Sunday, January 1, 2012


RADIO VATICANA REPORT- On the first day of the New Year, the Church turns to Our Lady, dedicating January 1st to Mary the Mother of God. It’s also the day on which the Pope invites us to reflect on the theme of Peace. January 1st 2012 marks the 45th World Day of Peace and so both Mary and Peace were at the heart of the Pope’s homily during the solemn Mass celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday morning.

“Mary”, said Pope Benedict XVI, “is the Mother and model of the Church, who receives the divine Word in faith and offers herself to God…Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world of itself cannot give and which it needs at least as much as bread.”

The Holy Father also reflected on the theme for this year’s World Day of Peace message: “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace”. “In the present age, so strongly marked by a technological mentality”, he said, “the desire to educate and not merely to instruct cannot be taken for granted. In the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today’s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtue, is to look to the future with hope. And in this commitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place.”

Benedict XVI concluded his reflection by quoting Psalm 84 and inviting us all to “hear what God has to say…God who has spoken to us in His Son Jesus…a voice that speaks of Peace”.
Below is the English translation of Pope Benedict's Homily on the Solemity of Mary the Mother of God and the World Day of Peace.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On the first day of the year, the liturgy resounds in the Church throughout the world with the ancient priestly blessing that we heard during today’s first reading: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26). This blessing was entrusted by God, through Moses, to Aaron and his sons, that is, to the priests of the people of Israel. It is a triple blessing filled with light, radiating from the repetition of the name of God, the Lord, and from the image of his face. In fact, in order to be blessed, we have to stand in God’s presence, take his Name upon us and remain in the cone of light that issues from his Face, in a space lit up by his gaze, diffusing grace and peace.

This was the very experience that the shepherds of Bethlehem had, who reappear in today’s Gospel. They had the experience of standing in God’s presence, they received his blessing not in the hall of a majestic palace, in the presence of a great sovereign, but in a stable, before a “babe lying in a manger” (Lk 2:16). From this child, a new light issues forth, shining in the darkness of the night, as we can see in so many paintings depicting Christ’s Nativity. Henceforth, it is from him that blessing comes, from his name – Jesus, meaning “God saves” – and from his human face, in which God, the almighty Lord of heaven and earth, chose to become incarnate, concealing his glory under the veil of our flesh, so as to reveal fully to us his goodness (cf. Tit 3:4).

The first to be swept up by this blessing was Mary the virgin, the spouse of Joseph, chosen by God from the first moment of her existence to be the mother of his incarnate Son. She is the “blessed among women” (Lk 1:42) – in the words of Saint Elizabeth’s greeting. Her whole life was spent in the light of the Lord, within the radius of his name and of the face of God incarnate in Jesus, the “blessed fruit of her womb”. This is how Luke’s Gospel presents her to us: fully intent upon guarding and meditating in her heart upon everything concerning her son Jesus (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). The mystery of her divine motherhood that we celebrate today contains in superabundant measure the gift of grace that all human motherhood bears within it, so much so that the fruitfulness of the womb has always been associated with God’s blessing. The Mother of God is the first of the blessed, and it is she who bears the blessing; she is the woman who received Jesus into herself and brought him forth for the whole human family. In the words of the liturgy: “without losing the glory of virginity, [she] brought forth into the world the eternal light, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Preface I of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Mary is the mother and model of the Church, who receives the divine Word in faith and offers herself to God as the “good soil” in which he can continue to accomplish his mystery of salvation. The Church also participates in the mystery of divine motherhood, through preaching, which sows the seed of the Gospel throughout the world, and through the sacraments, which communicate grace and divine life to men. The Church exercises her motherhood especially in the sacrament of Baptism, when she generates God’s children from water and the Holy Spirit, who cries out in each of them: “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6). Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God’s blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world, of itself, cannot give, and which it needs always, at least as much as bread.

Dear friends, peace, in the fullest and highest sense, is the sum and synthesis of all blessings. So when two friends meet, they greet one another, wishing each other peace. The Church too, on the first day of the year, invokes this supreme good in a special way; she does so, like the Virgin Mary, by revealing Jesus to all, for as Saint Paul says, “He is our peace” (Eph 2:14), and at the same time the “way” by which individuals and peoples can reach this goal to which we all aspire. With this deep desire in my heart, I am glad to welcome and greet all of you who have come to Saint Peter’s Basilica on this 45th World Day of Peace: Cardinals, Ambassadors from so many friendly countries, who more than ever on this happy occasion share with me and with the Holy See the desire for renewed commitment to the promotion of peace in the world; the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who with the Secretary and the officials of the Dicastery work in a particular way towards this goal; the other Bishops and Authorities present; the representatives of ecclesial Associations and Movements and all of you, brothers and sisters, especially those among you who work in the field of educating the young. Indeed – as you know – the role of education is what I highlighted in my Message for this year.

“Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” is a task for every generation, and thanks be to God, after the tragedies of the two great world wars, the human family has shown increasing awareness of it, as we can witness, on the one hand, from international statements and initiatives, and on the other, from the emergence among young people themselves, in recent decades, of many different forms of social commitment in this field. For the ecclesial community, educating men and women in peace is part of the mission received from Christ, it is an integral part of evangelization, because the Gospel of Christ is also the Gospel of justice and peace. But the Church, in recent times, has articulated a demand that affects everyone with a sensitive and responsible conscience regarding humanity’s future; the demand to respond to a decisive challenge that consists precisely in education. Why is this a “challenge”? For at least two reasons: in the first place, because in the present age, so strongly marked by a technological mentality, the desire to educate and not merely to instruct cannot be taken for granted, it is a choice; in the second place, because the culture of relativism raises a radical question: does it still make sense to educate? And then, to educate for what?

Naturally now is not the time to address these fundamental questions, which I have tried to answer on other occasions. Instead I would like to underline the fact that, in the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today’s world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope. And in this commitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place. Boys and girls today are growing up in a world that has, so to speak, become smaller, where contacts between different cultures and traditions, even if not always direct, are constant. For them, now more than ever, it is indispensable to learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. Only a solid education of their consciences can protect them from these risks and make them capable of carrying on the fight, depending always and solely on the power of truth and good. This education begins in the family and is developed at school and in other formative experiences. It is essentially about helping infants, children and adolescents to develop a personality that combines a profound sense of justice with respect for their neighbour, with a capacity to address conflicts without arrogance, with the inner strength to bear witness to good, even when it involves sacrifice, with forgiveness and reconciliation. Thus they will be able to become people of peace and builders of peace.

In this task of educating young generations, a particular responsibility lies with religious communities. Every pathway of authentic religious formation guides the person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love him and to do his will. God is love, he is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honour him must first of all act like a child following his father’s example. One of the Psalms says: “The Lord does deeds of justice, gives judgment for all who are oppressed ... The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy” (Ps 102:6,8). In God, justice and mercy come together perfectly, as Jesus showed us through the testimony of his life. In Jesus, “love and truth” have met, “justice and peace” have embraced (cf. Ps 84:11). In these days, the Church is celebrating the great mystery of the Incarnation: God’s truth has sprung from the earth and justice looks down from heaven, the earth has yielded its fruit (cf. Ps 84:12,13). God has spoken to us in his Son Jesus. Let us hear what God has to say: “a voice that speaks of peace” (Ps 84:9). Jesus is a way that can be travelled, open to everyone. He is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points him out to us, she shows us the Way: let us walk in it! And you, Holy Mother of God, accompany us with your protection. Amen.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Once again this year, Fides publishes an annual document of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to information in our possession, during 2011, 26 pastoral care workers were killed: one more than the previous year: 18 priests, 4 religious sisters, 4 lay people.
For the third consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral workers killed is AMERICA, bathed with the blood of 13 priests and 2 lay persons. Following is AFRICA, where 6 pastoral workers were killed: 2 priests, 3 religious sisters,1 lay person. ASIA, where 2 priests, 1 religious sister, 1 lay person were killed. The least affected was EUROPE, where one priest was killed.


CBN REPORT; By Lorie Johnson
Unforgiveness can not only be destructive to a person's spiritual health, but also his or her physical well-being.
As doctors learn more about these effects, many are beginning to integrate "forgiveness therapy" into certain treatments.
Jayne Valseca said if she hadn't learned to forgive, she may not even be alive today.
She and her husband Eduardo were in Mexico when he was kidnapped and tortured. Valseca eventually negotiated his release, yet she had trouble moving on from the ordeal. She describes the experience in her book, We Have Your Husband.
"I knew that the stress was taking a toll on my immune system," Valseca recalled.
The Physical Toll
After eight months, her husband was released, but she soon found out she had another battle to fight.
"I was almost not surprised, yet completely devastated to hear the words, 'You have stage four breast cancer,'" she said.
Valseca prayed for healing even though doctors gave her a death sentence.
"I did collect more information, and in one of the books I read, I heard about Cancer Treatment Centers of America and I thought, 'Wow, this sounds like a fantastic place,'" she said.
Valseca added "forgiveness therapy" to her cancer treatment with Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and author of the book The Forgiveness Project.
"Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety," Barry explained.
"Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells which is your body's foot soldier in the fight against cancer," he said.
Power of Forgiveness
Barry's research on cancer patients revealed about 61 percent had trouble forgiving. More than half had a severe problem. Valseca said she had been consumed with revenge against her husband's kidnappers.
Forgiveness therapy begins with putting to rest three myths -- forgiveness is not reconciliation, forgiveness doesn't condone bad behavior, and forgiveness doesn't stop the pursuit of justice.
Valseca's path to forgiveness included writing a letter to her enemies, praying for them, and finding empathy for them.
"I saw the kidnappers as babies. And I took them one by one... in an imaginary scenario that I had created, going through things that I thought they could probably have gone through in order to get to where they got to do the things that they do, and to do what they did to me and to my family," she explained.
"And it was then that I felt this huge sense of relief," she said. "It was as if this huge ton of bricks, this weight of the world, was instantly lifted from my shoulders."
"When a person forgives from the heart, which is the gold standard we see in Matthew 18, we find that they are able to find a sense of peacefulness," Barry added.
"Quite often our patients refer to that as a feeling of lightness," he said. "We don't realize what a burden anger and hatred is until we let it go."
Fighting the 'Disease'
In medical literature, unforgiveness is classified as a disease, which is defined as "some process that overwhelms normal function."
"It's important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone's reactions to the treatments -- even someone's willingness to pursue treatment," said Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
The Valsecas have moved on from their trauma and unforgiveness and are keeping a positive outlook.
"There is nothing I can do with my mind thinking of negativity or thinking all the bad things they did," Eduardo said.
The couple, along with Dr. Barry, were honored by President Barack Obama at the Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this year for their living testimony of the power of forgiveness.


