Sunday, May 19, 2013


Sunday, May 19, 2013 
Vatican Radio REPORT Below the official English language translation of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass for the Feast of Pentecost with New Movements:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind”, and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power”.

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.

1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – “Ipse harmonia est”. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselve be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?

Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out:“Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.


Vatican Radio) Ahead of reciting the Easter Marian hymn, Regina Caeli, for the last time this year on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis had a special message for the estimated 200 thousand men, women and children gathered before for him in St. Peter’s Square and stretching back right to the banks of the Tiber. He told them; “You are a gift and a treasure for the Church”.
The vast majority gathered to the Vatican Sunday morning were members of the New Movements and Ecclesial Communities – all formed by lay Catholics - that the Pope had convoked to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost together with him, as part of the Year of Faith.

The Feast which falls 50 days after Easter, marks the end of the Easter season. It commemorates Christ’s sending the Holy Spirit down upon his Apostles in the Upper Room and the birth of the Church.

Speaking from the raised altar in front of St Peter’s basilica, where he had celebrated Mass for the Feast, before imparting his final blessing Pope Francis said:

“Dear brothers and sisters,

this celebration of faith, which began yesterday with the Vigil and culminated in the Eucharist this morning is about to end. A new Pentecost has transformed St. Peter's Square into an open-air Upper Room. We have relived the experience of the early Church, who gathered in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14). We, too, in the variety of our charisms, have experienced the beauty of the unity, of being One. And this is the work of the Holy Spirit, who always creates unity anew in the Church.

I would like to thank all the Movements, Associations, Communities and Ecclesial groups. You are a gift and a treasure for the Church! This is what you are! I particularly thank all of you who have come to Rome from many parts of the world. Always bring with you the power of the Gospel! Do not be afraid! Always have joy and passion for communion in the Church! May the Risen Lord be with you always and Our Lady protect you!

Let us remember in prayer the people of Emilia Romagna, who on 20 May last year were affected by an earthquake. I also pray for the Italian Federation of Voluntary Associations in Oncology”.

Pope Francis then stepped away from the altar, moving to the left of the basilica façade, where the icon of Our Lady, dearly beloved of the Roman faithful Salus populi romani, was enthroned. There he reached out and placed a hand upon the icon as the Regina Caeli rang out across the ocean of faithful marking the end of Easter time. As of Monday the Church enters Ordinary Time.

But not without one last word from Pope Francis. Before once again touring through the throng in his open topped jeep, all the way down to Via della Conciliazione, the Pope bid everyone goodbye in his own way: “Brothers and sisters, thank you so much for your love for the Church! Have a good Sunday, a blessed feast day and a good lunch!



