THE POWER OF INTERCESSION: THE PROPHET ELIJAH'S PRAYER
VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2011 (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope resumed his series of catecheses dedicated to the subject of prayer, focusing today on the Prophet Elijah "whom God sent to bring the people to conversion". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Holy Father explained how "upon Mount Carmel Elijah revealed himself in all his power as intercessor when, before the whole of Israel, he prayed to the Lord to show Himself and convert people's hearts. The episode is recounted in chapter 18 of the First Book of Kings".
"The contest between Elijah and the followers of Baal (which was, in fact, a contest between the Lord of Israel, God of salvation and life, and a mute and ineffective idol which can do nothing for either good or evil) also marked the beginning of a confrontation between two completely different ways to address God and to pray". The oblations of the prophets of Baal "revealed only the illusory reality of the idol ... which closed people in the confines of a desperate search for self".
On the other hand, Elijah "called on the people to come closer, involving them in his actions and his prayer. ... The prophet built an alter using 'twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob', ... to represent all Israel. ... Elijah then addressed the Lord calling Him Lord of the fathers, thus implicitly recalling the divine promises and the history of choice and alliance which had indissolubly united the Lord to His people".
The prophet's request "was that the people might finally and fully come to know and understand Who their God is, and make the decisive decision to follow only Him. Only in this way could God be recognised as Absolute and Transcendent". Only in this way would it be clear that "no other gods could be placed at His side, as this would deny His absoluteness and relativize Him".
Benedict XVI highlighted how "believers must respond to the absoluteness of God with absolute and total love, a love involving all their lives, their energies, their hearts. ... In his intercession, Elijah asked of God what God Himself wished to do: to show Himself in all His mercy, faithful to His nature as Lord of life Who forgives, converts and transforms".
"The Lord responded unequivocally, not only burning the offering but even consuming all the water that had been poured around the altar. Israel could no longer doubt: divine mercy had responded to its weakness, to its doubts, to its lack of faith. Now Baal, the vain idol, was beaten and the people, who seemed lost, had rediscovered the way of truth, they had rediscovered themselves".
The Holy Father concluded by asking himself what this story has to tell us today. "Firstly", he said, "is the priority of the first commandment of God's Law: having no god but God. When God disappears man falls into slavery, into idolatry, as has happened in our time under totalitarian regimes and with the various forms of nihilism which make man dependent on idols and idolatry, which enslave". Secondly, he continued, "the main objective of prayer is conversion: the fire of God which transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God and living for Him and for others". Thirdly, "the Church Fathers tell us that this story is ... a foretaste of the future, which is Christ. It is a step on the journey towards Christ".
VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At the end of his catechesis this morning, Benedict XVI addressed greetings to various groups present at the general audience. Speaking English he expressed his best wishes to "members of the Catholic-Pentecostal International Dialogue ... for the next phase of their work". He also welcomed "the Fiftieth Conference of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration, now meeting in Rome.
"I also send my most cordial greetings to Polish pilgrims", he added. "June is a month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion is celebrated in many churches and communities, and I encourage you to keep this beautiful tradition alive".
Finally the Holy Father welcomed representatives from the Catholic Bible Federation, expressing the hope that "their efforts may bring important fruits, particularly for the pastoral life of the local Churches".
VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary session in the Vatican yesterday, to carry on negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement, article 10 paragraph 2, dealing with economic and fiscal matters, according to a note released today.
The meeting was presided by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States, and by Daniel Ayalon, Israeli deputy minister for foreign affairs. The negotiations took place in an open, friendly and constructive atmosphere and very significant progress was made, the communique says.
The parties agreed on the next steps towards the conclusion of the Agreement and to hold the next plenary meeting on 1 December at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Teresina, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Brasilia(area 5,814, population 2,196,000, Catholics 1,507,000, priests 294, permanent deacons 70, religious 652), Brazil.
- Appointed Fr. Marek Marian Piatek C.SS.R., pastor of the parish of "Ressurreicao do Senhor" and professor of moral theology in the archdiocese of Sao Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, as bishop prelate of the territorial prelature of Coari (area 135,442, population 209,000, Catholics 177,000, priests 14, religious 27), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Tuchow, Poland in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1980.
- Appointed Bishop Sergio Lasam Utleg of Laoag, Philippines, as archbishop of Tuguegarao (area 9,000, population 1,709,000, Catholics 1,356,000, priests 82, religious 122), Philippines. He succeeds Archbishop Diosdado A. Talamayan, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Jose B. Bantolo of the clergy of the diocese of San Jose de Antique, Philippines, vicar general, as bishop of Masbate (area 7,000, population 776,000, Catholics 704,000, priests 56, religious 18), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in Guisijan, Philippines in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.
