Ukraine - Hearts that Beat for Christ

In the east of the country a ongoing conflict, in the west rampant corruption, and everywhere galloping inflation. Yet in the midst of the darkness the seminarians sing God’s praises, in the midst of the chaos they revere his divine wisdom and continue to study for peace and reconciliation.

In the two Ukrainian Greek-Catholic seminaries of Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil-Zboriv in west Ukraine their faith ensures that they still look with confidence to the future. Their sense of a great community strengthens their certainty that God is with them. There are 221 seminarians in Ivano-Frankivsk and 153 in Ternopil-Zboriv.

They come from a number of different dioceses. The Church recovered the seminary buildings, which had been confiscated and left in ruins by the Soviets, thoroughly repaired and refurbished them and filled them once again with young men whose hearts beat truly for Christ and for the Church. But the bursar is not the only one to realise that the prices of electricity, water, gas and basic food supplies are rising relentlessly today.

For years the seminaries have been trying to cope with this crisis by growing their own food, keeping bees and raising livestock. But it’s just not enough. Quite often the seminary also helps the poor in the region. State support? No chance. The average basic living cost for each seminarian in west Ukraine works out at around €3,500 per year. We have promised to help.

This is also an investment in the future of the Ukrainian Catholic communities abroad; a number of the young priests who emerge from these seminaries will later go to Kazakhstan, Italy and other parts of the world where they will proclaim peace to all people of goodwill.

Thank you for helping these seminarians to continue singing the Lord’s praises in the midst of the chaos and suffering which is the present-day Ukraine.


This article can be found in Mirror 0118.


Russia - The ecumenism of the Martyrs

7 November 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the ‘October’ Revolution in Russia. The revolution developed into a brutal civil war that ended with the establishment of the communist Soviet Union: a violent dictatorship ideologically rooted in Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism. This began one of the worst periods of persecution in Church history.

Now, one hundred years later, it is the Christians in the Middle East who are being persecuted. And it is the Church in Russia, once severely persecuted itself, that is working together with the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to support those being persecuted today.

The interview with Peter Humeniuk, Head of the Russian and Central Asian section of Aid to the Church in Need, was held by Maria Lozano.


Q: How important is the day commemorating the October Revolution in Russia?

A: Very important: this is a period marked by one of the worst persecutions of Christians of the modern age and possibly of history. We should not forget how greatly the Eastern Orthodox church, which the Second Vatican Council referred to as a ‘sister church’, suffered during Soviet times. 

Twenty years after the October Revolution, only 100 of what were once approx. 60,000 churches were still in existence. 

Fifteen thousand priests were killed during the first two years after the October Revolution. More than 300 bishops were executed or died in prison. The region affected by the worst persecution of Christians in history extended from Kaliningrad in the West all the way to Magadan in the East.


Q: Is this why the persecution of Christians is an important topic to the church in Russia?

A: Certain parallels can be drawn between the events of the last one hundred years since the October Revolution and the events that are currently unfolding in the Middle East, for example. 

The Russian church just went through that which our confrères in the Middle East are now experiencing. This is why we Russians cannot just accept it as a piece of news when the attempt is being made to wipe out Christianity somewhere in the world. 

Pope John Paul II was very conscious of that which is known as the ‘ecumenism of the martyrs’. With this in mind, it was his heartfelt wish to see the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Church grow closer. 

This wish was shared by Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of ACN. He devoted his entire life to working towards this reconciliation. 


Q: Aid to the Church in Need is continuing his work, primarily by initiating solidarity campaigns for the persecuted Christians in Syria. How did this cooperation develop?

A: This cooperation is one of the practical results of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill that took place in February of 2016 in Cuba. 

The meeting gave rise to a series of joint projects for Syria that are being organised by the Roman Catholic Church in Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. 

For example, a joint Orthodox-Catholic delegation, which included ACN, visited refugees in the Beqaa Valley and met with representatives of the local churches in Lebanon and Syria in April 2016. 

I have just returned from another trip to Lebanon, during which Metropolitan Hilarion met with prominent representatives of all local denominations. Mons. Kirill Klimovich, bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Irkutsk, also joined us from Russia. 

The main purpose of the meeting was the development of a database to document the destruction of the ‘spiritual infrastructure’.

A further topic was the restoration of the holy sites destroyed by ISIS and targeted child and youth services in this region. We have informed Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill about
this work. 


Q: Why is documenting the destruction so important?

A: For IS, it is not just about destroying the physical buildings. Rather, they would like to destroy the ‘spiritual home’ of the people

For the people there, all Christian symbols and buildings provide a sense of belonging, of having roots. ISIS wants to destroy these people with their history and social networks. 

It is important for us to hold on to the witnesses of the martyrs. These are crimes that need to be documented, simply so that they do not happen again in the future and so that they are remembered. 

This is why we would like to compile the individual experiences of the people and have these checked to ensure that the sources be traced back. 


Q: Aid to the Church in Need is also celebrating an anniversary at the moment: Exactly 25 years ago, on 13 October 1992, Father Werenfried van Straaten first travelled to Moscow to meet with Patriarch Alexy II. This meeting marked the beginning of a programme for the Russian Orthodox church. How would you describe the cooperation today?

A: Since then, a relationship of trust has been established with the Orthodox Church on a number of levels. We have overcome obstacles and I am very happy about the current form of cooperation. 

I am sure that our work in the past helped make the meeting in Havana possible. Now we have the important task of putting Havana into action. This is why we have formed a mixed work group of Russian Catholics, the Russian Orthodox Church and our pastoral charity. 

The work of this group is being overseen by Archbishop of Moscow Paulo Pezzi on the Catholic side, by Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Foreign Office, on the Orthodox side, and by Johannes Heereman, Executive President of the foundation, on the side of ACN. 


Q: And what have been the results?

A: In addition to the campaigns in the Middle East, concrete examples are providing aid to women who find themselves in critical situations, are victims of domestic violence, are suffering hardship or distress or are in need of shelter because they have decided against having an abortion. 

It is important for us to strengthen Christian values such as the family or the protection
of life. 

We are also promoting an exchange of experiences between Catholics and Orthodox. For example, a delegation from Italy and Portugal met for the first time in St. Petersburg with Russian-Orthodox partners to discuss drug addiction. 

The Catholic seminary in St. Petersburg provided the setting for this meeting, which was attended by the pro-rector of the Orthodox seminary and academy as well as many Orthodox priests who are professionally trained as physicians, psychologists, etc. and know a great deal about this subject. 

For us, this is an expression of living ecumenism, in the service of the people and in the spirit of joint responsibility.


This article can be found in Mirror 0817.


Let us Pray to Our Lady of Fatima

Let us pray to Our Lady of Fatima who, in inviting us to do penance, to pray and to convert, teaches us the logic of the Cross, the logic of the One who offered himself for others.

Let us pray to Her that the simple and wholesome truths of the Catechism, with its taste of home-made bread, may find an echo in our hearts and in our lives;

Let us pray that the meaning of the words of the Angel, who appeared in 1916, and the singular words of the Blessed Virgin, and likewise the example of Saints Francisco and Jacinta, and of Lúcia, may find a welcome within us and renew our everyday Christian life.

Into your hands Most Blessed Virgin, living Tabernacle of the Divinity, we entrust the renewed vows of our Baptism, forever renouncing Satan, his vanities and his works, and giving ourselves completely to Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate, ready to carry our cross behind Him every day of our lives.

To You, O Blessed Virgin Mary, we abandon and consecrate ourselves:

  • our bodies and our souls,
  • our spiritual and material possessions and even
  • the value of all our good deeds, past, present and future,

entrusting to You the total and complete right to dispose of us and all that belongs to us, for the greater glory of God, through time and for all eternity.

We look forward to the triumph of your Immaculate Heart.

 

Adapted and Edited from Cardinal Piacenza’s homily given on Wednesday 14 September 2017 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima during ACN’s international pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Aid to the Church in Need.


This article can be found in Mirror 0717.


Cardinal Mauro Piacenza - The Church and the Cross

A Christianity without the Cross, fearful of contemplating the Cross, of preaching it, or which in practice marginalises it, would fall into the absurdity of a Christianity without Christ. And in so doing we would fall into the very dangerous confusion of idealism.

The same is true for the Church, which has been called for two thousand years not only to contemplate the Crucified, but also – as we do today – to celebrate Him, to exalt the Holy Cross – obviously not as an instrument of torture or out of an insane devotion to pain, but rather as a historical place for the recapitulation of all things in Christ and as a necessary way to arrive at the victory of the Resurrection and the fullness of love, peace and joy, won for us by Christ and given as a gift to man.

