Monday, May 28, 2012




RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday morning celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Here is Vatican Radio's translation of the Pope's homily for the occasion.

Dear brothers and sisters

I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass with you – a Mass animated by the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and by the Youth Orchestra, which I thank – on this Feast of Pentecost. This mystery constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.
This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing.We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superfical and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?

The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in the first reading, is set against a background that contains one of the last great frescoes of the Old Testament: the ancient story of the construction of the Tower of Babel. But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.

This biblical story contains an eternal truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well. Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really exist? How?

The answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. On that morning, fifty days after Easter, a powerful wind blew over Jerusalem and the flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples. It came to rest upon the head of each of them and ignited in them a divine fire, a fire of love, capable of transforming things. Their fear disappeared, their hearts were filled with new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak freely, in such a way that everyone could understand the news that Jesus Christ had died and was risen. On Pentecost, where there was division and incomprehension, unity and understanding were born.

But let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus affirms: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to the whole truth”. Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be the place of unity and comunion in Truth; he tells us that acting like Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself – but I do so in everything and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the “ourselves” of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it's clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open themselves to the action of his Spirit which supports and unites them.

The contrast between Babel and Pentecost returns in the second reading, where the Apostle Paul says: “Walk according to the Spirit and you will not be brought to satisfy the desires of the flesh”. St Paul tells us that our personal life is marked by interior conflict and division, between impulses that come from the flesh and those that come from the Spirit: and we cannot follow all of them. We cannot be both selfish and generous, we cannot follow the tendency to dominate others and experience the joy of disinterested service. We have to choose which impulse to follow and we can do so authentically only with the help of the Spirit of Christ. St Paul lists the works of the flesh: they are the sins of selfishness and violence, like hostility, discord, jealousy, dissent. These are thoughts and actions that do not allow us to live in a truly human and Christian way, in love. This direction leads to us losing our life. The Holy Spirit, though, guides us towards the heights of God, so that, on this earth, we can already experience the seed of divine life that is within us.
St Paul confirms: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace”. We note how the Apostle uses the plural to describe the works of the flesh that provoke the loss of our humanity – while he uses the singular to define the action of the Spirit, speaking of “the fruit”, in the same way as the dispersion of Babel contrasts with the unity of Pentecost.

Dear friends, we must live according to the Spirit of unity and truth, and this is why we must pray for the Spirit to enlighten and guide us to overcome the temptation to follow our own truths, and to welcome the truth of Christ transmitted in the Church. Luke's account of Pentecost tells us that, before rising to heaven, Jesus asked the Apostles to stay together and to prepare themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. And they gathered together in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room and awaited the promised event.

Like when it was born, today the Church still gathers with Mary and prays: “Veni Sancte Spiritus! - Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!”. Amen.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Mother's Day, which the population of the Dominican Republic celebrates on the last Sunday in May is an opportunity to relieve the longstanding problem of domestic violence: So says the local Catholic Church, expressing serious concern about the amount of cases of domestic violence, sometimes murder. Many disputes between family members, often children against their parents, result in violent acts, which are spreading and are more frequent in the country.
As reported to Fides, the alarm on the phenomenon was raised by the Catholic weekly "Camino," which says: "The situation is dangerous, because it indicates that we are moving towards a moral abyss and we are on the threshold of a social crisis." Even the Bishops of the country, in the message to the country published in January (see Fides 19/01/2012) stated: "The great modern crisis is human and moral. We are concerned because now this crisis is rooted in the national soul. Herein lies the cause of the widespread violence that surrounds us, from the growing violence against women and against the family."
Faced with such a picture of domestic violence, the Church appeals to the faithful with the slogan "Family and fraternity will change society," which is the theme proposed by the Catholic Church for the pastoral plan for the current year. "The means of communication allow us to be witnesses of beautiful, tender and sympathetic facts, that occur anywhere on the planet. But lead into the house even harrowing and perverse crimes," reads the text that illustrates the theme of the pastoral year. For this reason the Church invites all people of good will to implement actions to return to the respect for life, the protection of human dignity, the values of love and mutual service, lived in the family.
In the last decade, the Dominican Republic criminality has nearly doubled, according to analysts, is attributed to easy access to guns, violence linked to drug trafficking and social inequality. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 26/5/2012)
Activists slam violence by Syrian government forces. Video of dead children are posted online, but independent verification is impossible. Thousands of people protested yesterday after Friday prayers. For UN's Ban Ki-moon, the situation is "extremely serious".

