Thursday, December 31, 2009




Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of QUY Nhon (Vietnam), the Matthieu Nguyen Van Khôi, pastor of the Cathedral of QUY Nhon and Professor of Nha Trang seminary Maris Stella.Matthieu Nguyen Van Khôi Rev.doThe Matthieu Nguyen Van Khôi, was born on 13 October 1951 to BU Son, Tuy BU, Binh XOM, Roman Catholic Diocese of QUY Nhon. He has completed secondary education also attending the Faculty of letters from the Catholic University of đà LAT at the minor seminary of QUY Nhon, philosophy and theology at the Pontifical College of LAT (1970-1977), đà.He was ordained a priest on 10 May 1989, was in the Diocese of QUY Nhon.After ordination was parish priest of the parish of Binh XOM (1989-2000), teacher at the seminary Maggiore Maris Stella of Nha Trang (1994-2000), student at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, where he received his doctorate in theology morale (2000-2005).Since 2005, is pastor of the Cathedral of QUY Nhon, foraneo Vicar of Binh region XOM, Member of the College of the counselling, Member of the teacher Corps of lifelong learning to the priests of the diocese, Professor of theology morale at that seminar.[01962-01.01](source:


The Thaindian news reports that Hindus have applauded United States Postal Service (USPS) for announcing a stamp to honor Mother Teresa during 2010. Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that besides recognizing Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, it was an honor for India also as she was citizen of India.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that USPS should issue a stamp on Diwali to honor the feelings and contributions of about 2.5 million Hindus living in USA and about one billion spread worldwide. It was long overdue, he added.
USPS announcement says that Mother Teresa “had been a citizen of India since 1948″ and she “served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years”. She is buried in Kolkata (India).
Diwali is the most popular festival of Hinduism, which is the oldest and third largest religion of the world whose ultimate goal is moksha (liberation). USPS, whose history goes back to 1775, handled 202.7 billion pieces in FY 2008 and its revenue was $75 billion. John E. Potter is the Postmaster General and Carolyn Lewis Gallagher is Chairman of USPS Board of Governors.


Asia News report that a deacon seriously hurt. A Christian killed before his house on Christmas Eve. The impotence of the government and avoidance of responsibilities. Nearly 2 thousand Christians killed in 6 years.
Mosul (AsiaNews) - Attacks continue against Christians to push them to flee from Iraq. Yesterday afternoon Zhaki Homo Bashir, a Christian deacon, was hit by gunfire from a group of unknown criminals. The man had just entered his shop located in the district of al Jadida. Seriously injured, he was transported to hospital. AsiaNews published the news yesterday of the kidnapping a college student from an Islamic group. News has also reached the agency in recent days that another Christian was killed on Christmas Eve; Basil Isho Youhanna was hit by gunfire in front of his house in the neighbourhood of Tahrir, in northern Mosul. In recent weeks there has been an increase of killings of Christians and attacks on churches and convents. All the violence is part of a project of "ethnic cleansing" against the Iraqi Christians, reported to AsiaNews by Msgr. Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk. The national government and the local governorate are powerless before these attacks, while the different ethnic groups Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen - with the possible infiltration of extremist cells – are all blaming each other.
According to local sources, since 2003, the year of the fall of Saddam Hussein, at least 1960 Christians have been killed in Iraq. Their presence has been reduced by at least half because of the exodus to other quieter areas of the country (Kurdistan) or abroad.(source:


The London Telegraph reports that it is not often that you get to ski on slopes that have received a papal blessing, but that is one of the pluses of a winter holiday with a difference in the Polish resort of Zakopane.

The late Pope John Paul II hailed from these parts and during his years at the helm of the Catholic church in Kraków, he liked to retreat to the nearby Tatras and have a quick schuss with the best of them.
Slightly bizarrely during what turned out to be the most memorable of the three days I spent in Zakopane last February, I ended up teaming up briefly with a British man of Polish ancestry whose brother had actually skied with Karol Józef Wojtyla, as the pontiff-to-be was then known.
We had joined forces as part of an intrepid group that, despite thick snowfall and a chilling wind, had decided to brave Zakopane's most challenging run – the six-mile descent from its highest peak, Kasprowy Wierch.
As we made the dramatic ascent of the mountain in one of Europe's longest – and oldest – cable car rides, we looked up at the ominously heavy-looking clouds and prayed that the spirit of John Paul II would be with us – or at least that we would receive divine guidance.
Our prayers were answered – with guidance taking the form of Alan Garcia, a passionate skier and entrepreneur who in 2005 set up Sunshine World, a company specialising in affordable winter holidays to Zakopane for British skiers and snowboarders.
The afternoon spent coming down from Kasprowy Wierch – initially through the powder, then back on piste, then along winding paths through a wonderfully snow-laden fir tree forest – was the highlight of the holiday. "The best day's skiing for many years," declared Julian, my British-Polish friend with the papal connection.
(edited from :

CHRISTMAS MIRACLE MOTHER COMES BACK TO LIFE AFTER DELIVERY reports that a father is claiming a Christmas miracle after his wife and newborn baby apparently came back from the dead.
Mike Hermanstorfer told how his wife Tracy went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing in a hospital delivery room on Christmas Eve.
Doctors performed an emergency caesarean section to try to save the baby's life but then had to give Mr Hermanstorfer the heartbreaking news that his son had not survived either.
As the father held his son in his hands, he felt the boy begin to move.
And at the same time Mrs Hermanstorfer, 33, began to breathe again.
"My legs went out from under me," her husband said. "I had everything in the world taken from me and then, suddenly, everything given to me. It was the hand of God."
Doctors at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said there was no logical explanation for the recovery of the mother or her baby.
"She was dead," maternal foetal medicine specialist Dr Stephanie Martin said. "She had no heartbeat, no breathing, no blood pressure. She was as grey as her sweat suit and there were no signs of life.
"The baby was basically limp with a very slow heart rate. We did a thorough evaluation and can't find anything that explains why this happened."
Mr Hermanstorfer said his wife had begun to feel sleepy as she was being prepared for the delivery.
Doctors and nurses began CPR in an attempt to restart her heart. Mr Hermanstorfer recalls a doctor telling him: "We have been unable to revive her and we're going to take your son out."
They began a caesarean section to remove the baby and did not use anaesthetic on the assumption that the mother was dead.
Some of the medical team stayed with Mrs Hermanstorfer to continue efforts to resuscitate her, while others began massaging baby Coltyn.
Mrs Hermanstorfer said she recalled nothing of the incident. She plans to tell Coltyn about his birth when he is old enough to understand: "I'll tell him that he had a tough time coming into this world; that he's my miracle baby."


All Africa reports that the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) has raised a red flag over the worsening food security situation in the Horn of Africa.
Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner in charge of development and humanitarian aid, attributes the disastrous situation to the terrible potential of climate change.
"Large parts of the Horn of Africa have had less than 75 percent of normal rainfall this year, having already endured a series of severe droughts. The population can no longer cope with such extreme and protracted hardship which often comes on top of conflict situation. As a result, more than 16 million people desperately need help," he said in a statement released by ECHO.
Initial optimism occasioned by forecasts of El Nino rains were thwarted when November proved largely dry. El Nino refers to a periodic warming of temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, far from East Africa's shores but with impacts on the country's rainfall and weather patterns.
Samuel Mwangi, acting assistant director of Kenya's national weather forecasting services explains that El Nino has been linked with greater rainfall during the annual "short rains" in East Africa, between October and December.
Worried consumers

Priscah Nzilani a domestic worker in Nairobi's Eastlands area and a single mother of four says she has nothing to be cheerful about as she ushers in the New Year. She is wrought with worry about the demands the forthcoming year will place on her family.
"Since 2007 the cost of food has been increasing steadily, reaching levels that are out of reach for most Kenyans. The failed rains brought with them more troubles with the cost of electricity reaching a record high. We also had consistent water shortages which continue to persist and we are forced to dig deeper into our pockets to buy water at an extra cost. With this kind of scenario how does one find it in their heart to be cheerful about the New Year?" she pauses.
Nzilani adds that with the failure of the much anticipated El Nino rains, there is no reprieve for Kenyans.
"I am worried that my earnings as a domestic worker will not suffice to feed and educate my children as well as meet their other basic needs. We have been surviving by skipping meals and at this rate I think we shall have to make do with only one meal a day," she says with a forlorn look on her face.
ECHO warns that if the December rains are below average, parts of Kenya may suffer irreparable damage.
ECHO regional information officer Daniel Dickinson told IPS, "In the face of the unfolding drought situation, ECHO is providing 50 million euros in humanitarian aid to vulnerable drought-affected people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The rains have failed and people have exhausted the coping mechanisms which they had and urgently need help."
Kenya's minister for special programmes, Naomi Shaban, issued a similar warning in mid- December over the worsening food security situation across the country.
Speaking as she flagged off relief food worth $80,000 donated by Telkom Kenya and World Vision Kenya, Shaban said ten districts across the country are facing an imminent crisis in relation to food insecurity.
"Unfortunately, the country has experienced another season of failed rains which is expected to increase the current levels of food insecurity. Although Kenya's food security is still on the borderline, many districts are at risk of sliding into an acute food and livelihood crisis. This situation is made worse by high food prices," Shaban explained.
In Kenya, Dickinson says it is estimated 3.8 million people currently rely on humanitarian aid and the situation is worsening. with acute malnutrition above 20 percent in five districts.
The government of Kenya has increased its monthly spending on relief food to $1.3 million per month to assist those facing starvation. In early 2009, the government declared the unfolding food security situation a national disaster, stating that 10 million Kenyans were unable to access food.
In Ethiopia, ECHO reports indicate with several consecutive crop failures, the nutritional situation in that country has deteriorated badly and is expected to worsen further.
The story unfolding in Somalia is similar, with the situation aggravated by ongoing conflict. In Uganda, ECHO indicates 2.2 million people in northern Acholi and Karamoja regions face food insecurity.
According to Famine Early Warning Systems Network (which issues alerts on food insecurity) poor rains in November have revised prospects for widespread food security improvements that were expected to manifest toward the end of December in Kenya.
Those set to be adversely affected include pastoral households who already face unrelenting prices for food, an outbreak of cholera and heightened conflict over limited pasture and water in drought conditions.
However, Mwangi says sections of the country have experienced increased rainfall as predicted, which means good harvests will be recorded in certain areas.
"It must be pointed out that the poor performance of rainfall is not widespread across the country. There are areas that will still record good harvests from the rainfall received during the season.
In Coast, Northeastern, Eastern and Central Provinces, the rainfall was characterised by heavy storms in the second half of the month. This significantly enhanced the total rainfall amounts recorded in these provinces," Mwangi says.
It is not clear whether good harvests in these areas will cover the predicted shortfalls in the rest of the country.(SOURCE:


St. Sylvester
Feast: December 31
Feast Day:
December 31
31 December 335 at Rome, Italy
Patron of:
Feroleto Antico, Italy

St Sylvester, whom God appointed to govern his holy church in the first years of her temporal prosperity and triumph over her persecuting enemies, was a native of Rome and son to Rufinus and Justa. According to the general rule with those who are saints from their cradle, he received early and in his infancy the strongest sentiments of Christian piety from the example, instructions, and care of a virtuous mother, who for his education in the sound maxims and practice of religion, and in sacred literature, put him young into the hands of Charitius, or Carinus, a priest of an unexceptionable character and great abilities. Being formed under an excellent master, he entered among the clergy of Rome and was ordained priest by Pope Marcellinus, before the peace of the church was disturbed by Diocletian and his associate in the empire. His behaviour in those turbulent and dangerous times recommended him to the public esteem, and he saw the triumph of the cross by the victory which Constantine gained over Maxentius within sight of the city of Rome, on the 28th of October 312. Pope Melchiades dying in January 314, St. Sylvester was exalted to the pontificate, and the same year commissioned four legates, two priests, and two deacons to represent him at the great council of the Western church, held at Arles in August, in which the schism of the Donatists, which had then subsisted seven years, and the heresy of the Quartodecimans were condemned, and many important points of discipline regulated in twenty-two canons. These decisions were sent by the council before it broke up, with an honourable letter, to Pope Sylvester, and were confirmed by him and published to the whole church. The general council of Nice was assembled against Arianism in 325. Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret say that Pope Sylvester was not able to come to it in person on account of his great age, but that he sent his legates. Gelasius of Cyzicus mentions that in it "Osius held the place of the Bishop of Rome, together with the Roman priests Vito and Vincentius." These three are named the first in subscriptions of the bishops in the editions of the acts of that council and in Socrates, who expressly places them before Alexander, patriarch of Alexandria, and Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch. St. Sylvester greatly advanced religion by a punctual discharge of all the duties of his exalted station during the space of twenty-one years and eleven months; and died on the 31st of December 335. He was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla. Pope Sergius II translated his body and deposited it under the altar in a church dedicated to God in his memory. Mention is made of an altar consecrated to God in his honour at Verona, about the year 500; and his name occurs in the ancient Martyrology called St. Jerome's, published by Florentinius, and in those of Bede, Ado, Usuard, &c. Pope Gregory IX, in 1227, made his festival general in the Latin church; the Greeks keep it on the 10th January.
After a prodigious effusion of Christian blood almost all the world over, during the space of three hundred years, the persecuting kingdoms at length laid down their arms and submitted to the faith and worship of God crucified for us. This ought to be to us a subject of thanksgiving. But do our lives express this faith? Does it triumph in our hearts? It is one of its first precepts that in all our actions we make God our beginning and end, and have only his divine honour and his holy law in view. We ought, therefore, so to live that the days, hours, and moments of the year may form a crown made up of good works, which we may offer to God. Our forgetfulness of him who is our last end, in almost all that we -do, calls for a sacrifice of compunction at the close of the year; but this cannot be perfect or acceptable to God unless we sincerely devote our whole hearts and lives to his holy love for the time to come. Let us therefore examine into the sources of former omissions, failures, and transgressions, and take effectual measures for our amendment and for the perfect regulation of all our affections and actions for the future, or that part of our life which may remain.


John 1: 1 - 18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;
who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
(John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'")
And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009





(VIS) - The Pope focused his catechesis during today's general audience, the last of 2009, on the theologian Peter Lombard, author of the "Book of Sentences" which was used as a standard text by schools of theology for many centuries. Lombard, the son of a poor family, studied in Bologna, Reims and Paris where, in 1140, he became a professor at the prestigious school of Notre-Dame. In 1159, almost at the end of his life, he was appointed archbishop of Paris. The Pope explained how this theologian's particular merit was that of having drawn not only on biblical texts but also on those of the great Church Fathers and of other important Christian thinkers, arranging them into "a systematic and harmonious framework. "In fact", he added, "one of the characteristics of theology is that of organising the heritage of faith in a unitary and well-ordered fashion" so that "the individual truths of faith may illuminate one another" and thus "reveal the harmony of the plan of salvation of God and the centrality of the mystery of Christ". Benedict XVI continued his remarks by inviting theologians and priests "always to bear in mind the entire vision of Christian doctrine, so as to guard against the modern-day risks of fragmentation and undervaluation of individual truths. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Catechism, supply us with precisely this complete picture of Christian revelation", he said. In the same vein, he encouraged "each member of the faithful and Christian communities to draw profit from these instruments in order to gain a deeper knowledge of the contents of our faith". Another fundamental aspect of Peter Lombard's work is his view of "the essence of the Sacraments" as being "the cause of grace and having the true capacity to communicate divine life. Later theologians never abandoned this view and utilised the distinction between material and formal elements introduced by the 'Master of the Sentences', as Peter Lombard was called", said the Holy Father. And he explained: "The material element is visible sensory reality. The formal element are the words pronounced by the minister. Both are essential for a complete and valid celebration of the Sacraments". "It is important to recognise how precious and how indispensable sacramental life is for each Christian", said the Holy Father. "In this Year for Priests, I exhort the clergy, especially those who minister to souls, to cultivate an intense sacramental life of their own in order to be able to help the faithful". Pope Benedict expressed the hope that "the celebration of the Sacraments may be dignified and decorous, that it may favour personal prayer and community participation, the sense of the presence of God and missionary zeal. "The Sacraments", he added in conclusion, "are the great treasure of the Church and it is up to each of us to celebrate them that they may bring forth spiritual fruit. In them, an ever new and surprising event touches our lives: Christ, through visible signs, comes to meet us, He purifies us, transforms us and allows us to participate in His divine friendship". At the end of the audience, the Holy Father wished people a happy New Year, expressing the hope that the friendship of Jesus Christ may be a daily "light and guide" for everyone.AG/PETER LOMBARD/... VIS 091230 (570)

BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JANUARY VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for January 2010 is: "That young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society". His mission intention is: "That every believer in Christ may be conscious that unity among all Christians is a condition for more effective proclamation of the Gospel".BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/JANUARY/... VIS 091230 (80)

DEATH OF CARDINAL SHIRAYANAGI VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, archbishop emeritus of Tokyo, died in Japan early this morning at the age of 81. His funeral is due to take place on 5 January 2010..../DEATH/SHIRAYANAGI VIS 091230 (50)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed: - Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa of Palmas, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Belem do Para (area 2,082, population 2,043,537, Catholics 1,491,782, priests 144, permanent deacons 50, religious 512), Brazil. - Bishop Pedro Luiz Stringhini, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Franca (area 6,721, population 800,000, Catholics 631,000, priests 71, permanent deacons 16, religious 94), Brazil. - Bishop Vicente Costa of Umuarama, Brazil, as bishop of Jundiai (area 2,299, population 1,102,000, Catholics 936,000, priests 107, permanent deacons 87, religious 233), Brazil. - Fr. Waldemar Passini Dalbello of the clergy of the archdiocese of Brasilia, Brazil, rector of the inter-diocesan seminary of Goiania, Brazil, as auxiliary of Goiania (area 13,342, population 1,902,000, Catholics 1,147,000, priests 176, permanent deacons 2, religious 592). The bishop-elect was born in Anapolis, Brazil in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1994. - Fr. Edmar Peron of the clergy of Maringa, Brazil, rector of the archdiocesan seminary "Santissima Trindade", as auxiliary of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 7,346,000, Catholics 5,363,000, priests 851, permanent deacons 40, religious 2,802), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Maringa in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1990.NER:NEA/.../... VIS 091230 (200)


An Argentine archbishop has been sentenced to an 8-year sentence after being convicted of molesting a seminary student. Archbishop Edgardo Storni was found guilty of aggravated sexual abuse. He had led the Archdiocese of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz from 1984 to 2002, resigning at the age of 67 after a series of charges of sexual misconduct. The archbishop—who would probably be allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest-- has denied the charges and said that he will appeal the court’s verdict.


Asia news reports that the girl was abducted from the faculty of education. In the past, attacks have occurred against Christian university students because they wear make up or they refused to wear the veil. Attacks and kidnappings are a "warning" to force the mass exodus of Christians. Some people speak of "ethnic cleansing" on a religious basis.
Mosul (AsiaNews) - A Christian girl was kidnapped by an Islamic group while at university. The girl, Sarah Edmond Youhanna, attended the first year of the faculty of education at the University of Mosul. The kidnapping occurred on 28 December. The kidnappers had telephoned the family of the girl and said they were members of an Islamic group. The police have opened an investigation and arrested some students. The event has spread an atmosphere of panic among the many Christian girls who attend the university. In the past, Islamist groups have attacked Christian college girls throwing acid on them because they were wearing makeup or not wearing the veil. Over the past two months in Mosul four churches and a convent of Dominican nuns have been targeted in attacks, several Christian and Muslim homes have been destroyed. Five Christians have been murdered, others are victims of kidnappings. According to the Christian authorities such attacks are targeted and are part of a project of "ethnic cleansing" against the Christian community throughout Iraq.
AsiaNews sources in a city confirm that all these attacks and kidnappings are a "warning" to force the mass exodus of Christians. "The families who have fled to the north, Kurdistan - has confirmed the source – have no work, nor life perspectives. The Christian community is destined to die. " (source:


The London Telegraph reports that Peter Moore only took a lucrative IT contract to work at the Iraqi Finance Ministry to pay off debts accrued during an long stint doing community work in South America. Yet within two months he had been abducted by hostage takers, which marked the start of an ordeal lasting more than two and a half years. Mr Moore, 36, is the son of Graeme Moore, now 60, a delivery driver from Wigston, Leicestershire, and Avril Sweeney, 54, from Blackburn, Lancs. His parents split when he was six months old and soon divorced. His mother remarried but that relationship also ended and she moved out when he was 12. He chose to stay and live with his stepfather, Patrick Sweeney, and later Mr Sweeney's second wife, Pauline. Despite his family circumstances he excelled at school and with the scouts, winning a Chief Scout Award aged 15 and a Queen's Scout Award five years later. He was always keen to help others, according to family friends in his home city of Lincoln. Mike Martin, former leader of Washingborough Scout Group in the city, told a local newspaper last year: "The Pete I knew had no political or religious views at all. I'm looking forward to the day when news flashes around the world that he's free." Malcolm Moore, another former scout leader, said: "He did a lot to help the youngsters and helping others has continued into his adult life." After school he went on to study computing at university, while maintaining a keen interest in off-road motorbiking. From there a love of travel, computers and helping others saw him join the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) programme in 2004. He was posted to Guyana in South America and tasked with helping the country's Land Commission draw up accurate maps to help sort out property disputes, and to teach computer studies. He stayed until March 2007. There he gained a repution for generosity and an unflappable nature. David Thomas, 36, an engineer from Oxford who met Mr Moore in Guyana, said he also had an ingenious side. "Pete made computers out of cardboard boxes, complete with return and delete keys, to teach his students," he said. He was "direct and modest", adding of the former hostage: "There is something very solid about Pete – you feel confident when he's there. A very genuine and kind man, and great company." While in Guyana Mr Moore was only paid an allowance of £140 a month. After returning, Mr Thomas said his friend could have taken better paid work in Africa but turned it down to work in Baghdad, despite the risks, because he believed he could "help Iraq’s government to help its people".


CNN reports that twenty-two people, mainly children below the age of 5, have died of measles in Zimbabwe, the country's state media reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said two weeks ago it was "deeply frustrated" by the measles outbreak, which came after it sponsored a vaccination program in the African nation.
WHO's head in Zimbabwe, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate, told journalists in Harare the outbreak has totaled more than 340 suspected cases this year, and "this is not acceptable." She said the outbreak came about "mainly because of people who have denied their children vaccination."
The Herald on Tuesday reported the 22 victims had not been vaccinated, quoting health officials in the troubled country. Ninety cases have been confirmed nationwide, Zimbabwe's Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera told the newspaper.
"This is an unwarranted loss of lives given the fact that measles is a preventable disease," he said, according to the state-owned Herald. "In Zimbabwe, outbreaks of measles were rare because of sustained high vaccination coverage among all children. It is therefore important for parents to realize that vaccinating their children protects the individual children" from the disease and its complications," he said.
The outbreak has hit five districts in Zimbabwe, Madzorera said.
It is likely to further strain Zimbabwe's health system, which last year linked nearly 5,000 deaths to a cholera epidemic. In the past three months, five people have died from cholera, but the WHO said the situation will not be as bad as last year. (SOURCE:


The Australian reports that the allegedly drug-affected driver who crashed into a pregnant woman on Christmas Day, killing her unborn child, may face a manslaughter charge -- a NSW first.
The 39-year-old female driver would be the first in NSW to be charged under legislation unofficially known as Byron's Law.
Passed in 2005 after a three-year campaign by The Daily Telegraph, the legislation allows for manslaughter charges to be brought against those responsible for killing a foetus.
It was prompted by the road rage death of Byron Shields who died in his mother's womb after his parent's car was rammed into a power pole at Milperra in 2001.
The driver was jailed for six years for road rage but avoided manslaughter charges because the foetus had never taken a breath and was technically not human.
Distraught relatives of the woman struck on Christmas Day said the 29-year-old went for walk about 10.30am at Ourimbah on the NSW Central Coast, to ease pressure on her back before lunch with family an hour's drive away.
"She said `I will just go for a walk around the block to get my blood flowing before I sit in the car'," one relative said.
Eight-months pregnant, the woman had told her first child, aged two, to "help Daddy" as she headed down their driveway.
She was just 50m from home when she was allegedly struck by a mini-van which had veered across the wrong side of the road.
"[Her first child] was crying because she wasn't allowed to go on the walk," a relative said.
"Thank God she said to wait, otherwise it would have been a double fatality."
The woman was flown to Royal North Shore Hospital where she underwent an emergency Caesarean but her baby girl died the next day.
Doctors said the woman would remain in hospital for six weeks following multiple surgeries to her leg, pelvis and abdomen.
It will be another six months of rehabilitation before the former "fitness fanatic" can walk or drive.
She worked at the nearby university while her de facto had just started his own building company.
Neighbours set up a trust fund for donations to help with the couple's mounting bills.
Police yesterday renewed their appeal for information about the crash, particularly from the driver of a car seen swerving to avoid the mini-van moments before it slammed into the woman and a tree.
The 39-year-old driver of the mini-van was arrested and taken to hospital for blood and urine samples. (source:

St. Peter Chrysologus
Feast: July 30
Feast Day:
July 30
406 at Imola, Italy
2 December 450 at Imola, Italy

Born at Imola, 406; died there, 450. His biography, first written by Agnellus (Liber pontificalis ecclesiæ Ravennatis) in the ninth century, gives but scanty information about him. He was baptised, educated, and ordained deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, and was elevated to the Bishopric of Ravenna in 433. There are indications that Ravenna held the rank of metropolitan before this time. His piety and zeal won for him universal admiration, and his oratory merited for him the name Chrysologus. He shared the confidence of Leo the Great and enjoyed the patronage of the Empress Galla Placidia. After his condemnation by the Synod of Constantinople (448), the Monophysite Eutyches endeavoured to win the support of Peter, but without success.
A collection of his homilies, numbering 176, was made by Felix, Bishop of Ravenna (707-17). Some are interpolations, and several other homilies known to be written by the saint are included in other collections under different names. They are in a great measure explanatory of Biblical texts and are brief and concise. He has explained beautifully the mystery of the Incarnation, the heresies of Arius and Eutyches, and the Apostles' Creed, and he dedicated a series of homilies to the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Baptist. His works were first edited by Agapitus Vicentinus (Bologna, 1534), and later by D. Mita (Bolonga, 1634), and S. Pauli (Venice, 1775) — the latter collection having been reprinted in P.L., LII. Fr. Liverani ("Spicilegium Liberianum"), Florence, 1863, 125 seq.) edited nine new homilies and published from manuscripts in Italian libraries different readings of several other sermons. Several homilies were translated into German by M. Held (Kempten, 1874).(source:


Luke 2: 36 - 40
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phan'u-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity,
and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009




(VIS) - In a Message addressed to the annual meeting promoted by the Taize Community, being held this year in the Polish city of Poznan from 29 December to 2 January, the Pope calls on the young participants "to go and meet men and women who have lost the sense of God, who seek uncertainly for Him, sometimes without realising it. "They need to encounter true witnesses", the English-language Message adds, "so that the face of Christ may shine for them. May God inspire the actions and words that will make accessible to others, when you return home to your countries, the hope that gives you life and the vitality that the Spirit wants to give to every human life! "Yes, rejoice in the thirst that He himself has placed in you: it expresses your dignity as sons and daughters of God. During this 32nd European meeting in Poland (a new stage of your pilgrimage of trust on earth) you will discover the joy of drawing from the wellsprings of the living God all together, the joy of fellowship in Christ. It is to this joy that His call leads you". Benedict XVI concludes his Message by imparting his apostolic blessing to all those taking part in the meeting, to "the brothers of Taize, to everyone who helped organise the pilgrimage, to the pastors and believers who welcome you, and to your families".MESS/YOUNG PEOPLE/TAIZE VIS 091229 (250)


Cardinal Brady asks for prayers for Cardinal Daly
The Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh, Cardinal Cahal Brendan Daly (92), was taken to hospital yesterday. Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, issued the following statementtoday:"I visited Cardinal Daly in hospital yesterday evening. Cardinal Daly is seriously ill and is being treated at the coronary intensive care unit of Belfast City Hospital. He is being lovingly supported by his family and friends."At this time I ask Catholics to pray for Cardinal Daly, that he may be given all the graces that he needs. While this is a sad time for all, we should be heartened and nourished by Cardinal Daly's motto which is 'Jesus Christ, yesterday and today' (Hebrews 13:8)."I know that throughout Ireland today people will be remembering Cardinal Daly in their prayers."ENDSNotes for Editors
Cardinal Cathal B Daly was born in Loughguile, Co Antrim on 1 October 1917. He was educated at St Patrick's National School in Loughguile, and then as a boarder in St Malachy's College, Belfast in 1930.
He studied Classics at Queen's University in Belfast and earned his BA with Honours and also the Henry Medal in Latin Studies in 1937 and completed his MA the following year.
He entered St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and was ordained to the priesthood on 22 June 1941. He continued studies in theology in Maynooth, from where he obtained a doctorate in divinity (DD) in 1944.
His first appointment was as Classics Master in St Malachy's College (1944-1945). In 1945, he was appointed Lecturer in Scholastic Philosophy at Queen's University, Belfast. From 1952–1953 Queens granted him sabbatical leave, which he spent studying at the Catholic Institute of Paris where he received a licentiate in philosophy.
He was a peritus, or theological expert, at the Second Vatican Council (1963–1965) to the late Bishop William Philbin, former Bishop of Down and Connor, during the first session of the Council and to the late Cardinal William Conway, former Archbishop of Armagh, for the rest of the Council.
Cardinal Daly was ordained Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois in 1967 and was subsequently consecrated as Bishop of Down and Connor in 1982.
Cardinal Daly was consecrated as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on 16 December 1990 and served until his retirement, at the age of 79, where he was succeeded by Cardinal Brady on 1 October 1996. Cardinal Daly was created a cardinal in by the late Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1991. Cardinal Daly has the motto, "Jesus Christ, yesterday and today" taken from Hebrews 13:8.
Upon his retirement Cardinal Daly returned to his study of theology and philosophy. He is the author of a series of books on violence and the search for peace in Northern Ireland including a book of memoirs 'Steps on My Pilgrim Journey' which was published in 1998. Among his otherpublished works are 'Philosophy in Britain from Bradley to Wittgenstein' and 'The Minding of Planet Earth', published in 2004. In March 2007 the late Dr Thomas Kelly, former head of the Department of Philosophy at NUI Maynooth, launched 'Philosophical Papers', a collection of articles previously published in various journals by Cardinal Daly. (source:


The USCCB reports that the Catholic Church worldwide will celebrate the 43th World Day of Peace on New Year’s Day. Pope Benedict XVI has chosen “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation” as the theme for 2010 celebration.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed Pope Benedict’s message for World Day of Peace (WDP) as he called on Catholics in the United States to work and pray for peace.
“Pope Benedict seamlessly weaves together concerns for peace, poverty and care for creation. He calls on us to act to protect both human and environmental ecology for the two are inseparably linked,” Cardinal George said.
“In union with the Holy Father, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) we are working hard to address the moral and human dimension of the closely connected issues of poverty, peace, environmental protection and climate change. We are working to protect God’s creation and human life and dignity, to link human ecology and natural ecology because they are inseparable.”
Pope Benedict’s 2010 WDP message states that “integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man’s relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.”
The pope also poses some poignant questions.
“Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees,” people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources?” Pope Benedict asks in his message.
USCCB has prepared resources to help local parishes, schools, campus ministries, and others to explore the pope’s WDP message. They include a bulletin insert and quotes, a primer on Catholic social teaching and the environment, a prayer, and stories from Catholic Relief Services that illustrate the issues alluded to in the message. They can be found at


UCAN reports that the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR), the only aid group assisting more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers in the north of Thailand, was refused access to them as the Thai army arrived to deport them to Laos.
Hmong boys
The Hmong were seeking asylum, claiming that they faced persecution from the Laotian regime for fighting alongside US forces during the Vietnam War.
"As of this morning (Sunday) their access to the camp was denied but their staff are still waiting,” Tomoo Hozumi, Thailand representative for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) which supports COERR, was quoted as saying.
Thailand ignored opposition to the deportation from the UN, the US and human rights groups, who fear that the deportees could face persecution upon their return to Laos.
“We deeply regret this serious violation of the international humanitarian principles that Thailand has long been known for championing,” the US State Department said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch branded the deportation "appalling" and a low point for the Thai government.
Some 5,000 troops and officials were involved in the operation in Thailand's northern Phetchabun province. Troops entered the camp on Dec. 27 to prepare to bus the Hmong over the border. Media reports on Dec. 29 say the deportees have arrived in Laos.
Some of those being deported are children
Many Laotian Hmong who had fought for the US during the Vietnam War fled in 1975 when the communist Pathet Lao took over the country. Thousands were resettled in the United States.
Thai authorities have repeatedly denied the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees access to Hmong camps to verify claims for refugee status.
The Thai government has said it received assurances from the Laos government that the deportees would not be mistreated.
COERR was established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand in 1978 as a relief agency for refugees and displaced persons.
It replaced Medecins Sans Frontieres at the Hmong refugee camp in Phetchabun's Khao Kho district in June this year after the French organization withdrew. Medecins Sans Frontieres said military restrictions had hindered its humanitarian operations.


ASIA NEWS reports that the phenomenon is visible over a Coptic church in one of the capital’s suburbs. Some say it is an apparition; a woman says she can see again. A Muslim man is the first person to see it. Other Muslims say it is a hoax done with laser beams. Cairo (AsiaNews) – A bird flew over the tower of the Coptic Church in Al-Warrak, a suburban neighbourhood in the Egyptian capital. Someone dressed in white and blue robes appeared. For Christians and some Muslims, it was an apparition of Our Lady. For others it is a hoax created by using laser beams, Middle East online reported.
For several weeks, a silent crowd running in the thousands has been gathering in front of the church at around 3 am, looking up into the sky. The appearance of a mysterious light over the church tower jolted them into a frenzy of astonished cries. (SOURCE:


All Africa reports that thirty eight people died at Zango village on the outskirts of Bauchi yesterday in what the police said was a clash between members of a fringe Muslim sect described as the Kala Kato. The sect members had earlier in the day killed a soldier and a policeman, who were on security duties for the state's Operation Flush.
Among those killed yesterday was the sect leader Malam Badamasi, who was from Alkaleri Local Government Area in Bauchi State.
Residents said the sect members had held a preaching session the previous night at which they espoused views regarded by the wider Muslim community as heretical. Early yesterday morning, the sect members numbering more than 500 also embarked on a procession.
Bauchi State Police Commissioner Atiku Yusuf Kafur told newsmen in Bauchi yesterday that "the sect members burnt four houses, two belonging to them while two belonged to their neighbours." He said 16 people were injured including a police man and "we rescued 16 people and arrested 20 suspects, nine adults and eleven juveniles. We recovered explosive devices, two AK 47 rifles, 7 rounds of ammunition and hundreds of dangerous weapons of various types, as well as some with blood stains."
Narrating the cause of the incident, Commissioner of Police Atiku Kafur said, "the leader [of the sect] lived in the area for so many years and he had an illness, something like pox came in to his body. He was advised by some of his followers to go to the wife of one of them who used to cure sickness, and he went to her. The woman told him that one of his followers used charms on him, the situation that led to division within the sect because some of his followers left him and started a plot to kill him."

The commissioner added that the members of the sect were fighting among themselves and because of the fight, the sect leader became aggrieved and he made an inciting preaching yesterday morning. He said the sect leader's neighbours were disturbed and they complained to members of the state's security team Operation Flush, which then carried out a field operation to monitor and maintain peace in the area.
He said the police received a report that six soldiers went there trying to stop the preaching, not knowing that the militants were well armed. They attacked the soldiers and killed one, then went away with his rifle.
Yusuf Kafur added that upon receiving the complain, they deployed mobile policemen to the area. He said even though the sect members were well armed and they were using their arms against the police, but police used over 100 smoke canisters to force them out of their enclave "and we successfully moved them in where we traced that they killed themselves. We evacuated 37 dead bodies inside the enclave even though some of them were alive but they passed away in the hospital."
The commissioner said Police used guns to defend themselves but it took them "several hours to move members of the sect from their enclave and the situation was brought under control around 2pm in the afternoon." He said the area was now calm. He asked residents that run into the bush to return to their homes, saying "we are still pursuing other members of the group that sneaked away." He said the fight ended in the village and it did not spread to any part of Bauchi town.
Mallam Ayuba Musa, a resident of the area, told Daily Trust that the residents of the area were disturbed by the manner in which the members of the Kala Kato sect did their preaching and were inciting the public; hence t hey reported the matter to the security agencies. Ayuba Musa added that the crisis begin when the Kala Kato members killed two soldiers and a policeman and burnt people's houses.
In his own account of the situation, Ustaz Sadiq sufyan said the Kala Kato members were preaching when they made statements that were inciting, condemning the government for arresting members of the Boko Haram sect.
"The soldiers came and stayed in one place waiting, and on the other hand I saw ten members of the sect in long white jumpers. There were weapons in their hands like knives, swords, daggers and guns. We started hearing gun shots. When we enquired, we were told that the Kala Kato group killed a soldier with a knife and seized his rifle." Ayuba added that "these members of the Kala Kato, even when you shoot them, the gun will not fire. They will just clear their jumper and continue fighting the security men."
State Secretary of the Nigeria Red Cross Alhaji Adamu Abubakar told Daily Trust that "we moved 20 corpses and 16 causalities from the scene of the incident to the Bauchi State Specialist hospital, but the situation was brought under control with the efforts made by security personnel."
Alhaji Adamu said 1000 displaced persons had taken refuge at the building of Defense Industry situated in the industrial area near Zango. He said their major problem was how to feed the refugees, and that they were waiting for the state's Emergency Relief Committee to move in.
Abubakar said before they were subdued, the sect members were shouting at the top of their voices that they were the real Yan Tatsine, i.e. followers of the late sect leader Muhammadu Marwa alias Maitatsine who was killed during a major uprising in Kano in 1980. Some of them also shouted that they were the real Boko Haram, he said.
The State Commissioner overseeing the Ministry of Information Captain Bala Jibrin told Daily Trust on telephone that there was a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government Ahmed Ibrahim Dandija which explained the truth of the matter. He then read from the statement, which said "there was a little fracas that occurred in a small village called Zango near Bauchi as a result of misunderstanding between members of an Islamic sect and their followers and the situation was brought under control. People should go about their normal businesses. People should open their shops and continue with their real business. The area is now calm and government is in full control of the situation."
The commissioner said government noted that some agents of mischief were over blowing the matter and warned that anybody caught doing so will be dealt with decisively. He said adequate security had been deployed to the area to ensure peace.
The State Police Public Relations Officer ASP Mohammed Barau told newsmen that there was a fracas in the area and security personnel were deployed to quell the situation, adding that Police will brief the press on the truth of all that had happened at the end of the Security Council meeting going on at the time of filing this report.
In their separate account of the crisis, some of the people residing in the area told Daily Trust that they went to their various places of work when they were called back by their families and told that there was a problem in their area. (SOURCE:


The Australian reports that sixteen Tamil refugees rescued by the Oceanic Viking will begin arriving in Australia today, six via the Christmas Island detention centre.
Forty of the Sri Lankan Tamils left Indonesia's Tanjung Pinang detention centre yesterday morning, courtesy of a special deal underwritten by the Rudd government to fast-track their resettlement in exchange for ending their month-long standoff aboard the Customs boat.
In an unlikely twist, The Australian has been told six of the Tamils will travel straight from Indonesia to Christmas Island, where three of them - a mother and her two young children - will be reunited with their husband and father.
It is understood the woman asked to be taken to her husband, who came to Australia via a separate asylum boat about six months ago.
The remaining three are refugees whose security checks have not yet been finalised.
The Sri Lankans will touch down amid renewed debate over the generous terms offered by Australia, with Tony Abbott slamming the deal as an inducement to people-smugglers.
Yesterday, the Rudd government backed away from calls by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry for Australia to help resettle 255 Tamils moored off the port of Merak . The boat was stopped by Indonesia in October after a phone call from Kevin Rudd to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
For almost three months, the boat's passengers have refused to leave, demanding that they be taken to Australia.
In the days before Christmas, one of the men aboard the boat died from what Indonesian officials said was a stomach complaint.
Yesterday, refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said a seven-year-old girl had been taken to hospital with similar symptoms.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said it was up to the Indonesians to resolve the standoff.
"It is incumbent now upon those passengers to disembark (from) that vessel so that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees can properly process their claims," Mr O'Connor said yesterday.
"Ultimately, of course, this whole arrangement and this matter is something that has to be undertaken and dealt with by the Indonesian authorities."
His comments came as Customs and Border Protection staff intercepted two asylum-seeker boats within 48 hours.
On Monday, a boat carrying 11 people was stopped near Ashmore Island, and yesterday a boat carrying 33 people was intercepted off Gove, in the Northern Territory.
This year, 58 boats carrying more than 2700 people have arrived in Australia.
The mass exodus from Tanjung Pinang began yesterday morning, with 40 of the 78 Sri Lankans being moved out over the course of the day.
Most of the Sri Lankans - 24 - will fly to a UN refugee transit centre in Romania, where they will join the 13 Canada-bound Tamils flown out before Christmas.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Canadian Immigration Department, Douglas Kellam, told The Australian the Tamils might have to wait up to six months before being admitted to Canada.
Once vetted by immigration staff, 21 will travel to the US and three will be resettled in Norway.
The 16 Sri Lankans bound for Australia will begin arriving today, with most expected to go to Melbourne. The mass departure leaves just 23 of the 78 Tamils in Indonesian detention.
Yesterday, Mr Abbott said people smugglers would be encouraged by the generous terms offered to the Sri Lankans and expect similar treatment if they reached Indonesia.
"Its not just now if you get to Christmas Island you get to Australia but if you get to Indonesia you also get to Australia," Mr Abbott said in Sydney.
The Opposition Leader said the government's recent changes to border protection were the catalyst for the recent spate of boat arrivals.
"It's pretty obvious that Mr Rudd has lost control of Australia's borders," Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott's comments echoed those of Sri Lanka's high commissioner to Canberra, Senaka Walgampaya, who last week attacked the decision to resettle the Oceanic Viking refugees.
Mr Walgampaya warned that it could encourage other potential asylum-seekers to make the journey to Australia.
"But we don't like this sending the wrong signal to Sri Lanka for the prospective asylum-seekers," he said. "The fact that these people are taken, of course, sends a bad message, so that may in a way encourage people to come here."
The 78 Tamils from the Oceanic Viking sparked a diplomatic and political furore when they refused to leave the Australian customs vessel that rescued them from their wooden boat in October. They were eventually promised resettlement to a third country within four to 12 weeks if they agreed to disembark and be processed by officials in Indonesia.
Mr Abbott said Mr Rudd needed to come clean about any promises he made with the Indonesian government about the group of 250 Tamils at Merak.
The Merak Tamils - whose plight predates that of the Oceanic Viking's Tamils - have refused to leave their boat since they were allowed entry to the port following Mr Rudd's intervention in October. They have not been offered any fast tracking.


St. Martha
Feast: July 29
Feast Day:
July 29
Palaestina (modern-day Israel)
80, Tarascon, Gaul (modern-day France) or Cyprus
Patron of:
butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers

Mentioned only in Luke, x, 38-42; and John, xi; xii, sqq. The Aramaic form occurs in a Nabatfan inscription found at Puteoli, and now in the Naples Museum; it is dated A.D. 5 (Corpus Inscr. Semit., 158); also in a Palmyrene inscription, where the Greek translation has the form Marthein, A.D. 179.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are represented by St. John as living at Bethania, but St. Luke would seem to imply that they were, at least at one time, living in Galilee; he does not mention the name of the town, but it may have been Magdala, and we should thus, supposing Mary of Bethania and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, understand the appellative "Magdalene". The words of St. John (xi, 1) seem to imply a change of residence for the family. It is possible, too, that St. Luke has displaced the incident referred to in c. x. The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by Luke and John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between the Saviour of the world and the humble family which St. Luke depicts is dwelt on by St. John when he tells us that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus" (xi, 5). Again the picture of Martha's anxiety (John, xi, 20-21, 39) accords with the picture of her who was "busy about much serving" (Luke, x, 40); so also in John, xii, 2: "They made him a supper there: and Martha served." But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ's Divinity (xi, 20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: "I am the resurrection and the life." The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: "When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee."
Difficulties have been raised about the last supper at Bethania. St. John seems to put it six days before the Pasch, and, so some conclude, in the house of Martha; while the Synoptic account puts it two days before the Pasch, and in the house of Simon the Leper. We need not try to avoid this difficulty by asserting that there were two suppers; for St. John does not say that the supper took place six days before, but only that Christ arrived in Bethania six days before the Pasch; nor does he say that it was in the house of Martha. We are surely justified in arguing that, since St. Matthew and St. Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not "serve" in Simon's house. (SOURCE:


Luke 2: 22 - 35
And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
(as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord")
and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,
he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

Monday, December 28, 2009




VIS - At midday today, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, the Holy Father pronounced his traditional Christmas Message from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing. Extracts of the Message are given below: "The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us". "The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light 'that enlightens every man'". "Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the 'sign' of His saving and liberating presence and to extend the 'us' of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind. "Wherever there is an 'us' which welcomes God's love, there the light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The Church, like the Virgin Mary, offers the world Jesus, the Son, Whom she herself has received as a gift, the One Who came to set mankind free from the slavery of sin". "Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts, the Church, in faithful solidarity with mankind, repeats with the shepherds: 'Let us go to Bethlehem', for there we shall find our hope. "The 'us' of the Church is alive in the place where Jesus was born, in the Holy Land, inviting its people to abandon every logic of violence and vengeance, and to engage with renewed vigour and generosity in the process which leads to peaceful coexistence. The 'us' of the Church is present in the other countries of the Middle East. How can we forget the troubled situation in Iraq and the 'little flock' of Christians which lives in the region? At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one's neighbour. "The 'us' of the Church is active in Sri Lanka, in the Korean peninsula and in the Philippines, as well as in the other countries of Asia, as a leaven of reconciliation and peace. "On the continent of Africa she does not cease to lift her voice to God, imploring an end to every injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she invites the citizens of Guinea and Niger to respect for the rights of every person and to dialogue; she begs those of Madagascar to overcome their internal divisions and to be mutually accepting; and she reminds all men and women that they are called to hope, despite the tragedies, trials and difficulties which still afflict them. "In Europe and North America, the 'us' of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenceless, starting with the unborn. In Honduras she is assisting in the process of rebuilding institutions; throughout Latin America, the 'us' of the Church is a source of identity, a fullness of truth and of charity which no ideology can replace, a summons to respect for the inalienable rights of each person and his or her integral development, a proclamation of justice and fraternity, a source of unity. "In fidelity to the mandate of her Founder, the Church shows solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and poverty, even within opulent societies. In the face of the exodus of all those who migrate from their homelands and are driven away by hunger, intolerance or environmental degradation, the Church is a presence calling others to an attitude of acceptance and welcome. In a word, the Church everywhere proclaims the Gospel of Christ, despite persecutions, discriminations, attacks and at times hostile indifference. These, in fact, enable her to share the lot of her Master and Lord". Following his Message, the Pope extended Christmas greetings in 65 languages and imparted his blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world).MESS/URBI ET ORBI/... VIS 091228 (740)

SUPPORT BELIEVERS WHO SUFFER FOR THEIR FAITH VATICAN CITY, 26 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered below. "The One lying in the manger", said the Holy Father, "is the Son of God made man, Who asks us to bear courageous witness to His Gospel, like St. Stephen who, filled with the Holy Spirit, did not hesitate to give his life for love of his Lord. He, like his Master, died forgiving his persecutors and helps us understand how the entry of the Son of God into the world gave rise to a new civilisation, the civilisation of love which does not cave in before evil and violence but breaks down barriers between men, making them brothers in the great family of the children of God". "Stephen's witness, like that of the Christian martyrs, shows our fellow men and women, so often distracted and disoriented, in whom they must place their trust in order to give meaning to life. The martyr is, in fact, the person who dies in the certainty of being loved by God and, placing nothing before love for Christ, knows he has chosen the right side". Benedict XVI explained that "today, presenting us St. Stephen the Deacon as a model, the Church is also showing us that acceptance and love for the poor is one of the privileged ways to live the Gospel and to bear credible witness before the world of the Kingdom of God that is to come". After then highlighting how the Feast of St. Stephen "also reminds of us the many believers who, in various parts of the world, undergo trials and suffering for their faith", the Pope called upon people to "support these people with prayer and never to fail in our own Christian vocation, always placing at the centre of our lives Jesus Christ, Who in these days we contemplate in the simplicity and humility of the manger".ANG/ST. STEPHEN/... VIS 091228 (350)

SAFEGUARD THE FAMILY FOUNDED ON MARRIAGE VATICAN CITY, 27 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus on this Sunday of the Holy Family, the Pope reminded the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that "God wished to reveal Himself by being born in a human family, and hence the human family has become an icon of God. "God is Trinity", he added. "He is communion of love, and the family - with all the difference that exists between the Mystery of God and His human creature - is an expression thereof which reflects the unfathomable mystery of God-Love. ... The human family is, in a certain sense, the icon of the Trinity because of the love between its members and the fruitfulness of that love". Commenting then on today's Gospel reading which narrates how the twelve-year-old Jesus stayed behind in the Temple without His parents' knowledge, the Pope explained that "Jesus' decision to remain in the Temple was above all the fruit of his intimate relationship with the Father, but also the fruit of the education received from Mary and Joseph". And he went on: "Here we may catch a glimpse of the authentic meaning of Christian education. It is the result of a collaboration that must always be sought between the educators and God. The Christian family is aware that children are God's gift and project. Hence it cannot consider them as it own possessions but, serving God's plan through them, is called to educate them in the greatest of freedoms which is that of saying 'yes' to God in order to accomplish His will". The Holy Father them addressed some remarks to participants in the Feast of the Holy Family which is being celebrated today in Madrid, Spain. "God, by having come into the world in the bosom of a family, shows that this institution is a sure way to meet and know Him, and a permanent call to work for the loving unity of all people. Thus, one of the greatest services which we as Christians can offer our fellow men and women is to show them the serene and solid witness of a family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman, defending it and protecting it, because it is of supreme importance for the present and future of humankind. "In truth, the family is the best school in which to learn to live the values that dignify individuals and make peoples great. There too sufferings and joys are shared, as everyone feels cloaked in the affection that reigns in the home by the mere fact of being members of the same family". Benedict XVI prayed to God that family homes may always experience "this love of total commitment and fidelity which Jesus brought into the world by His birth, nourishing and strengthening it with daily prayer, the constant practice of virtue, reciprocal understanding and mutual respect. "I encourage you - trusting in the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Families, and the powerful protection of St. Joseph, her husband - tirelessly to dedicate yourselves to this beautiful mission the Lord has placed in your hands. Be sure of my closeness and affection", he concluded, "and I pray you carry a very special greeting from the Pope to those of your loved ones who suffer greatest need and difficulties".ANG/HOLY FAMILY/... VIS 091228 (560)

POPE HAS LUNCH WITH THE POOR AT SANT'EGIDIO COMMUNITY VATICAN CITY, 27 DEC 2009 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Holy Father travelled by car to a canteen for the poor run by the Sant'Egidio Community in Rome's Trastevere district where he had lunch with 150 volunteers and needy people. Benedict XVI sat at table with twelve people, including a gypsy family, an Afghan Shiite refugee, a ninety-year-old widower and a young disabled person abandoned by his family. At the end of the meal, the Pope distributed presents to the thirty-one children present. "It is a moving experience for me to be here with you", said the Pope in his remarks, "to be with the friends of Jesus, because Jesus loves people who suffer. ... Over lunch I heard painful stories charged with humanity. ... And I am here among you to say I am close to you and love you". "Jesus' family also encountered difficulties from the beginning. They experienced the discomfort of finding no hospitality, and were forced to emigrate to Egypt to flee the violence of King Herod. You have experienced suffering, but here you have someone who takes care of you. In fact, some have found a family here thanks to the attentive service of the Sant'Egidio Community which offers a sign of God's love for the poor. What is happening here today is what happens in homes: those who serve and help merge with those who are helped and served, and pride of place is given to those who have greatest need". "In this time of particular economic difficulties we must all become signs of hope and witnesses of a new world for people who, closed in their own selfishness, believe they can be happy alone, and so spend their lives in a state of sadness or ephemeral joy which leaves the heart empty". After the luncheon, Benedict XVI unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit then returned to the Vatican.BXVI-VISIT/LUNCH POOR/SANT'EGIDIO VIS 091228 (330)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 24 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler M.E.P., vicar general of Phnom-Penh, Cambodia, and secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Cambodia, as coadjutor of the apostolic vicariate of Phnom-Penh (area 31,946, population 5,387,000, Catholics 13,085, priests 58, religious 111). The bishop-elect was born in Strasbourg, France in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1998.NEC/.../SCHMITTHAEUSLER VIS 091228 (70)


