Thursday, November 11, 2010




EUCHARISTIC CONGRESSES CONTRIBUTE TO NEW EVANGELISATION VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS REPORT) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, who have completed preparations for the next congress, which will take place in the Irish capital Dublin in 2012. "International Eucharistic Congresses already have a long history in the Church", the Holy Father noted. "They highlight the universal dimension of celebration. Celebration is, in fact, always a feast of faith around the Eucharistic Christ, the Christ of the supreme sacrifice for humanity, in which not only the faithful from a particular Church or nation participate, but, insofar as possible, from all over the world. It is the Church that gathers around her Lord and God". "The task of Eucharistic Congresses, especially at the current time, is also that of making a special contribution to new evangelisation, promoting mystagogical evangelisation which is accomplished in the school of the prayerful Church, on the basis of the liturgy and through the liturgy. But each Congress also contains a new evangelising impulse in a more strictly missionary sense, so much so that the binomial term 'Eucharist-mission' has become part of the guidelines suggested by the Holy See". The Holy Father completed his remarks with some liturgical-pastoral advice. "It is important", he said, "that each Eucharistic Congress should, in accordance with the reforming spirit of the Council, involve and integrate both 'extra missam' expressions of Eucharistic worship which have their roots in popular devotion, and associations of faithful which, in various ways, draw inspiration form the Eucharist. All forms of Eucharistic devotion, also recommended and encouraged by the Encyclical 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' and the Post-Synodal Exhortation 'Sacramentum caritatis', must be harmoniously brought together in a Eucharistic ecclesiology oriented towards communion".AC/ VIS 20101111 (300) IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION "VERBUM DOMINI" VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Verbum Domini" of Benedict XVI, on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. Today's press conference was presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Msgr. Fortunato Frizza, respectively secretary general and under secretary of the Synod of Bishops. The Apostolic Exhortation, which is dated 30 September, Memorial of St. Jerome, is the fruit of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in Rome from 5 to 26 October 2008. The document, which has been published in Latin, Italian, English, French., Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish, is made up of an introduction, three parts and a conclusion. Archbishop Eterovic explained how in part one, entitled "Verbum Dei", the Pope highlights both "the fundamental role of God the Father, source and origin of the Word", and "the Trinitarian dimension of revelation". Chapter one - "The God Who Speaks" - underscores "God's will to open and maintain a dialogue with man, in which God takes the initiative and reveals Himself in various ways". It also dwells on "the Christological aspect of the Word, while at the same time underlining the pneumatological dimension". This section of the document also focuses on the relationship between the Eucharist and Tradition, and on the theme of the inspiration and truth of the Bible. "Our Response to the God Who Speaks" is the title of chapter two of part one. "Man is called to enter into the Alliance with his God, Who listens to him and responds to his questions. To God Who speaks, man responds with the faith. The most suitable prayer is that made using the words which were revealed by God and are conserved and written in the Bible", said Archbishop Eterovic. Chapter three has as its title "The Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in the Church". The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops explained how "Sacred Scripture should be, as the Dogmatic Constitution 'Dei Verbum' says, 'the soul of sacred theology'. ... The biblical hermeneutics of Vatican Council II must be rediscovered, also in order to avoid a certain dualism evident in secularised interpretations which could give rise to a fundamentalist and spiritualist interpretation of Holy Scripture. Correct interpretation requires complementarity in a literal and spiritual sense, a harmony between faith and reason". This chapter also examines relations between Christians and Jews, noting that they enjoy "a very special relationship ... because they share a large part of the Scriptures". Part two of the document is entitled "Verbum in Ecclesia". Chapter one - "The Word of God and the Church" - underlines how it is thanks to the Word of God and the effect of the Sacraments "that Jesus remains contemporary to mankind in the life of the Church", said the archbishop. "The Liturgy, Privileged Setting for the Word of God" is the title of chapter two, in which the focus turns to "the vital link between Sacred Scripture and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist". The importance of the Lectionary is mentioned, as is that of the proclamation of the Word and the ministry of reader, with particular emphasis being laid on the preparation of the homily, a theme of great importance in this Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Chapter three of part two concerns "The Word of God in the Life of the Church" and highlights "the importance of biblical inspiration for pastoral activity, the biblical dimension of catechesis, the biblical formation of Christians, the use of Sacred Scripture in great ecclesial gahterings, and the Word of God in relation to vocations". Attention is also given to "lectio divina and Marian prayer", said the archbishop. Part three of the document published today has as its title "Verbum Mundo". It draws attention to "the duty of Christians to announce the Word of God in the world in which they live and work". Chapter one - "The Church's Mission to Proclaim the Word of God to the World" - explains how the Church "is oriented towards the announcement 'ad gentes', to people who do not yet know the Word, ... but also to those who have already been baptised ... but need new evangelisation in order to rediscover the Word of God". "The Word of God and Commitment to the World" is the title of chapter two, which recalls how "Christians are called to serve the Word of God in their most needy brothers and sisters and, hence, to commit themselves in society for reconciliation, justice and peace among peoples". Chapter three of part three is dedicated to "The Word of God and Culture". It expresses the hope "that the Bible may become better known in schools and universities and that better use may be made of the social communications media, exploiting all the modern possibilities of technology. The theme of the inculturation of Sacred Scripture is also linked to the translation and diffusion of the Bible, which must be increased", said Archbishop Eterovic. "The Word of God and Inter-religious Dialogue" is the title of chapter four. "Having established the value and topicality of inter-religious dialogue, 'Verbum Domini' ... supplies some important guidelines concerning dialogue between Christians and Muslims, and with members of other non-Christian religions, within the framework of a religious liberty which involves not only the freedom to profess one's faith in private and in public, but also freedom of conscience; in other words, of choosing one's religion". In the conclusion, Archbishop Eterovic concluded his explanations, the Holy Father reiterates his exhortation to all Christians "to become increasingly familiar with Sacred Scripture".EXOR/ VIS 20101111 (970)

VATICAN LIBRARY: HISTORICAL MEMORY OF UNIVERSAL CHURCH VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a Letter to Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, to mark the reopening of the Vatican Apostolic Library and the inauguration of an exhibition entitled: "Knowing the Vatican Library. A History Open to the Future". "Pre-eminent location of the universal Church's historical memory, home to venerable examples of the manuscript tradition of the Bible, the Vatican Library yet has another reason justifying the attention and concern of Popes. Since its origins it has always shown an unmistakeable openness, truly 'Catholic' and universal, to all the beauty and goodness ... which humankind has produced over the course of the centuries". "Nothing of what is truly human is foreign to the Church which, for this reason, has always sought, gathered and conserved - with a continuity that knows few equals - the finest results of man's efforts to raise himself above the purely material plane as he searches, either consciously or unconsciously, for the Truth". "The Vatican Library is not, then, a theological or prevalently religious library. Faithful to is humanistic origins it is, by vocation, open to all things human, and thus it is remains at the service of culture. ... Also through the efforts of this institution, the Church intends today - as she did five centuries ago - to serve all mankind, inscribing this particular ministry into the broader picture of the essential ministry that makes her Church: the community that evangelises and saves".MESS/ VIS 20101111 (260)

POPE WRITES TO KOREAN PRESIDENT FOR G20 MEETING VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Lee Myung-bak, president of The Republic of Korea, for the occasion of the meeting of heads of State and government of the world's most industrialised countries (G20), which begins today in Seoul. The meeting, writes the Pope in his English-language Letter, "is not only of global importance but also clearly expresses the significance and responsibility which Asia has acquired on the international scene at the beginning of the twenty-first century". "The Catholic Church, in accordance with her specific nature, regards herself as involved and shares the concerns of the leaders who will take part in the Seoul Summit. I therefore encourage you to tackle the numerous serious problems facing you - and which, in a sense, face every human person today - bearing in mind the deeper reasons for the economic and financial crisis and giving due consideration to the consequences of the measures adopted to overcome the crisis itself, and to seek lasting, sustainable and just solutions. "In doing so", the Holy Father adds, "it is my hope that there will be a keen awareness that the solutions adopted, as such, will work only if, in the final analysis, they are aimed at reaching the same goal: the authentic and integral development of man. The world's attention focuses on you and it expects that appropriate solutions will be adopted to overcome the crisis, with common agreements which will not favour some countries at the expense of others".MESS/ VIS 20101111 (270)

LETTER FROM THE HOLY FATHER TO THE PRESIDENT OF IRAN VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from Benedict XVI addressed to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Letter was delivered by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, during a meeting with President Ahmadinejad on 9 November in Tehran. In his Letter, written in response to a message sent to him by the vice president of Iran, the Pope expresses his "profound conviction that respect for the transcendent dimension of the human person is an indispensable condition for the construction of a just social order and a stable peace. Indeed, the relationship with God is the ultimate foundation for the inalienable dignity and sacred character of every human life. "When the promotion of the dignity of the human person is the primary inspiration of political and social activity that is committed to search for the common good, solid and enduring foundations are created for building peace and harmony between peoples", the Pope adds. "The Catholics present in Iran and those around the world make efforts to collaborate with their fellow citizens to contribute loyally and honestly to the common good of the respective societies in which they live, becoming builders of peace and reconciliation".BXVI-LETTER/ VIS 20101111 (220)

AUDIENCES VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences: - Thirteen prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit: - Bishop Volodemer Koubetch O.S.B.M. of Sao Joao Batista em Curitiba of the Ukrainians. - Bishop Antonio Braz Benevente of Jacarezinho. - Archbishop Anuar Battisti of Maringa. - Bishop Francisco Javier Del Valle Paredes of Campo Mourao. - Fr. Ilson Luiz Da Graca, diocesan administrator of Paranavai. - Bishop Sergio Aparecido Colombo of Braganca Paulista. - Msgr. Jose Dantas De Sousa, diocesan administrator of Umuarama. - Bishop Vicente Costa of Jundiai. - Archbishop Mauro Aparecido dos Santos of Cascavel. - Bishop Laurindo Guizzardi C.S., emeritus of Foz do Iguacu. - Bishop Jose Anonio Peruzzo of Palmas - Francisco Beltrao. - Bishop Francisco Carlos Bach of Toledo. - Bishop Giovanni Zerbini S.D.B., emeritus of Guarapuava. - Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany.AL/ VIS 20101111 (160)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Lourdes Daniel of Amravati, India, apostolic administrator of Nashik, India, as bishop of Nashik (area 57,532, population 21,020,000, Catholics 93,300, priests 105, religious 422).
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Asia News report: The Muslim scholar Asghar Ali Engineer accuses the blasphemy law of being un-Islamic and proposes an international campaign. He points his finger at the Pakistani government’s silence and that of many governments around the world. The All Indian Christian Council calls on New Delhi to submit the case to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Among the messages: "Silence is a second death sentence" for Asia Bibi. New Delhi (AsiaNews) - "We need to save Asia Bibi’s life", the Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy and this is why “it is urgent to launch a campaign sustained by human rights leaders and governments ... We must not remain silent ": this is the appeal that Prof. Asghar Ali Engineer, an Indian Muslim scholar launches through AsiaNews. Other messages sent to AsiaNews demand action by the international community to save Asia Bibi with a campaign similar to that launched to save the live of Sakineh, the Iranian woman who is on death row, convicted of adultery.Asia was sentenced to death last Nov. 7 by a court in Punjab. She was arrested for blasphemy in June 2009, after an argument with some of her colleagues in which she defended her religion. The other women, who are agricultural workers like Asia and her two daughters, were pushing her to renounce Christianity and embrace Islam. Asia Bibi replied by speaking about how Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind, and asked other women what Muhammad had done for them. The women then beat her and her daughters and egged on by the local imam and a group of men they accused her of blasphemy. The police took her into custody, saving her from a ferocious crowd. But after more than a year in prison she has been sentenced to death."In Pakistan, says the Prof. Asghar, it is becoming increasingly evident, as in the case of Aisa that blasphemy laws have become convenient instruments in the hands of anyone who chooses to target minorities. The Blasphemy Law, is un-Islamic and was introduced to legitimise dictator Gen Ziaul-Haq’s regime, and it makes little effort to ascribe to the evidentiary or doctrinal standards of classical Islamic law"."This shameful law - said the Muslim scholar, director of the Centre for Society and Secularism - are used with impunity against minority religious communities by those motivated by personal enmity, by those motivated by monetary material or political gain or even land grabbing Even indirect inferences are drawn and the accused is arrested under Blasphemy Law….there is nothing religious about".Asghar Ali Engineer's plea comes almost simultaneously with the condemnation of the ruling by the All India Christian Council (AICC). In a statement released yesterday by the Secretary-General, the Catholic John Dayal, AICC The Council asked the Indian government to raise the mater with the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Pakistani Government and with other international for a to save the life of the woman”.Prof. Asghar points his finger at the government: "The government of Pakistan - he tells AsiaNews - is responsible for ensuring the protection of minorities. We can only condemn these cruel acts against humanity. It must be said with sadness when the governments of many respectable nations remain silent, we can only condemn these acts. For this reason it is essential to start an international campaign to stop this. "Among the several messages that have arrived at AsiaNews there is one that says: "It is only natural to wonder where all those people are who until the other day claimed to be scandalized and offended by the shameful situation of Sakineh , and who now ignore (or pretend to ignore) yet another case of persecution and injustice to a person of Christian faith ... The silence and indifference of the world, including many Christians (now accustomed to the persecution of Christians in the world), is a second death sentence".
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Catholic Herald report: An Irishman who was promised by a judge that he would be spared time in prison if he undertook a religious pilgrimage and said “a few prayers” has completed the task and raised about £2,500 for charity in the process. Joseph McElwee had been convicted of drunken behavior and verbally abusing a police officer and faced a prison sentence. However, in March, Judge Seamus Hughes came up with a novel opportunity for McElwee to avoid prison time and ordered him to climb Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick in County Mayo.Mr McElwee reported to the court this week and showed the judge photographs of himself and 13 friends on top of the roughly 2,500ft mountain where St Patrick fasted for 40 days in the fifth century.At the time of his conviction, the judge said: “I want you to come back with evidence that you did the four stations of Croagh Patrick and say a few prayers. You then might have a different impression of County Mayo and its people.”The police officer whom Mr McElwee insulted grew up near the mountain.Mr McElwee told the judge he regretted what he had done and had managed to raise money for charity during the climb. The judge asked if he had found climbing the mountain therapeutic and Mr McElwee said he had.“I hope that when you come out of a pub in the beautiful village of Rathmullan in future, you take in a deep breath of fresh air from nearby Lough Swilly and you will appreciate that gardai are there for your own protection,” the judge said.Judge Hughes ordered half of the cash to be given to a local hospice and the other half donated to an adult mental health services program. He asked Mr McElwee to write a note to be included with the donations explaining the circumstances.While community service orders are common for less serious offences, it is believed to be the first time that an Irish judge has ordered someone to undertake a pilgrimage in lieu of a prison sentence. The judge’s initiative at keeping someone out of prison may prove popular with the cash-strapped Irish government, which is considering £5.1 billion in cuts to public spending.
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AGENZIA FIDES REPORT: The Church does not seek or demand privileges, but a juridical system that respects its mission; 90th Bishops' Assembly beginsMexico City (Agenzia Fides) – The 90th Plenary Assembly of the Mexican Bishops' Conference has begun. The opening ceremony was marked by an exchange of very significant messages. The presence of the constitutional President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, along with his wife, Margarita Zavala, has been of great significance, especially when he addressed the lack of security in the country as a result of corruption and extortion, drug trafficking and the increase in violence by organized crime.In the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, the President of the Bishops' Conference of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, in his opening speech presented elements of importance for all Mexican people. He said that society needs guarantees in the area of religious freedom and that the Church does not ask for privileges, but for a legal framework that respects the fulfillment of her mission. These are the words of Bishop Aguiar Retes: "A genuine democracy, one to which we aspire and which we want in Mexico, is one that guarantees basic human rights for all citizens. The Church does not seek or ask for privileges, but calls for a democratic legal framework for the development of a frank and positive cooperation in order to overcome social problems."After the speech, the President of Mexico, in "a cordial and open dialogue" (as written in the note from the Bishops' Conference), said that the government is taking integral action and is decided not to leave Mexicans in the hands of organized crime. The government is committed to the fight against crime and will carry out this fight with a well-trained police force and with the help of citizens in order to fight drug trafficking, strengthening the judicial system and by offering educational opportunities, employment, sports, and cultural opportunities to Mexicans, especially the youth. Finally, the President said it is very important that there is coordination among the different levels of government and society, in search of an ethical conscience in order to act with respect to others.
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ALL AFRICA REPORT: The Catholic nuns from the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood are mourning the loss of one of their nuns who will be buried today, November 9, 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya.CISA learned that, Sr Maria Pacis Voegel died on November 2, 2010 while undergoing treatment at the Mater Hospital in Nairobi where she was admitted on October 20, following a short illness.As her condition deteriorated she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where she succumbed in the late evening of her birthday in the presence of the hospital chaplain.Her requiem mass will be held at the St Austin's Parish at 2pm, followed by burial at St Austin's Cemetery. The mass will be presided over by Fr Eddie Karhof.Sr Maria Pacis was born on November 2, 1931 in Schwarzenberg (Voralberg) Austria. She made her first profession on December 8, 1959 and her final profession in 1962.After her studies in Neuenbeken, Germany, London and Rome she was sent to East African Province, Riruta, Kenya in 1973.She headed the congregation's schools in Kilungu, Kagwe and Riruta. She was the House Superior of the provincial convent in Riruta from 2002 to 2006.The late nun was then sent to Star of Hope Centre in Juja, where she was in charge of the convent and farm where she fell ill and was hospitalized.According to a sister who declined to be quoted, "the late nun was a very special person in the sister's congregation."According to those who knew her well, Education for Life was her motto as she prepared and guided hundreds of students through the Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE).According to the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, "Sr Maria Pacis life and vocation was a true gift to our congregation and in a special way to our East African Province. She used her God-given natural potential and talents to the fullest, courageously, accepting challenges and difficulties of whatever nature."
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Cath News report: The World Union of Catholic Women's Organisation's Vice President General and Australian board member, Brenda Finlayson, has been awarded the Papal Honour of Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.The award recognises her service to the Church, WUCWO, the Catholic Women's League Australia, the Catholic Women's League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga, and the Australian community.Brenda will be invested by Bishop Peter Connors at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat, this month.Founded in 1910, WUCWO now represents 100 Catholic women's organisations worldwide with a membership of more than 5 million women.WUCWO's aim is to promote the presence, participation and co-responsibility of Catholic women in society and the church, in order to enable them to fulfil their mission of evangelisation and to work for human development. WUCWO was the first international Catholic organisation to receive UN recognition as an NGO.In 2006, WUCWO was erected by the Holy See as a Public International Association of the Faithful.Brenda has served on the Board of WUCWO since 2001. Accompanying her husband, Peter, a retired agricultural scientist sometimes when he travelled to developing countries as well as postings to Spain, Brazil and later Hungary, after the fall of communism, led her to a deeper understanding of the importance of aid, "not just money but technical advice, education, and giving people the opportunity to better themselves".As WUCWO Vice President General, Brenda has been responsible for leading WUCWO's lobbyists in several key international agencies.Brenda says that although "the workload has been extremely demanding, I have been the recipient of many blessings, including the friendship of women from many other countries, the opportunity to meet with wonderful people in the countries visited in the course of my duties, and the interaction with senior Church personnel visited within the dicasteries of the Holy See."
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St. Martin of ToursBISHOP, CONFESSORFeast: November 11Information:Feast Day:November 11Born:316, Savaria, HungaryDied:November 8, 397, Candes, FrancePatron of:gainst poverty; against alcoholism; beggars; Beli Manastir; Buenos Aires; Burgenland; cavalry; Dieburg;

Edingen equestrians; Foiano della Chiana; France; geese; horses; hotel-keepers; innkeepers; Kortrijk; diocese of Mainz; Olpe; Pietrasanta; Pontifical Swiss Guards; quartermasters; reformed alcoholics; riders; diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart; soldiers; tailors; Utrecht; vintners; Virje; wine growers; wine makers; WissmannsdorfSt. Martin, called "the glory of Gaul," was born about the year 316 of pagan parents in Sabaria, Upper Pannonia, a province comprising northern Yugoslavia and western Hungary. His father was an officer in the Roman army who had risen from the ranks. While Martin was still a child, his father was transferred to a new station in Pavia, north Italy. Here the boy learned of Christianity, felt drawn to it, and became a catechumen. As the son of a veteran, at the age of fifteen he was required to begin service in the army. Though never shirking his military duty, he is said to have lived more like a monk than a soldier.Young Martin was stationed at Amiens, in Gaul, when the incident occurred which tradition and art have rendered so famous. As he rode towards the town one winter day, he noticed near the gates a poor man, thinly clad, shivering with cold, and begging alms. Martin saw that none who passed stopped to help the miserable fellow. He had nothing with him but the clothes he wore, but, drawing his sword from its scabbard, he cut his great woolen cloak in two pieces, gave one half to the beggar, and wrapped himself in the other. The following night,

the story continues, Martin in his sleep saw Jesus Christ, surrounded by angels, and dressed in the half of the cloak he had given away. A voice bade him look at it well and say whether he knew it. He then heard Jesus say to the angels, "Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak." Sulpicius Severus, the saint's friend and biographer, says that as a consequence of this vision Martin "flew to be baptized."When Martin was about twenty, some Teutonic tribes invaded Gaul, and with his comrades he went before the Emperor Julian to receive a war-bounty. Suddenly he was moved to refuse it. "Up to now," he said to Julian, "I have served you as a soldier; allow me henceforth to serve Christ. Give the bounty to these others who are going out to battle. I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight." Julian, angered, accused Martin of cowardice; the young man replied that he was ready to go into battle the next day unarmed, and advance alone against the enemy in the name of Christ. He was taken off to prison, but discharged as soon as a truce had been made. He then went down to Poitiers, where the renowned Hilary had been bishop for many years. Hilary gladly received this early "conscientious objector" and ordained him deacon.Having heard in a dream a summons to revisit his home, Martin crossed the Alps, and from Milan went over to Pannonia. There he converted his mother and some other persons; his father he could not win. While in Illyricum he took sides against the Arians with so much zeal that he was publicly scourged and forced to leave. Back in Italy once more, on his way to Gaul, he learned that the Gallic Church was also under attack by the Arians, and that his good friend Hilary had been banished. He remained at Milan, but soon the Arian bishop, Auxentius, drove him away. Martin took refuge with a priest on the island of Gallinaria, in the gulf of Genoa, and stayed there until Hilary returned to Poitiers in 360. It had become Martin's desire to pursue his religious calling in solitude, and Hilary gave him a small piece of land in central France, now called Liguge. He was joined by other hermits and holy men, and the community grew into a monastery, the first, it is said, to be founded in Gaul. It survived until 1607; in 1852 it was rebuilt by the Benedictines of Solesmes.For ten years Martin lived there, directing the life of his disciples and preaching in outlying places. Many miracles were attributed to him. About the year 371, Lidorius, bishop of Tours, died, and the people demanded Martin in his place. Martin was so reluctant to accept the office that they resorted to stratagem and called him to the city to give his blessing to a sick person, then forcibly conveyed him to the church. When neighboring bishops were summoned to confirm this choice, they thought the monk's poor and unkempt appearance proved him unfit for the office, but they were overruled by the acclamations of the local clergy and the people. Even as a bishop, Martin lived an austere life. Unable to endure the constant interruptions, he retired from Tours to a retreat that was later to become the famous abbey of Marmoutier. The site was enclosed by a steep cliff on one side and by a tributary of the Loire River on the other. Here Martin and some of the monks who followed him built cells of wood; others lived in caves dug out of the rock. In a short time their number grew, with many men of high rank among them. From this time on bishops were frequently chosen from Marmoutier, for the holy Martin took the greatest pains in the training of priests.Martin's piety and preaching resulted in the decline of paganism in that part of Gaul. He destroyed temples and felled trees which the heathen held sacred. Once when he had demolished a certain temple, he proceeded to the cutting down of a pine tree that stood near. The chief priest and other pagans there offered to cut it down themselves, on condition that he who trusted so strongly in his God would stand under it wherever they would place him. The bishop agreed and allowed himself to be tied and placed on the side towards which the tree was leaning. Just as it seemed about to fall on him, he made the sign of the cross, at which the tree fell in the other direction. Another time, as he was pulling down a temple in the vicinity of Autun, a crowd of pagans fell on him in fury, one brandishing a sword. Martin stood and bared his breast, at sight of which the armed man fell backwards, and in terror begged forgiveness. These marvels are narrated by Sulpicius Severus, who also describes various revelations and visions with which Martin was favored.Once a year the bishop visited each of his parishes, traveling on foot, or by donkey or boat. He continued to set up monastic communities, and extended the bounds of his episcopate from Touraine to such distant points as Chartres, Paris, Autun, and Vienne. At Vienne, according to his biographer, he cured Paulinus of Nola of a disease of the eyes. When a brutal imperial officer, Avitianus, arrived at Tours with a band of prisoners he planned to torture to death on the following day, Martin, on being informed of this, hurried in from Marmoutier to intercede for them. Reaching the city near midnight, he went straight to the quarters of Avitianus and did not leave until the officer promised mercy to his captives.The churches of other parts of Gaul and in Spain were being disturbed by the Priscillianists, an ascetic sect, named for its leader, Priscillian, bishop of Avila. A synod held at Bordeaux in 384 had condemned his doctrines, but he had appealed to Emperor Maximus. Meanwhile, Ithacius, the orthodox bishop of Ossanova, had attacked him and urged the emperor to have

him put to death. Neither Ambrose at Milan, however, nor Martin at Tours would hold communion with Ithacius or his supporters, because they had appealed to the emperor in a dispute over doctrine, and now were trying to punish a heretic with death. Martin wrote to reprove Ithacius severely. It was sufficient, he said, that Priscillian should be branded as a heretic and excommunicated by the bishops. Maximus, yielding to Martin's remonstrances, ordered the trial deferred and even promised that there should be no bloodshed, but afterwards he was persuaded to turn the case over to his prefect Evodius. He found Priscillian and some others guilty on several charges and had them beheaded. At this news, Martin went to Treves to intercede for the lives of all the Spanish Priscillianists who were threatened with a bloody persecution, and also for two men under suspicion as adherents of the late Emperor Gratian. As a condition before granting this request, Maximus stipulated that Martin should resume communion with the intolerant Ithacius and his party. Since they were not excommunicated, this was no violation of any canon, and he accordingly promised the emperor that he would do so, provided the emperor would pardon the two partisans of Gratian and recall the military tribunes he had sent to Spain. The next day Martin received the Sacrament with the Ithacians in order to save so many people from slaughter; yet he was afterwards troubled in conscience as to whether he had been too yielding. For their part in the affair both the emperor and Ithacius were censured by Pope Siricius. It was the first judicial death sentence for heresy, and it had the effect of spreading Priscillianism in Spain.Martin had premonitions of his approaching death and predicted it to his disciples, who besought him not to leave them. "Lord," he prayed, "if Thy people still need me, I will not draw back from the work. Thy will be done." When his final sickness came upon him, he was at Candes, in a remote part of his diocese. The monks entreated him to allow them at least to put a sheet under him and make his last hours comfortable. "It becomes not a Christian," said Martin, "to die otherwise than upon ashes. I shall have sinned if I leave you any other example." He lay with eyes and hands raised to Heaven, until the brothers begged him to turn on one side to rest his body a little. "Allow me, my brethren," he answered, "to look towards Heaven rather than to earth, that my soul may be ready to take its flight to the Lord."On November 8 he died, and three days later was buried at Tours. Two thousand monks and nuns gathered for his funeral. His successor built a chapel over his grave, which was replaced by a fine basilica. A still later church on this site was destroyed during the French Revolution, but a modern one has since been built there. Throughout the Middle Ages, the knightly Martin, who shared his cloak with a beggar, was the subject of innumerable anecdotes, which expressed the love and veneration of the people. His tomb became a national shrine in France, of which country he is patron saint, and one of the most popular pilgrimage places of Europe. St. Martin is patron of the cities of Wurtburg and Buenos Aires. Many churches in France and elsewhere have been dedicated to him. His emblems are a tree, armor, a cloak, and a beggar.
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TODAY'S GOSPEL: NOV. 11: Luke 17: 20 - 25
Luke 17: 20 - 2520Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;21nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."22And he said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it.23And they will say to you, `Lo, there!' or `Lo, here!' Do not go, do not follow them.24For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.25But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
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