Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Vatican Radio REPORT Pope Benedict XVI resumed his weekly appointment with pilgrims this Wednesday, who packed into Castel Gandolfo’s tiny “Freedom Square” to hear the Pope’s latest installment in his School of Christian Prayer series. And with one eye on the liturgical calendar, Pope Benedict dedicated his reflections to one of the most popular 18th century Saints, Alphonsus of Liguria, founder of the Redemptorist order who – said the Pope – teaches us to pray to God for the grace to live wisely and well. Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s General Audience catechesis

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today marks the liturgical memorial of St. Alphonsus Maria de 'Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), patron of scholars of moral theology and confessors. St. Alphonsus is one of the most popular saints of the eighteenth century, for his simple, straightforward style, and for his teaching on the Sacrament of Reconciliation: in a time of great rigor, the result of the influence of Jansenism, he recommended confessors to administer this Sacrament expressing the joyful embrace of God the Father, who in His infinite mercy never ceases to welcome every repentant son. Today's celebration gives us the opportunity to dwell on the teachings of St. Alphonsus concerning prayer, even now precious and full of spiritual inspiration. The treaty, Prayer: The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, which he considered the most useful of his writings, dates back to 1759 . In fact, it describes prayer as "a means necessary to salvation and the graces we need to achieve it" (Introduction). This sentence synthesizes Alphonsian understanding of prayer.

First of all, saying it is a means, reminds of the ends: God created us out of love, to gift us life in abundance; but because of sin this goal, eternal life, has, so to speak, distanced itself as we all know and only the grace of God can render it accessible. To explain this basic truth and make immediately clear the real risk of man’s "becoming lost", St. Alphonsus coined a famous and very simple maxim: " He who prays is certainly saved; he who does not pray is certainly damned." Commenting on this precious phrase, he added: "to save one's soul without prayer is most difficult, and even [as we have seen] impossible…but by praying our salvation is made secure, and very easy” (II, Conclusion). And again: " if we do not pray, we have no excuse, because the grace of prayer is given to every one... if we are not saved, the whole fault will be ours; and we shall have our own failure to answer for, because we did not pray " (ibid.). Saying then that prayer is a necessary, St. Alphonsus wanted us to understand that in every situation of life we need to pray, especially in times of trial and difficulty. We must always knock at the door of the Lord with confidence, knowing that He cares for all His children. For this, we are asked not to be afraid to turn to Him with confidence and to submit to our petitions, in the certainty of receiving what we need.

Dear friends, this is the central question: what is really necessary in our lives? We answer together with St. Alphonsus: "The health and all the grace we need" (ibid.), meaning not only the health of the body, but primarily that of the soul which Jesus gifts to us. More than anything else we need his liberating presence that makes us truly fully human, and thus our existence full of joy. And only through prayer can we accept Him, His grace, which, by illuminating us in every situation, helps us discern the truth, and, by fortifying us, renders our will capable of implementing what we know to be good. We often know what is good, but are incapable of doing it. Through prayer, we can.The disciple of the Lord knows he is always exposed to temptation and in prayer never fails to ask God for help conquer it.

St. Alphonsus gives the example of St. Philip Neri, who "from the first moment when he woke in the morning, said to God:" My God, beware of Philip; otherwise he will betray you'"(III, 3). We too aware of our weakness, must seek the help of God with humility, relying only on the wealth of His mercy. St. Alphonsus says in another passage: " We are so poor that we have nothing; but if we pray we are no longer poor. If we are poor, God is rich "(II, 4). And, in the wake of St. Augustine, he invites all Christians not to be afraid to obtain from God, through prayers, the power we are lacking, that we need to do good, in the certainty that the Lord does not deny His help to those who pray with humility (cf. III, 3). Dear friends, St. Alphonsus reminds us that the relationship with God is essential in life and that only with a daily personal prayer and participation in the sacraments, can the Divine presence that directs, illuminates and makes safe and peaceful our path, even in the midst of difficulties and dangers, grow in us.



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JUBA, July 31, 2012 (CISA) -Thousands gathered at John Garang Mausoleum in the South Sudan capital of Juba to celebrate the country’s seventh annual Martyrs’ Day. The event is held each year to remember the sacrifices made by the two million people who died during the 21-year civil war in Sudan before South Sudan declared its independence. This year, many are calling on the state to help support the widows and orphans left behind.
Martyrs’ Day began on this day six years ago, one year after Dr John Garang was killed in a helicopter crash. Garang was the founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Movement, (SPLA/M) which is the ruling party in South Sudan. He is regarded as the founding father of the world’s newest country.
Abouch Bany, widow of the late SPLA commander William Nyon Bany, said the financial and emotional burdens of widows after the war are many.
“What we are facing now is not the loss of our husbands but how to raise the kids. It is not easy even if your husband is alive, you are the one to raise the child because men are the providers and we have to look after the kids,” she said.
Pitia Nyabor Nyombe’s father was an SPLA soldier killed during the war. He said that the austerity measures have made it difficult to provide for the nation’s orphans and encouraged others to contribute to the South Sudan War Orphans Association.
“The sole responsibility of this community-based organization is to collect enough data about the war orphans and to lobby for non-governmental organizations to help in providing sponsorship to them,” he said.
Thousands sang traditional songs, danced, and waved small flags as a military parade passed by in downtown Juba.


Shockwaves after Christian activist's mother kills herself
Asia Desk, Bangkok
August 1, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of US ‘deeply concerned’ at self-immolation
Lieng, third from left, was protesting over her daughter's continued detention
The US Embassy in Hanoi today said it was “deeply concerned” at the self-immolation of a 63-year-old woman protesting against the detention of her daughter, a Christian blogger.
An embassy statement said the US was “saddened” to hear of Dang Thi Kim Lieng’s death on Monday after she set herself alight in the southern city of Bac Lieu. The trial of her daughter Ta Phong Tan, along with three other bloggers, is scheduled for August 7 in Ho Chi Minh City.
“We call upon the government of Vietnam to release all three immediately,” the statement said. It also called on Hanoi to create a society where journalists could operate freely and without fear.
Tan, Dieu Cay and Anh Sa Sai Gon, the founding members of the ‘Free Journalists Club’, have been charged under Article 88, “which applies vaguely worded provisions to stifle free and open debate,” the statement added.
Authorities arrested the trio in September and charged them with anti-government activities ahead of a trial that had been scheduled for May and was later postponed.
Lieng’s funeral is due to take place tomorrow.


Agenzia Fides REPORT- At least 212 people were killed by gunfire in Haiti between April and June due to the escalation of urban violence that has hit the Country recently. This is what is reported in a statement sent to Fides Agency, which cites a report by the Commission "Justice and Peace." According to the report the killings in recent months is added to the increase of assaults in streets, violent robberies and rapes, for a total of 307 cases. The Commission has also reported an increase in lynchings (24 cases compared to 18 in the previous three months) and murders of police officers (11 cases).
The Haitian Catholic Church, always through the Commission for Justice and Peace, has indicated the lack of effective police investigation and the incompetence of the courts as the main obstacles in the fight against impunity in the Country. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 01/08/2012)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
1 Aug 2012

Fluent in nine languages,
Fr Cyril signs in Chinese sign
language on a visit to the deaf
in Hong Kong
The only deaf-blind Catholic priest in recorded history, London-based Father Cyril Axelrod, who arrived in Sydney last week, will mark Ephpheta Sunday this weekend with a Mass for the city's deaf community at Punchbowl's Chapel of St France de Sales.
More than 300 are expected to attend the 10.30 am Mass and will later join Fr Cyril for an informal get together and lunch at the Archdiocese of Sydney's Ephpheta Centre.
"Fr Cyril is not only an inspiration to the deaf and hard of hearing, but to everyone who meets him," says Nicole Clark, Hearing Interpreter and Assistant to the Director of the Ephpheta Centre.
Nicole, who is also Chair of the National Committee for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing established by the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference (ACBC) says the Ephpheta Centre has been working on having Fr Cyril visit Australia for the past year.
"Fr Cyril has a non-stop schedule and works tirelessly for the deaf worldwide. He is in constant demand as a speaker, as well as being a prolific author and renowned for the many associations and schools for the deaf he has established in countries across the world. So when we heard he had agreed to come to Australia we were thrilled," she says and points out that not only is he a wonderful example of the power of faith, he is someone who has never seen his deafness or blindness as a disability or handicap.

Fr Cyril Axelrod will
celebrate Mass
in Sydney
on Ephpheta Sunday
this weekend
"Most people's view of deaf-blindness is that it is unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable," he frequently tells those he meets and explains that for him this was never the case. Instead being unable to hear or see offered him a new way of life, a new direction and became "the best teacher of my life."
Nicole points out that most of Sydney's deaf community have never even met a deaf priest, let alone someone like Fr Cyril who is both deaf and blind.
"For all of us but particularly our younger members having Fr Cyril in Sydney is incredibly exciting and gives them a chance not only to feel empowered and see how anything and everything is possible," she says and adds that Fr Cyril also serves as an ongoing reminder of the broadness of the Church and to be open and welcoming to all people no matter what their race, beliefs, abilities or non-abilities.
The 70-year-old South African born Redemptoris priest was born with Usher's Syndrome. This relatively rare genetic condition is initially characterised by hearing loss and later by a gradual loss of vision. In Fr Cyril's case the impact on his sight occurred over many years. Initially he suffered night blindness then a loss of his peripheral vision and as the retina deteriorated further, finally a loss of sight altogether.

Father Cyril Axelrod after a meeting
with Pope Benedict XVI is led
across St Peter's Square
Ordained a priest in Johannesburg when he was 28, Fr Cyril now lives in London where he is with the Westminster Diocese working closely with the deaf in Camden town.
Despite celebrating 40 years as a priest two years ago, he continues to travel widely and is fluent in nine languages. Until recently this fluency of language was restricted to the many different sign languages used by the deaf, but advances in technology have changed all that.
These days Fr Cyril uses the latest in Braille communication devices to communicate with the deaf as well as the hearing across the world via the internet, blogs, email and smart phone texts.
He has always strongly believed that disabled people and children are "angels sent from God" to help us learn the valuable lessons of unconditional love, trust, hope,faith and inner peace. And although he is now completely blind, he retains a clear vision for a world of inclusion where the able and disabled live and work together, and learn from each other.
Last weekend he conducted a special retreat for 40 profoundly deaf or hard of hearing members of the Ephpheta Centre at the Chevalier Centre, Kensington.
This weekend on Ephpheta Sunday, 5 August, he will celebrate Mass at St Francis de Sales Church, Punchbowl. In addition Fr Cyril will meet with Deaf Seniors from 10 am until noon today at Burwood. On Friday, 3 August he will meet members of Sydney's Deaf Club at the Parramatta RSL at 7pm and on Thursday, 9 August will join members of the Ephpheta Centre for coffee at the Centre's famous Deaf Cafe. Saturday, 10 August he will be at the Deaf Society and on Sunday 12 August will celebrate Mass for the deaf at Mary Immaculate & St Athanasius Catholic Church, Manly.

Fr Cyril's books are as
inpsiring as the man himself
In addition next week he will address social justice students from Strathfield's St Patrick's College and Santa Sabina College.
After his three week visit to Sydney, Fr Cyril will spend a week and a half in Melbourne followed by a week in Perth. He will then fly to South Africa to continue his work there with deaf adults and children, schools and churches before finally returning to London.
To find out more about Fr Cyril Axelrod's visit log on to


Matthew 13: 44 - 46
44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.