Saturday, February 8, 2014








(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with Polish bishops at the conclusion of their Ad Limina visit, telling them the Church in Poland has great potential of faith, prayer, charity and Christian practice. Noting that their meeting comes just ahead of the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, the Pope stressed the need for unity among all the bishops to work for the common good of the Church and its people.
Pope Francis spoke with the Church leaders about the positive signs of faith in Poland today, but he also urged them to pay particular attention to the increasing numbers of divorced and separated families, urging the bishops to make sure such people do not feel excluded from the Church. He said it’s important to support young couples preparing for marriage and to seek new ways of helping them to appreciate both the joyful and the difficult moments of their life together.
Looking ahead to the next international World Youth Day which will be held in Krakow in 2016, the Pope said young people in Poland are well formed in their faith through Catholic schools . However he stressed it’s important to remember that religion is not something abstract, but rather a living relationship with the God of love. He encouraged young people to live their faith through groups or associations based on the Word of God and the liturgy, but also on community life and missionary witness
Speaking of the large numbers of Polish priests working both at home and abroad, Pope Francis said it’s vital to continue praying for new vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, especially for the women’s congregations which have seen a significant drop in recent years.
Finally the Pope urged the bishops to care especially for the poor, the unemployed, the sick and the those with no one else to care for them. Despite the ongoing development of the Polish economy, he said the Church must be’ imaginative in its charity’ and remain close to those in need, including the large numbers of Polish people who’ve emigrated in search of a better life abroad.

Text from  Vatican Radio website 


Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 327

video added later

Reading 1           SIR 47:2-11

Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings,
so was David in Israel.
He made sport of lions as though they were kids,
and of bears, like lambs of the flock.
As a youth he slew the giant
and wiped out the people’s disgrace,
When his hand let fly the slingstone
that crushed the pride of Goliath.
Since he called upon the Most High God,
who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior
and raise up the might of his people,
Therefore the women sang his praises,
and ascribed to him tens of thousands
and praised him when they blessed the Lord.
When he assumed the royal crown, he battled
and subdued the enemy on every side.
He destroyed the hostile Philistines
and shattered their power till our own day.
With his every deed he offered thanks
to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole being he loved his Maker
and daily had his praises sung;
He set singers before the altar and by their voices
he made sweet melodies,
He added beauty to the feasts
and solemnized the seasons of each year
So that when the Holy Name was praised,
before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.
The LORD forgave him his sins
and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty
and established his throne in Israel.

Responsorial Psalm                       PS 18:31, 47 AND 50, 51

R. (see 47b) Blessed be God my salvation!
God’s way is unerring,
the promise of the LORD is fire-tried;
he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations,
and I will sing praise to your name.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R. Blessed be God my salvation!

Gospel                         MK 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.



Happy Childhood (1869-1876)

Bakhita was born in 1869 in Olgossa, in Darfur, a territory to the South-East of Sudan, inhabited by the Dajus, one the major ethnic groups who had settled in that region centuries before. Bakhita's family was prosperous, possessing lands with plantations and cattle. She herself said, "My life was completely happy. I did not know the meaning of sorrow". Bakhita had three brothers and three sisters. In 1874 the elder sister was kidnapped.
Harsh Slavery (1876-1882)
Happy Childhood (1869-1876)

Bakhita was born in 1869 in Olgossa, in Darfur, a territory to the South-East of Sudan, inhabited by the Dajus, one the major ethnic groups who had settled in that region centuries before. Bakhita's family was prosperous, possessing lands with plantations and cattle. She herself said, "My life was completely happy. I did not know the meaning of sorrow". Bakhita had three brothers and three sisters. In 1874 the elder sister was kidnapped.
Harsh Slavery (1876-1882)

In 1876 two men kidnapped Bakhtia, who was then about seven years of age. After a month's imprisonment she was sold to a slave-trader (the second master). With great courage the girl attempted to escape, but was recaptured by a shepherd (her third master) and sold again to a fierce-looking man (her fourth master) who sold her to a slave-trader (fifth master). One day she was beaten and left unconscious and bleeding on the ground. She was then sold to a Turkish general (6th master), whose wife subjected Bakhita to the torture of tattooing. Her torturer spared only her face, because it was very beautiful, while he inflicted 114 cuts with a razor on her stomach and arms. The poor little victim felt she was dying, especially when salt was rubbed into her wounds to keep them open. Immersed in a pool of blood, she was carried away on a pallet and left for a month without even a rag to dry the serum that oozed from her wounds.

