Friday, February 7, 2020

Saint February 8 : St. Josephine Bakhita who went from Slave to Saint with Litany Prayers to Share!

Happy Childhood (1869-1876)

Bakhita was born in 1869 in Olgossa, in Darfur, a territory to the South-East of Sudan, inhabited by the Dajus, one the major ethnic groups who had settled in that region centuries before. Bakhita's family was prosperous, possessing lands with plantations and cattle. She herself said, "My life was completely happy. I did not know the meaning of sorrow". Bakhita had three brothers and three sisters. In 1874 the elder sister was kidnapped.
Harsh Slavery (1876-1882)
In 1876 two men kidnapped Bakhtia, who was then about seven years of age. After a month's imprisonment she was sold to a slave-trader (the second master). With great courage the girl attempted to escape, but was recaptured by a shepherd (her third master) and sold again to a fierce-looking man (her fourth master) who sold her to a slave-trader (fifth master). One day she was beaten and left unconscious and bleeding on the ground. 
She was then sold to a Turkish general (6th master), whose wife subjected Bakhita to the torture of tattooing. Her torturer spared only her face, because it was very beautiful, while he inflicted 114 cuts with a razor on her stomach and arms.

 The poor little victim felt she was dying, especially when salt was rubbed into her wounds to keep them open. Immersed in a pool of blood, she was carried away on a pallet and left for a month without even a rag to dry the serum that oozed from her wounds.

To Freedom (1882-1885)

In 1882 the Turkish general sold Bakhita in Khartoum to the consular official Callisto Legnani (seventh master), who was very kind to her. Right away he showed his benevolence, dressing her for the first time in a tunic which restored her dignity as a woman. He would have brought her back to her own village if Bakhita had been able to remember its name, but she was too small at the time of her kidnapping to register exact details. When, in 1885, Legnani was preparing to leave Africa for Italy, Bakhita asked for and received permission to go with him. They embarked, together with a friend of the consul, Augusto Michieli. It was to the latter that Legnani gave the young African upon their arrival in Genoa.
In Italy

Mr. Michieli, a rich businessman from Venice, took Bakhita with him to his villa at Zianigo, near Mirano Venetto. Here, for three years, Bakhita was nursemaid to the little daughter, Alice, nicknamed Mimmina. The Michieli were good, honest people, but not church-goers. Mrs. Turina Michieli, who was Orthodox, had forbidden Bakhita to enter a church. However, Providence had placed on Bakhita's path the Michieli's manager, Illuminato Checchini, who played a fundamental part in her journey of faith. "A man with a heart of gold and an enlightened conscience" was how Bakhita described him; he always had a "fatherly love" for her. It was he, in fact, who concerned himself the religious education of the young African. When the Michieli returned in 1886 to Africa, where they had acquired a large hotel at Suakim and took Bakhita with them, the good Illuminato felt remorse, because he had not yet been able to speak to her about God. He was, thus, very happy, the following year, when he saw her return with his wife and the little girl, and inwardly promised to do everything he could for the benefit of that soul. "The missionaries", he said, "go to Africa to convert its inhabitants, shall we do nothing to enlighten this poor girl?" He began by presenting her with a little crucifix, saying to himself: "Jesus, I entrust her to you. Now, you look after her". He was also instrumental in placing Mimmina and Bakhita in the care of the Canossian sisters in Venice when the Michieli had to leave again for Suakim. At this Institute Bakhita was admitted to the catechumen ate. When, after nine months, Mrs Michieli returned for her daughter and the girl whom she regarded as in some way, her slave, in order to take them back again to Africa, she encountered a very firm attitude on the part of the latter. It was on that occasion that Bakhita, who was still a catechumen, displayed singular strength of spirit and great faith. In fact, when confronted with the affection and economic security offered her by the Michieli family, and the hope of rediscovering her family if she returned to Africa, she preferred God's love and abandonment to divine Providence for her future, which in human terms, was very uncertain. Thus she said, with determination: "No, I cannot return to Africa, because I would not be able to profess my faith in the Lord. I love the lady and her little girl very much, but I cannot lose my God. So I am remaining". It was 29 November 1889, as bakhita later recorded in her memoirs. This moment of courageous decision is most significant; it was to set the tone for her entire life.

In this difficult struggle Bakhita had the support of the Patriarch of Venice and the King's Procurator, who, according to Italian law, which forbade slavery, declared her to be a free person.
"If I did not die", Bakhita was to say later, "it was by a miracle of God, who had destined me for better things".
Josephine Bakhita
As preparations were made for the great day - January 9, 1890 - when she was to receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion at the hands of the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Agostini, Bakhita experienced very mixed feelings. On the one hand, she was profoundly aware of her own unworthiness, while on the other, she felt indescribable joy at the thought that she would become a child of God. Realizing God's ineffable love, she was at times intensely moved. She then had moments when she was unable to grasp how she, a poor black girl, a slave, an ignorant person, could be called by the Lord His daughter, she who had nothing to offer Him. She would then run to Mother Fabretti, her catechists, who calmed her, assuring her that in the eyes of God, wealth and wisdom were worth nothing: all that counted was love. "And you love the Lord, don't you?" Bakhita would agree, smiling contentedly, her eyes wet with tears. "Go in peace, then", concluded Mother Fabretti, "and call Him with confidence: "Our Father who art in Heaven...

After she had been baptized, receiving the names of Josephine, Margherita and Fortunata, Bakhita remained at the Institute of the Catechumens, where she soon became aware of the call to a life of special consecration. She did not dare expressed this desire, feeling herself to be unworthy. She feared that she might disfigure the Congregation on account of her black skin. Her confessor reassured her. God does not look at the colour of one's skin, but rather at the innermost depths of one's heart.

Bakhita was accepted, and after three years of Novitiate she made her Vows on Decembe 8, 1896. Cardinal Sarto, the then Patriarch of Venice, examined her and told her: "Pronounce your holy vows without fear. This is what Jesus wants. Jesus loves you. Love Him and serve Him always in this way". He also reassured her about the eternal salvation of her dear ones: "God has infinite ways of making Himself known and when He chooses a person to be His bride, He also thinks of her family".
After she had been baptized, receiving the names of Josephine, Margherita and Fortunata, Bakhita remained at the Institute of the Catechumens, where she soon became aware of the call to a life of special consecration. She did not dare expressed this desire, feeling herself to be unworthy. She feared that she might disfigure the Congregation on account of her black skin. Her confessor reassured her. God does not look at the colour of one's skin, but rather at the innermost depths of one's heart.

Bakhita was accepted, and after three years of Novitiate she made her Vows on Decembe 8, 1896. Cardinal Sarto, the then Patriarch of Venice, examined her and told her: "Pronounce your holy vows without fear. This is what Jesus wants. Jesus loves you. Love Him and serve Him always in this way". He also reassured her about the eternal salvation of her dear ones: "God has infinite ways of making Himself known and when He chooses a person to be His bride, He also thinks of her family".

After her religious profession, which took place in Verona, Mother Bakhita returned to Venice, and later was sent to the house in Schio. Here she spent the best part of 45 years, immediately gaining the sympathy and esteem of all the town's inhabitants, who began to call her affectionately 'Madre Moretta' (Black Mother). Bakhita achieved the ideals set by the Foundress, St. Magdalene of Canossa, who wished her daughters to be "anchorites and apostles". Whether in church or sacristy, at the door or in the kitchen, she was engrossed in her Lord, and daily bore witness to the Lord's love for all His creatures. During the First World War, with great love, she set about easing the physical suffering and moral anguish of all those around her, in particular, the soldiers looked after in the Institute, which had been turned into a military hospital. During the Second World War people attributed to her presence the fact that Schio was preserved from the bombing. In fact, when the alarm sounded, Bakhita would say, "Don't worry, because the 'Master' knows what He has to do nothing will happen here."

From the moment of her profession, she showed how close she felt to her African brothers and sisters. On that day she uttered the following heartfelt prayer: "O Lord, if I could but fly to my people and preach aloud Your goodness to everyone! Oh, how many souls would I win for you. Among the first would be my mother, my father, my brothers, my sister, still a slave... all, all the poor black people of Africa. Grant, Jesus, that they too may know and love you!" Between 1936 and 1938 Mother Bakhita was at Vimercate, the seat of the Canossian Missionary Novitiate. This was her base for journeys to various Italian cities to promote the missions. She was accompanied by another Sister, who had returned from her mission in China. Everyone wanted to hear first-hand her "wonderful story". Referring to this experience, Mother Bakhita was to say later: "Many will think I enjoyed travelling around, but for me it was real martyrdom". Wherever she went, she left goodness in her wake, even though she herself was not aware of it.

At the height of World War II, on December 8, 1943, Mother Bakhita celebrated the 50th anniversary of her religious life. Not only her own community, but the whole of Schio, celebrated, despite the adverse circumstances of the time. But now, for Bakhita, aches and pains were beginning to make themselves felt, crippling arthritis, asthmatic bronchitis with cough, convulsed her body. This was not to be wondered at, considering the suffering she had undergone in her younger years and the rigours of the northern climate to which she was not accustomed. During her long illness never a complaint passed her lips. When she was asked: "Don't you feel anything, Mother Bakhita?" She replied: "Of course I feel something - I'm alive; it's only the dead who can't feel anything". "And how is it that you never complain?" "Oh, when nature wants something, I say: now be good, we'll see about it. Then I think about Jesus on the cross, and about the Sorrowful Virgin. That way, nature is calmed, and I no longer need anything". What heroic patience! Very soon she had to abandon her walking-stick in favour of a wheelchair, until broncho pneumonia brought her inexorably to the end. Fully conscious, and to the great edification of all, she received the last sacraments. The Virgin Mary came to comfort her at the moment of her death on Saturday, February 8, 1947. "How happy I am... the Madonna, the Madonna! These were her last words as she passed from this earthly life to the full freedom of God's children.
Her Motto

From her childhood, Bakhita learnt to wonder at the beauty of creation. Even as a slave, she found comfort in admiring the sun, the moon, and the stars. She told how, when she had, finally, lost hope of ever seeing her family again, she began to appreciate more the beauties of nature. She wondered who could have been their Maker and ardently desired to know Him so as to be able to thank Him and do Him homage.

She was utterly surprised when she began to grasp the meaning of this truth: through Baptism you will become a child of God. "A child of God - I, a poor black girl!", she would repeat, filled with amazement. Her baptism gave her such great joy that she felt its beneficial effects ever after. "Here, I became a child of God!" she exclaimed with emotion, kneeling at the baptismal font when she had the good fortune to visit the church where she had been baptized. Baptism shaped her human and Christian future completely, and her whole life was overwhelmed with wonder at the goodness of a Father who orders everything for the good of those whom He has chosen. This, then, was the source of Bakhita's constant goodness.

The moment that had a great and decisive impact on her life was when she discovered the infinite love of God, manifested in his Crucified Son. Seeing the image of Jesus on the cross for the first time, Bakhita was greatly impressed, and asked: "What did that man do that was so wrong, for him to be treated in such a way?" "Nothing," was the reply, "He wished to die for us, for love of us, and also for you". "Also for me!" astonished Bakhita repeatedly. Always drawn irresistibly by the love of Jesus who had died on the cross for her, she became a strong woman, firm and unshakeable in her decision to devote herself totally to the service of her new heavenly Master. Consequently, her former resignation to her fate was transformed into free and holy abandonment to the divine will of Him whom she still gladly called "el Paron", "the Master", out of long-standing mental habit, but now no longer as a slave of arbitrary and evil masters by fate, but as a "slave of love" carrying out the orders of the good God, who loves His servants as a Father.

Her life, after death, would also depend on the will of the "Master". For this reason, when she was sick, she replied to those who asked for her prayers: "If the Lord permits, I will look after everyone from Heaven, I will obtain many graces for the salvation of souls."
Inner Face
"In St. Josephine Bakhita we find an outstanding witness to God's fatherly love and a bright sign of the enduring value of the Beatitudes. In our time, when the race for power, money, and pleasure causes distrust, violence and loneliness, the Lord is giving us Sister Bakhita as the Universal Sister, so that she may reveal to us the secret of the truest happiness: the Beatitudes. Hers is a message of heroic goodness, mirroring the goodness of the heavenly Father. She has left us a testimony of evangelical reconciliation and forgiveness, which will surely give comfort to the Christians in her homeland, Sudan, so sorely tried by conflict that has lasted for many years and caused many victims. Their faithfulness and their hope are reason fro pride and thanksgiving on the part of the whole Church. At this time of great tribulations, Sister Bakhita goes before them on the road of imitation of Christ, a deepening of the Christian life and of unshakeable attachment to the Church." (John Paul II - May 17,1992).

Mother Josephine Bakhita's life is marked by unconditional surrender to the will of God. Her motto was "What the Master Wishes". Thus she made her spiritual life very simple, because "doing God's will well" is the essence of perfection.

In all the positions she held as a Canossian - cook, embroiderer, sacristan, portress - Bakhita always showed herself to be a true "Daughter of Charity, Servant of the poor". The virtues that mark her relationship with her neighbours are: Goodness, Meekness, Tenderness. Her black hands caressed the heads of the children who attended the Institute's schools daily. Her amiable voice, which had the inflection of her African songs, was pleasing to the little children, comforting to the poor and the suffering, and encouraging to all who knocked at the door of the Institute.

The value of forgiveness is evident in Bakhita: "If I met those slave traders who kidnapped me and treated me so cruelly, I would kneel to kiss their hands, because if that had not happened, I would not be a Christian and a religious today." One is impressed above all by the excuse she makes for them: "Poor things, maybe they did not know they were hurting me so much: they were the masters, I was their slave. Just as we are used to doing good, so they did that by force of habit, not because they were wicked". As she told her terrible story, she continued to thank the Lord, who, in unimaginable ways, had led her to the faith and made her His bride. There was no hint of resentment in her words: she had forgiven everyone from her heart and prayed for them all.

St. Josephine Bakhita body remains incorrupt.

Litany of St. Josephine Bakhita

Lord, have mercy, 
Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy, 
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy, 
Lord, have mercy

Christ hear us, 
Christ, graciously hear us

God, our heavenly Father 
Have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the world 
Have mercy on us
God, the Holy Spirit 
Have mercy on us

Holy Mary 
Pray for us
St. Joseph 
Pray for us
St. Magdalen of Canossa 
Pray for us
St. Josephine Bakhita 
Pray for us

Flower of Sudan 
Pray for us
Universal Sister 
Pray for us
Model of Hope 
Pray for us
Child slave 
Pray for us
The Fortunate One 
Pray for us
Daughter of God 
Pray for us
Consecrated Virgin 
Pray for us
Bride of Christ 
Pray for us

Bakhita, most innocent 
Pray for us
Bakhita, most forgiving 
Pray for us
Bakhita, most chaste 
Pray for us
Bakhita, most courageous 
Pray for us
Bakhita, most free 
Pray for us
Bakhita, most prayer ful 
Pray for us
Bakhita, most faithful 
Pray for us

Reflection of Charity 
Pray for us
Wonderful Storyteller 
Pray for us
Lover of Children 
Pray for us
Exemplar of Hospitality 
Pray for us
Patient Model of Bead workers 
Pray for us
Diligent Sacristan 
Pray for us
Humble Porter 
Pray for us
Great Cook 
Pray for us
Mother Moretta 
Pray for us
Missionary at heart 
Pray for us
Hope of the sick 
Pray for us
Comfort to soldiers 
Pray for us
Pillar to anxious families 
Pray for us
Protector of Schio 
Pray for us
Powerful Intercessor of those in need 
Pray for us
Patron of the dying 
Pray for us
Tale of Wonder 
Pray for us

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, 
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, 
Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, 
Have mercy on us, O Lord.
Leader: God delivered her from slavery and given her true freedom in Christ
All: And made her his daughter and his bride.
Leader: Let us pray

Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus Christ, through His suffering and death on the cross, gave Himself as a gift of love for the reconciliation and salvation of all his peoples. He continues to express this love by giving us St. Josephine Bakhita. She too offered herself through her suffering in slavery. We humbly pray that through her intercession, she may obtain for us this favour which we now ask ______________, for the needs of our parish community, for her brothers and sisters in Sudan, and for the whole world the gift of justice and peace. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Pope Francis tells Educators "One cannot educate without inducing beauty, without inducing the heart to beauty." Full Text


Hall of the Consistory
Friday, February 7, 2020

Dear friends,

I am happy to greet you on the occasion of the seminar promoted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on "Education: the Global Compact". I am delighted that you reflect on this issue, because today it is necessary to combine efforts to achieve a broad educational alliance in order to train mature people, capable of rebuilding, rebuilding the relational fabric and creating a more fraternal humanity (cf. Speech to the Body Diplomat, 9 January 2020).

