Monday, February 24, 2020

What is Lent and Ash Wednesday? - All You Need to Know from Bible Roots to Church Rules to Share!

Ash Wednesday a moveable feast that begins the liturgical season of Lent. It does not have a specific date but depends on when Easter is celebrated in 2019 it is on March 6. On Ash Wednesday Christians begin the period of the fast. Healthy people between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast or perform some act of penance. Abstinence from meat is required on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Fasting requires the consumption of 1 full meal and only 2 smaller meals. Ash Wednesday starts the commemoration of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Lent is actually 46 days as the Sundays do not count for the fasting period. When people attend Church services on this day they are commonly blessed with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads. 
Is Ash Wednesday Mass a day of obligation to attend Mass and receive ashes? No, it is not required for the faithful to attend Mass nor receive ashes. It is encouraged and visible sign to pray, do penance, and be humble. 
Where do the ashes come from?
The ashes are usually derived from the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday. 

What do the Ashes on your forehead mean?
They are to remind people of their sins and call them to repentence. Usually a priest, deacon or lay person marks the person's forehead.

 The biblical verse is said:
Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.
Genesis 3: 19
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Mark 1 : 15
This marking is called a sacramental. Churches are decorated with purple during the season of Lent. Statues and crosses are covered with purple cloth. Lent ends with the celebration of Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.The Church encourages the faithful to go to Confession or Reconciliation on this day. Confession involves the telling of one's sins to a priest who then provides forgiveness according to the commission of Christ.
John 20:21-23:
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

There are many biblical roots to repentence for sin with ashes, here are a few sources:
Judith 7: 14
But the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, prostrated themselves upon the ground, putting ashes upon their heads, praying with one accord, that the God of Israel would shew his mercy upon his people.
Esther 4:3
And in all provinces, towns, and places, to which the king's cruel edict was come, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, wailing, and weeping, many using sackcloth and ashes for their bed.
Jeremiah 6:26
Gird thee with sackcloth, O daughter of my people, and sprinkle thee with ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, a bitter lamentation, because the destroyer shall suddenly come upon us.
Images shared from Google Images - Rules from the USCCB

Saint February 25 : St. Walburga a Benedictine Nun who came from a Family of Saints and Patron against Storms

