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Sunday, February 5, 2012

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : SUN. FEB. 5, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VATICAN : POPE : JESUS BRINGS HEALING
 EUROPE : BBC CATHOLICISM SERIES FILMS
AMERICA : USA : BISHOPS RESPONSE TO WHITEHOUSE
AFRICA : SOUTH SUDAN : RIP FR. SILVESTRO  
AUSTRALIA : PAY INCREASE FOR WORKERS
ASIA : VIETNAM : SISTERS HELP THE POOR IN COLD
TODAY'S SAINT : FEB. 5 : ST. AGATHA  
TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SUN. FEB. 5, 2012
 
VATICAN : POPE : JESUS BRINGS HEALING
RADIO VATICANA REPORT: St Peter’s Square was very much the picture postcard scene this Sunday as a blanket of snow covered the ground and monuments.

Pope Benedict as he greeted the estimated 10 thousand faithful gather was wrapped up warm in a white coat to guard against the chill in the air.

At weeks Angelus Pope Benedict took his inspiration from Sunday’s Gospel

“In the Gospel this Sunday, we learn of the healing that Jesus brought to many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another. We commend to him all those known to us who are in need of healing and we ask him to take away our own hardness of heart, so that we may respond more generously to his love.”

The Holy Father went on to describe disease as “a sign of Evil in the world and in man”, and he added that, “healing shows that the Kingdom of God is near.”

In sickness, said the Pope "you can experience the attention of others”, but he also said that you have the chance to “give attention to others."

Empathizing with those who suffer, the Holy Father described disease, as a condition, that "can become too long and difficult", and "when healing does not come and suffering is extended, we can remain isolated and overwhelmed."

The Holy Father made his reflections, a few days before the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the World Day of the Sick, saying, we must react to illness, "with the appropriate care," but also with faith.

"In sickness the Pope said we all need human warmth." He also pointed out that on Sunday the 5
th in Italy the Day for Life is celebrated.

"As Jesus faced the devil, Pope Benedict said, the power of love came from the Father, so we can face and overcome disease by keeping the heart immersed in the love of God."

