Friday, March 28, 2014



President Obama exchanges gifts with Pope Francis - A box of seeds and bronze medals

Pope Francis - "This is our Father, the God that waits for us. ALWAYS”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the United States, Barack Obama on Thursday morning in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.

President Obama arrived at the meeting through the Hall of St. Ambrose - a bright, high-ceilinged rectangular room decorated with allegories of Felicity, Prudence and the Virtues, Rest and Security. He was preceded by a column of the Gentlemen of His Holiness, and accompanied by the Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who walked at his side. Pope Francis made his way briskly from the library to the Sala dei troni – the Hall of Thrones - to greet the President.

A handshake and a brief exchange of pleasantries, and the Pope and the President were in the library of the Apostolic Palace, sitting across from one another at the Holy Father’s desk. “It’s a great honor,” said the President to the Pope, “I’m a great admirer – thank you so much for receiving me.” President Obama went on to say, “[I bring] greetings from my family,” adding, “the last time I came to meet your predecessor I was able to bring my wife and children.”

Then, the room was cleared of journalists, and the Pope and the President, assisted by their interpreters – Msgr. Mark Miles of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, and Alessandra Bonatti of the US State Dept. – spoke privately for nearly an hour: fifty-two minutes, to be precise.

The private meeting concluded and the members of the official White House delegation were presented to Pope Francis, among whom were the Secretary of State, John Kerry, US Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. After the Holy Father greeted the delegation members, the Pope and the President exchanged gifts.

Obama offered his first: a seed box, encased in American leather, and built of wood recovered from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Archdiocese of Baltimore – the first cathedral constructed in the United States, the cornerstone of which was laid by John Carroll – a Jesuit priest and the first Catholic bishop and Archbishop in the United States; given in honor of the opening of the Pontifical Gardens of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo to the public, the box contained seeds from fruits and vegetables of the White House garden, and represent a gift of seeds to be made in the name of the Holy Father to charity, the yield of which is hoped to be several tons of fresh produce. “This gift,” reads an official statement from the White House, “honors the commitment of Your Holiness to sow the seeds of global peace for future generations.”

President Obama presented the gift, saying, “If you have a chance and come to the White House, you can see our garden.” Smiling, Pope Francis replied in Spanish, “Como no? [Why not?]”

The Holy Father then gave the President two medals cast in bronze: one a work of Italian artist Guido Veroi, called The Medallion with the Angel – Solidarity and Peace – which illustrates the contemporary challenges of bringing together the world’s northern and southern regions, and harmonizing them while combating all disruptive forces, such as exploitation, intransigent opposition, new forms of colonization, indifference, mistrust and prejudice; the second, a cast of a medal, the original of which was buried beneath the cornerstone of the north colonnade of St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Alexander VII.

“I will treasure that,” said the President to the Pope, upon receiving the gift.

Pope Francis also gave the President a copy of his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, on the joy of the Gospel. “You know,” said President Obama, “I will actually probably read this when I am in the Oval Office and when I am deeply frustrated,” adding, “I am sure it will give me strength and calm me down.” Speaking in English, Pope Francis replied, “I hope.”

Between the end of the private meeting and the presentation of the US delegation, the number of people in the Library had grown significantly – and there was a flurry of hand-shaking and picture taking. The Papal attendants did not miss a beat, however, conducting the guests smoothly and courteously to the door. “Tell His Holiness,” said the President to the Pope’s translator, Msgr. Miles, “I think His Holiness is the only person who has to put up with more protocol than me.”

On their leave-taking, at the door to the Library, President Obama thanked the Holy Father in Spanish. “Muchas gracias,” said the President to the Pope. Obama went on to say, “Please pray for me and my family,” adding, “they are with me on this journey – pray for them.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 

Pope Francis - "This is our Father, the God that waits for us. ALWAYS”

(Vatican Radio) God always forgives and does not know how to do otherwise, said Pope Francis in his homily at Friday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Lord always waits for us and forgives us, he said. He is “the God of forgiveness” and he celebrates every person’s return to him.

