VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2011 (VIS REPORT) - Continuing with his catecheses on prayer, Benedict XVI spoke in today's general audience about the Patriarch Jacob and his fight with the unknown man at the ford of the Jabbok. The audience was held in St. Peter's Square with 15,000 people in attendance. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Bible, explained the Pope, describes Jacob as an astute man who obtains things through deception. At a certain point, he sets out to return to his homeland and face his brother, whose firstborn birthrights he had taken. Jacob waits overnight in order to cross the ford safely but something unforeseen occurs: he is suddenly attacked by an unknown man with whom he struggles the entire night. The story details their struggle, which has no clear winner, leaving the rival a mystery. "Only at the end, when the struggle is finished and that 'someone' has disappeared, only then will Jacob name him and be able to say that he had struggled with God".
Once the fight is over Jacob says to his opponent that he will only let him go if he blesses him. Jacob "who had defrauded his brother out of the first-born's blessing through deceit, now demands [a blessing] from the unknown man, in whom he perhaps begins to see divine traits, but still without being able to truly recognize him. His rival, who seems restrained and therefore defeated by Jacob, instead of bowing to the Patriarch's request, asks his name. ... In the Biblical mentality, knowing someone's name entails a type of power because it contains the person's deepest reality, revealing their secret and their destiny. ... This is why, when Jacob reveals his name, he is putting himself in his opponent's hands. It is a form of surrender, a complete giving over of himself to the other".
Paradoxically, however, "in this gesture of surrender, Jacob also becomes the victor because he receives a new name, together with the recognition of his victory on the part of his adversary". The name "Jacob", Benedict XVI continued, "recalls the verb 'to deceive' or 'to supplant'. After the struggle, in a gesture of deliverance and surrender, the Patriarch reveals his reality as a deceiver, a usurper, to his opponent. The other, who is God, however, transforms this negative reality into a positive one. Jacob the deceiver becomes Israel. He is given a new name as a sign of his new identity ... the mostly likely meaning of which is 'God is strong, God wins'. When, in turn, Jacob asks his rival's name, he refuses to say it but reveals himself in an unmistakable gesture, giving his blessing. ... This is not a blessing obtained through deceit but one given freely by God, which Jacob can now receive because, without cunning or deception, he gives himself over unarmed, accepts surrender and admits the truth about himself".
In the episode of the fight at the ford of Jabbok, the Pope observed, "the people of Israel speak of their origin and outline the features of a unique relationship between God and humanity. This is why, as also affirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 'from this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance'".
"Our entire lives", concluded the Holy Father, "are like this long night of struggle and prayer, passed in the desire of and request for God's blessing, which cannot be ripped away or won over through our strength, but must be received with humility from Him as a gratuitous gift that allows us, finally, to recognize the face of the Lord. And when this happens, our entire reality changes: we receive a new name and God's blessing".
INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE OFFICIALS IN SOUTH KOREA
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, have been in South Korea since 23 May, invited by the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue.
According to a communique issued today, meetings with the president of the Republic, the minister of culture, and the director for Religious Affairs are planned for these days.
They will visit the Jogye Order, the Korean Buddhist Center, and the Korean Confucianism Center. It is also planned that they will meet with representatives of Buddhism, Confucianism, Won Buddhism, Cheondism, the Association of Native Korean Religions, and Protestant Churches.
Cardinal Tauran will give a conference at Seoul's major seminary on: "Interreligious Dialogue in the Teachings of Pope Benedict XVI", and will meet with members of the press.
The visit will conclude on 27 May with the celebration of Holy Mass at the Jeoldu-san Korean Martyrs' Shrine.
VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed:
- Appointed Bishop Jose Corazon T. Tala-oc, of Tomblon, as Bishop of Kalibo (area 1,817, population 565,000, Catholics 525,000, priests 66, religious 53), the Philippines.
