Thursday, February 5, 2015

Saint February 6 : St. Paul Miki & Companions : Martyrs of Japan



Information:

Feast Day:
February 4
Born:
1562, Tsunokuni, Japan
Died:
5 February 1597, Nagasaki, Japana
Canonized:
8 June 1862 by Pope Pius IX

MARTYR OF JAPAN WITH TWENTY-FIVE COMPANIONS

In 1592 the persecution was renewed, and several Japanese converts received the crown of martyrdom. The emperor Tagcosama, one of the proudest and most vicious of men, was worked up into rage and jealousy by a suspicion suggested by certain European merchants desirous of the monopoly of this trade, that the view of the missionaries in preaching the Christian faith was to facilitate the conquest of their country by the Portuguese or Spaniards.
Three Jesuits and six Franciscans were crucified on a hill near Nangasaqui in 1597. The latter were partly Spaniards and partly Indians, and had at their head F. Peter Baptist, commissary of his order, a native of Avila, in Spain. As to the Jesuits, one was Paul Miki, a noble Japanese, and an eminent preacher, at that time thirty-three years old. The other two, John Gotto and James Kisai, were admitted into the Society in prison a little before they suffered. Several Japanese converts suffered with them. The martyrs were twenty-six in number, and among them were three boys who used to serve the friars at mass; two of them were fifteen years of age, and the third only twelve, yet each showed great joy and constancy in their sufferings. Of these martyrs, twenty-four had been brought to Meaco, where only a part of their left ears was cut off, by a mitigation of the sentence, which had commanded the amputation of their noses and both ears. They were conducted through many towns and public places, their cheeks stained with blood, for a terror to others. When the twenty-six soldiers of Christ were arrived at the place of execution near Nangasaqui, they were allowed to make their confession to two Jesuits of the convent in that town, and being fastened to crosses by cords and chains about their arm. and legs, and an iron collar about their necks, were raised into the air, the foot of each cross falling into a hole prepared for it in the ground. The crosses were planted in a row, about four feet asunder, and each martyr had an executioner near him with a spear ready to pierce his side; for such is the Japanese manner of crucifixion. As soon as all the crosses were planted, the executioners lifted up their lances, and at a signal given, all pierced the martyrs almost in the same instant; upon which they expired, and went to receive the reward of their sufferings. Their blood and garments were procured by Christians, and miracles were wrought by them. Urban VIII ranked them among the martyrs, and they are honoured on the 5th of February, the day of their triumph.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpaulmiki.asp#ixzz1lf4AWK00

Wow #PopeFrancis has #GOOGLE Chat with Disabled Children from around the World - SHARE!

Pope Francis had an Internet chat with disabled children from around the world. The Pontiff, spoke with children via Google Hangout which was sponsored by Scholas Occurrentes. This was for the last day of the organization's World Educational Congress held at the Vatican. The children participating came from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, and India. Alicia, a 16 year old , with Down syndrome from Spain asked the Holy Father: "Do you like taking pictures and uploading them onto your computer?" The Pope answered: "Do you want me to tell you the truth? I am clumsy with computers; I don't know how to use a computer. How embarrassing, right?"  Isaiah Bower, from Nebraska, USA, asked what the Pope does in a difficult situation. "First, to not get angry, there is no need to get angry; be calm. Then, look for a way to overcome it, to surpass it," the Pope said. "And if I cannot surpass it, then I must withstand it until the ability to surpass it comes along. There is no need to be afraid of difficulties, ever. We are capable of overcoming them all. We only need time to understand them, the intelligence to look for the right path, and the courage to move forward. But never be afraid." “When you communicate, you give the best you have inside, and you receive the best from others, and that is very important,” he said. “When we don’t communicate, we stay alone with our limitations, and that is bad for us.” “If we keep it inside, it stays there inside,” he said. “When we share it with others, the treasure multiplies itself, for that treasure is for others…Because of sharing, you receive from others and it multiplies.” "What I want to tell you is to not hide the treasure that each one of you have," he said. Pope Francis concluded saying: "That’s what I wanted to tell you kids. Go forward! What you do, in the place that you're in, helps all of us to understand that life is a beautiful treasure but it only has meaning if we give it."

Latest News from #Vatican Information Service and #PopeFrancis “Christian solidarity is a leaven for hope”


05-02-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 026 

Summary
Defence of the environment central to the Pope's audience with the president of Kiribati
- To the bishops of Greece: “Christian solidarity is a leaven for hope”
- Francis calls for collaboration of episcopal conferences and religious superiors with the Commission for the Protection of Minors
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
- General audience: the importance of a father's presence in the family
- Appeal for an end to the fratricidal violence in Ukraine
- Archbishop Oscar Romero, blessed and defender of the poor and justice
Defence of the environment central to the Pope's audience with the president of Kiribati
Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Independent and Sovereign Republic of Kiribati, Anote Tong, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, emphasis was placed on the importance of the protection of the environment and on matters of climate change, which has worrying negative effects on the country, as in other Pacific States. In this regard, the hope was expressed that on the occasion of the COP-21, to be held in Paris next December, the international Community may adopt concerted and effective measures to face this challenge.
To the bishops of Greece: “Christian solidarity is a leaven for hope”
Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) - “Faced with the economic and financial crisis that has hit your country particularly hard, do not tire of exhorting trust in the future to all, resisting the culture of pessimism. The spirit of solidarity, that every Christian is called upon to bear witness to in the reality of everyday life, constitutes a leaven of hope”, writes the Pope in the text he handed to the prelates of the Holy Synod of Catholic Bishops of Greece this morning, at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit. He emphasises, in this context, that it is important for the bishops “to maintain constructive relations with the authorities of the country, as well as with the various members of society, so as to spread this outlook of solidarity … favouring dialogue and collaboration also with the other European countries”.
A key theme of the Pope's text is the need for fraternal communion between the prelates and, in turn, with the faithful in a “diakonia of fraternity”. This diakonia “on the one hand, postulates the stewardship and strengthening of cultural traditions and the Christian roots of Greek society, and on the other, requires openness to the cultural and spiritual values brought by many migrants, with a spirit of sincere acceptance towards these brothers and sisters, without distinction on the basis of race, language or religious belief. Your Christian communities, showing themselves to be truly united and at the same time open to encounter and acceptance, especially in relation to the most disadvantaged, can make a real contribution to transforming society, with the aim of making it more closely resemble the Gospel ideal. I rejoice in the knowledge that you are already engaged in this pastoral and charitable action, above all in favour of immigrants including those who are undocumented, many of whom are Catholic”.
In the same spirit, Francis encourages the Greek bishops to continue in their interpersonal dialogue with their Orthodox brothers, “with the aim of nurturing the necessary ecumenical journey, an indispensable prospect for a future of serenity and spiritual fecundity for your entire nation”. He also remarks that, in order to carry out the mission of evangelisation and human development, which the Church in Greece is called upon to perform, a “generous and motivated clergy” is essential. He encourages the promotion of “vocational pastoral care”, to deal with the insufficient number of priests, and urges the bishops “to transmit to the priests in your dioceses, many of whom are elderly, all my affection and appreciation for their apostolic zeal despite their limited means”. Similarly, he mentions the valuable contribution made by consecrated persons, notwithstanding the difficulties they face, and emphasises that in order to revitalise Christian communities it is necessary to fully acknowledge and promote the role of laypersons and to increase “the presence of ecclesial movements and associations … always working in keeping with the guidelines of the particular Churches and well integrated in the dioceses and parishes”. With regard to the family, the Holy Father insists on the need for programmes in preparation for marriage and work on the Christian formation of the new generations. He indicates the importance of underlining, “with words and actions, that the presence and participation of the elderly in social life is indispensable for the good progress of a population”.
“Dear brothers and sisters in the episcopate”, he concludes, “I wish to express my acknowledgement of the work of evangelisation that, despite many difficulties, you are carrying out in Greece. The legal recognition of the Catholic Church on the part of the competent authorities is an event of great importance, that will help you to look to the future with greater serenity, making efforts today with trustful dynamism and the enthusiasm of those who are witnesses to the Risen Lord. I encourage you to persevere in your mission with evangelical joy”.
Francis calls for collaboration of episcopal conferences and religious superiors with the Commission for the Protection of Minors
Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a letter to the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and the superiors of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, in which he calls for collaboration with the Commission for the Protection of Minors, instituted in March 2014. The following is the full text of the letter, signed in the Vatican on 2 February, feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
“Last March I established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which had first been announced in December 2013, for the purpose of offering proposals and initiatives meant to improve the norms and procedures for protecting children and vulnerable adults. I then appointed to the Commission a number of highly qualified persons well-known for their work in this field.
At my meeting in July with persons who had suffered sexual abuse by priests, I was deeply moved by their witness to the depth of their sufferings and the strength of their faith. This experience reaffirmed my conviction that everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.
For this reason, last December I added new members to the Commission, in order to represent the Particular Churches throughout the world. In just a few days, all the members will meet in Rome for the first time.
In light of the above, I believe that the Commission can be a new, important and effective means for helping me to encourage and advance the commitment of the Church at every level – Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and others – to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and to respond to their needs with fairness and mercy.
Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home. Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.
Every effort must also be made to ensure that the provisions of the Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated 3 May 2011 are fully implemented. This document was issued to assist Episcopal Conferences in drawing up guidelines for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. It is likewise important that Episcopal Conferences establish a practical means for periodically reviewing their norms and verifying that they are being observed.
It is the responsibility of Diocesan Bishops and Major Superiors to ascertain that the safety of minors and vulnerable adults is assured in parishes and other Church institutions. As an expression of the Church’s duty to express the compassion of Jesus towards those who have suffered abuse and towards their families, the various Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are urged to identify programmes for pastoral care which include provisions for psychological assistance and spiritual care. Pastors and those in charge of religious communities should be available to meet with victims and their loved ones; such meetings are valuable opportunities for listening to those have greatly suffered and for asking their forgiveness.
For all of these reasons, I now ask for your close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors. The work I have entrusted to them includes providing assistance to you and your Conferences through an exchange of best practices and through programmes of education, training, and developing adequate responses to sexual abuse.
May the Lord Jesus instil in each of us, as ministers of the Church, the same love and affection for the little ones which characterised his own presence among us, and which in turn enjoins on us a particular responsibility for the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of tenderness and mercy, help us to carry out, generously and thoroughly, our duty to humbly acknowledge and repair past injustices and to remain ever faithful in the work of protecting those closest to the heart of Jesus”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy;
- Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, of Philadelphia, U.S.A.;
- Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio in Bolivia;
- Eight prelates of the Holy Synod of Catholic Bishops of Greece, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos of Athens; apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Rhodes, with Archbishop emeritus Nikolaos Foskolos;
- Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris of Corfu, Zante and Kefalonia; apostolic administrator “ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the apostolic vicariate of Thessaloniki;
- Bishop Nikolaos Printezis of Naxos, Andros, Tinos and Mykonos; apostolic administrator “sede vacante” of Chios;
- Bishop Petros Stefanou of Syros, Milos and Santorini, with Bishop emeritus Frangkiskos Papamanolis;
- Bishop Dimitrios Salachas, apostolic esarch for Catholics of Byzantine rite resident in Greece;
- Archbishop Neshan Karakeheyan, apostolic administrator of the Ordinary for Catholics of Armenian rite resident in Greece.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Bruno Musaro as apostolic nuncio in the Arab Republic of Egypt and delegate at the League of Arab States. Archbishop Musaro is currently apostolic nuncio in Cuba.
04-02-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 025 

General audience: the importance of a father's presence in the family
Vatican City, 4 February 2015 (VIS) – The positive and decisive aspect of the father figure was the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the catechesis of today's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall.
“Every family needs a father”, he began, “and I would like to talk about this role starting from several phrases we find in the Book of Proverbs, words that a father addresses to his son: 'My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed. My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right'”.
“One could not better express the pride and emotion of a father who acknowledges that he has transmitted to his son what truly counts in life, a wise heart”, he affirmed, explaining that the phrase in the Book of Proverbs is that of father who says, “This is what I wanted to leave to you, so that it might become yours: feeling, acting, speaking and judging with wisdom and rectitude. And in order for you to be able to do this, I taught you things you did not know, I corrected errors you did not see. … I myself, first of all, had to test the wisdom of my heart, and monitor my excesses of sentiment and resentment, to bear the weight of the inevitable misunderstandings, and to find the right words to make myself understood”.
“A father knows well how to transmit this legacy: with closeness, gentleness and firmness. However, what consolation and compensation he receives, when his children honour his legacy! It is a joy that repays every hardship, that overcomes every misunderstanding and heals every wound”.
To be a good father, the first requirement is “to be present in the family. To be close to his wife, to share in everything, joy and pain, burdens and hopes. And to be close to the children as they grow: when they play and when they make efforts, when they are carefree and when they are distressed, when they dare and when they are afraid, when they make missteps and when they return to the right path. A father must always be present, but” – the Holy Father warned – “being present is not the same as controlling. Fathers who seek to control end up stifling their children; they do not let them grow”.
“The Gospel provides us with the example of the Father in heaven – the only one, Jesus says, who can truly be described as a 'good Father'. Everyone knows the extraordinary parable of the prodigal son, or better of the merciful father in the Gospel according to Luke. How much dignity and tenderness we find in the father who stays at the door of his house awaiting the return of his son! Fathers need to be patient. Sometimes you can do nothing other than wait; pray and wait with patience, gentleness, magnanimity, and mercy. A good father knows how to wait and how to forgive, from the bottom of his heart. He certainly also knows how to correct firmly. … A father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the same as he who knows how to protect unstintingly”.
“If there is anyone who knows how to explain in depth the Lord's Prayer, taught by Jesus, it is precisely he who experiences paternity in the first person”, continued the Pope. “Without the grace that comes from the Father in heaven, fathers lose courage, and abandon the field. But children need to find a father who awaits them when they return home after their failures. They will do everything to avoid admitting or showing this, but they need him, and not finding him opens up wounds that are difficult to heal”.
“The Church, our mother, is committed to supporting with all her power the good and generous presence of fathers in families”, Pope Francis concluded, “as, like St. Joseph, they are the indispensable guardians and mediators of the faith for new generations, in goodness, justice and God's protection”.
Appeal for an end to the fratricidal violence in Ukraine
Vatican City, 4 February 2015 (VIS) – At the end of today's catechesis the Pope launched an appeal for an end to the violence among the “beloved Ukrainian people”. “Unfortunately, the situation is worsening”, he said, “and there is an escalation of hostilities between the parties. Let us pray firstly for the victims, many of whom are civilians, and their families, and let us ask the Lord for an end, as soon as possible, to this horrible fratricidal violence. I renew my heartfelt appeal that every effort be made – also at an international level – to resume dialogue, the only way possible to restore peace and harmony to this ravaged land”.
“Brothers and sisters”, he continued, “when I hear the words 'victory' or 'defeat', I feel great suffering, a great sadness in my heart. These are not the right words: the only right word is 'peace'. This is the only right word. I think of you, Ukrainian brothers and sisters. … Think, this is a war between Christians! You have all had the same baptism! You are fighting among yourselves, with other Christians. Think of this scandal. And let us all pray, so that our prayer might be our protest before God in this time of war”.
Archbishop Oscar Romero, blessed and defender of the poor and justice
Vatican City, 4 February 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and postulator of the cause for the beatification of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, presented the figure of the Salvadoran archbishop assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass and whose martyrdom was acknowledged yesterday with the signing of the necessary decree by Pope Francis. Historian Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, professor of modern history at the University of Rome III and author of a biography of Oscar Romero, also participated in the conference. Extensive extracts of Archbishop Paglia's presentation are published below.
“It is an extraordinary gift for all of the Church at the beginning of this millennium to see rise to the altar a pastor who gave his life for his people; and this is true for all Christians. This can be seen in the attention of the Anglican Church, which has placed a statue of Romero in the facade of Westminster Abbey alongside those of Martin Luther King and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and for all of society that regards him as a defender of the poor and of peace. Gratitude is also due to Benedict XVI, who followed the cause from the very beginning and on 20 December 2012 – just over a month before his resignation – decided to unblock the process to enable it to follow the regular itinerary”.
“The work of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., has been careful and attentive. The unanimity of both the commission of cardinals and the commission of theologians confirmed his martyrdom in odium fidei. … The martyrdom of Romero has given meaning and strength to many Salvadoran families who lost relatives and friends during the civil war. His memory immediately became the memory of other victims, perhaps less illustrious, of the violence”.
“Following a lengthy procedure that encountered many difficulties, on account of opposition due to both the archbishop's thought and pastoral action, and the situation of conflict that developed in relation to him, the itinerary finally reached its conclusion. Romero becomes, as it were, the first of a long line of contemporary New Martyrs. 24 March – the day of his death – became, by decision of the Italian Episcopal Conference, the “Day for Prayer for Missionary Martyrs”. The United Nations have proclaimed that day “International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims”.
The world has changed greatly since 1980, but that pastor from a small Central American country speaks powerfully. It is not without significance that his beatification will take place precisely when there is for the first time in history a Latin American Pope who wants a 'poor Church, for the poor'. It is a providential coincidence”.
Romero the pastor
“Romero believed in his role as a bishop and primate of his country, and he considered himself responsible for the population, especially the poorest. Therefore, he took upon himself the bloodshed, pain and violence, denouncing their causes in his charismatic Sundaypreaching that was listened to on the radio by the entire nation. We might say that it was a 'pastoral conversion', with the assumption by Romero of a strength that was indispensable in the crisis that beset the country. He transformed himself into a defensor civitatis following the tradition of the ancient Fathers of the Church, defending the persecuted clergy, protecting the poor, and affirming human rights”.
“The climate of persecution was palpable. However, Romero clearly became the defender of the poor in the face of cruel repression. After two years as archbishop of San Salvador, Romero counted thirty lost priests – killed, expelled or forced to flee from death. The death squads killed scores of catechists from the base communities, and many faithful disappeared from these communities. The Church was the main target of accusation and therefore the hardest hit. Romero resisted and accepted giving his life to defend his people”.
Assassinated at the altar during Mass
“He was killed at the altar. Killing him was intended to strike at the Church that flowed from Vatican Council II. His death – as the detailed documentary examination clearly showed – was not only politically motivated, but due also to hatred for a faith that, combined with charity, would not stay silent when faced with the injustices that implacably and cruelly afflicted the poor and their defenders. His assassination at the altar – without doubt a more uncertain death as it meant shooting from a distance of thirty metres rather than an attempt from a shorter range – had a symbolic nature that resounded as as terrible warning for whoever wished to follow the same route. John Paul II himself – who was well aware of the other two saints killed at the altar, St. Stanislaus of Krakow and St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury – noted effectively, 'they killed him precisely at the most sacred moment, during the highest and most divine act. … A bishop of God's Church was assassinated while he exercised his sanctifying mission, offering the Eucharist'. On a number of occasions he repeated forcefully, 'Romero is ours, Romero is of the Church!'”.
Romero and the poor
“Romero had always loved the poor. As a very young priest in San Miguel he was accused of communism because he asked the rich to give a fair salary to the peasant coffee cultivators. He told them that not only did they act against justice, but also that they themselves opened the doors to communism”.
“Romero understood increasingly clearly that being a pastor to all meant starting with the poor. Placing the poor at the centre of the pastoral concerns of the Church and therefore of all Christians, including the rich, was the new pastoral way. His preferential love for the poor not only did not attenuate his love for his country, but on the contrary supported it. In this sense, Romero was not partisan, although to some he appeared that way; rather, he was a pastor who sought the common good of all, starting however with the poor. He never ceased to seek out the way for the pacification of the country.
Romero, man of God and of the Church
Romero was a man of God, a man of prayer, of obedience and love for the people. He prayed a lot … and he was harsh on himself, a severity linked to an old-fashioned spirituality made up of sacrifices. He had a 'linear' spiritual life, in spite of having a character that was not always easy – rigorous with himself, intransigent, tormented. But in prayer he found rest, peace and strength. When he had to make complicated or difficult decisions, he withdrew in prayer”.
“He was a bishop faithful to the magisterium. From his papers there clearly emerges his familiarity with the documents of Vatican Council II, Medellin, Puebla, the social doctrine of the Church and other pontifical texts in general. … It has often been said that Romero was suborned by liberation theology. Once, a journalist asked him, 'Do you agree with liberation theology?'. He answered, 'Yes, of course. But there are two forms of liberation theology. There is the one that sees liberation solely as material liberation. The other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI'”.

Today's Mass Readings : Thursday February 5, 2015

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

Lectionary: 326

Reading 1HEB 12:18-19, 21-24
Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness
and storm and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said,
“I am terrified and trembling.”
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently
than that of Abel.

Responsorial PsalmPS 48:2-3AB, 3CD-4, 9, 10-11

R. (see 10) O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Mount Zion, “the recesses of the North,”
the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
renowned is he as a stronghold.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
As we had heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
In the city of our God;
God makes it firm forever.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
O God, we ponder your mercy
within your temple.
As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Of justice your right hand is full.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.

AlleluiaMK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Novena Prayer to Saint Agatha - Patron of Breast Cancer, Virgins, Assault Victims - Share!

Novena Prayer to Saint Agatha, Virgin Martyr. Oh St. Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity and martyrdom.Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity. Pray also, Glorious Saint for the special favor we ask through you? (Here state your request) Oh St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice, may receive your intercession. O God, Who dost make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Thy people to love that which Thou dost command and desire that which Thou dost promise, that amid the changes of this world, our heart shall there be fixed where true joys may be found. Grant what we ask through the intercession of St. Agatha, we ask it through Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end.Amen. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

#PopeFrancis "...everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors" Full Text

Pope Francis Full Text Letter to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences and Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life  and Societies of Apostolic Life for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors:
Last March I established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which had first been announced in December 2013, for the purpose of offering proposals and initiatives meant to improve the norms and procedures for protecting children and vulnerable adults.  I then appointed to the Commission a number of highly qualified persons well-known for their work in this field.
At my meeting in July with persons who had suffered sexual abuse by priests, I was deeply moved by their witness to the depth of their sufferings and the strength of their faith.  This experience reaffirmed my conviction that everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.   
For this reason, last December I added new members to the Commission, in order to represent the Particular Churches throughout the world.  In just a few days, all the members will meet in Rome for the first time.
In light of the above, I believe that the Commission can be a new, important and effective means for helping me to encourage and advance the commitment of the Church at every level – Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and others – to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and to respond to their needs with fairness and mercy.
Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children.  They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home.  Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.
Every effort must also be made to ensure that the provisions of the Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated 3 May 2011 are fully implemented.  This document was issued to assist Episcopal Conferences in drawing up guidelines for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.  It is likewise important that Episcopal Conferences establish a practical means for periodically reviewing their norms and verifying that they are being observed.
It is the responsibility of Diocesan Bishops and Major Superiors to ascertain that the safety of minors and vulnerable adults is assured in parishes and other Church institutions.  As an expression of the Church’s duty to express the compassion of Jesus towards those who have suffered abuse and towards their families, the various Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are urged to identify programmes for pastoral care which include provisions for psychological assistance and spiritual care.  Pastors and those in charge of religious communities should be available to meet with victims and their loved ones; such meetings are valuable opportunities for listening to those have greatly suffered and for asking their forgiveness.
For all of these reasons, I now ask for your close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors.  The work I have entrusted to them includes providing assistance to you and your Conferences through an exchange of best practices and through programmes of education, training, and developing adequate responses to sexual abuse.
May the Lord Jesus instil in each of us, as ministers of the Church, the same love and affection for the little ones which characterized his own presence among us, and which in turn enjoins on us a particular responsibility for the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.  May Mary Most Holy, Mother of tenderness and mercy, help us to carry out, generously and thoroughly, our duty to humbly acknowledge and repair past injustices and to remain ever faithful in the work of protecting those closest to the heart of Jesus.
From the Vatican, 2 February 2015
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord 
Pope Francis 

Breaking Peaceful March in India by Priests and Nuns is attacked by Police

Peaceful march in Delhi: police beat and stop priests, nuns and children
by Nirmala Carvalho
Demonstrators gathered to protest against attacks on Catholic churches over the past two months. Police declared the rally "Illegal". For Card Gracias, treating "Christians like criminals" was "a shameful stain on secular and democratic India." The government denies visas to two Vatican officials without explanation. They were only supposed to take part in a conference.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - This morning, Delhi police stopped, beat and detained dozens of priests, nuns and lay people (including women, seniors and children) who were participating in a peaceful protest in front of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
Protesters were marching in silence to protest against the attacks on Catholic churches in the city over the past two months. Police justified their heavy-handed intervention by saying that the gathering was "illegal."
"What happened today is a shameful stain on secular and democratic India," Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, told AsiaNews.
Several Christian groups had organised the silent march that was supposed to end in front of the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. However, hundreds of police showed up to stop them.
An elderly woman who had fallen was picked up by four policewomen and thrown into a police van.
"People were detained. No one has the right to protest on the road," said senior police officer Mukesh Kumar Meena. "They cannot just march to the Home minister's residence. We have to protect the residence of VIPs."
The archbishop of Mumbai, who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), noted "the way in which our women religious were treated, women who consecrated their lives to God dragged away like criminals. Not even children were spared. "
"Christians constitute less than 2 per cent of India's population," Card Gracias said. "In Delhi they are just over 100,000 [out of 25 million residents]."
"They are a peaceful and law-abiding community. Our educational institutions and health facilities are at the service of the nation. Yet, in response to tens of decades of nation building, our women religious, our priests and our people are treated like criminals. This is a shame, a disgrace and a stain on our motherland."
Even Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), slammed the "repressive action by the police."
"What happened today," he told AsiaNews, "is a sign that the atrocities against the tiny Christian community continue to escalate, whilst the authorities remain silent before the growing intolerance".
Meanwhile, "The Indian Government this week denied entry permits (visa) to Archbishop Arthur Roche and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa , who were scheduled to attend a conference on 'Liturgy and Life' in Bangalore between 3 and 9 February," Sajan George said.
"The two Vatican officials had applied for their Visa's in mid-December but were turned down. No reason is cited for the denial of visas."

Mgr Roche is the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Mgr Rugambwa is an official with the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. Shared from AsiaNewsIT

#PopeFrancis "...God forgives all, that God is our Father, God is tender, that God is always waiting..." Homily

Pope Francis celebrates Mass Thursday in Casa Santa Marta chapel - OSS_ROM
05/02/2015 11:24

(Vatican Radio) The Church must proclaim the Gospel "in poverty" and the people proclaiming it must have the sole aim of alleviating the miseries of the poor, never forgetting that this service is the work of the Holy Spirit and not of human hands.  
At Mass on Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis returned to one of his favorite images for the Church – that of a field hospital- inspired by the Gospel of the day, in which Jesus sends his disciples out, two by two, to the villages to preach, heal the sick and drive out "unclean spirits".
Pope Francis said that there are many “wounded” waiting in the aisles of the Church for a minister of Christ to heal, raise and liberate them from the demons that plague them.  He added that Christ’s ministers must always remember, however, that they are simple “servants of the Kingdom”.
Healing wounded hearts
The Pope contemplated Jesus’ description of the attitude his disciples must have as he sends them out among the people. They must be people with no frills attached - “no food, no sack, no money in their belts" he tells them - because the Gospel, "must be proclaimed in poverty" as "salvation is not a theology of prosperity". It is purely and simply the "good news" of liberation brought to all who are oppressed:

"This is the mission of the Church: the Church that heals, that cares [for people]. I sometimes describe the Church as a field hospital. True, there are many wounded, how many wounded! How many people who need their wounds to be healed! This is the mission of the Church: to heal the wounded hearts, to open doors, to free [people], to say that God is good, God forgives all, that God is our Father, God is tender, that God is always waiting for us ... ".
Apostolic zeal, not NGO activism
Pope Francis warned that distracting attention from the essential nature of this proclamation creates the risk of misrepresenting the Church's mission and losing sight of the only thing that matters: bringing Christ to the poor, the blind, the prisoners:
"It’s true, we have to help and create organizations that help in this: yes, because the Lord gives us the gifts for this. But when we forget this mission, forget poverty, forget the apostolic zeal and instead, place our hope in these  [human] means, the Church slowly slips into becoming an NGO, it becomes a beautiful organization: Powerful, but not evangelical, because it lacks that spirit, that poverty, that power to heal".
Disciples "Workers of the Kingdom"
Pope Francis concluded that the disciples return "happy" from their mission and so Jesus took them with him "to rest for a while".  However, Pope Francis stresses ...
"... He does not say to them: ‘How great you are great, now on your next mission you should be better organized ...'. Only: 'When you have done all you have to do, say to yourself:' We are useless servants'. This is the apostle. And what would be the most beautiful praise for an apostle? 'He was a worker of the Kingdom, a worker of the Kingdom'. This is the greatest praise, because it means he has chosen Jesus’ path of proclamation: He goes to heal, to safeguard, to proclaim this good news and this year of grace. So that people rediscover the Father, to foster peace in the hearts of the people".

(Emer McCarthy)