DONATE TO JCE NEWS

Friday, November 11, 2011

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. NOV. 11, 2011










VATICAN: POPE : VOLUNTEERS - VOCATION TO LOVE

EUROPE: GERMANY : ST. MARTIN'S DAY CELEBRATED BY A NATION

AFRICA: LIBERIA : MISSIONARY PRIEST SPEAKS ON ELECTION

ASIA: PAKISTAN : NUNCIO BLESSES NEW CHURCH - HOLDS 5000

AMERICA: POPE PRESENTED WITH NEW MISSAL

AUSTRALIA : OFFICIAL OPENING OF SEMINARY MGL

TODAY'S SAINT: NOV. 11: ST. MARTIN OF TOURS

TODAY'S GOSPEL: NOV. 11: LUKE 17: 26 - 37


VOLUNTEER WORK: A REASON FOR CONFIDENCE IN A TIME OF CRISIS

VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2011 (VIS REPORT) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received bishops with pastoral responsibility for charitable work and representatives of European charity organisations. They are currently participating in a meeting promoted by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" in the context of the European Year of Volunteering. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

Below is the full text of the Holy Father’s remarks:

Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to greet you as you meet under the auspices of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” in this European Year of Volunteering.

Let me begin by thanking Cardinal Robert Sarah for the kind words he has addressed to me on your behalf. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to you and, by extension, to the millions of Catholic volunteers who contribute, regularly and generously, to the Church’s charitable mission throughout the world. At the present time, marked as it is by crisis and uncertainty, your commitment is a reason for confidence, since it shows that goodness exists and that it is growing in our midst. The faith of all Catholics is surely strengthened when they see the good that is being done in the name of Christ (cf. Philem 6).

For Christians, volunteer work is not merely an expression of good will. It is based on a personal experience of Christ. He was the first to serve humanity, he freely gave his life for the good of all. That gift was not based on our merits. From this we learn that God gives us himself. More than that: Deus Caritas est – God is love, to quote a phrase from the First Letter of Saint John (4:8) which I employed as the title of my first Encyclical Letter. The experience of God’s generous love challenges us and liberates us to adopt the same attitude towards our brothers and sisters: “You received with paying, give without pay” (Mt 10:8). We experience this especially in the Eucharist when the Son of God, in the breaking of bread, brings together the vertical dimension of his divine gift with the horizontal dimension of our service to our brothers and sisters.

Christ’s grace helps us to discover within ourselves a human desire for solidarity and a fundamental vocation to love. His grace perfects, strengthens and elevates that vocation and enables us to serve others without reward, satisfaction or any recompense. Here we see something of the grandeur of our human calling: to serve others with the same freedom and generosity which characterizes God himself. We also become visible instruments of his love in a world that still profoundly yearns for that love amid the poverty, loneliness, marginalization and ignorance that we see all around us.

Of course, Catholic volunteer work cannot respond to all these needs, but that does not discourage us. Nor should we let ourselves be seduced by ideologies that want to change the world according to a purely human vision. The little that we manage to do to relieve human needs can be seen as a good seed that will grow and bear much fruit; it is a sign of Christ’s presence and love which, like the tree in the Gospel, grows to give shelter, protection and strength to all who require it.

This is the nature of the witness which you, in all humility and conviction, offer to civil society. While it is the duty of public authority to acknowledge and to appreciate this contribution without distorting it, your role as Christians is to take an active part in the life of society, seeking to make it ever more humane, ever more marked by authentic freedom, justice and solidarity.

Our meeting today takes place on the liturgical memorial of Saint Martin of Tours. Often portrayed sharing his mantle with a poor man, Martin became a model of charity throughout Europe and indeed the whole world. Nowadays, volunteer work as a service of charity has become a universally recognized element of our modern culture. Nonetheless, its origins can still be seen in the particularly Christian concern for safeguarding, without discrimination, the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. If these spiritual roots are denied or obscured and the criteria of our collaboration become purely utilitarian, what is most distinctive about the service you provide risks being lost, to the detriment of society as a whole.