http://www.radiovaticana.org/en1/Articolo.asp?c=560593

AMERICA : USA : BISHOPS RESPONSE TO WHITEHOUSE

USCCB Logo
USCCB REPORT:
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following response to the February 2 post on the White House blog.
Full text follows:
The Obama administration, to justify its widely criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health plans, has posted a set of false and misleading claims on the White House blog (“Health Reform, Preventive Services, and Religious Institutions,” February 1).In what follows, each White House claim is quoted with a response.
Claim: “Churches are exempt from the new rules: Churches and other houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to offer insurance that covers contraception.”
Response: This is not entirely true.To be eligible, even churches and houses of worship must show the government that they hire and serve primarily people of their own faith and have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose.Some churches may have service to the broader community as a major focus, for example, by providing direct service to the poor regardless of faith.Such churches would be denied an exemption precisely because their service to the common good is so great.More importantly,the vast array of other religious organizations – schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions – will clearly not be exempt.
Claim: “No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception: The President and this Administration have previously and continue to express strong support for existing conscience protections.For example, no Catholic doctor is forced to write a prescription for contraception.”
Response: It is true that these rules directly apply to employers and insurers, not providers, but this is beside the point:The Administration is forcing individuals and institutions, including religious employers, to sponsor and subsidize what they consider immoral.Less directly, the classification of these drugs and procedures as basic “preventive services” will increase pressures on doctors, nurses and pharmacists to provide them in order to participate in private health plans – and no current federal conscience law prevents that from happening.Finally, because the mandate includes abortifacient drugs, it violates one of the “existing conscience protections” (the Weldon amendment) for which the Administration expresses “strong support.”
Claim: “No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception: This rule only applies to what insurance companies cover.Under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance without paying a co-pay or deductible.But no one will be forced to buy or use contraception.”
Response: The statement that no one will be forced to buy it is false.Women who want contraception will be able to obtain it without co-pay or deductible precisely because women who do not want contraception will be forced to help pay for it through their premiums.This mandate passes costs from those who want the service, to those who object to it.
Claim: “Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy: Drugs like RU486 are not covered by this policy, and nothing about this policy changes the President’s firm commitment to maintaining strict limitations on Federal funding for abortions. No Federal tax dollars are used for elective abortions.”
Response: False.The policy already requires coverage of Ulipristal (HRP 2000 or “Ella”), a drug that is a close analogue to RU-486 (mifepristone) and has the same effects.[i] RU-486 itself is also being tested for possible use as an “emergency contraceptive” – and if the FDA approves it for that purpose, it will automatically be mandated as well.
Claim:“Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception: Several of these States like North Carolina, New York, and California have identical religious employer exemptions.Some States like Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemption at all.”
Response: This misleads by ignoring important facts, and some of it is simply false.All the state mandates, even those without religious exemptions, may be avoided by self-insuring prescription drug coverage, by dropping that particular coverage altogether, or by taking refuge in a federal law that pre-empts any state mandates (ERISA).None of these havens is available under the federal mandate.It is also false to claim that North Carolina has an identical exemption.It is broader:It does not require a religious organization to serve primarily people of its own faith, or to fulfill the federal rule’s narrow tax code criterion.Moreover, the North Carolina law, unlike the federal mandate, completely excludes abortifacient drugs like Ella and RU-486 as well as “emergency contraceptives” like Preven.
Claim: “Contraception is used by most women: According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”
Response: This is irrelevant, and it is presented in a misleading way. If a survey found that 98% of people had lied, cheated on their taxes, or had sex outside of marriage, would the government claim it can force everyone to do so? But this claim also mangles the data to create a false impression.The study actually says this is true of 98% of “sexually experienced” women.The more relevant statistic is that the drugs and devices subject to this mandate (sterilization, hormonal prescription contraceptives and IUDs) are used by 69% of those women who are “sexually active” and “do not want to become pregnant.”Surely that is a minority of the general public, yet every man and woman who needs health insurance will have to pay for this coverage.The drugs that the mandate’s supporters say will be most advanced by the new rule, because they have the highest co-pays and deductibles now, are powerful but risky injectable and implantable hormonal contraceptives, now used by perhaps 5% of women.The mandate is intended to change women’s reproductive behavior, not only reflect it.
Claim: “Contraception coverage reduces costs: While the monthly cost of contraception for women ranges from $30 to $50, insurers and experts agree that savings more than offset the cost.The National Business Group on Health estimated that it would cost employers 15 to 17 percent more not to provide contraceptive coverage than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of potentially unintended and unhealthy pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.”
Response: The government is violating our religious freedom to save money?If the claim is true it is hard to say there is a need for a mandate: Secular insurers and employers who don’t object will want to purchase the coverage to save money, and those who object can leave it alone.But this claim also seems to rest on some assumptions: That prescription contraceptives are the only way to avoid “unintended and unhealthy pregnancy,” for example, or that increasing access to contraceptives necessarily produces significant reductions in unintended pregnancies.The latter assumption has been cast into doubt by numerous studies (see http://old.usccb.org/prolife/issues/contraception/contraception-fact-sheet-3-17-11.pdf).
Claim: “The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. And as we move forward, our strong partnerships with religious organizations will continue.”
Response: False.There is no “balance” in the final HHS rule—one side has prevailed entirely, as the mandate and exemption remain entirely unchanged from August 2011, despite many thousands of comments filed since then indicating intense opposition.Indeed, the White House Press Secretary declared on January 31, “I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here,” so little was placed on that side of the scale.The Administration’s stance on religious liberty has also been shown in other ways.Recently it argued before the Supreme Court that religious organizations have no greater right under the First amendment to hire or fire their own ministers than secular organizations have over their leaders– a claim that was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court as “extreme” and “untenable.”The Administration recently denied a human trafficking grant to a Catholic service provider with high objective scores, and gave part of that grant instead to a provider with not just lower, but failing, objective scores, all because the Catholic provider refused in conscience to compromise the same moral and religious beliefs at issue here.Such action violates not only federal conscience laws, but President Obama’s executive order assuring “faith-based” organizations that they will be able to serve the public in federal programs without compromising their faith.

[i] See A. Tarantal, et al., 54 Contraception 107-115 (1996), at 114 (“studies with mifepristone and HRP 2000 have shown both antiprogestins to have roughly comparable activity in terminating pregnancy when administered during the early stages of gestation”); G. Bernagiano & H. von Hertzen, 375 The Lancet 527-28 (Feb. 13, 2010), at 527 (“Ulipristal has similar biological effects to mifepristone, the antiprogestin used in medical abortion”).
http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-020.cfm

AUSTRALIA : PAY INCREASE FOR WORKERS

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
3 Feb 2012


Around 150,000 mostly female social and community
workers have received a pay rise
Catholic Social Services Australia (CCSA), St Vincent de Paul Society and CatholicCare unanimously welcomed this week's decision to raise salaries of workers in the community sector from 19% to 41%.
For the 150,000 largely female workforce in the social services and community sector across Australia, the FairWork Australia ruling means a rise in income of between $6324 and $24,346 per year.
However there is concern in the welfare workforce that although the decision recognises the proper remuneration for the great work carried out by those in the social and community sector and is long overdue there are warning signs.
Many are concerned that unless both state and federal governments commit to extra funding to meet the costs imposed by these wage increases, some of the vital services provided to society's most vulnerable would be put in jeopardy.
Without such commitments, some welfare providers say they will struggle to maintain services in the mid to longer term and may even struggle to survive.

Social services help the aged
and vulnerable
Other leaders of not-for-profit welfare agencies are equally concerned and believe that without additional financial help to cope with the increased costs, the programs most at risk will be the ones funded by the organisations themselves through donations and similar avenues.
Paul O'Callaghan, Executive Director of CSSA, the national body for 69 Catholic social service organisations says throughout the entire almost two year process when wage adjustments for the sector were under review by FairWork Australia, he and others in the field met constantly with senior federal government ministers and bureaucrats about the critical need for full funding supplementation to help agencies meet the costs of any wage increase.
Finally, late last year the Federal Government said it would contribute more than $2 billion to fund the large pay rises for community sector workers expected to be handed down by Fair Work Australia. But so far no details of how the promised $2 billion would be spread across the social services sector have been given, nor the sum been increased after the announcement that the expected pay increase of 20%, on which the Government figure is based, is higher with some workers receiving up to a 41% increase in earnings.

CatholicCare's parenting program is just one
of many services it provides to Sydney families
"At this stage we have no idea what the real cost to our agencies will be and we have concerns that costs incurred as a result of these recent and welcome wage adjustments may in fact turn out to be far bigger than currently estimated," says Paul O'Callaghan.
Details of where and how the Federal Government's promised $2 billion will be used, he believes is essential to enable individual agencies to work out the full impact of this week's ruling and the effect it will have on their bottom line.
Agencies also wish to know as soon as possible if part of the Commonwealth's $2 billion will not be handed to the agencies themselves but instead will become part of the Federal Government's social grants and paid directly to States and Territories.
But even more important, Mr O'Callaghan believes, is to discover what additional funding Territory and State governments are prepared to commit to supplement the increased wage costs to agencies.
Currently 45% of all funding for social service organisations such as CatholicCare and the St Vincent de Paul Society comes from State or Territory governments with the Federal Government contributing a further 25%, leaving around 30% to be raised by the agencies themselves.

CatholicCare programs help teenagers
at risk find new hope and a future
Some of the States, such as Victoria, have already committed a sum to help not-for-profit agencies such as St Vincent de Paul and CatholicCare cope with increased salary costs but so far NSW has made no such promise.
To help agencies adjust, the implementation of the payrises will be made over a nine year period which Mr O'Callaghan says provides a viable pathway.
But Bernard Boerma at CatholicCare disagrees and while applauding the wage increase, admits he would like to see them implemented over a far shorter time period.
"There is no doubt the pay increase will make a real difference to workers and their families. However we were hoping for a shorter implementation phase to enable us to attract and retain staff in the sector," he says.
Of CatholicCare's staff of 850, just over 400 are community sector workers affected by the Fair Work Australia equal pay ruling.