The Pope went on to say that God longs for us when we distance ourselves from him. Drawing on the day’s first reading from Hosea, he observed that the Lord speaks to his people with tenderness.

Even when God invites us to conversion and uses stern words, God’s words always include “this loving longing” and the exhortation of the Father who says to the son: “Come back. It is time to come back home.”

“This is the heart of our Father,” he said. “God is like that: he does not tire, he does not tire. And God did this for many centuries, with so much apostasy… among the people. And he always returns because our God is a God who waits.

“Adam left paradise with a punishment but also with a promise. And … the Lord is faithful to his promise because he cannot deny himself. He is faithful. And, in this way, he waited for all of us, throughout all of history. He is the God who waits for us always,” the Pope added.

Francis then turned his thoughts to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Gospel of Luke, he said, tells us that the father saw the son from afar because he was waiting for him. The father, he said, “went onto the terrace every day to see if his son would return. He waited. And when he saw him, he went out in haste and ‘threw himself on his neck’. The son had prepared some words to say but the father did not let him speak; his embrace covered his mouth.”

“This is our Father, the God that waits for us. Always,” he said.

“‘But father, I have so many sins, I do not know if he will be happy’,” the Pope said, suggesting a conversation between a priest and a person fallen from God. “‘But try! If you want to know the tenderness of this Father, go to him and try. Then come and tell me.’”

The Pope insisted on the loving welcome of God: “The God who waits for us. God who waits and also God who forgives. He is the God of mercy; he does not tire of forgiving. We are the ones who tire in asking for forgiveness, but he does not tire.”

“Seventy times seven, always. Let us go forward with forgiveness. And from a business point of view, the balance is negative. He always loses: he loses in the balance of things but he wins in love,” he said.

God “is the first to fulfill the commandment of love,” he continued. “He loves and does not know how to do otherwise.”

“The miracles that Jesus did with many sick people were also a sign of the great miracle that every day the Lord does with us when we have the courage to get up and go to him,” he added. When people return to God, God celebrates “not like the banquet of the rich man, who had the poor Lazarus at his door,” he said. “He holds banquet, like the father of the prodigal son.”

Every person who has the courage to approach God “will find the joy of the feast of God,” he said. “May this word help us to think of our Father, who waits for us always and who always forgives us and celebrates our return.”

Text from  Vatican Radio website 

President of Greece meets with Pope Francis

(Vatican Radio) This morning, Friday 28 March 2014, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in Audience the President of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Mr. Karolos Papoulias, who subsequently went on to meet with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions, an expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and Greece, focused on issues of common interest, such as, in particular, the legal status of religious communities, the role of religion in society, and ecumenical collaboration.

Attention then turned to the social consequences of the worldwide economic crisis, as well as the contribution of Greece within the European Union. Finally, concern was expressed regarding the future presence of Christians in the Middle East, in relation to political instability and the situations of conflict that affect various regions of the world.

Text from  Vatican Radio website 


Pope St. Sixtus III
Feast: March 28

Feast Day:March 28
Died:18 August 440 in Rome, Italy
Consecrated 31 July, 432; d. 440. Previous to his accession he was prominent among the Roman clergy and in correspondence with St. Augustine. He reigned during the Nestorian and Pelagian controversies, and it was probably owing to his conciliatory disposition that he was falsely accused of leanings towards these heresies. As pope he approved the Acts of the Council of Ephesus and endeavoured to restore peace between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch. In the Pelagian controversy he frustrated the attempt of Julian of Eclanum to be readmitted to communion with the Catholic Church. He defended the pope's right of supremacy over Illyricum against the local bishops and the ambitious designs of Proclus of Constantinople. At Rome he restored the Basilica of Liberius, now known as St. Mary Major, enlarged the Basilica of St. Lawrence-Without-the-Walls, and obtained precious gifts from the Emperor Valentinian III for St. Peter's and the Lateran Basilica. The work which asserts that the consul Bassus accused him of crime is a forgery. He is the author of eight letters (in P.L., L, 583 sqq.), but he did not write the works "On Riches", "On False Teachers", and "On Chastity" ("De divitiis", "De malis doctoribus", "De castitate") attributed to him. His feast is kept on 28 March.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)

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(Vatican Radio) US President Barack Obama’s trip to Rome on March 27 will be his first audience with Pope Francis.

