Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Thursday, February 4, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church

 Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 326
Reading I
Heb 12:18-19, 21-24
Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness
and storm and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said,
“I am terrified and trembling.”
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently
than that of Abel.
Responsorial Psalm
48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 9, 10-11
R.    (see 10)  O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
    in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
    is the joy of all the earth. 
R.    O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Mount Zion, “the recesses of the North,”
    the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
    renowned is he as a stronghold.
R.    O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
As we had heard, so have we seen
    in the city of the LORD of hosts,
In the city of our God;
    God makes it firm forever.
R.    O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
O God, we ponder your mercy
    within your temple.
As your name, O God, so also your praise
    reaches to the ends of the earth.
Of justice your right hand is full.
R.    O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Mk 1:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Mk 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint February 4 : St. Joseph of Leonessa : Capuchin Priest who Sometimes would Preach 7 Times a Day

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

Sister Brave Heart the True Story of an Indigenous Missionary Nun from a Country where Less than 1% are Christian

We know “charity begins at home “ at the same time we can give a definition about missionaries : a missionary grow up in a morally strong Christian family. 
For every nun and priest their life must be grounded in their love for JESUS CHRIST. 
This is the  story of a brave hearted nun and it brings us to Bangladesh a country where less than 1% are Christian.  
Bangladesh underwent many hardships from 1945 to 1971. The country was ruled by Pakistan at that time and then a brutal war broke out as Bangladesh established its freedom after 1971 . This freedom was made possible by the Indian government and the Indian army helping. Bangladesh had been a vassal country. Everything was destroyed by the war. Hunger and poverty was daily life.
 Many indigenous people were killed and many indigenous Christian women and girls were raped and killed by the Pakistan Muslim fundamentalist army. This has been considered a genocide where more the 3 million killed by Pakistan army. At that time the Indian government opened the border and gave shelter for Bangladeshi refugees. Many indigenous people didn’t come back to Bangladesh only some indigenous came to Bangladesh. When they returned to their own country and villages they saw everything was destroyed. They had no home, food, or clothing. At that time many international nuns and priests in different congregations and a few international Christian organizations supported the millions of hungry people in Bangladesh. 
This is short background story I have written here explains why after 1971 large numbers of indigenous people received Jesus CHRIST and converted to become Christian. 
Day by day Christian religious activities are increasing.  Today many young Bangladeshis are becoming priests and nuns. 
However, among them only a few are involved in international congregations. 
This is where we find the heroine of our story, Sister Shaphali, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). She became a nun and missionary of the PIME congregation in Papua New Guinea. Sr. Shaphali has been a nun for over 10 years.
 Sr. Shaphali Khalko came from a large but poor indigenous family. Her father was a catechist, a gospel preacher who helped priests. Her father retired 2003. He visited more then 850 indigenous villages with more then 20 indigenous communities and more then 20,000  indigenous people converted to Christianity. This was in the two Catholic dioceses of Dinajpur and Rajshahi. 
Her father had written one indiginous language religious song and translated liturgical books into  two indigenous languages. At the end of his life, he was still working for Catholic church. One Italian newspaper in 2003 had an article about his working for the Catholic Church as a lay holy Gospel preacher. This is very true: at the end of his life Sr. Shaphali said her father was always an honest and strong Christian personality. As a preacher he did not make much money so poverty was daily lifestyle for her family. However, nothing could stop Sr. Shaphali from becoming a religious nun.  
Sr. Shaphali was born to the indigenous OROUAN community in a remote village. Very few girls went to school. Only a few girls could go to school because of the poverty and ignorance at that time. It was very rare to get opportunity to study at Catholic schools. When Sr. Shaphali was a child  she saw her father going to preach the holy gospel far away. When her father came back at home after one month or two months then she would hear many challenging, funny and interesting stories. It was then that Sr. Shaphali began to dream about becoming a missionary. But at her young age when Sr. Shaphali studied at college and decided to enter a missionary congregation she needed to look for a congregation. At the last moment she got accepted to the P I M E Missionary nuns' congregation. But the journey wasn’t nice and easy. 
When Sr. Shaphali  entered the congregation her family was suffering from many problems. Her parents were suffering from different illnesses. Her elder brother had cancer and no access to treatment so he died but he left behind 3 daughters and 1 baby and wife. They didn't have food and clothes... and didn't have their own home. Another brother wasn’t able to work. There were big political issues going on involving her parish, and Christian and Muslim fundamentalists groups. In fact, they came several times to destroy the church and the Christian people. Her father went to the police station and court to stop these attacks. At that time few local priests were able to help her father and family. There were many internal issues. 
Further complicating things for Sr. Shaphali were complaints made by locals and a few nuns to get her thrown out of the congregation. Even some local boys had written over 100 letters to her superior to get her thrown out. However, Sr. Shaphali had a very strong personality and in her  novitiate life she was very humble and pious.  
Somehow God’s love for her and blessings for her true vocation came through at the last moment.  She made her first vows on the 16th of July in 2000 and last vows in 2008. 
As you can see there were many, many  challenges to her becoming a missionary. During her first years as a missionary  Sr. Shaphali  worked in different parts and different indigenous communities and challenging parishes in Bangladesh. Then, Sr. Shaphali was selected for a new mission in Papua New Guinea, an island country besides Australia, with many cultures and languages of indigenous communities. So within few months Sr. Shaphali  had to learn many languages. Then she prepared herself to go as a missionary to another land in 2011. Today, she is working in Papua New Guinea. When she left as a missionary her parents were suffering many sicknesses and financial burdens. Her father faced many financial problems. Due to their poverty, her parents lacked good food, medical treatment and medicines thus both her father and mother died. But she never stopped her missionary activities. Sr. Shaphali had seen many problems in her family and her parents suffering many sicknesses but nothing stopped her determination to be  missionary. A really unforgettable moment in her life was that she couldn't see her parents when they died. As a nun she had empty hands. When she saw all this going on around her she just offered it up and prayed. 
She never asked any financial help from her congregation or anyone; she just offered prayers and prayers. Sr. Shaphali has made innumerable  sacrifices. But, despite this pain, she is continuously working. 
Behind her sacrifices great graces are at work.  There is a really wonderful and interesting story going on by the power of grace. There are now 12 nuns working in different nuns congregations in Bangladesh who are all her own relatives. They were inspired by her to become nuns. Also, there are more than 30 other nuns directly inspired by her. She is an inspiration to many of the girls who see her work.
Written by (Sr. Shaphali's Nephew) Francis Rony Tirky, Catholic News World's Correspondent from Bangladesh and former Community Development Animator for Caritas.