To Freedom (1882-1885)

In 1882 the Turkish general sold Bakhita in Khartoum to the consular official Callisto Legnani (seventh master), who was very kind to her. Right away he showed his benevolence, dressing her for the first time in a tunic which restored her dignity as a woman. He would have brought her back to her own village if Bakhita had been able to remember its name, but she was too small at the time of her kidnapping to register exact details. When, in 1885, Legnani was preparing to leave Africa for Italy, Bakhita asked for and received permission to go with him. They embarked, together with a friend of the consul, Augusto Michieli. It was to the latter that Legnani gave the young African upon their arrival in Genoa.In Italy

Mr. Michieli, a rich businessman from Venice, took Bakhita with him to his villa at Zianigo, near Mirano Venetto. Here, for three years, Bakhita was nursemaid to the little daughter, Alice, nicknamed Mimmina. The Michieli were good, honest people, but not church-goers. Mrs. Turina Michieli, who was Orthodox, had forbidden Bakhita to enter a church. However, Providence had placed on Bakhita's path the Michieli's manager, Illuminato Checchini, who played a fundamental part in her journey of faith. "A man with a heart of gold and an enlightened conscience" was how Bakhita described him; he always had a "fatherly love" for her. It was he, in fact, who concerned himself the religious education of the young African. When the Michieli returned in 1886 to Africa, where they had acquired a large hotel at Suakim and took Bakhita with them, the good Illuminato felt remorse, because he had not yet been able to speak to her about God. He was, thus, very happy, the following year, when he saw her return with his wife and the little girl, and inwardly promised to do everything he could for the benefit of that soul. "The missionaries", he said, "go to Africa to convert its inhabitants, shall we do nothing to enlighten this poor girl?" He began by presenting her with a little crucifix, saying to himself: "Jesus, I entrust her to you. Now, you look after her". He was also instrumental in placing Mimmina and Bakhita in the care of the Canossian sisters in Venice when the Michieli had to leave again for Suakim. At this Institute Bakhita was admitted to the catechumen ate. When, after nine months, Mrs Michieli returned for her daughter and the girl whom she regarded as in some way, her slave, in order to take them back again to Africa, she encountered a very firm attitude on the part of the latter. It was on that occasion that Bakhita, who was still a catechumen, displayed singular strength of spirit and great faith. In fact, when confronted with the affection and economic security offered her by the Michieli family, and the hope of rediscovering her family if she returned to Africa, she preferred God's love and abandonment to divine Providence for her future, which in human terms, was very uncertain. Thus she said, with determination: "No, I cannot return to Africa, because I would not be able to profess my faith in the Lord. I love the lady and her little girl very much, but I cannot lose my God. So I am remaining". It was 29 November 1889, as bakhita later recorded in her memoirs. This moment of courageous decision is most significant; it was to set the tone for her entire life.

In this difficult struggle Bakhita had the support of the Patriarch of Venice and the King's Procurator, who, according to Italian law, which forbade slavery, declared her to be a free person.

"If I did not die", Bakhita was to say later, "it was by a miracle of God, who had destined me for better things".
Josephine Bakhita
As preparations were made for the great day - January 9, 1890 - when she was to receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion at the hands of the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Agostini, Bakhita experienced very mixed feelings. On the one hand, she was profoundly aware of her own unworthiness, while on the other, she felt indescribable joy at the thought that she would become a child of God. Realizing God's ineffable love, she was at times intensely moved. She then had moments when she was unable to grasp how she, a poor black girl, a slave, an ignorant person, could be called by the Lord His daughter, she who had nothing to offer Him. She would then run to Mother Fabretti, her catechists, who calmed her, assuring her that in the eyes of God, wealth and wisdom were worth nothing: all that counted was love. "And you love the Lord, don't you?" Bakhita would agree, smiling contentedly, her eyes wet with tears. "Go in peace, then", concluded Mother Fabretti, "and call Him with confidence: "Our Father who art in Heaven...

After she had been baptized, receiving the names of Josephine, Margherita and Fortunata, Bakhita remained at the Institute of the Catechumens, where she soon became aware of the call to a life of special consecration. She did not dare expressed this desire, feeling herself to be unworthy. She feared that she might disfigure the Congregation on account of her black skin. Her confessor reassured her. God does not look at the colour of one's skin, but rather at the innermost depths of one's heart.

