Saturday, 31 October 2009

They Didn’t Start Out As Saints!

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Rev 7:2-4,9-14 / 1 Jn 3:1-3 / Mt 5:1-12

As we mark this Feast of All Saints, it’s fascinating to remember where some of the better known saints started out and how their lives proceeded. St. Matthew was a tax collector. St. Mary Magdalene practiced the oldest profession in the world. St. Peter was impetuous and something of a blowhard, and he had to press hard before he’d let gentiles become Christians unless they first became Jews! The whole lot of the apostles ran for the hills when Jesus was taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that was just a short while after their robust promise that they’d follow him anywhere and die with him if need be.

The list could go on and on, but the point is a simple one: none of these great saints started out as saints. Quite the contrary was true. They slowly and painstakingly evolved into holy men and women, with many starts and stops and numerous temporary reversals. And very often, as many of them have testified in their diaries, they suffered from deep discouragement at their lack of progress and their frequent mistakes. St. Paul spoke for them and for us all when he said in anguish, “The good that I would do, I do not.” Isn’t it the truth?

There’s a lesson in all this for us who are still struggling along our own roads: Growing up into God’s image and likeness takes a long time. It’s a lifetime work, and God understands that. After all, he’s the one who put us together.

So take heart. Rejoice in the little triumphs as they happen. Each one brings you a step closer to home. Each one brings you a step closer to the embrace of our Father.
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2009 ( Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are fundamental human rights as they are the source of all other liberties, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today upon recieving in audience Ali Akbar Naseri, the new ambassador from Iran to the Holy See.

The Holy Father began by extending his good wishes for the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and for the entire nation.

"Iran is a great nation that has eminent spiritual traditions and its people have a profound religious sensibility," the Pontiff said, noting that this is a "reason for hope for a growing openness and confident collaboration with the international community."

Benedict XVI affirmed that the Holy See will work with those "who serve the cause of peace and promote the dignity with which the Creator has endowed all human beings."

"Today we must all expect and support a new phase of international cooperation," he added, "more solidly based on humanitarian principles and on effective aid to those who suffer, than on cold calculations of exchanges and technical and economic benefits."

"Faith in the one God must bring all believers closer and encourage them to work together for the defense and promotion of fundamental human values," the Pope continued. "Among the universal rights, religious liberty and freedom of conscience occupy an essential place, because they are the source of the other liberties.

"The defense of other rights that stem from the dignity of persons and populations, in particular the promotion of the protection of life, justice and solidarity, must also be the object of a true collaboration."

The Holy Father underlined the "urgent need" to establish harmonious relations between believers of different religions. This, he said, will serve to "build a more human world, more conformed to the plan of God on creation."

To this end, the Pontiff praised the meetings held jointed by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Organization for Islamic Culture and Relations: "Contributing to seeking together what is just and correct, those meetings allow all to progress in reciprocal knowledge and to cooperate in the reflection of great questions that affect the life of humanity."

Benedict XVI also made mention of the community of Catholics in Iran: "Catholics have been present in Iran since the first centuries of Christianity and have always been an integral part of the life and culture of the nation.

"This community is truly Iranian and its age-old experience of coexistence with Muslim believers is of great usefulness to promote greater understanding and cooperation."

The Pope expressed hope that Iran will "reinforce and guarantee to Christians the liberty to profess their faith and to ensure for the Catholic community the essential conditions for its existence, especially the possibility of having sufficient religious personnel and the facilities of movement in the country to ensure the religious service of the faithful."

Sunday, 25 October 2009

“What do you want me to do for you?”
30th Sunday in Ordinary time
Reading: Gospel of Mark 10:46-52

“Master, let me see again”. This is the request the blind beggar, Bartimaeus. And Jesus said to him, Go; your faith have saved you and the blind man was cured immediately. It tells us of the marvelous works of God. The grace of God is at work. But it also tells us of the marvelous faith that saved Batrimaeus. The healing takes place because of both grace and faith. God’s grace is working through faith and this is the message of today’s reading.

Let us look at some of the detail of the healing of Bartimaeus. He has been waiting for the moment to encounter Jesus. And the moment when he heard of Jesus passing by, he seized that moment of time. He was determined to get near the one person who could meet his need. He knew who Jesus was and had heard of his fame for healing, but until now had no means of making contact with the Son of David, a clear reference and title for the Messiah. It took a lot of “guts” and persistence for Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus over the din of noisy throng who crowded around Jesus as he made his way out of town. Why was the crowd annoyed with the blind man’s persistent shouts? He was disturbing their peace and interrupting Jesus’ discourse. It was common for a rabbi to teach as he walked with others.

Jesus was on his way to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and a band of pilgrims followed him. When the crowed tried to silence the blind man he overpowered them with his emotional outburst and thus caught the attention of Jesus. This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind man was determined to get Jesus’ attention and he was persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have ignored or rebuffed him because he was disturbing his talk and his audience. Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking. Jesus commends Batrimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well. Do you recognize your need for God’s healing grace? Do I recognize my own blindness and come to Jesus with persistent faith and trust?

The point is not what Jesus did for Bartimaeus, but what he can do for us because there are many kind of blindness. Physical blindness is dangerous. There is another kind of blindness even more dangerous than physical blindness, and this is spiritual blindness/moral blindness, a person without conscience. Physical blindness endangers the body, but moral blindness endangers the soul. Physical sight comes through the eyes, moral sight comes through our conscience; spiritual sight comes through our faith.

As we hear the story of blind Bartimaeus, let us thank god for the gift of sight and resolve to take care to respect and not to endanger the gift of physical sight, the gift of moral sight called conscience, the gift of spiritual sight called faith.

And finally, Jesus passed by and stop awhile to meet the need of the blind. What about us, in time of 'rush hour', when we are too busy with our own business, do we spend a little moment for those who are in need? Do we approach that person and say, "what can I do for you?" Perhaps Batrimaeus is not far from us. Bartimaeus could be he is one of the member of family. The time when we neglect or ignore a person, who are in need, are we not just like leaving them in darkness?

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Only those who are asleep make no mistakes."

Friday, 23 October 2009

Fifteen thousand Bibles detained

(Herald Malaysia Online) - More than 15,000 Bibles in Bahasa Indonesia have been detained by the government this past year.

On Sept 11, Gideons International consignment of 5,000 Indonesia Testaments (Vest) and 5,000 Indonesia/English Bilingual Testaments that Alpha Publisher sent from Jakarta to Kuching were detained by the Malaysian Home Affairs Ministry (Publication).

While in March this year, 5,100 Bibles in Bahasa Indonesia ordered by the Bible Society of Malaysia were also detained by the same ministry.

The reason given for the detention of the Scriptures was because they contain the banned words of Allah, Kaabah, Baitumal and Solat.

“The Borneo Evangelical Church (S.I.B) had written an appeal letter dated Sept 17 to the Home Affairs Ministry in Putrajaya for the release of this consignment. We are now waiting for the answer of the appeal,” said Low Boon Leong, National Field Officer of The Gideons International.

“Even now as the books are detained, we have to pay for the warehouse charges which cost a fair sum of money,” he added. “In the event that we are unsuccessful in this appeal, we will have to send this consignment back to Alpha Publisher in Jakarta,” Low explained.

Rev Wong from the Bible Society of Malaysia said that besides asking the people to pray, the society has written an appeal letter which will be hand delivered to the Prime Minister by representatives of the Christian Council of Malaysia (CCM) and the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM).

He added that there was a high demand for Bibles in Bahasa Indonesia and appealed to the ministry to release the Bibles as soon as possible.

The Christian Council of Malaysia is following up on their appeal to the Malaysian Government to release these Scriptures.
Today's Inspirational Quote:

"The meaning of life is to give life meaning."
"Compendium Eucharisticum" Presented to Pope
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 ( Four years after the synod of bishops on the Eucharist, the promised "Compendium Eucharisticum" has been presented to Benedict XVI.

The Pope had already announced in his 2007 apostolic exhortation that the compendium would be produced, fruit of the recommendations of the bishops at the synod.

Libreria Editrice Vatican published the work Monday and on Wednesday, it was presented to the Pontiff by Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

When the Holy Father announced the compendium in his apostolic exhortation, he expressed his hope that the document would "help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and mission. This will encourage each member of the faithful to make his or her life a true act of spiritual worship."

He said that it would contain texts from the Catechism, prayers, explanations of the Roman Missal and "other useful aids for a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar."

The initial volume was published in Italian and will soon be available in other languages.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Indonesian Bishop Among Those Affected by Quake
Caritas Responds to Earthquake and Tsunami

PADANG, Indonesia, OCT. 1, 2009 ( The president of the Indonesian bishops' conference lost part of his residence in the 7.6-magnitude quake that hit Wednesday, but with the death toll from the disaster at more than 1,000, he is focused on the rescue team he's directing to help the victims.

Everyone in the household of 63-year-old Bishop Martinus Dogma Situmorang of Padang was safe. But the quake was the deadliest in Indonesia since May 2006, and the death toll is expected to climb much higher as thousands are still missing.

The local Caritas organization is assessing the needs of the survivors.

Father Agustinus Mudjihartono, helping Caritas in Padang, said that while the situation there is critical, the reality to the north could be even worse.

Caritas Indonesia Director Father Sigit Pramudji said, “There are many people still trapped under rubble in Padang. One of our concerns is that there are only three hospitals, and two have been badly damaged in the tremor. Other challenges are getting access to Padang and poor communications. [...]

“A Caritas team will assess the immediate needs of the people, which we expect to be food and other aid items such as blankets and cooking equipment, medical help, clean water, and shelter.”

Meanwhile, Caritas aid workers are also busy in the South Pacific countries of Samoa and American Samoa, which were hit by a deadly tsunami Tuesday.

“We were there within five to six hours after the tsunami struck, delivering assistance," said Peter Bendinelli, director of Caritas Samoa. "The devastation was astronomical, worse than anything I have ever seen.

“Our trucks leave brimming with food, water and clothing and return full of people who have lost their homes, are sick and injured."

The director explained that food, clean water and shelter are the most pressing needs.

"All the water pipes that run along beside the roads fronting the sea have been totally destroyed as the tsunami waters receded, and people are in urgent need of water," he said.

Caritas is looking to provide support and counseling to the affected population there, and in American Samoa the Church is also assessing the best way to respond.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Marriage and the Family: Humanity's Future
Biblical Reflection for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, SEPT. 30, 2009 ( Rather than commenting in detail on each of the readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), I would like to offer some general reflections on marriage and family life that flow from today’s readings. In today’s Gospel (Mark 10:2-16) the Pharisees once again confront Jesus with the divisive issue of divorce and its legitimacy: “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” Jesus asked. They replied that Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss the wife. Jesus declares that the law of Moses permitted divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1) only because of the hardness of hearts (Mark 10:4-5). In citing Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, Jesus proclaims permanence to be the divine intent from the beginning concerning human marriage (Mark 10:6-8). He reaffirms this with the declaration that what God has joined together, no human being must separate (verse 9).

Jesus wisely and prudently responds to the loaded question by appealing to God’s plan of complete unity and equality in drawing men and women together in marriage. He affirms that husband and wife are united so intimately that they actually become one and indivisible. In answering a direct question that was deliberately designed to entrap him, Jesus was speaking of the nature of marriage and of that only. His emphasis is on its holiness and covenant fidelity and not on the illegitimacy of divorce. The goal of marriage is not divorce and annulment!

