Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - For the second consecutive week the Holy Father focused his catechesis during his general audience on Jesus' prayer before dying, basing his remarks on three phrases Christ pronounced from the cross, as narrated in the Gospel of St. Luke. The audience was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of some 6,000 pilgrims from all over the world. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Jesus' first phrase: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing", was pronounced as soon as He had been crucified and while the soldiers were dividing His garments. "This first prayer to the Father", the Pope explained, "was a request to forgive His executioners". At the same time, however, "it is an interpretation of what is happening. The men who crucified Him 'do not know what they are doing'. In other words, Christ presents ignorance, 'not knowing', as a reason for requesting forgiveness of the Father, because that ignorance opens the way to conversion".
The second phrase: "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise", addressed to the "good thief" crucified at Christ's side, is "a word of hope", the Holy Father said. Jesus thereby reaffirmed "that God's goodness can touch us even in the final instant of existence, and that sincere prayer, even after a misspent life, encounters the open arms of the good Father Who awaits the return of His child".
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", the last words Christ pronounced, are "a prayer of 'entrustment', full of faith in God's love. Jesus' prayer before dying is as dramatic as its is for all men and women but, at the same time, it is pervaded by that profound calm which arises from faith in the Father and the desire to entrust oneself to Him completely".
"When life was about to leave Him, He sealed His final decision in a prayer. Jesus allowed Himself to be consigned 'into human hands', but it was into the hands of the Father that He placed His spirit. Thus, as John the Evangelist says, all things were accomplished, the supreme act of love was carried to the end".
"Jesus' words on the cross in the final instants of His earthly existence provide binding guidelines for our own prayer, but they also open the way to serene trust and firm hope. By asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying Him, Jesus invites us to make the difficult gesture of praying for the people who do us wrong, ... that the light of God may illuminate their hearts. In other words, He invites us to adopt, in our prayer, the same attitude of mercy and love which God shows towards us", the Pope said.
"At the same time Jesus, at the extreme moment of death, entrusted Himself entirely into the hands of God the Father, communicating to us the certainty that, however difficult our trials ... or burdensome our suffering, we will never fall out of God’s hands, the hands which created us, and which support and accompany us on life’s journey".

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - "In today's social environment, families with many children are witnesses of faith, courage and optimism, because without children there is no future". The Pope addressed these words to representatives from the Italian National Association of Large Families who were attending his general audience this morning. "I hope", Benedict XVI went on, "that adequate social and legislative measures will continue to be promoted to support and protect larger families, who are a source of wealth and hope for the entire country".
Speaking to young people and the sick, Benedict XVI recalled the fact that yesterday marked the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who spread the faith among Slavic peoples. "May their witness also help you to be apostles of the Gospel, the leaven for authentic renewal in personal, family and social life", he said.
The general audience concluded with the recitation of the Our Father and the apostolic blessing.

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language joint communique of the Holy See and the government of the United Kingdom concerning an official ministerial visit marking the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two States. The delegation, led by Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and was received by Pope Benedict XVI.
The communique states that the "Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government agreed on the urgent need for action to strengthen the universal commitment to religious freedom as a fundamental human right, and to its practical application with a view to promoting respect for all religions in all countries. The Holy See and the British government look forward to working together to combat intolerance and discrimination based on religion, wherever it is manifest.
"The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government reaffirmed the need to promote integral and sustainable global development, based on the centrality of the human person and grounded in the principle of the inherent human dignity and worth of each person. Much progress has been made over the last decade in improving health and well-being for many people. However, there are still significant gaps and challenges in the long and complex path towards ensuring integral human development for everybody. Too many people are still hungry, too many people do not have access to education and to decent work, too many women die in childbirth. In view of these challenges we recognise a shared obligation to achieve a fair international financial and trade framework. And we will strive for a better future for all humanity, taking into particular account care for the poorest people in the world.
"Looking ahead to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio de Janeiro in June this year and to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change implementation process, we share the conviction that in order to take forward a human-centred and sustainable global development, there is a need to continue to strengthen the integration of its interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars: the economic, the social and the environmental, as well as the connection between combating poverty and tackling climate change.
"The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government share a commitment to work at the United Nations and other fora to strengthen the international focus on conflict prevention, disarmament, arms control and non proliferation, aimed at protecting human life and building a world more respectful of human dignity. As part of this effort, we look forward to positive outcomes in July to the final negotiations to agree upon a robust Arms Trade Treaty with a wide scope, and to the 2nd Review Conference of the UN Programme on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
"With regard to the changes which have occurred in North Africa and the Middle East, the Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government stressed the importance of undertaking real reforms in the political, economic and social realms, in order better to ensure the unity and development of each nation, in responding positively to the legitimate aspirations of many people for peace and stability. In this context, reference was made to the role which Christians can play and to the importance of inter-religious dialogue. The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government expressed the hope for a resumption of negotiations in good faith between Israelis and Palestinians so as to bring about a lasting peace. They renewed their appeal for an immediate end to violence in Syria and stressed the need for co-operation to overcome the present crisis and work towards a harmonious and united coexistence.
"As the London Conference on Somalia approaches, the Holy See and the British Government encourage the international community to support a coherent strategy on Somalia in order to end the crisis there, placing as a priority the protection and welfare of the people of the Horn of Africa.
"Her Majesty’s Government welcomed His Holiness Pope Benedict’s support for the ongoing process of reconciliation in Northern Ireland, the establishment of stable, inclusive political institutions, and efforts to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for all parts of the community. Her Majesty’s Government and the Holy See agreed that the use of violence for political ends is deplorable, and must be set aside in favour of constructive dialogue for the well-being of the whole community.
"As the United Kingdom prepares to host the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, both sides look forward to a year characterised by the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the Olympic Truce: at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
"There was in addition a good exchange of views on a wide range of social, economic, political and cultural issues, including on developing the UK’s collaboration with the Vatican Museums. Both sides recognised in particular the role of faith and education in the development of a culture of social responsibility and the underpinning of a healthy society. In this context, appreciation was expressed for the significant contribution which the Catholic Church, and Christians in general, have made and continue to make to the good of British society. The Holy See emphasised the need to ensure that institutions connected with the Catholic Church can act in accordance with their own principles and convictions and stressed the necessity of safeguarding the family based on marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Both sides look forward to further strengthening their relationship by working together through their respective networks and globalpartnerships, including the Commonwealth of Nations, to promote the common good".

