Browsing News Entries

Mon 24 January

Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop, DoctorOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | MassSt Francis de Sales (1567 - 1622) He was born near Annecy, in Savoy, studied the law, and was ordained to the priesthood despite the opposition of his father. His first mission was to re-evangelize the people of his home district (the Chablais), who had gone over to Calvinism. Always in danger of his life from hostile Calvinists, he preached with such effectiveness that after four years most of the people had returned to the Church. He was then appointed bishop of Geneva, and spent the rest of his life reforming and reorganising the diocese, and in caring for the souls of his people by preaching and spiritual guidance.St Francis taught that we can all attain a devout and spiritual life, whatever our position in society: holiness is not reserved for monks and hermits alone. He wrote that “religious devotion does not destroy: it perfects,” and his spiritual counsel is dedicated to making people more holy by making them more themselves. In his preaching against Calvinism he was driven by love rather than a desire to win: so much so, that it was a Calvinist minister who said “if we honoured anyone as a saint, I know of no-one since the days of the Apostles more worthy of it than this man.”St Francis is the patron saint of writers and journalists, who would do well to imitate his love and his moderation: as he said, “whoever wants to preach effectively must preach with love.”

Sun 16 January

2nd Sunday in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Saint Fursa or Fursey (- c.650)) Born in Ireland, Saint Fursey established a monastery at Rathmat, on the shores of Loch Corrib, and then journeyed to England where he founded another at Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth. He finally crossed over to France and became the abbot-founder of Lagny, near Paris. He was buried in Picardy and his shrine survived until the French Revolution. His life is also famous for his remarkable ecstasies, of which St Bede and others wrote.East Anglian Ordo (Feast of the Santo Niño) The devotion to the Santo Niño (Holy Child) is the oldest and one of the most popular in the Philippines. When Legazpi landed on the island of Cebu in 1565, one of his soldiers found an image of the Child Jesus. It is believed to be the same statue Magellan had given to the wife of the chieftain of the island after her baptism. The image is venerated today in the Basilica of Cebu. For Filipino Catholics the Holy Child represents a God who is accessible to all and can be approached without fear. The devotion instils the virtues of simplicity, obedience, and trust in God. At the same time it calls for mature discipleship and loving service to all.(Saint Joseph Vaz (1651 - 1711)) Joseph Vaz was a missionary born on 21 April 1651 in Goa, India. He died on 16 January 1711 in Kandy, present day Sri Lanka. He was an Oratorian missionary priest. He arrived in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) during the Dutch occupation.The Dutch had expelled the Portuguese who had introduced Catholicism to Sri Lankan. The Dutch then went on to impose Calvinism as the official religion in Sri Lanka. Father Vaz travelled throughout Sri Lanka, bringing the Eucharist and Sacraments to clandestine groups of Catholics. He would sometimes disguise himself as a beggar in order to facilitate his mission. Later, he founded a shelter in the Kingdom of Kandy where he intensified his missionary work of ministering to both the minority Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups. By the time of his death, he had managed to rebuild the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. He was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II on 21 January 1995, in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, and canonized there by Pope Francis on 14 January 2015.

Sun 23 January

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sunday of the Word of God)Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | MassSunday of the Word of God ‘…At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I proposed setting aside “a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people”. Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world…‘Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity.‘The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity. It is important, however, that in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word. On this Sunday, it would be particularly appropriate to highlight the proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honour that it is due. Bishops could celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a similar commissioning of readers, in order to bring out the importance of the proclamation of God’s word in the liturgy. In this regard, renewed efforts should be made to provide members of the faithful with the training needed to be genuine proclaimers of the word, as is already the practice in the case of acolytes or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Pastors can also find ways of giving a Bible, or one of its books, to the entire assembly as a way of showing the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with sacred Scripture, especially through the practice of lectio divina.’The Apostolic Letter "Aperuit Illis" of Pope Francis (Blessed Vincent Lewoniuk and his 12 companions, Martyrs) (St Marianne Cope (1838 - 1918)) Maria Anna Barbara Koob was born in Heppenheim, in Grand Duchy of Hesse, which is now part of Germany, on 23 January 1838. Her family emigrated the following year to Utica, in New York State. The family’s surname was anglicized to Cope.In 1862 she entered the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, after having postponed her entrance nine years in order to work to support her family. She was instrumental in the founding of several schools and hospitals for immigrants. In 1883 she led a group of sisters to the Hawaiian Islands to care for the poor, especially those suffering from leprosy. In 1888 she went to Kalaupapa, Moloka‘i, where she set up a home for girls with leprosy. After the death of Saint Damien de Veuster she also took over the home he built for boys. She died on 9 August, 1918. She was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on 16 May 2005 and canonized by him on 21 October 2012.(Bl. Henry Suso OP ( - 1366)) Dominican Friar and Priest.Blessed Henry Suso was born in Constance-Swabia, Germany, towards the end of the thirteen century and is associated with Meister Eckhart and John Tauler in the school of Dominican spirituality know as the “Rhineland Mystics.” He pursued Divine Wisdom and manifested a great love for the Passion of the Lord. In his writings he taught detachment from all sensible reality and union with God through the contemplation of the perfections and sufferings of Christ. He died in Ulm on January 25, 1366.

Sat 22 January

Saturday of week 2 in Ordinary Time, or Saint Vincent, Deacon, Martyr , or Saturday memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Vincent (- 304)) He was born in Huesca and became a deacon of the church of Saragossa (Zaragoza). He was tortured to death in Valencia, in the persecution of Diocletian. After his death, his cult spread rapidly through the Roman Empire. See the article in Wikipedia.(Saturday memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary) ‘On Saturdays in Ordinary Time when there is no obligatory memorial, an optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary is allowed.‘Saturdays stand out among those days dedicated to the Virgin Mary. These are designated as memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This memorial derives from Carolingian times (9th century), but the reasons for having chosen Saturday for its observance are unknown. While many explanations of this choice have been advanced, none is completely satisfactory from the point of view of the history of popular piety.‘Whatever its historical origins may be, today the memorial rightly emphasizes certain values to which contemporary spirituality is more sensitive. It is a remembrance of the maternal example and discipleship of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, strengthened by faith and hope, on that “great Saturday” on which Our Lord lay in the tomb, was the only one of the disciples to hold vigil in expectation of the Lord’s resurrection. It is a prelude and introduction to the celebration of Sunday, the weekly memorial of the Resurrection of Christ. It is a sign that the Virgin Mary is continuously present and operative in the life of the Church.’Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (2001), §188(Saint Publius) As the Acts of the Apostles narrates, when St Paul and his companions were shipwrecked on Malta, they were welcomed by Publius, the prefect of the island, and entertained hospitably for three days on his estates. St Paul healed his sick father.Publius is revered as the first Bishop of Malta.(Saint Vincent Pallotti, Priest) (Bl. Anthony Della Chiesa OP (1394-1459)) Dominican Friar and Priest.A member of the noble Della Chiesa family, Blessed Anthony was born at San Germano, Italy, in 1394 and received the Dominican habit at Vercelli in 1417. He served as prior in several convents of the Order and labored to restore the regular life. He was known for his gentle, yet firm treatment of human frailty. He died on January 22, 1459.

Fri 21 January

Saint Agnes, Virgin, MartyrOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | MassSt Agnes (- 304) As with so many of the early Roman martyrs, very little is now known about Agnes’ life. Partly this is because the details have been obscured by the light that shines from her martyrdom and the cult that it inspired, and partly because if you are martyred at the age of 12, your life has not really acquired that many details in any case. Agnes was filled with the love of God from an early age, vowed herself to celibacy, and when the opportunity of martyrdom arose, she did not hide away but stepped forward and took it.That is really all that is known: but it is enough. We who are used to compromising with the world at every turn, and would find excuses to avoid any inconveniences that our faith might cause us, let alone martyrdom (“yes, of course I would die for my faith in principle, but wouldn’t I be able to do more good in the long run if I stayed alive just now?”), should admire the simple wisdom of Agnes, realise that there are moments where compromise and moral ambiguity just will not do, and pray for the strength to live up to such moments when they happen. See the article in Wikipedia.

Thu 20 January

Thursday of week 2 in Ordinary Time, or Saint Fabian, Pope, Martyr , or Saint Sebastian, Martyr Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Pope St Fabian (- 250)) He became Pope in 236 and was martyred on 20 January 250, during the persecution of the Emperor Decius. See the articles in Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.(St Sebastian) Nothing is known about St Sebastian except the fact that he was martyred early on in the persecutions of Diocletian. St Ambrose knew of him and states that he was already venerated in Milan in the fourth century. One of the seven chief churches of Rome was built over his grave in 367.All else (his youth, his martyrdom by arrows) is fiction, some of it dating from more than a thousand years after his death. But what we know is what we need to know. For the Christians of the fourth century the important, the true, the sufficient fact about Sebastian was that he was a martyr, and they venerated him as such. It should be enough for us as well. See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.(Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi (1903 - 1964)) Father Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was born in Nigeria in 1903. He was brought up by the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans) and trained as a teacher and a catechist. Later he decided to join the seminary and in 1937 he was ordained a priest. In 1950 he left his Diocese in order to go to England where he joined the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St Bernard, near Nottingham. He had been singled out as the ideal candidate to be trained in England and then return to establish a Trappist Monastery in the Diocese of Onitsha in Nigeria. Fr Tansi lived the monastic life with great faith and humility. Absorbed in prayer, he was a living example of patience and charity. Early in 1964 he was diagnosed with aortic aneurysm and died two weeks later on 20 January 1964. See the article in Wikipedia.(Bl Angelo Paoli (1642-1720)) Angelo Paoli, a professed priest of the Carmelite Order, was born in Tuscany on 1 September 1642. In the convents in which he lived, he served others in a multitude of ways with dedication and humility, and held the post of master of novices several times. Everywhere he sought to help the poor in their need. In 1687 the Prior General called him to Rome, to entrust him with the formation of the novices. A much sought after animator and spiritual director, he devoted himself without reserve to the poor, the sick and the imprisoned, whom he assisted in every way, including by recourse to original and novel initiatives. He established a hospice for the convalescent poor of the hospital of S. Giovanni, in which they could recover their strength in order to rejoin society and the labour market. His devotion to the cross led him to place the sign of Christ in a number of places. He died in Rome on 20 January 1720 in the odour of sanctity. He was beatified on 25 April 2010.Carmelite Proper

Wed 19 January

Wednesday of week 2 in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Wulstan (1008? - 1095)) St Wulstan became a Benedictine monk at Worcester Cathedral priory, and later was made prior. He reformed the monastic observance, and became known as a preacher and counsellor. In 1062 he became Bishop of Worcester and combined effectively the tasks of monastic superior and diocesan bishop. He is the first English bishop known to have made a systematic visitation of his diocese. Together with Lanfranc he was instrumental in abolishing the slave trade from Bristol to Viking Ireland, and later he supported Lanfranc’s policy of reform. He built parish churches and re-founded the monastery at Westbury-on-Trym. He insisted on clerical celibacy, and under him Worcester became one of the most important centres of Old English literature and culture. He was known for his abstinence and generosity to the poor. After the Norman Conquest he remained one of the few Englishmen to retain office. In the Barons’ Rising he was loyal to the Crown and defended the Castle of Worcester against the insurgents. He was buried in his Cathedral, and his cult began almost at once. He was canonised in 1203 and his feast was widely kept in monastic and diocesan calendars. In the Chapel of St Oliver Plunkett at Downside Abbey, a stained glass window depicts a less official story concerning Wulstan: that one day, whilst celebrating Mass, he was distracted by the smell of roast goose, which was wafted into the church from the neighbouring kitchen. He prayed that he might be delivered from the distraction and vowed that he would never eat meat again if his prayer were granted.The modern world needs stories like this more than it realises. The watered-down puritanism that serves so many of us as a moral code today equates pleasure with evil – cream cakes, the advertisements tell us, are “naughty but nice”.. or even “wickedly delicious.” Messages like this are a libel on the name of God, who created the pleasures, and on his Son, whose first recorded public act was turning water into wine. There is nothing wicked about delicious food in itself, or in any other pleasant or beautiful thing. Let us enjoy God’s creation all we can and rejoice in its creator as we do so, and if, like Wulstan, we have to deprive ourselves of something for our spiritual or bodily health, then let us suffer our deprivation cheerfully, blaming the weakness in us that made it necessary. Let us never devalue our sacrifices by denigrating the things we sacrifice, or the sacrifice will be pointless. Let us remember what God did, day after day, as he was creating the world: he looked at it, and saw it, and behold: it was very good.(Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Bishop) (St Faolan (8th century)) The fact that the saint’s name can be spelt Fillan, Filan, Phillan, Fáelán or Faolan says everything about the difficulty of disentangling the records of early Gaelic saints, and even their identities. This is nothing to worry about: saints are real people, and they remain real even when most of the facts about them have evaporated. It will happen to us.This St Faolan appears to be St. Fillan of Munster, the son of Feriach, grandson of Cellach Cualann, King of Leinster. He received the monastic habit in the Abbey of Saint Fintan Munnu and came to Scotland from Ireland in 717 as a hermit along with his Irish princess-mother St. Kentigerna, his Irish prince-uncle St. Comgan, and his siblings. They settled at Loch Duich. Fillan later moved south and is said to have been a monk at Taghmon in Wexford before eventually settling in Pittenweem (‘the Place of the Cave’), Fife, in the east of Scotland later in the 8th century.(Saint Henry of Uppsala, Bishop, Martyr) (The Jesuit Martyrs of the Reformation in Europe) Saints John Ogilvie, Priest; Stephen Pongrácz, Melchior Grodziecki, Priests, and Mark of Križevci, Canon of Esztergom; Blessed Ignatius de Azevedo, Priest, and Companions; James Salès, Priest, and William Saultemouche, Religious, MartyrsToday we commemorate Jesuits who were killed for the Catholic Faith in the sixteenth century, after the Reformation. John Ogilvie ministered clandestinely to persecuted Catholics in Scotland. Stephen Pongracz from Hungary, Melchior Grodziecki from Poland, and Mark Krizevci, a local diocesan priest, ministered to the abandoned Catholics in Koscielny (Slovakia). Ignatius de Acevedo and thirty-nine Jesuits he had recruited from Portugal for the missions were massacred at sea by French Calvinist pirates while en route to Brazil. James Salès, a French Jesuit, ministered to straying Catholics in the Aube as, with his companion William Saultemouche, a Jesuit Brother.(Bl Andrew of Peschiera OP (1400 - 1485)) Dominican Friar and Priest.Blessed Andrew was born at Peschiera, Italy in 1400 and entered the Dominican Order in a reformed priory of the Congregation of Lombardy. Itinerant preaching was his life’s ministry, especially in the Valtelline region of the Italian Alps where he labored for forty- five years. Traveling on foot and living with the poor, he reconciled many to Christ. He died at the priory of Morbegno on January 18, 1485.

Tue 18 January

Tuesday of week 2 in Ordinary TimeOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St. Margaret of Hungary OP (1242 - 1270)) Dominican Nun and Virgin.Margaret was born in 1242, the daughter of Bela IV, King of Hungary, and Maria Lascaris, daughter of the emperor of Constantinople. Before her birth her parents had vowed to dedicate their child to God if Hungary would be victorious over the invading Tartars. Their prayers were answered and so when almost four years old Margaret was placed in the Dominican monastery of Veszprim. At the age of twelve she moved to a new monastery built by her father near Buda and there made profession into the hands of Humbert of Romans. Margaret lived a life totally dedicated to Christ crucified and inspired her sisters by her asceticism, her works of mercy, her pursuit of peace, and her humble service. She had a special love for the Eucharist and the Passion of Christ and showed a special devotion to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady. She died on January 18, 1270.

Mon 17 January

Saint Antony, AbbotOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | MassSt Antony, Abbot (251 - 356) St Antony is the originator of the monastic life. He was born in Egypt: when his parents died, he listened to the words of the Gospel and gave all his belongings to the poor. He went out into the wilderness to begin a life of penitence, living in absolute poverty, praying, meditating, and supporting himself by manual work. He suffered many temptations, both physical and spiritual, but he overcame them. Disciples gathered round him, attracted by his wisdom, moderation, and holiness. He gave support to the victims of the persecutions of Diocletian, and helping St Athanasius in his fight against the Arians. He lived to be over a hundred years old, and died in 356.The Gospels are full of wise sayings of Jesus that seem to be ignored, and one of the most poignant of these was in his meeting with that young man who asked over and over again, insistently, “What must I do to have eternal life?”. When, in the end, Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect he would have to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor, the young man went away, sorrowing; because he was very rich. What could be more of a waste than that? You tell someone what he has to do, and he is afraid to do it. And yet... 250 years later, St Antony hears the story, and does give away all that he has, and becomes the founder of monasticism. And then again, over 1,000 years later, St Francis of Assisi hears the story, and gives away his possessions (and some of his father’s) and revolutionises Christianity again.Not all the words that we speak are forgotten, even though we cannot see their effects ourselves. Let us pray that those unknown effects may always be good ones.

Kazakh bishops' official says Catholics 'shocked' by January riots

In response to early January riots in Kazakhstan, the country's bishops called on priests to "continue praying for an early resolution and the reestablishment of peace and prosperity."