Sunday, January 1, 2012


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: n the eve of a new year and to mark the 45th World Day of Peace, a vigil will take place tonight in St Peter’s Square. People are being invited to pray for peace between nations and in families. The event is being organised by the Italian association Family of the Small Church.

“Every hour there is a particular community that prays during the night, in particular prays to Mary. The intention of this is to pray for peace in families and in the world”, says Cesare Bini, one of the movement’s members.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President Emeritus of the Governatorate of Vatican City State will begin the vigil at 11.15 pm .

It concludes at 7am Sunday morning 1st January. (SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)


Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, pictured here when he was a bishop in the Episcopal Church, has been named to head a new U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics. (CNS file photo)
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has established a U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics and named a married former Episcopal bishop to head it.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter -- functionally equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope -- will be based at a parish in Houston. It will be led by Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande who was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in February 2009.

The establishment of the ordinariate and the naming of its first leader were announced by the Vatican Jan. 1.

More than 100 former Anglican priests have applied to become Catholic priests in the ordinariate and 1,400 individuals from 22 communities have expressed interest in joining. In fall 2011, the members of St. Luke's in Bladensburg, Md., and St. Peter of the Rock Community in Fort Worth, Texas, were received into the Catholic Church with the intent of joining the ordinariate.

It is the second such jurisdiction established under the provisions of Pope Benedict's 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus." The first was the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, created for England and Wales in January 2011; others are under consideration in Canada and Australia.

The parishes and communities accepted into the ordinariate will be fully Catholic but retain elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions, particularly in the liturgy.

Father Steenson and his wife, Debra, have three grown children -- a daughter and two sons -- and a grandson.

Because he is married, the 59-year-old Father Steenson will not be ordained a bishop and will not be able to ordain priests. He will, however, otherwise function as a bishop and will be a voting member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After working briefly in a New Mexico parish following his ordination, Father Steenson has been teaching theology at the University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture and at St. Mary's Seminary, both in Houston, since August 2009. He also is an assisting priest at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Houston.

Educated at Harvard Divinity School and at Oxford, he is an expert in patristics, the study of the early church fathers. Born in Camp Rucker, Ala., he was raised on a farm in Hillsboro, N.D., that has been in his family since the 1880s.

In a 2009 interview with Catholic News Service, Father Steenson said he had been "attracted to Catholicism all of my life."

"It's not negative things that turned me to the Catholic Church," he said. "I just felt God saying, 'It's time.'"

The time came, he said, in 2007 when he felt the bishops of the Episcopal Church had decided to give priority to their autonomy rather than to unity with the larger Anglican Communion.

Father Steenson said that for him, gay people were not the issue. "It was the way the decisions were made and the way they were defended," placing the local church and modern cultural sensitivities ahead of the universal church and fidelity to tradition, he said.

The priest said that while the Episcopal Church spoke of the importance of Christian unity, it continued to approve practices -- ordaining women priests and bishops, ordaining homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions -- that everyone knew would be an obstacle to Christian unity.

"The frustration with being a Protestant is that every morning you get up and have to reinvent the church all over again," Father Steenson said.

The new ordinariate has been in the works since September 2010, when the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington to be its delegate for the implementation of "Anglicanorum coetibus" in the United States.

Cardinal Wuerl welcomed the announcement, saying it was "the fulfillment of the hopes of many Anglicans in the United States who have longed and prayed for reconciliation with the Catholic Church while retaining cherished elements of the Anglican patrimony."

He said Father Steenson "brings to the position of ordinary great pastoral and administrative experience, along with his gifts as a theologian."

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, in whose archdiocese the ordinariate's headquarters will be located, called Father Steenson "not only an outstanding patristic scholar, but a priest with a strong pastoral sense and an abiding respect for all people."

"He will surely be an effective, kind and joyful leader who will love and guide God's people with the attitude of Christ," he added.

Father Scott Hurd, who was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1993, joined the Catholic Church in 1996 and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2000, will be on loan to the ordinariate for three years to serve as vicar general.