The number of elderly poor is rapidly growing in Vietnam. The Sisters of Vương-Mẫu Tâm host about 100 sick and elderly women at the Thiên Ân Warm Shelter. “I am deeply touched by the way they love each other,” one witness says. “Despite living in hardship, they still try to work and produce handicrafts to help other poor people.”

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Research shows that Vietnam’s elderly population is growing fast. Gender is an important related factor since the number of elderly women is much higher than that of men. This has led to what some have dubbed the “feminisation of the elderly population”. Elderly women face aging with more risk factors such as lower income, disabilities, discrimination and diseases. “In the next phrase (from 2011 to 2020), the number of elderly will continually increase. Vietnam needs social policies to take care of the elderly,” said Dr Dương Quốc Trọng in his research.

Vietnam is stepping into the time of the aged quickly. To meet the needs in health care and social services, Vietnam needs to have practical and suitable strategies to care for the elderly at present, said Bruce Campbell, United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) representative in Vietnam. However, the country’s social policies and programmes for the elderly have been inadequate so far.

For this reason, the Catholic Sisters of the Congregation of Vương-Mẫu Tâm set up in 1993 the Thiên Ân Warm Shelter in Thủ Đức District, Ho Chi Minh City, to take care of elderly women’s spiritual and psychological needs. Both Catholic and Buddhist residents live at the shelter, including some elderly Buddhist nuns.

“I see them sick, lying in their beds, waiting for time to go by . . .,” some volunteer students and social workers told AsiaNews. “Yet, they are friendly, hoping to have someone talk to them. We have seen many elderly in the city without a place to live, looking for some rice in the streets.”

“I admire the nuns and the volunteers who work with the elderly,” said Hương, a woman from the neighbourhood. “They built a shelter that has warmly welcomed about 100 elderly women. Ms Út, 104, still goes to the chapel to pray with the group twice a day. Catholic and Buddhist elderly live in spiritual friendship with the Catholic nuns.”

“I am deeply touched by the way they love each other,” Ms Nguyet told AsiaNews. “Despite living in hardship, they still try to work and produce handicrafts to help other poor people."


Nigeria: Archbishop speaks on Christmas bombings | Archbishop of Abuja, Mgr John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan,Boko Haram

Archbishop John Onaiyekan
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT: Dozens of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria were killed on Christmas day when a series of bomb attacks took place on churches around the country. The extreme Islamic Boko Haram sect orchestrated the attacks. At least 35 people died in a suicide bombing on the church of Santa Teresa, in Madalla district in Abuja, the federal capital. Other bombs exploded elsewhere, including a Pentecostal church in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

The Archbishop of Abuja, Mgr John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan said: "I hope that these people have not died in vain, the Nigerians are realizing that terrorism threatens us all, Christians and Muslims."

"The day after Christmas, when I went to the site of the attack along with the Nuncio, in the presence of the Minister of the Interior, I took the opportunity to launch a strong appeal through the local press to the Islamic leadership of Nigeria to do something " the Archbishop said.

"Even if the Muslim religious leaders continue to assert that members of Boko Haram do not belong to true Islam, they must recognize that these are Muslims, and that they have the greatest opportunity to identify them.

"A number of leading Islamic groups have condemned the attacks. I just received a call from a Muslim group who visited the injured in hospital and asked me to visit the church of Santa Teresa.

