Friday, January 31, 2014
Report: thousands of Syrian refugees converting to Christianity
CWN - January 31, 2014
Christian Aid Mission, a Protestant organization based in Virginia, is reporting that thousands of Syrian refugees are converting to Christianity in Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
"Literally thousands of Syrians from traditional Muslim backgrounds are turning to Jesus Christ," the organization stated. "It's not an inflating of the numbers, nor is it an optimistic estimate."
A contact in Turkey was quoted as saying, "What would indicate to us that a Syrian Muslim had become a Christian would be: women taking their scarves off. Letting their kids join the Bible lessons. People don't let their kids learn a belief they don't accept, since kids are ready to learn easily."
A contact in Iraq added, "We determine they are Christians by professions of faith -- the decision to follow Christ in these circumstances means the person has sentenced himself to death and makes himself likely to be killed at any moment. So they know very well the consequences."
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Ukrainian government is targeting Catholics for persecution
The Globe and Mail reported that Ambassador Andrew P. W. Bennett compared the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to a "canary in a coal mine" and that persecution of other churches may ensue as well.
"The churches in Ukraine have tremendous respect among the people and their legitimacy has been enhanced through all of this," said Bennett, "so to have a law that restricts the role of the churches and actually violates their religious freedoms and their ability to pursue legitimate pastoral outreach to the people is completely unacceptable."
"Canada strongly condemns the deplorable use of violence against protesters by Ukrainian authorities," continued Bennett, according to a Canadian government press release. "Canada strongly supports the Ukrainian people, who have spoken out courageously in support of a free and democratic Ukraine."
"Canada notes the important and crucial role played by the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and many other religious leaders during the past weeks in encouraging dialogue between all parties and praying for peace in Ukraine," he added. "Canada will consider all options going forward to make clear that we stand with those who seek to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for Ukrainians."
Monday, January 27, 2014
MALLET (Maillet, Maillé), MARIE-ANNE-MARCELLE, professed religious of the Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal, foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec, and superior of that community from 1849 to 1866; b. 26 March 1805 at Montreal, L.C., daughter of Vital Mallet, farmer and tanner, and Marguerite Sarrazin; d. 9 April 1871 at Quebec.
Marie-Anne-Marcelle Mallet's childhood was upset by her father's premature death on 23 April 1810, and by the disruptions that resulted. At the age of 10 she had to leave the village of L'Assomption, where her family had lived since 1806: faced with the problem of her children's education, the mother had resigned herself to giving them up to an aunt and uncle at Lachine. Each year the adolescent girl regretfully took leave of her brother and her adoptive parents and went for some months as a boarder to the sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, probably at Pointe-Claire.
At 16 Marcelle Mallet was already sensitive to the disarray well known to the child without a family and the poor without a home. She therefore decided to join the religious daughters of Mother d'Youville [Dufrost* de Lajemmerais], who had founded the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal, the earliest religious congregation that was strictly Canadian. Admitted first as a postulant because of her youth, Marcelle Mallet was permitted to enter the noviciate on 6 May 1824. She made her profession in the community on 18 May 1826, and was called upon to perform the most varied tasks, but above all to care for the sick. In 1846 she began the custom of home visiting as a charitable undertaking. In 1847 typhus struck Montreal, and she had an opportunity to display her organizational abilities as much as her zeal, when, in the capacity of assistant superior, she assumed entire responsibility for the hospital.
In the period 1840 to 1850 the community set up a number of foundations. After Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Boniface (Manitoba), and Bytown (Ottawa) [seeElisabeth Bruyère], came Quebec. Selected as foundress-superior of this last mission, Sister Mallet left her religious family on 21 Aug. 1849 with five companions. It was an irreversible departure, according to the rule of the foundations of the time. On 22 Aug. 1849 the population of Quebec received its first Sisters of Charity. After two conflagrations and a terrible cholera epidemic, Quebec was then going through one of the most harrowing periods in its history. On their arrival, the sisters set themselves up in the orphanage-school in Rue des Glacis, on the boundary of the parish of Notre-Dame. On 5 November the members of the Société Charitable des Dames Catholiques de Québec entrusted to Mother Mallet an organization which they had founded in 1831 and maintained for 18 years; the ladies of the society remained associates of the Sisters of Charity.
Mother Mallet, who had come with her companions "to look after the sick, the education of needy young girls, and other requirements," concerned herself with answering the most pressing appeals of those in distress. In 1849 she instituted a relief service for poor schoolchildren. Then, in addition to the orphan girls, she took in women boarders in 1855, aged and infirm persons in 1856, and orphan boys in 1861. In 1866 she agreed to set up an out-patient service for the needy, and, during the 17 years that she directed the community, she established in the country, within the confines of the diocese of Quebec, five boarding-schools for girls, which were complementary to the local schools and served as training centres for schoolmistresses.
These charitable activities, which grew and became diversified, took their toll of Mother Mallet. She knew the ordeal of solitude: her early companions had either died soon after the founding of the institute, or, taking advantage of an invitation from the Hôpital Général of Montreal in 1854, had decided to return to Montreal despite their pledge in 1849; the epidemics of typhus in 1851 and of cholera in 1854 had reduced her work force while increasing her duties; on 3 May 1854 a fire had laid waste an orphanage that had just been built; and finally, quite unforeseen conflicts within the community she had started tried her sorely.
In September 1849 Mother Mallet had received four recruits for her charitable undertaking. She had thus established the bases of a new religious family. The Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec received its official consecration in the church on 1 July 1866. On that day Pius IX approved itsRègles et constitutions. Mother Mallet and several of her companions would have liked to remain loyal to the spiritual heritage of the Sulpicians bequeathed by Mother d'Youville and the Hôpital Général of Montreal. The foundress had refused a change in the legislation so long as she had been free to do so. But in 1863 Charles-François Baillargeon*, bishop of Quebec, had imposed on her a new rule which was the work of the Jesuit Antoine-Nicolas Braün, and which was essentially derived from the Society of Jesus.
When this new rule was put into force, the community of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec experienced a period of internal crisis. Although there was no conflict of principle between the two rules, all the sisters could not give their allegiance with equal freedom to the reorientation of the community. Mother Mallet herself, accustomed to the old rule, found it difficult to pass from the liberal atmosphere of the Sulpician school, in which her charity had flourished for 40 years, to this Ignatian framework, whose quality had proved itself but in which everything was more measured, more austere, and more rigorous. On the other hand the young nuns formed by Father Braün, the spiritual director of the community from 1856, enlisted boldly under the banner of the robust St Ignatius. Soon conflicting currents of ideas began to be apparent. In this drama of the Règles et constitutions Mother Mallet had the most difficult role. Ever since 1863 her attitude, conciliatory though it was, had been challenged by certain of the sisters. And Father Braün readily fostered this contention. In the 1866 elections the foundress was not re-elected as head of her community; she did not even have a place in the administration.
Mother Mallet then addressed herself to the humble task of a Sister of Charity, and, gently, reached her last days. She died at dawn on Easter Sunday, 9 April 1871. She was remembered as a woman of great activity and energy. Undaunted by time and space, her community in its vitality confirms her faith and justifies her work. Today, a century after her death, the community of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec numbers nearly 1,800 professed religious in the United States, Japan, Paraguay, Argentina, the Congo, and above all in the province of Quebec which gave it its corner-stone. "With no distinction of country, race, or culture" these nuns perpetuate Marcelle Mallet's consecration to childhood, sickness, and old age.
[Sœurs de la Charité de Québec], Actes du chapitre général, première session, juillet-août 1968 (n.d., 1968); Statistiques de la congrégation des sœurs de la Charité de Québec (n.d., 1968); Dans le sillage de la charité (Québec, 1959). Une fondatrice et son œuvre: mère Mallet (1805–1871) et l'Institut des sœurs de la Charité de Québec, fondé en 1849(Québec, 1939)
© 1972–2014 University of Toronto/Université Laval
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The Unity Cross
"On the cross, when Jesus endured in his own flesh the dramatic encounter of the sin of the world and God's mercy, he could feel at his feet the consoling presence of his mother and his friend."
- Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel, #285
This month's Sacred Art for our contemplation has been called both the Cross of Compassion and the Unity Cross.
The Unity Cross was first conceived as a symbol of the first generation of Chilean priests. The first Pallottine seminarians were about to be ordained as priests and they wanted to give something to the Shrine of Bellavista in Chile, which had so beautifully fed their life of faith.
Though the Unity Cross has since taken different forms, it's the steady and intimate gaze of Christ and Mary that remains at the heart of this work. It is a mystical and beautiful meditation on the gaze of not only a son for his mother, but of the Bridegroom for his Bride, the Church. As Pope Emeritus Benedict has written, "In the Eucharist a communion takes place that corresponds to the union of man and woman in marriage. Just as they become "one flesh", so in Communion we all become "one spirit", one person, with Christ. (Pope Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy (p. 142).
Here is the entirety of the Plan of God, here is the quintessence of Salvation History: the man gives his life for the woman, arms wide open in a posture of complete self-donation and self emptying, and the woman receives that gift of self in the golden chalice of her own being, keeping "all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.." (Luke 2:19) She in her turn becomes superabundantly fruitful, being now the New Eve, the Mother of All the Living in Spirit and in Truth.
May we allow this Plan of Love, this Unity cross our own hearts and mark them as members of this family born of self-gift, born of the love of the man and the woman. In His Love, may we all be one! And one too with the heart of Mary, whose compassion, born from the suffering she felt here at the cross, touches even the darkest areas of our own hearts, and our own wounds.
"There is a Marian 'style' to the Church's work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness."- Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel, #288
Bill Donaghy is an instructor, speaker and a full-time employee of the Theology of the Body Institute. Bill holds an Associate's Degree in Visual Arts and received his Bachelors in Philosophy and a Masters in Systematic Theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He and his wife, Rebecca, have three children and live in the Philadelphia area.
Listen to Wisdom! She proudly sings her own praises among the Israelites, her own people, 2 in the assembly of the Most High, in the presence of his power.[a]
3 I am the word spoken by the Most High.
I covered the earth like a mist.
4 I made my home in highest heaven,
my throne on a pillar of cloud.
5 Alone I walked around the circle of the sky
and walked through the ocean beneath the earth.
6 I ruled over[b] all the earth and the ocean waves,
over every nation, over every people.
7 I looked everywhere for a place to settle,
some part of the world to make my home.
8 Then my Creator, who created the universe,
told me where I was to live.
Make your home in Israel, he said.
The descendants of Jacob will be your people.
9 He created me in eternity, before time began,
and I will exist for all eternity to come.
10 I served him in the Sacred Tent
and then made my home on Mount Zion.
11 He settled me in the Beloved City
and gave me authority over Jerusalem.
12 I put down roots among an honored people
whom the Lord had chosen as his own.
13 I grew tall, like the cedars in Lebanon,
like the cypresses on Mount Hermon,
14 like the palm trees of Engedi,[c]
like the roses of Jericho,
like beautiful olive trees in the fields,
like plane trees growing by the water.
15 My breath was the spicy smell of cinnamon,
of sweet perfume and finest myrrh,
of stacte, onycha, and galbanum,
the fragrant incense in the Sacred Tent.
16 Like an oak I spread out my branches,
magnificent and graceful.
17 Like a grapevine I put out lovely shoots;
my blossoms gave way to rich and glorious fruit.[d]
19 Come to me, all you that want me,
and eat your fill of my fruit.
20 You will remember me as sweeter than honey,
better than honey from the comb.
21 Eat me, and you will hunger for more;
drink me, and you will thirst for more.
22 Obey me, and you will never have cause for embarrassment;
do as I say, and you will be safe from sin.
Wisdom and the Law
23 Wisdom is the Law, the Law which Moses commanded us to keep, the covenant of God Most High, the inheritance of the synagogues of Israel.[e] 25 The Law overflows with Wisdom like the Pishon River, like the Tigris at fruit-picking time. 26 The Law brims over with understanding like the Euphrates, like the Jordan at harvest time. 27 It sparkles with teachings like the Nile,[f] like the Gihon at grape-picking time.
28 The first human being ever created never knew Wisdom completely, and the last person on earth will be no more successful. 29 The possibilities of Wisdom are vaster than the ocean; her resources are more profound than the deepest waters beneath the earth.
30 As for me, I thought of myself as an irrigation canal bringing water from a river into a garden. 31 I only intended to water my orchard and flower beds, but the canal soon became a river, and the river became a sea. 32 And so I present you with my learning; I hold it high, so that its light can be seen everywhere, like that of the rising sun. 33 Like an inspired prophet, I pour out my teachings, so that future generations can benefit from them. 34 Please realize that I have not done all this hard work for myself alone, but to help anyone who wants to be wise.
St. Francis de Sales: Memorial, January 24
St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of Writers
Small album ~ Doctors of the Church
"I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Spirit is a Dove..."
~St. Francis de Sales
"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength."
~St. Francis de Sales
Friday, January 24, 2014
Caritas officials discuss how victims become trapped in human trafficking
CWN - January 24, 2014
Officials from various national Caritas organizations discussed how victims of human trafficking become trapped in lives of slavery.
Caritas is the Church's official confederation of relief and development agencies.
Traffickers "identify local agents to speak with village women," said Father George Sigamoney, director of Caritas Sri Lanka. "They give lump sums to the parents or husbands. They promise more money and a better future. They make them believe that they're tourists. They take them to Thailand or Singapore and from there they're taken to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon."
There are an estimated 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide; most are Asian women.
Typical new US religious: 37-year-old cradle Catholic who regularly takes part in Eucharistic adoration
CWN - January 24, 2014
The typical religious who professed perpetual vows in 2013 is a 37-year-old cradle Catholic who has three or more siblings and who regularly prayed the Rosary and took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering religious life, according to a survey released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
460 (56%) of the major superiors of US religious institutes responded to the survey, which was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). These 460 superiors reported that 107 men and women professed perpetual vows in 2013. Of the 107, 11 newly-professed brothers and 69 newly-professed sisters responded to the survey.
87% of the institutes reported no professions of perpetual vows, while 3% report two or more newly-professed religious.
Among the survey's findings:
- 28% of newly-professed men and women religious came from families with five or more siblings; 19% have four siblings, 14% have three siblings, 24% have two siblings, 11% have one sibling, and 4% have no siblings
- 42% are the eldest child in their family, while 17% are the youngest child
- 18% of the newly professed religious are converts, typically at age 22
- 77% of the newly professed religious reported that both parents are Catholic, and 46% say they have a relative who is a priest or religious
- 74% are white, while 14% are Asian and 12% are Hispanic; 0% are African-American or Native American
- 76% were born in the US, and Vietnam was the second-leading nation of origin; the typical newly professed foreign-born religious entered the US in 1997
- 43% attended a Catholic elementary school, while 31% attended a Catholic high school and 30% attended a Catholic college; 51% participated in parish religious education programs as a child
- though the newly professed were educated at a time when fewer than 1% of American children were home schooled, the survey found that "5% of responding religious report being home schooled at some time in their educational background," for an average of ten years
- 24% of newly professed religious held graduate degrees when they entered religious life, while 41% held bachelor's degrees; 64% were employed full-time, and 25% part-time, before entering religious life
- 10% of newly professed religious report that their entry into religious life was delayed by college debt
- 24% participated in one of the World Youth Days, 9% took part in a National Catholic Youth Conference, and 6% participated in a Franciscan University of Steubenville conference as a high school student
- 46% took part in a youth ministry program, while 25% took part in a young adult ministry program; 54% served as parish religious education teachers, 45% as readers, and 49% in parish music programs; 55% of the newly-professed male religious, and 16% of the newly-professed women religious, had been altar servers
- 68% of the newly professed had attended a retreat before entering religious life, 59% regularly prayed the Rosary, and 70% regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration; 54% said they had received spiritual direction
- the typical newly professed religious began to consider a religious vocation at the age of 17 and was familiar with his or her institute for two years before entering religious life
- 12% reported that a priest or religious discouraged them from entering religious life; 26% report they were discouraged from entering religious life by their mother, 21% were discouraged from doing so by their father, and 36% were discouraged from doing so by another relative
- 46% say they were encouraged by a religious to consider religious life, 39% by a friend, and 39% by a parish priest; 29% said their mother encouraged them to consider a religious vocation, and 23% said their father encouraged them to consider a vocation
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Cardinal Dolan: abortion advocates, not pro-lifers, are 'obsessed'
CWN - January 21, 2014
New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan has responded forcefully to charges that the Catholic Church is engaged in a "war on women," and reflected on the statement by Pope Francis that Catholics should not be "obsessed" with abortion, in a wide-ranging interview.
Speaking with Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review, Cardinal Dolan argued that the Catholic Church has strongly defended women, as well as the poor and vulnerable. He suggested that advocates of legal abortion should be asked to explain why they oppose efforts to enforce safe standards at abortion clinics, and why they encourage poor women to abort their children.
Regarding the Pope's comment about obsession with abortion, the cardinal remarked: "Obsession is a sin." Since obsession refers to a loss of free will, it should be avoided in all cases, he said. However, he continued, pro-life advocates are not obsessed; they are making rational arguments on the issue. In contrast, the cardinal said, abortion advocates insist on expanding access to abortion, even when the procedure is ubiquitous and even at the cost of health standards. "And so if we're going to talk about obsession, let's talk about the other side," Cardinal Dolan suggested.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said the evangelization of secular society requires focusing on the essentials of Christianity in collaboration with other Christian churches. The pope made his remarks Jan. 17 at a meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Finland, who were making their annual ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome on the feast of Finland's patron, St. Henry. The meeting occurred one day before the start of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Pope Francis told the group that ecumenical relations lately have been undergoing "significant changes, owing above all to the fact that we find ourselves professing our faith in the context of societies and cultures every day more lacking in reference to God and all that recalls the transcendent dimension of life. For this very reason, our witness must concentrate on the center of our faith, on the announcement of the love of God made manifest in Christ his son," the pope said. "Here we find space to grow in communion and in unity, promoting spiritual ecumenism."