St. Walburga Feb 25 ( Hist. ) Born in Devonshire, about 710; died at Heidenheim, 25 Feb., 777. She is the patroness of Eichstadt, Oudenarde, Furnes, Antwerp, Gronigen, Weilburg, and Zutphen, and is invoked as special patroness against hydrophobia, and in storms, and also by sailors. She was the daughter of St. Richard, one of the under-kings of the West Saxons, and of Winna, sister of St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, and had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. St. Richard, when starting with his two sons on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, entrusted Walburga, then eleven years old, to the abbess of Wimborne. In the claustral school and as a member of the community, she spent twenty-six years preparing for the great work she was to accomplish in Germany. The monastery was famous for holiness and austere discipline. There was a high standard at Wimborne, and the child was trained in solid learning, and in accomplishments suitable to her rank. Thanks to this she was later able to write St. Winibald's Life and an account in Latin of St. Willibald's travels in Palestine. She is thus looked upon by many as the first female author of England and Germany. Scarcely a year after her arrival, Walburga received tidings of her father's death at Lucca. During this period St. Boniface was laying the foundations of the Church in Germany. He saw that for the most part scattered efforts would be futile, or would exert but a passing influence. He, therefore, determined to bring the whole country under an organized system. As he advanced in his spiritual conquests he established monasteries which, like fortresses, should hold the conquered regions, and from whose watch-towers the light of faith and learning should radiate far and near.
Boniface was the first missionary to call women to his aid. In 748, in response to his appeal, Abbess Tetta sent over to Germany St. Lioba and St. Walburga, with many other nuns. They sailed with fair weather, but before long a terrible storm arose. Hereupon Walburga prayed, kneeling on the deck, and at once the sea became calm. On landing, the sailors proclaimed the miracle they had witnessed, so that Walburga was everywhere received with joy and veneration. There is a tradition in the Church of Antwerp that, on her way to Germany, Walburga made some stay there; and in that city's most ancient church, which now bears the title of St. Walburga, there is pointed out a grotto in which she was wont to pray. This same church, before adopting the Roman Office, was accustomed to celebrate the feast of St. Walburga four times a year. At Mainz she was welcomed by her uncle, St. Boniface, and by her brother, St. Willibald. After living some time under the rule of St. Lioba at Bischofsheim, she was appointed abbess of Heidenheim, and was thus placed near her favourite brother, St. Winibald, who governed an abbey there. After his death she ruled over the monks' monastery as well as her own. Her virtue, sweetness, and prudence, added to the gifts of grace and nature with which she was endowed, as well as the many miracles she wrought, endeared her to all. It was of these nuns that Ozanam wrote: "Silence and humility have veiled the labours of the nuns from the eyes of the world, but history has assigned them their place at the very beginning of German civilization: Providence has placed women at ever cradleside." On 23 Sept., 776, she assisted at the translation of her brother St. Winibald's body by St. Willibald, when it was found that time had left no trace upon the sacred remains. Shortly after this she fell ill, and, having been assisted in her last moments by St. Willibald, she expired.
St. Willibald laid her to rest beside St. Winibald, and many wonders were wrought at both tombs. St. Willibald survived till 786, and after his death devotion to St. Walburga gradually declined, and her tomb was neglected. About 870, Otkar, then Bishop of Eichstadt, determined to restore the church and monastery of Heidenheim, which were falling to ruin. The workmen having desecrated St. Walburga's grave, she one night appeared to the bishop, reproaching and threatening him. This led to the solemn translation of the remains to Eichstadt on 21 Sept. of the same year. They were placed in the Church of Holy Cross, now called St. Walburga's. In 893 Bishop Erchanbold, Otkar's successor, opened the shrine to take out a portion of the relics for Liubula, Abbess of Monheim, and it was then that the body was first discovered to be immersed in a precious oil or dew, which from that day to this (save during a period when Eichstadt was laid under interdict, and when blood was shed in the church by robbers who seriously wounded the bell-ringer) has continued to flow from the sacred remains, especially the breast. This fact has caused St. Walburga to be reckoned among the Elaephori, or oil-yielding saints (see OIL OF SAINTS). Portions of St. Walburga's relics have been taken to Cologne, Antwerp, Furnes, and elsewhere, whilst her oil has been carried to all quarters of the globe.
The various translations of St. Walburga's relics have led to a diversity of feasts in her honour. In the Roman Martyrology she is commemorated on 1 May, her name being linked with St. Asaph's, on which day her chief festival is celebrated in Belgium and Bavaria. In the Benedictine Breviary her feast is assigned to 25 (in leap year 26) Feb. She is represented in the Benedictine habit with a little phial or bottle; as an abbess with a crozier, a crown at her feet, denoting her royal birth; sometimes she is represented in a group with St. Philip and St. James the Less, and St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy, because she is said to have been canonized by Pope Adrian II on 1 May, the festival of these saints. If, however, as some maintain, she was canonized during the episcopate of Erchanbold, not in Otkar's, then it could not have been during the pontificate of Adrian II. The Benedictine community of Eichstadt is flourishing, and the nuns have care of the saint's shrine; that of Heidenheim was ruthlessly expelled in 1538, but the church is now in Catholic hands. Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

#BreakingNews Northern Italy under Lockdown with over 200 COVID-19 cases and some Deaths - Vatican postpones events

The director of the Vatican Press Room, Matteo Bruni, reported on the decision to postpone some events organized in closed places and with a significant presence of the public. For the WHO, the peak of infections in China has been reached but a potential "pandemic risk" remains for the world.  Latest statistics from the WHO: Globally 79 331 confirmed (715 new) China 77 262 confirmed (415 new) 2595 deaths (150 new) Outside of China 2069 confirmed (300 new) 29 countries (1 new) 23 deaths (6 new).
Certain "events scheduled for the next few days in closed places and with a significant influx of public" which, according to the director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, "have been postponed" inside the Vatican.
In addition, "dispensers with a hand sanitizer" have been installed in the offices in Vatican City.
Italian tax police officers set a road block in Casalpusterlengo, Northern Italy, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.
Italy is now trying to prevent the spread of Europe's first major outbreak of the new viral disease with rapidly rising numbers of infections and a 7th death. Road blocks were set up in at least some of 10 towns in Lombardy at the epicenter of the outbreak, including in Casalpusterlengo.
Police manned checkpoints around quarantined towns in Italy's north on Monday and residents stocked up on food as the country became the focal point of the outbreak in Europe and fears of its cross-border spread.

Civil protection officials said at least 222 people had tested positive for the virus in Italy and that 7 people had died; all fatalities were elderly people in the two main clusters in Lombardy and Veneto. It was the highest number of cases outside Asia, and underscored the limits of Italy's prevention protocols, the most stringent in Europe.
Monday had spread to a half-dozen regions and prompted Austria to temporarily halt rail traffic across its border with Italy.

“These rapid developments over the weekend have shown how quickly this situation can change,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in Brussels. “We need to take this situation of course very seriously, but we must not give in to panic, and, even more importantly, to disinformation.”

While Italian authorities cancelled soccer matches, Masses (churches) and closed schools, museums, theatres and even Venice's famed Carnival, they also sought to calm fears by noting the virus' low mortality rate. The six people who died with coronavirus were all elderly and several had other serious ailments.

Civil protection officials insisted that Italy was still a safe place to visit. Veneto regional president Luca Zaia lamented that he never imagined he would ever have to cancel Venice's Carnival - another economic blow to the famed lagoon city that already saw tourism plummet after last year's floods.

Italy, however, wasn't taking chances and effectively sealed off a dozen northern towns where more than 200 of the cases were found. On Monday, police wearing face masks manned checkpoints along the road into Codogno, southeast of Milan, where the first patient to test positive for the virus was hospitalized last week.

Residents wearing face masks and gloves lined up at supermarket to stock up on food, only to find out the market was still closed on orders of the mayor.

In the Lombardy capital of Milan, Italy's financial hub, the final two runway shows of Milan Fashion Week scheduled for Monday were cancelled.

A joint team from the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control were set to visit Italy.
Edited from CP24 - WHO - VaticanNews - CNA Asia -

Pope Francis explains "There is an urgent need to end the exploitation of the poorest!" Full Text


Hall of the Consistory
Monday, February 24, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy to welcome you and meet you as members of the Pro Petri Sede Association during your pilgrimage to Rome. Like St. Peter, you have been guided on your way by love for Christ. And by gathering at his grave, which shed blood for his Master and Savior, you perform an act of faith that allows you to renew yourselves spiritually.

This pilgrimage also offers you the opportunity to make your financial and spiritual contribution to the social and charitable works related to my pastoral mission and the activities of the Holy See. Following in the footsteps of your predecessors, participate in the missionary action of the Church which strives for the integral human development of each person. In fact, the human person must always be defended and protected in his integrity and dignity whatever his origin or social status.

In the unbridled race for having, career, honors or power, the weak and the little ones are sometimes ignored and rejected. Indeed, «in the desire to run, to conquer everything and immediately, those who are left behind bother. And it is judged to be a waste: how many elderly people, how many unborn children, how many disabled people, poor people considered useless! » (Homily at the World Poor's Day Mass, 17 November 2019). For this reason, the Church, supporting the preferential choice for the poor, relies on men and women of good will and imbued with the Gospel to bring peace and joy to the Risen One to every needy person. Through your charitable contribution to the life of the Church, you become the salt and the light (cf Mt 5: 13-14) which give so many people the taste of life.

