Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Feast: August 29
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST was called by God to be the forerunner of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless, and to improve the extraordinary graces which he had received, he was directed by the Holy Ghost to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness, in the continual exercises of devout prayer and penance, from his infancy till he was thirty years of age. At this age the faithful minister began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the weeds of penance, be announced to all men the obligation they lay under of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere compunction; and proclaimed the Messias, Who was then coming to make His appearance among them. He was received by the people as the true herald of the Most High God, and his voice was, as it were, a trumpet sounding from heaven to summon all men to avert the divine judgments, and to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of Vie mercy that was offered them. The tetrarch Herod Antipas having, in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, who was yet living, St. John the Baptist boldly reprehended the tetrarch and his accomplice for so scandalous an incest and adultery, and Herod, urged on by lust and anger, cast the Saint into prison. About a year after St. John had been made a prisoner, Herod gave a splendid entertainment to the nobility of Galilee. Salome, a daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod by her dancing, insomuch that he promised her to grant whatever she asked. On this, Salome consulted with her mother what to ask. Herodias instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist, and persuaded the young damsel to make it part of her petition that the head of the prisoner should be forthwith brought to her in a dish. This strange request startled the tyrant himself; he assented, however, and sent a soldier of his guard to behead the Saint in prison, with an order to bring his head in a charger and present it to Salome, who delivered it to her mother. St. Jerome relates that the furious Herodias made it her inhuman pastime to prick the sacred tongue with a bodkin. Thus died the great forerunner of our blessed Saviour, about two years and three months after his entrance upon his public ministry, about a year before the death of our blessed Redeemer.


Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Lectionary: 428/634

Reading 1          1 THES 3:7-13
We have been reassured about you, brothers and sisters,
in our every distress and affliction, through your faith.
For we now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

What thanksgiving, then, can we render to God for you,
for all the joy we feel on your account before our God?
Night and day we pray beyond measure to see you in person
and to remedy the deficiencies of your faith.
Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus
direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase
and abound in love for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm                          PS 90:3-5A, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (14) Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Gospel               MK 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Pope Francis celebrated the Mass for
 the start of Chapter General for the Order of St. Augustine, who will elect their prior general for the next six years.   

The Pope arrived by car to the Basilica of St. Augustine at Campo di Marzio, near Piazza Navonna. 
The Pope lead the celebration Mass at the Church of Saint Augustine in Rome. The occasion marked the opening of the Order’s 184th General Chapter. 


Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 427

Reading 1         1 THES 2:9-13

You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God.
You are witnesses, and so is God,
how devoutly and justly and blamelessly
we behaved toward you believers.
As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children,
exhorting and encouraging you and insisting
that you walk in a manner worthy of the God
who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

Responsorial Psalm                PS 139:7-8, 9-10, 11-12AB

R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”–
For you darkness itself is not dark,
and night shines as the day.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

Gospel                    MT 23:27-32

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”


In a raid that followed Morsi's ouster, Islamists particularly raged against children's toys. The facilities were also open to children from rural Muslim families.

Minya (AsiaNews) - With at least 20 attacks against churches, Christian schools and orphanages, Minya Governorate is the part of ​​Egypt where Islamists struck with greatest violence and brutality.
"The Islamists", one resident said, "burnt and destroyed everything. Their goal was to erase all the traces of a Christian presence; even the orphanages were looted and destroyed."
After storming the Prince Tadros el-Shatbi Church, the armed Islamic extremists turned their attention to two homes for disadvantaged children located near the parish church, residents said.
They stole church offerings, clothes, and children's games before torching the entire building. The fire lasted over 5 hours.
"Fortunately," the source said, "the children were taken to safety before the arrival of the Islamists."
Like other Christians sites, the two homes that housed hundreds of orphans are now a pile of rubble.
The criminals did not only destroy the two orphanages but also the homes of some families working for the orphanages as well as a nearby art gallery that sold objects and artefacts made by orphans to raise money.
Shurkri Huzayn, 40, is the orphanage guard. He, too, grew up as an orphan at the facility. He witnessed the Salafist attack.
"What kind of people are they? Even unbelievers would not attack an orphanage," he said.
Islamists raged particularly against anything that symbolised the Christianity and modernity, including computers.
After they left the building, the terrorists burnt nearby shops and schools, such as the St Joseph Coptic School, which is run by nuns, a pharmacy and a restaurant. Anti-Christian graffiti were sprayed on the walls along a road.
A few days after the massacre, the guard said that Copts wrote a message on the wall of the orphanage in response to the militants' insults that read, "Despite of what you did, we ask God to forgive you," and "God exists."
According to a teacher at St Joseph, the attack will have a major impact on Christians' daily life.

