Sunday, February 26, 2012



RADIO VATICANA REPORT: “The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity”, said Pope Benedict XVI this Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus prayer with thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered beneath his study window in St Peter’s Square.

The Pope also asked for the prayers of the faithful in the coming week. Over the next seven days starting sundown Sunday evening, the Pope and cardinals of the Roman Curia begin their Lenten Spiritual Exercises.

Held in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, the theme for the week is “The communion of the Christian with God," taken from the First Letter of John: "And our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ" (I John 1.3). This year the exercises will be led by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo.

The exercises begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Evening Prayer, followed by meditation and adoration and Benediction. In the coming days, there will be the celebration of Lauds and the Terce each morning, followed by Vespers, adoration and Benediction in the evening. Saturday, March 3, there will be a final meditation at 9:00.

The titles of each of the seven days of mediations are: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”; “Communion and Life”; “Communion and Mercy”; “Breach of communion, sin”; “God is love”; “Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Prayer - The Holy Spirit”; and “Love and Faith.”

Pope Benedict XVI has no public or private appointments for the duration of the spiritual exercises. There will be no general audience this coming Wednesday.
Below a Vatican Radio Translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus reflections.
Dear brothers and sisters!

On this first Sunday of Lent, we find that Jesus, after having received baptism in the River Jordan from John the Baptist (cf. Mk 1.9), he is tempted in the desert(cf. Mk 1:12-13). The narrative of St. Mark's is concise, devoid of the details that we read in the other two Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The desert of which we speak has different meanings. It may indicate the state of abandonment and loneliness, the "place" of man's weakness where there are no supports and certainties, where temptation becomes stronger. But it may also indicate a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt, where we can experience the presence of God in a special way. Jesus " remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan" (Mk 1.13). St. Leo the Great says that "the Lord willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example" (Tractatus XXXIX, 3 De ieiunio quadragesimae: CCL 138 / A, Turnholti 1973, 214-215) .

What can this episode teach us? As we read in the Book of the Imitation of Christ, " as long as he lives, man is never wholly free from the temptation... but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy" (Liber I, c. XIII , Vatican City 1982, 37), patience and humility to follow the Lord every day, learning to build our life not outside of Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation has always been present in human history to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.

Jesus proclaims that " This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk 1.15), He announces that something new happens in Him: God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love, God becomes incarnate and enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God. But this proclamation is accompanied by a corresponding request for such a great gift. In fact, Jesus adds: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1.15), it is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good. The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity.

Let us fervently beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany us on our Lenten journey with her protection and may She help impress the words of Jesus Christ upon our hearts and in our life, to convert ourselves to Him. I also commend to your prayers the week of Spiritual Exercises that I begin this evening with my collaborators of the Roman Curia.

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this moment of prayer. In these first days of Lent, I invite you to embrace the spirit of this holy season, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we do so, may the Lord accompany us, so that, at the end of Lent, we may worthily celebrate his victory on the cross. God bless all of you abundantly!


Nigeria is the scene of another explosion at a Church. 3 were killed from the car bombing at the compound of Church of Christ in Jos. Police report that the car was filled with explosives according to CNN. The car struck a woman and killed her before going off. Then the bombs killed 2 church members and the driver. 38 people were injured from the attack. 30 cars were damaged from the blast. Fear grips the nation which is recovering from a series of bomb attacks on churces in the past year.
The bombings killed 35 people last Christmas. It is reported that the terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for these bombings. (image source:


logo_CCFD-Terre Solidaire_2012
BISHOP'S CONFERENCE OF FRANCE RELEASE: The approach of the presidential election of 2012, the CCFD-Terre Solidaire unveiled its "deal for solidarity land."
16 concrete proposals on tax evasion, migration policies, regulation of agricultural markets and transnational companies.

CCFD-Terre solidaire wants to put international solidarity at the heart of the presidential election. Because the France is in the world, a giving campaign has no sense. Especially when it comes to migration policy and fight against tax havens, two issues that go beyond our borders and which were the subject of zoom at the presentation of the "Pact for joint land", February 2, 2012.

The conclusion is simple: since the development aid is not enough, it is first in France that they must act: on our economic, financial, trade and migration policies. Since 2007, in crisis are "of a system", analysis Bernard Pinaud, General delegate.

The objective of the campaign launched by CCFD-Terre solidaire is therefore to incorporate a maximum of these proposals in the programme of the candidates. Mobilized for a year already, the development NGOs met with the various parties and sent experts to their summer schools. The positioning of the arrested candidates will be made public on its site and monitoring of commitments - balance to 100 days for example - is expected. Bernard Pinaud promises that mobilization does not stop the election day!

To sensitize civil society also, CCFD-Terre solidaire volunteers will lead discussions on the 16 proposals. In April, a national poster campaign will aim to (re) say "citizen power" and to bring the question of international solidarity in the street. In 2007, the "State of planetary emergency" campaign advocated, among other things, the end of the "Françafrique". In 2002, the campaign "Put pressure" insisted on the cancellation of the debt commitment by Jacques Chirac.

Zoom on tax fraud and migration policy

The theme of tax evasion and tax havens is now taken into account seriously by politicians. It was particularly in the menu of the G20 in Cannes in November 2011. Yet the CCFD-Terre Solidaire experts consider inapplicable and insufficient existing device. Little strategic, 18 territories listed represent only 1% of financial flows. The European Union is not party: where are the Luxembourg, Andorra, Monaco and the Ireland? That said major French international companies whose subsidiaries are domiciled in tax havens? Valued at EUR 20 billion international, the shortfall for the State is equivalent to the famous "hole in the social security system." In total, tax fraud costs EUR 50 billion to the French State. More ambitious measures are urgent!

"You can't believe the France without international vision." "Are responses to contemporary issues in international solidarity." These are the beliefs of the CCFD-Terre Solidaire migration policies. Experts note however that the subject is little discussed in the programmes of the parties. They offer particularly to stop the blackmail of the France poor countries dissociating the assistance to the development of the movement and installation agreements negotiated with already about 15 States. The current Government has set a goal of 20 agreements signed by 2013.



Syrian bishop says conflict 'out of control' | Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus. Syria

Archbishop Samir Nassar
A senior bishop in Syria has described how the country is “locked in a murderous stalemate” and has told how his people say farewell to one another after Sunday Mass uncertain if they will meet again.

Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus writes in a statement to the Church in Need:

1) Globalisation of the crisis: From a small demonstration in the south of Syria on 15 March, 2011, the crisis has spread, like an oil stain, to almost every Syrian town. This has been a rebellion without a face, driven by the Internet and the electronic media. From a local crisis to a regional crisis, after one year Syria has been transformed into a place of international conflict in which political, military and economic interests are determining the future of the country... leaving the door open to violence and extreme suffering.
2) Facing a stalemate: This conflict seems to be running out of control. On the one side is a muscular central power, bent on holding sway, and on the other a determined popular uprising that refuses to subside or put down its arms, despite the intensity of the violence. In this conflict, which is paralysing the country – with an economic embargo, inflation, a 60% devaluation of the local currency, galloping unemployment, destruction, displacement of populations and thousands of victims – it is the little people who suffer. They are subjected to enormous pressures and sufferings that only grow with the passing of time and the hatred that divides and the poverty that is spreading, in the absence of anycharitable and humanitarian relief movements. Syria appears to be locked in a situation of murderous stalemate.

3) Fear and anguish: This inescapable situation is stoking the fears of the faithful, who say goodbye to each other at the end of every Mass, so uncertain are they of a continuing future... The closure of the embassies in Damascus has made it impossible to obtain a visa and further reduced the possibility of leaving the country, above all for the Iraqi refugees, of whom there are many still living here. The young people in first-time employment, who have been the victims of mass layoffs, take a very dim view of this diplomatic embargo, which has only made their plight still worse.

The world no longer wants anything to do with us and is closing the door on us, they think. This same anxiety is affecting even the priests, some of whom are quietly seeking more tranquil skies. What will become of the Church in Syria without them? The adventure with Christ is certainly not made any easier.

4) The safe refuge: In the midst of this great turmoil and sharp division, the victims of this crisis have found their only refuge in the family.... Without doubt the family is proving to be the sole safety net, a place of life and welcome that cares, protects, consoles, shares and defends with love and affection, in a marvellous spirit of solidarity...

This basic cell absorbs the shocks, and to it the uprooted, the wounded, the unemployed all return. The family is the fortress in this chaotic void and the place that guarantees the survival of society and of the Church...

And so, faced with this crisis, this same Church has chosen to focus all its efforts and its prayers on the family, by supplying it with all the assistance and support at her disposal. What a grace it is to be able to rely, during this Calvary, on the family – damaged and vulnerable indeed, but remaining united, close-knit, solid, prayerful and faith-filled. We are so far from an early end to this crisis and the storm seems to be blowing more fiercely than ever as we approach the second year. There is still no light at the end of the tunnel. Where is Syria heading? As we enter the season of Lent, we do so in silence, our hands empty, our hearts constricted and our gaze fixed on the RISEN CHRIST, who will guide our steps on the path of forgiveness and peace.

