The 104th WORLD DAY of PRAYER for MIGRANTS and REFUGEES – 14 January 2018

The 104th WORLD DAY of PRAYER for MIGRANTS and REFUGEES – 14 January 2018


“Welcoming, protecting, promoting and
integrating migrants and refugees”

Dear brothers and sisters!

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).the 104th world day of prayer for migrants and refugees - 14 jan 2018

Throughout the first years of my pontificate, I have repeatedly expressed my particular concern for the lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty.   This situation is undoubtedly a “sign of the times” which I have tried to interpret, with the help of the Holy Spirit, ever since my visit to Lampedusa on 8 July 2013.  When I instituted the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, I wanted a particular section – under my personal direction for the time being – to express the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).   The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future.   This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.   This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.

In this regard, I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs:   to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”.

Considering the current situation, welcoming means, above all, offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.   This calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.   At the same time, I hope that a greater number of countries will adopt private and community sponsorship programmes, and open humanitarian corridors for particularly vulnerable refugees.   Furthermore, special temporary visas should be granted to people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring countries. Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.   Once again, I want to emphasise the importance of offering migrants and refugees adequate and dignified initial accommodation.   “More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success”.   The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly stated by my beloved Predecessor, Benedict XVI, obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security.   It is necessary, therefore, to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained.   The situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services.   For the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.

The second verb – protecting – may be understood as a series of steps intended to defend the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.  Such protection begins in the country of origin and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practices.   This must be ongoing, as far as possible, in the country of migration, guaranteeing them adequate consular assistance, the right to personally retain their identity documents at all times, fair access to justice, the possibility of opening a personal bank account, and a minimum sufficient to live on.   When duly recognised and valued, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them.   This is why I hope that, in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity.   For those who decide to return to their homeland, I want to emphasise the need to develop social and professional reintegration programmes.   The International Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a universal legal basis for the protection of underage migrants.   They must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status, and must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education.   Equally, when they come of age they must be guaranteed the right to remain and to enjoy the possibility of continuing their studies.   Temporary custody or foster programmes should be provided for unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families.   The universal right to a nationality should be recognised and duly certified for all children at birth.   The statelessness which migrants and refugees sometimes fall into can easily be avoided with the adoption of “nationality legislation that is in conformity with the fundamental principles of international law”.    Migratory status should not limit access to national healthcare and pension plans, nor affect the transfer of their contributions if repatriated.

Promoting essentially means a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator.    Among these, we must recognise the true value of the religious dimension, ensuring to all foreigners in any country the freedom of religious belief and practice.   Many migrants and refugees have abilities which must be appropriately recognised and valued.  Since “work, by its nature, is meant to unite peoples”, I encourage a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees, guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the possibility of employment, language instruction and active citizenship, together with sufficient information provided in their mother tongue.   In the case of underage migrants, their involvement in labour must be regulated to prevent exploitation and risks to their normal growth and development.   In 2006, Benedict XVI highlighted how, in the context of migration, the family is “a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values”.   The family’s integrity must always be promoted, supporting family reunifications – including grandparents, grandchildren and siblings – independent of financial requirements.   Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees with disabilities must be granted greater assistance and support.   While I recognise the praiseworthy efforts, thus far, of many countries, in terms of international cooperation and humanitarian aid, I hope that the offering of this assistance will take into account the needs (such as medical and social assistance, as well as education) of developing countries which receive a significant influx of migrants and refugees.  I also hope that local communities which are vulnerable and facing material hardship, will be included among aid beneficiaries.

The final verb – integrating – concerns the opportunities for intercultural enrichment brought about by the presence of migrants and refugees.   Integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, contact with others leads to discovering their ‘secret’, to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better. This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings”.    This process can be accelerated by granting citizenship free of financial or linguistic requirements, and by offering the possibility of special legalisation to migrants who can claim a long period of residence in the country of arrival.   I reiterate the need to foster a culture of encounter in every way possible – by increasing opportunities for intercultural exchange, documenting and disseminating best practices of integration, and developing programmes to prepare local communities for integration processes.   I wish to stress the special case of people forced to abandon their country of arrival due to a humanitarian crisis.   These people must be ensured adequate assistance for repatriation and effective reintegration programmes in their home countries.

In line with her pastoral tradition, the Church is ready to commit herself to realising all the initiatives proposed above.   Yet in order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities.

At the United Nations Summit held in New York on 19 September 2016, world leaders clearly expressed their desire to take decisive action in support of migrants and refugees to save their lives and protect their rights, sharing this responsibility on a global level.  To this end, the states committed themselves to drafting and approving, before the end of 2018, two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants.

Dear brothers and sisters, in light of these processes currently underway, the coming months offer a unique opportunity to advocate and support the concrete actions which I have described with four verbs.   I invite you, therefore, to use every occasion to share this message with all political and social actors involved (or who seek to be involved) in the process which will lead to the approval of the two Global Compacts.

Today, 15 August, we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.   The Holy Mother of God herself experienced the hardship of exile (Matthew 2:13-15), lovingly accompanied her Son’s journey to Calvary and now shares eternally His glory.   To her maternal intercession we entrust the hopes of all the world’s migrants and refugees and the aspirations of the communities which welcome them, so that, responding to the Lord’s supreme commandment, we may all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.

Vatican City, 15 August 2017 – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Francisto the holy mother of god's - pope francis - world day of prayer for migrants and refugees - 14 jan 2018

Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 14 January – The Memorial of Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R. (1807-1887)

Thought for the Day – 14 January – The Memorial of Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R. (1807-1887)

Blessed Peter is a sure sign of God grace and providence.   The old saying “God works in strange and wondrous ways” are proved in Peter’s life.
Although all the odds were against Blessed Peter, he struggled on, always trusting, believing and loving our most gracious and loving God and the Church.   He gave his life to Him who gives us life.   Peter gave all he had to God and his children, working tirelessly in extremely difficult conditions to improve the lives of the poor and the sick, the lepers and all the extremely underprivileged, who did not even display gratitude for his work.
In the end, he died of leprosy but he joined his suffering to all those he had worked so tirelessly for, choosing to spend his last days with them in the leper colony and now he is honoured in the halls of the Saints, his light never to be dimmed.
What a lesson Blessed Peter is for us all – we who so easily bemoan the so-called hardships of our lives!   Blessed Peter Donders was happy to lose his life for Christ’s sake.    So also should we.

Blessed Peter Donders, pray to God for us, that we may learn gratitude, that we may learn generosity, kindness, justice and peter donders pray for us - 14 JAN 2018


Sunday Reflection – 14 January – The Shepherd Gathers Us

Sunday Reflection – 14 January – The Shepherd Gathers Us

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
leading the ewes with care….Isaiah 40:11

Jesus promised that whenever a group of people gather in prayer, He will be there with them. The early church took that promise literally. The first disciples had been used to having Jesus physically among them and then, after His Ascension, they often struggled to know what Jesus would want them to do. However, they had a simple formula for every occasion and difficulty – Jesus’ invitation to gather in His Name. They would gather around the Word and the breaking of the bread and, there, let Jesus make His presence felt and effect through them what they could not otherwise accomplish themselves.

As Christians today, we still need to take that same promise literally. Christian life is not sustained only by private acts of prayer, justice and virtue. It is sustained in a community, by gathering ritually around the Word of God and through the breaking of the bread. However, it is important to understand, that this kind of gathering is not simply a social one capable only of doing what social gatherings can do. To gather around the Word of God and the breaking of the bread is a ritual gathering and ritual brings something that normal social gatherings does not – namely, transformative power beyond what can be understood and explained through the physical, psychological and social dynamics that are present.

Lord, You invite me to be part of Your flock.
Remind me of that when I am tempted to go off on my own.

Fr Ron Rolheiser – Light for the Worldisaiah 40 11


Quote/s of the Day – 14 January -Speaking of the Holy Eucharist from the Fathers of the Church

Quote/s of the Day – 14 January -Speaking of the Holy Eucharist from the Fathers of the Church

“Calling her children about her, she [the Church]
nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word…
The Word is everything to a child –
both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse.
The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments.
He delivers over His Flesh and pours out His Blood
and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children.
O incredible mystery!”
(Instructor of Children 1:6:42,1,3)

St Clement of Alexandria (c 150-216) Church Father

“The flesh feeds on THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST,
so that the SOUL TOO may fatten on God.”
(Resurrection of the Dead 8:3)

“The Sacrament of the Eucharist,
which the Lord commanded to be taken
at meal times and by all, we take even before
daybreak in congregations…
… We take anxious care lest something
of our Cup or Bread should fall upon the ground…”
(The Crown 3:3-4)

Tertullian (c 155-250) Church Father

“You see how the ALTARS are no longer sprinkled
with the blood of oxen but consecrated
(Homilies on Joshua 2:1)

“You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries,
so you know how, when you have received
you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall
and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish….
how is it that you think neglecting the word of God
a lesser crime than neglecting HIS BODY?”
(Homilies on Exodus 13:3)

Origen (c 185-254) Church Fatherthe holy eucharist-holy mass - church fathers - 14 jan 2018

“If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God,
is Himself the High Priest of God the Father;
and if He offered HIMSELF as a SACRIFICE
to the Father
and if He commanded that this be done in
commemoration of Himself –
then certainly the priest,
who imitates that which Christ did,
(Letters 63:14)

St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200-258) Church Fatherif christ jesus - st cyprian - 14 jan 2018

Posted in MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 14 January – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

One Minute Reflection – 14 January – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples and he looked at Jesus as he walked and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus…John 1:35-37

REFLECTION – “If, then, you seek to know what path to follow, take Christ because He is the way.” …St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Doctor of the Churchif then you seek - st thomas aquinas - 14 jan 2018

PRAYER – Holy Lord God, grant that we may live constantly in Your presence.   Grant that we may possess a spirit of joy and gladness because of the firm knowledge that You are always with us and in You and through You and with You, the extraordinary is commonplace!   And turn around Lord and call us, for we are behind You.   Be with us Lord, always, we pray! Amen

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, The HOLY EUCHARIST

Our Morning Offering – 14 January – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Our Morning Offering – 14 January – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Prayer before Mass
By St Ambrose (340-397) Father & Doctor of the Church

Lord Jesus Christ,
We approach Your banquet table
as saints and sinners
and dare not rely on our own worth,
but only on Your goodness and mercy.
Gracious God of majesty and awe,
We seek Your protection,
We look for Your healing.
We appeal to You, the fountain of all mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ, eternal king,
crucified for us, look upon us with mercy
and hear our prayer, for we trust in You.
Merciful Father, purify us in body and soul
and make us worthy to taste the Holy of Holies.
May Your body and blood,
which we intend to receive,
unworthy as we are,
be for us the remission of our sins,
the washing away of our guilt,
the end of our evil thoughts
and the rebirth of our better instincts.
May it incite us to do the works pleasing to You
and profitable to our health in body and soul
and may it deliver us from evil. Amenprayer before mass by st ambrose - 14 jan 2018

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 14 January – Blessed Petrus/Peter Donders C.Ss.R. (1807-1887)

Saint of the Day – 14 January – Blessed Petrus/Peter Donders C.Ss.R. (1807-1887) Religious Priest, Missionary, Evangeliser, Social reformer and Leper Colony worker, Writer.  Blessed Peter was born on 27 October 1805 at Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands and he died on 14 January 1887 at Batavia, Saramacca, Surinam of natural causes.  He is buried there.   He was Beatified on 23 May 1982 by St Pope John Paul II.   O n 11 April 1978, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared miraculous the cure of Louis John Westland from Osteomyelitis by Blessed Peter’s intercession.

Peter Donders was a loser – all his life he was a loser.   He was born in 1809 in the town of Tilburg in Holland, the son of poor weavers, who lived in a one-roomed house with an earthen floor on which sat the family loom.   Peter had to leave school at the age of twelve – his parents needed the money.  He was a devout boy who wanted to be a priest but everything was against him:   poverty, delicate health and, to tell the truth, he was not that clever.   Peter’s was the original impossible dream.   As a weaver, he was not a great success.   You see, he prayed while he weaved which did nothing at all for the quality of the cloth.

bl peter donders 2

For health reasons, Peter was rejected for military service, which was to his advantage. Through the good offices of his kindly parish priest, he got into the seminary, not as a clerical student – but as a domestic servant, but he was allowed to study as best he could in the evenings.   At the age of twenty-nine he was eventually admitted to the seminary to study for the priesthood.   In his last year of study the Vicar Apostolic of Surinam, known then as Dutch Guyana, visited the seminary.   He wanted young priests to go there.   Peter was the only one who volunteered.

A year later, after a sea voyage of one and a half months, Peter disembarked at Paramaribo where behind the opulence of this colonial seaport lay a cess pit of social misery and moral decay.   Here he worked for fourteen years.   Apart from a few rich whites, his parishioners consisted of between seven and eight thousand slaves living in horrendous conditions.

Inland from the town, there were vast tracts of steaming tropical land owned by four hundred planters and worked by forty thousand slaves – human beasts of burden.   On seeing their living conditions Peter remarked:   “If only here they had the same care for the health and well being of the slaves as they have in Europe for the animals, things would be so much better.”   The fact that he could do little or nothing to alleviate the suffering of these poor people broke Peter’s heart.   Patiently he tried to teach them the basic truths of the faith but was met with indifference, hatred and hostility.   But he persevered in preaching the gospel.

Peter’s next appointment was as parish priest of the leper colony at Batavia, where no priest had lasted more than three years and where one had been murdered.   The four hundred lepers were without a doctor or nurse or any kind of sanitation.   They slept on the packed earth so that the pus from their festering sores could drain into the ground. Again, there was little that Peter could do for them.   He provided beds for those still living and burial for those who died.   He did bring them food but the authorities frowned on this.   In prolonging their lives he was, according to them, prolonging public expense.


In the year 1866 a band of Redemptorist Fathers landed in Surinam to assist the four diocesan priests already there.   On their arrival two of the four priests decided to return to Holland;  the other two became Redemptorists.   Peter Donders was one of them.   As a Redemptorist Peter set out to preach to the native Indians, who, among other things, practised polygamy and worshipped spirits.   But the Indians were more interested in liquor than in liturgy.   He preached there for eighteen years with little success.   He himself put it this way:  “It pleased God to offer to the till now neglected Indians … the possibility of knowing and loving Him.   But sadly expectations were never fulfilled.”

Despite the lack of progress in all his apostolic endeavours, Peter never lost faith in God nor in his vocation.   He did admit, however, that his mission was not all that it could have been, adding quickly:   “But God is all powerful;   Mary, the refuge of sinners, is also their mother; from the day on which Christ died souls must be bought by blood.   If only, by sacrificing my own life, I could bring all people to know and love God as he deserves. But let God’s holy will be done in all things.”

In the end, Peter Donders did sacrifice his own life.   After working in Surinam for forty years and having reached the age of seventy-four, his superiors ordered him to rest.   He tried but without success.   By that time he was himself a leper and so he chose to return to the leper colony where he died and was buried in 1887.06 Bl. Petrus Donders (1809 - 1887)

As has already been said, Peter Donders, or should I say Blessed Peter Donders, as he now is, was a loser but then didn’t Jesus say on more than one occasion:   “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it” (Mk. 8:34-35).   Blessed Peter Donders was happy to lose his life for Christ’s sake.    So also should we.DONDERS_PETRUS-300x300Blessed+Peter+DondersJules_Vits_(1868-1935)_Peerke_Donders_-_Gemeentelijk_Museum_Melle_23-3-2017_11-27-38



Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Memorials of the Saints – 14 January

Bl Alfonsa Clerici
Bl Amadeus of Clermont
St Barbasymas
St Caldeoldus of Vienne
St Datius of Milan
Bl Devasahayam Pillai
St Engelmaro
St Eufrasio of Clermont
St Euphrasius the Martyr
St Felix of Nola
St Felix of Rome
St Fermin of Mende
St Glycerius of Antioch
Bl Godfrey of Cappenberg
St Isaias the Martyr
St Jesaja of Sinai
St Macrina the Elder
St Nino of Georgia
Bl Odoric of Pordenone
St Odo of Novara
Bl Pablo Merillas Fernández
St Paul of Africa
Bl Petrus Donders C.Ss.R. (1807-1887)
St Potitus
Bl Rainer of Arnsberg
St Sabas of Sinai
St Sava of Serbia
St Successus of Africa
St Theodolus of Sinai
Bl William de Sanjulia

Martyrs of Mount Sinai: A group of monks on Mount Sinai who were martyred by desert Bedouins. Their names and exact number have not come down to us. Martyred by Bedouins.

Martyrs of Raithu – 43 saints: A group of 43 monks in the Raithu Desert near Mount Sinai, Palestine, near the Red Sea. They were martyred for their faith by desert Bedouins. Their names have not come down to us. Martyred by Bedouins.