"The teachers," she noted, "do not know when the school year will start. The school is open to Christians and Muslims and has taught hundreds of children from rural areas, many of whom were housed in the two orphanages."


(Agenzia Fides) - 17 deaths, 30 seriously injured, another twenty slightly injured. This is the toll of a serious road accident in Uganda whose victims are Congolese refugees who fled from Kamango, in the territory of Beni (in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo) because of the fighting between the regular army of Kinshasa and the Ugandan rebels of the ADF-NALU.
According to a note sent to Fides Agency by the Provincial Coordination of Civil Society of North Kivu, the accident occurred on August 26 on the main road Bubukwanga-Kyangwari in the Ugandan district of Bundibugyo. The bus was carrying 92 Congolese refugees that the Ugandan government had decided to move from Bubukwanga (town close to the border and close to Kamango) to Kyangwari, which is considered a safer place because it is far from the border.
Of the 92 persons transported by bus, only 21 were not injured, while the 30 seriously injured are in coma.
The coordination of the Civil Society of North Kivu has launched an appeal to the Congolese government in order to provide all necessary support to the injured and a proper burial for the victims.
According to UNICEF, more than 66,000 Congolese, 37,000 of whom are children, have fled to Uganda because of the violence of the ADF-NALU (Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda), a Ugandan rebel coalition that has laid its bases on the Congolese territory. In July, the town of Kamango was at the center of fighting between the rebels of the ADF-NALU and the Congolese army. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/08/2013)