CEO of Catholic Social
Services Paul O'Callaghan
"The ruling is a long overdue move in the right direction for gender equity in rates of pay," Mr Boerma says and gives full praise to the entire team at CatholicCare, for their hard work, commitment and dedication.
Each year CatholicCare helps change the lives of more than 50,000 Australian men, women and children. The agency, founded 71 years ago, offers help and support across a wide range of locally-based intervention and prevention programs. The areas in which CatholicCare is involved range from aged care, counselling, housing, employment, disability services, child protection, family and parenting support, respite and out of home care. CatholicCare also provides support for drug, alcohol and other dependencies and offers care and support for people with Dementia and their families.
http://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2012/201223_1703.shtml

AFRICA : SOUTH SUDAN : RIP FR. SILVESTRO

Cisa News REPORT:
TORIT, February, 03, 2012 (CISA) -Christians of the Catholic Diocese of Torit on Wednesday 01 laid the late Monsignor Silvestro Laharanya to rest at St Peter and Paul Cathedral cemetery, in Torit town.
Hundreds of Christians turned up for the memorial mass at Our Lady of Assumption Church and traveled to Saints Peter and Paul’s Cathedral cemetery, to pay their last respect.
Msngr Silvestro died on SundayJanuary 22, in a Catholic home for the aged, having been there for the last six years.
The late priest who hailed from the Diocese of Torit was born at Isohe in 1932 to Marko Loyee and Lotiye of Imotong, Omogoro Village.
According to the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Torit, Fr Celestino Muras, the deceased was baptized in 1942 before joining Okaru Seminary and later Gulu.
He studied Theology at Tore River Major seminary and was ordained on 18th December, 1960.
He became the Vicar General and later Apostolic Administrator of Juba after the expulsion of missionaries from the Sudan.
Later, Msngr Silvestro worked in Loa where the SPLA forces captured him during the war.
Fr Silvestro died two months after the death of Fr Andrew Madrama in November last year and coincided with the memorial celebration of late Fr Saturlino Ohure, who is considered the founder of South Sudan liberation struggle.

http://www.cisanewsafrica.com/

EUROPE : BBC CATHOLICISM SERIES FILMS

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT:
New BBC TV series: 'Catholics' | Richard Alwyn, Catholics

Archbishop Nichols with four new priests
The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Westminster is set to feature in a new series of three films to be shown on BBC 4 Television in February and March 2012.

Produced by documentary film maker Richard Alwyn, 'Catholics' goes behind the headlines to explore what it is like to be Catholic today. Each of the three films - one about men, one about women, one about children - is an intimate portrait of a different Catholic world, revealing Catholicism to be a rich and complex identity and observing how this identity shapes people's lives.

The series starts on Tuesday February 21, 9pm, with 'Priests' filmed over six months and an intimate behind-the-scenes portrait of Allen Hall seminary in London.

In the film, Richard Alwyn meets men who called to the priesthood.

Rob Hunt is in his first year at Allen Hall. A cradle Catholic, he ignored his faith for years, had several relationships and worked in various jobs, spending time as a roadie for a Heavy Metal band, before deciding his life was veering off course. With little education, he thought he had as much chance of becoming a priest as an astronaut.

At the other end of the seminary, Andrew Gallagher is in his final year. Now 30 years old, he worked in a City law firm before joining the seminary. He sees this not as a career change but as a response to a life-long calling – at school, his nickname was “Priest”. Andrew Connick, is also in the last year of his ‘formation’. It was only at the end of his university years that he felt he too could no longer resist a calling that had been with him all his life.

'I will give you shepherds after my own heart', said the prophet Jeremiah, stating God’s chosen method for guiding and caring for His people. Priests examines the lives of those who believe themselves to be God’s shepherds in the 21st Century.

Children

'Show me the child of seven and I'll show you the man', goes the Jesuit proverb. The second film Children, to be shown on Tuesday February 28 at 9pm, observes the truth of this famous saying in a film about children becoming Catholic.

Filmed throughout the period of Lent and into the summer of 2011, it focuses on the children of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School in the village of Chipping, Lancashire. Sitting at the foot of the dramatic Bowland Fells, this is an area rich in Catholic history where Catholic identity remains strong. The tiny school has just 33 pupils, six of whom are preparing to make their First Holy Communion.