- Appointed Msgr. David William Valencia Antonio of the clergy of the archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, Philippines, vicar general, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 2,570, population 691,000, Catholics 582,000, priests 77, religious 118). The bishop-elect was born in Nagtupacan, Philippines in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1988.
- Appointed Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- Appointed Bishop Petro Herkulan Malchuk O.F.M., auxiliary of Odessa-Simferopol, Ukraine, as bishop of Kyiv-Zhytomyr (area 111,600, population 8,194,377, Catholics 220,000, priests 146, permanent deacons 1, religious 277), Ukraine, giving him the "ad personam" title of archbishop. He succeeds Bishop Jan Purwinski, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Approved the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church of Bishop Cyrille S. Bustros M.S.P. of Newton of the Greek-Melkites, U.S.A., as archbishop of Beirut and Jbeil of the Greek-Melkites (Catholics 200,000, priests 113, permanent deacons 1, religious 270), Lebanon, which became vacant following the resignation presented by Archbishop Joseph Kallas M.S.P. in accordance with canon 210 paras. 1 and 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
- Approved the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church of Bishop Issam Darwich B.S. of St. Michael's of Sydney of the Greek-Melkites, Australia, as archbishop of Zahleh and Furzol of the Greek-Melkites (Catholics 126,000, priests 28, permanent deacons 2, religious 65), Lebanon, which became vacant following the resignation presented by Archbishop Andre Haddad B.S. in accordance with canon 210 paras. 1 and 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
- Appointed Bishop Nicolas J. Samra, former auxiliary of the eparchy of Newton of the Greek-Melkites,U.S.A., as bishop of the same eparchy (Catholics 25,000, priests 68, permanent deacons 54, religious 20).
- Appointed Fr. Robert Rabbat, rector of the cathedral of the Annunciation in Newton, U.S.A., as bishop of the eparchy of St. Michael's of Sydney of the Greek-Melkites (Catholics 50,000, priests 17, permanent deacons 7, religious 5), Australia. The bishop-elect was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1994.
CCCB REPORT: The Most Reverend René Audet, Bishop Emeritus of Joliette, died on Sunday, June 12, 2011, at the age of 91. Born in Montreal, he was ordained priest on May 30, 1948. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa on July 31, 1963, and named Bishop of Joliette, January 3, 1968, where he served until his retirement in October 1990. During his Episcopal ministry, he served as a member of several CCCB ad hoc Committees and Commissions, including the then French Sector Commission for Christian Education.
Visitation will be at the Cathedral of Joliette, Monday June 20, at 10:00 am; followed by the funeral at 2:00 pm, presided by Bishop Gilles Lussier. As well as his diocesan family, Bishop Audet leaves his brother Maurice, a priest in the Archdiocese of Montreal.
Kottayam (AsiaNews) - Three American tourists were asked to leave India over complaints filed against them and against local evangelical pastors. They are charged with having converted "poor families" to Christianity in the coastal area ofAlappuzha in Kerala. The police, however, ruled that the three tourists were forced to leave because they violated the rules on tourist visas, trying to participate in activities and group meetings. Investigating police inspector J Santhoshkumar said the three women Shelly Deeds Louise, a nurse in Pennsylvania, her daughter Heather Katelyn Deeds (15) and Diane Gean Harrington, a teacher in Wisconsin arrived 15 days ago and their tourist visas were valid until November 2011.
The women and three men from Kottayam (Kerala), were stopped by a group of Hindu fanatics from the Hindutva New Age Group June 13, and turned over to police on charges of being involved in religious conversions in the village of Thrikkunnappuzha, hit by tsunami in 2004. The Hindu activists first arrested them and then called the police. It seems that the arrested women told the police that they were tourists. The irony of story is that New Age Hindutva Group, which filed the complaint against the Americans, is very active in the propagation of Hinduism in the United States.
The police inspector said they found no evidence of conversion activities, but the women participated in religious and prayer meetings. "Since they had a visitor visa, and since the law of the country does not allow them to participate in an organized meeting, or in group activities, including prayers, and since it was not clear what were their intentions were, they were asked to leave, and the women agreed. There was no deportation, and they are now waiting for their return tickets, "said district chief Asok Kumar.
