Thursday, May 17, 2012

AUSTRALIA : GOD IS LOVE - EASTER CAMP

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE RELEASE:
By Alphonsus Tan

COSDU-Catholic-Society-Easter-camp-350Thirty-seven tertiary students from the Catholic Overseas Student Down Under (COSDU) of The University of Melbourne participated in its annual Easter camp held during the Easter Weekend (6 April – 9 April) at Wesley Point Camp in the vicinity of Lake Eppalock.

COSDU Catholic Society is the only Catholic students group based in the University of Melbourne. It was founded in 1987 by a group of international tertiary students from the university. It aims to provide a family away from home and to support the faith formation of youths and young adults. Over the years, COSDU has forged a network of relationships with Australian communities, and reached out to local students as well as other universities in Victoria. COSDU Catholic Society also aims to serve the community through various social justice programs. The society has about 65 members this year.

COSDU Easter Camp is organised annually to promote community bonding between members and to support the faith formation and spiritual life of its members. This year, the Easter Camp Committee adopted the theme 'God is Love'. This theme is based on John 15: 1-17 with a strong emphasis on the verse 'I am the vine; you are the branches'. (Jn 15:5) .

COSDU-Catholic-Society-Easter-camp-350-2Led by Father Simon Wayte MGL, the participants were able to reflect on their personal relationship with God and to understand the special type of ‘love’ that Jesus has shown through his dying on the cross for us. Fr Wayte covered aspects of God’s saving love through the image of Jesus on the cross and used the Parable of the Prodigal Son to explain the Father’s unfaltering love for us sinners. The participants were challenged to live in God’s message of love in our relationships with others by trusting in God and inviting Jesus to be the ‘bridge of Salvation’ for us to God the Father. The participants were also encouraged to take the first step in expressing God’s love by sharing their gifts and talents within the Christian community in order to bear witness to life in union with God the Father.

In addition, participants were also involved in various activities such as group discussions and sharing, Good Friday Service, Stations of the Cross, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, Taizé, games, talent night and reconciliation ceremony. One of the key activities which has been the tradition of COSDU Easter Camp is the ‘Affirmation Night’, where participants are encouraged to show their appreciation for one another by affirming each others’ gifts and talents in both personal and community level.

Easter Camp 2012 was a success as the participants provided positive responses and experiences below:

This was my first ever COSDU Easter Camp. In fact I have never celebrated Easter in this way before. Rather than just going to mass, I celebrated Easter with many of my good friends from COSDU in the tranquil surroundings of Lake Eppalock. In the four days I was able to focus on God, listen to his words and reflect upon his love for us all. It was an enlightening experience and I had a great sense of joy inside me by the end of the camp. I would definitely go again next year and I recommend you to go as well.
Ivan Fung

I really enjoyed myself at Easter Camp this year. Apart from the wonderful friends I've made, the camp also provided me with a good opportunity to spend quiet time with God and for self-reflection in a beautiful and tranquil place.
Joanna Ting

Easter Camp has helped me to realise how great and amazing is God’s love for me, and that I need not worry so much as he has the best of plans set out for me.
Jeanne Chiew

For more information about COSDU Catholic Society or its upcoming events, visit http://cosdu.blogspot.com.au
or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cosdu/, or at cosdu.melbuni@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Photos supplied by Fr Thinh Nguyen

ASIA : CHINA : ACTIVIST CHEN FAMILY IS TORTURED

ASIA NEWS REPORT:
The dissident said that "within 15 days," the Chinese government will give him, his wife and children a passport to study in the United States. But in Shandong repression against his family continues: his older brother was tortured, his nephew is in jail.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - The blind dissident Chen Guangcheng said that he and his family should have their passports in 15 days that will allow him to leave China for the U.S.: "Some officials came yesterday and we filled out forms for passports for me, my wife and my children, " said Chen from the hospital in Beijing where he has been staying for several days. "We were told that the documents should be ready within 15 days."

Chen, who escaped from house arrest in his home village in Shandong, is known worldwide for his battles against forced abortions and illegal expropriation of land. After his escape he fled the American embassy in Beijing where he spent 6 days. Persuaded to leave with various assurances from both the Americans and Chinese, he is in fact again under arrest in a hospital in the capital.

In the meantime, however, the Chinese regime continues to pursue its vendetta against the family of the dissident. Chen Guangfu, Guangcheng's elder brother, was tortured and beaten in late April, after blind activist's escape from arrest. According to Chinese Human Rights Defender, citing anonymous sources, local officials in Shandong had beaten Chen Guangfu's hands with a leather belt, hit him in the ribs and stepped on his foot with force during an interrogation that lasted several hours.

Guangfu was then forced to leave his village and has not yet regained feeling in his left hand or right foot. The Chen Guanfu's son, Chen Kegui, and his wife were beaten. Chen Kegui was arrested on charges of attempted murder for having stabbed a few officers who had raided his home. Yesterday, lawyer Si Weijiang, tried to obtain permission from the authorities to visit Chen Kegui in prison. So far, no-one has been able to meet with or speak to Chen Guangcheng's nephew.

AFRICA : KENYA : BISHOPS PRAY FOR PEACE IN ELECTIONS

CISA NEWS REPORT:
Bishop-Rotich
NAIROBI, May 15, 2012 (CISA) -Catholic Bishop, The Right Rev Alfred Rotich has urged Kenyans to pray and work towards a peaceful General Elections, scheduled for early next year.
“From now until Elections’ time, we as Christians and Kenyans need to pray and collaborate. We are expected to commit ourselves to peace-making with our neighbours and offering prayers for peaceful elections,” said Bishop Rotich of the Diocese of Military Ordinariate and outgoing Chairman of the Bishops’ Commission for Social Communications.
He was speaking at the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Nairobi on May 11 during the launch of a film called “The Rally”, a joint production of Jesuit Hakimani Centre and Artful Eyes Productions and directed by Jesuit priest, Rev Dr Elias Mokua.
The film aims to show how and why political campaigns are essential for candidates to elective posts, which Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, Chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Kenya described as handy before the General Elections.
Bishop Rotich said many evils could happen in the forthcoming General Election as has been the case in the past “unless we keep peace to each other and offer prayers on the issue.”
Dr Kibunjia told the congregation, which included the clergy, religious men and women that peaceful elections were possible.
“But this will not depend on the beautiful Constitution we have or the Commission nor our politicians but on the 40 million Kenyans on their concrete decision to keep peace during the Elections,” he said.
He said that every time Kenyans hold elections, they always seem to have an agenda, for example the removal of Session 2A, leading to multi-party democracy and the removal of KANU government from the power.
“This time around, the agenda should be peaceful elections,” he added.
“Our people must work hard for peace and good neighborhood to avert the country going back to the old bad days of violence during elections period,” emphasized Dr Kibunjia, while urging the Church to avail civic education to the faithful.
Ms Winfred Lichuma, Chairperson of National Gender and Equality Commission urged women to ensure they went for elective posts during the forthcoming General Elections.
“The said two thirds positions set aside for women as per our new Constitutions are confined to the Counties, while other positions, like for Members of Parliament, will be out for grabs by both men and women,” she said.