Father Hurd, who has been assisting Cardinal Wuerl in the U.S. implementation of "Anglicanorum coetibus," will continue to be based in Washington.


Der Leiter der Bruderschaft, Frere Alois, kritisierte am Samstagabend eine "zunehmende Ungleichheit selbst innerhalb reicher Gesellschaften".
The head of the brotherhood, frère Alois, criticized a "growing inequality even within richer societies" on Saturday night.

30,000 young Christians participate at Taizé, Berlin

Berlin - above all the silence has "charmed" Julia. As it has been quiet with thousands of young people at the Abendgebeten in the Berlin exhibition halls. "This is so special about Taizé", is the Ukrainian woman. In particular, it has come to the 34th annual European youth meeting of Ecumenical brotherhood to the turn of the year on the river Spree. 30,000 young Christians from 70 countries.
Five days prayers, songs, discussions. A theme has always accompanied them: "Ways of faith", the motto of the meeting. One tricky thing may be to take, as established in the French Taizé community, frère Alois Löser, leader acknowledges. "Confidence is a risk," he says in one of his evening speech. However, no society without confidence could live such as the successor of Taizé founder Roger Schutz (1915-2005) emphasized. Thus he alludes to the financial crisis and other challenges.
The German punctuality
Those who understand no English or German, which can follow the speeches by frère Alois using a small radio. On different frequencies, there are translations into over a dozen languages on the fairgrounds. Many do not need it. 10,000 Young people from Germany are the largest group among the participants, followed by 6,000 young people from Poland, and 2,000 from France, Italy, Croatia and the Ukraine.
Most host families have stayed. After several appeals by politicians, many Berlin have still their apartments for guests with mat and sleeping bag opened and given them confidence. "Very important" that finds the Taizé helper Johannes: "Our meeting lives on the personal encounter". Julia and also Ukrainian friend Oleana see as well. You know now more accurately, which means hospitality on German. "If it means ' eight breakfast ', then it means eight o'clock also point", they tell laughing.
"Energy boost for democracy"
The participants in its over 160 guest communities spend the mornings, but also detour to important sites of the metropolis are part of the program. As the Vice-President of the Bundestag receives under different leaders, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, just several hundred Taize pilgrims. "I hope your meeting an energy boost for democracy", gives them with on the way.
Others have opted for a meeting with Muslims. Close to densely they are seated in Berlin's best-known Islamic Church, the Sehitlik mosque at the former airport of Tempelhof. Khalid Durham Shockwave through the mosque in the fast pass explained architecture and story of Islam, as little space is free on the carpet. Also the evangelical pastor Elisabeth Kruse from the neighborhood of the mosque is involved in this meeting. Interreligious dialogue can cut off "at least three slices of the Taizé community", they praised the commitment of the ecumenical community.
Berlin and participants donate to North Korea
An appeal of the some 100 Taizé brothers of solidarity has not in vain. Before the meeting, they have called the participants and the Berlin to donate medicines and medical equipment for North Korea. Her desire is been granted. Now, they can send respiratory equipment, sterilizers, surgical, blood pressure monitors, infusion devices and bandages in the destitute country.
"Jubilate Deo omnis terra" sounds on Latin even at the last evening prayer a few hours before the new year from the exhibition halls. "Sing before God all countries of the world". Orange scarves hide the otherwise bare walls, flickering candles. Once again, silence comes a before young people seeking their guest communities and start the new year after a "prayer for peace". With a "Festival of peoples', without alcohol, but with much dance and music. "By next year in Rome", can be heard after the new year's service on Sunday. The next European meeting Pope Benedict XVI has invited them.
by: Benedict Angermeier
Close to densely they are seated in Berlin's best-known Islamic Church, the Sehitlik mosque at the former airport of Tempelhof.