Bakhita was accepted, and after three years of Novitiate she made her Vows on Decembe 8, 1896. Cardinal Sarto, the then Patriarch of Venice, examined her and told her: "Pronounce your holy vows without fear. This is what Jesus wants. Jesus loves you. Love Him and serve Him always in this way". He also reassured her about the eternal salvation of her dear ones: "God has infinite ways of making Himself known and when He chooses a person to be His bride, He also thinks of her family".
After she had been baptized, receiving the names of Josephine, Margherita and Fortunata, Bakhita remained at the Institute of the Catechumens, where she soon became aware of the call to a life of special consecration. She did not dare expressed this desire, feeling herself to be unworthy. She feared that she might disfigure the Congregation on account of her black skin. Her confessor reassured her. God does not look at the colour of one's skin, but rather at the innermost depths of one's heart.

Bakhita was accepted, and after three years of Novitiate she made her Vows on Decembe 8, 1896. Cardinal Sarto, the then Patriarch of Venice, examined her and told her: "Pronounce your holy vows without fear. This is what Jesus wants. Jesus loves you. Love Him and serve Him always in this way". He also reassured her about the eternal salvation of her dear ones: "God has infinite ways of making Himself known and when He chooses a person to be His bride, He also thinks of her family".

After her religious profession, which took place in Verona, Mother Bakhita returned to Venice, and later was sent to the house in Schio. Here she spent the best part of 45 years, immediately gaining the sympathy and esteem of all the town's inhabitants, who began to call her affectionately 'Madre Moretta' (Black Mother). Bakhita achieved the ideals set by the Foundress, St. Magdalene of Canossa, who wished her daughters to be "anchorites and apostles". Whether in church or sacristy, at the door or in the kitchen, she was engrossed in her Lord, and daily bore witness to the Lord's love for all His creatures. During the First World War, with great love, she set about easing the physical suffering and moral anguish of all those around her, in particular, the soldiers looked after in the Institute, which had been turned into a military hospital. During the Second World War people attributed to her presence the fact that Schio was preserved from the bombing. In fact, when the alarm sounded, Bakhita would say, "Don't worry, because the 'Master' knows what He has to do nothing will happen here."

From the moment of her profession, she showed how close she felt to her African brothers and sisters. On that day she uttered the following heartfelt prayer: "O Lord, if I could but fly to my people and preach aloud Your goodness to everyone! Oh, how many souls would I win for you. Among the first would be my mother, my father, my brothers, my sister, still a slave... all, all the poor black people of Africa. Grant, Jesus, that they too may know and love you!" Between 1936 and 1938 Mother Bakhita was at Vimercate, the seat of the Canossian Missionary Novitiate. This was her base for journeys to various Italian cities to promote the missions. She was accompanied by another Sister, who had returned from her mission in China. Everyone wanted to hear first-hand her "wonderful story". Referring to this experience, Mother Bakhita was to say later: "Many will think I enjoyed travelling around, but for me it was real martyrdom". Wherever she went, she left goodness in her wake, even though she herself was not aware of it.

At the height of World War II, on December 8, 1943, Mother Bakhita celebrated the 50th anniversary of her religious life. Not only her own community, but the whole of Schio, celebrated, despite the adverse circumstances of the time. But now, for Bakhita, aches and pains were beginning to make themselves felt, crippling arthritis, asthmatic bronchitis with cough, convulsed her body. This was not to be wondered at, considering the suffering she had undergone in her younger years and the rigours of the northern climate to which she was not accustomed. During her long illness never a complaint passed her lips. When she was asked: "Don't you feel anything, Mother Bakhita?" She replied: "Of course I feel something - I'm alive; it's only the dead who can't feel anything". "And how is it that you never complain?" "Oh, when nature wants something, I say: now be good, we'll see about it. Then I think about Jesus on the cross, and about the Sorrowful Virgin. That way, nature is calmed, and I no longer need anything". What heroic patience! Very soon she had to abandon her walking-stick in favour of a wheelchair, until broncho pneumonia brought her inexorably to the end. Fully conscious, and to the great edification of all, she received the last sacraments. The Virgin Mary came to comfort her at the moment of her death on Saturday, February 8, 1947. "How happy I am... the Madonna, the Madonna! These were her last words as she passed from this earthly life to the full freedom of God's children.
Her Motto

From her childhood, Bakhita learnt to wonder at the beauty of creation. Even as a slave, she found comfort in admiring the sun, the moon, and the stars. She told how, when she had, finally, lost hope of ever seeing her family again, she began to appreciate more the beauties of nature. She wondered who could have been their Maker and ardently desired to know Him so as to be able to thank Him and do Him homage.

She was utterly surprised when she began to grasp the meaning of this truth: through Baptism you will become a child of God. "A child of God - I, a poor black girl!", she would repeat, filled with amazement. Her baptism gave her such great joy that she felt its beneficial effects ever after. "Here, I became a child of God!" she exclaimed with emotion, kneeling at the baptismal font when she had the good fortune to visit the church where she had been baptized. Baptism shaped her human and Christian future completely, and her whole life was overwhelmed with wonder at the goodness of a Father who orders everything for the good of those whom He has chosen. This, then, was the source of Bakhita's constant goodness.

The moment that had a great and decisive impact on her life was when she discovered the infinite love of God, manifested in his Crucified Son. Seeing the image of Jesus on the cross for the first time, Bakhita was greatly impressed, and asked: "What did that man do that was so wrong, for him to be treated in such a way?" "Nothing," was the reply, "He wished to die for us, for love of us, and also for you". "Also for me!" astonished Bakhita repeatedly. Always drawn irresistibly by the love of Jesus who had died on the cross for her, she became a strong woman, firm and unshakeable in her decision to devote herself totally to the service of her new heavenly Master. Consequently, her former resignation to her fate was transformed into free and holy abandonment to the divine will of Him whom she still gladly called "el Paron", "the Master", out of long-standing mental habit, but now no longer as a slave of arbitrary and evil masters by fate, but as a "slave of love" carrying out the orders of the good God, who loves His servants as a Father.

Her life, after death, would also depend on the will of the "Master". For this reason, when she was sick, she replied to those who asked for her prayers: "If the Lord permits, I will look after everyone from Heaven, I will obtain many graces for the salvation of souls."
Inner Face
"In St. Josephine Bakhita we find an outstanding witness to God's fatherly love and a bright sign of the enduring value of the Beatitudes. In our time, when the race for power, money, and pleasure causes distrust, violence and loneliness, the Lord is giving us Sister Bakhita as the Universal Sister, so that she may reveal to us the secret of the truest happiness: the Beatitudes. Hers is a message of heroic goodness, mirroring the goodness of the heavenly Father. She has left us a testimony of evangelical reconciliation and forgiveness, which will surely give comfort to the Christians in her homeland, Sudan, so sorely tried by conflict that has lasted for many years and caused many victims. Their faithfulness and their hope are reason fro pride and thanksgiving on the part of the whole Church. At this time of great tribulations, Sister Bakhita goes before them on the road of imitation of Christ, a deepening of the Christian life and of unshakeable attachment to the Church." (John Paul II - May 17,1992).

Mother Josephine Bakhita's life is marked by unconditional surrender to the will of God. Her motto was "What the Master Wishes". Thus she made her spiritual life very simple, because "doing God's will well" is the essence of perfection.

In all the positions she held as a Canossian - cook, embroiderer, sacristan, portress - Bakhita always showed herself to be a true "Daughter of Charity, Servant of the poor". The virtues that mark her relationship with her neighbours are: Goodness, Meekness, Tenderness. Her black hands caressed the heads of the children who attended the Institute's schools daily. Her amiable voice, which had the inflection of her African songs, was pleasing to the little children, comforting to the poor and the suffering, and encouraging to all who knocked at the door of the Institute.

The value of forgiveness is evident in Bakhita: "If I met those slave traders who kidnapped me and treated me so cruelly, I would kneel to kiss their hands, because if that had not happened, I would not be a Christian and a religious today." One is impressed above all by the excuse she makes for them: "Poor things, maybe they did not know they were hurting me so much: they were the masters, I was their slave. Just as we are used to doing good, so they did that by force of habit, not because they were wicked". As she told her terrible story, she continued to thank the Lord, who, in unimaginable ways, had led her to the faith and made her His bride. There was no hint of resentment in her words: she had forgiven everyone from her heart and prayed for them all.