Pope Francis says "Life is called to become worship to God, but this cannot happen without prayer, especially liturgical prayer." FULL TEXT



Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, 3 February 2021


Catechesis on prayer - 23. Praying in the liturgy

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the history of the Church, there has often been a temptation to practise an intimist Christianity, which does not recognise the spiritual importance of public liturgical rites. Often, this tendency claimed the supposed greater purity of a religiousness that did not depend on external ceremonies, which were considered a useless or harmful burden. At the centre of the criticism was not a particular ritual form, or a particular way of celebrating, but rather the liturgy itself, the liturgical form of praying.

Indeed, in the Church one can find certain forms of spirituality that have failed to adequately integrate the liturgical moment. Many of the faithful, although they participate assiduously in the liturgy, especially Sunday Mass, have instead drawn nourishment for their faith and spiritual life from other sources, of a devotional type.

Much has been achieved in recent decades. The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council represents a pivotal point in this long journey. It comprehensively and organically reaffirms the importance of the divine liturgy for the life of Christians, who find therein that objective mediation required by the fact that Jesus Christ is not an idea or a sentiment, but a living Person, and His Mystery a historical event. The prayer of Christians passes through tangible mediations: Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, liturgical rites, the community. In Christian life, the corporeal and material sphere may not be dispensed with, because in Jesus Christ it became the way of salvation. We might say that we must pray with the body too: the body enters into prayer.

Therefore, there is no Christian spirituality that is not rooted in the celebration of the holy mysteries. The Catechism writes: “The mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays” (2655). The liturgy, in itself, is not only spontaneous prayer, but something more and more original: it is an act that founds the whole Christian experience and, therefore, also prayer. It is event, it is happening, it is presence, it is encounter. It is an encounter with Christ. Christ makes himself present in the Holy Spirit through the sacramental signs: hence the need for us Christians to participate in the divine mysteries. A Christianity without a liturgy, I dare say, is perhaps a Christianity without Christ. Without Christ in full. Even in the sparest rite, such as that which some Christians have celebrated and continue to celebrate in places of incarceration, or in the seclusion of a house during times of persecution, Christ is truly present and gives Himself to His faithful.

