The Holy Father said monastic groups, and others who have devoted their lives to prayer, have established communities in secluded places, like the countryside, hills, valleys, mountains, or along waterfronts – even on islands – which combines silence with the beauty of creation, which is also important for the contemplative life.
He spoke in particular of St. Claire of Assisi, whose feast is observed on Thursday. She and her companions took possession of the Church of San Damiano, situated on the hillside below the town of Assisi, which had been restored by St. Francis.
Pope Benedict said the silence and the beauty of the place where a monastic community lives are a reflection of the spiritual harmony they seek to achieve.
He said the world is dotted with these oases of the spirit, and called them the spiritual backbone of the world. He said this is why so many people, especially during their holidays, visit these places, since “the soul also has its own needs”.
Speaking at the end of this musical evening provided by the “New Seasons” Ensemble, the Pope began by saying that with the “wonderful music that still echoes in our hearts, surely nothing can be added. But graciously the Holy Father went to thank all those who had made this concert possible including the conductor Albrecht Mayer and violinist Arabella Steinbecher.
The Pope and his brother had been treated to works by composers Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastien Bach whom he called two representatives of truly great music of the 18th century.
The Pope described both composers as men of deep devotion and this religious spirit was he added, revealed in their sacred music scores.
Ending with a reflection on the music of Bach, Pope Benedict described it as harmonious in construction echoing, he said, that harmonious construction which God has imprinted on creation.
He dedicated 48 years of his life to pastoral care of the poor, lepers, Montagnards, abandoned children, single mothers, students. He had become the country's most famous priest, known to all the dispossessed. He also spent 10 years in the Vietnamese camps. Since 2006, he was director of Caritas Saigon. His most recent invention: the food market, soup kitchens for the poor marked by the economic crisis.
Rome (AsiaNews) - Yesterday morning, Fr. Joseph Đinh Huy Huong, perhaps the best known priest in Vietnam, passed away. Fr. Joseph, "Ut" to his friends, devoted his life to support the pastoral work of the Church and its social commitment and charity work, supporting the poor, lepers, single mothers, orphans, AIDS patients, Montagnards without any distinction between Christian or non- Christian: his witness of the Christ’s charity made him to a country marked by the hatred of war, a whirling and unbalanced development, corruption, and neglect of the poor.
For decades this commitment saw him travel by bike and then - because of heart disease - by car in the South and North of the country, bringing aid, comforting the bishops and priests, organizing loving responses into an often ruthless society.
"Ut" was born May 6, 1940 in the Diocese of Phát Diệm, but became a priest of the diocese of Saigon (later Ho Chi Minh City), working for about 48 years in the parish of Đức Tin, on the outskirts.
Before 1975 he was also chaplain to the American soldiers stationed in Vietnam. Because of this, at the advent of the communist government, he received the offer to leave the country to travel to the U.S., but declined to accept it. His decision to remain cost him 10 years of hard labour (1975-85), where – he often recalled – in the midst of abject suffering, his only comfort was to repeat a few pages of the Gospel of St. John learned by heart.
In 1986, Vietnam opened its doors to economic development and to international markets (doi moi). But these reforms created economic imbalances, migration from the countryside bringing many social problems with great impact on families and parishes. To save single mothers involved in prostitution rings, Fr. Joseph strove to build a "small hearth" to host girls, especially pregnant women and help them not to abort their babies. "It is a small effort - he told AsiaNews - to help girls who are pregnant. If you do not help them, they will be forced to kill their children. "
Now that "small hearth" has become a safe haven for 40 children, with the help and support of the Sisters of Mother Teresa (09/03/2006 Home in Saigon to save the innocent).
Another important commitment of Fr Joseph was to help the Montagnards have schools, work, chapels, in a society that marginalizes them and a government increasingly suspicious of them.
Even the lepers were major recipients of aid from Fr. Joseph. While the government planned exclusion and death, pushing them far from cities and into the uninhabited wilderness, the priest was able to create organizations to instruct them in agriculture, the distribution of medicines and sulfones, catechesis and prayer.
In reality, all of these projects were banned by the Communist government, which aims to block the social impact of the Church at all costs. But the pressure to respond to these needs, of which the country’s leaders do not care, led local police and governments to turn a blind eye. And Fr. Joseph did not stop, creating kindergartens, primary schools, technical institutes, clinics. Even party members begged him to take their children into his little district schools to ensure a better "moral education" than that of state schools.
With the increased distension between the government and the Vatican, his projects and commitment became official, from 2006 to 2009 he was appointed Director of Caritas in Saigon. Thanks to his dedication, every parish set up social and charitable activities to help poor people and groups.