ASIA NEWS REPORT: by André Azzam
The persecution against Christians mingled with violence against the Arab revolution. In a year more than 1000 dead, thousands injured, 1200 have lost one or both eyes, because the police shoot at eye level. The interim government has not kept its many promises of equality between Christians and Muslims, but here and there are signs of growing alliances, mutual respect and friendship.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - One year has passed since the terrible massacre in the Church of the Two Saints, in Alexandria on New Year’s eve last year, which left more than twenty dead and a hundred wounded. One year later the facts regarding those responsible for committing this horrible crime are no clearer. There have been rumours which assert that it was the ministry of internal affairs who ordered the attack, but no investigation results have so far been published. Yesterday, the last Friday of the year, the protestant church called for a peaceful demonstration in Tahrir square to commemorate this anniversary, asking people to come with armed only with candles and no other religious symbol. A large demonstration led by Shaykh Mazhar Shaheen processed from Omar Makram mosque in Midan al Tahrir up to the Evangelical Church of Qasr al Doubara, one street behind Midan al Tahrir to celebrate the Chrismas and New Year’eve feasts.

Three weeks after last New Year’s eve attack the January 25 revolution exploded, and since then many difficult events have succeeded each other making it a hard time for the population, and mainly for Egyptian Christians. In fact, the Alexandria massacre took place less than a year after the violent attack at Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt on the eve of the Coptic Christmas celebrations, on the 7th of January 2010, which left seven dead and many wounded. And less than two months after clashes over a church construction in the suburb of Giza, next to Cairo, that left two dead and many wounded.

Early in March 2011, the Church of the Two Martyrs in Sol, next to Helwan, in the southern suburb of Cairo, was set on fire killing two people died. The motive for the arson attack was a forbidden love affaire between a Christian young man and a Muslim girl. The two fathers died in a quarrel, then the Muslim population burned the church. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) decided to rebuild the church which was ready for Easter one month later.

During March the awful virginity test was imposed on young women arrested by the authorities.

On Saturday, March 7, two churches in Imbaba, in a western suburb of Cairo, were attacked by fundamentalist mobs, with the result of a dozen Christians killed and the burning of the two churches. This suburb had once been termed ‘the Islamic Republic of Imbaba’.

In June 2011 a long awaited draft bill on building permits for places of worship both for Islam and Christianity was brought before parliament. But still today, this law has not been implemented.

On June 29, a vast confrontation between demonstrators and police forces left more than one thousand wounded. Again, on July 23, another confrontation resulted in more than two hundred wounded.

On September 30th, a church in Marinab village, in Asswan governorate was raised by Muslim fundamentalists who had decided to eradicate the village church by first pretending it was a new construction, than demanding it remove its crosses and the domes and finally burning the church, and many households belonging to the Christian population, without any protection from the civil authorities, rather, on the contrary with the obvious blessing of Asswan governor.

On Sunday October 9, a Christian demonstration began in Cairo to demand equal rights for Christians and justice for the Marinab village church. Numerous Muslim demonstrators were joined their Christian compatriots. What took place was a veritable slaughter which has now become known as the ‘Maspero massacre’ : The army attacked demonstrators resulting in 25 people dead and 350 wounded, many of them crushed under the wheels of advancing armoured vehicles. The state television located on Maspero Avenue launched
an appeal that verged on a call to civil war appealing to the population to come and protect the armed forces ‘savagely attacked by Christian demonstrators’. Three soldiers were reported dead, but in the end revealed to be only lightly wounded.

On October 10, the culprit of Nag Hamadi attack of January 7, 2010, who had been sentenced to death, was executed.

Then came the protests of Mohammad Mahmoud Street on November 19 (see 21/11/2011
Egypt, toll rises from Tahrir Square clashes: 30 dead and thousands injured), and later in mid December, the demonstrations and sit-in around the Parliament and the Ministers Council buildings (see 17/12/2011 Egypt: clashes between the army and demonstrators continue in front of the Houses of Parliament), with a heavey toll of dead and wounded.

In just one year, more than one thousand people have died, thousands of more wounded, an estimated one thousand two hundred people lost one or both eyes, and probably twelve thousand demonstrators were arrested and judged by military courts. Many political personnalities and well-known journalists have also been summoned and mistreated.

It is reported that since last March, one hundred thousand Christian Egyptians have left the country emigrating to different destinations. Many people among the Christian community, and among the poorest of them, would now like to apply for religious asylum in countries like the USA, Canada, or Australia.

