Sunday, December 9, 2012


Vatican Radio REPORTS/IMAGE/SHARE-  “The universal Church expects and needs”, the “missionary spirit”, “zealous generosity” and “irreplaceable contribution” of the Church in America, North and South, said Pope Benedict XVI Sunday evening in an address to cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and laity from the American continent.
They had gathered around the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basiliaca for the Opening Mass of the International Congress on the Church in America. The congress, Dec 9-11, is marking 15 years since the Synod of Bishops for America.

The liturgical celebration was presided by Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is also President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. At the end of the celebration the congregation was also addressed by Pope Benedict XVI.

He noted that the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America, cited challenges and difficulties that are still current. Challenges such as secularism and religious groups which, he said, are spreading, giving rise to numerous problems.

The Pope noted that there is an urgent need for an “education to and promotion of a culture of life” to counter the spread of a mentality “that undermines the dignity and protection of life” and does not favor the institution of marriage and family.

He asked “how can we not worry about the painful situations of migration, uprooting of peoples, or violence, especially those caused by organized crime, drug trafficking, corruption and the arms trade? What about the searing inequalities and poverty traps caused by questionable economic, political and social measures?”

“All these important questions require careful study. Yet in addition to their technical evaluation, the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent.

Dear friends, the love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming his Name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. There is no more rewarding or beneficial work than this. There is no greater service that we can provide to our brothers and sisters. They are thirsting for God. For this reason, we ought to take up this commitment with conviction and joyful dedication, encouraging priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the word of God and the Church’s magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. The witness of your faith will thus be more eloquent and incisive, and you will grow in unity in the fulfilment of your apostolate. A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America.

As a model of openness to God’s grace and of perfect concern for others, there shines forth on your continent the figure of Mary Most Holy, Star of the New Evangelization, invoked throughout America under the glorious title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As I commend this Congress to her maternal and loving protection, I impart to you, the organizers and participants, my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant divine graces.
(Vatican Radio) Thousands of pilgrims wrapped in scarves and hats withstood a gelid northerly wind that swept St Peter’s Square Sunday to pray the midday Angelus prayer with Pope Benedict XVI, who urged them to prepare their hearts and lives for the coming of the Lord.
On the second Sunday of Advent the Pope dwelt on the figure of John the Baptist, presented in Luke’s Gospel. He spoke of him as ‘the voice’ crying out in the desert of today’s consumerist society, “where we seek joy in things”. Instead the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced as an outward celebration, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.

“Our aim today” he continued “is to listen to that voice, to give space and welcome Jesus, the Word that saves us, to our hearts”.

In comments in French Pope Benedict said “Advent invites us to go out to meet the Lord, and therefore we set off on a journey. This reality is very familiar to people forced to leave their region, for various reasons, including war or poverty. Migrants are aware of the precarious nature of their situation and often encounter little understanding. May they be welcomed and have a dignified life! In preparation for Christmas time, may a joyous and fraternal solidarity come to aid their needs and support their hopes! Do not forget that every Christian is en route to his or her true home: Heaven. Christ is the only way!”
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus reflections

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the season of Advent, the liturgy particularly emphasizes two figures who prepare the coming of the Messiah, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Today St. Luke presents us with the latter, and does so with characteristics that differ from the other Evangelists. "All four Gospels place the figure of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, as his precursor. St. Luke has further moved the connection between the two figures and their respective missions ... Already in their conception and birth, Jesus and John are brought into relation with each other "(The Infancy of Jesus, 23). This setting helps to understand that John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, both of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and therefore prepares men to spiritual worship of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus (cf. ibid. 27-28). Luke also dispels a mythical reading that is often made of the Gospels and historically contextualizes the life of John the Baptist: "In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor ... during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas" (Lk 3, 1-2). Within this historical framework lies the true great event, the birth of Christ, which his contemporaries will not even notice. By God the great men of history form the backdrop to small!

John the Baptist is defined as the "voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths" (Lk 3:4). The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God, as it comes down to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness (cf. Lk 3:2). Thus he plays an important role, but always in relation to Christ. St. Augustine says: "John is the voice. Instead of the Lord says: "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1). John is the voice that passes away, Christ is the eternal Word who was in the beginning. If you take the word away from the voice, what is left? A faint sound. The voice without the word strikes the hearing, but does not build up the heart"(Sermon 293, 3). Our aim today is to listen to that voice, to give space and welcome Jesus, the Word that saves us, to our hearts. In this time of Advent, let us prepare to see, with the eyes of faith, God's salvation in the humble stable in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 3:6). In a consumerist society, where we seek joy in things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced as an outward party, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.

