Saturday, 27 June 2009
"A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil;
but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and
small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from
drying out completely."
-- Pam Brown
Posted: 26 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24 / 2 Cor 8:7,9,13-15 / Mk 5:21-43
…no destructive drug among them…? What happened? What was God’s intention if there had been no domain of the netherworld on earth?
We get the answer later in this reading from Wisdom: by the envy of the devil, death entered the world…
Yet Jesus triumphs over death, destruction, and the devil.
Who caused the woman’s hemorrhage in the Gospel? Only God knows for sure. How did Jairus’ little girl die? Only God knows for sure. Why did these and all the other destructions happen? Only God knows for sure.
Yet Jesus triumphs over death, destruction, and the devil.
Why did Job endure all he did? God told him: only He knows and understands for sure.
Yet Jesus triumphs over death, destruction, and the devil.
Why is there such war in our world, such fighting supposedly in the name of God? Only God knows for sure. We cannot set ourselves up to judge. Only God judges for sure. We can fight in our understanding for righteousness and against injustice. But only God knows which is which for sure.
Yet Jesus triumphs over death, destruction, and the devil.
We stand with Him. Triumphing over sickness. Triumphing over addictions. Triumphing over abuse of any sort – for it is all a destructive tactic of the devil, whether the abuse is against the unborn, or families, or nations.
We do know what is true — no — what is True. Truth is not something but Someone.
Knowing that Truth, we triumph over death, destruction, and the devil along with Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. As He raised Jairus’ little girl, so He raises us — even as the devil tries to raze us.
As St. Paul says to the Corinthians today: you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ — you know His triumph over death, destruction, and the devil.
May His triumph reign in and through us despite the destructions planned against us.
WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- U.S. President Barack Obama gave an early termination notice to bioethicists picked by his predecessor for an advisory board.
According to a New York Times report from last week, Obama wants the committee to focus more on "practical policy," rather than discussion of issues.
He thus ended the bioethicists' terms a few months early (they were originally to serve in the position until September), and will appoint new members to the board.
According to ethicist E. Christian Brugger, the "push to get practical in bioethical discourse is a bad sign."
Writing for the Culture of Life Foundation, Brugger said this shift "signals a turn away from urgent questions such as whether human embryos deserve full moral respect or whether 'human dignity' means that all persons, even the disabled and dying, possess equal value."
"It turns discourse from the question of 'should' to the question of 'how,'" he lamented.
Brugger contended that the chief virtue of the Bush appointees was "a willingness and ability to formulate and struggle with ethical questions."
He noted that their conclusions sometimes differed from the Catholic view, but that "the commission in general took seriously the kind of people we become as a result of asking the questions. It knew that scientific advancement doesn’t always translate into good moral options."
Bush appointed the council in 2001. U.S. presidents since Jimmy Carter have had a bioethics advisory council, but their leanings depend on the personal outlooks of the president.
Friday, 26 June 2009
"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're
not doing anything very innovative."
-- Woody Allen
The meeting, set for the afternoon of July 10, will be the first between the Pontiff and the new president.
Obama's Vatican visit will take place within the context of his participation in the Group of Eight summit, which will be held July 8-10 in L'Aquila, Italy.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said to reporters today that "Benedict XVI is open to receive the president of the United States during the afternoon of July 10."
The decision to set the meeting for the afternoon, which breaks protocol for papal audiences, is due to the president's tight schedule.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
"When you live for others' opinions, you are dead. I don't
want to live thinking about how I'll be remembered."
-- Carlos Slim Helu
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The priesthood is a gift for humanity, but it is enduring more than a few difficulties, and the newly inaugurated Year for Priests aims to address that, says a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, spoke of the Year for Priests during the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies."
"The priest's service is of fundamental importance in the life of the Church," he said. "But it is a mystery that today endures not just a few difficulties."
Father Lombardi affirmed that the Year for Priests, which began Friday and runs through next June, responds to struggles caused by various factors: "the general climate of secularization in vast regions of the world, a lessened appreciation for the role of the priest in society, the deep wounds inflicted on the public image of priests due to unworthy behavior by some of them, and even the worthy valuing of the lay vocation in the Church."
Faced with these difficulties, the spokesman continued, "the Pope does not respond with socio-religious considerations, but by promoting a commitment to interior renewal on the part of all priests, so that their Gospel testimony in the world of today is more intense and weighty."
Benedict XVI's letter to priests, with which he inaugurated the year, "does not begin from the external, but from the heart of the priestly vocation, from the concrete model of priestly sanctity that is offered us by the holy Curé d'Ars, St. John Vianney," Father Lombardi observed.
"It can almost look like a provocation to present as a spiritual reference point to priests of all the world this pastor who lived in a small French town of 200 people, who died 150 years ago," he contended. "But if the priest truly lives from the Eucharist and from service to the reconciliation between God and man, that is, from the manifestation of the mercy of God, then time and place become secondary."
That's why the Pope's letter to priests, Father Lombardi said, "has a deep touch of spirituality, a great feeling of love for Jesus and for people, particularly for those that are spiritually far from God or in difficulties."
"Is it not true that there is an urgent and tremendous need for this love that tries to make itself present in the heart of every person?" he asked. "That's why the Pope speaks of the priest as a gift to the Church and to humanity itself."
Monday, 22 June 2009
"If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we
should first examine it and see whether it is not something
that could better be changed in ourselves."
-- Carl Jung
SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy, JUNE 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is assuring youth, especially the unemployed, that the Church will not abandon them. He is asking them in turn to not abandon the Church.
The Pope said this today in a meeting with priests, religious and youth at the Church of San Pio de Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he is visiting.
The Pontiff is spending the day in the city where St. Pio of Pietrelcina, popularly known as Padre Pio, is buried.
The Holy Father acknowledged the large numbers and enthusiasm of the young people.
He affirmed, "I have present in mind the problems facing you, dear young men and women, and which threaten to stifle the enthusiasms typical of your youth."
Benedict XVI stated, "Among these, in particular, I mention the phenomenon of unemployment," which affects so many young men and women.
He urged them, "Do not lose heart!"
The Pope added: "The Church does not abandon you. Do not abandon the Church!"
He continued: "Your input is necessary in order to build living Christian communities, and societies that are more just and open to hope.
"And if you want to have great hearts, seek the school of Jesus. Just the other day we contemplated his heart, great and full of love for humanity.
"He will never abandon or betray your trust, he will never lead down mistaken paths."