- Appointed Fr. Joao Carlos Hatoa Nunes, pro-vicar general, chancellor of curia, and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish, as Auxiliary Bishop of Maputo (area 25,238, population 4,346,000, Catholics 1,030,000, priests 156, religious 418), Mozambique. The bishop-elect was born in Beira, Mozambique in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 1995.
LifeSiteNews.com REPORT - Hundreds of participants, peacefully chanting the Rosary and witnessing to the dignity of unborn life, took to the streets of Rome last week for Italy’s second annual march for life.
The Marcia per la Vita 2011 took place on May 22, tracing a path from St. Peter’s Square to the Italian Senate in protest against the killing of unborn children, legalized by lawmakers 33 years ago.
Pope Benedict XVI issued a warm greeting to members of the pro-life movement the day of the march.
“Dear friends, I congratulate you, in particular for your commitment to assisting women facing difficult pregnancies, and fiancés and spouses who desire a responsible procreation,” said the pontiff at his Sunday Regina Caeli audience. “Thus you are concretely supporting the culture of life.
“I will also ask Our Lord that thanks to your contribution, the ‘yes to life’ will be a cause for unity in Italy and each and every country worldwide.”
Many of the participants in the march had taken part the night before in a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, where they consecrated their efforts to the Virgin Mary.
Pro-life leaders, including Movimento per la Vita’s Carlo Casini, March organizer Mario Pirovano, and America’s Marie Cabaud Meaney of Heartbeat International, delivered remarks. The crowd also listened to audio excerpts of Pope Blessed John Paul II, who called the pro-life movement a “holy cause.”
The Italian Catholic pro-life organization Centro Culturale Lepanto notes that the marches in Rome have been kindled by similar demonstrations in other countries, particularly the U.S. and recently, Belgium
“It was time also for Rome, with this March in its historic centre, to finally join the protest in the other capitals around the world for such slaughter of innocents to be terminated once and for all,” wrote the group.
Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, has received an award for his fight for human rights in Iraq and interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The Stephanus Foundation presented the award to the bishop in a ceremony held recently in Frankfurt, at the St. George University of Theology. The German charity refers to the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) and is distinguished by its commitment to the oppressed and persecuted in the world. It is the third prize for the Iraqi archbishop, after the Defensor Fidei in 2008 and Pax Christi in 2010.
In his acceptance speech, Mgr. Sako stressed the importance of Christian-Muslim dialogue, to strengthen peaceful coexistence between the two communities and enhance the culture of diversity and mutual respect. He mentioned the need to increase the commitment to peace and stability in Iraq and called on Christians in the Middle East - with particular reference to Iraqis - to fill the role of pioneers and not give in to pressure and violence. The prelate also reiterated that Iraq is the homeland of Christians and the need to find a "modus vivendi" that helps achieve the objectives of peace, harmony and freedom.The ceremony ended with an ecumenical prayer for peace, which was attended by priests, local politicians and representatives of civil society. Archbishop Louis Sako, 62, has for years been in the forefront of the battle in favour of interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims in the defence of the Christian minority in the country, often the victim of abuse and violence. For his efforts he received the coveted Pax Christi award in 2010 and Defensor Fidei prize in 2008 (see AsiaNews, Mgr Louis Sako 31/05/2008: Do not abandon Iraqi Christians).
CATH NEWS REPORT: The new $5 million All Saints Catholic Church in Shellharbour, south of Sydney, has been targeted in a suspected arson attack, just months before it was due to open, reports theIllawarra Mercury.
Fr Jones said the church would need to seek an interim solution while the damage to All Saints was repaired. He said it appeared arsonists had carried pallets from the building site, combined them with builders' materials already inside the church and set fire to them.The 570-seat building was to become the central church for the 12,000-strong Shellharbour City parish, at its scheduled opening in August. Parish priest Father Bryan Jones will now have to wait until at least March next year to relocate his flock.
