Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Saint February 19 : St. Conrad of Piacenza a Franciscan Confessor, Hermit and Patron of Cure for Hernias


1290, Piacenza, Province of Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

February 19, 1351, Noto, Province of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Patron of:
cure of hernias


Hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, date of birth uncertain; died at Noto in Sicily, 19 February, 1351. He belonged to one of the noblest families of Piacenza, and having married when he was quite young, led a virtuous and God-fearing life. On one occasion, when he was engaged in his usual pastime of hunting, he ordered his attendants to fire some brushwood in which game had taken refuge. The prevailing wind caused the flames to spread rapidly, and the surrounding fields and forest were soon in a state of conflagration. A mendicant, who happened to be found near the place where the fire had originated, was accused of being the author. He was imprisoned, tried, and condemned to death. As the poor man was being led to execution, Conrad, stricken with remorse, made open confession of his guilt; and in order to repair the damage of which he had been the cause, was obliged to sell all his possessions. Thus reduced to poverty, Conrad retired to a lonely hermitage some distance from Piacenza, while his wife entered the Order of Poor Clares. Later he went to Rome, and thence to Sicily, where for thirty years he lived a most austere and penitential life and worked numerous miracles. He is especially invoked for the cure of hernia. In 1515 Leo X permitted the town of Noto to celebrate his feast, which permission was later extended by Urban VIII to the whole Order of St. Francis. Though bearing the title of saint, Conrad was never formally canonized. His feast is kept in the Franciscan Order on 19 February.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)
Prayer to St. Conrad: 
Almighty God,
You attracted Saint Conrad through his zeal for justice to serve You faithfully in the desert.
Through his prayers may we live justly and piously, and happily succeed in coming to You.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that as Thou wert pacified by the penance of Blessed Conrad, so we may imitate his example and blot out the stains of our sins by crucifying our flesh. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Catholic Church in India re-elects Cardinal Oswald Gracias as President of Bishops' Conference

Indian Catholic Church re-elects Card Gracias as president, Mgr Machado as secretary general
by Nirmala Carvalho
The Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India ends tomorrow in Bengaluru. “I am at the service of God and the Church,” said Archbishop of Vasai. Dialogue is the "way chosen by God to reveal himself to us".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) is currently  holding its plenary assembly (13-19 February) in Bengaluru (Bangalore).

Yesterday it re-elected Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, as its president, as well as elected Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai as its secretary general.

Archbishop Machado, who heads the Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), told AsiaNews that he is “at the service of God and the Church. Only doing God’s will gives meaning to my life.”

Between 1999 and 2008, he served as undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in the Vatican. He studied philosophy at the University of Lyon and spent seven years at the Taizé community in France. During that time, he also served for a year in Bangladesh as a volunteer in refugee camps, later earning a Theology degree from Maryknoll College in New York and a doctorate from Fordham.

Speaking about his election, he said that India’s bishops “unanimously pointed to me as ‘a man of dialogue’, and this is a great honour for me from fellow bishops.” Indeed, “God reveals himself through us and the method of dialogue. God never imposes anything upon us; he enters into the dialogue of salvation with us.

“The Church of India wants to trod the path of dialogue all the way and arrive at truth and charity,” noted the new CBCI secretary general. She “has always faced challenges and situations, but we must be faithful to Christ and keep on the path of dialogue. Dialogue means loving people.

“Truth has to be respected, always done in charity, fearlessly proclaimed, but always in charity. This is the dictum of the Church.”

Noting that the assembly’s theme is ‘Dialogue: the way to truth and charity, he explained that “The bishops want me to take up this challenge, together with the leadership, and assist Cardinal Gracias. “

To this end, “We must necessarily follow the path of dialogue. Confrontation, compromise or even political negotiations are not Christian. Dialogue is the sacred path, the path chosen by God to reveal himself to us, and God continues to dialogue with us.”
Full Text Release of AsiaNews.it - Cardinal Gracias speech starts at 13:00 below:

New Coordinator Appointed by Bishops in Italy for Overseas Filipino Workers is Fr. Gregory Ramon Gaston -

CBCP News Release
Fr. Gaston now heads pastoral care ministry for OFWs in Italy

February 17, 2020

ROME— The Italian bishops appointed Fr. Gregory Ramon Gaston as the new coordinator for the pastoral care of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Italy.

The appointment was announced Sunday by Italian priest in charge of migrants in Rome, don Pierpaolo Felicolo, during a Mass presided over by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Fr. Gaston succeeded Fr. Paulino Bumanglag, SVD, who served the post for around nine years.

The priest has been serving as Rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, the official residence of Filipino priests studying in Rome, since 2010.

Fr. Gaston was ordained a priest for the Manila archdiocese at the Vatican by Pope John Paul II in 1993.

He also served as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family in the Vatican from 2002 to 2007.

In January 2015, Fr. Gaston was also among the Vatican Accredited Media Personnel (VAMP) during Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

In his homily at the Santa Pudenciana, Cardinal Tagle invited Filipinos to be faithful to God’s commandments.

He stressed that God’s commandments “are not meant to burden upon us, but to guide us in our relationship with him and with others.”