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
27 Aug 2013
Governor of NSW Professor Marie Bashir launched the Sisters of Charity's commemorative book celebrating 175 years of service
The Sisters of Charity were the first nuns to arrive in Australia. Travelling from Ireland at the request of Bishop Polding four young professed religious and one novice landed at Botany Bay 175 years ago. Setting foot on Australian soil on New Year's Eve 1838, the Sisters of Charity went on to become Australia's undisputed leaders in healthcare, education, medical research, aged care and support for the disabled.
Founders of St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst together with St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne and hospitals in Toowoomba, Lithgow and Cootamundra, in the 1980s the Sisters of Charity were among the first to nurse those infected with HIV/AIDs and in more recent times have been at the forefront of advances in palliative care.
This month as the Sisters of Charity of Australia begin 12 months of celebrations to mark 175 years of their mission and ministries in Australia, they have produced an impressive book to commemorate this important milestone.
While paying tribute to the Sisters' long rich history in Australia, Impelled by Christ's Love 175 Years Serving In Australia puts its main focus not on the past but on the here and now, and on the Congregation's wide-ranging and on-going mission in a world vastly different from the colonial outpost with its convicts and dirt-encrusted streets that greeted the five Irish nuns back in 1838.
Launched on the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, Patron Saint of the Sisters of Charity, by the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, the handsome volume represents many months of meticulous research, interviews and hard work.
Written by the Sisters of Charity of Australia's Congregational historian, Sr Moira O'Sullivan aided by a dedicated team of religious as well as lay volunteers, the book gives a fascinating insight into the past, present and future of one of the nation's best known and beloved Congregations.
Sisters of Charity Foundation developed an eight day swim program for Afghan refugee children and their families
But the book is just one of several celebratory initiatives planned for the next 12 months, with a special liturgy set to take place in Sydney on New Year's Eve this year when Australia's 156 Sisters of Charity will gather to mark the exact date of the founding of their mission in Australia.
"Although Bishop Polding asked our founder, Mary Aikenhead to send religious women from the Congregation in Ireland to help support and minister to Australia's female convicts held in Parramatta gaol, and we retain close links to Ireland's Sisters of Charity, in the 1840s we became a separate Congregation," explains Sister Annette Cunliffe, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.
Sr Annette says this landmark anniversary year is an opportunity for the Sisters of Charity not only to give thanks to God but to all the "wonderful men and women who support and have supported us over many, many years."
"The year is also a time to look ahead to the future with hope and trust," she says and points out that just as the world has changed and new demands and needs emerged, the mission and ministries of the Sisters have also undergone change.
While continuing to be leaders in healthcare, research, education, aged care, community service, prison ministries and working in rural and remote areas as well as supporting and ministering to Australia's Indigenous peoples, the Sisters have expanded their work through the Sisters of Charity Foundation and the Mary Aikenhead Ministries.
The Foundation established in the 1990s supports a variety of programs and in 2011-2012 funded 44 projects and distributed more than $365,890 to make a difference to men and women as well as groups such as Youth at Risk, Refugees, the Disabled, the Prison-affected and the down and out and disadvantaged.
The Foundation also supports the House of Welcome which provides accommodation, safety and transition into their new life in Australia for refugees, offers transport to help asylum seekers and refugees obtain access to necessary agencies in their first bewildering weeks or months, and works closely with the Australian Afghan Hassanian Youth Association which offers support to Afghan refugee children, youth and other new arrivals to Australia in the Auburn area.
Sr Moira O'Sullivan, author of the book with Governor Bashir and the Rev Michael Giffin
As part of this initiative, the Sisters of Charity Foundation has developed and sponsors an eight day swimming program for children and other new arrivals, providing a way to meet others, socially engage and have fun.
The Foundation also set up and supports Homeless Healthcare and has joined forces to with the Bourke Street Bakery to help fund the Bakery's program to train and give employment outcomes to refugees and asylum seekers.
"The idea is to give 'seed' money that makes a difference to ventures by individuals or community groups," Sr Annette says and gives as an example a man who during the recent long drought in Western NSW collected cans of food and other essentials to give to those doing it tough on the land.
"He had collected a large amount of canned goods but had trouble meeting the cost of petrol needed to get the items to those who needed them most. That's when we stepped in and paid for his petrol so the program could continue," she says.
Another example is the case of a young woman with an intellectual disability who for the past decade has found independence and built her confidence and self esteem by delivering 3600 newspapers and real estate brochures each month around her local suburb in Canberra. Last year when her delivery trolley was about to collapse, the Foundation provided her with a brand new one.
Another important recent initiative is the Sisters of Charity Foundation Tertiary Scholarships Scheme. Established last year to enable men and women who have been in foster or out of home care the opportunity of a tertiary education.
For the thousands of children brought up in foster or out of home care, once they turn 18 they are given $1000 by the Department of Community Services and most find themselves suddenly there on their own to try to make the best of it.
Little wonder only 2.8% of all those brought up in out of home care in Australia attempt to go on to university.
"We are helping to change this," says Sr Annette.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation funded a new delivery trolley to enable a Canberra woman with disabilities to continue working
In 2012 thanks to formalized partnerships with the University of Notre Dame and the Australian Catholic University, the Foundation was able to offer scholarships at these two highly regarded universities. Since then the Foundation entered into additional partnerships and this year was also able to also offer scholarships for study at the University of Sydney, University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne as well as ACU and UNDA.
Although numbers of those entering religious life has declined in Congregations across Australia, the Sisters of Charity has a large and growing laity who have committed themselves to working with the poor and have embraced founder Mary Aikenhead's vow to give service to the poor as well as her admonition "to make ourselves extensively useful."
"Being poor is not only about a lack of money. Being poor can mean being poor in spirit, being ill, being emotionally poor and for the aged, being poor simply because of all the things lost by being elderly and frail," Sr Annette explains.
Now as the Sisters prepare for 12 months of celebrations to mark 175 years of serving and ministering to countless generations of Australians, Sr Annette is convinced they can look forward with confidence to another 175 years of service "impelled by the love of Christ."
"None of us knows our future but we know and trust in God," she says.
To order a copy of "Sisters of Charity of Australia 1838-2013: 175 Years Impelled by Christ's Love" log on to or go to the Sisters website


