from issue no.01/02 - 2006


Barsanuphius of Gaza and the invocation: «Jesus, help me»

The fresco of  the crypt in the Cathedral 
of  Anagni in which the city of Gaza is represented

The fresco of the crypt in the Cathedral of Anagni in which the city of Gaza is represented

We report the concluding part of the general audience given by the Holy Father on 8 February: «Concluding our reflections, we return to that sweet little verse that says: The Lord is close to those who invoke him, to those who seek him with a sincere heart” (v.18). This phrase was particularly dear to Barsanuphius of Gaza, an ascetic who died about the mid sixth century, often consulted by monks, ecclesiastics and lay people for the wisdom of his judgment. Thus, for example, Barsanuphius replied to a disciple who expressed the desire “to seek the causes of the different temptations that had assailed him”: “Brother John, fear nothing from the temptations that have risen against you to try you, because the Lord will not leave you in prey to them. So, when one of these temptations comes to you, don’t tire yourself trying to determine what it is, but call out the name of Jesus: “Jesus, help me”. And he will hear you because “he is near those who invoke him”. Don’t be discouraged, but run eagerly and you will reach the goal, in Christ Jesus Our Lord” (Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, Epistolary, 39: Series of Patristic texts, XCIII; Roma 1991, p.109).
And these words of the ancient Father are valid also for us. In our difficulties, problems, temptations, we mustn’t simply make a theoretic reflection – where do they come from? – we must react positively: invoke the Lord, keep the living contact with the Lord. Better still, we must shout the name of Jesus: “Jesus, help me!”. And we are sure that He will help us, because He is close to whoever seeks Him. Let us not be discouraged but run eagerly – as this Father says – we too will reach the goal of life, Jesus, the Lord».


Lerner and the Danish flags

Gad Lerner

Gad Lerner

L‘Infedele’ [The Infidel], the television program of Channel 7, with anchorman Gad Lerner, devoted an episode to the upheaval that followed the publication by a Danish newspaper of some blasphemous cartoons. We report a summary of the broadcast that appeared in La Padania on 24 February: «Lerner, addressing himself to Shaari [Abdel Amid Shaari, president of the Islamic Center of Viale Jenner, in Milan, ed.] cast doubt on the fact that the demonstrations, with Western flags burned and trampled on, embassies targeted by stones and Molotov cocktails, with dead and injured, were not in reality triggered off by a “genuine” religious sentiment so much as by other less well identified motives, and that instead many of the images were set up, with money passing. How did it occur to demonstrators - the journalist asked – to get hold of Danish flags (that “are not on sale in Palestinian shops”) to burn them?».


In memory of Don Luigi Giussani
The Pope’s letter and the masses
of Cardinals Ruini and Tettamanzi

A year from the death of Don Luigi Giussani the Holy Father sent a caring letter to Don Julián Carrón, successor of the former at the head of Communion and Liberation, speaking of his affection for the meek Milanese priest. Also, in the dioceses of Rome and Milan, but not only there, masses were said for the repose of his soul. Cardinal Ruini, the Pope’s vicar, celebrated the Eucharist in Rome in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in an atmosphere of friendship. In the summary offered by L’Osservatore Romano of 24 February the Cardinal’s homily ran: «“The intelligence with which he consulted every interlocutor”, his “capacity to re-express the dogmas of the faith to bring them close to people’s lives” have by now entered with full rights into the “patrimony of the Church and of humanity” … an inheritance that constitutes “a leaven that has certainly not exhausted its strength, but will yield ever new fruits in the time after his death”». Equally cordial was the atmosphere surrounding the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, who concluded his homily, in the Cathedral with these words: «… I invite you all to thank the Lord for the gift that he made to his Church in the person and works of this Milanese priest, Don Luigi, for the gift – adopting the words of Benedict XVI – of “such a zealous priest, in love with man because in love with Christ”. We wish to thank the Holy Father for the friendship toward Monsignor Giussani, for his person­al participation at the funeral in this Cathedral and for the letter that he sent us on this first anniversary».

The Calipari murder, Greek tragedy and Christianity

«The event in which Nicola Calipari sacrificed his life has almost the shape of a Greek tragedy in which fate prevents the hero from gathering the reward of his valor». Thus the Minister of Defense Antonio Martino, speaking at a ceremony in memory of the functionary of SISMI assassinated in Baghdad last year. Sharp the reply of the Undersecretary of the Prime Minister’s Office Gianni Letta: «The notion of fate is a thing of the past, it is an element of Greek tragedy that Christianity has gone beyond. Now it is necessary to act so as to learn the truth». The repartee was reported by La Repubblica on 4 March.

Gheddafi, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Expiation and Liberation Movement

Fundamentalism seen through the eyes of an exceptional storyteller: the Libyan leader Muammar Gheddafi. So, in La Stampa of 21 February, following the clashes in Benghazi (11 victims), excerpts from those old novellas were offered, published now also in Italian. The opening paragraph ran: «There was a time when Colonel Ghed­dafi made fun of religious fundamentalism, whose shadow now stretches menacingly over the disorders in Benghazi. And he boasted about it mockingly, like one who is sure he has the stronger hand: “Quick, hurry up and get your children to study the books of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Expiation and Liberation Movement. Print them, then withdraw to mosques and homes to study them, until the day of the final resurrection”».

Fallaci and the blasphemous cartoons

«There are people who can’t find any peace unless there is war». Such was the comment of Mohamed Nour Dachan, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, on the statement by Oriana Fallaci declaring that she would like to create a blasphemous cartoon showing the prophet Mohammed. Nour Dachan’s statement appeared in La Stampa on 24 February.

The USA and the profits of 11 September

«Notwithstanding terrorism life proceeds normally. What in effect has changed is the possibility governments have of “utilizing” these attempts to carry through policies unthinkable without the terrorist climate. For example, in the United States, after the Twin Towers, economic growth was 800-900 billion a year, an immense increase in the American gross national product. The clash of civilizations is a marginal phenomenon when all’s said and done, not comparable to wars between countries, in which there is gigantic mobilization and waste of resources, as happened in the great World Wars». Thus General Carlo Jean, president of SOGIN (Society for the management of nuclear plants) and former military adviser to the Quirinal, in an interview granted to Guido Ceronetti in La Stampa on 27 February.

Sacred College/1
Spiritual exercises preached by Cardinal Cé

From 5 to 11 March spiritual exercises were held in the Vatican in the presence of the Pope. Cardinal Marco Cé, the Patriarch Emeritus of Venice, was called to preach them this year and held his meditations on the theme “Walking with Jesus toward Easter guided by the evangelist Mark”.

Sacred College/2
Prestigious recognition for Cardinal Obando Bravo

The Nicaraguan cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, archbishop of Managua from 1970 to 2005, was decorated with the Great Cross of the Order “Francisco Morazán”, the highest decoration of the Central American Parliament. The prestigious recognition was awarded for the deep commitment of the cardinal to peace and reconciliation in Nicaragua and all of Central America.

Sacred college/3
Cardinal Ruini confirmed president of the IEC

On 14 February the Vatican Press Agency communicated the news that the Pope had confirmed Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome, as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, donec aliter pro­videatur.

New auxiliary of Reggio Emilia – Guastalla

On 17 February 51 year-old Monsignor Lorenzo Ghizzoni was nominated auxiliary bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla. Ghizzoni, originally from the province of Reggio, a priest since 1979, held the post of rector of the diocesan seminary and of vice-director of the National Center for Vocations.

New nuncios to Egypt and the Philippines

On 15 February the 69 year-old English archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, of the White Fathers, was nominated apostolic nuncio to Egypt and delegate to the Organization of the League of Arab States. Fitzgerald was president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue since October 2002, a department of which he had been Secretary since December 1991.
On 25 February Archbishop Fernando Filoni, apostolic nuncio to Jordan and Iraq since 2001, was nominated pontifical representative to the Philippines. 60 year-old Filoni, from Puglia, entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1981 and served in Sri Lanka, Iran, in the Secretariat of State, in Brazil and, finally, since 2001, in the Philippines (in fact, Filoni, nominally dependent on the See in Manila, lived in Hong Kong since 1989, provided with a regular visa from the competent civil authorities, charged with the task of studying from close up the life of the Church in Hong Kong itself and in continental China).

New Moroccan ambassador to the Holy See

On 20 February the Pope received the letters of credential of the new Moroccan ambassador to the Holy See. He is 57 year-old Ali Achour, a career diplomat, formerly ambassador to Venezuela, Norway and, since 2003, to Brazil.

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