CBN.COM reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that 49 million Americans are struggling to put food on the table. Often they're eating poorly or simply eating less.
It's yet another sign of today's tough economy. But thousands of non-profits and faith-based organizations are fighting back.
"People come to us looking for a well-balanced, nourishing kind of meal and we just keep serving till the food runs out," said Mana Masters of First Lutheran Church in Norfolk, Va.
First Lutheran has teamed with other local churches to provide hot meals to the public. Lunch is served every day of the week.
"For a lot of people, this is it," Masters said. "This is their only source of food."
The 15-year ministry helps many homeless people and with today's economy, those numbers are growing.
"People are desperate." Masters explained. "Incomes are dropping and they're relying on the grace of churches and volunteers and people in their community to support them."
As high unemployment continues, many non-profits are working over-time.
Ghent Area Ministries
Martha Gorman's church-based ministry, Ghent Area Ministries, helped 700 more clients this year than last. Food bag requests tripled.
The problem, said Gorman, is not just job loss but fewer hours and benefits.
"I have so many people come in the door and say - 'I'm $2 over the limit for food stamps' and you think - what? And they have a family of four or five to feed," Gorman said.
Debby Fava is one of those people. She works two jobs, seven days a week to provide for her disabled husband and daughter. But Fava has a secret weapon - Angel Food Ministries.
Angel Food Ministries
Angel Food Ministries distributes half a million boxes of food to churches around the country each month. The restaurant quality food is often half price, and available to anyone who orders.
"At the end of each month, I have to look at--what do I pay, ok, I need to keep the power on, I need to have food and just the opportunity to have food at a lower price has been an absolute blessing," Fava explained.
Angel Food customer Kelsay Shepard lost his job at a furniture store months ago. He's now an experienced job seeker.
"I've applied for jobs that I'm qualified for, underqualified for, overqualified for - it's just not a good time to be job-hunting," he said.
So Angel Food, along with odd jobs and food stamps is keeping Shepard afloat - for now.
Kelsay, like so many Angel Food customers, wants no part of soup kitchens or food banks. In that respect, he's typical of many of today's hungry - people simply seeking a hand-up rather than a hand-out.
"It's not a giveaway - they have to buy it," Pugh insisted. "So it's giving dignity to folks when they come in. I eat it myself so it's just great. I haven't lost weight yet!"
Hunters for the Hungry
Helping the hungry can take so many forms. One group, Virginia-based Hunters for the Hungry, takes advantage of hunters' bounty.
It's an age-old idea: Hunters bring in what they can't eat. Butchers then process it and distribute the meat to local non-profits.
"It's quite a gourmet item. If you go to buy farm-raised deer, it's in the six to seven dollar a pound range," Hunters' Richard Edmondson said.
Across the country, hunters are catching the concept and bringing in high quality protein that so many cannot afford.
No one knows exactly how many non-profits are meeting food needs, let alone how many individual Americans are helping their neighbor. But with the number of hungry at the highest level in years, these ministries are keeping stomachs full and no doubt nourishing hearts and minds as well.


Press Release from Irish Conference of Bishops:
Bishop Éamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field offer their resignation to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
We, Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field, have this evening informed Archbishop Diarmuid Martin that we are offering our resignation to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, as Auxiliary Bishops to the Archbishop of Dublin. As we celebrate the Feast of Christmas, the Birth of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace, it is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. We again apologise to them.Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have so bravely spoken out and those who continue to suffer in silence.We will not be saying anything further at this time.Signed: Bishop Eamonn Walsh Bishop Raymond Field


All Africa reports that long used to discrimination, Burundi albinos now want state protection and recognition.
This comes even as there are cases in court over albino killings.
"We want the government to protect us and be considered like other persons. We are excluded in many spheres of life including employment," said the Albino Association of Burundi communications manager Pascal Matabishi Bikaya.
"We need special skin doctors because of our sensitivity to the sun," he added.
They also want to have one of their own to represent them in parliament like the case in Tanzania.
The association wants the government to come up with a law compelling parents to keep their albino children in school.
It also wants government to carry out a census to determine the real numbers of the albinos as a basis of supporting them.
To demonstrate the challenging life of an albino in Burundi, Kassim Kazungu now has to be on the lookout for a marauding merchant of death.

Each new day could as well be Mr Kazungu's last considering the lucrative gruesome business where the body of one albino could fetch as much as $500,000.
Mr Kazungu, the president of the Albino Association of Burundi, has reason to worry: nine albinos were killed in 2008 and three in 2009 with one disappearing without trace.
"The killings of albinos has unfortunately turned into a business as a result of greed for money with bogus witchdoctors claiming that our body parts can bring about quick money and prosperity," Mr Kazungu said.
"We were not really affected by the civil wars in Burundi but its only the recent killings of albinos that are making our lives more miserable," he added.
Machete wielding robbers
The death merchants attack with machetes, snatch children from their parents' arms and even exhume bodies of dead albinos to smuggle them to neighbouring Tanzania where the limbs, hands, hair, organs and blood are sold to local sorcerers.
Dead albinos are now being buried in cement-sealed graves to protect them against grave robbers.
The growing trade in albino body parts comes as no surprise in the region as many central Africans believe that albino flesh has magical powers thanks to widespread sorcery.
Albinos in Burundi live with discrimination every day right from their homes, community, school and work.

According to Mr Kazungu, some parents have even disowned their albino children while others keep them hidden.
"I was lucky my parents loved and protected me to the extent they educated me to university level. Other albinos are unlucky their parents will not support them thinking that they are of no use in life or are unable," Mr Kazungu observed.
Albinism is a congenital lack of the melamin pigment in the skin, eyes and hair.
Melanin protects the skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Albinos are also vulnerable to medical complications.
Health experts estimate that albinism affects one in 20,000 people worldwide.
To address stigma, Mr Kazungu suggested that the government should sensitise the public on the plight of albinos.(SOURCE:


AsiaNews reports that five of the dead belong to the security forces; ten are opposition demonstrators, including a nephew of opposition leader Mousavi. Unrest is reported in many Iranian cities. People are increasingly willing to face live ammunition and truncheons to oppose the dictatorship and Khamenei’s regime. However, the green wave is leaderless; its chiefs appear too hesitant. New demonstrations and clashes are expected today. Tehran – More than 15 people have been killed in unrest in Tehran yesterday. Fresh clashes broke out across the country and new violence is expected today. A nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is among the dead.
The Information Ministry announced, “more than ten members of anti-revolutionary groups” (Ahmadinejad’s opponents) were killed, plus five victims of “terrorist groups” (the same opponents).
A nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was among yesterday’s casualties, one of the bloodiest days since last June’s rigged election saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected.
Last week, the chief of police warned demonstrators that the reaction to protest would be harsh unless they stopped. Few heeded the warning; thus on the weekend, blood was shed in the streets of Tehran in some of the bloodiest clashes ever seen in Iran.
Demonstrations and street fighting took place during Ashura, one of the most important religious celebrations in Shia Islam, which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad killed in Karbala in 680 AD and Shia symbol of the struggle against blind dictatorship.
For the second day in a row, opposition protesters took to the streets. Basiji agents, Pasdarans (revolutionary guards) and Special Forces in anti-riot gear moved in. Using tear gas and live ammunition, they tried to disperse the crowd, which chanted slogans against the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Alì Khamenei.
“Tehran is ablaze and blood is flowing,” one witness said yesterday. “The hot spots are Hafez Street, Vali-Asr and Enghelab Square. When a protester was shot, demonstrators attacked agents, taking away their uniforms and weapons. They then began setting police cars parked along the streets on fire.”
Tehran is not alone in experiencing an explosive situation; other cities are affected: Shiraz, Esfahan, Ahwaz, Shar-e-Kurd, Neishabour, Touiserkan, Mahshahr, Yasuj, Gachsaran, and Omidieh.
Security forces are on a maximum alert, but people are increasingly pushing for the fall of the clerical regime.
For some Iranian analysts, the reign of terror that has existed in the country for the past 30 years is broken and people are no longer afraid to take to the streets to shout ‘Death to the dictator, death to Khamenei’.
“It is like the last days of the Shah,” some Iranians living abroad said. “It was all over when people started to attack police stations and army barracks and soldiers came out, hands over their head, surrendering to the people. If we start to see this now, it would be the beginning of the end for Khamenei and the Islamic regime.”
The clerical regime is nervous and its top security officials are obviously worried. The use of live ammunition against demonstrators is a sign of this nervousness, according to sources inside Iran.
Following the killing of Neda this summer, the authorities decided to use truncheons, motorbikes and tear gas against the opposition, convinced that the use of live ammunition might lead people to arm themselves. Yesterday’s events might signal that they are ready for more extreme actions.
However, if the regime feels cornered, the ‘green wave’ of the opposition has its own problems to deal with. The pro-reform movement is leaderless. People might call on Mousavi for help, but both he and the other former defeated presidential candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, have been silenced, placed under the tight control of security forces, and incapable of leading a revolt that thrust them in the thick of the action almost against their will. In recent days, they did not take to the streets or issue any statements.
The other pro-reform leader, former President Khatami, made a public appearance on Saturday when he spoke in Tehran, but left in a hurry when the Basiji showed up.
This morning, an opposition website quoted Karoubi as saying, “What has happened to this religious system that it orders the killing of innocent people during the holy day of Ashura?”
“Why is such a holy day not respected by the rulers?”(SOURCE:


The Australian reports that a PUSH by doctors and pro-choice activists to have abortion decriminalised in Queensland has been formally refused.
State Attorney-General Cameron Dick has officially responded to 4368 petitioners who called for Queensland to remove abortion from its Criminal Code in the wake of a Cairns couple being committed to trial for procuring an abortion.
"The Premier has made clear that the government has no plans to undertake a wider review of the general abortion laws," Mr Dick wrote in his response, tabled in Queensland parliament on Christmas Eve.
"Any move to change the legislative provisions concerning abortion would have to be introduced as a private member's bill and be subject to a conscience vote. The Premier has indicated that she would not seek to bind any of her colleagues to a particular position."
More than 6000 Queenslanders signed an opposing petition arguing to keep the legislation as it is.
The abortion debate was reignited in Queensland with the laying of criminal charges against Cairns couple Tegan Leach, 19, and Sergie Brennan, 21, for allegedly procuring an abortion using drugs imported from Ukraine.
The pair were committed to trial in September. If convicted, Ms Leach faces up to seven years' jail and Mr Brennan a maximum of three years.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has pushed for abortion to be decriminalised in Queensland. There was also concern among doctors that the laying of charges against Ms Leach and Mr Brennan would mean medical abortions -- as opposed to the surgical termination of pregnancies -- would be illegal.
The Bligh government moved to clarify the law and amendments were passed in September to extend legal protection to those medical practitioners who carry out medical terminations.
Mr Dick's decision has attracted praise from anti-abortion groups and criticism from those who are pro-choice.
Australian Christian Lobby chief of staff Lyle Shelton said the decision showed "integrity" on the Bligh government's behalf.
Queensland is one of the few states to retain criminal sanctions against abortion on the statute books.
Caroline de Costa, the Cairns-based professor of obstetrics who suspended her abortion service using the drug RU486 after Ms Leach and Mr Brennan were charged by police, said the Attorney-General's decision meant Queensland was out of step with the rest of Australia.
"Keeping (abortion) in the Criminal Code means it's a grey area for the public and also for doctors," she said. (source;


Holy Innocents
Feast: December 28
Feast Day:
December 28

Our Divine Redeemer was persecuted by the world as soon as he made his appearance in it. For he was no sooner born than it declared war against him. Herod, in persecuting Christ, was an emblem of Satan and of the world. That ambitious and jealous prince had already sacrificed to his fears and suspicions the most illustrious part of his council, his virtuous wife Mariamne, with her mother Alexandra, the two sons he had by her, and the heirs to his crown, and all his best friends. Hearing from the magians who were come from distant countries to find and adore Christ that the Messias, or spiritual king of the Jews, foretold by the prophets, was born among them, he trembled lest he was come to take his temporal kingdom from him. So far are the thoughts of carnal and worldly men from the ways of God, and so strangely do violent passions blind and alarm them. The tyrant was disturbed beyond measure and resolved to take away the life of this child, as if he could have defeated the decrees of heaven. He had recourse to his usual arts of policy and dissimulation, and hoped to receive intelligence of the child by feigning a desire himself to adore him. But God laughed at the folly of his short-sighted prudence, and admonished the magians not to return to him. St. Joseph was likewise ordered by an angel to take the child and his mother, and to fly into Egypt. Is our Blessed Redeemer, the Lord of the universe, to be banished as soon as born I What did not he suffer I What did not his pious parents suffer on his account in so tedious and long a journey, and during a long abode in Egypt, where they were entirely strangers and destitute of all succour under the hardships of extreme poverty I It is an ancient tradition of the Greeks, mentioned by Sozomen, St. Athanasius, and others, that at his entrance into Egypt all the idols of that kingdom fell to the ground, which literally verified the prediction of the prophet Isaiah. Mary and Joseph were not informed by the angel how long their exile would be continued; by which we are taught to leave all to divine providence, acquiescing with confidence and simplicity in the adorable and ever holy will of Him who disposes all things in infinite goodness, sanctity; and wisdom.
Herod, finding that he had been deluded by the magians, was transported with rage and anxious fears. To execute his scheme of killing the Messias, the desired of all nations and the expectation of Israel, he formed the bloody resolution of murdering all the male children in Bethlehem and the neighbouring territory which were not above two years of age. Soldiers were forthwith sent to execute these cruel orders, who, on a sudden, surrounded the town of Bethlehem and massacred all the male children in that and the adjacent towns and villages which had been born in the last two years. This more than brutish barbarity, which would almost have surpassed belief had not Herod been the contriver and ambition the incentive, was accompanied with such shrieks of mothers and children that St. Matthew applies to it a prophecy of Jeremiah, which may be understood in part to relate more immediately to the Babylonish captivity, but which certainly received the most eminent completion at this time: "A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Rama is a village not far from this town, and the sepulchre of Rachel was in a field belonging to it. The slaughter also was probably extended into the neighbouring tribe of Benjamin, which descended from Rachel. The Ethiopians in their liturgy, and the Greeks in their calendar, count fourteen thousand children massacred on this occasion; but that number exceeds all bounds, nor is it confirmed by any authority of weight. Innocent victims became the spotless Lamb of God. And how great a happiness was such a death to these glorious martyrs! They deserved to die for Christ, though they were not yet able to know or invoke his name. They were the flowers and the first fruits of his martyrs, and triumphed over the world without having ever known it or experienced its dangers. They just received the benefit of life to make a sacrifice of it to God and to purchase by it eternal life. How few perhaps of these children, if they had lived, would have escaped the dangers of the world which, by its maxims and example, bear everything down before it like an impetuous torrent! What snares, what sins, what miseries were they preserved from by this grace! With what songs of praise and love do they not to all eternity thank their Saviour, and this his infinite mercy to them! Their ignorant, foolish mothers did not know this, and therefore they wept without comfort. So we often lament as misfortunes many accidents which in the designs of heaven are the greatest mercies.
In Herod we see how blind and how cruel ambition is, which is ready to sacrifice everything, even Jesus Christ, to its views. The tyrant lived not many days longer to enjoy the kingdom which he feared so much to lose. About the time of our Lord's nativity he fell sick, and as his distemper sensibly increased, despair and remorse followed him and made him insupportable both to himself and others. The innumerable crimes which he had committed were the tortures of his mind, whilst a slow imposthume, inch by inch, gnawed and consumed his bowels, feeding principally upon one of the great guts, though it extended itself over all the rest and, corroding the flesh, made a breach in the lower belly and became a sordid ulcer, out of which worms issued in swarms, and lice were also bred in his flesh. A fever violently burnt him within, though outwardly it was scarce perceptible; and he was tormented with a canine appetite which no victuals could satisfy. Such an offensive smell exhaled from his body as shocked his best friends; and uncommon "witchings and vellications upon the fibrous and membraneous parts of his body, like sharp razors, cut and wounded him within; and the pain thence arising overpowered him at length with cold sweats, tremblings, and convulsions. Antipater, in his dungeon, hearing in what a lamentable condition Herod lay, strongly solicited his jailer to set him at liberty, hoping to obtain the crown; but the officer acquainted Herod with the whole affair. The tyrant, groaning under the complication of his own distempers, upon this information vented his spleen by raving and beating his own head, and, calling one of his own guards, commanded him to go that instant and cut off Antipater's head. Not content with causing many to be put to barbarous deaths during the course of his malady, he commanded the Jews that were of the principal rank and quality to be shut up in a circus at Jericho, and gave orders to his sister Salome and her husband Alexas to have them all massacred as soon as he should have expired, saying that as the Jews heartily hated him, they would rejoice at his departure; but he would make a general mourning of the whole nation at his death. This circumstance is at least related by the Jewish historian Josephus. Herod died five days after he had put his son Antipater to death.
Parents, pastors, and tutors are bound to make it their principal care that children, in their innocent age, be by piety and charity consecrated as pure holocausts to God. This is chiefly to be done by imprinting upon their minds the strongest sentiments of devotion, and by instructing them thoroughly in their catechism. We cannot entertain too high an idea of the merit and obligation of teaching God's little ones to know him, and the great and necessary truths which he has revealed to us. Without knowing him no one can love him or acquit himself of the most indispensable duties which he owes to his Creator. Children must be instructed in prayer and the principal articles of faith as soon as they attain to the use of reason, that they may be able to give him his first fruits by faith, hope, and love, as by the law of reason and religion they are bound to do. The understanding of little children is very weak, and is able only to discover small glimpses of light. Great art, experience, and earnestness are often required to manage and gradually increase these small rays, and to place therein whatever one would have the children comprehend.
The solicitude and diligence of parents and pastors to instruct others in this sacred science ought not to lessen; neither must anyone regard the function as mean or contemptible. It is the very foundation of the Christian religion. Hence Pope Paul III, in a bull in which he recommends this employment, declares that "nothing is more fruitful or more profitable for the salvation of souls." No pastoral function is more indispensable, none more beneficial, and generally none more meritorious; we may add, or more sublime. For under a meaner exterior appearance, without pomp, ostentation, or show of learning or abilities, it joins the exercise of humility with the most zealous and most profitable function of the pastoral charge. Being painful and laborious, it is, moreover, an exercise of patience and penance. Neither can anyone think it beneath his parts or dignity. The great St. Austin, St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, and other most learned doctors, popes, and bishops applied themselves with singular zeal and assiduity to this duty of catechizing children and all ignorant persons; this they thought a high branch of their duty, and the most useful and glorious employment of their learning and talents. What did the apostles travel over the world to do else? St. Paul said, "I am a debtor to the wise and to the unwise. We became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse would cherish her children; so desirous of you, that we would gladly have imparted to you not only the gospel of God, but even our own souls." Our Divine Lord himself made this the principal employment of his ministry. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me: he hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor." He declared the pleasure he found in assisting that innocent age when he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for the kingdom of God is for such. And embracing them, and laying his hands upon them, he blessed them.



Matthew 2: 13 - 18
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt,
and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more."