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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: TUES. DEC. 14, 2010













CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: TUES. DEC. 14, 2010: HEADLINES-

VATICAN: POPE PLANS FOR CHRISTMAS

AMERICA: USA: POOR CHILDREN RECEIVE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

EUROPE: ENGLAND: NEW SERIES ON THE NATIVITY FOR BBC

AUSTRALIA: TOO MUCH SPENDING ON PRESENTS

AFRICA: SIERRA LEONE: BUS TO HELP CHILDREN

ASIA: INDIA: HELPING THE POOR AT CHRISTMAS

TODAY'S SAINT: DEC. 14: ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 14: Matthew 21: 28- 32


INITIATIVES OF THE HOLY FATHER OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD

VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORT) - The Holy See Press Office today announced two initiatives of the Holy Father over the Christmas period.

In the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall at 1 p.m. on Sunday 26 December, the Pope will offer luncheon to people assisted by the various Roman communities of the Missionaries of Charity, to mark the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday 5 January, eve of the Epiphany, the Holy Father will visit children in Rome's Gemelli hospital. He will bless a new centre for the care of children with spina bifida and participate in the distribution of presents to the young patients.

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MEDIA WORKERS: A NEW AWARENESS OF BEING CHRIST'S DISCIPLES

VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2010 (VIS) - On 12 December Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, sent a message for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to media workers in Latin America.

"The continental mission which is taking place in Latin America", Archbishop Celli writes, "is leading many people to a new awareness of what it means of be disciples of Jesus. The local churches enthusiastically encourage this undertaking, reminding people that being Christ's disciples means having experienced an authentic encounter with Him. ... This experience permanently marks and transforms life, and for this reason we wish to communicate it to others, thus becoming missionaries ourselves".

The meeting with the Lord, the prelate continues his message, "has many aspects. It is a personal but also a community experience; it comes about in solitude and silence, but also and especially in liturgical celebrations and family life. It draws nourishment from dialogue and community prayer, ... and culminates in activity and service".

The archbishop then goes on to invite people "to enjoy moments of silence during these days of Advent, so as to listen to the voice of Jesus which speaks to our hearts. ... Let us stem the flood of daily cares and noises which so often overwhelms us. Silence is like a white screen upon which we can project the film of our daily life so as to see it more clearly. If we projected it on a wall full of pictures, books and other objects, and with a background noise, we would perceive little. Only in silence can we make our choices with greater awareness. In silence we hear the voice of God, and thus become genuine bearers of His Word".

"This is, perhaps, difficult advice to follow at a time in which we are constantly bombarded with information, a time of pastoral needs and of hard work in our families, communications media and parishes. Yet, ... should we not also prepare the contents of what we are to communicate via radio, newspapers, television programmes and websites? What satisfying message can we give if our lives are full only of repeated words, with little substance and scarce content. Let us dedicate time to the Lord Whom we await in this period of Advent".

Archbishop Celli concludes his message by asking Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is also patron of RIIAL (The Information Network of the Church in Latin America) that "to obtain for us the gift of inner silence from God, ... that He may make our words, texts, images and music fruitful vehicles of the Good News".

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AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father received in audience a group of Japanese bishops.

AMERICA: USA: POOR CHILDREN RECEIVE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

CBN REPORT: A group of underprivileged children in Texas received an early Christmas surprise with the help of some of the players from the National Football League's Houston Texans.

Thirty children from the Houston YMCA Boys and Girls Club were delighted when they discovered the pro football players were personally taking them on a private shopping spree at the Academy Sports and Outdoors Store in Houston.

Each child was given a $100 gift card to purchase Christmas gifts of their choice.

"This is just a good time to spend with the kids, take them out and shop - you know - have fun with them," Texans cornerback Sherrick McManis said.

"Some of them are getting a little carried away," linebacker Isaiah Greenhouse said. "The good thing with girls is they know what they want."

"I'm about to start controlling them with the budget," he added. "Some of them are going a little bit overboard."

Most of the children also picked up a football as part of their purchases.

The Dec. 8 shopping spree was part of the "Shop with a Texan" event held each year by the store.

"Some of them might not get anything for Christmas," the YMCA's Ronald Polk said. "This might be the only thing, you know. It means a lot to the kids."

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2010/December/Underprivileged-Kids-Get-Early-Christmas-Surprise/

EUROPE: ENGLAND: NEW SERIES ON THE NATIVITY FOR BBC

IND CATH NEWS REPORT: A unique retelling of the nativity story will be screened by BBC One in four parts in the days leading up to Christmas. Written and executive produced by Tony Jordan (Life on Mars, Hustle, East Enders) and directed by Coky Giedroyc, the adaptation offers a fresh and revitalising depiction of events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Over the course of four half-hour episodes, three contrasting strands of plot are shown from a very human perspective. The enduring love story of Mary (played by Tatiana Maslany) and Joseph (Andrew Buchan) is at the centre of the drama. Their love and innocence contrasts well with the sophisticated star search and awe inspiring cosmic imagery that is associated with the three wise men. These Magi are in pursuit of the star shown on their astrological chart that fulfils the prophesy of Balaam and ultimately leads them to Jesus. The third strand is the story of the Shepherds, in particular that of a young shepherd Thomas who has endured much hardship and regains his faith in God as he kneels before the baby Jesus.

In a recent interview Tony Jordan explains the significance of the character of Thomas: “Everybody is there for a reason but the question still remains 'well what does this mean to me? Why is this important to a normal working bloke?' and Thomas is there to represent all of us”

Representing all of us is something that the series does very well. Through the realism of Mary and Joseph’s characterization, the ordinariness of their lives up to the point of the visit from Angel Gabriel, and the very human emotions shown throughout, the series is full of empathy and the result is something very moving, very real and relevant to modern life.

Throughout the programme, there is the description of Jesus as the “bridge” between heaven and earth. Mary and Joseph’s physical journey across a barren and dry landscape in extreme temperatures to find somewhere safe to have their baby, runs in concurrence with the vast cosmic imagery of the stars and planets as they move into alignment, and has a very powerful impact throughout the drama. The earthly and heavenly imagery come to meet at the moment where Christ has been born, and the result is something truly magical.

The Nativity will be broadcast on BBC1 in four episodes of 30 minutes each, from Monday 20th December to Thursday 23rd December. Each episode will start at 7pm. (This is the slot normally occupied by The ONE Show, which has an average audience of around five million viewers.)

The Church and Media Network has produced a small website with information about the series, ideas for how churches can use it and space for comments and reviews. You will find it at:http://www.nativitydrama.info

AUSTRALIA: TOO MUCH SPENDING ON PRESENTS

Cath News report: Some six million Australians received one or more presents at Christmas last year that they never used or later gave away, said a report in the Fairfax media's Wyndham Weekly from a new survey by the Australia Institute.

The institute's executive director, Richard Denniss, said unwanted presents represented a staggering $798 million waste of money, time and resources.

''The growing culture of obligatory giving only brings joy to the big retailers and the big banks whose credit cards are largely funding the annual splurge,'' he said.

The survey also found about one quarter of Australians expect to give presents to people they would prefer not to. And about a quarter of these reluctant givers were unable to pay their credit card in full each month.

''Around one million Australians are spending money they don't have to buy presents they'd rather not give,'' Dr Denniss said.

On a more positive note, nearly four in five respondents would be happy for a donation to be made to a charity on their behalf instead of getting a present.

http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=24533

AFRICA: SIERRA LEONE: BUS TO HELP CHILDREN

Agenzia Fides/ANS report- The Salesians in Freetown, through the NGO “Don Bosco Fambul”, have launched the “Don Bosco Mobile”, a bus that will serve to help street kids with emergency medical assistance, food, clothing, and educational activities. The service will provide assistance to kids on the street and in the most difficult areas of the city thanks also to the collaboration of social services professionals, members of the youth pastoral care, nurses and legal advocates for children. The bus has a variety of materials, first aid kits, tools for fun and games, and is also equipped for the screening of educational films. The implementation of the project will give children and young people at risk, access to health care and assistance, information on hygiene practices, and health, social and pastoral protection. Every day the vehicle will reach five areas of the city among those most disadvantaged: Susan's Bay, Cline Town, Mabella, Hagan Street, Guardia Street. The project has four phases: personal care, family care, pastoral work and networking with other institutions (police, hospitals and other organisations). The current plan of “Don Bosco Fambul”, moreover, already has a project in place for street kids with vocational training, youth centres, youth pastoral care services and support in difficult times.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2010

ASIA: INDIA: HELPING THE POOR AT CHRISTMAS

ASIA NEWS REPORT: The miracle of Christmas in Calcutta: AIDS patients who die in peace, people who come back into life, full of gratitude, and begin to serve those most in need of them. The model of Mother Teresa: "We were created for greater things, to love and be loved." Beauty shines even through suffering.

Kolkata (AsiaNews) - Brother Yesudas is a Missionary of Charity, the male branch of the order founded by Mother Teresa. He has worked for years in the "Shanti Bhavan (House of Peace") in Calcutta, where, along with other brothers and volunteers he cares for people suffering from AIDS and other serious diseases. This Christmas he has shared this reflection with us which we publish below . This Christmas 2010 is special for it is the centenary of the birth of Mother Teresa.

(With contributions from Nirmala Carvalho).

I continue to make my journey in life with the poor and suffering people around me. The year 2010 started with a beautiful reflection of Blessed Mother Teresa in preparation of the centenary of her birth; “We have been created for greater things, to love and to be loved.” We are all created for greater things!

In our life’s journey, surrounded with the poor and suffering people, “we all learn lots of profound wisdom”.

As the wrinkles appear on our faces in our life journey, we come to admit that our external contribution is totally dependent on the inner energies we generate, the spiritual strength we come to recognize within us. That is what Christmas is all about - it proclaims God is within us as He continues to do His wonders with us.

Our world today sees greater things as our progress of science, the technical advances, our great qualifications , electronic media, entertainment channels, and internet information etc. They are all admirable and amazing achievements of human beings. But in the midst of these admirable achievement we also have lost our innocence , we have lost something of our frankness.

Our true greatness does not make any claim to special qualities, abilities or importance. In true greatness there is simple beauty and transparency of loving and being loved. It is a love that brings life and a life that is ready to die in love. Christmas is a story of love that gives life and a life that is ready to die in love.

For us here in Shanti Bhavan the year has been a discovery of greater things. We have improved our facilities for HIV/AIDS patients and we are in touch with death and life. We accompanied Mr.Omesh Oram with recurrent cryptococcal meningitis for 6 months. Omesh was a silent sufferer fighting for life, and medicine from Luxemburg and Germany did not save him. We accompanied him to the last moment of his journey here on earth. We still continue to walk with his suffering wife and children. Our service is a little communion in love with this family.

We also walked with Mr.Sanjib Saha for two months. He lived on the street. He came to us with advanced HIV infections of tuberculosis in its worse manifestations .He was also struck with most painful and aggressive types of tumours on his gum which was continually bleeding .In the midst of all his suffering he was happy and grateful for the shelter and care we offered. As I watched his death, I saw his eyes were opened and he looked at us with great thankfulness .

A few weeks ago I took Mrs.Mamata Banarjee from the Tropical School of Medicine to our Sisters’ home for the women who are suffering from HIV/AIDS . She was 45 years old and weighed only 22 kilos. In the terminal stage of her illness, bed ridden with dissemination of infections of tuberculosis, viral and fungal infections, her face was filled with the shadow of distress and the inner anguish was strangling her slowly. She was not able to utter a word but looked at us with hope. The sister with great care bathed her and spoke to her in her broken Bengali. The voice of the sister was a great consolation for Mamata. The next day her face was more radiant and with her soft voice she could say to me;“I am feeling better”.

The other side of our journey here is to contemplate the beauty of people who were once upon a time very sick and dying, now helping others who need care and attention. Ashram, Kanai, and Robi are a part of this apostolate here in Tengra. They are always there to help others in their needs. They are so grateful for the support and care which they have received from the Brothers and they want to give their lives in the service of others who are in need. It is also so enriching to contemplate the growing communion in the families of Mr.Dilip, Mr.Silender Nath Mete, Biswajit and others who have come to life and returned to their jobs. From their broken heart flows a joy of communion .

I see every day Mr. Hemanto Mukarjee drag himself towards the little garden in front of our house to water the plants. He suffers from AIDS associated arthropathy and in the midst of acute pain in his knees, elbows and shoulders, he wants to feel useful and creative. When I see the little flowers open out to the sunshine in the morning , I meditate on the beauty God has made through the creative power of Hemanto. Beyond pain we are called to discover the joy and power of love. Each of those flowers in the little garden proclaims the love and goodness of Hemanto. In my contemplation I see this goodness spreading out to each Brother and to every one who lives here.

In our participation in the goodness of people, we become more compassionate and radiate the warmth of God who was born at Christmas .Let your celebration of Christmas and New Year be a participation in the goodness of people who are least in your family and community.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-joy-of-Christmas-also-shines-through-suffering-20243.html

TODAY'S SAINT: DEC. 14: ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

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, being forty-nine years old, of which he had spent twenty-eight in a religious state. Almighty God exalted him after his death by several miracles; amongst which the cure of a nun of the Annunciation, at Neuf-Chateau, in Lorrain, struck with a palsy, in 1705, effected on the ninth day of a Novena of devotion to this saint, was juridically proved in the court of the Bishop of Toul. St. John was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726, and his office in the Roman Breviary was appointed on this 24th of November. His body remains at Segovia. A history of his revelations and many miracles, with an exact account of his writings, and mystical theology may be read in his life by F. Dositheus of Alexis.

source http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjohnofthecross.asp

TODAY'S GOSPEL: DEC. 14: Matthew 21: 28- 32

Matthew 21: 28 - 32
28"What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'
29And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he repented and went.
30And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,' but did not go.
31Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.
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