Monday, August 26, 2013








Vatican Radio REPORT: In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the words of Jesus from the day’s Gospel: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

The Holy Father noted that Jesus was responding to the question of how many people will be saved. But, the Pope said, “it is not important to know how many are saved. Rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation.” Jesus Himself is the gate, a gate “that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus Himself.”

Pope Francis emphasised that “the gate that is Jesus is never closed . . . it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges.” Jesus, he continued, does not exclude anyone. Some people might feel excluded because they are sinners – but Pope Francis definitively rejected this idea. “No,” he said, “you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you.”

We are called to enter the gate that is Jesus. “Don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said. Don’t be afraid “to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others.”

Jesus speaks about a narrow gate not because it is a “torture chamber," but “because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him.”

Finally, the Holy Father emphasised that Christianity is not a “label” – it is a way of life. Christians must not be Christians in name only: “Not Christians, never Christians because of a label!” he said. He called us to be true Christians, Christians at heart. “To be Christian,” said Pope Francis, "is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.”

At the conclusion of his Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the many pilgrims from around the world who had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, with special greetings for a number of groups from Italy and Brazil, and for priests and seminarians from the Pontifical North American College. Noting that many people are nearing the end of their summer break, he offered best wishes for a peaceful and committed return to normal daily life.

Here is the full text of Vatican Radio’s translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

Today's Gospel invites us to reflect on the theme of salvation. Jesus is going up from Galilee to the city of Jerusalem, and along the way, says St. Luke the Evangelist, someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (13:23). Jesus did not answer the question directly: it is not important to know how many are saved, but rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation. And so Jesus responds to the question by saying, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (v. 24). What does Jesus mean? What is the gate by which we enter? And why does Jesus speak about a narrow gate?

The image of the gate recurs several times in the Gospel and is reminiscent of home and hearth, where we find safety, love and warmth. Jesus tells us that there is a gate that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus himself (cf. Jn 10:9). He is the gate. He is the gateway to salvation. He leads us to the Father. And the gate that is Jesus is never closed, this gate is never closed, it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges. Because, you know, Jesus does not exclude anyone. Some of you might say to me, “But Father, surely I am excluded, because I am a great sinner. I have done so many things in my life.” No, you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you. Don’t be afraid: He’s waiting for you. Be lively, have the courage to enter through His gate. All are invited to pass through this gate, to pass through the gate of faith, to enter into His life, and to allow Him to enter into our life, because He transforms it, renews it, the gifts of full and lasting joy.

Nowadays we pass many doors that invite us to enter, that promise a happiness that then we realise lasts but a moment, which is an end in itself and has no future. But I ask you: which gate do we want to enter? And who we want to through the gate of our lives? I want to say emphatically: don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus, to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others. Because Jesus illuminates our life with a light that never goes out. It is not a firework, not a “flash”! No, it is a soft light that always endures and that gives us peace. That is the light that we meet if we enter through the gate of Jesus.

Certainly, it is a narrow gate, the gate of Jesus, not because it is a torture chamber. No, not because of that! But because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him. Jesus in the Gospel tells us that being a Christian is not having a “label”! I ask you, are you Christians because of a label, or in truth? And for each one the answer is within. Not Christians, never Christians because of a label! Christians in truth, in the heart. To be Christian is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.

We ask the Virgin Mary, the Gate of Heaven, to help us to pass through the gate of faith, to allow her Son to transform our existence as He transformed hers, in order to bring everyone the joy of the Gospel.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed for peace in Syria (see separate story) and went on to greet pilgrims in attendance in Saint Peter's Square.]

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present: families, the numerous groups and the Associazione Albergoni. In particular I greet the Sisters of Santa Dorotea, the youth of Verona, Syracuse, Nave, Modica and Trento, the candidates for Confirmation of the Unità Pastorale of Angarano and Val Liona, seminarians and priests of the Pontifical North American College, the workers of Cuneo and the pilgrims Verrua Po, San Zeno Naviglio, Urago d'Oglio, Varano Borghi and Sao Paulo. For many people, these days mark the end of the summer vacation period. I wish you all a peaceful and committed return to normal daily life looking to the future with hope.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week! Buon pranzo, and arrivederci!



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Aug 2013
Dominica as Flora the courtesan tease leads the chorus in a scene from La Traviata
Whether she is on stage at the Opera House delighting audiences as one of Opera Australia's principal artists and rising stars or singing with the congregation during Mass at her local church at Castle Hill, Dominica Matthews experiences the same joyful emotions.
"I love to sing," she says simply but admits as a trained opera singer and mezzo soprano when she joins in the singing at Castle Hills' St Bernadette's Catholic Church during Mass, she has to remind herself to "tone it down" a bit.
"If I go into full voice the little kids are hilarious. They climb out of their seats, stand in front of me and stare at me in disbelief," she says and breaks into her distinctive rich infectious laugh.
A pupil at St Bernadette's primary and later a student and member of the choir at Gilroy Catholic College, Dominica says church music was not only her early training ground but remains a profound source of inspiration.
For Dominica now regarded as one of the nation's leading mezzo sopranos faith and music are intricately linked. 
"They are one and the same," she insists. "Church music is uplifting and joyous and absolutely enhances prayer whether this is the beautiful sacred music from a previous century or a youth choir singing along with drums and guitars. They were all written and inspired by God."
With an outstanding voice and intensely musical, Dominica firmly believes both are gifts from God and insists it is her "absolute duty" to work as hard as she can to make the most of this blessing.
"Thy will be done is something I strongly believe in. I live by that, and know I must use these gifts not only because I want to but because I have to," she says.
Certainly Dominica is no stranger to hard work. For the past six weeks she has been juggling evening performances at the Opera House in Verdi favourite, La Traviata with rehearsals during the day for Benjamin Britten's comic lampoon of English village life, Albert Herring which premiered on 16 August.
This week Dominica is set to once again delight audiences at the Sydney Opera House playing the irrepressible 19th Century courtesan Flora Bervoix in La Traviata with performances tomorrow night and again on Thursday, 29 August. Then on 30 August, just 24 hours later, she will be back on stage. But instead of playing the corseted temptress Flora in the Verdi Opera, she will be Mrs Pike, the imminently sensible morally upstanding housekeeper of Benjamin Britten's comedy of errors.
By Saturday Dominica will have switched roles once again and be back on the opera stage as Flora in Verdi's adaption of the French classic, La Dame Aux Camellias.
Dominica Matthews says faith and music are intertwined
"The two roles are chalk and cheese," she agrees, adding that having the opportunity to play such rich diverse roles that switch from drama to tragedy to comedy is one of the challenges of working with Opera Australia.
The variety of characters and singing the music of many different composers in Opera Australia's seasons each year she says is not only creatively fulfilling and exciting, but "enormous fun."
"I just wish more people realised what opera has to offer. So many people still think of it as an old fashioned-thing with the sort of Valkyrie soprano wearing horns spoofed by Anna Russell in the 1950s and 1960s. This is still the image perpetuated by the media. But opera isn't like that anymore and hasn't been for decades. If only people would come to one of the operas, they'd realise this and really enjoy themselves."
A visual feast along with outstanding music, a live orchestra, large casts, amazing sets, with some of the world's as well as the nation's leading directors and performers, opera is one of the great theatrical experiences.

"These days when you study opera you study everything from stage craft to acting to comedy, to movement, languages and all sorts of other stuff as well as singing, sight reading and musicianship," she says. "To be a singer you have to have the muscular strength to pump your voice out into the theatre without the help of a microphone. The bigger the music, the bigger you have to be. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to be large but it does mean you have to be physically fit."
Dominica's musical talents and voice were apparent from a very early age, and at 17 she was selected as a solo canto to sing at the Beatification of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop before an audience of hundreds of thousands at Randwick Racecourse. However when she left school rather than chase a career as a singer, she enrolled at the Australian Catholic University to study to become a primary school teacher.
On graduation Dominica spent the next two years as a relief teacher at schools across Sydney before deciding she needed to make a choice.
"I was still studying singing on the side and my singing teacher thought I could make a career out of it," she recalls. Figuring if singing didn't work out she could always return to teaching, she took the plunge and began studying for a Diploma of Opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Awarded a Peter Moores Foundation Scholarship for two years study in England in 2004, she returned to Australia in 2006 after being snapped up by Opera Australia as part of its Young Artist Program.
In a bitter sweet irony, when Dominica made her debut at the Sydney Opera House in Pirates of Penzance in 2009 it was the same year her beloved father lost his hearing.
"For 15 years I'd been having singing lessons but when I finally opened in Pirates at the Opera House he could no longer hear," she says. Although her father wore hearing aids he could hear almost nothing. The night he came along to see his daughter was the night that the singer playing Ruth, the role Dominica was understudying, became ill and Dominica found herself on stage in one of the leading roles.
"Dad was there along with my mother and my two other brothers and younger sister and even though he couldn't hear he told me that night was the proudest moment of his life."
Dominica's father passed away in 2010. She and the rest of the family miss him greatly and she has fond memories of their times together and how he fostered her love of big bands and Frank Sinatra.
Opera Australia mezzo soprano Dominica Matthews switches gears from courtesan in La Traviata to play moral upstanding housekeeper Mrs Pike
"I grew up on Frank Sinatra at the Sands and Walt Disney movie themes," she laughs and admits that while she was never an Abba fan - or even part of that generation - she enjoys modern music with Bon Jovi a special favourite.
She refuses to say what her favourite opera is however and insists "it is whatever opera I am working on at the time."
This year she has not only performed in La Traviata and Albert Herring but in January and February was one of the leads in Falstaff and will shortly start rehearsals for Wagner's Ring Cycle which goes on stage in Melbourne in November and December.
"As a singer in opera you give up quite a lot. You can't have big nights out especially if you have a show the next day. You have to give up any sort of social life. Everything revolves around your voice and being well," she says but insists she has no complaints.
"My life revolves around my mother, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and singing. To be able to find something you love doing and that you are good at is a blessing and gift from God."
Dominica Matthews can be seen at the Opera House in La Traviata on 27 August, 29 August and 31 August and in Albert Herring on 30 August. To find out more log on to


The team of experts arrived today in Ghouta, north of Damascus, to see if neurotoxins were used against civilians. As the United States, France, Britain and Turkey prepare for military action without UN approval, Moscow reminds anti-Assad powers about errors made in Iraq.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Syrian government will allow the United Nations to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. The rebels have said that they too will be available to UN experts. Today, the UN team began its work but the international community remains divided over the future of the conflict.
"Syria is ready to cooperate with the inspection team to prove that the allegations by terrorist groups (rebels) of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian troops in the Eastern Ghouta region are lies," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said yesterday.
According to the opposition, the attack a few days ago in Ghouta, a district in northern Damascus, claimed the lives of 1,300 people.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Saturday that 355 people who died in its hospitals showed "neurotoxin symptoms".
Syria's overtures have not however changed the international community's position on a military intervention in Syria, except for its main allies, Russia and Iran.
So far, the only appeals for reconciliation and the end of hostilities have come from the Vatican.
Yesterday, the pope urged all countries involved in Syria to stop "the clatter of arms" and work for peace, calling on the parties to meet and talk in order to stop this "war between brothers".
Despite Pope Francis's appeal, the West and its allies appear to be moving towards armed conflict. Yesterday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US military was "prepared to exercise whatever option" against Syria but intelligence was still being evaluated.
French President Francois Hollande said there was "a body of evidence indicating that the August 21 attack was chemical in nature, and that everything led to the belief that the Syrian regime was responsible for this unspeakable act".
Turkey has taken the toughest stance. Yesterday, in an interview with daily Milliyet, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey would join any coalition against Mr Assad's government.
As US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron talk, the British navy is also preparing to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, The Telegraph reported.
For its part, Moscow has called on the US and its allies to reflect. "All of this makes one recall the events that happened 10 years ago, when, using false information about Iraqis having weapons of mass destructions, the US bypassed the United Nations and started a scheme whose consequences are well known to everyone," the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia's position is shared by Iran. "If the United States crosses this red line, there will be harsh consequences for the White House," Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Massoud Jazayeri said.


Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 425

Reading 11                         THES 1:1-5, 8B-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.
For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
In every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, Jesus,
who delivers us from the coming wrath.

Responsorial Psalm                PS 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia!
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel                   MT 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”


ZEPHYRINUS, a native of Rome, succeeded Victor in the pontificate, in the year 202, in which Severus raised the fifth most bloody persecution against the Church, which continued not for two years only, but until the death of that emperor in 211. Under this furious storm this holy pastor was the support and comfort of the distressed flock of Christ, and he suffered by charity and compassion what every confessor underwent. The triumphs of the martyrs were indeed his joy, but his heart received many deep wounds from the fall of apostates and heretics. Neither did this latter affliction cease when peace was restored to the Church. Our Saint had also the affliction to see the fall of Tertullian, which seems to have been owing partly to his pride. Eusebius tells us that this holy Pope exerted his zeal so strenuously against the blasphemies of the heretics that they treated him in the most contumelious manner; but it was his glory that they called him the principal defender of Christ's divinity. St. Zephyrinus filled the pontifical chair seventeen years, dying in 219. He was buried in his own cemetery, on the 26th of August. He is, in some Martyrologies, styled a martyr, which title he might deserve by what he suffered in the   persecution, though he perhaps did not die by the executioner. SOURCE: EWTN



Reading 1            IS 66:18-21

Thus says the LORD:
I know their works and their thoughts,
and I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
I will set a sign among them;
from them I will send fugitives to the nations:
to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,
to the distant coastlands
that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory;
and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD,
just as the Israelites bring their offering
to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.
Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm                    PS 117:1, 2

R. (Mk 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2                               HEB 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters, You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons.  For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.  Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Gospel                   LK 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”



Feast Day:
August 25
25 April 1214 at Poissy, France
25 August 1270 at Tunis, Algeria
1297 by Pope Boniface VIII
Patron of:
Secular Franciscan Order, France, French monarchy; hairdressers; passementiers (lacemakers)
King of France, son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile, born at Poissy, 25 April, 1215; died near Tunis, 25 August, 1270.
He was eleven years of age when the death of Louis VIII made him king, and nineteen when he married Marguerite of Provence by whom he had eleven children. The regency of Blanche of Castile (1226-1234) was marked by the victorious struggle of the Crown against Raymond VII in Languedoc, against Pierre Mauclerc in Brittany, against Philip Hurepel in the Ile de France, and by indecisive combats against Henry III of England. In this period of disturbances the queen was powerfully supported by the legate Frangipani. Accredited to Louis VIII by Honorius III as early as 1225, Frangipani won over to the French cause the sympathies of Gregory IX, who was inclined to listen to Henry III, and through his intervention it was decreed that all the chapters of the dioceses should pay to Blanche of Castile tithes for the southern crusade. It was the legate who received the submission of Raymond VII, Count of Languedoc, at Paris, in front of Notre-Dame, and this submission put an end to the Albigensian war and prepared the union of the southern provinces to France by the Treaty of Paris (April 1229). The influence of Blanche de Castile over the government extended far beyond St. Louis's minority. Even later, in public business and when ambassadors were officially received, she appeared at his side. She died in 1253. In the first years of the king's personal government, the Crown had to combat a fresh rebellion against feudalism, led by the Count de la Marche, in league with Henry III. St. Louis's victory over this coalition at Taillebourg, 1242, was followed by the Peace of Bordeaux which annexed to the French realm a part of Saintonge.
It was one of St. Louis's chief characteristics to carry on abreast his administration as national sovereign and the performance of his duties towards Christendom; and taking advantage of the respite which the Peace of Bordeaux afforded, he turned his thoughts towards a crusade. Stricken down with a fierce malady in 1244, he resolved to take the cross when news came that Turcomans had defeated the Christians and the Moslems and invaded Jerusalem. (On the two crusades of St. Louis [1248-1249 and 1270] see CRUSADES.) Between the two crusades he opened negotiations with Henry III, which he thought would prevent new conflicts between France and England. The Treaty of Paris (28 May, 1258) which St. Louis concluded with the King of England after five years' parley, has been very much discussed. By this treaty St. Louis gave Henry III all the fiefs and domains belonging to the King of France in the Dioceses of Limoges, Cahors, and Perigueux; and in the event of Alphonsus of Poitiers dying without issue, Saintonge and Agenais would escheat to Henry III. On the other hand Henry III renounced his claims to Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, Poitou, and promised to do homage for the Duchy of Guyenne. It was generally considered and Joinville voiced the opinion of the people, that St. Louis made too many territorial concessions to Henry III; and many historians held that if, on the contrary, St. Louis had carried the war against Henry III further, the Hundred Years War would have been averted. But St. Louis considered that by making the Duchy of Guyenne a fief of the Crown of France he was gaining a moral   advantage; and it is an undoubted fact that the Treaty of Paris, was as displeasing to the English as it was to the French. In 1263, St. Louis was chosen as arbitrator in a difference which separated Henry III and the English barons: by the Dit d'Amiens (24 January, 1264) he declared himself for Henry III against the barons, and annulled the Provisions of Oxford, by which the barons had attempted to restrict the authority of the king. It was also in the period between the two crusades that St. Louis, by the Treaty of Corbeil, imposed upon the King of Aragon the abandonment of his claims to all the fiefs in Languedoc excepting Montpellier, and the surrender of his rights to Provence (11 May, 1258). Treaties and arbitrations prove St. Louis to have been above all a lover of peace, a king who desired not only to put an end to conflicts, but also to remove the causes for fresh wars, and this spirit of peace rested upon the Christian conception.
St. Louis's relations with the Church of France and the papal Court have excited widely divergent interpretations and opinions. However, all historians agree that St. Louis and the successive popes united to protect the clergy of France from the encroachments or molestations of the barons and royal officers. It is equally recognized that during the absence of St. Louis at the crusade, Blanche of Castile protected the clergy in 1251 from the plunder and ill-treatment of a mysterious old   maurauder called the "Hungarian Master" who was followed by a mob of armed men—called the "Pastoureaux." The "Hungarian Master" who was said to be in league with the Moslems died in an engagement near Villaneuve and the entire band pursued in every direction was dispersed and annihilated. But did St. Louis take measures also to defend the independence of the clergy against the papacy? A number of historians once claimed he did. They attributed to St. Louis a certain "pragmatic sanction" of March 1269, prohibiting irregular collations of ecclesiastical benefices, prohibiting simony, and interdicting the tributes which the papal Court received from the French clergy. The Gallicans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often made use of this measure against the Holy See; the truth is that it was a forgery fabricated in the fourteenth century by juris-consults desirous of giving to the Pragmatic Sanction of Charles VII a precedent worthy of respect. This so-called pragmatic of Louis IX is presented as a royal decree for the reformation of the Church; never would St. Louis thus have taken upon himself the right to proceed authoritatively with this reformation. When in 1246, a great number of barons from the north and the west leagued against the clergy whom they accused of amassing too   great wealth and of encroaching upon their rights, Innocent IV called upon Louis to dissolve this league; how the king acted in the matter is not definitely known. On 2 May, 1247, when the Bishops of Soissons and of Troyes, the archdeacon of Tours, and the provost of the cathedral of Rouen, despatched to the pope a remonstrance against his taxations, his preferment of Italians in the distribution of benefices, against the conflicts between papal jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the ordinaries, Marshal Ferri Paste seconded their complaints in the name of St. Louis. Shortly after, these complaints were reiterated and detailed in a lengthy memorandum, the text of which has been preserved by Mathieu Paris, the historian. It is not known whether St. Louis affixed his signature to it, but in any case, this document was simply a request asking for the suppression of the abuses, with no pretensions to laying down principles of public right, as was claimed by the Pragmatic Sanction.
Documents prove that St. Louis did not lend an ear to the grievances of his clergy against the emissaries of Urban IV and Clement IV; he even allowed Clement IV to generalize a custom in 1265 according to which the benefices the titularies of which died while sojourning in Rome, should be disposed of by the pope. Docile to the decrees of the Lateran Council (1215), according to which kings were not to tax the churches of their realm without authority from the pope, St. Louis claimed and obtained from successive popes, in view of the crusade, the right to levy quite heavy taxes from the clergy. It is again this fundamental idea of the crusade, ever present in St. Louis's thoughts that prompted his attitude generally in the struggle between the empire and the pope. While the Emperor   Frederick II and the successive popes sought and contended for France's support, St. Louis's attitude was at once decided and reserved. On the one hand he did not accept for his brother Robert of Artois, the imperial crown offered him by Gregory IX in 1240. In his correspondence with Frederick he continued to treat him as a sovereign, even after Frederick had been excommunicated and declared dispossessed of his realms by Innocent IV at the Council of Lyons, 17 July, 1245. But on the other hand, in 1251, the king compelled Frederick to release the French archbishops taken prisoners by the Pisans, the emperor's auxiliaries, when on their way in a Genoese fleet to attend a general council at Rome. In 1245, he conferred at length, at Cluny, with Innocent IV who had taken refuge in Lyons in December, 1244, to escape the threats of the emperor, and it was at this meeting that the papal dispensation for the marriage of Charles Anuou, brother of Louis IX, to Beatrix, heiress of Provençe was granted and it was then that Louis IX and Blanche of Castile promised Innocent IV their support. Finally, when in 1247 Frederick II took steps to capture Innocent IV at Lyons, the measures Louis took to defend the pope were one of the reasons which caused the emperor to withdraw. St. Louis looked upon every act of hostility from either power as an obstacle to accomplishing the crusade. In the quarrel over investitures, the king kept on friendly terms with both, not allowing the emperor to harass the pope and never exciting the pope against the emperor. In 1262 when Urban offered St. Louis, the Kingdom of Sicily, a fief of the Apostolic See, for one of his sons, St. Louis refused it, through consideration for the Swabian dynasty then   reigning; but when Charles of Anjou accepted Urban IV's offer and went to conquer the Kingdom of Sicily, St. Louis allowed the bravest knights of France to join the expedition which destroyed the power of the Hohenstaufens in Sicily. The king hoped, doubtless, that the possession of Sicily by Charles of Anjou would be advantageous to the crusade.
St. Louis led an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother's words: "I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin." His biographers have told us of the long hours he spent in prayer, fasting, and penance, without the knowlege of his subjects. The French king was a great lover of justice. French fancy still pictures him delivering judgements under the oak of Vincennes. It was during his reign that the "court of the king" (curia regis) was organized into a regular court of justice, having competent experts, and judicial commissions acting at regular periods. These commissions were called parlements and the history of the "Dit d'Amiens" proves that entire Christendom willingly looked upon him as an international judiciary. It is an error, however, to represent him as a great legislator; the document known as "Etablissements de St. Louis" was not a code drawn up by order of the king, but merely a collection of customs, written out before 1273 by a jurist who set forth in this book the customs of Orlians, Anjou, and Maine, to which he added a few ordinances of St. Louis. St. Louis was a patron of architecture. The Sainte Chappelle, an architectural gem, was constructed in his reign, and it was under his patronage that Robert of Sorbonne founded the "Collège de la Sorbonne," which became the seat of the theological faculty of Paris. He was renowned for his charity. The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor he would say. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded many hospitals and houses: the House of the Felles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes; the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men (1254), hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, Compihgne.
The Enseignements (written instructions) which he left to his son Philip and to his daughter Isabel, the discourses preserved by the witnesses at judicial investigations preparatory to his canonization and Joinville's anecdotes show St. Louis to have been a man of sound common sense, posssessing indefatigable energy, graciously kind and of playful humour, and constantly guarding against the temptation to be imperious. The caricature made of him by the envoy of the Count of Gueldre: "worthless devotee, hypocritical king" was very far from the truth. On the contrary, St. Louis, through his personal qualities as well as his saintliness, increased for many centuries the prestige of the French monarchy (see FRANCE). St. Louis's canonization was proclaimed at Orvieto in 1297, by Boniface VIII. Of the inquiries in view of canonization, carried on from 1273 till 1297, we have only fragmentary reports published by Delaborde ("Memoires de la societe de l'histoire de Paris et de l'Ilea de France," XXIII, 1896) and a series of extracts compiled by Guillaume de St. Pathus, Queen Marguerite's confessor, under the title of "Vie Monseigneur Saint Loys" (Paris,1899). source: EWTN


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, 
23 Aug 2013
Two year old Jacinta will accompany her parents to the Mass for Pregnant Mothers this Sunday
For Kingsgrove couple, Peter and Celestina Shori this Sunday's annual Mass for Pregnant Mothers at St Mary's Cathedral is not only a chance for them to give thanks for the gift of children but an opportunity to be reunited with the Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Bishop Terry Brady.
Bishop Terry Brady who will celebrate this very special Mass with fellow Auxiliary Bishop Peter Comensoli has known the couple for many years dating back to the days when he was parish priest at their local church, Our Lady of Fatima, Kingsgrove.
"I have to keep remembering not to call him Father Terry," Celestina says with a smile recalling hers and husband Peter's long time association with Bishop Terry and with the Church.
"Father Terry as we knew him then, married us at Our Lady of Fatima Church on 25 September almost nine years ago. As a member of the Parish I'd known him some time but Peter and Bishop Terry went back even further to the days when Peter was a pupil at the local parish primary school and an altar server. Later he became an acolyte and the parish's Altar Servers Coordinator," she recalls.
Although Celestina's younger sister Maryanne was an altar server during the time Peter was co-ordinator the couple didn't meet until some years later when they were students at university and volunteering in their spare time for St Vincent de Paul Society.
"We were both doing clothing drives for Vinnies and doing night food van patrols giving hot meals and drinks to the homeless as well as putting on barbecues and holding car washes to raise funds for our local as well as the nearby Lewisham branch," she says.
Now in its sixth year the Mass for Pregnant Mothers is an initiative of Cardinal Pell. Picture courtesy of Catholic Weekly
When the pair met, Celestina was a registered nurse having recently graduated from the University of Sydney while Peter was in the midst of an engineering degree at the University of NSW and for the next four years the pair was inseparable. Then in 2004 the couple married.
"By then I'd studied midwifery and was working night shifts as well as day shifts, helping women deliver and care for their babies and Peter had begun his career as an engineer," she says.
Starting a family was a priority for both Celestina and Peter. They loved children and always imagined they would have a big family. But it would be a long wait until their daughter Jacinta finally arrived on 10 February 2011.
"We were ecstatic when we discovered I was pregnant. We had wanted a baby for so long and then suddenly there she was," Celestina says of their joy in their two year old vibrant, personality-plus and chatterbox of a daughter. 
Now seven and a half months pregnant with the couple's second child due in October, Celestina is ensuring Jacinta is involved and as excited as her parents about the birth of a younger sister or brother.
Celestina and Peter were overjoyed when Jacinta was born in February 2011
"We take her along to all the visits to our obstetrician so she can see the ultrasound pictures and each night she kisses my tummy and says 'goodnight  baby,'and we have given her a baby doll to play with and care for," she says.
Although Celestina is a trained midwife, these days she works as a Diabetes Educator at St George Hospital.
"With children the night shift is too much but I wanted to continue looking after pregnant women so becoming a diabetes educator was ideal. This way I do day shifts working with women who have impaired glucose tolerance or type 1 or type 2 diabetes who wish to conceive or are already pregnant. Plus I work with those who develop gestational diabetes which can be quite common during pregnancy. This way I can still using my midwifery skills to care for them," the 36-year-old mother explains.
For Celestina and her husband Peter the Mass for Pregnant Mothers this Sunday will be a chance to say thank you for the precious gift of Jacinta and the baby who will arrive in two months time.
"We both feel so blessed to have two children especially when Jacinta arrived after such a period of waiting, hoping and praying. Now to have a second baby and one that has come so soon after Jacinta and is such a wonderful surprise, we feel doubly blessed," she says.
For the couple Sunday will not only be an opportunity to celebrate the precious gift of children with more than 60-70 other pregnant mothers, their husbands and families, but to catch up and show off their beloved daughter to Bishop Terry.
Peter and Celestina with Bishop Terry Brady and Sr Anne Pardy on their wedding day in 2004
"Jacinta goes to Mass with us in Kingsgrove each week and she will be coming with us to the Cathedral on Sunday. The only problem will be to keep her occupied so we are taking along lots of crayons and drawing paper and story books with pictures. She's so on the ball and gets bored pretty quickly. But the beauty of the Cathedral I am sure will hold her interest, I'm just hoping she keeps her fingers away from the candles!" Celestina says and with a broad smile adds that both she and Peter will be keeping a close eye on their determined and ever-curious young daughter.
2013 marks the sixth year the Mass for Pregnant Mothers has been held at St Mary's Cathedral. An initiative of the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and organised by the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life Marriage and Family Centre, the Mass has become a beloved and very special tradition.
"I read about the Mass in our Church bulletin and immediately wanted to be a part of this," Celestina says.
The Mass for Pregnant Mothers will be held at 10.30 am at St Mary's Cathedral on Sunday, 25 August and will be celebrated by Bishop Terry Brady and Bishop Peter Comensoli, Auxiliary Bishops of Sydney.  After the Mass morning tea will be held for the pregnant mothers and their families in St Mary's Cathedral Chapter Hall.
For direct enquiries about the Mass phone 02 9390 5290 or email