Sunday, December 8, 2013


The Immaculate Conception
Feast: December 8

Feast Day:December 8

So great are the advantages we reap from the incarnation of the Son of God that to contemplate it, and to thank and praise him for the same, ought to be the primary object of all our devotions and the employment of our whole lives. In the feast of the Conception of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God we celebrate the joyful dawning of that bright day of mercy, the first appearance which that most glorious of all pure creatures made in the world, with those first seeds of grace which produced the most admirable fruit in her soul. Her conception was itself a glorious mystery, a great grace, and the first effect of her predestination. Her Divine Son, the eternal God, in the first moment of her being, considered the sublime dignity to which he had decreed to raise her, and remembered that august, dear, sacred, and venerable name of his mother, which she was one day to bear; and he beheld her with a complacency, and distinguished her in a manner, suitable to so near a relation she was to bear. He called her not his servant in whom he gloried, as he did Israel, but his mother, whom for the sake of his own glory he decreed exceedingly to exalt in grace and glory. From that instant the eternal Word of God, which was to take flesh of her, looked upon it as particularly incumbent on him, in the view of his future incarnation, to sanctify this virgin, to enrich her with his choicest gifts, and to heap upon her the most singular favours with a profusion worthy his omnipotence. From that very moment he prepared her to be his most holy tabernacle. When Almighty God commanded a temple to be built to his honour in Jerusalem, what preparations did he not ordain! What purity did he not require in the things that belonged to that work, even in the persons and materials that were employed in it! David, though a great saint, was excepted against by God, because he had been stained with blood spilt in just wars. Again, what purifications, consecrations, rites, and ceremonies did he not order to sanctify all the parts of the building! This for a material temple, in which the ark was to be placed, and men were to offer their homages and sacrifices to his adorable Majesty. What, then, did he not do for Mary in spiritually decking her, whose chaste womb was to be his living tabernacle, from whose pure flesh he was to derive his own most holy body, and of whom he would himself be born!


December 09, 2013 - Pope Francis on Sunday observed a traditional December 8th appointment travelling downtown Rome to pray and pay a floral homage to Mary, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis had crossed the city to the Spanish Square, where on the top of a tall ancient Roman column stands a statue of the Virgin Mary under the title of “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.” “Enkindle in all of us a renewed desire for holiness: may our words glow with the splendor of truth, may our works resound with the song of charity, may purity and chastity live in our bodies and in our hearts, may our lives express the presence of all the beauty of the gospel,” he prayed. “Help us to attentively listen to the voice of the Lord: let not the cry of the poor ever leave us indifferent, may the suffering of the sick and of those who are in need not find us inattentive, may the solitude of the elderly and the weakness of children move us, may every human life be loved and respected by all,” the pontiff prayed at the ceremony, attended by a large crowd. “Don’t let us forget the meaning of our earthly journey: may the noble light of faith illumine our days, may the consoling strength of hope direct our steps, and may the consoling warmth of love animate our heart, may our eyes always remain fixed there, in God, where there is true joy.” The dogma of faith of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed on Dec. 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX, which teaches that with "a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God," the Blessed Virgin Mary was "preserved free from all stain of original sin" from the moment of her conception, in anticipation of the merits of her son Jesus Christ. 
As part of his homage to the Immaculate Conception, then visited Rome’s Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, the world’s largest Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 
Earlier Sunday, during the weekly midday ‘Angelus’ prayer with thousands of pilgrims and faithful in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Francis held out Mary as a model for Christian life. “All of her life, all of her being is a ‘yes’ to God,” he said urging all to look at her “in order to be more humble, and even more courageous in following the Word of God, to receive the tender embrace of her son Jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope, and peace.” Mary’s ‘yes’ to God “was certainly not easy for her!” he exclaimed. “When the angel called her ‘full of grace’ she remained ‘troubled,’ because in her humility she felt unworthy before God.” Despite her concerns, “Mary listens, obeying interiorly and responds, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word’.” This witness serves as an example for every Christian. “With great joy the Church contemplates Mary as ‘full of grace’,” Pope Francis explained. He encouraged the crowds to repeat with him, “full of grace!” 
Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, but “we too… are chosen by God to live a life of holiness, free from sin. It is a project of love that God renews every time we come close to him, especially in the sacraments,” the Pope said. “Mary sustains us in our journey towards Christmas, because she teaches us to live this time of Advent in waiting for the Lord.”
Pope Francis recalled Mary’s humble origins – “a young girl from Nazareth, a little place in Galilee, on the periphery of the Roman Empire and also on the periphery of Israel. Yet upon her was the gaze of the Lord, who chose her to be the mother of His Son.” “The mystery of this young girl from Nazareth, which is in the heart of God, is not irrelevant to us,” reflected the pontiff. “In fact, God places his gaze of love on every man and every woman” the Pope explained. While observing the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope said, “we also recognize our true destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love.”

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(Vatican Radio) The Immaculate Conception of Mary is “inscribed in God’s plan; it is the fruit of God’s love which saves the world.” These were Pope Francis’ comments during his weekly Angelus address for the second Sunday of Advent which coincides with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. 

On this Feast, the Holy Father said, our gaze turns to the “beauty of the Mother of Jesus, our Mother!” It is with great joy, he continued, that the Church contemplates the words of Saint Luke “full of grace” (Lk 1:28). Mary, moreover, guides us as we journey towards Christmas, teaching us “how to live this time of Advent waiting for the Lord.” Pope Francis went on to say that the Immaculate Conception was inscribed in God’s plan; it was the fruit of God’s love whereby the world was saved. 

After leading the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square in praying the Angelus, the Pope expressed spiritual closeness to the Church in North America, which is celebrating the 350th anniversary of its first parish: Notre-Dame de Qu├ębec.

The Holy Father concluded his Angelus address by wishing everyone a happy feast of Our Lady, and a good lunch.

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received in audience a delegation from the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI) which is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
The DHI, otherwise known as the Institute for Human Dignity, was founded in 2008 as a think tank with the aim of protecting and promoting an authentic vision of human dignity.
Addressing the delegates, the Pope warned against a “culture of waste” in which the victims are the unborn, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. Such a culture leads to a “practical atheism”, he said, whereby man denies that he is made in God’s image and likeness.
Rather, he said, if we allow the Word of God to challenge us in our personal and social consciousness, and “allow ourselves to question our ways of thinking and acting, policies, priorities and choices, then things can change.”
One of delegates present at the audience was Alojz “Lojze” Peterle, a member of the European Parliament and former prime minister of Slovenia.
“If we wish to put man at the centre, then we should respect the dignity of each human being,” he told Vatican Radio, noting how this was one of sentiments of the founding fathers of the European Union.
“We should reconsider,” he continued, what “it means to respect human dignity, which is mentioned on the first charter of fundamental human rights.”

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by Paul Dakiki
ASIA NEWS REPORT: Al Jazeera broadcasts video in which the religious sisters claim to be "protected" for " their safety." Shortly before, the al- Ahrar Brigades Qalamoun , the opposition claimed the kidnapping and demanded the release of thousands of Syrian women in prisons Assad . Watch the video .

Beirut ( AsiaNews) - The group of Orthodox nuns kidnapped December 2 from their monastery in Ma'aloula, appeared yesterday in a video broadcast by Al Jazeera. In it, the nuns reassure everyone by saying that they are comfortable and that will be released within two days.

A few minutes before the video was released, a rebel group calling itself Ahrar al-Qalamoun Brigades claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and called for the release of "a thousand Syrian women detained in prisons of the Syrian regime" in exchange for the release of the sisters.

The amateur video shows the sisters in a large room with sofas. The person filming is a man who is never scene in the video but questions and suggests things to say to the sisters .

"We are fine. We're staying at a beautiful villa and we'll leave in two days," says one of the nuns in the video.

"We left the monastery because of the intensity of shelling ... We call for an end to the shelling of churches and mosques ... Our hosts are kind and they have taken care of us," says another nun.
"We were treated in a good manner and we're happy because we were evacuated from the monastery" says a third nun.

A fourth held woman added: "We will leave in two days". Then almost recovering, states: "We are not abducted, we only kept in safety."

The sisters continue to say that "the group that hosts them and that made ​​them leave the monastery of St. Thecla", did so for their "safety". And ensure that they are "13 religious and three civilians to have left the monastery because of the bombing".

In recent days, Pope Francis and Greek - Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi have appealed to the kidnappers to release the sisters and asked for prayers for them.

A few hours ago the Greek - catholic patriarch Gregory Laham thanked "everyone who contributed to the well-being" of the Maalula nuns but said that "real comfort" is their safe return home.

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Helena Adeloju, Communications Office, Thursday 5 December 2013


THE theme of the inaugural Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF), ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ (Luke 4:18), was brought to life as more than 3000 young people from around Australia gathered for the opening plenary at Festival Hall in Melbourne this afternoon.

The event kicked off the three day celebration of what it means to be young and Catholic. It is the largest national gathering of Catholic young people since Sydney’s World Youth Day in 2008.

View gallery of the ACYF Opening Plenary
Darwin’s Bishop Eugene Hurley welcomed participating youth, priests and bishops to the festival, before Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the 
Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, greeted the young people on behalf of Pope Francis.
The ACYF Animators Dance troupe had the crowd up on their feet learning the first sequence of a specially choreographed dance. The crowd danced in the aisles to the jubilant strains of Imagine Dragons' 'On top of the world'.
The two hour plenary then entered a time of prayer and reflection, beginning with the procession of the ACYF symbols, which will remain on the main stage until the ACYF comes to a close on Saturday night.
The Gospel passage containing the festival’s theme was then read, followed by James Edwards performing the ACYF theme song Your Spirit, which he composed for the festival.
Newly installed Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn, Archbishop Christopher Prowse gave a shout out to youth from each state, as well as Australia’s indigenous participants, drawing loud cheers and applause fr
om an energetic and appreciative crowd.
Archbishop Prowse called young people to reflect on their participation in the ACYF and their individual Catholic vocation in the light of three great questions inspired by St Ignatius of Loyola: What has God done for me? What have I done for God? and What do I want to do for God in my life?
Following Archbishop Prowse’s inspiring address, Tessa Ganley from Port Pirie in South Australia, delivered a powerful message, calling on her fellow participants at the ACYF to be the change they want to see in the world and not to turn a blind eye.
'The spirit of the Lord is upon us!' she said in conclusion.
Steve Angrisano then took to the stage to lead the young crowd in prayerful song, before giving a powerful testimony of his experience of nuns witnessing to their Catholic mission by being a living reflection of God to the world.
'We should wake up and see that there is a world we can change,' he said with heartfelt enthusiasm.
The opening plenary came to a close in prayer and song.
The young crowd then made its way to the Australian Catholic University for a jam-packed evening of speakers, performers, workshops and activities.
Photography by Fiona Basile, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne/Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2013


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday met with the participants of the 26th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, meeting under the theme “Proclaiming Christ in the digital age.”

Pope Francis said the rise and development of the internet raises the question of the relationship between faith and culture.

Looking back to the first centuries of Christianity, the Pope pointed out Christians encountered the “extraordinary legacy” of Greek culture.

“Faced with philosophies of great profundity and educational methods of great value – although steeped in pagan elements, the Fathers did not shut them out, nor on the other hand, did they compromise with ideas contrary to the Faith,” Pope Francis said. “Instead, they learned to recognize and assimilate these higher concepts and transform them in the light of God’s Word, actually implementing what Saint Paul asks: Test all things and hold fast to that which is good.”

He said this also applies to the internet.

“You must test everything, knowing that you will surely find counterfeits, illusions and dangerous traps to avoid,” Pope Francis said. “But, guided by the Holy Spirit, we will discover valuable opportunities to lead people to the luminous face of the Lord. Among the possibilities offered by digital communication, the most important is the proclamation of the Gospel.”

He said it is not enough to acquire technological skills, however important. He said the internet must be used to meet “often hurting or lost” real people and offer them “real reasons for hope.”

“The announcement [of the Gospel] requires authentic human relationships and leads along the path to a personal encounter with the Lord,” he said. 

“Therefore, the internet is not enough; technology is not enough,” Pope Francis continued. “This, however, does not mean that the Church's presence online is useless; on the contrary, it is essential to be present, always in an evangelical way, in what, for many, especially young people, has become a sort of living environment; to awaken the irrepressible questions of the heart about the meaning of existence; and to show the way that leads to Him who is the answer, the Divine Mercy made flesh, the Lord Jesus.”
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Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 129

Reading 1                             WIS 9:13-18B

Who can know God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
and unsure are our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;
but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

Responsorial Psalm                                     PS 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
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. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
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. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
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. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Reading 2                                        PHMN 9-10, 12-17

I, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Gospel                                     LK 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”