Homily of Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick at Mass celebrating “Choose Life: We Cherish them Both”
  • “Cherishing of mothers and babies is a noble cause. It is not limited to the impact of this or that political move.  It is a continuing call from the Gospel’s logic of love, the love that is mutual” – Bishop Leahy
Earlier this morning we’ve heard inspiring testimonies. Now at Mass, we come to pray, to hear God’s word and offer God our resolve to do our part in choosing life and cherishing both mothers and babies.
Gathering as an assembly of God’s people, we are reminded of a basic reality when we’re reflecting on cherishing both mothers and babies, namely, that the spiritual DNA of life is that we journey together. None of us exists for him/herself alone. Indeed, we exist to love one another. From the very first pages of the Bible, in the story of Adam and Eve, we are given this beautifully simple and profound message: everyone has been created as a gift for us, and we are a gift for others. Jesus knew this well and lived it out. In his Farewell address, he summarised his whole life’s teaching in the New Commandment: “Love one another, as I have loved you”.
The Unique Relationship during Pregnancy of Mother and Child
The unique relationship that comes into play between a mother and a child conceived within her, is a special place where this logic of love, of being a gift for one another comes to the fore. In the Old Testament we read of how God’s own relationship with us and ours with God is mirrored in this intimate bond of mother and child.
The child is not an extension of its mother. He or she is another human being. In this new situation, each is the nearest neighbour to the other. So the mother is a gift for her child and he/she is a gift for its mother. We could say it’s the unborn child’s incapacity to return in visible quantifiable ways the love that is lavished on him or her that is the greatest gift he or she already offers to the world. The unborn child is a pure gift of itself to be loved simply from the very fact of its existence. A friend of mine described for me the sense of wonder at having another human being growing within her, someone who was different than her while also being part of her. “The baby’s first detectable move”, she said, was “particularly memorable because this new little creature was drawing us more and more into the miracle that was happening in our lives.” The philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas reminds us that we become ourselves in the light of our responsibility for others. The “other” in the case the unborn child provides the mother (and all of us) with the possibility of responsibility.
The mother is the child’s first home. In the fullness of time, as the Second Reading reminds us, Jesus found his first home in the womb of Mary. It was from there he began his mission of making all of humanity children of God. In the account of the Visitation in today’s Gospel, we are presented with the scene of another unborn child, John the Baptist, leaping in joy in Elizabeth’s womb at the greeting of the as yet unborn child Jesus in Mary’s womb.
Many women here today will attest that pregnancy involves wonder. But it also involves suffering and sacrifice for the mother. In some pregnancies crises arise that involve both the mother and the child in her womb. When hard cases occur, they underline the truth that we are dealing with two persons and that what matters is that in the logic of love, all must be done to protect the life both of the mother whose life is at risk and of the innocent unborn child.
In Ireland, the right to life of the unborn is greatly valued. In recent years attention has been directed towards the complexity of the situations that can arise for mothers in delicate circumstances of pregnancy. Right from the earliest times, the Church has been clear about the duty to protect life. Around 200 AD, Tertullian, for instance, wrote that it is not permitted to destroy “even the foetus in the womb”. But is this duty to the detriment of the mother’s life?
It is important to clarify a point that has been well worked out in Catholic teaching. And this teaching did not come from today or yesterday. It has been around a long time. The medical treatment of mothers whose lives are in danger is permissible even if this results in the unintended death of the child in the womb. When there’s a risk to a pregnant woman’s life, operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of her condition are permitted.  Abortion is something very different. It is an act which is directly aimed at ending the life of the unborn child.
When things go wrong in pregnancy and childbirth for whatever reason, there may be no adequate answer at the human level. We remember today those who have been through heart-breaking situations in pregnancy. Let’s remind ourselves at this Mass that God is not a tyrant. If he has given the commandment not to kill, and this applies also to abortion, it is because he will not abandon us even in difficult situations. The God who is Love knows what is best for us. The God who has created us has given us the means to help carry out his commandments. He has put love into our heart and into this love he has poured his own love that comes from above. I would appeal to women who are contemplating abortion at this time to wait for a moment, ask God for direction; ask others for help. Cura, the Church’s crisis pregnancy agency is available to any woman facing a dilemma at this time. The burden shared will not seem anything as heavy as you thought it was at first. I was struck recently by a comment made to me by parents of a severely disabled child – we wouldn’t swap him for fifty thousand children. God had come to the aid of those parents. God is always present in situations of crisis and difficulty also in complex pregnancies.
Irish Society Today faced with a Choice and a Possibility
Irish society is today faced with a serious choice. It is very possible that an abortion regime will be introduced into this country, thereby for the first time overturning in law the fundamental principle of the inviolability of innocent human life.
