Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Thursday, February 25, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church

 Thursday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 227
Reading I
Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish,
had recourse to the LORD.
She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, 
from morning until evening, and said:
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. 
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you,
for I am taking my life in my hand.
As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers
that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you.
Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you,
O LORD, my God.
(Mass starts after the Stations of the Cross at the 14:57 Mark)
 “And now, come to help me, an orphan.
Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion
and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy,
so that he and those who are in league with him may perish.
Save us from the hand of our enemies;
turn our mourning into gladness
and our sorrows into wholeness.”
Responsorial Psalm
138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8
R.    (3a)  Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
    for you have heard the words of my mouth;
    in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
    and give thanks to your name.
R.    Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
    for you have made great above all things
    your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
    you built up strength within me.
R.    Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
    your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
    forsake not the work of your hands.
R.    Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Verse before the Gospel
Ps 51:12a, 14a
A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation.
Mt 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. 
This is the law and the prophets.”
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
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 25 : St. Tarasius who was Elevated to Bishop from the Laity and the Patriarch of Constantinople

Patriarch of Constantinople, date of birth unknown; died 25 February, 806.
He was the son of the Patrician and Prefect of Constantinople, George, and his wife Eukratia, and entered the service of the State. In 784 when Paul IV Patriarch of Constantinople died Tarasius was an imperial secretary, and a champion of the veneration of images. It may be that before his death the patriarch had recommended Tarasius as his successor in the patriarchate to the Empress Irene who was regent for her son Constantine VI (780-797). After the burial of Paul IV a great popular assembly was held before the Magnaura Palace to discuss the filling of the vacant see. The empress delivered an oration on the new appointment to the patriarchate and the people proclaimed Tarasius as the most worthy candidate. The empress agreed but said that Tarasius refused to accept the position. Tarasius now made a speech himself in which he declared he felt himself unworthy of the office, further that the elevation of a layman was very hazardous, and that the position of the Church of Constantinople had become a very difficult one, as it was separated from the Catholics of Western Europe and isolated from the other Oriental patriarchates; consequently he would only be willing to accept the position of patriarch on condition that Church unity be restored and that, in connection with the pope, an oecumenical council be called. The majority of the populace approved of these views and the imperial Court agreed to it. So on 25 December, 784, Tarasius was consecrated patriarch. In 785 he sent the priest George as his legate to Hadrian I with a letter in which he announced his appointment. In his reply the pope expressed his disapproval of the elevation of Tarasius directly from the laity to the dignity of a bishop contrary to canonical regulation, but allowed clemency to rule in view of the orthodoxy of the new patriarch's views, and recognized him as patriarch. After this by joint action with the pope and the imperial Court Tarasius called the Second Council of Nicaea, the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which rejected Iconoclasm. Union with the Roman Church was restored.
After the synod the patriarch had a number of struggles not only with the Iconoclastic party of the capital but also with a party of Orthodox monks. First, the latter upbraided him for restoring to office the bishops who had formerly maintained Iconoclasm, but who had submitted to the decrees of the Council of 787. As, however, this was in accordance with the decrees of the council the accusation was allowed to drop. Another accusation was much more serious, namely, that Tarasius tolerated and encouraged simony, because those bishops who had given money to obtain their positions were only commanded by him to do a year's penance and were permitted to retain their offices. The patriarch defended himself in writing against this accusation which he denied in toto; moreover, he issued a severe synodal letter against Simonists. The monks, however, were not satisfied; they maintained their accusations and also attacked the Council of 787. At a later date Theodore of Studium, who took part in these disputes, changed his opinion of Tarasius, and also of the Second Council of Nicaea, the oecumenical character of which he acknowledged. Many serious difficulties still existed in regard to Western Europe. There were also fresh disputes in Constantinople when the Emperor Constantine VI put aside his lawful wife and wished to marry Theodata, a relative of Abbot Theodore of Studium. Tarasius positively refused to perform the second marriage and expressed his displeasure at the conduct of the priest Joseph who had married the emperor. The zealous monks, whose leaders were the Abbots Plato of Saccudium and Theodore of Studium, accused the patriarch of weakness, because he took no further steps against the emperor. They refused to have Church fellowship any longer with Tarasius, and were, consequently, violently persecuted by the emperor who, however, also treated the patriarch harshly. After Irene had dethroned Constantine in 797, Tarasius deposed the priest Joseph and peace was once more restored between the patriarch and the monks. (See THEODORE OF STUDIUM). In 802 Tarasius crowned as emperor Nicephorus, who had overthrown Irene, an act that greatly dissatisfied the populace. The patriarch had nothing to do with the intrigues of the court. His life was ascetic and simple, he checked the luxury of the clergy, preached with great zeal, and was very benevolent to the poor. After his death he was venerated as a saint. His name is also placed in the Roman Martyrology under the date of 25 February. Catholic Encylopedia

A True Missionary Spirit - Fr. Patrick's Inspiring Vocation Story as a Newly Ordained Missionary Priest from Africa, to the Philippines to Mongolia!

Vocation Story and Pictures sent by newly ordained missionary, Fr. Patrick Nkolo, CICM, to Catholic News World:
 I’m privileged to share my vocation story just few days after my priesthood ordination.
I have been reading back this blessed journey during our retreat before the ordination. Herein I would
like recall what seem to be more important for me.

First and foremost, here is a brief biography of myself .I’m Father Patrick Nkolo, a religious missionary from the congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary ( CICM ). I’m 32 years old and I’m the 5th out of 7 children. My parents though aging are still there to look after us with care and love.

My desire to become priest started with the many presences of missionaries in our hometown. Second, our mother works in of those religious communities and she told us many testimonies about priests. This triggered me from the outset since I couldn’t grasp why young people had decided to leave behind their love ones and join seminaries. But as time passed by, I tried to ponder on their motivations after talking with those who were having their weekend apostolate in our parish especially in our choir.

After my bachelor degree in philosophy in one of the state universities in the capital city of Yaoundé ( Cameroon), I finally joined the minor seminary of our congregation. My admission was a bite strange. I participated twice in the yearly sessions to select candidates in Christmas and Easter. Everything was successful but since I was already enrolled in first year university, the rector at that time together with the team for vocation animation decided to postpone my admission. Immediately, our parish priest informed me about that fact, and I became less motivated to join. I continued up to the third year to get a bachelor degree.

However one afternoon, while tutoring some kids to get income to support my studies, I received a call from my parish priest ( not the one mentioned above) that I had to meet him urgently in our main building at the back of the basilica of Yaoundé. I immediately ended the class and went there. While being on my way, I keep on wondering why he called me up that way; many questions were bothering me. Upon arriving, we had a small chat and he directed me to a certain place where I found the whole vocation animation team together with the rector of the minor seminary well settled.

I was short of breath and very nervous. They certainly noticed it. Within 30 minutes flat, they posed a set of questions one after another and I gave brief answers because I wasn’t really at ease to go further in that tricky interview. At the end, I reaffirmed to them my desire to be a priest and they begged me to leave the room and wait for their reply in a couple of weeks. I went back and reported it to my mother. She advised me in the meantime to be patient and not worry about it. “ May God’s will be done”, she said.

Their decision finally came out in the provincial newsletter. I was among those chosen to go to the seminary the following year. My mother got first the good news since she is one of the cooks in our senior seminary. I received their written reply and started getting ready. It wasn’t a given at all for my family to accept that decision. My elder brother, with whom we were renting, wanted me to be Jesuit instead because I had good grades and a good grasp in research. It was a bit disappointing for my father, too. As the last born among the boys, I’m the one to inherit many things. My other siblings were somehow undecided.

I spent one year in the minor seminary to get used of the seminary, “ modus vivendi," while taking up two other subjects namely spirituality and theology in the philosophical school for religious missionaries. We had weekend apostolate and were allowed to visit our family once a month. Every Christmas and Easter break were allowed to go 'home sweet home' as well.

At the end of that year, I was accepted to enter the novitiate in the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC) and professed my first religious vows in 2013. Among the two possibilities to study theology in Cameroon ( French ) and in the Philippines ( English) , our novice master sent me to the latter. Among other reasons I shouldn’t study in our hometown closed to my family. Secondly, since my mother works in our senior seminary, I had to be away from her to foster my “ missionary spirit.” I obeyed accordingly as stated in our constitutions. While my two other seminary pals from Cameroon were sent to study in our country, I spent 5 years in the Philippines ; one year to better my English and 4 years for theological studies. That was my first contact with the Asian culture.