It will be the second time that President Barack Obama has been received at the Vatican, after an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on July 10, 2009.

 Barack Obama is the ninth US President to make ​​an official visit to the Vatican. The first, Woodrow Wilson, received by Pope Benedict XV after the end of the First World War.

The next audience for a sitting president came thirty years later, when Blessed Pope John XXIII, received President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the first (and thus far, only) Catholic president, met with Pope Paul VI in 1963. Paul VI later received three other Presidents, meeting twice each with both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and once with Gerald Ford.

The visit of Blessed John Paul II to Washington in 1979, when he met Jimmy Carter, was the first visit of a Pope to the White House. It was also the first of many meetings with American Presidents during his long pontificate. During the presidency of Ronald Reagan, diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United States were established at the highest level. George Bush, Sr, met twice with Pope John Paul, both times at the Vatican. President Bill Clinton welcomed Pope John Paul to the United States three times, and travelled once to the Vatican.

George W. Bush became the first President to meet two different Popes while in office, meeting three times each with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He is thus far the only President to be received by a Pope at the summer papal residence of Castel Gandalfo (in 2001).

As President, George W. Bush attended the funeral of Blessed John Paul II, along with former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton; both Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (later Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis), were, of course, also present.

President Obama’s first meeting with a Pope occurred in he visited Rome in 2009. His audience with Pope Francis will take place in the context of a complex phase of the administration's relations with the Church of the United States, marked, in particular, by controversy on the implementation of health care reform (the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” commonly known as “Obamacare”) having to do with rules on mandatory health care coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion; and on other issues at the centre of public debate in the United States, such as the legalization of homosexual marriages.

Text from Vatican Radio website 

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has received U.S. President Barack Obama in the Apostolic Palace this Thursday morning. The Pope welcomed his distinguished guest with a smile and “Welcome” to the snaps of photographers from the world press covering the encounter. Barack Obama responded, “Thank you; it is wonderful to be here.”

The U.S. President arrived in the Vatican around 10:15 Rome time, accompanied by a large delegation including Secretary of State John Kerry, who came to Rome last January and met his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The U.S.’ Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett was also among those present.

Thursday’s is the first meeting between Pope Francis and Obama, who was received in the Vatican by Benedict XVI in 2009.