The liturgy, precisely because of its objective dimension, demands to be celebrated with fervour, so that the grace poured out in the rite is not dispersed but instead reaches the experience of all. The Catechism explains it very well; it says: “Prayer internalises and assimilates the liturgy during and after its celebration” (ibid.). Many Christian prayers do not originate from the liturgy, but all of them, if they are Christian, presuppose the liturgy, that is, the sacramental mediation of Jesus Christ. Every time we celebrate a Baptism, or consecrate the bread and wine in the Eucharist, or anoint the body of a sick person with Holy Oil, Christ is here! It is He who acts and is present just as He was when He healed the weak limbs of a sick person, or when at the Last Supper He delivered His testament for the salvation of the world.

The prayer of the Christian makes the sacramental presence of Jesus his or her own. What is external to us becomes part of us: the liturgy expresses this even in the very natural gesture of eating. The Mass cannot simply be "listened to”: it is also an expression incorrect, “I’m going to listen to Mass”. Mass cannot merely be listened to, as if we were merely spectators of something that slips away without our involvement. The Mass is always celebrated, and not only by the priest who presides over it, but by all Christians who experience it. And the centre is Christ! All of us, in the diversity of gifts and ministries, join in His action, because He, Christ, is the Protagonist of the liturgy.

When the first Christians began to worship, they did so by actualizing Jesus’ deeds and words, with the light and power of the Holy Spirit, so that their lives, reached by that grace, would become a spiritual sacrifice offered to God. This approach was a true “revolution”. Saint Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (12:1). Life is called to become worship to God, but this cannot happen without prayer, especially liturgical prayer. May this thought help us all when we go to Mass: I go to pray in the community, I go to pray with Christ who is present. When we go to the celebration of a Baptism, for example, it is Christ who is there, present, who baptizes. “But Father, this is an idea, a figure of speech”: no, it is not a figure of speech. Christ is present, and in the liturgy you pray with Christ who is beside you.

Special Greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful and I invite everyone, especially in this time of pandemic, to rediscover the beauty of the liturgy and its ability to enrich our personal prayer and the growth of our communities in union with the Lord. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!


Tomorrow marks the First International Day of Human Fraternity, established by a recent Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. This initiative also takes note of the meeting on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, when the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyib and I signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. I am very pleased that the nations of the entire world are joining in this celebration, aimed at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Tomorrow afternoon, I will take part in a virtual meeting with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, with the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, and other leaders. The United Nations Resolution recognizes “the contribution that dialogue among all religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind”. May this be our prayer today and our commitment every day of the year.

African Pro-Life Leaders Release VIDEO Uniting to Request President Joe Biden Not to Fund Abortions in Africa - @JoeBiden

African people unite to decry Biden’s move to fund abortion
Pro-lifers from different African countries have united to decry President Biden’s move to fund abortion across the continent. Obianuju Ekeocha, Nigerian pro-life leader and founder of Culture of Life Africa, has said: “It has been disheartening to see western donor nations using the advantage of their wealth to push their anti-life position on African nations.”

President Biden recently signed an executive order which repealed the Mexico City Policy which means that U.S. aid money will once again fund organisations that provide abortion in developing countries.

Culture of Life Africa, has released a hard-hitting video featuring pro-life Africans speaking out against Biden’s decision.  

The united voices of Africa
 Ms Ekeocha said: “I wanted to ask my brothers and sisters and my dear friends who are in different African countries exactly how they feel about the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, the most powerful country in the world, coming into African countries and funding abortion organisations. And here is what people told me.”

Amaka who who lives in Africa said: “This is a request, actually a plea, to the incoming American President, Joe Biden, to please not fund abortion in African countries. Please, we do not need funding for abortion.”

Student Ellen said: “In my culture we support life from the beginning until the end. I am against abortion because abortion is about killing innocent babies in the womb of their mother. I am also against the funding of abortion in Africa by any foreign country.”