Recently many bishops reported to have received threatening letters to prevent them from celebrating the New Year and Christmas. Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church replied two days ago that ‘we do not fear any threats and we shall celebrate the feasts’, though everybody knows that the celebrations will be restricted inside churches and earlier than the usual midnight masses. The Catholic Church, which celebrates Christmas in Cairo, Alexandria and Lower Egypt on the December 25, had all the masses between 7 and 9p.m. All the churches were surrounded by police forces, which will be the same for the Orthodox Christmas on the eve of January 7.

‘Christmas is celebrated this year in Egypt in a state of ‘sad joy’ because of the general situation: sadness, because the year that passed has been a severe one not only for Christians but also for Muslims. From the massacre of the Two Saints’ church in Alexandria last year to the battle at the Ministers Council, through the Maspero massacre and the hard economic situation, all of this has left a wounded and suffering Egyptian society as Fr Rafic Greiche, official spokesman of the Catholic Church in Egypt, stated yesterday.

‘On the other hand, added Fr Greiche, we must preserve some joy, because every Egyptian is still full of hope that the difficulties and obstacles will be resolved little by little in building a new democratic state in this land that once sheltered Jesus and the Holy Family, where dignity, justice and equality should prevail for everyone’.

On this point, many political experts consider that the parliamentary elections have really attracted the majority of the population who felt for the first time they were really participating in their political duty and right. But many of them are still critical feeling that it was more a religious election than a democratic one, since no-one stopped the parties from using religious slogans when it was strictly forbidden.

An anecdotal gag was bandied about during the election campaign which went: ‘Women electors and men electors, whatever your religion, please vote for the salafist islamic party al-Noor. If you are Muslim, you shall go to Paradise. If you are Christian, you shall go [flee] to Canada!’

But there were also many positive reactions, mainly from the well known slogan of the 1919 revolution of the famous leader Saad Zaghloul, founder of the Wafd party that says ‘Religion is for God, and Homeland is for all’. The design of the Cross and the Crescent intertwined is more and more obviously brandished. Let us recall that in mid October the SCAF adopted a draft law incriminating discrimination and violence, which is usually aimed at Christians and women. But still, we have to see if this law is really being implemented in the daily life. On the other hand many people are reacting to Muslim preachers on Fridays correcting what they feel is an open attack against Christians, among whom, mainly Nawwara Negm, daughter of the famous anarchist poet Ahmad Fouad Negm, and strong activist since the beginning of the January revolution.

A young Christian student in the end of primary course, Myriam Armanios (11-12 years old) wrote two days ago on Facebook : ‘Like you, I have the right to celebrate my feasts’. More than 3 thousand pupils sustained her as well as the Maspero Youth Federation. A demonstration was organized in front of the ministry of education to protest against the fixed dates for midyear exams on the 1st and the 8th of January [the Coptic Christmas period]. The minister of education decided immediately to postpone the examinations for a couple of days later.

After the Lotus or Jasmin or Spring revolution, many promises were made by the government but none were achieved : like putting the minimum salary up to 750 Egyptian Pounds (a little less than 100 euros per month); offering a pension to the ‘martyrs’ of the revolution and the ‘martyrs’ of Maspero massacre; offering free medical care and treatment for all the wounded of the revolution and of Maspero massacre; an end to bringing civilians before military courts; adjusting the price of petrol to the standard prices in Spain, Turkey, Israel and Jordan; organizing impartial investigations into the Maspero, Mohammad Mahmoud street and Council of Minister massacres, as well as many other economic promises: until now none of these have been kept, provoking a general state of disillusionment.

Another point is the looming anniversary of the January 25th revolution: is the SCAF ready to let demonstrators gather? is the official press and media, as well as the interim government ready to stop accusing demonstrators of being agents and agitators manipulated by foreign powers? These last two days about twenty NGOs involved in human rights were raided, their computers seized and they were accused of being illegally financed by abroad.

