Friday, May 10, 2013





Vatican Radio REPORT: A vocation to religious life must always been seen as a call from God to serve the poor, the sick, the lonely and those who find themselves on the margins of society. That was Pope Francis’ message on Wednesday to 800 women who head religious communities in countries around the world. The sisters met with the Pope at the conclusion of their plenary assembly of the International Union of Superior Generals which has been focused on the theme of leadership in light of Gospel values.
In his speech to them, Pope Francis spoke of their vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, saying the sisters are not spinsters, but rather spiritual mothers and icons of the Mother Church. Echoing the theme of their five day meeting, the Pope said true power is always service to others. While the world may see power in terms of possession, dominion and success, the authority of God is always synonymous with service, humility and love.
As he has done in the past, the Pope warned of the damage caused to the Church by men and women who seek to further their own careers and personal ambitions. Instead Pope Francis urged the sisters to always “feel with the Church” in faithfulness to the Magesterium, the Pastors and the Bishop of Rome as a visible sign of the unity of the Church. Finally the Pope thanked the sisters for their work and for the maternal intuition which they bring to the life of the Church.

Lilsten to Philippa Hitchen's report: RealAudioMP3 

Please find below a summary of Pope Francis' address to the UISG participants:

I am happy to meet you today and I wish to greet each one of you, thanking you for what you do to make consecrated life a constant light in the life of the Church
Dear sisters,
First of all I thank my dear brother Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, for the words which he has just addressed to me. I am also pleased to see here the secretary of the Congregation: his name is ‘Pepe’…
The theme of your conference seems to me to be particularly important for the task which has been entrusted to you: “The service of leadership according to the Gospel.” In light of this, I would like to propose three simple thoughts which I leave for you to deepen on a personal and community level.
Jesus, at the Last Supper, turns to his Apostles with these words: You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you (John 15.16) which reminds us all, not just us priests, that a vocation is always God’s initiative. It is Christ who has called you to follow Him in the consecrated life and this means making a continual ‘exodus’ from yourselves to centre your existences on Christ and his Gospel, on God’s will, letting go of your projects so that you can say with St Paul “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” This ‘exodus from oneself means placing oneself on a journey of adoration and service. An exodus which takes us on a journey of adoration of the Lord and service to the Lord in our brothers and sisters. To adore and to serve: two attitudes which can not be separated but which must always go together. Adore the Lord and serve others, without keeping anything for ourselves: this is the ‘letting go’ of those who exercise authority. Always live and recall the centrality of Christ, the evangelical identity of the consecrated life. Help your communities to live ‘the exodus’ of self on the journey of adoration and service, first of all through the three pivots of your existence.
Obedience as listening to God's will, in the interior motion of the Holy Spirit authenticated by the Church, accepting that obedience also passes through human mediations. … Poverty, which teaches solidarity, sharing, and charity and which is also expressed in a soberness and joy of the essential, to put us on guard against the material idols that obscure the true meaning of life. Poverty, which is learned with the humble, the poor, the sick, and all those who are at the existential margins of life. Theoretical poverty doesn't do anything. Poverty is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ in the humble, the poor, the sick, and in children.
And then chastity, as a precious charism, that enlarges the freedom of your gift to God and others with Christ's tenderness, mercy, and closeness. Chastity for the Kingdom of Heaven shows how affection has its place in mature freedom and becomes a sign of the future world, to make God's primacy shine forever. But, please, [make it] a 'fertile' chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated are mothers: they must be mothers and not 'spinsters'! Forgive me if I talk like this but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important! May this joy of spiritual fruitfulness animate your existence. Be mothers, like the images of the Mother Mary and the Mother Church. You cannot understand Mary without her motherhood; you cannot understand the Church without her motherhood, and you are icons of Mary and of the Church.”

We must never forget that true power, at whatever level, is service, which has its bright summit upon the Cross. … 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them ... But it shall not be so among you.'—This is precisely the motto of your assembly, isn't it? It shall not be so among you.—'Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave'.”
