"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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November 30, 2011. (Romereports.com) Benedict XVI greeted a delegation gathered in Rome that is working to abolish the death penalty. The group included members from Illinois where the death penalty was recently outlawed.
FULL TEXT OF THE CATECHESIS IN ENGLISH:
I greet the distinguished delegations from various countries taking part in the meeting promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio on the theme: No Justice without Life.
I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.
Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present, including those from the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
In his catechesis on June 14, 2006, Benedict XVI reflected on the Apostle Andrew. He explained the meaning of his name, his role among the apostles and the story of his martyrdom.
FULL TEXT OF THE CATECHESIS IN ENGLISH:
Continuing our weekly catechesis on the Church’s apostolic ministry, today we consider the figure of the Apostle Andrew. According to John’s Gospel, Andrew was the first Apostle to be called by Jesus; he then brought his brother, Simon Peter, to the Lord. The fraternal relationship of these two great Apostles is reflected in the special relationship between the sister Churches of Rome and Constantinople.
The name "Andrew" is Greek, and in the Gospel of John, when some Greeks wish to see Jesus, it is Andrew, with Philip, who brings their request to the Lord. Jesus’ response, with its reference to the grain of wheat which dies and then produces much fruit (cf. Jn 12:23-24), is a prophecy of the Church of the Gentiles, which would spread throughout the Greek world after the Lord’s Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. According to some ancient traditions, Andrew preached the Gospel among the Greeks until he met his death by crucifixion.
His example inspires us to be zealous disciples of Christ, to bring others to the Lord, and to embrace the mystery of his Cross, both in life and in death.
St. Andrew, son of Jonah, was born at Bethsaida in Galilee. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and became one of the first to follow Jesus, to whom he brought his brother, Simon Peter. Both were fishermen and at the beginning of Our Lord's public life occupied the same house at Capharnaum.
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.
He was crucified by order of the Roman Governor at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the form of an "X". 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.
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.
“In vigilance, she received the announcement that changed the history of humanity. In vigilance, she kept and contemplated, more than any other, the Almighty, who became her Son...In the vigilance of her maternal heart, Mary followed Christ right up to the foot of the cross where, in the immense sorrow of a pierced heart, she accepted us as her new sons. In vigilance, she waited with certainty for the Resurrection and was assumed into Heaven.”
Today is the anniversary of the first visions at Beauraing, Belgium. From November 29, 1932 to January 3, 1933, Mary appeared multiple times to five children in the small town of Beauraing in French-speaking Belgium. Identifying herself as "the Immaculate Virgin" and "Mother of God, Queen of Heaven," she called for prayer for the conversion of sinners.
Description of the Virgin
The Virgin Mary appeared as a beautiful lady in white walking above the bridge and the grotto by the convent with clouds covering her feet. The Virgin, with hands joined and turned toward the sky, carried a rosary hanging from her right arm. During the five last apparitions, she showed a heart of gold, surrounded by rays, on her chest.
The children belonged to two families: the Voisins (Fernande, 15 years; Berthe, 13 years; and Albert 11 years) and the Degeimbres (Andre, 14 years, and Gilberte, 9 years old). These working families were, for the most part, non-practicing Catholics.
The Virgin Mary urged the children to pray and sacrifice. She asked, "that people pray much," "that a chapel be built" (December 17, 1932), "that people come here in pilgrimage" (December 23). She promised the conversion of sinners. All these points are common with Lourdes. During the five last apparitions, she showed a heart of gold, surrounded by rays, on her chest. During the fourth apparition (December 4) and the seventh (December 21), she declared herself to be "the Immaculate Virgin" (analogous to Lourdes). During the last apparition (January 3, 1933), she added: "I will convert sinners. I am the Mother of God, the Queen of heaven." Twenty thousand persons were present that day.
The secrets given to the children have never been revealed.
Click here to read the messages of Our Lady of Beauraing.
Saint Catherine Laboure was born in Burgundy, France on May 2, 1806. The ninth of eleven children born to a farm family, she felt a call to the religious life from an early age. Catherine entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in obedience to a vision of Saint Vincent de Paul, telling her that God wanted her to work with the sick.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who was then a 24-year-old novice, three times.
On July 18, 1830, the first apparition occurred in the community's motherhouse. St. Catherine saw a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.
On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal." On one side was a picture of Mary, hands outstretched and the words 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.' On the other was the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our Blessed Mother asked Catherine to have medals made and devotion to the medal spread. Our Lady told Catherine that wearers of the medal would receive great graces, and its wearing and devotion has spread worldwide.
At the time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions and instructions that Catherine Laboure was receiving. He helped her to have the medals made and distributed, and kept her identity secret. Not until shortly before her death in 1876, did anyone know the identity of the nun who had begun the devotion.
Catherine Laboure died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her body was buried in a crypt beneath their church and found to be incorrupt some fifteen years later.
Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we unite ourselves to you under your title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your motherly affection for us and a constant reminder of our filial duties towards you. While wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives so that like you we may live and act according to the teaching and example of your Son. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death so that in union with you we may enjoy the happiness of heaven forever. Amen.
V: O Mary, conceived without sin, R: Pray for us who have recourse to you.
The liturgical season of Advent begins on the first Sunday in Advent, opening a new year in our Church's Calendar. The word Advent is from the Latin "adventus", which means "coming" and is used to describe the four weeks of preparation for Christmas.
During Advent, we are called upon to:
1) prepare ourselves to worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
2) transform our souls into holy tabernacles for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion, and
3) make ourselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.
Advent is a season of preparation and waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are twelve tips that will help you and your family keep this season holy:
1. Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Pray Advent prayers with the family and the rosary when you light up the candle on the wreath. Sing 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' throughout Advent.
2. Keep outdoor lights and decorations simple, using religious CHRISTmas scenes like the Nativity or a star.
3. Use a Jesse tree or an Advent tree.
4. Have your Christmas tree blessed. Remind your children that the tree is a Christian symbol and relates to many aspects of our faith.
5. Let your children know that "Santa Claus" is another name for the real St. Nicholas and tell them his story. Celebrate the day. Encourage your children to leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors on Dec. 5. When they awaken, they will find small gifts like candy or fruit if they’ve been good.
6. Participate in the Giving Tree at church. Have your children buy a gift to donate to children in need or perform some service for the poor or elderly.
7. Put a Nativity set in a prominent place in your home, but only put out some of the animals. You can put the other statues out, but in another place in your home. Each week, read a little from the Christmas story in Luke's Gospel, and move the statues a little closer.
8. Have the children place a piece of straw in the manger for each good deed they do during Advent as a gift to the baby Jesus.
9. Take the entire family, when possible, to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and to the sacrament of Reconciliation.
10. Light a candle before the Blessed Mother when visiting the Blessed Sacrament.
11. The Mary candle: Some families have the custom of decorating the Christ candle with a blue veil on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this great feast, others place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.”
12. St. Lucy cakes: The feast of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, is on December 13th. This marks the opening of the Christmas season in Sweden. Her life story can be found in most saints books, as can the recipe for the traditional cakes. The symbolism is rich and her life story worthwhile reading.
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria (292 - 310), virgin and martyr.
Catherine was beautiful, brilliant, and extremely wealthy at the age of eighteen when she debated the Emperor Maximin (311-313) and harshly criticized him for his persecution of Christians who refused to worship pagan gods. Astounded by her wisdom, Maximin ordered her to be kept confined, and summoned fifty of his most learned philosophers, promising them great rewards if they could get Catherine to abandon her Christian faith. However, her arguments were so convincing that all fifty of the philosophers were converted to Christianity. Outraged by this, Maximin ordered all of them to be burned alive.
Then the Emperor attempted to win Catherine by flattery and by promises, but his efforts proved equally fruitless. Next, he had her thrown into a dungeon, without food and water. He ordered her whipped with rods, scourged with leaden nodules, and then left to languish eleven days without food in prison.
In the Emperor's absence, his wife and Porphyrius, general of the army, visited Catherine in prison and both were converted to Christianity. Porphyrius then converted 200 soldiers. When the Emperor returned, he had them all executed, including his wife, and offered to make Catherine his new wife.When she refused, he designed a new means of torture.
Catherine's next torture consisted of being placed upon a wheel with sharp and pointed knives, which was designed to tear her body into pieces, but when she was bound to it, a heavenly fire destroyed it. Finally, on November 25, Catherine was beheaded. By the hands of angels her body was carried to Mt. Sinai, where it was interred in the convent which bears her name.
Ranked with St. Margaret and St. Barbara as one of the fourteen most helpful saints in heaven, she was unceasingly praised by preachers and sung by poets. In several dioceses in France, her feast day was observed as a Holy Day of obligation up to the beginning of the seventeenth century.Saint Catherine became the patroness of young maidens and female students. Looked upon as the holiest and most illustrious of the virgins of Christ, it was but natural that she, of all others, should be worthy to watch over the virgins of the cloister and the young women of the world.
Patronage: Apologists; craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters; spinners; etc.); archivists; attorneys; barristers; dying people; educators; girls; jurists; knife grinders; knife sharpeners; lawyers; librarians; libraries; maidens; mechanics; millers; nurses; old maids; philosophers; potters; preachers; scholars; schoolchildren; scribes; secretaries; spinners; spinsters; stenographers; students; tanners; teachers; theologians; turners; unmarried girls; wheelwrights.
Symbols: Wheel set with sharp knives; broken wheel; sword; crown at her feet; hailstones; bridal veil and ring; dove; scourge; book; spiked wheel; woman strapped to the spiked wheel on which she was martyred; woman arguing with pagan philosophers.
1. My Catholic Faith - especially for the gift of the Holy Eucharist (which means Thanksgiving). True thanksgiving is self-giving and this is indeed the meaning of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist -- in which Jesus gives us His entire self - His body, blood, soul and divinity. I am so thankful for those priests who serve the Lord and minister to us through the sacraments and for those dedicated religious who have consecrated their lives to Him and make His love known to us in both overt and hidden ways.
2. My wonderful, loving husband who shares my deep love for the faith.
3. My family - Although the miles separate us, you're always in my daily prayers and in my heart.
4. My friends - those of you near and far -- those I see and touch and pray with and also those whom I chat with online - you're all precious to me.
5. My parish family - those I see and pray with at daily Mass and those I see only on Sundays.
6. My readers - You're important to me and please know that I keep you all in my prayers. This Thanksgiving Day, I am thanking God for the blessing each one of you has been to me. You are precious gifts to me from God.
7. I am especially thankful to God this year for food on the table and a roof over my head. In these hard economic times, there are so many without these basic necessities. This has been a difficult year for all of us -- let us show God our thanks by helping those in need.
Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Miguel Augustin Pro, priest and martyr.
Miguel Agustin Pro was born January 13, 1891, in Mexico. From his childhood, he was known for his high spirits and happy personality. The son of an affluent mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes.
At 20, he became a Jesuit novice and shortly afterwards was exiled due to the Mexican revolution. He traveled to the United States, Spain, Nicaragua and Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925. Father Pro suffered greatly from a severe stomach disorder. When his health did not improve after several surgeries, his superiors permitted him to return to Mexico in 1926.
At this time, the revolutionary government in Mexico had banned all religious practice. The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. The government was particularly focused on finding and persecuting priests. Father Pro became a great master of disguise and spent the remainder of his life in a secret ministry to the Mexican Catholics who helped hide him from the authorities. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, Fr. Pro also assisted the poor of Mexico City with their temporal needs. In all that he did, he remained filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.
Falsely accused in a bombing attempt on the President-elect, Pro became a wanted man. On November 18, 1927, he was arrested and sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.On November 23, the day of his death, Father Pro prayed, forgave his executioners, bravely refused a blindfold, and faced the firing squad with his arms extended in the form of a cross, proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long Live Christ the King!)
A Prayer Composed by Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J.
According to one of Fr. Pro’s biographers, Rec. M.D. Forrest, M.S.C., the following was composed shortly before his death:
"Does our life become from day to day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish... I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith... Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigor to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life."
VATICAN CITY, 22 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office the presentation took place of the twenty-sixth international conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The conference will have as its theme: "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II", and is due to be held in the Vatican from 24 to 26 November.
During this morning's presentation, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, noted that the conference aims to ensure that "Blessed John Paul II's teaching on the Gospel of Life, and the translation of that teaching into pastoral activity by the Church, call pastoral care operatives, healthcare workers and all men and women of good will to love and serve life, especially when it is weak and suffering". He also expressed the hope that the conference would "celebrate the sacredness of life and the dignity of the person, which must be defended in all circumstances".
The theme chosen for this twenty-sixth international conference is inspired by "the profound veneration" which healthcare workers feel for John Paul II, Archbishop Zimowski explained, He also highlighted the late Pontiff's lifelong concern for the sick, expressed in both words and actions. Indeed, it was John Paul II who established the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as well as the World Day of the Sick and the Good Samaritan Foundation.
The conference will include "lectures, testimonies and theological-pastoral experiences inspired by John Paul II's teachings on the Christian value of suffering and the Gospel of Life. These will be examined from an interdisciplinary perspective", the archbishop said. On the first day a ceremony will be held in honour of John Paul II, with contributions from Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, respectively president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and former secretary to John Paul II.
" What a model! In the midst of the world, with every sort of danger ringing her round on the point of being married to a young pagan who dreamed only of earthly love, Cecilia might well have trembled and wept..., but no, 'Leaving the instruments sounding for her wedding, Cecilia was singing in her heart'...What total trust!...She was not afraid...she knew that Jesus was under obligation to guard and protect her virginity, and she knew the reward."
"St. Cecilia is like the Bride in the canticles; I see her as a choir in an armed camp. Her life was one melodious song in the midst of terrible trials; which does not amaze me, because the holy gospel rested upon her heart and in her heart the Spouse of Virgins."
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.
It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.
Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.
When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he is of God, I shall refrain, as you wish, but if he is a human lover, you both must die.” Cecilia answered, “If you believe in the one true and living God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel.” Valerian assented and following his wife’s directions sought out a bishop named Urban, who was in hiding among the tombs of the martyrs, for this was a time for persecutions. Valerian made his profession of faith and the bishop baptized him.
When the young husband returned, he found an angel with flaming wings standing beside Cecilia. The angel placed chaplets of roses and lilies on their heads. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted, and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.
Valerian and Tiburtius devoted themselves to good works on behalf of the Christian community, and they made it their special duty to give proper burial to those who were put to death. The two brothers were themselves soon sentenced to death for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter. Maximus, a Roman officer charged with their execution, was converted by a vision that he saw in the hour of their death. After professing Christianity, he, too, was martyred.
The three were buried by the grieving Cecilia. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. The prefect tried to reason with her, but she remained strong in her faith. Consequently, he gave an order that she was to be suffocated in her own bathroom. Surviving this attempt on her life, a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, then left her lying, still alive, for it was against the law to strike a fourth time. She lingered on for three days, during which the Christians who remained in Rome flocked to her house. In dying she bequeathed all her goods to the poor, and her house to the bishop for a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the crypt of the Caecilii at the Catacomb of St. Callistus. St. Cecilia's body was found to be incorrupt in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus. Her body was later moved to St Cecilia in Trastevere.
She is praised as the most perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.
At her wedding banquet, while the pipes were playing, St. Cecilia sang to the Lord, asking that her heart might remain immaculate, that she not be put to shame. This inspired early composers to write elaborate music for the antiphon used on her feast day, and St. Cecilia became the special patron of musicians. For this reason, she is usually shown at the organ, although a harp or lute may be used. Sometimes she wears a wreath of white and red roses.
Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet:
How many souls would I convert to Jesus now.
I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet;
For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou!
Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way
Perfect abandonment that sweetest fruit of love.
Saint of my heart! Oh, soon, bring me to endless day;
Obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!
Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this feast day, we celebrate the parents of Our Lady bringing her to the Temple at the age of three and handing her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively.
"God inspired in the heart of the pure Virgin Mary His own intense love for humility, and abhorrence of pride. She possessed, even from her infancy, a far greater horror of pride and ambition, and a far deeper love for humility than all the saints together. It was the first virtue that she practices. She abased and humbled herself before all. She esteemed herself, and would have been happy to be treated by others, as the last of the creatures. By marvelous radiance of her Immaculate Conception, she beheld herself susceptible to the guilt of the children of Adam, except that God miraculously preserved her, and she considered that she might have been capable of all the sins in the world, whose source is original sin. It was this humility which attracted to her the countless graces which rendered her worthy to be the Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth.
Give thanks to Almighty God who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, and offer Him all the glory that this Maiden accorded to His majesty by her practice of the richest humility during her childhood and throughout the rest of her life."
Today is the optional memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
Saint Rose was born on August 29, 1769 at Grenoble, France to a family of wealth and political connections. When she was eight years old, she heard a Jesuit missionary speak of his missionary work in America, which sparked a strong desire within her to evangelize. She was educated at home until she was 12 years old, when she was sent to the convent of the Visitation nuns in Grenoble to continue her studies. She joined them when she was 19 without the permission or knowledge of her family.
Her convent closed quite abruptly during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. She spent the next ten years living as a laywoman, but continued to live as if she were still with her Order. She established a school for poor children, cared for the sick and hid priests from the Revolutionaries. When the Reign of Terror ended, she reclaimed her convent and attempted to reestablish it with a small group of sisters. However, most were long gone, and in 1804, the group merged with the Society of the Sacred Heart under Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. They then reopened their convent as the second house of Sacred Heart nuns. Rose became a postulant in December 1804, and made her final vows in 1805.
In 1815, Mother Duchesne was assigned to found a Sacred Heart convent in Paris. At age 49, she and four sisters were sent as missionaries to the Louisiana Territory to establish the Society's presence in America. Diseases contracted during the trip to America nearly killed her, and after she recovered in New Orleans, the trip up the Mississippi nearly killed her again. She established her first mission at Saint Charles, Missouri, a log cabin that was the first free school west of the Mississippi River. She eventually opened six other houses in America, which included schools and orphanages. She experienced some opposition as her teaching methods were based on French models, and her English was terrible; her students, however, received a good education. She was constantly concerned about the plight of Native Americans, and much of her work was devoted to educating them, caring for their sick, and working against alcohol abuse.
Finally able to retire from her administrative duties, Mother Duchesne evangelized the Pottawatomies and in the Rocky Mountains at age 71, and taught young girls of the tribe. This work, however, lasted but a year, as she was unable to master the Pottawatomie language. She was known to the tribe as "Woman-Who-Prays-Always". She spent her last ten years in retirement in a tiny shack at the convent in Saint Charles, Missouri where she lived a life of poverty and penance, in constant prayer.
Patron: Opposition of Church authorities; diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
"We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self."
Today's feast is a spiritual journey to two holy tombs, that of St. Peter and that of St. Paul in Rome. These two basilicas, marking the place of each apostle's martyrdom, are the common heritage and glory of Christendom; it is, therefore, easily seen why we observe their dedication.
Abbot Herwegen makes the following observations on St. Peter's in Rome. The Eternal City has two principal churches, St. John Lateran and St. Peter's. Since ancient times the Lateran basilica, the mother of all churches on earth, has been the church proper to the bishop of Rome in his position as head of the local community. Here the Lenten season was opened and the Easter liturgy solemnized. The basilica of St. Peter, on the other hand, was the church of non-Romans, of pilgrims who journeyed to the city where the two great apostles were martyred. Here those celebrations were held which expressed the universal character of the Roman Church, e.g., Epiphany and the noon Mass on Christmas. The Introits, Lessons, and chants of both these feasts are best explained as proclaiming Christ's universal dominion and His royal majesty.
The third lesson gives the history regarding the construction of the two basilicas. Among the holy places which the first Christians held in honor, those sites were especially dear where the bodies of holy martyrs lay. Great veneration was accorded that area of the Vatican Hill where the grave of St. Peter was located. From all lands Christians made pilgrimages to it as to the rock of faith and the foundation of the Church. In due time the legend arose that Emperor Constantine the Great, eight days after his baptism, took off his diadem, threw himself humbly upon the earth, and shed many tears. Then with pick and shovel he started digging and, in memory of the twelve apostles, carried away twelve baskets of ground; thereby he set the boundaries of the basilica to be built in honor of St. Peter. When finished, the edifice was solemnly consecrated by Pope Sylvester I.
Pope Sylvester had ordered the altar to be of stone; he anointed it with chrism and decreed that in the future only stone altars were to be used. A new church, the present St. Peter's, was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII on November 18, 1626. The ancient basilica of St. Paul was destroyed by fire in 1823; a new structure was consecrated by Pius IX on December 10, 1854, the occasion of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
In the perspective of the liturgy, the two churches honored today are prime examples connoting the heavenly Jerusalem. The liturgy excels in the pedagogy of passing from the material to the supernatural — the precedent for which on the point in question was already set by the author of the Apocalypse.
~Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
In her short life, Princess Elizabeth showed such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order.
Born in Bratislava in 1207, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary was betrothed at the age of four to Prince Ludwig of Thuringia (in central Germany) and sent to live at his father's court. They were married when she was fourteen and he was twenty - one. She loved him deeply and bore him three children.
In addition to caring for her children, Elizabeth was devoted to the poor, the sick, and the aged. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate. She grew in piety under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan Friar.
Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Ludwig stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculously changed to roses.
On another occasion, she took in a dying leper and placed him in the couple's own bed. Ludwig was furious about this and when he turned back the sheets and saw the figure of the leper, he realized that he was witnessing the literal embodiment of Christ ("Whatever you do for the least of my brothers that you do unto me." Matthew 25: 40b).
Their happy marriage ended in 1225 when Ludwig died in the Crusades. Following his death, the husband's family viewed Elizabeth as squandering the royal purse and threw her out. Her royal aunt and uncle made a castle available to her and set about making plans for a second marriage for her. However, she followed God's calling to renounce her position and enter into a new life.
On Good Friday 1228, Elizabeth became a Third Order Franciscan, sold all that she had, and worked to support her children. She settled into a small house that she herself had built and attached a hospital to it, which she founded in honor of St. Francis. Here she spent the few remaining years of her life caring for the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Penance, prayer, and practical charity filled her hours.
Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine - stricken Germany, led her to become patron of bakers. St. Elizabeth is also the patron saint of countesses, the death of children, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, Catholic charities, widows, and young brides.
St. Elizabeth died in extreme poverty at the age of 24 in 1231 and was canonized in 1235.
Patron: Bakers; beggars; brides; Catholic charities; charitable societies; charitable workers; charities; countesses; death of children; exiles; falsely accused people; Franciscan Third Order; hoboes; homeless people; hospitals; in-law problems; lacemakers; lace workers; nursing homes; nursing services; people in exile; people ridiculed for their piety; Sisters of Mercy; tertiaries; Teutonic Knights; toothache; tramps; widows.
and the excavations underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Take the virtual tour. This is both informative and moving. In 2006, I had the pleasure of taking the live tour and loved it. What a beautiful history our Church has!
There are roughly 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Most of them are laypeople, meaning members of the Church, who are not ordained or part of a religious order. But what exactly is the role of a lay person when it comes to every day life?
St. Gertrude was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1256. As a five year old, she was received into the monastery of the Cistercian nuns in Helfta. She was an intellectually gifted student with a gentle disposition who applied herself to her studies, concentrating on literature and philosophy.
At the age of 26, Gertrude had the first of many visions of Jesus which brought about a deep interior conversion, drawing her into the innermost recesses of His Sacred Heart. Her heart symbolically united in a vision to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she was a precursor of the later devotion to the Sacred Heart. She also advocated frequent reception of the Eucharist and devotion to St Joseph.
Similar to other mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, the Passion of Christ was her favorite devotion and when she meditated on it, or on the blessed Eucharist, she was often unable to control the torrents of tears which flowed from her eyes. She frequently went into ecstasy when she meditated or focused on the great love of Christ and united her heart with His.
On one occasion, Jesus, appeared to Gertrude in a vision and pointed out to her the wound in his side, out of which flowed a stream of crystal-clear water. The heart of Christ seemed to her to be suspended like a lamp in her own heart. She heard it throbbing with His unconditional, redemptive love for both saint and sinner.
In her short book of "Divine Insinuations, or Communications and Sentiments of Love," she proposed exercises for the renewal of baptismal vows, by which the soul completely renounces the world and herself, consecrates herself to the pure love of God, abandoning herself entirely to His holy will.
When in a vision the Lord asked Gertrude whether she would prefer health or sickness, she responded, "Divine Lord, give me whatever pleases You. Do not consider my wishes at all. I know that what You choose to send is the best for me."
Gertrude was an extraordinarily charitable person toward all those she encountered and her love for others manifested itself in tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory. An extremely humble person, she prayed that her many spiritual gifts not be manifested outwardly to others and her request was granted. Gertrude was blessed with the gift of prophecy as well as the gift of miracles. A prolific writer, she authored five books on spirituality. However, only three of them are still in existence.
Gertrude died on November 17th, 1301 or 1302 of natural causes. She is the patron saint of nuns, travelers, and the West Indies.
Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen.
~ Saint Gertrude the Great
Prayer of Saint Gertrude the Great
Dictated by Our Lord, to release 1000 souls from purgatory each time it is said.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus Christ, in union with the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, said throughout the world today, for all the holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home, and within my family.
St. Margaret of Scotland was not a Scot, but was born about 1045 in Hungary of Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian parents. Her family was in exile at that time due to the Danish invasion of England. Margaret's grandfather was King Edmund Ironside of England and her father was Edward the Exile, the heir to the throne of Scotland.
Margaret was the oldest of three children born to Edward and Agatha. She was educated by her mother and was well grounded in the scriptures and liturgy. She was about 12 when the family returned to England and was educated under the influence of the Benedictines. She learned French, ecclesiastical embroidery, and began to read works of theology: St. Augustine and St. John Cassian greatly influenced her spiritual development.
While fleeing the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066, her family's ship wrecked on the Scottish coast. They were assisted by King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland, whom Margaret married in 1070.
The King was deeply devoted to his beautiful, intelligent, and devout wife: she introduced him to a new way of life and a new spirituality. Although he was unable to read, he would handle her books and examine them. If she was fond of a particular book, he would look at it with interest and kiss the pages. While she did not succeed in teaching him to read or stop making war, she did teach him to pray sincerely and frequently.
Margaret prayed often for her husband and added fasting and almsgiving to her prayers, that they might "easily ascend to heaven". Once when he followed her into the garden, he found her praying for him and "her loving spirit set him on fire".
She was very generous in giving alms to the poor, who flocked around her whenever she appeared in public. When she gave away all that she had, the courtiers would give what they had, even their own cloaks. She would sometimes even give away the King's gold.
The couple had a loving and fruitful marriage. Margaret bore the King eight children, six sons and two daughters. She loved them dearly and raised them well, supervising their education herself. The youngest boy became St. David. Both her husband and her son, Edward, were killed in battle. Yet she prayed: "I thank You, Almighty God, for sending me so great a sorrow to purify me from my sins."
Margaret died in Edinburgh on November 16, 1093. She is remembered for the happiness of her marriage, for her devotion to prayer and learning, and especially for her generosity to the poor. In 1250, Margaret was canonized by Pope Innocent IV.
She is the patron saint of mothers, large families, learning, queens, Scotland, the death of children, and widows.
Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Albert the Great, "the light of Germany", named "Doctor Universalis" because of his vast knowledge and writings.
Albert was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany in 1206. As a young man, he studied at the University of Padua and there he met Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe, drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.
At age 16, Albert entered the Dominican Order. After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne.
In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil. This young religious, already well - trained in theological studies, was silent among the others, to the point of being called by his fellow students “the Mute Ox of Sicily.” But Albert silenced them, saying, “The bellowings of this ox will resound throughout the entire world.”
Later, obedience took him back to Germany as Provincial of his Order. As Provincial he journeyed with no money, always on foot, visiting the numerous monasteries under his jurisdiction, throughout an immense territory which included: Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, and Holland.
He was no longer young when he had to submit to the formal order of the Pope to serve as the Bishop of Ratisbonne. There his zeal was rewarded only by harsh trials, while his virtue was perfected. When he asked to be relieved of his responsibilities, Pope Urban IV permitted him to return to the peace of conventual life. Albert wrote many works on the natural sciences, on philosophy and theology, which form from twenty-one to thirty-eight volumes, depending on the edition.
He died, apparently of fatigue, at the age of seventy-three, on November 15, 1280, and his body was buried in Cologne in the Dominican church. He was canonized on December 16, 1931. Proclaiming his holiness, Pope Pius XI added the title of Doctor of the Church. He is known as Albert the Great.
St. Albert is the patron of: the archdiocese of Cincinnati Ohio; medical technicians; natural sciences; philosophers; school children; scientists; students; students of theology; and World Youth Day.
Quote: "The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask."
Prayer of St. Albert
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who seekest those who stray and receivest them when returning, make me approach to Thee through the frequent hearing of They Word, lest I sin against my neighbor by the blindness of human judgement, through the austerity of false justice, through comparing his inferior status, through too much trust in my merits or through ignorance of the Divine Judgement. Guide me to search diligently each corner of my conscience lest the flesh dominate the spirit.
"Those who advocate research on embryonic stem cells in the hope of achieving such a result make the grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another."
When looking for a good spiritual director, it is standard practice to interview the potential S.D. first. The idea is not to weed out those who are going to challenge you or disagree with you. The idea is find one who holds and practice the Catholic faith as taught by the Church and is able to actually help you grow in holiness.
Ask the following questions politely. There is no need to be offensive or defensive. You are not an Inquisitor. You are not hunting heresy. If it turns out that the potential S.D. is some kind of New Age kook, you are obligated to keep that assessment to yourself. The obligation to confidentiality binds both the director and the directee.
A few cautions up front:
1). Do not be impressed with S.D.'s who have credentials in spiritual direction. Most spiritual direction programs in the U.S. teach their students amateur forms of guru-ism and occult gibberish.
2). Do not be impressed by titles like "Father," "Sister," "Brother," or "Doctor." Anyone holding any of these titles can be dodgy.
3). Do not be impressed by celebrity or ecclesial status. Abbot Father Dr. Alred Boniface Schultz of the St. Labyrinth Benedominican Monastery, author of 46 books on meditation and a national speaker, can be as big a moonbat as anyone.
4). Do not be impressed by the potential S.D.'s personal piety, orthodox theology, solid publishing record with the best Catholic houses, or his/her reputation for brilliant spiritual direction. Every director/directee relationship is different. What works for you, might not work for me. And being a good S.D. takes more than unwavering allegiance to the magisterium.
5). Do not be impressed by a potential S.D.'s willingness, even eagerness, to take you on as a directee. In fact, I would interpret any sort of "salemanship" on the part of the S.D. as creepy and immediately disqualify him/her.
Belmont Abbey College, a Benedictine college in western North Carolina, has sued the federal government in an effort to prevent the implementation of a mandate requiring private health insurance plans to cover contraception and sterilization.
“A monk at Belmont Abbey may preach on Sunday that pre-marital sex, contraception, and abortions are immoral, but on Monday, the government would force the same monk to pay for students to receive the very drugs and procedures he denounces,” said Hannah Smith, senior legal counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “This is much worse than an unfunded mandate; it is a monk-funded mandate.”
According to the Becket Fund, Belmont Abbey College will face a $140,000 fine if it chooses to drop health insurance coverage for its employees.
On December 7th the pope will turn on the lights of this year's largest Christmas tree with the touch of an Ipad. The tree is made up of a collection of lights placed on a hill overlooking the Italian town of Gubbio. The tree of lights measures 2,132 feet high, making it the tallest in the world.
The saint of the day for November 14 is Blessed John Liccio, a priest who holds the all-time record for wearing the Dominican habit--96 years.
John was born to a poor family in Sicily. His mother died in childbirth. His life from then on, all 111 years, was a tale of miracles.
His father, who fed the baby on crushed pomengranates, had to work the fields, and was forced to leave the infant alone. The baby began crying, and a neighbor woman took him to her home to feed him. She laid the infant on the bed next to her paralyzed husband – and the man was instantly cured. The woman told John’s father of the miracle, but he was more concerned that she was meddling, and had taken his son without his permission. He took the child home to feed him more pomegranate pulp. As soon as the child was removed from the house, the neighbor’s paralysis returned; when John was brought back in, the man was healed. Even John’s father took this as a sign, and allowed the neighbors to care for John.
A precocious and emotional child, John began reciting the Daily Offices before age 10. While on a trip to Palermo, Italy at age 15, John went to Confession in the church of Saint Zita of Lucca where his confession was heard by Blessed Peter Geremia who suggested John consider a religious life. John considered himself unworthy, but Peter pressed the matter, John joined the Dominicans in 1415, and wore the habit for 96 years, the longest period known for anyone.
As a priest, John founded the convent of Saint Zita in Caccamo, Italy. Lacking money for the construction, John prayed for guidance. During his prayer he had a vision of an angel who told him to “build on the foundations that were already built.” The next day in the nearby woods he found the foundation for a church called Saint Mary of the Angels, a church that had been started many years before, but had never been finished. John assumed this was the place indicated, and took over the site.
During the construction, workmen ran out of materials; the next day at dawn a large ox-drawn wagon arrived at the site. The driver unloaded a large quantity of stone, lime and sand – then promptly disappeared, leaving the oxen and wagon behind for the use of the convent. At another point a well got in the way of construction; John blessed it, and it immediately dried up; when construction was finished, he blessed it again, and the water began to flow. When roof beams were cut too short, John would pray over them, and they would stretch. There were days when John had to miraculously multiply bread and wine to feed the workers. Once a young boy came to the construction site to watch his uncle set stones; the boy fell from a wall, and was killed; John prayed over him, and restored him to life and health.
John and two brother Dominicans who were working on the convent were on the road near Caccamo when they were set upon by bandits. One of the thieves tried to stab John with a dagger; the man’s hand withered and became paralyzed. The gang let the brothers go, then decided to ask for their forgiveness. John made the Sign of the Cross at them, and the thief‘s hand was made whole.
One Christmas a nearby farmer offered to pasture the oxen that had come with the disappearing wagon-driver. John declined, saying the oxen had come far to be there, and there they should stay. Thinking he was doing good, the layman took them anyway. When he put them in the field with his own oxen, they promptly disappeared; he later found them at the construction site, contentedly munching dry grass near Father John.
While he did plenty of preaching in his 90+ years in the habit, usually on Christ’s Passion, he was not known as a great homilist. He was known, however, for his miracles and good works. His blessing caused the breadbox of a nearby widow to stay miraculously full, feeding her and her six children. His blessing prevented disease from coming to the cattle of his parishioners. Noted healer, curing at least three people whose heads had been crushed in accidents. Provincial of Sicily. Prior of the abbey on several occasions.
St. John Liccio is invoked to help those who have had head injuries.
He died on Nov. 14, 1511 at the age of 111 and was beatified on April 25, 1753.
Loving God, you made Blessed John illustrious by a complete self-denial and the utmost zeal for charity that he might reveal the mystery of your love to the poor. By following his example may we seek to please you and aid our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Not only is it Veteran's day today, but it is the memorial of St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the "Army of God" who is the patron saint of soldiers.
Saint Martin was born to pagan parents in Hungary. When he was fifteen years old, he was enrolled in the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelize one day.
The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold. Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of the Gospel: “I was naked, and you clothed Me.”
“My friend,” he said, “I have nothing but my weapons and my garments.”
And taking up his sword, he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar.
The following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this half-cloak and saying to His Angels: “It is Martin, still a catechumen, who covered Me.”
Soon afterwards he was baptized.
Charity, purity, and bravery distinguished the life of the young soldier. He was discharged from the army at the age of twenty. Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but was driven from his home by the Arians and took refuge with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers.
He founded the monastery of Ligugé, the first in Gaul. The brilliance of his holiness and his miracles resulted in his being selected as the Bishop of Tours, despite his resistance. His flock, though Christian in name, were still pagan at heart. Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and through his preaching and miracles converted the people. His power over demons was extraordinary. Idolatry never recovered from the blows given to it by Saint Martin.
After renewing his diocese, Martin felt the calling to journey outside its boundaries. Clothed in a poor tunic and a rude cloak, and seated on an ass, accompanied only by a few religious, he left like a poor missionary to evangelize the countryside. He passed through all of the provinces of Gaul, and neither mountains, nor rivers, nor dangers of any description stopped him. He was a faithful and victorious apostle of the Lord, which resulted in his earning the title of the Light and the Apostle of Gaul.
Prayer to St. Martin of Tours for our soldiers
St. Martin, you were first a soldier like your father. Converted to the Church, you became a soldier of Christ, a priest and then a Bishop of Tours. Lover of the poor, and model for pagans and Christians alike, protect our soldiers at all times. Make them strong, just, and charitable, always aiming at establishing peace on earth. Amen.
Prayer to continue to fight for God
Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner. Amen.
~ St. Martin of Tours
Remember to pray today for all veterans -- both past and present.
My Personal Prayer
Today, Father God, I give You thanks for all those who have courageously fought and died to serve our country and to preserve our many freedoms. I thank you especially for those members of my family who fought to keep our nation free: my dad, who fought in WWII, my brother, who fought in the Viet Nam War, my sister and her husband, who have both served in the military, all my uncles who served in WWII, and all our soldiers, Lord. Thank you for their great sacrifice. Amen.
~ Copyright November 2009 Jean M. Heimann, Updated November, 2011
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor.
St. Leo the Great was born in Rome of Italian nobility. As a deacon of the Church, he opposed the heresy of Pelagianism, which taught that grace was not necessary for salvation, but was rather a bonus that God granted to those who earned it by their good works. He was elevated to the office of Pope in 440 and reigned as pope for twenty-one years. As pope, St. Leo labored strenuously to safeguard the integrity of the faith and vigorously defended the unity of the Church. He affirmed the full divinity and humanity of Christ. His most famous writing, commonly known as the Tome of St. Leo (449), was the basis of the Council of Chalcedon's (451) dogmatic definition of Christ as one Divine Person possessing two complete natures, human and divine.
When Attilla the Hun marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in Priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to Saint Peter, it is generally believed the first Pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns.
When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo's sanctity and eloquence saved the city again. Besides saving Rome, Leo earned the title “Great” because of his personal sanctity, the majesty of his bearing, his profound sermons, his desire for Church unity, and his building up of the Petrine office. He died in 461. St. Leo wrote many letters and homilies encouraging and teaching his flock, many of which survive today; it is for these writings that Leo was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1574.
Quotes from St. Leo the Great
"Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife."
"Short and fleeting are the joys of this world's pleasures which endeavors to turn aside from the path of life those who are called to eternity. The faithful and religious spirit, therefore, must desire the things which are heavenly, and being eager for the Divine promises, lift itself to the love of the incorruptible Good and the hope of the true Light."
When I made a pilgrimage to Rome almost six years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending Mass at this beautiful basilica and also in renewing my Baptismal vows here.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome. This is not St. Peter's, but it is the Pope's cathedral. Also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John Baptist, it was the baptism church of ancient Rome. It was built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. This feast was first observed in Rome, but later in honor of the basilica, which is known as "the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world" (omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput), the celebration was extended to the universal Latin Church. This action was taken as a sign of love for and union with the Chair of Peter.
A WOMAN who spent five years training to be a nun has been crowned the winner of Miss World 2011.
Miss Venezuela, Ivian Lunasol Sarcos Colmenares, beat contestants from 122 countries to the coveted title after impressing the judges in the categories of beach beauty, top model, talent, sports, and beauty with a purpose - where the contestants must demonstrate involvement in a charity project.
Ms Sarcos Colmenares, 21, who has a degree in human resources and currently works for a broadcasting company, was the favourite going into the final which was held at London's Earls Court this evening.
She was orphaned at a young age and once dreamt of becoming a nun. Now she said she wants to use her title to help other people.
From the essay, "Being Human in an Age of Unbelief", adapted from a talk given yesterday by Abp. Chaput at the University of Pennsylvania:
Here’s my first point. We remember Bonhoeffer, Solzhenitsyn, and other men and women like them because of their moral witness. But the whole idea of “moral witness” comes from the assumption that good and evil are real, and that certain basic truths about humanity don’t change. These truths are knowable and worth defending. One of these truths is the notion of man’s special dignity as a creature of reason and will. Man is part of nature, but also distinct from it.
The philosopher Hans Jonas said that three things have distinguished human life from other animal experience since early prehistory: the tool, the image, and the grave. The tool imposes man’s knowledge and will onto nature. The image—man’s paintings and other art—projects his imagination. It implies a sense of beauty and memory, and a desire to express them. But the greatest difference between humans and other animals is the grave. Only man buries his dead. Only man knows his own mortality. And knowing that he will die, only man can ask where he came from, what his life means, and what comes after it.
The grave then is an expression of reverence and hope. When Christians and other people of good will talk about “the dignity of the human person” and “the sanctity of human life,” they’re putting into words what we all instinctively know—and have known for a very long time. Something elevated and sacred in men and women demands our special respect. When we violate that human dignity, we do evil. When we serve it, we do good. And therein lies one of many ironies. We live in a society that speaks persuasively about protecting the environment and rescuing species on the brink of extinction. But then it tolerates the killing of unborn children and the abuse of human fetal tissue as lab material.
Elizabeth was born on July 18, 1880 in a military camp in the diocese of Bourges, France to Captain Joseph Catez and Marie Catez. Her father died when she was seven, leaving her mother to raise Elizabeth and her sister.
Elizabeth was a strong-willed, exuberant, and popular young lady. She had a great reverence to God, and practiced a beautiful, but simple prayer life. She was a gifted pianist and had a talent for making friends, participating in a very active social life. At the same time, she never neglected those who were in most need of her gifts. She frequently visited the sick and taught catechism to children.
On August 2, 1901, she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Dijon, France at the age of 21. She experienced great periods of spiritual growth, but also periods of darkness. She took her final vows two years later and became a spiritual director for many, leaving behind a legacy of letters and retreat guides.
She died on November 9, 1906, at the age of 26 from Addison's disease, a hormone disorder that causes painful and exhausting symptoms. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984.
Her writings consist primarily of notes and summaries on her private retreats, prayers, and letters to her family and friends. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Christian was the central focus which inspired her life and spirituality.
Her name, "Elizabeth," which literally means "House of God," captured her strong belief in the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, which is found in the silence of contemplative prayer and transforms the one who prays into a "Praise of Glory" (Eph. 1:6, 12). Her unique spirituality is reflected is reflected in her writings.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
"I have found heaven on earth, since heaven is God, and God is in my soul. My mission in heaven will be to draw souls, helping them to go out of themselves to cling to God, with a spontaneous, love-filled action, and to keep them in that great interior silence which enables God to make his mark on them, to transform them into himself."(Letter 122)
"A soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him."
"I can't find words to express my happiness. Here there is no longer anything but God. He is All; He suffices and we live by Him alone." (Letter 91)
The saint of the day for November 8 is Blessed John Dunus Scotus, Franciscan priest and theologian of the thirteenth century.
The Birth and Childhood of Bl. John Duns Scotus
Bl. John Duns Scotus was born in Duns, Berwickshire, Scotland, around 1265. He was immediately baptized after birth and was named after St. John the Evangelist. He grew up a good boy, healthy and pure like a little angel. He received a solid Christian formation from home and from the parish priest. He frequented the Cistercian Abbey of Melrose for his catechism lessons. There, he absorbed the ardent love for the Mother of God which St. Bernard had left as a patrimony to the Cistercians.
As a little boy, Bl. John suffered very much from the obtuseness of his intellect. He wanted to read, to write and to study the profundity of the truths of the faith, but his mind just could not manage to learn or understand anything. By means of with prayers and sighs, he had recourse to Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, asking Her to heal his dullness so that he could advance in his studies. Mary appeared to him and granted his request. Going back to school, the "pea-brained" could only astonish his classmates and teachers. Bl. John resolved to make use of the heavenly gift of sublime intelligence, above all, to glorify the sweet and glorious Virgin Mary, Treasurer of every good.
At the age of 15, he entered the Novititate of the Order of Friars Minor(the Franciscans) at Dumfries, in the Kingdom of Scotland. There he made praiseworthy progress day by day in piety and in seraphic virtue. After a year he consecrated himself to God by the Religious Profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He was then sent for his studies in various theological schools of the Order. He was ordained a priest by Msgr. Oliver Sutton, Bishop of Lincoln, England, on March 17, 1291, at the church of St. Andrew of the Monks of Cluny. After his ordination, he began a series of travels between England and France to pursue advanced philosophical and theological studies.
The Blessed Virgin Appears to Bl. John
During the night of Christmas, 1299 at the Oxford Convent, Bl. John, immersed in his contemplation of the adorable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, was rapt in ecstasy. The Blessed Mother appeared to him and placed on his arms the Child Jesus who kissed and embraced him fondly. This was perhaps the occasion which inspired Bl. John to write so profoundly and fluently on the absolute primacy of Christ and the reason for the Incarnation. Christ's Incarnation, which is decreed from all eternity even apart from the Redemption, is the supreme created manifestation of God's love.
Bl. John at the University of Oxford, England
After about four years of teaching at Oxford and Cambridge, at the end of 1301, Bl. John returned to Paris. He was granted his bachelor's degree in theology. Later, on the vigil of receiving his doctorate, he had to leave France suddenly, to return to England. Philip, the Fair, in a disgraceful quarrel with Pope Boniface VIII demanded all clerics, nobles religious, bishops and the University of Paris to appeal to the Council against the Pope. Bl. John Duns Scotus, among the few members of the faculty, refused to accede to the wishes of the King and chose the way of exile, sometime between the 25th and 28th of June 1308.
After a year, the situation abated and Bl. John was back again at the University of Paris where he received the doctorate in theology and thus inaugurated his official professorship which was to lead him to singular glory among the great medieval scholastics. Soon the fame of his genius and learning spread abroad and students came in great numbers to attend the lectures of the new master. On account of his habit of making refined distinctions during theologic argumentation, the title "Subtle Doctor" was conferred on him by his contemporaries. Rodulphus wrote of him: "There was nothing so recondite, nothing so abstruse that his keen mind could not fathom and clarify; nothing so knotty, that he like another Oedupus, could not unravel, nothing so fraught with difficulty or enveloped in darkness that his genius could not expound." Another author wrote: "He described the Divine Nature as if he had seen God; the celestial spirits as if he had been an angel; the happiness of the future state as if he had enjoyed them; and the ways of Providence as if he had penetrated into its secrets."
Bl. John's Defense of the Immaculate Conception
It was also in Paris that Bl. John came to be called as the "Marian Doctor" after he championed the privilege of Mary's Immaculate Conception. In England, Bl. John taught the truth of this Marian privilege without any opposition. But at Paris the situation was reversed. The academic body of the University admitted only the purification of Mary in the womb of Her mother St. Anne, like St. John the Baptist. Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Parisian Masters, were not able to solve the problem of the universality of original sin and of the efficacy of Christ's Redemption. They thought that even the Blessed Virgin Mary was included in this universality, and therefore subject to contract the original stain even if only for an instant, so that she may also be redeemed. Scotus in his attempt to introduce and teach a theological position different from that upheld by the university, had to appear in a public dispute before the whole academic body, at the risk of expulsion from the university if he failed to defend his doctrine. Bl. John Scotus prepared himself for the event in prayer and recollection and in total confidence to the Immaculate Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom.
When the fixed day of the dispute arrived, on leaving the convent, he passed before a statue of Our Lady and with suppliant voice entreated her: "Allow me to praise You, O Most Holy Virgin; give me strength against your enemies." Our Lady responded with a prodigious visible sign: the head of the statue moved and bowed slightly before him. It was as if to say: "Yes I will give you all the strength you need."
Two Papal legates presided over the dispute. Then with powerful dialectic and with deep and subtle reasoning, Bl. Scotus refuted all the objections of the learned men in attendance, undermining the foundation of every argument contrary to Mary's Immaculate Conception. Bl. John Scotus pointed out: <"The Perfect Redeemer, must in some case, have done the work of redemption most perfectly, which would not be, unless there is some person, at least, in whose regard, the wrath of God was anticipated and not merely appeased." Bl. John triumphed. From that day the University of Paris took up the same cause to defend this privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Bl. John's Death and Beatification
Bl. John Duns Scotus had to leave the university at Paris one more time, partly for some political reasons and partly because some doubts had been cast on his theology by opponents. The Franciscan Minister General sent Scotus to Cologne, Germany ,where he lectured for some time in the Franciscan house of studies until his untimely death on 8th November, 1308, barely 43 years of age. He was called "blessed" almost immediately after his death.
Through the centuries his tomb has been visited by large numbers of the faithful and public veneration has been offered to him in the dioceses of Edinburgh, Scotland, Nola, Italy, and Cologne, Germany, as well as throughout the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans).
In 1854, Pope Pius IX solemnly declared that the Marian doctrine of Bl. John , was a correct expression of the faith of the Apostles: <"at the first moment of Her conception, Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ." >The seal of the Church's approval was also placed on Bl. John's doctrine on the universal primacy of Christ when the feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925. On March 20, 1992 Bl. John Duns Scotus was beatified by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Bl. John Duns Scotus, "The minstrel of the Word Incarnate" and "Defender of Mary's Immaculate Conception" is presented by Pope John Paul II to our age "wealthy of human, scientific and technological resources, but in which many have lost the sense of faith and lead lives distant from Christ and His Gospel," as "a Teacher of thought and life." For the Church, he is "an example of fidelity to the revealed truth, of effective, priestly, and serious dialogue in search for unity." It is also the Holy Father's hope that "his spirit and memory enlighten with the very light of Christ the trials and hope of our society."