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Monday, January 2, 2012

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : MON. JAN. 2, 2012


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VATICAN : POPE : FAMILIES STRENGTHEN FAITH AND OTHER NEWS
ASIA : ISRAEL - PALESTINE MEETING FOR PEACE
AUSTRALIA : NOTRE DAME GRADUATION MASS WITH CARDINAL
EUROPE : CHARLIE SHEEN HELPS FUND RELIGIOUS FILM
AFRICA : NIGERIA : BISHOPS CALL FOR END TO VIOLENCE OF SECT
AMERICA : VENEZUELA : APPEAL FOR PEACE WITH MASS
TODAY'S MASS AND GOSPEL ONLINE : MON. JAN. 2, 2012
TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 2 : ST. BASIL THE GREAT
TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 2 : ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN
 
VATICAN : POPE : FAMILIES STRENGTHEN FAITH AND OTHER NEWS
POPE TO FAMILIES: STRENGTHEN THE FAITH IN YOUR HOMES
VATICAN CITY, 31 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a message to Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, for the Feast of the Holy Family. The message, dated 27 December, was read out yesterday at the beginning of a Mass for families celebrated by Cardinal Rouco Varela in Madrid's Plaza de Colon. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

"I invite everyone to consider this celebration as a continuation of Christmas", the Pope writes. "Jesus became man in order to bring the world the goodness and love of God, and He did so in that place where human beings are most disposed to want the best for others, ready to do anything for them and to place love above all other interests. ... The family is, so to speak, the door by which the Saviour of humankind entered the world. At the same time it gives domestic love and communion the greatness of being a special reflection of the Trinitarian mystery of God.

"This greatness is also a splendid and decisive vocation for families", the Holy Father adds. "I encourage you ... to be aware that God is at your side and to invoke Him always so as to ensure He gives you the help you need to overcome your difficulties; this help is certain and has its foundation in the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage. Allow yourselves to be guided by the Church, which Christ entrusted with the mission of spreading the good news of salvation down the centuries, and do not surrender to the many worldly powers threatening the great treasure of the family, which you must protect day after day".

"It is in the family that we learn to live together, that faith is transmitted, values are strengthened and freedom is channelled to ensure that one day children will be fully aware of their own vocation and dignity, and that of others. The warmth of the home and domestic example can teach much more than words can say. This educational dimension of the family may receive particular encouragement in the Year of Faith, due to begin in a few months time. For this reason, I invite you to revitalise the faith in your homes and to become increasingly aware of the Creed we profess".

"I pray to God ... that (young people) may not cease to thank Him for the gift of the family, that they may be grateful to their parents and undertake to defend and promote the authentic dignity of this institution, so vital for society and the Church".
MESS/ VIS 20120102 (440)

TE DEUM: ENTRUST TRAGEDIES AND HOPES OF THE WORLD TO GOD

VATICAN CITY, 31 DEC 2011 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. today, the Pope presided at first Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This was followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the year, and the Eucharistic blessing.

Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below:

"Another year is drawing to a close, as we await the start of a new one: with some trepidation, with our perennial desires and expectations. Reflecting on our life experience, we are continually astonished by how ultimately short and ephemeral life is. So we often find ourselves asking: what meaning can we give to our days? What meaning, in particular, can we give to the days of toil and grief? This is a question that ... runs through the heart of every generation and every individual. But there is an answer: it is written on the face of a Child Who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, and is today the Living One, risen for ever from the dead. From within the fabric of humanity, rent asunder by so much injustice, wickedness and violence, there bursts forth in an unforeseen way the joyful and liberating novelty of Christ our Saviour, Who leads us to contemplate the goodness and tenderness of God through the mystery of His Incarnation and Birth".

"Since the Day of the Lord's Nativity, the fullness of time has reached us. So there is no more room for anxiety in the face of time that passes, never to return; now there is room for unlimited trust in God, by Whom we know we are loved. ... Since the Saviour came down from heaven, man has ceased to be the slave of time that passes to no avail, marked by toil, sadness and pain. Man is son of a God Who has entered time so as to redeem it from meaninglessness and negativity, a God Who has redeemed all humanity, giving it everlasting love as a new perspective of life.

"The Church lives and professes this truth and intends to proclaim it today with fresh spiritual vigour. ... Christ's disciples are called to reawaken in themselves and in others the longing for God and the joy of living Him and bearing witness to Him. ... We must give primacy to truth, seeing the combination of faith and reason as two wings with which the human spirit can rise to the contemplation of the Truth; we must ensure that the dialogue between Christianity and modern culture bears fruit; we must see to it that the beauty and contemporary relevance of the faith is rediscovered, ... as a constant orientation, affecting even the simplest choices, establishing a profound unity within the person, so that he becomes just, hard-working, generous and good. What is needed is to give new life to a faith that can serve as a basis for a new humanism, one that is able to generate culture and social commitment".

"To proclaim faith in the Word made flesh is ... at the heart of the Church's mission, and the entire ecclesial community needs to rediscover this indispensable task with renewed missionary zeal. Young generations have an especially keen sense of the present disorientation, magnified by the crisis in economic affairs which is also a crisis of values, and so they in particular need to recognise in Jesus Christ 'the key, the centre and the purpose of the whole of human history'".

"Ever since God sent His only-begotten Son, so that we might obtain adoptive sonship, we can have no greater task than to be totally at the service of God's plan".

"'Te Deum laudamus!' We praise you, O God! The Church suggests that we should not end the year without expressing our thanks to the Lord for all His benefits. It is in God that our last hour must come to a close, the last hour of time and history. To overlook this goal of our lives would be to fall into the void, to live without meaning. Hence the Church places on our lips the ancient hymn 'Te Deum'. It is a hymn filled with the wisdom of many Christian generations, who feel the need to address on high their heart's desires, knowing that all of us are in the Lord's merciful hands".

"With hearts full of thanksgiving, let us prepare to cross the threshold of 2012, remembering that the Lord is watching over us and guarding us. To Him this evening we wish to entrust the whole world. Let us place in His hands the tragedies of this world and let us also offer Him our hopes for a brighter future".
HML/ VIS 20120102 (810)

IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE IN JUSTICE AND PEACE

VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2012 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this morning, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States; Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and Bishop Mario Toso S.D.B., secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The ceremony also marked today's forty-fifth World Day of Peace, which has as its theme: "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace".

Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below:

"On the first day of the year, the liturgy resounds in the Church throughout the world with the ancient priestly blessing that we heard during today's first reading: 'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace'. ... In order to be blessed, we have to stand in God's presence, take His Name upon us and remain ... in a space lit up by His gaze, diffusing grace and peace".

"The shepherds of Bethlehem had ... the experience of standing in God's presence, they received His blessing ... in a stable, before a 'babe lying in a manger'. From this child, a new light issues forth, shining in the darkness of the night. ... Henceforth, it is from Him that blessing comes, from His name - Jesus, meaning 'God saves' - and from His human face, in which God, the almighty Lord of heaven and earth, chose to become incarnate, concealing His glory under the veil of our flesh, so as to reveal fully to us His goodness.