For the sake of the common good, Catholics need to propose their view on this topic. We do so not to impose some obscure teaching of our own but rather to respectfully offer what we consider a reasoned position echoed by many with other religious or indeed non-religious convictions, convictions based on human reason. It is one of the positive and heartening aspects of the past fifty years in the Catholic Church that it finds itself in a new way alongside people of other religious, social and cultural convictions in promoting a more socially just world, a more peaceful world, a more ecologically-conscious world. One of the areas where this brotherly and sisterly co-responsibility is emerging most clearly is in the area of the protection of life.
It is inspiring to see vibrant, articulate women and men able to put forward their case on this fundamental issue in society. In some cases, as I said, those promoting life claim no religious affiliation but say simply that since their days of studying science in school, or simply looking at the evidence provided by ultra-sound scans of early unborn children, they have become convinced of the pro-life perspective. What is emerging increasingly is a modern voice that is pro-life. And today I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of many young people to the promotion of life. We see them here today in great numbers with us.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Ireland, instead of introducing an abortion regime, became the place where the Western world’s confusion about the right to life of the unborn could begin its journey to a renewed discovery of the wonder of life? There have been such strides in ecology in the Western world; wouldn’t it be wonderful if Ireland could be the country that led the way in human ecology? What is this human ecology? It is a lifestyle that respects all of our environment, preserving the patrimony of creation and working to make our world safe for human beings. A priority in such a human ecology must be respecting the right to life of the unborn as well as the right of pregnant women to the best of medical treatment and care in safeguarding their life while at the same time preserving the life of the baby as far as practicable.
We have the potential. By the UN-agreed definitions and standards for measuring maternal safety in pregnancy, Ireland consistently ranks among the safest countries in the world for women in pregnancy. While there will always be exceptionally tragic situations in pregnancy, it is possible for the word to go out from our country that abortion is never the solution to problems in pregnancy.
For Ireland to lead the way in this aspect of human ecology, we need both to affirm our conviction that abortion is never the solution while at the same time re-launching Ireland’s care of mothers and babies. We can be grateful for the work in this area carried out day by day by doctors, nurses, midwives and other health personnel. If the Church has been to the fore in providing health-care, then today too we want to commit ourselves to a culture of care and best practice in the cherishing of mothers and babies.
Are there women who feel their life is at risk due to suicidal thoughts and feelings? Let’s ensure their safety, providing the appropriate psychiatric and psychological intervention, medication, nursing and social support. Professionals warn against acting on the assumption that suicidal thoughts and feelings originate from a single cause or may be resolved by a single act. The majority of Irish psychiatrists have been telling us that abortion is not a medical treatment for suicidal thoughts or feelings in a pregnant woman. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that a leading professor of psychiatry has said that contained in the recent proposed legislation entitledProtection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 are “multiple flaws and diverse flaws…The first and most obvious is that there is no evidence that abortion is an intervention that reduces suicide.” And in their preliminary response to the Bill, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland point out that “the Bill as outlined represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law and is unnecessary to ensure that women receive the life-saving treatment they need during pregnancy”. In their response the Bishops also say that at this crucial time it is essential that all who share beliefs such as the inviolability of the right to life of both a mother and her unborn child in all circumstances, and the belief that the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong, make their beliefs clear to their legislators. I know that some politicians have already made it clear they have difficulty with this legislation. It is right that legislators would pause before voting. Is it really necessary to provide for abortion in circumstances where evidence overwhelmingly indicates it is unnecessary and unjustified? Are we crossing a Rubicon?
Are there women in pregnancy who need clarity about the range of medical care appropriate to their specific medical condition? Let’s ensure that an effective and accessible system of providing information is available to them.
Are there women in pregnancy who seek clarity that if they so wish they can receive medical treatment where their life is at risk even though an appropriate treatment may result unavoidably in the death of the baby? Let’s encourage the appropriate bodies of medical expertise to draw up the guidelines providing for such a procedure.
Are there women who seek assurance that their opinion will be sought and taken into account as far as practicable where treatments would likely unavoidably result in the death of the baby? Let this be included in the provision of specific guidelines for particular medical conditions or combination of conditions that would be drawn up within the medical profession by the relevant bodies of medical expertise.
Yes, all of this needs to be done. But none of these steps involves abortion. The A, B, and C v Ireland judgement of the European Court of Human Rights says Ireland is entitled to have laws protecting the right to life of the unborn. In enshrining the principle underlying current best practice in relation to women in pregnancy and their babies, it is clear that the essential medical treatment needed by women in pregnancy to preserve their lives is given to them, even where the death of the baby may unavoidably result, but there is also a duty of care to do whatever is practicable to preserve the life of the baby as far as practicable.
Medical treatment is not the same thing as unlawful abortion. The issue of intention comes in. To intend to directly terminate a pregnancy as an end in itself is different from intending to carry out medical treatment of a woman whose life is in danger even if this results in the unavoidable death of the unborn child. The issue of intention has always been considered important in law. The new legislation acknowledges the importance of intention though it needs to be said that the direct taking of the life of an unborn child cannot be justified on the grounds of intention in the case of a mother’s threatened suicide which ought to be treated by other means. As many psychiatrists have pointed out abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation. Under current law, no doctor has ever been in trouble for providing an intervention where they were acting with intent to preserve the life of the mother.
Respectfully Proclaiming the Gospel of Life
Here among us today there are women who have had abortions. We know there are women and men here who have assisted their friends as they considered abortion or had one. They are very much in our thoughts right now. During the current debate they are most likely now reliving what happened in the past. Some will tell the story of how, in the light of their experience, they became people who proclaim the Gospel of life. Yet for others the discussions around this topic can be painful. It may be that someone listening to me is still perplexed about what has gone on in her life. She (and also others who have been involved) might still bear the burden in confusion, pain and silence, not seeing any way ahead from where they have been. Let’s promise her and them we are with them with our care, prayer and support. At this Mass, we can all of us turn again to Christian faith that tells us that there is no experience in life that has not been touched in some way by God’s presence.
The Spirit has been poured into our hearts enabling us to turn to God as a loving, merciful Father. The First Reading today reminds us of God’s tenderness. The inspired words of Scripture invite us to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7). We can hand over everything that troubles us to God who, in his infinite mercy and love, can draw good out of everything and make all things new. God loves each person immensely. We are never outside his loving glance. As the psalm tells us so powerfully, God is always with us. Even when we feel cut off from Christ, Jesus is there precisely at that point to help us always start again to believe, to love, to hope. As St. Paul tells: Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ. Nothing: “neither death nor life … nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38)
I appreciate there are those listening to me or reading these words who hold very different views, including those who believe the protection of women in pregnancy means the law needs to allow abortion and those who see abortion as a dimension of equality for women. We hear your concern for mothers, your analysis of complex situations, your desire for abortion services in Ireland. Underlying our differences are values that we all share. It is important for us all to dialogue on the basis of these shared values. The first value we have in common is that women in pregnancy should have all the essential medical treatment needed to safeguard their lives, and the second is the respect for equality. We bring to the dialogue a Gospel of Life we believe is fair and reasonable, and safeguards both the lives of women in pregnancy and their unborn children.
We want to respectfully proclaim that message to you. We appeal to you to recognise that abortion legislation concedes a basic principle of law – that innocent human life may not be taken. There is a lesson to be learned from the experience of other countries that started down the path of abortion legislation with what they thought were ‘restrictive’ laws. Around 97% of the nearly 200,000 abortions in England and Wales in 2011 were on mental health grounds. Such a statistic was in no way envisaged when abortion was first introduced there.
Our sincerely-held conviction and passion for life arises because the stakes are high. What might appear as a limited step, restricted abortion, is far from limited in potential. And not simply in terms of the “floodgate” phenomenon but also in terms of the practice of medicine by the obstetricians and psychiatrists, the nursing and other supporting professional staff in hospitals, social services and other agencies where questions of the right of conscience not to be involved in the provision of abortion services may arise.
It is time to conclude. In doing so, I need to return to a basic point. The cherishing of mothers and babies is a noble cause. It is not limited to the impact of this or that political move. It is a continuing call from the Gospel’s logic of love, the love that is mutual. In the springtime around us these days we see the warmth of the sun transforming nature. Everything is coming to life and beginning to blossom. It is the sun that makes life blossom. Likewise, it is love in the human heart and in society that brings about the triumph of life. From this prayer vigil, may a great current of Christian love spread out from among us into our society as our specific contribution to cherishing mothers and babies. To give true love to one another means to help one another be fully realised in the gift that each of us is for one another.
Here at Knock, let’s resolve to be like Mary who, as we read in today’s account of the Visitation, took the initiative in going out in love towards a mother and her unborn baby. She did so bearing Love incarnate within her. And Elizabeth greeted her with words we can make our own: “Blessed are you who believe”. Yes, blessed are you who believe that life is inviolable, that love casts out all fear, that love is stronger than death.