We entrust our journey towards the Lord to the maternal intercession of Mary, Virgin of Advent, so we may be ready to welcome, into our hearts and life, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist reminds us of the need for repentance and purification as we prepare a way for the Lord and await in hope his coming in glory. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!




Perpetual Calendar of the Church comes out this week  
Catholic Church News Image of
Faith Press’s new perpetual calendar app
The first electronic Catholic calendar in mainland China became available to the public this week, tapping into the growing use of smartphones and the internet.
Incorporating the Gregorian and Chinese lunar calendars with the Church’s ordo (the calendar that prescribes daily Mass), the app also provides the breviary to make daily prayers more convenient for the laity’s spiritual lives.
The “Perpetual Calendar of the Church [beta]” can be accessed via the website of Faith Press, a major Catholic publisher in northern China, or downloaded for free to smartphone.
“Mainland Catholics attach great importance to Lent, during which they strictly avoid any marriages and thus they need to know ahead when Ash Wednesday starts,” said Father Joseph Li, director of Faith Press.
A middle-aged laywoman Teresa welcomed the new app, hoping it would help her son who works in a city to practice his faith as he cannot find a church nearby.
The program underwent nearly two months’ testing before launching. In just two days, the Shijiazhuang-based Faith Press has received a number of feedbacks giving “suggestions about the layout and contents, such as adding daily scripture readings,” said John Guo, who heads Faith Press's research and development team.
The calendar covers nearly three decades from 2011 to 2037. It is searchable on the website while the smartphone app can only read related information and prayers of the day.
Faith Press also plans to develop an app that will allow people to search parish Mass times, contact information and bus routes in cities across China.
“One of our development directions is to provide products that are with practical value and are close to the life of internet users,” said Father Li.
According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, there were nearly 1.1 billion mobile subscribers as of October and the number of internet users has passed 500 million.
In Mary Meeker’s “2012 Internet Trends” released on Wednesday, China has 270 millions smartphone users, more than any other country.
Related reports


USCCB RELEASE: WASHINGTON—Catholics can prepare for the Christmas season and deepen their experience of the Year of Faith by strengthening their prayer lives, says the bishop who chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, offers "10 Prayers for the Year of Faith" at the start of the Advent season, a time of prayer, as a way of drawing Catholics more deeply into the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict XVI called for the Year of Faith, which began October 11 and ends November 24, 2013.
Bishop Ricken offers:
1.The Nicene Creed. The Year of Faith is about returning to the foundational teachings of the Church and drawing strength from them. This prayer, which is the official prayer of the Year of Faith, articulates the core of Christian belief.
2.The Lord's Prayer. Like the Creed, the Our Faith is so central to the faith that it's said at every Mass. The Year of Faith is also about encouraging the personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Praying the prayer he gave us brings us closer to him.
3.The Hail Mary. Similarly, Mary will always assist Christians and bring them to her son.
4.The Glory Be. This doxology, or short hymn of praise, beautifully captures the essence of our faith in an eternal, Trinitarian God.
5.The Magnificat. The Canticle of Mary in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55) gives a glimpse of the faith of someone who trusted God so much that he entered the world through her.
6.The Canticle of Zechariah. Also found in Luke (1:68-79), this prayer is a vivid testament of faith from someone experiencing God's goodness at work in the world.
7.The Memorare. Another powerful Marian prayer, the Memorare reminds God's people that Mary is our mother and that we can turn to her with anything.
8.The Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Love. Most people know the Act of Contrition from going to confession, but the Acts of Faith, Hope and Love are also wonderful for a Christian's prayer life. They can all be found in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
9.The Angel prayers. Children learn the prayer to their guardian angel, and adults learn the prayer to St. Michael the archangel. Both are helpful reminders of the need to ask for God's protection and guidance every day.
10.Prayer for the New Evangelization. The purpose of the Year of Faith is to renew and strengthen Catholics in their practice of the faith so that they may inspire the world with their example. This is the New Evangelization. The Prayer for the New Evangelization can be found online:
More prayers for the Year of Faith are available online at:
Advent resources from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are available at:


Homily - Mass for the Year of Grace Celebration for People with Disabilities and Special Needs, St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish, Sunday 2 December 2012
Homily - Mass for the Year of Grace Celebration for People with Disabilities and Special Needs, St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish, Sunday 2 December 2012
Photography by Alfred Boudib
Everyone is gifted, made in God’s image, celebrating all our dif-abilities, Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Mass for the Year of Grace Celebration for People with Disabilities and Special Needs, St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish, Sunday 2 December 2012
Download an audio file of this Homily Download an audio file of this Homily
Listen to this Homily at Bishop Anthony's iTunes Podcasts
A few weeks ago a young Sydney Morning Herald journalist wrote an impassioned piece about the need people with disabilities have for relationships.
Because they are “human beings with human rights and human needs”, she explained, people with disabilities need access to … prostitutes.
Her article was occasioned by a true story recently told in the movie, The Sessions. Mark O’Brien (played by John Hawkes) is bedridden by polio and in an iron lung, and he seeks out regular contact with a ‘sex therapist’ (played by Helen Hunt).
The Herald journalist explained that such ‘services’ enable disabled ‘clients’ to open new ‘horizons’ and ‘sexual freedoms’. Though our journalist did not report it, before Mark O’Brien died he bemoaned the superficiality of those relationships he had had.
Around the same time another film was released, also based on a true story, The Intouchables. In this very funny and moving film a quadriplegic aristocrat, Philippe (played by François Cluzet) is cared for by an Afro-French ex-con, Driss (played by Omar Sy).
The contrast between this movie and the SMH-applauded alternative could not be more dramatic. In one raw and touching scene, Philippe discloses that after his wife died without bearing children he suffered a catastrophic paragliding accident. He then says that the thing that impairs him is not his disability, but being without his wife, lacking that real relationship.
What follows in the rest of the film (and I won’t reveal any secrets) is a beautiful tale of friendship, of other-centred love. It is a movie full of compassion and helps expand our moral imagination about the encounter with the sick, handicapped and lonely.
Our technological-therapeutic culture does not help expand our imaginations or compassion in that way. Instead, we are habituated to expect a quick fix for every problem – just plug in enough money, regulation, technology or whatever.
Whether it’s prostitution, drugs or even assisted suicide, those living with disability, and those caring for them, are offered what are no real solutions at all: relationships that are mirages, pharmacology that numbs all sensitivity, a ‘dignified exit’ that renders despair permanent. People with disabilities are treated as mere problems to be fixed or removed, rather than as people to be loved – thereby evading the intimacy we owe and need.
The time will come, says Jeremiah to us today (Jer 33:14-16), when at last you’ll see a virtuous descendant of David, a man of honesty and integrity, in whom you can have confidence.
At this time of shame for our Catholic community the credibility of our pastors has been compromised in many people’s minds. We crave more than ever for people of honesty and integrity to give us direction, people in whom we can have confidence. And we crave, in Paul’s words, for an increase in divine love and in love for each other and the whole human race (1 Thess 3:12–4:2).
Surely we have more to offer those living with disabilities than sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll, more than search-and-destroy abortion before birth and euthanasia afterwards. What is missing here is precisely what is yearned for in our Advent readings: moral imagination, divine grace and human relationship.