"Structurally the building is sound, but there is fairly extensive work to be done to rectify the fire damage and, very particularly, the extensive smoke damage," he said.
"Smoke has penetrated the upper levels of the building, the insulation will have to be replaced and to do that the roof has to come off.
"The electrical wiring that's in place has to be double-checked and certainly a lot of it has to be replaced."
The church ceiling, which was almost complete, will also need to be torn down and replaced.
"It's a lot of disappointment, of course. The extra time involved, one way or another, is going to cost us a bit," he said. Insurance is expected to cover most of the demolition and repair work.
"In the real world I would expect some extra costs, but I wouldn't expect those costs to be great," Fr Jones said.
"You can see the hurt on the faces of the people who have been working there. They truly put themselves into the building."
- In the aftermath of the deadly Sunday tornado in Joplin, Missouri, Bishop James V. Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau tried to comfort survivors and expressed gratitude that more were not killed.
“We’re just encouraging survivors of the prayers and the support of the Body of Christ. We’re just trying to bring the charity of the Church to bear in the suffering of the people here. We’re just trying to reassure and comfort the people here right now, because there’s still just a lot of recovery to continue,” he told CNA from Joplin on May 24.
The bishop and Kyle Schott, executive director of the local Catholic Charities agency, surveyed the damage of the deadly tornado.
“It’s just so hard to fathom the destructive power of the storm,” the bishop said, describing the scale of the destruction as “mind-boggling.”
“When you’re out there in the middle of it, you can’t see anything but devastation: leveled houses and rescue crews trying to find people in the mess,” Schott said.
At least 117 people died in the Joplin tornado on Sunday, the deadliest single tornado in almost six decades.
St. John’s Regional Medical Center was hit hard. The nine-storey building took a direct hit, blowing out windows and throwing gurneys a distance of five blocks away. About 183 patients and 200 staffers were evacuated, according to media reports.
St. Mary’s Church, its grade school and its rectory were at the center of the tornado. They were “totally decimated” and “almost flattened,” Schott said.
Fr. Justin Monaghan, the pastor of St. Mary’s, was in the rectory when it was blown away. He survived by jumping in the bathtub and was later pulled from the rubble, without physical injury.
All that remains of the church is its outer structure. Its walls and interior have been blown away, leaving a tangled mess of wire and debris.
Most survivors are still in a state of shock. Schott wondered how anyone could have survived.
Prayers and messages of support have poured into Joplin, including a letter from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See’s Secretary of State.
The cardinal told Bishop Johnston that Pope Benedict XVI has followed the aftermath of the tornado “with deep concern” and he wants the bishop to assure the community of his closeness in prayer.
“Conscious of the tragic loss of life and the immensity of the work of rebuilding that lies ahead, he asks God the Father of mercies to grant eternal rest to the departed, consolation to the grieving, and strength and hope to the homeless and the injured,” the cardinal’s message said.
Bishop Johnston said it was “really wonderful” to receive the message from the Vatican, saying it “will really boost people’s spirits.”
Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, which was launched only in 2008, is working to develop a response plan in cooperation with other groups, Schott said. Normally the agency focuses on intermediate and long-term recovery. It will focus on housing needs with the help of other Catholic Charities offices in neighboring dioceses.
“I’m grateful for the folks around the country who are keeping us in their prayers and have offered to support our Catholic Charities agency here,” Bishop Johnston said.
The bishop asked that donations be directed through Catholic Charities, whose website ishttp://ccsomo.org/.
"There are about 19-20 thousand people totally without any humanitarian assistance, " confirms Mgr. Roko Taban Mousa, Apostolic Administrator of Malakal to Fides. "Nobody seems to pay attention to the drama of these people. If this situation continues, many people, especially children and the elderly will certainly die. The displaced are under the rain, without shelter, with the risk of the spread of cholera and malaria. It is an appalling situation and a solution must be found by everyone, " concludes Msgr. Taban.