+ Samir Nassar

Maronite Archbishop of Damascus
21st February 2012

Source: ACN



Sr Shirley Kathleen Rose Sedawie, OAM
23-9-1924 to 31-12-2011

Born in Sydney in the 1920s, Shirley Sedawie grew up the granddaughter of Syrian migrants. At the age of 22, she was formally admitted as a Sister of Our Lady of Sion as Sister Callistus and went to teach at Ascot Vale.
But teaching in a parish primary school was not to be her path in life... and it was her choice of order which sent her in an unexpected direction. The Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, a teaching order, was founded in the 1840s by, a French-born Jew named Theodore Ratisbonne. He believed it was his vocation to convert Jews to Christianity.
When details of the Holocaust, became better known In the 1950s, his order made the decision to accept as its mission the task of furthering understanding between Jews and Christians and combating anti-Semitism.
Sr Shirley had been teaching during the period of change leading to the Second Vatican Council and the historic document, Nostra Aetate, which declared: ‘We are called to be in relationship and to dialogue with the Jewish People’.
She spent time studying in Jerusalem, lecturing in Rome, and came back to Australia. That, according to Rabbi Raymond Apple of Sydney's Great Synagogue was '’the breakthrough (establishing the Council of Christians and Jews)... (it) occurred in 1988 when Sister Shirley Sedawie returned to Australia’.

Sr Shirley returned to Melbourne in 1990 and was re-elected to the executive of the council in Victoria. She was made an honorary life member in 1995, and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services '’to the promotion of interfaith relations and understanding'’.
At the time, Archbishop Denis Hart wrote: 'You have been a remarkable leader in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations, bringing your warmth and welcome to the relationship … and I consider myself lucky to have inherited so much of what you built. You have emphasised the dignity of every person and the sincere nature of our relationship of common belief in the one God.'
Sr Shirley died on New Year’s Eve of dementia at the St Vincent de Paul Nursing Home in Box Hill, Melbourne. She was 87.


Agenzia Fides report - Consider Lent is considered a suitable time for prayer, fellowship, sharing: this is why Caritas Venezuela presented its campaign "Compartir 2012" (Sharing) aimed at building peace. As reported to Fides by the local church, this is the 32nd edition which, on this occasion, is titled "A Venezuela 100% free of violence."
The Campaign is an instrument of the Church to bring to the attention of the faithful some topics of general interest that touch the Venezuelan society. In the note sent to Fides, it is explained how every year, the Bishops deal with the reality of the country and its most critical problems. Insecurity is a problem that strongly affects the population, and that poses a threat to all families. For this reason, the Catholic Church has decided that during 2012, the delegates of the national Caritas will work for the construction of peace, tolerance and peaceful conflict resolution, working in all communities, especially through the parishes.
This message, confirms the note, will be broadcast by all media and will be released at all levels, with neighborhood meetings, meetings in schools, through sports and cultural activities throughout the country. The Campaign "Compartir 2012" - says in conclusion - will be promoted by all the Catholic organizations (parishes, schools, vicarages, associations, religious institutions) and will try to counter the "culture of death" by emphasizing the goodness of the "culture of life " which, through Gospel values,"reinforces the positive references that tie together the Venezuelan people." (CE) (Agenzia Fides 25/2/2012)


Genesis 9: 8 - 15
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
9 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you,
10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."
12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
13 I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,
15 I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Psalms 25: 4 - 9
4 Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.
6 Be mindful of thy mercy, O LORD, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to thy steadfast love remember me, for thy goodness' sake, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
1 Peter 3: 18 - 22
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit;
19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison,
20 who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Mark 1: 12 - 15
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."


St. Porphyrius
Feast: February 26

Feast Day: February 26
347, Thessalonica, Greece
Died: February 26, 420, Gaza, Palestine
Bishop of Gaza in Palestine, b. at Thessalonica about 347; d. at Gaza, 26 February, 420. After five years in the Egyptian desert of Scete he lived five years in a cave near the Jordan. In spite of his impaired health, he frequently visited the scene of the Resurrection. Here he met the Asiatic Mark, at a later date a deacon of his church and his biographer. To effect the sale of the property still owned by Porphyrius in his native city, Mark set out for Thessalonica and, upon his return, the proceeds were distributed among the monasteries of Egypt and among the necessitous in and around Jerusalem. In 392 Porphyrius was ordained to the priesthood, and the relic of the Holy Cross was intrusted to his care. In 395 he became Bishop of Gaza, a stronghold of paganism, with an insignificant Christian community. The attitude of the pagan population was hostile so that the bishop appealed to the emperor for protection and pleaded repeatedly for the destruction of pagan temples. He finally obtained an imperial rescript ordering the destruction of pagan sanctuaries at Gaza. A Christian church was erected on the site of the temple of Marnas. In 415 Porphyrius attended the Council of Diospolis. The "Vita S. Porphyrii" of Mark the Deacon, formerly known only in a Latin translation, was published in 1874 by M. Haupt in its original Greek text; a new edition was issued in 1895 by the Bonn Philological Society.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

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