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Pentecost: A Beautiful Illumination. Does your heart long for beauty?

On first sight of this painting, my heart skipped a beat and caught my breath for just a few moments. This has only ever happened to me once before, in Rome at the Northern Gate, at the church just inside the gate on the right hand side. It was there that we were blessed to join in the celebration of a Baptism.

There,  I came upon a painting of Our Lady at the Annunciation and its beauty brought me to tears in an instant. The shadow of the Divine was in that painting……..just as it is here in this one. I felt it at the core of my being.

I am an artist in waiting , painting and creating along the journey of Life. Searching for the Divine in the beauty of Christian art. This is one example of just one of those paintings. The exciting thing is that there is much beauty to discover and reflect upon. (This is one endeavour on my bucket list)

In her post, Elizabeth Scalia praises the merits of the little publication MAGNIFICAT. Not only does this reach out to adults but to children also. Take a peek at MAGNIFIKID . The slogan for the Magnifikid copy is encouraging: ‘To bring the Mass and prayer closer to the children’.

By Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress)

I first saw this beautiful painting and the reflection when visiting the blog CATHOLIC PURE AND SIMPLE

Illumination from Hours of the Usage of Rome, French School, 16th Century

Illumination from Hours of the Usage of Rome, French School, 16th Century

Sometimes the heart just longs for beauty. June’s cover of Magnificat Magazine took my breath away. That’s “Pentecost” an illumination from a book of Hours from the 16th Century, and this is what Pierre-Marie Dumont writes of it:

Shown at prayer, Mary intercedes for her “daughter” [the church] at the moment of her birth at Pentecost, just as she will constantly intercede for her to the end of time. Kneeling in the right foreground is Saint Peter, the first pope, wearing the mozetta in cloth of gold. Opposite him is Saint John, a handsome reddish-blond young man. In the middle ground, between Mary and Peter, stands Saint James. The first bishop of the Church, in the see of Jerusalem, he is recognizable by his ermine mozetta, symbol of the episcopacy. In a most stunning way, all are clad in white. For, at Pentecost, the Apostles underwent a kind of baptism. Like catechumens, they have cast off their old clothes to be robed anew in white. Through this divestiture and reclothing, the artist seeks to express a radical change in function and vocation; to receive this immaculate uniform is a royal, priestly and prophetic investiture. But further, the artist represents a gathering in the Upper Room where all are clothed in “dazzling white” (Luke 9:29) just as Christ at the Transfiguration…the miniaturist here offers us a vision of the glory of the Church, encapsulating at the same time both its divine origins as well as its fulfillment as the Body of Christ.

I love it. And for me the Magnificat is invaluable.

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‘Blessed are you for Believing.’

As part of the Year of Faith, the theme of this year’s Marian Day is ‘Blessed are you for Believing.’ 

Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13th as part of Marian Day celebrations that will involve the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
The statue is normally kept in the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal but will be in Rome this weekend for the consecration which is one of the highlights of the ongoing Year of Faith.
Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children in the village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She warned of violent trials in the twentieth century if the world did not make reparation for sins. She urged prayer and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

The statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

The  shrine at Fatima  where Our Lady appeared to the visionaries.

The shrine at Fatima where Our Lady appeared to the visionaries.

med_2011012511_pastorinhos_09Lúcia dos Santos with fellow visionaries Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

2011015800_fatima_01b

The Basilica at Fatima.

It is hoped that the Year of Faith, declared by Pope Benedict XVI, has helped us to deepen this great gift which we can easily take for granted. The apostles begged the Lord to increase their faith as they knew Faith’s paramount importance in their relationship with Jesus. Jesus assures them and us that it takes only a little Faith, the size of a mustard seed, to make the impossible possible. Without doubt we need Faith to help us face the hostile atmosphere we often find ourselves surrounded with – life without God, love, hope and purpose. Faith, Hope and Charity (Love) make all the difference in our dealings with many who have lost the reason to live. We need that Faith which the apostles prayed for, so that we may be strengthened to stand firm and be of help to those who have lost faith in God, man/woman and themselves. Rightly it has been said, “the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4)

Adoration with Pope Francis.

Each one of us is a co-worker of Christ - we must labor hard to carry Him to the hearts where He has not yet been known and loved...But, unless we have Jesus, we cannot give Him; that is why we need the Eucharist. Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power. - Blessed Mother Teresa

Each one of us is a co-worker of Christ – we must labor hard to carry Him to the hearts where He has not yet been known and loved…But, unless we have Jesus, we cannot give Him; that is why we need the Eucharist. Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power. – Blessed Mother Teresa

On Sunday June 2, 2013 at 5 pm Rome time, Pope Francis will preside at a special hour of Eucharistic adoration in St Peter’s Square in Rome on the afternoon of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
adoration_pope-francis

This year the Pope has added a special theme to this day : “One Lord, One Faith”, to testify to the deep unity that characterizes it. “It will be an event, occurring for the first time in the history of the Church, which is why we can describe it as ‘historical’, says Archbishop Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. The cathedrals of the world will be synchronized with Rome and will, for an hour, be in communion with the Pope in Eucharistic adoration.

The Archbishop says there has been an incredible response to this initiative, going beyond the cathedrals and involving episcopal conferences, parishes, lay associations, and religious congregations, especially cloistered ones.”

Because the Year of Faith is meant “to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed and also the source from which all its power flows” the Pope has asked that this initiative be extended to as many parishes as possible throughout the world.

Pope Francis has two intentions for this one hour which are: 

“For the Church spread throughout the world and united today in the adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist as a sign of unity.

May the Lord make her ever more obedient to hearing His Word in order to stand before the world ‘ever more beautiful, without stain or blemish, but holy and blameless.’

That through her faithful announcement, the Word that saves may still resonate as the bearer of mercy and may increase love to give full meaning to pain and suffering, giving back joy and serenity.”

Pope Francis’ second intention is:

“For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labour.
For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence. May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence.

For all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization.

That the Church’s prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity.”

Further information can be found on the Year of Faith website, at www.annusfidei.va. 

Fresco, San Marco, Florence- scene from the Last Supper.

Fresco, San Marco, Florence- scene from the Last Supper.

 

It’s Official!

(I found this  photo at Catholicseeking)

Dear friends, we show you the official photo of Pope Francis, with his signature. In the crucifix is the image of Jesus the “good shepherd”, carrying the sheep on his shoulders, with the flock following him.

The word ‘pastor’ ‘ comes from the Latin word for shepherd. This is one of the earliest Christian portrayals of the Good Shepherd: a statue found in the Catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome, from the third century.

A personal photo of this statue to be found at th

A personal photo of this statue at the Catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome.

Christ calls all out to all his sheep, especially those who are lost in any way, or those who feel lost. May we all be good shepherds, in helping to make all those on the outside feel, and know, that they belong inside the fold.

Francisco and the media.

Full Text of Papa’s meeting the press. Good things to come. I just know it! (Bold text-my highlights)

images (12)

‘Dear friends…’ what a great way to greet the press!

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, I am pleased to meet all of you who have worked here in Rome throughout this intense period which began with the unexpected announcement made by my venerable Predecessor Benedict XVI on 11 February last. To each of you I offer a cordial greeting.

The role of the mass media has expanded immensely in these years, so much so that they are an essential means of informing the world about the events of contemporary history. I would like, then, to thank you in a special way for the professional coverage which you provided during these days – you really worked, didn’t you? – when the eyes of the whole world, and not just those of Catholics, were turned to the Eternal City and particularly to this place which has as its heart the tomb of Saint Peter. Over the past few weeks, you have had to provide information about the Holy See and about the Church, her rituals and traditions, her faith and above all the role of the Pope and his ministry.

I am particularly grateful to those who viewed and presented these events of the Church’s history in a way which was sensitive to the right context in which they need to be read, namely that of faith. Historical events almost always demand a nuanced interpretation which at times can also take into account the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly no more intricate than political or economic events! But they do have one particular underlying feature: they follow a pattern which does not readily correspond to the “worldly” categories which we are accustomed to use, and so it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wider and more varied public. The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity.

Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Successor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist. As Benedict XVI frequently reminded us, Christ is present in Church and guides her. In everything that has occurred, the principal agent has been, in the final analysis, the Holy Spirit. He prompted the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church; he guided the Cardinals in prayer and in the election.

It is important, dear friends, to take into due account this way of looking at things, this hermeneutic, in order to bring into proper focus what really happened in these days.

All of this leads me to thank you once more for your work in these particularly demanding days, but also to ask you to try to understand more fully the true nature of the Church, as well as her journey in this world, with her virtues and her sins, and to know the spiritual concerns which guide her and are the most genuine way to understand her. Be assured that the Church, for her part, highly esteems your important work. At your disposal you have the means to hear and to give voice to people’s expectations and demands, and to provide for an analysis and interpretation of current events. Your work calls for careful preparation, sensitivity and experience, like so many other professions, but it also demands a particular concern for what is true, good and beautiful. This is something which we have in common, since the Church exists to communicate precisely this: Truth, Goodness and Beauty “in person”. It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness.

Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!

peace-prayer

Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes. I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know ever better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich reality of the Church’s life. I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and with cordial good wishes for you and your families, each of your families. I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.

I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing. Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each, but in the knowledge that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you!

578014_515915691784953_1055703300_n

 

A cardinal is off to the Conclave…

Image@catholicmemesfacebook

Image@catholicmemesfacebook

Week of prayer for Christian unity: What does God require of us?

Week of prayer for Christian unity 2013

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013 comes to us from an ecumenical group in South India. They have reflected upon their own context and offer to us a theme that calls us to respond to the obligations to act justly in the world. The text is taken from Micah 6.6-8.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul. However, some areas observe it at Pentecost or some other time. To allow for local decision making, the material has only the year on it and the days are denoted by the numbers one to eight, so you can use it at any time of year.

An interesting document I found on the website for Churches together in Britain and Ireland. I’ve highlighted the themes decided upon for the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. I love the fact that decisions  about the themes and prayers etc, are made in so many different countries from all sides of the globe. This years resources have been collated in India.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 1

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

THEMES 1968-2012: I find these inspirational to say the least, AND KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 

In 1968, materials jointly prepared by the WCC Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were first used.

1968 To the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1: 14)  Pour la louange de sa gloire

1969 Called to freedom (Galatians 5: 13)  Appelés à la liberté  (Preparatory meeting held in Rome, Italy)

1970 We are fellow workers for God (1 Corinthians 3: 9)  Nous sommes les coopérateurs de Dieu (Preparatory meeting held at the Monastery of Niederaltaich, Federal Republic of Germany)

1971 …and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13: 13)  et la communion du Saint-Esprit

1972  I give you a new commandment (John 13: 34)    (Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1973  Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11: 1) (Preparatory meeting held at the Abbey of Montserrat, Spain)

1974 That every tongue confess: Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2: 1-13) (Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1975  God’s purpose: all things in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-10)  (Material from an Australian group. Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1976  We shall be like him (1 John 3: 2) or, Called to become what we are Appelés a devenir ce que nous sommes (Material from Caribbean Conference of Churches. Preparatory meeting held in Rome, Italy)

1977 Enduring together in hope (Romans 5: 1-5)  (Material from Lebanon, in the midst of a civil war. Preparatory meeting held in Geneva)

1978  No longer strangers (Ephesians 2: 13-22) Vous n’êtes plus des étrangers  (Material from an ecumenical team in Manchester, England)  1979 Serve one another to the glory of God (l Peter 4: 7-11)  Soyez au service les uns des autres pour la gloire de Dieu  (Material from Argentina – preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 2

1980 Your kingdom come (Matthew 6: 10) Que ton règne vienne! (Material from an ecumenical group in Berlin,

German Democratic Republic -preparatory meeting held in Milan)

1981 One Spirit – many gifts – one body (1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13)  Un seul esprit – des dons divers – un seul corps

(Material from Graymoor Fathers, USA – preparatory  meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1982  May all find their home in you, O Lord (Psalm 84)  Que tous trouvent leur demeure en Toi, Seigneur  (Material from Kenya – preparatory meeting held in Milan, Italy)

1983  Jesus Christ – the Life of the World (1 John 1: 1-4)  Jesus Christ – La Vie du Monde  (Material from an ecumenical group in Ireland – preparatory meeting

held in Céligny (Bossey), Switzerland)

1984  Called to be one through the cross of our Lord (1 Cor 2: 2 and Col 1: 20)  Appelés à l’unité par la croix de notre Seigneur (Preparatory meeting held in Venice, Italy)

1985  From death to life with Christ (Ephesians 2: 4-7)
De la mort à la vie avec le Christ (Material from Jamaica – preparatory meeting held in Grandchamp, Switzerland)

1986  You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1: 6-8)  Vous serez mes témoins (Material from Yugoslavia (Slovenia), preparatory meeting held in Yugoslavia)

1987  United in Christ – a New Creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17-6: 4a)  Unis dans le Christ – une nouvelle création  (Material from England, preparatory meeting held in Taizé, France)

1988  The love of God casts out fear (1 John 4: 18)  L’Amour de Dieu bannit la Crainte  (Material from Italy – preparatory meeting held in Pinerolo, Italy)

1989 Building community: one body in Christ (Romans 12: 5-6a)  Bâtir la communauté: Un seul corps en Christ

(Material from Canada – preparatory meeting held in Whaley Bridge, England)

1990 That they all may be one…That the world may believe (John 17)  Que tous soient un…Afin que le monde croie (Material from Spain – preparatory meeting held in Madrid, Spain)

1991  Praise the Lord, all you nations! (Psalm 117 and Romans 15: 5-13) Nations, louez toutes le Seigneur (Material from Germany – preparatory meeting held in Rotenburg  an der Fulda, Federal Republic of Germany)

1992 I am with you always … Go, therefore (Matthew 28: 16-20) Je suis avec vous…allez donc  (Material from Belgium – preparatory meeting held in Bruges, Belgium)

1993 Bearing the fruit of the Spirit for Christian unity (Galatians 5: 22-23)  Pour l’unité: laisser mûrir en nous les fruits de l’Esprit Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 3 (Material from Zaire – preparatory meeting held near Zurich, Switzerland)

1994 The household of God: called to be one in heart and mind (Acts 4: 23-37)  La maison de Dieu: Appelés à être un dans le coeur et dans l’esprit  (Material from Ireland – preparatory meeting held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

1995 Koinonia: communion in God and with one another (John 15: 1-17)  La koinonia: communion en Dieu et les uns avec les autres  (Material from Faith and Order, preparatory meeting held in Bristol, England)

1996 Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3: 14-22) Je me tiens à la porte et je frappe  (Preparatory material from Portugal, meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal)

1997 We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5: 20)  Au nom du Christ, laissez-vous réconcilier avec Dieu  (Material from Nordic Ecumenical Council, preparatory meeting held in Stockholm, Sweden)

1998 The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8: 14-27)  L’Esprit aussi vient en aide à notre faiblesse  (Preparatory material from France, meeting held in Paris, France)

1999  He will dwell with them as their God, they will be his peoples  (Revelation 21: 1-7)  Dieu demeurera avec eux. Ils seront ses peuples  et lui sera le Dieu qui est avec eux  (Preparatory material from Malaysia, meeting held in Monastery of Bose, Italy)

2000  Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-14)  Béni soit Dieu, qui nous a bénis en Christ (Preparatory material from the Middle East Council of Churches, meeting  held La Verna, Italy)

2001 I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (John 14: 1-6) Je suis le chemin, et la vérité et la vie  (Preparatory material from Romania and meeting held at Vulcan, Romania)

2002 For with you is the fountain of life (Psalm 36: 5-9)  Car chez toi est la fontaine de la vie (Psalm 35, 6-10)

(Preparatory material CEEC and CEC, meeting near Augsburg, Germany)

2003 We have this treasure in clay jars (2 Corinthians 4: 4-18)  Car nous avons ce trésor dans des vases d’argile

(Preparatory material churches in Argentina, meeting at Los Rubios, Spain)

2004 My peace I give to you (John 14: 23-31; John 14: 27)  Je vous donne ma paix

(Preparatory material from Aleppo, Syria – meeting in Palermo, Sicily)

2005 Christ, the one foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3 1-23)  Le Christ, unique fondement de l’Eglise

(Preparatory material from Slovakia – meeting in Piestaňy, Slovakia)

2006  Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them  (Matthew 18: 18-20)  Là où deux ou trois se trouvent réunis en mon nom, je suis au milieu d’eux. (Preparatory material from Ireland – meeting held in Prosperous, Co. Kildare, Ireland) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

http://www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 4

2007  He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak (Mark 7: 31-37) Il fait entendre les sourds et parler les muets  (Preparatory material from South Africa – meeting held in Faverges, France)

2008 Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: (12a) 13b-18) Priez sans cesse  (Preparatory material from USA – meeting held in Graymoor, Garrison, USA) 

2009 That they may become one in your hand (Ezekiel 37: 15-28)  Ils seront unis dans ta main  (Preparatory material from Korea – meeting held in Marseilles, France)  

2010 You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24: 48)  de tout cela, c’est vous qui êtes les témoins  (Preparatory material from Scotland – meeting held in Glasgow, Scotland) 

2011 One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42) Unis dans l’enseignement des apôtres, la communion fraternelle, la fraction du pain et la prière  (Preparatory material from Jerusalem – meeting held in Saydnaya, Syria) 

2012 We will all be Changed by the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15: 51-58) « Tous, nous serons transformés par la victoire de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ  TITRE FRANÇAIS EN ATTENTE DE CONFIRMATION  (Preparatory material from Poland – meeting held in Warsaw, Poland)
KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
c.1740 In Scotland a Pentecostal movement arose, with North American links, whose
revivalist message included prayers for and with all churches.

1820 The Rev. James Haldane Stewart publishes “Hints for the General Union of Christians for the Outpouring of the Spirit”.

1840 The Rev. Ignatius Spencer, a convert to Roman Catholicism, suggests a ‘Union of Prayer for Unity’.

1867 The First Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops emphasizes prayer for unity in the Preamble to its Resolutions. 

1894 Pope Leo XIII encourages the practice of a Prayer Octave for Unity in the context of Pentecost.

1908 First observance of the ‘Church Unity Octave’ initiated by the Rev. Paul Wattson.

1926 The Faith and Order movement begins publishing “Suggestions for an Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity”.

1935 Abbé Paul Couturier of France advocates the ‘Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ on the inclusive basis of prayer for “the unity Christ wills by the means he wills”.

1958 Unité Chrétienne (Lyons, France) and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches begin co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity http://www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 5

1964 In Jerusalem, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I prayed together Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one” (John 17).

1964 The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II emphasizes that prayer is the soul of the ecumenical movement and encourages observance of the Week of Prayer.

1966 The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity] begin official joint preparation of the Week of Prayer material.

1968 First official use of Week of Prayer material prepared jointly by Faith and Order and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity]

1975 First use of Week of Prayer material based on a draft text prepared by a local ecumenical group. An Australian group was the first to take up this plan in preparing the 1975 initial draft.

1988 Week of Prayer materials were used in the inaugural worship for The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which links the major Christian groupings in that country.

1994 International group preparing text for 1996 included representatives from YMCA and YWCA.

2004 Agreement reached that resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity be
jointly published and produced in the same format by Faith and Order (WCC) and
the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Catholic Church).

2008 Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (Its predecessor, the Church Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908)

TE DEUM(a solemn psalm of praise), in thanksgiving for the end of the year.

It’s a Catholic custom that deserves to be maintained, that of praying the Te Deum (a solemn psalm of praise) on New Year’s Eve in recognition of the grace bestowed on us throughout the year that is ending.

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(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily for Solemn First Vespers for the Feast of Mary the Mother of God (Monday, 31 Dec 2012): (emphasis mine)

Venerable brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood, Distinguished authorities, 

Dear brothers and sisters,

I thank all of you who have chosen to participate in this liturgy of the last hour of the year of the Lord 2012. This “hour” bears a particular intensity and becomes, in a sense, a synthesis of all the hours of the year that is about to come to an end. I cordially greet the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, and especially the many people from the ecclesial community of Rome. In a special way I greet the Authorities present, beginning with the Mayor of the City, and thank them for choosing to share with us this moment of prayer and thanksgiving to God.


The “Te Deum” that we raise to the Lord this evening, at the end of a calendar year, is a hymn of thanksgiving that opens with the praise – “We praise you, O God, we proclaim you to be the Lord” – and ends with a profession of faith – “You are our hope, we will not be confounded forever.” For all that came to pass over the course of the year, whether easy or difficult, barren or fruitful, we give thanks to God. The Te Deum, in fact, contains a profound wisdom, the wisdom that makes us say that, despite everything, there is good in the world, and this good is destined to triumph, thanks God, the God of Jesus Christ, who became incarnate, died, and rose again. Certainly, it is difficult, sometimes, to accept this profound reality, since evil makes more noise than the good: a brutal murder, the spread of violence, serious injustices make the news. Gestures of love and service, on the contrary, daily struggles endured with patience and fidelity are often left in the shadows. And this is why we cannot rely solely on the news if we want to understand the world and life. We must be able to remain in silence, in meditation, in calm and prolonged reflection; we must know how to stop and think. In this way, our mind can find healing from the inevitable wounds of daily life, can go deeper into the events that occur in our lives and in the world, and come to the knowledge that allows us to evaluate things with new eyes.
Especially in the recollection of conscience, where God speaks to us, we learn to look truthfully at our own actions, even at the evil within us and around us, to begin a journey of conversion that makes us wiser and better, more capable of creating solidarity and communion, of overcoming evil with good.

The Christian is a man of hope, even and especially in the face of the darkness that often exists in the world, not as a consequence of God’s plans, but because of the wrong choices of man, because the Christian knows that the power of faith can move mountains ( cf. Mt 17:20): the Lord can brighten even the deepest darkness.


The Year of Faith, which the Church is living, should arouse in the heart of each believer a greater awareness that the encounter with Christ is the source of true life and a solid hope. Faith in Jesus allows a constant renewal of goodness and of the ability to rise from the quicksand of sin and to begin anew. In the Word made flesh is possible, to rediscover the true identity of man, who finds himself destined for the infinite love of God and called to a personal communion with Him. This truth, that Jesus Christ came to reveal, is the certainty that drives us to face with confidence the year we are about to begin.


The Church, which has received from her Lord the mission to evangelize, knows well that the Gospel is for all people, especially the younger generations, to quench that thirst for truth that everyone carries in his heart and that is often obscured by all those things that occupy life. This apostolic commitment is all the more necessary when the faith risks being obscured in cultural contexts which hinder its personal roots and its social presence. Rome, too, is a city where the Christian faith must be proclaimed again and again and witnessed in a credible manner. On the one hand, there is the growing number of believers of other religions, the difficulties parish communities have in attracting young people, the spread of lifestyles marked by individualism and moral relativism; on the other, the quest, in so many people, for a sense of their own existence and for a hope that will not disappoint, that cannot leave us indifferent. Like the Apostle Paul (cf. Rom 1:14-15) all the faithful of this city should consider themselves under obligation of the Gospel towards the other inhabitants!
For this reason, for several years now, our Diocese has been committed to highlighting the missionary dimension of ordinary pastoral care, so that the faithful, supported especially by the Sunday Eucharist, can become disciples and coherent witnesses of Jesus Christ. Christian parents, who are for their children the primary educators in the faith, are called in a special way to this coherence in their lives. The complexity of life in a great city like Rome and in a culture that often seems indifferent to God, demands that we not leave fathers and mothers alone in so crucial a task, but rather that we support and accompany them in their spiritual life. In this regard, I encourage those who work in family ministry to implement the pastoral activities that emerged from the last Diocesan Convention, dedicated to baptismal and post-baptismal pastoral care. It requires a generous commitment to develop the paths of spiritual formation that after the baptism of children will go with the parents in order to keep the flame of faith alive, offering concrete suggestions so that, from an early age, the Gospel of Jesus will be announced. The emergence of groups of families, in which the Word of God is heard and the experiences of Christian life are shared helps to strengthen the sense of belonging to the ecclesial community and to grow in friendship with the Lord. It is also important to build a relationship of cordial friendship with those of the faithful who, after having baptized their child, distracted by the demands of everyday life, do not show great interest in living this experience: they will be able to experience the love of the Church, as a caring mother, stands by them to promote their spiritual life.


In order to proclaim the Gospel and to allow those who still do not know Jesus, or have abandoned Him, to cross again the threshold of faith and live in communion with God, it is essential to know in depth the meaning of the truths contained in the Profession of Faith. The commitment to a systematic training of pastoral workers, which for some years now has taken place in the various prefectures of the Diocese of Rome, is a valuable tool that must be pursued with commitment in the future, in order to form lay people who know how to echo the Gospel in every house and in every room, even in those listening centres that have brought so much fruit since the time of the city Missions. In this respect, the “Dialogues in the Cathedral,” which have been held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for some years, constitute a particularly appropriate experience to encounter the City and to dialogue with those who seek God and truth, and who are inquiring into the into the great questions of human existence.


As in the past, so today the Church of Rome is called to announce and to tirelessly witness to the riches of the Gospel of Christ. It must do so also by supporting the many people living in situations of poverty and marginalization, as well as families in need, especially when they have to assist sick and disabled people. I hope very much that the Institutions at various levels will not allow their activities to cease, so that all citizens might have access to what is essential to a dignified life.


Dear friends, on the last night of the year that is coming to an end, and at the threshold of the new, let us praise the Lord! Let us show to “He who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8) repentance and asking for forgiveness for their offenses, as well as the sincere thanks for the countless benefits granted by the divine goodness. In particular, we give thanks for the grace and truth that have come to us through Jesus Christ. In Him the fullness of all human time is placed. The future of every human being is kept safe in him. In Him, the fulfilment of the hopes of the Church and of the world comes true. Amen.

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Don Bosco relics to visit Southwark, January 2013

Friend of the young

Friend of the young

Here are the details about the relics tour.

Who are the Salesians?

The Salesians of Don Bosco are an international Roman Catholic Religious Order dedicated to be signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are disadvantaged.

The Salesian family (made up of Priests, Brothers and Sisters as well as others, such as volunteers and past pupils), continues the work of its founder, Saint John Bosco, a priest who served the young and poor. Today the Salesians have projects such as schools, youth centres, homes for street children and vocational training centres.

Saint John Bosco has inspired thousands of people, young and old, priests, brothers, sisters and lay people, to strive for holiness in their lives. The Church has recognised many of them as outstanding in holiness and deserving the titles of Saint, Blessed, Venerable or Servant of God.

We, too, can be inspired by reading about their lives. The short accounts which appear on these pages are based on those appearing on the web site of the Salesians in Rome

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Living ‘in the middle’, in between and keeping the peace.

I pick up on a line of thought from a post over at the Foraging Squirrel that got my juices flowing and my mind ticking so much so, that I thought I’d follow suit  with my version of having ‘lived in the middle.’

I hail from the Rainbow nation of South Africa – that beautiful country on the Southern most tip of Africa. I grew up during the 60’s , 70’s , 80’s in a country wracked with racial tension, discrimination and later on violent overspill from the townships. In the late 70’s I met my spouse, whose family had decided to make the life-changing move to South Africa as Mozambique was in the throws of a civil war. The Portuguese/Mozambican settlers experienced their fair share of discrimination in their places of work, schools and in society in general as they had moved into a nation laced with suspicion of ‘outsiders’ and a  racist world-view that overshadowed every part of life. My spouse was not spared from discrimination, and yes sadly, did experience some tough times with the older members of my family. I was for the purposes of this post caught ‘in the middle’ here. Although I knew exactly where my loyalty rested, I had to make some difficult decisions about my relationship with my partner, bite the bullet and face the music head on.

Neslon Mandela (Madiba) in his old jail cell on Robben Island.

We celebrated the birth of our first-born in 1990 the year that Madiba (Nelson Mandela) was released from 27 years of incarceration on Robben Island, a momentous year for both  our family and our nation. The majority of my family leaned to the right politically with individual members veering off to the left. At this juncture of my life I ‘d planted myself firmly ‘in the middle’ politically. In retrospect, I was not as involved or informed on the political front as I could’ve been but I was certainly caught up in the day-to-day relationships with fellow citizens whose political stances swayed back and forth with varying amounts of force and in different directions.  As far as my Faith Journey is concerned, I considered myself to be a ‘good Catholic’, as I attended Mass weekly, made sure that we baptised our children and said my prayers regularly. This holy engine was kept running quietly in the background of a very busy life. It was not as yet, at the forefront of our lives.

The escalating violence and the stress of living in a society wrought with poverty of the majority and two small children forced our hand as parents to make the excruciating decision to move to the U.K. (Excruciating for me, as I left my entire extended family behind). This decision proved to be challenging on many levels. At this juncture we faced criticism  and bias about our decision, but knew that our decision was made out of love for our children (and our own emotional well-being), looking forward to the positive prospects and opportunities for them in a ‘first world’ country.

The first two to three years after our big move was testament to our blood sweat and tears in establishing new roots in a new community and culture. The one constant in our life, our Faith and Worship, was continued uninterrupted at our local parish. Our TRUE NORTH. It provided us with moral reassurances and spiritual support we so needed and was the one place where we fitted in without having to prove our worth. We were lucky that our children had received places in excellent local Catholic schools.  For me, the holy engine of Faith was becoming more of the motor for sustained living  which continues to drive our decision-making. It rose up on the horizon as a beacon of Light and Love and Sustenance, as I began to become more involved in the life of our parish.

As I ‘ve matured both in years as well as along my journey of Faith my world view is decided by the tenets upheld by  the Faith and my relationship with God. England is a secular country, boasting secular values and ways of life. Living here has brought Faith issues to the fore and continues to do so on a daily basis. Because of this I ‘ve had to make a conscious decision about how I am to live as a Catholic Christian. There’s no room to manoeuvre half-heartedly through the secular mazes I’m confronted with from day-to-day. I’ve had to make my position as a Christian quite clear, and for me there’s no going back on this. It’s too important.

This brings me to an experience which relates indirectly to the post referred to at the Foraging Squirrel called ‘Where’s the Love?‘. About three years ago I was approached by a fellow Catholic who was searching for reasons to remain Catholic. From her perspective , the Church held no convincing reasons for her to remain as a member of it, and it failed dismally in the area of  ‘hands-on Christianity’ that her fiance’s denomination provided. She approached me and a myriad of others  for advice and conversation around these issues, finally deciding that the Catholic Church was no longer for her. We know her family well and I had developed a professional relationship her through our work. The weight of her decision fell heavily on the shoulders of her family, and I floundered as I didn’t seem to have the answers she wanted to hear or needed to hear at the time. A few weeks after she’d made her decision, we received an invitation to her ‘baptism’. I was flabbergasted and very uncomfortable. Attending the baptism would validate her decision, show our support of her decision and negate all of the soul-searching we’d done. It would place us as Catholics in ‘no-man’s-land’. Neither here no there.  After careful consideration and debate, the fact that she’d already been Baptised swayed us to make the decision not to attend the baptism. Once Baptised always Baptised. You cannot be Baptised again. In this situation we were forced to show our hand as Catholics, there was no middle ground.

I think about her often, and wonder where she’s at. I do not regret our decision, but it was not as straightforward as one might initially think it to be. There are many factors to consider, least of which was her feelings, and those of her parents. I pray that one day she’ll understand and appreciate our stance and perhaps one day, she’ll return from across the other side of the Tiber.

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IMG_0413 (Photo credit: NVinacco)