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Monday, January 6, 2014

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2014

CATHOLIC RECIPE BOOK - 3 KINGS CAKE FOR EPIPHANY

WHAT IS EPIPHANY - MEANS TO MANIFEST - NOVENA PRAYER


FREE CATHOLIC MOVIES - 4TH WISE MAN - STARS MARTIN SHEEN

300 BIBLES SEIZED AND CHRISTIANS ARRESTED IN MALAYSIA - ASIA


2014

POPE FRANCIS EPIPHANY MASS "...MAY WE SEEK THE LIGHT AND KEEP THE FAITH" VIDEO/TEXT

(Vatican Radio) Against the majestic surroundings of St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the feast of the Epiphany. On this the day when the Church remembers the revelation of Jesus to humanity in the face of a child, the Pope began the celebration by kissing a statue of the Baby Jesus which was put pride of place in front of the alter.
At the heart of the Holy Father’s Homily, was the message that we must never be blinded by the forces of darkness but instead be transformed by the light of Christ.
The Pope was referring to the journey the Magi made, whose path was illuminated by a star which brings them in search of the great light of the Lord Jesus.
These three wise men, continued Pope Francis were able to overcome the darkness of King Herod, and his fear of a fragile child’s birth because they believed in the scriptures. 
The Holy Father also noted that we as Christians need to be spiritually astute just like the Magi were. They, he said were able to use a light of awareness to avoid the danger of Herod’s dark palace on their way back from visiting the Christ child.
The Pope then went on to underline the importance of what we can learn from these three Kings saying, “ they teach us how to defend ourselves against the darkness that seeks to envelope our lives”, they also teach us not to settle for “a mediocre life”, but aim for a life that is fascinated by good, truth, and beauty.
Concluding his Homily, Pope Francis urged Christians to follow the example of the Magi and search for the great light of Christ with our little lights.
Below is the English language translation of the Pope's Homily during Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany.
Lumen requirunt lumine”. These evocative words from a liturgical hymn for the Epiphany speak of the experience of the Magi: following a light, they were searching for the Light. The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ. The Magi followed faithfully that light which filled their hearts, and they encountered the Lord.

The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great “books” which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us, who always speaks to us. As the Psalm says in referring to the Law of the Lord: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). Listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially allows us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love.

The first reading echoes, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, the call of God to Jerusalem: “Arise, shine!” (Is 60:1). Jerusalem is called to be the city of light which reflects God’s light to the world and helps humanity to walk in his ways. This is the vocation and the mission of the People of God in the world. But Jerusalem can fail to respond to this call of the Lord. The Gospel tells us that the Magi, when they arrived in Jerusalem, lost sight of the star for a time. They no longer saw it. Its light was particularly absent from the palace of King Herod: his dwelling was gloomy, filled with darkness, suspicion, fear, envy. Herod, in fact, proved himself distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail Child whom he thought of as a rival. In realty Jesus came not to overthrow him, a wretched puppet, but to overthrow the Prince of this world! Nonetheless, the king and his counsellors sensed that the foundations of their power were crumbling. They feared that the rules of the game were being turned upside down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built on power, on success, possessions and corruption was being thrown into crisis by a child! Herod went so far as to kill the children. As Saint Quodvultdeus writes, “You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart” (Sermo 2 de Symbolo: PL 40, 655). This was in fact the case: Herod was fearful and on account of this fear, he became insane.

The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And so they fled the darkness and dreariness of the night of the world. They resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star, and the gospel tells us that they experienced “a great joy” (Mt 2:10). The very star which could not be seen in that dark, worldly palace.

One aspect of the light which guides us on the journey of faith is holy “cunning”. This holy “cunning” is also a virtue. It consists of a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it. The Magi used this light of “cunning” when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life. By this holy “cunning”, the Magi guarded the faith. We too need to guard the faith, guard it from darkness. Many times, however, it is a darkness under the guise of light. This is because the devil, as saint Paul, says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light. And this is where a holy “cunning” is necessary in order to protect the faith, guarding it from those alarmist voices that exclaim: “Listen, today we must do this, or that...”. Faith though, is a grace, it is a gift. We are entrusted with the task of guarding it, by means of this holy “cunning” and by prayer, love, charity. We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as Jesus told his disciples: “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16).

On the feast of the Epiphany, as we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi at our side, as wise companions on the way. Their example helps us to lift our gaze towards the star and to follow the great desires of our heart. They teach us not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of “playing it safe”, but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful… by God, who is all of this, and so much more! And they teach us not to be deceived by appearances, by what the world considers great, wise and powerful. We must not stop at that. It is necessary to guard the faith. Today this is of vital importance: to keep the faith. We must press on further, beyond the darkness, beyond the voices that raise alarm, beyond worldliness, beyond so many forms of modernity that exist today. We must press on towards Bethlehem, where, in the simplicity of a dwelling on the outskirts, beside a mother and father full of love and of faith, there shines forth the Sun from on high, the King of the universe. By the example of the Magi, with our little lights, may we seek the Light and keep the faith. May it be so.


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CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE HEAD WRITES TO PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR RELIEF FROM HHS

USCCB Logo

USCCB RELEASE:
Archbishop Kurtz Asks President Obama For Temporary Relief From Burdensome Fines Against Ministries Of Service To The Poor, Sick And Vulnerable 
December 31, 2013
Urges temporary relief from HHS mandate while courts decide
Highlights other exemptions, extensions granted for economic, administrative reasons
Mandate’s penalties to hurt, rather than help, shared goal of expanding coverage


WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has asked President Obama to temporarily exempt religious institutions from crippling fines if their insurance plans exclude sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives.

Archbishop Kurtz also asked the President to consider that the U.S. Supreme Court already has agreed to hear two cases related to the mandate created by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At least 90 cases have been brought to federal courts by individuals and institutions objecting to the imposition of the HHS mandate. Most of the decisions to date have favored those bringing suit.

Archbishop Kurtz’s request comes as the Administration has offered exemptions to numerous people and organizations having difficulty in implementing the ACA. Individuals who faced penalties for not meeting deadlines for enrollment have had deadlines extended. Businesses with 50 or more employees will not be fined if they drop or otherwise do not offer health insurance at all for 2014. After 2014, if these businesses do not offer a health insurance plan, they face a fine of $2,000 a year per employee.

Meanwhile, beginning as early as January 1, 2014, organizations such as church-sponsored universities, hospitals and social services, face a fine of $100 per day ($36,500 per year) per employee if they provide health coverage that does not include contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization.

“The result is a regulation that harshly and disproportionately penalizes those seeking to offer life-affirming health coverage in accord with the teachings of their faith,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “The Administration’s flexibility in implementing the ACA has not yet reached those who want only to exercise what has rightly been called our ‘First Freedom’ under the Constitution.” 

“I understand that legal issues in these cases will ultimately be settled by the Supreme Court,” he added. “In the meantime, however, many religious employers have not obtained the temporary relief they need in time to avoid being subjected to the HHS mandate beginning January 1. I urge you, therefore, to consider offering temporary relief from this mandate, as you have for so many other individuals and groups facing other requirements under the ACA.”


The entire letter follows.

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the Catholic bishops of the United States, I wish you and your family every blessing in this New Year. The bishops pray regularly that you and our other public officials will have renewed strength to fulfill the duties of your office with integrity, justice and compassion. 

In this regard, your Administration recently relaxed the rules governing individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act, so Americans whose current plans have been canceled may claim a “hardship exemption” from some requirements. This is the latest in a series of actions to advance the ACA’s goal of maximizing health coverage, while minimizing hardships to Americans as the Act is implemented. For example, the ACA exempts small employers from the mandate to offer health coverage, and you have suspended this mandate for all employers through 2014. 

One category of Americans, however, has been left out in the cold: Those who, due to moral and religious conviction, cannot in good conscience comply with the HHS regulation requiring coverage of sterilization and contraceptives. This mandate includes drugs and devices that can interfere with the survival of a human being in the earliest stage of development, burdening religious convictions on abortion as well as contraception. To date, at least 90 lawsuits representing almost 300 plaintiffs have been filed to challenge this mandate, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two of these cases in its current Term. Most lower courts addressing the issue have found merit in the plaintiffs’ claims and granted at least temporary relief, while some courts have denied relief or have yet to act. 

Many Catholic and other nonprofit institutions caring for those in need through education, health care and other services are not exempt from the contraceptive mandate. For reasons articulated by the courts, the Administration’s final rule of July 2013 does not alleviate the burden on their religious freedom.

Please consider, then, the result of your Administration’s current policies. In the coming year, no employer, large or small, will be required to offer a health plan at all. Employers face no penalty in the coming year (and only $2000 per employee afterwards) for canceling coverage against their employees’ wishes, compelling them to seek individual coverage on the open market. But an employer who chooses, out of charity and good will, to provide and fully subsidize an excellent health plan for employees – but excludes sterilization or any contraceptive drug or device – faces crippling fines of up to $100 a day or $36,500 a year per employee. In effect, the government seems to be telling employees that they are better off with no employer health plan at all than with a plan that does not cover contraceptives. This is hard to reconcile with an Act whose purpose is to bring us closer to universal coverage. 

The result is a regulation that harshly and disproportionately penalizes those seeking to offer life-affirming health coverage in accord with the teachings of their faith. The Administration’s flexibility in implementing the ACA has not yet reached those who want only to exercise what has rightly been called our “First Freedom” under the Constitution. 

I understand that legal issues in these cases will ultimately be settled by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, however, many religious employers have not obtained the temporary relief they need in time to avoid being subjected to the HHS mandate beginning January 1. I urge you, therefore, to consider offering temporary relief from this mandate, as you have for so many other individuals and groups facing other requirements under the ACA. 

Thank you for considering this urgent plea. Again, be assured of my continued prayers in the coming year as you seek to serve the American people.    

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

ANGELUS WITH POPE FRANCIS "JESUS IS THE EPIPHANY"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered on a bright crisp day in St. Peter’s Square Monday for the recitation of the Angelus Prayer and to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany with the Holy Father. In his address, the Pope referred to Pope Benedict Emeritus’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives” which he said “magnificently” recounts the biblical coming of the Maji from the East to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ Child. The Epiphany, Pope Francis said, marks the first “manifestation” of Christ to the people and as a consequence, points to the universal salvation brought by Jesus.

In today’s feast, we see a “dual movement,” the Pope noted: of God who comes “towards the world, towards humanity” and of men who seek closeness to God: “the religions, the search for truth, the way of people towards peace, justice, liberty.”

For his part, God loves us: “we are His children; He loves us and He wants to liberate us from evil, from sickness, from death, and take us to His home in His Kingdom.” We too, the Pope said, are attracted by “goodness, truth, life and happiness and beauty.”

And as the two sides attract, Jesus, the Pope stressed, is our point of encounter with the Lord as His love incarnate.

Had the Maji not seen the Star pointing them to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem, they would never have left, the Pope mused. “Light precedes us, the truth precedes us, beauty precedes us. God precedes us: it is grace; and this grace appears in Jesus. He is the Epiphany, the manifestation of God’s love.”

Departing from his prepared remarks, the Pope appealed “sincerely” and “respectfully” to those who “feel far from God and from the Church” and to “those who are fearful and indifferent: the Lord is calling you too.” The Lord is calling you to be a part of His people and He does it with great respect and love.”

“The Lord does not proselytize; He gives love,” reaffirmed the Pope. “And this love seeks you and waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.”

Pope Francis prayed that “all the Church” may be steeped in “the joy of evangelizing” invoking the aid of the Virgin Mary so that “we can all be disciple-missionaries, small stars that reflect His light.”

Following the recital of the Angelus, Pope Francis gave greetings to the Churches of the East who tomorrow will celebrate Christmas. He prayed that all will be “reinforced in faith, hope and charity” and the Lord will “give comfort” to Christian communities and to the Churches undergoing “trial.”

The Pope recalled that the Epiphany is the missionary Day for children organized by the Pontifical office for Holy Childhood and thanked young people and children whose “gestures of solidarity” towards other children “widen the horizons of their fraternity.”


SHARE from Vatican Radio 


The Star of Bethlehem by Edward Burne-Jones in 1887.

A Traditional Cake for Epiphany, German recipe
INGREDIENTS 
 2 Cups and 3 Tablespoons of Flour 
1.4 Ounces of Yeast (Fresh)
1/3 Cup of Sugar
2/4 Cup of Milk
7 Tablespoons of melted Butter
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Lemon chopped
1/2 teaspoon of Cardamon
2 Eggs (1 Separated)
1/2 Cup of Rum soaked Raisins
1 Cup of dried chopped Fruit
Instructions
In a large mixing bowl pour in 3/4 of the flour leaving a hole in the middle. Mix the yeast with a pinch of sugar and some of the lukewarm milk. Place the yeast mixture in the hole and cover with a towel. Let sit for 1/4 an hour in a warm place. Afterwards, add the butter, salt, lemon, cardamon, eggs, milk and flour to the mixture. Knead dough until smooth.
Once a ball of dough is formed add the remaining raisins and fruit. Knead entire mixture and make a log and divide into four balls.
Place in a greased spring-form pan with a tube. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 20 minutes in a warm place. Brush dough with a beaten egg yolk and place in the oven at 350 F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool cake before removing from pan.
When cooled frost the cake with 2 Tablespoons of Icing Sugar mixed with 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice. Decorate with candied cherries.
Traditionally, a golden crown is placed on top of the cake.


WHAT IS EPIPHANY - MEANS TO MANIFEST - NOVENA PRAYER

Epiphany
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, 
Visit of the Magi to be baby Jesus
The Solemn Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord, one of the oldest Christian feats, traditionally occurs on January 6, following the 12 days of Christmas.
Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season for the Western Church and commemorates three important scriptural events.
These are the visit of the Magi to the stable in Bethlehem following the Nativity of Jesus, the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan and the celebration of Christ's first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana many years later.
Although all three are events that are remembered and celebrated by Christians, it is the three kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, and their arrival from the East bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the infant Christ that are most closely associated with Epiphany in the Western Church.
In the story, so beloved by children and Catholics everywhere, after seeing the brilliant star in the night sky announcing the birth of the Messiah, the three wise men or Magi, followed the star which took them to Bethlehem. There they visited King Herod of Judea seeking information on where to find the new born king. Not having heard of the arrival of the baby Jesus, and fearing the infant would be a threat to his position as king, Herod instructed the three wise men to seek out the location of the Christ-child and return, to let him know where he was, so that Herod could visit and take him gifts as well.
 The Magi found the infant Jesus and paid tribute to the greatest of all Kings as he lay in his crib in a humble stable but they did not return to reveal his whereabouts to Herod. Instead directed by God in a dream, they returned home by another route.
With no information about the whereabouts of the Messiah, Herod proceeded to have his troops slaughter all infants under the age of two to remove the possible threat to his throne. But as we know, the baby Jesus escaped Herod's murderous intentions.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, January 6 is celebrated as the Nativity of Christ and instead of three kings, the Magi are depicted as 12 in number. But for Western Christians, the Magi are only three in number with each representing one of the world's three main races - African, Asian and European.
Until the Magi's arrival all characters in the Christmas story are Jewish but with the arrival of three Kings, we have the first indication that Jesus and his message are universal and that Christ arrived on earth to preach to the whole world.
Although when most people talk about the 12 days of Christmas the English song of a partridge in a pear tree usually springs to mind. But it is the Feast of Epiphany that the 12th day after Christmas that resonates with Christians and is observed across the world.
The earliest reference to Epiphany (from a Greek verb meaning "to manifest") occurred sometime around 354 AD when the Western Church separated the celebration of the Nativity of Christ as the feast of Christmas and reserved January 6 as the commemoration of the manifestation of Christ, especially to the Magi, as well as his baptism and miracle at the wedding feast of Cana which Ammianus Marcellinus St Epiphanius declared in 361 AD occurred on the same date.
On the Feast of the Epiphany priests wear white vestments. In many countries the Feast is extended from one day to eight days in what is known as the Octave of Epiphany which begins on January 6 and ends on January 13.
In countries, such as Australia, where the Feast of the Epiphany is not regarded as a Holy Day of Obligation, the date of Epiphany varies slightly from year to year and is always celebrated on the first Sunday between that falls between January 2 and January 8.
(SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY)
Pious customs among Christians have placed the letter 20CMB14 and the year above door posts relating to the blood on the door posts of the Old Testament. CMB means "Christus Mansionem Benedicat" in Latin - May Christ bless this dwelling place. CMB also stand for the 3 Magi Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  (Image share from Fr. Trigillio Jr.) 

Novena to the Magi for the Epiphany

DAY 1:
O holy Magi! You were living in continual expectation of the rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; obtain for us an increase of faith and charity, and the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
DAY 2:
O holy Magi! who at the first appearance of the wondrous star left your native country to go and seek the newborn King of the Jews; obtain for us the grace of corresponding with alacrity to every divine inspiration. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 
DAY 3:
O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season, nor the inconveniences of the journey that you might find the newborn Messiah; obtain for us the grace not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by any of the difficulties which may meet us on the way of salvation. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 
DAY 4:
O holy Magi, who, when deserted by the star in the city of Jerusalem, sought humbly, and without human respect, from the rulers of the Church, the place where you might discover the object of your journey; obtain for us grace to have recourse, in faith and humility, in all our doubts and perplexities to the counsel of our superiors, who hold the place of God on earth. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 
DAY 5:
O holy Magi, who were gladdened by the reappearance of the star which led you to Bethlehem; obtain for us from God the grace, that, remaining always faithful to Him in afflictions, we may be consoled in time by His grace, and in eternity by His glory. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
DAY 6:
O holy Magi, who, entering full of faith into the stable of Bethlehem, prostrated yourselves on the earth, to adore the newborn King of the Jews, though he was surrounded only by signs of poverty and weakness; obtain from the Lord for us a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament, the true spirit of poverty, and a Christ-like charity for the poor and suffering. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 
DAY 7:
O holy Magi, who offered to Jesus Christ gold, incense, and myrrh, thereby recognizing Him to be at once King, God, and Man; obtain from the Lord for us the grace never to present ourselves before Him with empty hands; but that we may continually offer to Him the gold of charity, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
DAY 8:
O holy Magi, who, when warned by an angel not to return to Herd, traveled back to your country be another road; obtain for us from the Lord, the grace that, after having found Him in true repentance, we may avoid all danger of losing Him again. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
DAY 9:
O holy Magi, who were first among the Gentiles called to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and who persevered in the faith till your deaths, obtain for us of the Lord the grace of living always in conformity to our baptismal vows, ever leading to a life of faith; that like you we may attain to the beatific vision of that God Who now is the object of our faith. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.


Free RECIPE FOR 3 KINGS http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2014/01/catholic-recipe-book-3-kings-cake-for.html

FREE CATHOLIC MOVIES - 4TH WISE MAN - STARS MARTIN SHEEN

The Fourth Wise Man (1985) TV Movie - 72 min -
 Adventure | Drama -
 30 March 1985 (USA) The story of Artaban, the fourth Magi, who spends his life looking for Jesus his King. Writers: Tom Fontana, Henry van Dyke (short story) Stars: Martin Sheen, Alan Arkin, Eileen Brennan | 

TODAY'S SAINT : EPIPHANY OF JESUS - 3 KINGS


Epiphany of the Lord
Feast: January 6


Information:
Feast Day:January 6
EPIPHANY, which in the original Greek signifies appearance or manifestation, as St. Austin observes, is a festival principally solemnised in honour of the discovery Jesus Christ made of himself to the Magi, or wise men; who, soon after his birth, by a particular inspiration of Almighty God, came to adore him and bring him presents. Two other manifestations of our Lord are jointly commemorated on this day in the office of the church: that at his baptism, when the Holy Ghost descended on him in the visible form of a dove, and a voice from heaven was heard at the same time: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The third manifestation was that of his divine power at the performance of his first miracle, the changing of water into wine, at the marriage at Cana, "by which he manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him." Upon so many accounts ought this festival to challenge a more than ordinary regard and veneration; but from none more than us Gentiles, who, in the persons of the wise men, our first-fruits and forerunners, were on this day called to the faith and worship of the true God.
The call of the Gentiles had been foretold for many ages before in the clearest terms. David and Isaias abound with predictions of this import; the like is found in the other prophets; but their completion was a mercy reserved for the times of the Messiah. It was to him, who was also the consubstantial Son of God, that the eternal Father had made the promise of all "nations for his inheritance"; who being born the spiritual king of the whole world, for the salvation of "all men," would therefore manifest his coming both to those that "were near, and those that were afar off," that is, both to Jew and Gentile. Upon his birth, angels were dispatched ambassadors to the Jews, in the persons of the poor shepherds, and a star was the divine messenger on this important errand to the Gentiles of the East; conformably to Balaam's prophecy, who foretold the coming of the Messias by that sign.
The summons of the Gentiles to Bethlehem to pay homage to the world's Redeemer was obeyed by several whom the Scripture mentions under the name and title of , or wise men; but is silent as to their number. The general opinion, supported by the authority of St. Leo, Caesarius, Bede, and others, declares for three. However, the number was small, comparatively to those many others that saw that star, no less than the wise men, but paid no regard to this voice of heaven: admiring, no doubt, its uncommon brightness, but culpably ignorant of the divine call it, or hardening their hearts against its salutary impressions, overcome by their passions, and the dictates of self-love. In like manner do Christians, from the same cause, turn a deaf ear to the voice of the divine grace in their souls, and harden their hearts against it in such numbers, that, notwithstanding their call, their graces, and the mysteries wrought in their favour, it is to be feared that even among many "are called, but few are chosen." It was the case with the Jews, "with the most of whom," St. Paul says, "God was not well pleased."
The wise men being come, by the guidance of the star, into Jerusalem, or near it, it there disappears: whereupon they reasonably suppose they are come to their journey's end, and upon the point of being blessed with the sight of the new-born king: that, on their entering the royal city, they shall in every street and corner hear the acclamations of a happy people, and learn with ease the way to the royal palace, made famous to all posterity by the birth of their king and Saviour. But to their great surprise there appears not the least sign of any such solemnity. The court and city go quietly on in seeking their pleasure and profit! and in this unexpected juncture what shall these weary travellers do? Were they governed by human prudence, this disappointment is enough to make them abandon their design, and retreat as privately as they can to screen their reputation, and avoid the raillery of the populace, as well as to prevent the resentment of the most zealous of tyrants, already infamous for blood. But true virtue makes trials the matter and occasion of its most glorious triumphs. Seeming to be forsaken by God, on their being deprived of extraordinary, they have recourse to the ordinary means of information. Steady in the resolution of following the divine call, and fearless of danger, they inquire in the city with equal confidence and humility, and pursue their inquiry in the very court of Herod himself: "Where is he that is born king of the Jews? " And does not their conduct teach us, under all difficulties of the spiritual kind, to have recourse to those God has appointed to be our spiritual guides, for their advice and direction? To "obey and be subject to them," that so God may lead us to himself, as he guided the wise men to Bethlehem by the directions of the priests of the Jewish church.
The whole nation of the Jews, on account of Jacob's and Danial's prophecies, were then in the highest expectation of the Messiah's appearance among them; the place of whose birth having been also foretold, the wise men, by the interposition of Herod's authority, quickly learned, from the unanimous voice of the Sanhedrim, or great council of the Jews, that Bethlehem was the place which was to be honoured with his birth, as having been pointed out by the prophet Micheas several ages before. How sweet and adorable is the conduct of divine providence! He teaches saints his will by the mouths of impious ministers, and furnishes Gentiles with the means of admonishing and confounding the blindness of the Jews. But graces are lost on carnal and hardened souls. Herod had then reigned upwards of thirty years; a monster of cruelty, ambition, craft, and dissimulation; old age and sickness had at that time exasperated his jealous mind in an unusual manner. He dreaded nothing so much as the appearance of the Messiah, whom the generality then expected under the notion of a temporal prince, and whom he could consider in no other light than that of a rival and pretender to his crown; so no wonder that he was startled at the news of his birth. All Jerusalem, likewise, instead of rejoicing at such happy tidings, were alarmed and disturbed together with him. We abhor their baseness; but do not we, at a distance from courts, betray several symptoms of the baneful influence of human respects running counter to our duty? Likewise in Herod we see how extravagantly blind and foolish ambition is. The divine infant came not to deprive Herod of his earthly kingdom, but to offer him one that is eternal; and to teach him a holy contempt of all worldly pomp and grandeur. Again, how senseless and extravagant a folly was it to form designs against those of God himself! who confounds the wisdom of the world, baffles the vain projects of men, and laughs their policy to scorn. Are there no Herods nowadays? Persons who are enemies to the spiritual kingdom of Christ in their hearts ?
The tyrant, to ward off the blow he seemed threatened with, has recourse to his usual arts of craft and dissimulation. He pretends a no less ardent desire of paying homage to the new-born king, and covers his impious design of taking away his life under the specious pretext of going himself in person to adore him. Wherefore, after particular examination about the time when the wise men first saw this star, and a strict charge to come back and inform him where the child was to be found, he dismissed them to the place determined by the chief priests and scribes. Herod was then near his death; but as a man lives, such does he usually die. The near prospect of eternity seldom operates in so salutary a manner on habitual sinners as to produce in them a true and sincere change of heart.
The wise men readily complied with the voice of the Sanhedrim, notwithstanding the little encouragement these Jewish leaders afford them from their own example to persist in their search; for not one single priest or scribe is disposed to bear them company in seeking after, and paying due homage to, their own king. The truths and maxims of religion depend not on the morals of those that preach them; they spring from a higher source—the wisdom and veracity of God himself. When, therefore, a message comes undoubtedly from God, the misdemeanours of him that immediately conveys it to us can be no just plea or excuse for our failing to comply with it. As, on the other side, an exact and ready compliance will then be a better proof of our faith and confidence in God, and so much the more recommend us to his special conduct and protection, as it did the wise men. For no sooner had they left Jerusalem, but, to encourage their faith and zeal, and to direct their travels, God was pleased to show them the star again, which they had seen in the East, and which continued to go before them till it conducted them to the very place where they were to see and adore their God and Saviour. Here its ceasing to advance, and probably sinking lower in the air, tells them in its mute language: "Here shall you find the new-born king." The holy men, with an unshaken and steady faith, and in transports of spiritual joy, entered the poor cottage, rendered more glorious by this birth than the most sumptuous stately palace in the universe, and finding the child with his mother, they prostrate themselves, they adore him, they pour forth their souls in his presence in the deepest sentiments of praise, thanksgiving, and a total sacrifice of themselves. So far from being shocked at the poverty of the place, and at his unkingly appearance, their faith rises and gathers strength on the sight of obstacles which, humanly speaking, should extinguish it. It captivates their understanding; it penetrates these curtains of poverty, infancy, weakness, and abjection; it casts them on their  faces, as unworthy to look up to this star, this God of Jacob; they confess him under this disguise to be the only and eternal God: they own the excess of his goodness in becoming man, and the excess of human misery which requires for its relief so great a humiliation of the Lord of glory. St. Leo thus extols their  faith and devotion: "When a star had conducted them to adore Jesus they did not find him commanding devils, or raising the dead, or restoring sight to the blind, or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine actions; but a silent babe, under the care of a solicitous mother, giving no sign of power, but exhibiting a miracle of humility."
The Magi, pursuant to the custom of the eastern nations, where the persons of great princes are not to be approached without presents, present to Jesus, as a token of homage, the richest produce their countries afforded, gold, frankincense, and myrrh— gold, as an acknowledgment of his regal power; incense, as a confession of his Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that he was become man for the redemption of the world.
The holy kings being about to return home, God, who saw the hypocrisy and malicious designs of Herod, by a particular intimation diverted them from their purpose of carrying back word to Jerusalem where the child was to be found. So, to complete their fidelity and grace, they returned not to Herod's court; but, leaving their hearts with their infant Saviour, took another road back into their own country. In like manner, if we would persevere in the possession of the graces bestowed on us, we must resolve from this day to hold no correspondence with a sinful world, the irreconcilable enemy to Jesus Christ; but to take a way that lies a distance from it, I mean that which is marked out to us by the saving maxims of the gospel. And pursuing this with an unshaken confidence in his grace and merits, we shall safely arrive at our heavenly country.
It has never been questioned but that the holy Magi spent the rest of their lives in the fervent service of God. The ancient author of the imperfect comment on St. Matthew, among the works of St. Chrysostom, says they were afterwards baptized in Persia by St. Thomas the apostle, and became themselves preachers of the gospel. Their bodies were said to have been translated to Constantinople under the first Christian emperors. From thence they were conveyed to Milan, where the place in which they were deposited is still shown in the Dominicans' church of that city. The emperor Frederick Barbarossa having taken Milan, caused them to be translated to Cologne in Germany, in the twelfth century.

SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/E/epiphanyofthelord.asp#ixzz1ifzjXEwl

SUNDAY MASS ONLINE - EPIPHANY SOLEMNITY DEC. 5, 2014

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Lectionary: 20


Reading 1                IS 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD. 

Responsorial Psalm                             PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R/ (cf. 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R/ Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R/ Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R/ Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R/ Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Reading 2                          EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Gospel                             MT 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

300 BIBLES SEIZED AND CHRISTIANS ARRESTED IN MALAYSIA - ASIA

PLEASE PRAY FOR THESE PEOPLE
ASIA NEWS REPORT: In the State of Selangor, the authorities raid a Christian centre and seize hundreds of copies of the sacred text. Fr Lawrence Andrew calls the action "wrong" and contrary to the nation's values. Sources tell AsiaNews that Catholics are being pressured to drop the case and that religious freedom is being progressively restricted.


Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - The raid in the State of Selangor that led to the seizure of hundreds of Bibles and the arrest of two Christian leaders, later released on bail, is "deeply wrong and unlawful". Local government officials "have no authority to enter a Christian centre" and carry out acts that are visibly contrary to the constitution of Malaysia, said Fr Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Catholic weekly Herald, as he reacted to further abuses against the religious minority, already struggling in a controversial court case involving the use of the word "Allah" in reference to the Christian God.
Speaking to AsiaNews, the priest noted the constitution says that every religious group is "free to practice its religion and manage its own affairs" without outside "interference", as was the case yesterday. Indeed, the controversy over 'Allah' is a source of problems for the nation.
Yesterday, Malaysian authorities seized 321 Bibles from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) in Selangor, because they used the word Allah for the Christian God.
The raid is a direct result of a court decision last October to give Muslims "exclusive" use of the word use 'Allah' and ban its use by Christians. Most Muslims are ethnic Malay.
The dispute is still before the Federal Court, and a new hearing is scheduled for 24 February when judges will have to decide whether to allow the Catholic Church to appeal.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said that the controversy and court cases should end for the greater good of the country. In his view, Christian objection to the court's decision is sowing "hatred and division" and could cause "further clashes." Islamist leaders agree with the minister and have called on Christians to respect his request; otherwise things could get out of hand.
United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) leaders are also threatening to carry out widespread protests in all the churches of the State during Sunday services if "the unlawful use" of the word Allah continues.
Anonymous sources with great knowledge of local politics told AsiaNews that political interests might be behind the hard-line stance taken by the prime minister and the government, such as winning the support of extremist voters following unpopular moves like lower subsidies and higher petrol, electricity and sugar prices.
"What is happening today already happened in 2010, when churches and Christian places of worship came under violent attacks," the source said. "Even then, UMNO was behind the violence as a way to influence the court decision. They are causing unrest to show that it is necessary to end the dispute and put everything to rest by denying Catholics the right to appeal." Sadly, in Malaysia, "Religious freedom is being gradually restricted," he said.
The recent anti-Christian raid follows a controversial decision by the Court of Appeal in October banning the Catholic weekly Herald from using the word "Allah" for the Christian God.
Following the ruling, some officials at the Ministry of Interior seized 2,000 copies of the magazine published by the Archdiocese at Kuala Lumpur's Kota Kinabalu Airport in, Sabah state, justifying the action by the need to check whether the publication complied with the court order against "unlawful uses of the word Allah".
The controversy broke out initially in 2008, when the government threatened to revoke the weekly's permission to publish. The paper is the country's main Catholic publication. In response, Church leaders sued the government for breaching constitutional rights.
In 2009, the High Court ruled in favour of Catholics. The judgment however sent shockwaves among Muslims, angering many who consider the word 'llah' exclusively Islamic. A wave of violence swept the country, with churches and other Christian places of worship targeted. To stem extremism, the government decided to appeal.
In Malaysia, a mostly Muslim nation (60 per cent) of more than 28 million, Christians are the third largest religious group after Buddhists with more than 2.6 million members.

A Latin-Malay dictionary published 400 year ago shows that 'Allah' was used in the Bible from the start to refer to God in the local language.
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT
TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 6 : ST. ANDRE BESSETTE


St. André Bessette
RELIGIOUS
Feast: January 6


Information:
Feast Day:January 6
Born:
9 August 1845 near Montreal, Canada
Died:6 January 1937
Beatified:23 May 1982 by Pope John Paul II
Historico-Liturgical Note

This Holy Cross Brother, known as "Frere Andre," has been credited with thousands of cures. He was the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada, perhaps the world's principal shrine in honor of St. Joseph. When he died at the age of 91, it was estimated that close to a million people came to the Oratory to pay their last respects. He was beatified in 1982.
Andre was the eighth child in a family of 12 and at baptism he was given the name Alfred. Orphaned at the age of 12, he tried his hand at various trades but was not successful in any of them. He could barely read and write and was sickly most of his life. At the age of 15 he became a Brother of Holy Cross but was rejected at the end of the novitiate. At the insistence of the bishop of Montreal, however, Brother Andre was allowed to make religious profession. For forty years he worked as porter at the College of Notre Dame, until he was needed full time at the shrine of St. Joseph. People from all over Canada came to him for cures or for spiritual direction. The Oratory that he built in honor of St. Joseph was solemnly dedicated in 1955 and raised to the rank of a minor basilica.

Message And Relevance

The Opening Prayer of the Mass describes two characteristics of the spirituality of Brother Andre: his deep devotion to St. Joseph and his "commitment to the poor and afflicted. " For many years he gathered funds to replace the primitive chapel with a suitable church, even cutting the hair of the students at five cents each. His concern for those who needed spiritual healing and support led him to spend 8 to 10 hours a day receiving clients. He became so well known that secretaries had to be assigned to answer the 80,000 letters he received annually.
If one were to seek the outstanding virtue of Brother Andre one would have to say that it was his humility. He once said: "I am ignorant. If there were anyone more ignorant, the good God would choose him in my place. " And when the power of healing was attributed to him, he responded: "It is St. Joseph who cures. I am only his little dog."
The significance of the life and works of Brother Andre for today's Christian is the fact that this humble Brother, who could scarcely read or write, was chosen by God as an instrument for good. As we read in the Preface for Martyrs, God reveals his power shining through our human weakness.
Opening Prayer Lord our God, friend of the lowly, you gave your servant, Brother Andre, a great devotion to St. Joseph and a special commitment to the poor and afflicted. Through his intercession help us to follow his example of prayer and love and so come to share with him in your glory.




SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/blandrebessette.asp#ixzz1ifzT6vP0

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