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, HISTORIAN
Feast: May 25
Historian and Doctor of the Church, born 672 or 673; died 735. In the last chapter of his great work on the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" Bede has told us something of his own life, and it is, practically speaking, all that we know. His words, written in 731, when death was not far off, not only show a simplicity and piety characteristic of the man, but they throw a light on the composition of the work through which he is best remembered by the world at large. He writes:
Thus much concerning the ecclesiastical history of Britain, and especially of the race of the English, I, Baeda, a servant of Christ and a priest of the monastery of the blessed apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, which is at Wearmouth and at Jarrow (in Northumberland), have with the Lord's help composed so far as I could gather it either from ancient documents or from the traditions of the elders, or from my own knowledge. I was born in the territory of the said monastery, and at the age of seven I was, by the care of my relations, given to the most reverend Abbot Benedict [St. Benedict Biscop], and afterwards to Ceolfrid, to be educated. From that time I have spent the whole of my life within that monastery, devoting all my pains to the study of the Scriptures, and amid the observance of monastic discipline and the daily charge of singing in the Church, it has been ever my delight to learn or teach or write. In my nineteenth year I was admitted to the diaconate, in my thirtieth to the priesthood, both by the hands of the most reverend Bishop John [St. John of Beverley], and at the bidding of Abbot Ceolfrid. From the time of my admission to the priesthood to my present fifty-ninth year, I have endeavored for my own use and that of my brethren, to make brief notes upon the holy Scripture, either out of the works of the venerable Fathers or in conformity with their meaning and interpretation.
After this Bede inserts a list or Indiculus, of his previous writings and finally concludes his great work with the following words:
And I pray thee, loving Jesus, that as Thou hast graciously given me to drink in with delight the words of Thy knowledge, so Thou wouldst mercifully grant me to attain one day to Thee, the fountain of all wisdom and to appear forever before Thy face.
It is plain from Bede's letter to Bishop Egbert that the historian occasionally visited his friends for a few days, away from his own monastery of Jarrow, but with such rare exceptions his life seems to have been one peaceful round of study and prayer passed in the midst of his own community. How much he was beloved by them is made manifest by the touching account of the saint's last sickness and death left us by Cuthbert, one of his disciples. Their studious pursuits were not given up on account of his illness and they read aloud by his bedside, but constantly the reading was interrupted by their tears. "I can with truth declare", writes Cuthbert of his beloved master, "that I never saw with my eyes or heard with my ears anyone return thanks so unceasingly to the living God." Even on the day of his death (the vigil of the Ascension, 735) the saint was still busy dictating a translation of the Gospel of St. John. In the evening the boy Wilbert, who was writing it, said to him: "There is still one sentence, dear master, which is not written down." And when this had been supplied, and the boy had told him it was finished, "Thou hast spoken truth", Bede answered, "it is finished. Take my head in thy hands for it much delights me to sit opposite any holy place where I used to pray, that so sitting I may call upon my Father." And thus upon the floor of his cell singing, "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost" and the rest, he peacefully breathed his last breath.
The title Venerabilis seems to have been associated with the name of Bede within two generations after his death. There is of course no early authority for the legend repeated by Fuller of the "dunce-monk" who in composing an epitaph on Bede was at a loss to complete the line: Hac sunt in fossa Bedae . . . . ossa and who next morning found that the angels had filled the gap with the word venerabilis. The title is used by Alcuin, Amalarius and seemingly Paul the Deacon, and the important Council of Aachen in 835 describes him as venerabilis et modernis temporibus doctor admirabilis Beda. This decree was specially referred to in the petition which Cardinal Wiseman and the English bishops addressed to the Holy See in 1859 praying that Bede might be declared a Doctor of the Church. The question had already been debated even before the time of Benedict XIV, but it was only on 13 November, 1899, that Leo XIII decreed that the feast of Venerable Bede with the title of Doctor Ecclesiae should be celebrated throughout the Church each year on 27 May. A local cultus of St. Bede had been maintained at York and in the North of England throughout the Middle Ages, but his feast was not so generally observed in the South, where the Sarum Rite was followed.
