Friday, November 16, 2012


Vatican City, 16 November 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Alassane Ouattara, president of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
The discussions emphasised the cordial relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, as well as the convergence of opinions on the contribution the Church makes for the good of the entire country, encouraging peace and promoting human rights, dialogue and national reconciliation, as the only way to favour unity and development. Emphasis was also given to the fruitful collaboration between Church and State in the sectors of healthcare and education, among others. The hope was expressed that the negotiations for an agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire would soon be concluded.
Mention was also made of various regional challenges Africa is currently facing, which are of particular concern to Mr. Ouattara in his role as president of the Economic Community of West African States.
Vatican City, 16 November 2012 (VIS) - "Go and make disciples of all nations!" is the title of the Holy Father's Message for the twenty-eighth World Youth Day 2013, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013. Some excerpts from the English language version of the text are given below:
"Before all else, I invite you once more to take part in this important event. The celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking that beautiful Brazilian city will be an eloquent symbol for us. Christ’s open arms are a sign of his willingness to embrace all those who come to him, and his heart represents his immense love for everyone and for each of you. Let yourselves be drawn to Christ! Experience this encounter along with all the other young people who will converge on Rio for the next World Youth Day! Accept Christ’s love and you will be the witnesses so needed by our world".
1. A pressing call
"History shows how many young people, by their generous gift of self, made a great contribution to the Kingdom of God and the development of this world by proclaiming the Gospel. Filled with enthusiasm, they brought the Good News of God’s Love made manifest in Christ; they used the means and possibilities then available, which were far inferior to those we have today. … Many young people today seriously question whether life is something good, and have a hard time finding their way. More generally, however, young people look at the difficulties of our world and ask themselves: is there anything I can do? The light of faith illumines this darkness. It helps us to understand that every human life is priceless because each of us is the fruit of God’s love. God loves everyone, even those who have fallen away from him or disregard him. God waits patiently. Indeed, God gave his Son to die and rise again in order to free us radically from evil.
"The Church, in continuing this mission of evangelisation, is also counting on you. … You are the first missionaries among your contemporaries! At the end of the Second Vatican Council – whose fiftieth anniversary we are celebrating this year – the Servant of God Paul VI consigned a message to the youth of the world. … It concluded with the words: 'Build with enthusiasm a better world than what we have today!' This invitation remains timely. We are passing through a very particular period of history. Technical advances have given us unprecedented possibilities for interaction between people and nations. But the globalisation of these relationships will be positive and help the world to grow in humanity only if it is founded on love rather than on materialism. Love is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together. God is love. When we forget God, we lose hope and become unable to love others. That is why it is so necessary to testify to God’s presence so that others can experience it. The salvation of humanity depends on this, as well as the salvation of each of us".
2. Become Christ's disciples
"This missionary vocation comes to you for another reason as well, and that is because it is necessary for our personal journey in faith. ... When you proclaim the Gospel, you yourselves grow as you become more deeply rooted in Christ and mature as Christians. Missionary commitment is an essential dimension of faith. We cannot be true believers if we do not evangelise".
"What does it mean to be a missionary? Above all, it means being a disciple of Christ. It means listening ever anew to the invitation to follow him and look to him. … I encourage you to think of the gifts you have received from God so that you can pass them on to others in turn. Learn to reread your personal history. Be conscious of the wonderful legacy passed down to you from previous generations. ... Let us never forget that we are links in a great chain of men and women who have transmitted the truth of the faith and who depend on us to pass it on to others. Being a missionary presupposes knowledge of this legacy, which is the faith of the Church. It is necessary to know what you believe in, so that you can proclaim it".
3. Go forth!
"Jesus sent his disciples forth on mission with this command: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved". To evangelise means to bring the Good News of salvation to others and to let them know that this Good News is a person: Jesus Christ. … The more we know Christ, the more we want to talk about him. The more we speak with Christ, the more we want to speak about him. The more we are won over by Christ, the more we want to draw others to him. … It is the Spirit of love, therefore, who is the driving force behind our mission. The Spirit impels us to go out from ourselves and to "go forth" to evangelise. Dear young people, allow yourselves to be led on by the power of God’s love. Let that love overcome the tendency to remain enclosed in your own world with your own problems and your own habits".
4. Gather all nations
"The risen Christ sent his disciples forth to bear witness to his saving presence before all the nations, because God in his superabundant love wants everyone to be saved and no one to be lost. … Open your eyes and look around you. ...The 'nations' that we are invited to reach out to are not only other countries in the world. They are also the different areas of our lives, such as our families, communities, places of study and work, groups of friends and places where we spend our free time. The joyful proclamation of the Gospel is meant for all the areas of our lives, without exception".
"I would like to emphasise two areas where your missionary commitment is all the more necessary. ... The first is the field of social communications, particularly the world of the internet. ... It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelisation of this ‘digital continent’. … The second area is that of travel and migration. Nowadays more and more young people travel, sometimes for their studies or work, and at other times for pleasure. I am also thinking of the movements of migration which involve millions of people, very often young, who go to other regions or countries for financial or social reasons. Here too we can find providential opportunities for sharing the Gospel".
5. Make disciples!
"Proclaiming Christ is not only a matter of words, but something which involves one’s whole life and translates into signs of love. It is the love that Christ has poured into our hearts which makes us evangelisers. Consequently, our love must become more and more like Christ’s own love. We should always be prepared, like the Good Samaritan, to be attentive to those we meet, to listen, to be understanding and to help. In this way we can lead those who are searching for the truth and for meaning in life to God’s house, the Church, where hope and salvation abide. ... The main way that we have to "make disciples" is through Baptism and catechesis. This means leading the people we are evangelising to encounter the living Christ above all in his word and in the sacraments. In this way they can believe in him, they can come to know God and to live in his grace. … Ask the Holy Spirit for help. The Spirit will show you the way to know and love Christ even more fully, and to be creative in spreading the Gospel".
6. Firm in the faith
"Whenever you feel inadequate, incapable and weak in proclaiming and witnessing to the faith, do not be afraid. evangelisation is not our initiative, and it does not depend on our talents. It is a faithful and obedient response to God’s call and so it is not based on our power but on God’s. … For this reason, I encourage you to make prayer and the sacraments your foundation. Authentic evangelisation is born of prayer and sustained by prayer. We must first speak with God in order to be able to speak about God. ... Find in the Eucharist the wellspring of your life of faith and Christian witness. … Approach the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently. ... Make an effort to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation … Confirmation is, like the Eucharist, a sacrament of mission, for it gives us the strength and love of the Holy Spirit to profess fearlessly our faith. I also encourage you to practise Eucharistic adoration".
"If you follow this path, Christ himself will give you the ability to be completely faithful to his word and to bear faithful and courageous witness to him. At times you will be called to give proof of your perseverance, particularly when the word of God is met with rejection or opposition. In certain areas of the world, some of you suffer from the fact that you cannot bear public witness to your faith in Christ due to the lack of religious freedom. Some have already paid with their lives the price of belonging to the Church. I ask you to remain firm in the faith, confident that Christ is at your side in every trial".
7. With the whole Church
"If you are to remain firm in professing the Christian faith wherever you are sent, you need the Church. No one can bear witness to the Gospel alone. Jesus sent forth his disciples on mission together. … Our witness is always given as members of the Christian community, and our mission is made fruitful by the communion lived in the Church. It is by our unity and love for one another that others will recognise us as Christ’s disciples".
8. "Here I am, Lord!"
"I would ask all of you to hear, in the depths of your heart, Jesus’ call to proclaim his Gospel. As the great statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro shows, his heart is open with love for each and every person, and his arms are open wide to reach out to everyone. Be yourselves the heart and arms of Jesus! Go forth and bear witness to his love! Be a new generation of missionaries, impelled by love and openness to all!"
"This call, which I make to the youth of the whole world, has a particular resonance for you, dear young people of Latin America! During the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, in Aparecida in 2007, the Bishops launched a "continental mission". Young people form a majority of the population in South America and they are an important and precious resource for the Church and society. … Transmit the enthusiasm of your faith to your contemporaries from all over the world!"
Vatican City, 16 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience twelve prelates of the Episcopal Conference of France, on their "ad limina" visit: 
- Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Jerome Beau, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, and Renauld de Dinechin.
- Bishop Michel Santier of Creteil.
- Bishop Michel Dubost of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes.
- Bishop Jean-Yves Nahmias of Meaux.
- Bishop Gerard Daucort of Nanterre.
- Bishop Pascal Delannoy of Saint-Denis.
- Bishop Eric Aumonier of Versailles.
- Bishop Luc Ravel C.R.S.V., military ordinary.
- Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan of Saint-Croix de Paris of the Armenians, and apostolic visitor to Armenian Catholic faithful resident in Western Europe without their own ordinary.
This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Vatican City, 16 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Javier Salinas Vinals of Tortosa, Spain as bishop of Mallorca (area 3,689, population 869,027, Catholics 668,810, priests 333, permanent deacons 11, religious 948), Spain.



Bishop Blaire, Bishop Pates Urge Congress To Protect The Poor, Future Generations As Sequestration Looms

November 14, 2012
WASHINGTON—Congress should avoid measures that harm at-risk students, low-income families and people currently benefiting from poverty-focused international assistance, according to a letter from the bishops who oversee the justice and peace efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
"As you work to avoid sequestration and enact responsible deficit reduction that protects poor persons from cuts and future generations from unsustainable debts, we hope longstanding moral principles and values will inform your decisions," wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a November 13 letter to the House and Senate. Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates chair the USCCB Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The bishops said Pope Benedict XVI warns against "downsizing of social security systems" and emphasizes "solidarity with poor countries" and asked Congress to weigh the "human and moral consequences" of numerous policy choices, including:
·Section 8 housing vouchers, the Women, Infant and Children's (WIC) program and community health centers, which "help to keep children and families with a roof over their heads, with food on the table, and in good health."
·Title I-A, which supports struggling low-income students, Title II-A, which supports the professional development of teachers, and IDEA, which supports students with disabilities.
·Poverty focused international assistance, which comprise less than one percent of the federal budget and "save lives, treat and prevent disease, make farmers more productive, help orphans, feed victims of disaster, and protect refugees."
·The Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pell Grants, which assist "people living in or near poverty."
"We have great concerns that sequestration would negatively affect many important domestic programs that meet the basic needs of people and communities in poverty," the bishops wrote and urged Congress to "act in a bipartisan manner to address the impact of long-term deficits on the health of the economy and on future generations, and to use limited resources efficiently and effectively. However, this important goal must not be achieved at the expense of the dignity of poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad."



Nuncio urges bishops: fight Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill

By ED WEST on Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Archbishop Antonio Mennini (Photo: Mazur/
Archbishop Antonio Mennini (Photo: Mazur/
The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain has reminded the Bishops of England and Wales of Lord Falconer’s forthcoming assisted suicide Bill, urging them to defend “the rights and dignity of every person… until the moment of natural death”.
Addressing the plenary meeting of bishops in Leeds this week, Archbishop Antonio Mennini said: “Thinking about the poor and most vulnerable, it is not inappropriate to mention that an attempt is to be made by Lord Falconer in January next year to bring back to the House of Lords yet another Bill to legalise assisted suicide. We know well that we have a duty in love to emphasise yet again the rights and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.”
Lord Falconer of Thoroton’s draft Bill, which is yet to have its first reading, was introduced in the House of Lords in July and is the sixth attempt to legalise assisted suicide in 10 years.
Lord Falconer has described the current law on assisted suicide as a “disgraceful mess”, and tried to relax the law via the Coroners and Justice Bill in 2009. The last attempt to legalise assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia was defeated in May 2006.
Archbishop Mennini also called on the bishops to fight Government attempts to change the definition of marriage by following the example of the hierarchy in France.
He said: “We find that we are placed in a similar situation to the Church in France, where Cardinal [André] Vingt-Trois and the French bishops have issued a spirited appeal to the faithful asking them to do all in their power to resist so-called ‘same-sex marriage’. We surely can do no less and I thank all of you for your strong testimony.”
In France Archbishop Vingt-Trois has called gay marriage “a fraud” and said: “It will not be a ‘marriage for all’. It will be marriage of a few imposed on all.”
Cardinal Vingt-Trois has accused the government of trying to rush through gay marriage without a debate in French society about its implications, especially for children who would grow up without a clearly identified mother and father.
He said: “Has it asked citizens if they agreed to no longer be the father or mother of their child, but only an undifferentiated ‘parent A’, or ‘parent B’?”
The French bishops have also reinstated the traditional “prayer for France” in response to “grave” social changes, and Pope Benedict XVI has urged French bishops to defend marriage as the “foundation of social life”.
In Britain the Coalition Government introduced its consultation in March, although ministers have said they intend to go ahead with the move “with or without” Christian support. Gay marriage is supported by all four parliamentary parties in England, although opinion polls suggest that the public is evenly split. Last month the Prime Minister told his ministers to “prioritise” gay marriage despite backbench opposition.
Archbishop Mennini told the bishops of England and Wales: “On looking at your programme I see that once again you continue considering how best to present the teaching of the Gospel on the Sacrament of Marriage and how to defend family life.
“In that same homily, addressed to the Synod Fathers, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI affirmed: ‘That matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianised world… There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. And, as the Church has said and witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelisation. This is already being seen in the many experiences of communities and movements, but its realisation is also growing in dioceses and parishes, as shown in the recent World Meeting of Families.’
“Why this insistence? We don’t want to quarrel and we know that it is not easy to obtain changes in the direction of governmental policies about the family or about life. We all know that we are swimming against the tide,” the nuncio said.
“But we must not be afraid because we are confident that Our Lord continues to love and support his Church. Our people need us to witness to a new way of judging the situations of our world.
“One of our first tasks is to educate our Christian people in a new way of judging the matters of this world, even when our witness may not be wholly accepted or completely successful.”


Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan, talks to AsiaNews about the challenges facing his Church in the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope: "This is a rich country, where many believe they can buy anything. They do not understand that their inner emptiness can only be filled by Christ. We are grateful to the Pope for the enormous motivation and continuous support”. Relations with other churches, the crisis of vocations and a personal memory of the late Cardinal Shan.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Materialism and nihilism "affect Asia just like the rest of the world. And Taiwan is a rich country, where many think they can buy everything. This Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI is a challenge but also a strong motivation for all of us, bishops, priests, religious and faithful", says Msgr. John Hung Shan-chuan, Archbishop of Taipei and president of the Regional Episcopal Conference of China.  The prelate spoke to AsiaNews about how his community is following this year, which is so special for the universal Church.
Taiwan has just under 23 million people, of which 300 thousand are Catholics.  Added to these are a further 100 thousand Filipino immigrants, who are "very present in the life of the community. Ours is a Church that may seem small but it is not. In the footsteps of the late and lamented Cardinal Shan, we are encouraging our people to be more active and more involved in the life of the nation and their environments. Catholic values, as the Pope has explained many times, are a resource for everyone, not just for the faithful. "
However, Taiwan has some weaknesses: "Thank God we can say that we live in a prosperous nation. But this can be a disadvantage from the spiritual point of view, at least for those who think that material goods are the answer to everything: they buy and buy, and do not realize that the void they feel inside is their desire for immortality. A desire that only Christ can fill. "
In the light of this situation, "we need a clergy and a community ready to welcome people. Earlier this week [November 12th ed] I met my priests: I told them they can not simply remain closed inside their churches or parishes, but have to go out among the people and encourage them to question their own needs and their own conscience. Inspired by the Year of Faith and the example of the Pope, they have responded with enthusiasm, but is not enough: So I am launching a number of challenges to the whole community. Next year, for example, a popular parish of Taipei celebrates its 60th anniversary: so I asked the pastor 60 new adult baptisms to celebrate the event. "
Similarly, the bishop considers it important to have a direct approach to cultivating vocations: "I always say that no one here, except for very rare cases, enters the church, asks for the priest and tells him that he wants to enter the seminary. Whenever I meet a promising young man from a spiritual point of view and I understand that he is thinking about this possibility, I phone him and I ask him for a meeting. This way these men will feel accompanied from the outset".
The challenges mentioned by Msgr. Hung are not helped by very high density of temples of all religions, Chinese and traditional Asian: "I have a good relationship with them, because at least they prepare the human soul for the presence of the divine. But more often I meet new faithful who tell me that they chose Catholicism because they wanted to have a relationship with God, and not merely postulants who ask for a favor. Again, however, I always repeat to everyone that our faith requires study and constancy: they must not look for easy, but empty baptisms. "
The road the Archbishop has taken was first opened Cardinal Shan, who died on August 22: "A great pastor and a man of great moral inspiration. Has opened the door to a relationship with the ruling classes of the country and showed us the way to live good and faithful lives, as good priests. He also showed us how to die: I went to see him just before he left us to return to the Father's house. He was naked under the hospital covers for technical reasons and he told me: I spent all my life dressed, even wearing important robes. Now Christ gives me his greatest grace, to allow me to die naked as a baby. I am grateful, because if we are not like children we can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. " (VFP)


Seal of Confession - a Diversion from the Real Issues

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
16 Nov 2012
The seal of confession is inviolable
Reporting on the seal of confession has created a great diversion from events during the week when the Prime Minister announced a Royal Commission into sexual abuse of children.
There have been many "experts"    across the social media platform but in many cases highlighting the sin of omission.
It may not be liked by some  but the seal of confession is inviolable. The standard of secrecy protecting a confession outweighs any form of professional confidentiality or secrecy. When a person unburdens their soul and confesses his or her sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance, a very sacred trust is formed.
The priest must maintain absolute secrecy about anything that a person confesses.
By Canon Law (983.1) a priest cannot break the seal to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to protect his good name, to aid th4e course of justice (like reporting a crime) or to avert a public calamity.
He cannot by law be compelled to disclose a person's conference. If he does break the seal of confession a priest can incur automatic excommunication.
The church's position on the seal of confession has long-standing credibility - and is the church's version of legal credibility.
Federal and state laws protect a member of the clergy from being forced to divulge details of a religious confession, just as it protects clients from being forced to disclose what they discuss with their lawyers.
However the "experts", bystanders and the ill-formed have be all too ready and willing this week to pronounce judgement, according to Fr Tony Percy, Rector of The Good Seminary Shepherd in the Sydney Archdiocese.
For Fr Percy's explanation of the seal of confession and why it is inviolable click here on


Agenzia Fides REPORT- Over the past six months the forces of MONUSCO (United Nations Mission in Congo) have supported the Congolese army against the March 23 Movement (M23) in the district of Rutshuru in North Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo). But in doing so - says a note sent to Fides Agency by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) - army and MONUSCO have left several areas of the neighboring district of Masisi without protection, allowing complete freedom of movement to rebel groups, some of which are officially M23 allies."
In the last 6 months, more than 320,000 people have been forced to go to North Kivu. "Although the majority of the displaced are the result of the conflict between the government and the M23 in the Rutshuru district, many others have been forced to flee because of violence in the Masisi," the statement said.
"This fact - says a member of the JRS who works in Masisi – has caused an unjustifiable lack of protection for the population of the Masisi district. The population feels abandoned by MONUSCO which has failed to fulfill its task."
The JRS emphasizes that its field teams have direct evidence of the consequences of the clashes in the region. "In addition to the victims, violence leaves the most vulnerable people, women, children, elderly, sick and disabled, without assistance on behalf of humanitarian organizations or other members of their communities." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 16/11/2012)




2 John 1: 4 - 9
4I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children following the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father.
5And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.
6And this is love, that we follow his commandments; this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you follow love.
7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
8Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward.
9Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son.Psalms 119: 1 - 2, 10 - 11, 17 - 18
1Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,10With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments!11I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and observe thy word.18Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Luke 17: 26 - 37
26As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man.
27They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
28Likewise as it was in the days of Lot -- they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built,
29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all --
30so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.
31On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back.
32Remember Lot's wife.
33Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
34I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
35There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left."
37And they said to him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."


St. Gertrude the Great
Feast: November 16
Feast Day:
November 16
6 January 1256 at Eisleben, Germany
November 17, 1302, Helfta, Germany
received equipotent canonization, and a universal feast day declared in 1677 by Pope Clement XII
Patron of:
nuns, travellers, West Indies

Benedictine and mystic writer; born in Germany, 6 Jan., 1256; died at Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony, 17 November, 1301 or 1302. Nothing is known of her family, not even the name of her parents. It is clear from her life (Legatus, lib. I, xvi) that she was not born in the neighbourhood of Eisleben. When she was but five years of age she entered the alumnate of Helfta. The monastery was at that time governed by the saintly and enlightened Abbess Gertrude of Hackerborn, under whose rule it prospered exceedingly, both in monastic observance and in that intellectual activity which St. Lioba and her Anglo-Saxon nuns had transmitted to their foundations in Germany. All that could aid to sanctity, or favour contemplation and learning, was to be found in this hallowed spot. Here, too, as to the centre of all activity and impetus of its life, the work of works—the Opus Dei, as St. Benedict terms the Divine Office—was solemnly carried out. Such was Helfta when its portals opened to receive the child destined to be its brightest glory. Gertrude was confided to the care of St. Mechtilde, mistress of the alumnate and sister of the Abbess Gertrude. From the first she had the gift of winning the hearts, and her biographer gives many details of her exceptional charms, which matured with advancing years. Thus early had been formed between Gertrude and Mechtilde the bond of an intimacy which deepened and strengthened with time, and gave the latter saint a prepondering influence over the former.
Partly in the alumnate, partly in the community, Gertrude had devoted herself to study with the greatest ardour. In her twenty-sixth year there was granted her the first of that series of visions of which the wonderful sequence ended only with life. She now gauged in its fullest extent the void of which she had been keenly sensible for some time past, and with this awakening came the realization of the utter emptiness of all transitory things. With characteristic ardour she cultivated the highest spirituality, and, to quote her biographer, "from being a grammarian became a theologian", abandoning profane studies for the Scriptures, patristic writings, and treatises on theology. To these she brought the same earnestness which had characterized her former studies, and with indefatigable zeal copied, translated, and wrote for the spiritual benefit of others. Although Gertrude vehemently condemns herself for past negligence ( Legatus, II, ii), still to understand her words correctly we must remember that they express the indignant self-condemnation of a soul called to the highest sanctity. Doubtless her inordinate love of study had proved a hindrance alike to contemplation and interior recollection, yet it had none the less surely safeguarded her from more serious and grievous failings. Her struggle lay in the conquest of a sensitive and impetuous nature. In St. Gertrude's life there are no abrupt phases, no sudden conversion from sin to holiness. She passed from alumnate to the community. Outwardly her life was that of the simple Benedictine nun, of which she stands forth preeminently as the type. Her boundless charity embraced rich and poor, learned and simple, the monarch on his throne and the peasant in the field; it was manifested in tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory, in a great yearning for the perfection of souls consecrated to God. Her humility was so profound that she wondered how the earth could support so sinful a creature as herself. Her raptures were frequent and so absorbed her faculties as to render her insensible to what passed around her. She therefore begged, for the sake of others, that there might be no outward manifestations of the spiritual wonders with which her life was filled. She had the gift of miracles as well as that of prophecy.
When the call came for her spirit to leave the worn and pain-stricken body, Gertrude was in her forty-fifth or forty-sixth year, and in turn assisted at the death-bed and mourned for the loss of the holy Sister Mechtilde (1281), her illustrious Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn (1291), and her chosen guide and confidante, St. Mechtilde (1298). When the community was transferred in 1346 to the monastery of New Helfta, the present Trud-Kloster, within the walls of Eisleben, they still retained possession of their old home, where doubtless the bodies of St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde still buried, though their place of sepulture remains unknown. There is, at least, no record of their translation. Old Helfta is now crown-property, while New Helfta has lately passed into the hands of the local municipality. It was not till 1677 that the name of Gertrude was inscribed in the Roman Martyrology and her feast was extended to the universal church, which now keeps it on 15 November, although it was at first fixed on 17 November, the day of her death, on which it is still celebrated by her own order. In compliance with a petition from the King of Spain she was declared Patroness of the West Indies; in Peru her feast is celebrated with great pomp, and in New Mexico a town was built in her honour and bears her name. Some writers of recent times have considered that St. Gertrude was a Cistercian, but a careful and impartial examination of the evidence at present available does not justify this conclusion. It is well known that the Cistercian Reform left its mark on many houses not affiliated to the order, and the fact that Helfta was founded during the "golden age" of Citeaux (1134-1342) is sufficient to account for this impression.
Many of the writings of St. Gertrude have unfortunately perished. Those now extant are:
—The "Legatus Divinae Pietatis",—The "Exercises of St. Gertrude";—The "Liber Specialis Gratiae" of St. Mechtilde.
The works of St. Gertrude were all written in Latin, which she used with facility and grace. The "Legatus Divinae Pietatis" (Herald of Divine Love) comprises five books containing the life of St. Gertrude, and recording many of the favours granted her by God. Book II alone is the work of the saint, the rest being compiled by members of the Helfta community. They were written for her Sisters in religion, and we feel she has here a free hand unhampered by the deep humility which made it so repugnant for her to disclose favours personal to herself. The "Exercises", which are seven in number, embrace the work of the reception of baptismal grace to the preparation for death. Her glowing language deeply impregnated with the liturgy and scriptures exalts the soul imperceptibly to the heights of contemplation. When the "Legatus Divinae Pietatis" is compared with the "Liber Specialis Gratiae" of St. Mechtilde, it is evident that Gertrude is the chief, if not the only, author of the latter book. Her writings are also coloured by the glowing richness of that Teutonic genius which found its most congenial expression in symbolism and allegory. The spirit of St. Gertrude, which is marked by freedom, breadth, and vigour, is based on the Rule of St. Benedict. Her mysticism is that of all the great contemplative workers of the Benedictine Order from St. Gregory to Blosius. Hers, in a word, is that ancient Benedictine spirituality which Father Faber has so well depicted (All for Jesus, viii).
The characteristic of St. Gertrude's piety is her devotion to the Sacred Heart, the symbol of that immense charity which urged the Word to take flesh, to institute the Holy Eucharist, to take on Himself our sins, and, dying on the Cross, to offer Himself as a victim and a sacrifice to the Eternal Father (Congregation of Rites, 3 April, 1825). Faithful to the mission entrusted to them, the superiors of Helfta appointed renowned theologians, chosen from the Dominican and Franciscan friars, to examine the works of the saint. These approved and commented them throughout. In the sixteenth century Lanspergius and Blosius propagated her writings. The former, who with his confrere Loher spared no pains in editing her works, also wrote a preface to them. The writings were warmly received especially in Spain, and among the long list of holy and learned authorities who used and recommended her works may be mentioned :
—St. Teresa, who chose her as her model and guide,—Yepez,—the illustrious Suarez,—the Discalced Carmelite Friars of France,—St. Francis de Sales,—M. Oliver,—Fr. Faber,—Dom Gueranger.
The Church has inserted the name of Gertrude in the Roman Martyrology with this eulogy: "On the 17th of November, in Germany (the Feast) of St. Gertrude Virgin, of the Order of St. Benedict, who was illustrious for the gift of revelations."


St. Margaret of Scotland
Feast: November 16
Feast Day:
November 16
1045, Castle Réka, Mecseknádasd, in the region of Southern Transdanubia, Hungary
16 November 1093, St Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle, Midlothian, Scotland
1251 by Pope Innocent IV
Major Shrine:
Dunfermline Abbey
Patron of:
death of children, large families, learning, queens, Scotland, widows

Born about 1045, died 16 Nov., 1092, was a daughter of Edward "Outremere", or "the Exile", by Agatha, kinswoman of Gisela, the wife of St. Stephen of Hungary. She was the granddaughter of Edmund Ironside. A constant tradition asserts that Margaret's father and his brother Edmund were sent to Hungary for safety during the reign of Canute, but no record of the fact has been found in that country. The date of Margaret's birth cannot be ascertained with accuracy, but it must have been between the years 1038, when St. Stephen died, and 1057, when her father returned to England. It appears that Margaret came with him on that occasion and, on his death and the conquest of England by the Normans, her mother Agatha decided to return to the Continent. A storm however drove their ship to Scotland, where Malcolm III received the party under his protection, subsequently taking Margaret to wife. This event had been delayed for a while by Margaret's desire to entirereligion, but it took place some time between 1067 and 1070.
In her position as queen, all Margaret's great influence was thrown into the cause of religion and piety. A synod was held, and among the special reforms instituted the most important were the regulation of the Lenten fast, observance of the Easter communion, and the removal of certain abuses concerning marriage within the prohibited degrees. Her private life was given up to constant prayer and practices of piety. She founded several churches, including the Abbey of Dunfermline, built to enshrine her greatest treasure, a relic of the true Cross. Her book of the Gospels, richly adorned with jewels, which one day dropped into a river and was according to legend miraculously recovered, is now in the Bodleian library at Oxford. She foretold the day of her death, which took place at Edinburgh on 16 Nov., 1093, her body being buried before the high altar at Dunfermline.
In 1250 Margaret was canonized by Innocent IV, and her relics were translated on 19 June, 1259, to a new shrine, the base of which is still visible beyond the modern east wall of the restoredchurch. At the Reformation her head passed into the possession of Mary Queen of Scots, and later was secured by the Jesuits at Douai, where it is believed to have perished during the French Revolution. According to George Conn, "De duplici statu religionis apud Scots" (Rome, 1628), the rest of the relics, together with those of Malcolm, were acquired by Philip II of Spain, and placed in two urns in the Escorial. When, however, Bishop Gillies of Edinburgh applied through Pius IX for their restoration to Scotland, they could not be found.
The chief authority for Margaret's life is the contemporary biography printed in "Acta SS.", II, June, 320. Its authorship has been ascribed to Turgot, the saint's confessor, a monk of Durham and later Archbishop of St. Andrews, and also to Theodoric, a somewhat obscure monk; but in spite of much controversy the point remains quite unsettled. The feast of St. Margaret is now observed by the whole Church on 10 June.


Vatican City, 15 November 2012 (VIS) - The close ties between the work of evangelisation and the need to overcome the divisions that still exist between Christians was the central theme of this morning's address by the Holy Father to the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the occasion of their plenary assembly dedicated to "The importance of ecumenism in new evangelisation".
The Pope stated, "We cannot follow a truly ecumenical path while ignoring the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the many signs indicating a persistent need for spirituality, which is made manifest in various ways. The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a form of deprivation, poses a challenge to all Christians".
In this context, the Pope added, "we, believers in Christ, are called upon to return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, to bear witness to the living God before the world. … We must not forget what it is that unites us: our faith in God the Father and Creator, revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, effusing the Spirit which revives and sanctifies. This is the faith we received in Baptism and it is the faith that, in hope and charity, we can profess together.
"In the light of the primacy of faith we may also understand the importance of the theological dialogues and conversations in which the Catholic Church is engaged with Churches and ecclesial communities. Even when we cannot discern the possibility of re-establishing full communion in the near future, such dialogue facilitates our awareness, not only of resistance and obstacles, but also of the richness of experience, spiritual life and theological reflection, which become a stimulus for ever deeper testimony".
Benedict XVI emphasised that the aim of ecumenism is "visible unity between divided Christians". To this end, we must "dedicate all our forces, but we must also recognise that, in the final analysis, this unity is a gift from God, and may come to us only from the Father through His Son, because the Church is His Church. From this perspective we see, not only the importance of invoking the Lord for visible unity, but also how striving after this end is relevant to the new evangelisation.
"It is good to journey together towards this objective, provided that the Churches and ecclesial communities do not stop along the way, accepting the various contradictions between them as normal or as the best they can hope to achieve. It is, rather, in the full communion of faith, Sacraments and ministry that the strength of God, present and working in the world, will find concrete expression".
The Pope concluded, "Unity is on the one hand the fruit of faith and, on the other, a means - almost a prerequisite - for an increasingly credible proclamation of the faith to those who do not yet know the Saviour or who, while having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have almost forgotten this valuable gift. True ecumenism, recognising the primacy of divine action, demands above all patience, humility, and abandonment to the will of the Lord. In the final analysis, ecumenism and new evangelisation both require the dynamism of conversion, understood as the sincere desire to follow Christ and to fully adhere to the will of the Father".
Vatican City, 15 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of France, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Thierry Jordan of Reims
- Bishop Jean-Luc Bouilleret of Amiens.
- Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin of Beauvais.
- Bishop Gilbert Louis of Chalons.
- Bishop Philippe Gueneley of Langres.
- Bishop Herve Giraud of Soissons.
- Bishop Marc Stenger of Troyes.
- Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Lille, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Coliche.
- Bishop Jean-Paul Jaeger of Arras.
- Archbishop Francois Garnier of Cambrai.
Following yesterday's general audience, Benedict XVI met with Saad Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon. The former prime minister subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.


In honor of the YEAR OF FAITH - JCE news will be showing some of the TOP Catholic movies of all time. Tune in for the next PART of St. Bernadette of Lourdes- tomorrow.



Bishops Adopt Message On Confession, 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, Approve Canonical Step For Dorothy Day Sainthood Cause

November 13, 2012
BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a message inviting Catholics to more frequent participation in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, approved their 2013-1016 strategic plan, and advanced the canonization cause of Dorothy Day during their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 13.
The bishops approved the message on confession in a 236-1 vote. The new strategic plan, which focuses on the New Evangelization, passed in a 233-0 vote, with four bishops abstaining.
The bishops also participated in a consultation on the sainthood cause of Dorothy Day, the U.S. activist and founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, led the bishops in discussion in his role as archbishop of New York, which is overseeing the cause. The bishops approved the advancement of Day's cause in a voice vote.
The bishops approved adding the optional memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos to the U.S. liturgical calendar in a 213-1 vote, with one bishop abstaining. They also approved the creation of a new public affairs position for the USCCB in a 202-25 vote, with four bishops abstaining.
The bishops rejected a proposed document, "The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times." The message received a vote of 134-85-9, falling short of a necessary two-thirds majority.
More information on the bishops' meeting is available


Royal Commission Bishops' Response

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
16 Nov 2012
Prime Minister Gillard announces the Royal Commission
The President and Permanent Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, on behalf of the Australian Bishops, support the announcement by the Prime Minister of a Royal Commission into child sex abuse in our community. This is a serious issue not just for the Catholic Church but for the whole community. As Catholic bishops and as individuals we share the feelings of horror and outrage which all decent people feel when they read the reports of sexual abuse and allegations of cover ups.
Over the past 20 years, there have been major developments in the way the Church responds to victims, deals with perpetrators and puts in place preventive measures. In addition, there is a much greater general awareness of the issue of paedophilia in the broader community.
Sexual abuse of children is not confined to the Catholic Church. Tragically, it occurs in families, churches, community groups, schools and other organisations. We believe a Royal Commission will enable an examination of the issues associated with child abuse nationally, and identify measures for better preventing and responding to child abuse in our society.
We have taken decisive steps in the past 20 years to make child safety a priority and to help victims of abuse. This includes working closely with police.
While there were significant problems concerning some dioceses and some religious orders, talk of a systemic problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is ill-founded and inconsistent with the facts.
To assist in determining the appropriate scope of the Royal Commission, it would be very useful for police and child protection authorities to release the information they have about the number of cases they are dealing with now and the situations which they have arisen: families, government organisations and non-government organisations, including churches. In NSW it would also be helpful to highlight when the offences occurred and, in particular, whether they occurred pre or post the Wood Royal Commission in the 1990s, and the rigorous child protection regime put in place after it.
We deeply regret the suffering and trauma endured by children who have been in the Church's care, and the effect on their families. Mistakes were made and we apologise to victims and their families for these failures.
Much of the public discussion is about how the Church dealt with cases 20 or more years ago. Critics talk as though earlier failures are still prevalent. Major procedural changes in dealing with these matters have been implemented by the Church since then.
It is unjust and inappropriate to suggest crimes are being - or have been - committed, without producing evidence; without asking those accused for their responses before making generalised slurs.
It is unacceptable, because it is untrue, to claim that the Catholic Church does not have proper procedures, and to claim that Catholic authorities refuse to cooperate with the police.
As we have welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with the Inquiries announced in Victoria and NSW, and to address issues that have been raised - both justified and unjustified - we are also ready to cooperate with this Royal Commission. We look forward to consultations with the Government on the terms of reference.