Friday, December 21, 2012


(Vatican Radio IMAGE SHARE)
Vatican City, 21 December 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the cardinals and members of the Roman Curia and the Governorate of Vatican City State for the traditional exchange of Christmas and New Year greetings. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, greeted the Pope in the name of those present.
Given below are ample extracts from Benedict XVI's address.
"Once again we find ourselves at the end of a year that has seen all kinds of difficult situations, important questions and challenges, but also signs of hope, both in the Church and in the world. I shall mention just a few key elements regarding the life of the Church and my Petrine ministry. First of all, ... there were the journeys to Mexico and Cuba – unforgettable encounters with the power of faith, so deeply rooted in human hearts, and with the joie de vivre that issues from faith".
Events 2012
"In Mexico, I recall how the great liturgy beside the statue of Christ the King made Christ's kingship present among us – His peace, His justice, His truth. All this took place against the backdrop of the country's problems, afflicted as it is by many different forms of violence and the hardships of economic dependence. While these problems cannot be solved simply by religious fervour, neither can they be solved without the inner purification of hearts that issues from the power of faith, from the encounter with Jesus Christ. And then there was Cuba – here too there were great liturgical celebrations, in which the singing, the praying and the silence made tangibly present the One that the country's authorities had tried for so long to exclude. That country's search for a proper balancing of the relationship between obligations and freedom cannot succeed without reference to the basic criteria that mankind has discovered through encounter with the God of Jesus Christ".
"As further key moments in the course of the year, I should like to single out the great Meeting of Families in Milan and the visit to Lebanon, where I consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that is intended to offer signposts for the life of churches and society in the Middle East along the difficult paths of unity and peace. The last major event of the year was the Synod on the New Evangelisation, which also served as a collective inauguration of the Year of Faith, in which we commemorate the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, seeking to understand it anew and appropriate it anew in the changed circumstances of today".
"The great joy with which families from all over the world congregated in Milan indicates that, despite all impressions to the contrary, the family is still strong and vibrant today. But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations – especially in the western world. ... The challenges involved are manifold. First of all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. ... Man's refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his 'I' ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. ... When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost".
"The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: 'one is not born a woman, one becomes so' (on ne naĆ®t pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term 'gender' as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. ... People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. ... Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. ... But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker Himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being".
"At this point I would like to address the second major theme, ... the question of dialogue and proclamation. Let us speak firstly of dialogue. For the Church in our day I see three principal areas of dialogue, in which she must be present in the struggle for man and his humanity: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – which includes dialogue with cultures and with science – and finally dialogue with religions. In all these dialogues the Church speaks on the basis of the light given her by faith. But at the same time she incorporates the memory of mankind, which is a memory of man's experiences and sufferings from the beginnings and down the centuries, in which she has learned about the human condition ... Human culture, of which she is a guarantee, has developed from the encounter between divine revelation and human existence. The Church represents the memory of what it means to be human in the face of a civilization of forgetfulness, which knows only itself and its own criteria. Yet just as an individual without memory has lost his identity, so too a human race without memory would lose its identity. ... In her dialogue with the state and with society, the Church does not, of course, have ready answers for individual questions. Along with other forces in society, she will wrestle for the answers that best correspond to the truth of the human condition. The values that she recognizes as fundamental and non-negotiable for the human condition she must propose with all clarity. She must do all she can to convince, and this can then stimulate political action".
"In man's present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue of religions has various dimensions. In the first place it is simply a dialogue of life, a dialogue of being together. This will not involve discussing the great themes of faith – whether God is Trinitarian or how the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures is to be understood, and so on. It is about the concrete problems of coexistence and shared responsibility for society, for the state, for humanity. In the process, it is necessary to learn to accept the other in his otherness and the otherness of his thinking. To this end, the shared responsibility for justice and peace must become the guiding principle of the conversation. A dialogue about peace and justice is bound to pass beyond the purely pragmatic to an ethical struggle for the truth and for the human being: a dialogue concerning the values that come before everything. In this way what began as a purely practical dialogue becomes a quest for the right way to live as a human being. ... Thus this search can also mean taking common steps towards the one truth, even if the fundamental choices remain unaltered. If both sides set out from a hermeneutic of justice and peace, the fundamental difference will not disappear, but a deeper closeness will emerge nevertheless".
"Two rules are generally regarded nowadays as fundamental for inter-religious dialogue:1. Dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at understanding. In this respect it differs from evangelisation, from mission. 2. Accordingly, both parties to the dialogue remain consciously within their identity, which the dialogue does not place in question either for themselves or for the other".
"True, dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding – that is correct. But all the same, the search for knowledge and understanding always has to involve drawing closer to the truth. Both sides in this piece-by-piece approach to truth are therefore on the path that leads forward and towards greater commonality, brought about by the oneness of the truth. ... I would say that the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes, fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity. To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, Who is the truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that His hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge".
New evangelisation
"Finally, at least a brief word should be added on the subject of proclamation, or evangelisation. ... The word of proclamation is effective in situations where man is listening in readiness for God to draw near, where man is inwardly searching and thus on the way towards the Lord. His heart is touched when Jesus turns towards him, and then his encounter with the proclamation becomes a holy curiosity to come to know Jesus better. As he walks with Jesus, he is led to the place where Jesus lives, to the community of the Church, which is His body. That means entering into the journeying community of catechumens, a community of both learning and living, in which our eyes are opened as we walk".
"'Come and see!' This saying, addressed by Jesus to the two seeker-disciples, He also addresses to the seekers of today. At the end of the year, we pray to the Lord that the Church, despite all her shortcomings, may be increasingly recognizable as His dwelling-place. We ask Him to open our eyes ever wider as we make our way to His house, so that we can say ever more clearly, ever more convincingly: 'we have found Him for Whom the whole world is waiting, Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and true man'. With these sentiments, I wish you all from my heart a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year".
Vatican City, 21 December 2012 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father will receive in audience Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Vatican City, 21 December 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Devprasad John Ganawa S.V.D. of Jhabua, India, as bishop of Udaipur (area 47,000, population 8,224,000, Catholics 24,265, priests 71, religious 217), India. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Pathalil, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.


