statement in which says that "Christians are greatly disillusioned, tired and irritated" by the continuing blockade of Bibles. "It would seem that the authorities are conducting an ongoing program, surreptitiously and systematically against Christians in Malaysia, denying them access to the Bible in Malay language."

The Interior Ministry has not responded. The government on similar occasions in the past has admitted that there was a prohibition, but argued that it was the fault of the importer who had failed to fulfil certain formalities. In reality the problem stems from the government's position that the use of the term 'Allah' in non-Muslim texts might confuse Muslims, and even lead to conversion to Christianity. Almost two thirds of the 28 million people are Malay Muslims, while 25% are Chinese and 8% are Indians. Ethnic minorities are overwhelmingly Christians, Buddhists and Hindus.

In December 2009 a court ruled that Christians have the constitutional right to use the terme "Allah". The government has appealed against the verdict, but no hearing has yet been set. The Court's decision in January 2010 caused temporary tensions, and anger of Muslim extremists. Eleven churches were attacked. The Catholic Church has reissued a Latin- Malaysian dictionary more than 400 years old to prove the ancient use of the word "Allah” in a Christian sense in the country. (22/01/2011 400 year-old Malaysian-Latin Dictionary: proof of use of the word Allah)


CATH NEWS REPORT: The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has urged prayer and offered practical support to the victims of the largest earthquake to hit Japan in 140 years, the ACBC said in a media release.

"(Many) regions of the world are experiencing phenomenal impact from various environmental disasters and I truly pray the Lord's blessing on all of those affected. We will continue to hold up in prayer at this time all of the people who have perished in this tragedy, and pledge our ongoing prayerful support in the relief effort," said the ACBC President, Archbishop Phillip Wilson.

The Bishops of England and Wales have offered the following prayer for the victims of the earthquake:
God our Father,
You set the earth on its foundation.
Keep us safe from the danger of earthquakes
And let us always feel the presence of your love.
May we be secure in your protection
And serve you with grateful hearts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.

Meanwhile, according to a statement from Caritas Australia, Caritas Japan is already beginning to provide assistance to those affected by the quake.

"In Japan, Caritas has begun to assess the scale of the crisis. With communication networks and vital infrastructure severely damaged by the tsunami, monitoring is its early stages but Caritas has expressed particular concern for the security of those displaced by the tsunami."

Fides reports that Caritas Japan is responding to the ten-metre tsunami that struck in the region of the Diocese of Sendai.

"A tsunami has hit our people. Is a tidal wave has come to overwhelm our lives. We are still in shock over what has happened," said Fr Koichi Otaki, Japanese priest and chancellor of the Diocese of Niigata. "The news is mixed, but the diocese most affected is that of Sendai."

"Our Bishop, Bishop Isao Kikuchi, President of Caritas Japan, ensures us that as the Japanese Catholic community, though very small, we will not walk away from our commitment and our solidarity with the victims."

The Director of Caritas Asia, Fr Bonnie Mendes, told Fides: "We are in constant contact with the Caritas Japan, which is monitoring the situation, the damage and the victims ... We expect to have a better understanding of the situation of displaced persons and their need to plan an emergency intervention."


CNA REPORT - Dr. Brant Pitre hopes his new book on the Jewish roots of the Eucharist will help Catholics understand the “great gift” of the sacrament, as well as their privileged role in the “divine drama” of salvation history.

In a recent interview with CNA, Dr. Pitre – a professor of Sacred Scripture at Louisiana's Notre Dame Seminary – discussed his latest book, “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper,” which was released by Doubleday on Feb. 15.

Dr. Pitre said that “excitement” is beginning to hum over the book as people are realizing that “not only is the Eucharist something that's important in their personal lives,” but that all of salvation history held “signs and shadows of what God was ultimately planning to give us in the Eucharist.”

“It makes us realize that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves,” he said. “We're part of a divine drama that has been in place since the beginning of creation.”

The scholar explained that he was asked several years ago to give a talk on the biblical and historical underpinnings of the Eucharist. What he found during his research for the address, however, was “dynamite – it was explosive,” he said.

“What I began to discover,” he said, “is that there were Jewish expectations surrounding the Messiah” that foreshadowed the Eucharist.

Dr. Pitre recalled that as he studied the historical account of Jewish hopes for the Messiah, three specific aspects of Jewish history and liturgy “really stood out” to him.

The first, he said, was the belief among the Jewish people at the time that the Messiah would institute “a new Passover.” Citing the words of Christ in the Gospel of John, Chapter 6 – often called the Bread of Life discourse – Dr. Pitre said that by telling his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, “Christ is revealing himself as the new Passover lamb.”

“What does that mean about the way we receive salvation?” he asked. It means “we receive salvation not only through faith in him as the Messiah but also by obedience to his command that we would eat the flesh of the lamb.”

“I think it's an important point for Catholics to understand that the Passover paves the road to our understanding of the Eucharist as really being the flesh of the Lamb of God.”

A second aspect of Jewish expectation of the Messiah that stood out to Dr. Pitre was the “belief that when the Messiah would come, one of the ways you'd know who he was, was that he would bring new manna from heaven.”

As described in Exodus 16, Moses gave the Israelites manna – bread from heaven – in the desert to feed them.

When Christ says in the Gospel of John “that the Eucharist is the new manna,” this “tells us that the Eucharist is not just ordinary bread – it's miraculous,” Dr. Pitre said.

“If the old manna from heaven was miraculous bread from heaven, then the new manna in the Eucharist can not simply be a symbol.”

“The manna helps us see that every single Mass, no matter how simple or grand, is a miracle – the miracle of Christ pouring out his body from the heavenly altar on to every altar in the world.”

The third Jewish expectation of the Messiah that Dr. Pitre found was that he “was going to build a new temple.”

The author explained that one of the most important temple sacrifices for the Israelites was the “unbloody sacrifice known as the bread of the presence.”

“The bread of the presence was this mysterious bread and wine that was kept in the tabernacle,” which the rabbi's called the “bread of the face of God,” he said.

“In the temple in Jesus' day they would actually take the bread out of the temple when pilgrims would come for feasts – and they would lift it so all the pilgrims could see – and they would say 'behold, God's love for you,'” Dr. Pitre said, noting the similarities in the exposition during the Mass.

“This bread of the presence really seemed to me to be a crystal clear foreshadowing of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” he noted.

Another echo of Jewish liturgy found in the Mass today, was standard blessing of the bread and the wine said during a Seder, or a traditional Passover meal.

Dr. Pitre recited the ancient prayers over the bread and wine verbatim, saying “Blessed are you, O Lord God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed are you, O Lord God, who brings forth the bread from the earth.”

“Do those sound familiar?” he asked, referencing the beginning of the offertory during the Mass.

“As a Catholic when you see these things, it resonates with you – it's all very close to your heart.”

He underscored that the Jewish people “saw the bread as a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and his people.”

“That's the same thing today with the Eucharist – it is a sign that God is with us, he's not abandoned us.”

Dr. Pitre said that understanding the Jewish roots of the Eucharist helps show how “God has had in store for us, since the dawn of time, the great gift that he gives us in the Eucharist.”

“It helps us to realize the great privilege we have to receivE this gift – it's very humbling and powerful.”


Bishop Mark Davies
In a pastoral letter read out in all churches this weekend the Rt Rev Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, urged the faithful to make renewed and regular use of the Sacrament of Confession during Lent. He told his diocese that he sees the sacrament as one of conversion that can help them to advance in Christian life.

“It is my prayer that we can each re-discover Confession in these 40 days of Lent,” Bishop Davies said in his letter. “We live in a society where we are used to hearing ‘public confessions’, on our television screens,” he said. “We even demand such confessions of those in public life who must admit their most shameful failings. Yet when it comes to ourselves we can find confessing our sins so humanly difficult even though the priest represents not that often ‘unforgiving public’ but the only One who can save us from our sins.”