Faced with this old approach to this important juncture, many observers express that the old regime is still active. As expressed by Pr Ezzeddine Shukry, professor of political science: ‘A regime that is not yet over, in front of a revolution that is not yet broken’.

We have to point out finally that the blogger Alaa Abd al Fattah, arrested in November and accused of criminal acts during Maspero massacre, has finally been released on probation in his flat, until a further judgement. Another positive act was the administrative court that stopped the virginity test imposed on young women arrested by the armed forces.

Pr Shukry perfecttly expresses the feeling among the general population when he says, ‘the situation is confused for the moment, but we must keep hope for the future, because the revolution movement has not been overcome, it is still active and will never be defeated’. He considers the many martyrs as a source of positive inspiration for the movement, and he brings as a symbol of hope of the dentist Ahmad Sharara, who lost one eye on the 28th of January and the second eye on 19th of November and who states : ‘Better to live blind with honour and dignity than to live with my sight despondent and blinkered’.

Demonstrators in Tahrir square yesterday refused to join an anti-protest march led by the army and the officials, thus refusing to join hands with the people hailing the expelled former president Mubarak. And still leaders of the political and youth movements have called for a huge gathering on this New Year's eve in Tahrir square from 8p.m. until 2 a.m. to respond to the appeal first launched by the woman journalist Gamila Ismaïl to celebrate the Christian New Year by candle light with Coptic Hymns and Muslim Soufi prayers animated by famous singers like male singer Ali al Haggar and the beautiful Azza Balbaa.,-Egypt-seeks-a-way-forward-23577.html


UCAN REPORT: Prayers and fasting planned for priest and seminarians killed earlier this month reporter, Shijiazhuang
December 30, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Catholic day of mourning for crash victims
The six seminarians who died in the road accident
An online Catholic website has called for prayers for a priest and six seminarians killed in a road accident earlier this month.
The appeal was issued by popular mainland site Tianzhujiao Zaixian (Catholic Church online), and suggested that Catholics offer a requiem Mass, prayers for the deceased and their families, fasting or a silent tribute at 10am tomorrow – the approximate time of the deadly accident.
Tomorrow marks the seventh day of the third week since the accident, a day that holds special significance for the deceased in Chinese tradition.
About 2,000 people have visited the Tianzhujiao Zaixian website to light an online candle for the deceased.
Meanwhile the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong diocese has asked Catholics to observe a one-minute silent tribute tomorrow, also at 10am.
“We were very shocked and sad to hear about the accident. Despite geographical distance, we try to do something to express the concern and consolation from the universal Church,” said JPC project officer Or Yan-yan.
Father Joseph Shi Liming of Baoding and six seminarians were killed on December 11 when the minivan they were driving in collided head-on with a truck and overturned, before being struck by another truck.
One seminarian, Gabriel Gao, survived the accident after being thrown from the vehicle during the initial collision.
He is recovering in neurosurgery ward at a hospital in Shijiazhuang city, according to a report by a Catholic blogger using the name Mengshou zhufuzhe, which means “the one who is blessed,” who visited Gao.
Though he was able to open his eyes and look around and respond to people’s words, his condition is still far from full consciousness,” the blogger wrote.
Mainland Church sources have said that families of the deceased have received some compensation and that the Jinzhou city government has promised to provide them with pensions.
The JPC also called for prayers for Fr Liu Qijin of Anguo, who fractured his leg in a separate road accident on December 12, in which another passenger in the car was killed.


Bishop Anthony
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
DD BA LlB BTheol DPhil
Third Bishop of Parramatta

