Sunday, April 22, 2012


St. George
Feast: April 23

Feast Day:April 23
Born: between ca. AD 275 and 281, Nicomedia, Bithynia, modern-day northwestern Turkey
Died: April 23, 303, Lydda, Palestine
Major Shrine:Church of Saint George, Lod
Patron of:agricultural workers; Amersfoort, Netherlands; Aragon; archers; armourers; Beirut, Lebanon; Bulgaria; butchers; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Corinthians; Crusaders; England; equestrians; Ethiopia; farmers; Ferrara; field workers; Genoa; Georgia; Gozo; Greece; Haldern, Germany; Heide; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; knights; lepers and leprosy; Lithuania; Lod; Malta; Modica, Sicily; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; Piran; plague; Portugal; Portuguese Army; Portuguese Navy; Ptuj, Slovenia; Reggio Calabria; riders; saddle makers; Scouts; sheep; shepherds; skin diseases; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights
St George is honoured in the Catholic Church as one of the most illustrious martyrs of Christ. The Greeks have long distinguished him by the title of The Great Martyr, and keep his festival a holiday of obligation. There stood formerly in Constantinople five or six churches dedicated in his honour, the oldest of which was always said to have been built by Constantine the Great, who seems also to have been the founder of the church of St. George, which stood over his tomb in Palestine. Both these churches were certainly built under the first Christian emperors. In the middle of the sixth age, the Emperor Justinian erected a new church in honour of this saint at Bizanes, in Lesser Armenia: the Emperor Mauritius founded one in Constantinople. It is related in the life of St. Theodorus of Siceon that he served God a long while in a chapel which bore the name of St. George, had a particular devotion to this glorious martyr, and strongly recommended the same to Mauritius when he foretold him the empire. One of the churches of St. George in Constantinople, called Manganes, with a monastery adjoining, gave to the Hellespont the name of the Arm of St. George. To this day is St. George honoured as principal patron, or tutelar saint, by several Eastern nations, particularly the Georgians. The Byzantine historians relate several battles to have been gained, and other miracles wrought, through his intercession. From frequent pilgrimages to his church and tomb in Palestine, performed by those who visited the Holy Land, his veneration was much propagated over the West. St. Gregory of Tours mentions him as highly celebrated in France in the sixth century. St. Gregory the Great ordered an old church of St. George, which was fallen to decay, to be repaired. His office is found in the sacramentary of that pope and many others. St. Clotildis, wife of Clovis, the first Christian king of France, erected altars under his name; and the church of Chelles, built by her, was originally dedicated in his honour. The ancient life of Droctovaeus mentions, that certain relics of St. George were placed in the church of St. Vincent, now called St. Germaris, in Paris, when it was first consecrated. Fortunatus of Poitiers wrote an epigram on a church of St. George, in Mentz. The intercession of this saint was implored especially in battles and by warriors, as appears by several instances in the Byzantine history, and he is said to have been himself a great soldier. He is, at this day, the tutelar saint of the republic of Genoa; and was chosen by our ancestors in the same quality under our first Norman kings. The great national council, held at Oxford in 1222, commanded his feast to be kept a holiday of the lesser rank throughout all England. Under his name and ensign was instituted by our victorious king, Edward III, in 1330, the most noble Order of knighthood in Europe, consisting of twenty-five knights besides the sovereign. Its establishment is dated fifty years before the knights of St. Michael were instituted in France by Louis XI; eighty years before the Order of the Golden Fleece, established by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy; and one hundred and ninety years before the Order of St. Andrew was set up in Scotland by James V. The emperor Frederic IV instituted, in 1470, an Order of knights in honour of St. George; and an honourable military Order in Venice bears his name.
The extraordinary devotion of all Christendom to this saint is an authentic proof how glorious his triumph and name have always been in the church. All his acts relate that he suffered under Diocletian at Nicomedia. Joseph Assemani shows, from the unanimous consent of all churches, that he was crowned on the 23rd of April. According to the account given us by Metaphrastes, he was born in Cappadocia, of noble Christian parents. After the death of his father he went with his mother into Palestine, she being a native of that country, and having there a considerable estate, which fell to her son George. He was strong and robust in body, and having embraced the profession of a soldier, was made a tribune, or colonel, in the army. By his courage and conduct he was soon preferred to higher stations by the Emperor Diocletian. When that prince waged war against the Christian religion, St. George laid aside the marks of his dignity, threw up his commission and posts, and complained to the emperor himself of his severities and bloody edicts. He was immediately cast into prison, and tried, first by promises, and afterwards put to the question and tortured with great cruelty; but nothing could shake his constancy. The next day he was led through the city and beheaded. Some think him to have been the same illustrious young man who tore down the edicts when they were first fixed up at Nicomedia, as Lactantius relates in his book, On the Death of the Persecutors, and Eusebius in his history. The reason why St. George has been regarded as the patron of military men is partly upon the score of his profession, and partly upon the credit of a relation of his appearing to the Christian army in the holy war, before the battle of Antioch. The success of this battle proving fortunate to the Christians, under Godfrey of Bouillon, made the name of St. George more famous in Europe and disposed the military men to implore more particularly his intercession. This devotion was confirmed, as it is said, by an apparition of St. George to our king, Richard I, in his expedition against the Saracens; which vision being declared to the troops, was to them a great encouragement, and they soon after defeated the enemy. St. George is usually painted on horseback and tilting at a dragon under his feet; but this representation is no more than an emblematical figure, purporting that by his faith and Christian fortitude he conquered the devil, called the dragon in the Apocalypse.
Though many dishonour the profession of arms by a licentiousness of manners, yet, to show us that perfect sanctity is attainable in all states, we find the names of more soldiers recorded in the Martyrologies than almost of any other profession. Every true disciple of Christ must be a martyr in the disposition of his heart, as he must be ready to lose all, and to suffer anything, rather than to offend God. Every good Christian is also a martyr, by the patience and courage with which he bears all trials. There is no virtue more necessary, nor of which the exercise ought to be more frequent, than patience. In this mortal life we have continually something to suffer from disappointments in affairs, from the severity of the seasons, from the injustice, caprice, peevishness, jealousy, or antipathy of others; and from ourselves, in pains either of mind or body. Even our own weaknesses and faults are to us subjects of patience. And as we have continually many burdens, both of our own and others, to bear, it is only in patience that we are to possess our souls. This affords us comfort in all our sufferings and maintains our souls in unshaken tranquillity and peace. This is true greatness of mind and the virtue of heroic souls. But, alas! every accident ruffles and disturbs us; and we are insupportable even to ourselves. What comfort should we find, what peace should we enjoy, what treasures of virtue should we heap up, what an harvest of merits should we reap, if we had learned the true spirit of Christian patience! This is the martyrdom and the crown of every faithful disciple of Christ.



