VATICAN: POPE: CHRISTIAN UNITY MAKES PROCLAMATION OF GOSPEL EFFECTIVE-
EUROPE: SPAIN: PRO-LIFE RALLIES TO BEGIN MARCH 7-
AFRICA: SUDAN: APOSTOLIC NUNCIO COMMENTS ON FUTURE OF PEACE-
"The communion of Christians ... makes the proclamation of the Gospel more credible and effective, as Jesus himself said praying to the Father on the eve of his death:" That we may be one ... so that the world may believe " (John 17:21) ": This is how Benedict XVI explained the meaning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated this week (18-25 January). Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus, the pope recalled that the week will conclude tomorrow with the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and as tradition, he will preside at Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in the company of representatives Christian Churches of Rome. "Invoking God - he said - the gift of full unity of all Christ's disciples and, in particular, under this year’s theme, renewing the commitment to witness together to the crucified and risen Lord (cf. Lk 24 48)”.
On the theme of unity, Benedict XVI had previously paused to comment on today’s reading of St. Paul to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 12, 12-31), in which Paul likens the Church to the human body . "The Church - explained the pope - is conceived as a body of which Christ is the head, and which is one in Him. However what the Apostle wants to communicate is the idea of unity in the multiplicity of charisms, which are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to them, the Church presents itself as a rich and vital organization, not a uniform one, fruit of the Spirit which leads us all to a profound unity, assuming diversity without abolishing it and creating of it a harmonious whole. The charisms and ministries spread throughout the community extend the risen Lord's presence into history, particularly through the sacraments and the Word of God. Therefore, it is in Christ and the Spirit that the Church is one and holy, that is, an intimate communion that transcends human capacities and supports them”. In his reflection, Benedict XVI also recalled that today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales. "Born in Savoy in 1567 - concluded the pope - he studied law in Padua and Paris, called by the Lord, he became a priest. He devoted himself with great fruit to preaching and spiritual formation of believers, teaching that the call to holiness is for everyone and that everyone - as St. Paul with the comparison of the body - has a place in the Church. St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of journalists and the Catholic press. To his spiritual care I entrust the message for World Day for Social Communications, who I sign each year on this occasion and which was presented yesterday at the Vatican [See: 23/01/2010 Pope: Internet, an instrument for the proclamation of Christ]. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, enable us to keep progressing in communion, to convey the beauty of being one in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. " (source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Christian-unity-makes-Gospel-proclamation-more-credible-and-effective,-says-Pope-17433.html
During a press conference, spokesman for the event Gador Joya called on Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to convene a referendum so that the country's citizens can express their opinions regarding the new law.
If the president feels most Spaniards support the law, “he should have no problem convening a referendum and consulting the people,” Joya said. He noted that on January 28, one million signatures calling for the referendum will be sent to the government.
Joya said turnout in Madrid is expected to be smaller than it was for the October 17 protest last year because this time organizers will be holding rallies in different cities across the country. He also remarked that rallies will be held in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and France.
Joya added that organizers hope to establish a tradition of celebrating pro-life rallies each year during March to coincide with the World Day of Life, which is celebrated on March 25.
The spokesman argued that the majority of Spaniards support the right to life and want their voices to be heard.(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pro-life_rallies_to_be_held_in_spain_on_march_7/
Cath News report:
Nicky Dolton said her request for a copy of her daughter's baptism certificate from the Brisbane Archdiocese came back with the clause. The original had been lost when the family moved houses, the ABC reported.
"It had a clause at the bottom basically stating that the baptism would need to be performed again to be valid if my daughter wanted to go on to receive confirmation or communion or be married in the Catholic Church," she said.
Brisbane Archdiocese Chancellor Father Adrian Farrelly says it is important to have a valid ceremony.
"People can have all sorts of convictions using all kinds of words but as they say if a priest officiating didn't pour the water and say the words in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit then baptism wasn't received," he said.
The Archdiocese will look at video footage from Ms Dolton's daughter's baptism and interview relatives in attendance to determine whether it was valid and the words 'in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit' were used.
With the Church deeming the need for conditional baptisms, for all those who received non-conventional ones by former St Mary's priests, cases similar to Ms Dolton's are bound to arise as those baptised seek to undergo further Catholic rituals, the ABC report added. (source: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=18985
The opening session was attended by the president of Caritas International, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga; the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre; Bishop Marcelino Hernandez of Orizaba; Bishop Alejo Zabala Castro of Chilpancingo-Chilapa; and Archbishop Felipe Aguirre Franco of Acapulco.
During his opening remarks, Archbishop Aguirre said he hoped the event would help priests to “rediscover the beauty and importance of the priesthood.”(source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/mexican_priests_participate_in_first_national_congress_of_priests/
Asia News report:
Manila (AsiaNews) - In the district of Quiapo (Manila), over 150 drug lords have abandoned the criminal activity and are finding an alternative life for their families. All this thanks to a program of training and work placement arranged by a priest and faithful of the Archdiocese of Manila.
"Nobody has ever dared to help these people rebuild their lives - said Fr Suarez priest and director of Catechism for the Archdiocese - for years they have fled from themselves. Above all they need the Word of God. "
The Quiapo district is one of the most central and most populated of Manila. It houses the Church of the Nazarene, one of the most important places of worship in the Philippines. But degradation, a high population density and the passage of tourists make it a fertile ground for trade in stolen goods and drugs, the only means of survival for families. Of these approximately 50 families linked to drug trafficking in the district have accepted the help of Fr Suarez, who six months ago began to visit them once a week.
"Thanks to the visits of these months, we managed to gain their trust - said Fr Suarez - and we started to teach them the basics of the catechism and Christian values. " Together with a group of catechists, psychologists and social workers, the priest has begun to identify and train leaders of the various families. This is to create a community able to lead initiatives and other work programs. "We are organizing various activities, especially for young people and married people – he adds - in order to avoid a return to the path of drugs and crime in future." (source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Manila,-drug-lords-abandon-crime-thanks-to-Gospel-17428.html
St. Francis de Sales
BISHOP, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: January 24
21 August 1567, Château de Thorens, Savoy
28 December 1622, Lyon, France
19 April 1665, Rome by Pope Alexander VII
Catholic press; confessors; deaf people; educators; writers; journalists
Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Universal Church; born at Thorens, in the Duchy of Savoy, 21 August, 1567; died at Lyons, 28 December, 1622. His father, Francois de Sales de Boisy, and his mother, Francoise de Sionnaz, belonged to old Savoyard aristocratic families. The future saint was the eldest of six brothers. His father intended him for the magistracy and sent him at an early age to the colleges of La Roche and Annecy. From 1583 till 1588 he studied rhetoric and humanities at the college of Clermont, Paris, under the care of the Jesuits. While there he began a course of theology. After a terrible and prolonged temptation to despair, caused by the discussions of the theologians of the day on the question of predestination, from which he was suddenly freed as he knelt before a miraculous image of Our Lady at St. Etienne-des-Gres, he made a vow of chastity and consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1588 he studied law at Padua, where the Jesuit Father Possevin was his spiritual director. He received his diploma of doctorate from the famous Pancirola in 1592. Having been admitted as a lawyer before the senate of Chambery, he was about to be appointed senator. His father had selected one of the noblest heiresses of Savoy to be the partner of his future life, but Francis declared his intention of embracing the ecclesiastical life. A sharp struggle ensued. His father would not consent to see his expectations thwarted. Then Claude de Granier, Bishop of Geneva, obtained for Francis, on his own initiative, the position of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva, a post in the patronage of the pope. It was the highest office in the diocese, M. de Boisy yielded and Francis received Holy Orders (1593). From the time of the Reformation the seat of the Bishopric of Geneva had been fixed at Annecy. There with apostolic zeal, the new provost devoted himself to preaching, hearing confessions, and the other work of his ministry. In the following year (1594) he volunteered to evangelize Le Chablais, where the Genevans had imposed the Reformed Faith, and which had just been restored to the Duchy of Savoy. He made his headquarters in the fortress of Allinges. Risking his life, he journeyed through the entire district, preaching constantly; by dint of zeal, learning, kindness and holiness he at last obtained a hearing. He then settled in Thonon, the chief town. He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted the syndic and several prominent Calvinists. At the request of the pope, Clement VIII, he went to Geneva to interview Theodore Beza, who was called the Patriarch of the Reformation. The latter received him kindly and seemed for a while shaken, but had not the courage to take the final steps. A large part of the inhabitants of Le Chablais returned to the true fold (1597 and 1598). Claude de Granier then chose Francis as his coadjutor, in spite of his refusal, and sent him to Rome (1599).
Pope Clement VIII ratified the choice; but he wished to examine the candidate personally, in presence of the Sacred College. The improvised examination was a triumph for Francis. "Drink, my son", said the Pope to him. "from your cistern, and from your living wellspring; may your waters issue forth, and may they become public fountains where the world may quench its thirst." The prophesy was to be realized. On his return from Rome the religious affairs of the territory of Gex, a dependency of France, necessitated his going to Paris. There the coadjutor formed an intimate friendship with Cardinal de Berulle, Antoine Deshayes, secretary of Henry IV, and Henry IV himself, who wished "to make a third in this fair friendship" (
On the death of Claude de Granier, Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva (1602). His first step was to institute catechetical instructions for the faithful, both young and old. He made prudent regulations for the guidance of his clergy. He carefully visited the parishes scattered through the rugged mountains of his diocese. He reformed the religious communities. His goodness, patience and mildness became proverbial. He had an intense love for the poor, especially those who were of respectable family. His food was plain, his dress and his household simple. He completely dispensed with superfluities and lived with the greatest economy, in order to be able to provide more abundantly for the wants of the needy. He heard confessions, gave advice, and preached incessantly. He wrote innumerable letters (mainly letters of direction) and found time to publish the numerous works mentioned below. Together with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded (1607) the Institute of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, for young girls and widows who, feeling themselves called to the religious life, have not sufficient strength, or lack inclination, for the corporal austerities of the great orders. His zeal extended beyond the limits of his own diocese. He delivered the Lent and Advent discourses which are still famous—those at Dijon (1604), where he first met the Baroness de Chantal; at Chambery (1606); at Grenoble (1616, 1617, 1618), where he converted the Marechal de Lesdiguieres. During his last stay in Paris (November, 1618, to September, 1619) he had to go into the pulpit each day to satisfy the pious wishes of those who thronged to hear him. "Never", said they, "have such holy, such apostolic sermons been preached." He came into contact here with all the distinguished ecclesiastics of the day, and in particular with St. Vincent de Paul. His friends tried energetically to induce him to remain in France, offering him first the wealthy Abbey of Ste. Genevieve and then the coadjutor-bishopric of Paris, but he refused all to return to Annecy.
In 1622 he had to accompany the Court of Savoy into France. At Lyons he insisted on occupying a small, poorly furnished room in a house belonging to the gardener of the Visitation Convent. There, on 27 December, he was seized with apoplexy. He received the last sacraments and made his profession of faith, repeating constantly the words: "God's will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!" He died next day, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. Immense crowds flocked to visit his remains, which the people of Lyons were anxious to keep in their city. With much difficulty his body was brought back to Annecy, but his heart was left at Lyons. A great number of wonderful favours have been obtained at his tomb in the Visitation Convent of Annecy. His heart, at the time of the French Revolution, was carried by the Visitation nuns from Lyons to Venice, where it is venerated to-day. St. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1661, and canonized by Alexander VII in 1665; he was proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX, in 1877.
The following is a list of the principal works of the holy Doctor: (1) "Controversies", leaflets which the zealous missioner scattered among the inhabitants of Le Chablais in the beginning, when t hese people did not venture to come and hear him preach. They form a complete proof of the Catholic Faith. In the first part, the author defends the authority of the Church, and in the second and third parts, the rules of faith, which were not observed by the heretical ministers. The primacy of St. Peter is amply vindicated. (2) "Defense of the Standard of the Cross", a demonstration of the virtue of the True Cross; of the Crucifix; of the Sign of the Cross; an explanation of the Veneration of the Cross. (3) "An Introduction to the Devout Life", a work intended to lead "Philothea", the soul living in the world, into the paths of devotion, that is to say, of true and solid piety. Every one should strive to become pious, and "it is an error, it is even a heresy", to hold that piety is incompatible with any state of life. In the first part the author helps the soul to free itself from all inclination to, or affection for, sin; in the second, he teaches it how to be united to God by prayer and the sacraments; in the third, he exercises it in the practice of virtue; in the fourth, he strengthens it against temptation; in the fifth, he teaches it how to form its resolutions and to persevere. The "Introduction", which is a masterpiece of psychology, practical morality, and common sense, was translated into nearly every language even in the lifetime of the author, and it has since gone through innumerable editions. (4) "Treatise on the Love of God", an authoritative work which reflects perfectly the mind and heart of Francis de Sales as a great genius and a great saint. It contains twelve books. The first four give us a history, or rather explain the theory, of Divine love, its birth in the soul, its growth, its perfection, and its decay and annihilation; the fifth book shows that this love is twofold—the love of complacency and the love of benevolence; the sixth and seventh treat of
Migne (5 vols., quarto) and Vives (12 vols., octavo, Paris) have edited the works of St. Francis de Sales. But the edition which we may call definitive was published at Annecy in 1892, by the English Benedictine, Dom Mackey: a work remarkable for its typographical execution, the brilliant criticism that settles the text, the large quantity of hitherto unedited matter, and the interesting study accompanying each volume. Dom Mackey published twelve volumes. Father Navatel, S.J., is continuing the work. We may give here a brief resume of the spiritual teaching contained in these works, of which the Church has said: "The writings of Francis de Sales, filled with celestial doctrine are a bright light in the Church, pointing out to souls an easy and safe way to arrive at the perfection of a Christian life." (Breviarium Romanum, 29 January, lect. VI.)
There are two elements in the spiritual life: first, a struggle against our lower nature; secondly, union of our wills with God, in other words, penance and love. St. Francis de Sales looks chiefly to love. Not that he neglects penance, which is absolutely necessary, but he wishes it to be practised from a motive of love. He requires mortification of the senses, but he relies first on mortification of the mind, the will, and the heart. This interior mortification he requires to be unceasing and always accompanied by love. The end to be realized is a life of loving, simple, generous, and constant fidelity to the will of God, which is nothing else than our present duty. The model proposed is Christ, whom we must ever keep before our eyes. "You will study His countenance, and perform your actions as He did" (Introd., 2nd part, ch. i). The practical means of arriving at this perfection are: remembrance of the presence of God, filial prayer, a right intention in all our actions, and frequent recourse to God by pious and confiding ejaculations and interior aspirations.
Besides the Institute of the Visitation, which he founded, the nineteenth century has seen associations of the secular clergy and pious laymen, and several religious congregations, formed under the patronage of the holy Doctor. Among them we may mention the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, of Annecy; the Salesians, founded at Turin by the Venerable Don Bosco, specially devoted to the Christian and technical education of the children of the poorer classes; the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, established at Troyes (France) by Father Brisson, who try to realize in the religious and priestly life the spirit of the holy Doctor, such as we have described it, and such as he bequeathed it to the nuns of the Visitation.
TODAY'S MASS READINGS
Sunday, January 24, 2010 (Week of Prayer for Christian Unity)
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nehemiah 8: 2 - 4, 5 - 6, 8 - 10
And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden pulpit which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithi'ah, Shema, Anai'ah, Uri'ah, Hilki'ah, and Ma-asei'ah on his right hand; and Pedai'ah, Mish'a-el, Malchi'jah, Hashum, Hash-bad'danah, Zechari'ah, and Meshul'lam on his left hand.
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood.
And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God; and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
If all were a single organ, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part,
that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us,
just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent The-oph'ilus,
that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.
Luke 4: 14 - 21
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country.
And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read;
and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."