Friday, March 2, 2012


Vatican City, 2 March 2012 (VIS- IMAGE SOURCE RADIO VATICANA) - This year's meditations during the Lenten spiritual retreat of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia are being guided by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who is focusing on the theme of "the communion of Christians with God". Beginning with the sign of the cross, the cardinal has been reflecting upon God as light, truth, mercy and loving guide, before turning to consider love of the world, lack of faith in Christ and the sin of priests.
The sign of the cross is much more than a habit, it is an "act whereby we add the splendour of knowledge and the dynamism of freedom to our every action". It is a sign which means "sacrifice for love. It is death for resurrection". Therefore, it implies the rejection of vanity, prestige, possession and domination, and the consecration of our activity to Christ.
In the context of his meditations upon God as the way, truth and life, Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya made reference to some of the most dramatic events of our times, such as war, genocide, political violence, abortion and all forms of manipulation of human beings. He also invited his listeners not to remain indifferent "to repression and man's exploitation of man", and not to lower their guard, "even if the mystery of sin is beyond us".
"We must walk in the light", the cardinal said. "In other words, we must choose to abandon sin" and let the Truth transform our lives via a journey of conversion. Understanding God as truth is particularly important for people "who have no awareness of their own sins, for people who have lost the sense of sin because they no longer pose themselves the problem of God", and for people who do no longer possess moral criteria and confuse good and evil. This tendency is related to "religious indifference which affirms that all religious are alike but which, in reality, is seeking a lax morality".
The cardinal warned that priests are not free from these errors, "in the measure to which spiritual barrenness leads them into the same defects", he said. "Priestly ministry thus becomes mere functionality and has no true sense of God". The archbishop of Kinshasa also used the example of the Apostles Peter and Judas. The former "was betrayed by his generosity, his attachment to Christ; nonetheless, he fell because he was reckless and exposed himself to danger, although he immediately abandoned the place of his fall and bitterly bewailed his sin". This is a lesson for all priests. "Our generosity does not protect us from sin. We must be prudent, and not recklessly expose ourselves to the possibility of falling. In all situations, whatever happens, the Lord is always at our side. The biggest affront we can show Him is to doubt in His mercy, as Judas did".
"To live in truth", the cardinal said, "is is to live according to the Beatitudes. It means repudiating the lies of our words and actions. It means rejecting the hypocrisy which impels us to appear other than as we are". The Church too must combat lies and deceit, both within herself and in the world, and struggle "so that the truth of Christ's Gospel may be known and lived".

Vatican City, 2 March 2012 (VIS) - The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household yesterday made known the theme of this year's Lenten sermons which, as is customary, will be preached on four consecutive Fridays in the presence of the Pope, beginning on 9 March. That theme, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, is: "Remember your leaders and imitate their faith. The Fathers of the Church: Masters of Faith". The Holy Father and the Roman Curia are currently dedicating the first week of Lent to their annual spiritual exercises.
In the note released by the prefecture, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, explains that "in preparation for the Year of Faith called by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, the four Lenten sermons will seek to energise and refresh our beliefs through a renewed contact with 'giants of faith' of the past". Each week's sermon will be dedicated to one of four great doctors of the Eastern Church: St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Gregory Nyssen, "to see what each of them has to say to us today about the dogma they championed, respectively: the divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity and knowledge of God".
Quoting words of Servant of God Paul VI, Fr. Cantalamessa notes that "returning to the Fathers of the Church is part of that return to the roots of Christianity without which it would be impossible to undertake biblical renewal, liturgical reform and the new theological research endorsed by Vatican Council II".
The sermons will be held at 9 a.m. in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

Vatican City, 2 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the apostolic vicariate of Puerto Gaitan, Colombia, presented by Bishop Jose Alberto Rozo Gutierrez S.M.M., upon having reached the age limit.