Dear friends, I express my gratitude to you for your constant support for my responsibility as successor of Saint Peter. Today we are faced with various challenges that concern the human family and its common home. At the center of our concerns, we bring the cry of anguish of the people who suffer, in particular, from wars, the displacement of people, poverty and degradation of the ecosystem. There is an urgent need to end the exploitation of the poorest! It is urgent that the atrocities in countries prey to the wars and conflicts that push many people on the road to exile must cease!

I would like to insist on the care of our common home, once again launching the appeal for an ecological conversion. Your testimony of Christian life, which is manifested through generosity and attention to others, invites us all today to fight against the generalized climate of individualism, selfishness and indifference, which threaten both peace between men and the environment.

I invite you to remain firm in your convictions and faith, to be a flame that brings hope to the hearts of men and women today. Like St. Peter, take off with courage and share the great love that Christ has revealed to us.

I entrust each of you and your families, and all the members of your association to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to Saint Peter and to the Saints of your countries. I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you. And please, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!
Full Text + Image - Unofficial Translation

10 People brought closer to becoming Saints as the Pope authorizes the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Decrees

Pope Francis has approved two candidates for canonization, including Devasahayam Pillai of India, an 18th-century Hindu convert to Catholicism.
By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Friday authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate 8 decrees regarding 10 candidates, clearing two of them for sainthood.

Among them is Indian martyr, Blessed Lazarus, called Devasahayam, an 18th century high-caste Hindu married man who converted to Catholicism.  A decree acknowledged a miracle through his intercession that cleared him for sainthood.

Born on April 23, 1712 as Neelakanda Pillai, in the village of Nattalam, Devasahayam served in the palace of southern India’s Hindu kingdom of Travancore, which stretched from what is Kanyakumari District today, right up to Cochin in Kerala state.

At Baptism in 1745, he assumed the name 'Lazarus' or 'Devasahayam' in the local language, meaning ‘God is my help’.  However, his conversion did not go well with the heads of his native religion.  False charges of treason and espionage were brought against him and he was divested of his post in the royal administration.  He was imprisoned and subjected to harsh persecution. A Catholic for only seven years, he was shot dead in the Aralvaimozhy forest on January 14, 1752.

Sites linked with his life and martyrdom are in Kottar Diocese, in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu state.  His tomb at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Nagercoil attracts large numbers of devotees.

Devasahayam was declared Blessed on December 2, 2012, in Kottar, 300 years after his birth. 

In remarks that day during the midday “Angelus” prayer in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI recalled Devasahayam as “faithful layman”.  He urged Christians to “join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that the new Blessed may sustain the faith of the Christians of that large and noble country.”

Pope Francis also acknowledged a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Maria Francesca di Gesù (born: Anna Maria Rubatto), that clears her for canonization.  The foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano was born in Carmagnola (Italy) on February 14, 1844, and died in Montevideo (Uruguay) on August 6, 1904.

The canonization of these two candidates will be decided at a later date.

Carlo Acutis
Another miracle was recognized through the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Carlo Acutis, a layman.  He was born on May 3, 1991, in London (England) and died on October 12, 2006, in Monza (Italy).

The young catechist had an ardent devotion to the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary.  A normal boy who loved studying and playing football was also worked for homeless people and helped in soup kitchens.

He is known for documenting Eucharistic miracles around the world and cataloguing them all onto a website that he himself created in the months before his death from leukemia at the age of 15.  He has been cleared for beatification.

Martyrdom of Grande
The Pope also recognized the martyrdom of the Servants of God Rutilio Grande García, a Jesuit priest, and his 2 lay companions, who were killed in hatred of the faith in El Salvador on March 12, 1977.

Murdered before the start of the Salvadoran civil war, Father Grande, who was a close friend of fellow Salvadoran and martyr, Saint Oscar Romero, became an icon for human rights in rural Latin America. 

Known for his vigorous defence of poor, the Jesuit priest, an elderly man and a teenager were shot by a right-wing death squad as they were travelling in a car outside the village where he was born.