Chaplaincy Sunday 2013: Life is Beautiful

Friday 17 May 2013

Life is beautiful and there is always HOPE, is the inspirational core message in the new 2 minute video clip, produced for the 2013 Chaplaincy Sunday Appeal being held in parishes this weekend.

Kristen Toohey of the Communications Office at the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne who wrote and directed the clip said, “This style of clip engages people at the heart level by providing visual insight into the incredible work of chaplains. On average, each Catholic Chaplain in Melbourne faces around 100 people in need of their help on any given day - the demand for chaplaincy services is growing daily and therefore the need for support for chaplaincy is critical.”

For more information or to donate to the 2013 Chaplaincy Sunday Appeal CLICK HERE



At least there is a chance for relations to improve
<p class="MsoNormal">Pakistani Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif speaks to media after his election win (AFP / Arif Ali)</p>
Pakistani Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif speaks to media after his election win (AFP / Arif Ali)
  • John Dayal, India
  • Pakistan
  • May 17, 2013

It was under Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999 that Pakistan sent its army units into the frozen heights of the Kargil glacier in Jammu and Kashmir, northern India. After a long and bloody skirmish, Indian troops evicted the invaders, while then Pakistani army chief General Pervez Musharraf claimed credit for the incursion. Fourteen years on, that decision by Musharraf, deflecting as it did criticism of Sharif, carries renewed value for Pakistan's new leader as he sets about extending an olive branch to New Delhi.
Sharif’s victory in elections last week marks the first time that Pakistan, whose recent history is scarred by coups and military despots, will transfer power between democratic governments. It is cause for celebration among many, although things are not so cut and dried in its relations with India. Historically, democratically elected civilian leaders have not always meant peaceful relations between the two countries, whose shared border has in fact been most at peace when Pakistan has been under army rule.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was foreign minister in 1965, when his refusal to hand over power to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman after the general elections led to a war with India and the liberation of Bangladesh. His daughter, the revered democracy icon Benazir Bhutto, failed to bring about a substantial peace agreement with India. The rule of her Pakistan People’s Party was instead characterized by a turbulent relationship with New Delhi, which reached its nadir this year with the killing of Indian prisoner Surjit Singh in a Lahore jail.
The concerns continue with Sharif. The army remains restive under a civil boss, a problem accentuated by the Prime Minister-elect’s pressure on the military to accept the supremacy of the civil government. Moreover, the elections themselves signaled the deep seated domestic conflicts in Pakistani politics, with over 100 dead in bomb blasts and shootouts during campaigning, and 15 dead on polling day. The figures bring to more than 47,500 the number killed in terrorist violence in the last 12 years.
This unrest, coupled with the state of perpetual armed tension with India, will have had much to do with the 60 percent voter turnout on election day, one of the largest recorded in Pakistan. The two countries will hope that their nuclear arsenals remain in the warehouse, particularly given the economic slowdowns that are affecting both and the fact that, unlike India, Pakistan does not have the economic strength for a real and decisive military confrontation, despite support from the US and China.
Sharif has no option but to talk peace with India, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can gain the political strength to do so. It is unlikely he will hold an absolute majority in parliament, and will instead depend on independents and smaller parties. His party will govern only in Punjab, with other powerful satraps controlling Sindh, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier where the popular Imran Khan will call the shots.
But it will be in India’s interests to encourage Sharif in his peace initiatives. The right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already criticized Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s open invitation to Sharif to visit India. But the BJP does not reflect the real yearning in India for lasting peace with its neighbor, which will also resolve such niggling issues as the situation of political, military and civil prisoners in both countries, and an escalation of the Siachin tension, which is bleeding both countries in an ongoing battle of attrition.
Nawaz Sharif’s warm if off the cuff remarks about his desire to visit India offer just that olive branch. The two governments will do well to rise above the babble from self-serving hyper-patriots, including the BJP, to resume full scale peace talks with each other.
John Dayal is the general secretary of the All India Christian Council and a member of the Indian government’s National Integration Council


May 19, 2013 - Pentecost Sun

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.

Reading 2 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given 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."



On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. / I adore the brightness of Your purity the unerring keenness of Your justice and the might of Your love. You are the Strength / and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart! To be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light: and listen to Your voice and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You / by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds / and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart / I implore You / Adorable Spirit I Helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere / "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.


O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul / the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth / the Spirit on Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude, that I may bear my cross with You I and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God find know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable / the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of Your true disciples / and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.


Thou, on those who evermore Thee confess and Thee Adore, in Thy sevenfold gift, Descend; Give Them Comfort when they die; Give them Life with Thee on high; Give them joys which never end. Amen
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.
Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

(Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE. Glory be to the Father 7 TIMES. Act of Consecration, Prayer for the Seven Gifts)



St. Celestine V
Feast: May 19

Feast Day:May 19
Born:1210 at Isneria, Abruzzi, Italy
Died:19 May 1296 in Ferentino, Italy
Humility raised this saint above the world, and preserved his soul free from its poison, both amidst its flatteries and under its frowns. He was born in Apulia about the year 1221. His parents were very virtuous, and charitable to the poor to the uttermost of their abilities. After his father's death, his mother, though she had eleven other sons, seeing his extraordinary inclination to piety, provided him with a literary education. His progress gave his friends great expectations; but he always considered that he had only one affair in this world, and that an affair of infinite importance, the salvation of his soul: that no security can be too great where an eternity is at stake: moreover, that the way to life is strait, the account which we are to give of all our actions and thoughts most rigorous, the judge infinitely just, and the issue either sovereign happiness or sovereign misery. He therefore made the means, by which he might best secure to himself that bliss for which alone he was created, his constant study. An eremitical state is only the vocation of souls, which are already perfect in the exercises of penance and contemplation. Peter had made the practice of both familiar to him from his tender years; and by a long noviceship was qualified for such a state, to which he found himself strongly inclined. Therefore at twenty years of age he left the schools, and retired to a solitary mountain, where he made himself a little cell under ground, but so small that he could scarce stand or lie down in it. Here he lived three years in great austerities, during which he was often assailed by violent temptations; but these he overcame by the help of such practices and austerities as the grace of God suggested to him. Notwithstanding the care he took to sequester himself from the world, he was discovered, and some time after compelled to enter into holy orders. He was ordained priest at Rome; but in 1246 returned into Abruzzo, and lived five years in a cave on mount Morroni, near Sulmona. He received great favors from heaven, the usual recompense of contemplative souls who have crucified their affections to this world: but then they are purchased through severe interior trials; and with such Peter was frequently visited. He was also molested with nocturnal illusions during his sleep, by which he was almost driven to despair, insomuch that he durst not say mass, and once determined to abandon his solitude; but was encouraged by the advice of a religious man, his confessor, who assured him that it was no more than a stratagem of the enemy, by which he could not be hurt if he despised it. For further satisfaction, he determined to go to Rome to consult the pope on that subject, and received great comfort by a vision he was favored with on the road; a certain holy abbot lately deceased appearing to him, who gave him the same counsel, and ordered him to return to his cell and offer every day the holy sacrifice, which he accordingly did. The wood on his mountain being cut down in 1251, he with two companions removed to mount Magella. There, with the boughs of trees and thorns, these three servants of God made themselves a little enclosure and cells, in which they enjoyed more solid pleasure than the great ones of the world can find in their stately palaces and gardens. The devil sometimes endeavored to disturb them; but they triumphed over his assaults. Many others were desirous to put themselves under his direction; but the saint alleged his incapacity to direct others. However, his humility was at length overcome, and he admitted those who seemed the most fervent.