Our diversity of gifts and potentials

Homily - Mass for the Year of Grace Celebration for People with Disabilities and Special Needs, St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish, Sunday 2 December 2012
Photo: Alfred Boudib
I’ve told a couple of stories today. There are many more told by those with disabilities and special needs who are with us today and those who care for them. These are real stories of suffering and struggle but also of joy and nobility – and of ordinariness too. They should not be sanitised or romanticised, exaggerated or underestimated.
When Jesus in our Gospel (Lk 21:25-28, 34-36) tells us not to be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness and the cares of this life, it is not because He is unrealistic about our cares, but because He knows how they can distract us from so much that is good and true and beautiful about and around us.
Hence the theme chosen for this diocesan celebration in our Year of Grace: our diversity of gifts and potentials, of abilities and disabilities – what you might call our different abilities, our dif-abilities.
As we have faith in Christ so, in a sense, does He have faith in us: for He declares that we are capable of more, worthy of more, promised more, so much more than we often realise or even dare to hope. He declares unequivocally that we are images of God and that He has come that we might have life, life to full (Jn 10:10).
This calling to the fullest participation in everything that is good is for everyone. Some people do seem to fulfill their potential in this life; others seem to waste so much; and others again to be deprived of opportunities many others have. But the call to fullness of life, to integrity and love, is for all. Whatever their dif-abilities no one is left out. God’s grace is like that and God’s grace is enough.
Today we express our gratitude for the involvement of people of different abilities and particular needs, who grace our Diocese and our country. In talking of dif-abilities we repudiate the paradigm that defines people by what they are unable to do, by deficiencies from the norm, whether real or imagined.
Today we acknowledge that every one of us is an image of God, graced by that God, and that together, and only together, can we show forth the glory of that God in the diversity of His creation.
Today we also give thanks for the generosity, patience and perseverance of those who care for us, including those who care for us at home and those who work at Emmaus, CatholicCare’s Disabled Persons Social Services, and those in other projects such as the L’Arche community, the Ephpheta Centre, Mamre House and other ministries.
Today I ask every person in this parish and in our Diocese to open their hearts to those of differing abilities, to make space for them in our sanctuaries and pews, our homes and workplaces, our hearts and lives.
Today we consider how our Church can prepare, support and foster the full participation of people living with dif-abilities and diverse needs and their families in our community’s life.
The Advent season that we begin today is one of expectancy and hope as we look forward to Christ’s coming, and so we dare hope today for more and for better for all those living with disabilities and special needs.

Photo Gallery:
Mass for the Year of Grace Celebration for People with Disabilities & Special Needs


Dec 09, 2012 - 2nd Sun of Advent

Luke 3: 1 - 6
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae'a and Trachoni'tis, and Lysa'ni-as tetrarch of Abile'ne,
2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca'iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari'ah in the wilderness;
3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."


St. Juan Diego
Feast: December 9

Feast Day:December 9
Born:1474, Tlayacac, Cuauhtitlan, Mexico
Died:May 30, 1548, Tenochtitlan, Mexico City, Mexico
Canonized:July 31, 2002, Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico by Pope John Paul II
Major Shrine:Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico

In the sixteenth century, the Blessed Virgin, moved with pity for the Aztec people who, living in the darkness of idolatry, offered to their idols multitudes of human victims, deigned to take into her own hands the evangelization of these Indians of Central America who were also her children. One of the Aztec gods, originally considered the god of fertility, had transformed himself over time into a ferocious god. A symbol of the sun, this god was in continuous battle with the moon and the stars and was believed to need human blood to restore his strength; if he died, life would be extinguished. Ever new victims, to be offered to him in perpetual sacrifice, therefore seemed essential.
An eagle on a cactus
Aztec priests had prophesied that their nomadic people would settle in the place where an eagle would be seen perched on a cactus, devouring a serpent. This eagle appears on the Mexican flag today. Having arrived on a swampy island, in the middle of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs saw the foretold sign: an eagle, perched on a cactus, was devouring a serpent. This was in 1369. There they founded their town Tenochtitlan, which would become Mexico City. The town expanded to become a city on pilings, with many gardens abounding in flowers, fruit, and vegetables. The organization of the Aztec kingdom was very structured and hierarchical. The knowledge of their mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, architects, doctors, artists, and artisans was excellent for that time. But the laws of the physical world remained scarcely known. Tenochtitlan drew its power and wealth primarily from war. The conquered cities had to pay a tribute of various foodstuffs and men for war and sacrifices. The Aztecs' human sacrifices and cannibalism are almost unequaled throughout the course of history.
In 1474, a child was born who was given the name Cuauhtlatoazin ("speaking eagle"). After his father's death, the child was taken in by his uncle. From the age of three, he was taught, as were all young Aztecs, to join in domestic tasks and to behave in a dignified manner. At school, he learned singing, dancing, and especially the worship of many gods. The priests had a very strong influence over the population, whom they kept in a submission bordering on terror. Cuauhtlatoazin was thirteen years old when the great temple at Tenochtitlan was consecrated. Over the course of four days, the priests sacrificed 80,000 human victims to their god. After his military service, Cuauhtlatoazin married a young woman of his social status. Together they led a modest life as farmers.
In 1519, the Spaniard Cortez disembarked in Mexico, leading 500 soldiers. He conquered the country for Spain, yet was not lacking in zeal for the evangelization of the Aztecs. In 1524 he obtained the arrival of twelve Franciscans to Mexico. These missionaries quickly integrated into the population. Their goodness contrasted with the harshness of the Aztec priests, as well as that of some conquistadors. They began to build churches. However, the Indians were reluctant to accept Baptism, primarily because it would require them to abandon polygamy.
Cuauhtlatoazin and his wife were among the first to receive Baptism, under the respective names of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. After his wife's death in 1529, Juan Diego withdrew to Tolpetlac, 14 km from Mexico City, to the home of his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who had become a Christian as well. On December 9, 1531, as was his custom every Saturday, he left very early in the morning to attend the Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, at the Franciscan fathers' church, close to Mexico City. He walked past Tepeyac Hill. Suddenly, he heard a gentle and resounding song that seemed to come from a great multitude of birds. Raising his eyes to the top of the hill, he saw a white and radiant cloud. He looked around him and wondered if he was dreaming. All of a sudden, the song stopped and a woman's voice, gentle and graceful, called him: "Juanito, Juan Dieguito!" He quickly climbed the hill and found himself in the presence of a very beautiful young woman whose garments shone like the sun.