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Airton Jose dos Santos of Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Campinas (area 2,133, population 1,789,000, Catholics 1,304,000, priests 175, permanent deacons 21, religious 484), Brazil.
- Bishop Jose Luiz Ferreira Salles C.Ss.R., auxiliary of Fortaleza, Brazil, as bishop of Pesqueira (area 10,065, population 441,000, Catholics 397,000, priests 40, permanent deacons 4, religious 43), Brazil.


A fashion designer is teaching young women how to dress with purity
By Estefania Aguirre on Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Designer gives tips on modestyHelena Machin, pictured with posters showing different female silhouettes
A fashion designer is teaching young women how to dress with purity after her brother’s death made her rethink her career, writes Estefania Aguirre.
Helena Machin, who works with high-profile clients for a famous milliners in London which cannot be named for privacy reasons, is offering style masterclasses for women, teaching them how to dress attractively and modestly.
“I want to invest some time and love into the next generation,” said the 30-year-old.
“I want to have them embrace their femininity by modest and attractive dress and in doing so fulfil their God-given potential. It’s a voluntary project so I am juggling it around other commitments but I will give as much time as I am able.”
Helena came up with the idea after her twin brother, James, passed away from a terminal illness three years ago.
She said: “He spent his life serving others, showing them the way to Christ through his heroic example, despite being unwell for a lot of the time. Through his good humour and good example he bought many people back to their faith.”
About the same time Helena discovered Opus Dei. Turning 30 this Christmas made her realise that whatever time she had left, she had to be doing something worthwhile. She questioned whether working in fashion was the right thing to be doing. But God soon taught her, through the example of St Josemaría Escrivá, to make holy her every day work, however trivial it might sometimes seem.
In a talk she gave recently to a group of young women she explained the different body shapes and gave tips on how to best dress according to that shape.
Helena is starting a series of projects, one of which includes an intensive short course she will be giving at Easter at the Baytree Centre in London for 14- to 18-year-olds. She will also be giving lectures in schools and in university chaplaincies.
Helena said: “One tip I would give to all young women out there would be: if you want to be treated like a lady, dress like a lady.”
For more information, please visit the website



ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT: Mass for the World Day of the Sick at Mercy Place

Archbishop Denis Hart was the principal celebrant at the 2012 Mass for the World Day of the Sick, at Mercy Place in Parkville on 10 February.
The World Day of the Sick is celebrated annually on 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Read the Pope's message for the annual World Day of the sick.

