Monday, January 20, 2014


St. Agnes
Feast: January 21

Feast Day:January 21
Major Shrine::Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, both in Rome
Patron of:Betrothed couples; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; virgins
Few legends of saints have been more cherished than that of the virgin martyr Agnes. She was held in high regard by the primitive  Christian Church, and her name has remained a symbol of maidenly purity through the ages. According to tradition, Agnes was a Christian girl of Rome, perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, when Diocletian began his persecutions. Like St. Lucy, she was sentenced by a judge to a house of ill fame, but a young man who looked upon her lustfully was stricken blind. Thereafter she was taken out to be burned, but whether she met her death by fire or sword we cannot know with any certainty. Although we have no contemporary sources for the facts of her life and martyrdom, there is little reason to doubt the main outline of the story. References to this young saint appear in many Church writings of later date. St. Ambrose, St. Damasus, and Prudentius all praise her purity and heroism. Her name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Agnes' crypt was in the Via Nomentana, and the stone covering her remains was carven with the words, <Agna sanctissima> (most holy lamb). A church in her honor is presumed to have been built at Rome in the time of Constantine the Great. In the apse of this basilica, which was  rebuilt in the seventh century by Pope Honorius, there is still to be seen the large and beautiful mosaic depicting the saint. St. Agnes is the patroness of young girls and her symbol is, naturally, a lamb. On the anniversary of her martyrdom, the Pope, after high pontifical Mass in her church at Rome, blesses two lambs, and their wool is later woven into the <pallia> worn by archbishops.



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday said Christian freedom is to be found in being docile to God’s Word. 

Speaking during his homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta, the Pope said we must always be ready to welcome the message of the Gospel and the surprises that God has in store for us. 

God’s word is alive and full of strength, it discerns the sentiments of the heart, but we must be open to receive it. Speaking to those present for morning Mass in the Vatican, the Pope highlighted the need to really welcome the message of the Gospel with an attitude of docility and openness.

The Gospel – the Pope said – doesn’t just tell us the things we want to hear. It is alive and strong and full of novelty; God’s Word – he continued - is “free” and full of surprises because “our God is the God of surprises, the God of the Revelation”.

And urging us to be malleable and docile, he said we must ask ourselves whether we adapt ourselves to the novelties of the Gospel? Or do we process the message until it becomes something different to what God wants it to be? 

And Francis reflected on the first reading of the day in which the prophet Samuel reprimands King Saul for not obeying the voice of the Lord and for attempting to justify his disobedience by masking his greed with generosity. The Pope said it is important is to have a docile and obedient heart, listening to the voice of the Lord and doing what He commands us to do so that in obeying Him, we share in His life and love. And this he – continued – leads us to reflect on the true meaning of Christian “freedom” and of Christian “obedience”, both of which – he said - are to be found in the Word of God and in the courage to really be open to his message. 

Text from Vatican Radio website 


Aletia report: Dying Priest writes to Pope Francis

Nearly 3,000 people gathered in Ponticelli to bid Rev. Fabrizio De Michino a final farewell at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows, where he served as a parochial vicar. Fr. Fabrizio, 31 years of age, was born on September 8, 1982. He was a victim of cancer, he suffered greatly in his last few months, which he lived with great faith and with strength of mind. He always had a smile and words of comfort for his family and friends, who were with him until the very end. During his final days he wrote a letter to Pope Francis. Here's What His Letter Said...

To His Holiness, Pope Francis

Holy Father,

In the daily prayers that I offer to God, I do not cease to pray for you and the ministry that the Lord himself has entrusted you with, so that you might always have the strength and joy to proclaim the beautiful news of the Gospel.

My name is Fabrizio De Michino, and I am a young priest of the Archdiocese of Naples. I am 31, and have been a priest for five years. I serve in the Archdiocesan Seminary as an educator in diaconal formation as well as in a parish in Ponticelli, located on the outskirts of Naples. The parish, which recalls the miracle that happened on Esquiline Hill, is named in honor of Our Lady of the Snows, and in 2014 it will celebrate the centenary of the coronation of its wooden statue, which dates back to 1500 – an image that is very dear to all the inhabitants of the parish.

Ponticelli is degraded by poverty and high crime, but every day I truly discover the beauty of the Lord’s goodness on those who trust in him and the Blessed Virgin.

I, too, have been able to grow in my love for our Heavenly Mother during my time at this parish, while also experiencing her closeness and protection in the face of my adversities. Unfortunately, over the past three years, I have been fighting a rare disease – a tumor located just inside my heart, which within the past month has metastasized to my liver and spleen. But throughout these difficult years, I have never lost the joy of being a preacher of the Gospel. Even in my fatigue, I perceive a strength that does not come from me, but from God – a strength that allows me to continue on in my ministry. There is a scriptural passage from Ezekiel that accompanies me and instills in me a confidence in the strength of the Lord: “I will give you a new heart; I will place in you a new spirit. I will tear out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez. 36:26).

During this time, I have felt the close presence of my bishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, who supports me constantly, though sometimes he tells me to rest so that I might not become too fatigued.

I thank God also for my family and friends, and for my fellow priests, who sustain me while I undergo my various therapies, sharing with me these inevitable moments of suffering. My doctors also give me great support, and seem to do the impossible to find the right treatments for me.

Holy Father, I'm beginning to lengthen myself too much, but I just want to tell you that I offer all this to the Lord for the good of his Church – and for you, in a special way, so that the Lord will bless you and be with you always in this ministry of service and love.

I beseech you to include me in your prayers. I ask the Lord every day to help me to do his will, always and everywhere. I do not ask God for my healing, but rather the strength and joy to remain a true witness to his love and a priest in the model of his own heart.

Assured of your fatherly prayers, I greet you devotedly,



Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 311

Reading 1        1 SM 15:16-23

Samuel said to Saul:
“Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
Saul replied, “Speak!”
Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem,
are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying,
‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction.
Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’
Why then have you disobeyed the LORD?
You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.”
Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the LORD
and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me.
I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban.
But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen,
the best of what had been banned,
to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.”
But Samuel said:
“Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission than the fat of rams.
For a sin like divination is rebellion,
and presumption is the crime of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the command of the LORD,
he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

Responsorial Psalm                 PS 50:8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel             MK 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”


Pet Blessing at the  Vatican | Pet Blessing, Vatican, St Anthony the GreatIND. CATH. NEWS REPORT:

Pet blessing also took place at several churches in Spain, including the Church of Saint Anthony in Madrid. In the village of San Bartolome de los Pinares, about 100 km northwest of the capital, horses were ridden to the church over bonfires, in a tradition known as Luminarias. 
St Anthony the Abbot  was a 2nd century monk who lived in Upper Egypt, and was  known for his gift of healing sick people and animals. He  has been a  popular saint in Europe since the Middle Ages. 
To see a BBC report on Friday's blessing visit: 
(Pet Blessings are also held in many countries on the Feast of St Francis - 4 October) 


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday thanked the Vatican Public Security forces, an Italian force established in 1945, for their “discreet but attentive” supervision of areas around the Vatican, especially St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope expressed his profound appreciation for their service, saying “we are all aware of the need to work continuously to ensure that this unique site is protected and that its character as a sacred and universal space is preserved.”

He noted that thanks to them, the pilgrims and tourists who flood the square “are serene, move tranquilly about, enjoying a sense of peace.”

Observing that their work calls for “technical and professional preparation together with attentive surveillance and kindness and dedication,” he pointed to the times when large numbers of pilgrims flock to St. Peter’s Basilica to pray at the tombs of Saint Peter “and those of his successors, especially John XXIII and John Paul II.”

“Pilgrims and tourists,” he said, “just as those who work in the various offices of the Holy See, know they can count on your cordial assistance.”

Pope Francis thanked them especially for their “effective activity carried out during the days that preceded the Conclave, following the resignation of Pope Benedict” and reiterated his appreciation for the contributions of all those who helped make that period of transition pass in a smooth and orderly fashion.

He expressed his hope that the period they work in the Vatican will be for each one of them “an opportunity to grow in the faith.” “The faith is the most precious gift that your families have given to you and you are called to transmit it to your children.” 

“It is important,” the Pope concluded, “to rediscover the message of the Gospel” and to assimilate it in their daily lives, giving “courageous witness to God’s love” in every environment, even in the workplace.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The attack this morning in a bazaar, located near the headquarters of the military. Taliban behind attack, after similar bombing in the north-west of the country. Among the victims were six soldiers and eight civilians . TTP spokesman : "We will continue the attacks. "

Rawalpindi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 14 people are dead and 16 injured in a suicide attack on the Rawalpindi general market located near the headquarters of the Pakistani army, and claimed by the Taliban. The explosion occurred at 7:45 am and , according to eyewitnesses , was the work of a suicide bomber who blew himself up. Six soldiers and eight civilians were killed in the blast.  The market was crowded at the time of the attack and the suicide bomber could have caused carnage.

The Tehreek - e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed the attack, which targeted the checkpoint managed by the army and police forces. Shahidullah Shahid spokesman for the Islamist fighters confirmed that "we will continue the attacks" on representatives "of the government and the army", because the Islamabad government so far "has not announced a ceasefire or peace talks with us ."

The attack this morning in Rawalpindi follows the targeted attack, yesterday , against a military convoy in the northwest of the country.  The explosion killed at least 20 soldiers and injured 24 others .

The injured in this morning's attack were transported to the military hospital located just off the market for medical care . Akhtar Hayat Lalika , police chief of Rawalpindi, said that the market should be " one of the safest places" in the city. Local witnesses say there are two high school students, wearing the school uniform, among the dead.

According to investigators the suicide bomber was between 18 and 20 and was on board a motorcycle . Locals also speak of a second suicide bomber, but at the moment there is no official confirmation. The security forces surrounding the area to are still collecting information. The last two attacks confirm the escalation of Islamist and Taliban violence and terrorism to hit the country . Pakistani analysts and policy experts point the finger at the government, unable so far to implement an effective strategy to counter extremist violence .

Pakistan has more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), making it the sixth most populous country in the world and the second largest Muslim nation after Indonesia. About 80 per cent is Sunni Muslim. Shias are almost 20 per cent; Hindus are around 1.85 per cent; Christians are 1.6 per cent and Sikhs, 0.04 per cent. Violence, abuse or acts of discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities occur across the country, with Christians and Shia Muslims especially targeted by Islamic fundamentalists.