"A church where I will show my love"
Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she said to him, "Juanito, my son, where are you going?"—"Noble Lady, my Queen, I am going to the Mass in Mexico City to hear the divine things that the priest teaches us there."—"I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here."
Juan Diego went straight to the bishop. Bishop Zumárraga, a Franciscan, the first bishop of Mexico, was a pious man and full of zeal, who had a heart overflowing with kindness towards the Indians. He heard the poor man attentively, but fearing an illusion, did not put much faith in his story. Towards evening, Juan Diego started on his way home. At the top of Tepeyac Hill, he had the pleasant surprise of meeting the Apparition again. He told her about his mission, then added, "I beg you to entrust your message to someone more known and respected so that he will believe it. I am only a simple Indian whom you have sent as a messenger to an important person. Therefore, he didn't believe me, and I do not want to greatly disappoint you."—"My dearest son, "replied the Lady, "you must understand that there are many more noble men to whom I could have entrusted my message and yet, it is because of you that my plan will succeed. Return to the bishop tomorrow... Tell him that it is I myself, the Blessed Virgin MARY, Mother of God, who am sending you."
On Sunday morning after the Mass, Juan Diego went to the bishop's house. The prelate asked him many questions, then asked for a tangible sign of the truth of the apparition. When Juan Diego went home, the bishop had him discreetly followed by two servants. At Tepeyac Bridge, Juan Diego disappeared from their sight, and despite all their searches on the hill and in the surrounding area, they could not find him again. Furious, they declared to the bishop that Juan Diego was an impostor who must absolutely not be believed. During this time, Juan Diego told the beautiful Lady, who was waiting for him on the hill, about his most recent meeting with the bishop. "Come back tomorrow morning to seek the sign he is asking for," replied the Apparition.
Roses, in the middle of winter!
Returning home, the Indian found his uncle ill, and the next day, he had to stay at his bedside to take care of him. As the illness got worse, the uncle asked his nephew to go look for a priest. At dawn on Tuesday, December 12, Juan Diego started on the road to the city. Approaching Tepeyac Hill, he thought it best to make a detour so as not to meet the Lady. But suddenly, he perceived her coming to meet him. Embarrassed, he explained his situation and promised to come back when he had found a priest to administer last rites to his uncle. "My dear little one," replied the Apparition, "do not be distressed about your uncle's illness, because he will not die from it. I assure you that he will get well... Go to the top of the hill, pick the flowers that you will see there, and bring them to me." When he had arrived at the top of the hill, the Indian was stunned to find a great number of flowers in bloom, Castillian roses that gave off a very sweet fragrance. Indeed, in the winter, the cold allows nothing to survive, and besides, the place was too dry for flowers to grow there. Juan Diego gathered the roses, enfolded them in his cloak, or tilma, then went back down the hill. "My dear son," said the Lady, "these flowers are the sign that you are to give the bishop... This will get him to build the church that I have asked of him."
Juan Diego ran to the bishop. When he arrived, the servants made him wait for hours. Amazed at his patience, and intrigued by what he was carrying in his tilma, they finally informed the bishop, who, although with several people, had him shown in immediately. The Indian related his adventure, unfolded his tilma, and let the flowers, which were still shining with dew, scatter to the floor. With tears in his eyes, Bishop Zumárraga fell to his knees, admiring the roses from his country. All of a sudden, he perceived, on the tilma, the portrait of Our Lady. MARY's image was there, as though printed on the cloak, very beautiful and full of gentleness. The bishop's doubts gave way to a sure faith and a hope filled with wonder. He took the tilma and the roses, and placed them respectfully in his private oratory. The next day he went with Juan Diego to the hill where the apparitions had taken place. After having examined the sites, he let the seer return to his uncle's house. Juan Bernardino had been completely cured. His cure had taken place at the very hour when Our Lady appeared to his nephew. He told him, "I have also seen her. She even came here and talked to me. She wants a church to be built on Tepeyac Hill and wants her portrait to be called 'Saint MARY of Guadalupe.' But she didn't explain to me why." The name "Guadalupe" is well known by the Spanish, because in their country there is a very old sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The news of the miracle spread quickly. In a short time, Juan Diego became well-known. "I will spread your fame," MARY had told him, but the Indian remained as humble as ever. To make it easier to meditate on the Image, Bishop Zumárraga had the tilma transported to his cathedral. Then work was begun on the construction of a small church and a hermitage for Juan Diego on the hill of apparitions. The next December 25, the bishop consecrated his cathedral to the Most Blessed Virgin, to thank her for the remarkable favors with which she had blessed his diocese. Then, in a magnificent procession, the miraculous Image was carried to the sanctuary that had just been completed on Tepeyac Hill. To express their joy, the Indians shot arrows. One of them, shot carelessly, went through the throat of a participant in the procession, who fell to the ground, fatally wounded. A great silence fell and intense supplication rose to the Mother of God. Suddenly the wounded man, who had been placed at the foot of the miraculous Image, collected himself and got up, full of vigor. The crowd's enthusiasm was at its peak.

