Monday, August 26, 2013


St. Monica

Feast: August 27
Information: Feast Day: August 27
Born: 322 at Tagaste (Souk Ahrus), Algeria
Died: 387 at Ostia, Italy
Major Shrine: Sant'Agostino, Rome
Patron of: patience, married women, homemakers and housewives, mothers, wives, widows, alcoholics, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, and victims of (verbal) abuse
Widow; born of Christian parents at Tagaste, North Africa, in 333; died at Ostia, near Rome, in 387. We are told but little of her childhood. She was married early in life to Patritius who held an official position in Tagaste. He was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was of course a gulf between husband and wife; her almsdeeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a veritable apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.
Three children were born of this marriage, Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and her grief was great when Augustine fell ill; in her distress she besought Patritius to allow him to be baptized; he agreed, but on the boy's recovery withdrew his consent. All Monica s anxiety now centred in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. He was sent to Madaura to school and Monica seems to have literally wrestled with God for the soul of her son. A great consolation was vouchsafed her -- in compensation perhaps for all that she was to experience through Augustine -- Patritius became a Christian. Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to prosecute his studies, and here he fell into grievous sin. Patritius died very shortly after his reception into the Church and Monica resolved not to marry again. At Carthage Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he ventilated certain heretical propositions she drove him away from her table, but a strange vision which she had urged her to recall him. It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, "the child of those tears shall never perish." There is no more pathetic story in the annals of the Saints than that of Monica pursuing her wayward son to Rome, wither he had gone by stealth; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield, after seventeen years of resistance. Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Cassiacum, after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. Africa claimed them however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Civit' Vecchia and at Ostia. Here death overtook Monica and the finest pages of his "Confessions" were penned as the result of the emotion Augustine then experienced.
St. Monica was buried at Ostia, and at first seems to have been almost forgotten, though her body was removed during the sixth century to a hidden crypt in the church of St. Aureus. About the thirteenth century, however, the cult of St. Monica began to spread and a feast in her honour was kept on 4 May. In 1430 Martin V ordered the relics to be brought to Rome. Many miracles occurred on the way, and the cultus of St. Monica was definitely established. Later the Archbishop of Rouen, Cardinal d'Estouteville, built a church at Rome in honour of St. Augustine and deposited the relics of St. Monica in a chapel to the left of the high altar. The Office of St. Monica however does not seem to have found a place in the Roman Breviary before the sixteenth century. In 1850 there was established at Notre Dame de Sion at Paris an Association of Christian mothers under the patronage of St. Monica; its object was mutual prayer for sons and husbands who had gone astray. This Association was in 1856 raised to the rank of an archconfraternity and spread rapidly over all the Catholic world, branches being established in Dublin, London, Liverpool, Sidney, and Buenos Ayres. Eugenius IV had established a similar Confraternity long before.


Vatican Radio REPORT: In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the words of Jesus from the day’s Gospel: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

The Holy Father noted that Jesus was responding to the question of how many people will be saved. But, the Pope said, “it is not important to know how many are saved. Rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation.” Jesus Himself is the gate, a gate “that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus Himself.”

Pope Francis emphasised that “the gate that is Jesus is never closed . . . it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges.” Jesus, he continued, does not exclude anyone. Some people might feel excluded because they are sinners – but Pope Francis definitively rejected this idea. “No,” he said, “you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you.”

We are called to enter the gate that is Jesus. “Don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said. Don’t be afraid “to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others.”

Jesus speaks about a narrow gate not because it is a “torture chamber," but “because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him.”

Finally, the Holy Father emphasised that Christianity is not a “label” – it is a way of life. Christians must not be Christians in name only: “Not Christians, never Christians because of a label!” he said. He called us to be true Christians, Christians at heart. “To be Christian,” said Pope Francis, "is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.”

At the conclusion of his Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the many pilgrims from around the world who had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, with special greetings for a number of groups from Italy and Brazil, and for priests and seminarians from the Pontifical North American College. Noting that many people are nearing the end of their summer break, he offered best wishes for a peaceful and committed return to normal daily life.

Here is the full text of Vatican Radio’s translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

Today's Gospel invites us to reflect on the theme of salvation. Jesus is going up from Galilee to the city of Jerusalem, and along the way, says St. Luke the Evangelist, someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (13:23). Jesus did not answer the question directly: it is not important to know how many are saved, but rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation. And so Jesus responds to the question by saying, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough” (v. 24). What does Jesus mean? What is the gate by which we enter? And why does Jesus speak about a narrow gate?

The image of the gate recurs several times in the Gospel and is reminiscent of home and hearth, where we find safety, love and warmth. Jesus tells us that there is a gate that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus himself (cf. Jn 10:9). He is the gate. He is the gateway to salvation. He leads us to the Father. And the gate that is Jesus is never closed, this gate is never closed, it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges. Because, you know, Jesus does not exclude anyone. Some of you might say to me, “But Father, surely I am excluded, because I am a great sinner. I have done so many things in my life.” No, you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you. Don’t be afraid: He’s waiting for you. Be lively, have the courage to enter through His gate. All are invited to pass through this gate, to pass through the gate of faith, to enter into His life, and to allow Him to enter into our life, because He transforms it, renews it, the gifts of full and lasting joy.

Nowadays we pass many doors that invite us to enter, that promise a happiness that then we realise lasts but a moment, which is an end in itself and has no future. But I ask you: which gate do we want to enter? And who we want to through the gate of our lives? I want to say emphatically: don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus, to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others. Because Jesus illuminates our life with a light that never goes out. It is not a firework, not a “flash”! No, it is a soft light that always endures and that gives us peace. That is the light that we meet if we enter through the gate of Jesus.

Certainly, it is a narrow gate, the gate of Jesus, not because it is a torture chamber. No, not because of that! But because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him. Jesus in the Gospel tells us that being a Christian is not having a “label”! I ask you, are you Christians because of a label, or in truth? And for each one the answer is within. Not Christians, never Christians because of a label! Christians in truth, in the heart. To be Christian is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.

We ask the Virgin Mary, the Gate of Heaven, to help us to pass through the gate of faith, to allow her Son to transform our existence as He transformed hers, in order to bring everyone the joy of the Gospel.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed for peace in Syria (see separate story) and went on to greet pilgrims in attendance in Saint Peter's Square.]

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present: families, the numerous groups and the Associazione Albergoni. In particular I greet the Sisters of Santa Dorotea, the youth of Verona, Syracuse, Nave, Modica and Trento, the candidates for Confirmation of the Unità Pastorale of Angarano and Val Liona, seminarians and priests of the Pontifical North American College, the workers of Cuneo and the pilgrims Verrua Po, San Zeno Naviglio, Urago d'Oglio, Varano Borghi and Sao Paulo. For many people, these days mark the end of the summer vacation period. I wish you all a peaceful and committed return to normal daily life looking to the future with hope.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week! Buon pranzo, and arrivederci!



Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Aug 2013
Dominica as Flora the courtesan tease leads the chorus in a scene from La Traviata
Whether she is on stage at the Opera House delighting audiences as one of Opera Australia's principal artists and rising stars or singing with the congregation during Mass at her local church at Castle Hill, Dominica Matthews experiences the same joyful emotions.
"I love to sing," she says simply but admits as a trained opera singer and mezzo soprano when she joins in the singing at Castle Hills' St Bernadette's Catholic Church during Mass, she has to remind herself to "tone it down" a bit.
"If I go into full voice the little kids are hilarious. They climb out of their seats, stand in front of me and stare at me in disbelief," she says and breaks into her distinctive rich infectious laugh.
A pupil at St Bernadette's primary and later a student and member of the choir at Gilroy Catholic College, Dominica says church music was not only her early training ground but remains a profound source of inspiration.
For Dominica now regarded as one of the nation's leading mezzo sopranos faith and music are intricately linked. 
"They are one and the same," she insists. "Church music is uplifting and joyous and absolutely enhances prayer whether this is the beautiful sacred music from a previous century or a youth choir singing along with drums and guitars. They were all written and inspired by God."
With an outstanding voice and intensely musical, Dominica firmly believes both are gifts from God and insists it is her "absolute duty" to work as hard as she can to make the most of this blessing.
"Thy will be done is something I strongly believe in. I live by that, and know I must use these gifts not only because I want to but because I have to," she says.
Certainly Dominica is no stranger to hard work. For the past six weeks she has been juggling evening performances at the Opera House in Verdi favourite, La Traviata with rehearsals during the day for Benjamin Britten's comic lampoon of English village life, Albert Herring which premiered on 16 August.
This week Dominica is set to once again delight audiences at the Sydney Opera House playing the irrepressible 19th Century courtesan Flora Bervoix in La Traviata with performances tomorrow night and again on Thursday, 29 August. Then on 30 August, just 24 hours later, she will be back on stage. But instead of playing the corseted temptress Flora in the Verdi Opera, she will be Mrs Pike, the imminently sensible morally upstanding housekeeper of Benjamin Britten's comedy of errors.
By Saturday Dominica will have switched roles once again and be back on the opera stage as Flora in Verdi's adaption of the French classic, La Dame Aux Camellias.
Dominica Matthews says faith and music are intertwined
"The two roles are chalk and cheese," she agrees, adding that having the opportunity to play such rich diverse roles that switch from drama to tragedy to comedy is one of the challenges of working with Opera Australia.
The variety of characters and singing the music of many different composers in Opera Australia's seasons each year she says is not only creatively fulfilling and exciting, but "enormous fun."
"I just wish more people realised what opera has to offer. So many people still think of it as an old fashioned-thing with the sort of Valkyrie soprano wearing horns spoofed by Anna Russell in the 1950s and 1960s. This is still the image perpetuated by the media. But opera isn't like that anymore and hasn't been for decades. If only people would come to one of the operas, they'd realise this and really enjoy themselves."
A visual feast along with outstanding music, a live orchestra, large casts, amazing sets, with some of the world's as well as the nation's leading directors and performers, opera is one of the great theatrical experiences.

"These days when you study opera you study everything from stage craft to acting to comedy, to movement, languages and all sorts of other stuff as well as singing, sight reading and musicianship," she says. "To be a singer you have to have the muscular strength to pump your voice out into the theatre without the help of a microphone. The bigger the music, the bigger you have to be. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to be large but it does mean you have to be physically fit."
Dominica's musical talents and voice were apparent from a very early age, and at 17 she was selected as a solo canto to sing at the Beatification of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop before an audience of hundreds of thousands at Randwick Racecourse. However when she left school rather than chase a career as a singer, she enrolled at the Australian Catholic University to study to become a primary school teacher.
On graduation Dominica spent the next two years as a relief teacher at schools across Sydney before deciding she needed to make a choice.
"I was still studying singing on the side and my singing teacher thought I could make a career out of it," she recalls. Figuring if singing didn't work out she could always return to teaching, she took the plunge and began studying for a Diploma of Opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Awarded a Peter Moores Foundation Scholarship for two years study in England in 2004, she returned to Australia in 2006 after being snapped up by Opera Australia as part of its Young Artist Program.
In a bitter sweet irony, when Dominica made her debut at the Sydney Opera House in Pirates of Penzance in 2009 it was the same year her beloved father lost his hearing.
"For 15 years I'd been having singing lessons but when I finally opened in Pirates at the Opera House he could no longer hear," she says. Although her father wore hearing aids he could hear almost nothing. The night he came along to see his daughter was the night that the singer playing Ruth, the role Dominica was understudying, became ill and Dominica found herself on stage in one of the leading roles.
"Dad was there along with my mother and my two other brothers and younger sister and even though he couldn't hear he told me that night was the proudest moment of his life."
Dominica's father passed away in 2010. She and the rest of the family miss him greatly and she has fond memories of their times together and how he fostered her love of big bands and Frank Sinatra.
Opera Australia mezzo soprano Dominica Matthews switches gears from courtesan in La Traviata to play moral upstanding housekeeper Mrs Pike
"I grew up on Frank Sinatra at the Sands and Walt Disney movie themes," she laughs and admits that while she was never an Abba fan - or even part of that generation - she enjoys modern music with Bon Jovi a special favourite.
She refuses to say what her favourite opera is however and insists "it is whatever opera I am working on at the time."
This year she has not only performed in La Traviata and Albert Herring but in January and February was one of the leads in Falstaff and will shortly start rehearsals for Wagner's Ring Cycle which goes on stage in Melbourne in November and December.
"As a singer in opera you give up quite a lot. You can't have big nights out especially if you have a show the next day. You have to give up any sort of social life. Everything revolves around your voice and being well," she says but insists she has no complaints.
"My life revolves around my mother, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and singing. To be able to find something you love doing and that you are good at is a blessing and gift from God."
Dominica Matthews can be seen at the Opera House in La Traviata on 27 August, 29 August and 31 August and in Albert Herring on 30 August. To find out more log on to


The team of experts arrived today in Ghouta, north of Damascus, to see if neurotoxins were used against civilians. As the United States, France, Britain and Turkey prepare for military action without UN approval, Moscow reminds anti-Assad powers about errors made in Iraq.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Syrian government will allow the United Nations to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. The rebels have said that they too will be available to UN experts. Today, the UN team began its work but the international community remains divided over the future of the conflict.
"Syria is ready to cooperate with the inspection team to prove that the allegations by terrorist groups (rebels) of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian troops in the Eastern Ghouta region are lies," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said yesterday.
According to the opposition, the attack a few days ago in Ghouta, a district in northern Damascus, claimed the lives of 1,300 people.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Saturday that 355 people who died in its hospitals showed "neurotoxin symptoms".
Syria's overtures have not however changed the international community's position on a military intervention in Syria, except for its main allies, Russia and Iran.
So far, the only appeals for reconciliation and the end of hostilities have come from the Vatican.
Yesterday, the pope urged all countries involved in Syria to stop "the clatter of arms" and work for peace, calling on the parties to meet and talk in order to stop this "war between brothers".
Despite Pope Francis's appeal, the West and its allies appear to be moving towards armed conflict. Yesterday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US military was "prepared to exercise whatever option" against Syria but intelligence was still being evaluated.
French President Francois Hollande said there was "a body of evidence indicating that the August 21 attack was chemical in nature, and that everything led to the belief that the Syrian regime was responsible for this unspeakable act".
Turkey has taken the toughest stance. Yesterday, in an interview with daily Milliyet, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey would join any coalition against Mr Assad's government.
As US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron talk, the British navy is also preparing to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, The Telegraph reported.
For its part, Moscow has called on the US and its allies to reflect. "All of this makes one recall the events that happened 10 years ago, when, using false information about Iraqis having weapons of mass destructions, the US bypassed the United Nations and started a scheme whose consequences are well known to everyone," the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia's position is shared by Iran. "If the United States crosses this red line, there will be harsh consequences for the White House," Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Massoud Jazayeri said.


Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 425

Reading 11                         THES 1:1-5, 8B-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.
For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
In every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, Jesus,
who delivers us from the coming wrath.

Responsorial Psalm                PS 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia!
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel                   MT 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”


ZEPHYRINUS, a native of Rome, succeeded Victor in the pontificate, in the year 202, in which Severus raised the fifth most bloody persecution against the Church, which continued not for two years only, but until the death of that emperor in 211. Under this furious storm this holy pastor was the support and comfort of the distressed flock of Christ, and he suffered by charity and compassion what every confessor underwent. The triumphs of the martyrs were indeed his joy, but his heart received many deep wounds from the fall of apostates and heretics. Neither did this latter affliction cease when peace was restored to the Church. Our Saint had also the affliction to see the fall of Tertullian, which seems to have been owing partly to his pride. Eusebius tells us that this holy Pope exerted his zeal so strenuously against the blasphemies of the heretics that they treated him in the most contumelious manner; but it was his glory that they called him the principal defender of Christ's divinity. St. Zephyrinus filled the pontifical chair seventeen years, dying in 219. He was buried in his own cemetery, on the 26th of August. He is, in some Martyrologies, styled a martyr, which title he might deserve by what he suffered in the   persecution, though he perhaps did not die by the executioner. SOURCE: EWTN