Father Pauk Thelakat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Synod told AsiaNews: "It was a mindless reaction by the police. They are literally following the letter of the law, and may have some justification. But the more realistic possibility is that some Hindu fundamentalist created a problem, and the police agreed”.Father Paul, who is also director of the influential newspaper "Satyadeepam" (Light of Truth) noted that "The report suggests that the 'poor families' are too poor to make a decision in matters of religion and can easily be bought with money. And the poor must be protected from high-caste Hindus to save their faith. This ridicules the poor and considers them less than human. Even if poor they are able to make decisions on their religion and others do not have to worry about their faith. Let them take care of their faith and not promoters of Hinduism, from foreigners. This mentality is based on caste, and despises the poor. "
Feast: June 15
According to the legend, martyrs under Diocletian; feast, 15 June. The earliest testimony for their veneration is offered by the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (ed. De Rossi-Duchesne, 78: "In Sicilia, Viti, Modesti et Crescentiae"). The fact that the note is in the three most important manuscripts proves that it was also in the common exemplar of these, which appeared in the fifth century. The same Martyrologium has under the same day another Vitus at the head of a list of nine martyrs, with the statement of the place, "In Lucania", that is, in the Roman province of that name in Southern Italy between the Tuscan Sea and the Gulf of Taranto. It is easily possible that the same martyr Vitus in both cases, because only the name of a territory is given, not of a city, as the place where the martyr was venerated. This testimony to the public veneration of the three saints in the fifth century proves positively that they are historical martyrs. There are, nevertheless, no historical accounts of them, nor of the time or the details of their martyrdom. During the sixth and seventh centuries a purely legendary narrative of their martyrdom appeared which was based upon other legends, especially on the legend of Poitus, and ornamented with accounts of fantastic miracles. It still exists in various versions, but has no historical value.
St. Germaine Cousin
Feast: June 15
Born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse; died in her native place in 1601. From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease ofscrofula, and, while yet an infant, lost her mother. Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. Under pretence of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula she persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead, and thus the child was employed almost from infancy as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches in a garret. In this hard school Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food. Her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for His Virgin Mother presaged the saint. She assisted daily at the Holy Sacrifice; when the bell rang, she fixed her sheep-hook or distaff in the ground, and left her flocks to the care of Providence while she heard Mass. Although the pasture was on the border of a forest infested with wolves, no harm ever came to her flocks.
She is said to have practised many austerities as a reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighbouring churches. She frequented the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and it was observed that her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. The Rosary was her only book, and her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she used to fall on her knees at the first sound of the bell, even though she heard it when crossing a stream. Whenever she could do so, she assembled the children of the village around her and sought to instil into their minds the love of Jesus and Mary. The villagers were inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God's signal favour made her an object of reverence and awe. In repairing to the village church she had to cross a stream. The ford in winter, after heavy rains or the melting of snow, was at times impassable. On several occasions the swollen waters were seen to open and afford her a passage without wetting her garments.Notwithstanding her poverty she found means to help the poor by sharing with them her allowance of bread. Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly, and wished to give her a place in the home with the other children, but she begged to be allowed to remain in thehumbler position. At this point, when men were beginning to realize the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father finding that she had not risen at the usual hour went to call her; he found her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs. She was then twenty-two years of age.
Her remains were buried in the parish church of Pibrac in front of the pulpit. In 1644, when the grave was opened to receive one of her relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved, and miraculously raised almost to the level of the floor of the church. It was exposed for public view near the pulpit, until a noble lady, the wife of François de Beauregard, presented as a thanks-offering a casket of lead to hold the remains. She had been cured of a malignant and incurable ulcer in the breast, and her infant son whose life was despaired of was restored to health on her seeking the intercession of Germaine. This was the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at her relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy, and in 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed and found fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse, who have left testamentary depositions of the fact. Expert medical evidence deposed that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1700 a movement was begun to procure the beatification of Germaine, but it fell through owing to accidental causes. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by a revolutionary tinsmith, named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.
The private veneration of Germaine had continued from the original finding of the body in 1644, supported and encouraged by numerous cures and miracles. The cause of beatification was resumed in 1850. The documents attested more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces, and thirty postulatory letters from archbishops and bishops in France besought the beatification from the Holy See. The miracles attested were cures of every kind (of blindness, congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), besides the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845. On 7 May, 1854, Pius IX proclaimed her beatification, and on 29 June, 1867, placed her on the canon of virgin saints. Her feast is kept in the Diocese of Toulouse on 15 June. She is represented in art with a shepherd's crook or with a distaff; with a watchdog, or a sheep; or with flowers in her apron.