I experienced cultural differences and clashes starting from the feeling I had while traveling alone from Yaoundé ( Cameroon) to Manila( Philippines) with two stop overs in Kenya and Turkey. Fortunately, I was able to make it with my average fluency in English. I had learned to live together with more than 5 different nationalities in the community and enjoyed Filipino food, drink, music and so on. Indeed, that widened my perspectives. I was in touch with diverse ways of thinking, feeling, speaking , behaving, listening etc. I had also felt this during my vacations in Cameroon. Certainly, many people wondered what could have been the motivation of a young boy of 23 to leave his country and move far away in order to become a priest. In the Philippines, especially, I used to have weekend apostolates mostly with the youth and they always questioned me and even doubted of my love for my family because, being Filipino, they are more family-oriented.

I was assigned to Mongolia at the end of 3rd year in theology and appointed there one year later. For reasons related to visa, I had training to be a certified English teacher. This was to speed up the process of getting a Mongolian visa and to work in our research center as English teacher and assistant researcher. I waited almost for six months for a visa. That was a tough moment. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed anymore to enter Mongolia because of that long period. The Asian province to which I belong  even had a second thought of sending me to Taiwan; if the visa was not granted after six months.

Finally at the end of January 2018, I got the visa and traveled a few weeks later on February 10th. I reached Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia on February 12th. It was still cold at that time. I was dizzy after coming out from the airport. Fortunately, the two confreres who came to fetch me brought along a heavy jacket for me. Since it was the end of the New year celebration in Mongolia, according to the Chinese calendar ( Tsaagan Sar), we visited some families while taking  survival courses for Mongolia. I continue my immersion into the culture and was enrolled in the University of Ulaanbaatar to better my Mongolian. I had a weekend apostolate in the cathedral but remained careful since my visa isn’t related to religious involvements. I lived out the faith as simply as possible while teaching English to some youth and helping in our research center. I started praying for our Institute in Mongolia amidst the manifold difficulties specifically when our confrere, the first Bishop of Mongolia, Monsignor Wens. Padilla, passed away.

On June 2020, I had to renew my passport. But with the lockdowns due to Coronavirus, I couldn’t travel earlier on in February. So, my passport and visa expired. The only thing to do was to go back to Cameroon. I got a travelling document from the Cameroonian embassy in Beijing and reached Yaoundé on August 15th. I had my final profession of religious vows two months before my flight as well as the admission to the diaconate ordination. Because, our newly appointed Bishop was in Rome for his ordination, I waited for more than two months. I was ordained deacon in the Basilica of Yaoundé on September 5th.

Immediately, I was sent to one the parishes run by CICM namely in Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Simbock ( Yaoundé). I pursued my internship struggling to preach once again both in the local language ( Ewondo) and in French. At the beginning, I remembered one confrere underlying my poor pronunciation. Another parishioner said that I read and spoke not like Cameroon but like a “foreigner “ instead. I spent sleepless nights going over the daily readings and more importantly editing and proofreading my homilies. I re-learned the aforementioned languages while talking with kids because adults sometimes weren’t pointing out my mistakes. Being in Asia for a long time challenged me to readjust unceasingly. I have been rediscovering the “ Cameroonian ways” since then.

Last February 7th, I was ordained priest and had my thanksgiving Mass on February 14th, Valentine’s Day . We have celebrated indeed the Love of God for us and the everlasting mercy and compassion granted to us.” Our celebration served as a venue for lovers to meet” I said jokingly to one friend of mine. I pray that the good Lord may bless our priesthood ministry and all the priests in the World. May God also help us to find ways to carry out our missionary activities since we are all affected by the financial situation of today’s society. Many of our benefactors are “leaving this world.” That calls us to be more creative and productive in order spread the Gospel and empower our people especially the poor ones. May we “ rejoice and be glad” now and forever. Amen.

If you would like to donate to Fr. Patrick's missionary activities or request a Mass to be said - you can Email him here:

Or Send via WorldRemit to Nkolo Nkolo Patrick
Or Via Mail to Fr. Nkolo Patrick Address: Maison Provinciale CICM, Rue Abbé Jean Tabi, 361 Quartier Mvolyé ( Yaoundé-Cameroon).