Text from Vatican Radio website 


St. Rupert of Salzburg
Feast: March 27

Feast Day:March 27
Died:27 March 710, Salzburg, Austria
Patron of:Salzburg, The State of Salzburg
First Bishop of Salzburg, contemporary of Childebert III, king of the Franks (695-711), date of birth unknown; d. at Salzburg, Easter Sunday, 27 March, 718. According to an old tradition, he was a scion of the Frankish Merovingian family. The assumption of 660 as the year of his birth is merely legendary. According to the oldest short biographical notices in the "Mon. Germ. Script.", XI, 1-15, Rupert was noted for simplicity, prudence, and the fear of God; he was a lover of truth in his discourse, upright in opinion, cautious in counsel, energetic in action, far-seeing in his charity, and in all his conduct a glorious model of rectitude. While he was Bishop of Worms, the fame of his learning and piety drew many from far and wide. The report of the bishop's ability reached Duke Theodo II of Bavaria, who had placed himself at the head of the current ecclesiastical movement in Bavaria. Theodo sent Rupert messengers with the request that, he should come to Bavaria to revive, confirm, and propagate the spirit of Christianity there. Despite the work of early missionaries, Bavaria was only superficially Christian; its very Christianity was indeed to some extent Arian, while heathen customs and views were most closely interwoven with the external Christianity which it had retained. St. Rupert acceded to Theodo's request, after he had by messengers made himself familiar with the land and people of Bavaria. St. Rupert was received with great honour and ceremony by Theodo in the old residential town of Ratisbon (696). He entered immediately upon his apostolic labours, which extended from the territory of the Danube to the borders of Lower Pannonia, and upon his missionary journey came to Lorch. Thence he travelled to the lonely shores of the Wallersee, where he built a church in honour of Saint Peter, thereby laying the foundation of the present market-town of Seekirchen in the Newmarket district of Salzburg. From the Roman colony there Rupert obtained an account of the ancient Roman town of Juvavum, upon the site of which there still remained many more or less dilapidated buildings, overgrown with briars and brushwood.
Having personally verified the accuracy of this account concerning the place and position, Rupert requested Theodo, in the interests of his apostolic mission to the country, to give him the territory of Juvavum (which was still a place of considerable commerce) for the erection of a monastery and an episcopal see. The duke granted this petition, bequeathing the territory of Juvavum (the modern Salzburg), two square miles in area, to St. Rupert and his successors. At the foot of the precipice of the Monchberg, where once St. Maximus, a disciple of St. Severin, had suffered martyrdom with his companions (476), St. Rupert erected the first church in Salzburg, the Church of St. Peter, in honour of the Prince of the Apostles, as well as a monastery. Upon the lofty prominences (Nonnberg) to the southeast of the town, where the old Roman fortress once towered, he established a convent of nuns which, like the monastery of the Mönchberg, he placed under the protection and Rule of St. Benedict. To set his institutions upon a solid basis, Rupert repaired home, and returned with twelve companions besides his niece Ehrentraud (Erindruda), whom he made abbess over the Benedictine Convent of Nonnberg, while he with his twelve companions formed the first congregation of the famous Benedictine Monastery of St. Peter at Salzburg, which remains to the present day. St. Rupert thenceforth devoted himself entirely to the work of salvation and conversion which he had already begun, founding in connection therewith manny churches and monasteries — e.g., Maxglan, near Salzburg, Maximilianszelle (now Bischofshofen in Pongau), Altotting, and others. After a life of extraordinarily successful activity, he died at Salzburg, aided by the prayers of his brethren in the order; his body reposed in the St. Peterskirche until 24 Sept., 774, when his disciple and successor, Abbot-Bishop St. Virgil, had a portion of his remains removed to the cathedral. On 24 Sept., 1628, these relics were interred by Archbishop Paris von Ladron (1619-54) under the high altar of the new cathedral. Since then the town and district of Salzburg solemnize the feast of St. Rupert, Apostle of Bavaria and Carlnthia, on 24 September.
In Christian art St. Rupert is portrayed with a vessel of salt in his hand, symbolizing the universal tradition according to which Rupert inaugurated salt-mining at Salzburg; this portrayal of St. Rupert is generally found upon the coins of the Duchy of Salzburg and Carinthia. St. Rupert is also represented baptizing Duke Theodo; this scene has no historical foundation. St. Rupert was the first Abbot-Bishop of Salzburg, for, as he established his foundations after the manner of the Irish monks, he combined in his own person the dignities of abbot and bishop. A similar combination of dignities existed also in Ratisbon and Freising. This twofold character of the bishop continued in Salzburg for nearly 300 years until the separation of the dignities was effected in 987 by Archbishop Friedrich I of Salzburg, Count of Chiemgau, the twenty-first Abbot of the Monastery of St. Peter. The period of St. Rupert's activity was until very lately a matter of great discussion. Formerly the opinion was held that the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth centuries was the age of his missionary work, but, according to the most exhaustive and reliable investigations, the late seventh and early eighth centuries formed the period of his activity. This fact is established especially by the "Brevesnotitiae Salzburgenses", a catalogue of the donations made to the Church of Salzburg, with notices from the ninth century. In these latter Bishop St. Virgil, whose ministry is referred to 745-84, appears as a direct disciple of St. Rupert. It is forthwith evident that the assumption of the end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh centuries as the period of Rupert's activity is extremely doubtful, even apart from the fact that this view also involves the rejection of the catalogue of the bishops of Salzburg and of Easter Sunday as the day of Rupert's death. Many churches and places bearing Rupert's name, serve as surviving memorials of his missionary activity. A successor of St. Rupert, the present scholarly Abbot of St. Peters in Salzburg, Willibald Hauthaler, has written an interesting work upon this subject entitled "Die dem hl. Rupertus Apostel von Bayern geweihten Kirchen und Kapellen" (with map, Salzburg,  1885).
(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)