“It does, of course, go against the grain to admit where we have gone wrong,” he said. “It goes against our pride and illusions, to humble ourselves by confessing our sins before a priest. The priest represents both Christ and the whole body of the Church which has been wounded by our sins for in this Sacrament we are healed and reconciled with Christ and His Church. And it is through such a sincere confession of our sins that all illusions about ourselves are put aside.”

He added: “It is through this confession made with sorrow and a firm purpose of amendment - that is an honest will to avoid the same sins and whatever leads us into sin - that we each come to know one of the greatest joys to be found on this earth: the joy of being forgiven and raised up once more by grace.”


Agenzia Fides REPORT - “I brought the solidarity of the Holy Father with me and some material aid, supplies and other things,” Bishop Ambrose Madtha, the Apostolic Nuncio in Abidjan, tells Fides from the economic and administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire, where some neighbourhoods have been shaken up by the violence between supporters of outgoing president, Laurent Gbagbo, and those of the President-elect, Alassane Ouattara. “Yesterday, 10 March, I went to the parish of St Ambrose in Angre, in Abidjan, which has welcomed about 500-600 refugees, who had earlier taken shelter in the parish of Anonkoua - Kouté in Abobo, which was was attacked by a group of gunmen a few days earlier,” says the Nuncio. The town of Abobo is considered the stronghold of Ouattara in Abidijan, and that's where most of the violence is concentrated that is disrupting the administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire.
“I brought the solidarity of the Holy Father with me, as well as some practical help to these people, who are being assisted by the parish and diocesan Caritas, as well as the generosity of local families.” The Catholic Church is doing everything possible to alleviate the suffering of displaced persons and other persons affected by the recent violence,” concludes Bishop Madtha.


Sts. Roderic and Salomon
Feast: March 13

Feast Day: March 13
9th century southern Spain
Died: 857

Roderic, also called Rudericus and Rodrigo, was a priest at Cabra who was assaulted by his two brothers, one a Muslim and the other a lapsed Catholic. He was denounced by the Muslim brother and imprisoned for falling away from the Islamic faith. Roderic proclaimed that he had always been a Christian but was charged with apostasy. In prison, he met Salomon, a man under the same charge. They were beheaded at Cordoba after a long period of imprisonment.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)



St. Euphrasia
Feast: March 13

Feast Day: March 13
Born: 380
Died: 420

Virgin, b. in 380; d. after 410. She was the daughter of Antigonus, a senator of
Constantinople, and a relation of Emperor Theodosius. Her father died shortly after her birth, and her mother, also Euphrasia, devoted her life thenceforth exclusively to the service of God.

To carry out this ideal she abandoned the capital, and, with her seven-year-old daughter, repaired to Egypt, where she dwelt on one of her estates, near a convent, and adopted the nuns' austere mode of life. This example aroused in her daughter the desire to enter the convent, and her mother gave her into the care of the superior, that she might be trained in the ascetic life.

After her mother's death she declined an offer of marriage made, by the Emperor
Theodosius, on behalf of a senator's son, transferred to the emperor her entire fortune, to be used for charitable purposes, and took up, with a holy ardour, the rigorous practices of Christian perfection. She was about thirty when she died. Her feast is celebrated in the Greek Church on 25 July, and in the Latin Church on 13 March. She is mentioned by St. John Damascene, in his third "Oratio de imaginibus".

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Genesis 2: 7 - 9
7 then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3 but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
Psalms 51: 3 - 6, 12 - 13, 17
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Romans 5: 12 - 19
12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned --
13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.
17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.

Matthew 4: 1 - 11
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2 And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry.
3 And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."
4 But he answered, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple,
6 and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,' and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them;
9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."
10 Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.

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