“Obeying God’s commandments shows that we are committed to him. But in the first place, his giving us the commandments shows his commitment towards us,” said Tagle, who is also the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The Vicariate of Rome has designated Santa Pudenciana in 1991 as the Pastoral Center for Filipinos in Rome, also called the “Sentro Filippino”.

Prior to that year, the PCF has served as the de facto Filipino Chaplaincy, with an office at one corner of the PCF building, coordinating perhaps 20 or 30 Filipino communities.

Even earlier, in the 1970s, when more Filipinos started migrating into Italy, three religious congregations initiated Masses for the Filipinos: the Salesians of Don Bosco in Sacro Coure beside Termini, the SVD near Pyramide, and the Irish Pallotine Fathers in San Silvestro, right in Rome City center.

Every Sunday, about 50 to 60 Masses in Filipino, English, Ilocano, Cebuano, and Bicolano are coordinated by the Sentro Filippino in different parishes, convents, and chapels, with PCF priests assisting the Sentro in around 15 to 20 Masses.

The PCF priests also cater to OFW’s in many European countries, especially Switzerland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Spain, Norway, France.
Full Text Release Bishops of the Philippines - CBCP

Pope Francis offers Remedy for Hardness of Heart : "I was hungry, you gave me to eat; I was in prison, you came to visit me; I was suffering and you consoled me....this is compassion.."

Pope at Mass: God asks of us an open heart full of compassion
VaticanNews Report: "The medicine against hardheartedness is memory," says Pope Francis in his homily at Mass Tuesday morning at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. He invites Christians not to forget the grace of salvation that makes the heart sincere and capable of mercy.
By Robin Gomes

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel from St. Mark where the disciples are worried about the shortage of bread in the boat where there was also Jesus.  The Pope pointed out that the concern for a material good had got the better of them.  Jesus rebukes them that their hearts are hardened and they cannot understand.  “Have you eyes and cannot see, have you ears and cannot hear?” he asks them, reminding them of the multiplication of five loaves to feed five thousand, with many baskets full of fragments left over.

When compassion lacks, idolatry and ideology set in
In this episode, the Pope pointed to the difference between a “hardened heart”, like that of the disciples and a “compassionate heart”, like that of the Lord.

Compassion is what the Lord wants in us, the Pope said, adding: "Mercy I want, not sacrifice." The Holy Father said that a heart without compassion is an idolatrous heart. A self-sufficient heart goes ahead sustained by its own selfishness, becoming strong only with ideologies.

Speaking about the four ideological groups of Jesus’ time – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots – the Pope said they had hardened their hearts to carry out a project that was not God's, as there was no place for compassion.

Jesus is a slap to hardheartedness
However, against this hardheartedness, the Pope said, there is a "medicine", and it is memory. This is why, the Pope said, in today’s Gospel and in many other Scripture passages, there echoes the need for the salvific power of memory, a "grace" to be asked for because it "keeps the heart open and faithful".

“When the heart hardens,” the Pope said, “one forgets” the grace of salvation and of gratuitousness. A hardened heart leads to quarrels, to wars, to selfishness and the destruction of the brother and sister because there is no compassion.  The Pope said that the greatest message of salvation is that God has had compassion on us.  And the Gospel often repeats that Jesus had compassion on seeing a person or a painful situation. “Jesus is the compassion of the Father,” the Pope said. “Jesus is the slap to every hardness of heart.”

An open heart
Pope Francis thus underscored the need for asking for the grace of having a heart that is not hardened and full of ideologies, but “open and compassionate” in the face of what is happening in the world.  It is on this, he said, that we will be judged at the Last Judgement, and not by our "ideas" or our "ideologies".

"I was hungry, you gave me to eat; I was in prison, you came to visit me; I was suffering and you consoled me", the Pope said is what is written in the Gospel and “this is compassion, this is not hardness of heart".  And humility, the memory of our roots and our salvation, the Pope said, will help us to keep it that way.

Every one of us, Pope Francis pointed out, has something that has hardened within our hearts.  “Let us remember and let it be the Lord who gives us a righteous and sincere heart where the Lord dwells.”  “The Lord cannot enter hardened and ideological hearts.  He enters hearts that are like His heart: open and compassionate,” the Pope said.
Full Text Source: VaticanNews.va

#BreakingNews 22 Civilians Killed including 14 Children after Elections were Deserted - Please Pray

In one of the two English-speaking regions, that of the North West, a massacre of civilians was committed, mostly women and children. The crime was perpetrated on the night of February 14-15 in Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw in the Donga-Mantung department. According to the UN, there are 22 victims, among whom there are 14 children, including 11 girls under the age of 5, a pregnant woman and two women. The secessionist rebels accused the Cameroonian army of being responsible for the massacre, but rejected the accusations. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/2/2020)
AFRICA/CAMEROON - "Ballot boxes almost completely deserted by voters", report observers of "Justice and Peace"

Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - Peaceful elections but almost entirely deserted by voters. This is what His Exc. Mgr. Abraham Kome, Bishop of Bafang, Apostolic Administrator of Bafia and President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC) reported in a press meeting in which he presented the evaluations of the electoral observers sent by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in the polling stations for the municipal and legislative elections of 9 February.
The "propensity to abstain was almost general", said Mgr. Kome who brought some examples: "in the Bissono gendarmerie in Sangmelima, there were 85 voters out of 310 registered; in Ngwui par Dschang, 50 voters out of 200 registered; in Batouri the abstention rate was 80.57%; in Bertoua, 70%". "The low turnout undoubtedly means that the basic law of the electoral code that governs the elections in Cameroon must be revised in order to arouse people's enthusiasm in the fulfillment of their civil duty", underline the Bishops in the statement presented by Mgr. Kome.
CENC deployed 262 observers who were deployed in 46 departments across 58 Countries. Mgr. Kome added that due to the insecurity in the North West and South West regions, the 17 CENC observers in these two regions were unable to do their job. An insecurity that "has prevented many citizens from exercising their civil rights", underline the Bishops.
FULL TEXT Press Release: from Fides.org - Image of children killed - Viral photo from https://www.dailynewscameroon.com/ - Facebook

U.S. Bishops’ Statement on Nuclear Disarmament " A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions...everywhere."

Statement from U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Committee on Nuclear Disarmament 
WASHINGTON — The Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the following statement on nuclear disarmament.
During the recent visit of Pope Francis to Japan, the Holy Father took the opportunity to speak forcefully on the subject of nuclear weapons and the threat that they represent to the world. Speaking at Nagasaki, he emphasized the need for a wide and deep solidarity to bring about security in a world not reliant on atomic weaponry, stating, “A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere. To make this ideal a reality calls for involvement on the part of all: individuals, religious communities and civil society, countries that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not, the military and private sectors, and international organizations.” -
 Address of the Holy Father on Nuclear Weapons. . . , Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki) Sunday, 24 November 2019.
Later that same day, Pope Francis spoke in Hiroshima, the other Japanese city to have known the horror of a nuclear explosion. Addressing the moral implications of nuclear weaponry he stated, “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral …” - Address of the Holy Father, Meeting for Peace, Peace Memorial (Hiroshima) Sunday, 24 November 2019.
The words of Pope Francis serve as a clarion call and a profound reminder to all that the status quo of international relations, resting on the threat of mutual destruction, must be changed. As Bishops of the United States, we have made similar appeals in the past when we stated, “the moral task is to proceed with deep cuts and ultimately to abolish these weapons entirely.” - The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace (1993).  
So too, has the international community recognized the need to move away from the threat of mutual destruction and toward genuine and universal disarmament, as reflected in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article VI of that Treaty, which dates back to 1968, states each party of that accord will work in good faith for the end of the nuclear arms race by seeking nuclear disarmament based in “…a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Pope Francis has used his visit to Japan to remind the faithful and all actors, states or non-states, of the moral obligation to re-commit to the work of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and the threat that they pose. That obligation weighs on the consciences of all to find a means for complete and mutual disarmament based in a shared commitment and trust that needs to be fostered and deepened.
The Committee on International Justice and Peace is grateful to the Holy Father for this renewed effort to bring about a world of peace and justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity. As such, we also call upon our own government to be part of and indeed renew its primary responsibility in that effort. The nations which have nuclear weapons must take the lead in mutual reduction of their weapons. The non-nuclear nations too must refrain from pursuing them if Article VI of the NPT is to be the effective instrument to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
“Come, Lord, for it is late, and where destruction has abounded, may hope also abound today that we can write and achieve a different future.” (Pope Francis, Hiroshima, November 24, 2019.)
Members of the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

Most Reverend David J. Malloy, Chairman
Bishop of Rockford
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton
Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services
Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice
Most Reverend Michael Mulvey
Bishop of Corpus Christi
Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop Emeritus of Rockville Centre
Most Reverend Alberto Rojas
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago
Most Reverend Abdallah Elias Zaidan
Bishop of Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
Bishop Consultants to the Committee for International Justice and Peace:

Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport
FULL TEXT Source: USCCB - Bishops USA

RIP 15 Children Killed due to Fire in Christian Orphanage in Haiti

BBC News reports that Fifteen children have died in Haiti after a fire in an orphanage near the capital.

The cause of the fire was being investigated, but reports citing staff and children said candles were being used instead of electricity.

The orphanage, run by a US-based Christian group, was one of hundreds in Haiti operating without official authorisation.

Authorities are now working to support and re-house the surviving children.

Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, director of the Institute for Social Welfare, said that, at the time of the fire, about 60 children were living in the unlicensed orphanage, operated by the Pennsylvania-based Church of Bible Understanding.

"We are going to place them [the survivors] in a transit centre while we do research on their family and see if we can reunite them with their parents," she told Reuters news agency.

The fire at the orphanage, located south of the capital Port-au-Prince, began on Thursday evening. Officials said two children were killed in the blaze and 13 others died at hospital as a result of smoke inhalation.

Candles had been lit on the night of the fire because the building's generator was broken, according to reports.

Local judge Raymonde Jean Antoine told AFP news agency the orphanage had not been authorised to operate since 2013.