AMERICA : EL SALVADOR : ARCHBISHOP PRIORITY TO WELFARE OF SOCIETY

Agenzia Fides report - The Archbishop of San Salvador, Mgr. José Luis Escobar Alas, insisted, in his regular press conference on Sunday, on the importance that it is necessary to have a national program dedicated to solving the common interests of the country, and that this is an essential part of the commitment of political parties. Mgr. Escobar Alas said that the most important thing to bring forward a national program, is the commitment of those working to solve citizens' problems, ie political parties, civil society organizations and especially the citizens.
The note sent to Fides reports the words of the Archbishop: " priority to the welfare of society must be given, the same parties will be rewarded if they manage to put before the good of the nation and its people's interests." This opportunity must show the willingness of all sectors to build a program of work, particularly to address the issue of security, only through dialogue we can reach agreements. "Politicians have the capacity and conditions to reach a national agreement, there must be a national agreement, we ask the Lord to have this agreement," concluded Mgr. Escobar Alas. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 14/5/2012)

TODAY'S SAINT : MAY 17 : ST. PASCHAL BAYLON

St. Paschal Baylon
FRANCISCAN LAY BROTHER AND MYSTIC
Feast: May 17


Information:
Feast Day:May 17
Born: 1540, Torrehermosa, Aragon
Died:17 May 1592
Canonized:October 16, 1690 by Alexander VIII
Major Shrine:Royal Chapel in Villareal
Patron of:Patron of Eucharistic congresses and Eucharistic associations
The state of poverty was honored by the choice of our blessed Redeemer, and hath been favored with his special blessing. It removes men from many dangers and temptations, and furnishes them with perpetual occasions for the exercise of self-denial, patience, penance, resignation to the divine will, and every other heroic Christian virtue: yet these great means of salvation are by many, through ignorance, impatience, and inordinate desires, often perverted into occasions of their temporal and eternal misery. Happy are they who, by making a right use of the spiritual advantages which this state, so dear to our divine Redeemer, offers them, procure to themselves present peace, joy, and every solid good; and make every circumstance of that condition in which providence hath placed them a step to perfect virtue and to everlasting happiness. This in an eminent degree was the privilege of St. Paschal Baylon. He was born in 1540, at Torre-Hermosa, a small country town in the kingdom of Aragon. His parents were day-laborers, and very virtuous; and to their example our saint was greatly indebted for the spirit of piety and devotion, which he seemed to have sucked in from his mother's milk. Their circumstances were too narrow to afford his being sent to school; but the pious child, out of an earnest desire of attaining to so great a means of instruction, carried a book with him into the fields where he watched the sheep, and desired those that he met to teach him the letters; and thus, in a short time, being yet very young, he learned to read. This advantage he made use of only to improve his soul in devotion and piety: books of amusement he never would look into; but the lives of the saints, and, above all, meditations on the life of Christ were his chiefest delight. He loved nothing but what was serious and of solid advantage, at a time of life in which many seem scarce susceptible of such impressions. When he was of a proper age, he engaged with a master to keep his flocks as under-shepherd: he was delighted with the innocent and quiet life his state permitted him to lead. That solitary life had charms for him. Whatever he saw was to him an object of faith and devotion. He read continually in the great book of nature; and from every object raised his soul to God, whom he contemplated and praised in all his works. Besides external objects, he had almost continually a spiritual book in his hands, which served to instruct and to inflame his veal in the love and practice of virtue. His master, who was a person of singular piety, was charmed with his edifying conduct, and made him an offer to adopt him for his son, and to make him his heir. But Paschal, who desired only the goods of another life, was afraid that those of this world would prove to him an incumbrance; he therefore modestly declined the favor, desiring always to remain his humble state, as being more conformable to that which Christ chose for himself on earth, who came not into the world to be served, but to serve. He was often discovered praying on his knees under some tree, while his flocks were browsing on the hills. It was by this secret entertainment of his soul with God, in the most profound humility, and perfect purity of his affections, that he acquired a most sublime science and experience in spiritual things, at which those who were the most advanced were struck with admiration. He could truly say with David: <Blessed is he whom thou thyself shalt instruct, O Lord.>1 He spoke of God and of virtue with an inimitable unction and experimental light, and with sentiments which the Holy Ghost alone forms in souls which are perfectly disengaged from earthly things, and replenished with his heavenly fire. Often was he seen ravished in holy prayer; and frequently was not able to conceal from the eyes of men the vehement ardor of the divine love with which his soul melted in an excess of heavenly sweetness. He felt in himself what many servants of God assure us of, that "the consolation which the Holy Ghost frequently infuses into pious souls, is greater than all the pleasures of the world together, could they be enjoyed by one man. It makes the heart to dissolve and melt through excess of joy, under which it is unable to contain itself." In these sentiments did this servant of God sing with David: <My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall be delighted in his salvation. All my bones shall say, O Lord, who is like to thee!>2 The reward of virtue is reserved for heaven; but some comforts are not denied during the present time of trial. Even in this vale of tears, <God will make its desert as a place of pleasure; and its wilderness as the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found in it thanksgiving and the voice of praise.> Isa. li. 3. It is sufficiently understood that the saint did not receive these heavenly comforts without severe interior trials, and a constant practice of self-denial, by which his heart was crucified to the world. The dew of extraordinary spiritual comforts never falls on unmortified souls, which seek the delights of this world. St. Paschal in his poverty joined alms with his continual prayer; and not having any other means to relieve the poor, always gave them a good part of his own dinner which was sent him into the fields.

How great soever his love was for his profession, he found however several difficulties in it which made him think of leaving it. He was not able, notwithstanding all the care he could take, to hinder a flock of goats he had in charge from sometimes trespassing on another's ground. This occasioned his giving over the inspection of that flock. But he found other troubles in taking care of other cattle. Some of his companions, not baying the same piety with himself, were but too much addicted to cursing, quarrelling, and fighting; nor were they to be reclaimed by his gentle rebukes on these accounts. He was therefore determined to leave them, not to participate in their crimes. And to learn the will of God in this important choice of a state of life in which he might most faithfully serve him, he redoubled lids prayers, fasts, and other austerities. After some time spent in this manner, ho determined to become a religious man. Those to whom he first disclosed his inclination to a religious state, pointed out to him several convents richly endowed. But that circumstance alone was enough to disgust him; and his answer was: "I was born poor, and I am resolved to live and die in poverty arid penance." Being at that time twenty years of age he left his master, his friends, and his country, and went into the kingdom of Valentia, where was an austere convent of barefoot reformed Franciscans, called Soccolans, which stood in a desert solitude, but at no great distance from the town of Montfort. He addressed himself to the fathers of this house for spiritual advice; and, in the mean time, he entered into the service of certain farmers in the neighborhood to keep their sheep. He continued here his penitential and retired life in assiduous prayer, and was known in the whole country by the name of the Holy Shepherd. To sequester himself from the world, he made the more haste to petition for the habit of a lay-brother in the house above-mentioned: and was admitted in 1564. The fathers desired to persuade him to enter himself among the clerks, or those who aspired to holy orders, and sing the divine office in the choir; but they were obliged to yield to his humility, and admit him among the lay-brothers of the community. He was not only a fervent novice, which we often see, but also a most fervent religious man, always advancing, and never losing ground. Though his rule was most austere, he added continually to its severity, but always with simplicity of heart, without the least attachment to his own will; and whenever he was admonished of any excess in his practices of mortification, he most readily confined himself to the letter of his rule. The meanest employments always gave him the highest satisfaction. Whenever he changed convents, according to the custom of his order, the better to prevent any secret attachments of the heart, he never complained of any thing, nor so much as said that he found any thing in one house more agreeable than in another; because, being entirely dead to himself; he everywhere sought only God. He never allowed himself a moment of repose between the Church and cloister duties, and his work; nor did his labor interrupt his prayer. He had never more than one habit, and that always threadbare. He walked without sandals in the snows, and in the roughest roads. He accommodated himself to all places and seasons, and was always content, cheerful, mild, affable, and full of respect for all. He thought himself honored if employed in any painful and low office to serve any one.
The general of the order happening to be at Paris, Paschal was sent thither to him about some necessary business of his province. Many of the cities through which he was to pass in France, were in the hands of the Huguenots, who were then in arms. Yet he offered himself to a martyrdom of obedience, travelled in his habit, and without so much as sandals on his feet, was often pursued by the Huguenots with sticks and stones, and received a wound on one shoulder of which he remained lame as long as he lived. He was twice taken for a spy; but God delivered him out of all dangers. On the very day on which he arrived at his convent from this tedious journey, he went out to his work and other duties as usual. He never spoke of any thing that had happened to him in his journey unless asked; and then was careful to suppress whatever might reflect on him the least honor or praise. He had a singular devotion to the mother of God, whose intercession he never ceased to implore that he might be preserved from sin. The holy sacrament of the altar was the object of his most tender devotion; also the passion of our divine Redeemer. He spent, especially towards the end of his life, a considerable part of the night at the foot of the altar on his knees, or prostrate on the ground. In prayer he was often favored with ecstasies and raptures. He died at Villa Reale, near Valentia, on the 17th of May, in 1592, being fifty-two years old. His corpse was exposed three days, during which time the great multitudes which from all parts visited the church, were witnesses to many miracles by which God attested the sanctity of his servant. St. Paschal was beatified by Pope Paul V. in 1618, and canonized by Alexander VIII. in 1690.

If Christians in every station endeavored with their whole strength continually to advance in virtue, the Church would be filled with saints. But alas! though it be an undoubted maxim, that not to go on in a spiritual life is to fall back, "Nothing is more rare," says St. Bernard, "than to find persons who always press forward. We see more converted from vice to virtue, than increase their fervor in virtue." This is something dreadful. The same father assigns two principal reasons. First, many who begin well, after some time grow again remiss in the exercises of mortification and prayer, and return to the amusements, pleasures, and vanities of a worldly life. Secondly, others who are regular and constant in exterior duties, neglect to watch over and cultivate their interior; so that some interior spiritual vice insinuates itself into their affections, and renders them an abomination in the eyes of God. "A man" says St. Bernard,4 "who gives himself up entirely to exterior exercises without looking seriously into his own heart to see what passes there, imposes upon himself, imagining that he is something while he is nothing. His eyes being always fixed on his exterior actions, he flatters himself that he goes on well, and neither sees nor feels the secret worm which gnaws and consumes his heart. He keeps all fasts, assists at all parts of the divine office, and fails in no exercise of piety or penance; yet God declares, '<His heart is far from me.>' He only employs his hands in fulfilling the precepts, and his heart is hard and dry. His duties are complied with by habit and a certain rotation: he omits not a single iota of all his exterior employments; but while he strains at a gnat, he swallows a camel. In his heart he is a slave to self-will, and is a prey to avarice, vain-glory, and ambition: one or other or all these vices together reign in his soul."



SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpaschalbaylon.asp#ixzz1vAlCZ4Dp

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : THURS. MAY 17, 2012


John 16: 16 - 20
16 "A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me."
17 Some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, `because I go to the Father'?"
18 They said, "What does he mean by `a little while'? We do not know what he means."
19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'?
20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

VATICAN : COMMUNIQUE ON SSPX

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the SSPX, ordains a priest in Econe, Switzerland (Photo: CNS)
Communique on the Society of St. Pius X
Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X: (IMAGE SOURCE: BLOGGER )
"As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.
In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.
Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly".

AUSTRALIA : YOUNGEST SEMINARY CELEBRATES

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
15 May 2012


Father Eric Skruzny welcomes Cardinal George Pell at
opening of the new Redemptoris seminary at Chester Hill
The past 12 months have been a landmark year for Sydney's youngest seminary. In addition to moving from cramped temporary quarters at Pagewood to a handsome new purpose-built home at Chester Hill, the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary of the Neocatechumenal Way recently celebrated the first ordination to the priesthood of two its candidates and the ordination of a further four to the Sydney Diaconate at St Mary's Cathedral late last year.
A world within a world, the 22 seminarians in training for the priesthood at Chester Hill hail from 15 different nations. This international mix includes seminarians from Italy, Sudan, the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, Columbia, Poland, Chile, India, Ecuador, Croatia, Venezuela, El Salvador and of course, Australia.
"One of the demons afflicting society is nationalism and by having seminarians from a wide variety of countries is a way of breaking down those barriers," says Fr Eric Skruzny, Rector of the Seminary, explaining that by living and studying together, Redemptoris Mater seminarians learn to understand and love one another regardless of culture, language or skin colour.

The new purpose built Redemptoris Mater Missionary
Seminary opened in February this year
As missionary priests of the Neocatechumenal Way, Fr Eric says it is also important that those entering the priesthood not only be open to the Lord but open to whatever corner of the world the Lord may send them.
The Neocatechumenal Way is a charism founded in the shanty towns of Madrid during the Second Vatican Council. Dedicated to the New Evangelisation lay communities not only lived and worked with the poorest of the poor, but brought them the great gift of Christ and the Gospels.
From Madrid, the Neocatechumnal Way quickly spread with communities established in poverty-stricken villages, towns and city slums in nations across the world. Offering hope and God's love as well as practical support, the Neocatechumenal Way founded its own Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Rome in 1987 in answer to Blessed Pope Paul II's call for a better distribution of priests worldwide and to tackle the problem of the scarcity of priests in many parts of the world.

Icon of the Virgin Mary
by Kiko Argüello,
the Spanish painter who initiated
the Neocatechumenal Way
Since then, more than 86 Redemptoris Mater Seminaries of the Neocatechumenal Way have been established across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia.
In 1994, Perth became the first city in Australia to have its own Redemptoris Mater Seminary and in 2003 this was followed by the establishment of the Sydney seminary. Initially the Sydney seminary was temporarily housed in a former Marist Brothers religious house at Pagewood. Then late last year, the first stage of the new purpose-built seminary at Chester Hill complete, Fr Eric, staff and the seminary's 22 priests-in-training were able to move in. Then in late February this year, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell officially opened and blessed the seminary, describing it as an important complement to the Seminary of the Good Shepherd at Homebush, comparing the them to "two lungs, each different, complementary and necessary."
Students of Sydney's newest seminary receive the same academic formation as those at Homebush, completing their theological and philosophical studies at the Catholic Institute of Sydney and the University of Notre Dame. Unlike seminarians at the Good Shepherd, part of their faith formation involves participating the life of a Neocatechumenal community. In addition before ordination, Redemptoris Mater seminarians are sent on missionary experiences not only across Australia but overseas well.
The completed Stage I of the new seminary includes accommodation for 30 seminarians and staff, three classrooms, a dining room and a temporary chapel. Fundraising for Stage II which will include further accommodation, a library, lecture theatre, gardens, a permanent chapel and belltower, is now underway.

Founder Kiko Arguello
Followers of the Neocatechumenal Way raised more than $1 million for the first stage with the rest of the monies needed obtained through the help and generosity of Cardinal Pell, the Archdiocese of Sydney and Archdiocese's Catholic Development Fund which arranged a loan to build the Chester Hill seminary.
"We are extremely grateful for all the help we have received and continue to receive," says Fr Eric and give special thanks to the Archdiocese of Sydney's Charitable Works Fund which covers the cost of tuition for the Seminary's 22 international student priests.
SOURCE: ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

EUROPE : OLYMPIC PRAYER RELAY

Historic Olympic prayer relay ready to start | prayer relay,Olympic Torch,Bishop of Truro the Right Rev Tim Thornton,  Rev Steve Wild,
IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT|:
A 70-day prayer relay, that mirrors the journey of the Olympic Torch through over 1,000 communities, is to be launched with a blessing ceremony in Cornwall tomorrow.

With the arrival of the Olympic Torch at Lands End on Friday, 18 May, the Anglican Bishop of Truro the Right Rev Tim Thornton and Rev Steve Wild, Chair of the Methodist Church in Cornwall will lead a special blessing ceremony for the prayer baton that is to be handed over from community to community.

The ceremony starts at 6pm at Chapel Carn Brea near Lands End Airport. Also being blessed is a Praise Bus from a Cornish Methodist church which is to travel much of the Torch Relay route and the staff and vehicle of More Than Gold, the inter-church agency organising the prayer relay.

The first exchange of the prayer baton is the following day when it travels to Plymouth. In Freedom Park, at 2pm, it will be received by local church leaders at a special prayer event.

Similar exchanges, accompanied by prayer for the 2012 Games and the communities of the UK, will continue daily. Among those involved with the prayer blessing exchange in their area are the Bishops of Durham, Newcastle and Whitby. Locations already confirmed include Berwick Bridge and Newcastle and Liverpool Cathedrals.

Jane Holloway, chair of More Than Gold’s Prayer Team says: "The Olympic Torch journey will pass through over a thousand communities. We would also like it to inspire a cascade of prayer and praise – with individuals and churches taking time to pray, alone and together, as it travels through their area."

Those wishing to follow the prayer relay, or post their own prayers, will be able to do so on Twitter using the hash tag #mtgprayer.
Share: Bookmark and Share
Historic Olympic prayer relay ready to start | prayer relay,Olympic Torch,Bishop of Truro the Right Rev Tim Thornton,  Rev Steve Wild,
Historic Olympic prayer relay ready to start | prayer relay,Olympic Torch,Bishop of Truro the Right Rev Tim Thornton,  Rev Steve Wild,

AMERICA : PANAMA : 500 TH ANNIVERSARY OF DIOCESE

Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Primate Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, presided on Sunday, May 13 the celebration for the 42nd Eucharistic Meeting of Panama, as the initial part of the celebrations for the anniversary of 500th anniversary of the foundation in this country, of the first diocese in the American continent, with the name of "Santa Maria la Antigua". The celebration of the Mass, in the Rommel Fernandez Stadium in the capital, where thousands of faithful Catholics gathered united by the slogan "With Mary walking in hope", was also attended by the Archbishop of Panama, His Exc. Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., and the Apostolic Nuncio, His Exc. Mgr. Andrés Carrascosa Coso, and some members of the Panamanian Episcopal Conference.
During his homily, Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez recalled how the first diocese was established, in Panamanian territory, and noted that the festivities will extend throughout next year. According to the note sent to Fides, the Cardinal also stressed that "Latin America is a region with a rich culture that allows the approach of the people, leaving aside the suffering experienced". Speaking of the evangelization of the Americas, he also said that the faith of this region is always accompanied by the devotion to the Virgin Mary.
The Archbishop of Panama, Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa, in his speech to more than 20 thousand faithful who filled the stadium, asked politicians "not to act with moral ambiguity, as there should be no double moral" inviting everyone to promote and allow the culture of participation to grow and sincere dialogue, always with respect to the other.
The city of Santa Maria de la Antigua, which is in the forest area of the province of Darien, on the border with Colombia, was the first diocese on dry land, erected by Pope Leo X with the bull of September 9, 1513. On August 15, 1519, Pedrarias Davila founded the city of Panama, which then developed into a commercial center and main port of trade. In 1524, the second Bishop of the diocese, Fray Vicente Peraza, moved the seat of the diocese in the new city of Panama. The city was destroyed by the Welsh pirate Henry John Morgan in 1671, but the Spanish refounded it three years later, about 8 km west of where it was founded the first time. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 15/5/2012)

AFRICA : SOUTH SUDAN : BISHOPS COMMITTED TO PEACE

CISA NEWS REPORT:
South Sudan
YEI, May 15, 2012 (CISA) -Episcopal and Catholic bishops from South Sudan have said that together they “stand committed to do all in their power” to realize an end to war between Sudan and South Sudan.
Following a three-day meeting in Yei, South Sudan, led by Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro and Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, the 14 bishops issued a ‘Message of Peace’ which laid out their hopes and plans for an end to conflict.
Referencing the famous Martin Luther King speech, the bishop’s said: “We dream of two nations which are democratic and free, where people of all religions, all ethnic groups, all cultures and all languages enjoy equal human rights based on citizenship. We dream of two nations at peace with each other, co-operating to make the best use of their God-given resources, promoting free interaction between their citizens, living side by side in solidarity and mutual respect, celebrating their shared history and forgiving any wrongs they may have done to each other.
“We dream of people no longer traumatized, of children who can go to school, of mothers who can attend clinics, of an end to poverty and malnutrition, and of Christians and Muslims who can attend church or mosque freely without fear. Enough is enough. There should be no more war between Sudan and South Sudan!
“Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be recognized as children of God (Matthew 5:9). We take this very seriously, and we stand committed to do all in our power to make our dream a reality. We believe that the people and government of South Sudan desperately want peace. We believe the same is true of the people and their liberation movements in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. We do not believe, however, that a lasting peace will come unless all parties act in good faith. Trust must be built, and this involves honesty, however painful that may be. We invite the International Community to walk with us on the painful journey of exploring the truth in competing claims and counter-claims, allegations and counter-allegations. We invite them to understand the peaceful aspirations of the ordinary people, and to reflect that in their statements and actions.”
The bishops—who welcomed to the meeting England’s Archbishop John Sentamu and The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ms Hilde Johnson—also committed themselves to renewed ecumenical efforts to build peace. “During the civil war the strength of the Churches’ role on the ground and in international advocacy lay in their unity and ecumenical spirit,” said the statement, “…since peace came in 2005 the ecumenical project has dwindled.”
“The Catholic and Episcopal Churches have much in common in their history, theology and praxis, both are Founder Members of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and both are international institutions with a great deal of influence in the world for the well-being of all. Working together we believe we have much to offer to SCC as it restructures to meet the new reality of two nations, and as it faces new challenges due to the current military and political tensions.”
Bishops from the Republic of Sudan were unable to attend the meeting due to the current political situation.

ASIA : PAKISTAN : MOTHERS BURN CANDLES AND PRAY FOR PEACE

ASIA NEWS REPORT:
by Shafique Khokhar
In Faisalabad, Catholics organised a tribute to mothers with the participation of priests, young people, mothers and children. For a Catholic activist, mothers are called to play an important role in eliminating gender biases. For Fr Bonnie Mendes, Our Lady is an "example" for all mothers. Mothers should also give peace-oriented gifts, not war toys, Pakistani priest says.


Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - A "mother is like a candle who burns herself giving light to her children," a view shared by the people who took part in a seminar titled 'A Tribute to Mother' held last Sunday at the Centre for Peace and Harmony in Faisalabad. It was organised by the Arooj-e-Mariam Catholic Church (AMCC) to honour all mothers, who are the foremost symbol of life, sacrifice and love.

Dozens of people attended the meeting, scheduled to coincide with International Mother's Day. They included priests, youth, teachers and members of civil society groups. In plays, speeches, poetry, songs and quotations, they all stressed the role mothers and women play in society. Children offered gifts, like cakes, flowers and picture frames to their mothers.

"God filled women's hearts with love and concern for their children" irrespective of the way they look, their age, whether they are obedient or not, healthy or disabled, said Aqsa Kanwal, AMCC's women rights project coordinator. A mother's love is unconditional.

Mothers are called to be without any gender bias, showing as much care for their boys as for their girls, by providing them with an education and respect so that "they can play a positive role in improving society."

For Fr Bonnie Mendes, "The celebration of Mother's Day is a necessity in Pakistan" because a mother's teachings "are the bases for all knowledge."

Our Lady, he added, "is an example for all mothers" because she stood by her son's side until his death. Hence, "We must stand by all mothers so that they can raise their children who may in the future contribute to the nation's development."

"Mothers can play a positive role in promoting peace by giving toys that instil the value of peace rather than war and violence, like toy guns, rifles, swords, etc," said Fr Nisar Barkat, who is the priest of the parish where the AMCC is located.

They can do the same through the language they use within the home, he added.

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED MAY 16, 2012


John 16: 12 - 15
12 "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

TODAY'S SAINT : MAY 16 : ST. SIMON OF STOCK

St. Simon Stock
CARMELITE
Feast: May 16


Information:
Feast Day:May 16
Born:1165 in Aylesford, County Kent, England
Died:16 May 1265 in the Carmelite monastery at Bordeaux, France
Major Shrine:Aylesford, England
Patron of: Bordeaux, France
He was descended of a good family in Kent. From his infancy he turned all his thoughts and affections to attain to the most perfect love of God, and studied to devote all his moments to this glorious pursuit. In this earnest desire, in the twelfth year of his age, he retired into a wilderness, and chose for his dwelling a great hollow oak tree; whence the surname of Stock wee given him. While he here mortified his flesh with fasting and other severities, he nourished his soul with spiritual dainties in continual prayer. His drink was only water; and he never touched any other food but herbs, roots and wild apples. While he led this course of life, he was invited by a divine revelation to embrace the rule of certain religious men who were coming from Palestine into England. Albert, the holy patriarch of Jerusalem, having given a written rule to the Carmelite friars about the year 1205, some brothers of this order were soon after brought over from mount Carmel by John lord Vescy and Richard lord Gray of Codnor, when they returned from the Holy Land. These noblemen some time after settled them, the latter in the wood of Aylesford, near Rochester in Kent, the former in the forest of Holme, near Alnewick in Northumberland; which houses continued the two most famous convents of this order in England till their dissolution in the thirty-third year of the reign of Henry VIII. But we are assured by Bale, who before his apostacy was himself a friar of the English province of this order, and by Lambert and Weaver in their accurate descriptions of the Antiquities of Kent, that the first or most ancient convent of these friars in England was that at Newenden in Kent, which was founded for them by Sir Thomas Archer or Fitz-Archer, whose family flourished for many centuries upon that manor. The first arrival of these friars in England is placed in the annals of the order, quoted by F. Cosmas de Villiers, in 1212. Simon, who had then lived a recluse twenty years, imitating the Macariuses and Arseniuses in the most heroic practices of penance and contemplation, was much affected with the devotion of these servants of God to the blessed Virgin, their edifying deportment, and their eremitical austere institute, and joined their holy company before the end of the year 1212. After his admission he was sent to Oxford to finish his studies; and having run through his academical course he returned to his convent, where so bright was the example of his piety, that the virtue of the rest seemed to suffer an eclipse by the extraordinary lustre of his sanctity. Such was his reputation, that in 1215 Brocard, prior of mount Carmel, and general of the order, appointed him vicar-general, with full power over all the western provinces. Many clamors being raised against this institute, St. Simon repaired to Rome in 1226, and obtained from pope Honorius III. a confirmation of the rule given to this order by Albertus; and another from Gregory IX. in 1229. Some years after, St. Simon paid a visit to his brethren on mount Carmel, and remained six years in Palestine, where, in 1237, he assisted at the general chapter of the order held by Alanus the fifth general. In this assembly it was decreed, that the greatest part of the brethren should pass into Europe, their settlements in the east being continually disturbed by the persecutions, oppressions, or threats of the Saracens. In 1240 many were sent to England, and in 1244, Alanus himself, with St. Simon, having nominated Hilarion his vicar on mount Carmel, and in Palestine, followed them thither, there being already five monasteries of the order erected in this island.

In a general chapter held at Aylesford in 1245, Alanus resigning his dignity, St. Simon was chosen the sixth general, and in the same year procured a new confirmation of the rule by pope Innocent IV., who at the saint's request received this order under the special protection of the Holy See, in 1251. St. Simon established houses in most parts of Europe; but this institute flourished nowhere with so great splendor and edification as in England, and continued so to do for several ages, as the annals of the order take notice. St. Simon, soon after he was promoted to the dignity of general, instituted the confraternity of the Scapular, to unite the devout clients of the Blessed Virgin in certain regular exercises of religion and piety. Several Carmelite writers assure us that he was admonished by the Mother of God in a vision, with which he was favored on the 16th of July, to establish this devotion." This confraternity has been approved, and favored with many privileges by several popes. The rules prescribe, without any obligation or precept, that the members wear a little scapular, at least secretly, as the symbol of the order, and that they recite every day the office of our Lady, or the office of the church; or, if they cannot read, seven times the Pater, Ave, and Gloria Patri, in lieu of the seven canonical hours; and lastly, that they abstain from flesh-meat on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; or if this cannot be done, that they double for each of these days the seven Paters, &c. St. Simon cured several sick persons by giving them the scapular; the reputation of which miracles moved Edward I., king of England, St. Louis of France, and many others, to enrol their names in this confraternity.

St. Simon governed the order with great sanctity and prudence during twenty years, and propagated it exceedingly from England over all Europe being himself famous for his eminent virtue, and a great gift of miracles and prophecy. He wrote several hymns and decrees for his order, and several other useful things for its service, says Leland. At length, in the hundredth year of his age, having a call to France, he sailed to Bordeaux, where God put an end to his labors some months after his arrival, in 1265, on the 16th of July. He was buried in the cathedral of that city, and was honored among the saints soon after his death. Pope Nicholas III. granted an office to be celebrated in his honor at Bordeaux on the 16th of May, which Paul V. extended to the whole order.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/S/stsimonstock.asp#ixzz1vAIhZKxT

TODAY'S SAINT : MAY 16 : ST. MARGARET OF CORTONA

St. Margaret of Cortona
FRANCISCAN TERTIARY, FOUNDRESS, MIRACLE WORKER
Feast: May 16


Information:
Feast Day:May 16
Born: 1247, Tuscany, Italy
Died:February 22, 1297, Cortona, Italy
Canonized:May 16, 1728 by Pope Benedict XIII
Patron of:gainst temptations; falsely accused people; hoboes; homeless people; insanity; loss of parents; mental illness; mentally ill people; midwives; penitent women; people ridiculed for their piety; reformed prostitutes; sexual temptation; single laywomen; third children; tramps
They were stirring times in Tuscany when Margaret was born. They were the days of Manfred and Conradin, of the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy, when passions of every kind ran high, and men lived at great extremes. They were times of great sinners, but also of great saints; Margaret lived to hear of the crowning and resignation of St. Celestine V, whose life and death are a vivid commentary on the spirits that raged throughout that generation. It was the age of St. Thomas in Paris, of Dante in Florence; of Cimabue and Giotto; of the great cathedrals and universities. In Tuscany itself, apart from the coming and going of soldiers, now of the Emperor, now of the Pope, keeping the countryside in a constant state of turmoil, and teaching the country-folk their ways, there were for ever rising little wars among the little cities themselves, which were exciting and disturbing enough. For instance, when Margaret was a child, the diocese in which she lived, Chiusi, owned a precious relic, the ring of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An Augustinian friar got possession of this relic, and carried it off to Perugia. This caused a war, Chiusi and Perugia fought for the treasure and Perugia won. Such was the spirit of her time, and of the people among whom she was brought up.

It was also a time of the great revival; when the new religious orders had begun to make their mark, and the old ones had renewed their strength. Franciscans and Dominicians had reached down to the people, and every town and village in the country had responded to their call to better things. St. Francis of Assisi had received the stigmata on Mount Alverno twenty years before, quite close to where Margaret was born; St. Clare died not far away, when Margaret was four years old. And there was the opposite extreme, the enthusiasts whose devotion degenerated into heresy. When Margaret was ten there arose in her own district the Flagellants, whose processions of men, women, and children, stripped to the waist and scourging themselves to blood, must have been a not uncommon sight to her and her young companions.
Margaret was born in Laviano, a little town in the diocese of Chiusi. Her parents were working people of the place; their child was very beautiful, and in their devotion, for she was the only one, they could scarcely help but spoil her. Thus from the first Margaret, as we would say, had much against her; she grew up very willful and, like most spoilt children, very restless and dissatisfied. Very soon her father's cottage was too small for her; she needed companions; she found more life and excitement in the streets of the town Next, in course of time the little town itself grew too small; there was a big world beyond about which she came to know, and Margaret longed to have a part in it. Moreover she soon learnt that she could have a part in it if she chose. For men took notice of her, not only men of her own station and surroundings, whom she could bend to her will as she pleased; but great and wealthy men from outside, who would sometimes ride through the village, and notice her, and twit her for her beautiful face. They would come again; they were glad to make her acquaintance, and sought to win her favor. Margaret quickly learned that she had only to command, and there were many ready to obey.

While she was yet very young her mother died; an event which seemed to deprive her of the only influence that had hitherto held her in check. Margaret records that she was taught by her mother a prayer she never forgot: "O Lord Jesus, I beseech thee, grant salvation to all those for whom thou wouldst have me pray." To make matters worse her father married again. He was a man of moods, at one time weak and indulgent, at another violent to excess, and yet with much in him that was lovable, as we shall have reason to see. But with the step-mother there was open and continued conflict. She was shocked at Margaret's willfulness and independence, and from her first coming to the house was determined to deal with them severely. Such treatment was fatal to Margaret. As a modern student has written of her: "Margaret's surroundings were such as to force to the surface the weaknesses of her character. As is clear from her own confessions, she was by nature one of those women who thirst for affection, in whom to be loved is the imperative need of their lives. She needed to be loved that her soul might be free, and in her home she found not what she wanted. Had she been of the weaker sort, either morally or physically, she would have accepted her lot, vegetated in spiritual barrenness, married eventually a husband of her father's choice, and lived an uneventful life with a measure of peace."

As it was she became only the more willful and reckless. If there was not happiness for her, either at home or elsewhere, there was pleasure and, with a little yielding on her part, as much of it as she would. In no long time her reputation in the town was one not to be envied; before she was seventeen years of age she had given herself up to a life of indulgence, let the consequences be what they might.

Living such a life it soon became evident that Margaret could not stay in Laviano. The circumstances which took her away are not very clear; we choose those which seem the most satisfactory. A certain nobleman, living out beyond Montepulciano, which in those days was far away, was in need of a servant in his castle. Margaret got the situation, there at least she was free from her step-mother and, within limits, could live as she pleased. But her master was young, and a sporting man, and no better than others of his kind. He could not fail to take notice of the handsome girl who went about his mansion, holding her head high as if she scorned the opinions of men, with an air of independence that seemed to belong to one above her station. He paid her attention; he made her nice presents, he would do her kindnesses even while she served him. And on her side, Margaret was skilled in her art; she was quick to discover that her master was as susceptible to her influence as were the other less distinguished men with whom she had done as she would in Laviano. Moreover this time she was herself attracted; she knew that this man loved her, and she returned it in her way. There were no other competitors in the field to distract her; there was no mother to warn her, no step-mother to abuse her. Soon Margaret found herself installed in the castle, not as her master's wife, for convention would never allow that, but as his mistress, which was more easily condoned. Some day, he had promised her, they would be married, but the day never came. A child was born, and with that Margaret settled down to the situation.

For some years she accepted her lot, though every day what she had done grew upon her more and more. Apart from the evil life she was living, her liberty loving nature soon found that instead of freedom she had secured only slavery. The restless early days in Laviano seemed, in her present perspective, less unhappy than she had thought; the poverty and restraint of her father's cottage seemed preferable to the wealth and chains of gold she now endured. In her lonely hours, and they were many, the memory of her mother came up before her, and she could not look her shadow in the face. And with that revived the consciousness of sin, which of late she had defied, and had crushed down by sheer reckless living, but which now loomed up before her like a haunting ghost. She saw it all she hated it all, she hated herself because of it, but there was no escape. It was all misery, but she must endure it; she had made her own bed, and must henceforth lie upon it. In her solitary moments she would wander into the gloom of the forest, and there would dream of the life that might have been, a life of virtue and of the love of God. At her castle gate she would be bountiful; if she could not be happy herself, at least she could do something to help others. But for the rest she was defiant. She went about her castle with the airs of an unbeaten queen. None should know, not even the man who owned her, the agony that gnawed at her heart. From time to time there would come across her path those who had pity for her. They would try to speak to her, they would warn her of the risk she was running; but Margaret, with her every ready wit, would laugh at their warnings and tell them that some day she would be a saint.

So things went on for nine years, till Margaret was twenty-seven. On a sudden there came an awakening. It chanced that her lord had to go away on a distant journey; in a few days, when the time arrived for his return, he did not appear. Instead there turned up at the castle gate his favorite hound, which he had taken with him. As soon as it had been given admittance it ran straight to Margaret's room, and there began to whine about her, and to tug at her dress as if it would drag her out of the room. Margaret saw that something was amiss.

Anxious, not daring to express to herself her own suspicions, she rose and followed the hound wherever it might lead; it drew her away down to a forest a little distance from the castle walls. At a point where a heap of faggots had been piled, apparently by wood-cutters, the hound stood still, whining more than ever, and poking beneath the faggots with its nose. Margaret, all trembling, set to work to pull the heaps away; in a hole beneath lay the corpse of her lord, evidently some days dead, for the maggots and worms had already begun their work upon it.

How he had come to his death was never known; after all, in those days of high passions, and family feuds, such murders were not uncommon. The careful way the body had been buried suggested foul play; that was all. But for Margaret the sight she saw was of something more than death. The old faith within her still lived, as we have already seen, and now insisted on asking questions. The body of the man she had loved and served was lying there before her, but what had become of his soul? If it had been condemned, and was now in hell, who was, in great part at least, responsible for its condemnation? Others might have murdered his body, but she had done infinitely worse Moreover there was herself to consider. She had known how, in the days past, she had stirred the rivalry and mutual hatred of men on her account and had gloried in it who knew but that this deed had been done by some rival because of her? Or again, her body might have been Lying there where his now lay, her fatal beauty being eaten by worms, and in that case where would her soul then have been? Of that she could have no sort of doubt. Her whole life came up before her, crying out now against her as she had never before permitted it to cry. Margaret rushed from the spot, beside herself in this double misery, back to her room, turned in an instant to a torture-chamber.
What should she do next? She was not long undecided. Though the castle might still be her home, she would not stay in it a moment longer. But where could she go? There was only one place of refuge that she knew, only one person in the world who was likely to have pity on her. Though her father's house had been disgraced in the eyes of all the village by what she had done, though the old man all these years had been bent beneath the shame she had brought upon him, still there was the memory of past kindness and love which he had always shown her. It was true sometimes he had been angry, especially when others had roused him against her and her ways; but always in the end, when she had gone to him, he had forgiven her and taken her back. She would arise and go to her father, and would ask him to forgive her once more; this time in her heart she knew she was in earnest--even if he failed her she would not turn back. Clothed as she was, holding her child in her arms, taking no heed of the spectacle she made, she left the castle, tramped over the ridge and down the valley to Laviano, came to her father's cottage, found him within alone and fell at his feet, confessing her guilt, imploring him with tears to give her shelter once again.
The old man easily recognized his daughter. The years of absence, the fine clothes she wore, the length of years which in some ways had only deepened the striking lines of her handsome face, could not take from his heart the picture of the child of whom once he had been so proud. To forgive was easy; it was easy to find reasons in abundance. Had he not indulged her in the early days, perhaps she would never have fallen. Had he made home a more satisfying place for a child of so yearning a nature, perhaps she would never have gone away. Had he been a more careful guardian, had he protected her from those who had lured her into evil ways long ago, she would never have wandered so far, she would never have brought this shame upon him and upon herself. She was repentant, she wished to make amends, she had proved it by this renunciation, she showed she loved and trusted him; he must give her a chance to recover. If he did not give it to her, who would?

So the old man argued with himself, and for a time his counsel prevailed. Margaret with her child was taken back; if she would live quietly at home the past might be lived down. But such was not according to Margaret's nature. She did not wish the past to be forgotten, it must be atoned. She had done great evil, she had given great scandal; she must prove to God and man that she had broken with the past, and that she meant to make amends. The spirit of fighting sin by public penance was in the air; the Dominican and Franciscan missionaries preached it, there were some in her neighborhood who were carrying it to a dangerous extreme. Margaret would let all the neighbors see that she did not shirk the shame that was her due. Every time she appeared in the church it was with a rope of penance round her waist; she would kneel at the church door that all might pass her by and despise her; since this did not win for her the scorn she desired, one day, when the people were gathered for mass, she stood up before the whole congregation and made public confession of the wickedness of her life.

But this did not please her old father. He had hoped she would lie quiet and let the scandal die; instead she kept the memory of it always alive. He had expected that soon all would be forgotten; instead she made of herself a public show. In a very short time his mind towards her changed. Indulgence turned to resentment, resentment to bitterness, bitterness to something like hatred. Besides, there was another in the house to be reckoned with; the step-mother, who from her first coming there had never been a friend of Margaret. She had endured her return because, for the moment, the old man would not be contradicted, but she had bided her time. Now when he wavered she brought her guns to bear; to the old man in secret, to Margaret before her face, she did not hesitate to use every argument she knew. This hussy who had shamed them all in the sight of the whole village had dared to cross her spotless threshold, and that with a baggage of a child in her arms. How often when she was a girl had she been warned where her reckless life would lead her! When she had gone away, in spite of every appeal, she had been told clearly enough what would be her end. All these years she had continued, never once relenting, never giving them a sign of recognition, knowing very well the disgrace she had brought upon them, while she enjoyed herself in luxury and ease. Let her look to it; let her take the consequences. That house had been shamed enough; it should not be shamed any more, by keeping such a creature under its roof. One day when things had reached a climax, without a word of pity Margaret and her child were driven out of the door. If she wished to do penance, let her go and join the fanatical Flagellants, who were making such a show of themselves not far away.

Margaret stood in the street, homeless, condemned by her own, an outcast. Those in the town looked on and did nothing; she was not one of the kind to whom it was either wise or safe to show pity, much less to take her into their own homes. And Margaret knew it; since her own father had rejected her she could appeal to no one else; she could only hide her head in shame, and find refuge in loneliness in the open lane. But what should she do next? For she had not only herself to care for; there was also the child in her arms. As she sat beneath a tree looking away from Laviano, her eyes wandered up the ridge on which stood Montepulciano. Over that ridge was the bright, gay world she had left, the world without a care, where she had been able to trample scandal underfoot and to live as a queen. There she had friends who loved her; rich friends who had condoned her situation, poor friends who had been beholden to her for the alms she had given them. Up in the castle there were still wealth and luxury waiting for her, and even peace of a kind, if only she would go back to them. Besides, from the castle what good she could do! She was now free; she could repent in silence and apart; with the wealth at her disposal she could help the poor yet more. Since she had determined to change her life, could she not best accomplish it up there, far away from the sight of men?

On the other hand, what was she doing here? She had tried to repent, and all her efforts had only come to this; she was a homeless outcast on the road, with all the world to glare at her as it passed her by. Among her own people, even if in the end she were forgiven and taken back, she could never be the same again. Then came a further thought. She knew herself well by this time. Did she wish that things should be the same again? In Laviano, among the old surroundings which she had long outgrown, among peasants and laborers whom she had long left behind, was it not likely that the old boredom would return, more burdensome now that she had known the delights of freedom? Would not the old temptations return, had they not returned already, had they not been with her all the time, and with all her good intentions was it not certain that she would never be able to resist? Then would her last state be worse than her first. How much better to be prudent, to take the opportunity as it was offered, perhaps to use for good the means and the gifts she had hitherto used only for evil? Thus, resting under a tree in her misery, a great longing came over Margaret, to have done with the penitence which had all gone wrong, to go back to the old life where all had gone well, and would henceforth go better, to solve her problems once and for all by the only way that seemed open to her. That lonely hour beneath the tree was the critical hour of her life.
Happily for her, and for many who have come after her, Margaret survived it: "I have put thee as a burning light," Our Lord said to her later, "to enlighten those who sit in the darkness.--I have set thee as an example to sinners, that in thee they may behold how my mercy awaits the sinner who is willing to repent; for as I have been merciful to thee, so will I be merciful to them." She had made up her mind long ago, and she would not go back now. She shook herself and rose to go; but where? The road down which she went led to Cortona; a voice within her seemed to tell her to go thither. She remembered that at Cortona was a monastery of Franciscans. It was famous all over the countryside; Brother Elias had built it, and had lived and died there; the friars, she knew, were everywhere described as the friends of sinners. She might go to them; perhaps they would have pity on her and find her shelter. But she was not sure. They would know her only too well, for she had long been the talk of the district, even as far as Cortona; was it not too much to expect that the Franciscan friars would so easily believe in so sudden and complete a conversion? Still she could only try; at the worst she could but again be turned into the street, and that would be more endurable from them than the treatment she had just received in Laviano.

Her fears were mistaken. Margaret knocked at the door of the monastery, and the friars did not turn her away. They took pity on her; they accepted her tale though, as was but to be expected, with caution. She made a general confession, with such a flood of tears that those who witnessed it were moved. It was decided that Margaret was, so far at least, sincere and harmless, and they found her a home. They put her in charge of two good matrons of the town, who spent their slender means in helping hard cases and who undertook to provide for her. Under their roof she began in earnest her life of penance. Margaret could not do things by halves; when she had chosen to sin she had defied the world in her sinning, now that she willed to do penance she was equally defiant of what men might think or say. She had reveled in rich clothing and jewels; henceforth, so far as her friends would permit her, she would clothe herself literally in rags. She had slept on luxurious couches; henceforth she would lie only on the hard ground. Her beauty, which had been her ruin, and the ruin of many others besides, and which even now, at twenty-seven, won for her many a glance of admiration as she passed down the street, she was determined to destroy. She cut her face, she injured it with bruises, till men would no longer care to look upon her. Nay, she would go abroad, and where she had sinned most she would make most amends. She would go to Montepulciano; there she would hire a woman to lead her like a beast with a rope round her neck, and cry: "Look at Margaret, the sinner." It needed a strong and wise confessor to keep her within bounds.
Nor was this done only to atone for the past. For years the old cravings were upon her; they had taken deep root and could not at once be rooted out; even to the end of her life she had reason to fear them. Sometimes she would ask herself how long she could continue the fight; sometimes it would be that there was no need, that she should live her life like ordinary mortals. Sometimes again, and this would often come from those about her, it would be suggested to her that all her efforts were only a proof of sheer pride. In many ways we are given to see that with all the sanctity and close union with God which she afterwards attained, Margaret to the end was very human; she was the same Margaret, however chastened, that she had been at the beginning. "My father," she said to her confessor one day, "do not ask me to give in to this body of mine. I cannot afford it. Between me and my body there must needs be a struggle until death."
The rest of Margaret's life is a wonderful record of the way God deals with his penitents. There were her child and herself to be kept, and the fathers wisely bade her earn her own bread. She began by nursing; soon she confined her nursing to the poor, herself living on alms. She retired to a cottage of her own; here, like St. Francis before her, she made it her rule to give her labor to whoever sought it, and to receive in return whatever they chose to give. In return there grew in her a new understanding of that craving for love which had led her into danger. She saw that it never would be satisfied here on earth; she must have more than this world could give her or none at all. And here God was good to her. He gave her an intimate knowledge of Himself; we might say He humored her by letting her realize His love, His care, His watchfulness over her. With all her fear of herself, which was never far away, she grew in confidence because she knew that now she was loved by one who would not fail her. This became the character of her sanctity, founded on that natural trait which was at once her strength and her weakness.
And it is on this account, more than on account of the mere fact that she was a penitent, that she deserves the title of the Second Magdalene. Of the first Magdalene we know this, that she was an intense human being, seeking her own fulfillment at extremes, now in sin, now in repentance regardless of what men might think, uniting love and sorrow so closely that she is forgiven, not for her sorrow so much as for her love. We know that ever afterwards it was the same; the thought of her sin never kept her from her Lord, the knowledge of His love drew her ever closer to Him, till, after Calvary, she is honored the first among those to whom He would show Himself alone. And in that memorable scene we have the two traits which sum her up; He reveals Himself by calling her by her name: "Mary," and yet, when she would cling about His feet, as she had done long before, He bids her not to touch Him. In Margaret of Cortona the character, and the treatment, are parallel. She did not forget what she had been; but from the first the thought of this never for a moment kept her from Our Lord. She gave herself to penance, but the motive of her penance, as her revelations show, was love more than atonement. In her extremes of penance she had no regard for the opinions of men; she would brave any obstacle that she might draw the nearer to Him. At first He humored her; He drew her by revealing to her His appreciation of her love; He even condescended so far as to call her "Child," when she had grown tired of being called "Poverella." But later, when the time for the greatest graces came, then He took her higher by seeming to draw more apart; it was the scene of "Noli me tangere" repeated.

This must suffice for an account of the wonderful graces and revelations that were poured out on Margaret during the last twenty-three years of her life. She came to Cortona as a penitent when she was twenty-seven. For three years the Franciscan fathers kept her on her trial, before they would admit her to the Third Order of St. Francis. She submitted to the condition; during that time she earned her bread, entirely in the service of others. Then she declined to earn it; while she labored in service no less, she would take in return only what was given to her in alms. Soon even this did not satisfy her; she was not content till the half of what was given her in charity was shared with others who seemed to her more needy. Then out of this there grew other things, for Margaret had a practical and organizing mind. She founded institutions of charity, she established an institution of ladies who would spend themselves in the service of the poor and suffering. She took a large part in the keeping of order in that turbulent countryside; even her warlike bishop was compelled to listen to her, and to surrender much of his plunder at her bidding. Like St. Catherine of Siena after her, Margaret is a wonderful instance, not only of the mystic combined with the soul of action, but more of the soul made one of action because it was a mystic, and by means of its mystical insight.

Margaret died in 1297, being just fifty years of age. Her confessor and first biographer tells us that one day, shortly before her death, she had a vision of St. Mary Magdalene, "most faithful of Christ's apostles, clothed in a robe as it were of silver, and crowned with a crown of precious gems, and surrounded by the holy angels." And whilst she was in this ecstasy Christ spoke to Margaret, saying: "My Eternal Father said of Me to the Baptist: This is My beloved Son; so do I say to thee of Magdalene: This is my beloved daughter." On another occasion we are told that "she was taken in spirit to the feet of Christ, which she washed with her tears as did Magdalene of old; and as she wiped His feet she desired greatly to behold His face, and prayed to the Lord to grant her this favor." Thus to the end we see she was the same; and yet the difference!
They buried her in the church of St. Basil in Cortona. Around her body, and later at her tomb, her confessor tells us that so many miracles, physical and spiritual, were worked that he could fill a volume with the record of those which he personally knew alone. And today Cortona boasts of nothing more sacred or more treasured than that same body, which lies there still incorrupt, after more than six centuries, for everyone to see.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/M/stmargaretofcortona.asp#ixzz1vAIUPr2g