In an address which we publish in full below, the Pope focused in particular on the Indian Churches’ contribution to society at large, their the various educational and social institutions open to all, and the “efforts made by the whole Christian community to prepare the young citizens of your noble country to build a more just and prosperous society”:
Dear Brother Bishops,
I offer you a warm fraternal welcome on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum, a further occasion to deepen the communion that exists between the Church in India and the See of Peter, and an opportunity to rejoice in the universality of the Church. I wish to thank Cardinal Oswald Gracias for his kind words offered on your behalf and in the name of those entrusted to your pastoral care. My cordial greetings also go to the priests, the men and women Religious, and laity whom you shepherd. Please assure them of my prayers and solicitude.
The Church in India is blessed with a multitude of institutions which are intended to be expressions of the love of God for humanity through the charity and example of the clergy, religious and lay faithful who staff them. By means of her parishes, schools and orphanages, as well as her hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, the Church makes an invaluable contribution to the well-being not only of Catholics, but of society at large. Among these institutions in your region, a special place is held by the schools which are an outstanding witness to your commitment to the education and formation of our dear young people. The efforts made by the whole Christian community to prepare the young citizens of your noble country to build a more just and prosperous society have long been a hallmark of the Church in your Dioceses and throughout India. In helping the spiritual, intellectual and moral faculties of their students to mature, Catholic schools should continue to develop a capacity for sound judgment and introduce them to the heritage bequeathed to them by former generations, thus fostering a sense of values and preparing their pupils for a happy and productive life (cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 5). I encourage you to continue to pay close attention to the quality of instruction in the schools present in your Dioceses, to ensure that they be genuinely Catholic and therefore capable of passing on those truths and values necessary for the salvation of souls and the up-building of society.
Of course, Catholic schools are not the only means by which the Church seeks to instruct and to edify her people in intellectual and moral truth. As you know, all of the Church’s activities are meant to glorify God and fill his people with the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32). This saving truth, at the heart of the deposit of faith, must remain the foundation of all the Church’s endeavours, proposed to others always with respect but also without compromise. The capacity to present the truth gently but firmly is a gift to be nurtured especially among those who teach in Catholic institutes of higher education and those who are charged with the ecclesial task of educating seminarians, religious or the lay faithful, whether in theology, catechetical studies or Christian spirituality. Those who teach in the name of the Church have a particular obligation faithfully to hand on the riches of the tradition, in accordance with the Magisterium and in a way that responds to the needs of today, while students have the right to receive the fullness of the intellectual and spiritual heritage of the Church. Having received the benefits of a sound formation and dedicated to charity in truth, the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the Christian community will be better able to contribute to the growth of the Church and the advancement of Indian society. The various members of the Church will then bear witness to the love of God for all humanity as they enter into contact with the world, providing a solid Christian testimony in friendship, respect and love, and striving not to condemn the world but to offer it the gift of salvation (cf. Jn 3:17). Encourage those involved in education, whether priests, religious or laity, to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. Enable them to reach out to their neighbours that, by their word and example, they may more effectively proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6).
A significant role of witness to Jesus Christ is carried out in your country by men and women religious, who are the often unsung heroes of the Church’s vitality locally. Above and beyond their apostolic labours, however, religious and the lives they lead are a source of spiritual fruitfulness for the entire Christian community. As they open themselves to the grace of God, religious men and women inspire others to respond with trust, humility and joy to the invitation of the Lord to follow him.
In this regard, my Brother Bishops, I know that you are aware of the many factors which inhibit spiritual and vocational growth, particularly among young people. Yet we know that it is Jesus Christ alone who responds to our deepest longings, and who gives true meaning to our lives. Only in him can our hearts truly find rest. Continue, therefore, to speak to young people and to encourage them to consider seriously the consecrated or priestly life; speak with parents about their indispensible role in encouraging and supporting such vocations; and lead your people in prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send many more labourers into this harvest (cf. Mt 9:38).
With these thoughts, dear Brother Bishops, I renew to you my sentiments of affection and esteem. I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Assuring you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.
From the Vatican, 8 September 2011
Catholic News Service
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) --Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, installed Sept. 8 as the new archbishop of Philadelphia, offered encouragement that members of his new archdiocese will get through the "difficult moment" the local church has endured.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, embraces Archbishop Charles J. Chaput at the start of Archbishop Chaput's installation Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia Sept. 8. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)
Although rain prevented an outdoor procession at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, it did not dampen the spirits of about 1,700 people, including 400 priests and 100 bishops, who attended the installation Mass.
The Mass took place after days of rain and local flooding, and many in the congregation faced long detours just to arrive at the cathedral in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love.
Outside the cathedral, the struggles the archdiocese has faced in recent months were very apparent. A block away, Catholic high school teachers were picketing during the second day of their strike; in front of the cathedral, while members of the Neocatechumenal Way sang and played guitars and drums, a group of people protesting clergy abuse marched silently, holding aloft signs as a stinging reminder of the recent grand jury report that accused archdiocese officials of failing to prevent abuse of children.
Inside the majestic cathedral though, members of the congregation greeted one another as if at a reunion, and they gave their new archbishop, who headed the Denver Archdiocese for the past 14 years, a warm welcome and long, sustained applause.
The archbishop in turn expressed his admiration for those in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, thanking them for embracing him with "such extraordinary kindness." He also repeatedly acknowledged the difficulties they currently face and must continue to cope with, without going into any details.
"The church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days," he said during his homily.
"There's no quick fix to problems that are so difficult and none of us here today, except the Lord himself, is a miracle worker," he said. "But the church is not defined by her failures. And you and I are not defined by critics or those who dislike us."
He told the congregation that what the church does in coming months and years to respond to challenges "will define who we really are."
He also promised them that "no bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage my brother priests and to restore the hearts of our faithful."
He urged Philadelphia Catholics to keep in mind the image of Jesus as a good shepherd -- symbolized in the bishop's crosier.
"All of us should keep that image in our hearts in the months ahead because the Good Shepherd really will bring the church in Philadelphia through this difficult moment in our history to security and joy and a better future," he said.
Archbishop Chaput, who turns 67 Sept. 26, was ordained as a Capuchin Franciscan priest in 1970 and became bishop of Rapid City, S.D., at the age of 43. A member of the Prairie Band Potowatami tribe, he is the second Native American to be ordained a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.
A few times during his homily the archbishop likened his appointment to the Philadelphia Archdiocese as "an arranged marriage," which drew some laughs from the congregation, especially when he said the "Holy Father is the matchmaker."
He added that the pope "knows in his wisdom that we will make a good family together."
"For any marriage to work," he added, "two things need to happen. People need to fall in love and together they need to be fruitful. That's what we need to dedicate ourselves to today -- to love one another and be fruitful together in the new evangelization."
Archbishop Chaput made special note of the day of his installation, the feast of Mary's birthday. He said Mary has been "a constant source of hope and protection" in his vocation and hoped that she would also comfort members of the archdiocese "in the midst of the turmoil of the church in our time, specifically in Philadelphia."
The Bishop of Daejeon and president of the Episcopal Commission for the pastoral care of migrants lead the faithful in prayer in places linked to the lives of the martyrs: "These lay missionaries, who died to open Korea to Christ, illuminate our path. And we honor them through prayer and silence. "
Daejeon (AsiaNews) - More than 3 thousand Catholic faithful have walked for 13 kilometers in silent prayer and then attended a solemn mass in memory of the 124 Korean Servants of God that the Holy See could soon raise the status of blessed. According to Msgr. Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon and president of the Episcopal Commission for the pastoral care of migrants, "this journey of the soul proves that our country needs prayer and meditation to achieve a real peace."
Speaking to AsiaNews, the bishop said: "We have just released a guide for Pilgrimages in South Korea written by my Commission. We decided to present it in September because, at the invitation of our lay people, this is the month we want to dedicate the Korean martyrs. And the example of the 124 Servants of God is illuminating: with his father Thomas Choe Yang-eop, the second priest in the history of Korea, were killed for their faith and now they illuminate our path. "
The martyrs died between 1791 and 1884. The majority were lay people, while Fr. Thomas Choe is remembered as "the martyr of sweat" for having covered 2800 km evangelizing the remotest areas of the country. In the Korean Church, said Msgr. You, "the sacrifice of these lay people victims of the anti-Catholic persecution is seen as the reason that the country has opened to Christ. That's why, after the 103 saints proclaimed by Pope John Paul II, we are waiting for the beatification of these other witnesses. "
The bishop led his followers on a pilgrimage "to the places where the martyrs lived and worked. I had asked all the participants before leaving to switch off their mobile phones, which are ubiquitous here in Korea, so they could feel through prayer, the importance of the moment. None of them disobeyed and this made me quite happy: we are all growing together". In order to continue on this road, another pilgrimage was organized, this time 16 km for October 15 next.
The same attitude pervaded the group of 90 young Catholics who, along with Msgr. You, went to Madrid for the World Youth Day: "These are people who are growing, exuberant as they should be. But more and more they are learning the joy of contemplation and prayer, and contact with the youth of the rest of the world was edifying for them. We will certainly also go together to Rio de Janeiro, and we hope with all our heart that within four years the World Youth Day will be here with us in Korea. "
A fact that is underlined in Cardinal Monsengwo’s message: "In recent days, there have been events capable of disrupting social peace and electoral process which everyone hopes is democratic, transparent and peaceful". The Cardinal continues: "Some political party militants set fire to other parties offices and that of a local radio station. There is no doubt that these acts are capable of causing an increase in tension in the country and divert public attention from the real problems that demand quick solutions".
"For this - the Archbishop’s statement continues - we strongly condemn such acts. We invite everyone, and the same law enforcement, to avoid unnecessary provocations and to be calm". "Elections are not a fight or a war for which you must sharpen your weapons - warns Cardinal Monsengwo - but it is a civilian operation, where people choose their elected on the basis of a program that is suited to lift and develop the Country". (L.M.)
ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT: A program that helps African-Australians with employment opportunities has won a prestigious Melbourne Award.
The African-Australian Inclusion Program (AAIP), developed jointly between Jesuit Social Services and NAB, recently won the award for its 'contribution to the community.'
The Melbourne Awards celebrate people and organisations whose vision and hard work shapes our city and honour a diverse range of contributions, focusing on individuals, community organisations and businesses who give their time selflessly for the benefit of the city.
Jesuit Social Services Chief Executive Officer, Julie Edwards, said she were "delighted" by the award and that recognition was being paid to a crucial program which helps African-Australians enter into the workforce.
"The African-Australian Inclusion Program (AAIP) has been running since 2008 and provides quality work experience within the banking sector for university qualified African-Australians. The AAIP has been extremely successful with 54 participants enrolled in the program to date, and 17 of those participants securing ongoing roles within NAB," Ms Edwards said.
A lack of Australian work experience has been identified as the most significant barrier to professionally qualified African-Australians gaining employment in corporate Australia and the AAIP helps to break down this barrier by offering members of the African community local work experience with major financial corporations such as the NAB.
"It is crucial that African-Australians are given a realistic opportunity to enter into the workforce so they can support their families, become role models and mentors and encourage the next generation of African-Australians to become qualified and pursue their ambitions," Ms Edwards said.
The AAIP aims to provide a practical learning and working experience for participants and provide them with enhanced job prospects in their chosen field by developing baseline skills and process understanding, such as developing spreadsheets to support analysis or reporting processes.
"It also enhances their resumes with NAB experience, and provides a reference from a NAB mentor for future employers," Ms Edwards said.
"I have grown professionally and personally as a result of being in the program," said participant Semira Fekadu.
"The program has been fantastic. It has given me the opportunity to finally get the networks and work experience essential in landing that dream first job," added another participant, Munya Chitura.
For more on the program go to: www.jss.org.au/programs/all-programs/african-australian-inclusion-program.
Jesuit Social Services African-Australian Inclusion Program participants and representatives. Photo by Ben Wolstencroft.
|Matthew 1: 18 - 23|
|18||Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;|
|19||and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.|
|20||But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;|
|21||she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."|
|22||All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:|
|23||"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).|
Information: Feast Day: September 8
The present Feast forms a link between the New and the Old Testament. It shows that Truth succeeds symbols and figures and that the New Covenant replaces the Old. Hence, all creation sings with joy, exults, and participates in the joy of this day.... This is, in fact, the day on which the Creator of the world constructed His temple; today is the day on which by a stupendous project a creature becomes the preferred dwelling of the Creator" (Saint Andrew of Crete).
"Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Virgin Mary, of whom was born the Sun of Justice.... Her birth constitutes the hope and the light of salvation for the whole world.... Her image is light for the whole Christian people" (From the Liturgy).
As these texts so clearly indicate, an atmosphere of joy and light pervades the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
1. Historical Details about the Feast
The origin of this Feast is sought in Palestine. It goes back to the consecration of a church in Jerusalem, which tradition identifies as that of the present basilica of St. Ann.
At Rome the Feast began to be kept toward the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks. Gradually and in varied ways it spread to the other parts of the West in the centuries that followed. From the 13th century on, the celebration assumed notable importance, becoming a Solemnity with a major Octave and preceded by a Vigil calling for a fast. The Octave was reduced to a simple one during the reform of St. Pius X and was abolished altogether under the reform of Pius XII in 1955. The present Calendar characterizes the Birth of Mary as a "Feast," placing it on the same plane as the Visitation.
For some centuries now, the Birth has been assigned to September 8 both in the East and in the West, but in ancient times it was celebrated on different dates from place to place. However, when the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (which has a later origin than that of the Birth) was extended to the whole Church, the Birth little by little became assigned everywhere to September 8: nine months after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
2. At the Heart of Salvation
As we know, the Gospels have not transmitted to us anything about the birth of the Virgin Mary. Their attention is completely centered on the mystery of Christ and His salvific mission.
The birth of Mary is recounted by the Protevangelium of James (5:2), an apocryphal writing from the end of the 2nd century. Subsequent tradition is based on this account.
The description - although in the manner of an apocryphal document - obviously presents an important historical event: the birth of the Mother of the Lord.
But the problem that concerns us here is the significance of this event. In the case of all the Saints, the Church commemorates their birthday on the day of their return to the Lord. However, in the cases of St. John the Baptizer and the Blessed Virgin, it also celebrates the day of their earthly birth. This is a singular fact already emphasized in ancient times, for example, by Paschasius Radbertus (d. about 859).
The reason for this fact is not found primarily in the greatness or the privileges of the persons involved but in the singular mission that was theirs in the History of Salvation. In this light, the birth of the Blessed Virgin is considered to be - like that of John the Baptizer - in direct relationship with the coming of the Savior of the world. Thus, the birth and existence of Marysimilar to and even more than those of the Baptizer - take on a significance that transcends her own person. It is explained solely in the context of the History of Salvation, connected with the People of God of the Old Covenant and the New. Mary's birth lies at the confluence of the two Testaments - bringing to an end the stage of expectation and the promises and inaugurating the new times of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Mary, the Daughter of Zion and ideal personification of Israel, is the last and most worthy representative of the People of the Old Covenant but at the same time she is "the hope and the dawn of the whole world." With her, the elevated Daughter of Zion, after a long expectation of the promises, the times are fulfilled and a new economy is established (LG 55).
The birth of Mary is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Savior. Her existence is indissolubly connected with that of Christ: it partakes of a unique plan of predestination and grace. God's mysterious plan regarding the incarnation of the Word embraces also the Virgin who is His Mother. In this way, the Birth of Mary is inserted at the very heart of the History of Salvation.
3. Christological Orientations
The Biblical readings of the Feast have a clear Christological- salvific orientation that forms the backdrop for contemplating the figure of Mary.
Micah 5:1-4a. The Prophet announces the coming of the Lord of Israel who will come forth from Bethlehem of Judah. The Mother of the Messiah, presented as one about to give birth, will give life to the prince and pastor of the house of David who will bring justice and peace. She will work with the Messiah to bring forth a new people.
Romans 8.28-30. This passage does not speak directly about Mary but about the believer justified by the grace of Christ and gifted with the indwelling of the Spirit. He or she has been chosen and called from all eternity to share Christ's life and glory. This is true in a privileged manner for Mary, Spouse and Temple of the Holy Spirit, Mother of God's Son, and intimately united with Him in a Divine plan of predestination and grace. Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23. The meaning of this seemingly and genealogy is theologically profound: to place Jesus, the MessiahLord, within the dynastic tree of His people. He is a descendant, and in fact "the descendant," of Abraham (cf. Gal 3:16) and the Patriarchs in accord with the promises, and He is the semi-heir of the Prophets. The ring that united Christ with His people is Mary, Daughter of Zion and Mother of the Lord.
The virginity stressed by the Gospel text is the sign of the Divine origin of the Son and of the absolute newness that now breaks forth in the history of human beings.
The Christological-salvific purpose and tone dominate not only the Bible readings but also the Eucharistic Celebration and the Liturgy of the Hours.
It has been observed that, although the texts of this Feast's celebration are less rich than those of other Marian feasts, they do have one outstanding characteristic: "The number of themes is rather restricted, [but] there are extremely numerous invitations to joy" (J. Pascher).
Indeed, joy pervades the whole of this Feast's liturgy. If many "will rejoice" at the birth of the precursor (cf. Lk 1:14), a much greater joy is stirred up by the birth of the Mother of the Savior. Hence, this is a Feast that serves as a prelude to the "joy to all people" brought about by the Birth of the Son of God at Christmas and expressed by the singing of hymns and carols.
Added to this theme of joy on this Marian Feast is that of light because with Mary's birth the darkness is dispersed and there rises in the world the dawn that announces the Sun of Justice, Christ the Lord.