The horror that the assassination of Fr. Grande generated led Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador to take up the Jesuit’s mantle as a defender of the poor.  Three years later, Romero would succumb to the assassins' bullets for his outspoken criticism of the military and work on behalf of El Salvador's oppressed.

The decree on the martyrdom of Fr. Grande and his two companions does away with the need for a miracle through their intercession to qualify for beatification, the final step before sainthood, for which a miracle would be required.  The beatification date will be declared at a later date.

Heroic virtues
There were also 4 decrees on the heroic virtues of the following candidates: 

- Servant of God Emilio Venturini, a diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Our Lady of Sorrows.  He born in Chioggia (Italy) on 9 January 1842 and died there on 1 December 1905.

- Servant of God Pirro Scavizzi, a diocesan priest.  Born in Gubbio (Italy) on March 31,1884, he died in Rome on September 9, 1964.

- Servant of God Emilio Recchia of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata ( or Stigmatines). He was born in Verona (Italy) on February 19, 1888 and died there on June 27, 1969.

- Servant of God Mario Hiriart Pulido, a lay person.  Born in Santiago de Chile (Chile) on 23 July 1931, he died in Milwaukee (United States of America) on 15 July 1964.

These four Servants of God will now be called ‘Venerable Servants of God”, or simply ‘Venerable’.

Full Text Source: - Image source:

Full Text Message of Pope Francis for Lent stresses Confession and Prayer "...prayer is so important in Lent."


“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year the Lord grants us, once again, a favourable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life. We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity.
1. The paschal mystery as the basis of conversion
Christian joy flows from listening to, and accepting, the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This kerygma sums up the mystery of a love “so real, so true, so concrete, that it invites us to a relationship of openness and fruitful dialogue” (Christus Vivit, 117). Whoever believes this message rejects the lie that our life is ours to do with as we will. Rather, life is born of the love of God our Father, from his desire to grant us life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). If we listen instead to the tempting voice of the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44), we risk sinking into the abyss of absurdity, and experiencing hell here on earth, as all too many tragic events in the personal and collective human experience sadly bear witness.
In this Lent of 2020, I would like to share with every Christian what I wrote to young people in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit: “Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt. Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew” (No. 123). Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer.
2. The urgency of conversion
It is good to contemplate more deeply the paschal mystery through which God’s mercy has been bestowed upon us. Indeed, the experience of mercy is only possible in a “face to face” relationship with the crucified and risen Lord “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends. That is why prayer is so important in Lent. Even more than a duty, prayer is an expression of our need to respond to God’s love which always precedes and sustains us. Christians pray in the knowledge that, although unworthy, we are still loved. Prayer can take any number of different forms, but what truly matters in God’s eyes is that it penetrates deep within us and chips away at our hardness of heart, in order to convert us ever more fully to God and to his will.
In this favourable season, then, may we allow ourselves to be led like Israel into the desert (cf. Hos 2:14), so that we can at last hear our Spouse’s voice and allow it to resound ever more deeply within us. The more fully we are engaged with his word, the more we will experience the mercy he freely gives us. May we not let this time of grace pass in vain, in the foolish illusion that we can control the times and means of our conversion to him.
3. God’s passionate will to dialogue with his children
The fact that the Lord once again offers us a favourable time for our conversion should never be taken for granted. This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth. Despite the sometimes tragic presence of evil in our lives, and in the life of the Church and the world, this opportunity to change our course expresses God’s unwavering will not to interrupt his dialogue of salvation with us. In the crucified Jesus, who knew no sin, yet for our sake was made to be sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), this saving will led the Father to burden his Son with the weight of our sins, thus, in the expression of Pope Benedict XVI, “turning of God against himself” (Deus Caritas Est, 12). For God also loves his enemies (cf. Mt 5:43-48).
The dialogue that God wishes to establish with each of us through the paschal mystery of his Son has nothing to do with empty chatter, like that attributed to the ancient inhabitants of Athens, who “spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). Such chatter, determined by an empty and superficial curiosity, characterizes worldliness in every age; in our own day, it can also result in improper use of the media.
4. A richness to be shared, not kept for oneself
Putting the paschal mystery at the centre of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence. They are likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.
Today too, there is a need to appeal to men and women of good will to share, by almsgiving, their goods with those most in need, as a means of personally participating in the building of a better world. Charitable giving makes us more human, whereas hoarding risks making us less human, imprisoned by our own selfishness. We can and must go even further, and consider the structural aspects of our economic life. For this reason, in the midst of Lent this year, from 26 to 28 March, I have convened a meeting in Assisi with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy. As the Church’s magisterium has often repeated, political life represents an eminent form of charity (cf. Pius XI, Address to the Italian Federation of Catholic University Students, 18 December 1927). The same holds true for economic life, which can be approached in the same evangelical spirit, the spirit of the Beatitudes.
I ask Mary Most Holy to pray that our Lenten celebration will open our hearts to hear God’s call to be reconciled to himself, to fix our gaze on the paschal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with him. In this way, we will become what Christ asks his disciples to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:13-14).
Rome, at Saint John Lateran, 7 October 2019
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Full Text + Image - official Translation

#BreakingNews Thousands of Israeli Settlers Protest on lands of Latin Patriarchate - Bishops are Concerned

ASIA/HOLY LAND - "Demonstrative" protest of thousands of Israeli settlers on the lands of the Latin Patriarchate. Silence on behalf of the political authorities
Monday, 24 February 2020
Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - On Friday, February 21, 2020, thousands of Israeli settlers entered with no permission and gathered on the land lot belonging to the Latin Patriarchate in Tayasir, near Tubas in northern West Bank, in clear violation of private property. The mass of Israeli settlers arrived aboard dozens of buses and cars (see photo) and it should be mentioned that settlers brought their cows, some days ago, to the Patriarchate lands and caused considerable damage there. The mass of Israeli settlers arrived aboard dozens of buses and cars (see photo). The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is very concerned not only from the settlers’ violations of its properties, but also from the lack of action by the Israeli authorities to put an end to such offenses.
The intimidating acts perpetrated by groups of settlers should also be read in light of the recent unilateral choices made by the US Administration regarding the present and future fate of the Palestinian lands occupied by Israel. The "solution" project of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict launched by the US on January 28, defined by President Donald Trump as "the plan of the century", gave Israel the possibility to extend sovereignty to settler settlements scattered in the West Bank, but at the same time asked Israel to freeze the construction of new settlements in the Arab territories for four years. A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that over 5,000 new homes for Israeli settlers will be built in key areas of East Jerusalem, in the neighborhoods of Har Homa and Givat Hamatos. Both neighborhoods are located in the last lands that connect the Palestinian areas of the West Bank to East Jerusalem. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 24/2/2020)

Pope Francis says "Let us invoke the Holy Spirit so that each of us, starting from the daily gestures of love.." Full Text at Angelus



Corso Vittorio Emanuele II (Bari)
Sunday, February 23 2020

Dear brothers and sisters,

while we are gathered here to pray and reflect on the peace and fate of the peoples bordering the Mediterranean, on the other side of this sea, particularly in the north-west of Syria, an immense tragedy is taking place. From our hearts of shepherds there is a strong appeal to the actors involved and to the international community, because it is silent about the noise of arms and weeps the tears of the little ones and the defenseless; to put aside the calculations and interests to safeguard the lives of civilians and the many innocent children who pay the consequences.

Let us pray to the Lord that he may move hearts and all can overcome the logic of confrontation, hatred and revenge in order to rediscover themselves brothers, children of one Father, who makes the sun rise on the good and the bad (see Mt 5:45). Let us invoke the Holy Spirit so that each of us, starting from the daily gestures of love, contribute to building new relationships, inspired by understanding, acceptance, patience, thus laying the conditions for experiencing the joy of the Gospel and spreading it in every environment of life. May the Virgin Mary, the "Star of the Sea" [Holy Mother of God] to whom we look as the highest example of fidelity to Jesus and his word, help us to walk on this road.

