Friday, February 9, 2018

Saint February 10 : St. Scholastica - Patron of #Nuns and Storms - Sister of St. Benedict

Feast Day:
February 10
480, Nursia, Italy
Patron of:
convulsive children; nuns; invoked against storms and rain

“St. Gregory tells us that St. Benedict governed nuns as well as monks, and it seems clear that St. Scholastica must have been their abbess, under his direction. She used to visit her brother once a year and, since she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he used to go with some of his monks to meet her at a house a little way off. They spent these visits praising God and in conversing together on spiritual matters.
“St. Gregory gives a remarkable description of the last of these visits. After they had passed the day as usual they sat down in the evening to have supper. When it was finished, Scholastica, possibly foreseeing that it would be their last interview in this world, begged her brother to delay his return till the next day that they might spend the time discoursing of the joys of Heaven. Benedict, who was unwilling to transgress his rule, told her that he could not pass a night away from his monastery. When Scholastica found that she could not move him, she laid her head upon her hands which were clasped together on the table and besought God to interpose on her behalf.
“Her prayer was scarcely ended when there arose such a violent storm of rain with thunder and lightning that St. Benedict and his companions were unable to set foot outside the door. He exclaimed, ‘God forgive you, sister; what have you done?’ Whereupon she answered, ‘I asked a favour of you and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it.’
“Benedict was therefore forced to comply with her request, and they spent the night talking about holy things and about the felicity of the blessed to which they both ardently aspired and which she was soon to enjoy.
“The next morning they parted, and three days later St. Scholastica died. St. Benedict was at the time alone in his cell absorbed in prayer when, lifting up his eyes, he saw his sister’s soul ascending to Heaven as a dove. Filled with joy at her happiness, he thanked God and announced her death to his brethren. He then sent some of the monks to fetch her body which he placed in a tomb which he had prepared for himself.”
Edited from Butler's Lives of the Saints

Pope Francis "The Church is grateful for every effort made to bring the balm of God’s mercy to the suffering..." FULL TEXT

“An alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society in a process endorsed by Pope Francis, to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery.” The Group, which this week held its Fifth Conference in Rome,” was developed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales (CBCEW).
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the Santa Martha Group: 
Friday, 9 February 2018 
Dear Brother Bishops, 
Dear Friends,          
 I am happy to greet you, the members of the Santa Marta Group, at the conclusion of your Conference, which is devoted this year to providing a worldwide perspective on human trafficking and modern slavery.  As leaders in law enforcement, research and public policy, and pastoral assistance, you offer an essential contribution to addressing the causes and effects of this modern-day scourge, which continues to cause untold human suffering.
          It is my hope that these days of reflection and shared experiences have brought into clearer light the interplay between the global and local aspects of human trafficking.  Experience shows that such modern forms of slavery are far more widespread than previously imagined, even – to our scandal and shame –within the most prosperous of our societies.
          God’s cry to Cain, found in the first pages of the Bible – “Where is your brother?” – challenges us to examine seriously the various forms of complicity by which society tolerates, and encourages, particularly with regard to the sex trade, the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 211).  Initiatives to combat human trafficking, while concretely aimed at dismantling criminal structures, must increasingly consider broader issues associated, for example, with the responsible use of technology and the communications media, to say nothing of exploring the ethical implications of models of economic growth that privilege profit over persons.
          I trust that your discussions in these days will also help to raise awareness of the growing need to support victims of these crimes by accompanying them on a path of reintegration into society and the recovery of their human dignity.  The Church is grateful for every effort made to bring the balm of God’s mercy to the suffering, for this also represents an essential step in the healing and renewal of society as a whole.
          Dear friends, with gratitude for your commitment and cooperation in this vital area, I offer my prayerful best wishes for your continued work.  Upon you and your families, and upon all those whom you serve, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.  And I ask you, please, to remember to pray for me.
Official Translation - Source : Vatican News

#BreakingNews 2 Catholic Priests Killed in Mexico - RIP Fr Ivan Jaimes and Fr Germain Garcia - Please Pray

Two priests were killed in an armed ambush in Mexico. Fr Ivan Anorve Jaimes and Fr Germain Muniz Garcia were shot at on the morning of February 5. The two were driving between the cities of Taxco and Iguala in Guerrero state, 100 miles south of Mexico City. According to authorities an armed group blocked the priests’ vehicle and opened fire. The priests were travelling with four other passengers, and all of these were injured.  “We are dismayed by this tragic event, which the archdiocesan community [of Acapulco] and the community of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa mourns,” said a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Acapulco. Fr Anorve was a priest of the archdiocese, and Fr Muniz was part of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa.  According to the Bishop Rangel the two murdered priests were musicians, who performed in remote areas and “approached people” and “evangelised” with music. Fr Muniz, was well know for his parish choir, and Fr Anorve came from the Costa Chica region. Below is a music video by Fr. Jaimes
Statistics show 21 priests murdered since December 2012 in Mexico with increasing violence due to drug cartel conflicts.

#BreakingNews China implements Law Banning Children from Church - Please Pray


China Church further squeezed by revised regulations

Some mainland Catholics say the subsequent clampdown is in breach of the country's constitution

The lower sign on the right outside a Catholic church in Nanle county of Henan province reads 'Minors are prohibited from entering.' 

February 8, 2018

After China's new regulations for religious affairs were enforced on Feb. 1, minors have been banned from entering places of worship in several regions, while Protestant house churches in Henan province have been forced to close. 
These are but a few example of a range of government actions in restricting religious activities on the mainland.   
Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong told that the government was tightening religious rules, with one source telling him there would be no Mass in a Shanghai underground church.
"The priest has told Catholics not to come because there will be no Mass since they have not registered," Cardinal Zen said.
A priest in Hebei province who asked to be anonymous told that authorities had asked clergymen in some parts of the province to post signs prohibiting minors from entering religious venues, prayer houses and other church premises.
"They also threaten churches that they cannot be used if they refuse to post the signs," he said.
A blogger wrote that "religious venues are the third premises following clubs and internet bars where minors are prohibited from entering by authorities."
Peter, a Catholic in central China, said he had seen such signs posted in churches in Xinjiang.
He told there are no legal grounds for officials prohibiting minors from entering religious venues. He accused officials of violating China's constitution, the communist-run country's supposed highest law. 
"When minors enter internet bars, the government and police turn a blind eye. However, they are becoming very strict in prohibiting minors from entering religious venues. It is ridiculous," he said.
Peter said the constitution clearly stipulates that citizens have religious freedom, while protection laws state that teenagers and children cannot be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.
He said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also stipulates that parents have the right to educate their children in accordance with their religious beliefs. 
A message widely spread on the internet said that a Catholic woman in Xihua county of Henan province claimed that churches in the region were being persecuted.
"Churches where we gather have been closed. Schools teach children to believe the [Communist] Party and not to have any religious faith," she said.
"The local party secretary leads officials to villages, making sure no religious banners or crosses are displayed in violation of the law."
Father Stephen of the underground church said children in school have to tell lies to cover their faith and not to express their true feelings. "Is this the way to build up our civilization?" he asked.
Father Thomas of Henan told that authorities plan to call him to discuss how to exercise the new regulations.
"All religious sites must be registered; no religious activities can be held beyond registered venues; non-registered clergymen are forbidden to host religious liturgies; and party members and minors are prohibited from entering a church," he said.
"The living space for the church is getting less and less."
The priest said he was talking to the State Administration of Religious Affairs "to strive for space for religious freedom and the church to survive; to protect the church and staff from being attacked; and to preserve the church's dogma."
Father Thomas believes the regulations will be implemented differently across China, mainly depending on the relationship between the local church and the local government.
Father John of the underground Catholic community in northeast China told that authorities had spoken to him about the revised regulations.
"Officials do not want us to be really underground, which would mean they would lose our traces and not know where we are," he said.
"If our dogma is not meddled with, everything will be fine. If the religious affairs bureau and the public security bureau understand us, they will not have any worries. If we are really undergoing clandestine activities, we are really a problem to them." 
He said the public security bureau wants to know their whereabouts and to put all their situations under its grasp. "For myself, I do not want to be hidden but if we are not allowed to have our religious gatherings, the only way is to become clandestine," Father John said.
According to Xinhuanet's report on Feb. 4, document No.1 issued by the central government stressed that no illegal religious activities are allowed in villages.
The document said authorities would act according to the law to step up efforts to crack down on illegal religious activities and foreign infiltration in rural areas, stop the use of religion to interfere with public affairs in villages, and continue to rectify the arbitrary construction of temples and religious statues in villages without approval.
A priest who serves villages said authorities have placed greater restrictions on the church.
"Some may say that if relations between the church and law enforcement officials are good, the church may get lenient treatment," he said. "But this is only deceiving oneself. As long as the central government requires stringent enforcement, local officials will enforce more strictly."
Before the regulations, communist authorities were already tightening their grip on practicing Christians. Last August, reported at least four regional governments had issued notices that restricted children from joining Christian groups and attending religious activities.
Text Share UCAN NEWS 

#BreakingNews Catholic Priest Beaten and Threatened with Death and Church Vandalized in Bangladesh - Please Pray

ASIA NEWS Release: Dhaka church ransacked, priest beaten and threatened with death (photos)

Sumon Corraya

Canterbury St Augustine is one of Bangladesh’s oldest churches. Robbers broke into the building, tied up and beat the parish priest, Fr Pereira, ransacked the church, and broke open the offering boxes.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Early this morning a Catholic church in Dhaka was ransacked and its parish priest beaten and threatened with death if he refused to hand over money and other valuables to his attackers.
The Canterbury St Augustine Catholic Church is located in Tongi, an industrial north of Dhaka. At least five robbers were involved, three of them masked.
Around 4 am, the thieves broke into the church, which has no security guard or CCTV cameras. Fr Chanchal Hubert Pereira, the parish priest, was sleeping in the building at the time along with the gardener and the cook.
The priest said he heard noises from outside. The criminals then opened a window and pointed a gun at him. "They said they would kill me if I did not open the door. I was forced to let them in."
Once inside, they waved their weapons to intimidate the clergyman, and slapped him in the face. "To save my life I had to give them money, about 35,000 takas (US$ 420), my mobile phone, and laptop computer".
The thieves went into the church part of the building and ransacked it, messing up the vestments, liturgical books, and the altar. They broke three offering boxes and took the money.   
"When I entered the Father’s room, I found him in tears and tied up,” said Bejoy Costa, the cook, speaking to AsiaNews. During the robbery, the lights were out, and so he could not see anything.
Bablu Peris, a member of the parish council, is “worried about the security of the church and the parish priest. We will arrange for video surveillance cameras and a night guard as soon as possible."
Several local residents, Muslims and Christians, condemned the incident. Helel Uddin, head of the local police, visited the church and said that the authorities "will investigate the incident and hopefully arrest the robbers very soon.”
For Mohammod Sahidulla Sarkar, a former head of the Union Parishad (rural council), "It is a shameful act. A church is a sacred place. We are saddened at what happened."
Hemanto Corraya, secretary general of Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA), wants "the police to arrest the robbers soon and ensure exemplary punishment".
The Canterbury St Augustine Church is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Bangladesh. It was established in 1893 by the missionaries of the Holy Cross. Today it has 620 parishioners and two chapels.
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country. Christians represent less than 0.3 per cent of the population (600,000, including 380,000 Catholics), out of a population of almost 163 million people.
Local sources report that every year churches and nun-run institutes are the victims of break-ins and robberies.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Fri. February 9, 2018 - #Eucharist

Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 333

Reading 11 KGS 11:29-32; 12:19

Jeroboam left Jerusalem,
and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road.
The two were alone in the area,
and the prophet was wearing a new cloak.
Ahijah took off his new cloak,
tore it into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam:

“Take ten pieces for yourself;
the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
‘I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon’s grasp
and will give you ten of the tribes.
One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant,
and of Jerusalem,
the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’”

Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.

Responsorial PsalmPS 81:10-11AB, 12-13, 14-15

R. (11a and 9a) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
"There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt."
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
"My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels."
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
"If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand."
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

Alleluia SEE ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man's ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
"Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!")
And immediately the man's ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
"He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."