Peter spent always the greatest part of the night in prayer and tears which he did not interrupt, while he was employed in the day in corporal labor or in copying books. His body he always treated as a most dangerous domestic enemy. He never ate flesh; he fasted every day except Sunday. He kept four lents in the year, during three of which, and on all Fridays, he took nothing but bread and water, unless it were a few cabbage leaves in lieu of bread. The bread which he used was so hard, that it could only be chopped in pieces. His austerities were excessive, till he was admonished in a vision not to destroy that body which his duty to God required him to support. If the Holy Ghost sometimes conducted the saints by extraordinary paths, we must learn from their fervor the condemnation of our sloth, who dare undertake nothing for the sake of virtue, and who shrink often under indispensable duties. St. Peter wore a shirt of horse-hair full of knots, and a chain of iron about his waist. He lay on the ground, or on a board, with a stone or log of wood for a pillow. It was his chiefest care always to nourish his soul with heavenly contemplation and prayer; yet he did not refuse to others the comfort of his spiritual succors. He gave advice, except on Wednesdays and Fridays, and during his rents, which he passed in inviolable silence. Finding his solitude too much disturbed, he went with some of his disciples to a cavern which was almost inaccessible on the top of mount Magella. This did but increase the ardor of others to pursue him. Wherefore he returned to mount Morroni, where many lived in scattered cells under his direction, till he assembled them in a monastery; and in 1271 obtained of pope Gregory X. the approbation of his religious order, under the rule of St. Bennet, which he restored to its primitive severity. The saint lived to see thirty-six monasteries, and six hundred monks and nuns; and this institute has been since propagated over all Europe, but is at present much mitigated.
Upon the death of Nicholas IV. the see of Rome continued vacant two years and three months, when the cardinals assembled at Perugia unanimously chose our saint for his successor, out of pure regard for his eminent sanctity. This election, on account of its disinterestedness, met with a general applause, and the saint seemed the only person afflicted on the occasion. He was indeed alarmed beyond measure at the news; and finding all the reasons he could allege for his declining the charge ineffectual, betook himself to flight in company with Robert, one of his monks, but was intercepted. He would gladly have engaged Robert still to attend him, but the good monk excused himself by an answer worthy of a disciple of the saint: "Compel me not," says he, "to throw myself upon your thorns. I am the companion of your flight, not of your exaltation." Peter thereupon dropped his request, and sighing before God, returned to Morroni, where the kings of Hungary and Naples, besides many cardinals and princes, waited for him. Thence he proceeded to the neighboring cathedral of Aquila, to be ordained bishop of Rome, being accompanied by the two kings, and an incredible number of princes and others; yet could not be prevailed upon to travel any other way than riding on an ass: he even thought it a great deal that he did not go on foot, as he desired to do. He was consecrated and crowned at Aquila on the 29th of August, taking the name of Celestine V., from an allusion to the Latin name of heaven, where he always dwelt in his heart: his monks have been distinguished by the name of Celestines ever since. Charles, king of Naples, persuaded him to go with him to his capital, to regulate certain ecclesiastical affairs of that kingdom, and to fill the vacant benefices. The new pope disgusted many of the cardinals by employing strangers in the conducting matters, the care of which had been usually intrusted to them. He was sometimes led by others into mistakes, which gave occasion to complaints, and increased his own scruples for having taken upon him so great a charge, to which he found himself unequal; especially on account of his want of experience in the world, and his not having studied the canon law. He continued his former austerities, and built himself a cell of boards in the midst of his palace, where he lived in solitude amidst the crowds which surrounded him, humble on the pinnacle of honor, and poor in the midst of riches. He shut himself up to spend the Advent in retirement, that he might prepare himself for Christmas, having committed the care of the church to three cardinals. This again was an occasion of fresh scruples, when he reflected that a pastor is bound himself to a personal attendance on the duties of his charge. These fears of conscience, the weight of his dignity, which he felt every day more and more insupportable, and the desire of enjoying himself in solitude, moved him at length to deliberate whether he might not resign his dignity. He consulted cardinal Benedict Cajetan, a person the best skilled in the canon law, and others, who agreed in their advice, that it was in the power of a pope to abdicate. When this became public, many vigorously opposed the motion; but no solicitations or motives could make the holy man alter his resolution. Wherefore, some days after, he held at Naples a consistory of the cardinals, at which the king of Naples and many others were present: before them he read the solemn act of his abdication, then laid aside his pontifical robes and ornaments, put on his religious habit, came down from his throne, and cast himself at the feet of the assembly, begging pardon for his faults, and exhorting the cardinals to repair them in the best manner they were able, by choosing a worthy successor to St. Peter. Thus, having sat in the chair four months, he abdicated the supreme dignity in the church, on the 13th of December, 1294, with greater joy than the most ambitious man could mount the throne of the richest empire in the world. This the cheerfulness of his countenance evidenced, no less than his words. Cardinal Benedict Cajetan, the ablest civilian and canonist of his age, was chosen in his place, and crowned at Rome on the 16th of January following.

Men, as it usually happens on such occasions, were divided in their sentiments with regard to this extraordinary action, of which we see a specimen in the writings of those great men who in that age began to restore at Florence the true taste of polite literature. Dante, who has stained his reputation with many blots in his moral and civil conduct, and his works with many falsities and unjust prepossessions, ascribes this cession of Celestine to pusillanimity. But this base censure is justly chastised by his country man Petrarch, who passed his unjust and glorious banishment at Vaucluse near Avignon, respected by the whole world, till he was courted by his fellow-citizens to honor his native country again with his presence, though he preferred to it a retirement to Papua. This great man, speaking of the abdication of our holy pope, says: "This action I call a sublime and heavenly fortitude, which he only possesses who knows the emptiness of all worldly dignities. The contempt of honors arises from a heroic courage, not from a want of that virtue; as the desire of them shows that a soul raiseth not herself above herself."

St. Celestine immediately stole away privately to his monastery of the Holy Ghost, at Morroni. But several who were offended at some acts of justice and necessary severity in the new pope, raised various reports, as if he had by ambition and fraud supplanted Celestine: others advanced that a pope could not resign his dignity. Boniface, moreover, was alarmed at the multitudes which resorted to Morroni to see Celestine, on account of the great reputation of his sanctity; and fearing he might be made a handle of by designing men, the consequence whereof might be some disturbance in the church, he entreated the king of Naples to send him to Rome. The saint, seeing that he could not be permitted to return to his cell, betook himself to flight, and put to sea, with a view to cross the Adriatic gulf; but was driven back by contrary winds into the harbor of Vieste, where he was secured by the governor, pursuant to an order of the king of Naples, and conducted to pope Boniface at Anagni. Boniface kept him some time in his own palace, often discoursing with him, that he might discover if he had ever consented to those that called his abdication null and invalid. The saint's unfeigned simplicity bearing evidence to the contrary, many advised the pope to set him at liberty, and send him to his monastery. But Boniface, alleging the danger of tumults and of a schism, confined him in the citadel of Fumone, nine miles from Anagni, under a guard of soldiers. The authors of the life of the saint say, that he there suffered many insults and hardships, which yet never drew from his mouth the least word of complaint. On the contrary, he sent word to Boniface, by two cardinals who came to see him, that he was content with his condition, and desired no other. He used to say, with wonderful tranquillity: "I desired nothing in the world but a cell; and a cell they have given me." He sang the divine praises almost without interruption, with two of his monks who were assigned him for his companions. On Whit-Sunday, in 1296, after he had heard mass with extraordinary fervor, he told his guards that he should die before the end of the week. He immediately sickened of a fever, and received extreme unction. Even in that dying condition he would never suffer a little straw to be strewed on the hard boards upon which he always lay, and prayed without interruption. On Saturday, the 19th of May, finishing the last psalm of lauds at those words, Let every spirit praise the Lord, he calmly closed his eyes to this world, and his soul passed to the company of the angels, he being seventy-five years old. During his ten months' imprisonment he never abated any thing of his ordinary austerities. Pope Boniface, with all the cardinals, performed his funeral obsequies at St. Peter's. His body was sumptuously buried at Ferentino; but was afterwards translated to Aquila, and is kept in the church of the Celestines near that city. Many miracles are authentically recorded of him, and he was canonized by Clement V., in 1313. Boniface fell into great calamities. Philip the Fair, Icing of France, who was his declared enemy, sent a body of troops, under the command of William Noggret, to support the conspiracy of Stephen and Chiarra Colonna against him, by whom he was made prisoner at Anagni. After much ill-treatment, he was rescued out of their hands by the Ursini from Rome; but died soon after of grief, in 1303.

