Tuesday, April 30, 2013

POPE FRANCIS STAMPS ISSUED AND LATEST FROM VATICAN

(Vatican Radio IMAGE SHARE)
 SOLUTIONS TO CONFLICTS IN MIDDLE EAST AND SYRIA FOCUS OF POPE'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL
Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel. President Peres then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial talks, the political and social situation in the Middle East—where more than a few conflicts persist—was addressed. A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for, so that, with the courageous decisions and availability of both sides as well as support from the international community, an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region. Reference to the important issue of the City of Jerusalem was not overlooked. Particular worry for the conflict that plagues Syria was expressed, for which a political solution is hoped for that privileges the logic of reconciliation and dialogue.
A number of issues concerning relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and between state authorities and the local Catholic communities were also addressed. In conclusion, the significant progress made by the Bilateral Working Commission, which is preparing an agreement regarding issues of common interest, was appreciated and its rapid conclusion is foreseen.

Vatican and Argentina issue joint postage stamps | Vatican City State, Argentina, postage stamps
PRESENTATION OF JOINT STAMPS FROM VATICAN CITY STATE AND ARGENTINA
Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, in the Library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis was presented with the stamps issued jointly between the Vatican City State and Argentina, which are dedicated to the beginning of his pontificate.
The four stamps in the set, which reproduce photographic images of the new pontiff, have the values of: €0.70 (for mail to Italy); €0.85 (Europe); €2.00 (Africa, Asia, the Americas); and €2.50 (Oceania). There will be 250,000 complete series printed.
The Philatelic and Numismatic Office will issue, along with the stamp series, a stamp and coin card and an official collector's edition folder with the four stamps and a postcard of the first page of the extraordinary edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, from 13 March 2013 (the day of the new pontiff's election).
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:
   - appointed Bishop Audilio Aguilar Aguilar as bishop of Santiago de Veraguas (area 11,239, population 233,600, Catholics 211,343, priests 38, permanent deacons 2, religious 43), Panama. Bishop Aguilar, previously of Colon-Kuna Yala, Panama, has been vice-president of the Panamanian Bishops' Conference since 2010. He succeeds Bishop Oscar Mario Brown Jimenez, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
   - appointed Bishop Salvatore Visco as archbishop of Capua (area 500, population 198,700, Catholics 190,700, priests 83, permanent deacons 10, religious 297), Italy. The archbishop-elect, previously of Isernia-Venafro, Italy, was born in Naples, Italy in 1948, was ordained to the priesthood in 1973, and received episcopal ordination in 2007. He is currently vice-president of the Abruzzo-Molise region of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
   - appointed Archbishop Guido Pozzo, almoner of His Holiness and titular archbishop of Balneoregium, as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
   - appointed Fr. Jose Granados, D.C.J.M., vice dean of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome, Italy, as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS IN GREAT NEED IN CHINA

ASIA NEWS REPORT
by Bodi Jiao
Fr. Chen Yong describes the conditions of his community affected by the Sichuan earthquake: "We have no water, food or shelter. The churches have collapsed and the children draw only blacks skies. Even a little help touches us deeply. "


Chengdu (AsiaNews) - The situation in Yaan "is not at all good. We have no tents and reserves of clean water and food are severely limited. We have assembled temporary shelters made of plastic and bamboo to spend the night, but it not enough and offer no protection".  This is how Fr. Chen Yong, priest from St Mary's parish near Yaan (diocese of Leshan), describes conditions for  survivors of the April 20 earthquake that rocked the Chinese province of Sichuan in a telephone interview.
In the area of ​​Yaan, continues Fr. Chen, "there are about 10 thousand Catholics. Of these, 6 thousand have suffered damage due to the earthquake: their homes have collapsed or are unsafe, so they have no place to stay. At the moment there are no victims among the faithful, yesterday we managed to recover from the rubble a seriously injured Catholic: he is hospitalized at the People's Hospital of Lushan ".

The official number of victims of the earthquake remains for now at 196, with nearly 14 thousand injured. But rescuers have not been able to reach some areas, and they fear that there are more victims still unidentified under the rubble that buried everything.

The worst damage, continues Fr. Chen, "is to the hearts of the children. Some have reported minor injuries, but they are all very shaken. In their drawings they only paint dark clouds in the sky and a strong rain, with a small person holding a small umbrella in the storm. Even if they are dark, these drawings show that children are still full of hope. "

Only 3 priests are working in the area of ​​Ya'an, but each county has its own chapel, every priest is responsible for several counties. Fr. Chen follows BaoXing and Hanyuan, and the latter alone has 2 chapels and 3 places for religious activities. In BaoXing there is a chapel, as well as in Lushan.

"All these buildings - the priest said were damaged by the earthquake, they can no longer be used to celebrate religious rites. Walls are crumbling and need to be repaired, while the structure of the BaoXing church was destroyed completely. Even in Lushan there is severe damage: the church has collapsed, another is almost completely unusable. Some priests houses and offices have collapsed. "

Fr. Chen emphasizes, however, the great help provided by Chinese Catholics across the web: "The bishops and priests who could have gone to Taiping, Liaoning, home to many Catholics. Once there, they saw that the faithful had organized fundraising groups and materials for them: there was great emotion, even when you lose everything because the slightest help deeply touches you. "

In addition to the normal problems of reconstruction, including the difficulty in reaching some areas affected by the earthquake and disposing of the debris, there is also the problem of distrust of the Chinese population towards "official" rescuers.

The state media also reports that donations sent to the Red Cross Society of China, the government organization that oversees the activities of first aid, have almost halved. Hit by numerous scandals - born from the lack of transparency in the management of accounts - the Red Cross has lost 50% of donations from citizens, who prefer the other 115 small NGOs that are privately managed.

SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

LARGEST GOSPEL CHOIR IN THE WORLD IN LONDON

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT
 
Chance to join largest Gospel Choir in the world! | The London Community Gospel Choir, Royal Festival Hall, Guinness World Record

The London Community Gospel Choir will be celebrating their 30th birthday on Sunday, 5 May, with a performance at the Royal Festival Hall. A highlight of the concert is a Guinness World Record attempt for the greatest number of people in a Gospel choir singing together in concert conditions. Currently the record stands at 1,138 voices. The songs for the challenge are the very popular 'O Happy Day' and LCGC's Anniversary single 'Keep Moving'.
The concert is part of the three-day LCGC 30 Choir Festival, with performances by many choirs across the weekend.
For more information, or if you would like to take part in Sunday's event as a choir or individual singer, (You will need to attend an afternoon rehearsal, and the ticket, special T shirt and certificate of participation costs £40) - go to: http://30choirfestival.com/

4 YOUNG PRIESTS KILLED IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT IN MEXICO

Agenzia Fides REPORT - "The roads of the region are in poor condition, and this has resulted in a series of fatal accidents, as in the case of the four priests who died last Friday," is what the Bishop of the Diocese of Aguascalientes, Mgr. José María de la Torre Martín said to the press, who has urged the authorities to fix these roads.
The Bishop added that "I have discovered myself that some roads in the State of Jalisco are in a very bad condition, but this also happens in our State, where there are roads in terrible condition, and this is why motorists must be very careful to avoid accidents. "With regards to the death of 4 the priests in the region, Mgr. de la Torre Martín, said he was deeply saddened by what happened, and hopes that other priests who are still in hospital are able to get well soon, "the priests killed were young people between 27 and 28 years of age and very active in the life of the Church and were very popular in their parishes. "
The tragedy happened last Friday: a group of 13 priests returning from a priesthood meeting, from Jalisco to Aguascalientes. At the height of Ojos de Zarco, the van that transported them had a flat tire, apparently due to poor road conditions, and it ended up in a deep ravine. The van overturned several times on itself causing the immediate death of the 3 priests, the others were taken to the nearest hospital, but yesterday father Juan Carlos Pulido, the fourth in the group died. 4 priests remain in the hospital with minor injuries. (CE)

UNIQUE ART SCULPTURES FROM INDIGENOUS ARTISTS IN AUSTRALIA


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
30 Apr 2013
Mary of Warmun
The carved wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary by the late Indigenous artist, George Mung Mung from the East Kimberly's Warmun community has been described as one of the great art works of the 20th Century. Now for the first time in almost 15 years, Sydney art lovers will have a chance to see Mary of Warmun as the sculpture is known along with other rare and breathtaking religious and spiritual artworks by Indigenous artists from the remote Warmun community.
Tomorrow, 1 May this priceless collection of Indigenous spiritual art featuring 25 paintings and four sculptures will go display at the Australian Catholic University's McGlade Gallery at Strathfield.
Entitled "Gifts of the Artists," the exhibition includes significant works by such renowned Indigenous artists such as Hector Jandany, Freddy Timms, Jack Britten, Queenie McKenzie Nakarra and Henry Wambiny.  Many of these paintings have not been seen in public before and it is believed this will be only the third time in the more than two decades George Mung Mung's carved sculpture of the Virgin has been seen by those outside the community.
"The sacred statue is an important and much loved icon and seldom leaves the community. So to have the people of Warmun and George Mung Mung's nephew, Patrick Mung give their permission to allow the statue to be part of this important exhibition is a great privilege and honour," says "Gifts of the Artists" curator, Lachlan Warner, who is also Coordinator of the Gallery and Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts and Design at ACU.
Warmun Art Centre has become internationally recognised for Indigenous art.
Mr Warner who is working around the clock today in order to put the final finishing touches to the exhibition prior to tomorrow's opening, has no doubt that while all the works selected for this important showing are significant, Mary of Warmun will be the star attraction.
His view is shared by art historian, educationist, artist and curator of many of Australia's major exhibitions of spiritual and religious art, Sister of Mercy, Rosemary Crumlin OAM.
Sr Rosemary says George Mung Mung's sculpture not only has incredible presence and energy but in her view is "one of the great works of the 20th century."
"In fact I am sure it is," she says.
The sculpture was carved from a tree bough George found deep in the Bungle Bungles after a plaster statue of the Holy Mother was knocked off a table by dogs as a small group prayed around it.
Indigenous artist Hector Jandany's Jesus Rising from the Grave
"That's when George promised he'd make them a Mary 'that would never break' and set off to find some suitable wood,'" Sr Rosemary says.
Originally called "the pregnant Mary," George's sculpture depicts her as a young woman painted with the body paint patterns reserved for unmarried Wamun girls.
"Her womb is like a shield under her heart where her unborn man-child dances. He is the One. She is the Mother," Sr Rosemary explains. "Mary of Warmun and the other artworks at the exhibition epitomise what the two pillars of the Warmun culture which are - the Dreaming or Ngarrangkarni which centres on the living land, the ancestors and their stories, and the Bible, especially the Creation and the Jesus and Mary gospel stories."
The people of the community describe their culture simply as "two way." Or as the late great Warmun artist, Hector Jandany told Sr Rosemary, "We always knew about Ngapuny (God) and the Spirit but youse mob had to tell us about Jesus and Mary."
The Spirit of MacKillop by renowned Warmun artist Queenie McKenzie Nakarra
Another of the highlights of the exhibition are Hector Jandany's evocative series of four paintings depicting the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
"The paintings are quite beautiful with a simplicity and elegance the way he conceives the Body of Christ with the Virgin Mary and Saints all around Him."
Sr Rosemary says a hallmark of the work of the Warmun artists is the sheer physical beauty of their paintings and sculptures. "Nearly all the works are made with ochre which is typical of the Warmun style of art, minimal and pared down and raw, but beautifully executed."
What is less well known is that the Warmun's works of religious and spiritual art were created as teaching tools for the children at the community's Christian school.

"George, Hector , Queenie and a number of other artist would come down to the school carrying a painting under their arms to teach the kids about the story of Christ as well as the stories of their own culture. They'd teach them songs and dances and tell them about Dreamtime and Christian Dreamtime."
Sr Rosemary Crumlin rsm
Unlike many Indigenous communities, Warmun discovered Christianity not through missionaries but by one of their own respected elders. A senior woman in the community had been sent to aleprosarium in Derby and became a Christian. When she returned to Warmun she fought to have a Christian school built, and held a series of interviews on the best people to do this.
"In 1979 it was this woman and other elders including George, Hector and Queenie who chose the Sisters of St Joseph to establish the school and Warmun's involvement with the Sisters has continued ever since," she says.
Lachlan Warner describes the exhibition as an important one on many fronts not only for the importance and significance of the artists represented but for the beauty of the works and as a visual testament to the melding of Aboriginal and Christian spirituality over the past 40 years.
The opening of the exhibition tomorrow at the McGlade Gallery comes just 24 hours after Warmun artist, Lena Nyadbi Lely made history in Paris after news was released that her Dayiwul Lirlmim (Barramundi scales) painting, which hangs in the Musee du Quai Branly, would be stencilled on to a 700 square metre section of the museum's roof where it  will be visible from Google Earth when it is unveiled in June.
Warmun Community has close links with Mary MacKillop
The exhibition: Gifts of the Artists will be on display at the McGlade Gallery, Barker Road, Strathfield from 11 am until  4 pm Monday to Saturday.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : TUES. APRIL 30, 2013

John 14: 27 - 31

27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.28You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.

TODAY'S SAINT : APRIL 30 : ST. PIUS V


St. Pius V
POPE AND REFORMER
Feast: April 30


Information:
Feast Day:April 30
Born:17 January 1504 at Bosco, diocese of Alessandria, Lombardy, Italy
Died:1 May 1572 in Rome, Italy
Canonized:22 May 1712 by Pope Clement XI
Patron of:Bosco Marengo, Italy
Born at Bosco, near Alexandria, Lombardy, 17 Jan., 1504 elected 7 Jan., 1566; died 1 May, 1572. Being of a poor though noble family his lot would have been to follow a trade, but he was taken in by the Dominicans of Voghera, where he received a good education and was trained in the way of solid and austere piety. He entered the order, was ordained in 1528, and taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years. In the meantime he was master of novices and was on several occasions elected prior of different houses of his order in which he strove to develop the practice of the monastic virtues and spread the spirit of the holy founder. He himself was an example to all. He fasted, did penance, passed long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, traveled on foot without a cloak in deep silence, or only speaking to his companions of the things of God. In 1556 he was made Bishop of Sutri by Paul IV. His zeal against heresy caused him to be selected as inquisitor of the faith in Milan and Lombardy, and in 1557 Paul II made him a cardinal and named him inquisitor general for all Christendom. In 1559 he was transferred to Mondovì, where he restored the purity of faith and discipline, gravely impaired by the wars of Piedmont. Frequently called to Rome, he displayed his unflinching zeal in all the affairs on which he was consulted. Thus he offered an insurmountable opposition to Pius IV when the latter wished to admit Ferdinand de' Medici, then only thirteen years old, into the Sacred College. Again it was he who defeated the project of Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, to abolish ecclesiastical celibacy. On the death of Pius IV, he was, despite his tears and entreaties, elected pope, to the great joy of the whole Church.
He began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor, instead of distributing his bounty at haphazard like his predecessors. As pontiff he practiced the virtues he had displayed as a monk and a bishop. His piety was not diminished, and, in spite of the heavy labours and anxieties of his office, he made at least two meditations a day on bended knees in presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In his charity he visited the hospitals, and sat by the bedside of the sick, consoling them and preparing them to die. He washed the feet of the poor, and embraced the lepers. It is related that an English nobleman was converted on seeing him kiss the feet of a beggar covered with ulcers. He was very austere and banished luxury from his court, raised the standard of morality, laboured with his intimate friend, St. Charles Borromeo, to reform the clergy, obliged his bishops to reside in their dioceses, and the cardinals to lead lives of simplicity and piety. He diminished public scandals by relegating prostitutes to distant quarters, and he forbade bull fights. He enforced the observance of the discipline of the Council of Trent, reformed the Cistercians, and supported the missions of the New World. In the Bull "In Coena Domini" he proclaimed the traditional principles of the Roman Church and the supremacy of the Holy See over the civil power.
But the great thought and the constant preoccupation of his pontificate seems to have been the struggle against the Protestants and the Turks. In Germany he supported the Catholics oppressed by the heretical princes. In France he encouraged the League by his counsels and with pecuniary aid. In the Low Countries he supported Spain. In England, finally, he excommunicated Elizabeth, embraced the cause of Mary Stuart, and wrote to console her in prison. In the ardour of his faith he did not hesitate to display severity against the dissidents when necessary, and to give a new impulse to the activity of the Inquisition, for which he has been blamed by certain historians who have exaggerated his conduct. Despite all representations on his behalf he condemned the writings of Baius, who ended by submitting.
He worked incessantly to unite the Christian princes against the hereditary enemy, the Turks. In the first year of his pontificate he had ordered a solemn jubilee, exhorting the faithful to penance and almsgiving to obtain the victory from God. He supported the Knights of Malta, sent money for the fortification of the free towns of Italy, furnished monthly contributions to the Christians of Hungary, and endeavoured especially to bring Maximilian, Philip II, and Charles I together for the defence of Christendom. In 1567 for the same purpose he collected from all convents one-tenth of their revenues. In 1570 when Solyman II attacked Cyprus, threatening all Christianity in the West, he never rested till he united the forces of Venice, Spain, and the Holy See. He sent his blessing to Don John of Austria, the commander-in-chief of the expedition, recommending him to leave behind all soldiers of evil life, and promising him the victory if he did so. He ordered public prayers, and increased his own supplications to heaven. On the day of the Battle of Lepanto, 7 Oct., 1571, he was working with the cardinals, when, suddenly, interrupting his work opening the window and looking at the sky, he cried out, "A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army". He burst into tears when he heard of the victory, which dealt the Turkish power a blow from which it never recovered. In memory of this triumph he instituted for the first Sunday of October the feast of the Rosary, and added to the Litany of Loreto the supplication "Help of Christians". He was hoping to put an end to the power of Islam by forming a general alliance of the Italian cities Poland, France, and all Christian Europe, and had begun negotiations for this purpose when he died of gravel, repeating "O Lord, increase my sufferings and my patience!" He left the memory of a rare virtue and an unfailing and inflexible integrity. He was beatified by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.

(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)


Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpiusv.asp#ixzz1tW71OzXG

Monday, April 29, 2013

POPE FRANCIS "CONFESSIONAL IS NOT A DRY CLEANER" AND LATEST FROM VATICAN


Vatican Radio REPORT The Confessional is not a ‘dry cleaners’ where our sins are automatically washed away and Jesus is not waiting there to ‘beat us up’, but to forgive us with the tenderness of a father for our sins. Moreover, being ashamed of our sins is not only natural, it’s a virtue that helps prepare us for God's forgiveness. This was the central message of Pope Francis’ homily Monday morning during Mass celebrated with staff from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) and religious present in Casa Santa Marta. 
Commenting on the First Letter of St. John, which states " God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all," Francis Pope pointed out that "we all have darkness in our lives," moments "where everything, even our consciousness, is in the dark”, but this - he pointed out - does not mean we walk in darkness:


"Walking in darkness means being overly pleased with ourselves, believing that we do not need salvation. That is darkness! When we continue on this road of darkness, it is not easy to turn back. Therefore, John continues, because this way of thinking made him reflect: 'If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us'. Look to your sins, to our sins, we are all sinners, all of us ... This is the starting point. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful, He is so just He forgives us our sins, cleansing us from all unrighteousness…The Lord who is so good, so faithful, so just that He forgives. "
"When the Lord forgives us, He does justice" - continued the Pope - first to himself, "because He came to save and forgive", welcoming us with the tenderness of a Father for his children: "The Lord is tender towards those who fear, to those who come to Him "and with tenderness," He always understand us”. He wants to gift us the peace that only He gives. " "This is what happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation" even though "many times we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaner" to clean the dirt from our clothes:


"But Jesus in the confessional is not a dry cleaner: it is an encounter with Jesus, but with this Jesus who waits for us, who waits for us just as we are. “But, Lord, look ... this is how I am”, we are often ashamed to tell the truth: 'I did this, I thought this'. But shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human ... the ability to be ashamed: I do not know if there is a similar saying in Italian, but in our country to those who are never ashamed are called “sin vergüenza’: this means ‘the unashamed ', because they are people who do not have the ability to be ashamed and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble, of the man and the woman who are humble. "
Pope Francis continued: “ we must have trust, because when we sin we have an advocate with the Father, "Jesus Christ the righteous." And He "supports us before the Father" and defends us in front of our weaknesses. But you need to stand in front of the Lord "with our truth of sinners", "with confidence, even with joy, without masquerading... We must never masquerade before God." And shame is a virtue: "blessed shame." "This is the virtue that Jesus asks of us: humility and meekness".

"Humility and meekness are like the frame of a Christian life. A Christian must always be so, humble and meek. And Jesus waits for us to forgive us. We can ask Him a question: Is going to confession like to a torture session? No! It is going to praise God, because I, a sinner , have been saved by Him. And is He waiting for me to beat me? No, with tenderness to forgive me. And if tomorrow I do the same? Go again, and go and go and go .... He always waits for us. This tenderness of the Lord, this humility, this meekness .... "


This confidence, concluded Pope Francis "gives us room to breathe." "The Lord give us this grace, the courage to always go to Him with the truth, because the truth is light and not the darkness of half-truths or lies before God. It give us this grace! So be it. " 

SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA
POPE'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR MAY
Vatican City, 29 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pope's general prayer intention for May is: "That administrators of justice may act always with integrity and right conscience."
His mission intention is: “That seminaries, especially those of mission Churches, may form pastors after the Heart of Christ, fully dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel.”
EUROPEAN BISHOPS MEET TO ANALYZE CATHOLIC-MUSLIM RELATIONS
Vatican City, 29 April 2013 (VIS) - The Council of Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE) will be meeting in London from 1–3 May to discuss Christian-Muslim relations. The meeting will be chaired by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be a keynote speaker.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, will celebrate Mass for the delegates at Westminster Cathedral on the second day of the conference.
The 32 participants represent 20 Bishops' Conferences, European Cultural and Church organisations, and experts in the field of Christian-Muslim dialogue. On the first day, Fr. Andrea Pacini, CCEE coordinator of the Christian-Muslim network and secretary for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the regional Bishops' Conference of Piedmont and the Aosta Valley, Italy, will address the theme of the conference “Dialogue and Proclamation”.
The second day will focus on reflection, dialogue, and shared experiences on the religious identity of young Christians and Muslims in Europe. Professor Brigitte Marechal from the University of Louvain and Dr. Erwin Tanner, general secretary of the Swiss Bishops' Conference will be the day's keynote speakers.
Delegates will describe the situation in their respective countries on the final day. Cardinal Tauran will look specifically at “What is new in relations between Muslims and the Catholic Church?”
MASS AT ST. PETER'S: OPENING LIFE TO NEWNESS OF GOD
Vatican City, 28 April 2013 (VIS) – “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord,” Pope Francis exhorted the 100,000 persons gathered this morning in St. Peter's Square to participate in the Mass at which he conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on 44 faithful from around the world, representing the Church around the world. In his homily, the Bishop of Rome reflected on three themes: the newness of God, the trials of life, and firm hope in the Lord. Following is the full text of his homily.
The Newness of God
In the second reading, we listened to the beautiful vision of Saint John: new heavens and a new earth, and then the Holy City coming down from God. All is new, changed into good, beauty and truth; there are no more tears or mourning. This is the work of the Holy Spirit: he brings us the new things of God. He comes to us and makes all things new; he changes us. The Spirit changes us! And Saint John’s vision reminds us that all of us are journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem, the ultimate newness which awaits us and all reality, the happy day when we will see the Lord’s face—that marvellous face, the most beautiful face of the Lord Jesus—and be with him for ever, in his love.
You see, the new things of God are not like the novelties of this world, all of which are temporary; they come and go, and we keep looking for more. The new things which God gives to our lives are lasting, not only in the future, when we will be with him, but today as well. God is even now making all things new; the Holy Spirit is truly transforming us, and through us he also wants to transform the world in which we live. Let us open the doors to the Spirit, let ourselves be guided by him, and allow God’s constant help to make us new men and women, inspired by the love of God which the Holy Spirit bestows on us! How beautiful it would be if each of you, every evening, could say: Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love towards one of my friends, my parents, an older person! How beautiful!
The Trials of Life
A second thought. In the first reading Paul and Barnabas say that “we must undergo many trials if we are to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The journey of the Church, and our own personal journeys as Christians, are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials. To follow the Lord, to let his Spirit transform the shadowy parts of our lives, our ungodly ways of acting, and cleanse us of our sins, is to set out on a path with many obstacles, both in the world around us but also within us, in the heart. But difficulties and trials are part of the path that leads to God’s glory, just as they were for Jesus, who was glorified on the cross; we will always encounter them in life! Do not be discouraged! We have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome these trials!
Firm Hope in the Lord
And here I come to my last point. It is an invitation which I make to you, young confirmandi, and to all present. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness. The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God’s work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people!
The new things of God, the trials of life, remaining steadfast in the Lord. Dear friends, let us open wide the door of our lives to the new things of God which the Holy Spirit gives us. May he transform us, confirm us in our trials, strengthen our union with the Lord, our steadfastness in him: this is a true joy! So may it be.
POPE ASKS THAT DIGNITY AND SAFETY OF WORKERS ALWAYS BE DEFENDED
Vatican City, 28 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrating the Rite of Confirmation, the Holy Father prayed the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
“Before concluding this celebration,” he said, “I want to entrust all those who have been confirmed and all of you to Our Lady. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to welcome the newness of God in our lives. She conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and every Christian, each one of us, is called to welcome the Word of God, to welcome Jesus within ourselves and then to bring him to all. Mary called upon the Spirit with the Apostles in the Cenacle. We as well, each time we gather in prayer, are sustained by the spiritual presence of Jesus' Mother to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the strength to witness to the Risen Jesus.”
After affectionately greeting the pilgrims from all six inhabited continents, the Pope recalled the many victims of factory that collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh this past Wednesday, 24 April. “I would like to offer up a prayer for [them]. I express my solidarity and deepest sympathy to the families mourning their loved ones and from the depths of my heart I make a strong appeal that the dignity and safety of the worker may may always be protected.”
CARDINAL DZIWISZ, POPE'S SPECIAL ENVOY TO KAUNAS
Vatican City, 27 April 2013 (VIS) - Made public today was a letter, written in Latin, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, as his special envoy to the celebration for the 600th anniversary of the Cathedral Basilica of Kaunas, Lithuania, scheduled for 5 May 2013.
The Cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Vytautas Vaicunas, vice dean of the Faculty of Theology in Kaunas and Msgr. Arturas Jagelavicius, professor in the same faculty and judicial pro-vicar of the Archdiocese of Kaunas.
AUDIENCES
Vatican City, 29 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received
   - Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (in Institutes of Study),
   - Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, titular of Cibalae and secretary general of the Synod of Bishops,
   - Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, titular of Victoriana and apostolic nuncio to Colombia, with members of his family,
   - Archbishop Michael Wallace Banach, titular of Memphis and apostolic nuncio to Papua New Guinea, with members of his family, and
   - Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, titular of Suelli and apostolic nuncio to Benin, with members of his family.
On Saturday, 27 April, the Holy Father received:
   - Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and
   - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 27 April 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Omar de Jesus Mejia Giraldo as bishop of Florencia (area 15,441, population 277,000, Catholics 239,000, priests 51, permanent deacons 5, religious 67), Colombia. The bishop-elect, previously rector of the Cristo Sacerdote Major Seminary in La Ceja, Colombia, was born in El Santuario, Department of Antioquia, Colombia, in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1991.

HOLY LAND TREASURES BROUGHT TO PALACE IN FRANCE

CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT

Jill, Duchess of Hamilton on a spectacular exhibition of Franciscan treasures brought to the Palace of Versailles from the Holy Land
By  on Friday, 26 April 2013
Reliquary of the True Cross, thought to be by silversmith Rémond Lescot (1628-1629)
Reliquary of the True Cross, thought to be by silversmith Rémond Lescot (1628-1629)
Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre, Palace of Versailles, until July 14
“Formidable!” is the only way to describe the eight new rooms at the Palace of Versailles.
For two months they will be packed with oil paintings and antique objects made of silver, solid gold, emeralds and diamonds transported to Paris from Jerusalem. They are on loan from the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
Treasures include the sword used by Godfrey de Bouillon when he led the Crusaders in 1099, gold and silver sanctuary lamps, torches, gilded silver candelabras, liturgical vases inset with precious stones, processional crosses, ceremonial vestments, sold gold metalwork, sumptuous chalices, crucifixes, lamps, ciboria and liturgical vestments. While much has been confined for centuries in vaults and storerooms of the Custody in the Old City of Jerusalem, many items have been used in church ceremonies. Most were donated to the Franciscans by European monarchs during the 700 years of Muslim rule after the Crusades until the end of the First World War.
“This is the first time that the most impressive pieces of the Franciscans’ collection in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, have been on view together to the public,” Catherine Pégard, présidente de l’établissement public du château, told me last week at the glittering opening at Versailles at which guests included the former French president, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. One art expert told me the value of the work displayed ran into tens of millions of dollars.
The Franciscans have one of the most valuable silver and gold collections in the world. Each piece is a testament to the presence in the Holy Land, after the Great Schism, of the Latin Catholic Church as a separate entity, distinct from the Greek Orthodox Church. To maintain European connections with the places of Jesus’s birth and crucifixion, European monarchs took to sending lavish gifts to demonstrate their faith – and their power. The recipients were naturally the Franciscans. After the Crusades they were the sole western Christians recognised by the Ottoman sultans and the Holy See as co-sharing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the Greek Orthodox Church. Indeed, visitors to Versailles can see a papal bull signed by Pope Clement VI in 1342 bestowing his authority.
It is not just the generosity of European monarchs that is staggering, but also the way the Franciscans managed to preserve their collection throughout the centuries. Until the 19th century, challenges ranged from pirates on the Mediterranean to punitive imperial taxes on silver and gold – as well as demands for baksheesh by corrupt officials. Sometimes different governments – the Mamluks, for example – saw the wealth of the Church as a source of revenue. Once anything valuable was in the monastery or church it had to be vigilantly guarded against thieves, wars, invasions.
Of all the pieces of ecclesiastical silver and gold on display, the most exquisite craftsmanship can be seen in the processional crosses, staffs, chalices and sanctuary lamps. One of the most impressive was given by Louis XIII in 1625. Large, spectacular and decorated with distinctive fleurs-de-lis, this solid silver lamp was hung directly below the star that marked the birthplace of Jesus in the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. As with some of the other objects he gifted, the provenance can be distinguished by the domination of French lilies in the surface decoration.
Even more lavish than the gifts of Louis XIII were those of his son, Louis XIV, the Sun King. Among these, a gold chalice with the coat of arms of France and Navarre on the base has caught much attention.
But even more eye-catching is the pastoral staff of gilded silver, studded with emeralds and amethysts, crafted by Nicolas Dolin in Paris in 1654. Although raised fleur-de-lis makes this baton clearly French, its coat of arms is the cross of Jerusalem encircled by palm leaves. Any French ecclesiastical plate made during the Bourbon monarchy is of immense interest as most other examples from their reigns were destroyed in the French Revolution.
In monetary value, though, the most lavish exhibits in the exhibition are masterpieces from Naples and Spain. Two items from Naples are heavily sculpted and titled “Throne of Exposition”. The earliest, dated 1714, by the master silversmith Domenico d’Angelo, is elaborate and features God the Father, the dove of the Holy Spirit, two angels and much scrolling foliage. But the “Throne of Exposition” made of solid gold 40 years later is more eye-catching. Indeed, the spectacular emerald-studded cross and crown dominating its apex fills the posters of the exhibition on billboards across the Paris Métro.
Not to be overlooked is the magnificent collection of religious copes, chasubles, canopies and other embroidered textiles used by celebrants in Masses and processions. The dry weather of Jerusalem has kept them as if they were new, making them the best preserved examples in the world.
Anyone who misses seeing these Jerusalem treasures in Versailles has another opportunity. The exhibits will form the core of the Terra Sancta Museum, which the Custody plans to open in Jerusalem in 2015.
SHARED FROM CATHOLIC HERALD 

4 KILLED IN CHRISTIAN NEIGHBORHOOD - BISHOPS STILL MISSING IN SYRIA

ASIA NEWS REPORT
For Mgr Jeanbart, Greek Melkite bishop of Aleppo, "Catholic and Orthodox religious authorities are working for the release of the two prelates." Their abduction remains a mystery. Mortars devastate one of the city's main Christian neighbourhoods, killing four.


Aleppo (AsiaNews) - The two Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Aleppo are still in the hands of kidnappers, Mgr. Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Greek Melkite bishop of Aleppo, told AsiaNews. "The Catholic and Orthodox Churches are doing their best to mediate with the kidnappers," the prelate added, "but at present no one understands the reasons for this act and who is behind these criminals."
Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox bishop of the diocese of Aleppo, and Boulos Yaziji, Greek Orthodox archbishop of the diocese of the same city, were abducted on 22 April in Kafr Dael, ten km from Aleppo, on the Turkish border. Their driver, a Syrian Orthodox deacon, was killed.
This morning, mortar rounds hit one of the city's main Christian neighbourhoods. The shelling killed four people and several houses have collapsed.
"The situation in the city is terrible; no one is safe, not even the Christians," said Archbishop Jeanbart.
Christians have not taken sided with either the rebels or regime. "I do not know who fired at Christian homes or why," the prelate explained, "but it sure was not a ballistic mistake."
The bishop appealed again to the Western world. "Stop this war!" he said. "Help Syrian leaders choose dialogue and reconciliation over conflict and hatred!" (S.C.)
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS 

NEW UNIVERSITY CAMPUS OPENS - KENYA IN AFRICA

CISA NEWS REPORT


Rev-Fr-Ferdinand-Lugonzo.
NAIROBI, April 26, 2013 (CISA) -The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) on April 23 opened its City Campus in Nairobi down town as part of efforts to widen its educational services.
The official opening of the new Campus and its subsequent blessing was conducted by the General Secretary of Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), Rev Fr Ferdinand Lugonzo.
The mass to mark the occasion was concelebrated by Rev Fr Dr Pius Rutechura, the Vice Chancellor of CUEA and Rev Fr Vincent Wambugu, the General Secretary of the Kenya Catholic Secretariat.
The Guest of honor at the ceremony, attended by lecturers from the CUEA’s campuses of Langata, Kisumu and Eldoret, students and friends of the University, was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr Bitange Ndemo.
In his homily, Rev Fr Lugonzo commended the University for instituting its City Campus.
“This is yet another milestone of our University and we appreciate the move. The Catholic Church has always taken education as part of its social teaching within its pastoral mission,” he said.
Dr Ndemo commended the Catholic Church for its commitment to education.
“It’s appreciating to note that most of us have had our education genesis in Catholic Schools,” he pointed out.
He said education institutions should always strive to instill a critical mind upon the students.
“The culture of reading among the students at various levels is fast “dying” and it was up to the educational institutions, Universities included, to make efforts to instill it in the minds of our students” added Ndemo.
In his remarks, the director of the new City campus, Rev Fr Peter Mbaro, said the Campus has a capacity of accommodating 500 students.
He said currently, they have already admitted 118 students in the January/February intake in the faculties of Commerce, Law, Arts and Social Sciences and Science.
The CUEA City Campus is located at the I&M Bank Plaza building along the busy Kenyatta Avenue.
SHARED FROM CISA NEWS 

RIP FR. RICHARD RAFTER OAM AGE 98 IN AUSTRALIA

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE RELEASE


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Friday 26 April 2013

REVEREND Richard (Dick) John  Rafter, OAM was ordained a priest at St Patrick's Cathedral, East Melbourne, on 24 July 1938.

Father Rafter served the Church for 74 years giving powerful witness by his prayerfulness, pastoral care and dedication to his people. He was a kind mentor and friend to many, especially to his brother priests.

He was appointed Assistant Priest at the parishes of St Patrick's Cathedral (1939), North Fitzroy (1939), returning to St Patrick's Cathedral (1942) and then to Geelong (1944) before being Administrator-Parish Priest at East Geelong from 1950. In 1991 he retired to St Mary's, Geelong. He continued to be active in his priestly ministry, offering support to the parish of St Mary, pastoral care in the hospitals of Geelong and was known as a kind confessor.

Fr Rafter was honoured with the Medal of Australia in 2006 in recognition for his service to the Church at large and especially to the people of Geelong. He was appointed Pastor Emeritus upon his retirement in 1991.

He passed away at Anam Cara on 20 April 2013. He was aged 98 years. May he rest in peace.

The funeral arrangements for Father Dick Rafter are as follows:
A Vigil Mass will be held at St Margaret's Parish, 46 Lomond Terrace, East Geelong on Friday 26 April 2013 at 7pm.

Requiem Mass will be held at St Mary's Basilica, 150 Yarra Street, Geelong on Saturday 27 April 2013 at 9:30am followed by burial at the Eastern Cemetery, Priests' Section, Geelong.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE 

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : MON. APRIL 29, 2013

John 14: 21 - 26
21He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"
23Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
24He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you.
26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

TODAY'S SAINT : APRIL 29 : ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA


St. Catherine of Siena
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, DOMINICAN MYSTIC, AND PAPAL ADVISER
Feast: April 29


Information:
Feast Day:April 29
Born:25 March 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy
Died:29 April 1380
Canonized:July 1461 by Pope Pius II
Patron of:against fire, bodily ills, Europe, firefighters, illness, Italy, miscarriages, nurses, people ridiculed for their piety, sexual temptation, sick people, sickness, television
St. Catherine was born at Sienna, in 1347. Her father, James Benincasa, by trade a dyer, was a virtuous man; and though blessed with temporal prosperity, always chiefly solicitous to leave to his children a solid inheritance of virtue, by his example, and by deeply instilling into them lessons of piety. Her mother, Lapa, had a particular affection for this daughter  above her other children; and the accomplishments of mind and body with which she was adorned made her the darling and delight of all that knew her, and procured her the name of Euphrosyna. She was favored by God with extraordinary graces as soon as she was capable of knowing him. She withdrew very young to a solitude a little out of the town, to imitate the lives of the fathers of the desert. Returning after some time to her father's house, she continued to be guided by the same spirit. In her childhood she consecrated her virginity to God by a private vow. Her love of mortification and prayer, and her sentiments of virtue, were such as are not usually found in so tender an age. But God was pleased to put her resolution to a great trial. At twelve years of age, her parents thought of engaging her in a married state. Catherine found them deaf to her entreaties that she might live single; and therefore redoubled her prayers, watching, and austerities, knowing her protection must be from God alone. Her parents, regarding her inclination to solitude as unsuitable to the life for which they designed her, endeavored to divert her from it, and began to thwart her devotions, depriving her in this view of the little chamber or cell they had till then allowed her. They loaded her with the most distracting employments, and laid on her all the drudgery of the house, as if she had been a person hired into the family for that purpose. The hardest labor, humiliations, contempt, and the insults of her sisters, were to the saint a subject of joy; and such was her ardent love of crosses, that she embraced them in all shapes with a holy eagerness, and received all railleries with an admirable sweetness and heroic patience. If any thing grieved her, it was the loss of her dear solitude. But the Holy Ghost, that interior faithful master, to whom she listened, taught her to make herself another solitude in her heart; where, amidst all her occupations, she considered herself always as alone with God; to whose presence she kept herself no less attentive than if she had no exterior employment to distract her. In that admirable Treatise of God's Providence, which she wrote, she saith, "that our Lord had taught her to build in her soul a private closet, strongly vaulted with the divine providence, and to keep herself always close and retired there; he assured her that by this means she should find peace and perpetual repose in her soul, which no storm or tribulation could disturb or interrupt." Her sisters and other friends persuaded her to join with them in the diversions of the world, alleging, that virtue is not an enemy to neatness in dress, or to cheerfulness; under which soft names they endeavored to recommend the dangerous liberties of worldly pastimes and vanities. Catherine was accordingly prevailed upon by her sister to dress in a manner something more genteel; but she soon repented of her compliance, and wept for it during the remainder of her life, as the greatest infidelity she had ever been guilty of to her heavenly spouse. The death of her eldest sister, Bonaventura, soon after confirmed her in those sentiments. Her father, edified at her patience and virtue, at length approved and seconded her devotion, and all her pious desires. She liberally assisted the poor, served the sick, and comforted the afflicted and prisoners. Her chief subsistence was on boiled herbs, without either sauce or bread, which last she seldom tasted. She wore a very rough hair-cloth, and a large iron girdle armed with sharp points, lay on the ground, and watched much. Humility, obedience, and a denial of her own will, even in her penitential austerities, gave them their true value. She began this course of life when under fifteen years of age. She was moreover visited with many painful distempers, which she underwent with incredible patience; she had also suffered much from the use of hot baths prescribed her by physicians. Amidst her pains, it was her constant prayer that they might serve for the expiation of her offences, and the purifying her heart. She long desired, and in 1365, the eighteenth year of her age, (but two years later, according to some writers,) she received the habit of the third order of St. Dominic, in a nunnery contiguous to the Dominicans' convent. From that time her cell became her paradise, prayer her element, and her mortifications had no longer any restraint. For three years she never spoke to any one but to God and her confessor. Her days and nights were employed in the delightful exercises of contemplation: the fruits whereof were supernatural lights, a most ardent love of God, and zeal for the conversion of sinners. The old serpent, seeing her angelical life, set all his engines at work to assault her virtue. He first filled her imagination with the most filthy representations, and assailed her heart with the basest and most humbling temptations. Afterwards, he spread in her soul such a cloud and darkness that it was the severest trial imaginable. She saw herself a hundred times on the brink of the precipice, but was always supported by an invisible hand. Her arms were fervent prayer, humility, resignation, and confidence in God. By these she persevered victorious, and was at last delivered from those trials which had only served to purify her heart. Our Saviour visiting her after this bitter conflict, she said to him: "Where west thou, my divine Spouse, while I lay in such an abandoned, frightful condition." "I was with thee," he seemed to reply. "What!" said she, "amidst the filthy abominations with which my soul was infested!" He answered: "They were displeasing and most painful to thee. This conflict therefore was thy merit, and the victory over them was owing to my presence." Her ghostly enemy also solicited her to pride, omitting neither violence nor stratagem to seduce her into this vice; but invincible humility was a buckler to cover her from all his fiery darts. God recompensed her charity to the poor by many miracles, often multiplying provisions in her hands, and enabling her to carry loads of corn, oil, and other necessaries to the poor, which her natural strength could not otherwise have borne. The greatest miracle seemed her patience in bearing the murmurs, and even the reproaches, of these ungrateful and importunate people. Catherine dressed, and served an old woman named Tocca. infected to that degree with a leprosy, that the magistrates had ordered her to be removed out of the city, and separated from all others. This poor wretch nevertheless made no other return to the tender charity of the saint, but continual bitter complaints and reproaches; which, instead of wearying out her constancy, only moved the saint to show her still greater marks of sweetness and humility. Another, whose infectious cancer the saint for a long time sucked and dressed, published against her the most infamous calumnies; in which she was seconded by a sister of the convent. Catherine bore in silence the violent persecution they brought upon her, and continued her affectionate services till, by her patience and prayers, she had obtained of God the conversion of both these enemies, which was followed by a retraction of their slanders.
The ardent charity of this holy virgin made her indefatigable in laboring for the conversion of sinners, offering for that end  continual tears, prayers, fasts, and other austerities, and thinking nothing difficult or above her strength. All her discourses, actions, and her very silence, powerfully induced men to the love of virtue, so that no one, according to pope Pius II., ever approached her who went not away better. Nannes, a powerful turbulent citizen, being brought to our saint to be reclaimed, all she could say to him to bring him to a right sense of his duty was of no effect; upon which she made a sudden pause in her discourse, to offer up her prayers for him: they were heard that very instant, and an entire change was wrought in the man, to which his tears and other tokens bore evidence. He accordingly reconciled himself to all his enemies, and embraced a most penitential life. When he afterwards fell into many temporal calamities, the saint rejoiced at his spiritual advantage under them, saying, God purged his heart from the poison with which it was infected by its inveterate attachment to creatures. Nannes gave to the saint a stately house which he possessed within two miles of the city. This, by the pope's authority, she converted into a nunnery. We omit the miraculous conversion of James Tholomei and his sisters, of Nicholas Tuldo, and many others; particularly of two famous assassins going to die with blasphemies in their mouths, and in transports of rage and despair, who were suddenly converted in their last moments, on the saint's praying for them, confessed their crimes to a priest with great signs of repentance, and appeared thoroughly resigned to the punishment about to be inflicted on them. A pestilence laying waste the country in 1374, Catherine devoted herself to serve the infected, and obtained of God the cure of several; amongst others, of two holy Dominicans, Raymund of Capua, and Bartholomew of Sienna. The most hardened sinners could not withstand the force of her exhortations to a change of life. Thousands flocked from places at a distance in the country to hear or only to see her, and were brought over by her words or example to the true dispositions of sincere repentance. She undertook a journey to Monte Pulciano to consecrate to God two of her nieces, who there took the religious veil of Saint Dominic: and another journey to Pisa, by order of her superiors, at the earnest suit of the citizens. She there restored health to many in body, but to a far greater number in soul. Raymund of Capua and two other Dominicans were commissioned by pope Gregory XI., then residing at Avignon, to hear the confessions at Sienna, of those who were induced by the saint to enter upon a change of life; these priests were occupied, day and night, in hearing the confessions of many who had never confessed before; besides those of others who had acquitted themselves but superficially of that duty. While she was at Pisa, in 1375, the people of Florence and Perugia, with a great part of Tuscany, and even of the Ecclesiastical State, entered into a league against the holy see. The news of this disturbance was delivered to Catherine by Raymund of Capua, and her heart was pierced with the most bitter sorrow on account of those evils, which she had foretold three years before they came to their height. The two furious factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, who had so disturbed and divided the state of Florence, then a powerful commonwealth, united at last against the pope, to strip the holy see of the lands it possessed in Italy. The disturbance was begun in June, 1373, and a numerous army was set on foot: the word Libertas, written on the banner of the league, was the signal. Perugia, Bologna, Viterbo, Ancona, and other strongholds, soon declared for them. The inhabitants of Arezzo, Lucca. Sienna, and other places, were kept within the bounds of duty by the prayers, letters, and exhortations of St. Catherine, and generously contemned the threats of the Florentines. Pope Gregory XI., residing at Avignon, wrote to the city of Florence, but without success. He therefore sent the cardinal Robert of Geneva, his legate, with an army, and laid the diocese of Florence under an interdict. Internal divisions, murders, and all other domestic miseries amongst the Florentines, joined with the conspiracy of the neighboring states, concurred to open their eyes, and made them sue for pardon. The magistrates sent to Sienna to beg St. Catherine would become their mediatrix. She could not resist their pressing entreaties. Before she arrived at Florence, she was met by the priors or chiefs of the magistrates; and the city left the management of the whole affair to her discretion, with a promise that she should be followed to Avignon by their ambassadors, who should sign and ratify the conditions of reconciliation between the parties at variance, and confirm every thing she had done. The saint arrived at Avignon on the 18th of June, 1376, and was received by the pope and cardinals with great marks of distinction His holiness, after a conference with her, in admiration of her prudence and sanctity, said to her: "I desire nothing but peace. I put the affair entirely into your hands; only I recommend to you the honor of the church." But the Florentines sought not peace sincerely, and they continued to carry on secret intrigues to draw all Italy from its obedience to the holy see. Their ambassadors arrived very late at Avignon, and spoke with so great insolence, that they showed peace was far from being the subject of their errand. God suffered the conclusion of this work to be deferred in punishment of the sins of the Florentines. by which means St. Catherine sanctified herself still more by suffering longer amidst a seditious people.
The saint had another point no less at heart in her journey to Avignon. Pope John XXII., a Frenchman, born at Cahors, bishop, first of Frejus, then of Avignon, lastly of Porto, being made pope in 1314, fixed his residence at Avignon, where John's successors, Benedict XII., Clement VI.. Innocent VI., and Urban V., also resided. The then pope Gregory XI., elected in 1370, continued also there. The Romans complained that their bishops had for seventy-four years past forsaken their church, and threatened a schism. Gregory XI. had made a secret vow to return to Rome; but not finding this design agreeable to his court, he consulted the holy virgin on this subject, who answered: "Fulfil what you have promised to God." The pope, surprised she should  know by revelation what he had never discovered to any person on earth, was immediately determined to carry his good design into execution. The saint soon after left Avignon. We have several letters written by her to him, to press him to hasten his return; and he shortly after followed her, leaving Avignon on the 13th of September, in 1376. He overtook the saint at Genoa, where she made a short stay. At Sienna, she continued her former way of life, serving and often curing the sick, converting the most obstinate sinners, and reconciling the most inveterate enemies, more still by her prayers than by her words. Such was her knowledge of heavenly things, that certain Italian doctors, out of envy, and  with the intent to expose her ignorance, being come to hold a conference with her, departed in confusion and admiration at her interior lights. The same had happened at Avignon, some time before, where three prelates, envying her credit with the pope, put to her the most intricate questions on an interior life, and many other subjects; but admiring her answers to all their difficulties, confessed to the pope they had never seen a soul so enlightened, and so profoundly humble as Catherine. She had many disciples: among others, Stephen, son of Conrad, a senator of Sienna. This nobleman was reduced by enemies to the last extremity. Seeing himself on the brink of ruin, he addressed himself to the saint, who, having first made a thorough convert of him from the world and its vanities, by her prayers miraculously, on a sudden, pacified all his persecutors, and calmed their fury. Stephen, from that time, looked upon as dust all that he had formerly most passionately loved and pursued; and he testified of himself, that by her presence, and much more by her zealous discourses, he always found the divine love vehemently kindled in his breast, and his contempt of all earthly things increased. He became the most fervent among her disciples, made a collection of all her words as oracles, would be her secretary to write her letters, and her companion in her journeys to Avignon, Florence, and Rome; and at length, by her advice, professed himself a Carthusian monk. He assisted  at her death, and wrote her life at the request of several princes; having been witness of her great miracles and virtues, and having experienced often in himself her spirit of prophecy, her knowledge of the consciences of others, and her extraordinary light in spiritual things.
St. Catherine wrote to pope Gregory XI., at Rome, strongly exhorting him to contribute by all means possible to the general peace of Italy. His holiness commissioned her to go to Florence, still divided and obstinate in its disobedience. She lived some time in that factious place, amidst daily murders and confiscations, in frequent dangers of her own life many ways; in which she always showed herself most undaunted, even when swords were drawn against her. At length she overcame that obstinate people, and brought them to submission, obedience, and peace, though not under Gregory XI., as Baillet mistakes, but his successor, Urban VI., as her contemporary historian informs us. This memorable reconciliation was effected in 1378; after which Catherine hastened to her solitary abode at Sienna, where her occupation, and, we may say, her very nourishment, was holy prayer: in which intercourse with the Almighty, he discovered to her very wonderful mysteries, and bestowed on her a spirit which delivered the truths of salvation in a manner that astonished her hearers. Some of her discourses were collected, and compose the treatise On Providence, under her name. Her whole life seemed one continual miracle; but what the servants of God admired most in her, was the perpetual strict union of her soul with God. For, though obliged often to converse with different persons on so many different affairs, and transact business of the greatest moment, she was always occupied on God, and absorbed in him. For many years she had accustomed herself to so rigorous an abstinence, that the blessed eucharist might be said to be almost the only nourishment which supported her. Once she fasted from Ash Wednesday till Ascension-day, receiving only the blessed eucharist during that whole time. Many treated her as a hypocrite, and invented all manner of calumnies against her; but she rejoiced at humiliations, and gloried in the cross of Christ as much as she dreaded and abhorred praise and applause. In a vision, our Saviour is said one day to have presented her with two crowns, one of gold and the other of thorns, bidding her choose which of the two she pleased. She answered: "I desire, O Lord, to live here always conformed to your passion, and to find pain and suffering my repose and delight." Then eagerly taking up the crown of thorns, she forcibly pressed it upon her bead. The earnest desire and love of humiliations and crosses was nourished in her soul by assiduous meditation on the sufferings of our divine Redeemer. What, above all things, pierced her heart was scandal, chiefly that of the unhappy great schism which followed the death of Gregory XI. in 1378, when Urban VI. was chosen at Rome, and acknowledged there by all the cardinals, though his election was in the beginning overawed by the Roman people, who demanded an Italian pope. Urban's harsh and austere temper alienated from him the affections of the cardinals, several of whom withdrew; and having declared the late election null, chose Clement VII., with whom they retired out of Italy, and resided at Avignon. Our saint, not content to spend herself in floods of tears, weeping before God for these evils of his church, wrote the strongest and most pathetic letters to those cardinals who had first acknowledged Urban, and afterwards elected another; pressing them to return to their lawful pastor, and acknowledge Urban's title. She wrote also to several countries and princes in his favor, and to Urban himself, exhorting him to bear up cheerfully under the troubles he found himself involved in, and to abate somewhat of a temper that had made him so many enemies, and mollify that rigidness of disposition which had driven the world from him, and still kept a very considerable part of Christendom from acknowledging him. The pope listened to her, sent for her to Rome, followed her directions, and designed to send her, with St. Catherine of Sweden, to Joan, queen of Sicily, who had sided with Clement. Our saint grieved to see this occasion of martyrdom snatched from her, when the journey was laid aside on account of the dangers that were foreseen to attend It. She wrote however to queen Joan: likewise two letters full of holy fire to the king of France, also to the king of Hungary, and others, to exhort them to renounce the schism.
We pass over the ecstasies and other wonderful favors this virgin received from heaven, and the innumerable miracles God wrought by her means. She has loft us, besides the example of her life, six Treatises in form of a dialogue, a Discourse on the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and three hundred and sixty-four Letters, which show that she had a superior genius, and wrote perfectly well. While she was laboring to extend the obedience of the true pope, Urban VI., her infirmities and pains increasing, she died at Rome on the 29th of April, in 1380, being thirty-three years old. She was buried in the church of the Minerva, where her body is still kept under an altar. Her skull is in the Dominicans' church at Sienna, in which city are shown her house, her instruments of penance, and other relics. She was canonized by pope Pius II. in 1461. Urban VIII. transferred her festival to the 30th of this month.
When we read the lives of the saints, and consider the wonderful graces with which God enriched them, we admire their happiness in being so highly favored by him, and say to ourselves that their labors and sufferings bore no proportion to the sweetness of heavenly peace and love with which their souls were replenished, and the spiritual joy and consolations which were a present superabundant recompense and support. But it was in the victory over their passions, in the fervor of their charity, and in the perfection of their humility, patience, and meekness, that their virtue and their happiness chiefly consisted. Nor are we to imagine that God raised them to these sublime graces without their assiduous application to the practice both of exterior and interior mortification, especially of the latter. Self-denial prepared them for this state of perfect virtue, and supported them in it. What pity is it to hear persons talk of sublime virtue, and to see them pretend to aspire after it, without having studied in earnest to die to themselves. Without this condition, all their fine discourses are mere speculation, and their endeavors fruitless.



source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/stcatherineofsiena.asp#ixzz1tSKYtgrY