Wednesday, February 1, 2012



VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received thousands of pilgrims from around the world in his weekly general audience. As part of a series of catecheses dedicated to the prayers pronounced by Christ, he focused his remarks on Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

Mark the Evangelist narrates how, following the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and readied Himself for personal prayer. "But this time", the Pope said, "something new occurred; it seemed that He did not want to remain alone. Many times in the past Jesus had moved away from the crowds, even from His own disciples. ... However, in Gethsemane he invited Peter, James and John to stay close by; the same disciples who had accompanied Him during the Transfiguration.

"The proximity of these three during the prayer at Gethsemane is significant", Benedict XVI added. It represents "a request for solidarity at the moment in which He felt the approach of death. Above all it was a closeness in prayer, an expression of unity with Him at the moment in which He was preparing to accomplish the Father's will to the end, an invitation to all disciples to follow Him on the path of the Cross".

Jesus' words to the three disciples - "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake" - show that He was feeling "fear and anguish at that 'Hour', experiencing the ultimate profound solitude as God's plan was being accomplished. Jesus fear and anguish comprehend all the horror that man feels at the prospect of his own death, its inexorable certainty and the perception of the burden of evil which affects our lives".

Having invited His disciples to keep awake, Jesus moved away from them. Referring to the Gospel of St. Mark, the Pope noted that Jesus "threw Himself to the ground: a position for prayer which expresses obedience to the Father's will, an abandonment of self with complete trust in Him". Jesus then asks the Father that, if possible, the hour might pass from Him. "This is not just the fear and anguish of man in the face of death", the Holy Father explained, "but the distress of the Son of God Who sees the terrible accumulation of evil He must take upon Himself, in order to overcome it and deprive it of power".

In this context, Benedict XVI invited the faithful to pray to God, placing before Him "our fatigue, the suffering of certain situations and of certain days, our daily struggle to follow Him and to be Christians, and the burden of evil we see within and around us, that He may give us hope, make us aware of His closeness and give us a little light on life's journey".

Returning then to Jesus' prayer, the Pope focused on "three revealing passages" in Christ's words: "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want but what you want". Firstly, Benedict XVI said, the Aramaic word "Abba" is used by children to address their fathers, "therefore it express Jesus relationship with God the Father, a relationship of tenderness, affection and trust". Secondly, Jesus' words contain an acknowledgment of the Father's omnipotence "introducing a request in which, once again, we see the drama of Jesus' human will in the face of death and evil. ... Yet the third expression ... is the decisive one, in which the human will adheres fully to the divine will. ... Jesus tells us that only by conforming their will to the divine will can human beings achieve their true stature and become 'divine'. ... This is what Jesus does in Gethsemane. By transferring human will to the divine will the true man is born and we are redeemed".

When we pray the Our Father "we ask the Lord that 'your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven'. In other words, we recognise that God has a will for us and with us, that God has a will for our lives and, each day, this must increasingly become the reference point for our desires and our existence. We also recognise that ... 'earth' becomes 'heaven' - the place where love, goodness, truth and divine beauty are present - only if the will of God is done".

In our prayers "we must learn to have greater trust in Divine Providence, to ask God for the strength to abandon our own selves in order to renew our 'yes', to repeat to Him 'your will be done', to conform our will to His. This is a prayer we must repeat every day, because it is not always easy to entrust oneself to the will of God".

The Gospel says that the disciples were unable to remain awake for Christ, and Pope Benedict concluded his catechesis by saying: "Let us ask the Lord for the power to keep awake for Him in prayer, to follow the will of God every day even if He speaks of the Cross, to live in ever increasing intimacy with the Lord and bring a little of God's 'heaven' to this 'earth'".

Following the catechesis the Holy Father delivered greetings in a number of languages to the pilgrims filling the Paul VI Hall. They included a group of British military chaplains, faithful from Hong Kong and South America, bishops friends of the Sant'Egidio Community from Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as young people and the sick.
AG/ VIS 20120201 (940)


VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Archbishop Charles Chaput O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, U.S.A., for the death of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, former archbishop of that archdiocese who died yesterday at the age of 88. The Holy Father writes:

"Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, I offer my heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the archdiocese. I join you in commending the late cardinal's soul to God, the Father of mercies, with gratitude for his years of episcopal ministry among Christ's flock in Philadelphia, his longstanding commitment to social justice and the pastoral care of immigrants, and his expert contribution to the revision of the Church's law in the years following Vatican Council II. To you, and to all the clergy, religious and laity of the Church in Philadelphia, and to the members of his family, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ".


CATHOLIC HERALD REORT: By Madeleine Teahan on Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Bishops to distribute cards to Catholics declaring their faithOne side of the card
A card communicating that its carrier is a baptised Catholic will be distributed nationally on behalf of the bishops of England and Wales.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is distributing one million cards to 24 dioceses including the Bishopric of the Forces and the ordinariate in order to cultivate evangelisation among Catholics.
The credit-card-size resource features on one side a clear statement that the carrier is a Catholic and a list of six things that Catholics are called to do.
There is also a sentence that reads: “In the event of an emergency, please contact a Catholic priest.”
The other side of the card has a quote from Blessed John Henry Newman, focusing on the call to serve and affirming that everyone has a mission.
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, chairman of the bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “We all carry a variety of cards in our purses and wallets which reflect something of our identity and the things that are important to us. The faith card for Catholics aims to offer a daily reminder of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We can’t summarise the whole of our faith in bullet points, but we hope that the card simply inspires people to do, read and learn more.”
The bishop added: “The card is also designed to give Catholics confidence to share their faith – often people need help knowing what to say. Faith is a not a private matter. This is something that Pope Benedict reminded the Catholic community in his recent letter announcing a Year of Faith, beginning in October 2012. Carrying a faith card takes courage, it signals to others, every time you use your wallet or purse, that you believe in God, that your life has a purpose, that you are trying to love and serve your neighbour. We hope that Catholics will use it to witness to their faith. If someone asks a question about Catholicism, a starting point could be to show the card and to take it from there.”
The resource is free and will be distributed to diocesan offices during February and March 2012 for local circulation.


ASIA NEWS REPORT; Tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Army are still languishing in shelters and camps. Rebel leaders do not want a ceasefire, but “political talks”. Local priest says food supplies are a major problem. Concerns are growing over sanitary conditions.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Kachin refugees are afraid to return to their home villages because of renewed fighting between the Burmese military and rebels. Despite talks between government representatives and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), tensions remain high and tens of thousands of people displaced by the hostilities are still stuck in shelters run by Christian organisations or in private homes, their future still uncertain.

Leaders from Kachin State, home to the Kachin people, which is in northern Myanmar on the Chinese border, said they were not interested in a ceasefire; instead, they want formal “political” talks with the government of President Thein Sein.

For Kachin leaders, the restart in fighting after 17 years of relative calm is evidence that the most important issues have not been resolved, including greater autonomy.

Fr Luke Kha Li, parish priest at the St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Manwingyi (Bhamo District), told UCAN that “food supplies” for refugees and preparations for the return journey are the main concern.

Almost 500 refugees found shelter in the parish church, whilst another 1,200 were taken in by local families with the support from the Karuna Banmaw Social Service (the local Caritas).

Displaced after hostilities between the Burmese army and the KIA broke out again in June 2011, some 60,000 people found refuge in Church buildings, private homes and makeshift camps in eastern Kachin state.

Humanitarian workers are now sounding the alarm, warning that health and sanitary conditions refugees face might worsen.

A Kachin nurse, Di Di Ah Hkaw, told The Irrawaddy, a dissident online publication, that miscarriages are a growing problem.

“Pregnant women have no choice but to run from their homes to a safe place while many of their husbands are fighting on the frontline,” she said.


Young-Christian-Students-launch-campaign-350The Young Christian Students movement have launched their new campaign, '100% Respect: Youth Refugees and Asylum Seekers' at their January 2012 National Conference and followed with a tremendously well supported awareness action on Australia Day to kick-start the campaign across the nation.

The Young Christian Students movement uses the Cardijnian method of 'See, Judge and Act' to empower high school student to critically analyse issues around them in light of their faith, and take action to change the situation.

Mai Mitsumori-Miller, a Perth Year 12 student, co-ordinated a thorough 'See, Judge, Act' of the issues surrounding youth refugees and asylum seekers at the National Conference in Melrose. This resulted in a direct service aim for local students to educate people in their community about the media perception of the issue, and an advocacy aim targeted at the Federal Government to uphold the UN Convention for Rights of a Child for refugees and asylum seekers under the age of eighteen.

"The 100% Respect: Youth Refugees and Asylum Seekers campaign was chosen as it was an issue that was identified as relative to many of the students throughout 2011. Refugees and asylum seekers is a major political, social and media topic in our society today, and as students the lives of people our own age was seen as an important place to begin our relationship and understanding of those fleeing their homelands."

"Students will be continually reviewing the issues throughout the two year campaign, and be equipped with the necessary skills to take action on local and national levels based on their faith," Mai said.