ARCHDIOCESE OF PARRAMATTA REPORT: The Homilies of Bishop Anthony Fisher
Homily - Funeral Mass for Father John Smith, St Canice’s Church, Katoomba, Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2011
Funeral Mass for Father John Smith, St Canice’s Church, Katoomba, Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2011
Catholic parties are longer than anyone else’s and so today is Christmas day still, a day that lasts for an octave of eight calendar days, and then another week as we await the last party guests, the three star-gazers from the Orient. That’s why we usually prepare enough food at Christmas to feed us for many days. Our extended Christmas day reminds us that the Baby we have been celebrating is truly one of us – hence the birthday party – and yet not just ‘another one’ of us – hence the length of His nativity celebration.
As no Sunday intervenes between Christmas and New Year this year, we miss our ordinary Sunday celebration of the Boy’s Holy Family. Instead we celebrate it today, along with the Funeral Mass of John Smith. It is not such a strange coincidence of celebrations, however, when we consider the beautiful Third Preface for the Nativity of the Lord which we will pray today. It thanks God for that “holy exchange that restores our life” that “has shone forth today in splendour”. What is this ‘holy exchange’? “When our frailty is assumed by your Word,” the prayer explains “not only does human mortality receive unending honour but by this wondrous union we, too, are made eternal.” Already at Christmas, and long before Easter, there is a glimmer of hope that we might have eternal life.
Fr John Smith moved to Australia in pursuit of a warmer climate, but by the strange providence of God and even stranger workings of bishops he ended up Parish Priest of our coldest parish, in Katoomba. Born within sound of the Bow Bells he had heard from very young the ringing proclamation of our Christmas Lord. When only 12 or 13 years old he shocked his family by his decision to enter a pre-seminary for those preparing for ministry in the Church of England. He was trained there in the Christian faith, music and classical languages, and went on to read in Cambridge. He brought that learning and culture to his priestly life, both in the Anglican communion and ultimately in the Catholic Church.
In today’s Gospel (Lk 2:22-40) Jesus makes the first of many trips to church – to the Temple in Jerusalem – so His parents can make thanksgiving to God and consecrate their newborn to Him. There they meet old Father Simeon, who has prayed all his life to see the Messiah and now, having done so, sings his Nunc Dimitis, the Church’s bedtime lullaby. “Now my eyes have seen the salvation ... the light ... the glory” he thrills. The Christmas Gospels are suffused with this light. The Word, John’s Gospel tells us, is “a light come into the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome”. Matthew tells us He was heralded by comet-light and glow of angels. Luke records Zechariah announcing the Boy as “the tender mercy of God’s dawn, giving light to those who dwell in darkness and death”. And, as Simeon sang, that dawn is not for Israel only, but for all humanity, even Englishmen, even Australians.
What is this Christmas light that is told each year in evermore elaborate displays of Christmas lights around our suburbs? We say someone is enlightened when he has the gift of seeing deeply, of grasping reality wisely. We say someone is bright when he is happy, cheery, hopeful. Fr John Smith was bright in both senses. In our Cathedral presbytery, where he was recuperating for some months after surgery, he brought to our table words – he was never short of words – both of erudition and humour. Priests are, of course, wordsmiths, as they mediate the Light of Christ to others by proclamation and preaching, by liturgical words and sacramental formulae, by words of counsel and consolation. Fr John’s words were learned but never patronising, and he would always reach out to others with compassion, with a Pastor’s love.
Fr John Smith devoted his life to the Light of Christ. That light can take you in some unexpected directions! It took John into the Anglican ministry and Naval chaplaincy, then out of both and into the Catholic Church and priesthood, “from the RN to the RC” as he used to put it; into the Diocese of Leeds and several parishes and prison ministry; then out of Leeds and England and into Quakers Hill in the Diocese of Parramatta and finally up to the Upper Blue Mountains where the presbytery and parish needed his attentions. Though he long planned retirement in Spain – and had even bought his air ticket – he has now been called to a different beach. God often has different plans for us.
In the coming year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, what Blessed John Paul II called “the greatest grace given the Church in the 20th Century”. On reading its Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, John realised he must become a Catholic. It was unexpected. It was a great risk. But by Christ’s light we dare walk in such darkness. We dare also to be bearers of that light to the world, relaying the light of Christmas and Easter. So we must have the courage to speak openly, in broad daylight, not always worrying what people will think of us. Nor is it enough to talk of it: our very lives must radiate with the light of Christ; we must have in us a burning heart, fire in our belly, a shining enthusiasm. Like the bushfires that Mountains people know all too well, we must desire to share our fervour, our brightness, to spread it abroad.
Today we give thanks to God for a priest who answered the call to run like a bearer of the Olympic torch – more recently he walked – to relay Christ’s enlightening truth, burning compassion, shining hope, a light for those experiencing darkness and death. We offer for Fr John that Holy Sacrifice which he taught us to revere above all else, source of our joy and worthy of all praise. As he passed on the light of Christ to us so we pray now for perpetual light for him. We pray for him with that bedtime prayer of old Father Simeon: “Now, All-powerful Master, let your servant go in peace, according to Your promise, for his eyes have seen Your salvation, the Light to enlighten all peoples.”


