Friday, January 4, 2013


Vatican City, 4 January 2013 (VIS) - The Prefecture of the Papal Household today published a communique in which it reported that during 2012, 2,351,200 faithful participated in the various encounters with Benedict XVI: general audiences (447,000), private audiences (146,800), liturgical celebrations (501,400), Angelus and Regina Coeli (1,256,000). These data refer exclusively to activities which took place within the Vatican and at Castel Gandolfo, and do not include other events during which hundreds of thousands of faithful have gathered around the Pope, such as apostolic visits to Mexico and Cuba last spring, and to Lebanon in September. During the past year the Pope also made several visits within Italy, for instance to Arezzo-San Sepolcro, Emilia Romagna, Loreto, and the World Meeting of Families in Milan in June.
The Prefecture of the Papal Household emphasises that these are approximate data calculated on the basis of requests to participate in events and invitations issued by the Prefecture. Additionally, an estimate has been given for the number of attendees at the Angelus and the major celebrations in St. Peter's Square.
In total, according to the data provided by the Prefecture of the Papal Household, 20,544,970 people have attended papal events with Benedict XVI.


by Nina Achmatova
On 7 January, the Moscow Patriarchate will celebrate Christmas in accordance with the Julian calendar. Kirill will celebrate the 'divine liturgy' in the presence of the Russian prime minister. The night of 6-7 January is considered the best time for divination.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Russians are preparing to celebrate Christmas on 7 January in accordance with the Julian calendar still used by the Russian Orthodox Church. It remains unclear where President Vladimir Putin will attend Christmas Eve Mass, but some in the Moscow Patriarchate would like to move Christmas Day to 1 January, New year's Day, because the religious occurrence is only marginally followed.

On 6 January, Orthodox Christians stop their fast for Sochelnik, Christmas Eve. According to tradition, people fast until the first star is visible, which, according to tradition, is the star of Bethlehem that announces the birth of Christ.

Fasting is broken with sochivo, a vegetable dish made from scalded wheat grains, or rice, mixed with seeds, juice, and honey, a humble dish symbolising Jesus' coming into the world to suffer for us and save us, hence the name Sochelnik. After that, the dinner table is covered with all sorts of food for Christmas dinner attended by the whole family.

At this time, women, especially young, meet for various rites about the future, most often about marriage. They write the name of the men they would like to marry on pieces of paper, which they place in their pillows. In the morning, the first name they pick will be that of their future husband.

The 'Divine liturgy' will be held in the evening of 6 January, Christmas Eve. The patriarch will officiate in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, with Dmitri Medvedev, who is prime minister again after a mandate as president, and his wife Svetlana in front row.

President Putin usually attends a Christmas service in a provincial parish without his family. This year, he will probably be in Krasnodar, in southern Russia, which suffered from heavy flooding last summer.

During Christmas Eve Mass, Rozhdestvo tvoe, Christe bozhe nash (Merry Christmas has come) is sung as a Christmas icon and a candle, symbol of the start of Bethlehem, are carried to the centre of the church.

In a recent survey, some 80 per cent of Russians said they were Orthodox, but only 8 per cent take in religious services on a regularly basis.

In view of this, Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy and a top ranking official in the Russian Orthodox Church, proposed to combining Christmas-marginally celebrated after 70 years of State-imposed atheism-with secular-oriented New Year (Novi God) celebrations, which are the most important on the Russian calendar. The goal is to reduce the gap Russia's secular and religious cultures.

Under Soviet rule, Christmas was banned and Novi God was the most popular festivity, celebrated in family, around the dinner table with gifts exchanged, and everyone waiting for the arrival of Old Man Frost.

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the possibility of unifying the Catholic and Orthodox liturgical calendars has been discussed so that the two sister Churches might celebrate together at least the main festivities that the two traditions share.

However for Kuraev, it makes no sense for Russia to adopt 25 December. Russians love New Year celebrations because it was the least politicised festivity in Soviet times. "Everyone's energy goes into celebrating 31 December," he said, "and little is left for Christmas."



Report will say boyfriend pulled her to safety
Abhaya Srivastava, New Delhi
2013-01-02 13:14:07
Catholic Church News Image of
Demonstrators gather in Delhi on New Year's Day in silent protest for slain gang-rape victim (AFP photo)
A gang of rapists who assaulted and murdered a woman on a bus in New Delhi last month tried to run her over with the vehicle after the attack, reports said today, citing a grisly police account of the incident.
Her boyfriend, who was beaten up and thrown off the bus after the girl had been repeatedly raped, managed to pull her to safety just in time, police are set to allege in a 1,000-page charge sheet to be presented in court tomorrow.
The 23-year-old female medical student, whose ordeal has brought simmering anger about widespread sex crime in India to the boil, bit three of her attackers as she attempted to fight them off, local newspapers and TV reports said.
These injuries on the suspects, as well as forensic evidence such as blood, semen and hair samples and the testimony of the injured boyfriend, are expected to form the main evidence against the accused, reports and police sources said.
Five men have been arrested and are expected tomorow to formally face murder and rape charges in a fast-track court set up to try them. A sixth suspect is aged 17 and is expected to be tried in a court for juveniles.
"The woman and her friend were stripped and thrown out of the bus," The Indian Express reported. "Her friend pulled her away when he saw the bus reversing to run her over."
The Times of India newspaper said the charge sheet would likely begin with details on how the driver of the private vehicle, who allegedly took part in the rape, got his group of friends together and set out for a joyride.
One of the charges against the accused relates to the destruction of evidence, the paper said, since the driver had tried to wash the bus and had burned the clothes that were snatched from the victim.
The woman died at the weekend after a 13-day struggle to survive injuries so grievous that her intestines had to be removed. She also underwent three major surgeries and suffered a cardiac arrest before being flown to Singapore.
The brutality and horrific nature of the attack has led to protests in the capital and elsewhere, and has prompted calls for the death penalty for the rapists.
The government, which has faced a wave of public anger over the attack, on Tuesday set up a special 13-member committee to look into safety issues and review the functioning of Delhi police on a regular basis.
A panel to recommend changes to the criminal law dealing with sexual crimes was set up last week.
Junior Education Minister Shashi Tharoor sparked a debate Wednesday when he suggested that a proposed new anti-rape law to toughen sentences against sex offenders be named after the dead student.
While much of her identity is known, her name has not been disclosed.
"Unless her parents object, she should be honoured and the revised anti-rape law named after her," Tharoor wrote on Twitter.
Victims of sex crimes are granted anonymity to avoid them or their families facing stigma from the crime. AFP


Chile: Touching farewell for a worker for justice - Fr Antonio Ghyselen | Father Antonio Ghyselen

Fr Antonio's colourful funeral
Father Antonio Ghyselen was born in Belgium in 1939 and professed his final vows as an Oblate in 1962. Ordained in 1964, he spent most of his missionary life in Chile. He died in La Pintana on December 15, 2012. From his arrival in Chile until his last days, he lived in the midst of the poor. Faithful to the teaching he received as a Missionary Oblate, he spent his life creating and encouraging Basic Christian Communities. He was outstanding in social-missionary activities at the time when the Archdiocese of Santiago was under the direction of Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, along with his Vicar General, Monsignor Jorge Hourton.
In 1983, he lost his permanent residency in Chile because of his involvement in the “Sebastian Acevedo” movement against torture, a nonviolent, Christian expression of protest and action against the abuses of human rights that the military dictatorship was systematically committing. In 1989, he once again received his residency document.
For several years, he was the Dean of the Santa Rosa deanery; he was a provincial councillor of the Oblate province, and from 1987 until 1993, he was provincial of that province. As such, he participated in the 1992 General Chapter of the Oblates in Rome. In 1989, he was named pastor of the Oblate parish of Nuestra Señora de la Reconciliación, until the transfer of that parish to the new diocese of San Bernardo in 1992.
Neither the lunch hour nor the sweltering heat managed to mitigate the love, respect and enthusiasm of the 300 people who, on December 16, said farewell to the beloved brother and companion, Oblate priest and missionary, who came from Belgium to live and preach the Gospel among the poorest and the dispossessed from different working neighbourhoods of Chile.
The poignant and crowded funeral Mass, celebrated in the Capilla Jesús Sembrador, was led by the Vicars, Miguel Hoban (southern zone) and Rafael Hernández (northern zone) and was concelebrated by 20 priests of different religious orders, including his brother Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Several of those present, before the beginning of the liturgy, recalled various human and pastoral sides of Fr Antonio. Everyone agreed that this missionary came to be with them where they lived, listened to them, encouraged them in their dreams of a better life and was one with them, without distinction or scolding. Antonio was a born Evangelizer and a great, inveterate promoter of the Basic Christian Communities. Therefore, he lived with the people and the people loved him, respected him and followed him, within and outside the parish...
Noteworthy was the homily of the Vicar, Miguel Hoban. He reviewed Antonio’s great task and hope. “Do not forget Fr. Antonio, a man who let himself be molded by God; there is no crisis in the priesthood when a priest lives close to the people and to the Lord.” He added that this foreign missionary lived as one more resident, living like the people, making his own their hopes and sorrows, and that he strongly promoted the Basic Communities and social ministry. He also based his ministry on listening to people, forming decidedly autonomous pastoral councils in parishes wherever he was.

(Jaime Escobar M in Revista Reflexión y Liberación)


Agenzia Fides REPORT- "The internally displaced people are the main victims of the conflict and are still the biggest problem in the Country," says the latest report of Caritas Somalia sent to Fides Agency.
Despite the formation of a new government and the improvement of the security situation in some areas of the Country, in Somalia, at least one million people live in camps for displaced people. The majority of the displaced come from the region of Juba (42%), Banadir (15%), Shabele (13%), Bay, Bakool and Gedo (15%); the remainder from other parts of the Country.
The number of Somali refugees abroad has reduced both for the growing insecurity in the border areas and, on the contrary, for the improvement of safety conditions within Somalia.
The most insecure areas are those of the south central part of the Country where the presence of groups linked to the Shabaab causes several violent clashes with security forces AMISOM (the African Mission in Somalia to which the Kenyan troops operating in the area since October 2011 have joined) and those of the government in Mogadishu. The clashes cause a restriction on freedom of movement for humanitarian organizations and on normal commercial activities.
In Mogadishu, the large number of displaced persons poses serious problems for local authorities. Several people who had illegally occupied public buildings have been rejected in the central part of the Country, while UNICEF reports that street children (at least 5,000) in the capital are at the mercy of drugs, crime and abuse. The Warlords have also reappeared after the Shabaab left the capital, and exercise control and extortion attempts against the displaced people living in camps in the area of Mogadishu.
This does not prevent Caritas Somalia to continue its activities in collaboration with its local partners (such as WAANO, Women in Action Against Malnutrition) and international (Trócaire, Caritas Switzerland and CRS). (L.M.)




John 1: 35 - 42

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples;
36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ).
42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Feast: January 4

Feast Day:January 4
28 August 1774 in New York City, New York, USA
Died:4 January 1821 in Emmitsburg, Maryland
14 September 1975 by Pope Paul VI
Patron of:Catholic Schools; State of Maryland
This first American-born saint accomplished more in twelve years than most people do in a whole lifetime. From 1809 to 1821, the year she died, she laid the foundation for the Catholic parochial system in the United States, founded her Sisters of Charity, and ran her school and lived with her community at her headquarters in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was the daughter of a distinguished colonial family in New York City, her father a physician and professor at what later became Columbia University. Her grandfather was rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on Staten Island.

Born in 1774 she married William Magee Seton, a wealthy young businessman, in 1794. They had five children. Mr. Seton had reversals in business and lost his fortune, and a sea voyage was recommended to recover his health. The couple, along with their eldest daughter, embarked for Italy in 1803 and were given hospitality by the Filicchi family of Leghorn. William Seton died in Pisa less than three months later.

Influenced by her stay in Italy, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton became a Catholic upon her return to the United States, against the opposition of her family. In August 1807, she was invited by the superior of the Baltimore Sulpicians to found a school for girls near the Sulpician seminary in Baltimore. With the help of Archbishop Carroll, she organized a group of young women to assist her in her work, received a religious rule and habit from him, and took the vows of religion.
In 1809, she moved her headquarters to Emmitsburg, adopted a modified version of the rule of St. Vincent de Paul for the French Sisters of Charity, and laid the foundation for the Catholic parochial school system in the United States. She trained her sisters for teaching, wrote textbooks for classrooms, worked among the poor, the sick, and the black people of the region, and directed the work of her congregation. In 1814, she sent her nuns to open an orphanage in Philadelphia and another in New York City in 1817.

She died at Emmitsburg on January 4, 1821, and was canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975. Her body is enshrined at the motherhouse of the American Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg.
Thought for the Day: Mother Seton seems almost like a neighbor down the street. But she is St. Elizabeth Seton, who found God through very difficult times. She was loving wife, devoted mother, foundress, and saint.

From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . "Come along with me and I will show you how to fish for the souls of men!" And they left their nets at once and went with him.-Matthew 4:19-20