Chisom, who is a Project Manager in Africa said: “I’m an African and an African woman. I do not believe in taking lives, destroying it nor killing it. We do not need abortion. Why must abortion be funded and given priority in my country? I am here to tell you and appeal to you that we do not want it. We stand against it and do not believe in it.”

Church leaders in Africa told pro-lifers to: “Pray, organize, communicate, and cooperate.”

Edited from SPUK

Christian Leaders in Asia Issue Joint Pastoral Letter on Myanmar in Prayer for the Restoration of Democracy

WCC and CCA leaders hope abrupt resumption of military rule will not lead to escalation of violence in Myanmar
Posted on 3 February 2021

Chiang MaiThe General Secretaries of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) have issued a joint pastoral letter addressed to churches and the Council of Churches in Myanmar, following the recent development of the army toppling Myanmar’s elected government, and arresting its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The joint pastoral letter issued by the WCC General Secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca and the CCA General Secretary Dr Mathews George Chunakara conveyed a message of profound concern on the current developments, “especially the abrupt resumption of military rule, the overturning of the outcome of elections on 8 November 2020, as well as the detention of key political and pro-democracy representatives and the escalation of the national situation which has led to the current declaration of a state of emergency.”

The leaders of global and regional ecumenical organisations in their pastoral letter expressed their hope for peace and justice: “We pray that the recent development will not lead to an escalation of violence and suffering in your country.”

The joint pastoral letter affirms “support for the churches and communities of Myanmar in prayer and solidarity,” as they sought to “provide counsel and comfort for their people in this time of deep anxiety and uncertainty for the future.”

The WCC and CCA voiced their concern regarding the future of the country and its people, stating, “We urge a swift and peaceful return to the path of democracy, and appeal for the human rights and freedoms—including the freedom of religion or belief—of all Myanmar’s people to be fully respected and protected.”

The General Secretary of the CCA, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, said that the military coup comes at a time when the country suffers the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, declining socioeconomic standards, and continued struggles for liberation from rampant poverty.

Recalling the CCA’s consistent efforts over the decades towards enhanced democratisation and human rights in Myanmar, the CCA General Secretary said, “The CCA has always upheld the values of democracy, justice, and peace. At this time of destabilisation and uncertainty about the future, we stand with the people of Myanmar and pray for the restoration of democracy in the country.”

The declaration of a year-long state of emergency and the handing of power over to the commander-in-chief, the deployment of the military on the streets of the capital, Naypyidaw, and in the largest city, Yangon, (where blockades on major roads have been erected) makes Myanmar the location of the latest setback for democracy in Asia.

Myanmar, earlier known as Burma, was under military dictatorship from 1962. The army eventually ended nearly 50 years of military rule in the country in 2011, making way for a civilian government. However, the military still retained a great measure of authority although Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy was allowed to take power in 2016.

With the recent development, the international community, including the churches around the world, have expressed apprehension about the possibility of Myanmar entering another dark phase in its history.

FULL TEXT Release:

The full text of the WCC–CCA joint pastoral letter to the churches and council of churches in Myanmar can be found below:

U.S. Bishop Chairmen Welcome Administration’s Racial Equity - FULL TEXT from USCCB

 U.S. Bishop Chairmen Welcome Administration’s Racial Equity Actions on Housing and Prisons

FEBRUARY 1, 2021

WASHINGTON – Following recent executive actions to promote racial equity in housing and the criminal justice system, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, issued the following statement:

“We welcome the Biden Administration’s actions to promote racial equity. Specifically, the executive order directing the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to examine the effect of repealing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule is a step in the right direction to restoring needed protections against housing discrimination. Repealing this rule minimized the affirmative responsibility of the government to promote fair housing. The federal government has a critical role to play in overcoming and redressing our nation’s history of discrimination, and we hope the administration follows through on the important work of promoting fair housing and human dignity.

“We also welcome the new administration’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice will not renew contracts with private prisons. The bishops have long questioned the efficacy of private companies running prisons, and this step is a positive development in criminal justice reform.[1] We encourage the administration to consider similar policies in the future regarding civil immigrant detention facilities.”

The USCCB and Catholic Charities USA filed comments in March 2020 calling for the full implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. 

[1] See, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice (2000) (“We bishops question whether private, for-profit corporations can effectively run prisons. The profit motive may lead to reduced efforts to change behaviors, treat substance abuse, and offer skills necessary for reintegration into the community”)