Friday, 24 July 2009

Sisters in Islam slams whipping of women

Posted by admin
Friday, 24 July 2009 05:57

Sisters In Islam (SIS) urges the government to review whipping of women as a form of judicial punishment by the Syariah Courts. It constitutes further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia and violates Constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination.

Whipping of women under Syariah Criminal Offences legislation also contradicts civil law where women are not punishable by whipping under Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Whipping of men too are limited by age. Under state Syariah Criminal Offences Codes, only Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan provide whipping of women.

Whipping as a form of punishment also violates human rights principles, in particular the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment. Nor is whipping for consuming alcohol considered proportional to the gravity of the offence.

There is no consensus among Muslim scholars on the range of crimes for which whipping is prescribed, nor on whether women should be whipped. Many countries have already abolished the judicial punishment of whipping or corporal punishment as research has shown that it is not an effective deterrent, even to violent or sexual crimes. Research since abolition also showed that this did not result in an increase in the offences for which whipping was previously imposed.

Given that whipping does not lead to reform nor act as a deterrent, and that it constitutes a form of cruel and degrading treatment that, it is unfortunate that many Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan and Nigeria, have resorted to introducing whipping to more and more offences, in the name of Islam or the mistaken belief that it acts as an effective deterrent.

SIS believes that Islam as a religion of compassion calls people to the way of God with wisdom, as expressed in Surah An-Nahl,16:125, “Invite all to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and reason with them in the ways that are best and most gracious.”

The goal of Islamic authorities is to prevent crime in the first place, not to inflict severe punishment as a first resort. Promoting and protecting the human rights of the ummah, ensuring socio-economic justice, educating the ummah about God’s teachings and laws in order that they become responsible for abiding by them out of faith are prerequisites before any punishment can be implemented.

SIS, therefore, urges the government to conduct a review of severe forms of punishments, which violate human rights principles and where evidence have shown that they fail to deter or to reform the offenders.

Dr Hamidah Marican
Executive Director
Sisters In Islam
Priest's Last Words: "I Forgive You"

Friend Tells of Spaniard Slain in Cuba

SANTANDER, Spain, JULY 22, 2009 ( The last words of Father Mariano Arroyo Merino expressed his forgiveness for the would-be robbers who knifed and burned him.

The Spanish priest, 74, was murdered July 13 at his parish of Our Lady of Regla, in Havana, Cuba. Father Arroyo was the second Spanish priest to be assassinated in Cuba in less than a year. Father Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, 59, was killed Feb. 14.

Father Isidro Hoyos, another Spaniard who carries out his ministry in Cuba, was a friend of them both. In Santander for vacation, Father Hoyos was interviewed by the Diario Montañés. He recounted that Father Arroyo's last words were "I forgive you."

This revelation came from the suspect who has admitted to killing the priest.

Father Hoyos met Father Arroyo in 1970 in Spain. At the urging of his friend, Father Hoyos left for Cuba in 2001, having reached the age of retirement in Spain, to continue with his priestly ministry on the island. "Yes," he explained, "it happened that that summer (of 2000), Mariano was here (in Spain). He had already spent many years in Havana. I told him (I'd go to Cuba), it seemed a good idea to him and I went. We lived together for four years and then they assigned me to the barrio of Alamar in Havana."

There, he carries out his mission among a population of 100,000 people. "It is a village that was created after Castro's revolution, but a village of 100,000 inhabitants. Actually it's a city-dormitory" and it has just one parish.

The priest described it: "It's a little house with a patio -- a few grains of sand among this immense multitude. On Sunday we have the (Eucharistic) celebration and some 300 people participate. That's not many, but before there was nothing."

Father Hoyos said being a priest in Havana is not difficult. "People treat you very well," he explained. "I wasn't accustomed to the adoration that is felt there for the figure of the priest. The Cubans are very reverent with sacred things."

He said he supposes that the investigations are correct in presuming the motive for Father Arroyo's murder was an attempted robbery.

