Wednesday, February 26, 2014

POPE FRANCIS “It is good to know that in the moment of suffering and of sickness that we are not alone,”

(Vatican Radio) At his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This Sacrament, the Pope said, “allows us to ‘touch’ God’s compassion for man.”

The Holy Father said the “profound mystery” of the Sacrament is expressed in a “biblical icon,” the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Every time we celebrated the Sacrament, the Lord Jesus, in the person of the priest, is close to the one who suffers and is gravely ill, or elderly.” When the good Samaritan tends to the victim of the robbers, the oil and wine he pours on his wounds represent the oil of the sick used in Sacrament, the love and grace of Jesus for those who are suffering. The good Samaritan then takes the man to an inn, and asks the innkeeper to care for him. The innkeeper, the Pope said, represents the Church, the Christian community, to whom, every day, Christ entrusts “those who are afflicted, whether in soul or in body, so that He can continue to bestow on them, without measure, all of His mercy and salvation.

The Pope reminded the crowds that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was specifically repeated in the New Testament, in the Letter of Saint James: “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”

But, Pope Francis said, too often people are afraid to call for the priest, because of a certain “taboo” around the whole topic of suffering and death. He encouraged Christians not to be afraid to request the Sacrament, but to remember that in the Sacrament Jesus is close to the sick and the aged. 

“It is good to know that in the moment of suffering and of sickness that we are not alone,” he said. The priest, and those present for the Sacrament represent the whole Christian community, which embraces those who are suffering and their families, supporting them with their prayers and their fraternal care. But the greatest comfort comes from knowing that Jesus Himself is present in the Sacrament, and that nothing can ever separate us from Him. 

(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the complete English-language summary of Pope Francis’ Angelus address for Wednesday, February 26, followed by his greetings to English-speaking pilgrims: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the sacraments, we now turn to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which expresses God’s merciful presence to the sick, the suffering and the aged. The parable of the Good Samaritan reflects our Lord’s tender concern for those who suffer; like the Samaritan, and following Christ’s example and teaching, the Church brings God’s healing presence to the suffering through the sacramental sign of anointing with oil. As we learn from the Letter of James (5:14-15), the early Church continued his ministry to the sick through prayer and anointing by her presbyters. Through the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church accompanies us in facing the profound mystery of suffering and death. In a culture which all too often refuses to speak of these realities, we need all the more to recognize the beauty of this Sacrament and to appreciate, in spiritual solidarity with the whole Church, the presence of the Lord Jesus, who strengthens us in faith and hope, and reminds us that nothing – not even evil and death – can ever separate us from the saving power of his love. 


I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Canada and the United States. I greet in particular the participants in the World Congress of SIGNIS and the pilgrimage group of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter from the United States. With affection I greet the alumni and friends of the Pontifical Canadian College on the 125th anniversary of the College’s establishment. Upon all present I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord! 

Text Vatican Radio website 


Photo: Premium Times
Boko Haram (file photo) 
OPEN DOORS RELEASE: Please pray for the situation in Yobe, where another Boko Haram attack has left an estimated 100 or more students dead.
Sources told Open Doors that as many as 100 students of the Federal Government College in Gujba village (near Damaturu in Yobe State) may have died on Monday night, when suspected Boko Haram members attacked the school and dormitory. After arriving around midnight, in six Toyota Hilux vans, the attackers separated the male and female students before shooting some students, slitting the throats of others or locking others into buildings before razing them.
A student, who had narrowly escaped, told Open Doors over the phone:
 “I heard the cries of some people outside the school even before they invaded the school. I suspected that they caught some people on their way to the school, and sensed danger, so I jumped over the fence of the school and crawled into a ditch and stayed there praying and listening. From where I was hiding, I could hear other students crying at the top of their voices. I saw fire on the roofs of the hostels and other buildings in the school. I was counting myself among the dead, because some attackers came from behind and I heard them passing very close to where I was hiding. But God saved my life.”
Although it was reported on Monday that the death toll had risen to 57, local sources told Open Doors that more than hundred students were killed. Bala Ajiya, an official at the Specialist Hospital Damaturu, told Reuters by phone, “Fresh bodies have been brought in. More bodies were discovered in the bush after the students who had escaped with bullet wounds died from their injuries.”
Local church leaders told Open Doors that there are an unknown number of Christians among the deceased.
The school has been closed and surviving students have been sent home.
Please pray for all families affected
Parents from different parts of the region are streaming to the area to see if their children have survived. Witnesses told Open Doors that people could be seen in the town crying uncontrollably at the sight of the destruction yesterday. At the time of this report, bodies were still being brought into the mortuary in the nearby Damaturu, capital of Yobe state. Pray that God would be at work through His Spirit in these very tragic circumstances, comforting His children and drawing those who do not know Him closer to Himself.
Pray for wisdom and courage for the government to take the necessary action against Boko Haram
The attacks on schools are on the increase in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno state by the members of Boko Haram. In spite of the presence of the security in some parts of the state, these attacks continue unabated. This latest attack came only hours after President Goodluck told media the Nigerian army is in control of the situation. Pray that there will be constructive help for the Nigerian government in dealing with Boko Haram.
Pray for the brave but shaken Church in Yobe
Open Doors has recently visited Damaturu and witnessed widespread destruction from the continuing Boko Haram insurgency. This instability is adversely affecting the Church. After seeing the large number of casualties among Christians in the persistent attacks, many have opted to leave. This exodus is eroding the Church. Some courageous Christians have remained, but are in dire need of encouragement and support
The truth is, life in the region is very difficult, and every single day is a miracle,” reported an Open Doors worker from northern Nigeria.

POPE BENEDICT at rare Interview against allegations “There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,”

(Vatican Radio) The Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has lamented what he calls “absurd speculations” about his resignation in a letter to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, of the newspaper La Stampa. The Pope-emeritus was responding to a question about recent newspaper theories surrounding the validity of his resignation one year ago.

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI wrote. He said the only condition for the validity of his resignation was the complete freedom of his decision. He called speculation regarding its validity “simply absurd.”

He also clarified he continued to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for “purely practical reasons,” noting that at the moment of his resignation there were no other clothes available.

In any case, he added that he wears the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the reigning Pope wears it. He called questions about his attire another case of “completely unfounded speculation”.

The Pope-emeritus also confirmed the accuracy of media reports about another letter he wrote to a friend. In that letter, he said he is “grateful to be bound by a great identity of views and a heartfelt friendship with Pope Francis”, and sees his “last and final job to support his pontificate with prayer.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 

Full Text of Interview Internet translation from LaStampa:
Benedict XVI meets with a letter to Andrea Tornielli: Our Vatican had sent him some questions about alleged pressure and conspiracies that have caused the resignation

"There is not the slightest doubt about the validity of my resignation to the Petrine ministry 'and' speculation 'about it are" simply absurd. " Joseph Ratzinger was not forced to resign, he did not as a result of pressure or plots: his waiver is valid and in the Church today there is no 'diarchy', no double government. There is a reigning Pope in the middle of its functions, Francis, and an emeritus whose "sole and ultimate goal" of his day to pray for his successor. From the monastery "Mater Ecclesiae" inside the walls of the Vatican, the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has put pen to paper to nip interpretations on its historic gesture than a year ago, boosted by various media and on the web on the occasion of the first anniversary of the surrender. He did so by responding personally to a letter with some questions we had sent him a few days ago, after reading some comments on the Italian and international press regarding his resignation. In a concise but precise, Ratzinger replied, denying the alleged backstage secrets of the surrender and urging them not to upload inappropriate meanings of some of the choices he has made, how to keep the white dress even after leaving the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. As you recall, with a dramatic and unexpected announcement, 11 February 2013 Benedict XVI conveyed to the cardinals gathered in the consistory of his free decision to resign "worsening Aetate," because of his age: "I have received the certainty that my strength, advanced age, are no longer appropriate to exercise properly the Petrine ministry. " Also announced that the Apostolic See was vacant as of the evening of 28 February, the Cardinals would gather to proceed with the election of his successor. In the following days, Ratzinger did know that it would keep the name of Benedict XVI (who also appears at the bottom at the end of the letter), you would be called henceforth "Papa Emeritus" (as is also evident from the header to print same letter) and would continue to wear the white dress, though simpler than that of the Pope, that is to say without the mantelletta (called "pilgrim") and without the band. During the last hearing on Wednesday, the 27 February 2013 in St. Peter's Square flooded with sunshine and packed with faithful, Benedict XVI said: "In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God earnestly in prayer, to enlighten me with its light to make me take the right decision not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I did this step in full awareness of its severity and also new, but with a deep peace of mind.Loving the Church also means having the courage to make tough choices, suffered, having always before the good of the Church and not themselves. " And he added that his retreat, "hidden from the world," not meant "to return to the private." "My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry - he said - not revoke it. Do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. Do not neglect the cross, but I am so new at the Crucified Lord. I do not wear more than the power of the Officio for the government of the Church, but in the rest of the prayer service, so to speak, in the yard of St. Peter. " Just these words about his desire to remain "in the compound of St. Peter," have made ​​some speculate that the waiver was not really free, and therefore valid, as if Ratzinger had wanted to carve out a role of "Papa shadow", ie how to farther from its sensitivity imaginable. After the election of Francis, the novelty of his papacy, the shock is bringing to the Church by his word and his personal testimony, was that some physiological - as always happened, however, on the occasion of a change of pontificate - the contrapponessero its predecessor. A contrast that Benedict XVI himself has always refused. In recent weeks, as we approach the first anniversary of the surrender, some went further, even assuming the validity of the resignation of Benedict and therefore a more active role and institutional beside the reigning Pope. On 16 February the writer has sent a message to the Pope emeritus with some specific questions about these interpretations. Two days later came the answer. "There is not the slightest doubt - Ratzinger wrote in the letter - about the validity of my renunciation of the Petrine ministry. The only condition is the full freedom of the validity of the decision. Speculations about the invalidity of the waiver are simply absurd. " Moreover, the possibility to resign was taken into account for a long time it was well known to the people closest to Ratzinger, and he himself confirmed in the book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald ("Light of the World," 2010): " If a pope clearly realizes that it is no longer capable, physically, psychologically and spiritually, to discharge the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign. " It was inevitable A year ago, after the announcement - no Pope in two thousand years of church history had given to seniority - to connect this dramatic gesture of Vatileaks mephitic atmosphere, the plots in the Roman Curia. All the pontificate of Benedict XVI was a Cross, and in particular the last few years: first as a result of the scandal of pedophilia, which he bravely without blaming the lobby or the "external enemies" of the Church, but rather the "persecution", the evil that comes from within the Church itself. And then because of the leak of documents taken from the desk by the papal butler Paul Gabriel. The waiver was therefore connected to these contexts. But Benedict XVI explained, again in the book-length interview with Seewald, who did not leave the ship when the sea is rough. For this reason, before announcing his resignation, decision time and confided to close associates months in advance, Ratzinger expected that the story Vatileaks, the trial of Gabriel and the investigation is entrusted to three cardinals were concluded. Only after he left. In the letter sent to us by the Pope Emeritus also answered questions about the meaning of the white and the papal name. "The preservation of the white and the name Benedict - wrote to us - it's a thing simply practice. At the time of the surrender were not available to other clothes. Moreover harbor the white dress so clearly distinct from that of the Pope Again, this is speculation without any foundation. " A clear and very significant evidence of this statement, Pope Benedict XVI gave last Saturday, the day of the consistory at which he was invited by Francis. Ratzinger did not want a secluded and special place, he sat in a chair equal to that of the cardinal, in a corner, in the ranks of cardinals bishops. When Francis at the beginning and then at the end of the ceremony approached him to say hello and hug him, Benedict was removed from the skull head for reverence, and also to state publicly that the Pope is one. In recent weeks, the Swiss theologian Hans Küng had quoted some words contained in a letter received by Benedict XVI and about Francis. Words once more unequivocal: "I am grateful to be bound by a large convergence of views and friendship at the heart of Pope Francis. Today I see it as my only and last duty to support his pontificate in prayer. " Someone on the web, tried to cast doubt on the authenticity of the quote or at least it has raised an instrumental use. Although we asked for confirmation of this to the Pope Emeritus "Professor. Küng literally and correctly cited the words of my letter to him, "stated succinctly.Before concluding with the hope that I have answered "in a clear and sufficient 'to the questions that we had in place. 


St. Porphyrius
Feast: February 26

Feast Day:February 26
347, Thessalonica, Greece
Died:February 26, 420, Gaza, Palestine
Bishop of Gaza in Palestine, b. at Thessalonica about 347; d. at Gaza, 26 February, 420. After five years in the Egyptian desert of Scete he lived five years in a cave near the Jordan. In spite of his impaired health, he frequently visited the scene of the Resurrection. Here he met the Asiatic Mark, at a later date a deacon of his church and his biographer. To effect the sale of the property still owned by Porphyrius in his native city, Mark set out for Thessalonica and, upon his return, the proceeds were distributed among the monasteries of Egypt and among the necessitous in and around Jerusalem. In 392 Porphyrius was ordained to the priesthood, and the relic of the Holy Cross was intrusted to his care. In 395 he became Bishop of Gaza, a stronghold of paganism, with an insignificant Christian community. The attitude of the pagan population was hostile so that the bishop appealed to the emperor for protection and pleaded repeatedly for the destruction of pagan temples. He finally obtained an imperial rescript ordering the destruction of pagan sanctuaries at Gaza. A Christian church was erected on the site of the temple of Marnas. In 415 Porphyrius attended the Council of Diospolis. The "Vita S. Porphyrii" of Mark the Deacon, formerly known only in a Latin translation, was published in 1874 by M. Haupt in its original Greek text; a new edition was issued in 1895 by the Bonn Philological Society.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)