Photo supplied by Mercy Health.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Together with Pope Benedict, I am grateful for the leaders and carers of Mercy Health and to all of you at Mercy Place.
I wish to renew my spiritual nearness to all the sick, who are in places of care, who are looked after in their families, expressing to each one of them the affection of the Holy Church. In sickness we follow the example of Christ, who bent down before the material and spiritual sufferings of human beings in order to heal them.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am deeply honoured to be with you as together we celebrate the 20th World Day of Prayer for the Sick, recalling the wonderful healing that comes from Lourdes and which is given us in the Sacraments of the Church.
The Gospels we read at Mass last Sunday and next Sunday show the power of Jesus healing the sick. Christ is the true doctor of humanity, whom the Heavenly Father sent into the world to heal us because we are marked in body and mind by sin and its consequences. The countless healings and signs which Our Lord used confirm the healing power of the Gospel. Jesus offers us life in abundance, eternal life full and happy. He is the hand of God stretched out to humanity to rescue us from illness and death so that we can stand on the firm rock of divine love. Pope Benedict urges us to make good use of the Sacraments of Healing, Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick "so as to encounter the love that forgives and transforms". (Benedict XVI, Message)
In our own time we have known the wonderful healings that the Lord has worked through the intercession of his Blessed Mother at Lourdes. This is why the 11th February has become the World Day of the Sick because she who is "health of the sick" prays incessantly for those who are sick, lonely, poor or marginalised, in hospital and requiring health care or assistance in the needs of older age.
The encounter of Jesus with the ten lepers, narrated by the Gospel of Saint Luke (cf. Lk 17:11-19), and in particular the words that the Lord addresses to one of them, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you" (v. 19), help us to become aware of the importance of faith for those who, burdened by suffering and by illness, draw near to the Lord. In their encounter with him they can truly experience that the one who believes is never alone! God, indeed, in His Son, does not abandon us to our anguish and suffering, but is near to us, helps us to bear them, and wishes to heal us in the depths of our hearts. (cf. Mk 2:1-12)
With the powerful intercession of Our Lady we can come to Jesus knowing that we will find wholeness, that through the assistance of medical care we will be brought to healing and comfort, but above all by knowing that Jesus is near and loving the prayers of his Blessed Mother we will come to see that if we are invited to share through suffering in the passion of the Lord then he will provide whatever is needful for a healing of spirit and comfort and strength.
As regards the 'Sacraments of Healing', Saint Augustine affirms: 'God heals all your infirmities. Do not be afraid, therefore, all your infirmities will be healed ... You must only allow Him to cure you and you must not reject His hands'. (Exposition on Psalm 102, 5; PL 36, 1319-1320)
Today, my dear friends, I offer this Mass for you and I thank you for your courageous witness in old age and suffering. May you always know that the Lord is near. May Our Lady continue to pray constantly for you as "health of the sick", that the Lord Jesus will give you strength, courage and grace, as I ask the Lord to bless and sustain you on your journey, offering this Mass for you, your needs, your intentions and for those who care for you so well. Our Lady, Health of the Sick, prayer for us.
+ Denis J. Hart,


Sister Amalia Pereda Ortiz de Zarate was a pioneer of rural healthcare
Lissy Maruthanakuzhy, Shillong
February 15, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Church mourns death of popular nun
Sister Amalia Pereda Ortiz de Zarate
Thousands of people are mourning the death of a Spanish nun, popularly known as the “Mother Teresa” of Meghalaya, who revolutionized healthcare in the rural northeastern state.
Sister Amalia Pereda Ortiz de Zarate “spent her entire life working for poor and illiterate villagers,” said Salesian Father Francis Cheeramban, who knew the nun for decades.
The Missionaries of Christ Jesus nun died at age 84 on Monday at Nirmali Convent in Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya state.
She was buried in the nearby Laitumkhrah Catholic cemetery yesterday.
Fr John Madur, vicar-general of Shillong archdiocese, led 25 priests at the funeral Mass.
Sister Amalia was renowned for having set up Shillong’s Nazareth Hospital, Meghalaya’s top healthcare institution.
She worked there as the superintendent and a surgeon for more than 25 years, said Sister Remo, her confrere, who works in Tura diocese.
Sister Amalia joined the congregation in 1946 and went to India 15 years later after completing her religious and medicine studies in Spain.
The surgeon nun headed a medical camp for refugees from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh from 1965-1977.
Sister Remo said Sister Amalia also provided medical care for hundreds of villages in Meghalaya with her mobile dispensaries.
“She not only treated patients by providing free medicines, but also taught them about health and hygiene,” the young nun added.
She visited many villages where not many people could go,” Fr Hilarius Lamare, administrator of Jowa,i recalled. “She had the spirit of Jesus. She was a missionary at heart.”
The nun also taught seminarians how to serve people in northeastern India, he said.


Clashes in the village of Meet Bashar ended last night after the mediation of some Muslim Brotherhood leaders. For Fr Rafic Greiche, the victory by Islamist parties in the elections has increased anti-Christian attacks.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - A mob of nearly 2,000 radical Muslims, mainly Salafists, set fire to the Church of St Mary and St Abram in the village of Meet Bashar, in Zagazig, Sharqia province (50 kilometres north-east of Cairo). Since Sunday, the area has been the scene of clashes between Muslim extremists and Christians. Calm returned to the area after mediation by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, who convinced the Salafists to leave the village.