A spirit of retirement, or a love of holy solitude and its exercises, and an habitual interior recollection, are essential to piety and a true Christian life. Some, by a particular call of God, dedicate themselves to his service in a state of perfect solitude, in which the first motive may be self-defence of preservation. In the world, snares are laid everywhere for us, and its lusts often endeavor to court and betray us, and the torrent of its example, or the violence of its persecutions, to drive and force us into death. Whoever, therefore, prudently fears that he is not a match for so potent an enemy, may, nay sometimes ought, to retire from the world. This is not to decline the service of God or man, but sin and danger: it is not to prefer ease and security before industry and labor, but before a rash presumption and a fatal overthrow. But entire solitude is a safer state only to those who are animated with such a love and esteem for all its exercises as give an assurance of their constant fervor in them; also who seriously cultivate interior solitude of mind, and will never suffer it to gad abroad after the objects of worldly affairs, vanities, or pleasures: lastly, whose souls are free from envy, emulation, ambition, desire of esteem, and all other busy and turbulent passions, which cannot fail by desires and hankerings to discompose the mind, and muddy the pure stream, and adulterate the relish of a retired life. The soul must be reduced to its native purity and simplicity, before it will be able to taste the blessings of true liberty, of regular devotion, and elevated meditation.

Secondly: An indication that God designs certain persons for retirement, is the discovery of talents fitted for this state rather than for any public station. For there are active and contemplative gifts. Those who are destined by heaven to a retired life, in it become most eminently serviceable to the world, by proving excellent examples of innocence, and the perfect spirit of every Christian virtue, and by their prayers and continual pure homages of praise and thanksgivings to God, from which others may reap far more valuable benefits than from the labors of the learned or the bountiful alms of the rich. Thus the world never loses a member, but enjoys Its service in its proper place, and the most effectual manner, says an ingenious Protestant writer; who adds, that such a one retires not from the world to avoid its service, but its fooleries.

Thirdly: The same author observes, that the main end of retirement ought always to be to dedicate ourselves entirely to God by the exercises of compunction and holy contemplation. This may be easily demonstrated both from reason and religion, and from the examples of so many illustrious saints. Retirement is recommended by particular motives to persons who, after going through the station of a public life, are at liberty to embrace it in order to fit themselves for eternity.



St. Crispin of Viterbo
Feast: May 19

Feast Day:May 19
Born:13 November 1668, Viterbo
Died:19 May 1750, Rome
Canonized:20 June 1982 by Pope John Paul II
Friar Minor Capuchin; b. at Viterbo in 1668; d. at Rome, 19 May, 1750. When he was five years old, his pious mother took him to a sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, a short distance from Viterbo, where she consecrated him to the Mother of God and placed him under her special protection. The child grew beyond his years in virtue and science of the saints; so that the townsfold of Viterbo were wont to call him il Santarello, the little saint. As Crispin one day saw the Capuchin novices walking in procession, God inspired him with the desire to embrace the religious life. He was shortly afterwards received into the Franciscan Order as a simple lay brother. Having been employed for some time as cook in the convent at Viterbo, he was sent to Tolfa, a town not far distant from Civita Becchia, to fulfil the same office. Thence he was sent to Rome and finally to Albano. Here Crispin was visited by the men of the world, by bishops and cardinals, and even by the pope himself, who always took delight in conversing with the humble lay brother. It was Crispin's constant endeavour to imitate the virtues of his patron, St. Felix of Cantalice, whom he had chosen as his model of perfection at the beginning of his religious life. Like St. Felix, he used to call himself the ass or beat of burden of the Capuchins, and, having on one occasion been asked by a stranger why he went bare-headed, Crispin answered jocosely, that "an ass does not wear a hat." Enfeebled by old age and by his numerous austerities, he was sent to Rome by his superiors, there to end his holy life. His body, which even at the present time is still in a remarkable state of preservation, rests under one of the side altars in the church of the Capuchin Fathers in Rome. Blessed Crispin was solemnly beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1806. His feat is celebrated only by the Capuchins.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

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