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Monday, December 14, 2009

CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: MON. DEC. 14, 2009
















CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: MON. DEC. 14, 2009: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: POPE RECEIVES PRIME MINISTER OF ALBANIA-
AMERICA: USA: CARDINAL RIGALI WILL HOST PARTY FOR CHILDREN-
AUSTRALIA: CANONISATION OF BLESSED MARY MACKILLOP IMMINENT-
EUROPE: ENGLAND: BILL THREATENS CHURCH LAWS-
AFRICA: KENYA: MALTESER STARTS AID AGENCY-

ASIA: BANGLADESH: MAN KILLED FOR DEBT-




VATICAN

POPE RECEIVES PRIME MINISTER OF ALBANIA

(VIS) - The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today: "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Sali Berisha, prime minister of the Republic of Albania. The prime minister subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. "During the cordial discussions views were exchanged on the current international situation, with particular reference to the western Balkan region. "Various aspects of bilateral relations were also examined, jointly expressing a positive evaluation of their development. Mention was also made of traditional family values, which are the common heritage of the Albanian people".OP/AUDIENCE/PRIME MINISTER ALBANIA VIS 091214 (130)


OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed: - Bishop Jose Elias Rauda Gutierrez O.F.M., auxiliary of Santa Ana, El Salvador, as bishop of San Vicente (area 2,056, population 502,428, Catholics 454,574, priests 50, religious 138), El Salvador. - Maria Emmaus Voce, president of the Work of Mary - Focolari Movement, as a consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. - Jochen Messemer, administrative president of ERGO International, as international reviser, for a three-year period, of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See..NER:NA/RAUDA:VOCE:MESSEMER VIS 091214 (100)


CONCRETE GESTURES OF LOVE AND CLOSENESS TO THE SICK VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father visited the Sacred Heart Hospice, a private clinic in Rome offering free medical assistance to patients suffering from cancer in its final stages, Alzheimer's and motor neuron disease. The centre came into being at the initiative of two groups: the "Circolo San Pietro" and the "Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Roma". Over eleven years, the number of patients has risen from three to more than thirty. "We know", said the Holy Father in his address, "how certain serious diseases inevitably cause the sick to suffer moments of crisis and disorientation, and make them reflect seriously about their personal situation. "Progress in medical science", he added, "often offers the instruments necessary to face these challenges, at least as concerns their physical aspects. Yet, it is not always possible to find a cure for every disease". "Today", Pope Benedict went on, "the predominant efficiency-oriented mentality often tends to marginalise [the sick], holding them to be a burden and a problem for society. Yet, people who have a sense of human dignity know that they must be respected and supported as they face the difficulties and suffering associated with their health. To this end, ... alongside the vital clinical cures, it is necessary to offer the sick concrete gestures of love, closeness and Christian solidarity in order to meet their need for understanding, comfort and constant encouragement". After then highlighting how, "over the centuries, the Church has always shown herself to be a loving mother to people who suffer in body and in spirit", the Pope encouraged those people who, "making themselves icons of the Good Samaritan, ... offer appropriate and attentive assistance to the needs of everyone". The Holy Father also assured the sick of his prayers and invited them "to find support and comfort in Jesus, in order never to lose faith and hope. Your sickness is a painful and unique trial, but in the face of the mystery of God Who took on our mortal flesh it acquires its full meaning, and becomes a gift and an opportunity for sanctification". And he continued: "When suffering and discomfort are greatest, think that Christ is associating you with His cross because, through you, He wishes to pronounce a word of love to all those who have lost their way in life and, closed in their own egoism, live in sin, far from God. Your state of health bears witness to the fact that true life is not here, but with God". The Pope concluded by recalling how "the period of Advent, in which we are currently immersed, speaks to us of the visit of God and invites us to prepare the way for Him. In the light of faith we can see sickness and suffering as a special experience of Advent, a visit from God Who, in a mysterious way, comes out to meet us and so frees us from solitude and non-meaning, transforming pain into a time for meeting Him, a time of hope and salvation".BXVI-VISIT/SICKNESS/ROME VIS 091214 (520)



ANGELUS: NATIVITY SCENES ARE A SCHOOL OF LIFE VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning, following his visit to Rome's Sacred Heart Hospice, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, following a Roman tradition on this third Sunday of Advent, blessed the statues of the Baby Jesus which will be placed in nativity scenes in homes and parishes. "It is a source of joy for me", said the Holy Father, "to know that your families still conserve the custom of making nativity scenes. Yet it is not enough to repeat the traditional gesture, however important it may be. We must seek to live what the nativity scene represents in the reality of our everyday lives: that is, the love of Christ, His humility and His poverty". "The blessing of the 'Bambinelli' - as they are called in Rome - reminds us that the nativity scene is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy. This does not consist in possessing many things but in feeling ourselves to be loved by the Lord, in making ourselves a gift for others, and in loving one another. Let us consider the nativity scene: the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph do not appear to be a very privileged family, they had their first child amidst great hardship, yet they are full of intimate joy because they love one another, they help one another and, above all, they are certain that God is at work in their story". "And the shepherds", the Pope asked, "what reason do they have to be happy? That newborn infant will certainly not alter their poverty and marginalisation. Yet faith helps them to recognise in the 'child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger', the 'sign' of the fulfilment of God's promises for all the men and women 'whom He favours', even for them!" For this reason, Benedict XVI explained, true joy consists in "feeling that our individual and community lives are touched by and filled with a great mystery, the mystery of the love of God. In order to be joyful we need ... love and truth, we need a God Who is near, Who warms our hearts and responds to our most profound expectations". After praying the Angelus, the Pope noted how Rome is today celebrating the "Day for new church buildings", because "in our city there are communities that do not have an adequate place of worship, ... or structures for formative activities". In this context, he called on everyone to help in creating the necessary pastoral centres. Finally the Pope mentioned the missionaries Fr. Daniel Cizimya, Fr. Louis Blondel, Fr. Gerry Roche, and Sr. Denise Kahambu, who were killed recently in Africa. "They were", he said, " faithful witnesses of the Gospel, which they announced with courage even at the risk of their own lives". He also expressed his closeness to the missionaries' relatives and religious communities, and asked everyone to join him in prayer that the Lord, with His coming, may bring "reconciliation and peace".ANG/CHRISTMAS/... VIS 091214 (530)


PRIME MINISTER OF MONTENEGRO RECEIVED BY THE POPE VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today: "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Milo Djukanovic, prime minister of Montenegro. The prime minister subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. "In the course of the cordial discussions a fruitful exchange of opinions took place on questions concerning current international affairs, as well as on the situation in the region and the main challenges it is facing. The positive contribution made to Montenegrin society by the significant Catholic minority was also highlighted. Finally attention turned to certain topics of current interest, in particular the government's commitment to promoting peace and harmony among the different peoples and religious confessions present in the country".OP/AUDIENCE/PRIME MINISTER MONTENEGRO VIS 091214 (160)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Five prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus on their "ad limina" visit: - Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, archbishop emeritus of Minsk-Mohilev and apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Pinsk, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Kazimierz Wielikosielec. - Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Antoni Dziemianko. - Bishop Aleksander Kaszkiewicz of Grodno. - Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German foreign minister. - Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, accompanied by members of his family. - Bishop Mario Toso S.D.B., secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, accompanied by members of his family. - Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole F.D.P., auxiliary of L'Aquila, Italy accompanied by members of his family. On Saturday 12 December he received in separate audiences: - Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna-Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. - Archbishop Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany. - Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio to Belgium and Luxemburg. - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.AL:AP/.../... VIS 091214 (190)


AMERICA




USA: CARDINAL RIGALI WILL HOST PARTY FOR CHILDREN


CNA reports that Cardinal Justin Rigali will host the 54th annual Cardinal’s Christmas Party for Children for about 400 children who received services from community or residential agencies of Catholic Social Services this year.
The party, held today at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, begins with a colorful parade of marching bands, clowns and jugglers. Students from Bishop Shanahan High School will then perform a Christmas Story play.
Afterwards, Cardinal Rigali will talk to the children and Santa will arrive.
Before the beginning of the parade, the cardinal will greet children and pose for photos with high school student volunteers.
In addition to entertainment and gift giving, the Cardinal's Christmas Party for Children raises funds to support Catholic Social Services programs.
Catholic Social Services assists more than 137,000 children, adults and families throughout the five-county area of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.(source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=18050




AUSTRALIA


CANONISATION OF BLESSED MARY MACKILLOP IMMINENT


Cath News reports that speculation is rife in the local news media that an announcement about the canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop is imminent, following reports that a second miracle has been approved.
"The Sisters are very excited and anticipate there could be some good news before Christmas," Sisters of St Joseph's Sister Judy Sippel was quoted as saying by South Australia's The Sunday Mail.
"It is wonderful that Mary MacKillop's spirit and good work will be recognised for the Church and for Australia."
ABC quotes Marie Foale from the order saying that it would be a great moment if the Pope agrees with doctors and theologians' findings, that Sister MacKillop's curing of a woman with cancer was indeed a miracle.
She says the news is exciting, but people need to be cautious.
"Excitement is building up, but we need to be careful not to pre-empt things before they actually come out from Rome," she said.
This week, The Sunday Mail and other Sunday newspapers around Australia were contacted by a spokesperson on behalf of the Sisters of Joseph to prepare for the announcement on Saturday that Mary's sainthood was confirmed, the report said.
But late in the week, the representative said the matter had been removed from the agenda of a meeting with the Pope scheduled for yesterday.
Pope Benedict XVI was due to make the announcement after receiving a recommendation from a panel of cardinals and bishops, following an exhaustive inquiry into a second miracle attributed to Mary, overseen by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer, said he was hopeful of an announcement before the end of the year.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attended Mass on Sunday at the St Joseph's Mary MacKillop Chapel in Sydney dedicated to Mary MacKillop, as speculation over sainthood grows, ABC reports.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister would not say if Mr Rudd's visit was linked to Vatican deliberations, saying Mr Rudd regularly attends a range of churches when he is in Sydney. (SOURCE: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=18298

EUROPE

ENGLAND: BILL THREATENS CHURCH LAWS

Catholic Herald reports that Equality minister Harriet Harman will ban the Catholic Church in Britain from insisting that priests remain celibate single men, the bishops have said.Church leaders will be powerless to stop ordained priests from marrying women or entering into same-sex civil partnerships under the terms of Miss Harman’s Equality Bill.Bishops would be unable to stop their priests from having sex change operations, living openly promiscuous lifestyles or engaging in any other activities seen as a legitimate form of sexual expression.Richard Kornicki, a former senior Home Office civil servant who serves as parliamentary coordinator for the bishops, said the Church could also be open to prosecution for sex discrimination if it turned away women or sexually active gay men who presented themselves as candidates for the priesthood. “The Government is saying that the Church cannot maintain its own beliefs in respect of its own priests,” he said.But if the Bill became law and the bishops defied the Government and stepped in to discipline errant clergy they could not only be sued for sexual discrimination but, in the worst-case scenario, they could also face imprisonment, unlimited fines and have Church assets sequestrated.Miss Harman’s proposals will inevitably put the Catholic Church on a collision course with the state – particularly in the form of the powerful Equality and Human Rights Commission – over the issue of religious freedom if they become law.The latest warning of the threat posed by the Bill was sounded in a briefing prepared this week by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for Catholic peers ahead of the Second Reading of the Equality Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday.The bishops explained that the Bill drastically reduces the ability of the Church to insist on the kind of lifestyles its employees lead.The Bill says that only those people who lead worship or teach doctrine can be expected to lead lives consistent with the moral teachings of the Christian faith. But a senior QC has informed the bishops that even the wording of this clause makes it “unlawful to require a Catholic priest to be male, unmarried or not in a civil partnership etc, since no priest would be able to demonstrate that their time was wholly or mainly spent either leading liturgy or promoting and explaining doctrine... the Bill fails to reflect the time priests spend in pastoral work, private prayer and study, administration, building maintenance, and so on”.The briefing says: “This contentious definition was drafted without consultation and has been maintained by the Government despite the concerns of the bishops’ conference and representations made by most religious bodies in the UK.”Mr Kornicki said the Church had been protesting to the Government about the Bill for two years but Ministers had refused to budge. “If they stopped to talk to people who actually do the job they might have got the drafting of the Bill right in the first place,” he said. The bishops are urging peers to fight to amend the clause to protect both the nature of the priesthood and the credibility of employees who would be “fatally compromised if their personal lives were openly at variance with the Church’s teaching”.Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, which was set up to defend religious liberty against the excesses of the authorities, said the Bill was lethally flawed because it treated religious ministers as employees rather than office holders.A barrister and expert on religious discrimination law, he said he doubted if the Government would be able to compel the Catholic Church to ordain women but said it would certainly not be able to order any priest how to behave once they were consecrated.It means that Catholic priests would be able to live any lifestyle they chose as long as it was acceptable to the state.Mr Addison said the Government was deliberately seeking a clash with the Church and was falsely claiming that European directive required British law to be changed. “The supporters of this Bill don’t understand why the churches don’t have women priests and gay clergy and they want them to have them,” he said.“The supporters of this Bill are very ideological. They want transsexuals to sue to remain priests; they would love that situation.”He added: “The exemptions for religion in existing discrimination law have all been tested by the courts and are all compliant with European law.“The Government is saying we have to change some of these things to comply with European law but that is simply not true. It is simply a lie. This is the Government and particularly Harriet Harman putting their own ideology on top of European requirements.”The Government has denied that the Bill would have such a damaging impact on the Church. “The definition of employment ‘for the purposes of organised religion’ in paragraph 2 (8) of Schedule 9 in the Equality Bill covers ministers of religion such as Catholic priests,” a spokesman said. “The Solicitor General [Vera Baird] explicitly clarified this during the Commons Public Bill Committee.”In their correspondence with Church leaders civil servants have insisted that as long as all priests spent at least 51 per cent of their time leading worship and preaching the Gospel the Church would be protected from hostile legal actions.But the bishops say the priestly ministry is so diverse – involving pastoral work, private prayer and study, administration and building maintenance, for instance – that it is impossible to guarantee that such a condition could be met. They also object to the Government effectively defining what priests must do.The English bishops had earlier warned the Government that the Bill could effectively spell the end to public celebration of Christmas. They also said that Catholic schools and care homes could be forced to remove crucifixes and holy pictures from their walls in case they offend atheist cleaners.An amendment to the Bill to protect the liberty of churches was voted down in the House of Commons last week. Tabled by Labour MP David Drew, it would have safeguarded the right of religious organisations to restrict their posts to people whose conduct is consistent with the Bible’s teachings. It was defeated by 314 to 170 votes. (SOURCE: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/articles/a0000704.shtml

AFRICA

KENYA: MALTESER STARTS AID AGENCY

CISA reports that Malteser International has started relief measures in the districts of Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo, the most severely affected north of the country with a population of 365,000 people.
In co-operation with the local Catholic dioceses Malteser International will provide six health centres, two hospitals and one hospital dispensary with drugs and medical consumables for the treatment of malaria, diarrhoea and bacterial infections. Additionally, 7,500 mosquito nets will be distributed.Malteser International will provide further relief for 19,000 people through supplementary food consisting of oil, beans and maize – especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five and the elderly. About 1,500 pregnant women and 2,680 children will receive milk powder and food supplements.The emergency aid for drought victims is mainly funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and private donations.Malteser International has been working in Kenya since 2001. The organisation runs a comprehensive health project in eight slums of Nairobi with a focus on the fight against tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. (SOURCE: http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/story.asp?ID=4296


ASIA
BANGLADESH: MAN KILLED FOR DEBT

Asia News reports that the sum paid by a businessman for the manufacture of a fishing net. Mohammed Abdul Khalek had economic problems and was unable met the order. Beaten violently he died of his injuries. The murderer escaped;the population demands justice.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Killed for a debt of 300 taka (just over 3 Euros, ed), contracted with a local businessman for the manufacture of a fishing net. This is how Mohammed Abdul Khalek, 65, a war hero, famous for having fought for the independence of Bangladesh, met his death.
The murder took place last December 11 in the south-western district of Jhenaidah. Khalek, protagonist of the struggle that brought independence to the country in 1971 earned a living by building fishing nets and headwear for Muslim faithful to use during the prayers.
Habibur Rahman, son of the victim, tells that about a month ago, "Nasir Uddin, a local businessman, "had anticipated 300 taka for a fishing net”. The man, because of the extreme poverty besetting the family, used the money for personal expenses and was unable to meet the order.
"Friday, December 11 - said Habibur Rahman - my father was returning from the mosque. Nasir Uddin stopped him on the street and demanded the money back. Khalek asked for a bit more time "to make the payment, triggering the "the man’s anger” who began to" beat him like a dog. "
The war hero suffered serious injuries. Despite admission to various hospitals, his condition deteriorated. "Friday night at 10.45 - continues the son - his clinical condition precipitated”. The man died during transport from the clinic of Jessore to Baskhali in the district of Chittagong.
Police in Jhenaidah have opened an investigation into the murder and is on the trail of the murderer, who has since fled. "We are doing our best – he commented - to find him."
The funeral of Mohammed Abdul Khalek took place on 12 December. He was buried with full state honours. The entire local population are demanding that the murderer is caught. "It's sad - concludes Habibur Rahman – that in a free country people are killed like animals. If he died in 1971, fighting for freedom, I would not shed a tear. But die like that, tortured for just 300 taka ...”.(source: http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=17110&size=A


TODAY'S SAINT


St. John of the Cross
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, FOUNDER, GREAT MYSTICAL THEOLOGIAN
Feast: December 14
Information:
Feast Day:
December 14
Born:
24 June 1542, Fontiveros, Spain
Died:
December 14, 1591, Ubeda, Andalusia, Spain
Canonized:
27 December 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Major Shrine:
Tomb of Saint John of the Cross, Segovia, Spain
Patron of:
contemplative life; contemplatives; mystical theology; mystics; Spanish poets

St John, by his family name called Yepes, was youngest child of Gonzales of Yepes, and born at Fontibere near Avila, in Old Castile, in 1542. With his mother's milk he sucked in the most tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and was preserved from many dangers by the visible protection of her intercession The death of his father left his mother destitute of all succours with three little children, with whom she settled at Medina. John learned the first elements of letters at a college. The administrator of the hospital, delighted with his extraordinary piety, employed him in serving the sick; an office which was very agreeable to the devotion of the youth, who acquitted himself with the feeling of charity much above his years, especially when he exhorted the sick to acts of virtue. He practiced, at the same time, excessive austerities, and continued his studies in the college of the Jesuits. At twenty-one years of age, to satisfy his devotion to the mother of God, he took the religious habit among the Carmelite friars at Medina in 1563. Never did any novice give greater proofs of obedience, humility, fervour, and love of the cross. His zeal, far from abating after his novitiate, was continually upon the increase. When he arrived at Salamanca, in order to commence his higher studies, the austerities which he practiced were excessive. He chose for his cell a little dark hole at the bottom of the dormitory. A hollow board, something like a grave, was his bed. He platted himself so rough a hair shirt that, at the least motion, it pricked his body to blood. His fasts and other mortifications were incredible. By these means he studied to die to the world and to himself; but by assiduous prayer and contemplation, in silence and retirement, he gave wings to his soul. It was his desire to be a lay-brother, but this was refused him. He had distinguished himself in his course of theological studies, when in 1567, being twenty-five years old, be was promoted to the priesthood. He prepared himself to offer his first sacrifice by humiliations, fasts, penitential tears, fervent prayers, and long meditations on the sufferings of our Divine Redeemer; deeply imprinting his precious wounds in his heart and sacrificing himself, his will, and all his actions with his Saviour, in raptures of love and devotion. The graces which he received from the holy mysteries, inflamed him with a desire of greater retirement; for which purpose he deliberated with himself to enter the Order of the Carthusians.
St. Teresa was then busy in establishing her reformation of the Carmelites, and coming to Medina del Campo heard speak of the extraordinary virtue of brother John. Whereupon she desired to see him, admired his spirit, and told him that God had called him to sanctify himself in the Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel: that she had received authority from the general to found two reformed houses of men, and that he himself should be the first instrument of so great a work. Soon after, she founded her first monastery of men in a poor house in the village of Durvelle. John, who had acquiesced in her proposal, entered this new Bethlehem, in a perfect spirit of sacrifice, and about two months after was Joined by some others, who all renewed their profession on Advent Sunday, 1568 This was the beginning of the Barefooted Carmelite Friars, whose institute was approved by Pope Pius V, and in 1580 confirmed by Gregory XIII. So great were the austerities of these primitive Carmelites, that St. Teresa saw it necessary to prescribe them a mitigation. The odour of their sanctity in their poor obscure house spread all over Spain; and St. Teresa soon after established a second convent at Pastrane, and in 1568 a third at Manreza, whither she translated that from Durvelle, and in 1577 a fourth at Alcala. The example and the exhortations of St. John inspired the religious with a perfect spirit of solitude, humility, and mortification. His wonderful love of the cross appeared in all his actions, and it was by meditating continually on the sufferings of Christ that it increased daily in his soul; for love made him desire to resemble his crucified Redeemer in all manner of humiliations and sufferings.
St. John, after tasting the first sweets of holy contemplation, found himself deprived of all sensible devotion. This spiritual dryness was followed by interior trouble of mind, scruples, and a disrelish of spiritual exercises, which yet he was careful never to forsake. The devils, at the same time, assaulted him with violent temptations, and men persecuted him by calumnies. But the most terrible of all these pains was that of scrupulosity and interior desolation, in which he seemed to see hell open ready to swallow him up. He describes admirably what a soul feels in this trial in his book called "The Obscure Night." This state of interior desolation contemplative souls, in some degree or other, first pass through before their hearts are prepared to receive the communication of God's special graces. By it our saint obtained a perfect poverty and nakedness of spirit, freed from all the refined passions of self-love, and an excellent conformity to the holy will of God, which can only be built on the destruction of self-will, a heroic patience, and a courageous perseverance. After some time, certain rays of light, comfort, and divine sweetness scattered these mists and translated the soul of the servant of God into a paradise of interior delights and heavenly sweetness. This was again succeeded by another more grievous trial of spiritual darkness which spread itself over his soul, accompanied with interior pains and temptations, in which God seemed to have forsaken him, and to have become deaf to his sighs and tears. So violent was his sorrow in this state of privation, that it seemed he must have died of grief if God had not supported him by his grace. In the calm which followed this terrible tempest he was wonderfully repaid in divine comforts. Surrounded with a new light, he saw clearly the incomparable advantages of suffering especially by the severest interior trials. He never received any extraordinary favour which was not preceded by some great tribulation; which is an ordinary conduct of the sweet providence of God in regard to his servants for their great spiritual advantage. God, in the sensible visits of his grace, draws a soul by his charms to run in the sweet paths of his love; but her virtue is chiefly perfected by tribulations. Trials were, by grace, the chief instruments of the admirable perfection to which our saint arrived. St. Teresa made use of him to impart the spirit of her reform to the religious in all the houses which she established. The convent in which she had made her first profession, at Avila, had always opposed her reformation. Yet the Bishop of Avila thought it necessary that she should be made prioress there, to retrench at least the frequent visits of seculars. She sent for St. John and appointed him the spiritual director of this house in 1576. He soon engaged them to shut up their parlours, and to cut off the scandalous abuses which were inconsistent with a religious life of retirement and penance. Many seculars likewise put themselves under his direction, and he preached the word of God with wonderful unction and fruit. But God would be glorified by his sufferings, and to make them the more sensible to him, permitted his own brethren to be the instruments thereof, as Christ himself was betrayed by a disciple. The old Carmelite friars looked on this reformation, though undertaken with the licence and approbation of the general, given to St. Teresa, as a rebellion against their Order; and, in their chapter at Placentia, condemned St. John as a fugitive and an apostate. This resolution being taken, they sent soldiers and sergeants, who broke open his door and tumultuously carried him to the prison of his convent; and, knowing the veneration which the people at Avila had for his person, removed him from thence to Toledo, where he was locked up in a dark noisome cell, into which no light had admittance but through a little hole three fingers broad. Scarce any other nourishment was allowed him during the nine months which he remained there but bread, a little fish, called sardines, and water. He was released after nine months by the credit of St. Teresa, and by the protection of the mother of God. In this destitute condition he had been favoured with many heavenly comforts, which made him afterwards say, "Be not surprised if I show so great a love for sufferings; God gave me a high idea of their merit and value when I was in the prison of Toledo."
He had no sooner recovered his liberty than he was made superior of the little convent of Calvary, situate in a desert, and in 1579 founded that of Baeza. In 1581 he was chosen prior of Granada; in 1585 vicar-provincial of Andalusia; and, in 1588, first definitor of the Order. He founded at the same time the convent of Segovia. In all his employments, the austerities which he practiced seemed to exceed bounds; and he only slept two or three hours in a night, employing the rest in prayer, in presence of the blessed sacrament. He showed always the most sincere and profound humility, and even love of abjection, an inimitable fervour and zeal for all the exercises of religion, and an insatiable desire of suffering. Hearing Christ once say to him, "John, what recompense cost thou ask of thy labours?" He answered, "Lord, I ask no other recompense than to suffer and be condemned for thy love." At the very name of the cross he fell into an ecstasy, in the presence of mother Anne of Jesus. Three things he frequently asked of God: 1st, That he might not pass one day of his life without suffering something; 2ndly, That he might not die superior; 3rdly, That he might end his life in humiliation, disgrace, and contempt. The passion of our Redeemer was the usual subject of his meditations, and he exceedingly recommends the same to others in his writings. He was frequently so absorbed in God that he was obliged often to offer violence to himself to treat of temporal affairs, and sometimes, when called out from prayer, was incapable of doing it. Coming to himself from sudden raptures, he would cry out with words, as it were of fire, "Let us take wing and fly on high. What do we do here, dear brethren? Let us go to eternal life." This love appeared in a certain brightness which darted from his countenance on many occasions, especially when he came from the altar or from prayer. A person of distinction was one day so moved with the sight of it, perceiving the heavenly light of his face to dazzle his eyes and pierce his heart with divine love, that on the spot he took a resolution to renounce the world and embraced the Order of St. Dominic. A lady coming to confession to him was so struck with a heavenly light which shone from his countenance and penetrated her soul, that she immediately laid aside her jewels and gaudy attire, and consecrated herself to God in strict retirement, to the astonishment of the whole city of Segovia. His love of his neighbour was no less wonderful, especially towards the poor, the sick, and sinners; his continual tenderness and affection for his enemies, and the benefactions and kindness with which he always studied to return good for evil, were most admirable. For fear of contracting any attachments to earthly things, he was a rigorous observer and lover of poverty. All the furniture of his little cell or chamber consisted in a paper image and a cross made of rushes, and he would have the meanest beads and breviary, and wear the most threadbare habit he could get. A profound sentiment of religion made him bear an extreme respect to whatever belonged, even remotely, to churches, or to the service of God. The same motive of the honour of God sanctified all his actions. He employed many hours every day and night in prayer, and often before the blessed sacrament, with extraordinary fervour. True devotion he described to be humble, not loving to be lofty; silent, not active; without attachment to anything; without singularity or presumption; full of distrust in itself; following with ardour simple and common rules. In 1591 the chapter of his Order met at Madrid, in which St. John opposed too severe measures used in the punishment of disobedience against Father Gratian, who had been a great assistant to St. Teresa; and likewise strenuously spoke against a motion supported by some of the chiefs, for casting off the direction of the Teresain nuns. This gave offence to some whom envy and jealousy had indisposed against him, and by their means the servant of God was thrust out of all employments in his Order. It was with joy that he saw himself in disgrace and at liberty, and retired into the little solitary convent of Pegnuela, in the mountains of Sierra Morena.
God was pleased to finish his martyrdom by a second grievous persecution from his own brethren before his death. His banishment to Pegnuela he thought his happiness, and always excused and commended father commissary and the other authors of his disgrace, and hindered all others from writing to the vicar-general of the injustices done him. There were in the Order two fathers of great authority, who declared themselves his implacable enemies, harbouring malice and envy in their breasts, which they cloaked under the sanctified name of holy zeal. In the saint's disgrace, one of them, called F. Diego Evangelista, ran over the whole province to beg and trump up accusations against the servant of God, and boasted that he had sufficient proofs to have him expelled the Order. The saint said nothing all this while, only that he was ready to receive with joy any punishment. Everybody at that time forsook him; all were afraid of seeming to have any commerce with him, and burnt the letters which they had received from him, lest they might be involved in his disgrace. St. John had no other comfort or refuge but prayer, in which the abundant consolations of the Holy Ghost rendered his sufferings sweet to him. This storm ceased when the informations of Diego were laid before the superiors; for had they been all true, they amounted to nothing which deserved any chastisement. The sweetness of the divine love and peace which overflowed the soul of the servant of God all this time, filled him with interior joy, which increased in proportion as he was more abandoned by creatures. "The soul of one who serves God," says the saint, "always swims in joy, always keeps holiday, is always in her palace of jubilation, ever singing with fresh ardour and fresh pleasure, a new song of joy and love."
St. John, living in the practice of extreme austerities, and in continual contemplation, fell sick, and when he could no longer conceal his distemper, the provincial ordered him to leave Pegnuela, that place being destitute of all relief, and gave him the choice either to go to Baeza or to Ubeda. The first was a very convenient convent and had for prior an intimate friend of the saint. The other was poor, and F. Francis Chrysostom was prior there, the other person whom he had formerly corrected, and who was no less his enemy than F. Diego. The love of suffering made St. John prefer this house of Ubeda. The fatigue of his journey had caused his leg to swell exceedingly, and it burst in many places from the heel quite to the knee, besides five ulcers or wounds under his foot. He suffered excessive pains from the violence of the inflammation, and from the frequent incisions and operations of the surgeons, from the top to the bottom of his leg. His fever all this time allowed him no rest. These racking pains he suffered three whole months with admirable patience, in continual peace tranquillity, and joy, never making the least complaint, but often embracing the crucifix and pressing it close upon his breast when the pain was very sharp. The unworthy prior treated him with the utmost inhumanity, forbade anyone to be admitted to see him, changed the infirmarian because he served him with tenderness, locked him up in a little cell, made him continual harsh reproaches, and would not allow anything but the hardest bread and food, refusing him even what seculars sent in for him; all which the saint suffered with joy in his countenance. God himself was pleased to complete his sacrifice, and abandoned him for some time to a great spiritual dryness, and a state of interior desolation. But his love and patience were the more heroic. The provincial happening to come to Ubeda a few days before his death was grieved to see this barbarous usage, opened the door of his cell, and said that such an example of invincible patience and virtue ought to be public, not only to his religious brethren, but to the whole world. The prior of Ubeda opened his eyes, begged the saint's pardon, received his instructions for the government of his community, and afterwards accused and condemned himself with many tears. As for the saint himself, we cannot give a better description of the situation of his holy soul in his last moments than in his own words, where he speaks of the death of a saint," Perfect love of God makes death welcome, and most sweet to a soul. They who love thus, die with burning ardours and impetuous flights through the vehemence of their desires of mounting up to their beloved. The rivers of love in the heart, now swell almost beyond all bounds, being just going to enter the ocean of love. She seems already to behold that glory, and all things in her seem already turned into love, seeing there remains no other separation than a thin web, the prison of the body being almost broken." This seems the exact portraiture of the soul of our saint upon the point of leaving this world. Two hours before he died he repeated aloud the psalm with his brethren; then he desired one to read to him part of the book of Canticles, appearing himself in transports of joy. He at length cried out, "Glory be to God "; pressed the crucifix on his breast, and after some time said, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my soul"; with which words he calmly breathed forth his soul on the 14th of December, in 1591(SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjohnofthecross.asp



TODAY'S GOSPEL

Matthew 21: 23 - 27
23
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"
24
Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25
The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, `From heaven,' he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?'
26
But if we say, `From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet."
27
So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

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