The violence was caused by the disappearance of Rania Khalil, a Christian teenager who went missing last Sunday. Her father is a convert to Islam. She was found today and is in police custody. She and her mother will be interrogated by police. Salafists believe she was abducted by Christians to prevent her conversion to Islam.

Since the victory of Islamist parties in Egypt's recent elections, anti-Coptic attacks have increased across the country. The latest occurred on 27 January in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat (el-Ameriya), near Alexandria, said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church.

On that occasion, Salafists tried to burn the homes of the village's 62 Coptic families, after some Muslims accused a Christian tailor, Mourad Samy Guirgis, of having "illicit" pictures of a Muslim woman on his mobile phone.

"Muslim radicals use conversions to Christianity from Islam as a pretext to attack and scare the Coptic community so that it will flee," Fr Greiche explained. "This is happening across Egypt."

"In Western media, the prevailing idea is that religious clashes between Christians and Muslims happen only in Upper Egypt and Cairo's slums, where people are ignorant. In fact, when it comes to conversion from one religion to another, there is no distinction between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, Upper or Lower Egypt."

In Muslim society, anyone who converts to Christianity becomes an outcast, Fr Greiche said. By contrast, those who speak out against forced conversions to Islam are not protected by the authorities and in most cases are forced to withdraw their accusations under pressures and threats.

Things are bound to get worse, the clergyman believes. "Salafists are Egypt's second largest party. After the election, they hold 20 per cent of the seats in parliament. In the next few months, they could use their political power against Christians.",000-Muslim-extremists-23985.html


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Archbishop of Miami, His Exc. Mgr. Thomas Wenski and five Bishops of Florida sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott, asking him to stop Robert Waterhouse’s execution and commute the death sentence with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. "This measure would manifest the belief in the unique dignity of each individual and the sanctity of human life. It would acknowledge God as Lord of life and be more consistent with the spirit of the Gospel," said the letter, which is dated February 13, 2012. Robert Waterhouse’s execution is set for today, February 15, at 23 GMT time, the prison in the State of Starke, north of the state of Florida, according to the order that Governor Scott signed last January.
The letter expresses the Bishops’ concern for the planned increase of the executions: from August 2011 one every three months. Therefore in the letter the Bishops ask the governor to refrain from signing new death sentences. "We ask to study what they do in other states where there are other options (but not the death of a prisoner) to reach the goal of protecting society and punishing the criminal," they suggested.
The defense filed an appeal last week against Waterhouse’s execution, but the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled. Florida has executed 71 inmates since the death penalty was restored in the State, in 1976, and this is the third signed by Governor Scott since January 2011. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 15/2/2012)


Mark 8: 22 - 26
22 And they came to Beth-sa'ida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?"
24 And he looked up and said, "I see men; but they look like trees, walking."
25 Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.
26 And he sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."


St. Claude de la Colombiere
Feast: February 15

Feast Day: February 14
2 February 1641 at Saint-Symphorien d’Ozon, Rhône, France
Died: 15 February 1682 at Paray-le-Monial, Saône-et-Loire, France
31 May 1992 by Pope John Paul II in Rome
Major Shrine: Monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial
Patron of: toy makers, turners
Claude de la Colombiere is best known for his association with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the devotion of the Sacred Heart, but his life has its own drama. He was sent to England after his spiritual direction of St. Margaret Mary was over and became embroiled in the Titus Oates "Popish Plot," was imprisoned, then banished from England. His story is part of the history of the seventeenth century.

He was born near Lyons in 1641 and entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon. After his novitiate, he taught grammar and the humanities. Even before his ordination to the priesthood, he gained a reputation as a preacher. After completing his studies in Paris, he became tutor to the sons of Colbert, the financial minister of Louis XIV, but was dismissed from his post and returned to Avignon.
In 1675, after his solemn profession as a Jesuit, he was appointed superior at Paray-le-Monial, in which the convent of St. Margaret Mary was located. Here he became her spiritual director, encouraged her in the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and was described by our Lord as His "faithful and perfect friend."
Because of his remarkable gifts and judgment, he was sent to England, to be court preacher to the duchess of York, wife of the future James II, and took up residence in London. His radiant personality and splendid gifts were noted by everyone. When the alleged "Popish Plot" to assassinate King Charles II shook the country, Blessed Claude was accused of complicity in the plot and imprisoned. Through the intervention of Louis XIV of France, he was released, then banished from the country. He spent his last years at Paray-le-Monial, his health broken.
He died on February 15, 1682, an apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and was beatified in 1929.
Thought for the Day: Blessed Claude was an amazingly gifted man, and he recognized that his gifts should be put at the service of others. He spent himself in the service of Christ and was chosen to direct someone with an important mission to the Church. Let us emulate Claude and place our gifts at the service of others.
From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . "Come, follow me! And I will make you fishermen for the souls of men!" At once they left their nets and went along with him.-Mark 1:17-18


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