Bede's influence both upon English and foreign scholarship was very great, and it would probably have been greater still but for the devastation inflicted upon the Northern monasteries by the inroads of the Danes less than a century after his death. In numberless ways, but especially in his moderation, gentleness, and breadth of view, Bede stands out from his contemporaries. In point of scholarship he was undoubtedly the most learned man of his time. A very remarkable trait, noticed by Plummer (I, p. xxiii), is his sense of literary property, an extraordinary thing in that age. He himself scrupulously noted in his writings the passages he had borrowed from others and he even begs the copyists of his works to preserve the references, a recommendation to which they, alas, have paid but little attention. High, however, as was the general level of Bede's culture, he repeatedly makes it clear that all his studies were subordinated to the interpretation of Scripture. In his "De Schematibus" he says in so many words: "Holy Scripture is above all other books not only by its authority because it is Divine, or by its utility because it leads to eternal life, but also by its antiquity and its literary form" (positione dicendi). It is perhaps the highest tribute to Bede's genius that with so uncompromising and evidently sincere a conviction of the inferiority of human learning, he should have acquired so much real culture. Though Latin was to him a still living tongue, and though he does not seem to have consciously looked back to the Augustan Age of Roman Literature as preserving purer models of literary style than the time of Fortunatus or St. Augustine, still whether through native genius or through contact with the classics, he is remarkable for the relative purity of his language, as also for his lucidity and sobriety, more especially in matters of historical criticism. In all these respects he presents a marked contrast to St. Aldhelm who approaches more nearly to the Celtic type.
St. Madeline Sophie Barat
Feast: May 25
Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, born at Joigny, Burgundy, 12 December, 1779; died in Paris, 24 May, 1865. She was the youngest child of Jacques Barat, a vine-dresser and cooper, and his wife, Madeleine Foufé, and received baptism the morning after her birth, her brother Louis, aged eleven, being chosen godfather. It was to this brother that she owed the exceptional education which fitted her for her life-work. Whilst her mother found her an apt pupil in practical matters, Louis saw her singular endowments of mind and heart; and when, at the age of twenty-two, he returned as professor to the seminary at Joigny, he taught his sister Latin, Greek, history, natural science, Spanish, and Italian. Soon she took delight in reading the classics in the original, and surpassed her brother's pupils at the seminary.
After the Reign of Terror, Louis called Sophie to Paris, to train her for the religious life, for which she longed. When he had joined the Fathers of the Faith, a band of fervent priests, united in the hope of becoming members of the Society of Jesus on its restoration, he one day spoke of his sister to Father Varin, to whom had been bequeathed by the saintly Léonor de Tournély the plan of founding a society of women wholly devoted to the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to prayer and sacrifice, and destined to do for girls what the restored Society of Jesus would do for boys. Father Varin had vainly sought a fitting instrument to begin this work; he now found one in this modest, retiring girl of twenty. He unfolded the project, which seemed to satisfy all her aspirations, and she bowed before his authoritative declaration that this was for her the will of God. With three companions she made her first consecration, 21 November, 1800, the date which marks the foundation of the Society of the Sacred Heart. In September, 1801, the first convent was opened at Amiens, and thither Sophie went to help in the work of teaching. It was impossible yet to assume the name "Society of the Sacred Heart", lest a political significance be attached to it; its members were known as Dames de la Foi or de l'Instruction Chrétienne. Father Varin allowed Sophie to make her vows, 7 June, 1802, with Genevieve Deshayes.
