Thursday, January 31, 2013




Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – The first and most fundamental definition that the Creed teaches us about God is that He is the Almighty Father. This was the theme of Benedict XVI's Wednesday catechesis during today's general audience that was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
"It isn't always easy today to speak about fatherhood," the Pope began, "...and, not having adequate role models, it even becomes problematic to imagine God as a father. For those who have had the experience of an overly authoritarian and inflexible father, or an indifferent, uncaring, or even absent one, it is not easy to calmly think of God as Father or to confidently surrender themselves to Him. But Biblical revelation helps us to overcome these difficulties by telling us about a God who shows us what it truly means to be a 'father'. Above all it is the Gospel that reveals to us this face of God as Father, who loves us even to the point of giving us the gift of His Son for the salvation of humanity."
In the light of the Scriptures and the writings of the evangelists, the Holy Father explained that God is our Father because "He has blessed us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. He has truly made us His children in Jesus. And, as Father, God accompanies our existence with love, giving us His Word, His teaching, His grace, His Spirit. ...If He is so good as to 'make His sun rise on the bad and the good and … rain to fall on the just and the unjust', then we can always, without fear and in complete faith, entrust ourselves to His forgiveness as Father when we choose the wrong path."
Tracing the history of salvation, Psalm 136 repeats "for his mercy endures forever", and the pontiff emphasized, "The love of God the Father never fails, never tires of us. … Faith gives us this certainty that becomes the sure rock upon which to build our lives. We can face every difficulty and every danger, the experience of the darkness of times of crisis and pain, sustained by the confidence that God does not abandon us and is always near to save us and bring us to everlasting life."
The kind face of the Father who is in heaven is fully shown in the Lord Jesus. "Knowing Him we know the Father and seeing Him we can see the Father. … Faith in God the Father requires that we believe in the Son, through the action of the Spirit, recognizing the Cross that saves as the definitive revelation of divine love. God is our Father, forgiving our sins and bringing us to the joy of the risen life."
"We can ask ourselves, how is it possible to imagine an all-powerful God by looking at the Cross of Christ? … We would certainly like a divine omnipotence that corresponded to our thoughts and our desires; an 'almighty' God … who vanquishes our adversaries, who changes the course of events, and who takes away our pain. … Faced with evil and suffering, ... it is difficult for many of us to believe in God the Father and to believe that He is all-powerful."
"Faith in God the Almighty, however, leads us to follow very different paths: learning to understand that God's thoughts and God's paths are different from ours and that even His omnipotence is different?it isn't expressed with mechanical or arbitrary force... Actually, God, in creating free creatures, in giving us freedom, gave up a part of His power, allowing us the power of our freedom. Thus He loves and respects love's free response to His call. His omnipotence isn't expressed in violence or destruction but rather through love, mercy, and forgiveness; through His tireless call to a change of heart, through an attitude that is only weak in appearance, and which is made of patience, clemency, and love."
"Only the truly powerful can endure evil and show compassion. Only the truly powerful can fully exercise the power of love. And God, to whom all things belong because He made them all, reveals His strength by loving everything and everyone, patiently awaiting our conversion because He wants us as His children. ...The omnipotence of love isn't a worldly power, but is that of total gift and Jesus, the Son of God, reveals to the world the Father's true omnipotence by giving His life for us sinners. This is the true ... divine power: responding to evil not with evil but with good, responding to murderous hatred with a love that gives life. Evil is thus truly vanquished, because it is washed by God's love. Death is thus definitively defeated, because it is transformed into the gift of life. God the Father resurrects His Son. Death, the great enemy, is swallowed up and deprived of its sting and we are freed from sin; we can grasp our reality as children of God."
"So, when we say 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty', we express our faith in the power of God's love who?in His Son who died and rose again?conquers hate, evil, and sin and gives us eternal life, a life as children who desire to remain forever in the 'Father's House'."

Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, 29 January, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held a plenary meeting in Jerusalem to continue negotiations pursuant to Article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.
The meeting was headed by Mr. Daniel Ayalon, M.K, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary of the Holy See for the Relations with States. The Holy See's delegation thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon for his contribution to the negotiations and wished him success in his new endeavours.
The negotiations took place in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere. The Commission took notice that significant progress was made and looks forward to a speedy conclusion of the Agreement. The parties have agreed on future steps and to hold the next plenary meeting in June 2013 at Vatican City.

Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Juan Carlos Barreto Barreto as bishop of Quibdo (area 12,500, population 198,310, Catholics 186,010, priests 49, religious 62), Colombia. The bishop-elect, previously of the clergy of the diocese of Espinal, Colombia, was born in Guamo, Colombia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1993. Bishop-elect Barreto has served as pastor in several Colombian parishes and as diocesan delegate to several organizations. Since 2008 he has been rector of the Espinal diocese's major seminary, La Providencia.




