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Friday, June 10, 2011

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: THURS. JUNE 9, 2011











VATICAN: POPE: MEETS 6 NEW AMBASSADORS- ECOLOGY IMPERATIVE

TODAY'S GOSPEL: JUNE 9: JOHN 17: 20-26

VATICAN: POPE: MEETS 6 NEW AMBASSADORS- ECOLOGY IMPERATIVE

HUMAN ECOLOGY IS AN IMPERATIVE

VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the credential letters of six new ambassadors to the Holy See: Stefan Gorda of Moldavia, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Genevieve Delali Tsegah of Ghana, and George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand.

The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.

In his introductory speech, referring to the "innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology, and the peoples" in the first semester of this year, Benedict XVI noted that "the States should reflect together on the short term future of the planet, on our responsibilities regarding our life and technology".

"Human ecology", he emphasized, "is an imperative. Adopting a lifestyle that respects our environment and supports the research and use of clean energies that preserve the patrimony of creation and that are safe for human beings should be given political and economic priority".

The Pope highlighted that "a change in mentality" is necessary in order to "quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing. ... Every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity. The United Nations seem to be the natural framework for this type of reflection, which should not be obscured by blindly partisan political or economic interests in order to give preference to solidarity over particular interests".

"It is also helpful to ask ourselves", he continued, "about the appropriate role of technology" because "believing it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness carries a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery. ... Technology that dominates human beings deprives them of their humanity. The pride that it generates has created an impossible economism in our societies as well as a hedonism that subjectively and selfishly regulates behavior. The debilitation of the primacy of the human person provokes a loss of the meaning of life".

Benedict noted that "it is urgent that we match technology with a strong ethical dimension. ... Technology should help nature develop along the lines envisioned by the Creator. In working together, the researcher and the scientist adhere to God's plan that desired humanity as the apex and the administrator of creation. Solutions based on this principle will protect human life and its vulnerability, as well as the rights of the present and future generations".

"The governments should promote a humanism that respects the spiritual and religious dimension of human persons. The dignity of the human person does not vary with changes in opinion. Respecting human aspirations to justice and peace allow the construction of a society that promotes itself when it sustains the family or when it refuses, for example, the exclusive primacy of finance".

The Pope concluded by drawing attention to the fact that "social life should be considered, above all, as a reality of the spiritual order. Politicians in charge have the mission of guiding persons to human harmony and the wisdom they so desire, which should culminate in religious freedom, a true sign of peace".

In his letter to the ambassador of Moldavia, after supporting their bid for entry into the "common European house", the Pope expressed his pleasure of Syria's "juridical recognition of the Catholic Church, its progressive organization, and the construction of new churches, including the cathedral. These are acts that demonstrate the excellence of the dialogue and collaboration between the civil institutions and the Catholic Church". At the same time, the Holy Father invited the Moldavian authorities to resolve some problems remaining from the past and to "find satisfactory, just, and equitable solutions regarding confiscated ecclesiastic patrimony in order to allow the Catholic Church to provide the means to carry out her mission, not only in the religious sphere but also the educational, health, and charitable ones".

"In perfecting a society and in implementing new structures capable of giving it a more flexible character, the encouraging presence of the Church is not absent to the sons and daughters of Equatorial Guinea, instilling the light of faith in Christ", Benedict XVI wrote to the nation's ambassador. "The efforts carried out to recuperate and restructure many places of worship", he added, "must be noted with great satisfaction. Also noteworthy are the business initiatives for improving living conditions of the citizens, especially those who experience great difficulty living in a dignified way".

In his letter to the diplomatic representative of Belize, the pontiff emphasized that "freedom of religion and freedom of worship allow believers to flourish as individuals and to contribute positively and fully to the life of the country in every sphere of human activity. May your country, Mr. Ambassador, be an example in this regard to its neighbors and to those who would seek to diminish the consequences of such rights and their corresponding values!".

"Syria has traditionally been an example of tolerance, concord, and harmonious relations between Christians and Muslims and today the ecumenical and interreligious relations are good", the Pope wrote to the Syrian ambassador, then observing that "the events of the past months in some nearby Mediterranean countries, Syria among them, demonstrate the desire for a better future in the areas of political, economic, and social life. Nevertheless, it is greatly desirable that this evolution not take place in a climate of intolerance, discrimination, or conflict and, sill less, of violence but rather in a climate of absolute respect for the truth, for co-existence, for the legitimate rights of the person and the collective, and of reconciliation. These are the principles that should guide the authorities, keeping always in mind the aspiration of civil society and international directives".