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 88 people, including many children, have been killed in Syria's restive Homs province as government forces attacked rebel positions. Activists call the outcome of the attack a massacre. If confirmed, it would be one of the worst losses of life since a truce was agreed to in April. In a letter to the Security Council, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the opposition controlled "significant parts of some cities." The situation, he added, was "extremely serious," urging states not to arm either side in the conflict.

In addition to the violence in Houla (Homs), Friday saw at least 20 people killed elsewhere in the country, local sources reported, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets after prayers. In Houla itself, activists said some of those who died were butchered by government militia, others killed in shelling or summary executions. Pictures and videos have been posted online showing the slaughtered children.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) said at least 88 people had died, "most of them women and children". For the Syrian National Council, the UN Security Council must act urgently to stop the carnage. However, neither the reports nor the videos of the violence could be independently verified.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talked about recent attacks in a letter to the Security Council, especially earlier this month, when a bombing in Damascus left 55 dead.

For him, judging from the sophistication of the attacks, "established terrorist groups" could have been behind some of the recent bomb blasts in Syria.

Overall, UN efforts to end the conflict had seen only "small progress", he noted, and the «situation in Syria remains extremely serious".


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
25 May 2012

Bishop Julian Porteous will confirm the
children and adults at this Sunday's
Pentecost Mass at the Cathedral
Between 24 and 30 adults and children will be confirmed by Bishop Julian Porteous, Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation and Renewal at St Mary's Cathedral on Pentecost, 27 May.
Of all ages and from many different parishes, the group will be confirmed, strengthening their bond with the Lord, during the 10.30 am Solemn Sung Mass at the Cathedral in a ceremony to confer them with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Also attending the Mass will be more than 50 members of Australia's Order of Malta including Fra' Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta which marks the first time a Grand Master of the Order has visited Australia.
The Grand Master will be accompanied by Jean-Pierre Mazery, Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Marquese Gian Luca Chiari, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Obedience, and Receiver of the Common Treasure who have flown in from Rome. Also there will be Anthony Macken AO, national President of the Australian Association of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhods and of Malta.
Australia's Order of Malta members attend Mass at the Cathedral each year in May and are particularly delighted that this year the Mass coincides with Pentecost, the third great feast of the Christian Year.

Pentecost 2012 marks start
of the Year of Grace
This year Pentecost will also mark the start of the Year of Grace and celebrates the Holy Spirit who through the Word and Sacraments gives Christians the power to believe and to trust in Christ our Saviour and is the reason why Pentecost is a time for rejoicing and thanksgiving.
Occurring on the Seventh Sunday after Easter, Pentecost is the third great festival of the Christian year. The first is Christmas which marks the birth of Christ. The second is Easter and the Resurrection. And the third which arrives 50 days later is Pentecost where Christians worldwide celebrate God's gift of the Holy Spirit and commemorate the birth of the Christian Church.
A time of hope, Pentecost is also a time for the faithful to renew their sense of purpose and mission, and to celebrate their calling as God's people.
Confirmation is strongly linked with Pentecost and at this time Catholics receive the Holy Spirit, just as the Apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit more than 2000 years ago.
Originally commemorated as a Harvest Festival by the Old Testament, Pentecost was calculated as the 50th day after Passover. The transformation to an important Christian festival occurred when 50 days after Christ's Resurrection and 10 days after His Ascension to Heaven, His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for what they believed would be the usual Harvest Festival celebrated by the Jewish calendar. But while they were indoors praying to the Lord, there was a sudden almighty rush of wind which filled the house. They knelt, and seconds later, great tongues of fire descended and rested on each of their heads.

