DONATE TO JCE NEWS

Friday, March 30, 2012

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : FRI. MARCH 30, 2012


 VATICAN : CRISIS OF VALUES -SOLIDARITY - PRAYER INTENTION - OTHER NEWS
 EUROPE : FREE RESOURCE OF LENT - PENANCE WITH PRAYER AND CONFESSION
AUSTRALIA : CATHEDRAL PREPARES FOR HOLY WEEK IN PURPLE AND RED
AMERICA : URUGUAY : CHURCH BISHOPS DEFEND LIFE FROM CONCEPTION
ASIA : KOREA : UNITED IN PRAYER FOR NORTH
AFRICA : KENYA : PREGNANCY CRISIS CENTRE FOR BABIES
TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 30 : ST. JOHN CLIMACUS
TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : FRI. MARCH 30, 2012

VATICAN : CRISIS OF VALUES -SOLIDARITY - PRAYER INTENTION - OTHER NEWS
JEWS AND CATHOLICS: THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IS A CRISIS OF MORAL VALUES
Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - "Religious perspectives on the current financial crisis: vision for a just economic order" was the theme of the eleventh meeting of the Bilateral Commission of the Delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, which was held in Rome from 27 to 29 March. The event was presided by Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, and by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
In an English-language joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, the two sides highlight that, "while many factors contributed to the financial crisis, at its roots lies a crisis of moral values in which the importance of having, reflected in a culture of greed, eclipsed the importance of being; and where the value of truth reflected in honesty and transparency was sorely lacking in economic activity".
"At the heart of Jewish and Catholic visions for a just economic order is the affirmation of the sovereignty and providence of the Creator of the world with Whom all wealth originates and which is given to humankind as a gift for the common good", the text adds. Therefore "the purpose of an economic order is to serve the well being of society, affirming the human dignity of all people, each created in the divine image". This concept "is antithetical to egocentricity. Rather, it requires the promotion of the well being of the individual in relation to community and society". It also "posits the obligation to guarantee certain basic human needs, such as the protection of life, sustenance, clothing, housing, health, education and employment". The commission also identifies certain particularly vulnerable categories of people, among them migrant and foreign workers "whose condition serves as a measure of the moral healthof society".
The statement recalls the obligation on countries with developed economies "to recognise their responsibilities and duties towards countries and societies in need, especially in this era of globalisation". In this context the participants in the meeting recall "the universal destination of the goods of the earth; a culture of “enough” that implies a degree of self-limitation and modesty; responsible stewardship; an ethical system of allocation of resources and priorities". They likewise mention the "partial remission of debts on national and international levels", highlighting the need "to extend this to families and individuals".
The members of the bilateral commission underscore the role that faith communities must play in contributing to a responsible economic order, and the importance of their engagement by government, educational institutions, and the media. Finally they note how "the crisis has revealed the profound lack of an ethical component in economic thinking. Hence, it is imperative that institutes and academies of economic studies and policy formation include ethical training in their curricula, similar to that which has developed in recent years in the field of medical ethics".


APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY TOWARDS AUTISTIC PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES
Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, has written a message for the Fifth World Autism Day, which falls on 2 April, in which he makes an appeal for sensitivity and supportive solidarity towards autistic people and their families. In the message, made public yesterday, he recalls how "autistic spectrum disorders constitute ... a grave alteration of behaviour, of verbal and non-verbal communication, and of social integration, with a wide-ranging effect on the normal development and evolution of the personality".
"The Church", writes the archbishop in his English-language message, "sees as impelling the task of placing herself at the side of these people - children and young people in particular - and their families, if not to breakdown these barriers of silence then at least to share in solidarity and prayer in their journey of suffering". This is particularly important because families with autistic children, "although they look after these children with loving care, experience repercussions as regards the quality of their own lives, and are often, in their turn, led to be closed up in an isolation that marginalises and wounds". For this reason the Church and all men and women of good will "feel committed to being ‘travelling companions’ with those who live this eloquent silence, which calls upon our sensitivity towards the suffering of others".
The president of the pontifical council highlights the efforts of health care workers, educators, professionals and volunteers, adding that "the scientific world and health care policies must also be encouraged to engage in and ... increase diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative pathways that can address a pathology which affects more people in numerical terms than could have been imagined only a few years ago. To encourage and sustain, in the supportive action of the world of schools, voluntary work and associations, these efforts is a duty, not least to discover and bring out that dignity which even the gravest and most devastating disability does not eliminate, and which always fills us with hope".
Finally Archbishop Zimowski commends autistic people and their families to God. "Although enveloped in the mystery of silence because of a grave psychological disturbance, they are never alone, inasmuch as they are passionately loved by God and, in Him, by the community of those whose faith commits them to becoming a living and transparent sign of the presence of the Resurrected Christ in the world".

NEW FUNERAL RITES: NO TO THE SCATTERING OF THE ASHES OF THE DECEASED
Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - The second Italian-language edition of the "Funeral Rites", produced by the Vatican Publishing House, was presented recently at the headquarters of Vatican Radio. Among other things, the new edition contains fully revised biblical texts and prayers.
The first novelty refers to the visit to the family, which was not part of the earlier edition. Msgr. Angelo Lameri of the National Liturgical Office of the Italian Episcopal Conference, explained how "for a priest this a moment to share in the suffering, to listen to the mourning relatives, to learn about certain aspects of the deceased's life with a view to a correct and personalised presentation during the funeral".
Another change involves the revised and enriched ritual for the closing of the coffin; with a number of different texts for various situations: an elderly person, a young person, or someone who has died unexpectedly. Other changes involve the pronouncement of words recalling of the deceased at the moment of the committal, and the introduction of a broad range of possibilities for the prayer of the faithful.
However the most significant new departure, contained in the appendix of the book, concerns cremation. Msgr. Lameri explained that the issue of cremation had been placed in an appendix to highlight the fact that the Church, "although she does not oppose the cremation of bodies, when not done 'in odium fidei', continues to maintain that the burial of the dead is more appropriate, that it expresses faith in the resurrection of the flesh, nourishes the piety of the faithful and favours the recollection and prayer of relatives and friends".
In exceptional cases the rites normally celebrated at the cemetery chapel or the tomb may be celebrated at the cremation site, and it is recommended that the coffin be accompanied to that site. One particularity important aspect is that "cremation is considered as concluded when the urn is deposited in the cemetery". This is because, although the law does allow ashes to be scattered in the open or conserved in places other than a cemetery, "such practices ... raise considerable doubts as to their coherence to Christian faith, especially when they conceal pantheist or naturalistic beliefs".
The new "Funeral Rites" also focuses on the search for the meaning of death. Concluding the presentation, Bishop Alceste Catella, president of the Episcopal Commission for Liturgy, explained that "the book is testament to the faith of believers and to the importance of respect and 'pietas' towards the deceased, respect for the human body even when dead. It is testament to the pressing need to cultivate memory and to have a specific place in which to place the body or the ashes, in the profound certainty that this is authentic faith and authentic humanism".

BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR APRIL
Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That many young people may hear the call of Christ and follow Him in the priesthood and religious life".
His mission intention is: "That the risen Christ may be a sign of certain hope for the men and women of the African continent".

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Luis Artemio Flores Calzada of Valle de Chalco, Mexico as bishop of Tepic (area 22,777, population 1,139,584, Catholics 1,107,800, priests 215, religious 2215), Mexico.
0 comments
TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : FRI. MARCH 30, 2012

EUROPE : FREE RESOURCE OF LENT - PENANCE WITH PRAYER AND CONFESSION

BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF IRELAND REPORT:
29. Mar, 2012

Download a copy of Repent and Believe the Good News (pdf)
An important part of Lent for followers of Jesus Christ is the practice of repentance. In fact Lent is a special period of time set aside for us to intensify and concentrate on the call to repentance that is at the start of our response to Christ. In the Gospel of St Mark, the first statement spoken by Jesus says ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1:15).
Today the Bishops launch a message to call to mind the central place of repentance in the lives of all of us. This message builds upon the summons to renewal that Pope Benedict XVI has given to us in Ireland in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland and also last week in the publications of the Summary of the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. As the Bishops say in this message today, ‘The task for us in Ireland is the permanent task of the Christian – to resist the temptation to put convenience, celebrity, domination, blindness, dishonesty, pride, or any other ambition or craving or comfort in the place of God. It is a demanding path but it is the path that leads to the truth which sets us free. It is the only path to a real renewal of ourselves, our country, our Church.’ Repentance and penance help us to strip away what is unimportant in our lives and focus on our dependency on God and our need for his strength.
Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland
Friday Penance

Tweets on Friday penance

The following are suggested tweets which could be tweeted each Friday:
Friday Penance: Make a special effort at family prayer. Make the Stations of the Cross. Do something to help the poor, sick or lonely.
Friday Penance: Make a special effort to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Abstain from meat or some otherfood.
SOURCE: BISHOPS CONFERENCE

AUSTRALIA : CATHEDRAL PREPARES FOR HOLY WEEK IN PURPLE AND RED

ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY REPORT;
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Mar 2012



Across the world young people re-enact the Stations
of the Cross on Good Friday
For the past week the marble statues inside St Mary's Cathedral have been covered in purple cloth. It is customary in the lead up to Holy Week which begins on Sunday, 1 April when faithful around the world gather in churches and Cathedrals to commemorate Palm Sunday and the Lord's triumphant arrival in Jerusalem.
The tradition of covering statues and precious artworks is to enable the faithful to pray without distraction in the days before and during Holy Week or Passion Week as it is also known.
The most important time on the Christian Calendar, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday when Christ, riding on the back of a donkey, was greeted by an exuberant crowd waving palm fronds as he entered the ancient city of Jerusalem. But the joy at Our Lord's arrival was short-lived and was followed by His betrayal and arrest. Next came His terrible suffering, His crucifixion outside the city's walls, and then three days later, His glorious resurrection.


Cardinal George Pell
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell will preside over the Palm Sunday celebrations at St Mary's Cathedral. The Cathedral Choir will also be part of the Mass which begins with the Blessing of the Palms at 10.15 am. His Eminence will then lead a procession from the Hyde Park west door of the Cathedral alongside the Cathedral, up the steps and through the main doors at the southern end, after which he will celebrate Solemn High Mass.
At 5 pm, the same day, Solemn Vespers and Benediction will be held at the Cathedral. This will be followed by a Youth Mass at 6 pm which will also mark the 27th anniversary of World Youth Day (WYD) which was created by Blessed John Paul II and held in Rome for the first time back in 1985.
WYD is celebrated by young people across the globe on Palm Sunday each year with an international gathering of the world's youth taking place at different cities every three years.


Pope Benedict XVI at Palm Sunday Procession
in Rome last year
Sydney hosted an international WYD in 2008. Last year WYD was held in Madrid and in a break with tradition, will be held in Rio de Janeiro next year, 2013. The gap of two years rather than the normal three between the international gathering of young people was chosen in order to avoid a clash with the 2014 FIFA World Cup which is also set to be held in Rio.
The final day of Lent is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday as it is often known. This year Holy Thursday falls on 5 April and is the day faithful around the world commemorate the three pillars of the Catholic faith: the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the Priesthood and the Mass. Holy Thursday also marks the start of the Easter Triduum.
His Eminence, Cardinal Pell will celebrate the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral at 10.35 am on Holy Thursday. This important Mass is when priests from dioceses in cities and towns across the globe gather with their bishop to consecrate the Holy Oils to be used throughout the upcoming year for the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.
Cardinal Pell will also celebrate Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper which will be held at the Cathedral at 6.30 pm. Traditionally held after sundown, this Mass commemorates the Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion and recalls the Last Supper of Our Lord.


Palm Sunday on the Mt of Olives
It was at this final supper, Christ after being betrayed, offered His Body and Blood to God the Father, under the species of bread and wine, which He gave to the Apostles as spiritual nourishment, commanding them and their successors in the priesthood to perpetuate this offering.
At the Mass of the Last Supper it is traditional for the bishop or archbishop celebrating the Mass to wash the feet of 12 priests to symbolise Christ's washing of the feet of His Apostles. As the Mass ends, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession to the Altar of Repose where it remains until the communion service the following day, Good Friday.
Holy Thursday will conclude with night prayer, compline, at 9 pm when the faithful will be joined by the Choir of St Mary's Cathedral.'


Stations of the Cross re-enacted
WYD Sydney 2008
As happens each year on Good Friday, prayer will begin with the Stations of the Cross at 10 am followed by a Celebration of the Passion of the Lord celebrated by Cardinal Pell at the Cathedral at 3 pm.
The Holy Triduum continues on Easter Saturday, 7 April with the moving Service of Light and Easter Vigil celebrated by the Cardinal at 7 pm at St Mary's Cathedral.
The Easter fast, begun on Good Friday and carried out for two days of this sacred time, finally ends on Sunday 8 April with the Resurrection of Our Lord and Easter Sunday's joyous celebrations.
At the Cathedral the statues are once again uncovered, the altar no longer bare and the entire Cathedral filled with flowers as St Mary's bells ring out across the city.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell will celebrate Solemn Mass on Easter Sunday at 10.30 am. Easter Sunday at the Cathedral will also include a Mass at 7.00 am, 9.00 am to be followed by Solemn Vespers & Benediction at 5 pm and Mass at 6 pm.
SOURCE : ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

AMERICA : URUGUAY : CHURCH BISHOPS DEFEND LIFE FROM CONCEPTION

Agenzia Fides REPORT - The population of Uruguay is still dismayed by the terrible situation that came into the open a few days ago when it was learned that a group of nurses in more than one hospital, carried out euthanasia without any control . In this context, the Conference of Bishops issued a statement on the occasion of Easter, to express the feelings of Christians before these events and to encourage the defense of life in all its stages, from before birth until natural death.
"We refer –is read in the statement signed by Mgr. Carlos Collazzi, Bishop of Mercedes and President of the Episcopal Conference - especially to crimes committed against people who were in intensive care, totally helpless. We raise our prayer for those who have seen their lives shattered, for their bereaved families and also for the perpetrators of these deaths. With all the Uruguayan society, we hope that measures will help to rebuild trust in health care organizations. With the same sensitivity we remember that the debate on the decriminalization of abortion will soon have a decisive stage in the House of Representatives. Here we are in front of defenseless human lives. We reaffirm our belief, supported by science, that every life that is in the womb is that of a human being who asks to be born and to continue to develop in all aspects of life, and therefore to participate with all its rights and duties in the life of our society". (CE) (Agenzia Fides 29/3/2012)

AFRICA : KENYA : PREGNANCY CRISIS CENTRE FOR BABIES

Mangano
CISA NEWS REPORT:
NAIROBI, March 27, 2012 (CISA) -A Christian organization has launched a national pregnancy-crisis centre to cater for victims of “unwanted” pregnancies who sometimes often opt for abortion.
The Rescue Homes, Kiotas (a Swahili word for bird’s nest) are spear-headed by the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum (KCPF).
The guest of honor at the official launch Professor Miriam Were, Kenya’s community health Goodwill Ambassador, praised KCPF and its patron, Dr Jean Kagia for the wisdom behind the establishment of the Centre.
“This is all about the Church and matters pertaining to life. I commend you for being pro life,” she said.
Professor Were called on the Christians to commit themselves fully to the teachings of God, observing that certain issues such as “unwanted pregnancies “ and abortions occur due our moral weakness.
“There is need for all of us to be pro-life, for this is what God expects from us,” she stressed.
On, March 24, KCPF organized a March for life that began and ended at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.
Flagging off the March, Deputy National Council of Churches (NCCK) General Secretary, Oliver Kisaka said the Church’s pro-life activities were not accidental but Gods command.
He asked the Christians to be watchful of possible “shortcomings” in the country’s new Constitution, which he said might open up areas of anti-life, through channels like abortion.
Kisaka promised that the Church will forever uphold its pro-life stand.
“Our opposition to the new Constitution during the referendum was partly because, we as God’s people felt that certain sections of the document were not pro-life enough, “he explained.
KCPF patron, Dr Kagia said her organizations vision is to establish 47 Rescue Kiotas throughout the country by the year 2020. They planned to work through churches and Christians to achieve their goal.
“We must work hard to counteract those who are anti-life, pro-abortionists included,” she concluded.
Pauline Kalonzo, the wife of the country’s Vice President, Stephen Kalonzo, said those who have decided to work against God’s plan for life will always fail.
SOURCE : CISA NEWS AFRICA

ASIA : KOREA : UNITED IN PRAYER FOR NORTH

ASIA NEWS REPORT:
by di Joseph Yun Li-sun
The meeting is set for 12 June in the chapel of the Kaesong industrial complex, an inter-Korean joint venture. Tensions remain high on the peninsula because of a missile launch. The presence of Christians in North Korea raises doubts.


Seoul (AsiaNews) - South Korea's Protestant leaders agreed to hold a religious service and a prayer vigil in the North. The event will take place in the chapel of the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint venture between the two Koreas, on 12 June. Rev Han Gie-yang, of the United Church of Korea, confirmed the meeting but many sources have doubts about the identity (and faith) of northern Christians.

The agreement was reached in Shenyang, China, and is part of a plan to appease relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. The Stalinist regime plans to launch a missile on 15 April to mark the centennial of the birth of the founding of the state, Kim Il-sung, but South Korea, the United States and Japan want to prevent it.

North Korea's new dictator, Kim Jong-un, agreed to a moratorium on its nuclear programme in exchange for humanitarian aid for his country, but does not appear willing to back down on the missile launch.

North Korea has opened its doors to various religious delegations in the past year. South Korean Buddhists have gone on pilgrimage to the North. An inter-confessional Christian group, led by the catholic bishop of Kwangju, visited Pyongyang in November.

However, the presence of Christians in the North remains doubtful. Despite the existence of two churches in the northern capital, many believe they (and their members) are a smokescreen for foreign consumption.


http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Praying-together-in-North-Korea,-Korean-Christians-say-24387.html

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 30 : ST. JOHN CLIMACUS

St. John Climacus
ABBOTT OF SINAI
Feast: March 30


Information:
Feast Day: March 30
Born: 525, Syria
Died: 30 March 606, Mount Sinai
St John, generally distinguished by the appellation of Climacus, from his excellent book entitled Climax, or the Ladder to Perfection, was born about the year 525, probably in Palestine. By his extraordinary progress in the arts and sciences he obtained very young the surname of the Scholastic. But at sixteen years of age he renounced all the advantages which the world promised him to dedicate himself to God in a religious state, in 547. He retired to Mount Sinai, which, from the time of the disciples of St. Anthony and St. Hilarion, had been always peopled by holy men, who, in imitation of Moses, when he received the law on that mountain, lived in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. Our novice, fearing the danger of dissipation and relaxation to which numerous communities are generally more exposed than others, chose not to live in the great monastery on the summit, but in an hermitage on the descent of the mountain, under the discipline of Martyrius, an holy ancient anchoret. By silence he curbed the insolent itch of talking about everything, an ordinary vice in learned men, but usually a mark of pride and self-sufficiency. By perfect humility and obedience he banished the dangerous desire of self-complacency in his actions. He never contradicted, never disputed with anyone. So perfect was his submission that he seemed to have no self-will. He undertook to sail through the deep sea of this mortal life securely, under the direction of a prudent guide, and shunned those rocks which he could not have escaped, had he presumed to steer alone, as he tells us. From the visible mountain he raised his heart, without interruption, in all his actions, to God, who is invisible; and, attentive to all the motions of his grace, studied only to do his will. Four years he spent in the trial of his own strength, and in learning the obligations of his state, before he made his religious profession, which was in the twentieth year of his age. In his writings he severely condemns engagements made by persons too young, or before a sufficient probation. By fervent prayer and fasting he prepared himself for the solemn consecration of himself to God, that the most intense fervour might make his holocaust the more perfect; and from that moment he seemed to be renewed in spirit; and his master admired the strides with which, like a mighty giant, the young disciple advanced daily more and more towards God, by self-denial, obedience, humility, and the uninterrupted exercises of divine love and prayer.

In the year 560, and the thirty-fifth of his age, he lost Martyrius by death; having then spent nineteen years in that place in penance and holy contemplation. By the advice of a prudent director, he then embraced an eremitical life in a plain called Thole, near the foot of Mount Sinai. His cell was five miles from the church, probably the same which had been built a little before, by order of the Emperor Justinian, for the use of the monks at the bottom of this mountain, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, as Procopius mentions. Thither he went every Saturday and Sunday to assist, with all the other anchorets and monks of that desert, at the holy office and at the celebration of the divine mysteries, when they all communicated. His diet was very sparing, though, to shun ostentation and the danger of vainglory, he ate of everything that was allowed among the monks of Egypt, who universally abstained from flesh, fish, &c. Prayer was his principal employment; and he practiced what he earnestly recommends to all Christians, that in all their actions, thoughts, and words they should keep themselves with great fervour in the presence of God, and direct all they do to his holy will. By habitual contemplation he acquired an extraordinary purity of heart, and such a facility of lovingly beholding God in all his works that this practice seemed in him a second nature. Thus he accompanied his studies with perpetual prayer. He assiduously read the holy scriptures and fathers, and was one of the most learned doctors of the church. But, to preserve the treasure of humility, he concealed, as much as possible, both his natural and acquired talents, and the extraordinary graces with which the Holy Ghost enriched his soul. By this secrecy he fled from the danger of vainglory, which, like a leech, sticks to our best actions and, sucking from them its nourishment, robs us of their fruit. As if this cell had not been sufficiently remote from the eyes of men, St. John frequently retired into a neighbouring cavern which he had made in the rock, where no one could come to disturb his devotions or interrupt his tears. So ardent were his charity and compunction, that his eyes seemed two fountains, which scarce ever ceased to flow; and his continual sighs and groans to heaven, under the weight of the miseries inseparable from his moral pilgrimage, were not to be equaled by the vehemency of the cries of those who suffer from knives and fire. Overcome by importunities, he admitted a holy anchoret named Moyses to live with him as his disciple.
God bestowed on St. John an extraordinary grace of healing the spiritual disorders of souls. Among others, a monk called Isaac was brought almost to the brink of despair by most violent temptations of the flesh. He addressed himself to St. John, who perceived by his tears how much he underwent from that conflict and struggle which he felt within himself. The servant of God commended his faith, and said, "My son, let us have recourse to God by prayer." They accordingly prostrated themselves together on the ground in fervent supplication for a deliverance, and from that time the infernal serpent left Isaac in peace. Many others resorted to St. John for spiritual advice; but the devil excited some to jealousy, who censured him as one who, out of vanity, lost much time in unprofitable discourse. The saint took this accusation, which was a mere calumny, in good part, and as a charitable admonition; he therefore imposed on himself a rigorous silence for near a twelvemonth. This, his humility and modesty, so much astonished his calumniators that they joined the rest of the monks in beseeching him to reassume his former function of giving charitable advice to all that resorted to him for it, and not to bury that talent of science which he had received for the benefit of many. He who knew not what it was to contradict others, with the same humility and deference again opened his mouth to instruct his neighbour in the rules of perfect virtue, in which office, such was the reputation of his wisdom and experience, that he was regarded as another Moses in that holy place.
St. John was now seventy-five years old, and had spent forty of them in his hermitage, when, in the year 600, he was unanimously chosen Abbot of Mount Sinai, and superior-general of all the monks and hermits in that country. Soon after he was raised to this dignity, the people of Palestine and Arabia, in the time of a great drought and famine, made their application to him as to another Elias, begging him to intercede with God in their behalf. The saint failed not, with great earnestness, to recommend their distress to the Father of mercies, and his prayer was immediately recompensed with abundant rains. St. Gregory the Great, who then sat in St. Peter's chair, wrote to our holy abbot, recommending himself to his prayers, and sent him beds, with other furniture and money, for his hospital, for the use of pilgrims near Mount Sinai. John, who had used his utmost endeavours to decline the pastoral charge when he saw it laid upon him, neglected no means which might promote the sanctification of all those who were entrusted to his care. That posterity might receive some share in the benefit of his holy instructions, John, the learned and virtuous Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situate towards the Red Sea, entreated him by that obedience he had ever practiced, even with regard to his inferiors, that he would draw up the most necessary rules by which fervent souls might arrive at Christian perfection. The saint answered him that nothing but extreme humility could have moved him to write to so miserable a sinner, destitute of every sort of virtue; but that he received his commands with respect, though far above his strength, never considering his own insufficiency. Wherefore, apprehensive of falling into death by disobedience, he took up his pen in haste, with great eagerness mixed with fear, and set himself to draw some imperfect outlines, as an unskillful painter, leaving them to receive from him, as a great master, the finishing strokes. This produced the excellent work which he called "Climax; or, the Ladder of religious Perfection." This book, being written in sentences, almost in the manner of aphorisms, abounds more in sense than words. A certain majestic simplicity- an inexpressible unction and spirit of humility, joined with conciseness and perspicuity-very much enhance the value of this performance; but its chief merit consists in the sublime sentiments and perfect description of all Christian virtues which it contains. The author confirms his precepts by several edifying examples, as of obedience and penance. In describing a monastery of three hundred and thirty monks which he had visited near Alexandria, in Egypt, he mentions one of the principal citizens of that city, named Isidore, who, petitioning to be admitted into the house, said to the abbot, "As iron is in the hands of the smith, so am I in your hands." The abbot ordered him to remain without the gate, and to prostrate himself at the feet of everyone that passed by, begging their prayers for his soul struck with a leprosy. Thus he passed seven years in profound humility and patience. He told St. John that, during the first year, he always considered himself as a slave condemned for his sins, and sustained violent conflicts; the second year he passed in tranquillity and confidence; and the third with relish and pleasure in his humiliations. So great was his virtue that the abbot determined to present him to the bishop in order to be promoted to the priesthood, but the humility of the holy penitent prevented the execution of that design; for, having begged at least a respite, he died within ten days. St. John could not help admiring the cook of this numerous community, who seemed always recollected, and generally bathed in tears amidst his continual occupation, and asked him by what means he nourished so perfect a spirit of compunction, in the midst of such a dissipating laborious employment. He said that serving the monks, he represented to himself that he was serving not men, but God in his servants; and that the fire he always had before his eyes reminded him of that fire which will burn souls for all eternity. The moving description which our author gives of the monastery of penitents called the Prison, above a mile from the former, hath been already abridged in our language. John the Sabaite told our saint, as of a third person, that seeing himself respected in his monastery, he considered that this was not the way to satisfy for his sins; wherefore, with the leave of his abbot, he repaired to a severe monastery in Pontus, and after three years saw in a dream a schedule of his debts, to the amount in appearance of one hundred pounds of gold, of which only ten were cancelled. He therefore repeated often to himself, "Poor Antiochus, thou hast still a great debt to satisfy." After passing other thirteen years in contempt and the most fervent practices of penance, he deserved to see in a vision his whole debt blotted out. Another monk, in a grievous fit of illness, fell into a trance, in which he lay as if he had been dead for the space of an hour; but, recovering, he shut himself up in a cell, and lived a recluse twelve years, almost continually weeping, in the perpetual meditation of death. When he was near death, his brethren could only extort from him these words of edification, "He who hath death always before his eyes will never sin." John, Abbot of Raithu, explained this book of our saint by judicious comments, which are also extant. We have likewise a letter of St. John Climacus to the same person concerning the duties of a pastor, in which he exhorts him in correcting others to temper severity with mildness, and encourages him zealously to fulfil the obligations of his charge; for nothing is greater or more acceptable to God than to offer him the sacrifice of rational souls sanctified by penance and charity.
St. John sighed continually under the weight of his dignity during the four years that he governed the monks of Mount Sinai; and as he had taken upon him that burden with fear and reluctance, he with joy found means to resign the same a little before his death. Heavenly contemplation, and the continual exercise of divine love and praise, were his delight and comfort in his earthly pilgrimage: and in this imitation of the functions of the blessed spirits in heaven he placeth the essence of the monastic state. In his excellent maxims concerning the gift of holy tears, the fruit of charity, we seem to behold a lively portraiture of his most pure soul. He died in his hermitage on the 30th day of March, in 605, being fourscore years old. His spiritual son, George, who had succeeded him in the abbacy, earnestly begged of God that he might not be separated from his dear master and guide; and followed him by a happy death within a few days. On several Greek commentaries on St. John Climacus's ladder, see Montfaucon, Biblioth. Coisliana, pp. 305, 306.
St. John Climacus, speaking of the excellence and the effects of charity, does it with a feeling and energy worthy of such a subject: "A mother," says he, "feels less pleasure when she folds within her arms the dear infant whom she nourishes with her own milk than the true child of charity does when united as he incessantly is, to his God, and folded as it were in the arms of his heavenly Father.—Charity operates in some persons so as to carry them almost entirely out of themselves. It illuminates others, and fills them with such sentiments of joy, that they cannot help crying out: The Lord is my helper and my protector: in him hath my heart confided, and I have been helped And my flesh hath flourished again, and with my will I will give praise to him. This joy which they feel in their hearts, is reflected on their countenances; and when once God has united, or, as we may say, incorporated them with his charity, he displays in their exterior, as in the reflection of a mirror, the brightness and serenity of their souls: even as Moses, being honored with a sight of God, was encompassed round by his glory." St. John Climacus composed the following prayer to obtain the gift of charity: "My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly united to you by prayer that to be separated from you may be impossible; let others desire riches and glory; for my part, I desire but one thing, and that is, to be inseparably united to you, and to place in you alone all my hopes of happiness and repose."



source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjohnclimacus.asp#ixzz1qbNhPhjg
Post a Comment