ACCRA, December 11, 2012 (CISA) -The outgoing Head of State of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama has been re-elected as the new President of Ghana in the first round of the presidential election held last Friday December 7.
Dramani Mahama won the election with 50.7% of the votes according to an announcement by the Electoral Commission in Accra.
His main opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo, of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), trailed behind him with 47.7% of the vote. The other six contenders for the presidency did not exceed 0.8% of the vote.
The turnout set a record, with the participation of 79% of the 13 million eligible voters electing a new president and 275 parliamentarians.
Electoral observers from the Commonwealth, the Community of West African countries (ECOWAS) and the local group ‘Codeo’ said that the vote was “peaceful and transparent.”
However, the NPP has contested the outcome of the polls in a statement saying, “We have enough evidence available to show that the 2012 presidential elections were won by Nana Akufo-Addo,” read the statement.
NPP suspects that there was a system of organized fraud for the benefit of the party in power National Democratic Congress which they say erased votes for its candidate.
The direction of the NPP has also asked for a detailed verification of the counting of the ballots and equipment used for the poll.
Hundreds of supporters of the opposition party were dispersed by police with tear gas while protesting outside the headquarters of the Election Commission in the capital, denouncing fraud and irregularities.
The headquarters of the NDC on the other hand, celebrated the victory of Dramani Mahama to the sound of vuvuzelas. After news of his re-confirmation as President, Mahama, who has been serving as president since July after the sudden death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills said he accepted the victory with humility and called on all parties involved in the election to “respect the voice of the people.”
From the political-institutional perspective, Ghana is considered one of the most stable countries on the continent.
According to international statistics, in 2012 its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 14%, and for next year it is expected to increase by 8%.
Despite being a country of great economic opportunities from oil to cocoa and infrastructure services since the start of oil production in 2010, up to date its per capita income does not exceed an average of four dollars a day


Archbishop Mario Zenari, Vatican nuncio in Damascus, describes the activities of the parishes involved in the preparation for Christmas, despite the bombs and religious hatred. In a Catholic institution on the outskirts of the capital, dozens of children joyfully cut out figures for the crib. In parish halls young Christians and Muslims distribute thousands of hot meals regardless of faith, ethnicity or faction.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - "Over 6,500 hot meals distributed to the poor in a help center in Damascus. Scarcity of food is not stopping the parishes and religious institutes that are churning out fresh bread every day for thousands of displaced people fleeing the bombs." This is what Msgr. Mario Zenari, Catholic Nuncio in Damascus tells AsiaNews as he describes the miracle of the birth of Jesus among the Syrian people battered by 20 months of civil war.

