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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : WED. APRIL 24, 2013 - SHARE BREAKING NEWS


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POPE FRANCIS "CHRISTIANS MUST BE HAPPY" AND LATEST FROM VATICAN

MAKE A HABIT OF READING THE BIBLE SUGGESTS PRIEST FROM KENYA

CARDINAL PELL LAUNCHES NEW BOOK - "CONTEMPLATING CHRIST" FROM AUSTRALIA

MIDWIVES WIN RIGHT TO REFUSE TO HELP ABORTIONS IN SCOTLAND

2 BISHOPS KIDNAPPED IN SYRIA ARE STILL MISSING - APPEAL FROM POPE

TODAY'S SAINT : APRIL 24 : ST. FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN

(iMAGE SHARE RADIOVATICANA) 
GENERAL AUDIENCE: KEY AT FINAL JUDGEMENT WILL BE LOVE
Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of his Wednesday general audience to three Gospel texts that help us to enter into the mystery of one of the truths professed in the Creed: that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. The three texts are: the parable of the ten virgins; the parable of the talents; and the final judgement. They all form part of Jesus' teaching on the end of time in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
Before the more than 75,000 persons filling St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father spoke of the “'immediate time' between Jesus' first and final comings, which is precisely the time in which we are living. The parable of the ten virgins is located within this context.” They are awaiting the Bridegroom but fall asleep because he is late in arriving. Five of them, who are wise, keep oil aside and can light their lamps when the Bridegroom arrives unexpectedly. The other, foolish ones, do not have it and, while they look for it, the nuptial celebrations have already begun and the door to enter into the banquet is closed to them.
 “The Bridegroom is the Lord and the time of awaiting his arrival is the time that He gives us, with mercy and patience, before his final coming. It is a time of vigilance, a time in which we must keep the lamps of faith, hope, and love lit. [It is a time] to keep our hearts open to the good, to beauty, and to truth; a time to live according to God because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ's return. What is asked of us is to be prepared for the encounter, which means knowing how to read the signs of his presence, to keep our faith alive with prayer and the Sacraments, and to be vigilant so as not to fall asleep, not to forget God. The life of Christians who are sleeping is a sad life, not a happy life. Christians must be happy, [feeling] the joy of Jesus.”
The second parable, of the talents, “makes us reflect on the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return when he will ask us how we have used them. … This tells us that our awaiting the Lord's return is a time of action … time to make the most of God's gifts, nor for ourselves, but for him, for the Church, for others. [It is] the time in which to always seek to make good grow in the world. Particularly in this time of crisis, today, it is important not to be locked up in ourselves, removing our talents, our spiritual and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but to open ourselves, to be compassionate, to be attentive to others.”
“In the square today there are many young persons. Is this true? Are there many youth? Where are they? To you, who are at the beginning of life's path, I ask: have you thought of the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how to put them at the service of others? Don't take your talents away! Bet on great ideals, those ideals that enlarge our hearts, those ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. We were not given life so that we might hold it back, jealously, for ourselves, but it was given to us so that we might offer it. Dear young persons, you have great souls! Don't be afraid to dream of great things!”
The Holy Father then spoke of the story of the final judgement that tells of the second coming of the Lord when He will judge all human beings, living and dead. At his right hand will be those who have acted in accordance with God's will, helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned—I said 'foreigner'. I am thinking of all the foreigners who are here in the Diocese of Rome. What are we doing for them?“ the Pope asked.
In the story, at the Lord's left hand are those who did not assist their neighbour. “This tells us that we will be judged by God on charity, on how we have love our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and most needy of them. Of course, we always have to keep in mind that we are judged, we are saved by grace, by an act of God's gratuitous love that always precedes us. Alone we can do nothing. Faith is foremost a gift that we have received. But, to bear fruit, God's grace always requires our openness to him, our free and concrete response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of the God who saves. We have been asked to entrust ourselves to him, to make our good lives—made of deeds inspired by faith and love—match the gift of his love.”
“Looking to the final judgement must never frighten us,” the pontiff concluded. “Rather, it urges us to live the present better. With mercy and patience, God offers us this time so that we might learn every day to recognize him in the poor and the small, might strive for the good, and might be vigilant in prayer and love. The Lord, at the end of our existence and of history, may then recognize us as good and faithful servants.”
POPE RECALLS ORTHODOX BISHOPS KIDNAPPED IN SYRIA
Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke of the two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Syria—Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch—who were kidnapped by a group of armed men who killed their driver, a deacon, while they were on a humanitarian mission.
“The kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishops, regarding whose liberation there has been conflicting news, is a further sign of the tragic situation that the beloved Syrian nation has been undergoing, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering. While I recall in my prayers both bishops, that they might return soon to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts and I renew the urgent appeal that I made on Easter, that the bloodshed cease. May the necessary humanitarian assistance be given to the people and may a political solution to the crisis be found as soon as possible.”
Yesterday, 23 April, as well, the Press Office of the Holy See issued a communique saying that the Pope, informed of the kidnapping, “is following the events with deep participation and is ... praying that, with the commitment of all, the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and that real hopes of peace and reconciliation may rise on the horizon.”
ARCHBISHOP FISICHELLA PRESENTS TWO NEW EVENTS FOR YEAR OF FAITH
Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to presentat the next two events scheduled for the Year of Faith: the Day of Confirmands (27-28 April) and the Day of Confraternities and Popular Piety (3-5 April). Participating in the press conference were Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Bishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arena, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.
Archbishop Fisichella explained that the common denominator of the events, which will take place in Rome with the Holy Father, will be “of highlighting pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter. That is why, the day before, the participants will take part in a symbolic procession from the obelisk in St. Peter's Square to the tomb of the Apostle where they will pray the Creed. Along the way there will be a brief catechesis to recall the significance of the places that we find ourselves at and their historic meaning for the faith.”
The first event will take place this 27-28 April and will be dedicated to all those who have or who will receive receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. “Already more than 70,000 youth, accompanied by their catechists and priests, have signed up. This presence shows the enthusiasm with which they have joined in the initiative and the great turn-out that we should expect.”
For the first time, Pope Francis will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on 44 youth from around the world, symbolically representing the entire Church. “They are youth,” the archbishop said, “ who show the face of the Church there where people are living and suffering, to give all hope and certainty for the future.” But there will not just be youth in attendance since there is no uniformity on the age at which to receive the Sacrament and the ages of the confirmands who are coming stretches from 11 to 55.
The second important event, which over 50,000 persons have already signed up for, will take place from 3 to 5 May and will be dedicated to popular piety. The Confraternities, particularly from the countries where the tradition is strongest, will give witness to the different local traditions that have resulted from a religiosity that has been expressed through the centuries with initiatives and works of art that have lasted to this day. The event's culminating moment will be Mass celebrated by the Pope on Sunday at 10:00am in St. Peter's Square.
It will be “a moment of faith,” the prelate concluded, “that finds, in the simplicity of the expressions of popular piety, its most deep-rooted core in our people who live these signs uninterruptedly as a reminder of the faith of previous generations and as a tradition that should be witnessed to with courage and enthusiasm.”
POPE CELEBRATES HIS SAINT'S DAY WITH CARDINALS AND NOTES THAT THE CHURCH ADVANCES BETWEEN CROSS AND RESURRECTION
Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – In the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican yesterday, the feast of St. George, the Holy Father presided at Mass with the cardinals resident in Rome, thanking them for their presence: “Thank you,” he said, “because I feel very well welcomed. I feel good with you and that pleases me.”
In the homily, Francis commented on the first reading of the day's liturgy that narrates the story of the first Christians who escaped persecution in Jerusalem, travelling to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, where they began to spread the Good News, among the Greeks as well. “At that moment when persecution breaks out,” the Pope said, “the Church's missionary activity breaks out.”
But in Jerusalem, they didn't understand how it was possible to preach to non-Jews. “A little nervous, they sent an Apostolic Visit, they sent Barnabas. Perhaps, a bit humorously,” Pope Francis explained, “we can say that this was the theological beginning of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this Apostolic Visit by Barnabas. He observed and he saw that things were going well. The Church thus is more a Mother: a Mother of more children, of many children. She becomes … more and more a Mother: a Mother who gives us faith, a Mother who gives us our identity. But our Christian identity is not an ID card. Christian identity is a belonging to the Church because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church, because finding Jesus outside of the Church is not possible. The great Paul VI said: it is an absurd dichotomy to want to live with Jesus but outside of the Church. And that Mother church who gives us Jesus gives us an identity that is not merely a seal; it is a belonging. Identity means belonging.”
The Pope then spoke of the three ideas that the story brought to his mind: the first was of the beginning of the mission, the second the Church as Mother, and the third the joy of the evangelizer that Barnabas feels when he see the immense crowd listening to the preaching. “Thus the Church advances … among the world's persecutions and the Lord's consolation. … If we want to travel the path or worldliness, negotiating with the world … we will never have the Lord's consolation. And, if we only seek his consolation, it will be a superficial one, … a human consolation. The Church always goes between the Cross and the Resurrection … This is the path. Whoever travels by this path will not be mistaken.”
“Let us think today of the Church's missionary activity: in those disciples … who have the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, something almost scandalous at that time. Let us think of the Mother church who grows, grows with new children to whom she fives the identity of faith because one cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. … and let us think of the consolation that Barnabas had, 'the sweet and consoling joy of evangelizing'. And let us ask the Lord … for this apostolic fervour, that urges us to go forward, as brothers and sisters, all of us: forward!. Let us go forward bearing Jesus' name at the heart of the Holy Mother Church.”
After the Eucharistic celebration, the Swiss Guard Musical Band offered the Pope a short concert in the Saint Damasus Courtyard, to wish him a happy saint's day.
AUDIENCE
Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Liro Vendelino Meurer as bishop of Santo Angelo (area 19,293, population 554,000, Catholics 404,000, priests 80, permanent deacons 1, religious 265), Brazil. Bishop Meurer was previously auxiliary of Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and titular of Thucca in Numidia. He succeeds Bishop Jose Clemente Weber, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Bishop Moacir Silva as metropolitan archbishop of Ribeirao Preto (area 8,782, population 1,097,000, Catholics 769,000, priests 149, permanent deacons 14, religious 224), Brazil. Archbishop-elect Silva, previously bishop of Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, was born in 1954 in Sao Jose dos Campos, was ordained to the priesthood in 1986, and received episcopal ordination in 2004. He currently serves as a member of the National Bishops' Commission for Ecclesiastic Tribunals of second instance and as vice president of the Regional Bishops' Conference of the state of Sao Paulo.
Yesterday, 23 April, the Holy Father extended the jurisdiction of Bishop John Michael Botean, of the Eparchy of Saint George's in Canton of the Romanians, over the Greek-Catholic Romanians present in the entire territory of Canada.


MAKE A HABIT OF READING THE BIBLE SUGGESTS PRIEST FROM KENYA


Make-Bible-Reading-a-Must,-urges-Priest
NAIROBI, April 23, 2013 (CISA) -Catholics should make a habit of reading the Bible message, at personal, family and group levels, a Catholic priest has urged.
While commenting on the reading of the day about the Ethiopian Eunuch meeting with Philip (Acts 8:26-40) on April 18 at the Consolata Catholic Church, Westlands, Nairobi, Father Daniel Lorunguiya, the Assistant Parish Priest said that just as the Ethiopian Eunuch did not know what the reading was all about in Isaiah 53, but with humility he accepted Philip to explain the scripture to him-contrary  to the proud who pretend to know everything but they know nothing.
“This is where we should get our spiritual riches from; so that we can be able to not only know the Bible message, but be able to locate the same message in the Bible as the case is with others,” said Father Lorunguiya adding that we should be aware of verses in the bible lest other faiths challenge us.
He urged Catholics to ensure that they make use of the Year of Faith (2012-2013), announced by Pope Benedict XVI October last year.
“The period is such a rich ground for one’s advancement in one’s spirituality including that of the Bible-reading on family, groups and individual basis,” emphasized Father Lorunguiya.
“In the Church we follow a three year cycle of Scripture reading so a Catholic who goes to church faithfully will–over the three years–hear almost the entire Bible reading. Furthermore, the responses, and the words of the communion service are almost all from Scripture. So a church-going Catholic does know and use Scripture–it’s just that he uses it primarily for meditation and worship–not for personal information and instruction. The Jews recite the Old Testament law in their worship daily. The psalms were the hymn book of the Jews,” explained Father Lorunguiya.
In the Early Christian Communities they read the letters of the apostles, recited the psalms and used portions of Scripture to praise and worship God just as Catholics do today. We know from the records of the early church that Scripture was used primarily for worship, and only secondarily for study. We should build our spirituality at all levels, he stressed.
Formerly, Father Lorunguiya -a Consolata Missionary- served in Isiro DRC.
SHARED FROM CISA NEWS 

CARDINAL PELL LAUNCHES NEW BOOK - "CONTEMPLATING CHRIST" FROM AUSTRALIA

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Apr 2013
Cardinal George Pell has launched his latest book, Contemplating Christ With Luke, during his current visit to Rome.
A series of homilies on the figure of Christ according to the Gospel of St Luke, Cardinal Pell shares his thoughts on the gospel often recognised primarily for the infancy narratives.
However Cardinal Pell says while Luke is perhaps not as dramatic or theological as  John he offers wonderful stories, including seven parables of Our Lord which are only found in Luke.

These include the story of the good thief, the disciples on the Way to Emmaus and Zacchaeus, the tax collector.
The homilies can be read as meditations or reflections by groups or individuals.
Prior to the launch at the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, Cardinal Pell had visited with Pope Francis.
A member of the recently announced advisory group of eight to discuss questions of Church governance, the Roman Curia and the major universal issues facing the Catholic Church, Cardinal Pell was keen to point out the group is not a "cabinet" or policy-making executive group.
Speaking on Vatican Radio in Rome Cardinal Pell said; "It is important to preserve the prerogatives of Peter, the Successor of Rome," Cardinal Pell said.
"The Pope doesn't answer to us. We are advisors to him and how that will work exactly I am not sure but as one of three representatives of the English speaking Church in the group we have something to offer.
"We are a fairly practical people, organised and I think we have  gifts we can offer the universal Church.
"One of our biggest challenges is how we present our faith to young people - trying to show our good works and how they follow from our faith in Christ."
Contemplating Christ With Luke is available through Connor Court publishing at
http://www.connorcourt.com/catalog1/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=224
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY


MIDWIVES WIN RIGHT TO REFUSE TO HELP ABORTIONS IN SCOTLAND

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT


Scotland: Catholic midwives win right not to help with abortions | Catholic midwives have won the right to refuse to help with any abortion procedures, Mary Doogan, Concepta Wood, Glasgow, Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board, Judge Lady Dorrian

Judge Lady Dorrian
 Two Catholic midwives have won the right to refuse to help with any abortion procedures or planning after an appeal court ruling in Scotland today.
Judges in Edinburgh ruled that Mary Doogan, 58, and Concepta Wood, 52, who worked as labour ward co-ordinators in Glasgow, had a legal right to consciously object to helping with abortions in any way.
The ruling, which could yet be appealed by Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board, may have wide ramifications for the NHS and for other health staff who oppose abortions on religious grounds.
Judge Lady Dorrian said today: "In our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose. The right is given because it is recognised that the process of abortion is felt by many people to be morally repugnant.”
The midwives had lost a previous case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde after a judge ruled that working on ward planning or delegating staff did not involve actually carrying out abortions. Giving judgment in a judicial review last year, Lady Smith said: "Nothing they have to do as part of their duties terminates a woman's pregnancy. They are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs."
But the court of appeal in Edinburgh today overturned that ruling and said the Abortion Act 1967 gave medical staff wide-ranging protection against taking part in abortions on religious and conscience grounds.
Lady Dorrian, sitting on the appeal with Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and Lord McEwan, said: "In our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose."
The midwives' lawyer, Gerry Moynihan QC, told the judges it was up to staff rather than their managers to decide what was morally or ethically objectionable to them. Their employers were saying that their
administrative convenience over-rode the midwives' right to conscience, he argued.

Moynihan said the right to object covered all their duties, with the exception of helping in life-saving treatments. There was clear legal authority that the right to conscientious objection extended to all the staff involved in preparing or planning for a procedure, he said.
"The administrative convenience of the health board is irrelevant because the right is a balance between facilitating abortion while respecting the genuine conscientious objection of medical, nursing and ancillary staff," he told the court.
In a brief statement, the health board said it would take more time to decide its next steps but would not comment further: "We note the outcome of the appeal and will be considering our options with our legal advisers over the next few days."
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, who is currently in Rome, said in the following statement:
"Today's decision by the Appeal Judges is a victory for freedom of conscience and for common sense. The midwives are to be commended for their courage and determination in standing up to an unjust requirement of the employer that they be involved in abortion procedures. As the judges state, the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole abortion process.
"I hope that many pro-life health professionals will take heart from this judgement and have the courage to express their own objections if and when they are asked to carry out tasks which are morally wrong and violate their conscience.
"Respect for workers' freedom of conscience is a hallmark of a civilised society."
Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: “Today’s verdict is very welcome and we congratulate Connie and Mary on their tenacity and deep sense of professionalism. We hope that the Health Board will abide by this verdict and enable life to return to normal for Connie and Mary. The result is a tremendous victory for these devoted and caring professional women. This outcome will be a great relief to all midwives, nurses and doctors who may be under pressure to supervise abortion procedures and who are wondering whether the law protects their right to opt out.

Mr Tully continued: “The difference this judgment makes is that hospital managers must recognise that the legal right to opt out of abortion goes beyond those who directly undertake abortions. For the sake of good morale and good relations with all members of staff, it is important that the Board move to re-establish normal working relations straight away. The mothers and babies depending on the Southern General Hospital deserve no
less.

“Mary Doogan and Connie Wood deserve the fullest support and gratitude of their medical colleagues for resisting the pressure to give up their legal protections. It is important to recognise that their stand applies to people of all faiths and none: the right to refuse to participate in abortion is based on conscientious objection, whether religious or purely moral, so it applies to everyone", said Mr Tully.

“They are anxious to get back to normal after the protracted internal grievance procedure and legal action. This dispute has seriously disrupted their professional lives over the past four years and more”, concluded Mr Tully.

Connie Wood and Mary Doogan said in a statement:
"Connie and I are absolutely delighted with todays judgement from the Court of Session, which recognises and upholds our rights as labour ward midwifery sisters to withdraw from participating in any treatment that would result in medical termination of pregnancy.
In holding all life to be sacred from conception to natural death, as midwives we have always worked in the knowledge we have two lives to care for throughout labour; a mother and that of her unborn child.
Today's judgement is a welcome affirmation of the rights of all midwives to withdraw from a practice that would violate their conscience and which over time, would indeed debar many from entering what has always been a very rewarding and noble profession. It is with great relief we can now return to considerations that are all to do with child birth and midwifery practice and less to do with legal matters.
Lastly, we wish to thank the many individuals the length and breadth of Britain and, indeed, further afield, who have given us great help and support throughout the duration of our dispute with GG&CHB. Though too numerous to individually highlight, special mention has to be given to both sets of family, without whose support we could not have taken on this case, to SPUC and to our very talented legal team whose expertise and support we could not have done without. Thank you to each and everyone."
Source: SCMO/SPUC
SHARED FROM IND. CATH. NEWS

2 BISHOPS KIDNAPPED IN SYRIA ARE STILL MISSING - APPEAL FROM POPE

ASIA NEWS REPORT
Greek-Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo Jean Clement Jeanbart, denies reports of the release of Msgr. Ibrahim and Msgr. Boulos al-Yaziji. The two were being held prisoners until last night 


Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "Archbishop Ibrahim and Metropolitan Boulos al-Yaziji until last night were still in the hands of their kidnappers. Reports of their release yesterday afternoon were false." This is according to Msgr. Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Greek-Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, who emphasizes that the negotiations with the kidnappers are in progress, pointing out that at the moment "we know nothing" about their eventual release.

Reports have been circulating since yesterday about the alleged release of the two prelates. In the afternoon, all of the major news agencies and global networks had announced the release of the two bishops. The first to have leaked the news were journalists of Agence France Press (AFP), which quoted a statement by the Oeuvre d'Orient. They were followed by Reuters who also confirmed the release, citing Msgr. Tony Yaziji, bishop of the Greek orthodox church. Archbishop Jeanbart explains that "this news spread in Syria, resulting in great confusion." But for the moment there has been no official confirmation. 
 Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox bishop of the diocese of Aleppo and Boulos Yaziji, Greek orthodox Metropolitan of the diocese of the city, were abducted on the afternoon of April 22 in the village of Kafr Dael about 10 km from Aleppo. According to witnesses they were negotiating the release of two priests Fr. Michel Kayyal (Armenian Catholic) and Fr. Maher Mahfouz (Greek-orthodox), seized in February and still in the hands of their kidnappers. On their return they ran into a roadblock set up by rebel militias, the car carrying the two bishops was surrounded by some armed men, perhaps Chechen jihadists, who opened fire on the vehicle, killing the driver deacon and seizing the prelates.

The kidnapping of the two prelates has rocked the Syrian Christian community, Orthodox and Catholic. Yesterday, the pope said in the statement that he "follows the events with deep participation and intense prayer for the wellbeing and the release of the two abducted bishops."
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS 

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. APRIL 24, 2013

John 10: 11 - 16

11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.14I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,15as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.16And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.



TODAY'S SAINT : APRIL 24 : ST. FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN


St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
MARTYR
Feast: April 24


Information:
Feast Day:April 24
Born:1577 at Sigmaringen, Hohenzollern, Germany
Died:24 April 1622 at Grusch, Grisons, Switzerland
Canonized:29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
Major Shrine:Capuchin Convent of Weltkirchen (Feldkirch), Austria
He was born in 1577, at Sigmarengen, a town in Germany, in the principality of Hoinvenzollen. The name of his father was John Rey. The saint was christened Mark, performed his studies in the university of Fribourg in Switzerland, and while he taught philosophy, commenced doctor of laws. He at that time never drank wine, and wore a hair-shirt. His modesty, meekness, chastity, and all other virtues, charmed all that had the happiness of his acquaintance. In 1604, he accompanied three young gentlemen of that country on their travels through the principal parts of Europe. During six years, which he continued in this employment, he never ceased to instil into them the most heroic and tender sentiments of piety. He received the holy sacrament very frequently, particularly on all the principal holidays: in every town where he came, he visited the hospitals and churches, passed several hours on his knees in the presence of the blessed sacrament, and gave to the poor sometimes the very clothes off his back. After this he practiced the law in quality of counsellor or advocate, at Colmar, in Alsace, with great reputation, but with greater virtue. Justice and religion directed all his actions. He scrupulously forbore all invectives, detractions, and whatever might affect the reputation of any adversary. His charity procured him the surname of counsellor and advocate for the poor: but the injustices of a colleague in protracting lawsuits for gain, and his finding fault with our saint for producing all his proofs for his clients in the beginning, in order to the quicker dispatch, gave him a disgust of a profession which was to many an occasion of sin, and determined him to enter among the Capuchin friars. He first received holy orders, and having said his first mass in their convent at Fribourg, on the feast of St. Francis, in 1612, he consecrated himself to God by taking the habit. The guardian gave him, in religion, the name of Fidelis, or Faithful, alluding to that text of the Apocalypse which promises a crown of life to him who shall continue faithful to the end. From that moment humiliations, macerations, and implicit obedience were his delight. He overcame temptations by discovering them to his director, and submitting to his advice with regard to his conduct under them. By his last will, he bequeathed his patrimony to the bishop's seminary, for the establishment of a fund for the support of poor students, to whom he also left his library; and gave the remainder of his substance to the poor.
In regard to dress and furniture, he always chose that for his own use which was the least valuable and convenient. He fasted Advent, Lent, and Vigils, on bread and water, with dried fruits, tasting nothing which had been dressed by fire. His life was a continued prayer and recollection, and at his devotions he seemed rather like an angel than a man. His earnest and perpetual petition to God was, that he would always preserve him from sin, and from falling into tepidity or sloth in his service. He sought the most abject and most painful employments even when superior; knowing that God exalts those highest who have here humbled themselves the lowest and the nearest to their own nothingness. He had no sooner finished his course of theology, than he was employed in preaching and in hearing confessions; and being sent superior to the convent of Weltkirchen, that town and many neighboring places were totally reformed by his zealous labors, and several Calvinists converted. The congregation de propaganda fide, sent to father Fidelis a commission to go and  preach among the Grisons; and he was the first missionary that was sent into those parts after that people had embraced Calvinism. Eight other fathers of his order were his assistants, and labored in this mission under his direction. The Calvinists of that territory, being incensed at his attempt, loudly threatened his life, and he prepared himself for martyrdom on entering upon this new harvest. Ralph de Salis, and another Calvinist gentleman, were converted by his first conferences. The missionary penetrated into Pretigout, a small district of the Grisons, in 1622, on the feast of the Epiphany, and gained every day new conquests to Christ; the conversion of which souls ought to be regarded as more the fruit of the ardent prayers in which he passed great part of the nights, than of his sermons and conferences in the day. These wonderful effects of his apostolic zeal, whereof the bishop of Coire sent a large and full account to the congregation de propaganda, so enraged the Calvinists in that province, who had lately rebelled against the emperor. their sovereign, that they were determined to bear with them no longer. 'The holy father having notice of it, thought of nothing but preparing himself for his conflict, passing whole nights in fervent prayer before the blessed sacrament, or before his crucifix, and often prostrate on the ground. On the 24th of April, 1622, he made his confession to his companion with great compunction, said mass, and then preached at Gruch, a considerable borough. At the end of his sermon, which he delivered with more than ordinary fire, he stood silent on a sudden, with his eyes fixed on heaven, in an ecstasy, during some time. He foretold his death to several persons in the clearest terms, and subscribed his last letters in this manner: "Brother Fidelis, who will be shortly the food of worms." From Gruch he went to preach at Sevis, where, with great energy, he exhorted the Catholics to constancy in the faith. A Calvinist having discharged his musket at him in the church, the Catholics entreated him to leave the place. He answered, that death was his gain and his joy, and that he was ready to lay down his life in God's cause. On his road back to Gruch, he met twenty Calvinist soldiers with a minister at their head. They called him false prophet, and urged him to embrace their sect. He answered: "I am sent to you to confute, not to embrace your heresy. The Catholic religion is the faith of all ages, I fear not death." One of them beat him down to the ground by a stroke on the head with his backsword. The martyr rose again on his knees, and stretching out his arms in the form of a cross, said with a feeble voice "Pardon my enemies, O Lord: blinded by passion they know not what they do. Lord Jesus, have pity on me. Mary, mother of Jesus, assist me." Another stroke clove his skull, and he fell to the ground and lay wetering in his blood. The soldiers, not content with this, added many stabs in his body, and hacked his left leg, as they said, to punish him for his many journeys into those parts to preach to them. A Catholic woman lay concealed near the place during this butchery; and after the soldiers were gone, coming out to see the effects of it, found the martyr's eyes open, and fixed on the heavens. He died in 1622, the forty-fifth year of his age, and the tenth of his religious profession. He was buried by the Catholics the next day. The rebels were soon after defeated by the imperialists, an event which the martyr had foretold them. The minister was converted by this circumstance, and made a public abjuration of his heresy. After six months, the martyr's body was found incorrupt, but the head and left arm separate from the trunk. These being put into two cases, were translated from thence to the cathedral of Coire, at the earnest suit of the bishop, and laid under the high altar with great pomp; the remainder of the corpse was deposited in the Capuchin's church at Weltkirchen. Three miracles performed by his relics and intercession, out of three hundred and five produced, are inserted in the decree of his beatification, published by pope Benedict XIII., in 1729. Other miracles were proved, and the decree of his canonization was published by Benedict XIV., in 1746. The 24th of April is appointed the day of his festival, and his name is inserted in the Roman Martyrology. See the acts of his canonization: also his life, written by Dom. Placid, abbot of Weissenau, or Augia Brigantina, published by Dom. Bernard Pez, librarian in the famous abbey of Melch, in Austria, in his Bibliotheca Ascetica, t. 10, p. 403.
To contribute to the conversion of a soul from sin is something far more excellent than to raise a dead body to life. This must soon fall again a prey to death; and only recovers by such a miracle the enjoyment of the frail and empty goods of this world. But the soul which, from the death of sin, is raised to the life of grace, is immortal, and, from a slave of the devil and a firebrand of hell, passes to the inestimable dignity and privileges of a child of' God; by which divine adoption she is rescued out of the abyss of infinite misery, and exalted to the most sublime state of glory and happiness, in which all the treasures of grace and of heaven are her portion forever. Hunger, thirst, watchings, labors, and a thousand martyrdoms, ought to seem nothing to one employed in the sacred ministry, with the hopes of gaining but  one sinner to Christ. Moreover, God himself will be his recompense, who is witness, and keeps a faithful account of all his fatigues and least sufferings.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/F/stfidelisofsigmaringen.asp#ixzz1sz6IyiSh
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