Tuesday, April 17, 2012


HOLY FATHER'S HOMILY ON HIS BIRTHDAY Vatican City, 17 April 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated to mark two anniversaries the Pope is celebrating this week: his eighty-fifth birthday on 16 April, and the seventh anniversary of his election on 19 April. The Mass was attended by members of the College of Cardinals and by a group of bishops from the Pope's native region of Bavaria. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
In his homily the Pope recalled how on the day he was born and baptised the liturgy "erected three signposts showing me where the road led and helping me find it": the feast of St. Bernardette of Lourdes, the feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, and Easter Saturday which in the year of the Pope's birth fell on 16 April.
St. Bernardette grew up in "a poverty we find difficult to imagine", he said. But "she could see with a pure and genuine heart, and Mary showed her a source ... of pure, living uncontaminated water, water which is life, water which gives purity and health. ... I believe we can see this water as an image of the truth which comes to us in the faith; unsimulated and uncontaminated truth. ... This little saint has always been a sign for me, showing me where the living water we need comes from, the water which purifies and gives life. She has been a sign showing me how we should be. With all our knowledge and abilities, which are of course necessary, we must not lose ... the simple gaze of the heart, which is capable of discerning the essential. And we must always pray to the Lord to help us retain the humility which allows the heart ... to see the simple and essential beauty and goodness of God, and to find the source from which the life-givingpurifying water comes".
The Pope then turned his attention to St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived in the eighteenth century. "He was a rather particular saint who wandered as a mendicant from one shrine to another, wishing to do nothing but pray and so bear witness to what is important in this life: God. ... He shows us that, ... over and above what may exist in this world, over and above our needs and abilities, ... what is essential is to know God. He alone is enough". The life of the saint, who travelled to shrines all over Europe, "shows that the person who opens himself to God is not a stranger to the world of men, rather he finds brothers. ... Only God can eliminate frontiers, because thanks to Him we are all brothers".
"Finally there is the Paschal Mystery. On the day I was born, thanks to my parents, I was also reborn with the water of the Spirit. ... Biological life is in itself a gift, yet it begs an important question. It becomes a true gift only if, together with that life, we are given a promise stronger than any misfortune that may threaten us, if life is immersed in a power which guarantees that it is a good thing to be a man, and that the person is a benefit whatever the future may bring. In this way rebirth is associated with birth, the certainty that it is good to exist because the promise is greater than the threat. This is what it means to be reborn from water and from the Spirit. ... This rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow therein, we must ever and anew allow God to immerse us in His promise, in order to be truly reborn into the great new family of the Lord, which is stronger than all our weaknesses and all the negative powersthat threaten us. That is why today is a day of thanksgiving.
"The day I was baptised ... was Easter Saturday. At the time it was still customary to hold the Easter vigil in the morning, followed by the darkness of Easter Saturday without a Hallelujah. This singular paradox, this anticipation of light in a day of darkness, can almost be seen as an image of the history of our own times. On the one hand there is the silence of God and His absence, yet the resurrection of Christ contains an anticipation of God's 'yes'. We live in this anticipation, through the silence of God we hear His words, and through the darkness of His absence we glimpse His light. The anticipation of the resurrection in the midst of evolving history indicates the path we must follow and helps us to continue the journey".
"I am in the final stage of my life journey and I do not know what awaits me. However, I do know that the light of God exists, that He rose again, that His light is stronger than all darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than all the evil in this world. This helps me to continue with confidence. This helps us to continue, and I would like to thank everyone who, through their faith, continually makes me aware of God's 'yes'".

Vatican City, 17 April 2012 (VIS) - "Constantine the Great. The Roots of Europe" is the title of an international academic congress to be held in the Vatican from 18 to 21 April. The event has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences to mark the 1700th anniversary of the battle of the Milvian Bridge and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine.
The congress was presented this morning at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office, by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Claire Sotinel, professor of Roman history at the University of Paris-Creteil and a member of the Ecole Francaise in Rome, and Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper.
"The conference", Fr. Ardura explained, "is the outcome of effective academic cooperation with important cultural institutions such as the Vatican Secret Archives, the Vatican Apostolic Library, the Italian National Research Council, the Ambrosian Library and the Sacred Heart Catholic University in Milan". It is also taking place "with the cooperation and contribution of the European Union delegation to the Holy See, the Lazio Regional Council and the Pontifical Lateran University".
This congress is the first of two, the second of which will be held in Milan in 2013 for the 1700th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Milan, which established freedom of religion in the Roman empire and put an end to the persecution of certain religious groups, particularly Christians. While the 2013 congress will concern itself with what is known as the "Constantinian revolution", tomorrow's event will focus on the environment in which Constantine lived and on relations between Christians and the Roman empire prior to the year 313. Participants will "examine the relationship between religion and the State, the idea of religious freedom in the empire, and religion from the point of view of the emperor and the senate", Fr. Ardura said.
One key area will be the conversion and baptism of Constantine himself, and his attitude towards Christians following the battle of the Milvian Bridge, which took place on 28 October 312 and led to the death of his rival Maxentius. Contemporary and later Christian historians, influenced by the narrative of Eusebius of Cesarea, saw Constantine's victory as the result of divine intervention.
Fr. Ardura pointed out that "from a purely strategic-military viewpoint the battle was not very important, but it soon became the founding symbol of the new world which came into being when Constantine found Christianity. Indeed, ... the era of imperial persecution against Christians was about to come to an end, giving way to the evangelisation of the entire empire and moulding the profile of western Europe and the Balkans; a Europe which gave rise to the values of human dignity, distinction and cooperation between religion and the State, and freedom of conscience, religion and worship. Of course these things would need many centuries to come to maturity, but they all existed 'in nuce' in the 'Constantinian revolution' and therefore in the battle of the Milvian Bridge".
For her part, Claire Sotinel explained that attentive and critical historical analysis "facilitates our understanding of what happened following the victory at the Milvian Bridge, helping us in the twenty-first century to reflect on important issues such as the interaction between religions and political power, the creation of religious pluralism, and the possibility of coexistence among different religions".


Mission Titanic :
There were 3 priests on board Fr. Juozas Montevila, Fr.Joseph Peruschitz, and Fr. Thomas Byles.
1)The first priest, pictured, on the journey was Fr. Juozas Montevila of Lithuania. He studied at Seminary of Seinai now part of Poland. He was ordained on March 22, 1908. Due to his living in Russia his priestly ministry was persecuted so he had to flee. He had tried to minister to suppressed Catholics under the Czarist regime. He was 27 years old when the Titanic sank.
2) Father Joseph Peruschitz OSB of the Benedictine monastery of Bavaria, Germany was one of the passengers who died on the Titanic 100 years ago. He refused a place on the life boat for someone else and knelt and prayed the Rosary with 100 other people on deck.
Father Peruschitz was a teacher of math, music and sports.
On the Sunday the two priests, Fr. Peruschitz and Fr. Byles held a multi-lingual Church service. Then the passengers sang hymns together.
3) The third priest pictured is Fr. Thomas Byles was a convert from England. He was ordained in Rome in 1902. He was a teacher at his local Parish School. He heard the confessions of the passengers as the boat sank and gave up his place in the life boat. Titanic - A Tragic Destiny
(image source: and )


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Thousands of Chilean Catholics take to the streets of cities and small rural communities yesterday to "run with Christ" (Spanish expression used in Chile, which means "to accompany Christ-Eucharist") during the so-called " feast of Quasimodo, "which has taken place for 400 years in the central region of Chile. The event, which was presided by the Archbishop of Santiago, His Exc. Mgr. Ricardo Ezzati, has its origin in a recommendation of the Council of Trent , which exhorted the priests to give communion to the infirm and the elderly on the Sunday following Easter.
Mgr. Ezzati attended the ceremony which was held in the town of Colina, in the north of Santiago, where the caravan, consisting of about 4,500 men on horseback, is one of the largest in the country. Parades were also held in the cities of Quilicura, Renca, Quinta Normal, Puente Alto, Maipu and Penalolen, whose mayor, participated actively mounting a horse.
The note sent to Fides, which explains that the name "Quasimodo" derives from the Latin text of the antiphon entrance of the Second Sunday of Easter: "Quasi modo geniti infanti ..." (As new-born babies), is from the first letter of the apostle Peter. The tradition began in colonial times, when the priests, in their moves to give communion to the infirm, were often victims of bandits who robbed them also of the ciborium containing the Eucharist. So groups of men on horseback began to accompany them to protect them.
During his visit to Chile in 1997, Pope John Paul II called this holiday "a treasure of the people of God." Over the years, men on horseback have been joined by groups of faithful on small carts drawn by horses or bicycles, wearing colorful costumes. Even their vehicles are abundantly decorated with colored paper and flower garlands. In many towns and villages, the fraternities of "quasimodistas" were born who prepare themselves all year round for this occasion. The priest is led on a horse drawn carriage to visit the houses of all the sick of the parish. Participants do not wear hats and cover their heads only with white and yellow handkerchiefs, a sign of respect for the Eucharist. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 16/4/2012)


