Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Vatican Radio report Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo at noon on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In remarks ahead of the Angelus, the Holy Father explained that Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life – though only dogmatically defined in 1950 by Pope Pius XII – is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated. The Pope called on all the faithful to ask Mary be the star that guides us on our way to meet her Divine Son. After the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English:

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the groups from Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfilment of her Son’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass of the Assumption at Castel Gandolfo’s parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova. “Let us,” the Holy Father prayed in his homily, “entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession, that she might ask the Lord to strengthen our belief in eternal life, help us to live well and with hope the time that God gives to us - a Christian hope,” he said, “which is not just nostalgia for Heaven, but living and active desire for God here in the world, a desire that makes us indefatigable pilgrims, feeding in us the courage and strength of faith, a fortitude that is at once the power of love.


Proclaim 2012 greeted with acclaim

Monday 13 August 2012

THE FIRST ever national conference for Catholics, focusing specifically on the 'new evangelisation', has been hailed as a “Spirit-filled success.”

Organisers predicted PROCLAIM 2012 – which wrapped up in Chatswood, Sydney, on Saturday, 11 August – would come to be recognised as a 'watershed' moment in the life of the Australian Catholic Church.
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Director for the National Office for Evangelisation, Marita Winters said feedback, both formal and anecdotal, proved that the event had “ticked a lot of boxes”.
“It attracted those who were interested in learning more about their faith and how to share it with others, and we covered topics as diverse as engaging with people with disabilities, attracting young people back to the church and equipping people in parishes to more effectively outreach to those disconnected from the institutional Church.”

In a show of both solidarity and loyalty to the universal Church, Proclaim 2012 featured input from overseas guest speakers, including Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Vatican’s newly formed Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation and Martha Fernandez-Sardina, the Director of the Office for Evangelisation in the Archdiocese of San Antonio in the United States.

Mrs Winters said the input of Archbishop Fisichella was significant because it showed that the Vatican took a great interest in how the New Evangelisation was being embraced and implemented by Australian Catholics, while also recognising the Church in Australia was pioneering many innovative ways of spreading the Gospel.

“Some of our workshop presenters, as well as the stall holders that featured at our three-day expo, along with our workshop presenters, are literally at the cutting edge of ministry, mission, outreach and catechesis,” she said.

A highlight of the three-day gathering was a youth rally on Friday 10 August, featuring live music, multimedia and hip-hop and krump

Stronger, higher, faster path to Sainthood

By Beth Doherty

“You are what you eat,” said evangelist Martha Fernandez-Sardina as she addressed the 400-strong crowd at PROCLAIM 2012: the first national conference on the “New Evangelisation” held from 9-11 August at The Concourse in Chatswood.

The American keynote speaker wasn’t giving diet tips or fitness advice; rather, she was exhorting the crowd gathered to understand the power in frequent reception of the Eucharist.

“If you receive Christ frequently, you slowly become transformed. It changes you. You become the bread come down from heaven. You become Holy as the Lord your God is Holy”, she said.

One of two high-profile international guests to address PROCLAIM 2012, Martha: a bilingual speaker, trainer and consultant captivated the audience for over an hour with witty stories, anecdotes, personal sharing and biblical wisdom.

Martha admitted to those gathered that growing up, her family were not great Church-goers, but that at the age of 15, she saw that there was something missing in her life.

Raised between New York and the Dominican Republic, Martha grew up speaking Spanish and English and now is the Director of the Office for Evangelisation in San Antonio, Texas.

Her work has led her to develop programs in both languages and to reach out via the media and in various forms of ministry, to share how Christ has worked in her life.

By way of personal anecdote, Martha shared the story of attending a parish as a young teenager and realising that they had a youth group. Having had not much contact with Christian young people, she observed them closely during the Mass and realised that “she wanted what they had.”

“I saw how they loved one another!!” she said.