The Pontiff encouraged youth to follow Padre Pio's exampled, to "be faithful friends of the Lord Jesus, cultivating a daily relationship through prayer and through listening to his word, the diligent practice of the sacraments and the cordial membership in his family, which is the Church."
He added, "This must be the basis of the program of life of each of you, dear young people."
After the meeting, the Holy Father departed the city to return to Rome.
Posted: 21 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Gn 12:1-9 / Mt 7:1-5
Not so long ago, I found myself trapped in a long, unavoidable, and thoroughly inconsequential meeting, and the refrain of an old song began running through my mind: “Yakety yak, yakety yak”!
For most of our waking hours, we are surrounded by the insistent chatter of people trying to get our attention to sell us, persuade us, warn us, and blame us. And most of it we don’t want and don’t need to hear. So we develop the habit of tuning out and escaping into daydreams and out-of-the-body experiences.
It works well, once you get the hang of it, but it has a downside: It becomes a blind habit. We tune out indiscriminately, we become inattentive to life, and we miss a lot of what we need to hear.
There’s a better way to defend ourselves from life’s intrusive noises, and that is to create a quiet inner place where we can hear the things that really matter, the things the Spirit knows and tells our hearts when we listen.
Take charge of those outer noises — you can manage most of them if you decide to. And spend more time inside. You’ll be surprised at what you hear and what you learn from the Spirit, if you’ve learned how to create QUIET!
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Friday, 19 June 2009
MUMBAI, India, JUNE 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is reporting that an unprecedented Catholic-Hindu meeting in India has opened a new chapter in relations between the two faiths.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran affirmed this Tuesday in a Vatican Radio interview, after participating in a June 12 Catholic-Hindu summit in Mumbai.
In the two-hour meeting, Catholic and Hindu leaders discussed recent violence against Christians in that country.
The Union of Catholic Asian News reported that since last August, around 90 people, mostly Christians, were killed and thousands displaced during four months of violence in Orissa and other regions.
Jayendra Saraswathi, who is the current Sankaracharya of the Hindu monastic institution Kanchi matha, noted that these attacks were a reaction to "forced conversions," and asked Church leaders that these acts be stopped.
The Kanchi matha is one of the most important religious institutions of South India, and the Sankaracharya is a leading religious figure in the nation.
Cardinal Tauran affirmed that for the Catholic Church, forced conversions have no value.
A Catholic participant who requested anonymity told UCA News that his delegation assured the Hindu leaders that the Church is not involved in these forced conversions, and has no control over the groups performing them. The Hindus responded that in this case, they want the other groups involved in dialogue as well.
Cardinal Tauran reported that there is a region in India where 160 churches are being constructed, which shows a growing presence of evangelical communities throughout the country. He explained, "It is evident that these are not Catholic churches, but rather buildings of Protestant headquarters."
Therefore, the cardinal said, "I had to explain to one of the principal Hindu religious leaders the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant, and I have to confess that he did not have his ideas very clear in this sense."
"Our meeting had the great advantage of clarifying some important points," and above all of hearing that in general the Hindus "have nothing against the Catholics," he affirmed. Rather, he noted, some fundamentalist groups are the ones who perpetrate the violence against Christians.
The Hindu leaders distanced themselves from the violent instigators, asserting that "this is not India; we are a peaceful people."
The two delegations shared their concern over the violence perpetrated in the name of religion, and asked for respect for all faiths as the only way to guarantee harmony in the country's multi-religious society.
After the discussion, the Catholic leaders witnessed a Hindu prayer in one of the temples, and the Hindus attended the celebration of vespers in the Mumbai cathedral.
The day passed in an environment of friendship, the cardinal noted, which is necessary for interreligious dialogue.
The prelate affirmed that the summit "opened a new chapter in the relations between Catholicism and Hinduism," and that now it is up to the local communities to keep the dialogue alive.
Cardinal Tauran concluded the interview by inviting Christians in India to "not be afraid of showing themselves as Christians" because they "have been planted in this land of God in order to bring forth flowers."
Along with the issues of violence against Christians and religious conversion, the meeting participants discussed cooperation in social work such as health and education.
In a press conference Jayendra Saraswathi and Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai reported some of the summit's conclusions.
The Sankaracharya underlined the spiritual nature of India and the need to respect minorities, but emphasized the need for assurance that the Catholic Church would not "offend Hindu sensibilities."
He called for Hindu organizations to educate their members so as to decrease conversions.
Cardinal Gracias reiterated that forced conversion does not happen in the Catholic Church: "It has no meaning, and is considered invalid."
The archbishop of Mumbai called for a deepening of the "spirituality of our people," added that "moral lessons should be included in the school syllabus to help children become better human beings."
Posted: 18 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Hos 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9 / Eph 3:8-12, 14-19 / Jn 19:31-37
The cry from Hosea’s heart, as he listened to God cry for Israel, reaches deep into the heart, especially the heart of parents who feel the loss of faith in their own children.
In Luke 13:34-35 and 19:41-44, Jesus cries over Jerusalem for its lack of faith. I think our reading from Hosea today is another cry from the Heart of Jesus for people to return to Him with a conversion of heart.
All the miracles Jesus worked then could not convince all the people of His day to come to Him. Is it any surprise that today we see more of the same?
How much ache is in your heart for brothers or sisters, mother or father, sons or daughters? Jesus knows that ache!
Embrace the ache with Him. Lay it before Him if you cannot contain it.
He knows. He understands. He loves. He aches.
This is the message of the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy.
It’s okay to cry with Him for them.
"Silence will save me from being wrong (and foolish), but it will also deprive me of the possibility of being right."
-- Igor Stravinsky
Posted: 17 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
2 Cor 11:1-11 / Mt 6:7-15
Our ways of praying reveal so much about what we really think about God. As Jesus says in today’s gospel, many of us multiply words in prayer, as if we had to persuade God to do good things for us. Isn’t that astounding! The God who made us out of nothing, who sustains in existence from hour to hour, who wants us to be with him for all eternity — this God needs to be persuaded to be friendly to us?! Ridiculous!
It’s not God who has to change his attitude. We’re the ones! By way of prayer, we have to get our spirits turned around, opened, attuned and connected to the One who is the source of our life and of all that is good in us.
Jesus was so clear about that. Don’t multiply words. Just open your heart to the One who made you and who loves you more than anyone else ever will. Stop talking, open your heart to Him, and enjoy the experience of being filled full!
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is reiterating that the priests and bishops of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X "do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church."
This was re-affirmed by a statement today from the Vatican press office, which cited a March letter from Benedict XVI.
The clarification comes "in response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June," the Vatican explained.
As ZENIT reported Monday in an interview with the society's leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay, on June 27, Lefebvrite Bishop Alfonso de Galaretta is scheduled to ordain three priests and three deacons in the society's Zaitzkofen seminary in Bavaria, Germany.
The Vatican's statement cited the Pope's letter sent to bishops in March, which concerns the January remission of the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by the society's founder, Marcel Lefebvre.
The statement quoted: "As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. ... Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers ... do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church."
The Vatican communiqué also confirmed that the restructuring of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei should come about soon. That commission was established by Pope John Paul II to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of those people linked in various ways to the fraternity founded by Lefebvre who desire to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church.
In the March letter, Benedict XVI announced his intention to change the status of the commission and make it part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the dicastery the Holy Father led before his election to the See of Peter.
"There is reason to believe that the definition of this new status is imminent," the Vatican communiqué announced. "This constitutes a premise for launching dialogue with the leaders of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with a view to clarifying the doctrinal questions, and consequently the disciplinary questions, which remain unresolved."
Regarding the ordinations planned by the Society of St. Pius X, the Catholic bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Müller, has noted that until the canonical issue of the society is resolved, more ordinations are not authorized and thereby will effect disciplinary action. The Diocese of Regensburg reports waiting for indications from Rome on how to handle the situation.
For his part, Bishop Fellay opined that the Vatican now "has no basic problems" with the upcoming priestly ordinations.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
|Posted by admin|
|Wednesday, 17 June 2009 00:21|
(MySinchew) - Evangelical Christians are upset with doctrinal errors in the National Service. This was highlighted by the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF) in its current newsletter to members.
NECF said it has notified the Christian Federation of Malaysia –the umbrella body - about this matter which will be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities
“Christians, especially Christian parents whose children are attending the National Service programme, need to be aware of the grave doctrinal errors on Christianity contained in the workbook used by the NS integration programme on religion, “ the NECF pointed out in an article entitled ‘NS doctrinal errors.’
It said the workbook is entitled “Buku Kerja Program Integrasi’ on ‘Keagamaan’, 4th edition, 2009 with the chapters on Christianity on pages 12 and 13 contain the following errors:
- On page 12, under the heading “Agama Kristian”, bullet 2 states: “Pengikut Christ menganggap beliau sebagai penyelamat yang diutus untuk membela Bani Israel daripada penindasan bangsa-bangsa lain seperti bangsa Rom yang pernah memerintah Palestin.”
(Translated: Christ’s followers regard him as the saviour sent to deliver the Israeli race from the oppression by other races, such as the Romans, who once occupied Palestine.)
This is erroneous as Christians do not regard Christ as the saviour for Israel’s political and territorial oppression. Instead, the Bible clearly states He came to deliver the human race from the bondage of sin, the article said as no where in the Bible does it say that Christ came to deliver the Israelites from human oppression.
On page 13, bullet 6 states: “Jesus mengajar konsep tuhan yang esa, pengasih, penyayang, pemurah dan pengampun. Bagi orang yang mengamalkan ajaran ini, mereka akan menikmati kesempurnaan hidup di akhirat.”
(Translated: Jesus taught the concept of God as loving, merciful, forgiving and compassionate. For those who follow this teaching, they will enjoy eternal life in the hereafter.”)
Again NECF said this is erroneous as Christians have always maintained that salvation in the hereafter is not based on merely knowing God as a loving, merciful and compassionate God, but believing, confessing and accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
It also pointed out that Protestant Christians also do not subscribe to the description written under the heading “Agama Kristian”, bullet 3 which says that Christ “menghidupkan burung yang dibuat daripada tanah liat dan sebagainya.” (Translated: brought clay birds to life.)
"It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven't done badly. People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining."
-- Stephen Hawking
By Kris Dmytrenko
TORONTO, JUNE 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An announcement that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will now oversee discussions with the Society of St. Pius X is imminent, says the society's general superior.
Bishop Bernard Fellay revealed to ZENIT that the congregation told him to expect the publication of a statement issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative) by Benedict XVI on the new structure of Ecclesia Dei before June 20.
The bishop confirmed that he met June 5 with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During a visit today to Toronto, the general superior explained that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, established precisely to oversee the process of healing the society's separation from the Church, will remain a distinct entity within the Church's dicastery for doctrinal matters.
"According to what we have heard," noted the bishop, "most probably, one of the monsignors of the congregation will be the executive head of Ecclesia Dei. So it will be very tightly united with the congregation."
Along with three other bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 without Vatican approval, Bishop Fellay had been automatically excommunicated, only to have the penalty lifted in January by Benedict XVI.
The Society of St. Pius X still lacks the canonical status required for the legitimate exercise of ministry, which, according to the Pontiff in a letter sent in March to all the Church's bishops, will only be granted when the society accepts the authority of the Second Vatican Council, along with the magisterial teachings of popes since the council.
Since 2000, the pontifical commission has been led by Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, whom Bishop Fellay describes as "very friendly" to the society. The bishop shared that, even after his June 5 meeting with Cardinal Levada, he remains unsure how the expected changes will affect negotiations with the Vatican.
"I don’t know [Cardinal Levada] enough to really answer the question. […] When we were received it was very courteous. He was gentle. […] I don’t frankly know what and if there will be a real change."
Most pressing for the new Ecclesia Dei leadership will be averting a new series of excommunications. On June 27, Lefebvrite Bishop Alfonso de Galaretta is scheduled to ordained three priests and three deacons in the society's Zaitzkofen seminary in Bavaria, Germany. Bishop Gerard Muller of Regensburg has warned the society that, until the issue of canonical status is resolved, the ordinations lack proper authorization and would thus merit disciplinary action.
"Our bishop is waiting for Rome to advise on how to respond," said diocesan spokesperson Jakub Schotz earlier this month. "But it will almost certainly result in the excommunication for these priests and the bishop who ordains them."
Bishop Fellay counters that the Society of St. Pius X already delayed subdiaconate ordinations in Regensburg earlier this year, and that he believes that the Vatican now "has no basic problems" with the upcoming priestly ordinations.
"We cannot just now say, 'stop breathing,'" he argues in defense of the society's continued administration of the sacraments. "We need to breathe. And, definitely, if the Pope was so good to take away the excommunications, that mean he doesn’t want us now to die."
The society is planning to proceed with the ordinations, despite Bishop Fellay’s concern that new excommunications could "jeopardize everything" and derail the society’s discussions with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Central to those talks will be the society's unambiguous condemnations of the Second Vatican Council, particularly in reference to the council’s affirmations of religious liberty, ecumenism and the separation of Church and state.
While the Swiss-born superior general prefers to resolve these doctrinal issues before he accepts canonical status in the Church, he insists that he is open to reaching a provisional compromise position with the Vatican.
"If Rome gives us enough guarantee, so to say, of survival, I think probably we would certainly consider it," he said. "We have no problem with the Church recognizing us, of course."
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming that we can be sure things can change for the better and we can have hope -- all because love exists.
The Pope said this today when reflecting on the feast of Corpus Christi being celebrated in many countries. He was addressing crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray with him the midday Angelus.
The Holy Father said that the feast of Corpus Christi brings to mind more than its liturgical aspect. It is "a day that involves the cosmic dimension, heaven and earth. It evokes, first of all -- at least in our hemisphere -- this beautiful and fragrant season in which spring finally begins the turn toward summer, the sun shines brilliantly in the heavens and the wheat matures in the fields," he said. "The seasons of the Church -- like the Jewish ones -- have to do with the rhythm of the solar year, of planting and harvesting.
"This dimension comes to the foreground especially in today's solemnity, in which the sign of bread, fruit of earth and of heaven, is at the center. This is why the Eucharistic bread is the sign of him in whom heaven and earth, God and man, become one."
The Pontiff went on to illustrate how the feast of Corpus Domini is "intimately linked" to Easter, Pentecost, and the feast of the Trinity.
He explained: "The death and resurrection of Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit are its presuppositions. It is, furthermore, linked to the feast of the Trinity, which we celebrated last Sunday. Only because God himself is relation can there be relation with him; and only because he is love can he love and be loved.
"In this way 'Corpus Domini' is a manifestation of God, an attestation that God is love. In a unique and peculiar way, this feast speaks to us of divine love, of what it is and what it does. It tells us, for example, that it regenerates itself in giving itself, it receives itself in giving itself, it does not run out and is not used up."
"Love transforms every thing," the Holy Father affirmed, "and so we understand that the mystery of transubstantiation, the sign of Jesus-Charity, which transforms the world, is at the center of today's feast."
"Looking upon him and worshiping him, we say: Yes, love exists, and since it exists, things can change for the better and we can hope," Benedict XVI continued. "It is the hope that comes from Christ's love that gives us the strength to live and to face every difficulty. [...] We all have need of this bread, because the road to freedom, justice and peace is long and wearisome."
The Pope concluded by considering how Jesus' mother would have received and worshiped the Eucharist.
"We can imagine with what faith and love," he said. "Each time it was for her like receiving the whole mystery of her Son Jesus: from the conception to the resurrection. My venerable and beloved predecessor, John Paul II, called her the 'Eucharistic Woman.' Let us learn from her to continually renew our communion with the Body of Christ, to love each other as he loved us."
Posted: 14 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
2 Cor 6:1-10 / Mt 5:38-42
Whether accidentally or intentionally, the people around us regularly complicate our lives and often hurt, mistreat, or inconvenience us without a backward glance. In myriad ways, it happens in the supermarket, on the freeway, in the neighborhood, and even at home.
In such cases, there’s a common saying that sometimes just seems to fit the bill: Don’t get mad, get even!
But Jesus offers us an alternative vision. It takes more effort and more self-discipline, and on top of that it isn’t even guaranteed to work every time, but in the long term it builds up our little bit of God’s kingdom instead of tearing it down. Jesus’ alternative to seeking revenge is to work for the conversion of the one who did us wrong. And the strategy he proposes is a simple one: Embarrass the thoughtless and the malefactors into taking a second look at their bad choices and feeling how rotten those choices really were. That’s what the turning of the other cheek is about. Not pacifism or wimpishness, but a strategy for eliciting change.
Jesus understood full well that this won’t work every time and he had no intention of making us permanent victims to every menace who steps into our lives. He recognized the legitimacy of the right to self defense. But before we head straight for that, he asks that we try conversion first. And sometimes we’ll succeed. Those sometimes are worth a little extra effort. Those sometimes can change the whole tone of your life.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Friday, 12 June 2009
ROME, JUNE 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is warning of a "serpentine secularization" that penetrates the Church and is manifested in "formal and empty Eucharistic worship."The Pope celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi today in Rome, presiding over Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran and then processing with the Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
In his homily, the Holy Father illustrated the importance of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, telling the thousands of pilgrims that this faith "cannot be taken for granted.""Today there arises the risk of a serpentine secularization even within the Church, which can convert into a formal and empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking this participation from the heart that is expressed in veneration and respect for the liturgy," he cautioned.
According to the Pontiff, "the temptation is always strong to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, letting oneself be carried away by earthly activities and worries."And nevertheless, he added, the Eucharist is "the bread of eternal life of the new world that is given us today in the holy Mass, so that starting now the future world begins in us.""With the Eucharist, therefore, heaven comes down to earth, the tomorrow of God descends into the present and it is as if time remains embraced by divine eternity," the Bishop of Rome explained.
He didn't hide his joy at being able to accompany the Blessed Sacrament along the path to St. Mary Major; he invited the faithful to raise up this prayer: "Stay with us, Christ, give to us the gift of yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life."Free this world from the venom of evil, of violence and of hate, which contaminate consciences; purify it with the power of your merciful love."
Posted: 11 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
2 Cor 4:7-15 / Mt 5:27-32
In case we ever get tempted to start believing our own press releases, a healthy corrective is ready at hand for every one of us: Make an honest list of just a single day’s worth of your own mistakes and failures. A typical list might read something like this: Lost the car keys and then lost my temper. Left home late, got a speeding ticket, and lost my temper. Read the financial page, noted my losses resulting from impulsive choices, and lost my temper. Had a three martini lunch, missed a key appointment, and lost my temper. And so on.
It’s not a gross record, but it certainly is a stupid one, and it surely confirms St Paul’s words about our being “earthen vessels.” We fall so short of who we aspire to be as followers of Jesus, and we fall short so often that we are ready victims for discouragement and even despair.
When that dark mood seems about to set in, we need to remember that the One who made us knows full well how we are made, how we struggle, and the limited tools we have to work with. He became one of us, not to get the goods on us, but to draw us out of the morass in which we flounder and take us unto himself. As he has told us over and over, he knows how to be a very good father.
Trust our good father and never give up, never cease to hope. Perfection is not God’s expectation of us. Persistence is!
Posted: 10 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
2 Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6 / Mt 5:20-26
By the very nature of things, life is filled with conflicts. However charming and mellow the people we live with may be, we inevitably have differences of taste, preferences, interests, goals, visions, and … whatever. Because of that fundamental reality of the human condition, we have to become experts at the art of reconciliation. We have to become adept at facing differences — some of them deeply and hurtfully felt — and bringing them together.
But the most profound and tricky task of reconciliation is not with others but within ourselves — learning how to recognize and name and face the conflicts within our own souls, conflicts that can tear us apart and sink our ships if we do not resolve them.
Jesus addresses that very matter at the end of today’s gospel, when He warns us about making peace with our opponent before we get to court. He’s not talking about an enemy on the outside; He’s talking about our own inner adversaries, our own demons. He’s saying, in a word: Face yourself while there’s still time. Face yourself and do what needs to be done before you destroy yourself.
It’s good advice from our very dear brother. Don’t ignore it!
"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're
supposed to help you discover who you are."
-- Bernice Johnson Reagon
ROME, JUNE 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, Francisco Vázquez Vázquez, reported that the country's government is actively supporting the organizational effort of the World Youth Day scheduled for August 2011.
In a press conference Tuesday at the embassy, Vázquez noted that the government led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has begun to mobilize for the event that will draw worldwide youth to Madrid.
The ambassador reported that last week there was an organizational meeting between the Spanish vice president, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, and the archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela.
Vázquez, former senator and president of the Spanish Federation of Municipals and Provinces, explained that the Spanish government named a representative for the coordination of the event's organizational aspects.
He noted that the country is planning for the participation of 1.5 million young people from all continents, which, he said, gives the youth day more than just a spiritual significance.
The ambassador affirmed that certain differences between Zapatero's government and the leaders of the Catholic Church, such as the current debate over abortion, should not affect the organization of this event. He also noted that the youth day will be preceded by several other gatherings of young people in different Spanish dioceses.
"It will be very important," he stated.
Vázquez, who has been the ambassador to the Holy See for three years, is currently overseeing the collection of useful information about previous youth days.
He expressed a speculation that "the Pope may travel to Santiago de Compostela," a popular European pilgrimage site, on this visit, given that the Pontiff "is a great Europeanist."
He explained that Benedict XVI had personally expressed the desire to visit the tomb of the Apostle, St. James, when the ambassador met him in audience.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
"There are generations yet unborn, whose very lives will be
shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you
-- Andy Andrews
Posted: 09 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
2 Cor 3:4-11 / Mt 5:17-19
Certain people have a confident, self-assured way about them that telegraphs to the world that everything is going to be okay because they’re here. But scratch the surface a little deeper and sometimes what comes into view is quite different. Sometimes the confidence is just an act, mere bravado, an exercise in calculated deception. On the other hand, often enough the confidence is real and unfeigned, but it’s never been tested by hard times or serious challenges. And when those times come, as they always do, the thin veneer shatters.
So where does real confidence come from? St. Paul has a clear answer for us in today’s epistle. “This great confidence in God is ours, through Christ.” Jesus, who is God made visible in our midst, Jesus, who has vanquished all things, even death, Jesus is the source of our absolute, unshakable confidence. A heart deeply grounded in our risen Lord Jesus will not waver.
Now is the time for setting down those deep roots in him who is both brother and savior to us. When the dark days do come, he will be your light, and his light will never fail.
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Posted: 08 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
2 Cor 1:18-22 / Mt 5:13-16
Heroes energize us and draw us forward. Sports heroes regularly do what seems impossible — run the mile faster than ever, swim the channel in record time, sink the longest putt ever recorded. Entrepreneurial heroes put together deals that are beyond imagining, and suddenly, the high-rise rises, the dream computer hits the market, and the wonder drug is available at our neighborhood counter.
Holy heroes astonish us with their goodness — the pope becomes the key player in liberating eastern Europe, Mother Theresa holds to the end to her course of caring for the poor, and the old woman down the street doesn’t falter as she begins her thirty-first year of caring for her retarded son.
Heroes challenge us to get our lives and our commitments right. “Be faithful!” they say, “and hold to course. Don’t lose your way. You are salt, and you can bring out what is best in things and preserve what is best in things — just the way salt does — if you don’t forget who you are.”
Don’t forget. Be salt: Bring out the best and keep alive what is best.
Monday, 8 June 2009
Posted: 05 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Dt 4:32-24, 39-40 / Rom 8:14-17 / Mt 28:16-20
Moses: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? … This is why you must know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God…”
If we search all the religions of the world for some unique property — for some unique message — we come back to the “message of distinction” that resides in Christianity. This message is the culmination of a huge mystery: We are made in the image and likeness of God.
The Church, in her wisdom and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit has called us to proclaim this great mystery immediately following the conclusion of the Easter season. Trinity Sunday is a chance for us to examine - in our own frail human intellect - the amazing reality of God in His Love.
We have been taught that all creation comes from within the desire of the Love that is God. That desire of God to share the wonder of His love is why creation — including humanity — came into existence. That is part of the way we share in His divine life. What? Yes, we share in His Divine Life.
How are we made in the image and likeness of God? What is that “image and likeness"? We do what no other creature can. We — with the grace of God — create something eternal: Other human beings.
God, in His Love, could not remain only in Himself. The very nature of His love — without implying anything lacking within Him — required more. That more is His creation. His Love within the Family of the Trinity generated more love and that became our created universe.
As a husband and wife come together, generating their love, sometimes — with the grace of God — there is a new creation in a child. This is something the devil, nor any other creature is able to do. We alone participate in God’s ongoing creation.
And it is from the family that God is revealed. As Christians, this Family is something unique in our understanding of God. It grew from within the understanding of God’s self revelation through Moses that “the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other…” It grew through the prophets of the Old Testament where God was first revealed as a father. It grew to the declaration of Jesus (God the Son) of God the Father, and the Holy Spirit as our Advocate.
We have come to see this as God: Three-in-one; a community of persons, but one God.
I know you know this. But think again on the mystery of the Family … and of the family. We participate in the creative power of God through our families. This is central to our identity in the image of God. Is it any surprise there is such an attack on family and children?
Why is abortion so demonically strong? Because it denies the creative power of man and woman and the dignity of the eternal beings husband and wife create with God.
Why is there such an attack on family? Because by distorting or destroying family, the devil distorts or destroys the image of God in the hearts and minds of people.
All the attacks we see against family today — the myriad variations, distortions, denials, and (yes) perversions — are ultimately an attack on the very image of God in which we were made.
God said: “Let us make man in our image” … male and female He created them. The image of the Trinity is under attack today. So I repeat what Moses said: “…This is why you must know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God…” and we are made in His image.
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- There are cases when priests' lack of discipline causes grave scandal and wounds the common good; to help quickly remedy these situations, Benedict XVI has extended the faculties of the Congregation for Clergy.
Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of that congregation, explained today that the dicastery now has the faculty to treat cases of dismissal from the clerical state "in poenam" (as a penalty) for those clerics who have attempted marriage or have committed other grave sins against the Sixth Commandment.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, the archbishop clarified that "this is not a simplification of procedures or even a simplified procedure, but rather a juridical instrument consistent and coherent with current canon law."
The procedure is nothing automatic, the prelate added, "but rather one which is pursued in certain and very circumscribed cases according to the prudent judgment of the Apostolic See."
The new guidelines also include "the faculty to intervene for the imposition of a just penalty or penance for the external violation of divine or canon law."
When the offender has no intention to reform his life, "perpetual penalties" can be imposed, which could include dismissal from the clerical state.
Finally, the clergy congregation now has the faculty to "declare the loss of the clerical state for clerics who have abandoned the ministry for a period greater than five consecutive years and who persist in such freely chosen and illicit absence from the ministry."
Archbishop Piacenza reiterated: "There is nothing automatic about these procedures, nor is there an automatic timeframe, and each case is considered individually, and applied only for the gravest circumstance."
The new faculties were announced in an April letter from the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, to apostolic nuncios. The Pope had made the changes in January.
Archbishop Piacenza noted today that the faculties come from a "desire to honor the mission and the figure of priests who, in this period when secularization is so widely diffused, bear the burden of thinking and acting counterculturally out of fidelity to their proper identity and mission."
The Vatican official affirmed that a priest must have "continuous asceticism in fidelity to the promises made on the day of ordination and respecting the intangible rights of God upon us."
But though celibacy might be difficult, the archbishop affirmed that the "will of the Church with regard to this finds its ultimate motivation in the unique coherence that celibacy has with ordination, which configures the priest to Jesus Christ the Head and Spouse of the Church."
He added: "Indeed, for this reason the Church has reaffirmed at the Second Vatican Council and repeatedly in the subsequent pontifical magisterium the 'firm will to maintain the law that demands perpetual and freely chosen celibacy for present and future candidates for priestly ordination in the Latin rite.'
"Priestly celibacy is a gift the Church has received and wishes to protect, convinced more than ever that it is a gift for herself and for the world."
Saturday, 6 June 2009
PARIS, JUNE 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A message from Benedict XVI was read at the opening of an interreligious gathering in Paris' Notre Dame cathedral, expressing sorrow for the victims of Monday's Air France plane accident.
The Pope affirmed his prayer that God will "give his support and consolation" to all those people affected by the tragedy that claimed 228 lives when a flight en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean.
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris and president of the French bishops' conference, transmitted the condolences of the Pontiff at Wednesday's gathering.
The Holy Father entrusted the deceased to God's mercy, and expressed the hope that their families will "find the help that they need around them in these hours of anguish."
Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, was present at the gathering along with other government representatives, Christians, Jews, Muslims, families and friends of the victims and Air France workers.
To symbolize the lives lost in the tragedy, 228 candles were placed on the altar.
Rabbi Haim Korsia, chaplain of the air personnel, invoked the "fraternity that unites us, believers and non-believers."
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, directed some words of support and compassion to the families and friends of the victims, and he sang the first sura of the Koran.
Claude Bay, president of the Protestant Federation of France also expressed his sympathy, followed by the Metropolitan Emmanuel on behalf of the French Assembly of Orthodox bishops.
Pilots and crew members, dressed in uniform, recited verses from the Book of Lamentations and the Gospel of Luke, in French, Portuguese and English.
The archbishop of Paris concluded the ceremony with a message of encouragement and support for the families.
Posted: 04 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Tobit 11:5-17 / Mk 12:35-37
In any circle of friends and acquaintances, there are always some who look so healthy, confident, and well put together in every way that we feel just a touch of envy, and then there are others whose lack of physical, mental, or spiritual health is so visible as to be heartrending. But the truth is that every one of us, even the most healthy in appearance, carry wounds of many sorts, wounds to the heart and the mind as well to the body.
Not one of us is exempt from the need for inner healing. Indeed, new wounds to the spirit, often self inflicted, appear every day. But where will the healing come from? From the good human beings with whom God has peopled our lives, often the ones we’d least expect.
We see that clearly in today’s Old Testament reading. It was not some old wise man who brought healing and renewal of heart to the blind and hurting Tobit. It was none other than his young son Tobiah.
Tobit could have scorned his son’s youth and the nasty remedy his son proposed, but he did not. Despite the turmoil of spirit that had afflicted him during his time of trial, he managed to keep his spirit open, he did as his son asked, and he regained his sight.
God’s sends his healing to us in many strange and unexpected forms. Sometimes we are the agent of healing, sometimes we are the healed. But in both cases, the key is a heart open to the Healer of All Hearts. May that openness be yours always!
"You have to be focused on the things that make you a human
and not a golden god. You have to focus on just living."
-- Michael Kearney
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Posted: 03 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9a / Mk 12:28b-34
We can gain a good bit of wisdom by watching for the patterns in the world around us. What does this person or that group usually do? They’re likely to do it again. If a company has lost money for five years straight, you’d better look twice before you invest in it. And if no graduates from a given school have gotten into college in the past decade, you’d better think again before enrolling your children there.
Finding patterns can tell us a lot that’s useful and they can warn us away from serious mistakes, but it can also shut doors on opportunity. We see that in today’s Old Testament reading. Tobiah was faced with some hard facts about the woman he wanted to marry: She’d been married seven times and all seven husbands had been murdered! The meaning of the pattern appeared to be clear, but it wasn’t. The murders had not been done by her but by an enemy, and the poor woman was in need of rescue.
Tobiah didn’t close the door on her, but took her to himself. Together they gave themselves into the Lord’s care, and what seemed to be a disaster in the making was a marriage the lasted into old age.
God does not see as we see. He sees life and hope where they are hidden from our view. The prudent soul always watches for the patterns in life, but also knows to look beneath the surface where hidden riches await. Learn to see as God sees and you will never close a door too early.
"What we do during our working hours determines what we have;
what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are."
-- George Eastman
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Faith is not just about thinking; it involves the whole being, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, during which he focused on the figure of Rabanus Maurus, an 8th century monk from Germany.
The Holy Father explained how Romanus drew from various disciplines -- such as philosophy, art and poetry -- to better lead people to God. He said that this showed "Rabanus Maurus had an extraordinary awareness of the need to involve in the experience of faith, not only the mind and the heart, but also the sentiments, through these other elements of aesthetic taste and the human sensitivity that brings man to enjoy truth with all of his being, 'spirit, soul and body.'"
The Pontiff affirmed that this understanding is important.
"The faith is not only thought," he explained, "it touches the whole being. Given that God made man with flesh and blood and entered into the tangible world, we have to try to encounter God with all the dimensions of our being. In this way, the reality of God, through faith, penetrates in our being and transforms it."
Benedict XVI noted how Romanus did not "dedicate himself to the art of poetry as an end in itself, but rather he used art and whatever other type of knowledge to go deeper in the Word of God."
In this context, it was natural that Romanus, first and foremost a monk, would give priority to liturgy, the Pope explained.
"[Romanus] tried with all his might and rigor to introduce to his contemporaries, but above all to the ministers […] the understanding of the profound theological and spiritual significance of all the elements of the liturgical celebration," he said.
And in this effort, the monk paid recourse to Scripture and the fathers of the Church.
"In this way is seen the continuity of the Christian faith," the Holy Father said, "which has its beginnings in the Word of God: It is, nevertheless, always alive, it develops and is expressed in new ways, always in harmony with the entire construction, the whole edifice of the faith."
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican Secret Archives will publish a new edition of the documents regarding the Galileo case as part of the celebrations marking this International Year of Astronomy.
The volume is expected at the end of next month, and has been directed by the prefect of the archives, Bishop Sergio Pagano, according to L'Osservatore Romano.
The volume has a better selection of information from those who intervened in Galileo's case -- "each of them specified in the notes, and many of them inquisitors," according to Bishop Pagano.
It will also include, in addition to all of the letters regarding the case, 20 new documents found in the Vatican since 1991, critiques of various documents that require an edition faithful to the original, as well as an extensive introduction on the historical circumstances and development of the case.
The new volume will have 550 pages and 1,300 notes.
Bishop Pagano reflected on the Galileo case, affirming that "the theologians' attitudes could have been more comprehensive and elastic."
"Taking into account that the historical context was not ripe for receiving the scientific studies of the great scholar of Pisa, it is undeniable that in this matter various errors were committed, also on the part of Galileo himself," he continued.
The bishop noted that in a culture dominated by the Ptolemaic perspective, which considered the Earth as the center of the universe, the Copernican system "systematically went against Scripture."
The bishop also noted "Urban VIII's firm and resolved decision of wanting the investigation and the condemnation, entrusting the letters and the studies of Galileo to the screening of limited scholars and not always up to par."
"Among the Jesuits -- who were left out of the investigation -- there wouldn't have been a lack of attitudes ready to be more indulgent with the scholar from Pisa," Bishop Pagano contended.
Posted: 02 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Tobit 3:1-11,16-17 / Mk 12:18-27
Life is a remarkable, irreplaceable gift. Only God can give it; only God can extend it even for a second. Yet at times we take the gift for granted and fail to appreciate its full worth. With far too great an ease, we may well find ourselves saying things like, “I wish I were dead,” or “There’s nothing more to live for.”
As we discovered in today’s Old Testament reading, poor Tobit reached that point after four years of blindness and its attendant feelings of powerlessness, and after seeing himself and his failures of love and faith a good bit more clearly than he might have liked. Poor Tobit despaired of life and of himself.
But the Lord was not willing to let that judgment stand, for he still saw the goodness that Tobit himself had ceased to see in his life and in his own soul. The Lord saw it all and he continued to hope in it. And in his good time he would help Tobit to see it too.
When those dark days come to you, as inevitably they do to us all, step outside yourself and see what the Lord sees — in you, around you, and in your future. Trust his vision, and walk with him out of the darkness and into the light.
"Fill what's empty, empty what's full, and scratch where it
itches." (when asked what is the secret of a long and happy
-- Wallis Warfield Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
The Pope sent a message through Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pontiff's secretary of state, to Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, who was apostolic nuncio in France until today's appointment as major penitentiary of the apostolic penitentiary.
The aircraft disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean on Monday. The Holy Father expressed his profound condolences to the families in mourning and assured them of his "spiritual closeness to all those that were touched by this drama."
In the message, written in French, Benedict XVI entrusted the deceased to divine mercy, "asking that God Almighty embrace them in his peace and his light."
The Pope gave his apostolic blessing to all those people affected by the tragedy, "asking God to give his support and consolation to all the harshly tested people," and hoping that they "can find the help that they need around them in these hours of anguish."
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Posted: 01 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Tobit 2:9-14 / Mk 12:13-17
The search for happiness is a lifelong quest with outcomes as numerous and varied as the people in the world. Some folks are content with the simplest of lives, while others are congenitally dissatisfied no matter what their circumstance. Some people find the true source of happiness early in their lives, while others still have no clue as they lie on their deathbeds. For some, the quest begins well and then falters in the face of adversity.
This seems to have been the case with Tobit in today’s Old Testament reading. Tobit was a good man, faithful to God and to those around him. Through no fault of his own he was tragically stricken blind, and with the passage of time his powerlessness embittered him and made him suspicious, even of his long-suffering wife. Her response cut him to the quick. “Your true character is finally showing itself,” she said with a vengeance and she was right, at least in part.
Before hastening to lend our assent to her judgement of Tobit, we might do well to ponder our own conduct in adversity. Do we stand firm and confident, or does our “Christian joy” fizzle and reveal its shallow roots by succumbing to self-pity and bitterness?
The happiness we seek, the joy God wants us to have, has roots planted deep in our belief in the resurrection. How deep are your roots? Are you ready for the still unseen challenges that will surely come your way? Now is the time to find out, before they arrive!
Reports 18 Parishes Are "Totally Kaput"
JAFFNA, Sri Lanka, JUNE 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Bishop of Jaffna is reporting that his diocese is torn apart and many parishes are destroyed after the recent fighting between government forces and the rebel Tamil Tigers.
Aid to the Church in Need reported today the words of Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam of Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka, who wrote a letter describing the situation of his people.
The prelate stated that his priests stayed with the people "to the last," till the fighting ended on May 19th, and one of them, Father Mariampillai Sarathjeevan, died of exhaustion while ministering to the refugees.
The bishop, who went undercover to deliver aid to the people trapped in the "safe zone," said that 20,000 people died and 40,000 were injured as the conflict moved into that "small space of land."
He stated that the casualties are due to the heavy artillery and shell fire that was used by both sides of the battle, and he criticized Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse for launching the final attack that "brought so much suffering."
Bishop Savundaranayagam recalled a letter he wrote to the president in March to call for an end to the bombing.
He also appealed to Tamil Tiger leaders to allow the trapped civilians to be given safe passage out of the battle zone. However, he reported, "The hardest part was that the [Tamil] Tigers used the people -- civilians -- as shields."
"I pleaded with them to allow the civilians to go to any place of safety in the government side but they did not listen to it," the prelate said.
Now, he said, there are more than 200,000 refugees.
The bishop stated that 18 parishes in the heart of the conflict zone are now "totally kaput."
"I saw parishes falling one after the other," he added. "I have no access to those places now -- no people, no parishes, no priests, no churches."
The prelate continued: "Some of my priests were staying till the last with the people and were rescued by the army. They are still in the refugee camps."
He explained that the priests are working to assist the refugees in Vavuniya, organizing Mass in the camps, visiting families and providing food supplies.
The bishop admitted that he is "sad and grieved," but that they will be "OK."
Monday, 1 June 2009
VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming the importance of cultivating a relationship with the Holy Spirit by waiting in prayer and spiritual openness, putting aside preoccupation with doing many activities.
The Pope said this today in a homily during the Pentecost Mass that he presided over in St. Peter's Basilica.
"If we do not want Pentecost to be reduced to a mere ritual or to a suggestive commemoration," he said, in order that it can become a "real event of salvation," we must "predispose ourselves to God's gift in religious openness" through a "humble and silent listening to God's Word."
Perhaps there is need, the Pontiff suggested, "for the Church to be less preoccupied with activities and more dedicated to prayer."
"Mary Most Holy, the Mother of the Church and Bride of the Holy Spirit, teaches us this," he said.
The Holy Father noted that this year's solemnity coincides with the feast of the Visitation, which celebrates the "little Pentecost" that brought forth "joy and praise from the hearts of Elizabeth and Mary -- the one barren and the other a virgin -- who both became mothers by an extraordinary divine intervention."
Benedict XVI stated, "Among all the solemnities, Pentecost is distinguished by its importance, because in it that which Jesus himself proclaimed as being the purpose of his whole earthly mission is accomplished."
Explaining the importance of this celebration, the Pope noted that "what air is for biological life, the Holy Spirit is for the spiritual life."
He continued, "As there is air pollution, that poisons the environment and living things, there is also pollution of the heart and the spirit that mortifies and poisons spiritual existence."
The Holy Father encouraged his listeners to not be complacent "about that which corrupts the spirit."
He pointed out some "pollutants" that circulate in society, such as images "that make pleasure a spectacle" or "violence that degrades men and women."
"It is said that this is freedom," Benedict XVI noted, "but it is just a failure to recognize all that which pollutes, poisons the soul, above all of the new generations, and ends up limiting freedom itself."
He added, "The metaphor of the impetuous wind of Pentecost makes one think of how precious it is to breathe clean air, be it physical air without lungs, or spiritual air -- the healthy air of the spirit that is love -- with our heart."
Today, the Pope asserted, "human beings seem to claim themselves as gods and want to transform the world excluding, putting aside or simply rejecting the Creator of the universe."
"Man no longer wants to be the image of God," he said, "but the image of himself; he declares himself autonomous, free, adult."
"Obviously that reveals an inauthentic relationship with God, the consequence of a false image that has been constructed of him," the Pontiff affirmed.
Speaking of the story of the first Pentecost, in which the Apostles were given the courage to preach the Gospel, the Holy Father noted that "the Holy Spirit overcomes fear."
After Pentecost, the Apostles "had no fear, because they felt that they were in stronger hands," he said.
Benedict XVI continued: "Where the Spirit of God enters, he chases out fear; he makes us know and feel that we are in the hands of an Omnipotence of love: whatever happens, his infinite love will not abandon us.
"The witness of the martyrs, the courage of the confessors, the intrepid élan of missionaries, the frankness of preachers, the example of all the saints -- some who were even adolescents and children -- demonstrate this.
"It is also demonstrated by the very existence of the Church, which, despite the limits and faults of men, continues to sail across the ocean of history, driven by the breath of God and animated by his purifying fire."
Posted: 31 May 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Tobit 1:3; 2:1-8 / Mk 12:1-12
One of the most important instincts that our Creator built into every one of us is the instinct for self-preservation. And serving that instinct is a complex alarm system whereby pain causes us to flee danger. Our hands might easily have got cooked a dozen times long before we reached adulthood if there were no pain attached to holding them in a fire. And we might easily have poisoned ourselves many times over if certain substances didn’t taste so bad and cause us to vomit.
Pain avoidance is a major factor in keeping us alive and healthy, whatever our age. And yet, sometimes it can work against us. Flight from pain, discomfort, inconvenience or danger can subvert and undercut what is best and most noble about us, and can deter us from the great deeds to which we are called.
In today’s Old Testament reading, we have the witness of Tobit, a man of noble heart, who refused to be deterred by danger as he strove to walk in the Lord’s ways. His friends ridiculed him. "Will you never learn?" they asked as he once again risked trouble in order to give some poor soul a decent burial. His answer, spoken in deeds, was that cowardice was a lesson he’d never learn!
It is a fact of life that none of us can escape those kinds of challenges, though they are unlikely to be so dramatic. If we are to live up to God’s dreams for us, if we are to be faithful to God’s gifts to us, there will always be a price to be paid. Don’t be afraid of it, and don’t turn away. The good Lord who asks this of you will always give you what you need. He is faithful. May we be faithful too.
"Respect your efforts, respect yourself.
Self-respect leads to self-discipline.
When you have both firmly under your belt,that's real power."
-- Clint Eastwood