"Mariano had a big safe but he didn't have much of value there -- only a crown for Our Lady that had more sentimental than monetary value. It was very old," he noted. "If he had money, it wouldn't have been much. Mariano had just finished doing some work in the parish because it was in very poor conditions. And if he had money from donations, he didn't keep it in the house but in the bishopric. In any case, if the robber would have given him the choice between the money and his life, undoubtedly Mariano would have given him the money without resistance."

The two suspects under arrest for the murder have confessed, Father Hoyos noted, "and the one who killed Mariano revealed that his last words were, 'I forgive you.'"

And that would be characteristic of Father Mariano, his friend contended. "He was a profoundly religious man. He was very coherent, very austere."

Father Hoyos added that it was no surprise multitudes attended the funeral. "I imagined that would happen," he said. "Mariano was very well-known there. I think that it was the biggest gathering Havana has seen, not counting Castro's manifestations."

For his part, Father Hoyos will be returning to Cuba next month, and reported that he is not frightened by this prospect. "I don't think (the two slayings) are going to become an unending chain," he said. "I have a commitment to those people and I am going to fulfill it. It seems cowardly to not return. I am not saying that I'm indispensable, but I feel obligated to return."
Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation
determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do

-- Raymond Chandler

Thursday, 23 July 2009

She Continued to Hope

Posted: 21 Jul 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Ex 16:1-5, 9-15 / Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

Pay special attention to the responses Mary Magdalene makes in today’s Gospel. When she responds to the angels, she says “they have taken the Lord. . . .” When she speaks to Jesus, she says “they have taken my Lord. . . .”

This is not a “difference that makes no difference.” Rather, it shows the depth of anguish Mary is feeling. Her attachment to Jesus is not like the fantasy of The DaVinci Code. It is the attachment of one who has known the pains and losses — the terrors — this life can put someone in. She has seen the hope and the promise of Israel standing before her in Jesus, and now so much has changed.

Did she understand much more than the other disciples? I doubt it. But she stood without fear of the world, without fear of whomever she had to, just to be near the one she hoped in. And without understanding, she continued to hope — somehow hoping and trusting that His words would prove true. And they were. He was alive! With one word, one name, her trust was rewarded.

And for us? What word does Jesus speak to our souls in the midst of all our world fills us with? All the war, the terror, the droughts, the hurricanes, the murders. Our late Holy Father gave us that “word” in a phrase that has echoed through from the very start of his pontificate: “Be not afraid.”

Jesus’ one word to Mary removed her fears, her doubts. It restored more than just her teacher (rabboni), it restored her very soul.

Maybe what you need to hear today is more than “be not afraid.” Maybe it is less than your own name. Maybe it is enough to just hear Him say “I’m here.” Whatever He has to say to you — just listen. Then respond in His love.
Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.
Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be
human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more
productive person."

-- David M. Burns

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Eastern Rites and Orthodox

And More on "Healing Masses"

ROME, JULY 21, 2009 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q1: Is there a real division/separation between Catholics of the Latin rite and Catholics of Eastern rites? Is a Catholic of the Latin rite debarred in anyway from participating in the liturgy of an Eastern-rite Catholic church? Does a Latin-rite Catholic have to follow a procedure before he can participate in the liturgy of an Eastern-rite Catholic church? -- H.W., Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Q2: May a Catholic attend Mass in an Orthodox church? Is not the Orthodox Church schismatic? -- E.T., Mairé-L'Evescault, France

A: Since these two questions are related I will take them together.

First, there is no division or separation between the Latin rite and the more than 20 Catholic Eastern Churches. There are, however, many differences and distinctions.

These multiple distinctions give each Church its characteristic identity within the one fold which is the Catholic Church.

The most obvious distinctions are external. Each Church uses a distinct ritual for Mass, the sacraments and sacramentals.

For those Churches where there is a corresponding Orthodox Church (for example, the several Byzantine or Melkite Churches, the Coptic, and the Syro-Malankara), an outsider would be hard-put to distinguish between the two celebrations. One key difference with the Orthodox: The Eastern-rite Catholics mention the Pope in the anaphora, or Eucharistic Prayer.

Compared to the Latin-rite Church, the Eastern-rite Churches differ in their internal organization. This is evident, for example, in the guiding role of the patriarch or major archbishop, the means of selecting bishops, and in some cases the presence of married priests.

None of these differences, however, constitute a separation of faith or of communion with the See of Peter.

Because of this, any Catholic may attend, receive Communion, and fulfill the holy day precept at any Catholic rite.

There is no formal procedure required before attending, but the ancient principle of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" should be diligently applied. Thus a Latin Catholic who wishes to attend one of these rites should acquaint himself with the basic practices and demands of the rite and adapt himself accordingly. For example, most Eastern rites remain standing for most of the celebration and do not kneel for the consecration; a Latin should respect this tradition. Some rites have stricter fasting rules before receiving Communion, and as far as possible a Latin should follow suit.

Frequency in attending an Eastern celebration does not inscribe a Catholic to that rite, just as an Eastern Catholic who habitually attends the Latin rite does not automatically become Latin. To formally switch rites in a permanent manner requires a formal procedure.

The question is somewhat diverse for the case of Orthodox Churches, which are not in full communion with Rome but which enjoy the apostolic succession and all seven sacraments. While full communion is lacking, the Catholic Church no longer considers these Churches as being in a formal schism or as being excommunicated.

From the Catholic standpoint, a member of the faithful who is unable to attend Mass because there is no Catholic celebration available, may, if he so wishes, attend and receive Communion at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

Likewise, an Orthodox Christian in a similar situation is allowed to receive Communion and some other sacraments in any Catholic rite. Such an attendance is always optional and is never obligatory, not even in order to fulfill a festive precept.

However, not all Orthodox Churches accept this, and some take a dim view of any form of intercommunion. Once more it is incumbent upon Catholics not to impinge on others' sensibilities and limit themselves to what is acceptable to each particular Church.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Benedict XVI Trusts His Doctors

Hasn't Yet Tried New Laptop

INTROD, Italy, JULY 20, 2009 ( Benedict XVI trusts the doctors who operated on his wrist Friday after a fall Thursday evening at his vacation chalet in northern Italy caused a fracture.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed this today as he discounted doubts raised by doctors interviewed by journalists in some reports.

"A decision was made about the operation and its conditions after careful consideration by competent people, taking into account -- as is to be expected -- direct knowledge of the patient and his concrete circumstances," Father Lombardi affirmed to Vatican Radio.

He explained that any concerns suggested by doctors acting as press experts "are theoretical, in the sense that they cannot take into account the determinant factors of knowing the patient, his situation and the circumstances in which he finds himself, which are decisive elements in the case of an operation like this one."

"I believe," Father Lombardi added, "that there can be complete confidence that the most reasonable and the best solution was selected, according to the concrete situation, and there is no reason to promote worry."

The spokesman, who is with the Holy Father in Les Combes, told journalists that the Pope is doing well and spent today in the chalet.

He also reported that so far, the Pontiff has not used the computer given him Sunday by an Italian technology firm.

"He is not used to writing with a keyboard -- he's not so technological," Father Lombardi observed. "Particularly for the work of composing, he prefers a pen."

Father Lombardi confirmed that the Holy Father will participate Friday in vespers in the cathedral in Aosta. "Some 400 people are expected to participate," the spokesman said, referring to the priests of the diocese and representatives of various parishes, among others. "It will be a very beautiful moment of prayer.

"Later, on Sunday, he has the Angelus programmed, which will be here, close to the Pope's residence."

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid.
Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear
is to trample it beneath your feet."

-- Nadia Comaneci

Friday, 17 July 2009

Anglicans Split Over Homosexuality

Swedish, US Branches Move to Approve Same-Sex Unions

LONDON, JULY 16, 2009 ( The Church of England's council of archbishops is expressing concern about a decision last month by Church of Sweden authorities to adopt rites for blessing same-sex unions.

A June 26 letter from the Anglican council to the Swedish central board affirmed the "problematic" nature of this move.

"Changes in the understanding of human sexuality and marriage," it affirmed, "would lead to an impairment of the relationships between the churches."

It added that this could "further undermine the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion."

The letter was sent to the archbishop of Uppsala, Wejryd Anders, from Bishop Christopher Hill and Bishop John Hind, from the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Advisory.

It stated that "although there is a continuing debate among Anglicans about human sexuality, the teaching and discipline of the Church of England, like that of the Anglican Communion as a whole as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1998, is that it is not right either to bless same-sex sexual relationships or to ordain those who are involved in them."

The proposal, the letter continued, "appears to be a fundamental re-definition of the Christian doctrine of marriage and of basic Christian anthropology."

It affirmed, "This position would be at odds with the biblical teaching about the significance of God's creation of human beings as male and female as this has been received by the Church of England and by the Catholic tradition in general."

United States

Meanwhile, the Anglican branch in the United States, the Episcopalian church, voted this week in a general convention to allow the ordination of gay priests and bishops.

Moreover, in further sessions of the convention, the church is also expected to authorize rites for blessing same-sex unions.

England's archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had warned the convention participants last week to refrain from decisions that will push the churches farther apart.

Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham, England, stated in a letter Wednesday to the Times of London that "the Americans know this will end in schism."

The vote, he continued, to allow the appointment of "persons in active same-sex relationships" to all ministry positions is a "clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion."

Pope Mourns 168 Plane Crash Victims

VATICAN CITY, JULY 16, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is expressing sadness about a plane crash in Iran that killed all 168 people on board.

The Pope affirmed this in a telegram sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, after receiving the news of Wednesday's "great loss of life in the air tragedy over Jannat Abad near Qazvin."

The aircraft, a Russian model Tupolev Tu-154, was traveling from Tehran, Iran, to Yerevan, Armenia's capital, when it caught fire 16 minutes after take-off.

The Caspian Airlines flight dived into a field and exploded, sending wreckage over a 200-yard area.

The Holy Father offered "heartfelt condolences to the civil authorities and the families of the victims."

The English-language telegram, sent to the apostolic nuncio of Iran, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, stated that the Pontiff "prays for the eternal repose of the dead and implores the almighty and merciful God's gifts of comfort and strength on those who mourn the loss of their loved ones."

The majority of the passengers were Iranian, many from the ethnic Armenian community.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Substituting the Psalm

ROME, JULY 14, 2009 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: Can the psalm after the first reading (usually from the Old Testament) be replaced by a hymn related to the second reading (usually from the New Testament) or the Gospel? Music groups rarely have a repertoire that includes all the psalms, but can usually find something related to the second reading or Gospel. -- J.S., London

A: The short answer to this question is no. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, American translation) is quite explicit in No. 61, which deals with the psalm:

"After the first reading comes the responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on the word of God.

"The responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary.

"It is preferable that the responsorial Psalm be sung, at least as far as the people's response is concerned. Hence, the psalmist, or the cantor of the Psalm, sings the verses of the Psalm from the ambo or another suitable place. The entire congregation remains seated and listens but, as a rule, takes part by singing the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through without a response. In order, however, that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more readily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the various seasons of the year or for the various categories of Saints. These may be used in place of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in such a way that it is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the word of God.

"In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm."

Thus, although there is a lot of flexibility in order to promote singing the psalm, including the substitution of the psalm of the day and possible use of an approved metrical version, there is no occasion in which a non-biblical hymn may substitute the psalm.

This is because no human work, no matter now musically or poetically accomplished, can substitute God's inspired word. This norm is already found in the GIRM, No. 57:

"In the readings, the table of God's word is prepared for the faithful, and the riches of the Bible are opened to them. Hence, it is preferable to maintain the arrangement of the biblical readings, by which light is shed on the unity of both Testaments and of salvation history. Moreover, it is unlawful to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God."

Only God's Word enjoys that special presence of Christ which is found during the liturgical proclamation of the Word. As St. Augustine wrote in his lectures on the Gospel of John (30,1):

"The passage of the holy Gospel of which we have before discoursed to you, beloved, is followed by that of today, which has just now been read. Both the disciples and the Jews heard the Lord speaking; both men of truth and liars heard the Truth speaking; both friends and enemies heard Charity speaking; both good men and bad men heard the Good speaking. They heard, but He discerned; He saw and foresaw whom His discourse profited and would profit. Among those who were then, He saw; among us who were to be, He foresaw. Let us therefore hear the Gospel, just as if we were listening to the Lord Himself present: nor let us say, O happy they who were able to see Him! because there were many of them who saw, and also killed Him; and there are many among us who have not seen Him, and yet have believed. For the precious truth that sounded forth from the mouth of the Lord was both written for our sakes, and preserved for our sakes, and recited for our sakes, and will be recited also for the sake of our prosperity, even until the end of the world. The Lord is above; but the Lord, the Truth, is also here. For the body of the Lord, in which He rose again from the dead, can be only in one place; but His truth is everywhere diffused. Let us then hear the Lord, and let us also speak that which He shall have granted to us concerning His own words."

God speaks to us through all the readings and not just the Gospels. We also respond to him using his inspired words which encapsulate all possible human reactions to the encounter with God.
Today's Inspirational Quote:

"You don't understand anything until you learn it more than
one way."

-- Marvin Minsky

The Only Connection That Matters in the End

Posted: 14 Jul 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Ex 3:1-6, -12 / Mt 11:25-27

It’s something of a standing joke in our culture that some of the most learned professors and cleverest scientists are thoroughly incompetent at the most basic of tasks, like changing a tire or pumping their own gas. But the mismatch between general ability and the performance of ordinary tasks doesn’t stop there.

One of the most common and conspicuous instances of this is the inability of so many of us to hear into the heart of the matter. We get the words but miss the message. This was as true in Jesus’ day as in ours, and that’s why He notes in today’s gospel that God often finds children better listeners than the smartest of us adults.

Why is that? Sometimes it’s our ego or our own agenda that gets in the way and won’t let us hear. Sometimes it’s our tendency to intellectualize, namely, to put important things “out there” at a safe distance, instead of taking them into our hearts.

If that’s what we’re doing, we’ll never get to know the real Jesus, and our life’s journey is going to remain very lonely and very fearful. Don’t let that happen to you. Sweep away ego and your narrow agenda, don’t hide in your intellect. Let the Lord talk to you heart to heart. It’s the only connection that matters in the end!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Princess Can’t Do It All!

Posted: 13 Jul 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Ex 2:1-15 / Mt 11:20-24

Moses was lucky to be found by an Egyptian princess as he floated down the Nile in a basket and then to be adopted by her and handed back to his own mother is almost a miracle of fate. God had great and important plans for Moses from the very beginning, and through this bizarre entrance into the pharaoh’s family God began to prepare him for one of the great leadership challenges in all of history — the liberation of God’s people from the most powerful ruler in the world.

God has special plans for each one of us, and he has given to each of us special gifts that are destined for use somewhere on behalf of God’s people. Whether those gifts will ever arrive at their intended destination, fully honed and ready for use, is always chancy business. Will we name our gifts rightly? Will we develop them to the fullest? Will we have the brave and generous hearts needed for hard and sometimes risky work? It depends on us and upon our choices, but it also depends heavily on the values that were implanted in our hearts at an early age.

Think of that when you look at the little children around you, and especially at those who are lacking the love and guidance that alone can give them the firm foundation they need. Will there be a princess who intervenes to rescue them as there was for Moses? Probably not unless it’s you. Remember what others did for you when you were helpless and give thanks. Then put some muscle behind your thanks and taste a new kind of joy.

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Accept that all of us can be hurt, that all of us can and
surely will at times fail.
Other vulnerabilities, like being
embarrassed or risking love, can be terrifying, too. I think
we should follow a simple rule: if we can take the worst, take
the risk."

-- Joyce Brothers

Benedict XVI on Vacation: Rest and a "Bit of Work"

Welcomed Today in Aosta Valley

INTROD, Italy, JULY 13, 2009 ( Benedict XVI said today that he is planning "a bit of work" during his vacation in the Italian Alps, but mostly and above all, a time of rest.

The Pope arrived today to his vacation spot in Les Combes of Introd, in the Aosta Valley of the Italian Alps. He vacationed there for two successive years in 2006 and 2005, and the chalet often housed a vacationing Pope John Paul II as well.

Benedict XVI will stay at a residence that is property of the Salesians until July 29.

Upon his arrival by helicopter today, after a Rome-Turin flight, the Holy Father was welcomed by Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, and the mayor of Introd, Osvaldo Naudin. The residents of Introd and children from the school also turned out to welcome him; the children recited a poem and gave him a bouquet of flowers.

Some 40 journalists were also on hand. The Pontiff told them that his days in the Alps would be "vacation for rest and also a bit of work, but above all, rest."

The journalists asked him for his thoughts on the Group of Eight summit held last week in Italy, and the Pope responded, "It seems to me that everything went very well."

Natural beauty

Located about a mile above sea level, the residence where the Holy Father is staying lies on a property that the Salesians use for young people's gatherings during the year and for summer camps.

From a large window in the dining room, the Holy Father can see Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak, and the forests that surround the chalet, which has a garden and a small square dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

At the entrance to the forest surrounding the villa, there is a tree-lined path with the Stations of the Cross.

Benedict XVI might use his days of rest to continue work on the second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth." And a piano has been installed in the chalet -- the Pope is a pianist and is known to especially love Mozart.

During his vacation, the Holy Father will not have general audiences, but he will pray the midday Sunday Angelus with pilgrims and give his customary public address.

In 2006, the Pope vacationed in the city of Bressanone, located in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige, where he had spent many vacations as a cardinal.

In 2007, Benedict XVI vacationed in Lorenzago di Cardore in Italy’s Veneto region.

After his stay in the Aosta Valley, the Holy Father will go to the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, some 19 miles south of Rome, where he will remain for the rest of the summer.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time
for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance

-- Confucius

Even Jesus Wasn’t Born Finished

Posted: 07 Jul 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Gn 41:55-57, 42:5-7a, 17-24a / Mt 10:1-7

For those of us who are reasonably conscientious and self-aware, the reality of our unfinishedness can sometimes be a heavy burden. It’s more than just our sins, which, like the poor, seem to be with us always. Sometimes it’s the lack of the wisdom that we feel we should have by now, or the absence of the clear road map that we think we surely should possess by now.

When those moments of frustration or impatience at the slow pace of our own unfolding do come, we can find comfort in looking at Jesus’ own growth and development into the great man who in the end was willing to die for us. That’s where He ended up, not where He started. As St. Paul said, ‘He was like us in all things but sin.’

Today’s gospel gives us clear evidence of that. In sending out His apostles on their own for the first time, Jesus gives them quite narrow instructions: Limit your sharing of the Good News to Jews only! It would take a good while before Jesus would come to a full understanding of His vocation, which is to all people — without exceptions.

So be patient. Let your unfinishedness keep you gratefully mindful of your absolute dependence on God, who will walk with you all the way to the end of this very long road to wholeness. He sees your every step with the eyes of a loving Parent. Trust that, and let it be enough!

Papal Letter "Ecclesiae Unitatem"

A Restructuring of the Commission "Ecclesia Dei"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2009 ( Here is a Vatican translation of letter Benedict XVI published "motu proprio" on the structure of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which was created to address questions involving the Society of St. Pius X. The original text of the letter, titled "Ecclesiae Unitatem," is written in Latin.

* * *

1. The duty to safeguard the unity of the Church, with the solicitude to offer everyone help in responding appropriately to this vocation and divine grace, is the particular responsibility of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, who is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of both bishops and faithful. The supreme and fundamental priority of the Church in all times -- to lead mankind to the meeting with God -- must be supported by the commitment to achieve a shared witness of faith among all Christians.

2. Faithful to this mandate, following the act of 30 June 1988 by which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly conferred episcopal ordination upon four priests, on 2 July 1988 Pope John Paul II of venerable memory established the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" whose task it is "to collaborate with the bishops, with the departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Society founded by Msgr. Lefebvre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church, while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions, in the light of the Protocol signed on 5 May last by Car dinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Lefebvre".

3. In keeping with this, faithfully adhering to that duty to serve the universal communion of the Church, also in her visible manifestation, and making every effort to ensure that those who truly desire unity have the possibility to remain in it or to rediscover it, I decided, with the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", to expand and update through more precise and detailed norms the general indications already contained in the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" concerning the possibility of using the 1962 "Missale Romanum".

4. In the same spirit, and with the same commitment to favouring the repair of all fractures and divisions within the Church, and to healing a wound that is ever more painfully felt within the ecclesiastical structure, I decided to remit the excommunication of the four bishops illicitly ordained by Msgr. Lefebvre. In making that decision my intention was to remove an impedim ent that could hinder the opening of a door to dialogue and thus invite the four bishops and the Society of Saint Pius X to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to Catholic bishops of 10 March this year, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline, to free individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However it is clear that the doctrinal questions remain, and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

5. Precisely because the problems that now have to be examined with the Society are essentially doctrinal in nature, I have decided -- twenty-one years after the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" and in keeping with what I had intended to do -- to reconsider the structure of the Commission "Ecclesia Dei", joining it closely to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

6. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will, then, have the following configuration:

(a) The president of the Commission is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(b) The Commission has its own staff, composed of the secretary and officials.

(c) It will be the task of the president, with the assistance of the secretary, to submit the principal cases and questions of a doctrinal nature for study and discernment according to the ordinary requirements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to submit the results thereof to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff.

7. With this decision I wish in particular to show paternal solicitude towards the Society of Saint Pius X, with the aim of rediscovering the full communion of the Church.

To everyone I address a pressing invitati on to pray ceaselessly to the Lord, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "ut unum sint".

From Rome, at St. Peter's, 2 July 2009, fifth year of Our Pontificate.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"You only live once--but if you work it right, once is

-- Joe Lewis

God Has Answer for Ongoing Violence, Says Pope

Affirms That Crucified Christ Is Promise of Hope

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2009 ( Ever since murder marked the very first human family, people have continued to kill one another, but God's answer to this is the blood of his Son, Benedict XVI says.

As he addressed crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square today to pray the midday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the phenomenon of brother raising his hand against brother. The occasion for this reflection is the tradition of using the first Sunday of July for devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ.

The Holy Father noted how his predecessor Blessed John XXIII confirmed this tradition with a 1960 apostolic letter.

"The theme of blood linked to that of the Paschal Lamb is of primary importance in sacred Scripture," Ben edict XVI explained. "In the Old Testament the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established the covenant between God and the people, as one reads in the Book of Exodus. [...]
"Jesus explicitly repeats this formula at the Last Supper. [...] And, from the scourging, to the piercing of his side after his death on the cross, Christ has really shed all of his blood as the true Lamb immolated for universal redemption."

The shedding of blood is also a theme that runs throughout history, the Pope continued.

The blood of Abel, slain by his brother, cried out to God from the earth. "And, unfortunately, today as yesterday, this cry does not cease, since human blood continues to run because of violence, injustice and hatred," he lamented. "When will men learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will men understand that we are all brothers?"

However, the Holy Father recalled, "To the cry of the blood that goes up from many parts of the earth, God answers with the blood of his Son, who gave his life for us. Christ did not answer evil with evil, but with good, with his infinite love. The blood of Christ is the pledge of the faithful love of God for humanity."

This truth can be a comfort for all people, regardless of their personal situations, the Pontiff contended.

"Looking upon the wounds of the Crucified, every man, even in conditions of extreme moral misery, can say: God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he gave his life for me -- and in this way rediscover hope," the Bishop of Rome affirmed.

And he concluded with a prayer to Christ's mother: "May the Virgin Mary, who beneath the cross, together with the apostle John, witnessed the testament of Jesus' blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable riches of this grace, and to feel profound and perennial gratitude for it."

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Take a Look at Who You Are, Pope Tells Priests

Reflects on Fundamentals of Identity and Mission

VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2009 ( Priests need to take a good look at their identity, says Benedict XVI, and he offered the example of St. John Vianney and the Year for Priests as an opportunity for this examination.

The Pope took up again today during the general audience the theme of the Year for Priests, under way since the feast of the Sacred Heart, June 19. He spoke about how important it is for priests to understand their identity and their mission.

He pointed to St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests and model for this jubilee year, noting that "what shines forth in the existence of this humble minister of the altar [is] the complete identification of the man with his ministry."

It is fundamentally important for a priest to grow in progressive identification with Christ, the Holy Father explained, saying this "will guarantee him fidelity and fruitfulness in the evangelical testimony."

It is the priest's awareness of his "new being," which is fundamental to his mission, he added.

"The priest's renewed enthusiasm for his mission will always depend on the certainty of his personal identity, which is not artificially constructed, but rather given and received freely and divinely," the Pontiff explained. "What I have written in the encyclical 'Deus Caritas Est' is also true for priests: 'Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.'

"Having received such an extraordinary gift of grace with their 'consecration,' priests become permanent witnesses of their encounter with Christ. Beginning precisely from this interior awareness, they can plentifully fulfill their 'mission,' by means of the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. […] Jesus sends the apostles, at that time and now, to proclaim the Gospel and he gives them the power to cast out evil spirits. 'Proclamation' and 'power,' that is to say 'word' and 'sacrament,' are therefore the two foundational pillars of priestly service, beyond its many possible configurations."

Established in service

However, Benedict XVI observed, without taking into account the "consecration-mission" of the priest, "it becomes truly difficult to understand the identity of the priest and his ministry in the Church."

"Who in fact is the priest, if not a man converted and renewed by the Spirit, who lives from a personal relationship with Christ, constantly making the Gospel criteria his own," the Po pe asked. "Who is the priest, if not a man of unity and truth, aware of his own limits and at the same time, of the extraordinary greatness of the vocation he has received, that of helping to extend the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth?

"Yes! The priest is a man totally belonging to the Lord, because it is God himself who calls him and who establishes him in his apostolic service. And precisely being totally of God, he is totally of mankind, for all people."

Thus, the Holy Father invited the faithful to take advantage of the jubilee and pray for all priests and for priestly vocations.

He encouraged the multiplying of prayer initiatives and also "opportunities for silence and listening to the Word, and better attention to spiritual direction and the sacrament of confession, so that the voice of God, who always continues calling and confirming, can be heard and promptly followed by many youth."

"One who prays is not afraid; one who prays is never alone; one who prays is saved," the Bishop of Rome concluded. "St. John Vianney is undoubtedly a model of an existence made prayer. Mary, Mother of the Church, help all priests to follow his example so as to be, like him, witnesses of Christ and apostles of the Gospel."