Millions of Indians become Christian
Juan Diego moved into his little hermitage, seeing to the maintenance and cleaning of the site. His life remained simple—he carefully farmed a field close to the sanctuary that had been placed at his disposal. He received pilgrims in ever larger numbers, and enjoyed talking about the Blessed Virgin and untiringly relating the details of the apparitions. He was entrusted with all kinds of prayer intentions. He listened, sympathized, and comforted. A good amount of his free time was spent in contemplation before the image of his Lady. He made rapid progress in the ways of holiness. Day after day, he fulfilled his duty as a witness up until his death on December 9, 1548, seventeen years after the first apparition.


Vatican Radio REPORT On a chilly but bright Saturday afternoon Pope Benedict XVI, to the joy of pilgrims and to the curiosity of visiting Christmas shoppers to Rome, made his way, in his new Pope mobile, to a packed square just a stones throw away from the famous Spanish Steps.

He was here to pay homage to Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Following a reading from the Book of Revelation the Holy Father addressed the gathered faithful and visitors by the statue of Our Lady, telling them what a joy it was to be in Piazza di Spagna on this feast day in the Year of Faith.

In the first of three points on the Immaculate Conception, the Pope noted that the encounter between the divine messenger and the Immaculate Virgin goes completely unnoticed: nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it.

Pope Benedict went on to say that if this great event was to happen in our time, “it would not leave traces in newspapers and magazines, because it is a mystery that happens in silence.”

What often goes unnoticed and is silent, said the Pope “is more fruitful than the frenetic pace that characterizes our city.”

Being here at the statue Mary in the centre of Rome, he continued “reminds us that God's voice is not recognized in the noise and agitation”, his design on our personal and social life is not superficial, but goes to a deeper level, where the forces are not economic or political, but moral and spiritual.

Making his second point the Holy Father underlined that the Immaculate tells us that the salvation of the world is not the work of man - science, technology, ideology - but it is the work of grace.

Grace, he said means love in its purity and beauty, it reminds us that the power of God's love is stronger than evil and it can fill in the gaps that selfishness causes in the lives of individuals, families, and nations and the world.

