"Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace"
Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world
Assisi, 27 October 2011
On 1 January 2011, after the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he wished to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the historic meeting that took place in Assisi on 27 October 1986, at the wish of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II. On the day of the anniversary, 27 October this year, the Holy Father intends to hold a Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world, making a pilgrimage to the home of Saint Francis and inviting fellow Christians from different denominations, representatives of the world’s religious traditions and, in some sense, all men and women of good will, to join him once again on this journey. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Day will take as its theme: Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace. Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism. To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the centre of reflection.
For this reason, as well as representatives of Christian communities and of the principal religious traditions, some figures from the world of culture and science will be invited to share the journey – people who, while not professing to be religious, regard themselves as seekers of the truth and are conscious of a shared responsibility for the cause of justice and peace in this world of ours.
The image of pilgrimage therefore sums up the meaning of the event. There will be an opportunity to look back over the path already travelled from that first meeting in Assisi to the following one in January 2002, and also to look ahead to the future, with a view to continuing, in company with all men and women of good will, to walk along the path of dialogue and fraternity, in the context of a world in rapid transformation. Saint Francis, poor and humble, will once more welcome everyone to his home town, which has become a symbol of brotherhood and peace.
The delegations will set off from Rome by train on the morning of 27 October, together with the Holy Father. Upon arrival in Assisi, they will make their way to the Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli, where the previous meetings will be recalled and the theme of the Day will be explored in greater depth. Leaders of some of the delegations present will make speeches and the Holy Father will likewise deliver an address.
There will follow a simple lunch, shared by the delegates: a meal under the banner of sobriety, intended to express fraternal conviviality, and at the same time solidarity in the suffering of so many men and women who do not know peace. There will follow a period of silence for individual reflection and prayer. In the afternoon, all who are present in Assisi will make their way towards the Basilica of Saint Francis. It will be a pilgrimage in which, for the final stretch, the members of the delegations will also take part; it is intended to symbolize the journey of every human being who assiduously seeks the truth and actively builds justice and peace. It will take place in silence, leaving room for personal meditation and prayer. In the shadow of Saint Francis’ Basilica, where the previous meetings were also concluded, the final stage of the Day will include a solemn renewal of the joint commitment to peace.
In preparation for this Day, Pope Benedict XVI will preside over a Prayer Vigil at Saint Peter’s the previous evening, together with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome. Particular Churches and communities throughout the world are invited to organize similar times of prayer.
In the coming weeks the Cardinal Presidents of the Pontifical Councils for the Promotion of Christian Unity and of Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for Culture will write in the Holy Father’s name to all those invited. The Pope asks the Catholic faithful to join him in praying for the celebration of this important event and he is grateful to all those who will be able to be present in Saint Francis’ home town to share this spiritual pilgrimage.
Kabul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - 20 people were killed, including foreign workers and UN staff, yesterday in an attack that took place in Mazar-i-Sharif, a city in northern Afghanistan against a United Nations complex. The assault occurred during a protest by local Muslims against the insane act - repeatedly condemned by Christians in Pakistan and India - of pastor Wayne Sapp, who last March 20 in Florida burned a Koran under the supervision the evangelical preacher Terry Jones. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has described the attack as "outrageous and cowardly."
CNA REPORT - A Vatican representative to the United Nations spoke out today against “attacks” on freedom of conscience and religion, directed against Catholics and others who hold traditional beliefs about sexual morality and human nature.
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi spoke out in a March 22 meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling attention to what he described as a “disturbing trend” in debates over social life and human rights.
“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex,” Archbishop Tomasi told the council.
“When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatized, and worse – they are vilified, and prosecuted.”
The archbishop stated that these attempts to silence Catholics, and other critics of homosexual practice, were a human rights violation according to the council's own standards.
“These attacks contradict the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council’s resolutions of this session,” he pointed out.
“The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”
The archbishop's remarks came as the council revisited the subject of “sexual orientation” as a human right, a subject that has caused tension between the Vatican and the U.N. in the past.
Church officials do not support the criminalization of homosexual activity. However, they fear that the concept of a universal right to “sexual orientation,” under certain interpretations, could lead to international action against Christians and others who regard homosexual acts as immoral.
“There has been some unnecessary confusion about the meaning of the term 'sexual orientation,' as found in resolutions and other texts adopted within the U.N. human rights system,” Archbishop Tomasi noted in his March 22 remarks.
But he pointed out that the term “sexual orientation” refers properly to “feelings and thoughts, not to behavior” – a distinction he said was especially important to make, in order to avoid the complete deregulation of all sexual behavior.
“For the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other,” Archbishop Tomasi explained.
“A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.”
“But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.”
While countries should not attempt to regulate thoughts or feelings, he said, they must avoid regarding sexual behavior as something completely private, and not subject to any restriction.
“Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension,” said the archbishop.
The Vatican representative explained that those who deny the voluntary and moral character of sexual acts – by treating them, instead, as inevitable expressions of an “orientation” – are actually undermining their own claims about human freedom and dignity.
Archbishop Tomasi also reiterated the Vatican's position on human sexuality – which the Catholic Church regards not only as an article of faith, but as a universal matter of natural law.
“Human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage,” he stated.
The previous complaint by Bishop Martinelli about civilian casualties of the bombing (see Fides 31/03/2011) elicited a response from NATO headquarters in Brussels who said that they will verify the news. The Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli says “the Libyan people are fed up with this situation. According to the latest information I have received, fears due to the bombing and fighting have driven some 400,000 Libyans to find refuge in Tunisia and Egypt.”
“I still see glimmers of peace,” adds Bishop Martinelli. “The talks in London with an envoy of one of Gheddafi's sons are a sign that something is happening.” As revealed by the British press in recent days, Mohammed Ismail came to London. He works closely with Saif al-Islam, one of the sons of the Libyan leader, who met with representatives of the British Government.
“Yesterday, our small community celebrated two Masses: one at 9.00 am in Filipino, and the second at 10.30 am for Africans and other Filipinos. We read the Gospel passage about the blind man who regains his sight - a symbol of this humanity, blinded by the war, but not losing hope that the light of reason is regained,” concludes Bishop Martinelli.
(MUSICASACRA WEBSITE NOTICE) Sacred Music Colloquium, the largest and most in-depth teaching conference and retreat on sacred music in the world.
Gregorian Chant has been called the most beautiful music this side of Heaven. But as Pope Benedict XVI and the Second Vatican Council have emphasized, it is also integral to Catholic liturgical life and should be heard and experienced with wide participation in every parish. The Church Music Association of America is working to bring about this ideal with its Sacred Music Colloquium.
The primary focus of the Colloquium is instruction and experience in chant and the Catholic sacred music tradition, participation in chant and polyphonic choirs, nightly lectures and performances and daily celebrations of liturgies in both English and Latin. You are there not merely as an attendee but as a singer in some of the greatest choirs you will ever experience, singing music that will touch your heart and thrill your artistic imagination — music that is integral to the Catholic faith.
Attendance is open to anyone interested in improving the quality of music in Catholic worship. Professional musicians will appreciate the rigor, while enthusiastic volunteer singers and beginners new to the chant tradition will enjoy the opportunity to study under an expert faculty.
Once registered, there is no required sign up for individual choirs, scholas, or breakout sessions. Attend as suits your needs. Please see guidelines and descriptions for the different courses in the list above.
St. Francis of Paola
FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF MINIMS
Feast: April 2
Founder of the Order of Minims; b. in 1416, at Paula, in Calabria, Italy; d. 2 April, 1507, at Plessis, France. His parents were remarkable for the holiness of their lives. Remaining childless for some years after their marriage they had recourse to prayer, especially commending themselves to the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. Three children were eventually born to them, eldest of whom was Francis. When still in the cradle he suffered from a swelling which endangered the sight of one of his eyes. His parents again had recourse to Francis of Assisi, and made a vow that their son should pass an entire year in the "little habit" of St Francis in one of the convents of his order, a not uncommon practice in the Middle Ages. The child was immediately cured. From his early years Francis showed signs of extraordinary sanctity, and at the age of thirteen, being admonished by a vision of a Franciscan friar, he entered a convent of the Franciscan Order in order to fulfil the vow made by his parents. Here he gave great edification by his love of prayer and mortification, his profound humility, and his prompt obedience. At the completion of the year he went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, and other places of devotion. Returning to Paula he selected a retired spot on his father's estate, and there lived in solitude; but later on he found a more retired dwelling in a cave on the sea coast. Here he remained alone for about six years giving himself to prayer and mortification.
In 1435 two companions joined him in his retreat, and to accommodate them Francis caused three cells and a chapel to be built: in this way the new order was begun. The number of his disciples gradually increased, and about 1454, with the permission of Pyrrhus, Archbishop of Cosenza, Francis built a large monastery and church. The building of this monastery was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm and devotion on the part of the people towards Francis: even the nobles carried stones and joined in the work. Their devotion was increased by the many miracles which the saint wrought in answer to their prayers. The rule of life adopted by Francis and his religious was one of extraordinary severity. They observed perpetual abstinence and lived in great poverty, but the distinguishing mark of the order was humility. They were to seek to live unknown and hidden from the world. To express this character which he would have his disciples cultivate, Francis eventually obtained from the Holy See that they should be styled Minims, the least of all religious. In 1474 Sixtus IV gave him permission to write a rule for his community, and to assume the title of Hermits of St. Francis: this rule was formally approved by Alexander VI, who, however, changed their title into that of Minims. After the approbation of the order, Francis founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily. He also established convents of nuns, and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
He had an extraordinary gift of prophecy: thus he foretold the capture of Otranto by the Turks in 1480, and its subsequent recovery by the King of Naples. Also he was gifted with discernment of consciences. He was no respecter of persons of whatever rank or position. He rebuked the King of Naples for his ill-doing and in consequence suffered much persecution. When Louis XI was in his last illness he sent an embassy to Calabria to beg the saint to visit him. Francis refused to come nor could he be prevailed upon until the pope ordered him to go. He then went to the king at Plessis-les-Tours and was with him at his death. Charles VIII, Louis's successor, much admired the saint and during his reign kept him near the court and frequently consulted him. This king built a monastery for Minims at Plessis and another at Rome on the Pincian Hill. The regard in which Charles VIII held the saint was shared by Louis XII, who succeeded to the throne in 1498. Francis was now anxious to return to Italy, but the king would not permit him, not wishing to lose his counsels and direction. The last three mouths of his life he spent in entire solitude, preparing for death. On Maundy Thursday he gathered his community around him and exhorted them especially to have mutual charity amongst themselves and to maintain the rigour of their life and in particular perpetual abstinence. The next day, Good Friday, he again called them together and gave them his last instructions and appointed a vicar-general. He then received the last sacraments and asked to have the Passion according to St. John read out to him, and whilst this was being read, his soul passed away. Leo X canonized him in 1019. In 1562 the Huguenots broke open his tomb and found his body incorrupt. They dragged it forth and burnt it, but some of the bones were preserved by the Catholics and enshrined in various churches of his order. The Order of Minims does not seem at any time to have been very extensive, but they had houses in many countries. The definitive rule was approved in 1506 by Julius II, who also approved a rule for the nuns of the order. The feast of St. Francis of Paula is kept by the universal Church on 2 April, the day on which he died.