Monday, August 19, 2013









 Officials with the Prison Pastoral Care of Buenos Aires launched a workshop to have inmates make the hosts used during Eucharistic celebrations in their region.   

But for several weeks now, Pope Francis has celebrated Mass at Santa Marta with the hosts made by Gaby, one of the inmates taking part in the program. 

The woman sent the hosts as a gift, along with a personal letter where she described her story. 

 The Pope was moved by her letter and responded with his very own, handwritten letter to thank her for the hosts. In it, he assured her that he keeps the photos she sent him and that he prays for her. Gaby said she felt comforted and encouraged to reclaim her life. 

Pope Francis had previously said that, as his time allowed, he would respond personally to as many people that wrote to him as possible. Gaby's letter is now evidence of that.  SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA


Address: Thirsting for Hope, Thirsting for God - Catechesis I for WYD13, Basilica da Imaculada Conceiçāo, Botefogo, Rio de Janiero, 24 July 2013
Thirsting for Hope, Thirsting for God - Catechesis I of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP for WYD13, Basilica da Imaculada Conceiçāo, Botefogo, Rio de Janiero, 24 July 2013

1. Thirsty?

When was the last time you were really thirsty? Perhaps you’ve already had a long queue for drinks or thirsty-making walk at World Youth Day. Or you remember a serious thirst when you were working outdoors, playing sport, catching rays on the beach or doing some serious partying. Or when on the couch gorging on salty snacks while contemplating the electronic icon. Some people are more desperate for water than that. One billion people around the world lack access to reliable clean water. If the climate scientists are right, there’ll be a lot more thirsty people in the years ahead.

But there’s another kind of thirst. I used to live at the entrance to Sydney Harbour on a cliff called The Gap. It’s spectacularly beautiful, like the view many of us have seen these past few days from Corcovado under the statue of Cristo Redentor. But The Gap is also a favourite place for suicides. When I heard a helicopter hovering I would know someone had died. I would go to the bluff to say a prayer. Sometimes I saw the bodies. They were nearly always young people – young people who’d been thirsting for hope – young people who died of that thirst.
Many of us suffer depression or grief at some time, a kind of sickness or death in our hearts. It may be over the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job or aspiration. Our problems seem too big, our resilience too small. We may despair of human goodness or of divine mercy. Our courage fails. Our optimism evaporates. While some aspects of our culture support our best hopes, other things undermine us. Most ‘news’ in our media is bad news, chosen to scare us. The random universe of secularism, with no transcendent power or redemption, says life is meaningless. People are left feeling they have no future. Some try to shore themselves up by maximising wealth, power or security. Others escape into some fantasy world. Some give up on life altogether. Quite apart from youth suicide, there are many ‘little suicides’, such as taking drugs that mess with the mind or doing things that abuse the body or dabbling in practices that damage the soul.
What’s going on here? What is this deep thirst modernity can’t quench? We’ve got psychiatrists, teachers, doctors, government, finance, technology, social media – everything imaginable to throw at our problems. Yet people are dissatisfied.
A songwriter named Davey Rex once wrote a hit called Thirsty. I’m not sure how well you know the pop charts from 1000BC, but you might know this one. It begins: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is thirsting.” A deer in the desert, a buck that’s been running, perhaps pursued by hunters or wolves: it’s panting, sweating, desperately thirsty: our lyricist feels like that. “My soul is thirsting … My tears run night and day … My spirit is downcast … Cries pierce me to the heart.”
It’s a great song, Thirsty, known as Psalm 41 in the Catholic Bible and Psalm 42 for Protestants. (For some reason Catholics and Protestants count psalms differently. In fact, the ‘next’ psalm is really part of this one and so the Jews point out we both get the numbering wrong.) Thirsty is the song of an exile, far away from home. He used to “lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God,” he says. No more. His band was really popular back then, but now he’s a has-been, depressed, lonely, homesick. There’s a vacuum in his soul which all sorts of things might rush into, but they don’t satisfy.

2. Thirsting for God

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Catechesis I for WYD
Photography: Alphonsus Fok

Our songwriter guesses what he’s really thirsty for: God. “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life,” he sings. The world around him does not sympathise. We hear their refrain: Where is this God of yours? The Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, writes that people used to see themselves as part of something bigger, a cosmic order, a great chain of Being, including each of us and all the other human beings throughout time, the angels and the animals, the seas and skies and all they contain (The Ethics of Authenticity). But we no longer feel bound to some hierarchical order that restricts our opportunities and choices. We can be anything, do anything. We invent our own values, our own meaning. We can travel where we please, play our music loud, drink as much as we like …
But there’s a downside to this liberation from an ordered universe. The world can seem meaningless, without purpose, rules, responsibilities. We try to drown out the cries of the world and deep within us, with the thump-thump-thump of our music machines. We cultivate callouses on our hearts so they are almost impenetrable. But the doubts remain.
In the late 4th and early 5th Centuries AD there was a really cool Afro-Roman dude called Gus. He had it all: good family, the best education, girlfriends, plenty of career opportunities. He dabbled in New Age religion, sex, astrology, drink, you name it. He was decadent. But he was also a searcher. In his blog called Confessions of St Augustine he wrote about his thirst and his personal journey from concupiscence to holiness. You get his great line “O God, You have formed us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” (Confessions 1.1) But there’s much more for restless hearts in Gus’ Confessions. He discovers that it wasn’t just him searching for God and looking in all the wrong places: God was searching for him. “You called, You shouted, and You finally broke through my deafness,” he blogged. “You flashed, You shone, and You finally dispelled my blindness. I breathed in your air and now I pant for You. I tasted You and now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burn for Your peace.” (Confessions 27.30)
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in his encyclical On Christian Hope: “Augustine is describing the fundamental human situation that gives rise to all our contradictions and hopes. In some way we want life itself, true life, untouched even by death; yet at the same time we don’t know what it is we feel driven towards. We cannot stop reaching out for it, and yet all we experience or accomplish is not what we yearn for. This unknown thing is the true hope that drives us … The fact that it is unknown is the cause both of despair and also of all our positive efforts … ‘Eternal life’ is the name we give to this known ‘unknown’ … life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy… [This is] the object of Christian hope.” (Spe Salvi 12)
It was only in this quest for ‘life in the full sense’ that Gus was eventually able to understand himself. As Charles Taylor observes we can only define our own identity only against a background of things that matter. If the universe is meaningless so are we and all our endeavours. The search for meaning, the thirst for hope, is essential if we are to plot our own future, write our own autobiography, a narrative with a character and a plot and, hopefully, a really great beginning and middle. Above all, we must write a really great end to our story – and a new beginning!

3. God thirsts too

Back to my number one hit from 1000BC. Palestrina, Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn all had their versions of Sicut cervus. Psalm 62(63) reprised it. It’s been sung by some great bands. But the most famous soloist to singThirsty was Jesus. The stage He sang from was the most important in history: the cross. “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I led the rejoicing crowd into the house of God,” the song says. Only a few days before His execution Jesus had led the people into Jerusalem all the way to the Temple, singing Hosanna and waving palms.

But now they’ve turned on Him. Now they crucify Him. “With cries that pierce me to the heart, my enemies revile me, saying to me all the day long: Where is your God?” Jesus hears those taunts from the crowd, the soldiers, even the guy on the cross beside Him. His soul is downcast within Him. Jesus enters the depths of human misery so that where we are, even at our worst, He will always be too. He is there to accompany and redeem us. The song goes on: “I will say to God, my rock: Why have you forgotten me?” And sure enough, we hear Him cry out towards the end: “My God, why have you forgotten me?” Just in case you’re still not convinced this song was on Jesus’ mind as He was dying, remember the opening words: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so … my soul is thirsting for the living God.” What does Jesus cry out from the cross at the end? I thirst.
For what does Jesus thirst? Someone bleeding to death will thirst for water, sure. The soldiers offer Him vinegar as a kind of anaesthetic. But His real thirst is for His Father-God. And for us. This was a great insight of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. God is perfect; He has no needs; He never hungers or thirsts, suffers or changes. Yet Jesus thirsts. And because Jesus is God that means God is thirsting. If it is God who is thirsting, the thirst is infinite. For what does He infinitely thirst? Not water, obviously. God thirsts for our love. When the dying Jesus cries from the cross “I thirst” it is God crying out for relationship with us, with you. So God Himself puts the thirst in our hearts. The 14th Century Dominican mystic of the Rhineland, Johannes Tauler, wrote that the source of our longing is “quite simply this: when the Holy Spirit comes into the soul He kindles there a fire of love, and the blazing sparks cause in us a great thirst, a longing for God.”
Today’s world tries to quench that thirst with various stop-gap measures. It distracts us from asking and answering the big questions. It robs us of hope by first robbing us of curiosity. It says the big questions have no answers or that young people aren’t interested in such things and should stick to “sex ’n’ drugs ’n’ rock ’n’ roll”. And so sometimes we forget to drink. We are having such a good time on the dance floor or the sports field or the beach that we end up with spiritual sun-stroke or dehydration. When we finally get around to drinking, our soul like a sponge absorbs all it can get.
Don’t let the world dehydrate you. Don’t let it rob you of curiosity. You might just miss the answer of a lifetime, the spring of living water that is Christ (Jn4:7-15). In our ancient pop-song the lyricist has an epiphany, an inspiration, a turn-around moment. He’s moaning about all his difficulties. He feels like he’s drowning. “Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of waters: your waves and breakers crash over me.” But then he realises whose torrents, whose waves these are. Even in the bad bits of life his God is there somewhere. “By day the Lord will send His loving kindness; by night I will sing to Him, praise the God of my life.” And so we get the refrain, the chorus of that great song: “Why so downcast, my soul, why groan within me? Hope in God; I will praise Him still, my Saviour and my God.”
On Palm Sunday Pope Francis met with young people and said this to them, to you: “We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that He accompanies us and carries us on His shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please, please, don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope! [Never let go of] the hope that Jesus gives us.” Amen! I say.
You must have hope – and faith and love – you must be the hope for our world. You are called to be the GMD generation, the go-make-disciples generation. Let Christ quench your thirst so that each of you can be a go-make-discipler. Do that and what a world we’ll have!


KONDUGA, August 13, 2013 (CISA) -Gunmen have killed at least 30 people in an attack in a farming region in northeast Nigeria where the Islamist sect Boko Haram is active, a military source and residents said.
Men dressed in military camouflage arrived in Konduga town on Sunday Morning August 11 and shot or hacked to death dozens of people returning from morning Muslim prayers, two residents said.
“They took everybody by surprise with the attack,” a military joint task force source told Reuters, asking not to be named. “They killed many people, the victims are more than 30 but I cannot confirm the exact number.”
A hospital source told Reuters that 26 wounded people were receiving treatment after the attack in Konduga, a small town around 25 km from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in Nigeria’s north, and other spin-off Islamist groups have become the biggest threats to stability in Africa’s top oil exporter.
In mid-May, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and launched an offensive against the group in its stronghold in the northeast. The insurgency was initially weakened but remains active, and guerrilla-style attacks persist.
The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in a video distributed to journalists that his fighters had carried out several attacks in Borno state in recent weeks where “soldiers fled under our heavy firepower”.
“We have killed countless soldiers and we are going to kill more. Our strength and firepower has surpassed that of Nigeria. We can now comfortably confront the United States of America,” he boasted in the local Hausa language.
Civilian vigilante groups have sprung up to help Nigerian forces identify and arrest Boko Haram members, but there are concerns among security experts that the spread of vigilantes could further erode law and order.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - 58 churches and Christian institutions were attacked and set on fire in Egypt in past days. This was reported to Fides Agency by Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops of Egypt. "Out of 58 churches attacked 14 are Catholic, the rest belong to the Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant communities" says Fr. Greiche. "The attacks against the churches took place all over the Country, but are concentrated especially in the areas of Al Minya and Assiut, because it is there that we find the headquarters of the jihadists, responsible for this violence", adds Fr. Greiche.
"It should be emphasized – the priest says - that Muslims who live in the vicinity of the affected churches have helped men and women religious to put out the fires of the religious buildings".
"This is not a civil war between Christians and Muslims", emphasizes Fr. Greiche. "It is not a civil war but a war against terrorism. And the majority of the population is against terrorism and religious extremism", concludes Fr. Greiche. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19/08/2013


Man avoids death sentence for killing his lover and children
<div>Herman Jumat Masan celebrates Independence Day on August 17 in prison</div>
Herman Jumat Masan celebrates Independence Day on August 17 in prison
  • reporters, Maumere & Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • August 19, 2013A court in East Nusa Tenggara province sentenced an ex-priest to life imprisonment on Monday for killing his lover, a former nun, and her two children more than a decade ago.
Herman Jumat Masan had callously “premeditated the killings, concealed his crimes for a long time, and was a danger to other people,” presiding judge Beslin Sihombing said when reading the verdict at Maumere district court.
The sentence was lighter than the one demanded by prosecutors, who had requested the death sentence.
Herman was a priest serving in Larantuka diocese when he had an illicit affair with Yosefin, a former nun who had left the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit in 1997.
The affair resulted in the birth of a first child in 1999, but Herman strangled the baby to cover up the affair.
But the relationship continued, and in 2002, a second birth took place. This time there were complications and Yosefin suffered heavy bleeding.
Herman did nothing to try and save them and she and her baby later died.
The former priest then buried their bodies in the compound of a school belonging to St Peter Major Seminary, where he worked, to conceal his crimes.
He left the priesthood in 2008 and worked in East Kalimantan before surrendering to police this year, following the discovery of the Yosefin and her baby’s remains.
Adam Kati, a relative of Yosefin, said the family was satisfied with the verdict and that Herman would spend the rest of his life in prison.
“At first, we hoped he would be sentenced to death. But then we realized that as human beings we don’t have the right to take someone else’s life,” he said.


Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 419

Reading 1             JGS 2:11-19

The children of Israel offended the LORD by serving the Baals.
Abandoning the LORD, the God of their fathers,
who led them out of the land of Egypt,
they followed the other gods of the various nations around them,
and by their worship of these gods provoked the LORD.

Because they had thus abandoned him and served Baal and the Ashtaroth,
the anger of the LORD flared up against Israel,
and he delivered them over to plunderers who despoiled them.
He allowed them to fall into the power of their enemies round about
whom they were no longer able to withstand.
Whatever they undertook, the LORD turned into disaster for them,
as in his warning he had sworn he would do,
till they were in great distress.
Even when the LORD raised up judges to deliver them
from the power of their despoilers,
they did not listen to their judges,
but abandoned themselves to the worship of other gods.
They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,
and did not follow their example of obedience
to the commandments of the LORD.
Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge
and save them from the power of their enemies
as long as the judge lived;
it was thus the LORD took pity on their distressful cries
of affliction under their oppressors.
But when the judge died,
they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors,
following other gods in service and worship,
relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.

Responsorial Psalm                   PS 106:34-35, 36-37, 39-40, 43AB AND 44

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They did not exterminate the peoples,
as the LORD had commanded them,
But mingled with the nations
and learned their works.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They served their idols,
which became a snare for them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They became defiled by their works,
and wanton in their crimes.
And the LORD grew angry with his people,
and abhorred his inheritance.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Many times did he rescue them,
but they embittered him with their counsels.
Yet he had regard for their affliction
when he heard their cry.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Gospel              MT 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.



Feast Day:
August 19
November 14, 1601, Ri, France
August 19, 1680, Caen, France
1925 by Pope Pius XI
French missionary and founder of the Eudists and of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity; author of the liturgical worship of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; b. at Ri, France, 14 Nov., 1601; d. at Caen, 19 Aug., 1680. He was a brother of the French historian, François Eudes de Nézeray. At the age of fourteen he took a vow of chastity. After brilliant studies with the Jesuits at Caen, he entered the Oratory, 25 March, 1623. His masters and models in the spiritual life were Fathers de Bérulle and de Condren. He was ordained priest 20 Dec., 1625, and began his sacerdotal life with heroic labours for the victims of the plague, then ravaging the country. As a missionary, Father Eudes became famous. Since the time of St. Vincent Ferrer, France had probably not seen a greater. He was called by Olier "the prodigy of his age". In 1641 he founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, to provide a refuge for women of ill-fame who wished to do penance. The society was approved by Alexander VII, 2 Jan., 1666. With the approbation of Cardinal de Richelieu and a great number of others, Father Eudes severed his connection with the Oratory to establish the Society of Jesus and Mary for the education of priests and for missionary work. This congregation was founded at Caen, 25 March, 1643, and was considered a most important and urgent work.
Father Eudes, during his long life, preached not less than one hundred and ten missions, three at Paris, one at Versailles, one at St-Germaine-en-Laye, and the others in different parts of France. Normandy was the principal theatre of his apostolic labours. In 1674 he obtained from Clement X six Bulls of indulgences for the Confraternities of the Sacred Heart already erected or to be erected in the seminaries. He also established the Society of the Heart of the Mother Most Admirable -- which resembles the Third Orders of St. Francis and St. Dominic. This society now numbers from 20,000 to 25,000 members. Father Eudes dedicated the seminary chapels of Caen and Coutances to the Sacred Hearts. The feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was celebrated for the first time in 1648, and that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1672, each as a double of the first class with an octave. The Mass and Office proper to these were composed by Father Eudes, who thus had the honour of preceding the Blessed Margaret Mary in establishing the devotion to the Sacred Hearts. For this reason, Pope Leo XIII, in proclaiming his virtues heroic in 1903, gave him the title of "Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary". Father Eudes wrote a number of books remarkable for elevation of doctrine and simplicity of style. His principal works are:--"Le Royaume de Jésus"; "Le contrat de l'homme avec Dieu par le Saint Baptême"; "Le Mémorial de la vie Ecclésiastique"; "Le Bon Confesseur"; "Le Prédicateur Apostolique"; "Le Cœur Admirable de la Très Sainte Mère de Dieu". This last is the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Hearts. His virtues were declared heroic by Leo XIII, 6 Jan., 1903. The miracles proposed for his beatification were approved by Pius X, 3 May, 1908, and he was beatified 25 April, 1909.