Saturday, March 08, 2014
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Catechesis in Mongolia educates laity for evangelization
3/8/2014 5:35:00 PM
Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Mar 8, 2014 / 04:35 pm (
).- A new catechesis program of the Church in Mongolia is promoting holistic formation of the human person as part of the evangelization of the central Asian nation.
“The course … is meant to form catechists with a working knowledge of the Scriptures, as well as the Church and its mission,” Fr. Giorgio Marengo of the Consolata Missionaries, told CNA March 5.
The Prefecture Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar, which serves the entire country, has recently established a two-year long course in catechetical formation, giving a fundamental formation in theology and the life of the Church.
The formation program began in September; Fr. Marengo said it began with Christ’s life and the significance of the Paschal mystery, and is currently discussing the sacraments.
More than 30 future catechesists, most of whom are in their 20s, are participating in the monthly program of formation, and they will become certified catechists in the prefecture once they have completed their formation.
Catechists play an important role in the evangelical mission of the Church, particularly in mission areas such as those served by prefectures.
Nearly 40 percent of Mongolians are non-religious; a little over half the population is Buddhist; and Christianity, Islam, and shamanism have mere footholds among the people.
The nation of 2.9 million has some 1,200 Catholics, 870 of whom are native Mongolians.
Mongolia’s prefecture apostolic had five diocesan priests in 2010; it is also served by 12 religious congregations and fidei donum priests – those of other dioceses who are on loan to the prefecture; in total, there are more than 50 missionaries serving in the country.
Among the religious congregations is Fr. Marengo’s Consolata Missionaries. They have been in Mongolia for 10 years, serving in the capital Ulan Bator and in Arvaikheeer, on the edge of the Gobi desert.
The first modern mission to Mongolia was in 1922 and was entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But under a communist government, religious expression was soon thereafter suppressed, until 1992.
In 2002, the Ulaanbaatar mission was elevated to the present prefecture apostolic. The mission's superior, Fr. Wenceslao Padilla, a priest of the Immaculate Heart congregation, was appointed prefect, and was consecrated a bishop the following year.
Religious urged by Pope Francis to avoid 'theoretical poverty'
3/8/2014 10:41:00 AM
Vatican City, Mar 8, 2014 / 09:41 am (
).- Pope Francis on Saturday sent a message to participants in an international symposium on the religious life, encouraging them to live their vows in an authentic manner.
“What is not helpful is a theoretical poverty, but the poverty that is learnt by touching the flesh of the poor Christ, in the humble, in the poor, in the sick, in children,” he said.
The pontiff gave his remarks to the March 8 gathering entitled “The Management of Church Goods of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and of the Societies of Apostolic Life at the Service of Humanity and the Mission of the Church.” The two-day symposium held at Rome’s Pontifical Antonianum University considered how orders and other religious institutes could use their properties for the greater good.
“This poverty is loving solidarity, sharing and charity, and is expressed in sobriety, in the pursuit of justice and joy of the essential, in order to guard yourselves against material idols that obscure the true meaning of life,” the Pope reflected in his comments.
Those in religious life “are always a prophetic voice and vivid testimony to the innovation that is Christ, conforming to him, who became poor, enriching us with his poverty,” he said.
“Be again today, for the Church and for the world, the outposts of attention to all the poor and to all those in misery, material, moral, and spiritual, as (those) overcoming all selfishness in the logic of the gospel that teaches us to trust in the providence of God.”
Pope Francis described modern culture as “characterized by significant changes and progress in many areas” and yet many times still having “an economy of exclusion.”
“In the face of uncertainty in which the majority of men women live, as well as in the face of the spiritual and moral frailty of so many people, especially young people, as a Christian community we feel challenged,” he acknowledged.
Yet those in religious life should be active witnesses of the “logic of the gift,” having given their lives entirely to Christ and the Church.
“It is necessary to be vigilant in ensuring that the goods of Institutes are administered with caution and transparency, that they are protected and preserved, combining the charismatic-spiritual dimension with the economic dimension of efficiency,” he noted.
Pope Francis then went on to quote Paul VI, who said, “We note with vigilant attention as in a period like our own, entirely absorbed in the conquest, in possession, in the enjoyment of economic goods, is felt in the public opinion inside and outside of the Church, a desire, almost a need, to see the poverty of the Gospel and there one wants to better recognize where the Gospel is preached, is represented.”
The Pope closed his message by expressing his gratitude to those who had established the symposium and his hope “that it will bear fruit.”
St. John of God, Confessor
3/7/2014 11:00:00 PM
The Catholic Church celebrates the extraordinary life of St. John of God on March 8. The saint lived through decades of sin and suffering before a profound conversion that led him to embrace poverty, humility and charity. John was born in Portugal during the year 1495 to middle-class parents. Tragically, at the age of 8, he was kidnapped by a stranger and was later abandoned to homelessness in a remote part of Spain. He worked as a shepherd until age 22, when the opportunity came along for him to join the army of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. This apparent stroke of fortune, however, would eventually lead John into greater misery. For the next 18 years, John lived and fought among the emperor's foot soldiers, first against the French and later the Turks. His morals began to decline, as he completely abandoned the piety of his earliest youth for a greedy and brutal way of life. John's conscience was occasionally troubled, particularly by the memories of his early years before he was taken from his parents. And despite falling into a lifestyle of violence and plundering, he had a certain weakness for those who were poor or in extreme distress, and would give alms to them. He was narrowly saved on two occasions from what seemed like certain death â€“ once after instinctively uttering a prayer to the Virgin Mary after falling wounded in enemy territory; and again, when he was falsely suspected of theft and nearly executed but for another soldier's intervention. Events such as these weighed heavily upon him, and when his regiment was disbanded he decided to amend his life â€“ beginning with a pilgrimage to Spain's Santiago de Compostela Cathedral along the â€œWay of St. James.â€� There, he confessed his sins and committed himself to living a life of repentance. Soon after this, he returned to Portugal and discovered what had become of his parents. His mother had died, brokenhearted, after the loss of her son, after which his father had become a Franciscan monk. At age 42, John returned to Spain and picked up nearly where he had left off 20 years before, working again as a shepherd. This time, however, he was committed to living out the faith in God that he had regained. He traveled briefly to North Africa, seeking to help Christians there who had been enslaved by Muslims. Eventually, however, he returned to Spain and settled for a time in the occupation of selling religious books and other goods, always encouraging his customers to live their faith sincerely. St. John of God's later reputation as the patron saint of booksellers derives from this period of his life. Later, however, he felt compelled to give himself entirely to the service of the poor, sick, and vulnerable. He opened his house to them â€“ allowing it to become a combined hospital, homeless shelter, and halfway-house, run entirely by John himself. When he was not bandaging wounded occupants or breaking up fights between them, he would go out begging on their behalf. The Bishop of Granada approved his work, and gave him the name â€œJohn of God.â€� A group of volunteers came to accompany him in his work, many of whom had first come to him while in dire need themselves. Others, who resented his work, assaulted John's reputation by focusing on his past sins â€“ but John, unfazed in his humility, would acknowledge the truth of what was said, as a testament to God's grace in his life. He once offered to pay a woman to tell the entire city what she had been saying about him in private. John served the sick and poor for 15 years, before meeting his death through an act of charity. He jumped into a freezing river and managed to save a drowning man, but came home shivering and weakened from the ordeal. He lay down in one of his own hospital beds, where his condition further declined. The Bishop of Granada came to administer the last rites. As the bishop prepared him for death, John expressed a number of anxieties. â€œThere are three things that make me uneasy,â€� he said. â€œThe first is that I have received so many graces from God, and have not recognized them, and have repaid them with so little of my own.â€� â€œThe second is that after I am dead, I fear lest the poor women I have rescued, and the poor sinners I have reclaimed, may be treated badly.â€� â€œThe third is that those who have trusted me with money, and whom I have not fully repaid, may suffer loss on my account.â€� The bishop, however, assured him that he had nothing to fear. John then asked to be alone, and summoned his last strength to rise from bed and kneel before a crucifix. He died in prayer, with his face pressed against the figure of Christ, on the night of March 7, 1550. St. John of God was canonized in 1690, and has become the patron of hospitals and the dying.
First Reading - Is 58:9b-14
3/7/2014 11:00:00 PM
9 If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not.10 When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday.11 And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail.12 And the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee: thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation: and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest.13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day, and call the sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious, and glorify him, while thou dost not thy own ways, and thy own will is not found: to speak a word:14 Then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth, and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
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