COMECE Supports the European Sunday Action Day
4 March 2012
As a Member of the European Sunday Alliance, COMECE calls to take action on Sunday, 4 March 2012, as the EUROPEAN DAY FOR A WORK-FREE SUNDAY.
In times of financial and economic crisis when more and more social and employment rights are coming under pressure, the work-free Sunday is a clear and visible demonstration that the people and our societies are not dependent solely on work and the economy. We believe that all citizens of the European Union are entitled to benefit from decent working hours that, as a matter of principle, exclude working late evenings, nights, public holidays and Sundays. Only essential services should operate on Sundays.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
2 Mar 2012

Numbers praying for the unborn continue to increase
during Lenten vigil
The rain probably doesn't encourage many people to stand outside in the street praying but it certainly hasn't dampened the spirits of the supporters of the 40 Days for Life Lenten Prayer Vigil in Sydney.
Despite the continuing overcast sky and the continuing wet weather forecast, organisers believe the weekend will see more supporters join the Vigil.
Almost 500 took part in last week's Mass and candlelight procession from St Peter's Catholic Church, Surry Hills to the Preterm Abortion Clinic on the corner of Randall and Elizabeth Streets to mark the start of the city's annual 40 Days for Life Vigil.
The Most Rev Terry Brady, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney celebrated the Mass and then led the procession on Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday and beginning of Lent which marked the beginning of the vigil opposite the Clinic.

Almost 500 attended the Mass and candlelight procession
that marked the start of the 40 Days for Life Lenten Vigil
"During the first week we have had the biggest turn out yet, not only for the opening Mass and procession, but every day since," says a delighted Paul Hanrahan, Director of Family Life International which organises Sydney's prayer vigil each year.
However with the city bracing itself for storms and heavy rain over the next few days the committed volunteers are still determined to remain at the daily prayer vigil held on the corner opposite the Surry Hills Clinic where priests, religious, students and individuals make sure there is always a good gathering to keep vigil.
The daily prayer vigil throughout the 40 days of Lent takes place from 6 am until 8 pm with supporters arriving at various times throughout the day. Some drop in to pray during their lunch hours and others, such as students attend between classes while mothers arrive during the time their kids are at school.

Paul Hanrahan of Family Life International
holds an icon of Our Lady
Each day among those keeping vigil are experienced counsellors from Family Life International and affiliated groups to offer help and support to women who may be contemplating an abortion or to those who may have terminated a pregnancy several years before and are still in grief over their loss.
"We don't approach women entering or coming out of the Preterm Clinic. Instead we pray and wait for them to approach us. Once they do, we talk quietly with them and if they need support and counsel, we are able to refer them to our psychologists and counsellors," says Paul.
Early this week a distressed young woman watched the group from across the street and then finally, her mind made up, approached Paul.

"She asked if I minded if she asked a few questions and quizzed me about women who are drug addicts who have babies and wanted to know what my opinion was about a woman who is raped going ahead with the resultant pregnancy. These are the sort of issues we are asked all the time, so I spoke to her about the sanctity of life and how sometimes people don't realise the help that is available and how they don't need to walk through the door of the abortion clinic opposite. Which was when she started to cry and told me some months before, she had had an abortion."

Our Lady and a Rosary are part of the 40 Days for Life
Lenten Vigil opposite the Surry Hills Preterm Abortion Clinic
Paul and counsellors from Family Life International talked to her and gave her phone numbers, encouraging her to call later so they could help her with her grief and her great sadness.
"Then a couple of hours later I received a text message from her saying: "Thank you for your kindness today. I believe it is no coincidence I have met you. God has sent you on my path for a reason and I hope to keep in contact. Thank you once again and God bless."
The 40 Days for Life Lenten Prayer Vigil began in 2004 with a small grassroots group of Texans. But the idea of praying for the unborn and their mothers throughout Lent quickly spread. By 2007 it had become a Lenten tradition across the US. Since this time 40 Days for Life has become an international event and is observed each year in 422 across the US, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Europe, Puerto Rico, Spain, Argentina, Armenia and Australia.
"Each year more and more people join our vigil and volunteer to take part either for an hour or two or even an entire morning or afternoon," Paul says.