John 1: 1 - 18
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God;
3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'")
16 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.


St. Sylvester
Feast: December 31

Feast Day: December 31
Died: 31 December 335 at Rome, Italy
Patron of: Feroleto Antico, Italy
St Sylvester, whom God appointed to govern his holy church in the first years of her temporal prosperity and triumph over her persecuting enemies, was a native of Rome and son to Rufinus and Justa. According to the general rule with those who are saints from their cradle, he received early and in his infancy the strongest sentiments of Christian piety from the example, instructions, and care of a virtuous mother, who for his education in the sound maxims and practice of religion, and in sacred literature, put him young into the hands of Charitius, or Carinus, a priest of an unexceptionable character and great abilities. Being formed under an excellent master, he entered among the clergy of Rome and was ordained priest by Pope Marcellinus, before the peace of the church was disturbed by Diocletian and his associate in the empire. His behaviour in those turbulent and dangerous times recommended him to the public esteem, and he saw the triumph of the cross by the victory which Constantine gained over Maxentius within sight of the city of Rome, on the 28th of October 312. Pope Melchiades dying in January 314, St. Sylvester was exalted to the pontificate, and the same year commissioned four legates, two priests, and two deacons to represent him at the great council of the Western church, held at Arles in August, in which the schism of the Donatists, which had then subsisted seven years, and the heresy of the Quartodecimans were condemned, and many important points of discipline regulated in twenty-two canons. These decisions were sent by the council before it broke up, with an honourable letter, to Pope Sylvester, and were confirmed by him and published to the whole church. The general council of Nice was assembled against Arianism in 325. Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret say that Pope Sylvester was not able to come to it in person on account of his great age, but that he sent his legates. Gelasius of Cyzicus mentions that in it "Osius held the place of the Bishop of Rome, together with the Roman priests Vito and Vincentius." These three are named the first in subscriptions of the bishops in the editions of the acts of that council and in Socrates, who expressly places them before Alexander, patriarch of Alexandria, and Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch. St. Sylvester greatly advanced religion by a punctual discharge of all the duties of his exalted station during the space of twenty-one years and eleven months; and died on the 31st of December 335. He was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla. Pope Sergius II translated his body and deposited it under the altar in a church dedicated to God in his memory. Mention is made of an altar consecrated to God in his honour at Verona, about the year 500; and his name occurs in the ancient Martyrology called St. Jerome's, published by Florentinius, and in those of Bede, Ado, Usuard, &c. Pope Gregory IX, in 1227, made his festival general in the Latin church; the Greeks keep it on the 10th January.

After a prodigious effusion of Christian blood almost all the world over, during the space of three hundred years, the persecuting kingdoms at length laid down their arms and submitted to the faith and worship of God crucified for us. This ought to be to us a subject of thanksgiving. But do our lives express this faith? Does it triumph in our hearts? It is one of its first precepts that in all our actions we make God our beginning and end, and have only his divine honour and his holy law in view. We ought, therefore, so to live that the days, hours, and moments of the year may form a crown made up of good works, which we may offer to God. Our forgetfulness of him who is our last end, in almost all that we -do, calls for a sacrifice of compunction at the close of the year; but this cannot be perfect or acceptable to God unless we sincerely devote our whole hearts and lives to his holy love for the time to come. Let us therefore examine into the sources of former omissions, failures, and transgressions, and take effectual measures for our amendment and for the perfect regulation of all our affections and actions for the future, or that part of our life which may remain.


No comments: