"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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"Jean of Catholic Fire...provides so much informative content. She posts about pro-life issues and events, what happened 'on this day', biographies of saints, prayer intentions, and lots more each day. No matter what she's posting about, I can always come away each day feeling uplifted...and that's saying a lot for me, as I'm someone who often tries to avoid thinking about some of the political and other issues that she posts about. It must be her strong faith and trust in God, as well as her love, shining through her posts, that inspire me." Margaret Mary Myers , Reflections, Catholic BVI Readers, VIP Homeschooler.
Saint Nicholas was born in the village of Patara in Lyrica, Asia Minor, about the middle of the third century, of devout and wealthy parents who provided him with a Christian upbringing and education. He was orphaned at an early age.
Later he was ordained a priest, and when the bishop of his district died, he was made Bishop of Myra. Saint Nicholas is distinguished for his great faith. His faith was so great, that with his prayer he calmed a stormy sea while on a trip to the Holy Lands. For this reason sailors pay homage to him as their protector.
He is particularly well known for his charity and his love for children. He used his great wealth to assist all who were in need: poor families, widows, and especially orphans and poor children. As Bishop, he established a poorhouse and a hospital.
Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters, who were all hoping to be married. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast.
He was the personification of Christian love and affection. As such he is honored by all the Christian world, both the Eastern and the Western.
In the West especially, he is considered the great patron Saint of children and the cheerful giver of gifts under the name Santa Claus.
His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; up to the present day an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.
Patron: against imprisonment; against robberies; against robbers; apothecaries; bakers; barrel makers; boatmen; boot blacks; boys; brewers; brides; captives; children; coopers; dock workers; druggists; fishermen; grooms; judges; lawsuits lost unjustly; longshoremen; maidens; mariners; merchants; murderers; newlyweds; old maids; parish clerks; paupers; pawnbrokers; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; pilgrims; poor people; prisoners; sailors; scholars; schoolchildren; shoe shiners; spinsters; students; thieves; travellers; unmarried girls; watermen; Greek Catholic Church in America; Greek Catholic Union; Bari, Italy; Fossalto, Italy; Duronia, Italy; Portsmouth, England; Greece; Lorraine; Russia; Sicily.
A mystery diner is changing the lives of some lucky restaurant workers across the country. The customer is leaving huge tips, some as large as $5,000, and signing every one of those checks “Tips for Jesus.”
The do-gooder at this point remains anonymous. Across the country, in California, Illinois, and Michigan, all the tabs have been covered by one American Express Black Card. Based on the types of establishments frequented, it is speculated that he is a college football fan.
The owner of the Moon Dogs bar in Washington was shocked when he and his staff received a $5,000 tip on a $576 bar tab. Darryl Baldwin recalled asking the man if he was sure he wanted to leave such a large gratuity. “The guy goes, ‘Absolutely, you know I made a ton of money in my life. This is my way of giving back.’”
South Bend, Ind., Dec 5, 2013 / 12:06 am (CNA).- Lawsuits from the University of Notre Dame and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students are challenging the HHS mandate for forcing them to violate Catholic teaching or face crippling fines.
Notre Dame's president Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said the university's lawsuit is about the freedom to “live out a religious mission” with broader significance than a debate about contraception.
“For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately will undermine those institutions,” Fr. Jenkins said in a Dec. 3 statement.
(Vatican Radio) "Francis 1223 - Francis 2013" is the title of this year’s nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, marking the first Christmas of the pontificate of Pope Francis. For the first time, a Neapolitan crèche will be used in the exhibit, created by Antonio Cantone of the firm Cantone & Costabile. The nativity scenes of Naples are world famous, and the material was donated by the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, with the support of the president of the Region of Campania, Stefano Caldoro. The figures will be dressed in the clothing typical of 18th century Naples. The scene will be funded largely by donations from benefactors, limiting the expense of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
(Vatican Radio) Anyone who utters Christian words without putting them into practice hurts oneself and others, because they are based on pride and cause division in the Church. Those were the Pope’s words during his homily at Mass this Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Martha. Lydia O’Kane reports
Taking his cue from Thursday’s liturgy, Pope Francis explained that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for knowing the commandments, but not implementing them in their lives.They are " good words," he said, but if they are not put into practice "not only do they not serve us, but they hurt : they deceive us , they make us believe that we have a beautiful home, but without a foundation” .
The Holy Father went on to say that the Lord is our foundation. Our rock is Jesus Christ.Continuing on this theme Pope Francis underlined that “a Christian word without Christ at its center leads to vanity, to pride, power for the sake of power.” The Lord, said the Pope, breaks down these people who believe themselves to be the Rock.
The Holy Father affirmed during his Homily that we would " do well to examine our own consciences” to see whether our Christian words are indeed Christ centred because when they are not, he said, they divide us from ourselves and divide the Church. Pope Francis concluded his Homily by saying “let us ask the Lord to help in this humility, to speak words rooted in Jesus Christ.
(Vatican Radio) In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis recognizes the “indispensable contribution” of women to society and underlines the “need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church”.
“This presents a great challenge to pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church and Church life,” said Donna Orsuto, a professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, citing the exhortation.
“My hope is that it would become normative that women would be consulted, that women would be involved, that their gifts would be put at the service of the Church,” she commented.
She underlined important distinctions the Pope makes in the exhortation in understanding women’s service in the Church in relation to the priesthood.
First, she said, the Pope clearly states that the ordination of women is not open for discussion. But he goes on to make a very important point, she said: “The sacramental priesthood is not about power, it’s about service”.
He further emphasizes that functions in the Church “do not favour superiority of some vis à vis the others.” She underlined how the Pope elaborates this point in his exhortation by stating how Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops.
“What he is saying is very important: women do not have to be priests to be of service in the Church, and we need to find creative ways to have women exercise their legitimate rights, based on their equality and dignity,” she said.
Women with professional backgrounds in business and management could be of great service to the Church, she offered as an example. As well, she wondered whether women could work in the diplomatic service of the Church or whether it must be limited to priests.
Bangalore - The Carmel of the future is called to offer tools that correspond to the thirst for God that is present today in Asia. Carmelite spirituality has immense possibilities to respond to this thirst for God, and to lead people in his relationship with God: this is what emerged from the conclusions of the Asian Congress entitled "Saint Teresa speaks to Asia", organized by the Carmelites in India in preparation for the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, reformer of the Carmelite Order. As Fides learns, the Congress, held in Bangalore from 28th November to 1st December, was attended by Msg. Albert D'Souza, Archbishop of Agra and Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore, together with the other Bishops of Karnataka and the Superiors General of the various congregations existing in India. Over 500 Carmelite delegates from all over India and abroad were present.
The Congress revived the character, spirituality and doctrine of the Saint, without forgetting the cultural programs on Saint Teresa, like a film on her story.All the communities of apostolic and contemplative life, religious and lay Carmelites - was stated at the conclusion of the work - should engage in the task of "living an evangelical and profound spiritual experience".
In the vast Asian continent, the Carmelites are called "to engage in an open dialogue with the great non-Christian religions, especially in the field of spirituality". To achieve this goal – conclude the Indian Carmelites - we must seek new forms of prayer.
Leave it to the Germans to push for efficiency and punctuality. They drove this year's Christmas Tree more than 695 miles from Bavaria to Rome. And they did it one day ahead of schedule.
"We left early because the weather for Friday is not so good. And the Vatican wanted us to do the work today.”
The company in charge said it was smooth driving, and great weather all the way from Germany. That made it easier to transport 7.5 ton tree, measuring more than 80 feet tall.
"We are very proud. We are very happy that company can bring the tree to Pope Francis.”
In addition to the pride of the workers, the tree was met with rejoice by tourists and locals alike. They flocked to the square to catch a glimpse or even a picture.
"That's even a big tree for Canada.”
For some of the visitors at St. Peter's Square, the Vatican's Christmas Tree is also tied to some very dear memories.
Chef living in Rome
"I came last year for the first time and I just happened to arrive on the day they put it up. This year I tried to find out when it was going up. Non one knows for sure. I came yesterday, missed it. Today the trucks were all here I knew for sure. I got here at 6:30.”
It's not only becoming a tradition, but a celebration of what's happened in this past year for this Canadian chef.
Chef living in Rome
"I came to Rome a little over a year ago and... fell in love. With the city first, and then with another chef, and we're still together and we'll be married in the New Year.”
So this year, it's not just Christmas, but also wedding bells that will ring in Rome. The excitement is also just beginning as Christmas officially makes its way to the
Pope Francis has approved a commission for the protection of minors and for victims of clerical sex abuse. The announcement was made by Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, who as the Archbishop of Boston, has directly led the fight against these type of cases.
CARD. SEAN PATRICK O'MALLEY
Archbishop of Boston ( USA )
"Continuing in the decisions, and in the policies of Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal that has been presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a very specific Commission for the protection of children, so the Commission will be able to advise the Holy Father about the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse.”
So the commission will study the current policies and propose new ways to improve them. It will also look into the pastoral support of victims and their families as the cooperation lines between Episcopal conferences and the respective authorities.
CARD. SEAN PATRICK O'MALLEY
Archbishop of Boston ( USA )
"Up to now there has been too much focus on the judicial part of this, but the pastoral response of the Church is very important and the Holy Father is concerned about that.”
The Pope has approved the commission but details about its members or even when it will be launched are still pending. But an interesting point is just how fast it was approved. The Council of Cardinals put forth the idea on Wednesday and the Pope approved it on Thursday.
The saint of the day is Blessed Phillip Rinaldi, a Salesian priest.
Phillip was born on May 28, 1856 at Lu Monferrato (Alessandria). Philip met Don Bosco at age 5, and at the age of 22, joined him in the Salesian order. When he was ordained, his first responsibility was the formation of aspirants and novices. He became the Salesian provincial superior in Spain where he opened many new houses and then served as vicar-general of the Salesians before becoming the Rector Major in 1922, Don Bosco’s third successor. As Vicar General of the Congregation, he displayed even more of his fatherly gifts and his willingness to assume many pastoral responsibilities.
He was elected Rector Major in 1922 and focused his energy on adapting the spirit of Don Bosco to the current situation. Don Francesia wrote “Don Rinaldi was only missing the voice of Don Bosco: he had everything else!” He was a master of Salesian ways and spirituality and brought about a renewal in the interior life of Salesians, absolute confidence in God and unlimited trust in Mary Help of Christians. He asked Pope Pius XI for an indulgence for ‘sanctified work’. He took great care of the missions and sent many young Salesians to learn languages and customs so that they could be more immersed in local culture and spread the gospel more effectively.
He died on December 5, 1931 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 29th April 1990. His remains are venerated in the crypt of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.
“What must you do to have life? Before all else, the first thing you have to do is pray for courage every day to carry the cross the Lord has assigned you. Then let each of you do your own work really well, the work proper to your state, as God wants it, and according to your condition.”
~ Blessed Phillip Rinaldi
This will be the new face that adorns the magnificent walls inside the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
More than nine months after his election, Archpriest James Michael Harvey presented the mosaic of Pope Francis to the Holy Father, before Wednesday General Audience.
The mosaic of Pope Francis will be placed alongside those of Benedict XVI and John Paul II, at the gallery inside the Basilica. The gallery is well known for its mosaics of all the Popes elected in the Church's history.
This particular mosaic was built by workers at Fabric of St. Peter, inside the Vatican.
Vatican City, 4 December 2013 (VIS) - “I believe in the resurrection of the flesh” was the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience. “It is a truth that is neither simple nor self-evident”, he said, “as, living immersed in this world, it is not easy to understand what will happen in the future. But the Gospel enlightens us”. This vigil, for the “glorious kingdom, which we anxiously await” is “the source and the reason for our hope; a hope which, if cultivated and preserved, becomes a “light to illuminate our personal and communal story”.
The Pope emphasized that “we must always remember we are disciples of He who came, who comes to us every day and who will come to us again at the end”, and reiterated that if we were able to keep this fact present in our minds, we would be less overwhelmed by daily life, less imprisoned by the ephemeral and more willing to walk the path of salvation with a merciful heart”.
Pope Francis recalled that the resurrection that will follow the last day of the end of the world will be an encounter with the Risen Christ for whom we prepare in this life with the Eucharist. “We who in this life our nourished by His Body and His Blood will be resurrected like Him, with Him and by Him. Just as Jesus rose again with His own body, but did not return to an earthly life, we too will rise again with our bodies that will be transformed into glorious bodies”.
“In a certain sense, through our Baptism we already participate in a new life … and, awaiting the final day, we we hold within ourselves the seed of our resurrection, a glimpse of the full resurrection that we will inherit. For this reason, even each of our bodies has the resonance of eternity, and must therefore be respected; and above all the life of those who suffer must be respected and loved, so that they feel the closeness of the Kingdom of God, of that condition of eternal life towards which we are headed”.
At the end of the audience, the Vatican Mosaics Studio, which since the seventeenth century has been responsible for the conservation and restoration of the ten thousand square metres of mosaics present in St. Peter's Basilica, as well as producing mosaics portraying the Popes and those presented as gifts during pontifical trips and official visits, presented the Holy Father with his portrait in the form of a circular mosaic, destined to join the mosaic portraits of all the other Popes, from St. Peter to the present, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.
December 4th is the feast of St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church.
Saint John Damascene (also known as St. John of Damscus) was born In Damascus, Syria around 676 AD into a rich family and spent the early years of his adult life serving as the official representative of the Christian community to the Muslim Caliph. He later abandoned this political task to join the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem where he became a priest and ultimately bishop.
St. John Damascene is known as one of the last of the Fathers of the Church. He was a strong defender of the use of images (icons) in Christian worship against the iconoclasts and wrote a book "On the Orthodox Faith" that sums up the doctrinal heritage of the earlier Greek Fathers. In this great synthesis we find a systematic treatment of the central Christian doctrines, especially the Trinity, Creation, and the Incarnation. St. John Damascene's treatment of the Sacraments is also extensive, and his emphasis on the real bodily presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is very strong. Notable too in his teaching is a fully developed doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary including her perpetual virginity, her freedom from sin throughout the whole of her life, and her bodily assumption into heaven.
St. John Damascene's influence on later theology was considerable indeed. In the Latin Middle Ages, he was known to Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas. All throughout the Middle Ages his works were known and widely used by Eastern Christian Theologians, especially the Slavs. He died died some time between 754 and 787 AD and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1890. His eloquent defense of images has deservedly procured him the title of "The Doctor of Christian Art." Saint Quote
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”
~ St. John Damascene
With Christmas just around the corner, there's a new Advent calendar to help prepare for the holidays. But this isn't your average calendar. It is high-tech, and it can be seen through a website or a smartphone.
It was launched by the Archdiocese of Sydney and it's called the 'Xt3 Advent calendar'. It truly is an online journey towards Christmas. Every day, a door virtually opens so that users from all over the world can have a unique yet shared experience.
The website includes all kinds of interactive material like daily reflections, podcasts and even videos like this one, featuring children talking about the true meaning of Christmas. And all the way from Australia, it will also share Cardinal Pell's message for the holidays and a special surprise for Pope Francis' birthday on December 17th.
It's the fifth year the Archdiocese launches this project, and it's also available for iPhone and Android. A new way to count the days for Christmas in the online world.
With Tuesday morning Mass at Santa Marta, the Council of Cardinals, or G8, kicked off the second round of meetings with Pope Francis to discuss changes to the Roman Curia.
After Mass, the eight member council began working right away. For the next few days, until December 5, they will eat, sleep and work under one roof, Casa Santa Marta.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"In this morning's meeting, they got right to work on their main topic: they continued their analysis of the Roman Curia.”
During their first session, in October, Pope Francis announced the Council would overhaul the Vatican's governing bodies.
With such an ambitious project, the Vatican said the G8 will dedicate all three days of meetings to go in-depth into this topic.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"They leaning away from small tweaks or minor improvements, and instead focusing on changes to the Apostolic constitution. So much so, that we can talk about a new Apostolic constitution for the Roman Curia.”
As in October, their schedules will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. However, the cardinals will continue working even when not officially in session.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"We can expect that in the next few days, the Council will invite the new secretary of state to the meeting.”
The Vatican said Msgr. Parolin's invitation will be merely to congratulate him, and not for working purposes.
The next round of meetings will be in February, before the Pope's consistory to create new cardinals. Those meeting will have special guests: the commission of experts that advises the Pope on financial and administrative changes to the Vatican City-State.
(Vatican Radio) The Church must always be joyful like Christ. That was the message of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope emphasized that the Church is called to transmit the joy of the Lord to her children—a joy that gives true peace.
Peace and joy. Pope Francis’ homily dwelt on these two themes. In the reading from the book of Isaiah, he noted, we see the desire for peace that we all have. It is the peace, says Isaiah, that the Messiah brings to us. In the Gospel, on the other hand, “we are able to see a little into the soul of Jesus, the heart of Jesus: a joyful heart”:
“We always think of Jesus when He preaches, when He heals, when He travels, walks along the street, even during the Last Supper. . . But we aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful. Jesus was full of joy, full of joy. In that intimacy with His Father: ‘I rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and I praised the Father.’ It is precisely the internal mystery of Jesus, that relationship with the Father in the Spirit. It is His internal joy, the interior joy that He gives to us.”
“And this joy,” he said, “is true peace: not a static peace, quiet, tranquil” no, “Christian peace is a joyful peace, because our Lord is joyful.” And, too, He is joyful “when He speaks about the Father: He loves the Father so much that He can’t talk about Him without joy.” Our God, the Pope said, “is joyful.” And Jesus has willed that His spouse, the Church, should also be joyful”:
“You can’t imagine a Church without joy; and the joy of the Church lies precisely in this: to proclaim the name of Jesus. To say: ‘He is the Lord. My spouse is the Lord. He is God. He saves us, He walks with us.’ And that is the joy of the Church, that in this joy of being a bride becomes a mother. Paul VI said: the joy of the Church is precisely to evangelize, to go forth and to speak about her Spouse. And also to transmit that joy to the children that she bears, that she raises.”
And so, he said, let us consider that the peace of which Isaiah speaks “is a peace that is so moving, it is a peace of joy, a peace of praise,” it is a peace that we could say is “noisy, in praise, a peace that bears fruit in becoming a mother of new children.” It is a peace, Pope Francis said, “that comes precisely in the joy of praise for the Trinity, and of evangelization, of going to the people to tell them who Jesus is.” Peace and joy, he repeated. And he pointed to the words of Jesus, “a dogmatic declaration,” when He affirms, “You decided to reveal Yourself not to the wise, but to the little ones”:
“Even in so many serious things, such as this, Jesus is joyful, the Church is joyful. She must be joyful. Even in her widowhood—because the Church has something of the widow who waits for her spouse to come back—even in her widowhood, the Church is joyful in hope. The Lord gives this joy to all of us, this joy of Jesus, praising the Father in the Spirit. This joy of our mother Church in evangelizing, in announcing her Spouse.
Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University and co-founder of Women Speak For Themselves, writes in USA Today that Obamacare hurts women. Alvare says that the White House, while posing as the protector of “women and families,” in fact degrades women:
The White House stance assumes that women care far more about free access to contraceptives, or their sex lives, than about religious freedom, or allowing businesses to have a conscience. This view of women is degrading. It treats women as one-dimensional victims needing the protection of government-as-big-brother.
Alvare points out that many of the businesses affected by Obamacare’s over-reaching and expensive health care mandates are owned…by women. In fact, more than 10 million women in the U.S. own businesses. According to Alvare, ” Crushing businesses with fines-particularly businesses with women owners-hurts women, rather than helping them.”
A prayer to say each night before sleep during Advent and Christmas:
Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.
Today is the memorial of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), one of the greatest missionaries of all times.
The great missionary St. Francis Xavier was from a Basque noble family, like his beloved mentor St. Ignatius Loyola. When Francis met Ignatius in Paris he was a proud, autocratic, ambitious man wanting to accomplish great deeds in the world. For three years Ignatius patiently encouraged Francis to look at his life differently. “What profits a man,” Ignatius asked Francis, “if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”
Francis joined Peter Faber as the first of Ignatius’s companions. Francis Xavier was ordained in 1537.
In 1541 King John of Portugal asked Ignatius for priests to send to the missions in India. Despite knowing he would never see his beloved companion again, Ignatius chose Francis Xavier for the mission. Francis left for India, arriving at the city of Goa in 1542.
For the next ten years the missionary Francis Xavier traveled from Goa to Cape Comorin in south India, then to the East Indies, Malacca, and the Moluccas, and onward to Japan. It was Francis Xavier’s great ambition to get permission to enter China as a missionary. He died in 1552, exhausted from his labors and fasts, on a small island off the coast of China with a single companion at his side.
St. Francis Xavier’s great ambition was to bring the world to Jesus Christ. Armed only with his breviary and a book of meditations, Francis preached the Gospel to the poor and sick, spending most of his time ministering to their needs. His nights were taken up in prayer. His only attention to his personal needs was to have a pair of boots. He barely ate enough to stay alive. As the missionary Francis Xavier, SJ, moved on, he left behind flourishing churches that were the foundations for the Catholic faith in Asia.
~ Excerpted from Ignatian Spirituality.com Patron: African missions; diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; black missions; Borneo; China; East Indies; foreign missions; Goa, India; diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana; Japan; diocese of Joiliet, Illinois; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith.
The paragraphs of the “Evangelii Gaudium” that are dedicated to women’s role in the Church,
reject the idea of women priests but ask for the sacred order to be treated as a service not as power ANDREA TORNIELLI VATICAN CITY
Some paragraphs of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium are helpful in shedding light on what the Pope means when he speaks about valuing women’s role in the Church. But it also shows how that the extravagant and highly clericalist idea of consecrating women bishops is light years away from Francis’ vision of things. Francis goes further than stressing his rejection of the consecration of female bishops, which John Paul II reiterated in his Apostolic Letter “Ordinatio sacerdotalis” of May 1994 (one of the briefer and denser documents of his pontificate): he adds some reflections on service and power.
Most importantly, Francis writes that “the Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood.”
“I readily acknowledge,” the pope adds, “that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace” and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.” Continue reading.
The high-profile meeting between Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lasted just 25 minutes.
- Good morning.
- It's a pleasure and an honor to see you.
But it was a major step forward in building relations between these two states, so intricately tied to their religious nature.
By-passing the chit chat, the two leaders spoke about re-starting negotiations, for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
Another main topic was the Pope's confirmed visit to Israel in 2014. The Vatican said the dates wouldn't be announced until after a special advance team traveled to the Holy Land to assess the logistics.
-Your Holiness, a pleasure to meet you. I heard so many good things about you.
After the meeting, Netanyahu introduced his 13-member delegation, including his wife Sara.
-My wife's father was a great biblical scholar.
He also introduces several government ministers and staff from the Israeli embassy.
With Hanukkah ending this week, the Israeli leader gave Pope Francis a silver candelabra with the inscription: "To His Holiness, a great shepherd of our common heritage.”
Netanyahu also gave the Pope a Spanish-language copy of the book written by his father, "Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain.” In return, Pope Francis gave the prime minister a bronze engraving of St. Peter as a gift.
As they said goodbye, Netanyahu's wife told the Pope she was looking forward to the Pope's visit.
-May I please congratulate you on your assumption of your office.
-Thank you very much.
After meeting the Pope, Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. They talked about the unfinished agreement between the Vatican and Israel. It centers on the status of the Catholic Church, and of Catholic communities in the Holy Land.
During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, the Pope talked about how Christians should prepare for Christmas.
Reflecting on today's Gospel, where a Roman officer, asks Jesus to save his servant, Pope Francis said it's not enough to seek out Christ. One must also be willing to be found by Him.
"Christmas is an encounter! It's a journey to encounter Him, to find Him through our hearts and our lives. To find the living God and to find Him through faith. It's not easy to live with faith. In today's Gospel, the Lord was struck by the faith of this centurion. He was moved by his faith. He had embarked on a journey to encounter the Lord, but it was a journey of faith. So, he not only found the Lord, but he also felt the joy of being found by the Lord. This is precisely the encounter we seek. An encounter of faith.”
And to actually have an encounter with Jesus, the Pope highlighted three points. He said one must pray more, increase charity and treat others with love and joy.
SUMMARY OF POPE'S HOMILY
Source: Vatican Radio
In his homily at the Santa Marta guesthouse on this, the first Monday of Advent, Pope Francis recalled that as we proceed towards Christmas, we embark on a journey of faith and prayer in preparation for our encounter with the Lord. "Because Christmas,” he said, isn’t just a temporal celebration or the memory of a beautiful (event).”
"Christmas is something more,” he said, "Christmas is an encounter” with the Lord. And as we make our way towards Him, we must go with open heart and faith, even though this is not always easy.
Speaking of today’s reading about the Roman centurion, who with great faith begs the Lord to heal his slave, the Pope said we are like this centurion on a pilgrimage of faith "to encounter the Lord and most of all, to allow ourselves to be encountered by Him.”
We must allow ourselves to be encountered by Him, the Pope repeated, to allow Him to enter us. "It is He who makes all new….Christ renews the heart, the soul , life, hope…”
The Lord does not always say to us what we want to hear, noted the Pope, but: He will tell me what is meant for me "because the Lord does not look at us all together, en mass.” "He looks each one of us in the face , in the eyes.” His is not an abstract love; "it is concrete," the Pope said. The Lord looks at me in a personal way. And "letting ourselves be encountered by God means just this: letting ourselves be loved by God!”
On December 2nd, we celebrate the life of Blessed Liduina Meneguzzi (1901-1941).
Elisa Angela Meneguzzi was born on September 12, 1901 to a humble and devout Italian farming family . A pious youth, she spent hours in prayer, attended daily Mass, and taught catechism.
At the age of twenty-four, she gave herself totally to God, when she entered the Salesian convent in Padova, taking the name Liduina. She worked as a housekeeper, a nurse, and a sacristan in a girls' boarding school before being sent to Africa as a missionary in 1937.
Sr. Liduina worked at a hospital in Dire-Dawa, Ethiopia, a large, cosmopolitan city with people of many backgrounds, races and religions including: Catholics, Copts, Muslims and native pagans. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the hospital was taken over by the Italian military and she devotedly cared for the wounded. When the city was bombed, she worked in the streets, carrying the wounded to shelter, baptizing dying children, leading dying Christians through acts of contrition. Through her saintly witness, Sr. Liduina attracted many to the Catholic faith. For this reason she was given the name, the "ecumenical flame."
She died of cancer at the age of 40 on December 2, 1941 in the hospital of Dire-Dawa, Ethiopia where she spent her last years . Her body was returned to the motherhouse of her congregation in 1961. She was beatified on October 20, 2002 by Pope John Paul II.
The message that the Blessed Liduina Meneguzzi nowadays brings to the Church and to the world is that of hope and love. A kind of hope which redeems men both from their selfishness and from aberrant forms of violence. A kind of love which is an urge to solidarity, to sharing out and to service, following the example of Christ who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life to save all of us.
~ From the Decree on the Heroicness of the Virtues of Blessed Liduina by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
"I’ve never seen someone dying with such joy and bliss."
~ The physician who attended Liduina
Historically today is the feast of St. Edmund Campion, Jesuit martyr, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, also called "the Pope's Champion".
Edmund Campion was born in London on January 25, 1540. He was raised a Catholic and had such a powerful intellect that at the age of only 17 he was made a junior fellow at Saint John’s College at Oxford University.
On visiting the university, Queen Elizabeth I was so taken by Edmund’s brilliance, as were a few of her dignitaries, that she bid him to ask for anything he wished. The exaltation of so many fed his vanity and led him away from his Catholic faith. He took the Oath of Supremacy, thus acknowledging the Queen as head of the church, and became an Anglican deacon.
However, his brilliant intellect and his conscience would not allow him to be reconciled to the idea of Anglicanism for too long, and after a stay in Dublin he turned back to his faith and returned to England. He was at this point suspected of being too Catholic. On witnessing the trial of a soon to be martyr, he was shaken to the conviction that his vocation was to minister to the Catholic faithful in England during this time of persecution and to convert Protestants.
He set off to Rome barefoot and entered the Society of Jesus in 1573, was ordained in 1578 and had a vision in which the Virgin Mary foretold him of his martyrdom. When he returned to England he made an immediate impression, winning many converts.
On July 17, 1581, he was betrayed by one of the faithful who knew his whereabouts and was thrown into prison. The queen offered him all manner of riches if he would forsake his loyalty to the pope, but he refused.
He was sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering. His martyrom in Tyburn on December 1, 1581 sparked off a wave of conversions to Catholicism. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league – all the Jesuits in the world – cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted; so it must be restored. ~ Saint Edmund Campion, from Campion’s Brag
As to the treasons which have been laid to my charge, and for which I come here to suffer, I desire you all to bear witness with me that I am thereto altogether innocent. I am a Catholic man and a priest; in that Faith I have lived, and in that Faith do I intend to die. If you esteem my Religion treason, then I am guilty; as for the other treason, I never committed any, God is my judge. ~ Saint Edmund Campion
Prayer to St. Edmund Campion
St. Edmund Campion, martyr for the Roman Primacy, obtain for us, but especially for the Church’s bishops and priests, such obedient loyalty to the Vicar of Christ that like you, they will not be afraid to proclaim the truth and like you, they will be willing to shed their blood for Jesus Christ.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Just a few days after the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, Archbishop Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, has confirmed the issue remains open: “We will discuss it without any taboos. The Orthodox experience could be of help to us”
“A new approach needs to be taken with respect to the administration of the sacraments to remarried divorcees.” Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri is the prelate the Pope nominated Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Born in 1940, the Tuscan prelate has four decades of experience as a member of the Vatican diplomatic corps and as of the end of September he has had the task of renewing the Synod institute that will meet twice – in 2014 and 2015 – to discuss the family, after a questionnaire or consultation containing 39 questions on family issues.
Vatican City, Dec 1, 2013 / 09:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Pope’s Sunday Angelus message for the start of Advent focused on the importance of hope during the liturgical season dedicated to preparing for Christmas.
“For the great human family it is necessary to renew always the common horizon toward which we are journeying. The horizon of hope! This is the horizon that makes a good journey,” Pope Francis said on Dec. 1 to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square.
“The time of Advent that we begin again today returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful!” the Pope emphasized.
The time of Advent that the Church celebrates in preparation for Christmas, explained the Pontiff, is “a new journey of the People of God with Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, who guides us in history towards the completion of the Kingdom of God.”
“Let us rediscover the beauty of being together along the way: the Church, with her vocation and mission, and the whole of humanity, the people, the civilizations, the cultures, all together on the paths of time.”
“But on the way to where?” queried Pope Francis.
In the Old Testament, the People of God journeyed toward Jerusalem where the temple of the Lord was, “because from there, from Jerusalem, came the revelation of the face of God and His law.”
At the fullness of time, however, “revelation found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and the ‘temple of the Lord’ became God himself, the Word made flesh.”
It is the Lord himself who guides our journey, the “pilgrimage of all of the People of God; and by its light even the other peoples can walk towards the Kingdom of justice, towards the Kingdom of peace.”
“What a great day it will be, when the weapons will be dismantled in order to be transformed into instruments of work!” the Pope reflected, noting the scripture passage from the prophet Isaiah which referred to such peace.
“And this is possible! We bet on hope, on the hope of peace, and it will be possible!” he exclaimed.
“The journey is never finished,” advised Pope Francis. “Just as in each of our own lives, there is always a need to restart, to rise again, to recover a sense of the goal of one’s own existence.”
Mary serves as a “model of this spiritual attitude, to this way of being and of journeying in life.”
Although she was just a “simple girl,” she “carried in her heart the hope of God,” explained the Holy Father.
“In her womb, the hope of God took flesh, became man, and made history: Jesus Christ.”
Mary’s song of praise in the Magnificat “is the canticle of the People of God on the journey, and of all men and women who hope in God, in the power of his mercy.”
“Let us be guided by her, she who is mother, she is a ‘mama’ and knows how to lead us. Let us be guided by her in this time of waiting and active vigilance.”
He took a moment to remember those who are affected by HIV and AIDS, since “today marks the World Day for the fight against HIV/ AIDS.”
“We express our closeness to the people who are affected, especially children, a closeness that is very concrete in the silent work of many missionaries and workers. We pray for everyone, also for physicians and researchers. That every sick person, without exception, may have access to the care they need.”
November 30, 2013. (Romereports.com) To become a saint a person doesn't need to be a theologian, although saints are the ones that know God best. Expanding on this topic, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross organized a gathering to look into how saints have influenced theology. Specifically, it addressed the contributions of St. Josemaría Escrivá into this field.
MSGR. FERNANDO OCÁRIZ
Vicar General of Opus Dei
“Joseph Ratzinger had said it, and he repeated it as Benedict XVI. Even John Paul II had talked about it: the witness of saints is necessary in theology, because the saints are the ones who have known God best. And they shed new, original light into the field of theology.”
Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch recalled that for Joseph Ratzinger, saints were the most credible witnesses of the Christian faith, the authentic reformers of the Church, and the first interpreters of the Holy Scripture. But he added that all baptized people are called to holiness.
CARD. KURT KOCH
President, Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
“St. Josemaría Escrivá worked so that all baptized people become aware that they are called to holiness. That they should live out that vocation in their everyday lives and in their jobs. To overcome the division in a Christian existence between work and spiritual life, something he called a 'double life.'”
In his lifetime, St. Josemaría never wrote a book on theology. But his concept of a universal call to holiness was completely new within theology, at the time.
MSGR. FERNANDO OCÁRIZ
Vicar General of Opus Dei
“It's not just a call 'to everyone,' that we are all called to do. It's not just a subjective question, it's also objective. It means that the world, work, the family, they are all means and opportunities to find Christ, to reach holiness. This extends through the sanctification of work, which is a very important topic, the roles of laypeople in the Church, etc...”
Even Pope Francis sent a message to participants, and said that St. Josemaría Escrivá was a “precursor to the Second Vatican Council,” because he “stressed the universal call to holiness.”
St. Andrew, son of Jonah, was the brother of the Apostle Peter, and like his brother, was born at Bethsaida in Galilee. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and became the first to follow Jesus. A fisherman like St. Peter, Saint Andrew first introduced Saint Peter to Christ. Both occupied the same house at Capharnaum.
At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good.
As one of the Twelve Apostles, Andrew was very close to Our Lord during His public life; he was present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Lord; witnessed the Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith in Palestine. After Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel.
He was crucified by order of the Roman Governor at Patras in southern Greece on a cross to which he was tied, not nailed. Tradition states that he requested to be crucified on a saltire or "x"-shaped cross, as he considered himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. This type of cross has long been known as "St. Andrew's cross." He was martyred during the reign of Nero, on November 30, 60 A.D.
St. Andrew's relics were transferred from Patras to Constantinople, and deposited in the church of the Apostles there, about 357 A.D. When Constantinople was taken by the French, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, Cardinal Peter of Capua brought the relics to Italy and placed them in the cathedral of Amalfi, where most of them still remain.
Although little is mentioned in the Book of Acts regarding the life of St. Andrew, much can be learned through St. Andrew's life. He and Saint Peter gave up their lifelong careers and lifestyles, leaving everything behind, to follow Jesus. Their undying faith in a difficult world is an inspiration to all Christians. Patron: Achaia; Amalfi, Italy; anglers; Burgundy; diocese of Constantinople; fish dealers; fish mongers; fishermen; gout; Greece; Lampertheim; Germany; maidens; old maids; Patras, Greece; Russia; Scotland; singers; sore throats; spinsters; University of Patras; unmarried women; women who wish to become mothers.
Beginning today the Christmas Anticipatory Prayer, also known as the "Novena to St. Andrew" (Hail and Blessed be the hour...) is prayed every day until Christmas.
(Vatican Radio)The Christian conforms his way of thinking to God’s, and for this reason rejects ways of thinking that are weak and restricted.
This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Sanctae Martha. The Lord taught his disciples to be attentive to the signs of the times, signs which the Pharisees failed to comprehend.
The Pope said that, in order to understand the signs of the times, a Christian must think not only with his head, but also with his heart and spirit. Otherwise, he cannot understand the “way of God in history”:“In the Gospel, Jesus does become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him. At Emmaus he says: ‘How foolish and slow of heart’. ‘How foolish and slow of heart’… He who does not understand the things of God is such a person. The Lord wants us to understand what happens, what happens in my heart, what happens in my life, what happens in the world, in history… What is the meaning of what is happening now? These are the signs of the times! On the other hand, the spirit of the world gives us other propositions, because the spirit of the world does not want a community: it wants a mob, thoughtless, without freedom.”
While the spirit of the world wants us to take a “restricted path,” Saint Paul warns that the “spirit of the world treats us as thought we lack the ability to think for ourselves; it treats us like people who are not free”: “Restricted thought, equal thought, weak thought, a thought so widespread. The spirit of the world does not want us to ask ourselves before God: ‘But why, why this other, why did this happen?’. Or it also offers a prêt-à-porter [‘ready to wear’] way of thinking, according to personal taste: ‘I think as I like!’. This is okay, they say…. But what the spirit of the world does not want is what Jesus asks of us: free thought, the thought of a man and a women who are part of the people of God, and salvation is exactly this! Think of the prophets… ‘You were not my people, now I say my people’: so says the Lord. And this is salvation: to make us people, God’s people, to have freedom.”
Pope Francis added that Jesus asks us “to think freely… in order to understand what happens.” The truth is that “we are not alone! We need the Lord’s help”. We need to “understand the signs of the times”: the Holy Spirit, he said, “gives us this present, a gift: the intelligence to understand”:"What path does the Lord want? Always with the spirit of intelligence with which to understand the signs of the times. It is beautiful to ask the Lord for this grace, who sends us this spirit of intelligence, because we do not have a weak thought, we do not have a restricted thought and we do not have a thought according to personal preference: we only have a thought according to God. With this thought, which is a thought of the mind, of heart, and of soul. With this thought, which is the gift of the Spirit, [we] look for the meaning of things, and to understand the signs of the time well."
The Pope concluded: This is therefore the grace for which we must ask the Lord: “the ability which gives us the spirit” to “understand the signs of the time.”
1. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" or "arrival."
2. The Advent Season always begins four Sundays before Christmas; so it is rarely four full weeks long, but only between three and four weeks, depending on what weekday Dec. 25 happens to be in a certain year.
3. The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called "Gaudete Sunday" (from Latin, meaning "Rejoice!), because the "Entrance Antiphon" of this Sunday's Mass is taken from Paul's letter to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near." (Phil 4:4+5b)
4. In the Roman Catholic Church, the official liturgical color for most of the Season of Advent is violet. Only on the Third Sunday of Advent is a rose (pink) colored candle lit, as a symbol of joy; the priest may also wear rose vestments on this Sunday.
5. Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life. The candlelight gave comfort at this darkest time of the year, as people looked forward to the longer days of spring.
6. Advent wreaths traditionally include three purple/violet candles and one pink/rose-colored candle, which are arranged evenly around the wreath.
7. Sometimes a fifth candle is placed inside the Advent wreath. This candle is lit on Christmas Day. It is white, the color associated with angels and the birth of Jesus.
8. An advent calendar is a card or poster with twenty-four small doors, one to be opened each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. Each door conceals a picture. This popular tradition arose in Germany in the late 1800s and soon spread throughout Europe and North America.
9. Advent is not part of the Christmas season itself, but a preparation for it. Thus, Catholics do not sing Christmas hymns, or use Christmas readings, in Mass until December 25th, the first day of the Christmas season.
10. The readings and the liturgies during Advent prepare us for both the birth of Jesus and His Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world.
St. Brendan of Birr, also known as "Brendan the Elder" was born around the year 500 in Ireland. He founded the monastery at Birr in Offaly, central Ireland c.540, and served as its abbot.
St. Brendan of Birr was a contemporary of the far more famous Saint Brendan the Navigator (d. 578). He was a member of The Twelve Apostles of Ireland -- Irish saints of the 6th century who studied under St Finian at the rigorous monastery of Clonard Abbey at Cluain-Eraird. He was also a friend and disciple of Saint Columba of Iona.
In early Christian Ireland the druid tradition collapsed with the spread of the new faith. Study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Brendan became a pupil at the monastic school at Clonard Abbey. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000. Twelve students who studied under Saint Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland; Brendan of Birr was one of these. It was at Clonard that Brendan became a friend and companion of Brendan of Clonfert.
He founded the monastery at Birr in central Ireland in about 540, serving as its abbot.He emerges from early Irish writings as a man of generous hospitality with a reputation for sanctity and spirituality who was an intuitive judge of character. He was considered one of the chief prophets of Ireland. This is evidenced both in his title ('Prophet of Ireland'), and by his attendance at the synod of Meltown, in which Saint Columba was brought to trial over his role in the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561. Brendan spoke on Columba's behalf, prompting the assembled clerics to sentence Columba with exile rather than excommunication. His friendship and support for Columba resulted in important connections between Birr and the Columban foundations. An adviser of Columba said that the saint saw a vision of Brendan's soul being carried away by angels after his death. He thereupon ordered for a Mass to be said in his honor.
Brendan died November 29th around 571. At Brendan’s death, Columba had a vision of the abbot‘s soul being carried away by angels. Most glorious ascetic and chief of Ireland‘s Prophets, O Father Brendan, thou wast a bright beacon in the western isle guiding many to salvation. At thy heavenly birthday the Angels rejoiced and miraculously announced their joy to our Father Columba. The prayers of the righteous avail much for us sinners. Wherefore O Saint, pray to God for us that He will find us a place in the Mansions of the Blest. ~ Troparion of Saint Brendan of Birr