Posted in PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY

Second Thought for the Day – 22 June – A Papal Masterpiece

Second Thought for the Day – 22 June – On the Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, Martyrs – A Papal Masterpiece

Sermon Delivered by Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) on the Occasion of the Papal Mass in St Peter’s for the Canonisation of St John Fisher (1469-1535) and St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyrs, on 19 May 1935

sts thomas moe and john fisher - pray for us

As Jesus Christ, according to the words of St Paul, is eternal and immutable, “yesterday and today and the same forever,” so the Church founded by Him, is destined never to perish.   Generations follow and succeed each other with their perennial vicissitudes.   But whereas human institutions give way and disappear before the levelling tide of time and human sciences, reflecting inconstant light, undergo repeated transformations, the Cross of Christ, reared steadfast above the engulfing billows, never ceases to illumine mankind with the beneficent splendour of Eternal Truth.

From time to time, new heresies make their appearance and, under the guise of truth, gain strength and popularity but, the seamless garment of Christ can never be rent in twain.   Unbelievers and enemies of the Catholic faith, blinded by presumption, may indeed constantly renew their violent attacks against the Christian name but. in wresting from the bosom of the militant Church, those whom they put to death, they become the instruments of their martyrdom and of their heavenly glory.

No less beautiful than true are the words of St Leo the Great: “The religion of Christ, founded on the mystery of the Cross, cannot be destroyed by any sort of cruelty – persecutions do not weaken, they strengthen the Church.   The field of the Lord is ever ripening with new harvests, while the grains shaken loose by the tempest take root and are multiplied.”

These thoughts, full of hope and comfort, spring up in Our mind as We, in this majestic Vatican Basilica, are about to proclaim briefly the praises of our two new Saints after having raised them to the honours of the altar.   They, the bright champions and the glory of their nation, were given to the Christian people, in the words of the prophet Jeremias, “as a fortified city and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass.” Therefore, they could not be shaken by the fallacies of heretics, nor frightened by the threats of the powerful.   They were, so to speak, the leaders and chieftains of that illustrious band of men who, from all classes of the people and from every part of Great Britain, resisted the new errors with unflinching spirit and in shedding their blood, testified their loyal devotedness to the Holy See.

John Fisher, gifted by nature with a most gentle disposition, thoroughly versed in both sacred and profane lore, so distinguished himself among his contemporaries by his wisdom and his virtue, that under the patronage of the King of England himself, he was elected Bishop of Rochester.   In the fulfilment of this high office, so ardent was he in his piety towards God and in charity towards his neighbour and so zealous in defending the integrity of Catholic doctrine, that his episcopal residence seemed rather a Church and a University for studies, than a private dwelling.

He was wont to afflict his delicate body with fastings, scourges, and hair cloth;  nothing was dearer to him than to be able to visit the poor, in order to comfort them in their miseries and to succour them in their needs.   When he found someone frightened at the thought of his faults and terrified by chastisements to come, he brought comfort to the erring soul by restoring confidence in God’s mercy.   Often, when celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice, he was seen shedding abundant tears, while his eyes were raised to heaven in an ecstatic expression of love.   When he preached to the multitudes of the faithful that crowded round to hear him, he seemed neither a man nor a herald of men but an angel of God clothed in human flesh.

Nevertheless, whilst he was meek and affable towards the afflicted and the suffering, whenever there was question of defending the integrity of faith and morals, like a second Precursor of the Lord, in whose name he gloried, he was not afraid to proclaim the truth openly and to defend by every means in his power, the divine teachings of the Church.   You are well aware, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, of the reason why John Fisher was called in judgement and obliged to undergo the supreme test of martyrdom.   It was because of his courageous determination to defend the sacred bond of Christian marriage—a bond indissoluble for all, even for those who wear the royal diadem—and to vindicate the Primacy with which the Roman Pontiffs are invested by divine command.

That is why he was imprisoned and afterwards led to death.   Serenely he advanced toward the scaffold and with the words of the Te Deum on his lips, he rendered thanks to God, for being granted the grace of having his mortal life crowned with the glory of martyrdom and, he raised up to the Divine Throne, a fervent prayer of supplication for himself, for his people and for his King.   Thus did he give another clear proof that the Catholic Religion does not weaken but increases the love of one’s country.

When finally he mounted the scaffold, whilst a ray of sunlight cast a halo of splendour about his venerable grey hairs, he exclaimed with a smile:  “Come ye to Him and be enlightened and your faces shall not be confounded.” (Ps. xxxiii, 6.)   Most assuredly the heavenly hosts of angels and saints hastened in joy to meet his holy soul, freed at last from the fetters of the body and winging flight toward eternal joys.

The other star of sanctity that traced a luminous path across that dark period of history was Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of the King of England.   Endowed with the keenest of minds and supreme versatility in every kind of knowledge, he enjoyed such esteem and favour among his fellow-citizens, that he was soon able to reach the highest grades of public office.   But, he was no less distinguished for his desire of Christian perfection and his zeal for the salvation of souls.   Of this we have testimony in the ardour of his prayer, in the fervour with which he recited, whenever he could, even the Canonical Hours, in the practice of those penances by which he kept his body in subjection and finally, in the numerous and renowned accomplishments of both the spoken and the written word which he achieved, for the defence of the Catholic faith and for the safeguarding of Christian morality.

A strong and courageous spirit, like John Fisher, when he saw that the doctrines of the Church were gravely endangered, he knew how to despise resolutely the flattery of human respect, how to resist, in accordance with his duty, the supreme head of the State when there was question of things commanded by God and the Church and how to renounce with dignity, the high office with which he was invested.   It was for these motives that he too was imprisoned, nor could the tears of his wife and children make him swerve from the path of truth and virtue.   In that terrible hour of trial he raised his eyes to heaven and proved himself a bright example of Christian fortitude.   Thus it was that he who not many years before had written a work emphasising the duty of Catholics to defend their faith, even at the cost of their lives, was seen to walk cheerful and confident from his prison to death and thence to take his flight to the joys of eternal beatitude.

Here, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, we may justly repeat the well-known saying of St Cyprian, Martyr: “O blessed prison which conveys men to heaven!   O blessed enchained feet, which with salutary steps are directed towards paradise!”

It was supremely fitting that these holy Martyrs who shed their blood for the Christian faith and for the defence of the sacred rights of the Roman Pontiff, should receive, together with the aureole of sanctity, their due glorification here in the very centre of the Catholic world, close to the glorious sepulchre of the Prince of the Apostles, through the instrumentality of Us who are the heir and successor of St Peter.

And now, it only remains for Us to exhort, with paternal heart, all of you who filled with veneration are grouped around Us, as well as those who, wherever they may be, profess themselves Our sons in Christ.   We exhort you to imitate with all diligence the great virtues of these holy Martyrs and to implore for yourselves and for the Church militant, their powerful protection.   If all of us are not called to shed our blood for the defence of the holy laws of God, all nonetheless, according to the expression of St Basil, with evangelical abnegation, with Christian mortification of their bodies, with energetic striving after virtue, “must be Martyrs of desire, in order to share with the Martyrs their celestial reward.”

We desire, moreover, that with your ardent prayers, invoking the patronage of the new Saints, you ask of the Lord that which is so dear to Our heart, namely, that England, in the words of St. Paul, “meditating the happy consummation which crowned the life” of those two Martyrs, may “follow them in their faith” and return to the Father’s house “in the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”

Let those who are still separated from Us, consider attentively the ancient glories of their Church which were at once a reflection and an increment of the glories of the Church of Rome.   Let them consider, moreover and remember, that this Apostolic See has been waiting for them so long and so anxiously, not as coming to a strange dwelling place but as finally returning to their paternal home.

In conclusion, let us repeat the divine prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Holy Father, keep them in Thy name whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one as we also are.”  Amen.

Saint John Fisher, Pray for Us!

st john fisher - pray for us - 22 june 2020

St Thomas More, Pray for us!st thomas more pray for us 22 june 2019 no 2

Posted in CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, GOD the FATHER, I BELIEVE!, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on GRACE, QUOTES on HOPE, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, The WORD

Quote/s of the Day – 9 May – ‘God does not leave us groping in the dark.’

Quote/s of the Day – 9 May – Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Readings: Acts 13:44-52, Psalm 98:1-4, John 14:7-14

“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:7

if yu know me then you will also know my father - john 14 7 9 may 2020

” God does not leave us groping in the dark.
He has shown Himself to us as a man.
In His greatness, He has let Himself become small.”

john-14-9-he-who-seen-me-god-does-not-leave-us-groping-in-the-dark-pope-benedict-18-may-2019 and 9 may 2020

“What is Faith?

First, faith is simple.
We believe in God – in God,
who is the Beginning
and End of human life.
We believe in a God,
who enters into a relationship
with us human beings,
who is our origin and our future.
Consequently, faith is,
always and inseparably, hope –
the certainty that we have a future
and will not end up as nothing.
And faith is love,
since God’s love is “contagious”.
This is the first thing –
we simply believe in God
and this brings with it,
hope and love.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Regensburg Homily, Tuesday 12 September 2006

what is faith - pope benedict 18 may 2019

Posted in CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, FRANCISCAN OFM, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, PRAYERS for VARIOUS NEEDS, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, THE HOLY FAMILY - FAMILIAE SANCTAE

Thought for the Day – 29 December – Bless Your Children!

Thought for the Day – 29 December – Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Fifth Day of the Christmas Octave

I am most grateful for my upbringing in a truly Catholic family, not one exit was made by the children without a blessing by our parents.   This is such an important and vital element in our daily lives as Catholic families.   And you too, parents, as you exit and enter your homes, bless yourselves with the Sign of the Cross – have a Holy Water Font at your doors – habits are formed by action – start today!bless your children - pope francis - 29 dec 2019.jpg

Bless Your Children
Pope Francis

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
27 December 2015

“How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal!   We know that we have a road to travel together, a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation.   And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer.

What can be more beautiful, than for a father and mother, to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the Sign of the Cross, as they did on the day of their Baptism?   Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children?   To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that He can be their protection and support throughout the day.

In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need.   These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of everyday life.”

grace before meals - 29 dec 2019 - holy family feast .jpg

The Grace before Meals

Bless us, O Lord
and these Thy gifts,
which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty,
through Christ our Lord.
Amen

grace after meals - 29 dec 2019 - holy family feast.jpg

The Grace After Meals

We give Thee thanks,
Almighty God,
for all Thy gifts,
almighty God,
living and reigning
now and forever.
Amen

I learnt this Capuchin Grace Before a Meal from Fr Raneiro Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household:

Lord, bless this food
that we are about to receive
from Your bounty.
Help us to provide
for those who do not have any
and make us partakers one day
in Your heavenly banquet,
through Christ, our Lord,
amen.

Posted in CATHOLIC Quotes, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, SUNDAY REFLECTIONS, The HOLY EUCHARIST, The WORD

Sunday Reflection – 17 November – Living communion with Christ

Sunday Reflection – 17 November – The Third World Day of the Poor and the Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed,,

and broke and gave the loaves” … Matthew 14:19

“Jesus loves us so much and wants to be close to us and looks after those who follow Him.   The Lord meets the needs of mankind but wants to render each one of us, a concrete participant in His compassion.
Now let us pause on this, Jesus’ gesture of blessing:
“taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke and gave the loaves” (v. 19).
As you see, they are the same signs that Jesus performed at the Last Supper and they are also the same gestures, that each priest performs when he celebrates the Holy Eucharist.
The Christian community is born and reborn continually from this Eucharistic communion.

Living communion with Christ is, therefore, anything but being passive and detached from daily life, on the contrary, it includes us more and more in the relationship with the men and women of our time, in order to offer them the concrete sign of mercy and of the attention of Christ.   Jesus wants to reach everyone, in order to bring God’s love to all.”

Pope Francis (General Audience, 17 August 2016)matthew-14-19-he-looked-up-to-heaven-the-christian-community-is-born-and-reburn-pope-francis-5-aug-2019 and sun reflection 17 nov 2019.jpg

Posted in CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, DIVINE MERCY, GOD is LOVE, HYMNS, MINI SERIES, PAPAL HOMILIES, POETRY, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, St JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN!, The HOLY TRINITY, The WORD, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 29 October – How to speak about God?

Thought for the Day – 29 October – Tuesday of the Thirtieth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 13:18-21

Again he said, …”To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in
with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” Luke 13:20

Excerpt – Part One
Year of Faith – How to speak about God?

Pope Benedict XVI
Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The important question we ask ourselves today is – how can we talk about God in our time?   How can we communicate the Gospel so as to open roads to His saving truth in our contemporaries’ hearts — that are all too often closed — and minds — that are at times distracted by the many dazzling lights of society? Jesus, the Evangelists tell us, asked Himself about this as He proclaimed the kingdom of God – “With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?” (Mk 4:30).

How can we talk about God today?   The first answer is that we can talk about God because He has talked to us, so the first condition for speaking of God is listening to all that God Himself has said.   God has spoken to us!   God is therefore not a distant hypothesis concerning the world’s origin, He is not a mathematical intelligence far from us.   God takes an interest in us, He loves us, He has entered personally into the reality of our history, He has communicated Himself, even to the point of taking flesh.   Thus God is a reality of our life, He is so great that He has time for us too, He takes an interest in us. In Jesus of Nazareth we encounter the face of God, who came down from His heaven to immerse Himself in the human world, in our world, and to teach “the art of living”, the road to happiness, to set us free from sin and make us children of God (cf. Eph 1:5; Rom 8:14).   Jesus came to save us and to show us the good life of the Gospel.

Talking about God means first of all expressing clearly what God we must bring to the men and women of our time, not an abstract God, a hypothesis but a real God, a God who exists, who has entered history and is present in history, the God of Jesus Christ as an answer to the fundamental question of the meaning of life and of how we should live. Consequently speaking of God demands familiarity with Jesus and His Gospel, it implies that we have a real, personal knowledge of God and a strong passion for His plan of salvation without succumbing to the temptation of success but following God’s own method.   God’s method is that of humility — God makes Himself one of us — His method is brought about through the Incarnation in the simple house of Nazareth; through the Grotto of Bethlehem, through the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

We must not fear the humility of taking little steps but trust in the leaven that penetrates the dough and slowly causes it to rise (cf. Mt 13:33).   In talking about God, in the work of evangelisation, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must recover simplicity, we must return to the essence of the proclamation – the Good News of a God who is real and effective, a God who is concerned about us, a God-Love who makes Himself close to us in Jesus Christ, until the Cross and who, in the Resurrection, gives us hope and opens us to a life that has no end, eternal life, true life. – To be continued/…

Firmly I believe and truly
St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Firmly I believe and truly
God is three and God is On
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.
Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church, as His creation,
And her teachings, as His own.
And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here. 
Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.firmly i believe and truly st john henry newman 29 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in CATECHESIS, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on HELL, QUOTES on SIN, QUOTES on the CHURCH, QUOTES on THE MYSTICAL BODY, SAINT of the DAY, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS, The WORD

Quote/s of the Day – 28 October – Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Quote/s of the Day – 28 October – Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles and Martyrs, Gospel: Luke 6:12-19

“Simon was worlds apart from Matthew, who, on the contrary, had an activity behind him as a tax collector that was frowned upon as entirely impure.   This shows that Jesus called His disciples and collaborators, without exception, from the most varied social and religious backgrounds.

It was people who interested Him, not social classes or labels!   And the best thing is that in the group of His followers, despite their differences, they all lived side by side, overcoming imaginable difficulties, indeed, what bound them together, was Jesus Himself, in whom they all found themselves united with one another.

This is clearly a lesson for us who are often inclined to accentuate differences and even contrasts, forgetting, that in Jesus Christ, we are given the strength to get the better of our continual conflicts.

Let us also bear in mind, that the group of the Twelve, is the prefiguration of the Church, where there must be room for all charisms, peoples and races, all human qualities that find their composition and unity in communion with Jesus.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Catechesis on Saints Simon and Jude
General Audience
Saint Peter’s Square
Wednesday, 11 October 2006let us bear in the mind that the group of the twelve - sts simon and jude - pope benedict 28 oct 2019.jpg

“Woe to them!
They followed the way of Cain …
These are blemishes …
as they carouse fearlessly
and look after themselves.
They are waterless clouds
blown about by winds,
fruitless trees in late autumn,
twice dead and uprooted.
They are like wild waves of the sea,
foaming up their shameless deeds,
wandering stars,
for whom the gloom of darkness
has been reserved forever.”

Jude 1:11a,12 & 13jude 1 11,12,13 woem to them they followed the way of cain 28 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in MARTYRS, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on MARTYRDOM, QUOTES on PERSECUTION, QUOTES on SACRIFICE, QUOTES on SUFFERING, QUOTES on the CHURCH, QUOTES on VIOLENCE, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL, The BEATITUDES

Thought for the Day – 19 October – “One doesn’t suffer when one suffers for Christ”

Thought for the Day – 19 October – The Memorial of Bl Jerzy Popiełuszko (1947-1984) Priest and Martyr

This beloved and unassuming young priest of Poland was a true hero of that tortured land during the Soviet Communist occupation.   Now a Blessed, Father Jerzy was beloved by everyone in his homeland, believers and non-believers alike, because of his bravery in the face of extreme hatred on the part of the Communist officials.   His story should be much more widely known than it is.

Never in good health, the strongest part of Father Jerzy were his hands.   His most beloved possessions were the crucifix and Rosary sent to him by St Pope John Paul II, a fellow countryman.   He was sickly his whole life, yet he never complained of illness or injury.   One day, when he was making toys with his brothers and sisters, a nail pierced his palm. Later, one of the children noticed blood dripping from his hand.   One of his siblings told the parents because young Jerzy did not want to bother anyone.

Young Jerzy’s great hero was Saint Maximillian Kolbe, another Polish priest who gave his life to save another prisoner – a man with a family – at Auschwitz.   He determined early on to become a priest but kept it a secret so that the authorities could not alter his examination results or pressure the family to keep him out of the seminary.

In 1966, his entire seminary class was drafted into the special indoctrination unit in violation of a church-state agreement.   This cruel treatment was reserved for the most outspoken church leaders, including the future St Pope John Paul II.

The horrible treatment he received in this “special unit” broke his health but not his spirit.   He wrote to his father “It turned out to be very tough but I can’t be broken by threats or torture.”   His seminary professors demanded that he take a period of rest but he refused.   “One doesn’t suffer when one suffers for Christ,” was his reply.

St Pope John Paul said, on his apostolic journey to Poland in 1999:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:10).

“Our century too has written a great martyrology.   I myself, in the course of the twenty years of my papacy, have raised to the glory of the altars many groups of martyrs: Japonese, French, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mexican.   And how many martyrs there were during the time of the Second World War and under Communist totalitarianism!   They suffered and gave their lives in the death camps of Hitler or those of the Soviets.   In a few days, in Warsaw, I will beatify 108 martyrs who gave their lives for the faith in the concentration camps.   Now is the time to remember all these victims and to grant them the honour which is their due.   These are “the martyrs, many of them nameless, ‘unknown soldiers’ as it were of God’s great cause”, as I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (No. 37).   And it is good that we speak of them in Poland, since this country had a special role in this contemporary martyrology.   It is good that we speak of them in Bydgoszcz!   All gave testimony of fidelity to Christ in spite of sufferings which horrify us by their cruelty.   Their blood was poured out on our land and made it fertile for growth and for the harvest.   That same blood continues to bring forth fruit a hundredfold for our nation, which perseveres faithfully alongside Christ and the Gospel.   Let us persevere unceasingly in union with them.   Let us thank God that they emerged victorious from their labours:   “God … tried them like gold in the furnace, and like a sacrificial offering he accepted them” (Wis 3:6).   They represent for us a model to be followed.   From their blood we ought to draw strength for the sacrifice of our own life, which we must offer to God each day.   They are an example for us, so that, like them, we may give a courageous witness of fidelity to the Cross of Christ.

4. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you … on my account” (Mt 5:11).

Christ does not promise an easy life to those who follow Him.   Instead, He proclaims that, by living according to the Gospel, they are to become a sign of contradiction.   If He Himself suffered persecution, so too will His disciples:   “Beware of men”, he says, “for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues” (Mt 10:17).

Dear Brothers and Sisters!   Every Christian, united to Christ through the grace of Holy Baptism, has become a member of the Church and “no longer is his own” (cf. 1 Cor 6:19) but belongs to the one who died and rose for our sake.   From that moment on, the baptised enter into a particular bond of community with Christ and His Church.   They, therefore, have the duty of professing before others the faith they have received from God through the Church.   At times this demands great sacrifice on our part, to be offered each day and sometimes for an entire lifetime.   This firm perseverance alongside Christ and His Gospel, this readiness to face “sufferings for righteousness’ sake”, often involve acts of heroism and can take the form of an authentic martyrdom, carried out every day and at every moment of life, drop by drop, until the final “it is finished”.” – Homily in Bydgoszcz – Monday, 7 June 1999 (Excerpt)

The enemies of Christ rule Poland no more!

Blessed Jerzy, Pray, for us!one doesn't suffer when one suffers for christ bl jerzy pray for us 19 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in ON the SAINTS, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, St JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN!, The WORD

Pope Francis celebrates Canonisation Mass of 5 New Saints and says “Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights”

Pope Francis celebrates Canonisation Mass of 5 New Saints and says “Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights.”

HOLY MASS AND CANONISATION OF THE BLESSEDS:
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, GIUSEPPINA VANNINI,
MARIAM THRESIA CHIRAMEL MANKIDIYAN, DULCE LOPES PONTES, MARGUERITE BAYS
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
St Peter’s Square
XXVIII Sunday of Ordinary Time
13 October 2019CANONISAITION MASS JOHN HENRY NEWMAN 13 oct 2019

“Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19).   This is the climax of today’s Gospel, which reflects the journey of faith.   There are three steps in this journey of faith.   We see them in the actions of the lepers whom Jesus heals.   They cry out, they walk and they give thanks.

First, they cry out.   The lepers were in a dreadful situation, not only because of a disease that, widespread even today, needs to be battled with unremitting effort but also because of their exclusion from society.   At the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and, as such, had to be isolated and kept apart (cf. Lev 13:46).   We see that when they approach Jesus, they “kept their distance” (Lk 17:12).  Even though their condition kept them apart, the Gospel tells us that they “called out” (v. 13) and pleaded with Jesus.  They did not let themselves be paralysed because they were shunned by society, they cried out to God, who excludes no-one.   We see how distances are shortened, how loneliness is overcome – by not closing in on ourselves and our own problems, by not thinking about how others judge us but rather by crying out to the Lord, for the Lord hears the cry of those who find themselves alone.

Like those lepers, we too need healing, each one of us.   We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think.   The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask Him, only if we say to Him : “Lord, I believe you can heal me.   Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself.   Free me from evil and fear”.   The lepers are the first people, in this Gospel, who called to the name of Jesus. Later, a blind man and a crucified thief would do so, all of them needy people calling on the name of Jesus, which means:  “God saves”.   They call God by name, directly and spontaneously.   To call someone by name is a sign of confidence and it pleases the Lord. That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting prayer.   Prayer in which we bring to Jesus, who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus, “God saves”.   Let us repeat it: that is prayer, to say “Jesus“ is to pray.   And prayer is essential!   Indeed, prayer is the door of faith, prayer is medicine for the heart.

The second word, is to walk.   It is the second stage.   In today’s brief Gospel, there are several verbs of motion.   It is quite striking is that the lepers are not healed as they stand before Jesus, it is only afterwards, as they were walking.   The Gospel tells us that:  “As they went, they were made clean” (v. 14).   They were healed by going up to Jerusalem, that is, while walking uphill.   On the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights.   Faith calls for journey, a “going out” from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests.   Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks.  Faith advances when we make our way equipped with trust in God.   Faith advances with humble and practical steps, like the steps of the lepers or those of Naaman who went down to bathe in the river Jordan (cf. 2 Kings 5:14-17).   The same is true for us.   We advance in faith by showing humble and practical love, exercising patience each day and praying constantly to Jesus as we keep pressing forward on our way.

There is a further interesting aspect to the journey of the lepers: they move together.   The Gospel tells us that, “as they went, they were made clean” (v. 14).   The verbs are in the plural.   Faith means also walking together, never alone.   Once healed, however, nine of them go off on their own way and only one turns back to offer thanks.   Jesus then expresses His astonishment:  “The others, where are they?” (v. 17).   It is as if He asks the only one who returned, to account for the other nine.   It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way.   We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters, all of us!   We are to intercede for them, we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart.   Do you want to grow in faith?   You, who are here today, do you want to grow in faith?   Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister.

To cry out.   To walk.   And to give thanks.   This is the final step.   Only to the one who thanked Him did Jesus say:  “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19).   It made you both safe and sound.   We see from this, that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness but the encounter with Jesus.   Salvation is not drinking a glass of water to keep fit, it is going to the source, which is Jesus.   He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts.   Only an encounter with Him can save, can make life full and beautiful.   Whenever we meet Jesus, the word “thanks” comes immediately to our lips, because we have discovered the most important thing in life, which is not to receive a grace or resolve a problem but to embrace the Lord of life.   And this is the most important thing in life – to embrace the Lord of life.

It is impressive to see how the man who was healed, a Samaritan, expresses his joy with his entire being – he praises God in a loud voice, he prostrates himself and he gives thanks (cf. vv. 15-16).   The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving.   Let us ask ourselves – do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise?   Are we closed in on ourselves, waiting to ask another blessing, or do we find our joy in giving thanks?   When we express our gratitude, the Father’s heart is moved and He pours out the Holy Spirit upon us.   To give thanks is not a question of good manners or etiquette, it is a question of faith.   A grateful heart is one that remains young.   To say “Thank you, Lord” when we wake up, throughout the day and before going to bed – that is the best way to keep our hearts young, because hearts can grow old and be spoilt.   This also holds true for families and between spouses.   Remember to say thank you.   Those words are the simplest and most effective of all.

To cry out.   To walk.   To give thanks. Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new Saints.   They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.   Three of them were religious women, they show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world.   Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress, she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving.   That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life, in her humbleness.   Such is the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described in these words – “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not… The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming, has no pretence… with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5).
Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights amid the encircling gloom.”   Jesus, “stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest, so to shine as to be a light to others”  (Meditations on Christian Doctrine, VII, 3).   Amen … Vatican.va

Saint John Henry Newman, Pray for Us!st john henry newman pray for us 13 oct 2019.jpg

 

Posted in PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, St JOHN HENRY Cardinal NEWMAN!, VATICAN Resources

Thought for the Day – 13 October – Praise to the Holiest in the Height! for our Beloved Saint John Henry

Thought for the Day – 13 October – Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C and today, John Henry Newman will be Canonised

Today, at 10.30 Roman time, John Henry Newman and 4 others will be Canonised by Pope Francis.   They are:

– English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Founder of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in England

– Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini (born Giuditta Adelaide Agata), Founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus

– Indian Sister Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family

– Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes (born Maria Rita) of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God

– Marguerite Bays of Switzerland, Virgin of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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13 oct 2019 - today we call you st john henry newman praise to the holiest.jpg

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Beatification Homily
Birmingham, Sunday, 19 September 2010

newman and benedict

Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God.   He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness.   As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, “a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency – prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualising and elevating the soul.   A man is no longer what he was before, gradually … he has imbibed a new set of ideas and become imbued with fresh principles   (Parochial and Plain Sermons, iv, 230-231).   Today’s Gospel tells us that no-one can be the servant of two masters (cf. Lk 16:13) and Blessed John Henry’s teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion (cf. Mt 23:10).   Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives – he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a “definite service”, committed uniquely to every single person:   “I have my mission”, he wrote, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.   He has not created me for naught.   I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling” (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2).

The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing “subjects of the day”.   His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilised societ, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world.   I would like to pay particular tribute to his vision for education, which has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today.   Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together.   The project to found a Catholic University in Ireland provided him with an opportunity to develop his ideas on the subject and the collection of discourses that he published as The Idea of a University, holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can continue to learn. And indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity – “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it”  (The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390).   On this day when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us.

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls.   The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons:  “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathised with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels – the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3).   He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison.   No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here.   One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls.   What better way to express the joy of this moment than by turning to our heavenly Father in heartfelt thanksgiving, praying in the words that Blessed John Henry Newman placed on the lips of the choirs of angels in heaven:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise.
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius)Praise to the Holiest in the Height - bl john henry newman - 9 oct 2018.jpgJOHN HENRY CANONISATION TAPESTRY NEWMAN 13 OCT 2019

Posted in MARIAN QUOTES, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRAYERS to the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL

Thought for the Day – 10 October – “All through the Heart of Mary in honour of the Most Blessed Sacrament”

Thought for the Day – 10 October – The Memorial of Blessed Angela Truszkowska (1825-1899)

Excerpt from the
Address of the Holy Father JOHN PAUL II
to the Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalice

Friday 16 June 2000

“Your Foundress would often take the children in her care to the Capuchin Church in Warsaw where Saint Felix is shown bearing the Infant Jesus in his arms.   In the figure of the Holy Child, Blessed Maria Angela recognised the little ones she was called to serve. She knew that Saint Felix was shown bearing the Infant Jesus in his arms, because, in bearing the burdens of the needy, he had carried in his arms the poor Christ Himself and she recognised this as her own calling.   By bearing the burdens of the weakest she and her Sisters would bear in their arms the “little” Lord Jesus.   Blessed Maria Angela knew too, that it was Mary who had placed the Holy Child in the arms of Saint Felix and that, it was Mary, who was now placing her Infant Son in the arms of the Sisters of Saint Felix. How right then that she should dedicate the Congregation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

3. Yet the sword which pierced Mary’s heart (cf. Lk 2:35) pierced the heart of the Foundress too.   “Love means giving”, she wrote, “giving everything that love asks for, giving immediately, without regrets, with joy and wanting even more to be asked of us.”   In obeying the logic of the Incarnation and bearing in her arms, the Lord himself, Blessed Maria Angela became a victim of love.   Step by step she ascended the hill of Calvary, in a journey of suffering, both physical and spiritual, until her life was ablaze with the mystery of the Cross.

As she journeyed more deeply into Calvary’s darkness she became more insistent, that at the heart of the Congregation’s life, there should be devotion above all to the Holy Eucharist and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   She bequeathed to her Sisters the motto: “All through the Heart of Mary in honour of the Most Blessed Sacrament”.   In long hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, she learnt that she and her Sisters were called to “reproduce the pattern of the Lord’s death” (Phil 3:10) so that they might become the Eucharist.   And in the Mother of Christ, Blessed Mary Angela recognised, the one who shared in her Son’s Passion most intimately and she knew, that this was the Sisters’ calling as well.   In Mary Immaculate she recognised the woman of the Magnificat, the woman whose self-emptying, allowed God to fill her with the joy of the Holy Spirit.   This was to be the life of the Sisters of Saint Felix.

4. Ours is a very different world but we are no less challenged by the spiritual lethargy of our time and by the question of where true freedom lies.   It is the Church’s sacred duty to proclaim to the world the true answer to that question and Religious men and women, are crucial in that task.   For the Felician Sisters, this must mean, an ever more radical fidelity to the program of life bequeathed to you by your Foundress, since, if there is not this fidelity among you, then you too can fall victim to the spiritual confusion of the age and there may emerge among you, the anxiety and disunity which are its fruits.

I urge you, therefore, dear Sisters, at this critical time in the life of your Congregation, to commit yourself in this General Chapter to more ardent worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament, to deeper devotion to Mary Immaculate and to a more radical love of the charism of your Foundress.   Embrace the Lord’s Cross as Blessed Angela did!   Then you will become the Eucharist your whole life will sing Magnificat, your poverty will be filled with “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8).   Entrusting the General Chapter and the entire Congregation to Mary, Mother of Sorrows and Mother of all our joys and to the intercession of Saint Francis, Saint Felix and your Blessed Foundress, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing, as a pledge of endless grace and peace in Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness and firstborn from the dead” (Rev 1:5).

Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed Angela

God our Father,
we praise and thank You
for the gift of Blessed Angela,
who lived Your will,
in faith and trust
and lived Your love,
in service to others.
I pray, in confidence,
that through her intercession
You will grant me
the favour which I request.
I ask this,
through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Blessed Angela Truszkowska, Pray for Us!
Amenall through the heart of mary in honour of the bl sacra -blangla truszkowska 10 oct 2019 pray for us.jpg

Posted in MARTYRS, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL, The HOLY CROSS

Thought for the Day – 23 July – Hail, O Cross, our only hope!

Thought for the Day – 23 July – The Memorial of Blessed Vasil’ Hopko (1904-1976) Bishop and Martyr

Excerpt from St Pope John Paul’s Beatification Homily
Bratislava, Esplanade of Petržalka
Sunday, 14 September 2003

“O Crux, ave spes unica!   Hail, O Cross, our only hope!”

On the Cross, human misery and divine mercy meet.   The adoration of this unlimited mercy, is for man, the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God.   By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted.   O Crux, ave spes unica!

O Crux, ave spes unica!   Saint Paul speaks of the same theme in the letter to the Ephesians which we have just heard.   Not only did Christ Jesus become man, in everything similar to human beings but He took on the condition of a servant and humbled Himself even more, by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (cf. Phil 2:6-8).

Yes, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16).   We admire – overwhelmed and gratified – the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Eph 3:18-19)!   O Crux, ave spes unica!

4. Certainly, it was meditation on this great and wonderful mystery that sustained Blessed Bishop Vasil’ Hopko and Blessed Sister Zdenka Schelingová in their choice of the consecrated life and, especially, in the sufferings endured, during their terrible imprisonment.

Both shine before us as radiant examples of faithfulness, in times of harsh and ruthless religious persecution.   Bishop Vasil’ never repudiated his attachment to the Catholic Church and to the Pope.   Sister Zdenka did not hesitate to risk her life so as to assist God’s ministers.

Both faced up to an unjust trial and an ignoble condemnation, to torture, humiliation, solitude, death.   And so the Cross became for them, the way that led them to life, a source of fortitude and hope, a proof of love for God and man.   O Crux, ave spes unica!

Blessed Vasil’ Hopko, Pray for Us!BL VASIL HOPKO PRAY FOR US 23 JULY 2019.jpg

Posted in CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, EASTER, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, The RESURRECTION, The WORD

Quote of the Day- 5 May – “…Become witnesses of His Resurrection”

Quote of the Day- 5 May – Third Sunday of Easter, Year C

“The Gospel of Easter is very clear –
we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen
and to become witnesses of His Resurrection.
This is not to go back in time, 
it is not a kind of nostalgia.
It is returning to our first love,
in order to receive the fire which Jesus
has kindled in the world
and to bring that fire to all people,
to the very ends of the earth.”

Pope Francis

(Easter Vigil Homily, 2014)pope-francis-easter-vigil.20 april 2017 and again 5 May 2019.jpg

“…He certainly meets us
where we are in life – and –
He will never leave us
where He found us!”

Fr Mark J Hunt STDhe certainly meets us where he found us - 5 may 2019.jpg

Posted in PAPAL HOMILIES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 14 March – God’s Works

Thought for the Day – 14 March – the Memorial of Blessed Giacomo Cusmano (1834-1888)

St Pope John Paul on the Beatification of Blessed Giacomo, 30 October 1983

“To heal the wounds of poverty and misery which were afflicting such a large part of the population because of recurring famines and epidemics but also because of social inequality, (Blessed Giacomo Cusmano) chose the way of charity – love for God which was translated into effective love for his brethren and into the gift of himself to the most needy and suffering in a service pushed to the point of heroic sacrifice.

After opening a first “House for the Poor”, he began a broader work of social promotion by instituting the “Morsel for the Poor” Association, which was like the mustard seed from which a very vigorous plant sprung up.   Making himself poor with the poor, he did not disdain begging in the streets of Palermo, soliciting everyone’s charity and collecting food which he then distributed to the innumerable poor who gathered around him.

His work, like all of God’s works, encountered difficulties which severely tested his will but with immense confidence in God and with his indomitable will power, he overcame every obstacle, giving origin to the Institute of the “Sisters Servants of the Poor” and to the “Congregation of Missionary Servants of the Poor”.

He led his spiritual sons and daughters to the practice of charity in fidelity to the evangelical counsels and in striving for holiness.   His rules and spiritual letters are documents of an ascetic wisdom in which strength and gentleness are merged.   The central idea was this – “To live in the presence of God and in union with God, to receive everything from God’s hands, to do everything out of pure love and the glory of God.”

Blessed GIACOMO CUSMANO, PRAY for US!bl giacomo cusmano pray for us 14 march 2019.jpg

Posted in LENT 2019, LENTEN THOUGHTS, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES

Lenten Thoughts – 8 March – “‘Return to me,’ says the Lord. ‘To me.’”

Lenten Thoughts – 8 March – “‘Return to me,’ says the Lord. ‘To me.’”

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Basilica of Santa Sabina
Ash Wednesday, 6 March 2019lent is the time to free ourselves - pope francis ash wed 6 march 2019 - 8 march 2019.jpg

“Blow the trumpet […] sanctify a fast” (Joel 2:15), says the prophet in the first reading. Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears but instead proclaims a fast.   It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless.   It is a summons to stop, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us.   It is a wake-up call for the soul.

This wake-up call is accompanied by the message that the Lord proclaims through the lips of the prophet, a short and heartfelt message:   “Return to me” (v 12).   To return. If we have to return, it means that we have wandered off.   Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life.   Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal.   If what interests us as we travel, however, is looking at the scenery or stopping to eat, we will not get far.   We should ask ourselves – On the journey of life, do I seek the way forward?   Or am I satisfied with living in the moment and thinking only of feeling good, solving some problems and having fun?   What is the path? Is it the search for health, which many today say comes first but which eventually passes?   Could it be possessions and wellbeing?   But we are not in the world for this. Return to me, says the Lord. To me.   The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world.   The direction must lead to Him.

Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction – the head marked by ash.   It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind.   Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go.   The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain.   No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life.   Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind.   Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes.   The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception.   It is like a blaze – once ended, only ash remains Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear;  for God, not for the world;  for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit, for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things.   We should ask ourselves today – Where do I stand?   Do I live for fire or for ash?

On this Lenten journey, back to what is essential, the Gospel proposes three steps which the Lord invites us to undertake without hypocrisy and pretense – almsgiving, prayer, fasting.   What are they for?   Almsgiving, prayer and fasting bring us back to the three realities that do not fade away.   Prayer reunites us to God;  charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves.   God, my neighbour, my life – these are the realities that do not fade away and in which we must invest.   Lent, therefore, invites us to focus, first of all on the Almighty, in prayer, which frees us from that horizontal and mundane life where we find time for self but forget God.   It then invites us to focus on others, with the charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me.   Finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart.   Prayer, charity, fasting – three investments for a treasure that endures.

Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).   Our heart always points in some direction, it is like a compass seeking its bearings.   We can also compare it to a magnet, it needs to attach itself to something.   But if it only attaches itself to earthly things, sooner or later it becomes a slave to them, things to be used become things we serve.   Outward appearance, money, career or hobby, if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift.   Whereas if our heart is attached to what does not pass away, we rediscover ourselves and are set free.   Lent is a time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity.   It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us.   It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides.lent is a time of grace - pope francis - friday after ash wed 8 march 2019.jpg

Where can we fix our gaze, then, throughout this Lenten journey?   Upon the Crucified One. Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven.   The poverty of the wood, the silence of the Lord, His loving self-emptying show us the necessity of a simpler life, free from anxiety about things.   From the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation. 

We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down.  We need to free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor.   Jesus on the wood of the cross burns with love and calls us to a life that is passionate for Him, which is not lost amid the ashes of the world, to a life that burns with charity and is not extinguished in mediocrity.

Is it difficult to live as He asks?   Yes but it leads us to our goal.   Lent shows us this. It begins with the ashes but eventually leads us to the fire of Easter night;  to the discovery that, in the tomb, the body of Jesus does not turn to ashes but rises gloriously.   This is true also for us, who are dust.   If we, with our weaknesses, return to the Lord, if we take the path of love, then we will embrace the life that never ends.   And we will be full of joy.

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The HOLY CROSS, The SIGN of the CROSS

Thought for the Day – 21 February – Peter, Servant of the Servants of the Cross of Christ

Thought for the Day – 21 February – the Memorial of St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Peter Damian
General Audience
Wednesday, 9 September 2009

One detail should be immediately emphasised – the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana was dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Cross was the Christian mystery that was to fascinate Peter Damian more than all the others.   “Those who do not love the Cross of Christ do not love Christ”, he said (Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117) and he described himself as “Petrus crucis Christi servorum famulus Peter, servant of the servants of the Cross of Christ” (Ep, 9, 1).
Peter Damian addressed the most beautiful prayers to the Cross in which he reveals a vision of this mystery which has cosmic dimensions for it embraces the entire history of salvation: “O Blessed Cross”, he exclaimed, You are venerated, preached and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the Prophets, the senate that judges the Apostles, the victorious army of Martyrs and the throngs of all the Saints” (Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the example of St Peter Damian spur us too always to look to the Cross as to the supreme act God’s love for humankind of God, who has given us salvation.

St Peter Damian, who was essentially a man of prayer, meditation and contemplation, was also a fine theologian – his reflection on various doctrinal themes led him to important conclusions for life.   Thus, for example, he expresses with clarity and liveliness the Trinitarian doctrine, already using, under the guidance of biblical and patristic texts, the three fundamental terms which were subsequently to become crucial also for the philosophy of the West – processio, relatio and persona (cf. Opusc. XXXVIII: PL CXLV, 633-642; and Opusc. II and III: ibid., 41 ff. and 58 ff).
However, because theological analysis of the mystery led him to contemplate the intimate life of God and the dialogue of ineffable love, between the three divine Persons, he drew ascetic conclusions from them for community life and even for relations between Latin and Greek Christians, divided on this topic.   His meditation on the figure of Christ, is significantly reflected, in practical life, since the whole of Scripture is centred on Him.
The “Jews”, St Peter Damian notes, “through the pages of Sacred Scripture, bore Christ on their shoulders as it were” (Sermo XLVI, 15).   Therefore Christ, he adds, must be the centre of the monk’s life:  “May Christ be heard in our language, may Christ be seen in our life, may he be perceived in our hearts” (Sermo VIII, 5).   Intimate union with Christ engages not only monks but all the baptised.   Here we find a strong appeal for us too not to let ourselves be totally absorbed by the activities, problems and preoccupations of every day, forgetting that Jesus must truly be the centre of our life.

Communion with Christ creates among Christians a unity of love.   In Letter 28, which is a brilliant ecclesiological treatise, Peter Damian develops a profound theology of the Church as communion.   “Christ’s Church”, he writes, is united by the bond of charity to the point that just as she has many members so is she, mystically, entirely contained in a single member – in such a way that the whole universal Church is rightly called the one Bride of Christ in the singular, and each chosen soul, through the sacramental mystery, is considered fully Church”.   This is important – not only that the whole universal Church should be united but that the Church should be present in her totality in each one of us.   Thus the service of the individual becomes “an expression of universality” (Ep 28, 9-23).
However, the ideal image of “Holy Church” illustrated by Peter Damian does not correspond as he knew well to the reality of his time.   For this reason he did not fear to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy, because, above all, of the practice of the conferral by the lay authorities of ecclesiastical offices; -various Bishops and Abbots were behaving as the rulers of their subjects rather than as pastors of souls.   Their moral life frequently left much to be desired.   For this reason, in 1057 Peter Damian left his monastery with great reluctance and sorrow and accepted, if unwillingly, his appointment as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.   So it was that he entered fully into collaboration with the Popes in the difficult task of Church reform.   He saw that to make his own contribution of helping in the work of the Church’s renewal contemplation did not suffice.   He thus relinquished the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is a great grace that the Lord should have raised up in the life of the Church a figure as exuberant, rich and complex as St Peter Damian.   Moreover, it is rare to find theological works and spirituality as keen and vibrant as those of the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana.

St Peter Damian was a monk through and through, with forms of austerity which to us today might even seem excessive.   Yet, in that way he made monastic life an eloquent testimony of God’s primacy and an appeal to all to walk towards holiness, free from any compromise with evil.   He spent himself, with lucid consistency and great severity, for the reform of the Church of his time.  He gave all his spiritual and physical energies to Christ and to the Church but always remained, as he liked to describe himself, Petrus ultimus monachorum servus, Peter, the lowliest servant of the monks.

St Peter Damian,

‘Peter, Servant of the Servants of the Cross of Christ’

Pray for the Church, Pray for Us All!st peter damian pray for us 21 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES on CONSCIENCE, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on ENVY, QUOTES on FORGIVENESS, QUOTES on GOSSIP, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on PEACE, QUOTES on REPENTANCE, QUOTES on TEMPTATION, QUOTES on the CROSS of CHRIST, QUOTES on the DEVIL/EVIL, QUOTES on UNITY, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

Thought for the Day – 18 February – “However, you killed at the beginning”

Thought for the Day – 18 February – Monday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, First Reading – Genesis 4:1-15

“Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.”   And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.   Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”   He said, “I do not know;  am I my brother’s keeper?”   And the Lord said, “What have you done?   The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.   And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.   When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength;  you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” …Genesis 4:8-12

“Cain favoured instinct – he preferred to let this feeling stew inside him, festering and allowing it to grow. This sin, which he will later commit, which is couching behind the feeling, grows.

This, is how hostilities grow between you – they begin with something small – jealousy, envy and then this grows and I pull away from my brother, saying this person is not my brother, this one is an enemy, this one must be destroyed, driven away… and so people are destroyed -it is thus that animosity destroys families, populations, everything.   It is that eating away at you, that being constantly obsessed with that person.

No!… there is no brother.
It is just me;  there is no brotherhood – it is just me.
What happened at the beginning, can happen to all of us – it is a possibility. For this reason, it is a process which must be stopped immediately, at the beginning, at the first sign of bitterness.   It must be stopped, because bitterness is not Christian – pain, yes, bitterness no.
Indeed, resentment is not Christian – pain yes, resentment no.
Instead, how much hostility and how many cracks exist and it ends in a war that kills.

However, you killed at the beginning.   This is the process of blood and today the blood of many people in the world is crying to God from the ground.

And it is all connected – that blood has some connection, perhaps a small droplet of blood that I caused to ooze out with my envy and jealousy when I destroyed a brotherhood.”

Pope Francis – Santa Marta, 13 February 2017genesis 4 10 and the lord said what have you done - and it is all connected - pope francis 18 feb 2019.jpg

It is not enough to simply “follow the rules” and stay out of trouble.   If that is all we do then we are trying to achieve heaven by our own merits. God wants more from us than that.   God invites us into a relationship of friends and family, a relationship of love.   This type of relationship is a living, dynamic one.   To love Christ and to want to be near Him is to be crucified with Him.

It means standing up for the Truth even when it is unpopular.   It means finding time to pray.   It means that we stay faithful to the teachings of Jesus.   And it means that when we fail, we humbly confess our sins as we would apologise to a friend we have hurt, so that that relationship can be restored.   It means that we must reflect Christ to the whole world, so that when people look at us they do not see us, they see Christ.

But in the end that is what it means to live for Christ and not for ourselves, to love for Christ and not for ourselves, to give of ourselves for Christ!

Blessed Fra Angelico, you gave your all for Christ, please Pray for Us!bl fra angelico pray for us 18 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 10 February – The Memorial of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (1898–1960) Martyr

Thought for the Day – 10 February – The Memorial of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (1898–1960) Martyr

Excerpt from the Beatification Homily of
THE HOLY FATHER AT MARIJA BISTRICA
FOR THE BEATIFICATION OF THE
VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD
CARDINAL ALOJZIJE STEPINAC
3 October 1998

For all of us, a particular cause for comfort is today’s Beatification.   This solemn act takes place in the Croatian national shrine of Marija Bistrica on the first Saturday of the month of October.   Beneath the gaze of the Most Blessed Virgin, an illustrious son of this blessed land is raised to the glory of the altars, on the hundredth anniversary of his birth.   It is an historic moment in the life of the Church and of your nation.   The Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb, one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church, having endured in his own body and his own spirit the atrocities of the Communist system, is now entrusted to the memory of his fellow countrymen with the radiant badge of martyrdom.

The Episcopate of your country asked that the Beatification of Cardinal Stepinac take place here, in the Shrine of Marija Bistrica.   I know from personal experience the significance that the Shrine of Jasna Gora had for the Polish people at the time of Communist rule, a Shrine closely linked to the pastoral ministry of the Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.   I am not surprised that this Shrine, or that of Solona which I shall visit tomorrow, have had a similar importance for you.   For some time I have wanted to visit the Shrine of Marija Bistrica.   And so I gladly accepted the proposal of the Croatian Episcopate and today celebrate the solemn beatification ceremony in this significant place.682px-Marija_Bistrica.jpg

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).   Blessed Alojzije Stepinac took the Good Shepherd as his sole Teacher, following His example to the end and offering his life for the flock entrusted to him at a particularly difficult period of history.

The person of the new Beatus sums up, so to speak, the whole tragedy which befell the Croatian people and Europe in the course of this century marked by the three great evils of fascism, national socialism and communism.   He is now in the joy of heaven, surrounded by all those who, like him, fought the good fight, purifying their faith in the crucible of suffering.   Today we look to him with trust and invoke his intercession.

Significant in this regard are the words spoken by the new Beatus in 1943, during the Second World War, when Europe was in the grip of unheard-of violence:   “What system does the Catholic Church support today, while the whole world is fighting for a new world order?   We, in condemning the injustices, all the killing of innocent people, the burning of peaceful villages, the destruction of the labour of the poor, … give this answer: the Church supports that system which is as old as the Ten Commandments of God.   We are for the system which is not written on impermanent tables but which has been written by the hand of the living God on the consciences of men” (Homilies, Addresses, Messages, Zagreb, 1996, 179-180).

“Father, glorify your name!” (Jn 12:28).   In his human and spiritual journey Blessed Alojzije Stepinac gave his people a sort of compass to serve as an orientation.   And these were its cardinal points – faith in God, respect for man, love towards all even to the offer of forgiveness and unity with the Church guided by the Successor of Peter.   He knew well that no bargains can be made with truth, because truth is not negotiable.   Thus he faced suffering rather than betray his conscience and not abide by the promise given to Christ and the Church.

In this courageous witness he was not alone.   He had at his side other courageous souls who, in order to preserve the unity of the Church and defend her freedom, agreed to pay with him a heavy price in imprisonment, mistreatment and even bloodshed  . To these generous souls – Bishops, priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – we offer today our admiration and gratitude.   Let us listen to their urgent call for forgiveness and reconciliation.   To forgive and to be reconciled, means to purify one’s memory of hatred, rancour, the desire for revenge, it means acknowledging as a brother even those who have wronged us, it means not being overcome by evil but overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21).
May you be blessed, “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3), for this new gift of your grace.

May you be blessed, Unbegotten Son of God and Saviour of the world, for your glorious Cross, which in the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, has won a splendid victory.

May you be blessed, Spirit of the Father and the Son, Paraclete Spirit, who continue to manifest your holiness among men and unceasingly carry on the work of salvation.

Triune God, today I wish to thank you for the strong faith of this your people, despite the many trials encountered through the centuries.   I wish to thank you for the countless martyrs and confessors, men and women in every age, who have arisen in this blessed land.

“Father, glorify your name!” (Jn 12:28).

Blessed be Jesus and Mary!

HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, Pray for Us!blessed sloysius stepinac pray for us 10 feb 2019 .jpg

Posted in GOD the FATHER, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on MERCY, QUOTES on SUFFERING, SAINT of the DAY, SAINT Pope PAUL VI, St Pope JOHN PAUL

Thought for the Day – 4 February – We are called to serve.

Thought for the Day – 4 February – The Memorial of St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr

We are called to serve.

Excerpt from the
EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION IN HONOUR OF ST JOHN DE BRITTO

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
Madras
Wednesday, 5 February 1986

“Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you” .

Saint John de Britto, whom we are remembering in today’s liturgical celebration, was born in Lisbon in 1647.   After entering the Society of Jesus he followed the footsteps of Saint Francis Xavier to India where he chose to work for the humble and needy in what was then called the Madurai Mission.   His patient labours, selfless zeal and genuine love for the poor, won for him their confidence.   Like Jesus he was “a sign of contradiction” and his success created jealousy and opposition.   As a result, John de Britto died a martyr on 4 February 1693, bearing witness to Christ.

…Saint John de Britto’s life faithfully reflected the life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for it was a life of service unto death.   Today it challenges all of us to continue with fresh vigour the Church’s role of loving service to humanity.   The immense and tender love of Jesus Christ for the poor and the downtrodden, for sinners and the suffering, remains a challenge for every Christian.   Christ’s unrelenting stand for truth is a compelling example.   Above all, the generosity shown in His suffering and death, as the culmination of His service to humanity and the supreme act of Redemption, is the example for us.    We are called to serve.

There can be no authentic Christian life without an effective love of our fellow human beings.   At the closing of the Vatican Council Pope Paul VI affirmed that ” if… in the face of every man, especially when this face is made transparent by his tears and suffering, we can and must, recognise the face of Christ … and in the face of Christ, we can and must, recognise, the face of our heavenly Father, … then our humanism becomes a Christianity and our Christianity becomes theocentric.   And thus we can also say – to know God, it is necessary, to know man.”if in the face of every man - st pope paul VI 4 feb 2019.jpg

Today we live at a time of history when peace and harmony between nations and races is constantly threatened.   Division and hatred, fear and frustration – these are among the counter-values of our day.   The message of love in Christ Jesus in urgently needed. Hence, the Church’s task of proclaiming the Gospel and of being at the service of society is supremely relevant in India today.   This task requires the active collaboration of all sectors of the ecclesial community, especially the laity.

…Through the testimony of your lives, through your words and deeds, the word of God is made known to the minds and hearts of others who seek Him, so that “they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory” – that “they may obtain salvation”!

Brothers and sisters, if we die with Christ, we shall live also with Him, “if we endure, we shall also reign with him” .

Christ – Shepherd, Prophet and Priest – has sealed our hearts with His call just as He touched the hearts of the apostles, the hearts of Saint Thomas, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint John de Britto.   May they intercede for the Church in India, for this beloved country and its people!

We will be happy if we remain faithful.   For He, Christ, is faithful – “He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself” .

Brothers and sisters, you are called to be living witnesses to Christ, living witnesses to God’s word, living witnesses to the saving message of love and mercy that Christ revealed to the world. Amen.

St John de Britto, Pray for Us!st john de britto no 2 pray for us 4 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on SANCTITY, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 24 January – “To Philotea – You and Me”

Thought for the Day – 24 January – “To Philotea – You and Me”
The Memorial of St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of the Church:
Doctor Caritatis (Doctor of Charity) ‘The Gentle Christ of Geneva’

Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Francis de Sales
Wednesday, 2 March 2011

To Philotea, the ideal person to whom he dedicated his Introduction to a Devout Life (1607), Francis de Sales addressed an invitation that might well have seemed revolutionary at the time.   It is the invitation to belong completely to God, while living to the full, her presence in the world and the tasks proper to her state.   “My intention is to teach those who are living in towns, in the conjugal state, at court” (Preface to The Introduction to a Devout Life).

The Document with which Pope Leo xiii, more than two centuries later, was to proclaim him a Doctor of the Church, would insist on this expansion of the call to perfection, to holiness.

It says:  “[true piety] shone its light everywhere and gained entrance to the thrones of kings, the tents of generals, the courts of judges, custom houses, workshops and even the huts of herdsmen” (cf. Brief, Dives in Misericordia, 16 November 1877).

Thus came into being the appeal to lay people and the care for the consecration of temporal things and for the sanctification of daily life on which the Second Vatican Council and the spirituality of our time were to insist.

The ideal of a reconciled humanity was expressed in the harmony between prayer and action in the world, between the search for perfection and the secular condition, with the help of God’s grace that permeates the human being and, without destroying him, purifies him, raising him to divine heights.   

St Francis de Sales, please Pray for Us!st-francis-de-sales-pray-for-us-no-1-24-jan-2018.jpg

Posted in CONFESSION/PENANCE, MORNING Prayers, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 17 January – “If you will, you can make me clean.”…Mark 1:40

One Minute Reflection – 17 January – Thursday of the First week in Ordinary Time – Gospel Mark 1:40–45 and the Memorial of St Anthony Abbot (251-356)

And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”…Mark 1:40

REFLECTION – “It is possible to see leprosy as a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart that can distance us from God.   It is not in fact the physical disease of leprosy that separates us from God, as the ancient norms supposed but sin, spiritual and moral evil.   The sins that we commit distance us from God and, if we do not humbly confess them, trusting in divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul.   This miracle thus has a strong symbolic value.   Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied, is the Servant of the Lord who “has borne our griefs / and carried our sorrows” (Is 53: 4).   In His Passion He will become as a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God, He will do all this out of love, to obtain for us reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation.   In the Sacrament of Penance, the Crucified and Risen Christ purifies us through His ministers with His infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and with our brothers and makes us a gift of His love, His joy and His peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary whom God preserved from every stain of sin so that she may help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life must be rediscovered today.”…Pope Benedict XVI – Angelus 15 February 2009 mark 1 40 - if you will you can make me clean - in the sacrament of confession - pope benedict 17 jan 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Almighty, ever-living God, we make our prayer to You at morning, noon and evening.   Dispel from our hearts, the darkness of sin and bring us to the true light, Christ Your Son.  Grant that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Anthony Abbot, we may deny ourselves and love You above all things.   Through Jesus, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.blessed virgin mary pray for us 17 jan 2019.jpgagostinocarracci_thetemptationofstanthonyabbot-detail-pray-for-us-17-jan-2017-picjpg.jpg

Posted in ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, SAINT Pope PAUL VI, St Pope JOHN PAUL

Thought for the Day – 16 January – The Memorial of Blessed Giuseppe Tovini OFS (1841-1897)

Thought for the Day – 16 January – The Memorial of Blessed Giuseppe Tovini OFS (1841-1897)

St Pope Paul VI and Blessed Giuseppe Tovini

Sons & Saints of Brescia

Excerpt from St Pope John Paul’s Homily

EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION
ON THE OCCASION OF THE CENTENARY OF THE BIRTH
OF THE SERVANT OF GOD PAUL VI
AND THE BEATIFICATION OF GIUSEPPE TOVINI

HOMILY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
Brescia
Sunday, 20 September, 1998

With deep affection I greet you, city of Brescia, so rich in works of Christian inspiration;  I greet your priests, religious and the many lay people who in their various ecclesial and civil offices have distinguished themselves by their religious, social and cultural commitment.

2. “Peter, do you love me?”.   We can say that Paul VI’s life was a response to Christ’s question – a great proof of love for God, the Church and mankind.   He loved God as a gracious and caring Father and during the important moments of his life, especially those burdened with difficulties and suffering, he displayed a very strong sense of the divine fatherhood.

When, as Archbishop of Milan, he decided to hold a popular mission to instil new energy in the city’s Christian tradition, he chose as his basic theme – God is Father.   Then on 6 August, 20 years ago, as he neared the end of his earthly life at Castel Gandolfo, he wanted to recite the Our Father as his last prayer.

And what can be said of his passionate love for Christ?   His was an essentially Christocentric spirituality.   In the homily to mark the beginning of his Pontificate, he explained that he had chosen the name of Paul because the Apostle “loved Christ supremely, because he greatly wanted and strove to bring the Gospel of Christ to all nations, because he offered his life in Christ’s name” (30 June 1963, in Insegnamenti I, [1963], pp. 24-25).   On another occasion he added that it is impossible to leave Christ out of consideration, “if we want to know something certain, full, revealed about God, or rather, if we want to have a living, direct and authentic relationship with God” (General Audience, 18 December 1968; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 26 December 1968, p. 3).

3. To his love for God the Father and for Christ the Teacher, Paul VI joined an intense love for the Church, for which he spent all his physical, intellectual and spiritual energies, as the touching confession he made in Pensiero alla morte testifies:  “The Church … I could say that I have always loved her … and that I think I have lived for her and for nothing else” (cf. Pubblicazione dell’Istituto Paolo VI, Brescia 1988, pp. 28-29).

Flowing spontaneously from this love for Christ and for the Church was his pastoral passion for man, with an acute insight into the sufferings and expectations of the contemporary age.   Few have known, as he, to interpret the anxieties, desires, toils and aspirations of the men of our century.   He wished to walk at their side, to do this he made himself a pilgrim on their roads, meeting them where they lived and struggled to build a world of greater attention and respect for the dignity of every human being.

He wanted to be the servant of Church which evangelised the poor, called with every person of goodwill to build that “civilisation of love” in which not only the crumbs of economic and civil progress go to the poor, but where justice and solidarity should reign.

4. The roots of Pope Montini’s particular sensitivity to the great social questions of our century are sunk deep in his Brescian origins.   In his own family and then during the years of his youth in Brescia, he breathed that atmosphere, that fervour of activity which made Brescian Catholicism one of the significant landmarks of the Catholic presence in the social and political life of the country.   Addressing his fellow citizens at the beginning of his Pontificate, Paul VI expressed this debt of gratitude: “Brescia! The city which not only gave me birth but is such a part of the civil, spiritual and human tradition, teaching me as well the meaning of life in this world and always offering me a framework which, I think, will withstand future experiences ordained over the years by divine Providence” (cf. Address to a Pilgrimage from Milan and Brescia, 29 June 1963, in Insegnamenti I [1963], p. 647).

5. Bl Giuseppe Tovini was certainly a great witness of the Gospel incarnated in Italy’s social and economic history in the last century.   He is resplendent for his strong personality, his profound lay and family spirituality and for his generous efforts to improve society.   Between Tovini and Giovanni Battista Montini there is — as a matter of fact — a close, profound spiritual and mental bond.

In fact, the Pontiff himself wrote of Tovini:  “The impression he left on those I first knew and esteemed was so vivid and so real that I frequently heard comments and praise of his extraordinary personality and his many varied activities – astonished, I heard admiring expressions of his virtue and sorrowful regrets at his early death” (cf. Preface by Giovanni Battista Montini to the biography of Giuseppe Tovini by Fr Antonio Cistellini in 1953, p. I).st pope paul VI and bl giuseppe tovini saints of brescia - 16 jan 2019.jpg

6. Fervent, honest, active in social and political life, Giuseppe Tovini proclaimed the Christian message, always in fidelity to the guidance of the Church’s Magisterium.   His constant concern was to defend the faith, convinced that — as he said at a congress — “without faith our children will never be rich, with faith they will never be poor”. He lived at a sensitive time in the history of Italy and the Church and it was clear to him, that one could not respond fully to God’s call, without being generously and selflessly involved in social problems.

His was a prophetic vision and he responded with apostolic daring to the needs of the times, which in the light of new forms of discrimination required of believers a more incisive leadership in temporal affairs.

Aided by the legal skills and rigorous professionalism that distinguished him, he promoted and directed many social organisations and also held political office in Cividate Camuno and Brescia in the desire to make Christian doctrine and morality present among the people.   He considered commitment to education a priority and prominent among his many initiatives, was his defence of schools and the freedom of teaching.

With humble means and great courage he laboured tirelessly to preserve for Brescian and Italian society what was most particularly its own, that is, its religious and moral heritage.

Tovini’s honesty and integrity were rooted in his deep, vital relationship with God, which he constantly nourished with the Eucharist, meditation and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.   From listening to God in daily prayer, he drew light and strength for the great social and political battles he had to wage to safeguard Christian values.   The Church of St Luke, with its beautiful image of the Immaculata and where his mortal remains now rest, is a witness to his piety.

On the threshold of the third millennium, Giuseppe Tovini, whom today we contemplate in heavenly glory, spurs us on.   I invite you in particular, dear lay faithful of Brescia and Italy, to look to this great social apostle, who was able to give hope to those without voice in the society of his time, so that his example will be an incentive and encouragement to everyone to work generously today and always to defend and to spread the truth and the demands of the Gospel.   May he protect you from heaven and sustain you by his intercession.

Dear Brescians, you have received a great religious and civil heritage – treasure it as an incomparable patrimony and bear active witness to it, with that ingenuity and integrity, that fidelity and perseverance which distinguished Paul VI and Giuseppe Tovini.

7. “I have fought the good fight…. The Lord stood by me” (2 Tm 4:7,17)   These words from the second reading of the Mass summarise the spiritual experience of the two figures we recall today with devout admiration.   We thank God for their witness – it is a precious gift, not only for Brescia but for Italy and for all humanity.   Their memory must not fade with the passing of time.   In different fields and with different responsibilities, they sowed so much good, they fought the good fight – the fight for Truth and the civilisation of Love.

May Mary, Mother of the Church, help us take up their legacy and follow in their footsteps so that we too will be allowed to answer Christ like the Apostle Peter: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17). Amen!

Holy Mother Mary, Pray for Us!holy mother mary pray for us 16 jan 2019

St Pope Paul VI, Pray for Us!st pope paul vi pray for us 16 jan 2019

Blessed Giuseppe Tovini, Pray for Us!blessed giuseppe tovini pray for us 16 jan 2019 no 2

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 9 January – 3rd Day after Epiphany

Thought for the Day – 9 January – 3rd Day after Epiphany

Excerpt from Pope Francis’ Homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, celebrated 6 January 2019, in St Peter’s Basilica

“In order to find Jesus, we also need to take a different route, to follow a different path, His path, the path of humble love.   And we have to persevere.   Today’s Gospel ends by saying that the Magi, after encountering Jesus, “left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12).   Another road, different from that of Herod.   An alternative route than that of the world, like the road taken by those who surround Jesus at Christmas – Mary and Joseph, the shepherds.   Like the Magi, they left home and became pilgrims on the paths of God.   For only those, who leave behind their worldly attachments and undertake a journey, find the mystery of God.for only those who leave behind their worldly attachments - pope francis epiphany 2019 9jan2019.jpg

This holds true for us too.   It is not enough to know where Jesus was born, as the scribes did if we do not go there.   It is not enough to know that Jesus was born, like Herod, if we do not encounter Him.   When His place becomes our place, when  His time becomes our time, when His person becomes our life, then the prophecies come to fulfilment in us.   Then Jesus is born within us.   He becomes the living God for me.   Today we are asked to imitate the Magi.   They do not debate – they set out.  They do not stop to look but enter the house of Jesus.   They do not put themselves at the centre but bow down before the One who is the centre.   They do not remain glued to their plans but are prepared to take other routes.   Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to Him, a total engagement with Him.   With Him, they use the language of love, the same language that Jesus, though an infant, already speaks.   Indeed, the Magi go to the Lord not to receive but to give.   Let us ask ourselves this question – at Christmas did we bring gifts to Jesus for His party, or did we only exchange gifts among ourselves?when his place becomes our place - pope franics epip homily 2019 9 jan 2019.jpg

let us ask ourselves - pope francis 9 jan 2019 epiphany homily 2019.jpg

If we went to the Lord empty-handed, today we can remedy that.   The Gospel, in some sense, gives us a little “gift list”: gold, frankincense and myrrh.   Gold, the most precious of metals, reminds us God has to be granted first place – He has to be worshipped. But to do that, we need to remove ourselves from the first place and to recognise our neediness, the fact that we are not self-sufficient.    Then there is frankincense, which symbolises a relationship with the Lord, prayer, which like incense rises up to God (cf. Ps 141:2).   Just as incense must burn in order to yield its fragrance, so too, in prayer, we need to “burn” a little of our time, to spend it with the Lord.   Not just in words but also by our actions.   We see this in the myrrh, the ointment that would be lovingly used to wrap the body of Jesus taken down from the cross (cf. Jn 19:39).   The Lord is pleased when we care for bodies racked by suffering, the flesh of the vulnerable, of those left behind, of those who can only receive without being able to give anything material in return.   Precious in the eyes of God is mercy shown to those who have nothing to give back.   Gratuitousness!

In this Christmas season now drawing to its close, let us not miss the opportunity to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us not in worldly pomp but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem.   If we can do this, His light will shine upon us.”in this christmas season - pope francis - 9 jan 2019.jpg

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, The NATIVITY of JESUS

If we want to live Christmas, we must open our heart and be open to surprises, namely, to an unexpected change of life’

Thought for the Day – 8 January – 2nd Day after Epiphany – It is still Christmastide!

‘If we want to live Christmas, we must open our heart
and be open to surprises, namely, to an unexpected change of life’

Pope Francis’ Homily – 19 December 2018 – General Audience

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In six days, it will be Christmas.   The trees, the decorations and the lights everywhere recall that this year also there will be a celebration.   Advertising invites to keep exchanging newer and newer gifts to have surprises.   However, is this the celebration that pleases God?   What Christmas would He want, what presents and surprises?

We look at the first Christmas of history to discover God’s tastes.   That Christmas was full of surprises.   It begins with Mary, who was Joseph’s promised bride – the Angel arrives and changes her life.   From being a virgin, she will be a mother.   It continues with Joseph, called to be the father of a son without generating Him.   A son that — in a dramatic turn of events — arrives in the least indicated moment, namely, when Mary and Joseph were betrothed and, according to the Law, could not live together.   In face of the scandal, the good sense of the time invited Joseph to repudiate Mary and save his good name but he, although he had the right, surprises us – not to hurt Mary he thinks of taking leave of her in secret, at the cost of losing his own reputation.   Then, another surprise – in a dream, God changes his plans and asks him to take Mary to himself.   Jesus having been born, when Joseph had his plans for the family, again in a dream he is told to rise and go to Egypt.   To summarise, Christmas brought unexpected life changes.  And if we want to live Christmas, we must open our heart and be open to surprises, namely, to an unexpected change of life.

However, it’s on Christmas Eve that the greatest surprise arrives – the Most High is a little baby.   The divine Word is an infant, which means literally, “incapable of speaking.”   And the divine Word becomes “incapable of speaking.”  The Authorities of the time or of the place or the ambassadors were not there to receive the Saviour – no, it was simple shepherds, who, surprised by the Angels while they were working at night, run without delay.   Who would have expected it?   Christmas is to celebrate the unheard-of God, or better, it is to celebrate an unprecedented God, who overturns our logics and our expectations.

To celebrate Christmas, then, is to receive on earth Heaven’s surprises.   One can’t live “down to earth,” when Heaven has brought its novelties into the world.   Christmas inaugurates a new era, where life isn’t planned but is given;  where one no longer lives for oneself, on the basis of one’s tastes, but for God;  and with God because since the first Christmas, God is God-with-us, who lives with us, who walks with us.   To live Christmas is to let oneself be shaken by its surprising novelty.   Jesus’ Birth doesn’t offer the reassuring warmth of a fireplace but the divine thrill, that shakes history.  Christmas is the revenge of humility over arrogance, of simplicity over abundance, of silence over noise, of prayer over “my time,” of God over my “I.”christmas is - pope francis no 2 - 8 jan 2019

To celebrate Christmas is to do as Jesus did, who came for us needy people and to come down to those in need of us.   It is to do as Mary did, to entrust ourselves, docile to God, even without understanding what He will do.   To celebrate Christmas is to do as Joseph did, to rise to do what God wants, even if it’s not according to our plans.   Saint Joseph is surprising – he never speaks in the Gospel, there isn’t one word of Joseph in the Gospel and the Lord speaks to him in silence, He speaks to him in fact in his sleep. Christmas is to prefer God’s silent voice to the noises of consumerism.   If we are able to be silent before the Crib, Christmas will be a surprise for us also, not something already seen.   To be in silence before the Crib – this is the invitation for Christmas.  Take a bit of time, go before the Crib and stay in silence.   And you will feel, you will see the surprise.

Unfortunately, however, the celebration can be mistaken and we can prefer the usual things on earth, to the novelties of Heaven.   If Christmas remains only a beautiful traditional feast, where we and not Him, are at the centre, it will be a lost occasion.   Please, let us not make Christmas worldly!   Let us not put the One celebrated aside as ‘happened’ then, when “He came among His own and His own received Him not” (John 1:11).   Since the first Gospel of Advent, the Lord has put us on guard, asking us not to be weighed down with “dissipation” and “the cares of life” (Luke 21:34).   In these days one runs, perhaps more than ever during the year.   So, the opposite is done of what Jesus wants.   We blame the many things that fill our day, the world that goes fast.   Yet Jesus didn’t blame the world.   He asked us not to let ourselves be dragged, to watch at all times praying (Cf. v. 36).

Behold, it will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we make room for silence;  if, like Mary, we say to God “Here I am”;  if, like Jesus, we are close to one who is alone;  if, like the shepherds, we go out of our enclosures to be with Jesus.   It will be Christmas, if we find the light in the poor cave of Bethlehem.   It won’t be Christmas if we seek the shimmering glow of the world, if we fill ourselves with gifts, lunches and dinners but we don’t help at least one poor person, who is like God, because at Christmas God came poor.

Dear brothers and sisters, I wish you a happy Christmas, a Christmas rich in Jesus’ surprises!   They might seem uncomfortable surprises but they are God’s tastes.   If we embrace them, we will have a splendid surprise for ourselves.   Each one of us has hidden in the heart, the capacity to be surprised.   Let us let Jesus surprise us this Christmas.

It’s Christmas every day!  behold it will be christmas - pope francis given 19 dec 2018 gen aud - 8 jan 2019

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

One Minute Reflection – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was...Matthew 2:9

REFLECTION – “The Gospel account of the Magi describes their journey from the East as a journey of the spirit, as a journey toward the encounter with Christ.   They are attentive to signs that indicate His presence;  they are tireless in facing the trials of the search;  they are courageous in deducing the implications for life that derive from encounter with the Lord.   This is life – Christian life, is a journey but being attentive, tireless and courageous.   A Christian, journeys like this.   Journey attentively, tirelessly, courageously.”…Pope Francis – Angelus, 6 January 2015matthew 2 9 when they heard the king - the gospel account of the magi pope francis 6 jan 2019

PRAYER – On this day, Lord God, by a guiding star, You revealed Your Only-begotten Son to all the peoples of the world.   Lead us from the faith by which we know You now, to the vision of Your glory, face to face.   May the prayers of St Andre Bessette and all Your saints, who stand beside You, assist us on our journey.   Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God, forever amen.the solemnity of epiphany light of all light reveal yourself this day 6 jan 2019

st andre bessette pray for us -6 jan 2018

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, QUOTES on the FAMILY, THE HOLY FAMILY - FAMILIAE SANCTAE

Quote/s of the Day – 30 December – Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Quote/s of the Day – 30 December – Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

“How important it is, therefore, that every child coming into the world
be welcomed by the warmth of a family!
External comforts do not matter,
Jesus was born in a stable and had a manger as His first cradle
but the love of Mary and of Joseph made Him feel the tenderness and beauty of being loved.
Children need this, the love of their father and mother.
It is this that gives them security and, as they grow,
enables them to discover the meaning of life.
The Holy Family of Nazareth went through many trials ….
Yet, trusting in divine Providence, they found their stability
and guaranteed Jesus a serene childhood and a sound upbringing.”

Pope Benedict XVI (Feast of the Holy Family 2010)how-important-it-is-therefore-pope-benedict-31-dec-2017

“Waste time with your children,
so that they can realise,
that love is always free.”

Pope Franciswaste time with your childen - pope francis - 30 dec 2018

Posted in ADVENT, CATHOLIC-PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN QUOTES, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, PRAYERS of the CHURCH, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, The INCARNATION

Quote of the Day – 22 December – Today’s Gospel Luke 1:46-56

Quote of the Day – 22 December – Today’s Gospel Luke 1:46-56

“The exultation of the humble maiden of Galilee,
expressed in the Canticle of the Magnificat,
becomes the song of all humanity,
which sees with satisfaction,
the Lord stoop over all men and all women,
humble creatures and assume them with Him into heaven.”

Pope Francis – Angelus, 15 August 2016the exultation of the humble maiden of galilee -popefrancis - 22dec2018

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, YouTube VIDEOS

Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius S.J. (1521-1397) The “Second Apostle of Germany” – Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 December – St Peter Canisius S.J. (1521-1397) The “Second Apostle of Germany” – Doctor of the Church

Catechesis of Pope Benedict XVI – 9 February 2011saint-peter-canisius glass lg

He was born on 8 May 1521 in Wijmegen, Holland.   His father was Burgomaster of the town.   While he was a student at the University of Cologne he regularly visited the Carthusian monks of St Barbara, a driving force of Catholic life and other devout men who cultivated the spirituality of the so-called devotio moderna [modern devotion].

He entered the Society of Jesus on 8 May 1543 in Mainz (Rhineland — Palatinate), after taking a course of spiritual exercises under the guidance of Bl (now Saint) Pierre Favre, Petrus [Peter] Faber, one of St Ignatius of Loyola’s first companions.   He was ordained a priest in Cologne.   Already the following year, in June 1546, he attended the Council of Trent, as the theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsberg, where he worked with two confreres, Diego Laínez and Alfonso Salmerón.   In 1548, St Ignatius had him complete his spiritual formation in Rome and then sent him to the College of Messina to carry out humble domestic duties.

He earned a doctorate in theology at Bologna on 4 October 1549 and St Ignatius assigned him to carry out the apostolate in Germany.   On 2 September of that same year he visited Pope Paul III at Castel Gandolfo and then went to St Peter’s Basilica to pray.   Here he implored the great Holy Apostles Peter and Paul for help to make the Apostolic Blessing permanently effective for the future of his important new mission.   He noted several words of this prayer in his spiritual journal.

He said:  “There I felt that a great consolation and the presence of grace had been granted to me through these intercessors [Peter and Paul].   They confirmed my mission in Germany and seemed to transmit to me, as an apostle of Germany, the support of their benevolence.   You know, Lord, in how many ways and how often on that same day you entrusted Germany to me, which I was later to continue to be concerned about and for which I would have liked to live and die”.Canisius_smlframe

We must bear in mind that we are dealing with the time of the Lutheran Reformation, at the moment when the Catholic faith in the German-speaking countries seemed to be dying out in the face of the fascination of the Reformation.   The task of Canisius — charged with revitalising or renewing the Catholic faith in the Germanic countries — was almost impossible.   It was possible only by virtue of prayer.   It was possible only from the centre, namely, a profound personal friendship with Jesus Christ, a friendship with Christ in His Body, the Church, which must be nourished by the Eucharist, His Real Presence.

In obedience to the mission received from Ignatius and from Pope Paul III, Canisius left for Germany.   He went first to the Duchy of Bavaria, which for several years was the place where he exercised his ministry.   As dean, rector and vice chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt, he supervised the academic life of the Institute and the religious and moral reform of the people.   In Vienna, where for a brief time he was diocesan administrator, he carried out his pastoral ministry in hospitals and prisons, both in the city and in the countryside and prepared the publication of his Catechism.   In 1556 he founded the College of Prague and, until 1569, was the first superior of the Jesuit Province of Upper Germany.   In this office he established a dense network of communities of his Order in the Germanic countries, especially colleges, that were starting points for the Catholic Reformation, for the renewal of the Catholic faith.st peter canisius engraving

At that time he also took part in the Colloquy of Worms with Protestant divines, including Philip Melanchthon (1557);  He served as Papal Nuncio in Poland (1558);  he took part in the two Diets of Augsberg (1559 and 1565); he accompanied Cardinal Stanislaw Hozjusz, Legate of Pope Pius IV, to Emperor Ferdinand (1560);  and he took part in the last session of the Council of Trent where he spoke on the issue of Communion under both Species and on the Index of Prohibited Books (1562).

In 1580 he withdrew to Fribourg, Switzerland, where he devoted himself entirely to preaching and writing.   He died there on 21 December 1597.   Bl Pius IX Beatified him in 1864 and in 1897 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him the “Second Apostle of Germany”. Pope Pius XI Canonised him and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1925.

St Peter Canisius spent a large part of his life in touch with the most important people of his time and exercised a special influence with his writings.   He edited the complete works of Cyril of Alexandria and of St Leo the Great, the Letters of St Jerome and the Orations of St Nicholas of Flüe.   He published devotional books in various languages, biographies of several Swiss Saints and numerous homiletic texts.peter-canisius

However, his most widely disseminated writings were the three Catechisms he compiled between 1555 and 1558.   The first Catechism was addressed to students who could grasp the elementary notions of theology;  the second, to young people of the populace for an initial religious instruction;  the third, to youth with a scholastic formation of middle and high school levels.   He explained Catholic doctrine with questions and answers, concisely, in biblical terms, with great clarity and with no polemical overtones.

There were at least 200 editions of this Catechism in his lifetime alone!   And hundreds of editions succeeded one another until the 20th century.   So it was, that still in my father’s generation people in Germany were calling the Catechism simply “the Canisius”.   He really was the Catechist of Germany for centuries, he formed people’s faith for centuries.   This was a characteristic of St Peter Canisius – his ability to combine harmoniously fidelity to dogmatic principles with the respect that is due to every person. St Canisius distinguished between a conscious, blameworthy apostosy from faith and a blameless loss of faith through circumstances.106_Canisius

Moreover, he declared to Rome that the majority of Germans who switched to Protestantism were blameless.   In a historical period of strong confessional differences, Canisius avoided — and this is something quite extraordinary — the harshness and rhetoric of anger — something rare, as I said, in the discussions between Christians in those times — and aimed only at presenting the spiritual roots and at reviving the faith in the Church.   His vast and penetrating knowledge of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church served this cause, the same knowledge that supported his personal relationship with God and the austere spirituality that he derived from the Devotio Moderna and Rhenish mysticism.

Characteristic of St Canisius’ spirituality was his profound personal friendship with Jesus.   For example, on 4 September 1549 he wrote in his journal, speaking with the Lord:  “In the end, as if You were opening to me the heart of the Most Sacred Body, which it seemed to me I saw before me, You commanded me to drink from that source, inviting me, as it were, to draw the waters of my salvation from Your founts, O my Saviour”.

Then he saw that the Saviour was giving him a garment with three pieces that were called peace, love and perseverance.   And with this garment, made up of peace, love and perseverance, Canisius carried out his work of renewing Catholicism.   His friendship with Jesus — which was the core of his personality — nourished by love of the Bible, by love of the Blessed Sacrament and by love of the Fathers, this friendship was clearly united with the awareness of being a perpetuator of the Apostles’ mission in the Church. And this reminds us that every genuine evangeliser is always an instrument united with Jesus and with His Church and is fruitful for this very reason.

Friendship with Jesus had been inculcated in St Peter Canisius in the spiritual environment of the Charterhouse of Cologne, in which he had been in close contact with two Carthusian mystics – Johannes Lansperger, whose name has been Latinized as “Lanspergius” and Nikolaus van Esche, Latinized as “Eschius”.

He subsequently deepened the experience of this friendship, familiaritas stupenda nimis, through contemplation of the mysteries of Jesus’ life, which form a large part of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.   This is the foundation of his intense devotion to the Heart of the Lord, which culminated in his consecration to the apostolic ministry in the Vatican Basilica.

The Christocentric spirituality of St Peter Canisius is rooted in a profound conviction – no soul anxious for perfection fails to practice prayer daily, mental prayer, an ordinary means that enables the disciple of Jesus to live in intimacy with the divine Teacher.

For this reason in his writings for the spiritual education of the people, our Saint insists on the importance of the Liturgy with his comments on the Gospels, on Feasts, on the Rite of Holy Mass and on the sacraments;  yet, at the same time, he is careful to show the faithful the need for and beauty of personal daily prayer, which should accompany and permeate participation in the public worship of the Church.   This exhortation and method have kept their value intact, especially after being authoritatively proposed anew by the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, Christian life does not develop unless it is nourished by participation in the Liturgy — particularly at Sunday Mass — and by personal daily prayer, by personal contact with God.x20150427_1canisius.jpgqitokakfklhqp.pagespeed.ic.pv_ky19fua

Among the thousands of activities and multiple distractions that surround us, we must find moments for recollection before the Lord every day, in order to listen to Him and speak with Him.

At the same time, the example that St Peter Canisius has bequeathed to us, not only in his works but especially with his life, is ever timely and of lasting value.   He teaches clearly that the apostolic ministry is effective and produces fruits of salvation in hearts only if the preacher is a personal witness of Jesus and an instrument at His disposal, bound to Him closely by faith in His Gospel and in His Church, by a morally consistent life and by prayer as ceaseless as love.   And this is true for every Christian who wishes to live his adherence to Christ with commitment and fidelity.

Posted in ADVENT, BREVIARY Prayers, DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The CHRIST CHILD, The INCARNATION, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The WORD

Advent and Christmas Wisdom with St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787))

Advent and Christmas Wisdom with St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787))

18 December

Jesus made Himself a child to gain our confidence and our love.

“Consider that the Son of God has made Himself little in order to make us great. He has given Himself to us, that we might give ourselves to Him.   He has come to show us His love, that we may respond to it by giving Him ours.   Let us, therefore, receive Him with affection, let us love Him and call upon Him with all our needs.

“A child gives easily” says St Bernard. Children readily give whatever is asked of them. Jesus came into the world as a child to demonstrate that He was ready and willing to give all.   If we wish for light, Jesus has come to enlighten us.   If we desire strength, He will strengthen us.   If we wish for pardon, He has come to pardon us.   In short, He has come to give us all that we need.

O my Jesus, You have descended from heaven to give Yourself entirely to us.   How can we turn our backs on You?   I have been loved by You and I have also been ungrateful.  O my Redeemer, forgive the injuries that I have committed against You.”advent with st alphonsus - o my jesus 18dec 2018

Scripture

“It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep….Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.”
Romans 13:11,12

Prayer

O LORD AND RULER
of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with outstretched arms.

Advent Action
Are we in the core group of Christians who embody and live the purest form of the Gospel?   Or do we find ourselves among the masses that acknowledge Jesus, enjoy being Christian but don’t pursue it at any deep level?   The two requirements in the Gospel are that we repent and believe.   If we repent, we do no wrong and speak no lies. If we believe with all our hearts, we follow the Star to the Manger.   Let these last few days be a time when we begin the journey to the Christmas core – to the Christ Child.   “Let us make ourselves ready to celebrate Christmas by contemplating Mary and Joseph- Mary, the woman full of grace who had the courage to entrust herself totally to the Word of God;  Joseph, the faithful and just man who chose to believe the Lord rather than listen to the voices of doubt and human pride.   With them, let us walk together toward Bethlehem.” ...Pope Francis – Angelus, 22 December 2013o-lord-and-ruler-18-december

Posted in ADVENT, MORNING Prayers, PAPAL HOMILIES, PAPAL PRAYERS, Pope BENEDICT XVI, The CHRIST CHILD, The NATIVITY of JESUS, Uncategorized

Gaudete Sunday – The Blessing of the Christ Child Figurine

Gaudete Sunday – The Blessing of the Christ Child Figurine

Pope Benedict XVI St Peter’s Square
Third Sunday of Advent, 14 December 2008

This Sunday, the Third Sunday in the Season of Advent, is called “Gaudete Sunday”: “rejoice”, because the Entrance Antiphon of Holy Mass takes up St Paul’s words in the Letter to the Philippians where it says:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice”.   And immediately after he explains the reason, because “The Lord is at hand” (Phil 4: 4-5).   This is the reason for joy.   But what does “the Lord is at hand” mean?   In what sense must we understand this “closeness” of God?   The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Philippi, is evidently thinking of Christ’s return and invites them to rejoice because it is certain.   Yet, St Paul in his Letter to the Thessalonians, warns that no one can know the moment of the Lord’s coming (cf. 1 Thes 5: 1-2) and puts people on guard against any kind of alarmism, as if Christ’s return were imminent (cf. 2 Thes 2: 1-2).

Thus the Church, illumined by the Holy Spirit, already at that time understood increasingly better that God’s “closeness” is not a question of space and time but rather of love:  love brings people together!

This coming Christmas will remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith and in front of the manger we shall be able to savour Christian joy contemplating in the newborn Jesus the Face of God who made Himself close to us out of love.

In this light, it gives me real pleasure to renew the beautiful tradition of the Blessing of the Christ Child figurines, the miniature statues of the Baby Jesus to be placed in the manger.   I address you in particular, dear boys and girls of Rome, who have come this morning with your Baby Jesus figurines that I now bless.   I invite you to join me, following attentively this prayer:

God, our Father
You so loved humankind
that You sent us Your only Son Jesus,
born of the Virgin Mary,
to save us and lead us back to You.

We pray that with Your Blessing
these images of Jesus,
who is about to come among us,
may be a sign of Your presence and
love in our homes.

Good Father,
give Your Blessing to us too,
to our parents, to our families and
to our friends.

Open our hearts,
so that we may be able to
receive Jesus in joy,
always do what He asks
and see Him in all those
who are in need of our love.

We ask you this in the name of Jesus,
Your beloved Son
who comes to give the world peace.

He lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen.Gaudete sunday the blessing of the Christ child figurine - pope benedict 16dec2018

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN TITLES, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Quote/s of the Day – 12 December – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Quote/s of the Day – 12 December – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

His Holiness, Pope Francis, 12 December 2015

“In Mary, God rejoices and is especially pleased.
In one of the prayers dearest to Christians,
the Salve Regina, we call Mary “Mother of Mercy”.
She has experienced divine mercy
and has hosted in her womb.
the very source of this mercy: Jesus Christ.
She, who has always lived intimately united to her Son,
knows better than anyone, what He wants –
that all men be saved and that God’s tenderness
and consolation never fail anyone.
May Mary, Mother of Mercy,
help us to understand how much God loves us.”iN mARY gOD REJOICES - POPE FRANCIS 12 DEC 2018.jpg

“The Lord is near”, the Apostle Paul tells us
and nothing should perturb us. He is close by.
He is not alone but is with His Mother.
She said to St Juan Diego:
“Why are you afraid? Am I not here who am your Mother?”.
He is near. He and his Mother.
The greatest mercy lies in His being in our midst,
in our being in His presence and company.
He walks with us, He shows us the path of love,
He lifts us up when we fall and with such tenderness,
He supports us in our labours,
He accompanies us in every circumstance of life.
He opens our eyes to see our wretchedness
and that of the world
but at the same time
He fills us with hope!”The lord is near - pope francis 12 dec 2018 guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!our-lady-of-guadalupe-pray-for-us-no-2-12-dec-2017