CNA STAFF, Jun 13, 2010 (CNA) - Tuesday, June 15, is the feast day of St. Germaine Cousin, a simple and pious young girl who lived in Pibrac, France in the late 1500s.
Germaine was born in 1579 to poor parents. Her father was a farmer, and her mother died when she was still an infant. She was born with a deformed right arm and hand, as well as the disease of scrofula, a tubercular condition.
Her father remarried soon after the death of her mother, but his new wife was filled with disgust by Germaine's condition. She tormented and neglected Germaine, and taught her siblings to do so as well.
Starving and sick, Germaine was eventually kicked out of the house and forced to sleep under the stairway in the barn, on a pile of leaves and twigs, because of her stepmother’s dislike of her and disgust of her condition. She tended to the family's flock of sheep everyday.
Despite her hardships, she lived each day full of thanksgiving and joy, and spent much of her time praying the Rosary and teaching the village children about the love of God. She was barely fed and had an emaciated figure, yet despite this she shared the little bread that she had with the poor of the village.
From her simple faith grew a deep holiness and profound trust in God. She went to Mass everyday, leaving her sheep in the care of her guardian angel, who never failed her. Germaine’s deep piety was looked upon with ridicule by the villagers, but not by the children, who were drawn to her holiness.
God protected Germaine and showered his favor upon her. It was reported that on days when the river was high, the waters would part so that she could pass through them on her way to Mass. One day in winter, when she was being chased by her stepmother who accused her of stealing bread, she opened her apron and fresh summer flowers fell out. She offered the flowers to her stepmother as a sign of forgiveness.
Eventually, the adults of the village began to realize the special holiness of this poor, crippled shepherdess. Germaine's parents eventually offered her a place back in their house, but she chose to remain in her humble place outside.
Just as the villagers were realizing the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. Her father found her body on her bed of leaves one morning in her 22nd year of life.
Forty-three years later, when a relative of hers was being buried, Germaine’s casket was opened and her body was found incorrupt. People in the surrounding area began praying for her intercession and obtaining miraculous cures for illnesses.
St. Germaine was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867 and inscribed into the canon of virgins.
Vatican City, Jun 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered at noon Sunday in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with the Holy Father. Before the prayer, he said that the fruits of the recently ended Year for Priests could never be measured, but are already visible and will continue to be ever more so.
“The priest is a gift from the heart of Christ, a gift for the Church and for the world. From the heart of the Son of God, overflowing with love, all the goods of the Church spring forth,” proclaimed Pope Benedict XVI. “One of those goods is the vocations of those men who, conquered by the Lord Jesus, leave everything behind to dedicate themselves completely to the Christian community, following the example of the Good Shepherd.”
The Holy Father described the priest as having been formed by “the same charity of Christ, that love which compelled him to give his life for his friends and to forgive his enemies.”
“Therefore,” he continued, “priests are the primary builders of the civilization of love.”
Benedict XVI exhorted priests to always seek the intercession of St. John Marie Vianney, whose prayer, the “Act of Love,” was prayed frequently during the Year for Priests, and “continues to fuel our dialogue with God.”
The pontiff also spoke about the close of the Year for Priests, which took place this past week and culminated with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He emphasized “the unforgettable days in the presence of more than 15,000 priests from around the world.”
The feast of the Sacred Heart is traditionally a “day of priestly holiness,” but this time it was especially so, Benedict XVI remarked.
Pope Benedict concluded his comments by noting that, in contemplating history, “one observes so many pages of authentic social and spiritual renewal which have been written by the decisive contribution of Catholic priests.” These were inspired “only by their passion for the Gospel and for mankind, for his true civil and religious freedom.”
“So many initiatives that promote the entire human being have begun with the intuition of a priestly heart,” he exclaimed.
The Pope then prayed the Angelus, greeted those present in various languages, and imparted his apostolic blessing.
New York City, N.Y., Jun 13, 2010 (CNA) - Other activities to honor Mother Teresa in New York City are being planned after the Empire State Building operators said they would not light the building in the blue and white of the Missionaries of Charity on the religious sister’s 100th birthday. The Catholic League continues to question the consistency of the policy and plans a protest.
The Catholic League had asked the Empire State Building’s management to light the building on August 26, but the request was declined.
According to a statement on the building’s website, its guidelines do not accommodate requests for “religious figures” or requests by “religions and religious organizations.” It claimed all organizations agree to these guidelines upon submitting a lighting request.
The official Empire State Building Lighting Partner program was established in August 2006 after prior management was replaced.
However, in a June 11 statement, Catholic League president Bill Donohue noted that on April 25 last year the towers were lighted with blue and white on honor of the Salesian sisters.
He also claimed that there was “no such guideline that I had to agree to up front.”
“Indeed, if there had been such a rule, I would never have bothered to fill out the application.”
Donohue, who provided a copy of his application for a lighting scheme request, charged that the policy was being “made up” because the building management is “on the run.”
“So they not only refuse to honor Mother Teresa, they are lying about their indefensible decision,” he charged, announcing that a planned protest at the building will go forward.
Many New Yorkers had critical reactions to the building’s decision.
"They are stupid to deny her the lights. They'll regret it in the afterlife. It's dumb, dumb, dumb," commented former Mayor Ed Koch, according to the New York Post. "Mother Teresa deserves the highest honors. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus -- all of us think she's a saint.”
The former mayor fondly recalled meeting Mother Teresa at Gracie Mansion, the Post reports.
Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg declined to comment, but Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio criticized Empire State Building owner Anthony E. Malkin.
"The fact that the Empire State Building Lighting Partners has honored others, including an oppressive Chinese regime, but refuses to do so for a compassionate humanitarian like Mother Teresa is stunning,” Lazio commented, referring to the building’s red and yellow lighting scheme which marked the 60th anniversary of the Communist revolution in China.
A statement on the Empire State Building’s website said “We are saddened by the hateful words and messages being generated both for and against lighting for Mother Teresa's 100th birthday.”
The building management said emotions should be directed towards community service and those who are opposed to the decision should be “dignified and respectful in their dialogue.”
The New York City Council is offering a day of service for August 26 to honor Mother Teresa’s legacy. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and others are planning to do volunteer work.
City Council president Christine Quinn has called on New Yorkers to put blue and white battery-operated lights in their windows and the city’s borough halls are planning to show the colors, Fox News reports.
Pretoria, South Africa, Jun 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, has asked South Africa to welcome and learn from the world during the World Cup. Speaking on behalf of the country’s Catholic bishops, he extended his prayers and best wishes to the South African Football team Bafana and hoped they would “dispel all the past negativity.”
The cardinal said that the country is holding its collective breath for the team. “We want you to be the best,” his June 11 statement said. “We know that you will surprise us all.”
“Halala (‘Good luck’) Bafana!” he exclaimed.
The most important participants in the World Cup, he added, are the people of South Africa.
“Let us welcome our visitors and take this opportunity to meet and encounter the world and each other. Let us not be the same when the world cup is over! Let us all have learned about and shared a wider world. Halala South Africa!”
He also urged that safety be ensured for children and other vulnerable groups, saying the World Cup shouldn’t come at the cost of “human beings being unscrupulously used, traded or trafficked and discarded.”
“I wish all the fans, players, coaches, staff and organizers well for the tournament. I particularly commend all the volunteers who will make the world feel at home,” Cardinal Napier’s message concluded. “South Africa, let us welcome the world, encounter the world, learn from the world so that the world will know that we remain the Rainbow nation, diverse and united.”
Vatican City, Jun 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his traditional greeting and remarks before praying the Sunday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s square, the Holy Father discussed Manuel “Lolo” Lozano Garrido and Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, two men who were beatified in their home dioceses this week.
As Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the priest being a gift from the heart of Christ, he noted the contributions of priests throughout history to defending the civil and religious freedoms of mankind. He highlighted Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Polish priest and martyr who was beatified in Poland before an audience of 140,000 people last Sunday, June 6.
Fr. Jerzy “exercised his generous and valiant ministry along with those who fought for liberty, for the defense of life and its dignity,” explained the Pope.
“His work of service to good and to the truth was a sign of contradiction to the regime that was governing Poland at the time. The love from the Sacred Heart of Christ impelled him to give his life, and his testimony has been the seed of a new spring in the Church and in society.”
Fr. Jerzy was the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka, a parish located in a working class suburb of Warsaw. During the 1980s, he became the chaplain of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, the first trade union to be recognized by the Soviet regime. He also began saying a monthly “Mass for the Homeland” and thousands gathered to hear his homilies.
In 1984, he was abducted by the Communist police, beaten, bound, and thrown into the river in a sack. When his body was found nearly two weeks later, over half a million people attended his funeral to show their appreciation for the priest who always spoke of the value and dignity of human life. His murder sparked an outrage that helped lead to the fall of the communist regime.
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict took a moment to remember Manuel “Lolo” Lozano Garrido, a Spanish journalist who spent 28 years in a wheelchair. Lolo was beatified on June 12 in Linares, Spain.
Lolo was a “faithful layman who knew how to radiate the love of God through his example and his writings, even through the pain which kept him wheelchair-bound for 28 years,” noted the Pope. “At the end of his life, he also lost his vision, but he continued to gain hearts for Christ with his serene joy and his unbreakable faith.”
Lolo was journalist during the Spanish Civil War and was imprisoned at the age of 17. When he was released at 22, he suffered paralysis but accepted the trial with docility. From his wheelchair, he wrote numerous books, journals, and articles on spirituality as well as an autobiographical novel. He also founded a prayer group for infirm journalists. He lost his sight nine years before his death in 1971.
Pope Benedict also said that journalists can find in him “an eloquent testimony of the good that can be wrought with the pen in the service of the truth and of noble causes, reflecting the greatness of the soul.”