"It is no time to say whether we are Muslims or Christians, we all live under the threat of these people. Among the dead there were also Muslims. The bomb exploded in the street, opposite the church, and affected not only the faithful who came out of the Mass but also passers-by. I personally prayed and blessed a Moslem man who was seriously injured, " said the Archbishop.

Mgr Onaiyekan said a security service had been organised by parishioners and the police to protect churches in Abuja. Young men had set up check posts at the two entrances of the road leading to the church of Santa Teresa. However, he explained, a suicide bomber had driven through the cordon and detonated a bomb, killing himself, one of the young men and at least three policemen, some of whom were Muslim.

"This is terrorism, which spares no one," underlined the Archbishop. "When these people say they want an Islamic State, it is not a State that gives more freedom to the Muslims. We know what they mean by Islamic State, we have the example of the Somalia of the Shabab. I believe that we have finally managed to make it clear to the vast majority of our fellow Muslims that terrorism carried out by the Boko Haram is not only against Christians. Only together, Christians and Muslims, we can go far, " concluded Mgr Onaiyekan.

Source: Fides


Article and Photographs by Fr R Cross
The Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences of Notre Dame University in Fremantle, Associate Professor Dylan Korczynskyj, together with Associate Professor Deborah Gare and Dr Shane Burke, hosted a morning tea for the presentation by Mr Odhran O'Brien of his Masters Thesis on Bishop Martin Griver (1814-1886), Perth's second Catholic Bishop.

Left to Right: Fr David Barry, Assoc Prof Deborah Gare, Mr Odhran O'Brien, Bishop Donald Sproxton, Dr Shane Burke and Mgr Brian O'Loughlin
Copies of the thesis were presented by Mr O'Brien to Bishop Donald Sproxton, Auxiliary Bishop of Perth, Monsignor Brian O'Loughlin, Chairman of the Archdiocesan Historical Commission and Fr David Barry, Prior of New Norcia.
Also present at the presentation were Mr O'Brien's mother, Mrs Geraldine O'Brien, Dr Marc Fellman, Head of Notre Dame's Research Office, Fr Robert Cross, Executive Assistant to Archbishop Hickey and other staff from the School of Arts and Sciences.
Mr O'Brien will spend the next few months editing the thesis for publication later in 2012.

Above: Mr O'Brien introducing his thesis


Jan 01, 2012 - Mary, Mother of God

  • Numbers 6: 22 - 27
    22 The LORD said to Moses,
    23 "Say to Aaron and his sons, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
    24 The LORD bless you and keep you:
    25 The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
    26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
    27 "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."
    Psalms 67: 2 - 3, 5 - 6, 8
    2 that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations.
    3 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!
    5 Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!
    6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
    Galatians 4: 4 - 7
    4 But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
    5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
    6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
    7 So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.
    Luke 2: 16 - 21
    16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
    17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;
    18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
    19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
    20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
    21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Feast: January 1

Feast Day: January 1
The solemnity of the Mother of God, which now coincides with the octave-day of Christmas and the beginning of the new year, was probably assigned this day because of the influence of the Byzantine Church, which celebrates the synapsis of the most holy Theotokos on December 26. This is in accordance with the Eastern practice of honoring secondary persons on the day after the feast of the principal personage (in this case, the birth of Christ). The Coptic Church celebrates this feast on January 16, but in the West, as early as the fifth century, the feast was celebrated on the Sunday before Christmas, although in France it was celebrated on January 18 and in Spain on December 18. Even before Pope Sergius introduced four Marian feasts in the seventh century (the Birth of Mary, the Annunciation, the Purification and the Assumption), the octave day of Christmas was celebrated in Rome in honor of the Maternity of Mary. Later, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the feast of the Circumcision was added, although it had been introduced into Spain and France at the end of the sixth century and was later included in the Missal of Pope St. Pius V. The recent liturgical reform has restored the original Roman practice, which replaced the pagan feast of the New Year, dedicated to the god Janus, with this feast honoring the Mother of God.

A popular movement began in Portugal in the eighteenth century for a feast honoring Mary's maternity, and in 1914 the date of the feast was fixed at October 11. It was extended to the entire Latin Church in 1931, the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus. The restoration of the feast to January 1, which falls in the Christmas season and has an ecumenical significance, coincides with other anniversaries; for example, the octave day of Christmas, the circumcision of the Infant Jesus (assigned to the first Sunday of January); the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (which dates back to 1721); and the day for peace, introduced by Pope Paul VI.

In the encyclical Marialis Cultus (1974) Pope Paul VI states: "This celebration, assigned to January 1 in conformity with the ancient liturgy of the city of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the 'holy Mother . . . through whom we were found worthy . . . to receive the Author of life.' It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewed adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels, and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. For this reason . . . we have instituted the World Day of Peace, an observance that is gaining increasing support and is already bringing forth fruits of peace in the hearts of many" (no. 5).


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