"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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Today is the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. The title Our Lady of Loreto refers to the Holy House of Loreto, the house in which Mary was born, and where the Annunciation occurred, and to an ancient statue of Our Lady which is found there.
Tradition says that a band of angels scooped up the little house from the Holy Land, and transported it first to Tersato, Dalmatia in 1291, Reananti in 1294, and finally to Loreto, Italy where it has been for centuries. It was this flight that led to her patronage of people involved in aviation, and the long life of the house that has led to the patronage of builders, construction workers, etc. It is the first shrine of international renown dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and has been known as a Marian center for centuries. Popes have always held the Shrine of Loreto in special esteem, and it is under their direct authority and protection.
O Immaculate Virgin Mary, we come to you with confidence: welcome this day our humble prayer and our act of consecration.
O Mother, you did carry the Divine Saviour in your most pure womb: receive our homage of faith and filial love as we come in spirit into your Holy House. It is also, by the presence of the Holy Family, the holy home par excellence. And it is our wish that every Christian family be inspired by it.
From Jesus, all children learn to obey and to work. From you, O Mary, all women learn humility and the spirit of sacrifice. From Joseph, who did live for Jesus and for you, all men learn to believe in God, to live in and for you, all men learn to believe in God, to live in the family and in society with fidelity and honesty.
O Mary, we pray for our Pope and for the Universal Church, for our country and for all the nations of the world, for the suffering souls for all sinners. And we all wish to consecrate ourselves to you.
Spiritually present in the Holy House, where you did conceive by the Holy Spirit, we want to repeat with lively faith the words of the Archangel Gabriel: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!” We want to invoke you still, saying: “Hail Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church!”
We turn to you, Mary. Receive our consecration to your Immaculate heart. Totally yours, we wish to confirm by this act of love our unlimited love for Jesus, your Son, and our hope in you, our Mother. And you, O Queen and Mother of Mercy, grant to your children an abundance of heavenly blessings. Amen.
The Saint of the day for December 10th is Servant of God Bernard of Quintavalle, the first disciple of St. Francis,who was known for his great sanctity. He was a wealthy man of Assisi, universally esteemed because of his wisdom, experience, and great virtues. When important civic matters had to be decided upon, his advice was usually followed. Desire for greater perfection caused him to remain unmarried.
When Bernard saw young Francis practice the poverty and humility of Christ in such an admirable manner, he felt impelled to follow his way of life. He wished, however, to determine whether it was just sentimentality or sincere love of God that moved Francis, and so he invited him to his home. At their evening repast, Bernard conversed with Francis and begged him to remain for the night. A comfortable bed had been prepared for Francis. When everything grew quiet in the house, Bernard observed how Francis arose and, casting himself upon his knees, continued in prayer throughout the night. Sometimes he heard him sigh: “My God and My All!”
At daybreak Bernard told his saintly guest that he had decided to forsake all things of earth and to become his disciple. It was a source of great joy for Francis to receive so distinguished a man as his first companion in the perfect service of God. But he said to Bernard; “Concerning this matter we must determine what is the will of God. Let us go to church, that His will may be made known to us.”
Having assisted at holy Mass and spent some time in devout prayer, they asked the priest to open the book of the Gospels for them three different times. At the first opening they read the words: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor” (Mt. 19, 21). The second opening revealed the following: “Take nothing for the way” (Mk. 6, 8). The third: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mt. 16, 24). Then St. Francis said: “This will be the rule of life which we and all those who will join us shall follow.”
Bernard went forth and sold all his goods and divided the proceeds among the poor. Then he returned to Francis. He was never happier than when he had a cross to carry. And many such opportunities presented themselves. When several other associates had gathered around Francis, he sent Bernard and a companion to Florence and then to Bologna. Because of their poor garments and the strange life they were observing, they were subjected to much ridicule and persecution in both these cities. This gave Bernard cause for rejoicing. He accepted all with perfect calmness and interior joy for love of Christ.
When St. Francis went to France and Spain in 1213-1214 to preach to the Mohamedans in Africa, he took Brother Bernard with him. On the way, however, they encountered a poor sick man, and Francis directed Bernard to remain and attend to the man’s wants. Bernard did so willingly and cheerfully until Francis called for him again on the return journey. Before his passing, the holy Founder gave Brother Bernard a special blessing and again charged all the brethren, superiors as well as subjects, to respect him. After the death of St. Francis, Bernard associated little with others. He was indeed sociable, and rated everybody higher than himself, but the spirit of prayer drew him to solitude, where he kept united with God in contemplation and conversed with the angels.
He died on July 10, between 1241 and 1246, and was buried in the church of St. Francis next to his spiritual father.
~ excerpted, in part, from The Little Flowers of St. Francis.
I am glad that someone is sharing the complete story, presenting the other side of Mandela. Not many people seem to know or acknowledge that he was a strong supporter of abortion. Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com shares the following story.
A Catholic bishop in the United States is taking exception to the unrestricted praise the world is heaping on deceased South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, calling his signing a bill to legalize unlimited abortions “shameful.”
The bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin, criticized “Mandela’s “shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa.”
“Many people around the world and in our own nation are mourning the loss of former South African President Nelson Mandela,” Bishop Tobin commented in a statement. “Indeed there is much to admire in Mandela’s long life and public service, particularly his personal courage and his stalwart defense of human rights.
“There is part of President Mandela’s legacy, however, that is not at all praiseworthy, namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa. In 1996 Mandela promoted and signed into law the ‘Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ that, according to the New York Times, ‘replaced one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal.’”
Tobin continues: “While we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children.”
In their statement at the time of his death, the bishops of South Africa also pointed out that not all of Mandela’s legacy is positive.
March 14 of this year marked five years since the death of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. That meant the five-year waiting period, required by Canon Law, to open the cause for her beatification was over.
As a result, many Catholics and non-Catholics are calling upon the movement Lubich founded to press for the opening of her beatification process. They consider her to be a role model of personal commitment for the good of humanity.
The president of the Focolare movement, Maria Voce, has already signed the official petition, and will hand it to the bishop of Frascati, the diocese where Lubich passed away.
The movement's charism focuses on promoting brotherhood and unity among all people from different faiths. They claim about 2.5 million members, distributed among 194 countries.
(Vatican Radio) Following a tradition laid out by his predecessors, Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by travelling to Piazza di Spagna where he venerated the statue named for the Marian Feast.
The celebration began with a reading from the book of Revelation in which Mary is described as a “woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and around her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1). The Holy Father then recited a prayer to the Immaculate Conception, in which he asked Our Lady to “awaken in us a renewed desire for holiness,” and to “make present all of the Gospel’s beauty” in our lives. He went on to ask Mary’s intercession in helping us remain attentive to the Lord’s voice, and to never be indifferent to the cry of the poor, the sick, the elderly, of children, and every human life. Before taking leave of the Piazza, the Holy Father greeted the sick and disabled who had gathered in the Square for the celebrations.After the celebrations, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major where he said a private prayer before the image of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani.
The statue of the Immaculate Conception, venerated by the Holy Father this Sunday, was consecrated on December 8, 1857 several years after the dogma which states that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin was adopted by the Church. It has since become a tradition for the Pope to venerate the statue each year on December 8 as part of the celebrations for the Marian feast.
This year the Church has transferred the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception to today so as not to conflict with the 2nd Sunday of Advent, but the obligation to attend Mass does not transfer. This solemn dogma was defined by Blessed Pius IX in 1854. Our Lady Immaculately Conceived is the patroness of the United States of America.
"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." — Catechism of the Catholic Church
Blessed Pope Pius IX on the 8th of December 1854 proclaimed the Dogma of the faith revealed by God that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin" (Denz.-Schonm, 2083). If the official proclamation of the dogma is relatively recent, the profession of faith by Christians and the liturgy is very ancient in this regard. Furthermore, four years later the same Virgin Mary, appearing in Lourdes to St Bernadette, confirmed the truth of the doctrine by presenting herself with the title ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.
Mary’s predestination to this singular grace—consistent with the suspension of the universal decree by which every man, from the moment of his conception is contaminated with original sin—leads us to ponder in the deepest depths the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity’s salvific plan. God, One and Triune, had foreseen from the very beginning the future incarnation of the Word culminating in the redemption of human nature that had fallen into sin. He therefore predestined pure Mary, so that He could draw from her uncontaminated humanity, which the Son could adopt in order to re-establish in Himself the original purity of creation and reorientate it to eternal glory.
For this reason, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, St Paul reminds us that God wants to see us holy and immaculate before Him. The purity of our origins seemed to be irredeemably lost. However, in Immaculate Mary, God found the perfect solution to reverse the disaster made from the misuse of our liberty, and returned humanity to the original purity that seemed hopelessly lost.
Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a direct consequence of her Divine Maternity. St Anslem of Aosta wrote: ‘Assuredly, it was fitting that the Virgin be beautified with a purity than which a greater cannot be conceived, except for God's. For, toward her, God the Father was so disposed to give His only Son who was naturally one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Virgin.’ (De conceptu virginali et originali peccato, XVIII)
This link between the privilege of Divine Maternity and Mary’s Immaculate Conception results also in her superiority with respect to us. She is a perfect image of the Church in heaven, the new triumphant Jerusalem, that won’t have any marks nor will there be pain and death. This is why today’s preface recites: '…she was to be a worthy mother of your Son, your sign of favour to the church at its beginning, and the promise of its perfection as the bride of Christ, radiant in beauty’. Also in heaven Mary is not and will never be only a disciple, but her Son’s most exalted. She is and will always be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of the Angels and Saints. Therefore, the preface of the Mass adds: ‘…You chose her from all creatures to be our advocate with you and our pattern of holiness.’
Mary was Immaculate because she had to be the Mother of God. She, herself has received the original grace of purity and the final state of the blessed life that we also, by collaborating with Divine Grace, hope one day to receive.
Immaculate Mary is full of grace. She is not only Christ’s disciple, who with the help of grace has overcome the chains of sin, but she is totius Trinitatis nobile triclinium, the noble resting place of the Holy Trinity (St Thomas Aquinas, Exposito Salutationis Angelicae, I). The Immaculate, full of grace, will always be Mother and Queen for that elect part of the Church that we hope one day to join, that will one day joyfully sing before the Almighty.
By Jean M. Heimann December 7th is the memorial of St. Ambrose, one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
Ambrose was born into Roman nobility around 340 in Trier, Germany. Following his father's death, Ambrose went to Rome and began a career in law and politics. He later became the Imperial governor of Northern Italy.
When the bishop of Milan died in 374, a violent dispute broke out between the Catholics and the Arians over his replacement. Ambrose intervened and the people were so impressed with the way he handled the situation that they demanded that be made their bishop, although he was only a catechumen at the time. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but to prevent further violence, he finally agreed. He was baptized, ordained a priest, and consecrated a bishop all within a brief period of time.
Aware of his lack of preparation for this great responsibility, Ambrose immediately changed his life and began studying prayer, Scripture and theology. He gave away all his money and possessions to the poor. His spirituality deepened and he became known as a brilliant preacher, Biblical scholar, and a writer of liturgical hymns. Ambrose was a courageous warrior against paganism and the Arians. St. Ambrose was a friend of St. Augustine and was influential in his conversion. In 387, St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine, who went on to become bishop of Hippo in North Africa.
St. Ambrose is one of four original Doctors of the Latin Church. He died on Holy Saturday (April 4) in the year 397 AD. His feastday in the Roman calendar is December 7, the day he was ordained bishop. Patron: bee keepers; bees; candlemakers; chandlers; domestic animals; French Commissariat; learning; Milan, Italy; schoolchildren; students; wax melters; wax refiners.
Quotes of St. Ambrose:
"There is no time of life past learning something."
"No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.Neither angel, nor archangel, not yet even the Lord Himself (who alone can say 'I am with you'), can, when we have sinned, release us, unless we bring repentance with us".
"The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved. The Church's foundation is unshakable and firm against assaults of the raging sea. Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it. Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress. There is a stream which flows down on God's saints like a torrent. There is also a rushing river giving joy to the heart that is at peace and makes for peace."
Contemplating the wounds of Christ, by which we have been saved, St. Ambrose said, "I can revel in none of my deeds, I have nothing to boast about; therefore, I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I am just, but I will glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am exempt from sins, but I will glory because my sins have been forgiven. I will not glory because I have been a help nor because someone has helped me, but because Christ is my advocate with the Father, and Christ's blood was poured out on me. My sin has become for me the price of the Redemption through which Christ came to me. For my sake, Christ tasted death. Sin is more profitable than innocence. Innocence had made me arrogant, sin made me humble."
Prayer That We May Seek God and Find Him
Lord, teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you. For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me. Let me seek you in longing and long for you in seeking. Let me find you in love, and love you in finding.
~ St Ambrose of Milan, Bishop, Writer, Doctor Prayer of St. Ambrose to Imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary
May the life of Blessed Mary be ever-present to our awareness. In her, as in a mirror the form of virtue, and beauty of chastity shine forth. She was a virgin, not only in body, but in mind and spirit. She never sullied the pure affection of her heart by unworthy feelings. She was humble of heart. She was serious in her conversations. She was prudent in her counsels. She preferred to pray rather than to speak. She united in her heart the prayers of the poor. And avoided the uncertainty of worldly riches. She was ever-faithful to her daily duties, Reserved in her conversations, and always accustomed to recognize God as the Witness of her thoughts. Blessed be the name of Jesus! Amen.
Saint Nicholas was born in the village of Patara in Lyrica, Asia Minor, about the middle of the third century, of devout and wealthy parents who provided him with a Christian upbringing and education. He was orphaned at an early age.
Later he was ordained a priest, and when the bishop of his district died, he was made Bishop of Myra. Saint Nicholas is distinguished for his great faith. His faith was so great, that with his prayer he calmed a stormy sea while on a trip to the Holy Lands. For this reason sailors pay homage to him as their protector.
He is particularly well known for his charity and his love for children. He used his great wealth to assist all who were in need: poor families, widows, and especially orphans and poor children. As Bishop, he established a poorhouse and a hospital.
Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters, who were all hoping to be married. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast.
He was the personification of Christian love and affection. As such he is honored by all the Christian world, both the Eastern and the Western.
In the West especially, he is considered the great patron Saint of children and the cheerful giver of gifts under the name Santa Claus.
His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; up to the present day an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.
Patron: against imprisonment; against robberies; against robbers; apothecaries; bakers; barrel makers; boatmen; boot blacks; boys; brewers; brides; captives; children; coopers; dock workers; druggists; fishermen; grooms; judges; lawsuits lost unjustly; longshoremen; maidens; mariners; merchants; murderers; newlyweds; old maids; parish clerks; paupers; pawnbrokers; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; pilgrims; poor people; prisoners; sailors; scholars; schoolchildren; shoe shiners; spinsters; students; thieves; travellers; unmarried girls; watermen; Greek Catholic Church in America; Greek Catholic Union; Bari, Italy; Fossalto, Italy; Duronia, Italy; Portsmouth, England; Greece; Lorraine; Russia; Sicily.
A mystery diner is changing the lives of some lucky restaurant workers across the country. The customer is leaving huge tips, some as large as $5,000, and signing every one of those checks “Tips for Jesus.”
The do-gooder at this point remains anonymous. Across the country, in California, Illinois, and Michigan, all the tabs have been covered by one American Express Black Card. Based on the types of establishments frequented, it is speculated that he is a college football fan.
The owner of the Moon Dogs bar in Washington was shocked when he and his staff received a $5,000 tip on a $576 bar tab. Darryl Baldwin recalled asking the man if he was sure he wanted to leave such a large gratuity. “The guy goes, ‘Absolutely, you know I made a ton of money in my life. This is my way of giving back.’”
South Bend, Ind., Dec 5, 2013 / 12:06 am (CNA).- Lawsuits from the University of Notre Dame and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students are challenging the HHS mandate for forcing them to violate Catholic teaching or face crippling fines.
Notre Dame's president Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said the university's lawsuit is about the freedom to “live out a religious mission” with broader significance than a debate about contraception.
“For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately will undermine those institutions,” Fr. Jenkins said in a Dec. 3 statement.
(Vatican Radio) "Francis 1223 - Francis 2013" is the title of this year’s nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, marking the first Christmas of the pontificate of Pope Francis. For the first time, a Neapolitan crèche will be used in the exhibit, created by Antonio Cantone of the firm Cantone & Costabile. The nativity scenes of Naples are world famous, and the material was donated by the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, with the support of the president of the Region of Campania, Stefano Caldoro. The figures will be dressed in the clothing typical of 18th century Naples. The scene will be funded largely by donations from benefactors, limiting the expense of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
(Vatican Radio) Anyone who utters Christian words without putting them into practice hurts oneself and others, because they are based on pride and cause division in the Church. Those were the Pope’s words during his homily at Mass this Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Martha. Lydia O’Kane reports
Taking his cue from Thursday’s liturgy, Pope Francis explained that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for knowing the commandments, but not implementing them in their lives.They are " good words," he said, but if they are not put into practice "not only do they not serve us, but they hurt : they deceive us , they make us believe that we have a beautiful home, but without a foundation” .
The Holy Father went on to say that the Lord is our foundation. Our rock is Jesus Christ.Continuing on this theme Pope Francis underlined that “a Christian word without Christ at its center leads to vanity, to pride, power for the sake of power.” The Lord, said the Pope, breaks down these people who believe themselves to be the Rock.
The Holy Father affirmed during his Homily that we would " do well to examine our own consciences” to see whether our Christian words are indeed Christ centred because when they are not, he said, they divide us from ourselves and divide the Church. Pope Francis concluded his Homily by saying “let us ask the Lord to help in this humility, to speak words rooted in Jesus Christ.
(Vatican Radio) In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis recognizes the “indispensable contribution” of women to society and underlines the “need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church”.
“This presents a great challenge to pastors and theologians, who are in a position to recognize more fully what this entails with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church and Church life,” said Donna Orsuto, a professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, citing the exhortation.
“My hope is that it would become normative that women would be consulted, that women would be involved, that their gifts would be put at the service of the Church,” she commented.
She underlined important distinctions the Pope makes in the exhortation in understanding women’s service in the Church in relation to the priesthood.
First, she said, the Pope clearly states that the ordination of women is not open for discussion. But he goes on to make a very important point, she said: “The sacramental priesthood is not about power, it’s about service”.
He further emphasizes that functions in the Church “do not favour superiority of some vis à vis the others.” She underlined how the Pope elaborates this point in his exhortation by stating how Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops.
“What he is saying is very important: women do not have to be priests to be of service in the Church, and we need to find creative ways to have women exercise their legitimate rights, based on their equality and dignity,” she said.
Women with professional backgrounds in business and management could be of great service to the Church, she offered as an example. As well, she wondered whether women could work in the diplomatic service of the Church or whether it must be limited to priests.
Bangalore - The Carmel of the future is called to offer tools that correspond to the thirst for God that is present today in Asia. Carmelite spirituality has immense possibilities to respond to this thirst for God, and to lead people in his relationship with God: this is what emerged from the conclusions of the Asian Congress entitled "Saint Teresa speaks to Asia", organized by the Carmelites in India in preparation for the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, reformer of the Carmelite Order. As Fides learns, the Congress, held in Bangalore from 28th November to 1st December, was attended by Msg. Albert D'Souza, Archbishop of Agra and Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore, together with the other Bishops of Karnataka and the Superiors General of the various congregations existing in India. Over 500 Carmelite delegates from all over India and abroad were present.
The Congress revived the character, spirituality and doctrine of the Saint, without forgetting the cultural programs on Saint Teresa, like a film on her story.All the communities of apostolic and contemplative life, religious and lay Carmelites - was stated at the conclusion of the work - should engage in the task of "living an evangelical and profound spiritual experience".
In the vast Asian continent, the Carmelites are called "to engage in an open dialogue with the great non-Christian religions, especially in the field of spirituality". To achieve this goal – conclude the Indian Carmelites - we must seek new forms of prayer.
Leave it to the Germans to push for efficiency and punctuality. They drove this year's Christmas Tree more than 695 miles from Bavaria to Rome. And they did it one day ahead of schedule.
"We left early because the weather for Friday is not so good. And the Vatican wanted us to do the work today.”
The company in charge said it was smooth driving, and great weather all the way from Germany. That made it easier to transport 7.5 ton tree, measuring more than 80 feet tall.
"We are very proud. We are very happy that company can bring the tree to Pope Francis.”
In addition to the pride of the workers, the tree was met with rejoice by tourists and locals alike. They flocked to the square to catch a glimpse or even a picture.
"That's even a big tree for Canada.”
For some of the visitors at St. Peter's Square, the Vatican's Christmas Tree is also tied to some very dear memories.
Chef living in Rome
"I came last year for the first time and I just happened to arrive on the day they put it up. This year I tried to find out when it was going up. Non one knows for sure. I came yesterday, missed it. Today the trucks were all here I knew for sure. I got here at 6:30.”
It's not only becoming a tradition, but a celebration of what's happened in this past year for this Canadian chef.
Chef living in Rome
"I came to Rome a little over a year ago and... fell in love. With the city first, and then with another chef, and we're still together and we'll be married in the New Year.”
So this year, it's not just Christmas, but also wedding bells that will ring in Rome. The excitement is also just beginning as Christmas officially makes its way to the
Pope Francis has approved a commission for the protection of minors and for victims of clerical sex abuse. The announcement was made by Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, who as the Archbishop of Boston, has directly led the fight against these type of cases.
CARD. SEAN PATRICK O'MALLEY
Archbishop of Boston ( USA )
"Continuing in the decisions, and in the policies of Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal that has been presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a very specific Commission for the protection of children, so the Commission will be able to advise the Holy Father about the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse.”
So the commission will study the current policies and propose new ways to improve them. It will also look into the pastoral support of victims and their families as the cooperation lines between Episcopal conferences and the respective authorities.
CARD. SEAN PATRICK O'MALLEY
Archbishop of Boston ( USA )
"Up to now there has been too much focus on the judicial part of this, but the pastoral response of the Church is very important and the Holy Father is concerned about that.”
The Pope has approved the commission but details about its members or even when it will be launched are still pending. But an interesting point is just how fast it was approved. The Council of Cardinals put forth the idea on Wednesday and the Pope approved it on Thursday.
The saint of the day is Blessed Phillip Rinaldi, a Salesian priest.
Phillip was born on May 28, 1856 at Lu Monferrato (Alessandria). Philip met Don Bosco at age 5, and at the age of 22, joined him in the Salesian order. When he was ordained, his first responsibility was the formation of aspirants and novices. He became the Salesian provincial superior in Spain where he opened many new houses and then served as vicar-general of the Salesians before becoming the Rector Major in 1922, Don Bosco’s third successor. As Vicar General of the Congregation, he displayed even more of his fatherly gifts and his willingness to assume many pastoral responsibilities.
He was elected Rector Major in 1922 and focused his energy on adapting the spirit of Don Bosco to the current situation. Don Francesia wrote “Don Rinaldi was only missing the voice of Don Bosco: he had everything else!” He was a master of Salesian ways and spirituality and brought about a renewal in the interior life of Salesians, absolute confidence in God and unlimited trust in Mary Help of Christians. He asked Pope Pius XI for an indulgence for ‘sanctified work’. He took great care of the missions and sent many young Salesians to learn languages and customs so that they could be more immersed in local culture and spread the gospel more effectively.
He died on December 5, 1931 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 29th April 1990. His remains are venerated in the crypt of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.
“What must you do to have life? Before all else, the first thing you have to do is pray for courage every day to carry the cross the Lord has assigned you. Then let each of you do your own work really well, the work proper to your state, as God wants it, and according to your condition.”
~ Blessed Phillip Rinaldi
This will be the new face that adorns the magnificent walls inside the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
More than nine months after his election, Archpriest James Michael Harvey presented the mosaic of Pope Francis to the Holy Father, before Wednesday General Audience.
The mosaic of Pope Francis will be placed alongside those of Benedict XVI and John Paul II, at the gallery inside the Basilica. The gallery is well known for its mosaics of all the Popes elected in the Church's history.
This particular mosaic was built by workers at Fabric of St. Peter, inside the Vatican.
Vatican City, 4 December 2013 (VIS) - “I believe in the resurrection of the flesh” was the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience. “It is a truth that is neither simple nor self-evident”, he said, “as, living immersed in this world, it is not easy to understand what will happen in the future. But the Gospel enlightens us”. This vigil, for the “glorious kingdom, which we anxiously await” is “the source and the reason for our hope; a hope which, if cultivated and preserved, becomes a “light to illuminate our personal and communal story”.
The Pope emphasized that “we must always remember we are disciples of He who came, who comes to us every day and who will come to us again at the end”, and reiterated that if we were able to keep this fact present in our minds, we would be less overwhelmed by daily life, less imprisoned by the ephemeral and more willing to walk the path of salvation with a merciful heart”.
Pope Francis recalled that the resurrection that will follow the last day of the end of the world will be an encounter with the Risen Christ for whom we prepare in this life with the Eucharist. “We who in this life our nourished by His Body and His Blood will be resurrected like Him, with Him and by Him. Just as Jesus rose again with His own body, but did not return to an earthly life, we too will rise again with our bodies that will be transformed into glorious bodies”.
“In a certain sense, through our Baptism we already participate in a new life … and, awaiting the final day, we we hold within ourselves the seed of our resurrection, a glimpse of the full resurrection that we will inherit. For this reason, even each of our bodies has the resonance of eternity, and must therefore be respected; and above all the life of those who suffer must be respected and loved, so that they feel the closeness of the Kingdom of God, of that condition of eternal life towards which we are headed”.
At the end of the audience, the Vatican Mosaics Studio, which since the seventeenth century has been responsible for the conservation and restoration of the ten thousand square metres of mosaics present in St. Peter's Basilica, as well as producing mosaics portraying the Popes and those presented as gifts during pontifical trips and official visits, presented the Holy Father with his portrait in the form of a circular mosaic, destined to join the mosaic portraits of all the other Popes, from St. Peter to the present, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.
December 4th is the feast of St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church.
Saint John Damascene (also known as St. John of Damscus) was born In Damascus, Syria around 676 AD into a rich family and spent the early years of his adult life serving as the official representative of the Christian community to the Muslim Caliph. He later abandoned this political task to join the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem where he became a priest and ultimately bishop.
St. John Damascene is known as one of the last of the Fathers of the Church. He was a strong defender of the use of images (icons) in Christian worship against the iconoclasts and wrote a book "On the Orthodox Faith" that sums up the doctrinal heritage of the earlier Greek Fathers. In this great synthesis we find a systematic treatment of the central Christian doctrines, especially the Trinity, Creation, and the Incarnation. St. John Damascene's treatment of the Sacraments is also extensive, and his emphasis on the real bodily presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is very strong. Notable too in his teaching is a fully developed doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary including her perpetual virginity, her freedom from sin throughout the whole of her life, and her bodily assumption into heaven.
St. John Damascene's influence on later theology was considerable indeed. In the Latin Middle Ages, he was known to Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas. All throughout the Middle Ages his works were known and widely used by Eastern Christian Theologians, especially the Slavs. He died died some time between 754 and 787 AD and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1890. His eloquent defense of images has deservedly procured him the title of "The Doctor of Christian Art." Saint Quote
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”
~ St. John Damascene
With Christmas just around the corner, there's a new Advent calendar to help prepare for the holidays. But this isn't your average calendar. It is high-tech, and it can be seen through a website or a smartphone.
It was launched by the Archdiocese of Sydney and it's called the 'Xt3 Advent calendar'. It truly is an online journey towards Christmas. Every day, a door virtually opens so that users from all over the world can have a unique yet shared experience.
The website includes all kinds of interactive material like daily reflections, podcasts and even videos like this one, featuring children talking about the true meaning of Christmas. And all the way from Australia, it will also share Cardinal Pell's message for the holidays and a special surprise for Pope Francis' birthday on December 17th.
It's the fifth year the Archdiocese launches this project, and it's also available for iPhone and Android. A new way to count the days for Christmas in the online world.
With Tuesday morning Mass at Santa Marta, the Council of Cardinals, or G8, kicked off the second round of meetings with Pope Francis to discuss changes to the Roman Curia.
After Mass, the eight member council began working right away. For the next few days, until December 5, they will eat, sleep and work under one roof, Casa Santa Marta.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"In this morning's meeting, they got right to work on their main topic: they continued their analysis of the Roman Curia.”
During their first session, in October, Pope Francis announced the Council would overhaul the Vatican's governing bodies.
With such an ambitious project, the Vatican said the G8 will dedicate all three days of meetings to go in-depth into this topic.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"They leaning away from small tweaks or minor improvements, and instead focusing on changes to the Apostolic constitution. So much so, that we can talk about a new Apostolic constitution for the Roman Curia.”
As in October, their schedules will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. However, the cardinals will continue working even when not officially in session.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"We can expect that in the next few days, the Council will invite the new secretary of state to the meeting.”
The Vatican said Msgr. Parolin's invitation will be merely to congratulate him, and not for working purposes.
The next round of meetings will be in February, before the Pope's consistory to create new cardinals. Those meeting will have special guests: the commission of experts that advises the Pope on financial and administrative changes to the Vatican City-State.
(Vatican Radio) The Church must always be joyful like Christ. That was the message of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope emphasized that the Church is called to transmit the joy of the Lord to her children—a joy that gives true peace.
Peace and joy. Pope Francis’ homily dwelt on these two themes. In the reading from the book of Isaiah, he noted, we see the desire for peace that we all have. It is the peace, says Isaiah, that the Messiah brings to us. In the Gospel, on the other hand, “we are able to see a little into the soul of Jesus, the heart of Jesus: a joyful heart”:
“We always think of Jesus when He preaches, when He heals, when He travels, walks along the street, even during the Last Supper. . . But we aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful. Jesus was full of joy, full of joy. In that intimacy with His Father: ‘I rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and I praised the Father.’ It is precisely the internal mystery of Jesus, that relationship with the Father in the Spirit. It is His internal joy, the interior joy that He gives to us.”
“And this joy,” he said, “is true peace: not a static peace, quiet, tranquil” no, “Christian peace is a joyful peace, because our Lord is joyful.” And, too, He is joyful “when He speaks about the Father: He loves the Father so much that He can’t talk about Him without joy.” Our God, the Pope said, “is joyful.” And Jesus has willed that His spouse, the Church, should also be joyful”:
“You can’t imagine a Church without joy; and the joy of the Church lies precisely in this: to proclaim the name of Jesus. To say: ‘He is the Lord. My spouse is the Lord. He is God. He saves us, He walks with us.’ And that is the joy of the Church, that in this joy of being a bride becomes a mother. Paul VI said: the joy of the Church is precisely to evangelize, to go forth and to speak about her Spouse. And also to transmit that joy to the children that she bears, that she raises.”
And so, he said, let us consider that the peace of which Isaiah speaks “is a peace that is so moving, it is a peace of joy, a peace of praise,” it is a peace that we could say is “noisy, in praise, a peace that bears fruit in becoming a mother of new children.” It is a peace, Pope Francis said, “that comes precisely in the joy of praise for the Trinity, and of evangelization, of going to the people to tell them who Jesus is.” Peace and joy, he repeated. And he pointed to the words of Jesus, “a dogmatic declaration,” when He affirms, “You decided to reveal Yourself not to the wise, but to the little ones”:
“Even in so many serious things, such as this, Jesus is joyful, the Church is joyful. She must be joyful. Even in her widowhood—because the Church has something of the widow who waits for her spouse to come back—even in her widowhood, the Church is joyful in hope. The Lord gives this joy to all of us, this joy of Jesus, praising the Father in the Spirit. This joy of our mother Church in evangelizing, in announcing her Spouse.
Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University and co-founder of Women Speak For Themselves, writes in USA Today that Obamacare hurts women. Alvare says that the White House, while posing as the protector of “women and families,” in fact degrades women:
The White House stance assumes that women care far more about free access to contraceptives, or their sex lives, than about religious freedom, or allowing businesses to have a conscience. This view of women is degrading. It treats women as one-dimensional victims needing the protection of government-as-big-brother.
Alvare points out that many of the businesses affected by Obamacare’s over-reaching and expensive health care mandates are owned…by women. In fact, more than 10 million women in the U.S. own businesses. According to Alvare, ” Crushing businesses with fines-particularly businesses with women owners-hurts women, rather than helping them.”
A prayer to say each night before sleep during Advent and Christmas:
Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.
Today is the memorial of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), one of the greatest missionaries of all times.
The great missionary St. Francis Xavier was from a Basque noble family, like his beloved mentor St. Ignatius Loyola. When Francis met Ignatius in Paris he was a proud, autocratic, ambitious man wanting to accomplish great deeds in the world. For three years Ignatius patiently encouraged Francis to look at his life differently. “What profits a man,” Ignatius asked Francis, “if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”
Francis joined Peter Faber as the first of Ignatius’s companions. Francis Xavier was ordained in 1537.
In 1541 King John of Portugal asked Ignatius for priests to send to the missions in India. Despite knowing he would never see his beloved companion again, Ignatius chose Francis Xavier for the mission. Francis left for India, arriving at the city of Goa in 1542.
For the next ten years the missionary Francis Xavier traveled from Goa to Cape Comorin in south India, then to the East Indies, Malacca, and the Moluccas, and onward to Japan. It was Francis Xavier’s great ambition to get permission to enter China as a missionary. He died in 1552, exhausted from his labors and fasts, on a small island off the coast of China with a single companion at his side.
St. Francis Xavier’s great ambition was to bring the world to Jesus Christ. Armed only with his breviary and a book of meditations, Francis preached the Gospel to the poor and sick, spending most of his time ministering to their needs. His nights were taken up in prayer. His only attention to his personal needs was to have a pair of boots. He barely ate enough to stay alive. As the missionary Francis Xavier, SJ, moved on, he left behind flourishing churches that were the foundations for the Catholic faith in Asia.
~ Excerpted from Ignatian Spirituality.com Patron: African missions; diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; black missions; Borneo; China; East Indies; foreign missions; Goa, India; diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana; Japan; diocese of Joiliet, Illinois; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith.
The paragraphs of the “Evangelii Gaudium” that are dedicated to women’s role in the Church,
reject the idea of women priests but ask for the sacred order to be treated as a service not as power ANDREA TORNIELLI VATICAN CITY
Some paragraphs of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium are helpful in shedding light on what the Pope means when he speaks about valuing women’s role in the Church. But it also shows how that the extravagant and highly clericalist idea of consecrating women bishops is light years away from Francis’ vision of things. Francis goes further than stressing his rejection of the consecration of female bishops, which John Paul II reiterated in his Apostolic Letter “Ordinatio sacerdotalis” of May 1994 (one of the briefer and denser documents of his pontificate): he adds some reflections on service and power.
Most importantly, Francis writes that “the Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood.”
“I readily acknowledge,” the pope adds, “that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace” and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.” Continue reading.
The high-profile meeting between Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lasted just 25 minutes.
- Good morning.
- It's a pleasure and an honor to see you.
But it was a major step forward in building relations between these two states, so intricately tied to their religious nature.
By-passing the chit chat, the two leaders spoke about re-starting negotiations, for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
Another main topic was the Pope's confirmed visit to Israel in 2014. The Vatican said the dates wouldn't be announced until after a special advance team traveled to the Holy Land to assess the logistics.
-Your Holiness, a pleasure to meet you. I heard so many good things about you.
After the meeting, Netanyahu introduced his 13-member delegation, including his wife Sara.
-My wife's father was a great biblical scholar.
He also introduces several government ministers and staff from the Israeli embassy.
With Hanukkah ending this week, the Israeli leader gave Pope Francis a silver candelabra with the inscription: "To His Holiness, a great shepherd of our common heritage.”
Netanyahu also gave the Pope a Spanish-language copy of the book written by his father, "Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain.” In return, Pope Francis gave the prime minister a bronze engraving of St. Peter as a gift.
As they said goodbye, Netanyahu's wife told the Pope she was looking forward to the Pope's visit.
-May I please congratulate you on your assumption of your office.
-Thank you very much.
After meeting the Pope, Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. They talked about the unfinished agreement between the Vatican and Israel. It centers on the status of the Catholic Church, and of Catholic communities in the Holy Land.
During his daily morning Mass at the Vatican, the Pope talked about how Christians should prepare for Christmas.
Reflecting on today's Gospel, where a Roman officer, asks Jesus to save his servant, Pope Francis said it's not enough to seek out Christ. One must also be willing to be found by Him.
"Christmas is an encounter! It's a journey to encounter Him, to find Him through our hearts and our lives. To find the living God and to find Him through faith. It's not easy to live with faith. In today's Gospel, the Lord was struck by the faith of this centurion. He was moved by his faith. He had embarked on a journey to encounter the Lord, but it was a journey of faith. So, he not only found the Lord, but he also felt the joy of being found by the Lord. This is precisely the encounter we seek. An encounter of faith.”
And to actually have an encounter with Jesus, the Pope highlighted three points. He said one must pray more, increase charity and treat others with love and joy.
SUMMARY OF POPE'S HOMILY
Source: Vatican Radio
In his homily at the Santa Marta guesthouse on this, the first Monday of Advent, Pope Francis recalled that as we proceed towards Christmas, we embark on a journey of faith and prayer in preparation for our encounter with the Lord. "Because Christmas,” he said, isn’t just a temporal celebration or the memory of a beautiful (event).”
"Christmas is something more,” he said, "Christmas is an encounter” with the Lord. And as we make our way towards Him, we must go with open heart and faith, even though this is not always easy.
Speaking of today’s reading about the Roman centurion, who with great faith begs the Lord to heal his slave, the Pope said we are like this centurion on a pilgrimage of faith "to encounter the Lord and most of all, to allow ourselves to be encountered by Him.”
We must allow ourselves to be encountered by Him, the Pope repeated, to allow Him to enter us. "It is He who makes all new….Christ renews the heart, the soul , life, hope…”
The Lord does not always say to us what we want to hear, noted the Pope, but: He will tell me what is meant for me "because the Lord does not look at us all together, en mass.” "He looks each one of us in the face , in the eyes.” His is not an abstract love; "it is concrete," the Pope said. The Lord looks at me in a personal way. And "letting ourselves be encountered by God means just this: letting ourselves be loved by God!”