Cisa News Africa
ADDIS ABABA, April 13, 2012 (CISA) -The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) on April 12 expressed its concern over the current border clashes between South Sudan and the Sudan.
In a press statement, the AU Council urged a quick implementation of the tasks detailed in the 18 September 2011 Decision of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism and UN Security Council resolution 2024(2011).
“Council stressed that the failure to implement the signed Agreements is a denial of the profound aspirations of the people of Sudan and South Sudan, as well as of the trust placed on the Parties by the region and Africa, which spared no effort to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including the self‐determination referendum and subsequent independence of South Sudan,” emphasized the Council statement.
The Council strongly condemned the unfortunate and unwarranted actions that have characterized the conduct of both Parties over the past month, which run contrary to all AU and international principles governing relations among sovereign states.
“ The Council is dismayed by the illegal and inacceptable occupation by the South Sudanese army of Heglig, which lies north of the agreed borderline of 1/1/56,” emphasized the Council, adding ,”The Council demands immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the army of South Sudan from the area.
The Council also demands the Government of the Sudan put an end to its aerial bombardment in South Sudan. “Both sides should make every effort to protect all oil infrastructures,” emphasized the Council statement.
It requested that both Parties immediately comply with all the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Non‐Aggression and Cooperation signed by the Government of the Republic Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan in Addis Ababa, on 10 February 2012, including respect for their territorial integrity and the prohibition on either State from supporting opposition armed groups and movements within the other State.
Meanwhile the Government of South Sudan has set conditions to pull out troops from the contested Higlig oil field, including the withdrawal of Sudanese troops from Abyei.
Government spokesperson Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the SPLA forces would withdraw from Higlig if a guarantee could be provided that it would not be used for another attack against South Sudan, AFP reported.
He said all ground and air assaults by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) must end immediately.
Dr Marial added that SAF is still occupying Abyei and it must withdraw entirely.
He said once the pullout is completed international monitors would then have to ensure a demilitarized zone on either side of the border until it can be demarcated under international arbitration


by Wang Zhicheng
Bishop Shao Zhumin was arrested for four weeks, interrogated, brought on "vacation" away from his diocese, "recommended" to join the Patriotic Association. The model to follow: the excommunicated bishop Lei Shiyin. Bishop Jin Lugang detained for four days so he would not celebrate the Easter Triduum with the community. Dozens of underground priests are held for weeks and subjected to "political sessions". First the security of Communist Party's Congress and plan to eliminate the underground Church.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Two bishops of the underground community, not recognized by the Chinese government, were released after a period of "political sessions". But sources tell AsiaNews that every week dozens of unofficial priests of the communities are taken and forced to attend lectures on the government's religious policy and only released after week.

On Easter Sunday, Mgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) and Msgr. Peter Jin Lugang Nanyang (Henan) were able to return to their homes. The two were held, respectively, for four weeks and four days.

Msgr. Shao was arrested in March (see: 07/04/2012 Police pressure on underground community. Easter in the Church of Silence). His arrest was due mainly to gain information from him on the ordination of an underground bishop in Tianshui, in a clear "disobedience" to the politics of self-elections and self-ordinations wanted by the government (see: 24/08/2011 Tianshui: police arrest dozens of underground priests and lay faithful).

The bishop was also subjected to political sessions to subscribe to the Patriotic Association (PA), which promotes a national church independent from the Holy See. The prelate was also brought on a "vacation-visit" to the diocese of Leshan (Sichuan), led by bishop Lei Shiyin, ordained on July 14 without the permission of the pope and excommunicated. Bishop Lei showed the buildings under construction in his diocese, and government representatives "recommended" cooperation with the government. Local sources quoted by UCAN said that Bishop Shao he was in favour of collaboration, provided that it is not against "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic".

Msgr. Jin Lugang was arrested on April 4, Holy Thursday and freed on Easter. His detention prevented him from celebrating any of the Holy Triduum or Easter liturgies. The police and government officials took him "on holiday" and also "advised" him to join the PA.

AsiaNews sources confirm that this style of detention, political sessions, "advice" to join the Patriotic Association and release after a few weeks has become very common this year. "Dozens of priests are taken every week - sources say - and are released only after several days." In many areas, including Hebei, all underground communities are afraid of arrest and fear has stopped the activities of the faithful. "Even the controls are more avid: home visits, telephone, internet .. they don't miss anything."

According to some, the increase in arrests and controls is due to the attempt to provide security before the Communist Party Congress, to be held next October, during which the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will change hands. For others there is a clear pattern of wanting to hasten the demise of the underground community by absorbing them into the official church.,-but-many-priests-are-arrested-24522.html


Bishop Anthony
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
DD BA LlB BTheol DPhil
Third Bishop of Parramatta

The Homilies of Bishop Anthony Fisher
Homily - Easter Vigil of the Resurrection, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, 7 April 2012

Homily Easter Vigil 2012
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

Crisis in the Kingdom of God (A three-part Homily for the Triduum)
Part Three: Crisis of Love for All Humanity
Easter Vigil of the Resurrection, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, 7 April 2012
Download an audio version of this homily Download an audio version of this homily
Listen to this homily at Bishop Anthony's iTunes Podcasts
It’s the greatest story ever told: the story of God and man. It is above all a love story. God, as St Catherine of Siena put it, was pazzo d’amore, insane with love for us, from all eternity, even before we were made. Our First Reading tonight (Gen 1:1-2:2) recalls how He made us, in His own image, male and female, made for marriage, for fruitfulness and dominion, with Godlike reason, freedom, creativity and passion. He also made this universe for our sakes, for us to live and learn in, play and delight in, a universe in which to be lovers and beloved, God’s darlings. This same divine obsession holds us in being every moment of our existence. When we ourselves love, our hearts and minds expand, our communion with God deepens, our friendships grow warmer, the world is a better place. There is something divine in every act of love, in vows of marriage or religion, in acts of friendship, in kindness to colleagues and strangers, the poor and even enemies.
It’s the greatest love-story ever told – and yet also a story of broken hearts. The crisis in the Kingdom of God, a crisis of all humanity, is that we turned against the very love that creates and sustains us. This fall from grace, this ‘Original Sin’, has been a recurrent pattern ever since, so that there’s nothing original about it anymore. Pride, envy, lust, selfishness and grudges have dogged our history. Almost from the beginning the greatest romance was the greatest tragedy as well.
As human beings fell from grace they experienced a breakdown of relations with themselves, each other, creation and God. If anything this crisis of love is magnified today. In our culture, self-regard easily becomes self-obsession, self-serving and, when that fails, self-loathing. Loyalty is seen as weakness, other people as rivals. Alliances of convenience allow us to use each other’s bodies, minds and hearts, for pleasure or profit, without commitment. Our love for creation can be equally ambiguous. And there is much in contemporary culture that would dismiss our love of God altogether, reducing it to childish fantasy, ancient superstition, constraints imposed by a corrupt institution.
In this crisis of love we are both victims and perpetrators. Each of us has at some time hurt and been hurt. Each has loved not as well as we should and been loved not as well as we would. If we love well, we are at our most human and divine; but it costs, as God ‘learnt’ these three days past, when love cost Him His Son’s life.
The greatest love-story ever told is also the greatest tragedy: the story of God from the dawn of time, steadily holding out the hand of friendship, and of humanity muddling its way through, loving generously at times, middling well at others, not at all at others. God so loved us He made us, made us like Himself – and we rebelled against Him. God so loved us He gave His only Son, gave Him into our hands – and we nailed Him to a tree.
The Sacred Triduum plunges us into the Apostles’ Thursday crisis of faith, when they denied and fled. It immerses us in the Friday crisis of Jesus, our crisis of hope. Finally, on this Easter night, it confronts us with the crisis of all humanity: a crisis of love. Could God still love us even when we had killed His only Son? Could any love survive such unlove?
It’s the greatest romance and greatest tragedy, but there is comedy here as well. In St Mark’s Passion last Sunday there was a cameo role we only see every three years when we hear that particular account (Mk 14:51-52). It was a hot night in Gethsemane and a young fellow followed Christ into the garden wearing little more than the Ancient Near-Eastern equivalent of his underpants. The guards grabbed him but he fled away naked leaving his clothes in their hands. It was humiliating, no doubt, but a moment of comic relief for us onlookers amidst the bleakness of that Agonising Garden.

The Resurrection of faith, hope and love

Homily Easter Vigil 2012
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
Well, St Mark tells us tonight, that on entering the tomb on Easter morning “They saw a young man dressed in a white robe and they were struck with amazement; but he said: Don’t worry; Jesus has risen, He is not here.” (Mk 16:1-7) Is this that same anonymous youth who only a few verses before was streaking away from the scene? Is this all humanity lost and confused, denuded of dignity and hope, sinful and sick, in all the rawness of need, now dressed in a glorious white alb, like our newly baptised soon will be?Fear not, he says, for love casts out fear. Go tell Peter and the lads Jesus is Risen. Go and tell Peter, in particular, for he who denied Christ three times must now tell Christ three times how much he loves Him. If the angels sing Holy, Holy, Holy, the Church built on Peter will sing Love, Love, Love. That love, tested in the crucible of infidelity, despair and denial these three days past, is reborn tonight in the Resurrection of faith, hope and love. On them Christ will build His Church and rebuild each of us.
In a few moments we will be privileged to celebrate the Baptisms of Nitesh (Chand Lal), Jing (Dai), Jessica and Gabriella (Mendoza), Nimisha (Murugathasan), Jamie (Nixon), Anna Marie (Phillips), Leela (Harindran) and Chen (Wen); the receptions of David (Hamilton), Shirlene (Lopez), Beverley and Chathurika (Wambeck) and the Confirmation and First Communion of Eunice (Toriola) and Ivan (Pearson). The Easter Vigil was from ancient times the preferred time for Christian Initiation because it is a celebration of new life in Christ. As St Paul said tonight: “When we were baptised in Christ Jesus, we were baptised into His death … so that as Christ was raised from the dead, we too might live a new life” (Rom 6:3-4). For our catechumens and candidates, as for the rest of us, Easter says that God loves each one of us so much, He has woven the romance, tragedy and comedy of every human life forever with His own story. God loves us so much, that whatever our own crises of faith, hope and love these can be faced and conquered by His grace. Come out of the tomb with me, He says to all mankind tonight, Rise up to everlasting life and love!


St. Stephen Harding
Feast: April 17

Feast Day: April 17
Born: Dorset, England
Died: 28 March 1134
Major Shrine: Church of St. Stephen Harding in Apátistvánfalva, Hungary, district of Szentgotthárd.
Confessor, the third Abbot of Citeaux, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century; died 28 March, 1134. He received his early education in the monastery of Sherborne and afterwards studied in Paris and Rome. On returning from the latter city he stopped at the monastery of Molesme and, being much impressed by the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot, joined that community. Here he practised great austerities, became one of St. Robert's chief supporters and was one of the band of twenty-one monks who, by authority of Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, retired to Citeaux to institute a reform in the new foundation there. When St. Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Stephen became prior of Citeaux under Alberic, the new abbot. On Alberic's death (1110) Stephen, who was absent from the monastery at the time, was elected abbot. The number of monks was now very reduced, as no new members had come to fill the places of those who had died. Stephen, however, insisted on retaining the strict observance originally instituted and, having offended the Duke of Burgundy, Citeau's great patron, by forbidding him or his family to enter the cloister, was even forced to beg alms from door to door. It seemed as if the foundation were doomed to die out when (1112) St. Bernard with thirty companions joined the community. This proved the beginning of extraordinary prosperity. The next year Stephen founded his first colony at La Ferte, and before is death he had established thirteen monasteries in all. His powers as an organizer were exceptional, he instituted the system of general chapters and regular visitations and, to ensure uniformity in all his foundations, drew up the famous "Charter of Charity" or collection of statues for the government of all monasteries united to Citeaux, which was approved by Pope Callistus II in 1119 (see CISTERCIANS). In 1133 Stephen, being now old, infirm, and almost blind, resigned the post of abbot, designating as his successor Robert de Monte, who was accordingly elected by the monks. The saint's choice, however, proved unfortunate and the new abbot only held office for two years. Stephen was buried in the tomb of Alberic, his predecessor, in the cloister of Citeaux. In the Roman calendar his feast is 17 April, but the Cistercians themselves keep it on 15 July, with an octave, regarding him as the true founder of the order. Besides the "Carta Caritatis" he is commonly credited with the authorship of the "Exordium Cisterciencis cenobii", which however may not be his. Two of his sermons are preserved and also two letters (Nos. 45 and 49) in the "Epp. S. Bernardi".



John 3: 7 - 15
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.'
8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can this be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this?
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."

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