The Conference was attended by around 45 students from all around the country as well as by Bishop Biancinni of Geraldton, and Bishop O'Kelly of Port Pirie. Hannah Stavrou, the 16 year-old Conference Co-ordinator from Barmera, South Australia stated that "this conference gave like-minded and passionate students the chance to create great action that will transform not only themselves but their communities and the world."

The first action of the Youth Refugees and Asylum seekers campaign took place on Australia Day and was the biggest nationally co-ordinated action from the movement for very many years. Almost 1000 people from across the country attended the Facebook event 'bare skin for refugees and asylum seekers' which asked people to write 'for those that come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share' on their skin. This was a huge success, with hundreds of photos uploaded onto the 'Australian YCS' Facebook page in support of refugees and asylum seekers. These will be forwarded to politicians to bring about just policies and practises that uphold the human dignity of these young people.

The previous National Chairperson, Liam McGuire of Townsville is excited about the campaign despite finishing school in 2011.

"With all members excited about the new campaign, having their say and already taking action, we hope this is going to be the most effective campaign in our recent history."


Agenzia Fides REPORT - According to a researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico City (UNAM), in order for street children of Mexico City to grow and survive, they need to be part of a social network that offers them support and identity, roots and the opportunity to obtain satisfaction. On streets, which has a certain charm over them because supposedly they escape from family problems, children adopt a way of life as adults. They learn to survive on their own always relating themselves with others. They are between 8 and 12 years old and spend their days dodging the cars in the southern suburbs of Mexico City. They sell sweets, chewing gum, cigarettes, they wash car windows, earning between 150 and 250 pesos per day. Those of them who fall into this lifestyle gain a system of values and solidarity, sharing the profits with teenage mothers or those who are unable to work. By integrating in this way they defend themselves from the aggression of motorists, police and other dangers. In exchange for this solidarity, children who have abandoned their homes and families receive protection and affection that restrict their separation anxiety. The system of social network is also a good alternative to deal with loneliness, cold weather and insecurity as well as a resource to meet individual needs. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 31/01/2012)


LILONGWE, January 31, 2012 (CISA) –The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has approved a journalists organisation as one of its bodies to help the local church in its evangelization mission.
The approval of the Association of Catholic Journalists (ACJ) was made on January 27, 2012 at Msamba Prayer House in Lilongwe during ECM first plenary meeting.
“We do approve you as Association of Catholic Journalists and we hope that we will continue working together in collaboration for the betterment of the Catholic Church especially in evangelization and that you will take to heart the good of the Church,” said bishop Zuza, ECM’s president.
“On behalf of the ACJ, I would like to thank the ECM for approving the association,” said ACJ’s President Deogratias Mmana.
The association pledged to remain professional journalists and work for the Church especially in its evangelization mission and to offer their professional expertise and guidance for the Church.
The Bishops also endorsed the ECM Studios to be called Malawi Catholic Communications Network (MCCN).


Mark 6: 1 - 6
1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him.
2 And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands!
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house."
5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.
6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.


St. Bridgid of Ireland
Feast: February 1

Feast Day: February 1
451 or 452 at Faughart, County Louth, Ireland
Died: 1 February 525 at Kildare, Ireland
Patron of: babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle; chicken farmers; children whose parents are not married; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; mariners; midwives; milk maids; newborn babies; nuns; poets; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen
Born in 451 or 452 of princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525, at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, "the church of the oak" (now Kildare), in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigid's biographers, but the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the court of her father Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650. It is metrical, as may be seen from the following specimen:

Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach
Ni bu huarach im sheire Dé,
Sech ni chiuir ni cossens
Ind nóeb dibad bethath che.

(Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God's love;
Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for
The wealth of this world below, the holy one.)

Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare in the eighth century, expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified it in good Latin. This is what is known as the "Second Life", and is an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cogitosus's work is the description of the Cathedral of Kildare in his day: "Solo spatioso et in altum minaci proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis". The rood-screen was formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated curtains. Probably the famous Round Tower of Kildare dates from the sixth century. Although St. Brigid was "veiled" or received by St. Macaille, at Croghan, yet, it is tolerably certain that she was professed by St. Mel of Ardagh, who also conferred on her abbatial powers. From Ardagh St. Macaille and St. Brigid followed St. Mel into the country of Teffia in Meath, including portions of Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about the year 468. St. Brigid's small oratory at Cill- Dara became the centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply "selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction", and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth "to govern the church along with herself". Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland.
Not alone was St. Bridget a patroness of students, but she also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination, over which St. Conleth presided. From the Kildare scriptorium came the wondrous book of the Gospels, which elicited unbounded praise from Giraldus Cambrensis, but which has disappeared since the Reformation. According to this twelfth- century ecclesiastic, nothing that he had ever seen was at all comparable to the "Book of Kildare", every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and he concludes a most laudatory notice by saying that the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that "all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill". Small wonder that Gerald Barry assumed the book to have been written night after night as St. Bridget prayed, "an angel furnishing the designs, the scribe copying". Even allowing for the exaggerated stories told of St. Brigid by her numerous biographers, it is certain that she ranks as one of the most remarkable Irishwomen of the fifth century and as the Patroness of Ireland. She is lovingly called the "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael" by a writer in the "Leabhar Breac". St. Brigid died leaving a cathedral city and school that became famous all over Europe. In her honour St. Ultan wrote a hymn commencing:

Christus in nostra insula
Que vocatur Hivernia
Ostensus est hominibus
Maximis mirabilibus
Que perfecit per felicem
Celestis vite virginem
Precellentem pro merito
Magno in numdi circulo.

(In our island of Hibernia Christ was made known to man by the very great miracles which he performed through the happy virgin of celestial life, famous for her merits through the whole world.)

The sixth Life of the saint printed by Colgan is attributed to Coelan, an Irish monk of the eighth century, and it derives a peculiar importance from the fact that it is prefaced by a foreword from the pen of St. Donatus, also an Irish monk, who became Bishop of Fiesole in 824. St. Donatus refers to previous lives by St. Ultan and St. Aileran. When dying, St. Brigid was attended by St. Ninnidh, who was ever afterwards known as "Ninnidh of the Clean Hand" because he had his right hand encased with a metal covering to prevent its ever being defiled, after being he medium of administering the viaticum to Ireland's Patroness. She was interred at the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, and a costly tomb was erected over her. In after years her shrine was an object of veneration for pilgrims, especially on her feast day, 1 February, as Cogitosus related. About the year 878, owing to the Scandinavian raids, the relics of St. Brigid were taken to Downpatrick, where they were interred in the tomb of St. Patrick and St. Columba. The relics of the three saints were discovered in 1185, and on 9 June of the following year were solemnly translated to a suitable resting place in Downpatrick Cathedral, in presence of Cardinal Vivian, fifteen bishops, and numerous abbots and ecclesiastics. Various Continental breviaries of the pre-Reformation period commemorate St. Brigid, and her name is included in a litany in the Stowe Missal. In Ireland today, after 1500 years, the memory of "the Mary of the Gael" is as dear as ever to the Irish heart, and, as is well known, Brigid preponderates as a female Christian name. Moreover, hundreds of place-names in her honour are to be found all over the country, e.g. Kilbride, Brideswell, Tubberbride, Templebride, etc. The hand of St. Brigid is preserved at Lumiar near Lisbon, Portugal, since 1587, and another relic is at St. Martin's Cologne.
Viewing the biography of St. Brigid from a critical standpoint we must allow a large margin for the vivid Celtic imagination and the glosses of medieval writers, but still the personality of the founder of Kildare stands out clearly, and we can with tolerable accuracy trace the leading events in her life, by a careful study of the old "Lives" as found in Colgan. It seems certain that Faughart, associated with memories of Queen Meave (Medhbh), was the scene of her birth; and Faughart Church was founded by St. Morienna in honour of St. Brigid. The old well of St. Brigid's adjoining the ruined church is of the most venerable antiquity, and still attracts pilgrims; in the immediate vicinity is the ancient mote of Faughart. As to St. Brigid's stay in Connacht, especially in the County Roscommon, there is ample evidence in the "Trias Thaumaturga", as also in the many churches founded by her in the Diocese of Elphim. Her friendship with St. Patrick is attested by the following paragraph from the "Book of Armagh", a precious manuscript of the eighth century, the authenticity of which is beyond question: "inter sanctum Patricium Brigitanque Hibernesium columpnas amicitia caritatis inerat tanta, ut unum cor consiliumque haberent unum. Christus per illum illamque virtutes multas peregit". (Between St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the columns of the Irish, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many miracles.) At Armagh there was a "Templum Brigidis"; namely the little abbey church known as "Regles Brigid", which contained some relics of the saint, destroyed in 1179, by William Fitz Aldelm. It may be added that the original manuscript of Cogitosus's "Life of Brigid", or the "Second Life", dating from the closing years of the eighth century, is now in the Dominican friary at Eichstätt in Bavaria.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)


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