Dear friends, I would like to conclude by encouraging young people to discover in volunteer work a way to grow in the self-giving love which gives life its deepest meaning. Young people readily react to the call of love. Let us help them to hear Christ who makes his call felt in their hearts and draws them closer to himself. We must not be afraid to set before them a radical and life-changing challenge, helping them to learn that our hearts are made to love and be loved. It is in self-giving that we come to live life in all its fullness.

With these sentiments, I renew my gratitude to all of you and to all those whom you represent. I ask God to watch over your many works of service and to make them ever more spiritually fruitful, for the good of the Church and of the whole world. To you and your associates I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

- Cardinal Velasio De Paolis C.S., president emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

AP/ VIS 20111111 (50)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Janusz Stepnowski of the clergy of Lomza, Poland, bureau chief of the Congregation for Bishops, as bishop of Lomza (area 11,500, population 554,433, Catholics 548,548, priests 497, religious 183). The bishop-elect was born in Ostroleka, Poland in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1985. He studied in Spain, then in Italy where he also worked in pastoral care in the diocese of Terni. In Rome, apart from his service at the Congregation for Bishops, he has worked for the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and as chaplain at the Convent of the Daughters of the Presentation. He succeeds Bishop Stanislaw Stefanek, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, auxiliary of Lisbon,Portugal, as delegate of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

NER:RE:NA/ VIS 20111111 (160)

EUROPE: GERMANY : ST. MARTIN'S DAY CELEBRATED BY A NATION

Hamburg children with their lanterns. Photo: DPA

Celebrating St. Martin's Day in Germany


THELOCAL REPORT: Each November 11, Germans celebrate St. Martin's Day. But what exactly are we celebrating and why are there kids with paper lanterns in the streets? The Local has the lowdown.

What exactly are we celebrating?

Martinstag is named after St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became a monk after being baptised as an adult. He eventually obtained sainthood from the Catholic Church for being a kind man who cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm.

What do the lanterns mean?

In many parts of Germany it is traditional for children to participate in a procession of paper lanterns in remembrance of St. Martin. They make their own little lanterns in school or kindergarten and then gather on city streets to sing songs about good old Marty and their lanterns. Often a man dressed as St. Martin with a long red cloak leads the parade on horseback.

So this is actually a big deal then?

It's officially a Catholic holiday, but in recent years the lantern processions have become widespread even in Protestant areas of Germany. So just like Santa Claus has little to do with the birth of Christ, these days St. Martin Day's is probably better known for the luminous procession than the saintly history.

So what do I do on St. Martin’s Day?

If you have kids, you’ll probably spend the evening outside with a bunch of other parents and their children. You’ll be busy frenetically relighting the tea candles in those fiddly little lanterns with cold, stiff fingers and drying tears because, as upsetting it is for the kids, paper lanterns lit by candles tend to catch fire quite quickly. Who would have thought...

Heavens! That sounds dangerous.

Well, definitely worrying for the parents, forced to prevent their little ones from accidentally setting each other on fire during the procession.

But on the other hand, it wouldn’t really be a proper St. Martin’s procession without someone stamping out a flaming lantern, or a sad-faced child clutching to a charred stick.

What do I do if I don’t have children? Is there anything else to it?

Like most holidays, St. Martin's Day is also about eating food. The traditional victuals are goose with red cabbage and dumplings.

Yummy! But why goose?

According to legend, Martin was reluctant to become a bishop as an honour for all his good deeds, so he hid in a stable filled with geese to escape from Church officials. Martin might have been a very kind and gentle man, but he apparently wasn’t the smartest. Otherwise he would have considered a better hiding place than a pen filled with gabbling geese - who ended up giving away his location.

And the geese had to pay for that?

Perhaps, but the more likely reason is that November 11 is the beginning of Advent fasting and hardcore Catholics get a last chance to feast before they abstain from greasy food and booze until Christmas.

And if I am not Catholic, don’t like goose and have no children?

Then you might want to huddle around one of the many Martin bonfires, eat something else or simply celebrate the beginning of carnival, as it starts on November 11 as well.

Kerstin von Glowacki (news@thelocal.de)

ASIA: PAKISTAN : NUNCIO BLESSES NEW CHURCH - HOLDS 5000

UCAN REPORT: St Peter's in Karachi took 11 months to build and holds 5,000 people
Ayyaz Gulzar, Karachi
Pakistan
November 11, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Nuncio blesses country’s largest church
St Peter's Catholic Church in Karachi

The apostolic nuncio to Pakistan Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra has blessed what is now the largest Catholic church in the country.

Thousands of Catholics showered the nuncio and Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi with rose petals on Wednesday as they drew up in a horse and cart at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in the southern port city.

“It is a sign of our growing faith and was a great challenge to make a structure which can hold so many people,” said Archbishop Pinto, urging parishioners to serve the Church with greater responsibility.

Archbishop Parra also shared a message from Pope Benedict XVI on the “abundance of divine mercy.”

Mass was concelebrated by 37 priests from around the country.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi, with a seating capacity of 2,000, used to be the biggest Catholic church in the country.

However, St. Peter’s Church, which only took 11 months to complete, covers an area of 1,858 square meters and can seat 5,000 people.

It stands over 24 meters in height and each of its stained-glass windows bears Catholic symbols.

Funding for the project came from various sources including the Pontifical Mission Societies, Missio, Rothenberg diocese in Germany and the Italian Bishop’s Conference.

Archbishop Pena Parra also blessed the Chapel of Perpetual adoration, a glass chamber in one corner which will be available for prayers round the clock.

“The 24 hour chapel service is being introduced in Catholic churches around the country”, said Father Mario Rodrigues, assistant priest in St. Paul’s parish.

Related reports:

More churches accommodate faithful
Colony to get church at last

http://www.ucanews.com/2011/11/11/check-nuncio-blesses-countrys-largest-church/

AMERICA: POPE PRESENTED WITH NEW MISSAL


Photo_1(CCCB REPORT -Ottawa)…
During a private audience on 7 November 2011 with Pope Benedict XVI, the Presidency of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) presented the Holy Father with a specially bound edition of the first printed copy of the revised Canadian English-language edition of the Roman Missal. The special copy included a dedication to the Holy Father. As well, the President of the Conference, the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton, gave the Holy Father a copy of the book marking the opening earlier this year of the new building housing Saint Joseph Seminary in Edmonton. Also published by the CCCB Publications Service, this is the first volume in a series titled Lieux sacrés / A Geography of Faith. During the audience, the Holy Father blessed a number of rosaries which the CCCB President and General Secretary will later bring back to Canada as gifts.

Photo_2The revised CCCB English-language edition of the Missal was officially launched on 17 October during the CCCB Plenary Assembly. On that occasion, the second printed copy of the Missal was presented to the Most Reverend Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada.

All English-language celebrations of the Mass following the Roman Rite inCanada are obliged to use the revised CCCB edition of the Missal as of the First Sunday of Advent, 27 November. The same day, all Eucharistic celebrations across Canada using the Roman Rite are also required to follow the revised liturgical norms in the General Instruction of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, as approved by the Holy See and the Bishops of Canada, unless the celebration follows the “extraordinary form” of the Latin Mass from the 1962 Roman Missal.

Photo_3During their audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the CCCB President Archbishop Smith and Vice President Archbishop-electPaul-André Durocher of Gatineau, together with General Secretary Msgr. Patrick Powers, P.H., discussed with Pope Benedict XVI the major pastoral orientations and also the challenges facing the Conference and the Church in Canada.

The CCCB delegation continues its visits in Rome with the major offices of the Holy See until 18 November.

Credit: Servizio Fotografico, Osservatore Romano

http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/3208-cccb-president-presents-canadian-edition-of-roman-missal-to-the-holy-father

AUSTRALIA : OFFICIAL OPENING OF SEMINARY MGL

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT:
PrintE-mail

MGL seminary openingTuesday 8 November 2011

By Fiona Power

Archbishop Denis Hart officially opened and blessed the Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Melbourne seminary at St Benedict's parish, Burwood on Saturday 5 November.

MGL priests, sisters, brothers and seminarians joined Archbishop Hart and a crowd of over 200 people, including diocesan and Order priests, parishioners and supporters, for the service outside the recently completed seminary building on Warragal Road.

View gallery

Archbishop Denis Hart said he had fully supported the building of the seminary, and prayed it would serve as a place of worship, study, formation and energy for the apostolate.

MGL opening"For any diocese or religious order the seminary is at the heart of what we are doing," he said. "I am truly pleased that the MGL Seminary is here in Melbourne."

Archbishop Hart said his support for the seminary and the MGL presence in Burwood was the result of the MGL witness and commitment to outreach in the parish, diocese and beyond.

"The true missionary of God’s love is one touched by the love of God, filled with his Spirit and ready to see the humblest service as an expression of that love," he said. "Yet it must also be remembered that this service is missionary and dynamic. The particular genius which we find in the Missionaries of God’s Love is to try and capture that dynamism and make it alive in the world of today. That is why I wanted the Missionaries to come and be in Burwood parish and to have their seminary here. The ripples of what comes from that love are shown so powerfully in the Sunday evening Mass. They reach into our Catholic Theological College and they do so because here are young men touched by the love of Christ, open to his transforming power and generous and unreserved in the way they respond to it."MGL seminary opening

Moderator of the MGL, Fr Ken Barker expressed his gratitude to Archbishop Hart for his enthusiastic support, and to the Archdiocese of Melbourne, St Benedict's parishioners and the wider community for the remarkable prayer and financial commitment.

"We have been blown away by the generosity of the people of St Benedict's and beyond," he said. "This shows the generous heart of Catholic people who want to see priests in the future."MGL seminary opening

Fr Ken said the opening of the seminary building was a far cry from their beginnings in Melbourne in 1990, and symbolised a new stage in stability and formation for the MGLs, as well as providing much needed accommodation for the expanding numbers of seminarians.

"It is my hope that the seminary will be a place MGL seminary openingof deep prayer life and deep brotherhood that can bring forward a life of mission," he said. "What we are doing here is very much in the heart of the Church."

Fr Ken said he was greatly indebted to Frs Steve Fletcher and Chris Ryan MGL for their work and skill in developing and overseeing the seminary project, builders Sam Broccio and the Stockwood Building Group, architect Denis Wilkes and designer Rowan Adams. He also paid tribute to the late Fr Bill Durkin, who first invited the MGL to the St Benedict's parish when he was parish priest.

Fr Ken expressed his gratitude to the young men who offer their lives as MGL - and to God for his provision.

Archbishop Hart blessed the seminary, accompanied by Fr Chris, Fr Ken, Melanie Edwards MGL, parishioners John Henriks, Tom and Robyn Fahy and business manager of the Archdiocese of Melbourne Francis Moore.

"My prayer as we open this new house of study is that those who enter its doors will never forget the transforming power of Christ," he said. "God’s love is always dynamic and is only restricted if we limit our response to his infinite, limitless, lasting love, which we receive with wonder and pass on with awe."

Br Chris Eaton MGL concluded events, expressing thanks on behalf of the MGL, to God and all who have supported the building project.

MGL Brothers Nihal D'Silva and David Lemewu led the music.

Following the ceremony, MGL Brothers led tours of the building. Morning tea was provided in the St Benedict's parish hall.

St Benedict's parish, Burwood is under the care of the MGL, a consecrated group of priests, brothers and sisters, founded by Fr Ken Barker in Canberra in 1986. As well as working with the poor and marginalised, the MGLs have a particular calling to youth ministry.

MGL seminarians currently live in the existing seminary building and presbytery on Warrigal road and a rented house nearby.

The MGL seminary will provide residential accommodation, office space, a chapel, library, seminar room, computer lab and gym. The young men who sense a call to priesthood with the MGL are searching for a place where there is true poverty, a genuine spirit of docility to the Magisterium, a love for Eucharistic adoration and strong commitment to evangelisation.

Donations to the MGL Seminary Building Appeal can be sent to 6 Boake Place, Garran, ACT, 2605 or made online donation at http://www.givenow.com.au/mglseminary. (All donations over $2 are tax deductable).

Photo 1 by Robyn Fahy

Photos 3 and 4 by Matthew Price

Photo 2,5 and gallery by John Casamento

Read Archbishop Hart's homily at the opening

http://www.cam.org.au/melbourne-news/official-opening-of-mgl-melbourne-seminary.html

AFRICA: LIBERIA : MISSIONARY PRIEST SPEAKS ON ELECTION

Agenzia Fides REPORT - "Even the international media, wonders what credibility an election has in which only 37% of the voters voted", says to Fides Fr. Mauro Armanino, of the Society of African Missions (SAM), who lived in Liberia for several years, where the outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the presidential ballot, however, boycotted by the other contender Winston Tubman, who had urged voters not to vote for alleged fraud committed in the first round (see Fides 8 and 9/11/2011).
The choice carried out by Sirleaf to seek Prince Jonhnson’s vote to win the second round was criticized by many. Jonhnson was until 1989 Charles Taylor’s former ally (who now is on trial for his involvement in war crimes in the neighboring Sierra Leone), when he was the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). In 1990 Jonhnson created his militia, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), which during the civil war, conquered the capital Monrovia. Jonhnson is accused of having personally witnessed the killing of former President Samuel Doe by his subordinates in September 1990.
Jonhnson, who presented himself in the first round of presidential elections, then decided to support Sirleaf in the second round. Both Sirleaf and Jonhnson were included in the list of 50 people involved in the civil war, who according to the recommendations of the final report of the 2009 "Truth and Reconciliation Commission", should not take political positions for the next 30 years. The "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" was created under the peace agreements of 2003 which put an end to civil war.
"How can we unite the country by relying on a person like Jonhnson" asks Fr. Armanino. "There was only a political calculation to get the votes of the Nimba County, where Jonhnson comes from. This county is important because it is the most populated and was a source of instability in the past. Sirleaf wants to 'recover' this County to unite the Country. But as I said before (see Fides 08/11/2011), these elections will divide the Country. If we want to unite the country - continues the missionary – it is necessary not to play at an ethnic level but at a political level, starting from the poor, and this was not done in any way in these years, except indirectly, by ensuring that minimum stability needed to implement any development project".
"The fact that there is no shooting is remarkable, but the price of all this is the uninterrupted presence since 2003 of thousands of foreign troops, first in West Africa and then the UN. A presence that continues due to the instability in the neighboring Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea Conakry. Being a democracy that needs 12-13 thousand peacekeepers in a Country that has 4 million inhabitants, is one thing that makes you think", concludes Father Armanino. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2011)

TODAY'S SAINT: NOV. 11: ST. MARTIN OF TOURS



St. Martin of Tours
BISHOP, CONFESSOR
Feast: November 11
Information:
Feast Day:
November 11
Born:
316, Savaria, Hungary
Died:
November 8, 397, Candes, France
Patron 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; Wissmannsdorf

St. 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.

TODAY'S GOSPEL: NOV. 11: LUKE 17: 26 - 37

Luke 17: 26 - 37
26As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man.27They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28Likewise as it was in the days of Lot -- they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built,29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all --30so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.31On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back.32Remember Lot's wife.33Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.34I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.35There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left."37And they said to him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."

Post a Comment