POPE FRANCIS "Today, let us pray for all the Church’s ministers..."

(Vatican Radio) Greeting thousands of people gathered for his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke about the sacrament of Holy Orders, praying that the Lord may provide holy, generous and merciful pastors for his Church. 

Speaking to pilgrims and visitors huddled under umbrellas in a grey, wet St Peter’s Square, the Pope continued his reflections on the different sacraments, turning his attention this week to Holy Orders. Building on the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist – Pope Francis said Matrimony and Holy Orders correspond to two specific vocations or ways of building up Christ’s Church.
Speaking of the three grades of bishop, priest and deacon, the Pope said those who are consecrated for this pastoral service continue the actions of the true Pastor and Teacher who is Christ himself. Reflecting on the necessary characteristics of those ordained to this ministry, the Pope said those called to lead a community must always be at the service of their people. A second distinguishing feature, he said, is that they must always be filled with a passion for the Church and love for their community, their family, without succumbing to the temptation of considering it as a personal possession. 

Pope Francis reminded all those in ordained ministry that they must always nurture themselves through prayer, daily celebration of the Eucharist and regular Confession. . Without this, he said, ministers end up by losing sight of the true meaning of their service and of the joy which comes from profound communion with the Lord. Finally the Pope urged his listeners to pray for all ministers of the Church, especially those who are in difficulty or seeking to rediscover the value and freshness of their priestly vocation.

Please find below the full text of the Pope’s words in English read by an assistant at the audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: in our catechesis on the sacraments, we now turn to the sacrament of Holy Orders. Building on the vocation received in the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony correspond to two specific vocations and are two ways of following Christ and building up his Church. Holy Orders, in its three grades of bishop, priest and deacon, is the sacrament of pastoral ministry. Jesus entrusted his Apostles with the care of his flock and in every age the ordained make present in the Christian community the one Shepherd who is Christ. Following the Lord’s own example, they lead the community as its servants. Theirs must be lives of passionate love for the Church for whose purification and holiness the Lord gave himself completely, and they must constantly renew the grace and joy of their ordination through prayer, penance, and daily celebration of the Eucharist. Today, let us pray for all the Church’s ministers, especially those most in need of our prayers, and ask the Lord always to grant his Church holy, generous and merciful pastors after his own heart.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from the United Kingdom, England, Australia, Denmark, Malta, China, Japan and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord.