“Your vocation is a fundamental charism for the Church's journey and it isn't possible that a consecrated woman or man might 'feel' themselves not to be with the Church. A 'feeling' with the Church that has generated us in Baptism; a 'feeling' with the Church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Bishops and the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, a visible sign of that unity,” the pontiff added, citing Paul VI: “It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus but without the Church, of following Jesus outside of the Church, of loving Jesus without loving the Church. Feel the responsibility that you have of caring for the formation of your Institutes in sound Church doctrine, in love of the Church, and in an ecclesial spirit.”
“The centrality of Christ and his Gospel, authority as a service of love, and 'feeling' in and with the Mother Church: [these are] three suggestions that I wish to leave you, to which I again add my gratitude for your work, which is not always easy. What would the Church be without you? She would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness! A Mother's intuition.”



In Sharqiya province (Nile Delta), vigilante justice is a daily occurrence. Scores of videos are posted online with scenes of criminals killed by angry mobs, their bodies hanged as a warning at the entrance of the villages. Experts point the finger at rampant crime and the bad example of the police, whose violence and bloodshed has gone unpunished so far.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Egypt's regular courts are increasingly replaced by mob killings, lynching, hangings and Sharia courts. In Sharqiya Governorate, east of the Nile Delta, vigilante or Islamic justice has become the norm in the past two years. Shocking online videosshow mobs attacking unarmed men, beating them to death. In some cases, their mutilated bodies are strung up in the middle of a village. The police are notable for their absence or indifference.
The latest mob killing was reported last Friday, when hundreds of residents in Qataweya village stormed the house of Rabie Lasheen, a local Muslim Brotherhood leader, and lynched his 16-year-old son Youssef, who died in hospital from his injuries.
Lasheen's son was accused of shooting a 28-year-old man for insulting his father in a Facebook post. An auto-rickshaw (tok-tok) driver in his 40s was accidentally gunned down in the shooting as well.
According to some witnesses, the police were again completely absent during the lynching. Two police officers were dispatched to the crime scene at dawn after the violence had ended.
Such violence in Sharqiya has been blamed on the governatorate's high crime rate, on gangs into car thefts, rapes and murders.
The most affected villages are located near the city of Belbies, 20 km from the provincial capital of Zagazig.
Interviewed by the Egyptian newspaper Arham, police officers in Belbies admit that they can do nothing to address this situation. There are too few of them and they are poorly paid to fight too many crimes. In such circumstances, people prefer to take the law into their own hands.
"What do we do when we receive reports about such incidents?" Major Mohamed Dabbous asked. "Absolutely nothing!"
"It happens in an instant; no way would we make it to the crime scene on time, especially if the road is blocked and that happens quite frequently here" due to protests, riots or other types of disturbance. Only if the Prosecutor's Office orders it are people arrested.
What is more, "When a whole village kills a man, do you think it is possible to arrest all 10 to 15,000 residents? Of course not," Captain Farag explained. And killing criminals has now become a source of local pride.
In recent years, several villages in other governorates have also witnessed brutal lynching. One of the most harrowing took place in Mahalla Ziad village, in March. Locals beat and stabbed two men accused of abducting two young boys.
Samir Naim, a veteran sociologist and professor at Ain Shams University, says we have to look to the military for explanations.
In 2011 and 2012, security forces carried out massacres with impunity with nearly a thousand people killed during the demonstrations of the Jasmine Revolution.
For the expert, the glorification of violence has changed the concept of justice in rural areas, justifying the establishment of local militias and improvised courts.



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
10 May 2013
Sister Mary Cresp rsj author of God's Good Time
Today marks a double celebration for the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. The first will be the official opening by the Governor General, Quentin Bryce of the Australian Catholic University's "Gifts of the Artists" exhibition of Indigenous art entrusted to the Sisters by the Warmun community of East Kimberley. The second, which will also be part of today's ceremony at ACU's McGlade Gallery at Strathfield, is the launch "God's Good Time" by Sister Mary Cresp, RSJ.
Launched by Professor Nereda White, ACU's Professor and Director of the Centre for Indigenous Education and Research, "God's Good Time" traces the history and close involvement of the Sisters with Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the past 40 years.