In his letter to the ambassador of Ghana, the Holy Father spoke of the capacity the country has shown to rapidly "overcome certain obstacles in order to make steady economic, social and political progress". He hoped that this process "be crowned by the positive outcome of the ongoing constitutional consultation, in such a way that the nation's legislative and administrative framework will consolidate a culture of responsible and active participation in the development of the country in freedom, justice and solidarity".

Finally, the Pope expressed his solidarity with those affected by the earthquake that struck Christchurch last 22 February in his letter to the representative of New Zealand and noted that "due to its geographical position ... some neighboring countries, including the Small Island Developing States, look to New Zealand as an example of political stability, rule of law and high economic and social standards. ... This gives your country a particular moral responsibility. Faithful to the best of its traditions, New Zealand is called to use its position of influence for the peace and stability of the region, the encouragement of mature and stable democratic institutions, and the fostering of authentic human rights and sustainable economic development".

CD/ VIS 20110609 (1160)

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Mr. Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, the ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See, with his wife, on his farewell visit.

- Four prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa, S.D.B., of Madras and Mylapore, with Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Pius Dorairaj.

- Archbishop Peter Fernando, of Madurai.

- Archbishop Antony Anandarayar, of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.

AP:AL/ VIS 20110609 (90)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed Bishop John Doaninoel, S.M., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Honiara (area 10,728, population 235,136, Catholics 53,378, priests 41, religious 110), Solomon Islands.

AMERICA: USA: MAGNA COMIC FOR POPE BENEDICT XVI

CNS REPORT:

Jonathan Lin presents the cover of a manga comic book on Pope Benedict XVI at a press conference in Madrid. Lin runs Manga Hero, which may well be the world's only publisher of Catholic manga comics. (CNS/courtesy Manga Hero)

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Move over, Spider-Man. Here come some new comic-book heroes.

Among this new breed of heroes are Pope Benedict XVI, St. Paul and Old Testament figure Judith.

They are the stars of comic books done in a style older generations never saw in the comic-book rack at the neighborhood drugstore growing up. The genre is called manga, a Japanese genre of cartoons and comic books, and Jonathan Lin, who runs Manga Hero, may well be the world's only publisher of Catholic manga comics.

A 32-page Pope Benedict manga comic will be distributed in August during World Youth Day in Madrid. Lin said he expects to have 300,000 copies produced in Spain to meet demand. He hopes it will whet World Youth Day participants' appetites for a longer Pope Benedict manga to be produced this fall in the United States.

"I wanted to start my own business -- something that could positively influence young people, who are especially influenced by media," Lin told Catholic News Service in a June 3 telephone interview from San Rafael, Calif.

"I was talking to my parents. And my dad, who actually grew up in Japan, asked me, 'How come there's no biblical manga?' And I was like, 'Oh, yeah, that's right. That's a shame.' There was only a couple written by Protestants and published by Protestants that basically converted the Bible into a manga series," Lin said.

But it got Lin to thinking: "What stories are there out there that could actually work?"

The St. Paul and Judith mangas are already available for sale. Later this summer, Lin will have produced a manga telling the parable of the 10 virgins at the wedding feast from the Gospel of Matthew.

There were "five who were ready, five who were not," he reminded, referring to the five virgins who were prepared with oil to light the way for the bridegroom, who symbolizes Christ, and the other five who were running out of oil because the bridegroom was delayed.

Lin explained the difference between mangas and "traditional" comics.

"The manga art style is totally different than the Western comics tradition," he said. "The Japanese art style is more exaggerated -- broadly defined hair, for example. Maybe big eyes. The framing of the scene can be quite different.

"The sense is that traditional comic books of the Fifties and Sixties everything was quite linear. In manga the action may be more disjointed. Put it this way: The action sequences could all be happening all at one time, in one frame. Or you could have multiple scenes going on in multiple frames. This style has been adopted in Western graphic novels as well," Lin said.

Lin, 36, is a real estate broker and uses his earnings to provide seed money for his mangas, which can be viewed at www.mangahero.com. He was in Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008 and plans to be in Madrid to oversee the manga distribution of the Pope Benedict comic.

Still, Lin does not do it all by himself. He recruited two writers from John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego. (The school also supplied Lin with a grant to produce the 300,000 World Youth Day mangas.) And a full-time manga artist in Singapore does Lin's manga artwork.