Sister Mary, who was once his co-worker, tells AsiaNews about the way in which "Fr. Joseph helped at least 200 families, Catholic and non-Catholic in the district of Can Gio. In 2008, a typhoon destroyed their homes and crops. Fr. Joseph distributed rice, a small capital for the recovery, financing the families of the northern parishes, supporting studies for young people all over Vietnam. "
In 2009, due to heart disease, he had to live in a nursing home in Phat Diem. But poor health did not stop him: he launched a charity fund Du Sinh (Quĩ Bác Ái Du Sinh), to support the poor and abandoned in Vietnam.
And most of all created he groups of motivated people who are engaged in helping lonely people, disabled, elderly, orphans, lepers, Aids victims, Montagnards in all parts of the country. The staff that supports each of these projects come from the young people of the parishes of Đức Tin, Hoàng Mai, Hạnh Thông Tây, and Vĩnh Hiệp, from congregations of nuns, seminarians, social workers, doctors who offer their commitment for free.
One of his last projects - born of the current economic crisis - are "food markets", similar to soup kitchens, where poor people can feed themselves.
Visiting him in Phát Diệm, Mgr. Joseph Đặng Đức Ngân di Lang Son, has stressed the value of the testimony of Fr Joseph, whose "generosity, commitment, wealth of faith manifest the love and compassion of Jesus himself."
For his part, "Ut" always loved to say: "All these efforts begun always and only by praying to St. Joseph. He is said to have a powerful intercession and to support our needs".
(with the collaboration of J. B. Vu)
CNA REPORT- Human Life International has named a new president and vice president of the organization after former leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer resigned in 2010.
The pro-life advocacy group announced on Aug. 8 that Louisiana priest Father Shenan Boquet will serve as president, with Fr. Peter West – a former Priests for Life associate director – serving as vice president for missions.
“After an extensive search in the U.S. and abroad, and much prayerful discernment, the board of directors is very pleased to announce that they have selected the team of Fr. Shenan Boquet and Fr. Peter West,” the organization said.
The news comes after former president Fr. Thomas Euteneuer stepped down abruptly from his position last August over what would later surface as allegations of inappropriate conduct with an adult woman within the context of his exorcism ministry.
The group's Rome office head Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula temporarily led the organization after Fr. Euteneuer's resignation last year until Fr. Boquet was named president this week.
“Fr. Boquet brings a great breadth of leadership and pastoral experience and passion for the defense of life and family to the position as president,” board members said.
The group also praised Fr. West for his “long and distinguished record of advocacy for life and family both in parish life.”
“Both Fr. Boquet and Fr. West come to Human Life International with the full support of their respective bishops, and we are grateful to both bishops for allowing them to serve,” the organization wrote.
“We are confident that under the leadership of Fr. Boquet and the strategic guidance of Fr. West, Human Life International will continue to be the leading international pro-life organization.”
Both Fr. Boquet and Fr. West are slated to assume office on Sept. 1 of this year.
Image from The Catholic Weekly
CATH NEWS REPORT: About 3000 people marked the first Feast Day of Australia's first Saint at Mary Mackillop Place in North Sydney, attending Mass and visiting the chapel and museum, reports theCatholic Weekly.
"People wanted to celebrate the very first Feast Day since her canonisation, and they wanted to be present on the site here at North Sydney which was wonderful."
"There was a respectful peace with the people that came to celebrate and learn more about Mary's life," said Sr Brigette Sipa, director of Mary MacKillop Place.
Sr Brigette said people came with a "great attitude of prayer, respect and contemplation".
"That was the feel of the whole day and it created such a special atmosphere around the site," she said.
Sr Brigette said one of the great attractions of St Mary Mackillop is that people can "relate to her".
"She was an ordinary woman, who lived for others," said Sr Brigette.
"So I think everybody can relate to this ordinary person who did the work what she believed God was asking her to do.
"People relate very closely to her recognising that this ordinary person did ordinary things in an extraordinary way. And there's hope in that for all of us."
The anniversary was celebrated during the annual meeting of the Association which was held in Bobo-Dioulasso from August 3 to 9, in the presence of Mgr. Ouédraogo and the Minister of Public Administration, Labour and Social Security, Soungalo Apollinaire Ouattara.
In the course of the work the annual reports of the 16 structures of JECBF, comprising 13 diocesan associations and 3 universities were examined.
Recalling the recent clashes that followed the death of a student, Justin Zongo, the Archbishop of Bobo-Dioulasso invited everyone to work to build a society based on justice, peace, wisdom, social cohesion and solidarity. In February this year, violent clashes erupted between students and police after the death of Justin Zongo, who officially died of an attack of meningitis, whereas his fellows were victims of violence on behalf of the police.