"The joy of Christmas - says the prelate - is also celebrated in this climate of conflict and fear, and it is a challenge to the suffering and hatred now rampant in the hearts of the people." The nuncio emphasizes that several parishes in Damascus have not given up celebrating the most important day for Christians: "On 16 December, I visited a small parish on the outskirts of the capital, for months under the explosions of mortars and heavy artillery gunfire. In the living room there were dozens of children intent on cutting out the cardboard figures for the nativity scene. The children help us adults to experience the joy of Christmas through these simple gestures. Their joy is the first fruit of Christmas in this corner of the world torn by sorrow, where Christian families live every day with deep faith, going to the root meaning of this mystery: the solidarity of God and of Jesus with us. He himself has experienced the drama of the flight into Egypt to escape the Massacre of the Innocents. This episode is no different from what they are experiencing, the more than 500 thousand refugees who in recent months have crossed the border leaving everything they had. "

For Msgr. Zenari, the spirit of Christmas, does not stop at parishes, but spreads among the Muslims through Christian organizations that distribution of food and essential supplies to the displaced. "Even in Damascus - he explains - as in the rest of the country, bread is now a rarity, a luxury item, and is for many the only daily meal. Nevertheless, I visited dozens of religious institutions who work every day to give the population fresh bread or a more substantial meal if there are stocks. " The prelate indicates in particular the activities of a service center for the capital's poor, anonymous for security reasons, where 6,500 hot meals are served each day. " Young Christians and Muslims work for free. Food is distributed to anyone who requests it, regardless of religion, race or faction."

In this climate of war, the nuncio notes that charity and sharing impose themselves over a powerful hatred and resentment that are unfortunately the real weapons this conflict. "The Spirit of Christmas - he says - is alive in these small gestures."

According to a report released today by the UN, conflict between the Free Syrian Army and the regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into an interfaith struggle between Sunnis and Alawites which has now severed all links with politics, and is likely to involve Christian and Armenian minorities. The fear of mass murders in the coming months is provoking an exodus with entire communities and ethnic minorities fleeing across the border. In the report, there is also a new estimate of the aid necessary for more than one million refugees, which has reached a record 1.5 billion dollars.

Inviting all Catholics to pray for Syria, the prelate states that "once the war is over the leaders of all faiths will have the daunting task of defusing these 'bombs of resentment and revenge' nested in people's hearts , to witness to love and reconciliation. " (S.C.)



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese RELEASE
21 Dec 2012

Matthew Talbot Kitchen and Outreach offers compassion, hope and friendship
The holly, balloons, streamers and Christmas lights are up while behind the scenes, massive bags of potatoes and pumpkins are stacked, ready for peeling. In the large walk-in cold room 40 large hams and 40 plucked plump turkeys are set for cooking. The Christmas puddings, Christmas cakes and bags of chocolates are in the pantry cupboard and the huge deep freeze is filled to overflowing with large tubs of ice cream and packet after packet of frozen peas.
St Vincent de Paul Society's catering team at Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo are in countdown to Christmas Day when in addition to the 400 meals they serve daily to the city's homeless men, they are hard at work preparing for Christmas Day when those at the Hostel can sit down to a festive breakfast of bacon, eggs, tomatoes, toast and all the trimmings followed by a traditional Christmas dinner, an evening meal of cold roast beef and salads as well as morning and afternoon tea with Christmas cake and treats.
"We used to serve other green vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts or spinach. But the men won't eat them. So on Christmas Day it's always beans or peas," says Gerry Geevy, the big-hearted Irish-born Catering Manager at the Hostel and the man who for the past seven years, along with his staff of five and a team of 20 volunteers, has pulled out all the stops to bring Sydney's homeless hope on Christmas Day.

The Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo cares for more than 400 homeless men each day
For those who have become homeless and are either staying at the hostel, in shelters, at Vinnies' Vincentian House in Surry Hills or trying to survive on Sydney's streets, Christmas can be a difficult time and trigger memories of happier times when they were loved and with families and life was okay.
Gerry and his staff and team of volunteers understand for many of those who are at the Hostel on Christmas Day that amid the celebrations, the festive period can also be filled with sadness and regret.
"We try to be sensitive to everyone's individual needs, and to understand how some of them may be feeling, and while we help them enjoy the celebration of Christmas, we let them set the pace," he explains.
At the moment, in addition to serving a healthy nourishing breakfast, lunch and dinner together with morning and afternoon teas at the Hostel each day, Gerry and his staff have preparations for Christmas Day well underway.
By the evening of December 24, the hams will be carved, the turkeys are rubbed with spices, sealed and ready to go in the oven, the stuffing made and the medium-rare beef for the evening meal, sliced and kept moist and ready for serving.

Matthew Talbot Hostel offers hope and shelter to Sydney's homeless men
Christmas Day for the team of staff and volunteers at Matthew Talbot Hostel begins at 6.30 am and continues in shifts throughout the day. But for the first time since 2005, Gerry will not be on hand at the Hostel on Christmas Day but instead with his meticulous planning and the experience of the previous six Christmases at the Hostel, finally able hand over the reins and share Christmas Day with his sister, and her family.
"I'll only be a mobile phone call away if there's a hitch," he says and admits although he is looking forward to having a family Christmas, he will also miss sharing Christmas Day at the Hostel with many of the regulars who eat there each day.
"What I do is so much more than just a job. It's a privilege. I am not sure how to explain it, but the spiritual rewards of working somewhere like this is the only way I can put it. You really feel great when you do this sort of work and know you are helping someone," he says. "I always tell people 'food talks.' Food is how you welcome people to your house and tell them you are glad they came and that you care about them and that you respect them as a human being and a friend. And at Matthew Talbot that's how I feel about each and every one of the men I meet."
While the reasons for homelessness are complex and involve many different factors, the past year has not only seen a rise in the number of the homeless in Australia, but an increase in the number of under men and women under 30 who are homeless. Women escaping domestic violence also make up a significant proportion of the homeless. These women often have children and on latest data of the 105,000 homeless across the country, as many as 20,000-30,000 are under 18.
The Matthew Talbot Hostel caters only for men but at Christmas and on other special occasions, Gerry and his team also serve dinners and festive meals for the women and children and single parent families staying at Vinnies' Vincentian House in Surry Hills.

Gerry Deevy with one of the 40 hams donated to feed the city's homeless
"At Christmas along with delivering Christmas dinners and meals we make sure there are lots of ice creams and chocolates for the children," he says.
At Matthew Talbot there is never a shortage of volunteer servers or donations of food to make Christmas Day special for the men who live at the Hostel. But Gerry hopes people realise that Vinnies and those the Society helps not only needs support at Christmas but on every other day throughout the year.
"We are always looking for volunteers to help out with serving food at the Hostel and there are also great ways for individuals as well as families or groups of friends to pitch in and sponsor meals for the men at different times during the year," he says. "All they have to do is call me up on the phone and ask me what I'd like to cook. Once the meal is sponsored I can go ahead and organise 45 kgs of lamb or beef or lamb chops or 70 chickens for the guys along with the vegetables and other bits and pieces."
Gerry says the cost of a meal to serve the Hostel's 350 to 400 men is around $400.
"But when this is spread between 10 or more people this is only $40 each and it is not only affordable but a great way to help."
To find out more about Vinnies work and the Matthew Talbot Hostel click on to


Opening Prayer:

V. O God, come to my assistance.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Day 5 Prayers


The Circumcision
O most sweet infant Jesus, circumcised when
eight days old, and called by the glorious name
of Jesus, and proclaimed both by your name and
by your blood, to be the Savior of the world.
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
Hail Mary...



NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.


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2 -
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Luke 1: 39 - 45

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."