She said it did not meet basic standards, describing the living conditions there as "truly, truly neglected".

"All we see are children living like animals," she said, adding that there were no fire extinguishers.

Officials inspected the building on Friday
On its website, the Church of Bible Understanding says it opened its first orphanage in Haiti 40 years ago. The organisation said its "primary goal" was to "spread the Gospel to any and all who will receive it".

It has not yet commented on the fire.

Some 30,000 children live in more than 760 orphanages in Haiti, of which 15% are officially registered, according to the charity Lumos, which was founded by author JK Rowling and seeks to end the institutionalisation of children.

An estimated 80% of the children living in Haiti's orphanages have at least one living parent.

Orphanages proliferated in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Poverty and a lack of access to healthcare and education are among the reasons that children with living parents end up being housed in them.
Edited from BBC - Image Source: Google Images

Quote to SHARE by St. Padre Pio "Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace."

"Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace."
Saint Padre Pio

Saint February 18 : St. Simeon of Jerusalem, a relative of Jesus and Bishop and Martyr of Jerusalem

St. Simon of Jerusalem
106 or 107 AD, Jerusalem
ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Saviour. We cannot doubt but that he was ail early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser,his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the seditions of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year,—before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea,—and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years.
(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - #Eucharist

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 336
Reading 1JAS 1:12-18

Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life
that he promised to those who love him.
No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters:
all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Responsorial Psalm94:12-13A, 14-15, 18-19

R.    (12a) Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R.    Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R.    Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me;
When cares abound within me,
your comfort gladdens my soul.
R.    Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.

AlleluiaJN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Monday, February 17, 2020

Saint February 18 : St. Fra Angelico the "Angelic friar" a Dominican and Patron of Artists with Prayer

Feast Day: February 18 Beatified: October 3, 1982
Fra Angelico (born Guido di Pietro; c. 1395 – February 18, 1455) was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects as having "a rare and perfect talent". He was known to contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole) and Fra Giovanni Angelico (Angelic Brother John). In modern Italian he is called il Beato Angelico (Blessed Angelic One); the common English name Fra Angelico means the "Angelic friar".  He is listed in the Roman Martyrology as Beatus Ioannes Faesulanus, cognomento Angelicus—
Growing up in a small town in Italy, Guido di Pietro was interested in two things. He wanted to follow Christ’s example in all things and he wanted to develop his talent for painting. God showed him how these two things were his vocation. Our vocation is God’s call to share in Jesus’ life and work. Guido was born in 1387, and when he was 18, he joined the Dominican order as a religious brother. Brothers are not priests. Religious brothers serve their community through prayer and work. It Italy, religious brothers are called “Fra.” Religious brothers are often given a new name. Guido’s religious name was “Fra Giovanni” or Brother John. His work in his community was painting beautiful religious art, initially for manuscripts, which at the time were each copied by hand. The moment the members of his religious community saw his beautiful paintings, they said that he “painted like an angel.” That is how he became known as “Fra Angelico.” Every day before he began to paint, Fra Angelico prayed that God would guide his hand and help him to create a painting that would inspire people to grow closer to God. Fra Angelico became very famous. He painted holy figures and angels and was even called to Rome to paint portraits of the saints on the walls of the chapel of Pope Eugenius IV and then Pope Nicholas V. His work can be found in museums and churches and holy buildings throughout the world. He died in Rome in 1455 and was beatified in 1982 by Pope John Paul II. The pope declared him the patron saint of Catholic artists in 1984. We call Fra Angelico “Blessed.” His life helps us to understand that we are called to use the gifts we have been given to serve others and to give glory and praise to God.
Prayer to Blessed Fra AngelicoBlessed Fra Angelico,
you created works of beauty
which have inspired countless souls
into a closer union with God.
By your intercession, may God
raise up artists and craftsmen
to beautify His holy dwellings
and all churches to elevate
human hearts and minds to a
more profound relationship
with the Almighty. Amen.

Fra Angelico (Italian, ca. 1390/95-1455)

#BreakingNews 24 People Killed including Pastor at Christian Church in Burkina Faso - 18 wounded - Please Pray

Vatican News and Aljazeera report that a local pastor is among 24 people killed as armed men targeted a Protestant church in Yagha province, Burkina Faso, as religious attacks continue.

At least 24 people were killed after unidentified gunmen attacked a church in northern Burkina Faso, officials said on Monday, in the latest assault against places of worship in the West African nation.

The attack took place on Sunday during a weekly service at a Protestant church in the village of Pansi in Yagha, a volatile province near the border with Niger.

"The provisional toll is 24 killed, including the pastor... 18 wounded and individuals who were kidnapped," he added.

A resident of the nearby town of Sebba said Pansi villagers fled there for safety.

"It hurt me when I saw the people," Sihanri Osangola Brigadie, the mayor of Boundore commune, told The Associated Press news agency after visiting victims in the hospital in Dori town, 180km (110 miles) from the attack.

The attackers looted oil and rice from shops and forced three youth they kidnapped to help transport it on their motorbikes, he said.

Analysts note that 'attacks on Christians have risen at an alarming rate.
Christians and churches have become frequent targets in the north of the country.

Last week, also in Yagha province, a retired pastor was killed and another pastor abducted by gunmen, according to an internal security report for aid workers.

"Perpetrators use victims' links to government or their faith to justify the killings, while others appear to be reprisal killings for killings by the government security forces," Corinne Dufka, West Africa director for Human Rights Watch, said.

More than 1,300 civilians were killed in targeted attacks last year in Burkina Faso, more than seven times the previous year, according to Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which collects and analyses conflict information.

Edited from Aljazeera

Pope Francis explains that Future Diplomats of the Vatican must spend 1 year in Mission in another Country - Full Text


To His Most Reverend Excellency
Msgr. Joseph MARINO
President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

Dear brother,

at the conclusion of the work of the recent Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, I expressed the desire that the priests preparing for the diplomatic service of the Holy See dedicate one year of their formation to missionary work in a diocese.

I am convinced that such an experience will be useful to all young people who prepare or begin priestly service, but in particular to those who in the future will be called to collaborate with the Pontifical Representatives and, subsequently, may in turn become Envoys. of the Holy See to the particular nations and churches.

In fact, as I have already had occasion to remind the community of this Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy: “The mission that one day you will be called to carry out will take you to all parts of the world. In Europe need to wake up; in Africa, thirsty for reconciliation; in Latin America, hungry for nourishment and interiority; in North America, intent on rediscovering the roots of an identity that cannot be defined starting from exclusion; in Asia and Oceania, challenged by the ability to ferment in diaspora and dialogue with the vastness of ancestral cultures "(June 25, 2015).

In order to face these growing challenges for the Church and for the world positively, future diplomats of the Holy See must acquire, in addition to the solid priestly and pastoral formation, and the specific one offered by this Academy, also a personal mission experience outside the own Diocese of origin, sharing with the missionary Churches a period of journey together with their community, participating in their daily evangelizing activity.

I therefore turn to you, dear Brother, who recently assumed the position of President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, asking you to implement my desire to enrich the curriculum of academic formation with a year dedicated entirely to missionary service in the particular Churches scattered throughout the world. This new experience will take effect starting with the new pupils who will begin their training in the next academic year 2020/2021.

In order to elaborate this project in greater detail and start well, we will first need to work closely with the Secretariat of State and, more precisely, with the Section for the Diplomatic Personnel of the Holy See, as well as with the Pontifical Representatives, who certainly will not fail to provide valuable help in identifying the particular Churches ready to welcome students and in following their experience closely.

I am sure that, having overcome the initial concerns that could arise in the face of this new style of formation for future diplomats of the Holy See, the missionary experience that is to be promoted will be useful not only to young academics, but also to individual Churches with in which they will collaborate and, I hope, will inspire in other priests of the universal Church the desire to make themselves available to carry out a period of missionary service outside their own Diocese.

In conclusion, entrusting to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, this new modality of the formation of future collaborators in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, I send with affection to you, dear Brother and to the entire community of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, a cordial greeting and my Apostolic Blessing, asking you please to remember me in your prayers.

From the Vatican, 11 February 2020


Historic Meeting with Holy See Representative Archbishop Gallagher and China's Minister of Foreign Affairs - Hopes for Dialogue

The Holy See and PRC: pursuing the path of dialogue
Within the context of the Munich Security Conference, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States meets with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
Vatican News

About 35 heads of States and government are expected to attend the annual Munich Security Conference which began on Friday. Many countries are represented by high level diplomats. Within the context of this Conference, a meeting took place today, February 14 between His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, and His Excellency Mr. Wang Yi, State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. A meeting of this kind had not taken place in 70 years.

The meeting was made public through a communiqué of the Holy See's Secretariat of State, issued by the Holy See Press Office on Friday evening. It related that the two parties held a discussion that “took place in a cordial atmosphere”. They discussed the contacts that have taken place between the two countries “which have developed positively over time”, the communiqué said.

The importance of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops, signed last 22 September was highlighted, and the “willingness to continue the institutional dialogue at the bilateral level to promote the life of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people” was renewed.  “Appreciation was expressed for the efforts being made to eradicate the coronavirus epidemic as well as solidarity with the affected population", the communiqué reported.

Lastly, the parties expressed, “a desire for greater international cooperation” to foster peace in the world and “considerations on intercultural dialogue and human rights were exchanged”.

Regarding the coronavirus epidemic, Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by it in his General Audience on Wednesday. He also expressed his closeness to the Chinese people, and invited the faithful “to pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters” who are affected by the “cruel” coronavirus epidemic. The Pope then expressed the hope that all affected by the illness might "find a path to recovery as soon as possible".

Full Text + Image Source: VaticanNews.va

Pope Francis receives Golden Vision award from Dr. Moshe Kantor - President of the the European Jewish Congress

President bestows Golden Vision award on Pope Francis

In meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dr. Moshe Kantor discussed next World Holocaust Forums to focus on ethical and moral issues.

Pope Francis held a private meeting with in the Vatican today, Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and the European Jewish Congress.
“We believe strongly in the need to also focus future World Holocaust Forums on addressing the most pressing moral and ethical challenges of our time and to develop best practices which can help shape a better future for all of humanity”, Dr. Kantor said. “These are all complex issues which require deep discussion by world leaders, opinion shapers and representatives from the world of religion, morality and ethics.”

Dr. Kantor thanked the Pope for his strong commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and combatting the contemporary resurgence of anti-Semitism, and for sending a delegation led by Cardinal Koch to represent the Holy See at the Fifth World Holocaust at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

The Golden Vision award is the highest award of the European Jewish Congress that is bestowed annually to two personalities - one Jewish, and one non-Jewish - for their outstanding intellectual contribution to a more inclusive world where anti-Semitism is not tolerated.
Edited from Source: israelnationalnews.com

Bishop in Nicaragua suggests an "ethical decalogue" for politicians; Hopes for Release of all Political prisoners

The Bishop of Matagalpa presents an "ethical decalogue" for politicians; the release of all prisoners is still awaited

Matagalpa (Agenzia Fides) - The passage of the Gospel proclaimed during Masses last Sunday, the "discourse of the mountain" (Mt 5.17-37) which deals with the subject of the fulfillment of the law, gave the cue to Msgr. Rolando José Alvarez Lagos, Bishop of Matagalpa, to present an ethical decalogue to politicians in the country to follow.
During the homily of the Mass celebrated in the Cathedral, Mgr. Alvarez, with the clear and direct style that characterizes him, said: "First: do not disqualify the other; second: do not criticize him in a destructive way; third: do not judge him in an incorrect way; fourth: respect his dignity; fifth: respect his privacy, his integrity and his family life; sixth: respect the opinions of the other; seventh: recognize that we all need each other; eighth: always look for points of consensus; ninth: consider Nicaragua as the greatest and main common good; tenth: overcome evil with good".
Nicaragua still lives in a situation of strong tension due to the lack of freedom in all senses. Not even the news of the upcoming elections has brought serenity to families who have a family member in prison without a real accusation. Nobody knows the exact number of political prisoners, but it is well known that there are many. As the note sent by a local Fides source informs, the news of the release, on February 13, of eight political prisoners by the Orteguista regime, certainly provoked satisfaction among the groups that ask for the release of prisoners of conscience, but the family members of prisoners continue to demand the unconditional release of all citizens who are detained in the country's various penitentiaries.
Brenda Gutiérrez, president of the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners, told the local press that although no one should be thanked because freedom is a right, the intervention of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag, must be acknowledged who was the only one able to make himself heard by the couple who governs Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, his wife. Brenda Gutiérrez added: "It is a terrible situation. There is no freedom, it seems that we are kidnapped in our own country".
According to Alianza Civica there are still 61 political prisoners. Brenda Gutiérrez stressed that "although the Grand Coalition of the opposition is concerned about defining the electoral reform in view of the upcoming elections, we cannot forget those who suffer unjustly in prison". (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 17/2/2020)

Pope Francis met with former president of Brazil Lula and they spoke on the Environment - Video

Pope Francis met with the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, at the Vatican. Lula said he congratulated the pope for having convoked “The Economy of Francesco,” which will take place in Assisi in March. The Former president of Brazil “He has called millions of young people to discuss the world's new economy. I find the pope's decision reassuring, as he touched on a topic that is crucial for the future of workers around the world.” He said he and Pope Francis discussed the importance of having the youth reflect on the challenges of a globalized economy. The Former president of Brazil said, “At 83 years old, he has the potential to make a lasting impact on society. He can motivate the youth to discuss issues related to the global economy. I think that's necessary. I think that should be used as an example.” Da Silva said, “I read the pope's letter on the Amazon synod, but I didn't come here to talk about the Amazon in particular. I came to talk about environmental issues as a whole.” Lula, who spent 580 days in prison for corruption, is currently under provisional freedom. Edited from RomeReports

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday February 17, 2020 - #Eucharist

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 335
Reading 1JAS 1:1-11
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters,
when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly,
and he will be given it.
But he should ask in faith, not doubting,
for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea
that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,
since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.
The brother in lowly circumstances
should take pride in high standing,
and the rich one in his lowliness,
for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.”
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass,
its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes.
So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Responsorial Psalm119:67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 76

R.    (77a)  Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I hold to your promise.
R.    Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.
R.    Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn your statutes.
R.    Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R.    Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
I know, O LORD, that your ordinances are just,
and in your faithfulness you have afflicted me.
R.    Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
R.    Be kind to me, Lord, and I shall live.

AlleluiaJN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 8:11-13

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.

Saint February 17 : Founders of the Orders of Servites - 7 Youths to whom the Blessed Virgin appeared

(SERVANTS OF MARY). The Order of Servites is the fifth mendicant order, the objects of which are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows. In this article we shall consider: (1) the foundation and history of the order; (2) devotions and manner of life; (3) affiliated associations; (4) Servites of distinction. Foundation and history

To the city of Florence belongs the glory of giving to the Church the seven youths who formed the nucleus of the order: Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Giovanni di Buonagiunta (Bonajuncta), Bartolomeo degli Amidei (Amideus), Ricovero dei Lippi-Ugguccioni (Hugh), Benedetto dell' Antella (Manettus), Gherardino di Sostegno (Sosteneus), and Alessio de' Falconieri (Alexius); they belonged to seven patrician families of that city, and had early formed a confraternity of laymen, known as the Laudesi, or Praisers of Mary.
While engaged in the exercises of the confraternity on the feast of the Assumption, 1233, the Blessed Virgin appeared to them, advised them to withdraw from the world and devote themselves entirely to eternal things. They obeyed, and established themselves close to the convent of the Friars Minor at La Camarzia, a suburb of Florence. Desiring stricter seclusion than that offered at La Camarzia, they withdrew to Monte Senario, eleven miles north of Florence. Here the Blessed Virgin again appeared to them, conferred on them a black habit, instructed them to follow the Rule of St. Augustine and to found the order of her servants (15 April, 1240). The brethren elected a superior, took the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty, and admitted associates. In 1243, Peter of Verona (St. Peter Martyr), Inquisitor-General of Italy, recommended the new foundation to the pope, but it was not until 13 March, 1249, that the first official approval of the order was obtained from Cardinal Raniero Capocci, papal legate in Tuscany. About this time St. Bonfilius obtained permission to found the first branch of the order at Cafaggio outside the walls of Florence. Two years later (2 Oct., 1251) Innocent IV appointed Cardinal Guglielmo Fieschi first protector of the order. The next pope, Alexander IV, favoured a plan for the amalgamation of all institutes following the Rule of St. Augustine. This was accomplished in March, 1256, and about the same time a Rescript was issued confirming the Order of the Servites as a separate body with power to elect a general. Four years later a general chapter was convened at which the order was divided into two provinces, Tuscany and Umbria, the former of which St. Manettus directed, while the latter was given into the care of St. Sostene. Within five years two new provinces were added, namely, Romagna and Lombardy. After St. Philip Benizi was elected general (5 June, 1267) the order, which had long been the object of unjust attack from jealous enemies, entered into the crisis of its existence. The Second Council of Lyons in 1274 put into execution the ordinance of the Fourth Lateran Council, forbidding the foundation of new religious orders, and absolutely suppressed all mendicant institutions not yet approved by the Holy See. The aggressors renewed their assaults, and in the year 1276 Innocent V in a letter to St. Philip declared the order suppressed. St. Philip proceeded to Rome, but before his arrival there Innocent V had died. His successor lived but five weeks. Finally John XXI, on the favourable opinion of three consistorial advocates, decided that the order should continue as before. The former dangers reappeared under Martin V (1281), and though other popes continued to favour the order, it was not definitively approved until Benedict IX issued the Bull, "Dum levamus" (11 Feb., 1304). Of the seven founders, St. Alexis alone lived to see their foundation raised to the dignity of an order. He died in 1310.
We must here make mention of St. Peregrine Laziosi (Latiosi), whose sanctity of life did much towards increasing the repute of the Servite Order in Italy. Born at Forli in 1265, the son of a Ghibelline leader, Peregrine, in his youth, bitterly hated the Church. He insulted and struck St. Philip Benizi, who, at the request of Martin V, had gone to preach peace to the Forlivese. Peregrine's generous nature was immediately aroused by the mildness with which St. Philip received the attack and he begged the saint's forgiveness. In 1283 he was received into the order, and so great was his humility it was only after much persuasion he consented to be ordained a priest. He founded a monastery in his native city, where he devoted all his energies to the restoration of peace. His humility and patience were so great that he was called by his people a second Job. He died in 1345. His body remains incorrupt to the present day. He was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726, and his feast is celebrated on 30 April. One of the most remarkable features of the new foundation was its wonderful growth. Even in the thirteenth century there were houses of the order in Germany, France, and Spain. Early in the fourteenth century the order had more than one hundred convents including branch houses in Hungary, Bohemia, Austria, Poland, and Belgium; there were also missions in Crete and India. The disturbances during the Reformation caused the loss of many Servite convents in Germany, but in the South of France the order met with much success. The Convent of Santa Maria in Via (1563) was the second house of the order established in Rome; San Marcello had been founded in 1369. Early in the eighteenth century the order sustained losses and confiscations from which it has scarcely yet recovered. The flourishing Province of Narbonne was almost totally destroyed by the plague which swept Marseilles in 1720. In 1783 the Servites were expelled from Prague and in 1785 Joseph II desecrated the shrine of Maria Waldrast. Ten monasteries were suppressed in Spain in 1835. A new foundation was made at Brussels in 1891, and at Rome the College of St. Alexis was opened in 1895. At this period the order was introduced into England and America chiefly through the efforts of Fathers Bosio and Morini. The latter, having gone to London (1864) as director of the affiliated Sisters of Compassion, obtained charge of a parish from Archbishop Manning in 1867. His work prospered: besides St. Mary's Priory at London, convents were opened at Bognor (1882) and Begbroke (1886). In 1870 Fathers Morini, Ventura, Giribaldi, and Brother Joseph Camera, at the request of Rt. Rev. Bishop Melcher of Green Bay, took up a mission in America, at Neenah, Wisconsin. Father Morini founded at Chicago (1874) the monastery of Our Lady of Sorrows. A novitiate was opened at Granville, Wisconsin, in 1892. The American province, formally established in 1908, embraces convents in the dioceses of Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Superior, and Denver. In 1910 the order numbered 700 members in 62 monasteries, of which 36 were in Italy, 17 in Austria-Hungary, 4 in England, 4 in North America, 1 in Brussels. Devotions: manner of life
In common with all religious orders strictly so called, the Servites make solemn profession of the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The particular object of the order is to sanctify first its own members, and then all men through devotion to the Mother of God, especially in her desolation during the Passion of her Divine Son. The Servites give missions, have the care of souls, or teach in higher institutions of learning. The Rosary of the Seven Dolours is one of their devotions, as is also the Via Matris. The fasts of the order are Advent, Lent, and the vigils of certain feasts. All offices in the order are elective and continue for three years, except that of general and assistant- generals which are for six years. The canonized Servite saints are: St. Philip Benizi (feast 23 Aug.), St. Peregrine Latiosi (30 April), St. Juliana Falconieri (19 June), and the Seven Holy Founders (12 Feb.).  Affiliated associations
Connected with the first order of men are the cloistered nuns of the second order, which originated with converts of St. Philip Benizi. These sisters have convents in Spain, Italy, England, The Tyrol, and Germany. The Mantellate, a third order of women founded by St. Juliana (see SERVANTS OF MARY), have houses in Italy, France, Spain, England, and Canada. In the United States they are to be found in the dioceses of Sioux City and Belville. There is also a third order for seculars, as well as a confraternity of the Seven Dolours, branches of which may be erected in any church.
The Catholic Encyclopedia

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Pope Francis says "Today Jesus asks us to progress on the path of love that he has shown us and which starts from the heart." Full Text


St. Peter's Square
Sunday, February 16, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's Gospel (cf Mt 5: 17-37) is taken from the "speech of the mountain" and deals with the topic of fulfilling the Law: how I must fulfill the Law, how to do it. Jesus wants to help his listeners to have a correct approach to the prescriptions of the Commandments given to Moses, urging to be available to God who educates us to true freedom and responsibility through the Law. It is about living it as an instrument of freedom. Let's not forget this: living the Law as an instrument of freedom, which helps me to be freer, which helps me not to be a slave to passions and sin. We think of wars, we think of the consequences of wars, we think of that little girl who died of cold in Syria the day before yesterday. Many calamities, many. This is the result of passions and people who make war cannot control their passions. He fails to fulfill the law. When you succumb to temptations and passions, you are not lords and protagonists of your life, but you become unable to manage it with will and responsibility.

Jesus' discourse is structured in four antitheses, expressed with the formula "You understood that it was said ... but I tell you". These antitheses refer to as many situations of daily life: murder, adultery, divorce and oaths. Jesus does not abolish the prescriptions that concern these problems, but explains their full meaning and indicates the spirit with which it is necessary to observe them. He encourages us to move from formal compliance with the Law to substantial compliance, accepting the Law in the heart, which is the center of the intentions, decisions, words and gestures of each of us. Good and bad deeds start from the heart.

By accepting the Law of God in your heart, you understand that when you do not love your neighbor, you kill yourself and others to some extent, because hatred, rivalry and division kill the fraternal charity that is the basis of interpersonal relationships. . And this applies to what I have said about wars and also to gossip, because gossip kills. By accepting the Law of God in your heart, you understand that desires must be guided, because not everything you want can be had, and it is not good to give in to selfish and possessive feelings. When you accept the Law of God in your heart, you understand that you must abandon a lifestyle made of broken promises, as well as move from the prohibition of swearing the false to the decision not to swear at all, assuming the attitude of full sincerity with everyone.

And Jesus is aware that it is not easy to live the Commandments in this totalizing way. For this reason he offers us the help of his love: He came into the world not only to fulfill the Law, but also to give us his Grace, so that we can do the will of God, loving him and the brothers. Everything, everything we can do with the grace of God! On the contrary, holiness is nothing other than to guard this gratuitousness that God has given us, this Grace. It is a matter of trusting and entrusting himself to him, to his grace, to that gratuitousness that he has given us and to welcome the hand that he constantly extends to us, so that our efforts and our necessary commitment can be supported by his help, full of goodness and of mercy.

Today Jesus asks us to progress on the path of love that he has shown us and which starts from the heart. This is the way forward to live as a Christian. May the Virgin Mary help us to follow the path traced by her Son, to reach true joy and spread justice and peace everywhere.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters!

I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims; in particular, those from Croatia and Serbia; from Trappes, in France; from the diocese of Toledo, Spain; and the students of the "Colegio Asunción Cuestablanca" in Madrid.

I greet the faithful of Biancavilla, Fiuggi, Aprilia, Pescara and Treviso; the boys of the Confirmation of Serravalle Scrivia, Quarto d'Altino and Rosolina.

And I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation