Daily Gospel: Monday of the Eighth Week of the Cross, October 31, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 10:1-13
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 13:44-46
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus Message on Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of recent flooding in Thailand and Italy. The Holy Father began his remarks to the faithful following the Angelus prayer this Sunday in St Peter’s Square by recalling the devastation in both countries. “Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “I express my closeness to the people of Thailand hit by serious flooding, as well as in Italy, to those of Liguria and Tuscany, recently damaged by the consequences of heavy rains.”

Pope B16 reciting his Angelus Message at
Saint Peter's square

Thailand's worst flooding in half a century has claimed nearly 400 lives over the last three months, while in Italy, floods and mudslides last week devastated coastal areas of Liguria and Tuscany and killed nine people. The Holy Father assured all those affected of his continuing prayers.

Before the Angelus, Pope Benedict reflected on the Sunday Mass readings, which spoke of the figure of the true teacher, recalling that the one true teacher is Jesus, Himself.

In the Gospel of today’s liturgy, Christ urges us to combine humility with our charitable service towards our brothers and sisters. Indeed, may we always imitate his perfect example of service in our daily lives.

The Pope noted Jesus condemnation of those who preach the good, and then act in opposition to it – those who would require the consciences of others to bear heavy and difficult burdens, while refusing to bear those same themselves. “Sound doctrine,” warned Pope Benedict, “may well be made incredible by unbecoming conduct.” In conclusion, the Holy Father prayed that all those who, in the Christian community, are called to the ministry of teaching, “might in their conduct always bear witness to the truths they convey with their words.”

Daily Gospel: Eighth Sunday of the Cross, October 30, 2011: Judgment of the Nations

Letter to the Romans 12:9-21
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 25:31-46
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Seventh Week of the Cross, October 29, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 9:19-27
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 13:36-43
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Seventh Week of the Cross, October 28, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 9:13-18
Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is sacrificed on the altar? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this so that they may be applied in my case. Indeed, I would rather die than that no one will deprive me of my ground for boasting! If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 13:31-35
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’ Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.’

Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI launched an appeal for aid for quake victims in Turkey on Wednesday, at the end of a Liturgy of the World with faithful on the eve his pilgrimage to Assisi. Speaking in Italian he said: “At this time, our thoughts turn to the people of Turkey hard hit by the earthquake, which has caused heavy loss of life, many missing and extensive damage. I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and to be spiritually close to the many people who have been sorely tried. May the Almighty support all those engaged in rescue work”.

The Holy Father’s weekly General Audience this Wednesday had a special character: that of a prayer meeting in preparation for Thursday’s Day of Reflection and Prayer for Peace in Assisi. Inclement weather drove pilgrims inside for the prayer encounter, filling the Paul VI audience hall to capacity, with participants who could not be accommodated in the hall present in St Peter’s Basilica.

The Holy Father greeted the overflow pilgrims in the Basilica in several languages, including English: “I am pleased to receive you in Saint Peter’s Basilica and to extend a warm welcome to all of you who could not be accommodated in the Audience Hall. Always stay faithfully united to Christ and bear joyful witness to the Gospel. To all of you I cordially impart my Blessing”.

The Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini presented the pilgrims, praising the Holy Father for his constant commitment, in the Name of God, to building bridges of friendship among peoples, cultures and states, healing the wounds of division and promoting reconciliation and concord.

“For this,” said Cardinal Vallini, “all the people taking part desire to make themselves ‘pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace’.”

The readings, from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah and from the Gospel according to St Luke, as well as the responsorial psalm – taken from Psalm 84, each spoke in its own way of true peace as a gift of the True God, whose saving action has signed human history indelibly.

In his homily, Pope Benedict XVI said the Kingdom of Peace in which Christ is the king. “It is,” he said, “a realm that extends across the whole Earth.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” said Pope Benedict: “As Christians we want to ask God for the gift of peace, we pray that He make us instruments of peace in a world still torn by hatred, by divisions, by selfishness, by war. We ask that the meeting Thursday in Assisi might encourage dialogue among people of different religious affiliations and bring a ray of light that might illuminate the minds and hearts of all men, so that rancor will give way to pardon, division to reconciliation, hatred and violence to love and gentleness: that peace reign in the world”.

The Holy Father also had English greetings for pilgrims in Paul VI Hall: “I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today. I ask you to accompany me in prayer as I journey tomorrow to Assisi for the celebration of the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, together with representatives of different religions. I extend special greetings to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Niigata in Japan celebrating their centenary. I also welcome those present from England, Denmark, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and the United States. May Almighty God bless all of you!”.

As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Seventh Week of the Cross, October 27, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 7:25-35
Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to
Saint Matthew 13:24-30
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?" He answered, "An enemy has done this." The slaves said to him, "Then do you want us to go and gather them?" But he replied, "No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn."’

"The World Must Not Let The Arab Spring Turn Into a Winter"

"The so-called 'Arab Spring' sweeping the Middle East holds much promise, yet we must remain vigilant. The Church abhors the use of violence to meet any goal," said Patriarch Bechara Rai of Antioch, in an Oct. 20 conference at the Catholic Near East Welfare Association's U.S. headquarters.

Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi,
Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

 "We do not wish to see happening in these countries what happened in Iraq, where the country now is in the middle of a civil war," said the leader of 3.2 million Eastern Catholics of the Maronite tradition. "In such a situation, this will not be a 'spring.' It will be rather a 'winter.'"

"With the international community, we look forward to seeing a real 'spring' in the Arab countries. But we (want) to voice our concerns, so that we really may reach a spring and not a winter."

The 71-year-old former monk, who became patriarch in March 2011, addressed observers of the Church in the Middle East at the invitation of New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. His time in New York was part of a pastoral visit to the U.S., where nearly 80,000 Maronites live.

In his remarks, Patriarch Rai stressed the importance of helping Christians remain in their historic Middle Eastern homelands.

"When we're talking about the Christians, we are not talking about some people who came from outside," said the patriarch."Christians were in that part of the world 600 years before Islam, and they impacted society with their values."

"It is important to point out the role the Christians played in upholding democratic principles, freedoms, and human rights in the Middle East. This is why a Christian presence there should be safeguarded and the role of Christians strengthened."

The Eastern Catholic leader said Christians in Lebanon "want to see a Middle East renewed in its respect of human rights and dignity, especially for her minorities. We want to see people electing democratic governments and holding them accountable."

But he worries that the movements and changes now sweeping the region may be "leading to regimes that are even more fundamentalist" than the governments they aim to replace. Some Christians have already begun to leave Egypt, fleeing persecution and a feared Islamist takeover.

In Syria, Lebanon's neighboring country, some residents fear that the downfall of embattled president Bashar al-Assad could spark an Iraq-like civil war between Muslim sects trying to drive Christians out and seize power.

"Everybody agrees," Patriarch Rai observed, "that Syria is in need of reform: more freedom, and more rights." He said that both citizens and authorities in Syria, the home of 53,000 Maronites and many other Christians, must "find the best way to run the country."

"But what we wish to see is this … being done in a peaceful way, through dialogue."

The Maronite patriarch is also organizing dialogue to help the Coptic Christians of Egypt – who lost at least 17 members of their community in recent riots that wounded over 300 – and other religious minorities at the center of the "Arab Spring."

"We are in direct contact with (Coptic Orthodox leader) His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, and we have been discussing the matter also with all the heads of religious communities in the Middle East," the Catholic patriarch explained.

"We are in the process of preparing a summit for the religious leaders (in) the Middle East, in order to try to promote the atmosphere that exists in Lebanon, where all religious communities live together in freedom and mutual respect."

The Maronite leader held up Lebanon as a model for peace between Christians and Muslims in the region. The country's unique power-sharing system requires that the president must always be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the parliament speaker a Shi'ite Muslim.

Lebanon's different groups enjoy peace, he said, because the country does not make one religion the law of the land but "respects all religions, and all values of each religion" in its government and laws.

"In Lebanon," he noted, "each religion has full rights, and each religion respects the others fully."

Patriarch Rai noted that many non-Christian groups expressed joy when he became the Maronites' new leader, because they saw him as a figure of national unity.

The patriarch said that during those days in March 2011, he "realized how true is what Blessed John Paul II said about Lebanon" in a 1997 apostolic exhortation.

"He said that Lebanon is more than a country. Lebanon is a message of reconciliation and dialogue and conviviality for both East and West."

As published by CNA

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Seventh Week of the Cross, October 26, 2011

Saint of the day : St Demetrius, martyr

First Letter to the Corinthians 7:1-3, 8-14, 17, 24
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is well for a man not to touch a woman.’ But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practising self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. To the married I give this command not I but the Lord that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say I and not the Lord that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 13:18-23
‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’

Message of the Virgin Mary for the World on October 25, 2011 From Medjugorje

“Dear children! I am looking at you and in your hearts I do not see joy. Today I desire to give you the joy of the Risen One, that He may lead you and embrace you with His love and tenderness. I love you and I am praying for your conversion without ceasing before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the Seventh Week of the Cross, October 25, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 6:12-20
‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything.  ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’, and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 13:10-17
Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that "seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand." With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: "You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing,and they have shut their eyes;so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn and I would heal them." But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Seventh Week of the Cross, October 24, 2011

Saint of the day : St Hareth (Hares) and his companions, martyrs.

First Letter to the Corinthians 6:1-11
When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels to say nothing of ordinary matters? If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer and before unbelievers at that? In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud and believers at that. Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 13:1-9
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily on Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pope Benedict marked the 85th World Mission Sunday by canonizing three saints in St. Peter’s Square.

Two of the saints were Italian – Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti of Parma, who also founded the Xaverian Missionaries and Father Luigi Guanella, the founder of of the Servants of Charity and the Institute of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. One was Spanish, Sister Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, founder of the Congregation of the Servants of St. Joseph.

In his homily on the Gospel of the day (Matthew 22:34-40), Pope Benedict said love of neighbour is “the visible sign that the Christian can show the world to witness God's love.”

"How providential is then the fact that today the Church should indicate to all members three new saints who allowed themselves to be transformed by divine love, which marked their entire existence,” said Pope Benedict. “In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart and their neighbour as themselves so as to become a model for all believers.”

The Pope called on all people to be drawn by their examples, and to be guided by their teachings, so that their entire existence becomes a witness of authentic love for God and neighbour.

After reciting the Angelus at the end of Mass, he asked everyone to pray to the Virgin Mary for the October 27th meeting in Assisi scheduled to be attended by leaders of world religions and non-religious personalities in search of peace. It is marking the 25th anniversary of a similar meeting in the same town called by Blessed John Paul II.

Daily Gospel: Seventh Sunday of the Cross: Parable of the Talents, October 23, 2011

Letter to the Galatians 6:1-10
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbour’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 25:14-30
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, "Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents." His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, "Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents." His master said to him, "Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, "Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours." But his master replied, "You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Latest Figures and Statistics About the Catholic Church

As every year, on the occasion of World Mission Sunday, October 23 this year, Fides News Service offers some statistics chosen to give a panorama of the missionary Church all over the world. The tables are taken from the lastest edition of the "Church’s Book of Statistics" published (updated to December 31, 2009) regarding members of the Church, church structures in the field of pastoral care, healthcare, welfare and education. Please note that variations, increase or decrease, emerging from our own comparison with last year’s figures, are marked increase (+) or decrease (-).

World Population:
To December 31, 2009 the world population was equal to 6.777.599.000 people, with an increase of 79.246 million units compared with the previous year. Population growth was registered on every continent: Africa (+19,983,000); America (+8,744,000); Asia (+47,702, 000); Oceania (+967,000); Europe (+1,850,000).

On the same date Catholics in the world numbered 1,180,665,000 units with an overall increase of 14,951,000 units more than the previous year. The increase affects all continents: Africa (+6,530,000); America (+5,863,000); Asia (+1,814,000); Europe (+597,000), Oceania (+147,000). The World percentage of Catholics increased by 0.02%, settling at 17.42%. By continent: increases were registered in Africa (+0.3); America (+0.04) and Asia (+ 0.01), a drop in numbers was registered, like last year, in Europe (- 0.02) and Oceania (- 0.3).

Persons and Catholics per priest:
This year again the number of persons per priest in the world increased by 139 units, average 13,154. The distribution by continent: increase in America (+70), Europe (+42) and Oceania (+181), and a drop in numbers in Africa (-313) and Asia (-628). The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased by 27 units, average 2,876. We have increases on every continent except Asia: Africa (+25); America (+32); Asia (-30); Europe (+16); Oceania (+25).

Ecclesiastical circumscriptions and mission stations:
The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions increased by 11 more than the previous year to 2,956, with new circumscriptions created in: Africa (+3), America (+2), Asia (+6). Mission stations with a resident priest 1850 (185 more than in the previous year) and increases registered in Africa (+280) and America (+94). Decreases in Asia (-69), Europe (-110) and Oceania (-10). Mission Stations without a resident priest increased in number by 5,459 units, to 130,948. Increases registered in Africa (+2,143), America (+2,131), Asia (+937) and Oceania (+278), decreases in Europe (-30).

The total number of Bishops in the world increased by 63 units, to 5,065. Overall the increase in numbers regard both diocesan and religious Bishops. Diocesan Bishops number 3,828 (42 more than in the previous year); Religious Bishops number 1,237 (21 more). The increase in diocesan Bishops is registered on every continent: Africa (+2), America (+19), Asia (+1), Europe (+17), Oceania (+3). The only decrease in religious Bishops was registered in Oceania (-1), the increase was registered in Africa (+10), America (+4), Asia (+5) and Europe (+3).

The total number of priests in the world increased by 1,427 units more than in the previous year, to 410,593. The only continent which registered a decrease was once again Europe (-1,674), wheras figures grew in Africa (+1155), America (+413), Asia (+1519) and Oceania (+14). Diocesan priests increased by 1,535 units, reaching a total of +275,542, with increases in Africa (+888), America (+946), Asia (+780) and Oceania (+26) but numbers dropped in Europe (-1105). The number of Religious priests decreased by 108 units to a total of 135,051. Increases, following the trend of recent years are Africa (+267) and Asia (+739), but decreases affect America (-533), Europe (-569) and Oceania (-12).

Permanent Deacons:
Permanent deacons in the world increased by 952 units, reaching 38,155. The greatest increase is once again in America (+552) and Europe (+326), followed by Oceania (+57) and Asia (+23). The only decrease was registered in Africa (-6). Diocesan permanent deacons are 37,592 in the world, with an overall increase of 1,053 units. They increased on every continent except Africa (-2), precisely: America (+623), Asia (+15), Europe (+359) and Oceania (+58). Religious permanent deacons are 563, decreased by 101 units compared to the previous year, with the only increase in Asia (+8) and decreases in Africa (-4), America (-71), Europe (-33), Oceania (-1).

Men and women religious:
The non-religious priests decreased globally by 412 units to 54,229. Increases were registered only in Africa (+294), but decreases in America (-195), Asia (-60), Europe (-445) and Oceania (-6). This confirms the overall decrease in the number of women religious (-9697) that are a total of 729,371, divided as follows: This year we also confirm the increase in Africa (+1249) and Asia (+1399), decrease in America (-4681), Europe ( -7468) and Oceania (-196).

Members of Secular Institutes, male and female:
Members of male secular institutes number 737 with an overall decrease of 6 units. At the continental level there is an increase in Africa (+5) and America (+3), Oceania unvaried, while there is a decrease in Asia (-1) and Europe (-13). The female members of secular institutes have also decreased this year, a total of 386 units, for a number of 26,260 members. An increase in Africa (+37), Asia (+180) and Oceania (+1), decrease in America (-30) and Europe (-574).

Lay missionaries and catechists:
The number of lay missionaries in the world is 320,226 units, with an overall increase of 3,390 units and increase in Africa (+736), Asia (+3774) and Europe (+428). Decreases were recorded in America (-1531) and Oceania (-17). Catechists in the world increased to a total of 68,515 units to 3,151,077. Numbers increase in Africa (+19,538), America (+36,319), Asia (+13,365) and Oceania (+287). The only decrease is in Europe (-994).

Major seminarians:
The number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious, also increased this year: they are globally 954 more candidates for priesthood, who have thus reached a total of 117,978. Increases, as occurred in previous years, in Africa (+565), Asia (+781) and Oceania (+15), while this year decreases in America (-60) and Europe (-347). The major diocesan seminarians are 71,219 (43 more than in the previous year) and 46,759 religious ones (+911). Diocesan seminarians increases are registered in Africa (+425) and Asia (+121), decreases are registered in America (-353) and Oceania (-14) and Europe (-136). The religious seminarians increase in Africa (+140), America (+293), Asia (+660) and Oceania (+29) and decrease in Europe (-211).

Minor seminarians:
The total number of minor seminarians, diocesan and religious, increased by 1,631 units, to 103,991. Overall increase in Africa (+1765), Asia (+211) and Oceania (+53) and decreased in America (-337) and Europe (-61). The minor diocesan seminarians are 79,142 (+1155) and 24,849 religious ones (+476). Diocesan seminarians in America have registered a decrease in America (-264), Asia (-97) and Europe (-18), but increase in Africa (+1483) and Oceania (+51). The religious seminarians are decreasing in America (-73) and Europe (-43), and are increasing in Africa (+282), Asia (+308) and Oceania (+2).

Catholic schools and education:
In the field of education the Catholic Church runs 68,119 kindergartens with 6,522,320 pupils; 92,971 primary schools with 30,973 114 pupils; 42,495 secondary schools with 17,114,737 pupils. The Church also cares for 2,288,258 secondary school pupils and 3,275,440 university students. Both the number of institutes and students, at all levels, have increased compared to the previous year.

Health, charity and assistance institutes:
Charity and assistance institutes run in the world by the Church include: 5,558 hospitals most of them in America (1721) and Africa (1290); 17,763 dispensaries, mainly in America (5495), Africa (5280) and Asia ( 3634), 561 care Homes for people with Leprosy mainly in Asia (288) and Africa (174); 16,073 Homes for the elderly, or chronically ill or people with a disability, mainly in Europe (8238) and America (4144); 9,956 orphanages, about one third in Asia (3406); 12,387creches, 13,736 marriage counseling centers mainly in Europe (5948) and America (4696); 36,933 education or social rehabilitation centers and 12,050 other kinds of institutions, mainly in America (4484 ), Europe (3939) and Asia (1857).

Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples:
To 1 October 2011, the ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP) were 1103. Mainly in Africa (499) and Asia (473). Followed by America (85) and Oceania (46). (SL) (Agenzia Fides 21/10/2011)

As published by Fides, Vatican City.

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Sixth Week of the Cross, October 22, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 4:14-21
I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 22:1-14
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet." But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, "The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet." Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, "Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?" And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Sixth Week of the Cross, October 21, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 4:1-13
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Mark 4:26-29
He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Sixth Week of the Cross, October 20, 2011

 Saint of the day: St. Artemius (Mar Shallita), martyr.

First Letter to the Corinthians 3:10-23
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’, and again,‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to
Saint Mark 4:21-25
He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’

Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly General Audience Wednesday, during which he continued his catechetical series on prayer. The focus of the catechesis this was Psalm 136:


Known as the Great Hallel, this Psalm is a great hymn of praise which was traditionally sung at the conclusion of the Passover meal. As such, it was probably sung by Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper (cf. Mt 26:30). The Psalm takes the form of a litany praising God’s mighty deeds in the creation of the world and in the history of Israel; each reference to God’s saving work is followed by the refrain: “For his steadfast love endures for ever”. It is God’s faithful love, in fact, which is revealed in the ordered beauty of the universe and in the great events of Israel’s liberation from slavery and the pilgrimage of the Chosen People to the land of promise. As we sing this great litany of God’s mighty works, we give thanks that the depth of his steadfast and merciful love was fully revealed in the coming of his only-begotten Son.

The Holy Father went on to say that in Christ, we see clearly “what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, for that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). As usual, following the catechesis, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages, including English:

I offer cordial greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Norway, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia and the United States. My greeting also goes to the members of Legatus visiting Rome on pilgrimage and to the group of Lutheran pilgrims from Iceland. I also welcome the group of Anglican seminarians taking part in a month of study in Rome. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

This Wednesday was the latest of more than a dozen reflections on Christian prayer, which the Holy Father began in May of this year.

As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Sixth Week of the Cross, October 19, 2011

Saints of the day : St Aaron of Antioch, Martyr.  Saints Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and Companions (USA), Martyrs.

First Letter to the Corinthians 1:26-31
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 19:11-28
As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. So he said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, "Do business with these until I come back." But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, "We do not want this man to rule over us." When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, "Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds." He said to him, "Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities." Then the second came, saying, "Lord, your pound has made five pounds." He said to him, "And you, rule over five cities." Then the other came, saying, "Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow." He said to him, "I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest." He said to the bystanders, "Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds." (And they said to him, "Lord, he has ten pounds!") "I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them bring them here and slaughter them in my presence." After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Pictures of the Visit of the Maronite Patriarch to Los Angeles, October 2011

Daily Gospel: Tuesday, October 18, 2011: Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist

Second Letter to the Corinthians 8:16-22
But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same eagerness for you that I myself have. For he not only accepted our appeal, but since he is more eager than ever, he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming of the good news; and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of others. And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found eager in many matters, but who is now more eager than ever because of his great confidence in you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 10:1-7
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!" And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Sixth Week of the Cross, October 17, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 16:1-12
Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, "What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer." Then the manager said to himself, "What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes." So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, "How much do you owe my master?" He answered, "A hundred jugs of olive oil." He said to him, "Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty." Then he asked another, "And how much do you owe?" He replied, "A hundred containers of wheat." He said to him, "Take your bill and make it eighty." And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.  ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily on Sunday, October 16, 2011

It was in a packed St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday that Pope Benedict XVI declared that the year 2012 to 2013 was to be a”Year of Faith”. The Holy Father made the announcement during his homily at a mass for the New Evangelisation. The Eucharistic celebration marked the conclusion of a meeting organised by Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, which the Pope addressed on Saturday.

Speaking about his decision to invoke this “Year of Faith” Pope Benedict said it was "to give new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ".

The Pope explained that the year would be “a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and to proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time."

In order to illustrate the meaning of this "Year of Faith", the Holy Father said he would prepare a special Apostolic Letter and he informed the congregation present that the year would begin “on 11 October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and would end on 24 November 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King",.

During the course of his Homily the Holy Father referred back to the meeting of the Pontifical Council saying, he was delighted that this conference had taken place in the month of October, a month of prayer and just one week before the World Mission Sunday.

The Pope underlined that there was no opposition between the mission ad gentes and new evangelization, although he added the latter was very urgent, “especially in traditionally Christian countries, which have become increasingly "indifferent" and "hostile" to the mission of the Church.”

The Pope’s sentiments were echoed by those of the President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella in his address to the Holy Father at the start of the celebration. He said, the mission of the church now needed “an additional face, that of the new evangelization, primarily, as he put it, for believers to rediscover the strength to believe and the joy of bearing witness.”

The Pope looked to history, and to the Gospel on Sunday to re-enforce the importance of a New Evangelization. He said "the theology of history was an important, and essential part of the new evangelization, because the men of our time, after the disastrous era of totalitarian empires of the twentieth century, need to find a comprehensive vision of the world and time, a truly free, peaceful vision.”

Turning to the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians for inspiration, the Holy Father explained, it demonstrates that in order to be effective, evangelization needs the power of the spirit.

Drawing his homily to a close the Pope Benedict stressed that "the new evangelizers are called to walk in the Path that is Christ, and to make known to others the beauty of the Gospel that gives life".

As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Sixth Sunday of the Cross, Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, October 16, 2011

Saint of the day: St Longinus, commander of the legion, martyr.

Letter to the Philippians 2:12-18
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 25:1-13
‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, "Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise replied, "No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves." And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us." But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you." Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Fifth Week of the Cross, October 15, 2011

Saint of the day: St Teresa of Avila, doctor of the church, confessor

Book of Revelation 22:16-21
‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 15:8-10
‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost." Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

"I Shall Reach Heaven Before you"

Blessed Estephan Nehme enjoyed the virtue of quietness which has always been a much appreciated asset for a monk. He rarely spoke, and when he did he only said the necessary words with a great deal of reflection. His voice was always low. 

Blessed Brother Estephan Nehme

There was a priest called father Estephan who knew Blessed Estephan Nehme pretty well and he witnessed about him saying: “nobody ever heard any hurtful word or lie from him. If he was ever angry with someone he said: ‘your devil burn in hell’, and I heard this word from him many times. Once I asked him: brother and teacher Estephan did the devil do anything wrong to you that you always burn it in hell? He answered me nicely with a smile and said: am I burning it? It will be burning in hell anyway!” 

He used to welcome his brothers the monks warmly with a deep fraternity, and he always had a smiley face and was cheerful, nobody ever witnessed him being angry. He always accepted happily the advices and opinions from his superiors with calmness. He always made people who meet him smile, and everyone who dealt with him was extremely pleased. 

Blessed Estephan was also much appreciated and loved by his brothers the monks and he was very close to them. He never hesitated to help and assist anyone who asked him, and joked nicely with them and they also joked often with him. 

On the eve of the ordainment of the man of God father Youssef Kairuz a priest, he came to brother Estephan joking and said to him:”brother Estephan, this is the last night that you can call me brother, tomorrow I shall become a priest and be more important than you” but brother Estephan answered him also with a joke saying:” do you think that priests can reach heaven before brothers? I shall reach heaven before you.”

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Fifth Week of the Cross, October 14, 2011

Saint of the day: St Isaiah the monk, confessor

Book of Revelation 21:22-27, 22:1-5
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practises abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 15:3-7
So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost." Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Fifth Week of the Cross, October 13, 2011

Book of Revelation 21:1-12, 14
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.’ Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 13:6-9
Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, "See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?" He replied, "Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down." ’

The Pope's General Audience on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pope Benedict has expressed his sorrow at last Sunday’s violence which took place in Egypt’s capital and called for a peaceful co-existence to be upheld between all communities in the country.The Holy Father made the appeal on Wednesday during his General Audience.

Thousands of pilgrims and tourists from as far away as Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and the United States took up their positions in an autumnal St Peter’s Square for the Pope’s weekly General Audience

It was against the unmistakable backdrop of St Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday that the Holy Father spoke of his deep sadness at the violence which engulfed the Egyptian capital Cairo last Sunday.

26 people mostly Coptic Christians where killed when a peaceful protest by Christians demonstrating over an earlier attack on a church in southern Egypt turned violent.

The Pope said he was united in sorrow with the families of the victims and with the Egyptian people, who he said, were being torn apart by attempts to undermine the peaceful co-existence between communities in the country.

Pope Benedict underlined the importance of preserving that co-existence, especially he said, at this time of transition and he urged the faithful to pray , so that Egypt can enjoy a true peace based on justice, respect for freedom and the dignity of every citizen.

The Holy Father also expressed his support for the efforts of the Egyptian authorities, both civil and religious, to bring about a society which respects the human rights of all its citizens and, in particular, minorities.

During the Audience those waiting to hear the next installment of the Pope’s catechesis on Christian prayer were not disappointed. This week Pope Benedict turned to Psalm 126.

“This Psalm is a joyful prayer of thanksgiving for God’s fidelity to his promises in bringing about Israel’s return from the Babylonian Exile: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced” A similar spirit of joy and thanksgiving should mark our own prayer as we recall the care which God has shown to us in the events of our lives, even those which seem dark and bitter.”

The Holy Father went on to explain that the Psalm demonstrates our faithful passage from darkness to light.

“The Psalmist implores God to continue to grant Israel his saving help: “May those who sow in tears, reap with shouts of joy” This imagery of the seed which silently grows to maturity reminds us that God’s salvation is at once a gift already received and the object of our hope, a promise whose fulfilment remains in the future. Jesus will use this same imagery to express the passage from death to life, from darkness to light, which must take place in the lives of all who put their faith in him and share in his paschal mystery.”

Also making reference to Psalm 126 and speaking off the cuff in Italian the Pope said it was important to remember the good things we are given by God, because it is these gifts that can sustain us in dark times.

Before giving greetings in English to visitors including members of the NATO Defence College, the Pope and the whole of St Peter’s Square was treated to a performance by St Mary’s Cathedral Choir who had come all the way from Sydney Australia.

As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Fifth Week of the Cross, October 11, 2011

Saint of the day: St Edno, martyr

Book of Revelation 19:1-2, 5-9, 11-13, 16
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for his judgements are true and just; he has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’ And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’ Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure’ for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 12:16-21
Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?" Then he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry." But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’

Getting Closer to God

After that Saint Rafqa has left her parental house for the convent of the Mariamites, she knew quietness and peace. Her aim was to see God, but in order to see him she had to die. This death was first of all the renouncement of everything that had to do with the world, including the good and bad things of life. 

A picture of Saint Rafqa
during her young age

The one that she has chosen as a unique subject for her love and her life, has remained in her as he has promised her (John 15:4), he separated her from everything even from her own self. 

God was revealing himself to Rafqa through the difficulties and pains of life, just as he revealed himself in the bush in front of Moses. That bush, that flame, the mighty God who is present and who is revealing his presence in the ardent bush for Moses, was for Boutrossiyé revealing himself in a bush full of thorns and rigor. But this bush was also full of divine and perfect love for the girl who listened to the call. Her soul returned a pure and perfect love to God through the thorns and difficulties. 

The difficulties that Boutrossiyé endured during her life, just as Moses did, were a preparation for her for the big and serious matters. God started the law with thorns, he started the grace with thorns, and concluded everything on the cross. Therefore thorns and cross are proper things to the grace and love of Jesus. 

“The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of” (revelation 12:6), that was the behavior of young Boutrossiyé who separated herself from her parents, friends and people, leaving everything that had to do with this world.