St. Augustine
Feast Day:

August 28
November 13, 354, Tagaste, Numidia (now Souk Ahras, Algeria)
August 28, 430, Hippo Regius, Numidia (now modern-day Annaba, Algeria)

Major Shrine:
San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia, Italy
Patron of:
brewers; printers; theologians
Augustine was born at Tagaste on 13 November, 354. Tagaste, now Souk-Ahras, about 60 miles from Bona (ancient Hippo-Regius), was at that time a small free city of proconsular Numidia which had recently been converted from Donatism. His father, Patricius, one of the curiales of the city, was still a pagan. However, the admirable virtues that made Monica the ideal of Christian mothers at length brought her husband the grace of baptism and of a holy death, about the year 371. Augustine received a Christian education. His mother had him signed with the cross and enrolled among the catechumens. Once, when very ill, he asked for baptism, but, all danger being soon passed, he deferred receiving the sacrament, thus yielding to a deplorable custom of the times. "From my tenderest infancy, I had in a manner sucked with my mother's milk that name of my Saviour, Thy Son; I kept it in the recesses of my heart; and all that presented itself to me without that Divine Name, though it might be elegant, well written, and even replete with truth, did not altogether carry me away" (Confessions, I, iv).

Before long he was obliged to confess to Monica that he had formed a sinful liaison with the person who bore him a son (372), "the son of his sin" -- an entanglement from which he only delivered himself at Milan after fifteen years.In 373, Augustine and his friend Honoratus fell into the sect of the Manich├Žans.

But the religious crisis of this great soul was only to be resolved in Italy, under the influence of Ambrose. In 383 Augustine, at the age of twenty-nine, yielded to the irresistible attraction which Italy had for him At first he turned towards the philosophy of the Academics, with its pessimistic scepticism; then neo-Platonic philosophy inspired him with genuine enthusiasm. At Milan he had scarcely read certain works of Plato and, more especially, of Plotinus, before the hope of finding the truth dawned upon him. Monica, who had joined her son at Milan, prevailed upon him to become betrothed, but his affianced bride was too young, and although Augustine dismissed the mother of Adeodatus, her place was soon filled by another. Thus did he pass through one last period of struggle and anguish. Finally, through the reading of the Holy Scriptures light penetrated his mind. Soon he possessed the certainty that Jesus Christ is the only way to truth and salvation. After that resistance came only from the heart. An interview with Simplicianus, the future successor of St. Ambrose, who told Augustine the story of the conversion of the celebrated neo-Platonic rhetorician, Victorinus (Confessions, VIII, i, ii), prepared the way for the grand stroke of grace which, at the age of thirty-three, smote him to the ground in the garden at Milan (September, 386). A few days later Augustine, being ill, took advantage of the autumn holidays and, resigning his professorship, went with Monica, Adeodatus, and his friends to Cassisiacum, the country estate of Verecundus, there to devote himself to the pursuit of true philosophy which, for him, was now inseparable from Christianity.

It was this Divine grace that Augustine sought in Christian baptism. Towards the beginning of Lent, 387, he went to Milan and, with Adeodatus and Alypius, took his place among the competentes, being baptized by Ambrose on Easter Day, or at least during Eastertide. The Augustine remained several months in Rome, chiefly engaged in refuting Manich├Žism. He sailed for Africa after the death of the tyrant Maximus (August 388) and after a short sojourn in Carthage, returned to his native Tagaste. Immediately upon arriving there, he wished to carry out his idea of a perfect life, and began by selling all his goods and giving the proceeds to the poor. Then he and his friends withdrew to his estate, which had already been alienated, there to lead a common life in poverty, prayer, and the study of sacred letters.

One day, having been summoned to Hippo by a friend whose soul's salvation was at stake, he was praying in a church when the people suddenly gathered about him, cheered him, and begged Valerius, the bishop, to raise him to the priesthood. In spite of his tears Augustine was obliged to yield to their entreaties, and was ordained in 391. The new priest looked upon his ordination as an additional reason for resuming religious life at Tagaste, and so fully did Valerius approve that he put some church property at Augustine's disposal, thus enabling him to establish a monastery the second that he had founded. Enfeebled by old age, Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, obtained the authorization of Aurelius, Primate of Africa, to associate Augustine with himself as coadjutor. Augustine had to resign himself to consecration at the hands of Megalius, Primate of Numidia. He was then forty two, and was to occupy the See of Hippo for thirty-four years.
of evil have a more zealous defender than this bishop." Nothing is more opposed to the facts. Augustine acknowledges that he had not yet understood how the first good inclination of the will is a gift of God (Retractions, I, xxiii, n, 3); but it should be remembered that he never retracted his leading theories on liberty, never modified his opinion upon what constitutes its essential condition, that is to say, the full power of choosing or of deciding. He was stricken with what he realized to be a fatal illness, and, after three months of admirable patience and fervent prayer, departed from this land of exile on 28 August, 430, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.
(Edited from:


St. Moses the Black

Feast Day:
August 28
330; Ethiopian ancestry
Died: 405, Scetes, Egypt
Major Shrine:
Paromeos Monastery, Scetes, Egypt
Patron of:
Moses the Black, sometimes called the Ethiopian, was a slave of a government official in Egypt who dismissed him for theft and suspected murder. He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley spreading terror and violence. He was a large, imposing figure. On one occasion, a barking dog prevented Moses from carrying out a robbery, so he swore vengeance on the owner. Weapons in his mouth, Moses swam the river toward the owner's hut. The owner, again alerted, hid, and the frustrated Moses took some of his sheep to slaughter. Attempting to hide from local authorities, he took shelter with some monks in a colony in the desert of Scete, near Alexandria. The dedication of their lives, as well as their peace and contentment, influenced Moses deeply. He soon gave up his old way of life and joined the monastic community at Scete.

Attacked by a group of robbers in his desert cell, Moses fought back, overpowered the intruders, and dragged them to the chapel where the other monks were at prayer. He told the brothers that he didn't think it Christian to hurt the robbers and asked what he should do with them. The overwhelmed robbers repented, were converted, and themselves joined the community.

Moses was zealous in all he did, but became discouraged when he concluded he was not perfect enough. Early one morning, St. Isidore, abbot of the community, took Brother Moses to the roof and together they watched the first rays of dawn come over the horizon. Isidore told Moses, "Only slowly do the rays of the sun drive away the night and usher in a new day, and thus, only slowly does one become a perfect contemplative."

Moses proved to be effective as a prophetic spiritual leader. The abbot ordered the brothers to fast during a particular week. Some brothers came to Moses, and he prepared a meal for them. Neighboring monks reported to the abbot that Moses was breaking the fast. When they came to confront Moses, they changed their minds, saying "You did not keep a human commandment, but it was so that you might keep the divine commandment of hospitality." Some see in this account one of the earliest allusions to the Paschal fast, which developed at this time.

When a brother committed a fault and Moses was invited to a meeting to discuss an appropriate penance, Moses refused to attend. When he was again called to the meeting, Moses took a leaking jug filled with water and carried it on his shoulder. Another version of the story has him carrying a basket filled with sand. When he arrived at the meeting place, the others asked why he was carrying the jug. He replied, "My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another." On hearing this, the assembled brothers forgave the erring monk.

Moses became the spiritual leader of a colony of hermits in the desert. At some time, he had been ordained priest. At about age 75, about the year 407, word came that a group of renegades planned to attack the colony. The brothers wanted to defend themselves, but Moses forbade it. He told them to retreat, rather than take up weapons. He and seven others remained behind and greeted the invaders with open arms, but all eight were martyred by the bandits. A modern interpretation honors St. Moses the Black as an apostle of non-violence.
The lives of St. Moses the Black and St. Norbert, contain some interesting parallels. Both lived rather dissolute lives in their younger years. Both had conversion experiences in which they heard and heeded the call of God. Both were leaders in their respective religious communities. Both are known as men of peace, having spent much of their ministry calling people to reconciliation and forgiveness by word and example.
(Edited from: