Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TODAY'S SAINT : FEB. 5 : ST. AGATHA

St. Agatha
VIRGIN, MARTYR
Feast: February 5


Information:
Feast Day:February 5
Born:
Catania or Palermo
Died:251, Catania
Patron of:bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses
We have her panegyrics, by St. Aldhelm, in the seventh, and St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth centuries; also a hymn in her honour among the poems of Pope Damasus, and another by St. Isidore of Seville, in Bollandus, p. 596. The Greeks have interpolated her acts; but those in Latin are very ancient. They are abridged by Tillemont, t. 3, p. 409. See also Rocci Pyrrho, in Sicilia Sacra, on Palermo, Catana, and Malta.

The cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity. Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha's person and estate by means of the emperor's edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went. On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? "He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her. But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul." After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay. St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics, which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus. The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her inter. cession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.
The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is  the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer—sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is  evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest entrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, "Possess alone all that I am."


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/stagatha.asp#ixzz1lWfgarU2

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FACEBOOK - 10TH YEAR WITH OVER 1.2 BILLION GLOBALLY

Today is the 10th birthday of the social media network FACEBOOK started by Mark Zuckerberg and his friends at Harvard University. Currently, there are over 1.2 billion users globally in several languages.FACEBOOK has become the largest social networking platform in history. MARK ZUCKERBERG, founder of Facebook, has said, "Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life." This means that 1 in 7 people on the planet have a Facebook account. 
It has 
 This network is being used by extensively by Catholics: Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Brothers, Nuns, Dioceses, and Laity. Famous Catholics including, Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, US Confernce of Catholic Bishops, EWTN, Bishop Anthony Fisher, Bishop Julian Porteus, Johnette Benkovic, and many others all use Facebook on a daily basis to connect with their flock and audience. It has become a multi-purpose tool for evangelization. Facebook is a free multi-use network sharing platform. Here one can connect across countries, religions, and races. Most people use FB to connect with relatives, school colleges, work colleges, religious members and business audiences. Facebook is translated in many different languages. One can freely share video, audio, pictures and written material. Many security measures have been employed by Facebook to ensure privacy. The audience of FB is rapidly gaining strides in varied age groups. Older members of the population are using FB at an increasing rate. Pope Benedict's latest Internet exposition also utilized the Facebook market. Religious pages on Facebook have gained millions of fans. 
Birthday Present: FACEBOOK has a amazing present for its users if you are logged in to your account go to http://www.facebook.com/lookback It will create a video using your photos and posts from when you first joined. To post your video download it with http://www.torchbrowser.com/ and upload it to your facebook page. 
FOR BREAKING NEWS AND MORE LIKE US ON FACEBOOK NOW http://www.facebook.com/catholicnewsworld 
In his latest message on social communications Pope Francis stated, 
"In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God."


POPE FRANCIS "GOD WEEPS! JESUS HAS WEPT FOR US!"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God too weeps, just like a loving father who never disowns his children even if they are rebellious. This was the message stressed during his homily on Tuesday morning at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. 
In his homily Pope Francis takes the day’s reading which portrays the figure of two fathers, King David who mourns the death of his rebel son Absalom and Jairus, the head of the Synagogue, who implores Jesus to heal his daughter. The Pope explains David’s weeping on hearing of the killing of his son, even though this son was fighting against him to conquer his kingdom. David’s army had won but he wasn’t interested in the victory, he was waiting for his son. He was only interested in his son! David was a king, the head of a nation but he was also a father. And therefore, when he heard the news about the death of his son, he shuddered, and went to an upper room and wept. 

“Whilst he was walking away, he was saying: ‘My son, Absalom. My son! My son, Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! Absalom, my son! My son!’ This is the heart of a father, who never disowns his own son. ‘He’s a bandit, he’s an enemy. But he is my son!’ and David does not disown his fatherhood: he weeps.. David weeps twice for his children: On this occasion and another time when the son from his adultery was about to die. On that occasion too, he fasted and did penance in order to save the life of the son. He was a father!”
The other father is the head of the Synagogue. The Pope said Jairus is an important person but faced with the illness of his daughter, he is not ashamed to throw himself at Jesus’ feet: “My little daughter is dying, please come and lay your hands on her so she can be saved and live.” He is not ashamed and doesn’t care what the others may say, because he is a father. David and Jairus are two fathers: 

“For them, the most important thing is their son, their daughter! There is nothing else. This is the only important thing! This makes us think about the first thing that we say to God in the Creed: “I believe in God the Father..” This makes us think about the fatherhood of God. But God is like this. God is like this with us! ‘But, Father, God doesn’t weep!’ But yes, he does! Remember Jesus how he wept when looking at Jerusalem. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How many times have I wished to gather your children, like the hen who gathers her chicks under her wings’. God weeps! Jesus has wept for us! And that weeping of Jesus is exactly that of a Father who weeps, who wants everybody with him”.
Pope Francis stressed how in moments of difficulty, “Our Father responds. We remember Isaac, when he goes with Abraham to do the sacrifice: Isaac was not stupid, he realized that he was carrying the wood, the fire, but not the sheep for the sacrifice. He was stricken with anguish in his heart! And what does he say? ‘Father!’. And immediately the father replies “Here I am my son!’. 
In the same way, Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, said “with that anguish in his heart: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by!’ And the angels came to give him strength. That’s how our Father is: He is a Father and a Father like this!” A Father like the one who was waiting for the prodigal son who left with all his money, all his inheritance. But the father was waiting for him every day and he “saw him from far away”. “This is our God!” the Pope said, and “our fatherhood” - that of fathers of families as well as the spiritual fatherhood of bishops and priests – must be like this. The Father has like an anointing that comes from the son: he can’t understand himself without his child! And for this reason he needs his child, he is waiting for him, he loves him, he looks for him, he forgives him, he wants him close to him, just as close as the hen who wants her chicks”:

“Let’s go home today with these two icons: David who mourns and the other, Jairus, the head of the Synagogue, who throws himself in front of Jesus, without being afraid or ashamed to become the laughing stock of others. It was their children, the son and the daughter who mattered. And with these two icons let’s say: ‘I believe in God the Father…’. And let’s ask the Holy Spirit – because it’s only He, the Holy Spirit – who teaches us to say “Abba, Father!’ It’s a grace! - to be able to say to God ‘Father’ with our hearts is a grace of the Holy Spirit. Let’s ask him for this”.


Text from Vatican Radio website 

LATEST FROM VATICAN INFORMATION - PAPAL APPOINTMENTS AND NEWS

Summary
- HUMAN PROMOTION, REGIONAL CO-OPERATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THEMES OF MEETING BETWEEN POPE FRANCIS AND SAMOAN HEAD OF STATE
- POPE FRANCIS' PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR FEBRUARY
- ANGELUS: CONSECRATED PERSONS, LEAVEN FOR THE GROWTH OF A MORE JUST SOCIETY
- THE POPE CLOSE TO THOSE AFFECTED BY HEAVY RAIN IN ITALY
- DAY OF CONSECRATED LIFE: OBSERVANCE AND PROPHECY ARE NOT IN OPPOSITION
- TO THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY: BUILD AND MAINTAIN COMMUNION WITHIN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH
- THE ALMONER OF HIS HOLINESS CELEBRATES MASS FOR THOSE WHO DIE HOMELESS
- AUDIENCES
- OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
 
HUMAN PROMOTION, REGIONAL CO-OPERATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THEMES OF MEETING BETWEEN POPE FRANCIS AND SAMOAN HEAD OF STATE
Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – Today, Pope Francis received the Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, the Parties focused on a number of aspects of the social and economic life of the country, as well as the valuable contribution of the Catholic Church in various sectors of Samoan society and, in particular, in the field of human promotion. This was followed by a fruitful exchange of opinions regarding the international situation, with particular reference to regional co-operation and environmental matters affecting several Pacific countries.
 
POPE FRANCIS' PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR FEBRUARY
Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' universal prayer intention for February is: “That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people”.
His intention for evangelization is: “That priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization”.
 
ANGELUS: CONSECRATED PERSONS, LEAVEN FOR THE GROWTH OF A MORE JUST SOCIETY
Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, on the 18th Day of Consecrated Life, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of people gathered below, despite heavy rain, in St. Peter's Square.
The Bishop of Rome, after thanking the many faithful and pilgrims for their presence, commented on today's Gospel reading, in which St. Luke narrates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple; an episode which is also “an icon of the giving of their lives by those who, through a gift of God, take on the typical traits of Jesus, chaste, poor and obedient”.
“The offering of oneself to God relates to every Christian, because we are all consecrated to Him through baptism … making a generous gift of our life, in the family, at work, in the service the Church, in works of mercy. Nevertheless, this consecration is lived in a particular way by the religious, monks, consecrated lay people, who with the profession of vows, fully and exclusively belong to God. Totally consecrated to God, they are totally consigned to their brethren, to bring the light of Christ there where the darkness is densest and to spread His hope in the hearts of the disheartened".
After emphasising that consecrated persons are a sign of God in the various contexts of life and “leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society”. The Pope repeated the need for these presences, “which fortify and renew commitment to the spread of the Gospel, of Christian education, of charity towards the neediest, of contemplative prayer; commitment to human formation, the spiritual formation of the young, of families; commitment for justice and peace in the human family. Let us imagine a moment what would happen if there were no nuns in hospitals, no nuns in missions, no nuns in schools. Imagine a church without nuns! It is unimaginable. They are … the yeast that carries forward the people of God. These women, who consecrate their lives to God, who bring forward the message of Jesus, are great”.
The Church and the world need “this witness of love and of God's mercy. Consecrated and religious persons offer witness that God is good and merciful. … We must pray that many young people answer 'yes!' to the Lord who calls to them to consecrate themselves fully to Him, in the disinterested service of their brothers, who consecrate their lives to serving God and their brothers”.
 
THE POPE CLOSE TO THOSE AFFECTED BY HEAVY RAIN IN ITALY
Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope greeted, amongst others, the participants in the Day for Life, celebrated today in Italy with the theme “Generating the Future”. He extended his greetings and his encouragement to “the associations, movements and cultural centres who participate in the defence and promotion of life. I join with the Italian bishops today in repeating that 'every child is the face of the Lord Who loves life, a gift for the family and for society”. Everyone, in his own role and environment, is called to love and serve life, to welcome it, to respect and promote it, especially when it is fragile and in need of attention and care, from the womb until its natural end on this earth”.
The Bishop of Rome also mentioned the inhabitants of Rome and the region of Tuscany, who are suffering the consequences of the intense rainfall of recent days which has caused flooding and inundations. “Our solidarity and our prayers are with these brothers of ours. Dear brothers and sisters, I am very close to you”.
 
DAY OF CONSECRATED LIFE: OBSERVANCE AND PROPHECY ARE NOT IN OPPOSITION
Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – On the 18th World Day for Consecrated Life, on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. For the first time in his pontificate, the Bishop of Rome began the rite with the blessing of the candles used in the procession before the Eucharistic celebration and in his homily he emphasised the importance of the encounter between observance and prophecy, the young and the elderly, within consecrated life.
“The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is … the encounter between Jesus and His people … represented by the elderly Simeon and Anna. … It was also an encounter within the history of a population, an encounter between the young and the elderly: the young were Mary and Joseph, with their newborn son; and the elderly were Simeon and Anna”.
The Pope remarked that in the Gospel of St. Luke, “one intuits, almost perceives that Jesus' parents have the joy of observing the precepts of God, the joy of walking according to the law of the Lord! They are two newly-weds, they have just had their baby, and they are motivated by the desire to do what is prescribed. This is not an external fact ... It is a strong, profound desire, full of joy”.
St. Luke affirms that Simeon was “a just and pious man, who awaited the consolation of Israel, and that Anna was 'a prophetess'”. He comments that they are both “full of life, because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit”. And “at the centre of this encounter there is Jesus. It is He Who sets everything in motion, who attracts them to the Temple, which is the house of the Father.
It is an “encounter between the young who are full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord, and the old, full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observation and prophecy. … In the light of this scene in the Gospel, let us regard the consecrated life as an encounter with Christ: it is He Who comes to us; brought to us by Mary and Joseph, and we are led towards Him by the Holy Spirit. But He is in the centre. … He moves everything along, He attracts us to the Temple, to the Church, where we are able to encounter Him, recognise Him”.
Jesus comes towards us in the Church through the foundational charism of an Institute: it is good to think of our vocation in this way. Our encounter with Christ has taken shape within the Church through the charism of one of its witnesses. … And also in consecrated life, we live the encounter between the young and the elderly, between observance and prophecy. Let us not see these as two opposing realities! Let us rather allow the Holy Spirit to animate both of them, and a sign of this is joy: the joy of journeying within a rule of life; the joy of being led by the Spirit, never unyielding, never closed, always open to voice of God that speaks, that opens, that leads us and invites us to go towards the horizon”.
“It is good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young; and is good for the young to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom, and to carry it forward, not so as to preserve it in a museum, but to bring it forward in addressing the challenges of life, to carry it forward for the good of the various religious orders and of the entire Church”, concluded the Holy Father.
 
TO THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY: BUILD AND MAINTAIN COMMUNION WITHIN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH
Vatican City, 1 February 2014 (VIS) – Today Pope Francis received in audience eight thousand members of the Neocatechumenal Way, the Catholic formation itinerary initiated by the Spanish laypeople Francisco Jose Gomez Arguello (better known as Kiko Arguello) and Carmen Hernandez who, along with the Italian priest Mario Pezzi, form the “International Responsible Team of the Way”.
“The Church is grateful for your generosity!” said the Pope. “I thank you for everything you do in the Church and in the world. And in the name of the Church, our Mother, I would like to make some simple recommendations to you. The first is to take the greatest care to construct and conserve communion within the particular Churches in which you carry out your work. The Way has its own charisma, its own dynamics, a gift which, like all the gifts of the Spirit, has a profound ecclesial dimension; this means listening to life of the Churches to which your leaders send you, to recognising the value of their richness, suffering for their weaknesses when necessary, and walking together as a single flock, under the guidance of the pastors of the local Churches. Communion is essential: at times it can be better to set aside some of the details that your itinerary requires in order to guarantee unity between the brothers that form the single ecclesial community, of which you must always consider yourselves to be a part”.
Pope Francis' second recommendation was, “wherever you go, it will do you good to think that the Spirit of God always arrives before us. The Lord always precedes us! Even in the most distant places, even in the most diverse cultures, God sows everywhere the seeds of his Word. From this, there arises the need for special attention to the cultural context in which you, as families, go to carry out your work; it is an environment often very different to that from which you come. Many of you take great pains to learn the local language, at times difficult, and these efforts are commendable. Even more important will be your effort to 'learn' the cultures you encounter, to recognise the need for the Gospel that is present everywhere, but also that action that the Holy Spirit has accomplished in the life and history of every people”.
Finally, the Holy Father urged them all to “care, with love, for each other, especially the weakest. The Neocatechumenal Way, as an intinerary for the discovery of one's own Baptism, is a demanding path, along which a brother or sister may encounter unexpected difficulties. In these cases, the exercise of patience and mercy by the community is a sign of mature faith. The freedom of each person must not be forced, and it is necessary to respect the eventual decision of those who decide to seek, outside the Way, other forms of Christian life that may help them to grow in their response to the call of the Lord”.
The Holy Father concluded, “I encourage you to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere, even in the least Christianised environments, especially in the existential peripheries. Evangelise with love, take God's love to all. Tell those you encounter on the streets of your mission that God loves man just as he is, even with his limits, with his errors, with his sins. Be messengers and witnesses to the infinite goodness and inexhaustible mercy of the Father”.
 
THE ALMONER OF HIS HOLINESS CELEBRATES MASS FOR THOSE WHO DIE HOMELESS
Vatican City, 1 February 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness, celebrated mass in memory of Modesta Valenti, an elderly woman without a fixed abode, who died in 1983 when, after taking ill in Rome's Termini Station, she was refused transit by ambulance because she was “dirty”.
Every year, on this date, the Sant'Egidio Community, along with volunteers and associations who assist the homeless, celebrate Mass in the name of all the poor and homeless who have lost their lives due to inadequate living conditions and as a result of their abandonment. The memory of their names represents a form of consolation for each one and the promise that they will never be forgotten.
The liturgical celebration was attended by the poor and their friends; there were five hundred guests at the lunch held after the celebration. This memorial has been extended to many parishes in Rome and other cities in Italy and throughout the world, wherever the Sant'Egidio Community is close to those who live on the streets.
 
AUDIENCES
Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:
- Twenty prelates of the Polish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:
- Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warszawa, with his auxiliary Bishop Tadeusz Pikus;
- Bishop Piotr Libera of Plock;
- Archbishop-bishop Henryk Hoser S.A.C. of Warszawa-Praga, with his auxiliary Bishop Marek Solarczyk;
- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, with his auxiliaries Bishop Jan Szkodon, Bishop Jan Zajac, Bishop Grzegorz Rys, Bishop Damian Andrzej Muskus, O.F.M., Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek;
- Bishop Roman Pindel of Bielsko-Zywiec, and his auxiliary Bishop Piotr Greger;
- Bishop Kazimierz Ryczan of Kielce, with his auxiliaries Bishop Marian Florczyk and Bishop Kazimierz Gurda;
- Bishop Andrzej Jez of Tarnow, with his auxiliary Bishop Wieslaw Lechowicz and former auxiliary Bishop Wladislaw Bobowski;
- Bishop Jozef Guzdek, military ordinary of Poland.
On the morning of Saturday, 1 February the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- eighteen prelates of the Polish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:
- Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno accompanied by his auxiliaries, Bishop Wojciech Polak, Bishop Krzysztof Jakub Wetkowski, and Archbishop emeritus Henryk Jozef Muszynski;
- Bishop Wieslaw Alojzy Mering of Wloclawek, with his auxiliary Stanislaw Gebicki;
- Bishop Jan Tyrawa of Bydgoszcz;
- Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan with his auxiliaries Bishop Zdislaw Fortuniak, Bishop Grzegorz Balcerek, and Bishop Damian Bryl;
- Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz;
- Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Lodz, accompanied by his auxiliaries, Bishop Adam Lepa and Bishop Ireneusz Josef Pekalski;
- Bishop Andrzej Franciszek Dziuba of Lowicz;
- Archbishop Jan Martyniak of Przemysl-Warszawa of Byzantine-Ukrainian rite; and
- Bishop Wlodzimierz Roman Juszczak of Wroclaw-Gdansk.
In the afternoon of Saturday, 1 February the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Bishop Jose Rodriguez Carbahlo O.F.M., secretary of the same Congregation.
 
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil S.D.B., emeritus of Guwahati, as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the diocese of Jowai (area 17,551, population 7,236,000, Catholics 78,526, priests 145, religious 678), India.
Yesterday, 2 February, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Vincent Mduduzi Zungo, O.F.M., as bishop of Port Elizabeth (area 71,828, population 2,952,000, Catholics 1110,000, priests 56, religious 138), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Mbongolwane, South Africa in 1966. He took his perpetual vows in 1994. He studied philosophy and theology at the “St. John Vianney” major seminary in Pretoria, and holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Catholic University of Strasbourg, France. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar in the mission of Hardenberg, master of novices and guardian of the convent of Besters, professor in the “St. John Vianney” major seminary, provincial vicar and assistant to the master of postulants, and provincial of the Franciscans in South Africa. Since 2009 he has served as definitor general for Africa and for the Middle East in Rome.
On Saturday, 1 February the Holy Father:
- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of New York, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Josu Iriondo, upon having reached the age limit.
- appointed Rev. Alex Joseph Vadakumthala as bishop of Kannur (area 4,988, population 2,772,000, Catholics 50,768, priests 122, religious 692), India. The bishop-elect was born in Maradu-Panangad, India in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish assistant in the cathedral of Verapoly, priest of St. Philomenas' Church, Koonammavu; official at the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); secretary general of the Health Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI); lecturer at St. Joseph's Pontifical seminary, Alwaye, India, director of the Cochin Arts Communications of Verapoly, director of the Society of Medical Education in North India project, Ranchi; and president of the Canon Law Society of India. He is currently vicar general of the archdiocese of Verapoly.
- appointed Msgr. Luis Fernando Ramos Perez as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile (area 9,132, population 5,958,000, Catholics 4,135,000, priests 969, permanent deacons 318, religious 3037), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Santiago, Chile in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He studied engineering at the University of Chile. He studied philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Santiago and holds a doctorate in theology, specialising in sacred Scriptures, from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including prefect of philosophy in the major seminary of Santiago, vicar of the parishes of “Cristo Emaus” and “Santo Toribo de Mogrovejo”, official of the Congregation for Bishops, and archdiocesan episcopal vicar for education. He is currently rector of the major seminary of Santiago and episcopal vicar for the clergy.
- appointed Rev. Galo Fernandez Villasecca as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile, Chile. He was born in Santiago, Chile in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He has served in the following pastoral roles: vicar of the parish of “Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes” in Santiago; priest of the parish of “Cristo Redentor” in Penalolen, priest of the parish of “Santa Clara”, and episcopal vicar of “Vicaria de la Esperanza Joven”, He is currently episcopal vicar of the western zone of the archdiocese.

OFFICIAL LENT MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS RELEASED

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis' Message for the Lenten season 2014 was released at a Vatican Press conference Tuesday. The theme of the Message is drawn from a Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, "He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).

Below, we publish the official English translation of the Lenten Message:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). The Apostle was writing to the Christians of Corinth to encourage them to be generous in helping the faithful in Jerusalem who were in need. What do these words of Saint Paul mean for us Christians today? What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean to us today?


Christ’s grace


First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: “though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …”. Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things (cf. Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15). God’s becoming man is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus “worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin.” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). 


By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, as Saint Paul says “that by his poverty you might become rich”. This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross. God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. Yet Saint Paul is well aware of the “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8), that he is “heir of all things” (Heb 1:2).


So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbour, just as the Good Samaritan was neighbour to the man left half dead by the side of the road (cf. Lk 10:25ff). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ’s poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God’s infinite mercy to us. Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him. Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant. Jesus’ wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this Messiah who is poor. When Jesus asks us to take up his “yoke which is easy”, he asks us to be enriched by his “poverty which is rich” and his “richness which is poor”, to share his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother (cf. Rom 8:29).


It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.


Our witness


We might think that this “way” of poverty was Jesus’ way, whereas we who come after him can save the world with the right kind of human resources. This is not the case. In every time and place God continues to save mankind and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his Church, which is a people of the poor. God’s wealth passes not through our wealth, but invariably and exclusively through our personal and communal poverty, enlivened by the Spirit of Christ.


In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope. There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual. Material destitution is what is normally called poverty, and affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. In response to this destitution, the Church offers her help, her diakonia, in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.


No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person - is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care. In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide. This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us though Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.


The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep. In union with Jesus, we can courageously open up new paths of evangelization and human promotion.


Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can so this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.


May the Holy Spirit, through whom we are “as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.


From the Vatican, 26 December 2013
Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr


Text from Vatican Radio website 

SISTERS OF CHARITY CELEBRATE 175 YEARS IN AUSTRALIA

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
24 Jan 2014
Irelands's Sr Phyllis Behan with Amanda Nguyen (holding candle right) who will profess her vows as a Sister of Charity this week
Tomorrow, Saturday January 25, Sydney's Sisters of Charity will gather at St Vincent's Chapel, Potts Point when Amanda Nguyen will profess her vows and become the newest member of the oldest order of religious in Australia.
Just over 175 years ago on New Year's Eve 1838 five young Irish women arrived in Australia. Four were professed religious and the fifth, a novice.
The group had responded to the request of Archbishop Polding, the first Archbishop of Sydney who had asked Mary Aitkenhead, founder and Superior of Ireland's Sisters of Charity to send religious women from her Congregation to help support and minister to the female convicts held in Parramatta Gaol.
Dedicated to helping the poor, vulnerable and marginalised, the Australian Congregation of the Sisters of Charity grew as Sydney grew. Founding St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, the Sisters went on to found St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, as well as hospitals in Toowoomba, Lithgow and Cootamundra. 
Sr Annette Cunliffe RSC Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of Australia
Australia's Sisters of Charity also led the way in education, establishing parish primary and secondary schools in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland and for the past 175 years have helped lead the way in education, aged care, health care, medical research and in care and support for the disabled.
During her lifetime Mary Aitkenhead, who continues to inspire Congregations of the Sisters of Charity both here and in Ireland, promised to one day make the journey to Australia and to see for herself the work being carried out by the five young women who had made the long and arduous journey to Sydney.
"If she had been younger and in better health she would have been able to fulfil her promise. Born in 1787, she founded the Sisters of Charity in 1815 and by 1838 when the group left for Australia she was in late middle age," says Sister Annette Cunliffe, Congregational Leader of the Australian Congregation of the Sisters of Charity.
Although the Sisters of Charity in Australia are a separate congregation from Ireland's Sisters of Charity, the two not only share the same founder but retain strong links with one another and both were overjoyed when all these years later the promise made by Mary Aitkenhead almost one and three-quarters of a century ago, was finally fulfilled.
Celebrations at the Sisters of Charity College
Potts Point
Shortly before New Year's Eve, Sr Mary Christian, Congregational Leader of Ireland's Sisters of Charity, and Sr Phyllis Behan, Provincial of Ireland's Congregation touched down at Kingsford Smith Airport to join Australia's Sisters of Charity and celebrate the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the five young Irish women on 31 December 2013.
The two Irish religious joined more than 100 of Sydney's Sisters of Charity community at a Liturgy of Thanksgiving which was held at St Vincent's Chapel, Potts Point. Other Liturgies of Thanksgiving were also held on New Year's Eve at the Congregation's communities in Auburn and the Blue Mountains, NSW, Kew and Clayton in Victoria, Brisbane Qld and in Tarooma Tasmania.
"To have the Leader of our Founding Congregation and the Irish Provincial here with us especially during the Liturgy of Thanksgiving was wonderful and added a very special dimension to our joy in our anniversary celebrations,"  Sr Annette says.
Sister Mary Christian explains congregational gift to Sr Annette Cunliffe (right) during the 175 celebrations
The two Irish religious leaders, Sr Mary and Sr Phyllis spent 10 days in Australia visiting Sisters of Charity communities in the Blue Mountains, Auburn and Brisbane. They also toured St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst which began as a humble 22-bed facility in Potts Point in 1857 before moving to its current site in 1870. Since then it has grown to become a major international research centre as well as one of the world's most outstanding and highly regarded teaching hospitals.
In addition the Irish sisters shared stories and histories with their Australian counterparts and presented the  Sr Annette as Congregational Leader of the Australian Sisters of Charity with a Congregation gift of a superbly framed series of photographs of  Mary Aitkenhead and a montage of the community houses she established in Ireland before the four sisters and one novice set off on their long journey to Australia.
The celebrations for the Australian Sisters of Charity in this milestone year continues and after tomorrow's profession of vows by Amanda Nguyen there are plans for an anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving to be held in each state over the next few months.
Celebration cake and gifts marking 175 years since the first Sisters of Charity arrived in Australia
On 22 March Archbishop Denis Hart will preside over a Thanksgiving Mass for the Sisters, their families and friends of the Congregation at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. Bishop Anthony will celebrate the Thanksgiving Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta on 4 April. This will be followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving in Brisbane celebrated by Archbishop Mark Coleridge in May and a Mass of Thanksgiving in Hobart celebrated by Archbishop Julian Porteous in June.
The celebrations will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney on 14 August, the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, patron saint of the Sisters of Charity.
As the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell will be away at this time, Bishop Terry Brady will be the celebrant.
For more information and on the work of the Sisters as well as the Sisters of Charity Foundation and the Mary Aitkenhead Ministeries, log on tohttp://www.sistersofcharity.org.au/
shared from Archdiocese of Sydney

POPE FRANCIS MEETS WITH BISHOPS OF POLAND


(Vatican Radio) The bishops of Poland are making their ad limina visits this week. Among the issues that have come up during the course of bishops’ conversations and small group meetings with Pope Francis are: the situation of families today, with special focus on the problem of declining birth rates and on cultural challenges to the traditional family, and the New Evangelization.

Bishop Piotr Libera of the diocese of Plock, in Poland, told Vatican Radio that he asked the Holy Father for some specific ideas to help make local Churches more “kerygmatic” - that is, better oriented to the proclamation of the Good News of salvation. “Our older priests who are not accustomed to this type of preaching the Gospel,” he explained, “are struggling, sometimes they are somewhat ‘closed.’” Bishop Libera related that the Holy Father responded, saying that you have to start from the seminaries, and that seminarians need to learn the missionary spirit.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Warsaw, Kazimierz Nycz, expressed his happiness at the meetings, which he described as extremely interesting. “We talked about the problems of our Church in Poland,” he said, adding, “The Holy Father said that the Church's problems are universal,” – the problems of the Church in every part of the world.

The Polish city of Krakow is to host the 2016 World Youth Day, with cooperation and assistance from all the dioceses in the country. It will be the second international iteration of the event to be held in Poland, after the VI World Youth Day in Czestochowa, in August, 1991.



Text from Vatican Radio website 

TODAY'S SAINT : FEB. 4 : ST. JOSEPH OF LEONESSA

St. Joseph of Leonessa
CAPUCHIN, PRIEST
Feast: February 4


Information:
Feast Day:February 4
Born:
8 January 1556 at Leonissa, Umbria, Italy
Died:Saturday 4 February 1612 at Umbria, Italy
Canonized:29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
In the world named Eufranio Desiderio, born in 1556 at Leonessa in Umbria; died 4 February, 1612. From his infancy he showed a remarkably religious bent of mind; he used to erect little altars and spend much time in prayer before them, and often he would gather his companions and induce them to pray with him. Whilst yet a boy he used to take the discipline on Fridays in company with the confraternity of St. Saviour. He was educated by his uncle, who had planned a suitable marriage for him, but in his sixteenth year he fell sick of a fever, and on his recovery, without consulting his relative, he joined the Capuchin reform of the Franciscan Order. He made his novitiate in the convent of the Carcerelle near Assisi. As a religious he was remarkable for his great abstinence. "Brother Ass", he would say to his body, "there is no need to feed thee as a noble horse would be fed: thou must be content to be a poor ass." In 1599, the year before his Jubilee year, he fasted the whole year by way of preparation for gaining the indulgence. In 1587 he was sent by the Superior General of his order to Constantinople to minister to the Christians held captive there. Arrived there he and his companions lodged in a derelict house of Benedictine monks. The poverty in which the friars lived attracted the attention of the Turks, who went in numbers to see the new missionaries. He was very solicitous in ministering to the captive Christians in the galleys. Every day he went into the city to preach, and he was at length thrown into prison and only released at the intervention of the Venetian agent. Urged on by zeal he at last sought to enter the palace to preach before the Sultan, but he was seized and condemned to death. For three days he hung on the gallows, held up by two hooks driven through his right hand and foot; then he was miraculously released by an angel. Returning to Italy, he took with him a Greek archbishop who had apostatized, and who was reconciled to the Church on their arrival in Rome. Joseph now took up the work of home missions in his native province, sometimes preaching six or seven times a day. In the Jubilee year of 1600 he preached the Lent at Orticoli, a town through which crowds of pilgrims passed on their way to Rome. Many of them being very poor, Joseph supplied them with food; he also washed their clothes and cut their hair. At Todi he cultivated with his own hands a garden, the produce of which was for the poor. His feast is kept on 4 February throughout the Franciscan Order. He was canonized by Benedict XIV.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjosephofleonessa.asp#ixzz1lPpFvZPK