Divorce, annulment and remarriage

Jesus did not condemn people who did their best and ended up divorced. He was not judging such people, throwing them out of the community of the Church, or assigning them places in hell. He was only affirming the outlook taken by couples themselves when they stand before the Church’s minister and pronounce their wedding vows.

Today Catholic annulments look to many like a simple Catholic divorce. Divorce says that the reality of marriage was there in the beginning and that now the reality is broken. Annulment is a declaration that the reality was never there. The Church declares many marriages invalid because of some impediment present at the time of the marriage.

Over the years of my pastoral ministry, I have met many divorced people who feel very alienated from the Church. For many, divorce was the last thing they ever dreamed of or wanted. In many instances, it hit them unexpectedly, forcefully and tragically. No one I met ever told me that they looked forward to a divorce. They simply didn’t see any other alternative.

Some divorced men and women have erroneously been told by well-meaning people that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church, which is certainly not true. Their pain is often enormous; their need for understanding and acceptance is great. They need unambiguous Catholic teaching to enlighten them and lead them to Christ. They need friends, people to pray for and with them, and they need God in their lives in the midst of rupture and brokenness. They deserve our understanding and our prayerful care.

A positive teaching on annulments should be offered in every parish community. Though it may be a tedious and painful process for some people, an annulment can be an instrument of grace, healing, closure, and peace of mind and heart.

The future of humanity passes through marriage and the family

In the papal encyclicals from "Humanae Vitae" (1968) to "Evangelium Vitae" (1995) and especially the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" (1981) and the magnificent "Letter to Families" (1994), Popes Paul VI and John Paul II have dedicated much attention to marriage and the family in today’s culture. From the first year of his pontificate, John Paul II constantly emphasized: “the family is the way of the Church." The family is a school of communion, based on the values of the Gospel.

Last year on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," the bishops of Canada released a very important document in which they wrote (#19): “In short, Pope Paul Vl’s encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' and the subsequent 'theology of the body' developed by Pope John Paul II issue an immense challenge to a world that is too often occupied with protecting itself against the extraordinary life potential of sexuality. In the wake of these two prophetic Popes, the Church, 'expert in humanity,' issues an unexpected message: Sexuality is a friend, a gift of God. It is revealed to us by the Trinitarian God who asks us to reveal it in turn in all its grandeur and dignity to our contemporaries at this start of the third millennium. The theology of the body has been compared to a revolution that would have positive effects throughout the 21st century of Christianity. We invite the faithful to be the first to experience its liberating potential.”

Signs of hope for marriage, family life and vocations

To accept Jesus’ teaching on marriage requires the openness of children and a sense of dependence on God’s strength matching the child’s sense of dependence on parents. When love is authentic, strong, sincere and firm, it is accompanied by vision, joy and creativity, new life and a desire for holiness. When married couples allow Christ to be at the center of their project, they experience deeply the peace outpoured by God -- a peace that flows forth to their children and grandchildren.

The crisis of vocations in the Western world requires that we rethink not only our manner of promoting vocations, but the terrain where seeds of vocations are sown. This fertile soil for vocations is the family, the domestic Church. This reality is brought about by the presence of Christ in the home, from the graces of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and from fidelity to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.

There are some voices in our society and Church that don’t have much hope for the sacrament of marriage and for family life. I beg to differ with such voices of doom and despair. Each of us is responsible for fostering a true culture of marriage and family life as well as a culture of vocations to the priesthood and religious or consecrated life.

Over the past year in particular, I have witnessed some very hopeful signs for marriage and family life among young adults in various parts of the world. I had the privilege of leading two retreats for university students -- one for the John Paul II Catholic Chaplaincy of Sheffield’s Hallam University in England and the other for the Catholic Students’ Association of Victoria University in British Colombia in Canada.

The wise, ecclesial leadership of university chaplains -- Sister Anne Lee, NDS in Hallam and Father Dean Henderson in Victoria -- gathered together some remarkable young adults from many countries of the world. They are the young men and women of the generations of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, freed from the ideological strangleholds and liberated from the barren, spiritual wastelands of my generation. Their eyes are fixed on Christ and they love the Church with all of her shadows and light.

I never had more open conversations about marriage and family life than I did with those students in Hallam and Victoria these past months. Many spoke openly about their parents who were divorced and alienated or simply absent from the Church. The students said that they learned from the mistakes and losses of their parents, and wanted to pursue the path of a holy marriage and family life. They desire to have Christ, the sacramental life, and the teachings of the Church at the center of their lives.

I have also been very moved and edified by the young men and women who form the staff of the Salt and Light Television Network in Canada. Their simple and clear faith, deep joy, sterling commitment, visible love of Christ and the Church and ardent desire for evangelization is inspiring. Over the past six years, I have been privileged to witness the religious professions and ordinations of several Salt and Light colleagues, and to celebrate seven marriages of my staff -- several who worked with me in preparing World Youth Day 2002. And now we are into the season of baptisms! It is from this generation of children that will come forth vocations for the Church. How could there not be vocations when the terrain was so fertile and the parents so open to the Gospel and to the Church?

For reflection, discussion and prayer

We must never forget that other bonds of love and interdependency, of commitment and mutual responsibility exist in society. They may be good; they may even be recognized in law. They are clearly not the same as marriage; they are something else. No extension of terminology for legal purposes will change the observable reality that only the committed union of a man and a woman carries, not only the bond of interdependency between the two adults, but the capacity to bring forth children.

This week, let us recommit ourselves to building up the human family, to strengthening marriage, to blessing and nurturing children, and to making our homes, families and parish communities holy, welcoming places for women and men of every race, language, orientation and way of life.

In our pastoral strategies, programs and preaching, how do we welcome the sanctifying role of Jesus Christ in the marriage of a man and woman? Are we ready to offer Jesus’ teaching on marriage with the openness to children? What are some of the weaknesses and painful situations that afflict marriages today? Can these marriages be saved and the brokenness in the husband-wife relationships be healed? What is the role of faith in all of this?

Let us pray today for married people, that they may grow in this awareness of the sacramentality of marriage and its capacity to reflect the love of God to our world. Let us continue to help one another to bear the blessings, burdens and crosses that the Lord has given to us. And let us never forget those who have loved and lost, and those who have suffered the pain of separation, divorce and alienation. May they find healing in the community of the Church, and welcome from those whose marriages have borne much fruit.

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Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada, is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He can be reached at:

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Rejoicing Will Be Our Strength

Posted: 30 Sep 2009 09:00 PM PDT

Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12 / Lk 10:1-12

When at last the Israelites returned to their homeland after decades in exile, they had forgotten much of their religious tradition, especially since the center of their religious life, the temple, had been destroyed so long before. So their interest was genuine when one of the priests found an ancient copy of God’s law and read it to them, young and old alike. Yet, as today’s Old Testament reading tells us, the whole lot of them fell to weeping as they heard God’s word spelled out, page after page.

Where did those tears come from? Was it sadness at recognizing the great disparity between the way of life to which God called them and the way of life they were actually following? Undoubtedly so. But there must have been something more as well. It must have been the joy that came from seeing how faithful God had been to them from the very beginning, even when they had been utterly faithless. Their biggest tears had to be tears of joy at recognizing that God had never given up on them and never would.

Their leader Nehemiah put it simply, “… rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.” And so must it be with us. No matter what comes our way, even the immense sadness of belatedly recognizing our own sins, we must rejoice that our God will never abandon us. And that rejoicing will be our strength, for it opens the door to his grace, his strength, and his healing.

And it opens our eyes to a glimpse of the eternity that can be ours. So rejoice in the Lord, and have no fear.