Integral and quality education and educational levels continue to be a global challenge. Despite the objectives and goals formulated by the United Nations (UN) and other bodies (see Objective 4), and the important efforts made by some countries, education continues to be unequal among the world population. Poverty, discrimination, climate change, the globalization of indifference, the constification of the human being make the flowering of millions of creatures wither. In fact, they represent for many an almost insurmountable wall that prevents reaching the goals and goals of sustainable and guaranteed development that the people have proposed.

Primary education today is a normative ideal all over the world. The empirical data that you, academic gentlemen, share, indicate that progress has been made in the participation of boys and girls in education. The enrollment of young people in primary education is now almost universal and it can be observed that the gender gap has narrowed. This is a commendable result. However, each generation should reconsider how to transmit its knowledge and values ​​to the following one, because it is through education that the human being reaches his maximum potential and becomes a conscious, free and responsible being. Thinking about education is thinking about future generations and the future of humanity; it is therefore something deeply rooted in hope and requires generosity and courage.

Educating is not only transmitting concepts, this would be an inheritance of the Enlightenment that must be overcome, that is, not only transmitting concepts, but it is a task that requires all those responsible for it - family, school and social, cultural, religious institutions. .. - participate in solidarity. In this sense, in some countries it is said that the educational pact was broken because this social participation in education is lacking. To educate, one must try to integrate the language of the head with the language of the heart and the language of the hands. That a pupil thinks what he feels and what he does, feels what he thinks and what he does, does what he feels and what he thinks. Total integration. Promoting the learning of the head, heart and hands, intellectual and socio-emotional education, the transmission of individual and social values ​​and virtues, the teaching of a committed and supportive citizenship with justice, and imparting skills and the knowledge that educates young people in the world of work and in society, families, schools and institutions become essential vehicles for the empowerment of the next generation. So yes, there is no more talk of a broken educational pact. The pact is this.

Today it is in crisis, the so-called "educational pact" has broken; the educational pact that is created between the family, the school, the homeland and the world, culture and cultures. It really broke and broke; it cannot be glued or reassembled. We cannot mend, except through a renewed effort of generosity and universal agreement. Broken educational pact means that both society, the family, and the different institutions that are called to educate delegate the decisive educational task to others, and so the different basic institutions and the same states that have renounced the educational pact escape from this responsibility.
Today, we are called, in some way, to renew and reintegrate everyone's commitment - people and institutions - in education, to redo a new educational pact, because only in this way education can change. For this reason, knowledge, culture, sport, science, fun and entertainment must be integrated; for this reason it is necessary to build bridges of connection, to overcome, allow me to speak, to overcome the "small things" that enclose us in our small world, and to go to the global open sea, respecting all traditions. The new generations must clearly understand their own tradition and culture - this is not negotiated, it is negotiable - in relation to the others, in order to develop their self-understanding, facing and accepting diversity and cultural changes. This will promote a culture of dialogue, a culture of encounter and mutual understanding, in a peaceful, respectful and tolerant way. An education that enables us to identify and promote true human values ​​in an intercultural and interreligious perspective.

The family needs to be enhanced in the new educational pact, since its responsibility begins already in the womb, at the moment of birth. But mothers, fathers - grandparents - and the family as a whole, in its primary educational role, need help to understand, in the new global context, the importance of this initial stage of life, and be prepared to act Consequently. One of the fundamental ways to improve the quality of education at school level is to obtain greater participation of families and local communities in educational projects. And these are part of this integral, timely and universal education.