Richard Alwyn’s film observes the essence of Catholicism being distilled into young children’s hearts and minds. Encouraged on the one hand to celebrate the riches of the natural world that surround them and to remember those less fortunate than themselves, the children are also required to reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection.

Women

Women, the third film in the series to be shown on Tuesday March 6 at 9pm, focuses on Catholic women and how Catholicism has shaped their lives.

Filmed at Westminster Cathedral, Richard Alwyn meets the women staff, volunteers and congregation of the Cathedral. Set against the backdrop of the rhythm of Cathedral life, Richard Alwyn film explores what it is like to be a Catholic woman in Britain today.

Rose is second-in-charge of the Cathedral’s sacristy. She is responsible for the smooth running of the Cathedral’s worship and devotional life, preparing the altar for the six daily Masses and making sure that the priests have all they need to administer to the faithful. A convert, for Rose, Catholicism has proved to be an anchor in her life, sheltering her in crisis and protecting her in need.

Elsewhere, Alwyn meets a retired doctor on the steps of the Cathedral for whom Catholicism poses challenges. The church’s teachings have led to her feeling alienated and unable to practise even though she may still occasionally attend. Yet despite these difficulties, she feels her Catholic identity remains strong, providing her with an important moral core that helps her with the chaos of life.

These and other encounters form the backbone of Richard Alwyn’s film in which he explores the complex ways in which Catholicism shapes women’s lives.

Catholics is produced by Wingspan Production in association with Jerusalem Productions.

Source: Archbishops House
http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=19767

ASIA : VIETNAM : SISTERS HELP THE POOR IN COLD

UCAN REPORT:
ucanews.com reporter, Hue
Religious sisters from congregations in Hue have distributed blankets, food and money to the poor to meet rising needs amid plummeting temperatures that have seen hundreds hospitalized for weather-related illness.
Local media has reported that an estimated 1,000 people have been admitted to the state-run Central Hospital in Hue since mid-January for respiratory ailments.
Daughters of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Sister Mari Vu Thi Ngoc, who runs Kim Long clinic in Hue, said the clinic has been treating 200 patients a day suffering from respiratory infections, colds and flu.
Cold weather, which has seen temperatures drop to 10 degrees Celsius in the evenings, has also damaged crops, according to state media.
Some 800,000 square meters of rice and flower crops have been destroyed by the cold snap, which began early last month, the report said.
http://www.ucanews.com/2012/02/01/nuns-aid-poor-during-cold-season/

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SUN. FEB. 5, 2012

    Feb 05, 2012 - 5th Sun in Ordinary Time
Job 7: 1 - 4, 6 - 7
1 "Has not man a hard service upon earth, and are not his days like the days of a hireling?
2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hireling who looks for his wages,
3 so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
4 When I lie down I say, `When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to their end without hope.
7 "Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.
Psalms 147: 1 - 6
1 Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground.
1 Corinthians 9: 16 - 19, 22 - 23
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission.
18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Mark 1: 29 - 39

29 And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her.
31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.
32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.
33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door.
34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.
36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him,
37 and they found him and said to him, "Every one is searching for you."
38 And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out."
39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.


TODAY'S SAINT : FEB. 5 : ST. AGATHA

St. Agatha
VIRGIN, MARTYR
Feast: February 5


Information:
Feast Day: February 5
Born:
Catania or Palermo
Died: 251, Catania
Patron of: bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses
We have her panegyrics, by St. Aldhelm, in the seventh, and St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth centuries; also a hymn in her honour among the poems of Pope Damasus, and another by St. Isidore of Seville, in Bollandus, p. 596. The Greeks have interpolated her acts; but those in Latin are very ancient. They are abridged by Tillemont, t. 3, p. 409. See also Rocci Pyrrho, in Sicilia Sacra, on Palermo, Catana, and Malta.

The cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity. Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha's person and estate by means of the emperor's edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went. On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? "He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her. But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul." After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay. St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics, which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus. The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her inter. cession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.
The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer—sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest entrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, "Possess alone all that I am."


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/stagatha.asp#ixzz1lWfgarU2

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