Bishop Terry Brady celebrates Mass to mark the start
of the 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil
He believes more and more people whether Catholics or non-Catholics believe in the precious gift of life and this is why there has been such a positive response to this year's prayer vigil, not only in Sydney but in cities across Australia where similar Lenten vigils for the unborn are being held.
"As a society we cannot allow ourselves to accept the fact abortion is acceptable, because to take that view is to see human life as expendable," warns Bishop Julian Porteous, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Episcopal Bishop for Evangelisation and Renewal, and patron of the annual 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil.
"The Lenten season calls on all of us to make greater sacrifices than we normally might, so let us go in the name of Christ to Australia's oldest abortion centre to pray and reach out with charity to everyone there, especially the unborn who may never experience love apart from our prayers," he says and urges all who are able to join in the vigil during the 40 days of Lent.
Each Friday and Saturday from now until the vigil for the unborn ends on Sunday, 1 April, St Peter's Catholic Church will remain open for all night Adoration.
To participate in the vigil and find out more log on to
Photography by Patrick J. Lee



By Liz Quirin on Friday, 2 March 2012
Tornado destroys church and kills 12Part of the front of St Joseph's Catholic church remains standing (CNS photo/Paul Newton, courtesy of The Southern Illinoisan)
Elizabeth Schmitt, who planned to get married in May at St Joseph church in Ridgway, Illinois, never imagined she would be picking up debris from the church after it was destroyed in a tornado.
Several tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest and the South, killing at least a dozen people and injuring more than 100 in Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.
“It gives a whole new meaning to destruction,” Schmitt said as she pulled on her gloves to continue cleaning up the church property.
The church, built in 1894, was destroyed just after 5am on Wednesday, February 29.
Now she doesn’t know where her wedding will take place. “This is where all of our family members were married,” she said as she looked around at the devastation.
The governors of Missouri and Illinois have both declared a state of emergency.
Susamma Seeley, director of disaster response for Catholic Charities Missouri, said that Catholic Charities agencies were “on standby” as they were determining the scope of damage and needs of residents.
She said a primary concern was to identify people in need in rural areas that might be forgotten and to deliver water, food or gas cards to them.
In Ridgway, parishioners and neighbors arrived early at St Joseph church to begin cleaning up. “We just don’t wait for others to help,” said parishioner and firefighter Chris Wargel. He said people from surrounding towns and parishes arrived at the church to help move pieces that had been salvaged to another building.
The church took a hard hit because it was the tallest structure in town. However, the marble altar that came from Italy managed to survive the storm. A former pastor, Mgr Joseph Lawler, said he hoped the altar could be disassembled and saved.
A Catholic Mutual insurance agent for the diocese estimated the damage at St Joseph was more than $2million.
Fr Steven Beatty, parish administrator of St Joseph, was asleep in an upstairs bedroom in the rectory next to the church when the tornado hit. He was awakened by the sound of breaking glass.
When he tried to go downstairs, his way was blocked by debris. He made it down the stairs on the banister, not realising that the huge, gothic church next door was demolished.
The priest posted a note on his front door which said: “I’m fine. I’m out checking on the neighbours.”
In a letter posted on the diocesan website, Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton asked all in the diocese to join him in “offering our prayerful support to Fr Beatty, the Christian faithful of St Joseph parish, and to all of those in the communities that have been affected by this terrible storm.”
“In time, there may be other ways, in which we can assist our sisters and brothers in St Joseph parish. I know that we will all be as generous as possible in offering assistance, if it is requested,” he added.
Fr Beatty told The Messenger newspaper that Ridgway was in better shape than neighbouring Harrisburg, where 100 people were injured and 250 to 300 homes destroyed in the community of 9,000 people.
Six people were killed in Harrisburg where winds were up to 166 mph. Three other people died in Missouri, and three died in Tennessee.
Nancy Lombard, a parishioner in Harrisburg, said her home still “looks kind of like a house” but her neighbours had hardly anything left of their homes.
“It’s all just stuff,” she said. “Everybody’s all right, and that’s the main thing. We can replace stuff.”


