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Bishops reaffirm support for refugees as judges scrutinize Trump policy

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 23:58

WASHINGTON D.C., Feb 10, 2017–The U.S. bishops welcomed a federal appeals court ruling that affirmed a legal injunction against a Trump administration executive order on refugee resettlement and travel bans targeting Muslim countries.

“We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process,” said Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, speaking in his role as chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution,” Bishop Vazquez said Feb. 10. “At this time, we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed to our country.”

“We will continue to welcome the newcomer as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and tradition,” he added.

The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 3-0 vote on Feb. 9, upheld a lower court’s temporary restraining order against several provisions of an executive order on refugee resettlement.

The provisions under judicial scrutiny included a 120-day halt on U.S. refugee resettlement program; an indefinite ban on resettling Syrian refugees; and a 90-day prohibition on entry for individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

On Thursday, the panel said that the Trump administration did not present any evidence that any alien from the countries it named has carried out a terrorist attack in the U.S. It said the public has an interest in national security and the ability of a president to enact policies. It added that the public also has an interest “in free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination.”

President Trump had said the order would stop terrorists and allow federal agencies to develop stricter screening for those entering the country.

He pledged to fight the ruling in court, saying on Twitter “the security of our nation is at stake.”

The executive action said that priority will be given to “refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution” for members of minority faiths in the refugee’s country of origin.

While the order does not mention Christianity, Trump has told media outlets such as Christian Broadcasting News that the order would prioritize Christian refugees. (CNA)

Bishop says the Christian influence in Jordan is still strong

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 23:57

AMMAN, Jordan, Feb 10, 2017–Jerusalem Bishop William Shomali, newly appointed to the Latin Patriarchate of Jordan, says that although Christians are a very small minority in Jordan, through the Catholic schools, hospitals and charities their presence is strongly felt in the communities.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, after consultation with the Bishops Council and the Consultative Council of the Latin Patriarchate, announced Feb. 8 that he named Bishop Shomali the next Patriarchal Vicar of Jordan.

Auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem since 2010, Bishop Shomali told CNA Feb. 9 that while he will make several visits to Jordan over the next few months, including one for a bishops’ conference, he won’t permanently take over in Jordan until a few months from now, at which point he will reside in Amman.

Although Christians are a very small minority in the area – they only make up about two percent of the overall population, he said – their social status and presence, relatively speaking, has a much stronger influence.

“The Catholic Church, although a minority, is very active through Catholic schools, Caritas, and other institutions,” he said. “We also have Catholic hospitals in Jordan, so our presence in the health and social and educational sectors is strong.”

This doesn’t mean Bishop Shomali won’t face challenges in Jordan, though.

The issues, he said, are not new ones, but ones the area has been facing for some time: mainly pertaining to the economy, refugees and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The presence of two million refugees” from Syria in Jordan, he said, presents a challenge on a humanitarian level, although the Catholic organization Caritas is very involved on that level.

Jordan is also dealing with an ongoing economic crisis, which significantly affects institutions of higher education, such as the local universities.

“Another challenge is that the diocese is divided into many sectors: Jordan, Palestine, Israel,” he explained. “So we have to care for the unity of the diocese, despite the political and economic differences and discrepancies.”

Asked his response to the possibility of a U.S. embassy move from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, which U.S. bishops condemned just earlier this week, Bishop Shomali said that the bishops in the Holy Land are also united in considering it a bad idea.

“We feel that if the embassy is transferred, it will be a handicap against the two-state solution,” he said, and that they really “don’t advise Mr. Trump to do that.”

Not all bad news, the bishop said that Jordan does have a number of young and vibrant priests which helps to make his job much easier. “On the positive side, we have a younger clergy, very dynamic, and very orthodox, which makes it easier for the bishop to work,” he said. (CNA)

Portland responds with love after Latino Catholics harassed during Mass

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 23:56

Portland, Ore., Feb 9, 2017–A week after Hispanic Catholics experienced racial harassment and taunts from a group of men during a Spanish Mass, the local community in Portland, Oregon sprang into action to show their support for the churchgoers.

Despite the chill and the rain, an estimated 200-300 people created a human barrier on Sunday, Feb. 5, protecting parishioners of St. Peter Catholic Church from possible harassment.

It was a different scene than what had greeted parishioners the week before, when a group of about eight men dressed as hunters shouted racial and sexual slurs at parishioners during Spanish Mass, and taunted the congregation for being made up of many immigrants, according to the Catholic Sentinel. The group of men was nowhere to be seen the following week.

The harassment came at an already tense time for the parish because of new federal immigration policy proposals. Pastor Fr. Raul Marquez, a native of Colombia who has been pastor at St. Peter’s for 5 years, said he had never seen anything like it.

“All that Sunday I felt upset and didn’t understand,” he told the Sentinel.

But the next Sunday came as a pleasant surprise. News of the previous attacks had spread on social media through two videos of the incident, and local community members banded together, with one post reading: “ATTN WHITE PEOPLE – USE YOUR WHITE BODY TO INTERRUPT RACISM!”  It urged people to place themselves “between violent bigots and people of color” to form a “strong human chain to stand as a buffer between Latino worshippers and those who hate them.”

And it worked. Catholics, Christians and non-believers showed up in force to provide support, complete with welcoming signs in both English and Spanish and a table of coffee and sweets.

Local priest Father Ron Millican from nearby Our Lady of Sorrows parish and Rev. Elizabeth Larson from St Mark Lutheran Church came to show their support for Fr. Marquez, as well as Matt Cato, director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace.

Archbishop Alexander Sample expressed his support to St. Peter’s through a letter to the parish, saying that he was saddened by the harassment and offering his prayers for healing.

“Please be assured that I, as your Archbishop and shepherd, stand firmly with you in the face of such ignorant and hateful words. You are our brothers and sisters, and as members of the same family of faith, we must hold fast to our unity in Christ,” he said.

He added that the incident was not isolated and that the same group had been harassing other churches in the area. The men were reportedly part of a Portland-based group called “Bible Believers”—hard-right street preachers who appear at protests against President Donald Trump.