Although other books have been written about the Josephites' long and ongoing connection with Australia's Indigenous communities, "God's Good Time" reveals for the first time the range and scope of the Sisters' mission dating back to the time of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop when young Aboriginal children attended her stable school in Penola.
With more than 1000 Josephite sisters, missions and ministries across Australia today include those  established at Indigenous communities in Port Augusta and Largs Bay, SA; Walgett, Lismore and Lake Cargelligo, NSW; Amata and Wadeye in the Northern Territory, Mt Isa in Qld as well as in metropolitan areas such as Mt Druitt in Sydney.
The Burial of Jesus in the Aboriginal way - at Ringer Soak in East Kimberley
"God's Good Time" brings the work of the Sisters as well as the communities they serve to vivid life, particularly in the years since 1964 when the Josephite Congregation established its first official mission at Wyndham in the Kimberley,
Sr Mary also provides a revealing and fascinating insight into Aboriginal spirituality and what Indigenous people call "two way."
This is epitomised in the artworks at the "Gifts of the Artists" exhibition on display at ACU's McGlade Gallery and is further explained in Sr Mary's book as two pillars, one of which is based on the living land, ancestors and their stories, and the other on the Bible and the story of the Creation, and of Jesus and Mary.
"God's Good Time," the title Sr Mary chose for the book, is also part of this "two way" spirituality.
Mary of Warmun
The story behind the title occurred in 1984 when two Sisters of St Joseph, Clare Ahern and Anne Boland joined the community at Yaruman or Ringer Soak and began preparing members of the community for baptism as Christians.
"But those they were preparing found it difficult to relate or even understand the idea of a king let alone a kingdom. The Indigenous culture has no kings or queens. So the passage from Mark, Chapter 1 verse 15, where Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven meant nothing to them," Sr Mary explains.
Sr Clare and Sr Anne tried their best to explain what a kingdom meant, and then suggested after much prayer and reflection, the people come up with their own words for Mark 1: 14.
"This is what they chose," Sr Mary says and quotes: "God's Good Time: This is the word Jesus gave everyone. He called it Good News. God is going to change things. A good time is coming closes-up for everyone. Be sorry for the bad things you do. Keep thinking good things in your heart. Do these good things. Believe the good word. I tell you that a good time is coming for everyone."
Sr Mary has dedicated her book to Shirley Purdie, an artist and elder at Warmun and her "kinship sister," and for the cover chose a powerful artwork by Indigenous artist and Indigenous Education Officer for the Edmund Rice Centre, Cassandra Gibbs.
Celebrated Indigenous artist Shirley Purdie
"God's Good Time" represents three years of dedication, meticulous research, one-on-one interviews with community members as well as the sisters who have taught or work alongside them and has been supported by Sr Mary's own first-hand knowledge of communities across the Kimberley, South Australia, NT, NSW and Queensland.
A former Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph who has also served as Executive Director of the Conference of Australian Religious, Sr Mary is the author of several other books including Choosing Life (2001), The Spirit of Joseph (2005) and "Prayer-Chats with Julian (2010) and In Her Footsteps which was published last year and tells the story of the Sisters of St Joseph in Western Australia from 1920 until 1990.
But of all of them it is perhaps this latest book, "God's Good Time" that is closest to her heart.
"I believe people are changed by the people they associate with and the Sisters of St Joseph have been changed, inspired and enriched by Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Ours is very much a partnership that continues to grow," she says.
"God's Good Time," (Garratt Publishing) rrp $34.99 is available from the Mustard Seed Bookshop, Lidcombe, other leading bookstores, the website of the Sisters of St Joseph at or online via the publisher's website at
The Gifts of the Artists exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Warmun's Indigenous artists at ACU's McGlade Gallery, Strathfield which was officially opened today by the Governor General, Quentin Bryce will be on display until 25 May. Gallery hours are from until 4 pm Monday to Saturday.



"It is manufacturing that which can only cause death," says 83-year-old sister
<p>(Picture: BBC News)</p>
(Picture: BBC News)
  • United States
  • May 9, 2013
  • An elderly Catholic nun and two peace activists have been convicted for damage they caused while breaking into a US nuclear defence site.
Sister Megan Rice, 83, Michael Walli, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 56, admitted to cutting fences and entering the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which processes and stores uranium.
The July 2012 incident prompted security changes.
Sister Megan said she regretted only having waited 70 years to take action.
A jury deliberated for two and a half hours before handing down its verdict. The three face up to 20 years in prison following their conviction for sabotaging the plant, which was first constructed during the Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear bomb.
The three, who belong to the group Transform Now Plowshares, were also found guilty of causing more than $1,000 (£643) of damage to government property, for which they could face up to 10 years in prison.
Walli and Boertje-Obed, a house painter, testified in their own defence, telling jurors they had no remorse for their actions.
Sister Megan stood and smiled as the verdict was read out at a court in Knoxville, Tennessee. Supporters in the courtroom gasped and wept and sang a hymn as the judge left.
The break-in disrupted operations there, and reportedly caused more than $8,500 of damage.
"We are a nation of laws," prosecutor Jeffrey Theodore said during closing arguments. "You can't take the law into your own hands and force your views on other people."
But defence lawyers said the break-in was symbolic and was not intended to hurt the facility, and officials have acknowledged the protesters never neared the nuclear material.
"The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people," said lawyer Francis Lloyd.
"You're looking at three scapegoats behind me."
Sister Megan said her only regret was waiting so long to stage her protest. "It is manufacturing that which can only cause death," she said.
In a statement to the court, Boertje-Obed said: "Nuclear weapons do not provide security. Our actions were providing real security and exposing false security."
The three activists admitted to cutting the fence to get into the site, walking around, spray-painting words, stringing crime scene tape and chipping a wall with hammers. They spent two hours inside.
They also sprayed the exterior of the complex with baby bottles containing human blood.
When a guard approached, they offered him food and started singing.
In the wake of the episode, Congress and the energy department investigated the facility and found "troubling displays of ineptitude" there.
Top officials were reassigned, including at the National Nuclear Security Agency.
WSI, the company providing security at the site, was dismissed and other officers were sacked, demoted or suspended.


John 16: 16 - 20

16"A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me."17Some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, `because I go to the Father'?"18They said, "What does he mean by `a little while'? We do not know what he means."19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'?20Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


St. Pachomius
Feast: May 9

Feast Day:May 9
Born:292, Thebes, Egypt
Died:9 May 348, Egypt
Though St. Antony be justly esteemed the institutor of the cenobitic life, or that of religious persons living in community under a certain rule, St. Pachomius was the first who drew up a monastic rule in writing. He was born in Upper Thebais about the year 292, of idolatrous parents, and was educated in their blind superstition, and in the study of the Egyptian sciences. From his infancy, he was meek and modest, and had an aversion to the profane ceremonies used by the infidels in the worship of their idols. Being about twenty years of age, he was pressed into the emperor's troops, probably the tyrant Maximinus, who was master of Egypt from the year 310; and in 312 made great levies to carry on a war against Licinius and Constantine. He was, with several other recruits, put on board a vessel that was falling down the river. They arrived in the evening at Thebes, or Diospolis, the capital of Thebais, a city in which dwelt many Christians. Those true disciples of Christ sought every  opportunity of relieving and comforting all that were in distress, and were moved with compassion towards the recruits, who were kept close confined, and very ill-treated. The Christians of this city showed them the same tenderness as if they had been their own children; took all possible care of them, and supplied them liberally with money and necessaries.
Such an uncommon example of disinterested virtue made a great impression on the mind of Pachomius. He inquired who their pious benefactors were, and when he heard that they believed in Jesus Christ the only Son of God, and that in the hope of a reward in the world to come, they labored continually to do good to all mankind, he found kindled in his heart a great love of so holy a law, and an ardent desire of serving the God whom these good men adored. The next day, when he was continuing his journey down the river, the remembrance of this purpose strengthened him to resist a carnal temptation. From his infancy he had been always a lover of chastity and temperance but the example of the Christians had made those virtues appear to him far more amiable, and in a new light.