As soon as Mass ended, she approached one of them and asked when the Youth Group met. Reflecting later, she admits she probably scared the youth group leader a little bit.

“He was probably thinking, “wow! I wasn't even fishing and she jumped into my net”. But you know, even when we aren’t fishing, the great evangeliser catches fish.

It was at this Mass that Martha prayed the prayer: “Lord, I recommit my life to you and the Church.”

Following this, she forced herself to attend Mass every week until she began to understand the beauty and sacredness.

“For me, there are very important ways in which you maintain your faith. Through daily Mass; frequent reception of Holy Communion and by regular confession. We need to want that holiness so much that we would pay any price, we want the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb.”

Martha had clearly done her research before coming to Australia and was familiar with the sayings of St Mary MacKillop as she addressed the crowd.

“Do not get so attached to the world that you will find it hard to go home – after all, as Mary of the Cross MacKillop said, “we are but travellers here”.”

“There will be sacrifices! You will need to give things up. You will wrestle with God and some things won’t be easy to give up”, she said.

“And speaking of giving things up, I arrived at the airport here and swapped over my American dollars for your beautiful colourful Australian ones. I was a little apprehensive, because not only was there a fee, but I actually got back less than I handed over”, she said to the laughing crowd.

“However, that allowed me to do something – it allowed me to buy things I needed for the trip. God works in a similar way. Sometimes we have to give up certain attachments, lifestyles, and baggage. But God will reward you abundantly for what you lay down!”

Martha then told the story of the young man who went to buy a large burger and fries at a fast-food chain, and was greeted with the reply: “Do you want heartburn now, or later?”

“It’s the same with Jesus”, she said.

“It is inevitable that we will get heartburn from an unhealthy diet, that we will see the effects, just as eventually, we will all come before the Lord; but how much more beautiful if we live Christ’s way now, if we allow our hearts to burn with the Gospel here on earth.”

“We don’t just want our hearts to burn, we want a heart transplant. We want God to replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.”

Her final words were an exhortation to approach prayer and faith in the same way that Olympic athletes do, and used the motto: “stronger, faster, higher”.

“Holiness requires effort, self-discipline, self-denial and a “fierce Olympian attitude and mindset.”

“After all, you want to, as St Paul writes in Corinthians, ‘run so as to win’.”

“It requires getting up and going at it every day. We too can be Olympians and medallists. As Fr. Benedict Groechsel said: ‘Saints are people like us who simply tried harder’.”dancing.
Photos by Elizabeth Doherty/ACBC


By Mark Greaves on Wednesday, 15 August 2012
The Transalpine Redemptorists pictured with Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen (Photo: Brother Martin)
The Transalpine Redemptorists pictured with Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen (Photo: Brother Martin)
A traditionalist group based on an island in Scotland has been formally established as an institute within the Catholic Church.
The Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists, was erected today, on the feast of the Assumption, as a Clerical Institute of Diocesan Right.
The community, which has about 15 members, has been in limbo since 2008 when it announced that it wished to enter into full communion with Rome.
The group’s decision was a response to Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which allowed priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass freely.
Previously, the community had been a part of the worldwide Society of St Pius X (SSPX), the estranged traditionalist group currently in dialogue with Rome.
This evening the community were to make a public profession of vows at their home on Papa Stronsay, a tiny, windswept island in Orkney, off the north-east of Scotland. The profession will be celebrated by Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB of Aberdeen, who, as their diocesan bishop, granted them canonical recognition.
Bishop Gilbert was ordained as Bishop of Aberdeen exactly a year ago, taking over from Bishop Peter Moran, who had retired


by Jibran Khan
The complaint against him claims he sent text messages insulting Muhammad's mother. Legal experts say the case is flawed because charges were laid under the wrong section of the Criminal Code. Human rights activists pledge a battle in court. For Mgr Rufin Anthony, personal animosities are behind the case.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Once again, Pakistan's blasphemy law has been used to bring unsubstantiated charges against members of religious minorities. Rev Zafar Bhatti, president of the Jesus World Mission, is in prison after he was accused of violating the 'black law.' Judges now must decide whether or not to heed the appeal made on his behalf and release him on bail. A Muslim leader said the Christian clergyman sent him text messages that insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Catholic leaders and human rights activists have responded immediately, pleading for his innocence, noting that police has been subjected to pressures and that the case is vitiated by errors in law.
Rev Bhatti hails from Karachi, but moved to Lahore in 2010, in Nawaz Sharif Colony, where he has worked on behalf of local Christians and religions minorities for the past two years. On 10 July, he decided to move with his family to the capital Islamabad. The next day, Ahmed Khan, deputy Secretary of the local Jamat Ehl-e-Sunnat, unexpectedly filed a complaint against the Christian clergyman at the New Town police station, in Rawalpindi.
According to the police report, Khan received some text messages on his mobile phone with insulting language towards Muhammad's mother from an unregistered but visible number, which he kept in the phone's memory. At the police station, he said that if the agents did not open an investigation for blasphemy under article 295-C of the Penal Code, his organisation would take matters in its own hands.
The affair is full of holes however, including the charges against the Christian minister. Offenders who violate Article 295, Sections B and C, of the Penal Code could get the death penalty. However, insulting the prophet's mother falls under Article 295, Section A, which entails lighter sentences.
Police arrested Rev Bhatti on 16 July and his sister-in-law Nasreen Bibi. In custody, the pastor was physically abused and tortured to extract a confession but he stood his ground, rejecting the accusation and insisting on his innocence.
His wife turned to All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), an associated founded by Shahbaz Bhatti, asking for justice. Today, a court hearing is expected to rule on his demand for release on bail.
"Zhaffar Bhatti is innocent," said Khalid Jill, of APMA. "We are going to fight for his release." In his view, police began a case against him under "pressure," but we "are going to appeal because he was charged under the wrong article of the law."
Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, is of the same opinion. "How can police be sure" about the offender's identity? "It is clear that it is a case of personal animosity," probably in connection with some land.



Agenzia Fides REPORT – Armed men attacked the All Saints Catholic Church, in the State of Gombe, in Nigeria on Sunday, August 12, killing one policeman on duty who was protecting the place of worship. According to testimonies collected by the local media, the armed group arrived at the church when the faithful were coming out of the church service and shot the policemen. The killers then tried to get in the church, but the faithful were able to close the door of the church before they could enter.
Meanwhile, the Police in the State of Kogi arrested 16 people suspected of being involved in the assault last week at the Deeper Life Bible Church (see Fides 08/08/2012) and the killing of two soldiers in another attack. In Maiduguri, in the State of Borno (north-east of Nigeria) security forces killed 20 suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
The insecurity conditions created by the Islamist Boko Haram sect in northern Nigeria are creating tensions in the country, to the point that the individual Christian Associations of Nigeria (CAN) of 19 Northern states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have asked President Goodluck Jonathan to resign because he was not able to promptly address the insurgency led by Boko Haram.
CAN (which brings together the main Christian denominations in Nigeria and is present in all the States of the Federation) has expressed its disappointment because of a statement attributed to President Jonathan according to whom members of Boko Haram "are our brothers and we cannot use the army to wipe out your family." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/8/2012)


Luke 1: 39 - 56
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."
56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.



Feast Day:
August 15
The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don't know how it first came to be celebrated.
Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as in honor of Jupiter.
For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.
After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the "Tomb of Mary," close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.
On the hill itself was the "Place of Dormition," the spot of Mary's "falling asleep," where she had died. The "Tomb of Mary" was where she was buried.
At this time, the "Memory of Mary" was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.
For a time, the "Memory of Mary" was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the "Falling Asleep" ("Dormitio") of the Mother of God.
Soon the name was changed to the "Assumption of Mary," since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.
That belief was ancient, dating back to the apostles themselves. What was clear from the beginning was that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of her death. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)
At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that "Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven."
In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: "Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth."
All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. Her whole being throbbed with divine life from the very beginning, readying her for the exalted role of mother of the Savior.
The Assumption completes God's work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God's crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.
The feast days of the Church are not just the commemoration of historical events; they do not look only to the past. They look to the present and to the future and give us an insight into our own relationship with God. The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.
The prayer for the feast reads: "All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory."
In 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution , Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words: "The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven."

With that, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.


Feast Day:
August 15
1887 at northeast Republic of the Congo
8 or 15 August 1909
24 April 1994 by Pope John Paul II
One of "the least brothers" of Jesus, was born in northeast Zaire (then, Belgian Congo) sometime between 1885 and 1890. His baptismal record is the first document about him, as he was attracted to Christ when he was about 18 years of age, working for white colonizers as an assistant mason. He never forgot the lessons taught him by the Trappist missionaries from Westmalle Abbey in Belgium: a follower of Jesus should be characterized by prayer and witness. He should be recognized by the rosary and scapular (Mary's habit, as it was rendered in Isidore's native tongue). Mild, honest, respectful by nature, Isidore worked conscientiously and prayed faithfully, as many non-Christian witnesses attested. Often with rosary in hand, he looked for opportunities to share his new-found faith with others, to the extent that many thought of him as a catechist. He definitively left his native village because there were no fellow followers of Christ there. In a larger settlement, he found employment with the agent of a Belgian company that controlled the rubber plantations in the region. He was hired as a domestic boy. Many of the agents were avowed atheists, who hated the missionaries because of the latter's defence of the natives' rights and their denouncing of injustices perpetrated against them. "Mon pere" was a pejorative name given to priests and to all that had to do with religion. Isidore soon experienced the hatred of the agents for Catholicism. He asked for leave to return home; permission was refused. He was told to stop teaching his fellow workers how to pray: "You'll have the whole village praying and no one will want to work", one agent shouted at him. Isidore was told to discard his scapular. When he did not, he was twice flogged. The second time, the agent flew into one of his rages. He jumped at Isidore, tore the scapular from around his neck and threw him to the ground. He had two servant boys hold Isidore by his hands and feet and a third domestic flogged him. The whip was made of elephant hide with nails protruding at the end. The writhing Isidore asked for mercy. "My God, I'm dying", he muttered. But the colonizer kept kicking Isidore in the neck and head, and ordered his domestic to scourge him harder still. After 100, those assisting lost count of the number of blows. Isidore's back was one open wound; some of his bones were exposed. After scourging he was thrown, legs chained, into a hut for processing rubber. He could not even move to relieve himself. Since an inspector was due, Isidore was banished to another village. But because he could not walk, he fell by the wayside and hid in the forest. He dragged himself before the inspector, who was horrified at the sight of this modern Job. The inspector himself left a written account of his impression: "I saw a man come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me -he wasn't walking; he was dragging himself". The agent appeared on the scene and tried to kill "that animal of mon pere", but the inspector even physically prevented him. He took Isidore to his own settlement, hoping to help him heal. But Isidore felt death in his bones. He told someone who had pity on him: "if you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet the priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian". Two missionaries spent several days with him. He devoutly received the last sacraments. He told them the reason for his beating: "The white man did not like Christians.... He did not want me to wear the scapular.... He yelled at me when I said my prayers". The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he had already done so and that he nursed no hatred for him. This "animal of mon pere", this convert of two-and-a-half years proved that he knew what it meant to follow Jesus - even to the point of being flogged like him, even to the point of carrying the cross, even to the point of dying. The missionaries urged Isidore to pray for the agent. "Certainly I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much". His agony - more painful than the actual flogging - lasted six months. He died on either 8 or 15 august 1909, rosary in hand and the scapular of Our Lady of Mt Carmel around his neck.

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