Only a Church that is fully aware of the centrality of the mystery of the Cross will have the necessary vitality to recognise all the crucified ones of our own time and, with the help of Grace, to become like Simon of Cyrene for them. The Church is not called to solve all the problems of humanity, it is not called to eliminate the Cross from the lives of men, and still less to erase its memory from human history.

  • The Church is the inn where the Good Samaritan accompanies the wounded pilgrim!
  • The Church is like Simon of Cyrene, who helps Christ carry the Cross but does not prevent him from dying crucified!
  • The Church is to be found in the apostle He loved, who at the foot of the Cross contemplates the Master, without understanding everything but continuing to love passionately.
  • The Church is above all represented by the Sorrowful Virgin whom, God willing, we shall celebrate tomorrow and who, full of compassion, takes into her arms the Body of the Crucified One, surrounds Him with her overflowing maternal love, and venerates Him with loving trepidation in expectation of the Resurrection.
  • The Church is fully contained in the passionate devotion of the women, who in the morning hasten to the sepulchre, expecting to find a body and instead becoming proclaimers of the Resurrection.
  • The Church is in the running of Peter and John, a running that never stops and which enables us even today, in contemplating the Crucifixion and the empty Sepulchre, to tell the world that we have seen and have believed: ‘And he saw and believed’ (Jn 20:8).

For all these reasons, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we implore that the Church may always be permeated by the dimension of the Cross of Christ, whose expiatory value shines especially brightly in the messages of Fatima, which see a struggling Church, besieged and seemingly crushed by evil, but all enveloped in the salvific Love of Christ and the beating maternal heart of Mary, who is the perfect Icon of the Church.

Let us remember that it is never possible 

  • to separate the Church from the Cross, 
  • to separate Christ from the Cross, 
  • to separate Man from the Cross.

The Church will be faithful to God and faithful to men only by proclaiming the historical fact of a salvation that passes through the Cross, learning always and again to express the logic of the Cross in all the fabric of her own being and doing. All the great topics, from family to ecology, from evangelisation to faith, can be seen in no other way than in the logic of the Cross, a logic of offering and sacrifice, of atonement and death, to reach the glory of the Resurrection, the total fulfilment of the Cross. ‘Per Crucem ad lucem!’ 11

Hence this centrality of the Cross, and of the Crucified one, also becomes the light and standard whereby we must evaluate, increase, and enliven our life as Christians. We cannot delude ourselves that we can be Christians without contemplating the Crucified One. On the contrary, a Christianity without the Cross would be reduced to a generic collection of moral rules, devoid of attraction and meaning, and thus uselessly proclaimed and never realised.

  • There is no reason to love all our brothers and sisters, except in the Crucified one!
  • There is no reason to love ourselves, except in the Crucified one!
  • There is no reason to pray for sinners, as Fatima invites us to do, except in the Crucified one!
  • There is no reason to continue to hope, again and always, except that God became Man and died for us, for everyone, with no one excluded!

The Cross is thus the foundation and the reason for our own Christian existence.

We look upon the Crucifix with the wondering gaze of the Apostle John, knowing that we too are the disciples whom Jesus loved. With tearful eyes, but firm and full of faith, we look towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whose grieving and Immaculate Heart we feel gently protected.

Every time life crucifies us, every time our brothers crucify us, every time illness, misunderstanding, loneliness, marginalisation, and betrayal crucify us, we are in Mary’s Heart, because that is where the Cross of her Son always finds room, because within her maternal Heart even her Son found the support he needed to climb Calvary.

Only in this awareness can there be a new flourishing of humanity and a radical renewal of our way of thinking, and hence of doing. Christian morality can be described, quite simply, as fidelity to the Cross!

It means living while bearing constantly before our eyes the Crucified Christ, imploring the wisdom always

  • to choose to suffer rather than cause suffering,
  • to die rather than kill,
  • to accept rather than reject,
  • to love, love and love again.

Christ’s promise to draw all men to Himself when he is lifted up from the earth is certainly not the vague raving of someone sentenced to death. It is the sure promise of the new logic that the Cross carries within itself.

It is the promise of the fascination that the Cross exercises over the hearts and minds of men, over their very existence, because the Cross is the only possible response to the mystery of human suffering.

In fact, human suffering cannot be eliminated, and any attempt to eliminate it without the Cross would not be Christian, but simply a form of utopian philanthropy that would end up by destroying freedom.

Thus the Cross becomes a fascinating mystery, capable of attracting, capable almost of seducing men by virtue of the new logic that it introduces and the life it enables us to experience.

We all need Someone to die for love of us, Someone who loves us so radically as to be willing to give his life for us. Jesus Christ has done this for you, for me, for each one of us, and it is this Love, this act of total giving which, lifted up from the earth and thus made visible to all men, draws them, draws them to Christ, becoming a tremendous and fascinating mystery.

The task of the Church and of each of us, powerfully outlined and sustained here in Fatima, is to show the Crucified One to the world, to continue to raise up the Cross of Christ over the world.

The Church, in this Centenary Year of the Apparitions of Fatima, is called to raise up the Cross of Christ, as the only banner in which humanity can find peace, can find salvation. ‘Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis!’  15

 

Adapted and Edited from Cardinal Piacenza’s homily given on Wednesday 14 September 2017 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima during ACN’s international pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Aid to the Church in Need.
11 ‘Through the Cross to the Light’.
15 ‘The Cross stands firm as the World turns’.


This article can be found in Mirror 0717.


Christianity is Joy, Peace and Love

Dear friends, the Lord’s proclamation is unequivocal. It explicitly tells us that it is not enough to believe in Him in order to claim to be authentically Christian, but rather that all of us are called upon to see, embrace and enter into a new logic: the logic of the Cross.

It is a logic that is based on the freedom of God, who gives His Only Son to humanity in the only way that makes it possible to free us from the grip of the evil one. As Pope Francis so often reminds us, the evil one is no mere allegory of evil but rather a real personal presence who acts in the world, causing grave harm to every individual and to society generally. 11

To a humanity enslaved by sin, crushed by the bite of a Satan thirsting for human blood, God sent His Son, who freely offered Himself in the place of men, who spilt His precious blood in exchange for that of men. In this admirable exchange, in this vicarious replacement, we find the heart of the history of salvation, capable of truly freeing man and definitively destroying the evil one.

The historical fact of the bloody sacrifice that Christ made of Himself on the altar of the Cross demands our acceptance, not only in the doctrinal and ecclesial domain, but also in the sphere of our own moral and human existence.

In the doctrinal and ecclesial domain it is more urgent than ever to keep before our eyes the Mysterium Crucis12 whenever we attempt to understand, present and re-present the essence of our faith. Christianity is Joy, Peace and Love – only because Christ was lifted from the earth, only because the Blood of Eternal Life and the Water of Salvation gushed out from His pierced side.

  • There is no Love that does not gush forth from Christ’s pierced side!
  • There is no Joy that does not gush forth from Christ’s pierced side!
  • There is no Peace that is not conquered for man by the Cross of Christ.

‘Christus Pax nostra!’13   proclaims the Apostle, who well understood the centrality of the Cross.

 

Adapted and Edited from Cardinal Piacenza’s homily given on Wednesday 14 September 2017 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima during ACN’s international pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Aid to the Church in Need
11 cf. CCC 395
12 ‘The Mystery of the Cross’
13 ‘Christ is our Peace’ Eph 2:14


This article can be found in Mirror 0717.


Defending Life, the Family and Civilisation Itself

Dearest brothers and sisters, let us free ourselves from all ties to sin, so that our lives, as deeply united with Christ, may reflect His presence in the world and that in this way, our kindness as ‘known to all’ may be the guiding principle and the driving force of our apostolate.

Also let us as Christ’s Church respond with unity and purpose to the terrible attack on marriage and the family which has been unleashed worldwide as the final assault by the Evil One.

As a letter from Sister Lúcia do Santos of Fatima clearly indicates, the Devil’s final attack will be directed towards the family, at that natural institution which was willed by the Creator, who created ‘male and female’ and ordered them to ‘be fertile and multiply’.9

From both a cultural and a juridical perspective this violent attack upon the family has no precedent and in it, the dragon of Revelation (i.e. the devil) is seeking the realisation of anti-creation.

The Devil wants to be the anti-Creator by convincing mankind that anti-creation can be more beautiful, more enjoyable, and ultimately better than what God has created.


What is anti-creation?

God created man in his image and likeness and placed him in that unmistakable two-as-one relationship between man and woman, which is the essential basis of life.

The devil, for his part in his anti-creation, wants to destroy man by drowning him in the culture of death. Not content only with this, Satan wants to destroy the ‘place’ where this life vibrates, is transmitted and is formed: the family.

The anti-creation that is taking place in the suppression of life is being echoed in the anti-creation that is being realised in the cultural destruction of the family.

Here today at Fatima, fulfilling God’s Will, discerning the Signs of the Times, means for us to resist! Resist with the strength of Faith and Charity!

We are convinced that nothing is more prophetic, more modern, more counter-cultural than defending life, family, education, in the knowledge that today these are the real emergencies.

Dear friends, the day will come when the world will thank the Church for fearlessly and uncompromisingly defending Life, the Family and Civilisation itself.

 

Adapted and Edited from Cardinal Piacenza’s homily given on Wednesday 13 September 2017 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima during ACN’s international pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Aid to the Church in Need
9 Gen 1:27-28,


This article can be found in Mirror 0717.


What really counts in God’s eyes

At Fatima, Our Blessed Lady sought to urge men and women

  • to pray,
  • to do penance,
  • to convert and
  • to prepare them for the future…

…prophesying and pointing to the struggles and hardships, the crosses and battles that all souls, and with them the Church that lives in souls, are called to endure.

As authoritatively taught by an unbroken Magisterium in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Faith tells us that the end of history will occur at a time of suffering for the Church, at a time of kenosis and poverty of faith.5

So it is that at Fatima Our Lady repeats to the Church and to the world ‘Do whatever He tells you,’ so that no one will find themselves afflicted by the misfortune of being unprepared when the Lord returns.

And here we should recall that although our lives are full of limitations and sinfulness, what really counts in God’s eyes are our constant exertions to be faithful, our unending efforts to ‘remain in Him’ in order to live and be fruitful.6 It is then that we discover an ocean of Divine Mercy. But we must not forget what Holy Scripture teaches: ‘The start of wisdom is fear of the Lord,’ always noting that the fear of God is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.7

Thank you, Our Lady of Fatima, because, while you were taken up into the glory of Heaven, you did not abandon humanity; rather you continue to sustain and guide us on this pilgrimage which has as its objective the embracing of your Son and our remaining forever under your mantle.

Thank you again for repeating ‘do whatever He tells you’ in this gathering of love, which is Fatima.

 

Adapted and Edited from Cardinal Piacenza’s homily given on Wednesday 13 September 2017 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima during ACN’s international pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima and to commemorate the 70 anniversary of the founding of Aid to the Church in Need
5 cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)  677
6 Cf. Jn 15:4-7
7 Cf. Isa 11:2; CCC 1831


This article can be found in Mirror 0717.


Cardinal Mauro Piacenza - Do whatever He tells you

Today the Blessed Virgin’s words continue to echo and remind us of the certainty of Christian Truth as a constant and reliable point of reference for all of our lives.  She who is ‘full of grace’ repeats to us ‘Do whatever He tells you’ and invites us to use our intelligence, informed by our conscience, to discern the signs of the times and do the right things.

Again and again she repeats ‘Do whatever He tells you’. Again and again she invites us to acknowledge her Son and to recognise that the fullness of God, the fullness of the Divinity, is alive in the flesh and blood of the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth.

Yes, we know that whoever recognises that Jesus is God made Man, is someone who comes from God and the Holy Spirit lives in him. (cf.1 John 2:22). Conversely whoever denies or hides the singular mystery of the Incarnation is not of God. The first thing then that the Madonna asks us to do is to accept this precise act of faith from which everything else follows.

We thank you, Our Lady of Fatima, for you always remind us of how the core of our faith is the recognition that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and Christ, the centre of the universe and of history (cf. Acts 4:12).

Faced with passing fashions, with all the corruption of the true faith, all the world’s monotonously repetitive attempts to ‘reduce’ the mystery of Christ, we acknowledge that there is no other God but the One and Triune God, and only in Jesus Christ is there salvation.

Today, in the current cultural context and occasionally even in the ecclesial context, acknowledging this is truly prophetic.

So it is that in repeating ‘do whatever He tells you’, Mary is in fact inviting us to be prophets.

Not only is she is inviting us to repeat her words at Cana in an attitude of humble obedience to Divine Revelation, but she is asking us to allow the Holy Spirit to shape our hearts and our minds so that this sanctification may sustain our efforts that our entire existence may become ‘prophetic,’ and just as in Cana, a proclamation of Christ, of His presence, and of the salvation that He brings.

Certainly today, in an old and tired Europe, we have to acknowledge that being a true believer and one who accepts Divine Revelation in its entirety is to be counter cultural – and as a result we will be mocked from certain quarters.

In which regard, the words of the Sermon on the Mount come to mind ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me’ (Mt 5:11).

Precisely for this reason it is a prophetic act to proclaim the truth of the Lamb of God, that sacrificed itself to carry the sins of the world without uttering a word.

Such prophetic acts are a gift of the Holy Spirit and require the gift of fortitude.

Ultimately, such behaviour is one of the most obvious expressions of the ‘vicarious atonement’ which Fatima reminds us that Christians must learn to undertake in relation to Humanity: the prayer and penance which through charity flows through the veins of the Mystical Body.

Thank you, Our Lady of Fatima, you support us as you did your Son as we ascend Calvary, you help us in the difficult challenge of bearing witness, thank you for with us and for us, you continue to ‘crush the snake’s head’ which is always undermining the truth of faith with lies, and the purity of life with temptations and compromises.

For two thousand years, through the action of the Church and in particular through the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist, knowledge of the singularity of Christ has reverberated in the world in which the Church affirms and sees accomplished ‘all that she herself is and all that she herself believes’.1

So it is then that ‘Do whatever He tells you’ anticipates the Last Supper when Jesus commanded the Apostles to ‘Do this in memory of me.’

 

Edited and adapted from Cardinal Piacenza’s homily given on Wednesday 13 September 2017 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima during ACN’s international pilgrimage to mark the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima and to commemorate the 70 anniversary of the founding of Aid to the Church in Need.
1Dei Verbum, No. 8.


This article can be found in Mirror 0717.


Something Big for the Family

‘We need to do something big for the family, something like the Child’s Bible.’

Father Werenfried, ACN’s founder, often expressed this wish. He could see the connection between the Gospel message, life, the family and the young people of the Church. Today ACN Child’s Bible has been published 51 million times in 187 languages and 202 different countries or regions.

And for young people we also have the YOUCAT series, now in a number of different titles – a catechism, a youth Bible, a prayer book, a Confirmation book, a Confession book, and as DOCAT, a practical summary of Catholic social teaching. The publication of this series is supported by the pontifical foundation ACN. The YOUCAT catechism alone has now reached 4 million copies in over 150 different countries.

Last year, thanks to your generosity we were also able to fund the publication of numerous other liturgical and religious writings and books in a total printing of some 1.5 million copies.

We are trying to do what Father Werenfried wanted: Something big for the family.

The Holy Bible remains the most widely read book in the world, with an estimated total printing of around 3 billion copies.


This article can be found in Mirror 0617.


New joy in the Faith - Latvia

Pope Francis assures us: ‘A renewal of preaching can offer believers new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the work of evangelisation.’

This fruitfulness is something to which the Dominican Sisters in Liepaja, Latvia can also attest. Here, as in the country generally, only 15% of the population are Catholics, and yet the courses in the Faith and on Church history run by the Sisters on a near weekly basis are constantly oversubscribed.

They also offer practical counsel, in something the world does not understand, namely fasting. They explain the meaning of renunciation and sacrifice. There are 190 women participants, many of them elderly ladies, grandmothers, who personally experienced the communist era and know what it means to be free to find out about their faith and also live it openly.

They were the ones who kept the Gospel message in their hearts and lived by it. Now they are refreshing their own knowledge of the faith so that they can pass it on to their children and grandchildren – and at the same time explain to them what it was like to risk prison, labour camps and even one’s life simply for attending Holy Mass. For the children and grandchildren of today for the most part only know from books or from hearsay about this time of persecution and dictatorship under communism.

The testimony of these grandmothers is awakening the longing for meaning and the inner life in many people. It is not simply a matter of recalling the past, rather it is about the future, especially of the younger generation. However, fulfilling this spiritual longing once more is beyond the human capacities of the local churches in the Baltic nations.

Often it does not take much, but for a small convent like that of the Dominican Sisters in Liepaja even the cost of the teaching materials and the organisation of the courses is beyond their slender means. ACN is helping the Sisters revive this new joy in the Faith.


This article can be found in Mirror 0417.