Fra Matthew Festing Prince
and Grand Master of the Order
of Malta will attend Mass
at St Mary's for Pentecost
The flames and rush of wind were recognised as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh which had been promised by Old Testament prophet, Joel (Joel 2:28-29). And it was through this miracle of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles were empowered to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ and no matter where they preached throughout Europe and the Middle East, and all corners of the Roman Empire, they were understood by everyone, even by those who spoke no Hebrew or Latin.
Filled with the strength and might of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter, founder of the Catholic Church, seized the moment on that first Pentecost Sunday, and rushing outside addressed the masses, telling them of Jesus' death and about His Resurrection. Such was the power of what St Peter said - and the grace imbued on him by the Holy Spirit - that 3000 converts rushed forward to be baptized and become Christians.
While Pentecost for many remains less well known and less openly celebrated than the Christian festivals of Christmas or Easter, this is due not to the fact Pentecost is less important, but because of the secular commercialisation of Christmas and Easter. But Pentecost is nevertheless as important to Christians as Easter and Christmas and is an equally uplifting and joyous occasion, bringing with it an overwhelming sense of renewal along with the mission to evangelise and spread the Word.
Pentecost has given rise to several different customs. In Italy the Festival is celebrated by scattering scarlet rose petals, representing the tongues of fire which enveloped the Apostles. As well as Pentecost, in Italy the Festival is known as Pascha Rossa and refers to the scarlet vestments worn by clerics during the Festival. In France it was customary to blow trumpets during the Divine service at Pentecost to recall the sound of the mighty wind that overwhelmed thed Apostles. While in England, where Pentecost is popularly known as Whitsunday, Whitsun ales are produced as part of the celebrations.

Pentecost Sunday is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (16:8), while the story of the original Pentecost is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (Act 2) with descriptions of how Jews from all over had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Harvest Festival and how the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary had come together in the Upper Room where they had seen Christ after His Resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles then describes the sudden sound from heaven, "as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting; and there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak." (Acts 2:2-4).


Agenzia Fides report - "The results of the first round of presidential elections will probably only be tomorrow or Sunday, for now those that are announced are the result of rumors, more or less consistent" say local sources from Cairo to Fides where, according to what was announced by the Muslim Brotherhood, a second ballot between their candidate Mohammed Mursi, and the former Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq, considered close to the military leadership is expected.
"The thing certain is about the turnout at the polls" stress Fides sources. "Out of approximately 50 million entitled to vote, only half voted, about 25 million electors. These 25 million are not representative of a population of 86 million inhabitants. What impressed was to see that in the long lines of voters waiting to vote there were few young people, although Egypt is a young Country. "One thing to reflect on if one thinks that it was the young people who were the protagonists of the uprising last year that led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 25/5/2012)


Westminster: 17 new Deacons ordained for Ordinariate | Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Alan Hopes, Deacons

Our Lady of Walsingham
Seventeen men were ordained Deacon on Saturday, 26 May at Westminster Cathedral for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They were ordained by Bishop Alan Hopes, on behalf of Monsignor Keith Newton. In the coming days and weeks, they will be ordained to the Priesthood, usually in their local Diocese.

The large congregation included members of their respective Ordinariate Groups and former parishioners from their time as Anglicans. In the homily, Mgr Andrew Burnham pointed to the candidates' many years of priestly service and the energy, experience and wisdom which they bring to the Catholic Church.

The music included the Mass for five voices by Byrd and motets by Tallis and Victoria. The hymns 'Crown him with many crowns' and 'Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour' were sung with great zeal, as befits the Anglican patrimony, and Dubois' 'Toccata' for organ provided a joyous conclusion to the liturgy.
Mgr Newton thanked Canon Tuckwell, the Administrator, the staff, servers and choir of the cathedral for their help and support and Bishop Hopes for ordaining these new Deacons.

Full details of forthcoming ordinations are to be found in the Calendar: on the website which will be updated as more dates are fixed.


Acts 2: 1 - 11
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
9 Par'thians and Medes and E'lamites and residents of Mesopota'mia, Judea and Cappado'cia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phryg'ia and Pamphyl'ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre'ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."
Psalms 104: 1, 24, 29 - 31, 34
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty,
24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.
29 When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure for ever, may the LORD rejoice in his works,
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
1 Corinthians 12: 3 - 7, 12 - 13
3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
John 20: 19 - 23
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."


St. Augustine of Canterbury
Feast: May 27

Feast Day: May 27
Born: early 6th century, Rome, Italy
Died: 26 May 604, Canterbury, Kent, England
Patron of: England
When Pope Gregory began to plan for the evangelization of England, the land was still largely pagan, although in the southwest there were remnants of earlier missionary efforts. To lead this important mission, Gregory chose Augustine, prior of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome, of which Gregory had been the founder. Nothing is known of Augustine's life until the year 596, when, with a party of Benedictine monks, he set out northwards from Rome. He carried letters of commendation to various Gallic bishops. On reaching Provence, the monks accompanying Augustine grew fearful of the dangers that lay ahead. Alarming stories were told of the ferocity of the pagans and the hazards of the Channel crossing. They persuaded Augustine to return to Rome to ask the Pope's permission to abandon the whole enterprise. Meanwhile the Pope had received word that the common people of England and also some of their chieftains and kings were ready to welcome Christian missionaries. After Pope Gregory had told Augustine this news and had discussed the situation with him further, Augustine rejoined his companions and inspired them with his own courage. Taking with them several Franks to act as interpreters, the party crossed safely over to the Isle of Thanet, in the domain of Ethelbert, King of Kent, whom they formally notified of their arrival and of their purpose in coming.

Ethelbert was still a pagan, but his wife Bertha, daughter of King Charibert of the Franks, had been converted to Christianity. Sitting under a spreading oak, Ethelbert received the missionaries. After listening carefully to their words, he gave them permission to preach to his subjects. He also made over to them a house in Canterbury, with the use of the little stone church of St. Martin, which had stood there since the period of Roman occupation. This had formerly been the oratory of Queen Bertha and her confessor Liud hard. Ethelbert was converted and baptized at Pentecost, 597. After this promising start, Augustine went back to Provence to be consecrated bishop by Vergilius, metropolitan of Arles and papal legate for Gaul. On his return some ten thousand of Ethelbert's subjects were baptized in the Swale River.

Augustine, greatly heartened by the success of his mission, now sent two of his monks to Rome to report to the Pope, and to ask for more helpers. Also he wished to have the Pope's counsel on various problems. When the monks came back to England with a fresh band of missionaries, they brought the pallium for Augustine. Among the new group were Mellitus, Justus, and Paulinus, who was afterwards archbishop of York. With these "ministers of the Word," wrote the Venerable Bede, "the holy Pope sent all things needed in general for divine worship and the service of the Church, viz. sacred vessels, altar cloths, ornaments for churches, and vestments for priests and clerks, and also many books." The latter item was especially important, for the books helped to inspire the great love of learning which characterized the English Church.

Gregory sent to Augustine a plan for developing an ecclesiastical hierarchy and establishing a working organization for the whole country-a plan which was not fully carried out in Augustine's lifetime. There was to be a northern and a southern province, with twelve suffragan bishops in each. In a letter to Mellitus, which is presented earlier, following the life of , he gave instruction on other points, showing his administrative ability as well as considerable psychological insight. Pagan temples were, as far as possible, to be Christianized and retained. Consecration rites and feasts of martyrs were to replace the heathen festivals, for, Gregory wisely writes, "he who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps."
In 603 Augustine rebuilt and reconsecrated the Canterbury church and the house given him by King Ethelbert. These structures formed the nucleus for his metropolitan cathedral. They were destroyed by fire in 1067, and the present cathedral, begun by the great Lanfranc in 1070, stands on their site. A converted temple outside the walls of Canterbury was made into another religious house, which Augustine dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. After his death this abbey became known as St. Augustine's.

With the King's support, the Christianization of Kent proceeded rapidly, but Gregory's charge had stated, "All the bishops of Britain we commend to your Fraternity." The survivors of the ancient British or Celtic Church and their bishops had been driven westward and southward into Wales and Cornwall by the Saxon conquerors of the fifth century. Here they had persisted as Christian communities, cut off from the outside world. Although they were sound in fundamental doctrine, some of their usages were at variance with those of Rome. Now, in virtue of his archiepiscopal jurisdiction, Augustine invited the Celtic bishops to meet with him at a spot outside the confines of Wessex, which has since come to be known as Augustine's Oak. In long conferences with the representatives of the Celtic Church Augustine urged them to comply with the customs of the rest of Western Christendom, in particular in the method of determining the date of Easter, and to aid him in converting the pagans. Loyalty to their own local traditions, however, and bitterness against their Saxon conquerors, made them unwilling to agree, even though Augustine performed a miracle of healing in their presence to prove the supernatural source of his authority. They consented to attend a second conference, held in Flintshire, but it too proved a failure. Augustine did not rise to greet his Celtic brothers when they arrived and they felt that he lacked Christian humility. They refused either to listen to him or acknowledge him as their archbishop. It was not until 664, at the Synod of Whitby, that their differences were resolved and ecclesiastical uniformity was established.

Augustine's last years were spent in spreading and consolidating the faith in Ethelbert's realm, which comprised large sections of eastern England south of Northumbria. Sees were established in London and Rochester, with Mellitus appointed bishop over one and Justus over the other. Seven years after his arrival Augustine died, leaving the continuation of his work to others.


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