Pastoral Letter for Lent 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Lent 2013 is a season in which we are called to a renewal of faith. Especially, in this special Year of Faith for the Universal Church, we all need to go back to the very foundations of our faith.

Our Catholic faith is the most fundamental value of our lives – never more so than when we experience testing times. Let us never forget God calls us into the desert only to strengthen and deepen our faith.

From a spiritual perspective, the 'desert' is that place we enter to be reminded of the One who is truly essential in our lives, where we stand before God with no false veneer or pretence. For many of us there can be the 'desert' of illness, of joblessness, of anxiety, of conflict and of doubt; the ‘desert’ of moving to get back on to one’s feet after a bewildering setback.

Particularly during this Lent 2013 we are specially mindful, as a local Church here in Australia, of the 'desert' that has been created by the tragic crimes of sexual abuse perpetrated by some of our fellow Catholics and the devastation it has wrought upon innocent persons.

No matter the 'desert' we enter into, it must become for us that place where we confront the challenges of daily life, not as insurmountable problems but as stepping stones to growth. It is that place where we confront ourselves with no other support than God.

Yet we cannot face this Lenten journey relying only on our own willpower. We can all be so easily overwhelmed by our sense of our own weakness and anxiety about the future. Without faith as our bedrock, as our Holy Father Benedict XVI reminds us in his 2013 Lenten message, our plans and activities cannot bear authentic fruit.

So it was that Jesus spent forty days and nights in the desert. Harassed and tempted by Satan’s temptations, he proved faithful to his Father and to his mission for our sakes. He showed how a life of holiness requires prayer. Prayer is simply being present to God.

And so it is for us during the 40 days of voluntary 'desert' living this Lent. Our prayer, penance and fasting take us to the ‘desert’ where, stripped of customary comforts and excess, we learn to rely on God alone.

Grounded in faith - from which all authentic charity flows - we are called to act justly and love tenderly especially by showing compassion and mercy to the poor and disadvantaged.

So during our Year of Faith this Lent let us deepen our journey of faith as disciples:

  • Fridays of Lent in our Archdiocese should become special days of fasting and prayer. Days of special penance where we implore the Lord to bring deep healing to all those suffering from the crimes of sexual abuse.
  • I encourage you to go on 'pilgrimage' to pray at the special churches designated as pilgrimage churches during the Year of Faith. Such journeying reminds us of the need to pray frequently and intensely for divine grace which is our only salvation in times of special pain and crisis.
  • Charity and solidarity for the poor and disadvantaged is also a vital way of deepening our Catholic faith. Please support Project Compassion and the works of the St Vincent de Paul Society. A quiet act of charity for someone in need - unknown and unnoticed - is also a powerful way of living our Catholic faith.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that in order to journey through the 'desert' and face the temptations and wiles of the Evil One we must become people of deeper faith. It is only by accepting God’s unconditional love that we sinners can journey on.

No matter then what challenges are ahead of us - this Lent 2013 we remember it is never too late to start again. May the God of all consolations be with us all in this our special Year of Faith.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+ Denis J. Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Following the heavy rains that are flooding the southern part of Mozambique, where already a decade ago, hundreds of people died, local authorities have planned the evacuation of 50 000 people. Since the beginning of the rainy season, the month of October, about 50 people were killed, and eight of the main rivers of the country exceeded the warning threshold. The South African country is experiencing one of the worst floods since the last major flood in 2000, which affected millions of people and caused the death of about 800 people. The rains continue to pour along the basin of the Limpopo River in the southern province of Gaza, home to the most vulnerable communities.
The water has swelled the rivers of neighboring countries and local authorities have opened the floodgates of two dams to reduce the risk of elevated levels.
In the coastal area of Mozambique nine international river basins converge that make it particularly vulnerable to flooding. Although the rain has stopped in most areas, the risk of flooding remains high because of the waters that continue to come from the hinterland. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 30/01/2013)


by Nirmala Carvalho
The number refers to the disparity between males and females reported in the last national census (2011). In the parishes of the Archdiocese 37 million lamps and candles will be lit. For the director of the Catholic weekly The Examiner, spiritual and sexual health formation can bring about a change in attitude that respects the dignity and sacredness of human beings. The message of the Bishops' Conference for Indian Republic Day.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The campaign "37 million lights" begins tomorrow, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Mumbai to sensitize the community to all forms of violence against women: sex-selective abortion, female feticide, dowry murders, rapes, maternal and child mortality. Today India celebrates its 63rd Republic Day, and the debate on the role of women, after the New Delhi gang rape is still alive. The Archdiocese initiative comes in this context, to reiterate the position taken by the Church from the outset. The title refers to data from the last national census (Census 2011), which states that the disparity between men and women in the population is 37 million.