Text from Vatican Radio website 



Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Funeral Mass for Lauren Mary Langrell, St Martha’s Parish, Strathfield, Tuesday 25 March 2014
Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Funeral Mass for Lauren Mary Langrell, St Martha’s Parish, Strathfield, Tuesday 25 March 2014
The whole of creation is hushed. The angel host and infernal demons, the celestial spheres and waters below the heavens, the birds of the air and fishes of the sea, the dry land with its plants and animals in their kinds, and all humanity awaiting a Saviour, all are silent. All strain to hear: what will the girl say?
“Let it be done unto me according to Thy word.” (Lk 1:38) All break out with shouts of joy and laughter. This is the conception day of God, when the Creator of the Universe became a creature within it, when the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity became a human embryo. The turning point of history: from now on, time will be measured as either before or after this moment, BC or AD.
I know the Langrell family agree that this is the most important thing to be announced in any Catholic church on 25 March. But I have something else to announce today: that in imitation of that young woman of Nazareth who heard the voice of angels, a young woman of Sydney lived, and in her own small way she too has affected our histories. She too said yes to God, aware, as we read in our pew sheets, that this gives no immunity to life’s crosses. Like her hero, St Thérèse of Lisieux, she suffered a terrible illness that took her too soon; but like that little flower she looked forward to an eternity in heaven.
Lauren Langrell was a woman of faith: tender, funny, holy and wise. Hers was a beautiful soul – what our first reading described as “the soul of the virtuous” (Wis 31:1-9) – and her last sickness could not take that away from her. Surrounded to the end by symbols of her deep Catholic faith, the Holy Rosary and Divine Mercy, her last earthly communication was to sms her Mum that she was praying for her grandmother who is also gravely ill. Hers was a beautiful soul, but she was ravaged by a terrible illness that ultimately overwhelmed her and took her life.
Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Funeral Mass for Lauren Mary Langrell, St Martha’s Parish, Strathfield, Tuesday 25 March 2014
From all around Sydney and far beyond her death has unlocked a veritable flood of grief and gratitude and grace: grief that she was taken too soon from us; gratitude that she had touched so many lives in so short a time; and the grace of prayer poured out for Lauren, above all, but also for Mark and Mary, Patrick, Jessica and Tom. They have been sustained through this nightmare by your expressions of love and intercession. Many people were understandably disoriented, having not known Lauren was sick, let alone in hospital. Yet as cancers can appear suddenly, eat up people’s bodies and sap them of life, so Lauren’s depressive psychosis appeared out of the blue and ate up her beautiful heart and mind.
Such conditions, like cancers, can take young people very quickly and so Lauren says to us today: if anyone here is hurting, depressed, consumed by self-doubt, self-hatred, dark temptations, know you cannot conquer this alone. You must get help. Lean on God and His angels and saints in prayer. Talk to your parents, priest, religious sister. Call a helpline or CatholicCare. See your GP or uni counsellor. Lauren’s life and death calls upon each one of us here to redouble our gratitude for the gift of life and our commitment to use it well; to persevere in the spiritual struggles and never lose hope. And just as we don’t blame Lauren, so she tells us not to blame ourselves, not to engage in the endless “if only I had/we had/she had”. The fact is, as Lent reminds us, we are mortal beings and to dust we shall all return, sooner or later.›š
. . .
Lauren tells us today to be thankful. We are all given particular gifts and opportunities. Hers were gifts of faith and art. People loved being around Lauren, watching her hilarious faces and being seduced by her theatre into attending Theology on Tap or iWitness or some other worthy project.
I’m told that in an impromptu performance at school she jumped around so much she put a hole through the wall and had to cover it up with a fire notice. That was soon discovered but it took many years to settle whose leg it was that had gone through the ceiling of the classroom. Good as Patrick and Jessica were at MCing Theology on Tap, they were bit players compared to the Oscar-merits of Lauren. So too, in Fiddler on the Roof, she stole the show with her brilliant rendition of the Matchmaker. Always an actress but never a drama queen, Lauren used her considerable gifts to direct people toward the possibilities of a life of faith and virtue. Many of those she befriended and inspired are here today.
Her family have many grateful stories to tell and we heard some already today from Tom. At the start of Lent there used to be family discussions about improvements possible in each child. Patrick, for instance, might be invited for Lent to fast from having an untidy room and to give alms by washing up after dinner. And so they would work their way from child to child, until they got to Lauren. Then there would be a pregnant pause, as no one could think of anything Lauren could improve. Eventually Mark and Mary would give up, turning instead to the other children and saying: you should all try to be more like her!
Her brother Patrick told me, quite honestly, that he couldn’t imagine what she ever had to say in Confession. It brought to his mind Fulton Sheen’s comparison of hearing nuns’ confessions with being stoned to death by popcorn. She was truly a woman of the beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12) and even her own family – always the most perceptive of critics – could see it.
Now, when Catholics talk of the family as ‘the domestic Church’ it can make the family sound a bit pious and po-faced. Langrell HQ is not that sort of church: it is a lively, happy place, with all the sorrows and smiles of ordinary life, but with that extra something we call faith and hope and divine love. Mary and Mark with the grandparents, extended family and friends, created a home in which their four little ones and the many friends they brought into the family’s orbit flourished humanly and spiritually.
. . .
So why do bad things happen to good people like Lauren? Because in making us, God did not make robots, programmed to march in circles and do only what He wants. God’s great gamble was to make us free, intelligent, passionate beings in a world that is rich and dazzling and dangerous too. Sickness and death are part of the natural order. Objects collide, accidents occur, organisms prey upon each other and decay. Bugs attack the nerves, stomach, blood stream; other conditions assail the mind, emotions, will.
Even those with an excellent Tangara-University of Notre Dame Australia education wonder why God doesn’t more often intervene to make things nice. Part of the answer is surely this: God did not leave us alone in these struggles. The Annunciation celebrates God’s definitive intervention on the side of the innocent: the fight-back of the Light over the darkness, of Good over evil, of Immortality over corruption. What began on that Conception Day is still working itself out in history and will come to fulfilment when the Body of Christ is full-grown and Christ the Head returns.
But today the whole of creation is hushed as it strains to hear the Virgin’s answer. Not just the living but the dead. Our ancient parents, Adam and Eve, the patriarchs and prophets, and all who have died and wait in Limbo for some hope, strain with hands to ears, to hear: what will the girl say?
Can the dead hope and dare we hold out hope for them? Lauren’s life and death have released an extraordinary grace amongst her family, friends and admirers, a grace that will allow Mark and Mary to start a beautiful new home for us all to visit and share. It will enable Jess to return to New York to serve the sacred cause of human life, which was so important to Lauren. It will cast the Langrell boys back into surf and study and service. And it will inspire Lauren’s many friends to redouble their efforts to live lives of faith and fortitude.
Dare we hope for life beyond the grave? For St Paul’s trumpet calling the dead to rise up (1 Th 4:13-18)? For a new heaven and a new earth? Dare we hope for a Saviour who will be the Resurrection and the Life? “Fiat, yes, Let it be done unto me according to Thy word,” the Virgin said. And the angel left her. (Lk 1:38-39)
Readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14


St. Margaret Clitherow
Feast: March 26

Feast Day:March 26
Born:1556 as Margaret Middleton at York, England
Died:25 March 1586 at York, England
Canonized:25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI
Major Shrine:The Shambles, York
Patron of:businesswomen, converts,  martyrs
Margaret Clitherow, born in Yorkshire, England, was the wife  of John Clitherow, whose family was Catholic, although he had taken on the state religion of England long before he married. Two or three years after her marriage, Margaret became a Catholic. Her home became a stopping-off place for  priests, and Mass was offered secretly there.
Her husband went along with her interests, even when she sent their oldest son to Douai, in France, to be educated. Not only was she devout, she was also a zealous promoter of the faith, converting others and bringing back backsliders to the practice of their religion. Meanwhile, the laws against the Catholic faith became more harsh, and the. government was determined that Catholicism should be stamped out in Yorkshire where it was especially strong.
Everyone loved St. Margaret Clitherow, and even her servants  knew that she hid fugitive priests, but no one betrayed her. She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church with him. Her husband was summoned by the authorities to explain why his oldest son had gone abroad, and the Clitherow house was searched. A Flemish boy, from fear, revealed the hiding place of the priests where chalices and vestments were kept. Margaret was arrested along with a neighboring housewife who had attended Mass at the Clitherow home. Margaret's only concern was that her family was safe.
She was brought to trial and would not plead, her only statement being, "Having made no offense, I need no trial." If she had been tried, her family would have been called as witnesses against her, and she was determined that this would not happen. Reluctantly, the judge sentenced her to be "pressed to death," a bizarre death sentence in which the condemned was placed under a door (or similar object) and rocks piled on the door until the person was crushed to death.
Margaret died on March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970.


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