“Be assured of my love and prayers for all of you. May Our Lady embrace you all in her mantle of love and protection,” Archbishop Sample concluded.

Brenda Ramirez, a 21 year-old parishioner, told the Portland Tribune that she was shocked to hear about the attack at her church, but was happy with the large showing of support from the local community.

“It’s just beautiful. This is what America is — not racism or hate. This is what it should be.” (CNA)

Seoul Archdiocese to vastly expand Radio Vatican’s Korean service

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 23:01

SEOUL, Feb 10, 2017–Korean Catholics will surely make their “ears attentive to wisdom” when Seoul Archdiocese establishes the first Radio Vatican branch outside the Vatican in the Korean capital.

The archdiocese will take charge of running the Korean version of Radio Vatican so local Catholics can hear news from the Vatican and around the world faster and more accurately.

Currently, the Korean version of Radio Vatican translates about 30 percent of the broadcast into Korean. The new service will raise that to 90 percent and offer a video-on-demand service.

Father Matthias Hur Young-yup, communications director of the archdiocese, will take director role, Father Damasus Jeong Ui-chul, rector of Pontifical Korean College and Father Simon Kim Nam-kyun, studying in Rome, will represent the branch.

Currently, the archdiocese is preparing a memorandum of understanding with Radio Vatican which will be signed in late February.

The Korean version of Radio Vatican was established in 2015. The Korean branch operated with support from the Korean Embassy in the Vatican, the Korean government, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea and Seoul Archdiocese.

“In an era of rapid and mass communication in real time, it is meaningful to offer news from the Vatican in Korea rightly and rapidly,” Father Hur said.

“News from the Vatican includes messages from Pope Francis and it will be delivered to the Korean faithful more accurately and consistently,” he added. (UCAN)

Thousands of faithful at the feast of Our Lady of Gunadala

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 22:58

VIJAYAWADA, Feb 11, 2017–This year our Lady, the Mother of health, gathered at his feet thousands of faithful for the three-day festival in Gunadala, from 9 to 11 February. Two days ago, under a colorful pavilion, hundreds of people have been raised very early to attend the first Mass of the day.

Msgr. Telagathoti Raja Rao, the Bishop of Vijayawada, greeted the pilgrims and blessed them, then together with the priests went to the altar to light the lamps of the party.

The bishop explained the origins of this festival, linked to the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Lourdes, which created the world in a new devotion, linked to great healing and anointing of the sick.

Resplendent in an atmosphere of sacred music and songs, it was also celebrated the silver jubilee and golden priests we have served the Church in Andhra Pradesh for so many years.

The director of the new Catholic TV channel Divya Vani, p. Udumala Showry Bala Reddy, has proclaimed his homily, thanking Our Lady of Health for helping him in his 25 years of priesthood.

The Gunadala festival was started in Vijayawada by PIME missionaries in 1923 and now, after more than 90 years has become an important festival for Catholics, although often welcomes Muslims and Hindu pilgrims.

Speaking at a press conference, Msgr. Telagathoti Raja Rao, said the sanctuary of Gunadala Matha (Mother of Gunadala) in the new capital of Andhra Praesh [previous, Hyderabad, has become the capital of the new state of Telangana – ed], needs new developments because It has become a destination for pilgrims not only these days, but for the whole year. There is need for infrastructure to accommodate pellegini who come from far and proposals for those seeking spiritual solace and blessings.

To this end, the bishop wants to be a group of priests who visit and learn from other Marian shrines in the world – such as Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Czestochowa – to study the reception capacities of the faithful and the expressions of Marian devotion, to adapt the Vijayawada to world standards. In the city it is also waiting a Vatican delegation to study the sanctuary.

Today’s feast was preceded by a novena starting on 31 January. The faithful with lighted candles rose, in procession with the Blessed Sacrament, on the hill of the sanctuary where there is a statue of Mary, praying the rosary and singing hymns.

The new director of the sanctuary, p. Eleti Jaya Rao, said that this year it is expected the arrival of at least 1.5 million pilgrims, thanks to new accommodation facilities and the atmosphere of prayer that you breathe. In Andhra Pradesh, in the Krishna Unit there are about 300 thousand Catholics served by 200 priests in 1600 churches. In addition, there are hundreds of schools, charitable services for the poor and needy.

In this period the government has made it easier to transport with special bus from the train station to Gunadala. Although the railways have allowed links to the trains Gunadala for all pilgrims. (AsiaNews)

Indian bishops prioritize family life

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 22:56

BHOPAL, Feb 10, 2017–India’s bishops have decided to give special pastoral attention to people estranged from the church and their families.

The Latin-rite bishops were attending the 29th plenary assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India in Bhopal and which concluded Feb. 8. The 137 bishops attending were from 132 Latin dioceses and issued a statement after deliberating on a way to revitalize Catholic families after church studies suggested that Catholic families are drifting away from vital Catholic teachings such as those on family planning.

Their family theme was inspired by Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“Promoting the Joy of Love in Our Families”).

“We will reach out to those who for several reasons feel estranged from the church … including people who are divorced, those civilly remarried and cohabiting partners,” the statement said.

They said they would do this keeping in mind Pope Francis’ words that “what is urgently needed today is a ministry to care for those whose marital relationship has broken down.”

They also pledged “to support and accompany” families that need special care such as those living in dire poverty, with spouses of two different religions, single parent families, families with disabled children, grieving and bereaved families, migrants and families with sick and elderly members.

To strengthen family life, the bishops also planned to intensify preparatory classes given to couples before marriage and encourage priests and nuns to “accompany families” through regular visits and contact.

“We will ensure that our priests, catechists and pastoral workers receive better training in family ministry,” they said.

Bishop Paul Alois Lakra of Gumla said during the deliberations that the bishops “found a disconnect between the church and families.”

The bishops agreed that the current formation of priests and nuns is not adequate to handle the complex problems that families face and wanted to bring in changes, the bishop told ucanews.com.

Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur said the bishops’ office for Catholic families has been asked to “work out a uniform program to help young boys and girls to prepare themselves for family life that is in line with the teachings of the church.”

“When we strengthen the marriage preparation course with more programs to help them realize their vocation to the sacrament of family, it will naturally help the church and society,” he added.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India is the national body of the country’s Latin-rite prelates and is different from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the national body for prelates of all three rites — Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and the Latin — in the country. Of the 172 dioceses in India, 132 belong to the Latin rite. (AsiaNews)

Bishop thai for the World Day of the Sick

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 22:54
BANGKOK, Feb 10, 2017–Msgr. Philip Banchong Chaiyara, bishop of the northeastern diocese of Ubon Rachathanee and president of the Episcopal Commission for social work has sent a letter to the faithful on the occasion of the 25th World Day of the Sick. The celebration will take place tomorrow, February 11, 2017 at the memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, the protector of the sick.

In his letter, the prelate emphasizes the theme already expressed by the  message that Pope Francis issued for the celebration of the Day , which is:  Amazement at what God does  with the theme:  “has done great things for me the Almighty …”  ( Lk 1:49) ”

Msgr. Chaiyara calls “on this special occasion I would like everyone to join in the celebration of the World Day of the sick, especially the Mass, with careful thought on the theme that the Pope gave us to meditate seriously on the greatness of God against Mary, mother of Christ, which is just one of the great things the Lord has done for all of us, humanity. This is why all men, as sons of the Almighty, are born with the same human dignity, that they are people worthy of honor and respect. There should not be anything that can reduce the value of our human dignity, in spite of illness, disability or economic status. No matter who the sick, the disabled, the marginalized or those who have to endure great hardships in daily life. All of them have one thing in common: the equal dignity of being children of God. ”

The prelate added that “this mission of the Church, it is also our mission as believers, who assist, care for and serve the sick and the marginalized. We renew our mission of ‘love and service’ to fill and strengthen our spirituality by following the example of Mary, our mother and San Camillo, patron of the sick and those engaged in health care. ”

Bishop Chaiyara suggested that during the Mass tomorrow, priests celebrate the sacrament of anointing for the sick and the elderly, and emphasize the importance of preparing in advance those who will receive the sacrament to have a clear understanding of the meaning, for a his fruitful reception.

Moreover, – he suggested – “it would be the admirable everyone remembered visit to Jesus Christ, who lives in our brothers and older sisters and the sick, who do not have the opportunity to participate in Sunday Mass. This task makes us witnesses of an authentic sign of the presence of the Church and of Jesus Christ who has given us an example of this important mission. ”

In conclusion, he encourages everyone to accomplish the mission and at the same time expressed his best wishes to those who are suffering. “May you realize that the Church will never abandon you.”

To those who work in health care to cure the sick, he hopes to “receive the blessing of God with physical and spiritual enthusiasm, to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ.” (AsiaNews)

Seoul Archdiocese wants to share its plethora of priests

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 22:52

SEOUL, Feb 9, 2017–Seoul Archdiocese wants to become the ecclesiastical version of a dandelion, spreading priests the world over to “fall on good soil,” as Jesus said.

On Feb. 3, Seoul Archdiocese ordained 27 priests making the total number in the archdiocese 892. Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, apostolic nuncio to Korea, was at the ordination in Seoul.

“Now that churches worldwide suffer a lack of priests, the number of priests in this archdiocese is a blessing not only to churches in Korea, but the world,” the archbishop said.

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul said that he wanted to share his priests with the wider world.

“Churches in Europe are suffering from a lack of priests. I hope more and more priests will go abroad and do their missionary works,” he said.

“As Pope Francis wants our archdiocese to play an important role in the Asian church and the world, we should grow up to be a more giving church,” the prelate said.

“Although our archdiocese is still growing, we need to reflect on our role as the salt and light of the world which is full of selfishness and secularism. Our priests need to care for socially vulnerable people and be ‘rice’ to others,” Cardinal Yeom said.

Apart from increasing priests, the archdiocese has a new Committee for Clergy which helps priests in their pastoral activities and acts as a mentor to them, listening to their hardships.

“The committee will be a place for priests to communicate with bishops of the archdiocese and be a place where all the priests, especially the young ones, can raise their voices freely,” Cardinal Yeom added. (UCAN)

The challenge to live out the values enshrined in the Commandments

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 06:21

6th Sunday of Year A (Matt 5:17-37)
February 12, 2017

By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

LAWS can be hard, at times, but when we succeed in complying with their formal prescriptions, they also produce in us a feeling of fulfillment and security . . . Yet, there is more to moral life than just complying with certain legal demands. Governments may not require more than that, but God does. Our conscience does. A well-formed conscience never stops at the action in itself. It knows that every action – either forbidden or commanded—is like the tip of an iceberg: the iceberg of moral attitudes, of fundamental commitments, which are the primary targets of the moral law.

If we want to be in good terms with God and our conscience, we must reject the idea that He can be cheated, . . . that He also can be satisfied with appearances and lip service—The letter of the Law is important, but what matters most are the values it enshrines, and the internal dispositions with which we comply with its demands.

Jesus reminds us of just this. He enters the scene as the young prophet and reformer who has an important message to deliver and presents it with authority. With his moral teaching, he shakes off the dust of accommodation and the rust of compromise. With shocking frankness, he presents to his followers stern demands which leave no room for self-deception. “Unless your holiness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God” (Mt 5:20).
Not only does he remind his audience that the Commandments are still valid, but especially he challenges them to look deeper and to go beyond the wording of the Law, and reach out toward the deep core of every prescription.

Jesus poses radical demands. If we want to be his disciples, our priorities must be arranged (or re-arranged) accordingly. First things, first. If anything has to be sacrificed, let it be what is secondary, rather than what is essential (see Mt 5:23-24); what is transient, rather than what will last for ever (see Mt 5:29-30). Then we shall experience the consolations that only wise persons enjoy. We may be few, but never alone: Jesus and all the saints will be with us!

Can We Build a Community Merely on the Basis of Law?

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 03:56


A meditation on the Gospel of the 6th Sunday of Year A (Matt 5:17-37)
February 12, 2017

By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD

IN coming to the world, Jesus wished to establish on earth a new community, the initial embodiment of the kingdom of God. Which is why, he started to call his disciples who would become the germ of his community. Being a new community, it offers its members an entirely different way of life. Consequently, it has a distinctive standard of righteousness. According to Matthew, this righteousness, which disciples must attain, is far above that of the Pharisees (Matt 5:20). This is not to say that the latter’s was bad; or were the Pharisees as a whole a bunch of hypocrites, though that is how they are sometimes seen or perceived. In their action, their motive was to fulfill the stipulations of the people’s covenant with God. If they fulfilled what the law of Moses requires, it is because the will of God is enshrined in the law. Their righteousness is seen in their moral action which is in accord with the law.

For all that, however, Jesus claimed that his disciples must aspire for a new righteousness, which is far above that of the Pharisees. The establishment of that kingdom in the community of disciples requires it. Such righteousness does not take the form of a more strict observance of the law in its minute details, although it is thus sometimes understood. On the contrary, it goes beyond the legal requirement. Its motive is not simply the fulfillment of God’s will as found in the law. It is rather the fulfillment of his will as it is embodied in the life of Jesus himself which, if summarized, is a life of love. Of course, Jesus did not abolish he law; as he himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 5:17). But because the focus has shifted from the law to the person of Jesus, it is not surprising that we are given a new way of understanding the law, in particular, the commandments. In this new righteousness, the commandment is to be seen as part of one’s response to God’s offer in Jesus, and that response in love begins with thought and ends with its execution.

In the Gospel reading, Matthew gives us three examples. [1] The first is murder (Matt 5:21-26; Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17). Under the new righteousness, murder is not to be identified with the taking of life. The taking of life is simply the external display of a crime that really starts with anger. Anger, the source of violent crime, is part of murder and is as detestable, as it is opposed to love. We can murder a person by calling him names, by destroying his reputation. Thus, a Christian must remove anger in his heart by being constantly reconciled with other members of the community. [2] The same may be said of adultery (Matt 5:27-30; Exod 20:14; Deut 5:18). It is not enough that a Christian should avoid having sex with a person other than his marriage partner. A woman’s dignity can be violated by a man not simply by sexual intercourse. The very source of adultery, lust, is opposed to love, and adultery is simply the execution of a brewing lust in the mind of the adulterer. Hence, Jesus could say, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart” (Matt 5:28). [3] The last concerns the taking of oaths (Matt 5:33-37; Num 30:2). To call God a witness is not only to violate the majesty of God; it really reflects distrust in one’s neighbor. And distrust has no place in a relationship of love. For Jesus there is no need to take an oath. A word is sufficient guarantee of one’s truthfulness and fidelity.

The point is that, we cannot build a society which embodies the kingdom of God, if it is based merely on strict obedience to prohibitions. I may not murder, but I can hate, or refuse to forgive and talk with my brother in the community. In other words, it is possible that a community can violate the law internally, without having to execute the violation in external behavior. A community may follow all the Ten Commandments, yet it remains unable to exhibit the values of the kingdom in its life, if the members are not one in heart and mind (Acts 4:22). Which is why, law, whether in the Church or outside, is not sufficient for well being, and even for salvation. On the contrary, it can create hypocrites—people who may appear holy, but in really greedy, rapacious, and oppressive. In the new righteousness, one’s action is like spring water. If one gets clean water from the spring, it is because the source of the spring is clean. If the water is dirty, it is because the source itself has dirt. A sinful action is really a matter of inward thought and external action. We may not have sex with another person, but to seriously want it, to lustfully desire it, is no less heinous. And this destroys fraternal relationship. No community will ever externalize the kingdom of God unless its members love one another from the heart and in action. This is not to deny that law can organize a community, but it would be a community of corpses.

Pope Francis: In healthcare, we are responsible to the most vulnerable

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 21:50

VATICAN, Feb. 10, 2017-– When it comes to healthcare and using our resources wisely, we have a responsibility to protect and take care of the most vulnerable in society, especially the elderly, Pope Francis told members of the Italian bishops’ conference Friday.

“To optimize resources means to use them in an ethical and responsible manner and not to penalize the most fragile,” he said Feb. 10.

“It is necessary to be vigilant, especially when patients are elderly with a heavily compromised health, if they are suffering from serious and costly diseases for their care or are particularly difficult, such as psychiatric patients,” he continued.

Pope Francis spoke to the Charity and Health Commission of the Italian Bishops’ Conference on the eve of the 25th World Day of the Sick and the 20th anniversary of the National Office for Pastoral Healthcare. The audience took place as a bill is currently being considered in Italy that would effectively legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, requiring doctors to act on the advanced statements of their patients in this regard, and prohibiting them from conscientious objection.

There have been years marked by strong “social and cultural changes,” the Pope noted, “and today we can see a situation with light and shadow.”

“Together with lights, though, there are some shadows that threaten to exacerbate the experience of our sick brothers and sisters,” he said. The most important thing is that the dignity of the sick person is always at the center of all healthcare, because when it is not, he said, the attitudes caused can lead people “to take advantage of the misfortunes of others. And this is very serious!”
Francis condemned, for example, business models of healthcare which, “instead of optimizing the available resources,” instead consider most people to be a type of “human waste.” When money is the guiding principle of policies in healthcare and administrative decisions, there can be a temptation to lose the protections to the right to healthcare, such as that “enshrined in the Italian Constitution,” he said.

Rather, “the growing health poverty among the poorest segments of the population, due precisely to the difficulty of access to care,” he said, should “not leave anyone indifferent and multiply the efforts of all because the rights of the most vulnerable are protected.”

Pope Francis praised the many health institutions in Italy founded on Christian principles, expressing his appreciation for the good that they have accomplished and encouraging them to continue to do even more to help the poor and vulnerable.

“In the present context, where the answer to the question of the most fragile health is becoming more difficult, do not even hesitate to rethink your works of charity to offer a sign of God’s mercy to the poor that, with confidence and hope, knock on the doors of your structures,” he said. One of St. John Paul II’s goals for the World Day of the Sick, “in addition to promoting the culture of life,” Francis said, was also to involve dioceses, Christian communities, religious, and families in understanding the importance of pastoral healthcare.

There are many patients in hospitals, of course, but there are many more people in their homes and frequently alone, he pointed out.

“I hope that are visited frequently, so they do not feel excluded from the community and they can experience, because of the proximity of one who meets them, the presence of Christ which passes now in the midst of the sick in body and spirit.”

He praised the advancements in scientific research which have found cures for some diseases, or eradicated them altogether, while noting that we can’t forget also the more rare and neglected diseases, which are not always “given due attention, with the risk of giving rise to further suffering,” he said. Quoting from his message for this year’s World Day of the Sick, the Pope said, “in the first place is the inviolable dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until its last breath.”

“We praise the Lord for the many health professionals with the knowledge and belief that they live their work as a mission, ministers of life and participate in the effusive love of God the Creator,” he said. “Their hands touch every day the suffering flesh of Christ, and this is a great honor and a serious responsibility.”

“Likewise, we welcome the presence of many volunteers who, with generosity and competence, are working to alleviate and humanize the long and difficult days of so many sick and lonely elderly people, especially the poor and needy.” (Hannah Brockhaus/CNA)

Without women, there is no harmony in the world, Pope Francis says

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 21:43

VATICAN, Feb. 10, 2017-– A woman’s value is not based on her material accomplishments, but simply in the beauty and harmony she brings to the world, just by her very being, Pope Francis said.

While neither man nor woman is superior to the other, they play different roles, the Pope said.

“Man does not bring harmony…It is she who brings that harmony that teaches us to caress, to love with tenderness; and who makes the world a beautiful place.”

Often we hear people say, the Pope said Feb. 9, that “it is necessary in this society, in this institution, that here there should be a woman because she does this, she does these things.”

“No, no, no, no!” he said. “Functionality is not the purpose of women. It is true that women should do things, to do things as we all do. The purpose of women is to make harmony, and without women there is no harmony in the world.”

In his homily at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the Book of Genesis, in particular, the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, saying that just like Adam felt that something was missing in the Garden without Eve, without women, something would be missing from the world.

“When women are not there, harmony is missing. We might say: But this is a society with a strong masculine attitude, and this is the case, no? The woman is missing.”

People might think: “yes, yes: the woman is there to wash the dishes, to do things…” Francis said, but this is wrong, he emphasized. “The woman is there to bring harmony. Without the woman there is no harmony.”

Pope Francis referenced the day’s Gospel, which tells the story of a woman whose daughter is possessed by a demon. Even though she is at first rebuked by Jesus when she asks him to heal her daughter, she does not give up, saying “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

“This is the great gift of God: He has given us woman,” the Pope said. “And in the Gospel, we have heard what a woman is capable of, eh? She is courageous, that one, eh? She went forward with courage.”

“But there is more, so much more. A woman is harmony, is poetry, is beauty. Without her the world would not be so beautiful, it would not be harmonious. And I like to think – but this is a personal thing – that God created women so that we would all have a mother,” he said.

Pope Francis also said that while all exploitation of people is a “crime of ‘lèse-humanité,’” or a crime against humanity, “exploiting a woman is even more serious,” he said, because “it is destroying the harmony that God has chosen to give to the world. It is to destroy.” (Hannah Brockhaus/CNA)

Vatican meeting calls organ trafficking a crime against humanity

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 21:35

VATICAN, Feb. 9, 2017-– After a conference on organ trafficking at the Vatican Feb. 7-8, participants signed a statement agreeing to unite in fighting the crime of organ trafficking – submitting 11 proposals for implementation by healthcare and law enforcement professionals around the world.

The creation of the statement was one of the main objectives of the Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Participants in the summit included nearly 80 doctors, law enforcement officials and representatives of health and non-government organizations from around the world, who gave reports on the issue and how it is currently being combated in their respective countries.

“…we the undersigned pledge our commitment to combat these illicit and immoral practices as a community of stakeholders fulfilling the directive of Pope Francis to combat human trafficking and organ trafficking in all their condemnable forms,” the statement, published Feb. 9, reads.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only about 10 percent – or 120,000 – of the estimated 1 million organ transplants needed are performed each year. This data was presented to Pope Francis in 2014, and is an example of the demand for organs creating, in large part, the drive for illegal trafficking.

In general, migrants, refugees and the poor are among the most vulnerable populations for organ trafficking, because they may be forced to sell organs if they do not have the cash to pay when soliciting help for transportation by people-smugglers to more stable countries.

Mons. Robert J. Vitillo, Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission, was a participant in the summit. He told CNA/EWTN News in email comments that he “was impressed by the determination” of those present at the summit “to work together to eliminate this terrible crime.”

“It was noted very clearly during the meeting that, a contributing factor of this situation is the throw-away culture about which Pope Francis speaks so frequently,” he said.

When influential societal forces see people or human organs as “dispensable,” and not “economically productive,” he said, then it is easier to fall down “the slippery slope of using other people as with all forms of modern human slavery.”

He was particularly concerned, he explained, by the reports of the large number of migrants and refugees who are coerced into donating kidneys in order to pay for their journeys to freedom or to a more dignified life.

Based on reports and discussion from the conference, the signed statement puts forward 11 different recommendations “to national, regional and municipal governments, ministries of health, to the judiciary, to the leaders of the major religions, to professional medical organizations, and to the general public for implementation around the world.”

These recommendations deal with governmental approaches to laws surrounding organ and human trafficking and their enforcement, emphasizing that all nations and cultures should recognize these issues as crimes that should be condemned and that religious leaders encourage ethical organ donation.

One recommendation calls for the establishment of legal frameworks, where they do not already exist, “that provide an explicit basis for the prevention and prosecution of transplant-related crimes” that also protect victims.

Another suggestion is that registries of all organ procurement and transplants are established and “appropriate data shared with international databanks” and that a legal framework be developed for healthcare professionals “to report information about suspected cases of transplant-related crimes, while respecting their professional obligations to patients.”

It is also recommended that healthcare professionals be educated by organizations involved in transplantation in legal and international guidelines on trafficking, and in consistent ethical and medical reviews of both donors and recipients to assess both short and long-term outcomes.

“That nations provide the resources to achieve self-sufficiency in organ donation at a national level…by reducing the need for transplants through preventive measures and improving access to national transplant programs in an ethical and regulated manner,” is also suggested.

Prior to the conference, there was some controversy regarding China’s participation in the Summit, as the advocacy group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) said in a statement that there was “no evidence that past practices of forced organ harvesting have ended” in China.

During the conference, Dr. Huang Jiefu, Beijing’s top official on transplants, said that Beijing was, in fact, working on reforming its use of organs being taken from detained or executed prisoners.

“China is mending its ways and constantly improving its national organ donation and transplantation systems,” he said.

DAFOH criticized the Vatican for inviting Huang, saying that it would compromise the conference’s image and objectives, when there isn’t sufficient evidence that reform on this issue is actually happening in China.

However, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Mons. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, defended China’s participation, saying that the country’s participation may help encourage reform, according to Reuters.

Mons. Vitillo said that during the meeting it was “clearly recognized that we do face a challenge in the waiting lists for transplants of vital organs, especially kidneys, livers, and lungs.”

“For this we need to raise more awareness and motivate people to voluntarily serve as living donors so that the lives of seriously ill people needing transplants will have the opportunity for longer, fuller, and higher quality lives,” he said. (Hannah Brockhaus/CNA)

This is how Pope Francis keeps his peace amid Vatican ‘corruption’

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 21:29

VATICAN, Feb. 9, 2017-– In a lengthy, unscripted dialogue with 140 male religious superiors, Pope Francis admitted that there is “corruption” inside the Vatican, but said that despite this, his secret to maintaining peace comes from St. Joseph and a strong prayer life.

He also spoke at length on religious life, offering advice to the superiors on how to deal with different scandals in their communities, and explained why he chose youth and discernment as the topic for the next synod of bishops.

When asked how he keeps peace amid tension and opposition, the Pope jested, saying “I don’t take tranquilizers!” and said he’s learned to take the advice given to him by Italians, to maintain “a healthy couldn’t-care-less attitude.”

On a more serious note, however, the Pope recalled that during the general congregations before the conclave that elected him in 2013, “there was talk of reforms. Everyone wanted them.”

“There is corruption in the Vatican,” he said, but added that “I’m at peace.” If a problem comes up, Francis says he writes it down on a piece of paper and puts it underneath a statue of a sleeping St. Joseph he has in his room.

“Now he sleeps on a mattress of notes!” the Pope said, explaining that this is why “I sleep well: it is the grace of God.”

Other than entrusting his problems to the care of St. Joseph, Francis said he has his own daily regimen of personal prayer, including Mass, the rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours and scripture.

After praying, “the peace within me grows…my peace is a gift from the Lord,” Pope Francis said, telling the superiors that each person must try to discover “what the Lord has chosen for them” and must never avoid problems, but carry them with humility.

Pope Francis spoke to 140 Superiors General of male religious organizations and congregations (USG) Nov. 25, 2016, at the end of their 88th general assembly.

The text of the conversation was published Feb. 9 as part of the 4,000th issue of Jesuit-run newspaper La Civilta Cattolica, marking not only the milestone number, but also the paper’s expansion into four languages other than Italian: English, Spanish, French and Korean.

No speeches had been prepared for the meeting in advance, so the unscripted Q&A session, which lasted about three hours, was completely free and off-the-cuff.

When asked by the superiors what advice he had for them in terms of dealing with financial and sexual scandals in their congregations, the Pope said that on the financial point, “the Lord strongly wants consecrated people to be poor.”

“When they are not, the Lord sends a bursar who leads the Institute to bankruptcy!” he said, noting that at times religious congregations are led by an administrator whom they consider to be a friend, but who in reality leads them to “financial ruin.”

The basic quality of someone serving as a bursar “is not to be personally attached to the money,” he said, explaining that it’s also important to check into how banks invest money, because, as an example, “it must never happen that we are investing in weapons.”

On the point of sexual abuse, the Pope noted that frequently abusers have themselves been victims of abuse before committing their own acts, and “abuse is thus sowed into the future and this is devastating.”

“If priests or religious are involved, it is clear that the devil is at work, who ruins the work of Jesus through those who should proclaim him,” he said, but stressed the importance of recognizing that this type of behavior “is a disease.”

“If we are not convinced that this is a disease, we cannot solve the problem,” he said, and urged them to use scrutiny when vetting candidates for religious life, paying careful attention to whether they are “sufficiently emotionally mature” or not.

He told the superiors to “never accept in a religious community or diocese a candidate that has been rejected by another seminar or another institute” without first asking “for very clear and detailed information on the reasons for their rejection.”

When asked what he expected from religious and consecrated persons ahead of the 2018 Synod of Bishops on “Young People, Faith and the Discernment of Vocation,” particularly given the fall of the number of vocations in the West, Pope Francis acknowledged the issue as a problem.

“The decline of religious life in the West worries me,” he said, noting that it’s in part a problem of demographics, but on the other hand vocational pastoral outreach doesn’t seem to meet the expectations of youth.

However, aside from the fall in the quantity of vocations, Pope Francis said there is another thing that worries him: “the rise of some new religious institutes” that bring with them a load of new scandals and problems.

Francis clarified that he doesn’t mean to imply that “there should be no new religious institutes. Absolutely not,” but said he often wonders what is happening when he sees new communities pop up that seem to have a fresh approach, exhibit strength and attract a lot of youth, but in the end “go bankrupt” or are found to be coving scandals.

While some communities are good and work hard, others are not born from “the charism of the Holy Spirit,” but rather from “a human charisma, a charismatic person who attracts by means of their human charms.”

Some of these people, he said, are “restorationist” in the sense that they seem to offer a form of security, but instead “give only rigidity.”

Others, he said, are “Pelagians” in that they want to return to asceticism and penance, and seem “like soldiers ready to do anything for the defense of faith and morals,” but then “some scandal emerges” surrounding the founder.

“We know all about this, right?” he said, but noted that “Jesus has a different style. The Holy Spirit made noise on the day of Pentecost: it was the beginning. But usually the Spirit does not make much noise, it carries the cross.”

The Holy Spirit “is not triumphalist,” he said, saying the attitude doesn’t mesh well with a life of prayer, and that instead, God’s style is to carry the cross “until the Lord says ‘enough.’”

So rather than placing hope in the “sudden, mass blooming of these institutes,” Francis told the superiors to seek “the humble path of Jesus, that of evangelical testimony.”

Pope Francis also reflected on how consecrated people can contribute to the renewal of both the structures and mindset of the Church, voicing his conviction that consecrated persons “are at the forefront” in this area.

On the upcoming 2018 Synod of Bishops, the Pope, when asked how he came up with the theme, said that each participant in the 2015 synod offered three suggestions for possible topics to be discussed in the future.

Youth and the need for better priestly formation were both big topics, he said, but explained that for him personally, discernment was also a big issue to address. So when the title “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” was announced, he accepted it as it was.

“The Church must accompany the young in their journey towards maturity, and it is only with discernment and not abstractions that young people can discover their path in life and live a life open to God and the world,” he said, explaining that the theme is meant to “introduce discernment more forcefully into the life of the Church.”

When asked about the theme of the next three World Youth Days, which will culminate with the 2019 international gathering in Panama, the Pope said he didn’t choose the themes, but that they were suggested by organizers in Latin America.

However, he cautioned that while the Marian themes are important, they must focus on “the real Madonna! Not the Madonna at the head of a post office that every day sends a different letter, saying: ‘My children, do this and then the next day do that.’”

“No, not that Madonna,” he said, noting that “the real Madonna is the one who generates Jesus in our hearts, a Mother. This fashion for a superstar Madonna, who seeks the limelight, is not Catholic.” (Elise Harris/CNA) 

Money doesn’t make you rich – loving others does, Pope says

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 21:15

VATICAN, Feb. 7, 2017-– Pope Francis’ pastoral heart came out in his Lenten message this year, focusing in what could be a lengthy homily on the importance of recognizing others as a gift, with an in-depth reflection on the Word of God.

“A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but summons to conversion and to change,” the Pope said in this year’s Lenten message.

“Each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbor or an anonymous pauper,” he said, adding that Lent “is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.”

Released Feb. 7, the Pope’s message is titled “The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift,” and centers on the passage in the Gospel of Luke recounting the relation between the poor man Lazarus and the rich man who rejects him, a favorite episode to which he often returns.

In the message, Francis said Lent is a key time to vamp up our spiritual life through the Church’s traditional practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. However, “at the basis of everything is the Word of God,” he said, and offered an in-depth reflection on the parable.

Francis noted how the parable begins by presenting the two main characters, with the poor man described in more detail than the rich man. Lazarus is depicted as lying in front of the rich man’s door eating the crumbs that fall from his table, and with dogs coming to lick the sores that cover his body.

“The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful,” the Pope said, noting the contrast between the image of the poor man provided and his name, Lazarus, which means “God helps,” indicating a promise.

Although Lazarus is invisible to the rich man, “we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast,” Francis said.

Lazarus therefore teaches us that “other persons are a gift,” he said, adding that good relationships among people consist of recognizing each other’s value.

By setting the scene as it does, the parable first invites us to open our hearts to others and to recognize them as a gift, “whether it be our neighbor or an anonymous pauper,” he said, adding that each life we encounter “is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love.”

The word of God helps us “to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable,” he said, but stressed that in order to do this, “we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.”

Francis then turned to the image of the rich man himself, who, unlike Lazarus, doesn’t have a name, and is described as wearing extravagant and expensive robes, flaunting his wealth in a “clearly ostentatious” way.

Turning to St. Paul’s declaration in his First Letter to Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” the Pope noted that money is the primary source of envy, conflict and suspicion.

Money, he said, “can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol. Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity toward others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.”

However, while the rich man in the parable becomes vain out of greed, his appearances only mask “an internal emptiness,” making him a prisoner of his sin.

For those corrupted by love of money, “nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight,” the Pope said, explaining that the result of this attachment “is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.”

Reflecting on this passage is “a good preparation” for Easter, Pope Francis said, explaining that Ash Wednesday’s liturgy is similar to what is described in the passage, particularly with the administration of the ashes, which serves as a symbol of the end of our earthly lives.

In the passage, both the rich man and Lazarus died, realizing that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

The parable also offers a message for all Christians, he said, noting how the rich man wants to warn his brothers about what he is suffering. However, Abraham rejects the request, telling him that if his brothers didn’t listen to Moses or the prophets, then they won’t listen “even if someone should rise from the dead.”

He said the rich man’s real problem, then, is that he failed to heed God’s word, and because of this lost his love for God and began to despise his neighbor.

“The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God,” he said, adding that “when we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.”

Lent, he said, “is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor.”

“May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need,” he said.

Pope Francis closed his message encouraging the faithful to pray for one another “so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.” (Elise Harris/CNA)

Surigao diocese asks for prayers after quake

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 12:31

MANILA, Feb. 11, 2017—  The Diocese of Surigao expressed its sympathy to the victims of the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that rocked the city on Friday night and claimed at least six lives.

Fr. Bob Puracan, diocesan chancellor of Surigao, said they are concerned about the disaster, and expressed condolences over the loss of lives and sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured.

“We assure them of our prayers,” Puracan said. “Let us beg for God’s protection and guidance as we face this trying moments.”

Official statements said that classes and work in private and public sectors have been cancelled on Saturday.

The tremor also damaged the runway of the city’s airport causing all flights to be diverted to the nearby city of Butuan.

The city and Surigao del Norte province have been placed under state of calamity as the quake affected 11 other towns, damaged  two major bridges, and tore down houses and infrastructures.

The priest also called on the faithful to remain vigilant as aftershocks continue to be felt.

Puracan assured that the diocese will mobilize to offer help and support to the victims.

He also called on people of good will to be generous so that the victims can feel spiritual and material comfort  as soon as possible.

“Perhaps, it is on this trying times that we can truly express our communion, sharing what we have and helping those who needs our assistance,” Puracan said. (CBCPNews) 

Thousands expected to attend walk against EJK, death penalty

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 10:37

MANILA, Feb. 11, 2017— Thousands of people are expected to gather at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila next week to speak out against extrajudicial killings and the moves to revive the death penalty in the country.

The march is being organized by the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, an organization focused on uplifting lay participation in the activities of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is inviting the faithful to stand up for life and join the “Walk for Life”  that will be held from 4:30am to 7am on February 18. 

“Let us fill our streets not with blood, not with dead bodies, but with prayer, with courage, to walk, to stand up for life,” said CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas in a video message

The CLP today is made up of diocesan councils of the laity, national church organizations and movements and church-oriented groups. 

Aside from drug-related killings and death penalty, the walk for life also aims to oppose abortion and other legislative measures that threatens the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.

“Is it God’s will that blood be on our streets? Is it God’s will that dead bodies of our brothers and sisters be found on our sidewalks? Is it God’s will that mothers kill the infants in their wombs? It is not God’s will,” Villegas said. 

“Our streets must be safe. Our streets should be secure,” he added.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the bishops’ Commission on the Laity, said it’s high time for the faithful to stand firm against rampant killings and other life-related issues. 

“Life is a gift from God and only Him can take it away,” he said. “So we are inviting you all to walk for life and defend life.” (CBCPNews) 

Sending rouge cops to Mindanao an insult—bishop

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 09:55

MANILA, Feb. 11, 2017— Sending erring cops to Mindanao is an ‘insult’ to the region and its people, a Catholic bishop said. 

Bishop Jose Cabantan of Malaybalay said Mindanao should be turned into dumping place where rogue policemen are reassigned for atonement. 

“We are insulted if we deserve the unruly service of these people,” Cabantan told Manila archdiocese-run Radio Veritas on Friday.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said erring policemen would be sent to Basilan believed to be a stronghold of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf and other extremist groups or they should quit. 

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa made a similar statement in a bid to clean their ranks following several complaints of police abuses.

The bishop said the people of Mindanao doesn’t deserve abusive cops unless they are being sent there for a “holistic transformative program”.

“If they are brought here because Mindanao is the best community for their formation and transformation then we will appreciate that. Which of these are their motives for doing so?” added Cabantan. 

“It’s a matter of instituting a holistic transformative program, systems and structures for individuals,” he also said. (CBCPNews) 

Repentance heals

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 09:00

Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
…and that’s the truth

 

Most of us work to earn a living, to make money to get us the things that not only keep us alive but also make us happy. Steeped as we are in our daily pursuit of happiness, we naturally tend to stash away the idea of repentance in the farthest and darkest corners of our consciousness where it won’t bother us. If we only knew how vital to our happiness repentance is—so vital that the word “repent” and “repentance” together occur 106 times in the bible (King James Version)—we would willingly give it a minute or two each night, before we drift off to sleep. For me, a moment of repentance during the last waking minute of my day becomes even more heartfelt when capped with the prayer, “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.”

Saying “I’m sorry, Lord” is a futile exercise if it is not followed in time by a change for the better—and for that change to take place in us we need to repent. To repent means more than feeling a superficial kind of sorrow for sins, or equating a formulaic prayer with a contrite heart. If today we hurt someone, say “Sorry” but tomorrow we hurt him again with the same offense, say “Sorry” again and so on and so forth, our “Sorry” becomes a senseless utterance—we are merely imitating repentance, a sure sign that we are becoming hardened by the thought that we are not doing anything wrong at all. To repent is to break that vicious cycle, to surrender to God, and resolve to remain in His presence always.

Repentance takes courage to face ourselves stripped of pride and conceit. Letting the light of God’s righteousness shine on the dark corners of our conscience is the best foundation for the house of happiness that we are struggling to build on earth through our daily toil. If we cared to hone the skills of our hands, senses, and mind in order to stay alive, why shouldn’t we do the same for our spirit without which our body would be a mere dead log?

The root of sin is a divided heart, a heart that is not God’s alone. Repentance cleanses, mends, and heals that heart. And that’s the truth.

February 13, 2017 – MK 8:11-13

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 17:47

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 GN 4:1-15, 25

The man had relations with his wife Eve,
and she conceived and bore Cain, saying,
“I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.”
Next she bore his brother Abel.
Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil.
In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD
from the fruit of the soil,
while Abel, for his part,
brought one of the best firstlings of his flock.
The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
but on Cain and his offering he did not.
Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.
So the LORD said to Cain:
“Why are you so resentful and crestfallen.
If you do well, you can hold up your head;
but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door:
his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.”
When they were in the field,
Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
He answered, “I do not know.
Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The LORD then said: “What have you done!
Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!
Therefore you shall be banned from the soil
that opened its mouth to receive
your brother’s blood from your hand.
If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce.
You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the LORD: “My punishment is too great to bear.
Since you have now banished me from the soil,
and I must avoid your presence
and become a restless wanderer on the earth,
anyone may kill me at sight.”
“Not so!” the LORD said to him.
“If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.”
So the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight.

Adam again had relations with his wife,
and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth.
“God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel,” she said,
“because Cain slew him.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 50:1 AND 8, 16BC-17, 20-21

R. (14a) Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“You sit speaking against your brother;
against your mother’s son you spread rumors.
When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Alleluia JN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 8:11-13

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.

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