"The first to be swept up by this blessing was Mary the virgin. ... Her whole life was spent in the light of the Lord, within the radius of His name and of the face of God incarnate in Jesus, the 'blessed fruit of her womb'. ... The mystery of her divine motherhood that we celebrate today contains in superabundant measure the gift of grace that all human motherhood bears within it. ... The Mother of God is the first of the blessed, and it is she who bears the blessing; she is the woman who received Jesus into herself and brought Him forth for the whole human family".

"Mary is the mother and model of the Church. ... The Church also participates in the mystery of divine motherhood, through preaching, which sows the seed of the Gospel throughout the world, and through the Sacraments, which communicate grace and divine life to men. ... Like Mary, the Church is the mediator of God's blessing for the world: she receives it in receiving Jesus and she transmits it in bearing Jesus. He is the mercy and the peace that the world, of itself, cannot give, and which it needs always, at least as much as bread".

Jesus Christ, the path of peace

"The Church too, on the first day of the year, invokes this supreme good in a special way; she does so, like the Virgin Mary, by revealing Jesus to all, for as St. Paul says, 'He is our peace', and at the same time the 'way' by which individuals and peoples can reach this goal to which we all aspire".

"'Educating Young People in Justice and Peace' is a task for every generation, and thanks be to God, after the tragedies of the two great world wars, the human family has shown increasing awareness of it, as we can witness, on the one hand, from international statements and initiatives, and on the other, from the emergence among young people themselves, in recent decades, of many different forms of social commitment in this field. For the ecclesial community, educating men and women in peace is part of the mission received from Christ, it is an integral part of evangelisation, because the Gospel of Christ is also the Gospel of justice and peace".

"In the face of the shadows that obscure the horizon of today's world, to assume responsibility for educating young people in knowledge of the truth, in fundamental values and virtues, is to look to the future with hope. And in this commitment to a holistic education, formation in justice and peace has a place. Boys and girls today are growing up in a world that has, so to speak, become smaller, where contacts between different cultures and traditions, even if not always direct, are constant. For them, now more than ever, it is indispensable to learn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. Young people by their nature are open to these attitudes, but the social reality in which they grow up can lead them to think and act in the opposite way, even to be intolerant and violent. Only a solid education of their consciences can protect them from these risks and make them capable of carrying on the fight, depending always and solely on the power of truth and good. This education begins in the family and is developed at school and in other formative experiences. It is essentially about helping infants, children and adolescents to develop a personality that combines a profound sense of justice with respect for their neighbour, with a capacity to address conflicts without arrogance, with the inner strength to bear witness to good, even when it involves sacrifice, with forgiveness and reconciliation. Thus they will be able to become people of peace and builders of peace.

"In this task of educating young generations, a particular responsibility lies with religious communities. Every pathway of authentic religious formation guides the person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love Him and to do His will. God is love, He is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honour Him must first of all act like a child following his father's example. ... In God, justice and mercy come together perfectly, as Jesus showed us through the testimony of His life. ... Jesus is a way that can be travelled, open to everyone. He is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points Him out to us, she shows us the Way: let us walk in it!".
HML/ VIS 20120102 (1090)

ANGELUS: PRAYING THAT THE NEW YEAR MAY BE A TIME OF PEACE

VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2012 (VIS) - At the end of this morning's Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

"The Face of God ... was revealed in Jesus", he said in his remarks to them. "He is the visible image of the invisible God, thanks also to the Virgin Mary whom we celebrate today under her most exalted title, by virtue of which she plays a unique role in the history of salvation: Mother of God. In her womb the Son of the Most High took on our flesh, that we might contemplate His glory and feel His presence as God-with-us.

"Thus do we begin the new year 2012 with our gaze fixed on the Face of God, revealed in the Child of Bethlehem, and on His Mother Mary, who with humble submission accepted the divine plan", the Pope added. "Thanks to her generous 'yes' the true light which enlightens everyone came into the world, and the path of peace was reopened".

"Today we celebrate the forty-fifth World Day of Peace", he went on. "In my message, which has as its theme 'Educating Young People in Justice and Peace' and is addressed to heads of State, leaders of nations and all men and women of good will, I underline the importance of giving young generations an adequate education in order to ensure the integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension, ... and the values of justice and peace".

"I invite everyone to have the patience and constancy to seek out justice and peace, to cultivate a taste for what is just and true. Peace is never a quality that can be fully achieved, but a goal to which we must all aspire and for which we must all work".

"Let us pray that the leaders of nations may renew their willingness and commitment to accept and support this irrepressible desire of humanity. We entrust these hopes to the intercession of the Mother of the 'King of Peace', that the year now beginning may be a time of hope and of peaceful coexistence for the whole world".

Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in various languages, expressing his thanks for the many expressions of good wishes he had received over this period, and his appreciation for the prayers for today's World Day of Peace.
ANG/ VIS 20120102 (440)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jeffrey Steenson as the first ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. The Ordinariate was today erected on the territory of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus".

On Saturday 31 December it was made public that the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of LublinPoland, presented by Bishop Ryszard Karpinski, upon having reached the age limit.
NA:RE/ VIS 20120102 (110)

EUROPE : CHARLIE SHEEN HELPS FUND RELIGIOUS FILM

CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT: Martin Sheen says his son Charlie is on a 'different Camino'
The actor Martin Sheen has revealed in an interview with The Catholic Herald that the film The Way could not have been made without his troubled youngest son Charlie.
In an interview to be published on Friday, Mr Sheen said the film was a family project which was not funded by any major studio.
“At a critical point”, he said, when they did nHot have enough money to re-cut the film for the US market, Charlie “came through with the dough for it, and we’re deeply indebted to him for that. He’s one of our biggest supporters in this film, and we couldn’t have done it without him.”
He added: “I think that that should be known about him along with everything else.”
Charlie has been battling with drug and alcohol problems and was dismissed from the US sitcom Two and a Half Men earlier this year after criticising Warner Bros and series creator Chuck Lorre.
In the interview, his father Martin said that Charlie was “travelling a slightly different road from some of us – he’s on a different Camino, let’s say”, adding: “But we’re all pilgrims, after all, and his journey is not over yet.”
The Way, about a bereaved father who goes on pilgrimage along the Way of St James in northern Spain, starred Martin Sheen and was directed by his eldest son Emilio Estevez.
The interview is published in this week’s issue of The Catholic Herald. The issue includes a 16-page supplement, with contributions from Fr Aidan Nichols, Fr Robert Barron, Melanie McDonagh, Stephen Hough and Fr Gerald O’Collins. SOURCE
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2011/12/21/charlie-sheen-stepped-in-to-save-the-way-says-father/

AUSTRALIA : NOTRE DAME GRADUATION MASS WITH CARDINAL

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
20 Dec 2011


Tossing Mortar Boards
It was standing room only at St Mary's Cathedral last night when the student body from Sydney's University of Notre Dame (UNDA) joined friends, family, professors and university teaching staff for this year's Graduation Mass.
At least 3,000 attended the Mass which was celebrated by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell. Among those who concelebrated the Mass with His Eminence were the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher, Bishop of Parramatta, Father John Neill OP, Fr Lam Vu OFM Cap together with other priests from the Archdiocese.
Many leading dignitaries also attended, including UNDA's Sydney-based Chancellor, Terry Tobin QC; Brother Kelvin Canavan, former Director of Schools for the Archdiocese and now visiting professor at UNDA; NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith and NSW Government Relations Consultant, Margaret Fisher who is also a trustee of the university.
Well-known Sydney barrister and former justice, the Hon Barry O'Keefe was also there as were Bishop Anthony's parents, Colin and Gloria Fisher.

Cardinal George Pell celebrated
the Graduation Mass
However it was very much the students' night, particularly for the 508 young men and women who have now completed their final year of studies.
Following Monday's Graduation Mass, these final year students will attend one of two graduation ceremonies to be held at the UNDA Broadway campus, the first of which was held this morning when Chancellor Terry Tobin presented 103 young people from UNDA's Sydney Medical School with their Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery degrees. Also graduating at today's ceremony were 19 who received degrees in Philosophy and Theology, with a further 28 receiving law degrees.
Tomorrow, the graduation ceremonies continue when a further 179 young men and women will graduate from UNDA's School of Education. The university's Nursing School also has 94 of its students graduating. In addition 89 young people will graduate from university's School of Arts and Sciences with a further 66 graduating from the Business School.
Jarek Latanik receives his Bachelor of Medicine and
Surgery at yesterday's ceremony
at Notre Dame University
"Every graduation is extremely special and significant but awarding degrees to Sydney's first cohort of medical students is particularly thrilling and exciting," says UNDA Vice Chancellor, Celia Hammond. "The 103 students who graduated this morning chose to come to a new and unproven medical school. In many ways they are like pioneers, choosing to go down a path no one had travelled before. We are immensely proud of them, admire them for their courage in choosing this path and wish them every success in their professional lives."

Opening its doors in 2008, UNDA's Sydney Medical School is the youngest in Australia and also one of the most innovative offering wide ranging clinical experience not only at city health centres and hospitals, but at hospitals and health centres in regional and rural Australia as well.
"The doctor's role in healthcare is changing and our students are given a perspective on health that is holistic," says Professor Christine Bennett, Dean of the Sydney Medical School, explaining that healthcare in the future will require medical practitioners to understand health and wellbeing, as well as disease, to work successfully as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

Medicine, law, theology and philosophy students receive
degrees at UNDA's graduation Ceremony
Professor Bennett says this first-ever graduating class from the UNDA Medical School have each shown a passion for serving the community, have a strong sense of social justice and a real sense of vocation.

She is also proud that of this year's graduating class, almost 10 percent are going on to practice medicine in rural areas where there is an ongoing and urgent need for doctors.
Unlike other universities, all students at UNDA no matter what course they are undertaking, must study the compulsory core curriculum of Stage One ethics, philosophy and theology.
Paying tribute to UNDA's previous Vice Chancellor, Peter Tannock and to the support given by Cardinal Pell whom she says were instrumental in establishing the university's Sydney campus including its Medical School, Professor Hammond described today and tomorrow's graduation ceremonies as a mixture of pride tinged with sadness.
"As staff we are filled with joy for the graduates and extremely proud of what they have achieved. But this is also tempered by sadness as a graduation means it is time to say farewell," she says and wishes each of UNDA's 406 graduating students every success for their future in their chosen careers.
http://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2011/20111220_674.shtml

ASIA : ISRAEL - PALESTINE MEETING FOR PEACE

ASIA NEWS REPORT: The meeting will be held tomorrow in Amman, at the initiative of King of Jordan and Middle East peace Quartet. The aim is to recreate the conditions for future peace talks stalled since 2010 because of Israel's refusal to freeze settlements. The opinion of Bernard Sabella, a professor at Bethlehem University.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - Talks between Israel and Palestine resume in Amman (Jordan) tomorrow more than one year after formal negotiations stopped in September 2010, following Tel Aviv’s refusal to freeze settlement building. Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator, and Isaac Molho, representative for the Israeli prime minister Netanyau will meet tomorrow in the Jordanian capital. The meeting is supported by Abdullah II, King of Jordan and the Middle East Quartet - Russia, U.S., UN and European Union - to find an agreement between the parties as to a way forward in the resumption of dialogue. However, Israeli and Palestinian officials have downplayed the possibility a short term solution. Today, Erekat said that the talks will resume only if Israel stops settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem The Israeli government has responded by saying it does not want preconditions for dialogue.

Further complicating the resumption of negotiations are attempts at reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which has always opposed the State of Israel. Last night, Nabil Shaath, a member of the al-Fatah party arrived in Gaza to meet Hamas leaders and to continue negotiations.

According to Bernard Sabella, a Palestinian Professor at the Pontifical University of Bethlehem, "the meeting tomorrow is a good attempt to revive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians." He points out that the resumption of dialogue, however, is in the hands of the Israeli government: "As long as the State of Israel continues demolitions and settlements in the Palestinian territories pushed by the conservative wing, I doubt that there will be any developments" . "Many politicians - he adds - continue to regard Palestine as the territory of the State of Israel and this means that any attempt at negotiation in unbalanced in Tel Aviv’s favour."

Sabella, however, looks with hope to the Israeli movements that challenge the settlements and the continuation of the boundary wall. "These groups – he says - claim that construction of the wall and the military control of territories has made Palestinians second-class citizens and push for the government to change its position." "To this day - he says - no one is really interested in the peace process. The Israeli government is only concerned with its internal political problems and not the least interested in rethinking its dialogue strategy. The same applies to the United States which is gearing up for the presidential campaign in the coming months. But the Jordanian gesture is a sign of hope for the future. " (SC)
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Israelis-and-Palestinians-meet-in-Jordan.-Doubts-about-a-resumption-of-official-talks-23590.html

AMERICA : VENEZUELA : APPEAL FOR PEACE WITH MASS

Agenzia Fides REPORT - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Caracas on January 1, launching an appeal for peace. In his message addressed to the Venezuelans, he asked to stop the violent deaths in the country, deaths which only in the last 15 days were so numerous and terribly violent. He called on all Venezuelans to live in tolerance and understanding, but also asked the authorities to do everything possible to combat insecurity and delinquency. According to figures published by the local press, the morgue in Caracas reported 38 deaths only from December 30, 2011 to January 1, 2012, and throughout the entire month of December recorded 623 deaths. Although there are no official sources for these statistics, most people have been killed in a violent manner or with weapons.
"We need to eradicate violence from the heart, but also to fight crime and punishment in accordance with the Constitution and laws", said Cardinal Urosa Savino, who in some statements made immediately after Mass, called the number of victims of violence in the month of December as "exaggerated and incredible." The Cardinal also said he hoped that all electoral processes scheduled for this year can be carried out in peace. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 02/01/2012)
http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=30685&lan=eng

AFRICA : NIGERIA : BISHOPS CALL FOR END TO VIOLENCE OF SECT

ALL AFRICA REPORT; An influential body grouping Nigeria's Catholic Bishops Saturday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to hire foreign crime experts to snuff out an Islamist sect blamed for hundreds of deaths.
"I call on Mr President to recall the retired experts in criminology and employ foreign experts in this field to assist the active security agents to put an immediate end to the Boko Haram menace," a statement said.
The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Felix Alaba Job, said in the statement: "This group has apparently declared war on Nigeria and at times of war nations call on their reserves.
"It is apparent that if we depend only on our available active security agents, we shall not make much progress," he said.
The bishops said that the toll of people killed or missing following the series of Christmas attacks on churches "is today feared to be about 200."
This figure could not be independently confirmed.
Nigeria's security agencies have come under intense pressure to stop attacks by Boko Haram amid spiralling violence blamed on the group.

Jonathan on Friday met his security chiefs for the second time in as many days following suggestions that he may reshuffle his team.

Boko Haram has carried out scores of attacks in Nigeria, most of them in the northeast, and its targets have included Muslim leaders.
Christian leaders have expressed mounting frustration over the authorities' inability to stop the attacks that have killed hundreds of people this year.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. - ANP/
SOURCE http://allafrica.com/stories/201112310002.html

TODAY'S MASS AND GOSPEL ONLINE : MON. JAN. 2, 2012


John 1: 19 - 28
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No."
22 They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, `Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"
26 John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know,
27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."
28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 2 : ST. BASIL THE GREAT

St. Basil the Great
CONFESSOR, ARCHBISHOP OF CAESAREA
Feast: January 2


Information:
Feast Day: January 2
Born:
329 at Caesarea, Asia Minor (modern Turkey)
Died: 14 June 379
Patron of: Cappadocia, Hospital administrators, Reformers, Monks, Education, Exorcism, Liturgists
Bishop of Caesarea, one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church, born probably 329; died 1 January, 379. He ranks after Athanasius as a defender of the Oriental Church against the heresies of the fourth century. With his friend Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, he makes up the trio known as "The Three Cappadocians", far outclassing the other two in practical genius and actual achievement.

St. Basil the Elder, father of St. Basil the Great, was the son of a Christian of good birth and his wife, Macrina (Acta SS., January, II), both of whom suffered for the faith during the persecution of Maximinus Galerius (305-314), spending several years of hardship in the wild mountains of Pontus. St. Basil the Elder was noted for his virtue (Acta SS, May, VII) and also won considerable reputation as a teacher in Caesarea. He was not a priest (Cf. Cave, Hist. Lit., I, 239). He married Emmelia, the daughter of a martyr and became the father of ten children. Three of these, Macrina, Basil, an Gregory are honoured as saints; and of the sons, Peter, Gregory, and Basil attained the dignity of the episcopate.

Under the care of his father and his grandmother, the elder Macrina, who preserved the traditions of their countryman, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 213-275) Basil was formed in habits of piety and study. He was still young when his father died and the family moved to the estate of the elder Macrina at Annesi in Pontus, on the banks of the Iris. As a boy, he was sent to school at Caesarea, then "a metropolis of letters", and conceived a fervent admiration for the local bishop, Dianius. Later, he went to Constantinople, at that time "distinguished for its teachers of philosophy and rhetoric", and thence to Athens. Here he became the inseparable companion of Gregory of Nazianzus, who, in his famous panegyric on Basil (Or. xliii), gives a most interesting description of their academic experiences. According to him, Basil was already distinguished for brilliancy of mind and seriousness of character and associated only with the most earnest students. He was able, grave, industrious, and well advanced in rhetoric, grammar, philosophy, astronomy, geometry, and medicine. (As to his not knowing Latin, see Fialon, Etude historique et litteraire sur St. Basile, Paris, 1869). We know the names of two of Basil's teachers at Athens, Prohaeresius, possibly a Christian, and Himerius, a pagan. It has been affirmed, though probably incorrectly, that Basil spent some time under Libanius. He tells us himself that he endeavoured without success to attach himself as a pupil to Eustathius (Ep., I). At the end of his sojourn at Athens, Basil being laden, says St. Gregory of Nazianzus "with all the learning attainable by the nature of man", was well equipped to be a teacher. Caesarea took possession of him gladly "as a founder and second patron" (Or. xliii), and as he tells u (ccx), he refused the splendid offers of the citizens of Neo-Caesarea, who wished him to undertake the education of the youth of their city.

To the successful student and distinguished professor, "there now remained", says Gregory (Or. xliii), "no other need than that of spiritual perfection". Gregory of Nyssa, in his life of Macrina, gives us to understand that Basil's brilliant success both as a university student and a professor had left traces of worldliness and self-sufficiency on the soul of the young man. Fortunately, Basil came again in contact with Dianius, Bishop of Caesarea, the object of his boyish affection, and Dianius seems to have baptized him, and ordained him Reader soon after his return to Caesarea. It was at the same time also that he fell under the influence of that very remarkable woman, his sister Macrina, who has meanwhile founded a religious community on the family estate at Annesi. Basil himself tells us how, like a man roused from deep sleep, he turned his eyes to the marvellous truth of the Gospel, wept many tears over his miserable life, and prayed for guidance from God: "Then I read the Gospel, and saw there that a great means of reaching perfection was the selling of one's goods, the sharing of them with the poor, the giving up of all care for this life, and the refusal to allow the soul to be turned by any sympathy towards things of earth" (Ep. ccxxiii). To learn the ways of perfection, Basil now visited the monasteries of Egypt, Palestine, Coele-Syria, and Mesopotamia. He returned, filled with admiration for the austerity and piety of the monks, and founded a monastery in his native Pontus, on the banks of the Iris, nearly opposite Annesi. (Cf. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of Asia Minor, London, 1890, p. 326). Eustathius of Sebaste had already introduced the eremitical life into Asia Minor; Basil added the cenobitic or community form, and the new feature was imitated by many companies of men and women. (Cf. Sozomen, Hist. Eccl., VI, xxvii; Epiphanius, Haer., lxxv, 1; Basil, Ep. ccxxiii; Tillemont, Mem., IX, Art. XXI, and note XXVI.) Basil became known as the father of Oriental monasticism, the forerunner of St. Benedict. How well he deserved the title, how seriously and in what spirit he undertook the systematizing of the religious life, may be seen by the study of his Rule. He seems to have read Origen's writings very systematically about this time, for in union with Gregory of Nazianzus, he published a selection of them called the "Philocalia".Basil was drawn from his retreat into the area of theological controversy in 360 when he accompanied two delegates from Seleucia to the emperor at Constantinople, and supported his namesake of Ancyra. There is some dispute as to his courage and his perfect orthodoxy on this occasion (cf. Philostorgius, Hist. Eccl., IV, xii; answered by Gregory of Nyssa, In Eunom., I, and Maran, Proleg., vii; Tillemont, Mem., note XVIII). A little later, however, both qualities seem to have been sufficiently in evidence, as Basil forsook Dianius for having signed the heretical creed of Rimini. To this time (c. 361) may be referred the "Moralia"; and a little later came to books against Eunomius (363) and some correspondence with Athanasius. It is possible, also, that Basil wrote his monastic rules in the briefer forms while in Pontus, and enlarged them later at Caesarea. There is an account of an invitation from Julian for Basil to present himself a court and of Basil's refusal, coupled with an admonition that angered the emperor and endangered Basil's safety. Both incident and and correspondence however are questioned by some critics.

Basil still retained considerable influence in Caesarea, and it is regarded as fairly probable that he had a hand in the election of the successor of Dianius who died in 362, after having been reconciled to Basil. In any case the new bishop, Eusebius, was practically placed in his office by the elder Gregory of Nazianzus. Eusebius having persuaded the reluctant Basil to be ordained priest, gave him a prominent place in the administration of the diocese (363). In ability for the management of affairs Basil so far eclipsed the bishop that ill-feeling rose between the two. "All the more eminent and wiser portion of the church was roused against the bishop" (Greg. Naz., Or. xliii; Ep. x), and to avoid trouble Basil again withdrew into the solitude of Pontus. A little later (365) when the attempt of Valens to impose Arianism on the clergy and the people necessitated the presence of a strong personality, Basil was restored to his former position, being reconciled to the bishop by St. Gregory of Nazianzus. There seems to have been no further disagreement between Eusebius and Basil and the latter soon became the real head of the diocese. "The one", says Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. xliii), "led the people the other led their leader". During the five years spent in this most important office, Basil gave evidence of being a man of very unusual powers. He laid down the law to the leading citizens and the imperial governors, settled disputes with wisdom and finality, assisted the spiritually needy, looked after "the support of the poor, the entertainment of strangers, the care of maidens, legislation written and unwritten for the monastic life, arrangements of prayers, (liturgy?), adornment of the sanctuary" (op. cit.). In time of famine, he was the saviour of the poor.

In 370 Basil succeeded to the See of Caesarea, being consecrated according to tradition on 14 June. Caesarea was then a powerful and wealthy city (Soz., Hist. Eccl., V, v). Its bishop was Metropolitan of Cappadocia and Exarch of Pontus which embraced more than half of Asia Minor and comprised eleven provinces. The see of Caesarea ranked with Ephesus immediately after the patriarchal sees in the councils, and the bishop was the superior of fifty chorepiscopi (Baert). Basil's actual influence, says Jackson (Prolegomena, XXXII) covered the whole stretch of country "from the Balkans to the Mediterranean and from the Aegean to the Euphrates". The need of a man like Basil in such a see as Caesarea was most pressing, and he must have known this well. Some think that he set about procuring his own election; others (e. g. Maran, Baronius, Ceillier) say that he made no attempt on his own behalf. In any event, he became Bishop of Caesarea largely by the influence of the elder Gregory of Nazianzus. His election, says the younger Gregory (loc. cit.), was followed by disaffection on the part of several suffragan bishops "on whose side were found the greatest scoundrels in the city". During his previous administration of the diocese Basil had so clearly defined his ideas of discipline and orthodoxy, that no one could doubt the direction and the vigour of his policy. St. Athanasius was greatly pleased at Basil's election (Ad Pallad., 953; Ad Joann. et Ant., 951); but the Arianizing Emperor Valens, displayed considerably annoyance and the defeated minority of bishops became consistently hostile to the new metropolitan. By years of tactful conduct, however, "blending his correction with consideration and his gentleness with firmness" (Greg. Naz., Or. xliii), he finally overcame most of his opponents.

Basil's letters tell the story of his tremendous and varied activity; how he worked for the exclusion of unfit candidates from the sacred ministry and the deliverance of the bishops from the temptation of simony; how he required exact discipline and the faithful observance of the canons from both laymen and clerics; how he rebuked the sinful, followed up the offending, and held out hope of pardon to the penitent. (Cf. Epp. xliv, xlv, and xlvi, the beautiful letter to a fallen virgin, as well as Epp. liii, liv, lv, clxxxviii, cxcix, ccxvii, and Ep. clxix, on the strange incident of Glycerius, whose story is well filled out by Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, New York, 1893, p. 443 sqq.) If on the one hand he strenuously defended clerical rights and immunities (Ep. civ), on the other he trained his clergy so strictly that they grew famous as the type of all that a priest should be (Epp. cii, ciii). Basil did not confine his activity to diocesan affairs, but threw himself vigorously into the troublesome theological disputes then rending the unity of Christendom. He drew up a summary of the orthodox faith; he attacked by word of mouth the heretics near at hand and wrote tellingly against those afar. His correspondence shows that he paid visits, sent messages, gave interviews, instructed, reproved, rebuked, threatened, reproached, undertook the protection of nations, cities, individuals great and small. There was very little chance of opposing him successfully, for he was a cool, persistent, fearless fighter in defence both of doctrine and of principles. His bold stand against Valens parallels the meeting of Ambrose with Theodosius. The emperor was dumbfounded at the archbishop's calm indifference to his presence and his wishes. The incident, as narrated by Gregory of Nazianzus, not only tells much concerning Basil's character but throws a clear light on the type of Christian bishop with which the emperors had to deal and goes far to explain why Arianism, with little court behind it, could make so little impression on the ultimate history of Catholicism.

While assisting Eusebius in the care of his diocese, Basil had shown a marked interest in the poor and afflicted; that interest now displayed itself in the erection of a magnificent institution, the Ptochoptopheion, or Basileiad, a house for the care of friendless strangers, the medical treatment of the sick poor, and the industrial training of the unskilled. Built in the suburbs, it attained such importance as to become practically the centre of a new city with the name of or "Newtown". It was the mother-house of like institutions erected in other dioceses and stood as a constant reminder to the rich of their privilege of spending wealth in a truly Christian way. It may be mentioned here that the social obligations of the wealthy were so plainly and forcibly preached by St. Basil that modern sociologists have ventured to claim him as one of their own, though with no more foundation than would exist in the case of any other consistent teacher of the principles of Catholic ethics. The truth is that St. Bail was a practical lover of Christian poverty, and even in his exalted position preserved that simplicity in food and clothing and that austerity of life for which he had been remarked at his first renunciation of the world.

In the midst of his labours, Basil underwent suffering of many kinds. Athanasius died in 373 and the elder Gregory in 374, both of them leaving gaps never to be filled. In 373 began the painful estrangement from Gregory of Nazianzus. Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, became an open enemy, Apollinaris "a cause of sorrow to the churches" (Ep. cclxiii), Eustathius of Sebaste a traitor to the Faith and a personal foe as well. Eusebius of Samosata was banished, Gregory of Nyssa condemned and deposed. When Emperor Valentinian died and the Arians recovered their influence, all Basil's efforts must have seemed in vain. His health was breaking, the Goths were at the door of the empire, Antioch was in schism, Rome doubted his sincerity, the bishops refused to be brought together as he wished. "The notes of the church were obscured in his part of Christendom, and he had to fare on as best he might,—admiring, courting, yet coldly treated by the Latin world, desiring the friendship of Rome, yet wounded by her reserve,—suspected of heresy by Damasus, and accused by Jerome of pride" (Newman, The Church of the Fathers). Had he lived a little longer and attended the Council of Constantinople (381), he would have seen the death of its first president, his friend Meletius, and the forced resignation of its second, Gregory of Nazianzus. Basil died 1 January, 379. His death was regarded as a public bereavement; Jews, pagans, and foreigners vied with his own flock in doing him honour. The earlier Latin martyrologies (Hieronymian and Bede) make no mention of a feast of St. Basil. The first mention is by Usuard and Ado who place it on 14 June, the supposed date of Basil's consecration to the episcopate. In the Greek "Menaea" he is commemorated on 1 January, the day of his death. In 1081, John, Patriarch of Constantinople, in consequence of a vision, established a feast in common honour of St. Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom, to be celebrated on 30 January. The Bollandists give an account of the origin of this feast; they also record as worthy of note that no relics of St. Basil are mentioned before the twelfth century, at which time parts of his body, together with some other very extraordinary relics were reputed to have been brought to Bruges by a returning Crusader. Baronius (c. 1599) gave to the Naples Oratory a relic of St. Basil sent from Constantinople to the pope. The Bollandists and Baronius print descriptions of Basil's personal appearance and the former reproduce two icons, the older copied from a codex presented to Basil, Emperor of the East (877-886).

By common consent, Basil ranks among the greatest figures in church history and the rather extravagant panegyric by Gregory of Nazianzus has been all but equalled by a host of other eulogists. Physically delicate and occupying his exalted position but a few years, Basil did magnificent and enduring work in an age of more violent world convulsions than Christianity has since experienced. (Cf. Newman The Church of the Fathers). By personal virtue he attained distinction in an age of saints; and his purity, his monastic fervour, his stern simplicity, his friendship for the poor became traditional in the history of Christian asceticism. In fact, the impress of his genius was stamped indelibly on the Oriental conception of religious life. In his hands the great metropolitan see of Caesarea took shape as the sort of model of the Christian diocese; there was hardly any detail of episcopal activity in which he failed to mark out guiding lines and to give splendid example. Not the least of his glories is the fact that toward the officials of the State he maintained that fearless dignity and independence which later history has shown to be an indispensable condition of healthy life in the Catholic episcopate.

Some difficulty has arisen out of the correspondence of St. Basil with the Roman See. That he was in communion with the Western bishops and that he wrote repeatedly to Rome asking that steps be taken to assist the Eastern Church in her struggle with schismatics and heretics is undoubted; but the disappointing result of his appeals drew from him certain words which require explanation. Evidently he was deeply chagrined that Pope Damasus on the one hand hesitated to condemn Marcellus and the Eustathians, and on the other preferred Paulinus to Meletius in whose right to the See of Antioch St. Basil most firmly believed. At the best it must be admitted that St. Basil criticized the pope freely in a private letter to Eusebius of Samosata (Ep. ccxxxix) and that he was indignant as well as hurt at the failure of his attempt to obtain help from the West. Later on, however, he must have recognized that in some respects he had been hasty; in any event, his strong emphasis of the influence which the Roman See could exercise over the Eastern bishops, and his abstaining from a charge of anything like usurpation are great facts that stand out obviously in the story of the disagreement. With regard to the question of his association with the Semi-Arians, Philostorgius speaks of him as championing the Semi-Arian cause, and Newman says he seems unavoidably to have Arianized the first thirty years of his life. The explanation of this, as well as of the disagreement with the Holy See, must be sought in a careful study of the times, with due reference to the unsettled and changeable condition of theological distinctions, the lack of anything like a final pronouncement by the Church's defining power, the "lingering imperfections of the Saints" (Newman), the substantial orthodoxy of many of the so-called Semi-Arians, and above all the great plan which Basil was steadily pursuing of effecting unity in a disturbed and divided Christendom.



SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/B/stbasilthegreat.asp#ixzz1iJgmfh87
TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 2 : ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN
St. Gregory Nazianzen
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: January 2


Information:
Feast Day: January 2
Born:
325, Arianzum, Cappadocia
Died: January 25, 389, Arianzum, Cappadocia
Major Shrine: Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in the Fanar
Doctor of the Church, born at Arianzus, in Asia Minor, c. 325; died at the same place, 389. He was son -- one of three children -- of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus (329-374), in the south-west of Cappadocia, and of Nonna, a daughter of Christian parents. The saint's father was originally a member of the heretical sect of the Hypsistarii, or Hypsistiani, and was converted to Catholicity by the influence of his pious wife. His two sons, who seem to have been born between the dates of their father's priestly ordination and episcopal consecration, were sent to a famous school at Caesarea, capital of Cappadocia, and educated by Carterius, probably the same one who was afterwards tutor of St. John Chrysostom. Here commenced the friendship between Basil and Gregory which intimately affected both their lives, as well as the development of the theology of their age. From Caesarea in Cappadocia Gregory proceeded to Caesarea in Palestine, where he studied rhetoric under Thespesius; and thence to Alexandria, of which Athanasius was then bishop, through at the time in exile. Setting out by sea from Alexandria to Athens, Gregory was all but lost in a great storm, and some of his biographers infer -- though the fact is not certain -- that when in danger of death he and his companions received the rite of baptism. He had certainly not been baptized in infancy, though dedicated to God by his pious mother; but there is some authority for believing that he received the sacrament, not on his voyage to Athens, but on his return to Nazianzus some years later. At Athens Gregory and Basil, who had parted at Caesarea, met again, renewed their youthful friendship, and studied rhetoric together under the famous teachers Himerius and Proaeresius. Among their fellow students was Julian, afterwards known as the Apostate, whose real character Gregory asserts that he had even then discerned and thoroughly distrusted him. The saint's studies at Athens (which Basil left before his friend) extended over some ten years; and when he departed in 356 for his native province, visiting Constantinople on his way home, he was about thirty years of age.
Arrived at Nazianzus, where his parents were now advanced in age, Gregory, who had by this time firmly resolved to devote his life and talents to God, anxiously considered the plan of his future career. To a young man of his high attainments a distinguished secular career was open, either that of a lawyer or of a professor of rhetoric; but his yearnings were for the monastic or ascetic life, though this did not seem compatible either with the Scripture studies in which he was deeply interested, or with his filial duties at home. As was natural, he consulted his beloved friend Basil in his perplexity as to his future; and he has left us in his own writings an extremely interesting narrative of their intercourse at this time, and of their common resolve (based on somewhat different motives, according to the decided differences in their characters) to quit the world for the service of God alone. Basil retired to Pontus to lead the life of a hermit; but finding that Gregory could not join him there, came and settled first at Tiberina (near Gregory's own home), then at Neocæsarea, in Pontus, where he lived in holy seclusion for some years, and gathered round him a brotherhood of cenobites, among whom his friend Gregory was for a time included. After a sojourn here for two or three years, during which Gregory edited, with Basil some of the exegetical works of Origen, and also helped his friend in the compilation of his famous rules, Gregory returned to Nazianzus, leaving with regret the peaceful hermitage where he and Basil (as he recalled in their subsequent correspondence) had spent such a pleasant time in the labour both of hands and of heads. On his return home Gregory was instrumental in bringing back to orthodoxy his father who, perhaps partly in ignorance, had subscribed the heretical creed of Rimini; and the aged bishop, desiring his son's presence and support, overruled his scrupulous shrinking from the priesthood, and forced him to accept ordination (probably at Christmas, 361). Wounded and grieved at the pressure put upon him, Gregory fled back to his solitude, and to the company of St. Basil; but after some weeks' reflection returned to Nazianzus, where he preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday, and afterward wrote the remarkable apologetic oration, which is really a treatise on the priestly office, the foundation of Chrysostom's "De Sacerdotio", of Gregory the Great's "Cura Pastoris", and of countless subsequent writings on the same subject.
During the next few years Gregory's life at Nazianzus was saddened by the deaths of his brother Caesarius and his sister Gorgonia, at whose funerals he preached two of his most eloquent orations, which are still extant. About this time Basil was made bishop of Caesarea and Metropolitan of Cappadocia, and soon afterwards the Emperor Valens, who was jealous of Basil's influence, divided Cappadocia into two provinces. Basil continued to claim ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as before, over the whole province, but this was disputed by Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, the chief city of New Cappadocia. To strengthen his position Basil founded a new see at Sasima, resolved to have Gregory as its first bishop, and accordingly had him consecrated, though greatly against his will. Gregory, however, was set against Sasima from the first; he thought himself utterly unsuited to the place, and the place to him; and it was not long before he abandoned his diocese and returned to Nazianzus as coadjutor to his father. This episode in Gregory's life was unhappily the cause of an estrangement between Basil and himself which was never altogether removed; and there is no extant record of any correspondence between them subsequent to Gregory's leaving Sasima. Meanwhile he occupied himself sedulously with his duties as coadjutor to his aged father, who died early in 374, his wife Nonna soon following him to the grave. Gregory, who was now left without family ties, devoted to the poor the large fortune which he had inherited, keeping for himself only a small piece of land at Arianzus. He continued to administer the diocese for about two years, refusing, however, to become the bishop, and continually urging the appointment of a successor to his father. At the end of 375 he withdrew to a monastery at Seleuci, living there in solitude for some three years, and preparing (though he knew it not) for what was to be the crowning work of his life. About the end of this period Basil died. Gregory's own state of health prevented his being present either at the deathbed or funeral; but he wrote a letter of condolence to Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and composed twelve beautiful memorial poems or epitaphs to his departed friend.
Three weeks after Basil's death, Theodosius was advanced by the Emperor Gratian to the dignity of Emperor of the East. Constantinople, the seat of his empire, had been for the space of about thirty years (since the death of the saintly and martyred Bishop Paul) practically given over too Arianism, with an Arian prelate, Demophilus, enthroned at St. Sophia's. The remnant of persecuted Catholics, without either church or pastor, applied to Gregory to come and place himself at their head and organize their scattered forces; and many bishops supported the demand. After much hesitation he gave his consent, proceeded to Constantinople early in the year 379, and began his mission in a private house which he describes as "the new Shiloh where the Ark was fixed", and as "an Anastasia, the scene of the resurrection of the faith". Not only the faithful Catholics, but many heretics gathered in the humble chapel of the Anastasia, attracted by Gregory's sanctity, learning and eloquence; and it was in this chapel that he delivered the five wonderful discourses on the faith of Nicaea -- unfolding the doctrine of the Trinity while safeguarding the Unity of the Godhead -- which gained for him, alone of all Christian teachers except the Apostle St. John, the special title of Theologus or the Divine. He also delivered at this time the eloquent panegyrics on St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, and the Machabees, which are among his finest oratorical works. Meanwhile he found himself exposed to persecution of every kind from without, and was actually attacked in his own chapel, whilst baptizing his Easter neophytes, by a hostile mob of Arians from St. Sophia's, among them being Arian monks and infuriated women. He was saddened, too, by dissensions among his own little flock, some of whom openly charged him with holding Tritheistic errors. St. Jerome became about this time his pupil and disciple, and tells us in glowing language how much he owed to his erudite and eloquent teacher. Gregory was consoled by the approval of Peter, Patriarch of Constantinople (Duchesne's opinion, that the patriarch was from the first jealous or suspicious of the Cappadocian bishop's influence in Constantinople, does not seem sufficiently supported by evidence), and Peter appears to have been desirous to see him appointed to the bishopric of the capital of the East. Gregory, however, unfortunately allowed himself to be imposed upon by a plausible adventurer called Hero, or Maximus, who came to Constantinople from Alexandria in the guise (long hair, white robe, and staff) of a Cynic, and professed to be a convert to Christianity, and an ardent admirer of Gregory's sermons. Gregory entertained him hospitably, gave him his complete confidence, and pronounced a public panegyric on him in his presence. Maximus's intrigues to obtain the bishopric for himself found support in various quarters, including Alexandria, which the patriarch Peter, for what reason precisely it is not known, had turned against Gregory; and certain Egyptian bishops deputed by Peter, suddenly, and at night, consecrated and enthroned Maximus as Catholic Bishop of Constantinople, while Gregory was confined to bed by illness. Gregory's friends, however, rallied round him, and Maximus had to fly from Constantinople. The Emperor Theodosius, to whom he had recourse, refused to recognize any bishop other than Gregory, and Maximus retired in disgrace to Alexandria.
Theodosius received Christian baptism early in 380, at Thessalonica, and immediately addressed an edict to his subjects at Constantinople, commanding them to adhere to the faith taught by St. Peter, and professed by the Roman pontiff, which alone deserved to be called Catholic. In November, the emperor entered the city and called on Demophilus, the Arian bishop, to subscribe to the Nicene creed: but he refused to do so, and was banished from Constantinople. Theodosius determined that Gregory should be bishop of the new Catholic see, and himself accompanied him to St. Sophia's, where he was enthroned in presence of an immense crowd, who manifested their feelings by hand-clappings and other signs of joy. Constantinople was now restored to Catholic unity; the emperor, by a new edict, gave back all the churches to Catholic use; Arians and other heretics were forbidden to hold public assemblies; and the name of Catholic was restricted to adherents of the orthodox and Catholic faith.
Gregory had hardly settled down to the work of administration of the Diocese of Constantinople, when Theodosius carried out his long-cherished purpose of summoning thither a general council of the Eastern Church. One hundred and fifty bishops met in council, in May, 381, the object of the assembly being, as Socrates plainly states, to confirm the faith of Nicaea, and to appoint a bishop for Constantinople (see CONSTANTINOPLE, THE FIRST COUNCIL OF). Among the bishops present were thirty-six holding semi-Arian or Macedonian opinions; and neither the arguments of the orthodox prelates nor the eloquence of Gregory, who preached at Pentecost, in St. Sophia's, on the subject of the Holy Spirit, availed to persuade them to sign the orthodox creed. As to the appointment of the bishopric, the confirmation of Gregory to the see could only be a matter of form. The orthodox bishops were all in favor, and the objection (urged by the Egyptian and Macedonian prelates who joined the council later) that his translation from one see to another was in opposition to a canon of the Nicene council was obviously unfounded. The fact was well known that Gregory had never, after his forced consecration at the instance of Basil, entered into possession of the See of Sasima, and that he had later exercised his episcopal functions at Nazianzus, not as bishop of that diocese, but merely as coadjutor of his father. Gregory succeeded Meletius as president of the council, which found itself at once called on to deal with the difficult question of appointing a successor to the deceased bishop. There had been an understanding between the two orthodox parties at Antioch, of which Meletius and Paulinus had been respectively bishops that the survivor of either should succeed as sole bishop. Paulinus, however, was a prelate of Western origin and creation, and the Eastern bishops assembled at Constantinople declined to recognize him. In vain did Gregory urge, for the sake of peace, the retention of Paulinus in the see for the remainder of his life, already fare advanced; the Fathers of the council refused to listen to his advice, and resolved that Meletius should be succeeded by an Oriental priest. "It was in the East that Christ was born", was one of the arguments they put forward; and Gregory's retort, "Yes, and it was in the East that he was put to death", did not shake their decision. Flavian, a priest of Antioch, was elected to the vacant see; and Gregory, who relates that the only result of his appeal was "a cry like that of a flock of jackdaws" while the younger members of the council "attacked him like a swarm of wasps", quitted the council, and left also his official residence, close to the church of the Holy Apostles.
Gregory had now come to the conclusion that not only the opposition and disappointment which he had met with in the council, but also his continued state of ill-health, justified, and indeed necessitated, his resignation of the See of Constantinople, which he had held for only a few months. He appeared again before the council, intimated that he was ready to be another Jonas to pacify the troubled waves, and that all he desired was rest from his labours, and leisure to prepare for death. The Fathers made no protest against this announcement, which some among them doubtless heard with secret satisfaction; and Gregory at once sought and obtained from the emperor permission to resign his see. In June, 381, he preached a farewell sermon before the council and in presence of an overflowing congregation. The peroration of this discourse is of singular and touching beauty, and unsurpassed even among his many eloquent orations. Very soon after its delivery he left Constantinople (Nectarius, a native of Cilicia, being chosen to succeed him in the bishopric), and retired to his old home at Nazianzus. His two extant letters addressed to Nectarius at his time are noteworthy as affording evidence, by their spirit and tone, that he was actuated by no other feelings than those of interested goodwill towards the diocese of which he was resigning the care, and towards his successor in the episcopal charge. On his return to Nazianzus, Gregory found the Church there in a miserable condition, being overrun with the erroneous teaching of Apollinaris the Younger, who had seceded from the Catholic communion a few years previously, and died shortly after Gregory himself. Gregory's anxiety was now to find a learned and zealous bishop who would be able to stem the flood of heresy which was threatening to overwhelm the Christian Church in that place. All his efforts were at first unsuccessful, and he consented at length with much reluctance to take over the administration of the diocese himself. He combated for a time, with his usual eloquence and as much energy as remained to him, the false teaching of the adversaries of the Church; but he felt himself too broken in health to continue the active work of the episcopate, and wrote to the Archbishop of Tyana urgently appealing to him to provide for the appointment of another bishop. His request was granted, and his cousin Eulalius, a priest of holy life to whom he was much attached, was duly appointed to the See of Nazianzus. This was toward the end of the year 383, and Gregory, happy in seeing the care of the diocese entrusted to a man after his own heart, immediately withdrew to Arianzus, the scene of his birth and his childhood, where he spent the remaining years of his life in retirement, and in the literary labours, which were so much more congenial to his character than the harassing work of ecclesiastical administration in those stormy and troubled times.
Looking back on Gregory's career, it is difficult not to feel that from the day when he was compelled to accept priestly orders, until that which saw him return from Constantinople to Nazianzus to end his life in retirement and obscurity, he seemed constantly to be placed, through no initiative of his own, in positions apparently unsuited to his disposition and temperament, and not really calculated to call for the exercise of the most remarkable and attractive qualities of his mind and heart. Affectionate and tender by nature, of highly sensitive temperament, simple and humble, lively and cheerful by disposition, yet liable to despondency and irritability, constitutionally timid, and somewhat deficient, as it seemed, both in decision of character and in self-control, he was very human, very lovable, very gifted -- yet not, one might be inclined to think, naturally adapted to play the remarkable part which he did during the period preceding and following the opening of the Council of Constantinople. He entered on his difficult and arduous work in that city within a few months of the death of Basil, the beloved friend of his youth; and Newman, in his appreciation of Gregory's character and career, suggests the striking thought that it was his friend's lofty and heroic spirit which had entered into him, and inspired him to take the active and important part which fell to his lot in the work of re-establishing the orthodox and Catholic faith in the eastern capital of the empire. It did, in truth, seem to be rather with the firmness and intrepidity, the high resolve and unflinching perseverance, characteristic of Basil, than in his own proper character, that of a gentle, fastidious, retiring, timorous, peace-loving saint and scholar, that he sounded the war-trumpet during those anxious and turbulent months, in the very stronghold and headquarters of militant heresy, utterly regardless to the actual and pressing danger to his safety, and even his life which never ceased to menace him. "May we together receive", he said at the conclusion of the wonderful discourse which he pronounced on his departed friend, on his return to Asia from Constantinople, "the reward of the warfare which we have waged, which we have endured." It is impossible to doubt, reading the intimate details which he has himself given us of his long friendship with, and deep admiration of, Basil, that the spirit of his early and well-loved friend had to a great extent moulded and informed his own sensitive and impressionable personality and that it was this, under God, which nerved and inspired him, after a life of what seemed, externally, one almost of failure, to co-operate in the mighty task of overthrowing the monstrous heresy which had so long devastated the greater part of Christendom, and bringing about at length the pacification of the Eastern Church.
During the six years of life which remained to him after his final retirement to his birth-place, Gregory composed, in all probability, the greater part of the copious poetical works which have come down to us. These include a valuable autobiographical poem of nearly 2000 lines, which forms, of course, one of the most important sources of information for the facts of his life; about a hundred other shorter poems relating to his past career; and a large number of epitaphs, epigrams, and epistles to well-known people of the day. Many of his later personal poems refer to the continuous illness and severe sufferings, both physical and spiritual, which assailed him during his last years, and doubtless assisted to perfect him in those saintly qualities which had never been wanting to him, rudely shaken though he had been by the trails and buffetings of his life. In the tiny plot of ground at Arianzus, all (as has already been said) that remained to him of his rich inheritance, he wrote and meditated, as he tells, by a fountain near which there was a shady walk, his favourite resort. Here, too, he received occasional visits from intimate friends, as well as sometimes from strangers attracted to his retreat by his reputation for sanctity and learning; and here he peacefully breathed his last. The exact date of his death is unknown, but from a passage in Jerome (De Script. Eccl.) it may be assigned, with tolerable certainty, to the year 389 or 390.
Some account must now be given of Gregory's voluminous writings, and of his reputation as an orator and a theologian, on which, more than on anything else, rests his fame as one of the greatest lights of the Eastern Church. His works naturally fall under three heads, namely his poems, his epistles, and his orations. Much, though by no means all, of what he wrote has been preserved, and has been frequently published, the editio princeps of the poems being the Aldine (1504), while the first edition of his collected works appeared in Paris in 1609-11. The Bodleian catalogue contains more than thirty folio pages enumerating various editions of Gregory's works, of which the best and most complete are the Benedictine edition (two folio volumes, begun in 1778, finished in 1840), and the edition of Migne (four volumes XXXV - XXXVIII, in P.G., Paris, 1857 - 1862


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/G/stgregorynazianzen.asp#ixzz1iJgV4Mig
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