One of Lin's writers, Gabrielle Gniewek, 21, plans to graduate in September with a degree in entertainment media. "When I got here, I really got into the whole Japanese manga thing," she told CNS in a June 5 telephone interview.

"I was searching for a job as a student to pay the grocery bills," Gniewek added. "I was known as 'the Japanese girl.' ... I was in charge of the anime (a Japanese style of animation) club at school" when Lin posted flyers looking for a Catholic manga artist.

"They all knew who I was and what I was doing. I applied for the job and Jonathan came and interviewed me. He really liked what I did. He picked me up and we went on from there," Gniewek said. "It's such a narrow, niche market that he was looking for a Catholic manga artist. ... I thought, 'Wow, this is right up my alley. ... That, I think, was a little gift from God."

Matt Salisbury got an entertainment media bachelor's degree at John Paul the Great, then a master's in film and television producing. "I wasn't too familiar with it (manga) as a genre but when I looked at it was interesting," said Salisbury, whose background is in screenwriting.

Although he had never written manga comics until Lin brought him on, Salisbury said, "I really enjoyed not having to worry about the budget of what you're portraying." He added he had written the first part of the Pope Benedict manga but then passed it on to Gniewek when his career started heating up.

Lin said it takes Manga Hero about three to four months to get a comic from the idea stage to the finished product.

"We have others being written -- Joshua, and then we have another one on Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, St. George. These are all in the writing stage," Lin said. "And then we have an epic on David."

Even though most of Lin's manga talent has its base in San Diego, he hasn't ever gone to Comic Con, the annual convention held in San Diego for comic books and cartoons. "It's really quite expensive to get a booth," he said. "Maybe someday."

ASIA: SRI LANKA: 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF CONFERENCE OF RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS

ASIA NEWS REPORT: The conference plays an important role in the difficult task of rebuilding the war-torn country. The Conference’s president and secretary speak about it. The organisation brings together all the men and women religious in the country.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS) celebrated on 4 June its 50th anniversary with a thanksgiving Mass attended by more than 200 priests, nuns and friars at the De la Salle Brothers Provincialate Chapel in Colombo. “Continuing to be the leaven towards transformation” was the theme of the event. AsiaNews interviewed CMRS President Fr Rohan Dominic and its Executive Secretary, Sr Bernadette Fernando for the occasion.

Archbishop and Apostolic Nuncio Joseph Spiteri led the serivce together with Mgr Cletus Chandrasiri Perera of the diocese of Rathnapura and CMRS President Fr Rohan Dominic.

In his address, Fr Rohan said, “In our journey of 50 years, we have had moments of joy as well as moments of difficulties. Like the nation, we have been in various socio-political, economic and religious situations. In each, those who came before us responded according to the signs of the time, and gave prophetic, enigmatic, exceptional and unparalleled leadership. They moulded the CMRS as a collective force. When we celebrate their 50 years of service to the Church and the nation, we salute them for the great example they have been to us.”

The CMRS “is a collective force working for the reconciliation and the [social and spiritual] improvement of the people of Sri Lanka,” Fr Rohan told AsiaNews. “We are many religious congregations that work as one. We want to be a tool of peace and reconciliation, and use all of our resources to improve people’s lives and encourage interpersonal reconciliation, irrespective of ethnic, caste and religious background. We have always been on the forefront, during disasters caused by nature or man.”

The CMRS was in fact very active during the country’s long civil war. Two years since it ended, the CMRS remains involved in helping war victims. About 160 nuns are still working in refugee camps, hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly and the disabled in cooperation with Caritas Sri Lanka, the Jesuit Relief Services and the Centre for Society and Religion

At present, many priests and nuns are working in the country’s north in implementing resettlement programmes.

Special care has been devoted to inter-ethnic reconciliation. Through the promotion of truth and justice, the goal is to heal the wounds caused by the war.

The CMRS includes 53 congregations: 27 apostolic women’s congregations, 6 contemplative women’s congregations, 16 clerical congregations and non-clerical (brothers) congregations for a total of 3,385 men and women religious.

Sister Bernadette Fernando explained that the CMRS coordinates the various congregations to facilitate the overall mission of the Church in total unity with the bishops. Two CMRS members sit on the National Commission of the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka.

The Conference was created 50 years ago on the initiative of Card Thomas Cooray, archbishop of Colombo, Mgr D.M. Laudadio, bishop of Galle, and Mgr Leo Nanayakkara, bishop of Kandy.