The community and school were increasing, and a poor school had just been added, when it became evident to Father Varin that Mademoiselle Loquet, who had hitherto acted as superior, lacked the qualities requisite for the office, and Sophie, although the youngest, was named superior (1802). Her first act was to kneel and kiss the feet of each of her sisters. Such was ever the spirit of her government, November, 1804, found her at Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut, near Grenoble, receiving a community of Visitation nuns into her institute, One of them, Philippine Duchesne, was later to introduce the society into America. Grenoble was the first of some eighty foundations which Mother Barat was to make, not only in France but in North America (1818), Italy (1828), Switzerland (1830), Belgium (1834), Algiers (1841). England (1842), Ireland(1842), Spain (1846), Holland (1848), Germany (1851), South America (1853) Austria (1853), Poland (1857).
Mother Barat was elected superior-general in January, 1806, but a majority of one vote only, for the influence of an ambitious priest, chaplain at Amiens, wellnigh wrecked the nascent institute. Prolonged prayer, silent suffering, tact, respect, charity, were only means she used to oppose his designs. With Father Varin, now a Jesuit, she elaborated constitutions and rules grafted on the stock of the Institute of St. Ignatius. These rules were received with joy in all the houses, Amiens alone excepted; but Mother Barat's wisdom and humility soon won submission even here. In 1818 she sent Mother Duchesne, with four companions, to the New World; her strong and holy hand was ever ready to support and guide this first missioner of the Society. She called all the superiors together in council at Paris in 1820, to provide a uniform course of studies for their schools. these studies were to be solid and serious, to fit the pupils to become intelligent wives and devoted mother; to give that cultivation of mind. that formation of character, which go to make up a true women; all was to stamped and sealed with strong religious principles and devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Foundations multiplied, and Mother Barat, seeing the necessity of a stronger guarantee of unity, sought it in union with Rome. The solemn approbation was obtained much sooner than usual, owing to a memoir drawn up by the foundress and presented to Leo XII in May, 1826. The decree of approbation was promulgated in December. The society being now fully organized and sealed by Rome's approval, for forty years Mother Barat journeyed from convent to convent, wrote many thousand letters, and assembled general congregations, so as to preserve its original spirit. The Paris school gained European repute; Rome counted three establishments, asked for and blessed by three successive pontiffs. At Lyons Mother Barat founded the Congregation of the Children of Mary for former pupils and other ladies. in he same year (1832), she began at Turin the work of retreats for ladies of the world, an apostleship since widely and profitably imitated. Numerous foundations brought Mother Bart onto personal contact with all classes. We find her crossing and recrossing France, Switzerland, Italy, often on the eve of revolutions; now the centre of a society of émigrés whose intellectual gifts, high social position, and moral worth are seldom found united; now sought out by cardinals and Roman princesses during her vicits to her Roman houses; at another time, speaking on matters educational with Madame de Genlis; or again, exercising that supernatural ascendency which aroused the admiration of such men as Bishop Fraysinous, Doctor Récamier, and Duc de Rohan.
These exterior labours were far from absorbing all Mother Barat's time or energies; they coexisted with a life of ever-increasing holiness and continual prayer; for the real secret of her influence lay in her habitual seclusion from the outside world, in the strong religious formation of her daughters which this seclusion made possible, and in the enlightened, profound, ans supernatural views on education which she communicated to the religious engaged in her schools. She worked by and through them all, and thus reached out to the ends of the earth. In spite of herself she attracted and charmed all who approached her. New foundations she always entrusted to other hands; for, like all great rulers, she had the twofold gift of intuition in the choice of persons fitted for office, and trust of those in responsible posts. Allowing them much freedom of action in details, guiding them only by her counsels and usually form afar. Prelates who now and them ventured to attribute to her the successes of the society, saw that instead of pleasing, they distressed her exceedingly.
Beloved by her daughters, venerated by princes and pontiffs, yet ever lowly of heart, Mother Barat died at the mother-house in Paris, on Ascension Day, 1865, as she had foretold, after four days' illness. She was buried at Conflans, the house of novitiate, where her body was found intact in 1893. In 1879 she was declared Venerable, and the process of beatification introduced. [Note: Mother Barat was canonized in 1925.]