For this reason, tomorrow evening the parishes of the Archdiocese will symbolically light (in total) 37 million lamps and candles.

Fr. Anthony Charanghat, editor of the archdiocesan weekly The Examiner, told AsiaNews: "In India, sexual violence against women is ancient and widespread as patriarchy. Crimes such as rape, dowry murders, acid attacks, honour crimes, child brides and human trafficking are the order of the day. senseless violence and manic brutality inflicted on the victim [New Delhi, ed] have shaken the conscience of many middle-class citizens, who consider Gender Equality as important as the fight against poverty. " However, "this movement must go on until justice is done for all our daughters and sisters who have been violated."

According to the priest, protest and indignation at such crimes "must be translated into reasoned not impulsive actions". Instead of "invoking draconian penalties or death for those who commit rape", more than anything else "we need a change in mentality reached through spiritual and sexual health education, while respecting the dignity and sacredness of the human being."

In his message for the Indian Republic Day, even the Bishops' Conference (CBCI) returned to the issue of violence against women. The bishops stress that "violence against women and children - not only rapes, but all cases of female infanticide and feticide, harassment, rape, honour and dowry killings - crumble the pillars of society and the nation, stopping the path to peace and prosperity. "

To defeat these plagues, the CBCI reiterates the importance of "total formation of the person, which should help parents, teachers, elders, spiritual leaders and authorities," and the futility of "dehumanizing measures such as the death penalty or chemical castration. " The desire for revenge "must give way to forgiveness," noting that "human life is a precious gift of God, which no one has the right to take away."



Mark 4: 1 - 20

1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.
2 And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
3 "Listen! A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil;
6 and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away.
7 Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
8 And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
9 And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
10 And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables.
11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables;
12 so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven."
13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
14 The sower sows the word.
15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them.
16 And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
17 and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word,
19 but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
20 But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."


St. Hyacintha of Mariscotti
Feast: January 30

Feast Day: January 30
1585, Vignanello, Italy
Died: 30 January 1640, Viterbo
Canonized: 1807 by Pope Pius VII
A religious of the Third Order of St. Francis and foundress of the Sacconi; born 1585 of a noble family at Vignanello, near Viterbo in Italy; died 30 January, 1640, at Viterbo; feast, 30 January; in Rome, 6 February (Diarium Romanum). Her parents were Marc' Antonio Mariscotti (Marius Scotus) and Ottavia Orsini. At Baptism she received the name Clarice and in early youth was remarkable for piety, but, as she grew older, she became frivolous, and showed a worldly disposition, which not even the almost miraculous saving of her life at the age of seventeen could change; neither was her frivolity checked by her education at the Convent of St. Bernardine at Viterbo, where an older sister had taken the veil. At the age of twenty she set her heart upon marriage with the Marquess Cassizucchi, but was passed by in favour of a younger sister. She was sadly disappointed, became morose, and at last joined the community at St. Bernardine, receiving the name Hyacintha. But, as she told her father, she did this only to hide her chagrin and not to give up the luxuries of the world; and she asked him to furnish her apartments with every comfort. She kept her own kitchen, wore a habit of the finest material, received and paid visits at pleasure.
For ten years she continued this kind of life, so contrary to the spirit of her vows and such a source of scandal to the community. By the special protection of God, she retained a lively faith, was regular in her devotions, remained pure, always showed a great respect for the mysteries of religion, and had a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At length she was touched by God's grace, and the earnest exhortations of her confessor at the time of serious illness made her see the folly of the past and brought about a complete change in her life. She made a public confession of her faults in the refectory, discarded her costly garments, wore an old habit, went barefoot, frequently fasted on bread and water, chastised her body by vigils and severe scourging, and practised mortifications to such an extent that the decree of canonization considers the preservation of her life a continued miracle. She increased her devotion to the Mother of God, to the Holy Infant Jesus, to the Blessed Eucharist, and to the sufferings of Christ. She worked numerous miracles, had the gifts of prophecy and of discerning the secret thoughts of others. She was also favoured by heavenly ecstacies and raptures. During an epidemic that raged in Viterbo she showed heroic charity in nursing the sick. She established two confraternities, whose members were called Oblates of Mary or Sacconi. One of these, similar to our Society of St. Vincent de Paul, gathered alms for the convalescent, for the poor who were ashamed to beg, and for the care of prisoners; the other procured homes for the aged. Though now leading a life so pure and holy, Hyacintha always conceived the greatest contempt for herself. At her death great sorrow was felt at Viterbo and crowds flocked to her funeral. She was beatified by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726, and canonized 14 May, 1807, by Pius VII.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

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