In thanking all those who collaborate with the Association, Mgr. Ouedraogo stressed the importance of education and evangelization in schools. "The JEC is for us the spearhead both for the Church and for our country, because the former " jécistes " hold numerous positions of responsibility", concluded the Archbishop of Bobo-Dioulasso. (L.M.)
MARTYR AND DEACON
Feast: August 10
St. Lawrence, one of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy. At the beginning of the month of August, 258, the emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death ("episcopi et presbyteriet diacones incontinenti animadvertantur"—Cyprian, Epist. lxxx, 1). This imperial command was immediately carried out in Rome. On 6 August Pope Sixtus II was apprehended in one of the catacombs, and executed forthwith ("Xistum in cimiterio animadversum sciatis VIII id. Augusti et cum eo diacones quattuor." Cyprian, ep. lxxx, 1). Two other deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus, were put to death the same day. In the Roman Calendar of feasts of the fourth century their feast day is on the same date. Four days later, on the 10th of August of that same year, Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, also suffered a martyr's death. The anniversary of this holy martyr falls on that day, according to the Almanac of Philocalus for the year 354, the inventory of which contains the principal feasts of the Roman martyrs of the middle of the fourth century; it also mentions the street where his grave is to be found, the Via Tiburtina ("III id. Aug. Laurentii in Tibertina"; Ruinart, "Acta sincera", Ratisbon, 1859, 632). The itineraries of the graves of the Roman martyrs, as given in the seventh century, mention the burial-place of this celebrated martyr in the Catacomb of Cyriaca in agro Verano (De Rossi, "Roma Sott.", I, 178).
Since the fourth century St. Lawrence has been one of the most honoured martyrs of the Roman Church. Constantine the Great was the first to erect a little oratory over his burial-place, which was enlarged and beautified by Pope Pelagius II (579-90). Pope Sixtus III (432-40) built a large basilica with three naves, the apse leaning against the older church, on the summit of the hill where he was buried. In the thirteenth century Honorius III made the two buildings into one, and so the basilica of San Lorenzo remains to this day. Pope St. Damasus (366-84) wrote a panegyric in verse, which was engraved in marble and placed over his tomb. Two contemporaries of the last-named pope, St. Ambrose of Milan and the poet Prudentius, give particular details about St. Lawrence's death. Ambrose relates (De officiis min. xxviii) that when St. Lawrence was asked for the treasures of the Church he brought forward the poor, among whom he had divided the treasure, in place of alms; also that when Pope Sixtus II was led away to his death he comforted Lawrence, who wished to share his martyrdom, by saying that he would follow him in three days. The saintly Bishop of Milan also states that St. Lawrence was burned to death on a grid-iron (De offic., xli). In like manner, but with more poetical detail, Prudentius describes the martyrdom of the Roman deacon in his hymn on St. Lawrence ("Peristephanon", Hymnus II).
The meeting between St. Lawrence and Pope Sixtus II, when the latter was being led to execution, related by St. Ambrose, is not compatible with the contemporaneous reports about the persecution of Velarian. The manner of his execution—burning on a red-hot gridiron—also gives rise to grave doubts. The narrations of Ambrose and Prudentius are founded rather on oral tradition than on written accounts. It is quite possible that between the year 258 and the end of the fourth century popular legends may have grown up about this highly venerated Roman deacon, and some of these legends have been preserved by these two authors. We have, in any case, no means of verifying from earlier sources the details derived from St. Ambrose and Prudentius, or of ascertaining to what extent such details are supported by earlier historical tradition. Fuller accounts of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence were composed, probably, early in the sixth century, and in these narratives a number of the martyrs of the Via Tiburtina and of the two Catacombs of St. Cyriaca in agro Verano and St. Hippolytius were connected in a romantic and wholly legendary fashion. The details given in these Acts concerning the martyrdom of St. Lawrence and his activity before his death cannot claim any credibility. However, in spite of this criticism of the later accounts of the martyrdom, there can be no question that St. Lawrence was a real historical personage, nor any doubt as to the martyrdom of that venerated Roman deacon, the place of its occurrence, and the date of his burial. Pope Damasus built a basilica in Rome which he dedicated to St. Lawrence; this is the church now known as that of San Lorenzo in Damaso. The church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, also dedicated to this saint, still exists. The feast day of St. Lawrence is kept on 10 August. He is pictured in art with the gridiron on which he is supposed to have been roasted to death.
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/L/stlawrence.asp#ixzz1Ugb1ohru
24Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.25He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.26If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.