RIP Luca Attanasio - Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Killed - Pope Francis Sends Condolences

The Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo has been killed in kidnapping attempt. Pope Francis sent condolences (see below)
The Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luca Attanasio, assassinated on February 22nd, 2021. He "was close to the missionary world working in the east of the country". The Italian policeman Vittorio Iacovacci and the Congolese driver Mustafa Milambo also died. This is what Monica Corna, head of the Salesian mission VIS (International Volunteering for Development) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who has worked alongside the Salesians for 18 years, reported in an interview with Agenzia Fides. "Luca Attanasio was well known to the missionary community of North Kivu - says Monica Corna. He was surely a very enthusiastic person who believed in what he was doing", stresses the volunteer. "
Ambassador Attanasio went to North Kivu to see firsthand the difficult situation of the local populations. For him, it was important to see a certain reality in order to have a direct vision and be a true witness". 
Luca Attanasio,  believed that the Democratic Republic of Congo should have its rightful place among the nations". 
Pope Francis sent a Telegram of Condolences To His Excellency
Hon. Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic:

With Pain I Learned About The Tragic Attack That Happened In The Democratic Republic Of Congo, Where The Young Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio, The Thirty-year Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci And Their Congolese Authist Milhaus Lost Their Lives. I Express My Heartful Congratulation To Their Families, To The Diplomatic Service And To The Army Of The Carabinieri For The Disappearance Of These Servants Of Peace And Right. We Collect The Exemplary Testimony Of The Ambassador, A Person Of Excellent Human And Christian Qualities, Always Prodigue In Welding Fraternal And Cordial Relations, For The Restoration Of Serene And Agreement Relations Within That African Country; As Well As That Of The Carabiniere, Experienced And Generous In His Service And Near To Form A New Family. While I Early Prayer Of Suffrage For The Eternal Rest Of These Noble Children Of The Italian Nation, I Exhorted To Trust In The Providence Of God, In Whose Hands Nothing Is Lost Of The Good Performed, All The More When It Is Confirmed With Suffering. To You, Mr President, To The Relationships And Colleagues Of The Victims And To All Those Who Weep For This Mourning Send My Blessing From The Heart. Pope Francis Source:

 The ambush that led to the death of the three men took place yesterday morning, February 22, in the vicinity of the village of Kibumba, 3 km from Goma. The circumstances of the triple murder are still being assessed. (L.M.) (Edited form Agenzia Fides, 23/2/2021 and

Pro-Life Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act Signed in South Carolina Faces Blocks from Federal Court

In South Carolina, a Bill was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster, to stop abortions on babies where a heart-beat is detected. However, a day later federal court blocked the measure. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Geiger Lewis granted a two-week temporary restraining order on Friday while the case, brought by Planned Parenthood, works its way through the legal system. The "South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act" would prohibit abortion as soon as cardiac activity can be detected with an ultrasound. The only exceptions would occur in cases of rape, incest or when a mother's life is in danger. . Planned Parenthood and a women's clinic in Greenville filed the emergency lawsuit, arguing it would make abortion inaccessible for most South Carolinians. A hearing over the lawsuit is scheduled for March 9. Governor McMaster said before signing the bill on Thursday, "If there's not a right to life, then what rights is there." He continued, "What rights exists, if not the elementary, fundamental, profound right to life," 
The state Attorney General said, "we believe the Heartbeat Law is constitutional and deserves a vigorous defense to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary," USA Today reported. 
 Several other states have passed similar laws in recent years.

Edited from Npr and Life News and Twitter 

Archbishop Jose Palma, of Cebu, Philippines Tests Positive for COVID along with Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Rañola - Both are in Hospital

Archbishop Jose Palma, of Cebu, Philippines, is in hospital. He has tested positive with COVID-19.

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Antonio Rañola, the auxiliary emeritus has also tested positive. 
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, 70, is showing moderate symptoms. The bishop heads the diocese of the second most important city in the Philippines and is being treated at the Perpetual Relief Hospital in Cebu.
“The archbishop remains in stable condition. Let us all pray for his steady and speedy recovery,” said spokesman Mgr Joseph Tan.
Bishop Emeritus Antonio Rañola, 88, who lives in the same residence as Archbishop Palma, also contracted the coronavirus and is hospitalised.
The disease struck the prelates just as Cebu was preparing to mark 500 years since the arrival of Christianity in the archipelago. 
The Philippine Church has already lost two bishops to the coronavirus: Archbishop Emeritus of Lingayen-Dagupan Oscar Cruz and Bishop Emeritus of Imus Manuel Cruz Sobreviñas.
Other bishops have contracted COVID-19 but they recovered: Apostolic Administrator of Manila Broderick Pabillo and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
The Philippines is the second most affected country by COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, right after Indonesia. 
Edited from Asia NewsIT
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons