Sunday, January 19, 2014


St. Sebastian
Feast: January 20

Feast Day:January 20
Patron of:Soldiers, plagues, arrows,  athletes
St Sebastian was born at Narbonne, in Gaul, but his parents were of Milan, in Italy, and he was brought up in that city. He was a fervent servant of Christ, and though his natural inclinations gave him an aversion to a military life, yet to be better able, without suspicion, to assist the confessors and martyrs in their sufferings, he went to Rome and entered the army under the emperor Carinus about the year 283. It happened that the martyrs, Marcus and Marcellianus, under sentence of death, appeared in danger of being shaken in their faith by the tears of their friends: Sebastian—seeing this, steps in and made them a long exhortation to constancy, which he delivered with the holy fire that strongly affected all his hearers. Zoe, the wife of Nicostratus, having for six years lost the use of speech by a palsy in her tongue, fell at his feet, and spoke distinctly; by the saint making the sign of the cross on her mouth. She, with her husband Nicostratus, who was master of the rolls, the parents of Marcus and Marcellianus, the jailer Claudius, and sixteen other prisoners, were converted; and Nicostratus, who had charge of the prisoners, took them to his own house, where Polycarp, a holy priest, instructed and baptized them. Chromatius, governor of Rome, being informed of this, and that Tranquillinus, the father of SS. Marcus and Marcellianus, had been cured of the gout by receiving baptism, desired to be instructed in the faith, being himself grievously afflicted with the same distemper. Accordingly, having sent for Sebastian, he was cured by him, and baptized with his son Tiburtius. He then enlarged the converted prisoners, made his slaves free, and resigned his prefectship.
Chromatius, with the emperor's consent, retired into the country in Campania, taking many new converts along with him. It was a contest of zeal, out of a mutual desire of martyrdom, between St. Sebastian and the priest Polycarp, which of them should accompany this troop, to complete their instruction, and which should remain in the city to encourage and assist the martyrs, which latter was the more dangerous province. St. Austin wished to see such contests of charity amongst the ministers of the church. Pope Caius, who was appealed to, judged it most proper that Sebastian should stay in Rome as a defender of the church. In the year 286, the persecution growing hot, the pope and others concealed themselves in the imperial palace, as a place of the greatest safety, in the apartments of one Castulus, a Christian officer of the court. St. Zoe was first apprehended, praying at St. Peter's tomb on the feast of the apostles. She was stifled with smoke, being hung by the heels over a fire. Tranquillinus, ashamed to be less courageous than a woman, went to pray at the tomb of St. Paul, and was seized by the populace and stoned to death. Nicostratus, Claudius, Castorius, and Victorinus were taken, and, after having been thrice tortured, were thrown into the sea. Tiburtius, betrayed by a false  brother, was beheaded. Castulus, accused by the same wretch, was thrice put on the rack, and afterwards buried alive. Marcus and Marcellianus were nailed by the feet to a post, and having remained in that torment twenty-four hours, were shot to death by arrows.
St. Sebastian, having sent so many martyrs to heaven before him, was himself impeached before the Emperor Diocletian, who, having grievously reproached him with ingratitude, delivered him over to certain archers of Mauritania, to be shot to death. His body was covered with arrows, and he left for dead. Irene, the widow of St. Castulus, going to bury him, found him still alive, and took him to her lodgings, where, by care, he recovered of his wounds, but refused to flee, and even placed himself one day by a staircase where the emperor was to pass, whom he first accosted, reproaching him for his unjust cruelties against the Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person, too, whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but, recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A pious lady, called Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, got it privately removed, and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus. A church was afterwards built over his relics by Pope Damasus, which is one of the seven ancient stationary churches at Rome, but not one of the seven principal churches of that city, as some moderns mistake; it neither being one of the five patriarchal churches, nor one of the seventy-two old churches which give titles to cardinals. Vandelbert,
St. Ado, Eginard, Sigebert, and other contemporary authors relate that, in the reign of Louis Debonnair, Pope Eugenius II gave the body of St. Sebastian to Hilduin, Abbot of St. Denys, who brought it into France, and it was deposited at St. Medard's, at Soissons, on the 8th of December, in 826 With it is said to have been brought a considerable portion of the relics of St. Gregory the Great. The rich shrines of SS. Sebastian, Gregory, and Medard were plundered by the Calvinists in 1564, and the sacred bones thrown into a ditch, in which there was water. Upon the declaration of two eye-witnesses, they were afterwards found by the Catholics, and in 1578 enclosed in three new shrines, though the bones of the three saints could not be distinguished from each other. The head of this martyr, which was given to St. Willibrord by Pope Sergius, is kept at Esternach, in the duchy of Luxemburg. Portions of his relics are shown in the cathedral at St. Victor's; the Theatins and Minims at Paris; in four churches at Mantua; at Malacca, Seville, Toulouse; Munich in the ducal palace; Tournay in the cathedral; Antwerp in the Church of the Jesuits; and at Brussels in the chapel of the court, not at St. Gudule's, as some have mistaken. St. Sebastian has been always honoured by the church as one of her most illustrious martyrs. We read in Paul the deacon in what manner, in the year 680, Rome was freed from a raging pestilence by the patronage of this saint. Milan in 1575, Lisbon in 1599, and other places, have experienced in like calamities the effects of his intercession with God in their behalf.



St. Fabian
Feast: January 20

Feast Day:January 20
Died:January 20, 250 Rome, Italy
He succeeded St. Anterus in the pontificate in the year 236. Eusebius relates that in an assembly of the people and clergy, held for the election of a pastor in his room, a dove, unexpectedly appearing, settled, to the great surprise of all present, on the head of St. Fabian, and that this miraculous sign united the votes of the clergy and people in promoting him, though not thought of before, as being a layman and a stranger. He governed the church sixteen years, sent St. Dionysius and other preachers into Gaul, and condemned Privatus, a broacher of a new heresy in Africa, as appears from St. Cyprian. St. Fabian died a glorious martyr in the persecution of Decius, in 250, as St. Cyprian and St. Jerome witness. The former, writing to his successor, St. Cornelius, calls him an incomparable man, and says that the glory of his death had answered the purity and holiness of his life.
The saints made God, and the accomplishment of his holy will, the great object of all their petitions in their prayers, and their only aim in all their actions. "God," says St. Austin,[3] "in his promises to hear our prayers, is desirous to bestow himself upon us; if you find any thing better than him, ask it, but if you ask any thing beneath him, you put an affront upon him, and hurt   yourself by preferring to him a creature which he framed: pray in the spirit and sentiment of love, in which the royal prophet said to him, 'Thou, O Lord, art my portion.'[4] Let others choose to themselves portions among creatures; for my part, Thou are my portion, Thee alone I have chosen for my whole inheritance."

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)



Bl. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi
Feast: January 20

Feast Day:January 20
Born:September, 1903, Aguleri, Anambra, Nigeria
Died:January 20, 1964, Leicester, England
Beatified:March 22, 1998 by Pope John Paul II
Bl. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was born in 1903 in Igboezunu, at the edge of: the forest near the ancient city of Aguleri in southern Nigeria. His parents, Tabansi and Ejikwevi, were Igbo farmers who practised the "traditional religion" and gave him the name Iwene at birth. In 1909 he was sent to the Christian village of Nduka, where he was baptized three years later by Irish missionaries and given the name Michael. His peers described him as studious and very demanding with himself, with a precocious personality and deep piety. At the age of 16 he received his first school leaving certificate, which qualified him for teaching. He taught at Holy Trinity Primary School in Onitsha for three years and served for a year as headmaster at St Joseph School in Aguleri. In 1925, against the wishes of his family, he entered St Paul's Seminary in Igbariam. After finishing his philosophical and theological studies, he was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Onitsha on 19 December 1937 by the missionary Bishop Charles Heerey. The second indigenous priest of Onitsha and the first in the Aguleri region, he began his pastoral ministry in the parish of Nnewi. In 1939 he was appointed parish priest of Dunukofia (Umudioka region), where he courageously tackled immoral customs and destroyed the harmful myth of the "cursed forest", which weighed heavily on the peace of consciences and families. To combat premarital cohabitation, he set up marriage preparation centres where girls and young women could be sheltered and receive Christian formation. For the moral education of young people he also established the League of Mary, with remarkable success. On foot or bicycle, Fr Tansi went from village to village preaching, catechizing and setting up prayer centres that eventually became parishes. He spent hours and hours hearing confessions, even until late at night. His zeal, shining example and life of prayer and penance transformed the people into a true Christian community resulting in so many vocations to the priesthood and religious life that his parish held the diocesan record. The same energy characterized his years as parish priest of Akpu, where he served from 1945 until his transfer to Aguleri in 1949. On an unspecified date between 1949 and 1950, during a priests' day of recollection, Bishop Heerey expressed the desire that one of his priests would embrace the monastic life so that he could later establish a contemplative monastery in his Diocese. Fr Tansi immediately said he was willing. Bishop Heerey contacted the Trappist Abbey of Mount St Bernard in Leicestershire, England, which was willing to receive him for a trial period as an oblate. In the summer of 1950 he led his parishioners on a pilgrimage to Rome for the Holy Year and left from there for Mount St Bernard. After two and a half years as an oblate, he was admitted to the novitiate on the vigil of the Immaculate Conception, taking the name Cyprian. One year later he took his simple vows and was solemnly professed on 8 December 1956. For the next seven years he lived a hidden life of prayer and work, humility and obedience, in faithful and generous observance of the Cistercian rule. In 1963, after 13 years of valuable experience as a Trappist, the time now seemed ripe for establishing a monastery in Nigeria. However, political tensions led his superiors to choose neighbouring Cameroon for the foundation instead. This was a hard blow for Fr Cyprian, who had been appointed novice master for the African monastery. It was the only time in 13 years of monastic life that he ever lost his temper, but he quickly regained control and accepted God's will with supernatural heroism. In January 1964 he began experiencing intense pain in one of his legs. Diagnosed as having thrombosis, the following morning he was found unconscious and was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Leicester, where examination revealed an aortic aneurysm. He died the following morning, 20 January 1964. He was buried at Mount St Bernard on 22 January. Present for the funeral liturgy were several Nigerian priests living in London, including his spiritual son, Fr Francis Arinze, the future Archbishop of Onitsha, Cardinal and President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. His body was exhumed in 1988 and reburied in the priests' cemetery near the cathedral of Onitsha, where he had been ordained a priest 51 years earlier. After the beatification ceremonies, his remains will be buried in the parish church of his  native village, Aguieri.



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is making a pastoral visit to Rome’s Sacro Cuore Basilica on Sunday afternoon, in the context of the Church’s 100th annual World Day for Migrants and Refugees. The parish of the Basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is run by the Salesians of Don Bosco, and operates an outreach to the city’s homeless and itinerant populations, as well as a centre of welcome and hospitality for more than 400 young refugees and asylum seekers. 
Located in the heart of the city, in the vicinity of Rome’s central Termini railway station, the Basilica parish serves one of those “existential outskirts” that Pope Francis has called on Christians in every state of life – and especially those in religious life – to place at the centre of their work and witness in behalf of the Gospel. Sacro Cuore offers a range of services to the people it assists, from Italian language courses to driving lessons, remedial education for middle school equivalency, computer literacy, job training and placement.

The schedule of the Pope’s projected four-hour-plus visit includes encounters with children and the faithful of the parish in the courtyard of the basilica, a meeting with refugees, another with homeless persons, an exchange of greetings with families that have had children baptised over the course of the past year, Mass in the Basilica, a visit with the Basilica’s Salesian community, and a moment with young people.

Text from Vatican Radio website 


The 125-foot (38 meter) Christ the redeemer statue is located in Brazil, South America on steep mountain and is often hit by strikes.  A lightning bolt broke off a few fingers on his right hand. 
On Thursday, January 16, 2014 more than 40,000 lightning flashes hit the area during the three hour storm. On average, Christ the Redeemer usually gets struck with lightning 3-5 times per year. 
The statue underwent a $4 million renovation in 2010 to repair badly eroded parts of its face and hands. The Archdiocese of Rio manages the statue. Father Omar Raposo told Globo Radio that repairs will soon be made. He says the church has a stock of the same stone originally used to build the statue, which was erected in 1931.
Edited from Times of India and other news sources



The French responded in large numbers to the call of the collective  in March for Life, this Sunday, January 19. From all over France, there were nearly 40,000 according to the counting system in place (evaluation 16:30). This figure is a record for this annual event held for ten years. It is true that the support of two iconic figures meant the importance of this work: Pope Francis and Jane Roe, muse of the legalization of abortion in the United States (Supreme Court 1973 Roe / Wade.

Claims were clear
1 / The immediate withdrawal of the disputed amendments added in secret in the draft law on equality between women and men debated in the Assembly on 20 January and which have as their object:    
   => Remove the distress as a condition for abortion                   
   => And extend the offense of obstructing abortion.          
2 / stop discriminatory practices of prenatal sex selection particularly developed in France in the case of children with trisomy 21.               
3 / The consideration by the government of the reality of the tragedy of abortion and the establishment of a genuine policy of support for pregnant women in need who wish to continue their pregnancy.
- See more at:


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made an appeal for migrants and refugees on Sunday – the Church’s 100th annual World Day for Migrants and Refugees. After the Angelus prayer, speaking to faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father said, “I extend a special greeting to the representatives of various ethnic communities gathered here, in particular the Catholic communities in Rome.” Pope Francis went on to say, “Dear friends, you are close to the heart of the Church, because the Church is a people on a journey toward the Kingdom of God, that Jesus Christ brought into our midst.”
“Do not lose hope for a better future!” said Pope Francis, expressing his hope that migrants and refugees might be able to live in peace in the countries that welcome you, and that they might be able to maintain the values of their culture of origin.” The theme of the Holy Father’s Message to mark the recurrence in 2014 is Migrants and Refugees: toward a better world. In the Message, published in August of 2013, the Holy Father writes, “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”


(Vatican Radio). Sunday 19th January the Church marks the 100th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In his message to mark this occasion, Pope Francis urged countries to welcome and respect migrants and refugees and not to treat them as “pawns on the chessboard of humanity”.
In a world in which there are some 200 million migrants – 44 million of whom are refugees and internally displaced people – the Pope said “They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”
He also repeats his condemnation of “slave labour” and trafficking, develops his criticism of a “throwaway culture, and reiterates there must be a change in attitude on the part of host countries”.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Jesuit Father Peter Balleis, International Director of the Rome-based Jesuit Refugee Service about the Pope’s message, about how we can transform what is largely perceived as a problematic issue into a richness for us all, and about the significance – today – of this annual occurrence marked by the Church…

Listen to the interview… RealAudioMP3 

The Church – Father Balleis says – is also a migrant Church, “many people – many Christians but not just Christians – are on the move” and the Church has always accompanied migrants. The Church – he points out – accompanied migrants from Europe when they moved to the United States – “the Jesuits when they were re-installated 200 years ago worked a lot in the US, they set up schools and universities in many places where the settlers were moving”.

Our history – he says – “is full of migration, so it’s right that the Church makes it a point to recall that”. Of course in our day – our particular concern as Jesuit Refugee Service – is not just about migrants, “it’s the fact that out of the 200 million people on the move, there are about 44 million refugees and internally displaced people, forcibly displaced people”.

Refugees – he explains – are “those people who have no choice but to run” for whatever reason. And “that number has significantly gone up in 2013 – it has reached 15 million refugees outside their home country, and 28 million inside their countries”.

So – Father Balleis points out – even more than to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a Day which the Church established, in these days with such a large number of refugees it is even more significant.

He also says that it is interesting to note that the Refugee Day marked by the United Nations in June isn’t as old as the 100-year-old migration Day marked by the Church.

So – he says – “the Church was ahead of the times and taking the migration issue very seriously 100 years ago”.

Father Balleis recalls Pope Francis’ words during a recent homily in which he remembered that Jesus himself was a refugee…

He says the Pope’s attention towards migrants and refugees – underlined by his visits to the Island of Lampedusa and to the Astalli Centre for Refugees in Rome – has helped to draw attention to the issue in a positive way. He has helped change the attitude of many ordinary people as “He is not talking as a politician who has to defend borders or discuss laws, but he is talking from the faith perspective of a person who is concerned for people in need. That brings the whole issue to the attention in a different way: migrants and refugees are not seen in a political way but as our brothers and sisters who are in need. That – he says – has definitely helped everyone who works with refugees – including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees who met recently with the Pope – because as a world leader he gives attention to a group to which many politicians don’t give attention”.

Speaking of the Pope’s message Father Balleis says its title: “Migrants and Refugees –Towards a Better World” is an interesting title because it puts the issue in a positive context. Normally migrants and refugees are seen in the context of a world that is not in a good shape, which is even getting worse. But – he says – seen within the drama of a world that produces more and more forced migrants, forcibly displaced people and refugees, his perspective shines the light on how we can move towards a better world. And – he points out – “what are the elements for a better world? 
The very first element is the people themselves who suffer from war – they want peace, they are the agents of peace. Migrants and refugees who have given up – or had to give up – their homes, they want to build a new life. They are a great asset for any society and economy. So they help us along the path to a better world. They are part of a changing world: they give us the possiblity to learn about cultural diversity and the richness of the different cultures. The world is moving towards that”. 
He says that having people who have the courage and the need to move to another country means having people who are builders of this new world. “And of course the way countries reach out generously with an open heart to their brothers and sisters in need is a contribution to a better world. So in the whole drama of refugees in particular there are a lot of elements that help us to move towards a better world”.
Finally, Father Balleis says that as JRS “we have a special focus on education because we are convinced that to equip refugees with education is the key for the future”. It gives hope, but it equips people with the skills needed to build up their lives. He says in urban and rural places across the world, refugees want to learn English and Computers. This is because these are the global languages of communication today, and the desire of young people in the most remote places on the globe is to connect with the rest of the world.

Text from  Vatican Radio website 


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 64


Reading 1               IS 49:3, 5-6

The LORD said to me: You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm                         PS 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

R/ (8a and 9a) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R/ Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R/ Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R/ Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R/ Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2                      1 COR 1:1-3

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
and Sosthenes our brother,
to the church of God that is in Corinth,
to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy,
with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
their Lord and ours.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel                   JN 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”