Before reciting the Angelus together, I warmly thank all the Bishops and all those who participated in this meeting on the Mediterranean as a frontier of peace; as well as those - and there are many! - who worked in various ways for its success. Thank you all! You have contributed to the growth of the culture of encounter and dialogue in this region so important for world peace.
Full Text + Image - Unofficial Translation

Archdiocese of Singapore Suspends Public Mass and Large Gatherings due to Corona Virus - COVID-19

Pastoral Letter On COVID-19 – Suspension Of Masses And Large Gatherings
My dear People of God,

Over the past weeks, we have provided medical and public health advisories to minimize the risk of a cluster outbreak of the COVID-19 among our congregations and priests.

We have even considered mandating compulsory taking of temperature.  Yet, we are also aware that temperature-taking is not a fool-proof screening tool as persons who are asymptomatic can also be carriers of the infection.   Thus, implementing temperature screening may not entirely help prevent the spread of this infection even though it does mitigate the possibility of its transmission.  As Catholics, we need to be responsible in playing our part to contain the spread of this virus by avoiding large gatherings of people.

Hence, given the current escalating situation which is proving to be difficult to contain, all public Masses, both on weekdays and weekends will be suspended indefinitely with effect on Saturday, 15 February, 12pm until there is greater clarity on the way forward.   Likewise, all other public events with large numbers of people attending, such as formation sessions, retreats and seminars should be suspended.

Nevertheless, the cancellation of Masses does not mean that Catholics can excuse themselves from fulfilling the obligation of keeping the Day of the Lord holy.  They should try to follow the broadcast of the Mass on YouTube or CatholicSG Radio.  Please check the archdiocesan website for the time of the online broadcast.  (  Following the broadcast of the Mass will help you to receive the Lord spiritually.  You can also gather as a family for the Liturgy of the Word by spending time in prayer, reading the Word of God of the Sunday Liturgy and interceding for the world that this Covid-19 virus will be contained and eradicated.   Even if you cannot gather together as a family to worship, you should individually spend at least half an hour in quiet time to pray and especially read the Word of God.

For weddings and funerals these are considered private services which means only invited guests can attend.  Arrangements will have to be made with the parish priest. All precautionary measures must be taken as per the advice of the Catholic Medical Guild (CMG).

For those who need the sacraments urgently, e.g. Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, please make an appointment with the priests in your parish.   Ministers of the sacraments must also take proper precautions when ministering to parishioners.

Finally, please continue to follow the safeguards and precautions that the CMG have issued periodically (

Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Let us continue to pray for each other, especially those who have succumbed to this illness; and that the Lord will free us from this Covid-19 so that we can continue to worship freely and build up the community in love and service. Pray also for those in the frontlines – the doctors and the nurses – who are putting their own well-being in the service of the sick; that the Lord will protect them and their loved ones from harm.

Yours devotedly in the Lord

Most Rev William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore

Given on the Feast of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
14 Feb 2020

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday, February 24, 2020 - #Eucharist

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 341

Reading 1JAS 3:13-18

Who among you is wise and understanding?
Let him show his works by a good life 
in the humility that comes from wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth.
Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

Responsorial Psalm19:8, 9, 10, 15

R.    (9a)  The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R.    The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R.    The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R.    The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R.    The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Alleluia2 TM 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 9:14-29

As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John
and approached the other disciples,
they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them.
Immediately on seeing him,
the whole crowd was utterly amazed.
They ran up to him and greeted him.
He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
Someone from the crowd answered him,
“Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.
Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down;
he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.”
He said to them in reply,
“O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?  Bring him to me.”
They brought the boy to him.
And when he saw him,
the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions.
As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around 
and foam at the mouth.
Then he questioned his father,
“How long has this been happening to him?”
He replied, “Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him,
“‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”
Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
“Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!”
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!”
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private,
“Why could we not drive the spirit out?”
He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”