THE QUESTION OF GOD IN TODAY'S WORLD
VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity is currently celebrating its twenty-fifth plenary assembly on the theme: "The Question of God in Today's World". The participants were received in audience this morning by the Holy Father who focused his remarks on two key areas of the dicastery's recent activities: the Congress for Lay People in Asia and World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The great continent of Asia", he said, "is home to many different peoples, cultures and religions of ancient origin, but the Christian message has so far reached only a small minority who often live their faith in difficult circumstances, sometimes even suffering real persecution. The congress was an opportunity ... to reinforce our missionary commitment and courage. These our brothers and sisters bear admirable witness to their adherence to Christ, enabling us to see how, thanks to their faith, vast fields of evangelisation are opening for the Church in Asia in the third millennium".
Referring then to the fact that the pontifical council is currently preparing a similar congress for lay people in Africa, due to take place next year in Cameroon, the Pope observed that such continental gatherings "are important for the impetus they give to the work of evangelisation, for reinforcing unity and strengthening the bonds between the particular Churches and the universal Church".
Turning his attention to World Youth Day, he said: "An extraordinary cascade of light, joy and hope illuminated not only Madrid, but also Europe and the entire world, clearly re-establishing the importance of seeking God in today's world. No one could remain indifferent, no one could think that the question of God was irrelevant to modern man".
Focusing on the theme of the plenary, Pope Benedict said: "We must never cease to raise this question, to 'begin again from God' so as to recognise man in all his dimensions and dignity. Indeed the mentality, so widespread in our time, which rejects any reference to the transcendent has proved incapable of comprehending and preserving what is human. The spread of such a mentality has generated the crisis we are experiencing today which, more than an economic and social crisis, is a crisis of meaning and values. ... In this context, the question of God is, in a certain sense, 'the main question'. It brings us back to the basic query about man, to the aspirations for truth, happiness and freedom which are inherent to the human heart and which seek realisation".
"If it is true that 'being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person', then the question of God is reawakened by meeting people who have the gift of faith, who have a living relationship with the Lord. ... Here your role as lay faithful is particularly important. ... You are called to show luminous witness of the relevance of God in all fields of thought and action. In the family and the workplace, in politics and in economics, modern man needs to see and feel how the presence or absence of God changes everything.
"But the challenge of a mentality closed to the transcendent obliges even Christians to focus more specifically on the central place of God", the Holy Father added. "Efforts have been made in the past to ensure that the presence of Christians in social, political and economic life was more incisive, and perhaps less attention was given to the solidity of their faith, almost as if it was taken for granted. The truth is that Christians do not live on some distant planet, immune to the 'sicknesses' of the world; they are affected by the turmoil, disorientation and difficulties of their time. Therefore it is equally important to raise the question of God within the Church. ... The first response to the great challenge of our time lies, then, in a profound conversion of heart, so that the Baptism which made us light of the world and salt of the earth, can truly transform us", he concluded.
VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is to due to be held in the Vatican from 29 November to 1 December. This year's plenary coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and the creation of the pontifical council itself. Participating in today's conference were Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, Bishop Jean Laffitte, Msgr. Carlos Simon Vazquez and Fr. Gianfranco Grieco O.F.M. Conv., respectively president, secretary, under secretary and bureau chief of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Alfonso and Francesca Colzani, directors of family services for the archdiocese of Milan, Italy.
Cardinal Antonelli focused on certain themes contained in "Familiaris consortio", such as the central role of the family in the new evangelisation and in pastoral care in parishes and dioceses. He also highlighted the missionary vocation of the family "to live, irradiate and express to the world the love and presence of Christ; ... to become a great sign of the credibility of the Gospel through mutual service, generous and responsible procreation, care of children, commitment to work, concern for the poor and needy, prayer in the home, participation in Mass and Church activities, and involvement in civil society".
Bishop Laffitte also drew attention to "Familiaris consortio", wherein Blessed John Paul II spoke "of the need to help society rediscover true family values at a time of moral crisis". For the late Pontiff it was impossible "to consider the family without reference to conjugal love. This would seem obvious but, in fact, recent legislation has juridically legitimised alternative models of the family which separate it from its deepest root: the love of a man and a woman linked by an indissoluble bond".
From a Christian perspective "new difficulties arise", said the secretary of the pontifical council, such as the fact that "getting married in Church is often no longer part of an active life of faith; and this means that an awareness of the sanctity of Christian marriage is lost. Thus we can see why the pastoral care of marriage and the family today requires serious and profound consideration". Non practising Catholics could be offered "a brief training course, including reading the Word of God, an introduction to the most basic elements of Christian faith, and an initiation to sacramental life with particular emphasis on the Sacraments of Marriage, the Eucharist and Penance".
Msgr. Vazquez gave details of the programme of the plenary, which will begin with a solemn concelebration of the Eucharist at the altar of Blessed John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica. "We wish to render particular homage to the Pope who often described himself as the Pope of families", he said. "There we will pray that the blessed may intercede with the Lord for all the families of the world".
Fr. Grieco announced that the pontifical council's quarterly "Familia et vita" will be dedicating a special edition to the thirtieth anniversary of "Familiaris consortio". The twenty-nine articles it contains have been written by experts and scholars of the main themes contained in the Apostolic Exhortation, among them five cardinals, ten archbishops and bishops, and six lay people including four women. He also explained that it will be possible to follow the work of the plenary via the dicastery's website: www.familia.va.
At the end of the press conference, attention turned to the seventh World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Milan from 30 May to 3 June 2012. Alfonso and Francesca Colzani explained that the pastoral year in the archdiocese will be dedicated to the family in relation to work and rest. The archdiocesan family services is organising meetings with the aim of "offering individuals, couples and families the inner resources they need to ensure that family life, in both work and rest, coincides with the Gospel. The response from families has been one of great interest as they realise that this has a direct bearing on the difficulties of daily life".
VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations to be presided over by the Holy Father between December 2011 and January 2012.
- Thursday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, homage to Mary Immaculate.
- Sunday 11: Third Sunday of Advent. Pastoral visit to the Roman parish of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" at Casal Boccone, with Mass at 9.30 a.m.
- Monday 12: Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mass for Latin America at 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
- Thursday 15: Vespers with students of Roman universities in the Vatican Basilica at 5.30 p.m.
- Saturday 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 p.m.
- Sunday 25: Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. At midday from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.
- Saturday 31: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers and "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the past year.
- Sunday 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and forty-fifth World Day of Peace. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m.
- Friday 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m.
- Sunday 8: Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 9.45 a.m., conferment of the Sacrament of Baptism upon a number of children.
- Wednesday 25: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. Celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls at 5.30 p.m.
VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, vice president; Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl of the Latins, Poland, vice president; Msgr. Duarte da Cunha, secretary general, and Fr. Ferenc Janka, vice secretary general.
- Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A., on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Dennis J. Sullivan, Josu Iriondo, Dominik John Lagonegro and Gerald T. Walsh.
This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota S.J., auxiliary of Bucaramanga, Colombia, as bishop of Fontibon (area 80, population 1,536,000, Catholics 1,228,000, priests 84, permanent deacons 20, religious 178), Colombia. He succeeds Bishop Enrique Sarmiento Angulo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Kenneth Donald Steiner, upon having reached the age limit.
L'ARCHE WEBSITE REPORT: “L’Arche, in fact, has been since its origins (...) an international centre. It seems that more and more it will be oriented to suffering countries. Trosly remains somewhat as the mother house, which cannot be sterile and uninterested in its handicapped brothers on the other continents. (…) I am sure opening the handicapped’s mind to other continents through these centres will bring much good on the human, cultural and spiritual level. Does not the dignity of man come precisely because of his openness to the universal?” (Jean Vanier, A vision of L’Arche: talk given to assistants, 1970)
|Type||International not-for-profit organziation|
|Founded||August 4, 1964, in Trosly-Breuil, France|
|Location||Worldwide in 40 countries|
Jean Vanier / Raphaël Simi / Phillipe Seux, Founders
Jean-Christophe Pascal, International CoordinatorChristine McGrievy, International Vice-Coordinator
|Services||Establishing homes, programs, and support networks with people who have developmental disabilities|
|Motto||"Changing the world, one heart at a time!"|
In the 1960s, the rapidly growing community in Trosly attracted young people from all over the world who were keen to share their everyday life with a growing number of people with an intellectual disability. Although not planned or foreseen by Jean Vanier, it was only a matter of time before one or the other decided to draw on the vision of L’Arche and to create a L’Arche community in his hometown or country. Communities in France (La Merci), Canada (Daybreak) and India (Bangalore) were founded by 1970. In 1975, the number of communities had already risen to 30 with new foundations in view in Africa and Haiti.
In only a few years, L’Arche opened up to other cultures, languages and socio-economic backgrounds. Initially of Roman Catholic denomination, L’Arche quickly became ecumenical and interfaith. And yet, despite this emerging diversity, all the communities remain united around the knowledge that the humanising contribution of people with an intellectual disability to our societies becomes apparent in mutual relationships.
The need for a structural framework became more and more evident as the geographical distance between communities increased. An International Board was created and presided by Jean Vanier until 1975. Community leaders met regularly to deepen their common identity.
In 1987, the sixth meeting of this type gathered 350 delegates from 82 communities in Rome. The meeting was highlighted by a visit of Mother Theresa and an audience with John-Paul II. In the meantime, new communities began in Central and Eastern Europe (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary and Poland) and around the world (Mexico, Brazil, Uganda, and Japan).
At the 1993 meeting in Québec, the International Federation of L’Arche Communities adopted its current Charter in which it reiterated its mission at service for people with an intellectual disability as well as some fundamental values, such as the respect of difference, the centrality of life-sharing in a community setting and the importance of trusting and authentic relationships between people with and without intellectual disabilities.
The 2002 General Assembly was another turning point for the Federation. The two international coordinators launched a process called “Identity and Mission” which was to redefine the fundamental characteristics of the organisation beyond cultural and socio-economic differences, to prepare the organisation for a constantly changing world and to adapt it to the changing needs of its members. The process was to help members, communities and the Federation clearly define L’Arche’s values today in order to enable the movement to meet current challenges and renew its mission for the future.
L’Arche exists now for more than 40 years. Today, the Federation encompasses 131 communities in more than 30 countries on five continents.
L'Arche International is financed through contributions from its members, donations and the L'Arche foundations without which L'Arche would not exist.
For online donations, see:
L’Arche Canada Foundation: http://www.larche.ca/en/donate/about/
Fondation des Amis de L'Arche en France: http://dons.arche-france.fr/
Donations to L’Arche International:
10, rue Fenoux
IBAN (International Bank Account Number): FR76 30003 00678 00037262645 67
BIC (Bank Identifier Code): SOGEFRPP
Fr. Peter Luo Xuegang, with the permission of the pope, will be ordained coadjutor bishop of Yibin. But the excommunicated bishop of Leshan, Lei Shiyin may participate in the ceremony. The Patriotic Association’s ongoing campaign to subjugate the Church.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews / EDA) - On 30 November, feast of St. Andrew, Fr. Peter Luo Xuegang, will be ordained coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Yibin (Sichuan). Fr. Luo, 47, a priest for 20 years, will be consecrated by the Ordinary Bishop of the diocese, Msgr. John Chen Shizhong, who has reached 95 years of age.
This ordination in the official Church is taking place with the permission of the Holy See and the consecrating bishop has long been in communion with the pope. However the faithful of the diocese fear that the illegitimate and excommunicated bishop of nearby Leshan, Paul Lei Shiyin, may participate in the ceremony as a consecrating bishop. Lei was ordained Bishop on 29 June without the permission of the Holy See (see photo). After his ordination, the Vatican issued a tough statement, condemning the act, damaging to the Catholic faith and religious freedom (see 04/07/2011 The Holy See condemns Leshan ordination). Some bishops were in fact forced to participate in the ceremony.
Lei Shiyin’s participation at the ordination of 30 November is almost certain, in fact, he is President of the Patriotic Association and the Committee for the affairs of the Church in the province of Sichuan, with a lot of support among the government authorities that almost certainly will want to impress a "patriotic" and "independent" character on the ceremony, going against the Vatican's instructions. For the Holy See, Lei Shiyin, being excommunicated latae sententiae, is not entitled to participate in the Eucharist. Several bishops of neighbouring dioceses, who thought to participate in the ordination, are now afraid to participate because of Lei Shiyin.
Fr. Luo Xuegang and Lei Shiyin know each other very well. The first is the nephew of Msgr. Matthew Luo Duxi, bishop of Leshan, who died in 2009. Both were ordained in the same year, 1991 and began their pastoral work in the diocese of Leshan. In 2009, Fr. Luo was transferred to the diocese of Yibin and in 2010 was chosen by the Presbytery of Yibin as a candidate for the succession of Msgr. Chen Shizhong.
The Yibin ordinationwill be the first after the two illicit consecrations; in Leshan (June 30) and Shantou (July 14), which deepened a hardening of relations between the Vatican and China that began with the illicit ordination of Guo Jincai as bishop of Chengde (Hebei), 19 November 2010.
The number of illegitimate ordinations is part of a Patriotic Association campaign to regain control of the official Church, whose bishops are now mostly in communion with the pope. The campaign of submission of the Church to the Patriotic Association, however, is increasingly meeting with obstacles and resistance from pastors and the faithful (see 18/07/2011 Chinese Church "resists" excessive power of Government and Patriotic Association).
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
25 Nov 2011
The annual Advent Calendar this year is both online and available as an App for your iPhone and Android mobile phones.
Extremely popular with everyone but especially young people, youth groups and schools, this year's calendar is packed with even more multi-media Catholic resources and reflections.
There is a special Advent Feast Day podcast series including a reflection by Auxiliary Bishop Peter Comensoli of the Archdiocese; a study of "Why the New Missal" with Fr Don Richardson; Xt3's "Ask a Priest" answers some of the most common questions received over the past year; highlights of the key events in 2011 including World Youth Day and the Beatification of John Paul 11; a series of apologetics; reflections on Humanae Vitae; a reflection on Advent spirituality by Fr Robert Barron and the Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell's Christmas message.
There are also articles, videos and YouTube clips.
However this year your Advent journey goes mobile with the Xt3 Advent Calendar now available on your iPhone or Android.
The calendar can be accessed from the first day of Advent - this Sunday, 27th November.
So what is Advent?
Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas, the most popular religious and holiday season of the year.
Nearly two thirds of Australians are Christians and one third of the remainder follow the other great faiths. One in five does not identify with any religious group. This diversity is reflected in the Christmas festivities, but just about everyone unites to ignore the spiritual tasks of the Advent season.
During Advent, the word derives from the Latin meaning coming, we are preparing religiously to celebrate that God has spoken to us, come among us and lived with us.
It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and begins on the fourth Sunday before 25 December.
Advent wreaths are used to mark the passage of the season.
It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin's Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed.
For all you wanted to know in Advent visit www.Xt3.com/advent on 27 November to open your door to the first feature of the season.
"Le Potentiel" states that "armed elements from the other side of the Congo River" (which divides the two capitals, Kinshasa and Brazzaville) were captured while they were preparing to attack the residence of President Kabila and the prison of Makala. Another attack was to take place at the same time at the prison of Matadi in the Bas-Congo Province.
"So far it is the only source that reported this news, which I think is rather general," says to Fides Fr. Loris Cattani, a Xaverian missionary and member of the "Network for Congo Peace" who closely follows the events of the DRC and has stressed that the climate of tension in which the campaign takes place (see Fides 19/11/2011). Congolese Bishops have also denounced the violence and intimidation in the life of local politics (see Fides 11/11/2011).
In recent days the campaign was marked by controversy over the so-called "fictitious seats." "The President of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected the accusations, explaining that it was a mistake", says Fr. Loris. "It all started because a list of seats was published, based on that of the 2006 elections. In practice, this list is not updated. Meanwhile, since the majority of the seats are located in schools, some of these educational centers have been closed and its buildings were sold and became private houses, shops. The opposition say there are 3 million cards already filled out with the name of Kabila, to be placed in these alleged fictitious seats" explains Fr. Loris. "But there is no evidence of the existence of these cards, but the President of INEC reasoning seems correct when he says that if Kabila had created the fake seats he would have keep them hidden, and he would certainly not have entered them in the official list of electoral centers ". Fr. Loris concludes: "I think the big unknown question is the post-election. We will see if the election results are peacefully accepted by everyone".
Feast: November 25
287, Alexandria, Egypt
305, Alexandria, Egypt
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Aalsum, apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners, etc.), archivists, dying people, educators, girls, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, librarians, libraries, maidens, mechanics, millers, nurses, philosophers, preachers, scholars, schoolchildren, scribes, secretaries, spinsters, stenographers, students, tanners, teachers, theologians, University of Paris, unmarried girls, haberdashers, wheelwrights
From the tenth century onwards veneration for St. Catherine of Alexandria has been widespread in the Church of the East, and from the time of the Crusades this saint has been popular in the West, where many churches have been dedicated to her and her feast day kept with great solemnity, sometimes as a holy-day of obligation. She is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of mankind among the saints in Heaven; she is the patroness of young women, philosophers, preachers, theologians, wheelwrights, millers, and other workingmen. She was said to have appeared with Our Lady to St. Dominic and to Blessed Reginald of Orleans; the Dominicans adopted her as their special protectress. Hers was one of the heavenly voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.
Artists have painted her with her chief emblem, the wheel, on which by tradition she was tortured; other emblems are a lamb and a sword. Her name continues to be cherished today by the young unmarried women of Paris.
Yet in spite of this veneration, we have few facts that can be relied on concerning Catherine's life. Eusebius, "father of Church history," writing around the year 320, had heard of a noble young Christian woman of Alexandria whom the Emperor ordered to come to his palace, presumably to become his mistress, and who, on refusing, was punished by banishment and the confiscation of her estates. The story of St. Catherine may have sprung from some brief record such as this, which Christians writing at a later date expanded. The last persecutions of Christians, though short, were severe, and those living in the peace which followed seem to have had a tendency to embellish the traditions of their martyrs that they might not be forgotten.
According to the popular tradition, Catherine was born of a patrician family of Alexandria and from childhood had devoted herself to study. Through her reading she had learned much of Christianity and had been converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child. When Maxentius began his persecution, Catherine, then a beautiful young girl, went to him and rebuked him boldly for his cruelty. He could not answer her arguments against his pagan gods, and summoned fifty philosophers to confute her. They all confessed themselves won over by her reasoning, and were thereupon burned to death by the enraged Emperor. He then tried to seduce Catherine with an offer of a consort's crown, and when she indignantly refused him, he had her beaten and imprisoned. The Emperor went off to inspect his military forces, and when he got back he discovered that his wife Faustina and a high official, one Porphyrius, had been visiting Catherine and had been converted, along with the soldiers of the guard. They too were put to death, and Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel.
When she was fastened to the wheel, her bonds were miraculously loosed and the wheel itself broke, its spikes flying off and killing some of the onlookers. She was then beheaded. The modern Catherine-wheel, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from the saint's wheel of martyrdom. The text of the
1 Alexandria, the great Egyptian city at the mouth of the Nile, was at this time a center of both pagan and Christian learning. Its Christian activities centered around the great church founded, according to tradition, by the Apostle Mark, with its catechetical school, the first of its kind in Christendom.
2 Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, who lived through all the vicissitudes of the years before and succeeding the Edict of Toleration and died about 340, wrote the first history of the Church.
3 Maxentius was one of several rival emperors who struggled for mastery during the first dozen years of the fourth century. Like the others, he tried to crush what he considered the dangerous institution of the Catholic Church. Some historians are of the opinion that Catherine suffered under his father, Maximian.
|Luke 21: 29 - 33|
|29||And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees;|
|30||as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near.|
|31||So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.|
|32||Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place.|
|33||Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.|