Rev J.R. Knox, then apostolic delegate to Ceylon (Sri Lanka’s old name) chaired the meeting and acknowledged the desire to create a single conference for all religious.

On 16 December 1960, the Sacred Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life approved the application to create the CMRS.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Sri-Lanka%E2%80%99s-Religious-Conference-celebrates-50-years-21791.html

AFRICA: SWAZILAND: COUNTRY IN TURMOIL- BRUTAL REGIME

Agenzia Fides REPORT - "Swaziland is a country in turmoil, a country tearing itself apart from the inside by the actions of the uncaring state of head and a regime that is getting more brutal by the day". It is the cry of an alarm raised by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban and spokesman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC, which includes the Bishops of South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana) in a statement sent to Fides.
The statement was issued after a visit to Swaziland by SACBC delegation comprising of Cardinal Napier; Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg and President of the SACBC; Archbishop Barry Wood, Auxiliary Bishop of Durban and Archbishop Joseph Sandri, Bishop of Witbank.
Swaziland is currently under a state of emergency that was "imposed – recalls Cardinal Napier – on April 12, 1973, when King Sobhuza II usurped all legislative, administrative and judicial powers by royal decree. By that decree supreme authority was vested solely in the institution of the Monarchy in the person of the King. All political parties and indeed all political activities were banned".
Despite having a Constitution that supposedly guarantees the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the fact that the decree of 1973 is also included in the Constitution "deprives citizens of their fundamental rights: to expression, assembly and association ". "This - argues Cardinal Napier - makes Swaziland a police state in which political parties remain banned".
Among the events that show the serious violations of human rights, Cardinal Napier, cites the violent suppression of protest on April 12 this year, the death " in mysterious circumstances " of two activists detained by the authorities, the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2008 " used by the government to silence its critics".
Cardinal Napier also points out that Swaziland faces a serious social and economic crisis: it has the highest HIV / AIDS infection rates in the world (26% of the population), the lowest life expectancy in the world ( 32 years), an unemployment rate of 40%, 70% of its population lives below the poverty line, which is set at under $ 6 a day.
The Bishops of Southern Africa therefore launch an appeal to the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) so "they examine critically and honestly whether the Constitution of Swaziland meets the requirements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and whether the election process conforms to the SADC Protocol on elections. (L.M.)

EUROPE: ENGLAND: FATHER OF 9 TO BE ORDAINED CATHOLIC PRIEST IN ORDINARIATE

CNA REPORT: There can’t be many Catholic priests who have a wife and nine children present at their ordination. But that’s exactly what awaits Deacon Ian Hellyer next week.

Deacon Ian Hellyer (back right) with his wife and some of his children
“I’m currently experiencing a funny combination of peace and excitement – with just an occasional moment of fear,” says the 44-year-old from Devon in England who, until a few months ago, was the Anglican vicar of five rural parishes.

“Over the past 10 years, though, I’d increasingly felt uncomfortable in the Church of England and found myself questioning more and more of its decisions and the direction it’s going in,” he told CNA June 9.

Just before Lent this year, Hellyer made an announcement to his Anglican parishioners – he was leaving to become a Catholic.

“They were somewhat shocked, not least because my Anglican bishop wouldn’t let me warn people about the announcement beforehand.”

Hellyer is just one of 68 former Anglican clergymen being ordained this month into the Catholic Church’s Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. It was established by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year as a “Roman home” for Anglican converts within the Catholic Church.

“I was amazed when the personal ordinariate was announced, amazed at its generosity and the respect it gave to the authentic traditions of Anglicans. It came out the blue. So I said to myself, ‘How could I not respond to that?’”

For Hellyer, though, that decision has meant more than simply a change of religion. It also means giving up a salary, a house and a pension plan. The sacrifice of the move is made all the more obvious by the size of his family: he has a 3-month-old baby girl, four other daughters and four sons.

“My wife Margaret has supported me all the way. She’s always said that if this is what God wants, then we’ll be looked after. It’s an attitude that’s amazed many of her friends. They tell her that they simply couldn’t be that brave. But Margaret is a great woman of great faith.”

Recent media reports in the U.K. have suggested that some English Catholic bishops are giving a rather grudging welcome to the Ordinariate clergy. Hellyer, however, says he’s only met with generosity from both his Catholic bishop and even his former Anglican superiors.

“The Church of England is allowing us to stay in our vicarage until the end of August. At present, we’re also looking at moving to a Catholic presbytery in Plymouth. Hopefully it can be adapted for our use - most presbyteries weren’t built with nine children in mind.”

Interestingly, all of Hellyer’s children are already being raised Catholic since his wife is a cradle Catholic.

“So, at domestic level I longed for unity because I longed for unity with my children, so that we could be around the same altar each Sunday,” says Hellyer whose family, in various ways, seemed to have helped him to make up his mind.

“I remember a few months ago over Sunday lunch, it had just dawned on my second daughter, Theresa, that there were some married priests in the Catholic Church. So she turned to me in an instant and said, ‘Well dad, why aren’t you doing that?’”

Pope Benedict’s visit to England last September also played its part in Hellyer’s story of conversion, in particularly the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

“Myself and Margaret went to the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham on the Sunday morning. We both really got a sense that the journey Blessed John Henry made was also the way that God was leading us.”

This next Friday, June 17, Hellyer will be ordained a Catholic priest at Plymouth’s cathedral. He says he doesn’t know quite how he’ll be put to use after his ordination but mostly likely he’ll end up splitting his time between Ordinariate duties and helping the local diocese, perhaps in chaplaincy work at a school or hospital.

“I think that the new Ordinariate is very much part of the ‘new evangelization’ of the western world that Blessed Pope John Paul II outlined. And I think the Catholic Church is waking up to the need to reach out to people and re-evangelize in a way that’s most appropriate in our age.”

Despite the fact that he’s leaving, Hellyer is receiving good wishes from his former Anglican parishioners, many of whom “are watching what happens very closely.” That includes keeping an eye on Hellyer’s online blog where he’s been charting his conversion story.

“So our work is quite missionary, really,” he says.

“And it’s the mission that I find most exciting!”

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/father-of-nine-preparing-to-be-ordained-catholic-priest/

AUSTRALIA: CALL FOR INVOLVEMENT IN RECONCILIATION

ARDIOCESE OF CG REPORT: Churches need to work together and really get involved in reconciliation, Mr Graeme Mundine told those gathered at St Benedict’s Narrabundah for the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry’s Sorry Day dinner.

Visiting from the Sydney ACM, Mr Mundie said events such as Sorry Day were a step in the right direction, but concrete action was also needed. In particular he called for changes to the Constitution to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mr Mundine went on to discuss the Northern Territory Intervention, and urged the Church to voice its condemnation at what he described as a violation of the rights of Aboriginal people and their culture.

He also expressed his hope to see Aboriginal clerical leadership within the Australian Catholic Church.

National Museum of Australia senior curator Dr Margo Neale was the evening’s second guest speaker, offering an insight into the indigenous artefacts on display at the Vatican.

The items are part of an exhibition first opened in 1925. Pope Pius X called for the world’s indigenous people to send items that represented their culture and identity. Of the 100,000 plus objects sent, 300 were from Australia’s Aboriginal people.

The aim of the collection was to assist missionaries to learn about the spirituality of the cultures they were going to serve.

The exhibition was closed in 1972, but through the efforts of Dr Neale and her team, it was reopened last year for the canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

The Sorry Day dinner was attended by an enthusiastic crowd, including the ACM executive, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, ACM elder in residence Aunty Ruth Bell, acting ACM chaplain Fr Steve Fletcher MGL and ACM non-Aboriginal elder in residence Sr Joy Edwards.

The meal was catered by Ms Cathy Newton.

Photogrpah shows: Fr Steve Fletcher, Sr Joy Edwards, Graeme and Gabi Mundine, John Paul Janke, Dr Margo Neale, Aunty Ruth Bell and Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

http://www.cg.catholic.org.au/news/view_article.cfm?id=480&loadref=16

TODAY'S SAINT: THURS. JUNE 9: ST. EPHRAIM OF SYRIA

St. Ephrem of Syria

DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Feast: June 9



Information:

Feast Day:June 9
Born:306 at Nisibis, Mesopotamia (in modern Syria)
Died:9 June 373 at Edessa (in modern Iraq)
Patron of:Spiritual directors and spiritual leaders

Born at Nisibis, then under Roman rule, early in the fourth century; died June, 373. The name of his father is unknown, but he was a pagan and a priest of the goddess Abnil or Abizal. His mother was a native of Amid. Ephraem was instructed in the Christian mysteries by St. James, the famous Bishop of Nisibis, and was baptized at the age of eighteen (or twenty-eight). Thenceforth he became more intimate with the holy bishop, who availed himself of the services of Ephraem to renew the moral life of the citizens of Nisibis, especially during the sieges of 338, 346, and 350. One of his biographers relates that on a certain occasion he cursed from the city walls the Persian hosts, whereupon a cloud of flies and mosquitoes settled on the army of Sapor II and compelled it to withdraw. The adventurous campaign of Julian the Apostate, which for a time menaced Persia, ended, as is well known, in disaster, and his successor, Jovianus, was only too happy to rescue from annihilation some remnant of the great army which his predecessor had led across the Euphrates. To accomplish even so much the emperor had to sign a disadvantageous treaty, by the terms of which Rome lost the Eastern provinces conquered at the end of the third century; among the cities retroceded to Persia was Nisibis (363). To escape the cruel persecution that was then raging in Persia, most of the Christian population abandoned Nisibis en masse. Ephraem went with his people, and settled first at Beit-Garbaya, then at Amid, finally at Edessa, the capital of Osrhoene, where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, a hermit remarkable for his severe asceticism. Nevertheless he took an interest in all matters that closely concerned the population of Edessa. Several ancient writers say that he was a deacon; as such he could well have been authorized to preach in public. At this time some ten heretical sects were active in Edessa; Ephraem contended vigorously with all of them, notably with the disciples of the illustrious philosopher Bardesanes. To this period belongs nearly all his literary work; apart from some poems composed at Nisibis, the rest of his writings-sermons, hymns, exegetical treatises-date from his sojourn at Edessa. It is not improbable that he is one of the chief founders of the theological "School of the Persians", so called because its first students and original masters were Persian Christian refugees of 363. At his death St. Ephraem was borne without pomp to the cemetery "of the foreigners". The Armenian monks of the monastery of St. Sergius at Edessa claim to possess his body.

The aforesaid facts represent all that is historically certain concerning the career of Ephraem. All details added later by Syrian biographers are at best of doubtful value. To this class belong not only the legendary and occasionally puerile traits so dear to Oriental writers, but also others seemingly reliable, e.g. an alleged journey to Egypt with a sojourn of eight years, during which he is said to have confuted publicly certain spokesmen of the Arian heretics. The relations of St. Ephraem and St. Basil are narrated by very reliable authors, e.g. St. Gregory of Nyssa (the Pseudo?) and Sozomen, according to whom the hermit of Edessa, attracted by the great reputation of St. Basil, resolved to visit him at Caesarea. He was warmly received and was ordained deacon by St. Basil; four years later he refused both the priesthood and the episcopate that St. Basil offered him through delegates sent for that purpose to Edessa. Though Ephraem seems to have been quite ignorant of Greek, this meeting with St. Basil is not improbable; some good critics, however, hold the evidence insufficient, and therefore reject it, or at least withhold their adhesion. The life of St. Ephraem, therefore, offers not a few obscure problems; only the general outline of his career is known to us. It is certain, however, that while he lived he was very influential among the Syrian Christians of Edessa, and that his memory was revered by all, Orthodox, Monophysites, and Nestorians. They call him the "sun of the Syrians," the "column of the Church", the "harp of the Holy Spirit". More extraordinary still is the homage paid by the Greeks who rarely mention Syrian writers. Among the works of St. Gregory of Nyssa (P.G., XLVI, 819) is a sermon (though not acknowledged by some) which is a real panegyric of St. Ephraem. Twenty years after the latter's death St. Jerome mentions him as follows in his catalogue of illustrious Christians: "Ephraem, deacon of the Church of Edessa, wrote many works [opuscula] in Syriac, and became so famous that his writings are publicly read in some churches after the Sacred Scriptures. I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man" (De viris illustr., c. cxv). Theodoret of Cyrus also praised his poetic genius and theological knowledge (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxvi). Sozomen pretends that Ephraem wrote 3,000,000 verses, and gives the names of some of his disciples, some of whom remained orthodox, while others fell into heresy (Hist. Eccl., III, xvi). From the Syrian and Byzantine Churches the fame of Ephraem spread among all Christians. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on 1 February. In their menologies and synaxaria Greeks and Russians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Armenians honour the holy deacon of Edessa.



SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/E/stephremofsyria.asp#ixzz1OsZRcq2s

TODAY'S GOSPEL: JUNE 9: JOHN 17: 20-26

John 17: 20 - 26
20"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,21that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.24Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.25O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me.26I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."

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