After the overthrow of Maximinus, his forces were disbanded. Pachomius was no sooner returned home, but he repaired to a town in Thebais, in which there was a Christian church, and there he entered his name among the catechumens, or such as were preparing for baptism; and having gone through the usual course of preliminary instructions and practices with great attention and fervor, he received that sacrament at Chenoboscium, with great sentiments of piety and devotion. From his first acquaintance with our holy faith at Thebes, he had always made this his prayer: "O God, Creator of heaven and earth, cast on me an eye of pity: deliver me from my miseries: teach me the true way of pleasing you, and it shall be the whole employment, and most earnest study of my life to serve you, and to do your will." The perfect sacrifice of his heart to God, was the beginning of his eminent virtue. The grace by which God reigns in a soul, is a treasure infinitely above all price. We must give all to purchase it. To desire it faintly is to undervalue it. He is absolutely disqualified and unfit for so great a blessing, and unworthy ever to receive it, who seeks it by halves, or who does not esteem all other things as dung that he may gain Christ.
When Pachomius was baptized, he began seriously to consider with himself how he should most faithfully fulfil the obligations which he had contracted, and attain to the great end to which he aspired. There is danger even in fervor itself. It is often an artifice of the devil to make a novice undertake too much at first, and run indiscreetly beyond his strength. If the sails gather too much wind, the vessel is driven ahead, falls on some rock and splits. Eagerness is a symptom of secret passion, not of true virtue, where it is wilful and impatient at advice. Pachomius was far from so dangerous a disposition, because his desire was pure, therefore his first care was to find a skilful conductor.
Hearing that a venerable old man named Palemon, served God in the desert in great perfection, he sought him out, and with great earnestness begged to live under his direction. The hermit having set before him the difficulties and austerities of his way of life, which several had already attempted in vain to follow, advised him to make a trial of his strength and fervor in some monastery; and, to give him a sketch of the difficulties he had to encounter in the life he aspired to, he added: "Consider, my son, that my diet is only bread and salt: I drink no wine, use no oil, watch one half of the night, spending that time in singing psalms or in meditating on the holy scriptures, and sometimes pass the whole night without sleeping." Pachomius was amazed at this account, but not discouraged. He thought himself able to undertake every thing that might be a means to render his soul pleasing to God, and readily promised to observe whatever Palemon should think fit to enjoin him; who thereupon admitted him into his cell, and gave him the monastic habit. Pachomius was by his example enabled to bear solitude, and an acquaintance with himself. They sometimes repeated together the psalter, at other times they exercised themselves in manual labors (which they accompanied with interior prayer,) with a view to their own subsistence and the relief of the poor. Pachomius prayed above all things, for perfect purity of heart, that being disengaged from all secret attachment to creatures, he might love God with all his affections. And to destroy the very roots of all inordinate passions, it was his first study to obtain the most profound humility, and perfect patience and meekness. He prayed often with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross; which posture was then much used in the church. He was in the beginning often drowsy at the night office. Palemon used to rouse him, and say: "Labor and watch, my dear Pachomius, lest the enemy overthrow you and ruin all your endeavors." Against this weakness and temptation he enjoined him, on such occasions, to carry sand from one place to another, till his drowsiness was overcome. By this means the novice strengthened himself in the habit of watching. Whatever instructions he read or heard, he immediately endeavored fervently to reduce to practice.
One Easter-day Palemon bade the disciple prepare a dinner for that great festival. Pachomius took a little oil, and mixed it with the salt, which he pounded small, and added a few wild herbs, which they were to eat with their bread. The holy old man having made his prayer, came to table; but at the sight of the oil he struck himself on the forehead, and said, with tears: "My Saviour was crucified, and shall I indulge myself so far as to eat oil?" Nor could he be prevailed upon to taste it.
Pachomius used sometimes to go into a vast uninhabited desert, on the banks of the Nile, called Tabenna, in the diocese of Tentyra, a city between the Great and Little Diospolis. While he was there one day in prayer, he heard a voice which commanded him to build a monastery in that place, in which he should receive those who should be sent by God to serve him faithfully. He received, about the same time, from an angel who appeared to him, certain instructions relating to a monastic life.. Pachomius going back to Palemon, imparted to him this vision; and both of them coming to Tabenna, built there a little cell towards the year 325, about twenty years after St. Antony had founded his first monastery. After a short time, Palemon returned to his former dwelling, having promised his disciple a yearly visit, but he died soon after, and is honored in the Roman Martyrology on the 11th of January.
Pachomius received first his own eldest brother John, and after his death many others, so that he enlarged his house; and the number of his monks in a short time amounted to a hundred. Their clothing was of rough linen; that of St. Pachomius himself often haircloth. He passed fifteen years without ever lying down, taking his short rest sitting on a stone. He even grudged himself the least time which he allowed to necessary sleep, because he wished he could have been able to employ all his moments in the actual exercises of divine love. From the time of his conversion he never ate a full meal. By his rule, the fasts and tasks of work were proportioned to every one's strength; though all are together in one common refectory, in silence, with their cowl or hood drawn over their heads, that they might not see one another at their meals. Their habit was a tunic of white linen without sleeves, with a cowl of the same stuff; they wore on their shoulders a white goatskin, called a Melotes. They received the holy communion on the first and last days of every week. Novices were tried with great severity before they were admitted to the habit, the taking of which was then deemed the monastic profession, and attended with the vows. St. Pachomius preferred none of his monks to holy orders, and his monasteries were often served by priests from abroad, though he admitted priests, when any presented themselves, to the habit, and he employed them in  the functions of their ministry. All his monks were occupied in various kinds of manual labor: no moment was allowed for idleness. The saint, with the greatest care, comforted and served the sick himself. Silence was so strictly observed at Tabenna, that a monk, who wanted any thing necessary, was only to ask for it by signs. In going from one place to another, the monks were ordered always to meditate on some passage of the holy scripture, and sing psalms at their work. The sacrifice of the mass was offered for every monk that died, as we read in the life of St. Pachomius. His rule was translated into Latin by St. Jerome, and is still extant. He received the sickly and weak, rejecting none for the want of corporal strength, being desirous to conduct to heaven all souls which had fervor to walk in the paths of perfection. He built six other monasteries in Thebias, not far asunder, and from the year 336, chose often to reside in that of Pabau, or Pau, near Thebes, in its territory, though not far from Tabenna, situated in the neighboring province of Diospolis, also in Thebais. Pabau became a more numerous and more famous monastery than Tabenna itself. By the advice of Serapion, bishop of Tentyra, he built a church in a village for the benefit of the poor shepherds, in which for some time he performed the office of Lector, reading to the people the word of God with admirable fervor; in which function he appeared rather like an angel than a man. He converted many infidels, and zealously opposed the Arians, but could never be induced by his bishop to receive the holy order of priesthood. In 333, he was favored with a visit of St. Athanasius at Tabenna. His sister, at a certain time, came to his monastery desiring to see him; but he sent her word at the gate, that no woman could be allowed to enter his enclosure, and that she ought to be satisfied with hearing that he was alive. However, it being her desire to embrace a religious state, he built her a nunnery on the other side of the Nile, which was soon filled with holy virgins. St. Pachomius going one day to Pane, one of his monasteries, met the funeral procession of a tepid monk deceased. Knowing the wretched state in which he died and to strike a terror into the slothful, he forbade his monks to proceed in singing psalms, and ordered the clothes which covered the corpse to be burnt, saying: "Honors could only increase his torments; but the ignominy with which his body was treated, might move God to show more mercy to his soul; for God forgives some sins not only in this world, but also in the next." When the procurator of the house had sold the mats at market at a higher price than the saint had bid him, he ordered him to carry back the money to the buyers, and chastised him for his avarice.
Among many miracles wrought by him, the author of his life assures us, that though he had never learned the Greek or Latin tongues, he sometimes miraculously spoke them; he cured the sick and persons possessed by devils with blessed oil. But he often told sick or distressed persons, that their sickness or affliction was an effect of the divine goodness in their behalf; and he only prayed for their temporal comfort, with this clause or condition, if it should not prove hurtful to their souls. His dearest disciple, St. Theodorus, who after his death succeeded him in the government of his monasteries, was afflicted with a perpetual headache. St. Pachomius, when desired by some of the brethren to pray for his health, answered: "Though abstinence and prayer be of great merit, yet sickness, suffered with patience, is of much greater." He chiefly begged of God the spiritual health of the souls of his disciples and others, and took every opportunity to curb and heal their passions, especially that of pride. One day a certain monk having doubled his diligence at work, and made two mats instead of one, set them where St. Pachomius might see them. The saint perceiving the snare, said, "This brother hath taken a great deal of pains from morning till night, to give his work to the devil." And, to cure his vanity by humiliations, he enjoined him, by way of penance, to keep his cell fire months, with no other allowance than a little bread, salt, and water. A young man named Sylvanus; who had been an actor on the stage, entered the monastery of St. Pachomius with the view of doing penance, but led for some time an undisciplined life, often transgressing the rules of the house, and still fond of entertaining himself and others with buffooneries. The man of God endeavored to make him sensible of his danger by charitable remonstrances, and also employed his more potent arms of prayer, sighs, and tears, for his poor soul. Though for some time he found his endeavors fruitless, he did not desist on that account; and having one day represented to this impenitent sinner, in a very pathetic manner, the dreadful judgments which threaten those that mock God, the divine grace touching the heart of Sylvanus, he from that moment began, to lead a life of great edification to the rest of the brethren; and being moved with the most feeling sentiments of compunction, he never failed, wheresoever he was, and howsoever employed, to bewail with bitterness his past misdemeanors. When others entreated him to moderate the floods of his tears, "Ah," said he, "how can I help weeping, when I consider the wretchedness of my past life, and that by my sloth I have profaned what was most sacred? I have reason to fear lest the earth should open under my feet, and swallow me up, as it did Dathan and Abiron. Oh! suffer me to labor with ever-flowing fountains of tears, to expiate my innumerable sins. I ought, if I could, even to pour forth this wretched soul of mine in mourning; it would be all too little for my offences." In these sentiments of contrition he made so "real progress in virtue, that the holy abbot proposed him as a model of humility to the rest; and when, after eight years spent in this penitential course, God had called him to himself by a holy death, St. Pachomius was assured by a revelation, that his soul was presented by angels a most agreeable sacrifice to Christ. The saint was favored with a spirit of prophecy, and with great grief foretold the decay of monastic fervor in his order in succeeding ages. In 348 he was cited before a council of bishops at Latopolis, to answer certain matters laid to his charge. He justified himself against the calumniators, but in such a manner that the whole council admired his extraordinary humility. The same year, God afflicted his monasteries with a pestilence, which swept off a hundred monks. The saint himself fell sick, and during forty days suffered a painful distemper with incredible patience and cheerfulness, discovering a great interior joy at the approach of the end of his earthly pilgrimage. In his last moments he exhorted his monks to fervor, and having armed himself with the sign of the cross, resigned his happy soul into the hands of his Creator in the fifty-seventh year of his age. He lived to see in his different monasteries seven thousand monks. His order subsisted in the cast till the eleventh century: for Anselm, bishop of Havelburgh, writes, that he saw five hundred monks of this institute in a monastery at Constantinople. St. Pachomius formed his disciples to so eminent a degree of perfection chiefly by his own fervent spirit and example; for he always appeared the first, the most exact, and the most fervent, in all the exercises of the community. To the fervor and watchfulness of the superior it was owing that in so numerous a community discipline was observed with astonishing regularity, as Palladius and Cassian observe. The former says that they ate with their cowl drawn so as to hide the greatest part of their faces, and with their eyes cast down, never looking at one another. Many contented themselves with taking a very few mouthfuls of bread and oil, or of such like dish; others of pottage only. So great was the silence that reigned among them while every one followed his employment, that in the midst of so great a multitude; a person seemed to be in a solitude. Cassian tells us, that the more numerous the monastery was, the more perfect and rigorous was regular observance of discipline, and all constantly obeyed their superior more readily than a single person is found to do in other places. Nothing so much weakens the fervor of inferiors as the example of a superior who easily allows himself exemptions or dispensations in the rule. The relaxation of monastic discipline is often owing to no other cause. How enormous is the crime of such a scandal!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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