They come from different walks of life and have different levels of education and social standing; they are university scholars and students, workers or ordinary citizens. "God seeds his word, good news and faith in the world and the lands of Vietnam. To develop the seeds, we must pray, make friends, engage in charitable work and act well with one another," Card Pham Minh Man said.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - In the first week of Lent, 782 catechumen from 43 parishes took part in the Mass celebrated at the pastoral centre of the Diocese of Ho Chi Minh City. On Easter, 264 of them will be baptised. Card Jean Baptist Phạm Minh Mẫn, Auxiliary Bishop Nguyễn Văn Khảm, priest, religious and catechists took part in the prayer services.

The new catechumens are different in terms of education, profession and social standing. Some are lecturers of state universities; others are workers, students or ordinary citizens. They came to God by marrying Catholics, through prayers to God, introduced by other people, friends, participating in charitable works and social activities, or attending activities at parish-level Catholic associations.

Ho Chi Minh City Science University graduate K. Vinh is preparing to wed Peter. She said, "To have a good life, we need to have the same faith, so our children will also believe in the Lord."

N. Hồng, who is studying at the Commercial and Industrial College, is also "learning about God after he joined the Đất Việt prayer group".

V. Cường was born in 1960 in An Giang Province. He was baptised in 2011 and married with Catholic woman at Trung Chánh Parish of Hốc Môn District in Hồ Chí Minh City. "I have participated in prayers group at my community," he said. "Through Jesus' love, I have come to God and believe in his power. He has cured serious diseases of many people".

Paul T. Văn, from Francis Xavier Parish, is also a new Catholic. "To understand and live according to the Word of God, I must pray for myself and new catechumens so that He can help and consolidates our faith," he said.

"I am very happy because of there are many new catechumens who want to join with our diocese family," Card Phạm Minh Mẫn told participants. "All your witnesses and opinions have helped me convince more that God's Love is for everyone in society. God seeds his word, good news, and faith in the world and the lands of Vietnam. To develop the seeds we must pray, make friends, engage in charitable work, and act well towards one another with Jesus' Love."



Cisa News
VATICAN CITY, March 02, 2012 (CISA) -A Vatican foundation has awarded more than $2 million in aid to projects aimed at halting desertification in Africa’s Sahel region and to promoting rural development, education and irrigation.
“We have assigned over $2 million dollars for more than 200 projects” in the nine countries covered by the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, said Msgr Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Established by the late pope after his first trip to Africa in 1980, the foundation works to fight poverty, protect natural resources, end desertification and promote and coordinate charity in Chad, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
In mid-February, the World Food Program and other U.N. agencies said rapid, coordinated action is needed in the Sahel region of West Africa, where more than 8 million people need food assistance because of drought-induced crop failures.
Msgr Dal Toso was quoted by the Vatican Information Service February 29 as saying the drought “will reach its peak in the coming months… Both the international community and, more specifically, a number of Catholic organizations, are seeking to intervene to prevent this crisis.”


Matthew 5: 20 - 26
20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'
22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
25 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison;
26 truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.


St. Agnes of Prague
Feast: March 2

Feast Day: March 2
1211, Prague
Died: March 6, 1282, Prague
November 12, 1989 by Pope John Paul II
Born at Prague in the year 1200; died probably in 1281. She was the daughter of Ottocar, King of Bohemia and Constance of Hungary, a relative of St. Elizabeth. At an early age she was sent to the monastery of Treinitz, where at the hands of the Cistercian religious she received the education that became her rank. She was betrothed to Frederick II, Emperor of Germany; but when the time arrived for the solemnization of the marriage, it was impossible to persuade her to abandon the resolution she had made of consecrating herself to the service of God in the sanctuary of the cloister. The Emperor Frederick was incensed at the unsuccessful issue of his matrimonial venture, but, on learning that St. Agnes had left him to become the spouse of Christ, he is said to have remarked: "If she had left me for a mortal man, I would have taken vengeance with the sword, but I cannot take offence because in preference to me she has chosen the King of Heaven." The servant of God entered the Order of St. Clare in the monastery of St. Saviour at Prague, which she herself had erected. She was elected abbess of the monastery, and became in this office a model of Christian virtue and religious observance for all. God favoured her with the gift of miracles, and she predicted the victory of her brother Wenceslaus over the Duke of Austria. The exact year of her death is not certain; 1281 is the most probable date.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)


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