Finally, coming to his third point Pope Benedict explained that the Immaculate Conception speaks of joy, the real joy that spreads in the heart freed from sin. Sin, he said brings with it a negative sadness, whereas Grace brings true joy that does not depend on the possession of things but is rooted in the depths, of the person.

The Pope then called on the faithful to learn to say no to the voice of selfishness, and to say yes to that which is authentic love. Mary's joy is full, he said because in her heart there is no shadow of sin.

Before taking his leave the Holy Father noted that in this time of Advent, Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God who speaks in silence and gives his grace, which frees us from sin and selfishness, so as to enjoy true joy.

Earlier in the day during the Angelus in St Peter’s Square the Pope described Mary as a genuine expression of grace.

The Holy Father also expressed his closeness to the people of the Philippines who have been hit in recent days by a violent storm.

The Pope prayed for the victims, for their families and for the many who have been displaced.

He also prayed that their faith would give them the strength to face, what he called , “this difficult trial.”




Melbourne News


Agenzia Fides REPORT - In Sierra Leone diamonds helped fuel the civil war that plagued the country from 1991 to 2002, now they are promoting economic growth to some extent, but at the same time attract in mines thousands of children with the consequent drop out of school. Thousands, in fact, boys are engaged in digging in search of the precious stones in the mine, which is outside the town of Koidu in the Kono region. Many drop out of school because they have to maintain their families. According to the International Monetary Fund, the export of gold, diamonds and iron ore, has contributed to the growth of 21.3% of the country’s economy, but this situation has not yet given any benefit to the majority of Sierra Leoneans. About 70% of children in Sierra Leone are unemployed. In many families, children are becoming the breadwinners. They are paid from 10 000 to 20 000 leones (3-6 dollars) per day and 40 000 leones when they find diamonds. In Kenema, east of the capital, and in Koidu, it is estimated there are about 3,000 small-scale miners, although there are no official figures, so there may be many more. Young people work in the mines, in open pits or on the banks of the rivers, being marginalized and excluded from early childhood education. During the civil war many children were forced to join the army, many had lost their entire families, others found their homes completely destroyed and, having no other chance to survive were found to work in the mines. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 07/12/2012


Sectarian clash 'began with row over US$1.23'; leaves 1,000 homeless  
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Stranded Pakistani refugees break down in tears over burning of their camp in northwestern Rangpur city (photo by Iqbal Hossain)
About 300 houses were burned and 1,000 refugees made homeless Wednesday after a clash between local Bengali people and Pakistani refugees in Rangpur in the country's northwest.
The conflict ballooned from a minor argument over money between Bengali restaurant owner Muhammad Harin and refugee employee Raju Mian, said police officer Altaf Hossain.
“Harin and Raju quarreled over 100 taka (US$ 1.23), but Harin claimed he had already paid him and then slapped him,” Hossain said. “Later, Raju and his associates tried to attack Harin.”
No one has been arrested and no case has yet been filed, the officer said. No casualties were reported.
Refugee Arif Hossain, 40, said a group of unidentified people set homes on fire around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and he believes that it was a retaliatory attack by Harin and his men.
“We have lost everything including food and clothes in the fire,” he said. “We demand compensation.”
Rangpur deputy commissioner Farid Ahmed said some relief materials were distributed to the victims and the situation was now normal.
“We have distributed 10,000 taka (US$ 123), food, clothes, utensils, housing and bedding material to the victims,” said Ahmed.
He added that a probe committee has been formed and told to submit a report by tomorrow. “According to the report we will arrest and hand down exemplary punishment to the culprits.”
The Pakistani refugee camps stem from the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 when about 300,000 Muslims fled from the Indian state of Bihar to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
They were left stranded after 1971 when Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan. Thousands have been repatriated since 1973, but about 160,000 refugees remain in 13 ill-equipped camps across the country.
Harun-ur-Rashid, secretary of the Stranded Pakistanis’ General Repatriation Committee (SPGRC) in Dhaka says Wednesday’s incident shows the ‘hatred’ of Bengali people towards the Pakistani refugees.
“We are the minority of the minorities and among the most neglected people in the country. The government should either help us repatriate to Pakistan or offer opportunities to live in co-existence with Bangladeshi people,” he said. “We want to live in peace.”
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