DONATE TO JCE NEWS

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : WED. JAN. 2, 2013 - SHARE


 
 
 
 
 
 

VATICAN : POPE : TRUE ORIGIN OF JESUS - HE COMES FROM GOD

JERUSALEM : LATIN PATRIARCH - MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF PEACE
HAPPY NEW YEAR'S - LET US MAKE THE WORLD PEACEFUL
PRAYER - MARY MOTHER OF GOD NOVENA - SHARE
CATHOLIC MOVIES - WATCH ST. RITA - PART 17
ASIA : PAKISTAN : 7 KILLED - 5 WOMEN TEACHERS BY GUNMEN
EUROPE : ARCHBISHOP ENDS SOHO MASSES - GRANTS ORDINARIATE CHURCH
AFRICA : CENTRAL : CHURCH CALLS FOR PEACE WITH DIALOGUE
TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 2 : ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN
TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 2 : ST. BASIL THE GREAT
TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. JAN. 2, 2012
Vatican Radio REPORT- Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his first general audience of the Year of Faith with a question: “Where do we believe Jesus comes from? How can the small and weak child have brought such radical novelty to the world to change the course of history?”After the audience he tweeted a message to his millions of followers: “When we entrust ourselves to the Lord completely, everything changes. We are children of a Father who loves us, and never leaves us.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

the Nativity of the Lord once again illuminates the darkness that often surrounds our world and our hearts with his light, bringing hope and joy. Where does this light come from? From the stable in Bethlehem, where the shepherds found "Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger" (Lk 2:16). Before this Holy Family, another and deeper question arises: how can the small and weak child have brought such radical novelty to the world to change the course of history? Is there not something mysterious in its origin that goes beyond that stable?

Again and again the question of the origin of Jesus emerges, the same one posed by the prosecutor Pontius Pilate during the trial: "Where are you from?" (Jn 19:29). Yet the origin is very clear. In the Gospel of John, when the Lord says: "I am the bread which came down from heaven," the Jews react muttering, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" (Jn 6.42). And, a little later, the citizens of Jerusalem are deeply opposed to Jesus’ claim Messiahship, stating “But we know where he is from. When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from." (Jn 7 , 27). Jesus himself points out how inadequate their claim to know his origin, and with this already offers an indication to know where he comes from: "You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true"(Jn 7:28). Of course, Jesus was from Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, but what is known about his true origin?

In the four Gospels answer to the question "where" Jesus is from clearly emerges, his true origin is the Father, He comes entirely from Him, but in a different way from any prophet sent by God who preceded him. This originates in the mystery of God, who "no one knows", it is already contained in the infancy narratives of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which we are reading in this Christmas season. The angel Gabriel announces: "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God"(Lk 1:35). We repeat these words every time we recite the Creed, the profession of faith: "et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto, ex Maria Virgine," "by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary". In this sentence we bow our heads for the veil that hid God is, so to speak, lifted and his unfathomable and inaccessible mystery touches us directly: God becomes Emmanuel, "God with us." When we listen to the Masses composed by the great masters of sacred music, I think of the example of Mozart's Great Mass, we immediately notice how they linger especially on this phrase, as if to try to express in the universal language of music that which words can not: the great mystery of God who becomes incarnate, who becomes man.

If we carefully consider the expression "through the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary," we find that it includes four subjects that interact. The Holy Spirit and Mary are explicitly mentioned, but it is understood "He," that is, the Son, became flesh in the womb of the Virgin. In the profession of faith, the Creed, Jesus is referred to by different names: "Lord, ... Christ, the only Son of God ... God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God ... consubstantial with the Father" (Nicene- Constantinople Creed). We see then that "He" refers to another person, the Father. The first subject of this sentence is, therefore, the Father who with the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the one God.

This affirmation in the Creed is not about the eternal being of God, but rather speaks of an action which takes part in the three divine Persons and that is realised “ex Maria Virgine”. Without her, the entry of God into human history would not have come to its end and that which is central to our profession of faith, would not have taken place: God is a God with us. Thus Mary belongs in an essential way to our faith in the God who acts, who intervenes in history. She offers her whole person, "agrees" to become the dwelling place of God.

Sometimes, even in the journey and life of faith we can feel our poverty, our inadequacy in the face of the witness to offer the world. But God chose a humble woman, in an unknown village, in one of the most distant provinces of the great Roman Empire. Always, even in the midst of the most difficult problems to face, we must trust in God, renewing faith in His presence and action in our history, like in that of Mary. Nothing is impossible with God! With him, our lives always walk on solid ground and are open to a future of firm hope.

Profess in the Creed: "through the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary," we affirm that the Holy Spirit as the power of the Most High God has worked in a mysterious way in the Virgin Mary's conception of the Son of God. The Evangelist Luke records the words of the Archangel Gabriel: "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (1.35). Two references are obvious: first, at the time of creation. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis we read that "the spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (1.2), it is the Creator Spirit who gave life to all things and human beings. What happens in Mary, through the working of the divine Spirit, is a new creation: God, who called being from nothing, with the Incarnation gives life to a new beginning of humanity. The Church Fathers often speak of Christ as the new Adam, to mark the beginning of the new creation of the birth of the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This makes us reflect on how the faith brings even to us a novelty so powerful as to make us be born anew. In fact, Baptism is the beginning of Christian life, when we are born again as children of God, to share in the filial relationship that Jesus has with the Father. And I would like to point out that Baptism is received, we "are baptized" – it is passive - because no one is capable of becoming a child on their own: it is a gift that is freely given. St. Paul recalls this adoptive sonship of Christians in a central passage of the Letter to the Romans, he writes: "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God"(8:14-16). Only if we open ourselves to God, like Mary, only if we entrust our lives to the Lord as a friend in whom we trust completely, everything changes, our life takes on a new meaning and a new face: that of the children of a Father who loves us and never abandons us.
Finally, I would add a further element in the words of the Annunciation. The angel says to Mary: "The power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow." It 'a reminder of the holy cloud that during the Exodus journey, stopped over the Tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant, which the people of Israel brought with them, and that indicated the presence of God (cf. Ex 40 ,40,34-38). Mary is the new holy tabernacle, the new Ark of the Covenant: with her "yes" to the words of the Archangel, God receives a home in this world, He whom the universe can not contain comes to dwell in the womb of a virgin.

So let us return to the question with which we began, the origin of Jesus, synthesized by Pilate's question: "Where are you?". From these considerations it appears clear from the beginning of the Gospels, what the true origin of Jesus is: He is the Only Begotten of the Father, he comes from God. We are before the great and disconcerting mystery that we celebrate at Christmas time: the Son of God, through the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary. This is an announcement that always sounds new and carries hope and joy to our hearts, because each time it gifts us the certainty that, even though we often feel weak, poor, unable to face the challenges and evil of the world, the power of God always works and works wonders in weakness. His grace is our strength (cf. 2 Cor 12:9-10).
* * * * *
When we profess the mystery of the incarnation in the Creed, we bow our heads in awe and adoration. We acknowledge that the incarnation is the work of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, brought about through Mary’s free cooperation. The incarnation is the beginning of the new creation. Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is the new Adam who offers humanity rebirth in the waters of Baptism, by which we become sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. During this holy season, may we welcome the Saviour into our hearts, allow God’s power to strengthen and transform our weakness, and bear joyful witness to the dawning of the new creation.

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors present, including pilgrims from Norway, Japan, Vietnam and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy, peace and prosperity for the year which has just begun. Happy New Year!

SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA
BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JANUARY 2013 Vatican City, 28 December 2012 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for January 2013 is: "That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him".
His mission intention is: "That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance".

JERUSALEM : LATIN PATRIARCH - MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF PEACE

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT

Jerusalem: Latin Patriarch on World Day of Peace |  Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, World Day of Peace

Archbishop Fouad Twal
In his homily on the Feast of Mary, Mother of God yesterday, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal said Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Peace also celebrated on January 1, “encourages each of us to feel responsible for building peace.”
He also urged people to reflect on the Pope's reflection that the hotbeds of tension and conflict are caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.”
The full text of Patriarch Twal’s homily at the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, January 1, 2013 follows below:
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Fathers, dear Sisters, dear Friends,
Thank you for coming together to start the year 2013. I greet all of you with my best wishes for peace within us and peace around us. The greetings we mutually exchange commit us to work together, so that together, in the joys and struggles, in successes and failures, we can live this new year in the service of Mother Church, sharing with each other, our gifts, charism, and prayers. For this reason, I promptly express and reaffirm my appreciation and gratitude, because you have done so much. Nor can we forget those who have left us over the last year. May prayer unite us on earth and in heaven.
As you know, in the Catholic Church, January 1st is World Day of Peace. This day is dedicated to the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. She will know better than anyone to intercede for her sons and daughters who live in the Holy Land and who desire peace in the Middle East. For today’s special celebration, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message full of wisdom and petition, the theme of which is taken from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Mt 5:9) The Holy Father invites all men and women of good will to work together to build a society with a more human and sympathetic expression. In this perspective, the Pope has devoted much of his message to “true” workers of peace, namely, “those who love, defend and promote life in its entirety.” His annual Message encourages each of us to feel responsible for building peace.
What I want to share with you is a small and practical vademecum (handbook) offered to us by Pope Benedict XVI for a commitment by Catholics to social, economic and political life, based on the Beatitudes. He provides a tool for reflection to overcome “violent conflicts” and “the hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.”
The Pope does not fail to reference the “varied forms of terrorism and international crime, fundamentalism and fanaticism, which distort the true nature of religion.” Our Middle East and our beloved Holy Land suffer from the escalation of religious fundamentalism, which endangers the prospects of dialogue and coexistence among religions.
For the Holy Father, the answer to these challenges relating to peace is found precisely in the Beatitudes, from which, it is possible to build a society “based on truth, freedom, love and justice.” But, he adds, true peace is “the gift of God and the work of man.” In his book “Jesus of Nazareth”, Pope Benedict also comments on the Sermon on the Mount. With regard to the seventh Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God,” he points out that “this brings to the fore a connection between divine Sonship and the kingship of peace.”
He continues: “Jesus is the Son, and he is truly the Son… Establishing peace is part of the very essence of Sonship.. The seventh Beatitude thus invites us to be and to do what the Son does, so that we ourselves may become ‘sons of God.’ This applies, the Pope continues, first of all in the context of each person’s life … Only the man who is reconciled with God can also be reconciled and in harmony with himself, and only man who is reconciled with God and with himself can establish peace around him and throughout the world … That there be peace on earth (Lk 2:14), is the will of God and, for that reason, it is a task given to man as well.”
The shepherds were the first to believe in the words of the angels: “Peace to men.” Peace among peoples can only be born and develop if it is first in every person, every family, every religious community, in every nation. Beyond the manger of Bethlehem, we must take a comprehensive look at the Holy Land. The successful outcome of the UN vote of Palestine as non-member State should promote peace throughout the land of Christ. With you, I am of the opinion that all means to achieve peace must come through justice and dialogue, and never through violence. The path itself is full of obstacles, but hope guides us and the song of the angels reassures us.
Two weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and invited the various Middle Eastern concerned parties present to have the “courage of reconciliation and peace.” Commenting on his visit to the Vatican, President Abbas told me of his amazement at seeing the joy of the Holy Father over the vote in favor of the State of Palestine.
How fervently we long for peace in Syria and an end to the blockade of Gaza! Let us pray without ceasing to encourage benevolent people to persevere to the end in their efforts of saying ‘NO’ to hatred and respecting legitimate religious, cultural and historical differences.
We Christians in the Middle East must be peacemakers, instruments of reconciliation. Here we have our place. Our history teaches us the important and essential role often played by the Christian communities in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. For this, we joyfully welcome the initiatives that unite us as Christians and that give us more strength. We have decided this year to celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar. Anglicans and Lutherans have joined this initiative. I hope that one day the Orthodox will make a courageous step to celebrate Christmas according to our Gregorian calendar.
The shepherds were the first worshipers and the first heralds of the Good News of salvation. The Gospel tells us: “And when they saw this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child” (Luke 2:17). God had chosen them as the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus. Filled with the love and peace of God, they returned to their fields, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
In the wake of the Synod on the New Evangelization, it is up to us today to be these shepherds starting again from the beginning, from the manger of Bethlehem. During this Year of Faith that the Church gives us to live, may we be faithful to the Child of the manger as were the shepherds. In this Year of Faith, we may ask ourselves: “Lord, increase our faith” (Lk 17:5).Lord, increase our understanding and cooperation.
Lord, increase in us unity and communion. Amen.
A Happy New Year of peace to all!
+ Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
SHARED FROM IND. CATH. NEWS

CATHOLIC MOVIES - WATCH ST. RITA - PART 17

ASIA : PAKISTAN : 7 KILLED - 5 WOMEN TEACHERS BY GUNMEN

UCAN NEWS REPORT:
The NGO workers were attached to a charity that has experience of polio vaccination programs.
VOA News
Pakistan
2013-01-02 12:16:23
Catholic Church News Image of
Gunmen have ambushed a vehicle carrying Pakistani aid workers, killing seven people in northwest Pakistan.
A spokesman for the Pakistani NGO Support With Working Solutions, Mohammad Rafiq, said six of the victims were women. One male health worker was killed and the driver was wounded in the shooting.
The aid workers were on their way home when their vehicles were ambushed by gunmen on motorcycles Tuesday in the Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about 75 kilometers northwest of Islamabad.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The NGO spokesman said the workers had not been threatened before and this was the first time such an incident had taken place.
Support With Working Solutions director Javed Akhtar later told reporters the aid workers may have been targeted for the charity's efforts to help vaccinate children against polio. The charity has been operating in the region for the past two decades.
Last month, nine polio vaccination workers were killed in attacks throughout Pakistan. The killings prompted the United Nations to halt work on the nationwide vaccination campaign.
In southern Pakistan on Tuesday, authorities say a bomb blast ripped through Karachi, killing at least four people and wounding at least 41 others. The explosion took place in the port city's Aisha Manzil area.
Police say the bomb was planted on a motorcycle close to the site of a political rally. It is unclear who was targeted in the blast.
Karachi, the country's economic hub, has seen both sectarian and militant violence.
UCAN REPORT

EUROPE : ARCHBISHOP ENDS SOHO MASSES - GRANTS ORDINARIATE CHURCH

CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT: By Mark Greaves on Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Archbishop Nichols (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has announced that Masses in Soho organised for gay people are to end.
He also revealed that the church where the Masses took place will be entrusted to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
The fortnightly “Soho Masses” at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street were established by the diocese almost six years ago. They were intended to be “particularly welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, their parents, friends and families”.
Archbishop Nichols said today that, while the Masses will stop, pastoral care of the community will continue at the Jesuit Farm Street church in Mayfair on Sunday evenings.
He also announced that in Lent Our Lady of the Assumption church will be “dedicated to the life” of the ordinariate. The archbishop said: “I hope that the use of this beautiful church, in which the young John Henry Newman first attended Mass, will enable Catholics in the ordinariate to prosper and to offer to others the particular gifts of the ordinariate.”
Statement from the Diocese of Westminster
2 January 2013

Pastoral Care
1. Many people come to the Church with the hope of finding understanding, compassion, mercy and truth. The Church endeavours to respond to their hope through the provision of pastoral care. For many years now the Diocese of Westminster has sought to extend the pastoral care of the Church to those who experience same-sex attraction. This care has been motivated by an awareness of the difficulties and isolation they can experience and by the imperative of Christ’s love for all. In recent years this pastoral care has focused on the celebration of Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street.
2. Over these years, the situation of people with same-sex attraction has changed both socially and in civil law. However the principles of the pastoral care to be offered by the Church and the Church’s teaching on matters of sexual morality have not. First among the principles of pastoral care is the innate dignity of every person and the respect in which they must be held. Also, of great importance, is the teaching of the Church that a person must not be identified by their sexual orientation . The moral teaching of the Church is that the proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman, open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life. As I stated in March 2012, this means ‘that many types of sexual activity, including same-sex sexual activity, are not consistent with the teaching of the Church. No individual, bishop, priest or lay-person, is in a position to change this teaching of the Church which we hold to be God-given.’ (Catholic Herald article 17 March 2012). This is the calling to which we must all strive.
3. At this point, and after six years of the pastoral care offered at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, it is time for a new phase. Two considerations give shape to this new phase. The first is to recall that the original aim of this pastoral provision at Warwick Street was to enable people with same-sex attraction ‘to enter more fully into the life of the Church’ ‘specifically within the existing parish structures’ (Diocese of Westminster press statement 2 Feb 2007). The second is the importance of recognising that there is a distinction to be made between the pastoral care of a particular group and the regular celebration of the Mass. The Mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the whole Church. This ‘universal’ character of the Mass is to be nurtured and clearly expressed in the manner of every celebration. The purpose of all pastoral care, on the other hand, is to encourage and enable people, especially those who are in difficult circumstances, to come to participate fully and worthily in the celebration of the Mass in the midst of the whole Church, the people summoned by the Lord to give him, together, worthy service and praise.
4. I am, therefore, asking the group which has, in recent years, helped to organise the celebration of Mass on two Sundays of each month at Warwick Street now to focus their effort on the provision of pastoral care. This includes many of the activities which have recently been developed and it is to be conducted fully in accordance with the teaching of the Church. Such pastoral care will include support for growth in virtue and holiness, the encouragement of friendship and wider community contacts, always with the aim of helping people to take a full part in the life of the Church in their local parish community. It will not include the organisation of a regular Mass. In order to assist in this important work, I am grateful to the Jesuit Fathers of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street who have agreed to make premises available on Sunday evenings and are ready to extend a welcome to this group. I have asked Mgr Seamus O’Boyle to continue to offer my support and guidance for this group.
5. At the same time, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is being dedicated to the life of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for their groups in central London. I hope that the use of this beautiful Church, in which the young John Henry Newman first attended Mass, will enable Catholics in the Ordinariate to prosper and to offer to others the particular gifts of the Ordinariate.
6. These new arrangements are to come into effect during Lent 2013.
An account of how the “gay-friendly” Masses first began can be read here.
SHARED FROM CATHOLIC HERALD

AFRICA : CENTRAL : CHURCH CALLS FOR PEACE WITH DIALOGUE

Agenzia Fides REPORT - There is growing concern in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, before the advancing of rebels of the coalition Seleka. "At the moment the situation is calm in the city, but one lives in the anxiety of uncertainty after the rebels took the strategic center of Sibut (160 km from Bangui)" say local sources to Fides Agency from Bangui, where a curfew was declared.
At a political and military level, the Countries of Central Africa have decided to send the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) and urged the government and the rebels in Bangui to negotiations to be held in Gabon. The commander of the FOMAC has issued an ultimatum to the leadership of Seleka to prevent any advance on Bangui. The rebels, on their behalf, have announced that they have stopped military operations and to be open to dialogue.
The Church has launched several appeals for peace so that the path of negotiation and not a military one prevail. "Wisdom leads us to moderation and dialogue. Whatever the misunderstanding, a compromise is always possible through dialogue, " Mgr. Nestor Désiré Nongo Aziagbia, Bishop of Bossangoa writes in his New Year message. The Bishop recalls that the poor are the first victims of civil wars that have bloodied the history of Central Africa and denounces violence against civilians in areas of his diocese (Kabo and Batangafo) captured by the rebels.
Even the Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, has launched an appeal for dialogue. In an interview with France-Presse, Mgr. Nzapalainga said he was confident because he sees "messages of hope". (L.M.)

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. 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. 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



Post a Comment