St. Adalbert of Prague
Feast: April 23

Feast Day:April 23
Born: 939, Libice nad Cidlinou, Bohemia
Died: 997, Truso (Elbląg) or Kaliningrad Oblast
Patron of:Bohemia; Poland; Prussia
Born 939 of a noble Bohemian family; died 997. He assumed the name of the Archbishop Adalbert (his name had been Wojtech), under whom he studied at Magdeburg. He became Bishop of Prague, whence he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to reform the clergy of his diocese. He betook himself to Rome, and when released by Pope John XV from his episcopal obligations, withdrew to a monastery and occupied himself in the most humble duties of the house. Recalled by his people, who received him with great demonstrations of joy, he was nevertheless expelled a second time and returned to Rome. The people of Hungary were just then turning towards Christianity. Adalbert went among them as a missionary, and probably baptized King Geysa and his family, and King Stephen. He afterwards evangelized the Poles, and was made Archbishop of Gnesen. But he again relinquished his see, and set out to preach to the idolatrous inhabitants of what is now the Kingdom of Prussia. Success attended his efforts at first, but his imperious manner in commanding them to abandon paganism irritated them, and at the instigation of one of the pagan priests he was killed. This was in the year 997. His feast is celebrated 23 April, and he is called the Apostle of Prussia. Boleslas I, Prince of Poland, is said to have ransomed his body for an equivalent weight of gold. He is thought to be the author of the war-song, "Boga-Rodzica", which the Poles used to sing when going to battle.



RADIO VATICANA REPORT/IMAGE: Our ability to recognize the Risen Lord through His Word and in the Eucharist was the focus of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regina Caeli reflections this third Sunday of Easter. Speaking in French he said in the same way the Risen Jesus appeared among the apostles, still today "the Savior assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist" and just as "He gave peace "to the disciples, "He is still gifting us His peace and opens up life to happiness and invites us to become His witnesses to the ends of the earth, in our world marked by evil and suffering, pain and fear”.

St Peter’s Square, below the Pope’s study window was packed, mainly with young children from parishes across the diocese of Rome, who are preparing for their First Communion. They had gathered beneath his balcony early Sunday morning, animating the build up to the midday appointment with the Holy Father with song, adding splashes of color to square with bunches of balloons. And they were not disappointed. Speaking to them directly before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, which replaces the Angelus during the period between Easter and Pentecost, Pope Benedict urged "parish priests, parents and catechists to prepare this feast of faith, with great fervor, but with sobriety." This day is to be memorable as the moment when ... you too understand the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus".

Referring to the Sunday Gospel, Luke chapter 24, Pope Benedict said “the Saviour assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist. Therefore, just as the disciples of Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:35), so we meet the Lord in the Eucharistic celebration”. Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas he said " It is absolutely necessary to confess according to Catholic faith that the entire Christ is in this sacrament.... since the Godhead never set aside the assumed body".
Finally the Pope prayed that the Mother of God help us to listen attentively to the Word of the Lord and participate worthily in the Eucharistic Sacrifice,” to become witnesses of the new humanity”.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regina Caeli reflections on the third Sunday of Easter:

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, the third Sunday of Easter, in the Gospel according to Luke, we meet the risen Jesus who comes in the midst of the disciples (cf. Lk 24.36), who were incredulous and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost (cf. Lk 24, 37). Romano Guardini writes: "The Lord has changed. He does not live as before. His existence ... it is not understandable. Yet it is corporal, including ... his whole life experience, his lived destiny, his passion and his death. Everything is real. Albeit changed, but always tangible reality "(The Lord. Meditations on the person and the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Milan 1949, 433). Since the resurrection has not erased the marks of crucifixion, Jesus shows his hands and feet to the Apostles. And to convince them, he even asking for something to eat. So the disciples' offered him a piece of baked fish, and he took it and ate it before them "(Luke 24.42-43). St. Gregory the Great says that "the fish grilled over a fire does not mean anything other than the passion of Jesus Mediator between God and men. In fact, he deigned to hide in the waters of the human race, agreed to be caught in the snare of our death and was as if he were set on fire for the pain suffered at the time of His Passion "(Hom. in Evang. XXIV, 5: CCL 141 , Turnhout 1999, 201).

Thanks to these signs very realistic, the disciples overcome their initial doubt and open up to the gift of faith, and this faith allows them to understand the things written on Christ "in the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (Luke 24.44 ). We read that Jesus "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them:" Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer, and rise from the dead on the third day. and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins…You are witnesses of these things"(Luke 24.45-48). The Saviour assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist. Therefore, just as the disciples of Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:35), so we meet the Lord in the Eucharistic celebration. In this regard, St. Thomas Aquinas explains that " It is absolutely necessary to confess according to Catholic faith that the entire Christ is in this sacrament.... since the Godhead never set aside the assumed body," (S.Th. III q. 76, a. 1).

Dear friends, the Church at Easter time, usually administers First Communion to children. I therefore urge the pastors, parents and catechists to prepare this feast of faith well, with great fervor, but also with simplicity. "This day is to be memorable as the moment when ... you too understand the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus" (Post Synodal ap.exort. Sacramentum Caritatis, 19). May the Mother of God help us to listen attentively to the Word of the Lord and participate worthily in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, to become witnesses of the new humanity.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this Easter prayer to Our Lady. In today’s Gospel, the risen Lord opens the minds of the disciples to the meaning of his suffering and death, and sends them out to preach repentance. With courage and joy, may we too be authentic witnesses to Christ. God bless all of you!


Charles Colson died at 3:12 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2012 from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage. Colson was 80; he was born on October 16, 1931. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Inez (Ducrow) and Wendel Ball Colson. (Image source: His descendants were British and Swedish.  Charles was part of special council to President Nixon from 1969-1973. He was known as "Chuck” Colson. Charles was indicted in the Watergate scandel in 1974. He emerged as a Christian leader. The Prison Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview were 2 organizations he founded.
Mr. Colson led the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, and the Colson Center, which employed Christian worldview.

Colson graduated from Brown University and obtained a law degree from George Washington University. He was a captain in the U.S. Marine. He was married to Nancy Billings (1953-1964) and Patricia Ann Hughes in 1964. Colson had 3 children Wendell Ball II (1954), Christian Billings (1956) and Emily Ann (1958).Colson converted to Christianity after reading the book, "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. He received 15 honorary doctorates.
He repented of his sins during the Watergate scandel opening admitting his faults. Due to his involment he had to serve seven months in prison in Alabama.
Colson has written over 30 books with more than 5 million copies sold. Colson once said:
"I live everyday to the fullest because I live it for Christ," he said of his purpose. "And no matter what I do today ... I'm going to do something to advance the kingdom of God."



Seminar on Christians in the Arab World

Wed 9 May in the EU Parliament

unknownOn Wednesday 9 May, the EPP and ECR political Groups of the European Parliament will be co-organising together with COMECE a half-day Seminar on Christians in the Middle East and North Africa which to a certain extent will be a continuation of the 2010 Seminar which dealt specifically with Persecution of Christians.

For this Seminar which will focus on 'Christians in the Arab World: One year after the Arab Spring', we are inviting organisations such as Aid to the Church in Need, Open Doors International, and Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life to submit their respective reports and analysis. Furthermore, we are honoured to have witnesses hailing from different parts of the Middle East :

Dr Cornelius Hulsman, Arab-West Report, Egypt
S.E. Mgr Samir Nassar, Archeveque Maronite de Damas Syria
Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custody of the Holy Land Jerusalem
Mr. Demianos Kattar, former minister of Financial Affairs of Lebanon

This Seminar will help us to understand the extent of which the “Arab Spring” is meeting the demands for more liberal values such as democracy and human rights.

Download the programme

Please register before 3 May here:
Seminar on Christians in the Arab World
09.05.2012, EU Parliament, Brussels


RADIOVATICAN REPORT: Jesuit Fr Jacob Srampickal, a prophetic voice for Catholic communications in India, has died at the age of 62.
A former head of the communications department at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr Jacob had recently been appointed by the Indian bishops’ conference as head of their National Institute for Social Communications, Research and Training, an institute he helped to found in Uttar Pradesh state.
After studies in Development Communication in the northern English city of Leeds, Fr Jacob went on to serve as head of both the Indian and the Asian office of Signis, the international association for Catholic communications. A prolific author and tireless teacher in seminaries across India, Fr Jacob was renowned for his visionary ideas that included online media training for students in developing countries and the New Delhi Video Festival for NGOs.
During his time in Rome, he also worked closely with Vatican Radio’s Indian programme – among those who knew him well is Fr William Nellikkal of the Radio’s Malayalam section.




Vocations_launch 2012Friday 20 April 2012
“Vocations are everyone’s business”, said Archbishop Denis Hart when he launched the Vocations new DVD/Resource Kit and Website on Thursday evening, 19 April at the Cardinal Knox Centre.
Archbishop Hart went on to say how pleasing it was to see so many people present to support the work of the Catholic Vocations Office.

Vocations Over 100 representatives from Religious communities, the regional seminary, Archdiocesan agencies, young people from youth Holy Hour and those who had contributed to the film Catholic Vocations, the Gift of God’s Love attended the launch.
View gallery
Fr Binh Le, Director of Vocations paid special thanks to the Director of the Catholic Education Office, represented at the launch by Mr John McInerney, who through an annual grant to Catholic Vocations was instrumental in this resource being developed for use in schools. He also thanked Dave Collins and Madeleine Clements who did the film/editing of the DVD and Jeremy Yuen from Catholic Communications who designed the Resource Kit and website.
View the website and DVD at
The Resource Kit introduces young people to the Christian Vocations of single life, marriage, consecrated life and ordained ministry (priesthood and permanent diaconate).
The kit includes a workbook and DVD, and provides an introduction to the concept of vocations.
It seeks to raise awareness of:
  • the four Christian vocations
  • God's call in the life of each person
  • That God uses our gifts and talents in what he calls us to
  • The four key steps in the discernment process: look, ask, listen, pray
The nine minute DVD, filmed in Melbourne, presents the different vocations and aims to present each of these as valid options for all young people.
At the laucnh, Vocations Special Projects Officer Jonathon Zarb described how the DVD/resource kit can be used in schools and youth groups.
Office Manager Joan Clements presented the new website, briefly going through the great range of information that is available.


Agenzia Fides REPORT– Since Tuesday, April 17 the Catholic radio station in Guinea Bissau, Radio Sol Mansi, was allowed to resume broadcasting. "The military junta authorized private radio stations, including ours, to continue broadcasting," says to Fides the director of Radio Sol Mansi, Fr. David Sciocco, PIME missionary, who has been living and working in Guinea Bissau for years.
The crisis erupted after the military coup on April 12 does not seem easy to solve. "At the moment there seems to be no danger of the outbreak of violence, but the political situation is more complicated," says the missionary. On April 19 representatives of 25 political parties signed an agreement with the coup leaders to establish a transition period of two years. The Parliament was dissolved, the Prime Minister and the government were dismissed and a "National Council of Transition," was quickly named which, as first act, appointed President of transition Manuel Serifo Nhamadj. This procedure, however, was deemed unconstitutional by the ECOWAS (the community of West African States), which previously had signed with the military coup another type of agreement.
"The majority of the population is against the agreement on the transition. Yesterday, the military gathered the religious leaders (including the Bishop of Bissau) and representatives of civil society, asking them to sensitize the population they they understand the reasons for the coup. But people are not able to understand them. So a total disconnection between the military and politicians on one side and the people on the other side has been created," said Fr. Sciocco.
Meanwhile, the community of Lusophone countries, which Guinea Bissau belongs to, has asked the UN Security Council to send a force in the Country for the maintenance of peace and the adoption of measures, including international sanctions , "to restore constitutional order" and allow the release of political leaders (including the Prime Minister) arrested by the coup leaders. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 20/4/2012)


Apr 22, 2012 - 3rd Sun Easter

Acts 3: 13 - 15, 17 - 19
13 The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.
14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
15 and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
17 "And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.
19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Psalms 4: 2, 4, 7 - 9
2 O men, how long shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? [Selah]
4 Be angry, but sin not; commune with your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. [Selah]
7 Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for thou alone, O LORD, makest me dwell in safety. ----
1 John 2: 1 - 5
1 My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:
Luke 24: 35 - 48
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.
37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit.
38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?
39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."
41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate before them.
44 Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled."
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.


St. Opportuna
Feast: April 22

Feast Day:April 17
Born:at the castle of Exmes, Argentan, near Ayesmes, Normandy, France
Died:22 April 770, Montreuil, France
Patron of:Diocese of Séez
Virgin and abbess of Montreuil, three miles from Seez, an episcopal see in Normandy, of which her brother, St. Chrodegang, was bishop. This holy prelate, returning from a pilgrimage of devotion which he had made to Rome and other holy places, went to pay a visit to his cousin, St. Lantildis, abbess of Almanesches, in his diocese; but was murdered in the way, at Normant, on the 3d of September, 769, by the contrivance of Chrodobert, a powerful relation, to whom he had intrusted the administration of his temporalities during his absence. He is honored in the Breviary of Seez on the day of his death: his head is enshrined in the abbey of St. Martin in the Fields, at Paris, and his body in the priory of Isle-Adam upon the Oise, near Pontoise. St. Opportuna did not long survive him, dying in 770, on the 22d of April, having lived an accomplished model of humility, obedience, mortification, and prayer. Her relics were carried from Seez during the incursions of the Normans, in the reign of Charles the Bald, to the priory of Moussy, between Paris and Senlis, in 1009: and some time after to Senlis. In the reign of Charles V., in 1374, her right arm was translated to Paris with great devotion and pomp, and deposited in the church which was built in her honor, in the reign of Charles the Bald, to receive a former portion of her relics then brought from Moussy. It was then a small church, built at the entrance of a wood, near a hermitage, called before, Notre Dames des Bois Paris. The town being since extended much beyond this church, it was made parochial and a collegiate of canons. Great part of the head of St. Opportuna remains at Moussy; her left arm, with part of her skull, at Almenesches: one jaw in the priory of St. Chrodegang, at l'Isle-Adam, and a rib, with her right arm, in her church at Paris. In processions, when the shrine of St. Genevieve is taken down, and carried, the ancient portion of the relics of St. Opportuna, kept in a large shrine, is also carried next the shrine of St. Honoratus. She is commemorated in the Paris Breviary, and is the titular saint of a parish in that city.



Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 7th anniversary as Pope this year. Before becoming Archbishop of Munich, the then Father Joseph Ratzinger was a Professor of theology at several university faculties in Germany. His papacy has been marked by his sublime theological observations in his speeches and homilies. What surprises many people is that he can also articulate profound ideas on a level young children can understand. This was demonstrated in his first year as Pope, when he answered questions in St. Peter’s Square from children about to receive their first Holy Communion.

“I was intrigued at the thought of the scholar speaking to young children,” said artist Ann Engelhart. “When I heard he would be speaking to these children in Rome, I thought I would love to hear what he has to say to them. It was a very important conversation directed to children, but on their level.”

She soon contacted writer Amy Welborn to speak about collaborating on a book about the encounter.

“It was a beautiful event. I wanted to be able to make it available to children and families in a format that would be usable for them,” Engelhart told Vatican Radio.

The book is called Friendship With Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks to Children on their First Holy Communion. It is a picture book which combines the words of the Pope with wonderful watercolour paintings by Engelhart.

“It was a very important conversation directed to children, but on their level. As always, Pope Benedict doesn’t really talk down to children, he speaks to them.”



KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS RELEASE: National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow Catholics and my fellow Americans:
We come together at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast to publicly offer thanks for the blessings of American liberty, a freedom which, in its extent and its endurance, is unique in human history.
We also come to publicly affirm our determination to preserve that liberty, for us and for our fellow citizens, and to ask the Lord’s guidance in doing so.
There are times when we need that help more than others.
This is such a time.
I venture to say that, never in the lifetime of anyone present here, has the religious liberty of the American people been as threatened as it is today.
Of some things, we should not need to be reminded.
There are some truths and some historical realities which should not need repeating.
But in today’s society and in this year’s official Washington we must repeat them.
We must remind our fellow Americans, and especially those who exercise power, that religious liberty—the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment—has been essential to the founding, development, and improvement of the American Republic.
Before there was an American Revolution, there was what historians call the First Great Awakening, which swept through the colonies and transformed their outlook.
The Second Great Awakening led to the abolition of slavery, as well as the other great reform movements of the nineteenth century.
A third wave of religious energy led to reforms in education, labor, and women’s rights.
Alexis de Tocqueville observed the profound connection between religion and liberty in our national life.
“Religion does not give [Americans] their taste for freedom, he said. “It singularly facilitates their use of it.”
We may ask: Is this historical connection between Christianity and liberty an accident of history or is it something fundamental?
Our Founders answered that question unequivocally.
They declared we are “endowed” by our “Creator” with inalienable rights.
Washington’s Farewell Address insisted that religion and morality are “indispensible supports of our political prosperity,” warning that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can be retained without religion.”
Adams asserted that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is,” he said, “wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Those views have echoed down through our history.
Perhaps most notably in 1961 when President Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address, spoke of the rights for which our “forebears fought,” namely “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”
According to a poll we conducted for the 50th anniversary of that speech, 85 percent of Americans still agree with Kennedy’s statement.
No one here needs to be reminded that this belief was the driving force behind the life’s work of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
In his historic letter from the Birmingham jail, Rev. King said that he and his followers “were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which,” he said, “were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”
But perhaps we do need to be reminded that King’s letter relied upon our own Catholic natural law tradition.
He cited Saint Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
And he asked, “How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
He then went on to say, “To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.”
There you have the ancient teaching of the Catholic Church, summed up by a Baptist preacher under arrest for living by it.
When you visit the new memorial to Dr. King on our national mall, read carefully the 14 quotations inscribed there.
You will not find a single reference to God.
Not one.
Imagine how those in authority must have searched to come up with 14 quotes of Dr. King without one mention of the Almighty.
There is no more shocking symbol of the ongoing campaign to drive religion out of our public life.
King’s statue looks across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial dedicated to the president who is now championed by secularists for inventing a “wall of separation” between Church and State.
Ironically, while the King Memorial was scrubbed of any reference to our Creator, in Mr. Jefferson’s memorial, the walls tell us that “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty.”
And they ask us, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
A great deal hinges on how we answer that question.
On the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of the ideological manipulation of history that occurred in Russia under Soviet communism.
It was, he said, “a closing, a locking up, of the national heart, [and an] amputation of the national memory.”
He warned that when this happens, a nation “has no memory of its own self. It is deprived of its spiritual unity. And even though compatriots apparently speak the same language, they suddenly cease to understand one another.”
Solzhenitsyn devoted his life to prevent the militant atheists in his country from destroying the soul of the Russian people by re-writing their history.
How would Solzhenitsyn have viewed the controversy surrounding the King Memorial?
Would he have seen it as preserving the spiritual unity of America or as one more symptom of a trend to separate Americans from their religious heritage?
In 1954, the Knights of Columbus was instrumental in having Congress place the words “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance.
Those words were placed in our pledge in part to mark a stark contrast between the ultimate source of our rights and the pretensions of the atheist totalitarian dictatorships of the twentieth century.
These pretensions were well summarized by Benito Mussolini in 1919 when he said: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, everything for the state.”
Yet today we find a new hostility to the role of religious institutions in American life at a time when government is expanding its reach in extraordinary ways.
And it is not only because of the Obama Administration’s HHS contraception mandate.
It may have gotten the most attention, but it wasn’t the first.
Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor versus EEOC last year, the Administration sought unprecedented limits on the autonomy of churches and religious institutions.
The Administration argued that if any “ministerial exception” in employment exists it should be strictly “limited to those employees who perform exclusively religious functions.”
That caused Chief Justice John Roberts to ask during oral argument whether even the pope could meet the Administration’s definition of a religious minister.
The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with the Administration saying, “We are unsure whether any such employees exist,” because even the highest ranking churchmen have “a mix of duties.”
Similarly, the HHS mandate allows only the narrowest exemption for religious institutions.
The exemption exists only for institutions that, among other things, hire and serve only members of their own faith.
As Cardinal Daniel DiNardo put it: “Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan … would not qualify as ‘religious enough’ for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.”
Christians are called to reach beyond their own denominations in teaching “all nations,” considering everyone their “neighbor,” and doing “good to those who hate” them.
So in a country where three quarters of the population professes to be Christian, the Administration insists upon a religious exemption that Christ himself cannot meet.
In the Hosanna-Tabor case, the Administration sought to impose a new definition of ministry so narrow that ministers didn’t fit it.
In its HHS mandate, the Administration insists on an exemption so narrow that organizations can qualify only by violating the teaching of their church.
Consider if the Administration’s view in the Hosanna-Tabor case had prevailed.
Churches and religious institutions would have found themselves at the mercy of what the Supreme Court unanimously characterized as “government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.”

Precisely the same can be said of the HHS mandate.
A government willing to affect the faith and mission of the church is a government willing to change the identity of the church.
And what can we expect in the future?
The National Right to Life Committee makes a compelling case that the Obama Administration’s “accommodation” for the HHS mandate – if accepted – paves the way for mandated coverage of “abortion on demand.”
But if the HHS mandate and the Hosanna-Tabor case have been among the most egregious assaults on religious liberty, they are not the only ones.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services denied renewed funding of the Catholic Church’s work with victims of human trafficking.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops had successfully administered the program for five years, but after the ACLU filed suit demanding that the program refer women for abortions and contraception, HHS restructured the program.
As a result, highly qualified providers such as the Catholic Church are now barred from the program because they cannot, in good conscience, provide what HHS calls the “full range” of reproductive services—namely abortion and contraception.
Once again the Administration’s logic is consistent: faith-based groups may apply only if their “faith and mission” are acceptable to the government.
Earlier, the Obama Administration applied a similar standard to individual rights of conscience when it “rescinded most of a federal regulation that protected workers who refuse to perform services they find morally objectionable.”1
Healthcare workers now face the choice of holding onto either their religious beliefs or their jobs.
In other words, if the health care institution provides services contrary to Catholic moral teaching, Catholic doctors and nurses need not apply.
And so, we see a new government intolerance of religion.
Perhaps this is why Cardinal Francis George has referred to the Obama Administration as “the most secularist administration I think we have ever had in this country.”
During his visit to Washington Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that: “Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age.”
The spirit of our age is profoundly secular.
And secularism accepts religion – if it accepts it at all – only on its own terms.
Under this view, religion is subordinated to the political interests of the secular state.
And it is precisely this subordination of religion to the state that the First Amendment seeks to prevent.
Let us be clear: we value religious liberty not only because it protects our personal autonomy.
We value religious liberty because of the goodwhich religion brings into the life of the individual believer and into the life of our nation.
Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger wrote that “neither embrace nor ghetto” can solve for the Church the problem of secular society.2
Instead, Cardinal Ratzinger counseled that we must constructively engage secularism.
The question for us is, “How do we as Catholics go about doing this in the United States today?”
Last year the Secretary of Health and Human Services told a NARAL luncheon, “We are in a war.”
I sincerely hope we can put away such partisan rhetoric.
We do not need a government that sees itself at “war” with its own citizens.
We should counsel a different approach.
Awaiting execution in the Tower of London, St. Thomas More wrote a prayer which we have included in our Knights of Columbus prayer book.
During this national prayer breakfast we can make that prayer our own.
“Almighty God, have mercy …on all that bear me evil will,
And would me harm,
And their faults and mine together… vouchsafe to amend and redress,
Make us saved souls in heaven together,
Where we may ever live and love together with Thee and Thy blessed saints….” Amen.
As Christians we are called to be witnesses.
But to be true witnesses we must preserve our Catholic identity—and like St. Thomas More—preserve it especially from the heavy hand of government.
We are also called to sustain our witness through prayer.
How appropriate then that our bishops have called upon us to take up a great fortnight of prayer for religious freedom from the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More to July 4th.
During the current HHS controversy some have asked, “What kind of Christians would impose such a government mandate on our religious institutions?”
In December, 1941, with Britain in mortal peril and America reeling after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill addressed the United States Congress.
In that worst of times, he scorned the enemies of freedom and defiantly asked, “What kind of people do they think we are!”
Today, with the same defiance, we can declare, “What kind of Catholics do they think we are!”
Do they really expect us to go gently into that dark night they are preparing for religious liberty in America?
Do they not know that people who believe in “one holy catholic and apostolic church” can never agree to compromise our Church by entangling it in intrinsically evil acts?
Do they not see that faithful Catholics will never accept cynical political strategies of “divide and conquer” to separate us from our bishops?
You and I have reason for hope.
We have been successful in the past.
Consider, for example, the national campaign in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan to close our Catholic schools.
They succeeded in the State of Oregon until the Knights of Columbus and others succeeded in having the law declared unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court.
In its landmark decision in Pierce versus Society of Sisters the Court protected the rights of parents—of all denominations—to guide the education and moral upbringing of their children.
When we seek by such means to preserve our own identity as Catholics we are not a divisive force in society.
To the contrary, actions that respect our religious diversity benefit all Americans.
Earlier this month we observed the anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II.
On that occasion many of us again recalled his words at the beginning of his great pontificate:
“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.”
We live in a time when, from the standpoint of religious liberty, it seems that there are more doors closing, than doors that are opening.
John Paul II often spoke of “a new springtime” of the Gospel.
If he had been an American, he might have spoken of a new Great Awakening in America.
One in which Catholics could play a greater role than ever before.
Every great religious renewal in America has led to an advance in civil rights—from the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights to the end of slavery and the pursuit of racial equality.
But all of this has been achieved in the face of established power structures strongly and often violently opposed to these rights.
So this is a time for choosing—choosing whether as Catholics we will stand together to keep open the doors of religious liberty.
If we do so, then we will make possible the next great awakening in America that will bring us closer to building that culture of life and that civilization of love about which John Paul II so often spoke.
May we, like Blessed John Paul II, be not afraid in our choosing.
Thank you very much.
2Principles of Catholic Theology (1982) p. 391.



Theme for Symposium: ‘The Ecclesiology of Communion Fifty Years after the Opening of Vatican II’

Theology Symposium, 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012, hosted by the Faculty of Theology, St Patrick’s College Maynooth, 6-9 June 2012
What does it mean to say that the Church is a communion and how does this relate to other themes such as the Eucharist, and Reconciliation, the Family, the Priesthood, Ecumenism, Evangelisation and Mission and Economics and Irish Christianity?
How has our understanding of this important idea developed since the Second Vatican Council?
The International Theology Symposium, which takes place the week before the Eucharistic Congress will provide an opportunity to discuss these questions. The Symposium is open to those with a qualification in theology. According to Rev Professor Brendan Leahy, one of the organisers of the Symposium: “The Theology Symposium will explore the vision behind the Ecclesiology of Communion of Vatican II and consider the questions that arise. As an international event, the symposium will be enriched by expert contributions from international scholars across the disciplines of theology: Scripture, Systematics, moral Theology, Liturgy, Pastoral Studies, Missiology and Ecumenics.”
To view the Conference Programme, please click here.
The Papal Legate for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, who is head of the Vatican Congregation for bishops and former Archbishop of Quebec (the diocese that hosted the last Eucharistic Congress), will give the keynote opening address on the first day of the Symposium. Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, will present on the topic of The Church as Communion, Ecumenism and the Eucharist. Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez will also address the gathering on the topic of Mission and the Eucharist.
Professors Salvador Ryan, Brendan Mc Convery from Maynooth and Jennifer O’ Reilly (formerly UCC) will present on “The Eucharist, Communion and the People in Irish Christianity.” Dr Martin Stufflesser (Würzburg) will speak on the theme of Eucharistic Ecclesiology and the Liturgy; Prof Brian Johnstone (CUA) on the “Sacraments as gifts of the rising Christ” and Dr. Clare Watkins on “Living Eucharist in the Family Today”. Irish theologians will also be presenting including Dr Dermot Lane on the theme of the “Eucharist and Eschatology”; Fr Michael Drumm (Irish Catholic Schools Partnership) on “Being Educated in Communion”; Prof. Thomas Norris (Maynooth) on the “Reception of the Ecclesiology of Vatican II and the Marian profile of the Church” and Prof. Eamonn Conway (MIC, Limerick) on “Being a Priest in a de-traditionalised cultural context”. Dr Geraldine Smyth (Irish School of Ecumenics) and Robert Enright (Wisconsin-Madigan) will present on “Becoming Eucharist for One Another through Forgiving.”
Other topics and themes are listed in the Programme to be found at the web address below. The lectures will be simultaneously translated into Italian.
In light of the Eucharistic Congress, the Symposium promises to be an important event for theology and for the Church in Ireland at this time.
For Registration online see:
Registration Enquiries: +353-1-2981122
Programme Enquiries: +353-1-2249900


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
20 Apr 2012

Reforms to aged care sector urgently needed
More older Australians will be able to receive aged care in their own homes as part of the Federal Government's $3.7 billion planned overhaul of Australia's Aged Care sector.
Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has welcomed the reforms which were announced in Canberra this morning by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler. But he believes Government has not gone as far as CHA and many in the aged care sector would have liked.
"Not everything the Productivity Commission proposed in its report, Caring for Older Australians, has been endorsed," he said and admitted there was disappointment among those in the sector that aged care is not yet an entitlement for those who are assessed as in need.
Currently, only 113 people per thousand over 70 are able to access care but with the government reforms, this number will increase to 125 per thousand.
"Under the current rationing of aged care, of the 24,000 applications for community aged care services last year, only 1800 were approved," Mr Laverty says, and although this figure will improve thanks to plans outlined by the PM today, he warns many Australians will still miss out.

Aged in residential care will no longer be forced
to sell their own home
However he applauds the fact many more Australians will be able to access care in their own homes and endorses the government's intention to lift its daily accommodation support from $32.58 to $52.84 per bed for new aged care places in a bid to address the lack of incentives for investors in new aged care facilities.
For many years lack of government action and outmoded laws has meant providers of high care beds for the elderly have operated at a loss of $62 per bed each day with the result fewer and fewer new aged care homes have been built.
CHA is nation's largest network of non-government aged care services, accounting for more than 10 percent of all residential and aged care community services and welcomes today's pledge by the PM to deliver an average of $115 million in new funding to the aged sector each year.

Aged care reforms urgently needed
over next decade to meet the needs
of Australia's 4.5 million baby boomers
On behalf of CHA, Mr Laverty also endorsed the government's pledge of $1.2 billion in additional funding for those working in the aged care sector who are currently underpaid by comparison with other healthcare sectors.
But while welcoming many of the reforms, Mr Laverty insists any real success and improvement in quality aged care depends very much on the government, and its willingness and determination to deliver these reforms.
One of the proposals put forward by the Productivity Commission was not only that those who could afford to, contribute to their own care, but that these people be means tested with their homes included as part of the assessment.
While Julia Gillard insisted the family home would not be assessed, the government's reforms will mean self-funded retirees will be asked to pay a greater slice of their care. These costs however will be capped at $25,000 per year and at no more than $60,000 over a lifetime for those in residential care or nursing homes. For those accessing home care, the cost will be capped at $5000 per year for pensioners and $10,000 per year for those on incomes of more than $43,000. This type of care will also be capped at $60,000 during a lifetime.

Martin Laverty CEO of
Catholic Health Australia
Wealthy Australians being asked to chip in more for their aged care has already come under fire from the Opposition and been described as "big new additional charges" by Leader of the Coaalition, Tony Abbott.
But Mr Laverty hopes suggested debate over Australians being asked to contribute to the costs of their care and accommodation will not eclipse the improvements and positive path for structural change outlined today by the Government.
"Any debate on means testing must not overshadow today's announcements which will bring improved palliative care, better support to low income earners, support for disadvantaged groups as well as addressing the special needs of those with Alzheimers and dementia, and their carers," he said. SOURCE:


by J.B. Vu
30th meeting on sacred music held in Saigon April 17, organized by the Vietnamese bishops' conference. Music as an opportunity to attract the younger generations and encounter with non-Christians.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Music, traditional hymns and choruses are a valid tool of prayer, evangelization and attraction for young Vietnamese victims of a society arid increasingly, and only interested in money. This is what emerges from the 30th Meeting on Sacred Music held last April 17 in Ho Chi Minh City by the Vietnamese bishops' conference.
Sisters of the Diocese of Nha Trang, located in the mountainous highlands of central Vietnam, attending the Meeting, reporting that "many young parishioners are eager to express themselves through song. They are keen to go and teach the songs in the neighboring parishes, despite challenging hazards and unforgiving topography of the area. " Often to get from one village to another, it takes days. "Through the music - they continued - we have attracted many people to Christianity. At Easter we baptized thousands of teenagers."
A special guest at the meeting organized by the Episcopal Conference was Fr. Kim Long, one of the most famous composers of Christian sacred music of Vietnam. Born in 1941 in Bach Tinj in the diocese of Bui Chu in North Vietnam, Fr. Kim studied at the Franciscan seminary in Saigon, where his passion for music was born. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1968, he began to compose Church songs and hymns, mixing Catholic tradition with Vietnamese culture. After the unification of Vietnam and the rise to power of communist dictatorship in 1975, Fr. Kim began secretly to write sacred music and hymns, including Ca Len Di, sung today in most Vietnamese parishes. At the age of 55 years the priest has composed more than 3 thousand songs, music and hymns for the Catholic Church. Today in many churches in Vietnam, especially those victims of persecution by the regime, the congregation sings the hymn "Kinh Hoa Binh," a prayer for peace. Composed in 1960, the song is based on a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and is popular even among non-Catholics.
"My whole life is tied to sacred music Vietnamese," said Fr. Kim in front of a group of young people attended the meeting. "To compose a beautiful hymn - he said - we need to pray twice. The first is to ask God for the inspiration to write. The second is addressed to the parishioners who need to pray to be able to sing well." At the meeting, the priest announced that in his will he will donate 15 thousand U.S. dollars collected over the years thanks to his songs and donations from the U.S. and his home to the Commission for the sacred music of the Vietnamese Catholic Church.,-hymns-and-traditional-songs-to-evangelize-Vietnam-24561.html


Agenzia Fides report- "The humanitarian situation in northern Mali is worsening day by day. Food and medicine are increasingly rare, because grocery stores, hospitals and health centers were ransacked by the rebels" says to Fides Fr. Edmond Dembele, Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mali. "We try to establish humanitarian corridors, but in the absence of an agreement with the rebel movements, for the moment nothing has been done. The population in the north of Mali continue to flee to neighboring Countries or in the south of the Country."
"The Catholic Church has offered its facility to accommodate the refugees who arrive in Bamako and collaborates with the Protestant community to help 250 Protestant Christian refugees who have arrived in the capital. In particular, the Archbishop of Bamako, Mgr. Jean Zerbo, through Caritas has offered rice and other basic necessities. In other areas the refugees are still more numerous. But it is hard help all of them because there is no coordination of efforts at the state level," notes Fr. Dembele.
Politically, the military coup leaders released 22 personalities belonging to the past government and were arrested in past days, while the deposed President, Amadou Toumani Toure and his family, took refuge in Senegal. The new Premier, Diarra, has started talks to form a transitional government (see Fides 18/04/2012).
In a statement issued after the Ordinary Session of the Episcopal Conference, the Bishops of Mali expressed appreciation for the start of the transition to "bring back democracy, restore the State and the Constitution in order to preserve our Country from chaos ". In the document, sent to Fides, the Bishops thanked the ECOWAS mediators for their efforts that have allowed us to reach a compromise, to get Mali out of the institutional crisis caused by the coup on 22 March and ensure their prayers to the President interim, Dioncounda Traore, and Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra. Recalling that "since January 17, Mali sees three northern regions occupied by some armed groups," the Bishops recall the soldiers and civilians killed and launch an appeal for national unity. "We urge the political class and civil society to put the interests of the country above all. This is simply to save Mali and not the interests of a party or group." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides


John 6: 16 - 21
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Caper'na-um. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
18 The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.
19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened,
20 but he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.