At this moment, I wish to pay tribute also to the teachers - always underpaid - because in the face of the challenge of education, they move forward with courage and commitment. They are the "craftsmen" of future generations. With their knowledge, patience and dedication they transmit a way of being that is transformed into wealth, not material, but immaterial, they create the man and woman of tomorrow. It is a great responsibility. Therefore, in the new educational pact, the function of teachers, as agents of education, must be recognized and supported by all possible means. If our goal is to offer each individual and each community the level of knowledge necessary to have their own autonomy and be able to cooperate with others, it is important to focus on the training of educators with the highest quality standards, at all academic levels. . To support and promote this process, it is necessary that they have adequate national, international and private resources at their disposal, so that, all over the world, they can carry out their task effectively.

In this Seminar on "Education: the Global Compact", you, academics of various universities among the most respected in the world, have identified new levers to make education more humane and fair, more satisfying, and more important for different needs of 21st century economies and societies. Among other things, you looked at the new science of the mind, the brain and education, the promise of technology to reach children who currently have no learning opportunities, and the very important topic of education for young refugees and immigrants in all the world. You have addressed the effects of growing inequality and climate change on education, as well as the tools to reverse the effects of both and strengthen the foundations for a more human, healthier, fairer and happier society.

I spoke of three languages: the mind, the heart, the hands. And speaking of roots, values, we can speak of truth, goodness, creativity. But I don't want to end this talk without talking about beauty. One cannot educate without inducing beauty, without inducing the heart to beauty. Forcing the discussion a little bit, I would venture to say that an education is not effective if it cannot create poets. The path of beauty is a challenge that must be faced.

I encourage you in this important and exciting task you have: to collaborate in the education of future generations. It is not something of tomorrow, but of today. Go ahead, may God bless you. I pray for you and you do it for me. Thank you.
Full Text + Image Source: - UnOfficial Translation - 

Mother of 3 children Killed in Car Crash Forgives Driver “I think in my heart I forgive him… I’m not going to hate… that’s not who we are.”

Leila Geagea Abdallah, the mother of three children killed in a horrific road crash at Oatlands on Saturday February 1, 2020 says she forgives the driver involved. She told reporters she “cannot hate him”—and has asked for prayers for her family.

 13-year-old Antony, 12-year-old Angelina and 9-year-old Sienna, Abdallah, (pictured above) all lost their lives when a vehicle ran onto the footpath and hit them as they were walking. Their second cousin, 11-year-old Veronique Sakr, was also killed, other siblings were injured in the incident, including Charbel Sakr who was in a coma.

The Abdallah and Sakr families are members of Our Lady of Lebanon church, a Maronite Catholic Church at Harris Park near Parramatta, Australia. Leila explained: “I am sad, I am heartbroken, but I am at peace because my kids are in a better place”.

Leila and her husband Daniel, who lost 3 of their 6 children, were grieved, but Leila said her children were very spiritual and loved God.

“My kids had strong faith,” she said. “The day of the incident my son was at the church, praying his Rosary… my daughter was praying with my son in the car…. I can tell you some awesome stories about my kids."

“We try to focus on the spiritual side more than anything. We try to teach them to pray the Rosary, to read their Bible, to live their faith, to be good people in life, and to show God’s face through them.”

Leila while holding her rosary,  said the accident was like “walking the Stations of the Cross."

“To be fully honest with you, it feels very unreal,” she said. “I don’t feel it’s true, I feel that they are still with me, I’m still waiting for them to come home… Whenever someone needed anything, you’d see all of them around each other, cheering each other up, lifting each other.”

“I think in my heart I forgive him, but I want the court to be fair… I’m not going to hate… that’s not who we are.”

“I think in my heart I forgive him, but I want the court to be fair, right? It’s all about fairness. So I’m not gonna hate him because that’s not who we are. And that’s not what our religion tells us. I forgive him, but I want it to be fair. I feel like I need [people] as much as they can to pray for us.”

The children’s father Danny had let the children take a short walk down the street together, to “give them a little bit of independence”, and told them to stay together.

“I’m numb. That’s how I feel at the moment,” he said.” I just want to say, please, drivers, be careful, these kids were walking innocently, enjoying each others’ company, and this morning I woke up and I’ve lost three kids.”

On Monday morning at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield, where Veronique Sakr was a student, students and teachers gathered to pray for Veronique’s loved ones in their loss, and laid flowers in her memory. In a Facebook post, the school wrote, “We will miss Veronique’s smile, her laughter and the joy she brought to our community. We will continue to surround Veronique’s family and friends with love and support. May she rest in peace.”

And at a construction site in Sydney this morning, a relative of the children started the workday by leading dozens of site workers in prayer – praying the Lords Prayer, the Hail Mary, and an Arabic Catholic prayer called Ya Oum Allah, followed by a minute’s silence .

As well as being active in church life, the three Abdallah children who died were involved with “Team Jesus” – a Christian outreach to the homeless in Blacktown and Parramatta. In a statement, the group’s co-ordinators David and Carolyn paid tribute to the three children, saying they “served with joy and with a dedication that we rarely see in adults”, and that they made a “huge impression” on those they met.

“Since day one of our ministry in Blacktown, where we provide a food and clothing service to the poor, needy and the homeless, Anthony, Angelina and Sienna, and all Danny’s family joined us regularly and they put themselves in the service of those who are in most need of our help,” they said.

“They stood in line with the adult team members to serve food and to give a smile to those who needed it most. In fact, these little angels used to encourage or rather insist on their parents to take them to Blacktown on Friday night so they could serve, not the other way round.

“Not only did they serve at tables, but they insisted on praying for the people whom we served, and their prayers brought the blessings and favour of God upon the place.

The Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park held prayer services each night this week for the families of the children.

Edited from

In Homily, Pope Francis explains “If a shepherd does not follow this humble path, he is not a disciple of Jesus,”

Pope at Mass: there is no humility without humiliation
Commenting on the day’s Gospel, Pope Francis exhorts Christians to follow the path of humiliation as indicated by Jesus and John. He also urges pastors not to give in to worldliness, to the “temptation to climb”.
By Robin Gomes

Don’t be “afraid of humiliation”.  Let us ask the Lord to send us “some” to “make us humble”, so we can “imitate Jesus better”.  The Pope’s exhortation came at Mass, Friday morning, at Casa Santa Marta, in the Vatican.

The way of Jesus
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel of Mark on the beheading of St. John the Baptist, the Pope explained how he was sent by God to show “the way of Jesus”. The “last of the prophets”, the Pope said, had the grace to say: “This is the Messiah”.

He explained that the task of John the Baptist was not so much to preach that Jesus would come and prepare the people as to bear witness to Christ and to do so with his life.  The Pope said that bearing witness to the path chosen by God for our salvation is the path of humiliation.  St. Paul explains this very clearly in his Letter to the Philippians: “Jesus annihilated himself to death, death on a cross”. And this death on the cross, this way of annihilation, of humiliation, the Pope said, is also our way, the way forward that God indicates for Christians

The most humiliating end
The Holy Father pointed out that both John the Baptist and Jesus had the “temptation of vanity, of pride”.  After His fast, Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert; and John was tested before the doctors of the law who asked him if he was the Messiah.  He could have answered that he was “his minister”, and yet he “humbled himself”.

The Pope said that both had authority over the people and their preaching was “authoritative”.  Yet both had “moments of lowliness”, sort of “human and spiritual depression”.  Jesus had his moment in the Garden of Olives, and John in prison was tempted by the “woodworm of doubt” whether Jesus was really the Messiah.

Both “end in the most humiliating way”.  Jesus dies on the cross, “the death of the worst criminals, terrible physically and morally”, “naked before the people” and “before His mother”.  John the Baptist is beheaded in the prison by a guard on the orders of a king who was “weakened by vices”, “corrupted by the whim of a dancer and the hatred of an adulteress”, the Pope said referring to Herodias and her daughter.

The Pope explained that John the Baptist, the great prophet and the greatest man born of woman, as Jesus regarded him, as well as the Son of God, both, chose the path of humiliation.  And this is the path that they show us and that we Christians must follow, the Pope said, stressing that the Beatitudes indicate the path of this humility.

The way of the world
Emphasizing that one cannot be “humble without humiliation”, the Holy Father invites Christians to learn from the day’s Gospel.

Pope Francis explained that when we try to draw attention to ourselves in the Church and in the community in order to have a position or something, it is the way of the world, a worldly way, which is not the way of Jesus.  He said this “temptation to climb” can also happen to pastors. This, the Pope said, is an injustice he cannot tolerate. “If a shepherd does not follow this humble path, he is not a disciple of Jesus,” Pope Francis said, adding, “he is a climber in a cassock”.  “There is no humility without humiliation”.

Government in the Philippines Votes to make Secular Divorce Legal as Catholic Organizations protest

CBCP report:
Congress must take action to strengthen families and not weaken them, an association of various lay Catholic organizations said.

Amid moves to legalize divorce in the country, the Council of the Laity of the Philippines or Laiko stressed that marriage and family is a “gift” that should be protected.

“The Council of the Laity of the Philippines is strongly against the introduction of the Divorce Law as an easier way for the dissolution of marriage in the Philippines,” said Laiko President Rouquel Ponte.

“It is our hope, therefore, that the Philippines shall forever stand as a beacon of hope for the family and society,” he said.

The Philippines is the last country in the world — besides the Vatican, which is the center of Catholicism — where divorce is illegal.

Ponte said that because the Philippines remains without divorce “doesn’t mean we should also allow it”.

Instead, he urged the divorce advocates to learn from the experience of other countries where divorce is legal, “where families have not been strengthened”.

“And as a result, causing a lot of problems to the deserted spouse and their children,” said Ponte, who is also the Couples for Christ’s Pastoral Formation Consultant.

The House committee on population and family relations on Wednesday approved a bill seeking to legalize absolute divorce in the country.

Under the House Bill 100 or the Absolute Divorce Bill of 2019, among its provisions aim to ensure that the proceedings for the granting of divorce shall be affordable and efficient.

Saying that they are mindful of the plight of Filipinos suffering from failing marriages, The Laiko head called on family life organizations “to seek them out and accompany them with helpful interventions”.

He said these can be done “through education, formation and accompaniment of this generation, along with the values of life-long commitment and steadfast love”.

“The Council of the Laity of the Philippines pledges its full support to you and together we push for this advocacy,” Ponte said.
News release of the Catholic Bishops' of the Philippines - CBCP

Pope Francis' Prayer Intention for February "Listen to the Migrants’ Cries - We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters.." Video

Pope's February prayer intention: Listen to the Migrants’ Cries
Pope Francis on Thursday released a video with his prayer intention for February.
In his prayer intention for the month of February 2020, Pope Francis Listen to the Migrants’ Cries
We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal trafficking, may be heard and considered.
The full text of his intention is below:
 Migrants are often victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking. Among other causes, this happens because of corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain. The money from their dirty, underhanded business is blood money. I’m not exaggerating: it’s blood money. We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday February 7, 2020 - #Eucharist

Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 327
Reading 1SIR 47:2-11
Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings,
so was David in Israel.
He made sport of lions as though they were kids,
and of bears, like lambs of the flock.
As a youth he slew the giant
and wiped out the people’s disgrace,
When his hand let fly the slingstone
that crushed the pride of Goliath.
Since he called upon the Most High God,
who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior
and raise up the might of his people,
Therefore the women sang his praises,
and ascribed to him tens of thousands
and praised him when they blessed the Lord.
When he assumed the royal crown, he battled
and subdued the enemy on every side.
He destroyed the hostile Philistines
and shattered their power till our own day.
With his every deed he offered thanks
to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole being he loved his Maker
and daily had his praises sung;
He set singers before the altar and by their voices
he made sweet melodies,
He added beauty to the feasts
and solemnized the seasons of each year
So that when the Holy Name was praised,
before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.
The LORD forgave him his sins
and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty
and established his throne in Israel.

Responsorial Psalm18:31, 47 AND 50, 51

R.    (see 47b)  Blessed be God my salvation!
God’s way is unerring,
the promise of the LORD is fire-tried;
 he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.
R.    Blessed be God my salvation!
The LORD live! And blessed be my Rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
Therefore will I proclaim you, O LORD, among the nations,
and I will sing praise to your name.
R.    Blessed be God my salvation!
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed,
to David and his posterity forever.
R.    Blessed be God my salvation!

AlleluiaLK 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart,
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.