Litany of St. Josephine Bakhita

Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy, Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy

Christ hear us, Christ, graciously hear us

God, our heavenly Father Have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the world Have mercy on us
God, the Holy Spirit Have mercy on us

Holy Mary Pray for us
St. Joseph Pray for us
St. Magdalen of Canossa Pray for us
St. Josephine Bakhita Pray for us

Flower of Sudan Pray for us
Universal Sister Pray for us
Model of Hope Pray for us
Child slave Pray for us
The Fortunate One Pray for us
Daughter of God Pray for us
Consecrated Virgin Pray for us
Bride of Christ Pray for us

Bakhita, most innocent Pray for us
Bakhita, most forgiving Pray for us
Bakhita, most chaste Pray for us
Bakhita, most courageous Pray for us
Bakhita, most free Pray for us
Bakhita, most prayer ful Pray for us
Bakhita, most faithful Pray for us

Reflection of Charity Pray for us
Wonderful Storyteller Pray for us
Lover of Children Pray for us
Exemplar of Hospitality Pray for us
Patient Model of Bead workers Pray for us
Diligent Sacristan Pray for us
Humble Porter Pray for us
Great Cook Pray for us
Mother Moretta Pray for us
Missionary at heart Pray for us
Hope of the sick Pray for us
Comfort to soldiers Pray for us
Pillar to anxious families Pray for us
Protector of Schio Pray for us
Powerful Intercessor of those in need Pray for us
Patron of the dying Pray for us
Tale of Wonder Pray for us

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, Have mercy on us, O Lord.
Leader: God delivered her from slavery and given her true freedom in ChristAll: And made her his daughter and his bride.Leader: Let us pray

Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus Christ, through His suffering and death on the cross, gave Himself as a gift of love for the reconciliation and salvation of all his peoples. He continues to express this love by giving us St. Josephine Bakhita. She too offered herself through her suffering in slavery. We humbly pray that through her intercession, she may obtain for us this favour which we now ask ______________, for the needs of our parish community, for her brothers and sisters in Sudan, and for the whole world the gift of justice and peace. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.


St. Jerome Emiliani
Feast: February 8

Feast Day:February 8
1481, Venice
Died:8 February 1537, Somasca
Canonized:1767 by Pope Clement XIII
Patron of:orphans

Founder of the Order of Somascha; b. at Venice, 1481; d. at Somascha, 8 Feb., 1537; feast, 20 July; son of Angelo Emiliani (popularly called Miani) and of Eleonore Mauroceni, joined the army, and in 1508 defended Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray. Taken prisoner and miraculously liberated, he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, in fulfillment of a vow. He was then appointed podestà of Castelnuovo, but after a short time returned to Venice to supervise the education of his nephews. All his spare time was devoted to the study of theology and to works of charity. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1518, the hospitals and the hovels of the poor were his favourite resorts. In the year of plague and famine (1528), he seemed to be everywhere, and showed his zeal especially for the orphans, whose number had so greatly increased. He rented a house for them near the church of St. Rose and, with the assistance of some pious laymen, ministered to their wants. To his charge was also committed the hospital for incurables, founded by St. Cajetan. In 1531 he went to Verona and induced the citizens to build a hospital; at Brescia he erected an orphanage, at Bergamo one for boys and another for girls. Here also he founded the first home for fallen women who wished to do penance. Two priests, Alessandro Besuzio and Agostino Bariso, now joined him in his labours of charity, and in 1532 Jerome founded a religious society, placing the motherhouse at Somascha, a secluded hamlet between Milan and Bergamo. In the rule, Jerome puts down as the principal work of the community the care of orphans, poor, and sick, and demands that dwellings, food and clothing shall bear the mark of religious poverty. Jerome fell a martyr to his zeal; contracting a disease at Bergamo, he died at Somascha. He was beatified by Benedict XIV in 1747, and canonized by Clement XIII in 1767. The Office and Mass in his honour were approved eight years later. His biography was first written by Scipio Albani (1600); another by Andreas Stella (1605). The best was written by Aug. Tortora (Milan, 1620; in "Acta SS.", Feb., II, 217 sq.).
After the death of Jerome his community was about to disband, but was kept together by Gambarana, who had been chosen superior. He obtained the approval (1540) of Paul III. In 1547 the members vainly sought affiliation with the Society of Jesus; then in 1547-1555 they were united with the Theatines. Pius IV (1563) approved the institution, and St. Pius V raised it to the dignity of a religious order, according to the Rule of St. Augustine, with solemn vows, the privileges of the mendicants, and exemption. In 1569 the first six members made their profession, and Gambarana was made first superior general. Great favour was shown to the order by St. Charles Borromeo, and he gave it the church of St. Mayeul at Pavia, from which church the order takes its official name "Clerici regulares S. Majoli Papiae congregationis Somaschae". Later the education of youth was put into the programme of the order, and the colleges at Rome and Pavia became renowned. It spread into Austria and Switzerland, and before the great Revolution it had 119 houses in the four provinces of Rome, Lombardy, Venice, and France. At present the order has ten houses in Italy two of which are in Rome. The general resides in Rome at S. Girolamo della Carita.

(Taken frrom Catholic Encyclopedia)



Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014) was an American actor and director. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2005 biographical film Capote. On February 2, 2014, Hoffman was found dead by a friend, David Bar Katz, in the bathroom of his Manhattan apartment. He had a drug and alcohol addiction. Investigators found many bags of heroin and prescription drugs in his apartment which caused his death. Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967, in Fairport, New York. His mother, Marilyn O'Connor (née Loucks), was a judge and lawyer. and his father, Gordon Stowell Hoffman, is a former Xerox executive.He had two sisters, Jill and Emily, and a brother, Gordy. His ancestry included Irish, German, English, and Dutch. His father was Protestant and his mother Catholic.His partner was Mimi O'Donnell (1999–2014; his death) they had 3 children Tallulah Hoffman (age 7, Daughter), Cooper Alexander Hoffman (age 10, Son) and Willa Hoffman (age 5, Daughter). (pictured) (Images shared from Google)

He acted in  The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Doubt(2008) and The Master (2012). Moneyball (2011) and The Ides of March (2011), The Hunger Games. He acted and directed numerous other films. His funeral was held on Feb. 7, 2014 in St. Ignatius Loyola, Catholic Church in New York. Attending his funeral were Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Louis C.K., Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Brian Dennehy, Michelle Williams. PLEASE PRAY FOR HIS SOUL
An excerpt from the book A Jesuit Off-Broadway by Fr James Martin SJ (who presided at the funeral)
<p>Fr James Martin SJ, left, with Philip Seymour Hoffman during the filming of Doubt (photo by Andy Schwartz)</p>

Fr James Martin SJ, left, with Philip Seymour Hoffman during the filming of Doubt (photo by Andy Schwartz)
  • James Martin SJ
  • InternationalFr James Martin served as a consultant on the film Doubt, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. The following are Martin's thoughts on Philip Seymour Hoffman as an actor, director and a human being.
During the first two weeks in January 2005, the cast of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”, which featured actors like Sam Rockwell and Eric Bogosian, traveled painstakingly through the text, as they sat around the plastic tables in New York’s Public Theater.
All along, Philip Seymour Hoffman offered, like any good teacher, insight, encouragement, and direction when needed.
Clad in rumpled jeans, a faded sweatshirt, and a woolen cap pulled over his reddish-blond hair, Phil, as everyone called him, projected a unique blend of relaxed intensity as a director. While he approached the text with an almost scholastic seriousness, carefully attending to every line in the script, he was nonetheless a relaxed presence among the cast.
Phil’s style was a rarity, I would discover. I asked an actor friend, “Are directors normally that relaxed with the cast?” She laughed and said, “You’re very lucky!”
From time to time, to illustrate a thorny point, or to describe the emotion that might underlie a scene, he would offer a story from his own life. “Did you ever have this experience?” Phil would ask, and recount a tale illustrating despair, or hope, or joy, or betrayal or trust.
It began to dawn on me that Phil was providing something like contemporary parables for the cast. In the Gospels, the parable is one of the primary ways in which Jesus of Nazareth communicates his understanding of elusive but important concepts.
In Luke’s Gospel, for example, Jesus tells the crowd that one is to treat one’s neighbor as oneself. But when asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he offers not a precise definition, but instead spins out the story of the Good Samaritan. When asked to explain what he means by the “kingdom of God,” the central message of his preaching, Jesus likewise talks about mustard plants, wheat and weeds, and seeds falling on rocky ground.
C.H. Dodd, the great Scripture scholar, once offered a memorable definition of a parable: “A metaphor or simile drawn from nature or everyday life that so arrests the reader with its vividness or strangeness as to leave the intellect in sufficient doubt as to tease the mind into active thought.”
In other words, parables are poetic explanations of concepts otherwise impossible to comprehend.
The concept of the kingdom of God, for example, is too rich to be encompassed by something as simple definition. And the notion of radical forgiveness is impossible to explain in a few words, no matter how carefully chosen.
Jesus grasped the benefit of telling a story about, say, a father’s reconciliation with his prodigal son, and allowing the hearers to tease out the meaning of the story for themselves. Besides, even if Jesus had given a philosophic lecture to the predominantly peasant community, they probably wouldn’t have understood him anyway.
Where a strictly worded definition can often be somewhat shallow and actually close down a person’s thought, a story opens the hearer’s mind and is endlessly deep. Stories carried meaning without having to be converted into concepts. The power of the parables of Jesus were that they went against the expectations of the audience, as when the Samaritan, hailing from a hated ethnic group, was ultimately revealed as the good guy who cares for the stranger.
Phil’s direction embodied this insight. Beforehand I expected a director would say, “Say your lines like this.” Or, “Move your arms like this.” Instead, Phil provided the actors with a deeper level of understanding.
One actor said that Phil’s direction enabled him to understand the script on a more personal level. This was also what parables did for the disciples whom Jesus had gathered around him.
At one point, I blurted this out. “You’re doing just what Jesus did,” I said to the cast. And Elizabeth Rodriguez, the outgoing actress who would play Saint Monica, laughed and said, “Hey, Phil is Jesus!”
When I asked Phil Hoffman about his directing style on “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” he readily agreed with the inherent strength of the parable—or, in his words, the personal anecdote—in its ability to communicate more than a strictly worded directive.
“It’s the way I normally direct,” he said. “The anecdotes and stories spark a discussion with the actors and it starts a give-and-take about the character or the scene. And the more personal the better. If I can be open with my life, then the actors usually feel more comfortable expressing themselves through the work.”
I asked if he ever felt the need to be more specific in his direction. “Sometimes you have to tell someone exactly what you want, but you can’t dictate,” he said. “You have to keep suggesting. Otherwise, the person becomes a sort of empty shell, and they end up performing in a way that’s not at all, well, spiritual.”
He offered another illustration. “It’s like if I were to tell you onstage that your character had to mix a bowl of oatmeal. I could tell you how to hold the pot and the bowl and the spoon, but unless you made the act your own, it would be just my way of doing it, not yours.”
In a sense, his approach mirrored the way that Jesus invited people to consider his message. For apart from the initial calls of the Apostles, which seem peremptory, brooking little dissent (“Follow me,” he says to Peter) most of Jesus’ preaching involves inviting his listeners to consider something new. Jesus approach was primarily one of invitation, inviting his followers to consider, to think about, to ponder. (“Consider the lilies…”)
Or, in Phil’s words, Jesus was always suggesting, in order that the decision to follow or not follow was always that person’s own decision.
Source of selection from Fr. Martin: Busted Halo/UCAN News


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Priests , rabbis , kosher food and churches and chapels at the Winter Games , which open February 7 on the Black Sea. Patriarch Kirill consecrates Orthodox church near the Olympic Village .

Moscow (AsiaNews ) - More than 100 religious from the five major world religions will be working during the Winter Olympics , which start on 7 February in Sochi. They will be 'deployed ' at the two main areas where the sporting events will take place: the "coastal" centre at Adler and the "mountain" centre in Krasnaya Polyana . "Over 100 people are on duty to provide psychological and spiritual help to the participants, guests and spectators of the Games ( February 7 to 23 ) and Paralympic Games (7-16 March)", the Sochi press office stated.
For the Jewish community 12 rabbis will available from all over the world who speak Spanish , French, English and Hebrew. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia has also ensured that kosher food will be served in the Olympic Village.

There are three inter-religious centers in the coastal area while there are some prayer rooms in the mountain area. However, Interfax reports "there will not be regular services".

Meanwhile, today, February 5 , the Patriarch of Moscow , Kirill is expected in Sochi to bless the athletes of the Russian national team. As RIA Novosti reports, the primate of the Orthodox will celebrate a Moleben (liturgy of intercession) in the "most Olympic" church in the region , that of the Holy Face of Christ the Saviour , in the Imeretinsky valley. The building was built specifically for the Winter Games , although local historians claim that there already was an ancient Byzantine temple on the place where this church is located, between the ninth and tenth centuries - before the baptism of Rus'. The church was consecrated on 2 February by Metropolitan Isidore of Kuban.

For Catholics there is the central parish of Sochi, dedicated to the Holy Apostles Simon and Jude, and opened in 1997. Before there was only a small chapel in the city, at the Polish national cultural center. ( N.A. )




African American Catholic Bishops

From Left to Right Standing: Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta; Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Pensacola - Tallahassee; Bishop Martin D. Holley, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington; Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago; Bishop Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Belleville; Bishop George Murry, SJ, Bishop of Youngstown. Seated: Bishop Guy A. Sansaricq, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Brooklyn; Bishop J. Terry Steib, SVD, Bishop of Memphis; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux; Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, SVD, Bishop of Beaumont.

Sr. Thea Bowman's address on Black Catholic Spirituality (above)

 Sr. Thea Bowman (1937 – 1990) was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration who dedicated her life to working for the African American Catholic community. She was instrumental in the creation of many Catholic multicultural and African American projects such as the first edition of Lead Me, Guide Me, an African American Catholic hymnal, and co-founded the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in Louisiana. Sr. Thea’s life mission was to share her rich cultural heritage and spirituality through song, prayer, teaching, preaching and writing.  Although diagnosed with cancer in 1984, she continued to give programs designed to encourage communication between cultures including this historic presentation to the U.S. Catholic Bishops about Black Catholic Spirituality in June 1989.

Black Catholic History Month

As we celebrate Black Catholic History Month, check out some of these great leaders of African decent who are On The Road to Sainthood

Letter from Birmingham Jail Study Guide

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail, Christian Churches Together, one of the largest ecumenical organizations in the U.S., offered a response and created a Study Guide to facilitate reflection either for groups or individuals.  The webpage for this important document also has an additional introduction for Catholics to the Study Guide and an introductory letter from Bishop Madden and Bishop Flores.  


  • There are 3 million African American Catholics in the United States.
  • Of Roman Catholic parishes in the United States, 798 are considered to be predominantly African American. Most of those continue to be on the East Coast and in the South. Further west of the Mississippi River, AfricanAmerican Catholics are more likely to be immersed in multicultural parishes as opposed to predominantly African American parishes.
  • About 76% of African American Catholics are in diverse or shared parishes and 24% are in predominately African American parishes. 
  • At present there are 15 living African American bishops, of whom 8 remain active.
  • Currently, five U.S. dioceses are headed by African American bishops.
  • There are 250 African American priests and 437 deacons in the United States. 75 men of African descent are in seminary formation for the priesthood.
  • There are 400 African American religious sisters and 50 religious brothers.
  • The Black population in the United States is estimated to be just over 36 million people (13% of the total U.S. population).
  • By the year 2050, the Black population is expected to almost double its present size to 62 million, and it will increase its percentage of the population to 16%.
The Catholic Church: By the Numbers, USCCB Office of Media Relations (2012)

Lead Me, Guide Me - Hymnal and worship resource

Second Edition, GIA Publications, Inc.. . . 
Pew Edition: $15.50/copy


Parish Social Ministry

Join the Free Catholic Charities USA Parish Social Ministry Professional Interest Section. . . Open to all interested in enhancing the "...vitality and quality of social justice ministries in our parishes..." Enjoy many ministry support and professional development benefits.

what-we-have-seen-and-heard-word-cloudWhat We Have Seen and Heard

Looking to the future, next year will mark the 30th anniversary of "What We Have Seen and Heard" Check it out to see what the Bishops were saying 30 years ago. And check back soon for additional information and resources like this...


National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life (NBCAL)

What can be done to end the violence in the African American community whether in the streets, behind closed doors or in the womb? As NBCAL suggests, "A Revolution is Warranted." See page 2 of this year's resource . . . for action ideas. 

Evangelizing With New Media

In the Diocese of Charleston, the Office of Black Catholics is bringing the Gospel message to youth, right where they are - on YouTube and Facebook. Check out the skit performed on April 6, 2013 at their Black Catholic Heritage program. Other videos and posts are available on their website and facebook page. Thanks for sharing, Kathleen!
Pope Francis received a life-sized CHOCOLATE statue of himself made from 1.5tons of Cocoa from Atitlan, in Guatemala, central America. A group of 20 students from the Academia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice, Italy, spent four weeks moulding the chocolate statue in the Pope's image. On Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 Pope Francis accepted this gift. (Photo Share: Google/Facebook)



(Vatican Radio) A Harley-Davidson owned by Pope Francis has been sold for 210,000 euros.
The motorbike was auctioned in Paris to raise money for a charity for the homeless in Rome.

It was sold to an anonymous phone bidder.

The Dyna Super Glide was signed, but never ridden, by the Pope. It was given to him in June, to mark Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary.

The auction house said there were so many bidders there were not enough phone lines to cope and some potential buyers were turned away.

A leather jacket which accompanied the motorbike also sold for 50,000 euros.


Text  Vatican Radio website 

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