NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

VATICAN CITY

POPE ON ALL SAINTS’ DAY: LIVE FOR HEAVEN, NOT THE WORLD

(CNA/EWTN News) If a Christian wants to reach heaven, he or she should ask themselves if they are living for the pleasures of the world, or if they are striving after holiness with all their strength, Pope Francis said on the feast of All Saints.

“Let us ask ourselves what side we are on: that of heaven or that of the earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some fulfillment now?” the pope said Nov. 1.

“Let us ask ourselves: do we really want holiness?” he continued. “Or do we content ourselves with being Christians without disgrace and without praise, who believe in God and esteem others but without going too far?”

“In short, either holiness or nothing!” he said.

The pope led the Angelus from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square in honor of the feast day. In his message before the prayer, he said it is good for Catholics to let themselves be encouraged by the saints, who did not live their lives by “half measures.”

In heaven, the saints “cheer” for those on earth when they see them “choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity,” he said. The saints “understand us, they love us, they know what our true good is, they help us, and they wait for us. They are happy, and they want us to be happy with them in paradise.”

He noted that among the saints are also those who may not be known to us, or who are not on the Church’s liturgical calendar, but are nevertheless with God in heaven. And they are all one’s brothers and sisters – making the feast of All Saints, “a family party,” he said.

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA

NEWLY BEATIFIED GUATEMALANS EXEMPLIFIED COURAGE, CARDINAL SAYS

(CNA) Presiding at a Mass for the beatification of martyrs Fr. Tullio Maruzzo and Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro, a Vatican official prayed that “their martyrdom would inspire in everyone courageous Christian witness, a consistent life and boundless commitment to others.”

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, celebrated the Mass Oct. 27 in the city of Morales in the Apostolic Vicariate of Izabel in Guatemala.

The cardinal said that “the entire Church in Guatemala is in celebration,” and recalled that while “one was a priest and Franciscan religious of the Friars Minor and the other a faithful lay catechist,” both “shared essential traits of spirituality: a simple and joyful lifestyle, befitting one who is poor in spirit ; ardent zeal for the Gospel,  which sustains those who work for peace.”

For his part, “Blessed Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro was the faithful companion that the Lord placed alongside Fr. Tullio at the time of their martyrdom. He is the mature fruit of your Church of Izabel, that you are reaping in the year you are solemnly celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the erection of the vicariate! He is the first native martyr of Guatemala!”

The cardinal noted that “the circumstances of the martyrdom of Fr. Tullio and Luis Obdlio are well known. Death was violently inflicted upon them by their assassins because of their hatred for Christ and the Gospel.”

PAKISTAN

TOP PAKISTANI COURT FREES ASIA BIBI, DISCARDS BLASPHEMY CONVICTION

(Catholic Culture) Asia Bibi, the young Christian mother who was sentenced to death in 2010 under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, has been set free, after the nation’s highest court voided her conviction.

Asia Bibi was arrested in 2009, after a dispute with Muslim co-workers who pressed her to renounce her faith. She was convicted in November 2010 under Pakistan’s newly imposed blasphemy law, and sentenced to death, despite the absence of any clear evidence against her. She has been imprisoned since that time, serving much of her time in solitary confinement because of death threats against her. Her family has also been subject to death threats.

After a series of court appeals—which were frequently delayed, as Islamic extremists threatened judges—the Bibi case was decided on October 31 by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which overturned the sentence. Presiding Judge Mian Saqib Nisar announced that the woman was innocent of the charges, and ordered her immediate release.

The court decision is “great news for Pakistan and the rest of the world,” said Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook. Her case had drawn international attention, as an example of how Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law could be abused.

However, the decision provoked outrage among Islamic extremists, who had threatened in the past that Asia Bibi and her family would be killed if she was ever released from prison.

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