Wednesday, February 26, 2014


POPE FRANCIS “It is good to know that in the moment of suffering and of sickness that we are not alone,”

(Vatican Radio) At his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This Sacrament, the Pope said, “allows us to ‘touch’ God’s compassion for man.”

The Holy Father said the “profound mystery” of the Sacrament is expressed in a “biblical icon,” the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Every time we celebrated the Sacrament, the Lord Jesus, in the person of the priest, is close to the one who suffers and is gravely ill, or elderly.” When the good Samaritan tends to the victim of the robbers, the oil and wine he pours on his wounds represent the oil of the sick used in Sacrament, the love and grace of Jesus for those who are suffering. The good Samaritan then takes the man to an inn, and asks the innkeeper to care for him. The innkeeper, the Pope said, represents the Church, the Christian community, to whom, every day, Christ entrusts “those who are afflicted, whether in soul or in body, so that He can continue to bestow on them, without measure, all of His mercy and salvation.

The Pope reminded the crowds that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was specifically repeated in the New Testament, in the Letter of Saint James: “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”

But, Pope Francis said, too often people are afraid to call for the priest, because of a certain “taboo” around the whole topic of suffering and death. He encouraged Christians not to be afraid to request the Sacrament, but to remember that in the Sacrament Jesus is close to the sick and the aged.

“It is good to know that in the moment of suffering and of sickness that we are not alone,” he said. The priest, and those present for the Sacrament represent the whole Christian community, which embraces those who are suffering and their families, supporting them with their prayers and their fraternal care. But the greatest comfort comes from knowing that Jesus Himself is present in the Sacrament, and that nothing can ever separate us from Him.

(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the complete English-language summary of Pope Francis’ Angelus address for Wednesday, February 26, followed by his greetings to English-speaking pilgrims: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the sacraments, we now turn to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which expresses God’s merciful presence to the sick, the suffering and the aged. The parable of the Good Samaritan reflects our Lord’s tender concern for those who suffer; like the Samaritan, and following Christ’s example and teaching, the Church brings God’s healing presence to the suffering through the sacramental sign of anointing with oil. As we learn from the Letter of James (5:14-15), the early Church continued his ministry to the sick through prayer and anointing by her presbyters. Through the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church accompanies us in facing the profound mystery of suffering and death. In a culture which all too often refuses to speak of these realities, we need all the more to recognize the beauty of this Sacrament and to appreciate, in spiritual solidarity with the whole Church, the presence of the Lord Jesus, who strengthens us in faith and hope, and reminds us that nothing – not even evil and death – can ever separate us from the saving power of his love.


I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Canada and the United States. I greet in particular the participants in the World Congress of SIGNIS and the pilgrimage group of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter from the United States. With affection I greet the alumni and friends of the Pontifical Canadian College on the 125th anniversary of the College’s establishment. Upon all present I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord!

Text Vatican Radio website 


Photo: Premium Times
Boko Haram (file photo) 
OPEN DOORS RELEASE: Please pray for the situation in Yobe, where another Boko Haram attack has left an estimated 100 or more students dead.
Sources told Open Doors that as many as 100 students of the Federal Government College in Gujba village (near Damaturu in Yobe State) may have died on Monday night, when suspected Boko Haram members attacked the school and dormitory. After arriving around midnight, in six Toyota Hilux vans, the attackers separated the male and female students before shooting some students, slitting the throats of others or locking others into buildings before razing them.
A student, who had narrowly escaped, told Open Doors over the phone:
 “I heard the cries of some people outside the school even before they invaded the school. I suspected that they caught some people on their way to the school, and sensed danger, so I jumped over the fence of the school and crawled into a ditch and stayed there praying and listening. From where I was hiding, I could hear other students crying at the top of their voices. I saw fire on the roofs of the hostels and other buildings in the school. I was counting myself among the dead, because some attackers came from behind and I heard them passing very close to where I was hiding. But God saved my life.”
Although it was reported on Monday that the death toll had risen to 57, local sources told Open Doors that more than hundred students were killed. Bala Ajiya, an official at the Specialist Hospital Damaturu, told Reuters by phone, “Fresh bodies have been brought in. More bodies were discovered in the bush after the students who had escaped with bullet wounds died from their injuries.”
Local church leaders told Open Doors that there are an unknown number of Christians among the deceased.
The school has been closed and surviving students have been sent home.
Please pray for all families affected
Parents from different parts of the region are streaming to the area to see if their children have survived. Witnesses told Open Doors that people could be seen in the town crying uncontrollably at the sight of the destruction yesterday. At the time of this report, bodies were still being brought into the mortuary in the nearby Damaturu, capital of Yobe state. Pray that God would be at work through His Spirit in these very tragic circumstances, comforting His children and drawing those who do not know Him closer to Himself.
Pray for wisdom and courage for the government to take the necessary action against Boko Haram
The attacks on schools are on the increase in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno state by the members of Boko Haram. In spite of the presence of the security in some parts of the state, these attacks continue unabated. This latest attack came only hours after President Goodluck told media the Nigerian army is in control of the situation. Pray that there will be constructive help for the Nigerian government in dealing with Boko Haram.
Pray for the brave but shaken Church in Yobe
Open Doors has recently visited Damaturu and witnessed widespread destruction from the continuing Boko Haram insurgency. This instability is adversely affecting the Church. After seeing the large number of casualties among Christians in the persistent attacks, many have opted to leave. This exodus is eroding the Church. Some courageous Christians have remained, but are in dire need of encouragement and support
The truth is, life in the region is very difficult, and every single day is a miracle,” reported an Open Doors worker from northern Nigeria.

POPE BENEDICT at rare Interview against allegations “There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,”

(Vatican Radio) The Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has lamented what he calls “absurd speculations” about his resignation in a letter to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, of the newspaper La Stampa. The Pope-emeritus was responding to a question about recent newspaper theories surrounding the validity of his resignation one year ago.

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI wrote. He said the only condition for the validity of his resignation was the complete freedom of his decision. He called speculation regarding its validity “simply absurd.”

He also clarified he continued to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for “purely practical reasons,” noting that at the moment of his resignation there were no other clothes available.

In any case, he added that he wears the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the reigning Pope wears it. He called questions about his attire another case of “completely unfounded speculation”.

The Pope-emeritus also confirmed the accuracy of media reports about another letter he wrote to a friend. In that letter, he said he is “grateful to be bound by a great identity of views and a heartfelt friendship with Pope Francis”, and sees his “last and final job to support his pontificate with prayer.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 

Full Text of Interview Internet translation from LaStampa:
Benedict XVI meets with a letter to Andrea Tornielli: Our Vatican had sent him some questions about alleged pressure and conspiracies that have caused the resignation

"There is not the slightest doubt about the validity of my resignation to the Petrine ministry 'and' speculation 'about it are" simply absurd. " Joseph Ratzinger was not forced to resign, he did not as a result of pressure or plots: his waiver is valid and in the Church today there is no 'diarchy', no double government. There is a reigning Pope in the middle of its functions, Francis, and an emeritus whose "sole and ultimate goal" of his day to pray for his successor. From the monastery "Mater Ecclesiae" inside the walls of the Vatican, the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has put pen to paper to nip interpretations on its historic gesture than a year ago, boosted by various media and on the web on the occasion of the first anniversary of the surrender. He did so by responding personally to a letter with some questions we had sent him a few days ago, after reading some comments on the Italian and international press regarding his resignation. In a concise but precise, Ratzinger replied, denying the alleged backstage secrets of the surrender and urging them not to upload inappropriate meanings of some of the choices he has made, how to keep the white dress even after leaving the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. As you recall, with a dramatic and unexpected announcement, 11 February 2013 Benedict XVI conveyed to the cardinals gathered in the consistory of his free decision to resign "worsening Aetate," because of his age: "I have received the certainty that my strength, advanced age, are no longer appropriate to exercise properly the Petrine ministry. " Also announced that the Apostolic See was vacant as of the evening of 28 February, the Cardinals would gather to proceed with the election of his successor. In the following days, Ratzinger did know that it would keep the name of Benedict XVI (who also appears at the bottom at the end of the letter), you would be called henceforth "Papa Emeritus" (as is also evident from the header to print same letter) and would continue to wear the white dress, though simpler than that of the Pope, that is to say without the mantelletta (called "pilgrim") and without the band. During the last hearing on Wednesday, the 27 February 2013 in St. Peter's Square flooded with sunshine and packed with faithful, Benedict XVI said: "In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God earnestly in prayer, to enlighten me with its light to make me take the right decision not for my sake, but for the good of the Church. I did this step in full awareness of its severity and also new, but with a deep peace of mind.Loving the Church also means having the courage to make tough choices, suffered, having always before the good of the Church and not themselves. " And he added that his retreat, "hidden from the world," not meant "to return to the private." "My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry - he said - not revoke it. Do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. Do not neglect the cross, but I am so new at the Crucified Lord. I do not wear more than the power of the Officio for the government of the Church, but in the rest of the prayer service, so to speak, in the yard of St. Peter. " Just these words about his desire to remain "in the compound of St. Peter," have made ​​some speculate that the waiver was not really free, and therefore valid, as if Ratzinger had wanted to carve out a role of "Papa shadow", ie how to farther from its sensitivity imaginable. After the election of Francis, the novelty of his papacy, the shock is bringing to the Church by his word and his personal testimony, was that some physiological - as always happened, however, on the occasion of a change of pontificate - the contrapponessero its predecessor. A contrast that Benedict XVI himself has always refused. In recent weeks, as we approach the first anniversary of the surrender, some went further, even assuming the validity of the resignation of Benedict and therefore a more active role and institutional beside the reigning Pope. On 16 February the writer has sent a message to the Pope emeritus with some specific questions about these interpretations. Two days later came the answer. "There is not the slightest doubt - Ratzinger wrote in the letter - about the validity of my renunciation of the Petrine ministry. The only condition is the full freedom of the validity of the decision. Speculations about the invalidity of the waiver are simply absurd. " Moreover, the possibility to resign was taken into account for a long time it was well known to the people closest to Ratzinger, and he himself confirmed in the book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald ("Light of the World," 2010): " If a pope clearly realizes that it is no longer capable, physically, psychologically and spiritually, to discharge the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign. " It was inevitable A year ago, after the announcement - no Pope in two thousand years of church history had given to seniority - to connect this dramatic gesture of Vatileaks mephitic atmosphere, the plots in the Roman Curia. All the pontificate of Benedict XVI was a Cross, and in particular the last few years: first as a result of the scandal of pedophilia, which he bravely without blaming the lobby or the "external enemies" of the Church, but rather the "persecution", the evil that comes from within the Church itself. And then because of the leak of documents taken from the desk by the papal butler Paul Gabriel. The waiver was therefore connected to these contexts. But Benedict XVI explained, again in the book-length interview with Seewald, who did not leave the ship when the sea is rough. For this reason, before announcing his resignation, decision time and confided to close associates months in advance, Ratzinger expected that the story Vatileaks, the trial of Gabriel and the investigation is entrusted to three cardinals were concluded. Only after he left. In the letter sent to us by the Pope Emeritus also answered questions about the meaning of the white and the papal name. "The preservation of the white and the name Benedict - wrote to us - it's a thing simply practice. At the time of the surrender were not available to other clothes. Moreover harbor the white dress so clearly distinct from that of the Pope Again, this is speculation without any foundation. " A clear and very significant evidence of this statement, Pope Benedict XVI gave last Saturday, the day of the consistory at which he was invited by Francis. Ratzinger did not want a secluded and special place, he sat in a chair equal to that of the cardinal, in a corner, in the ranks of cardinals bishops. When Francis at the beginning and then at the end of the ceremony approached him to say hello and hug him, Benedict was removed from the skull head for reverence, and also to state publicly that the Pope is one. In recent weeks, the Swiss theologian Hans Küng had quoted some words contained in a letter received by Benedict XVI and about Francis. Words once more unequivocal: "I am grateful to be bound by a large convergence of views and friendship at the heart of Pope Francis. Today I see it as my only and last duty to support his pontificate in prayer. " Someone on the web, tried to cast doubt on the authenticity of the quote or at least it has raised an instrumental use. Although we asked for confirmation of this to the Pope Emeritus "Professor. Küng literally and correctly cited the words of my letter to him, "stated succinctly.Before concluding with the hope that I have answered "in a clear and sufficient 'to the questions that we had in place. 


St. Porphyrius
Feast: February 26

Feast Day:February 26
347, Thessalonica, Greece
Died:February 26, 420, Gaza, Palestine
Bishop of Gaza in Palestine, b. at Thessalonica about 347; d. at Gaza, 26 February, 420. After five years in the Egyptian desert of Scete he lived five years in a cave near the Jordan. In spite of his impaired health, he frequently visited the scene of the Resurrection. Here he met the Asiatic Mark, at a later date a deacon of his church and his biographer. To effect the sale of the property still owned by Porphyrius in his native city, Mark set out for Thessalonica and, upon his return, the proceeds were distributed among the monasteries of Egypt and among the necessitous in and around Jerusalem. In 392 Porphyrius was ordained to the priesthood, and the relic of the Holy Cross was intrusted to his care. In 395 he became Bishop of Gaza, a stronghold of paganism, with an insignificant Christian community. The attitude of the pagan population was hostile so that the bishop appealed to the emperor for protection and pleaded repeatedly for the destruction of pagan temples. He finally obtained an imperial rescript ordering the destruction of pagan sanctuaries at Gaza. A Christian church was erected on the site of the temple of Marnas. In 415 Porphyrius attended the Council of Diospolis. The "Vita S. Porphyrii" of Mark the Deacon, formerly known only in a Latin translation, was published in 1874 by M. Haupt in its original Greek text; a new edition was issued in 1895 by the Bonn Philological Society.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


St. Tarasius
Feast: February 25

Feast Day:February 25
750 at Constantinople 
Died:25 February 806
Tarasius was born about the middle of the eighth century. His parents were both of patrician families. His father, George, was a judge, in great esteem for his well-known justice, and his mother, Eucratia, no less celebrated for her piety. She brought him up in the practice of the most eminent virtues. Above all things, she recommended to him to keep no company but that of  the most virtuous. The young man, by his talents and virtue, gained the esteem of all, and was raised to the greatest honours of the empire, being made consul, and afterwards secretary of state to Emperor Constantine and the Empress Irene, his mother. In the midst of the court, and in its highest honours, surrounded by all that could flatter pride or gratify sensuality, he led a life like that of a religious man.
Leo, the Isaurian, his son, Constantine Copronymus, and his grandson, Leo, surnamed Chazarus, three successive emperors, had established, with all their power, the heresy of the Iconoclasts, or image-breakers, in the East. The Empress Irene, wife to the last, was always privately a Catholic, though an artful, ambitious woman. Her husband dying miserably, in 780, after a five years' reign, and having left his son Constantine, but ten years old, under her guardianship, she so managed the nobility in her favour as to get the regency and whole government of the state into her hands, and put a stop to the persecution of the Catholics. Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople, the third of that name, had been raised to that dignity by the late emperor. Though, contrary to the dictates of his own conscience, he had conformed in some respects to the then reigning heresy; he had, however, several good qualities, and was not only singularly beloved by the people for his charity to the poor, but highly esteemed by the empress and the whole court for his great prudence. Finding himself indisposed, and being touched with remorse for his condescension to the Iconoclasts in the former reign, without communicating his design to any one, he quitted the patriarchal see and put on a religious habit in the Monastery of Florus, in Constantinople. The empress was no sooner informed of it, but taking with her the young emperor, went to the monastery to dissuade a person so useful to her from persisting in such a resolution, but all in vain, for the patriarch assured them, with tears and bitter lamentations, that, in order to repair the scandal he had given, he had taken an unalterable resolution to end his days in that monastery, so desired them to provide the church of Constantinople with a worthy pastor in his room. Being asked whom he thought equal to the charge, he immediately named Tarasius, and dying soon after this declaration, Tarasius was accordingly chosen patriarch by the unanimous consent of the court, clergy, and people. Tarasius finding it in vain to oppose his election] declared, however, that he thought he could not in conscience accept of the government of a see which had been cut off from the catholic communion but upon condition that a general council should be called to compose the disputes which divided the church at that time in relation to holy images. This being agreed to, he was solemnly declared patriarch, and consecrated soon after, on Christmas-day. He was no sooner installed but he sent his synodal letters to Pope Adrian, to whom  the empress also wrote in her own and her son's name on the subject of a general council, begging that he would either come in person, or at least send some venerable and learned men as his legates to Constantinople. Tarasius wrote likewise a letter to the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, wherein he desires them to send their respective legates to the intended council. His letter to the pope was to the same effect. The pope sent his legates, as desired, and wrote by them to the emperor, the empress, and the patriarch; applauded their zeal, showing at large the impiety of the Iconoclast heresy, insisting that the false council of the Iconoclasts, held under Copronymus for the establishment of Iconoclasm, should be first condemned in presence of his legates, and conjuring them before God to re-establish holy images at Constantinople, and in all Greece, on the footing they were before. He recommends to the emperor and empress his two legates to the council, who were Peter, archpriest of the Roman church, and Peter, priest and abbot of St. Sabas, in Rome. The eastern patriarchs being under the Saracen yoke, could not come for fear of giving offence to their jealous masters, who prohibited, under the strictest penalties, all commerce with the empire. However, with much difficulty and through many dangers, they sent their deputies.
The legates of the pope and the oriental patriarchs being arrived, as also the bishops under their jurisdiction, the council was opened on the 1st of August in the Church of the Apostles, at Constantinople, in 786. But the assembly being disturbed by the violences of the Iconoclasts, and desired by the empress to break up and withdraw for the present, the council met again the  year following in the Church of St. Sophia, at Nice. The two legates from the pope are named first in the Acts, St. Tarasius next, and after him the legates of the oriental patriarchs-namely, John, priest and monk, for the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, and Thomas, priest and monk, for the Patriarch of Alexandria. The council consisted of three hundred and fifty bishops, besides many abbots and other holy priests and confessors, who having declared the sense of the present church in relation to the matter in debate, which was found to be the allowing to holy pictures and images a relative honour, the council was closed with the usual acclamations and prayers for the prosperity of the emperor and empress; after which synodal letters were sent to all the churches, and in particular to the pope, who approved the council.
The good patriarch, pursuant to the decrees of the synod, restored holy images throughout the extent of his jurisdiction. He also laboured zealously to abolish simony, and wrote a letter upon that subject to Pope Adrian, in which, by saying it was the glory of the Roman church to preserve the purity of the priesthood, he intimated that that church was free from this reproach. The life of this holy patriarch was a model of perfection to his clergy and people. His table had nothing of superfluity. He allowed himself very little time for sleep, being always up the first and last in his family. Reading and prayer filled all his leisure hours. It was his pleasure, in imitation of our blessed Redeemer, to serve others instead of being served by them; on which account he would scarce permit his own servants to do any thing for him. Loving humility in himself, he sought sweetly to induce all others to the love of that virtue. He banished the use of gold and scarlet from among the clergy, and labored to extirpate all the irregularities among the people. His charity and love for the poor seemed to surpass his other virtues. He often took the dishes of meat from his table to distribute among them with his own hands: and he assigned them a large fixed revenue. And that none might be overlooked, he visited all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople. In Lent, especially, his bounty to them was incredible. His discourses were powerful exhortations to the universal mortification of the senses, and he was particularly severe against all theatrical entertainments. Some time after, the emperor became enamored of Theodota, a maid of honor to his wife, the empress Mary, whom he had always hated; and forgetting what he owed to God, he was resolved to divorce her in 795, after seven years' cohabitation. He used all his efforts to gain the patriarch, and sent a principal officer to him for that purpose, accusing his wife of a plot to poison him. St. Tarasius answered the messenger, saying, "I know not how the emperor can bear the infamy of so scandalous an action in the sight of the universe, nor how he will be able to hinder or punish adulteries and debaucheries if he himself set such an example. Tell him that I will rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." The emperor, hoping to prevail with him by flattery, sent for him to the palace, and said to him, I can conceal nothing from you, whom I regard as my father. No one can deny but I may divorce one who has attempted my life. She deserves death or perpetual penance." He then produced a vessel, as he pretended, full of the poison prepared for him. The patriarch, with good reason, judging the whole to be only an artful contrivance to impose upon him, answered that he was too well convinced that his passion for Theodota was at the bottom of all his complaints against the empress. He added that though she were guilty of the crime he laid to her charge, his second marriage during her life with any other would still be contrary to the law of God, and that he would draw upon himself the censures of the church by attempting it. The monk John, who had been legate of the eastern patriarchs in the seventh council, being present, spoke also very resolutely to the emperor on the subject, so that the pretors and patricians threatened to stab him on the spot: and the emperor, boiling with rage, drove them both from his presence. As soon as they were gone, he turned the Empress Mary out of his palace, and obliged her to put on a religious veil. Tarasius persisting in his refusal to marry him to Theodota, the ceremony was performed by Joseph, treasurer of the church of Constantinople. This scandalous example was the occasion of several governors and other powerful men divorcing their wives or taking more than one at the same time, and gave great encouragement to public lewdness. SS. Plato and Theodorus separated themselves from the emperor's communion, to show their abhorrence of his crime. But Tarasius did not think it prudent to proceed to excommunication, as he had threatened, apprehensive that the violence of his temper, when further provoked, might carry him still greater lengths, and prompt him to re-establish the heresy which he had taken such effectual measures to suppress. Thus the patriarch, by his moderation, prevented the ruin of religion, but drew upon himself the emperor's resentment, who persecuted him many ways during the remainder of his reign. Not content to set spies and guards over him under the name of Syncelli, who watched all his actions and suffered no one to speak to him without their leave, he banished many of his domestics and relations. This confinement gave the saint the more leisure for contemplation, and he never ceased in it to recommend his flock to God. The ambitious Irene, finding that all her contrivances to render her son odious to his subjects had proved ineffectual to her design, which was to engross the whole power to herself, having gained over to her party the principal officers of the court and army, she made him prisoner, and caused his eyes to be plucked out: this was executed with so much violence that the unhappy prince died of it, in 797. After this she reigned alone five years, during which she recalled all the banished, but at length met with the deserved reward of her ambition and cruelty from Nicephorus, a patrician, and the treasurer-general, who, in 802, usurped the empire, and having deposed her, banished her into the Isle of Lesbos, where she soon after died with grief.
St. Tarasius, on the death of the late emperor, having interdicted and deposed the treasurer Joseph, who had married and crowned Theodota, St. Plato and others who had censured his lenity became thoroughly reconciled to him. The saint, under his successor, Nicephorus, a patrician, persevered peaceably in his practices of penance, and in the functions of his pastoral charge. In his last sickness he still continued to offer daily the holy sacrifice so long as he was able to move. A little before his death he fell into a kind of trance, as the author of his life, who was an eyewitness, relates, wherein he was heard to dispute and argue with a number of accusers, very busy in sifting his whole life, and objecting all they could to it. He seemed in a great fright and agitation on this account, and, defending himself, answered everything laid to his charge. This filled all present with fear, seeing the endeavors of the enemy of man to find something to condemn even in the life of so holy and so irreprehensible a bishop. But a great serenity succeeded, and the holy man gave up his soul to God in peace, on the 25th of February, in 806, having sat twenty-one years and two months. God honoured his memory with miracles, some of which are related by the author of his life. His festival began to be celebrated under his successor. The Latin and Greek churches both honour his memory on this day. Fourteen years after his decease, Leo the Armenian, the Iconoclast emperor, dreamt a little before his own death that he saw St. Tarasius highly incensed against him, and heard him command one Michael to stab him. Leo, judging this Michael to be a monk in the saint's monastery, ordered him the next morning to be sought for, and even tortured some of the  religious to oblige them to a discovery of the person; but it happened there was none of that name among them, and Leo was killed six days after by Michael Balbus.
The virtue of St. Tarasius was truly great, because constant and crowned with perseverance, though exposed to continual dangers of illusion or seduction amidst the artifices of hypocrites and a wicked court. St. Chrysostom observes1 that the path of virtue is narrow, and lies between precipices, in which it is easier for the traveller to be seized with giddiness even near the end of his course, and fall. Hence this father most grievously laments the misfortune of king Ozias, who, after long practising the most heroic virtures, fell, and perished through pride; and he strenuously exhorts all who walk in the service of God, constantly to live in fear, watchfulness, humility, and compunction. "A soul," says he, "often wants not so much spurring in the beginning of her conversion; her own fervor and cheerfulness make her run vigorously. But this fervor, unless it be continually nourished, cools by degrees: then the devil assails her with all his might. Pirates wait for and principally attack ships when they are upon the return home laden with riches rather than empty vessels going out of the port. Just so the devil, when he sees that a soul has gathered great spiritual riches, by fasts, prayer, alms, chastity, and all other virtues, when he sees our vessel fraught with rich commodities, then he falls upon her, and seeks on all sides to break in. What exceedingly aggravates the evil is the extreme difficulty of ever rising again after such a fall. To err in the beginning may be in part a want of experience, but to fall after a long course is mere negligence, and can deserve no excuse or pardon."


POPE FRANCIS writes Letter to Families - Full Text - Latest from Vatican

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a letter to Families on Tuesday in which he asks for prayers for the upcoming Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Below please find the Pope's letter in English. Dear families, With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family. This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever.
 This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015.
May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel. I am writing this letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, in keeping with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah (cf. Lk 2:22-38). Simeon took him in his arms and thanked God that he had finally “seen” salvation. Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigour and began to speak to everyone about the Baby. It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations! He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and sadness. In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments: meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of mutual support… Nevertheless, if there is no love then there is no joy, and authentic love comes to us from Jesus. He offers us his word, which illuminates our path; he gives us the Bread of life which sustains us on our journey.
 Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love. May the protection of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph always accompany all of you and help you to walk united in love and in caring for one another. I willingly invoke on every family the blessing of the Lord. Text from page of the Vatican Radio website

Monday, February 24, 2014

POPE FRANCIS approves new Motu Proprio - Cardinal of Australia is head of Economy in Vatican - Full Text

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued a Motu Proprio announcing the setting up of a new financial structure to coordinate and oversee the finances of the Holy See and Vatican City State. 
Monday’s announcement comes after several days of meetings of both the Council of 8 Cardinals, established by Pope Francis to advise on reform of the Curia and governance of the Universal Church, and the Committee of 15 Cardinals which oversees the economic affairs of the Holy See. 

Australian Cardinal George Pell of Sydney will head a new Secretariat for the Economy which will be responsible for annual budgets and have authority over all the Holy See’s administrative activities. 

Please find below the full English text of the statement from the Vatican Press Office on the new Motu Proprio entitled ‘Fidelis Dispensator et prudens’

The Holy Father today announced a new coordination structure for economic and
administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican State.
Today's announcement comes after the recommendations of the rigorous review conducted
by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative
Structure of the Holy See (COSEA) were considered and endorsed by both the Council of 8
Cardinals established to advise the Holy Father on governance and the Committee of 15
Cardinals which oversees the financial affairs of the Holy See.
COSEA recommended changes to simplify and consolidate existing management structures
and improve coordination and oversight across the Holy See and Vatican City State. COSEA
also recommended more formal commitment to adopting accounting standards and generally
accepted financial management and reporting practices as well as enhanced internal controls,
transparency and governance.
The changes will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in
financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources,
improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and
The changes announced by the Holy Father include:
1. Establishment of a new Secretariat for the Economy which will have authority over all
economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State. The
Secretariat will be responsible, among other things, for preparing an annual budget for the
Holy See and Vatican City State as well as financial planning and various support functions
such as human resources and procurement. The Secretariat will also be required to prepare
detailed financial statements of the Holy See and Vatican State.

2. The Secretariat for the Economy will implement policies determined by a new Council for
the Economy - a 15 member Council comprised of 8 Cardinals or Bishops, reflecting various
parts of the world and seven lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional
financial experience. The Council will meet on a regular basis and to consider policies and
practices and to prepare and analyze reports on the economic-administrative activities of the
Holy See.

3. The Secretariat for the Economy will be headed by a Cardinal Prefect reporting to the
Council for the Economy. He will be supported by a Secretary-General in the management
of day to day activities.

4. The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Pell, the current Archbishop of Sydney, Australia,
to the role of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. Details for Cardinal Pell are attached.

5. New arrangements also include the appointment of an Auditor-General, appointed by the
Holy Father who will be empowered to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and
Vatican City State at any time.

6. The changes will confirm the role of APSA as the Central bank of the Vatican with all the
obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world.

7. The AIF will continue to undertake its current and critical role of prudential supervision and
regulation of activities within the Holy See and Vatican City State.

The Prefect of the new Secretariat for the Economy has been asked to start work as soon as
possible. He will prepare the final statutes and other related matters with the assistance of any
necessary advisors and will work with COSEA to complete the implementation of these changes
approved by the Holy Father

Text from Vatican Radio website 

POPE FRANCIS “Jesus, always makes sure we get safely home. He never leaves us alone along the way.”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican on Monday morning. In remarks that followed the readings of the day, the Holy Father spoke of Christian discipleship as an abiding in Christ – in His Church, to which Christ calls us and brings us to return – even those who are far away.

The healing of the demoniac boy in the Gospel according to St Mark was the principal focus of Pope Francis’ reflections:

“All the [noise and excitement created by the crowd gathered round the disciples, who had failed to liberate the boy], all the talk, ends in an act: Jesus lowers Himself [and] takes up the boy. These acts of Jesus make us think. When He heals, when He goes among the crowds and heals a person, He never leaves that person alone. He is not a wizard, a sorcerer, a “healer” who goes and [plies his trade] and is on his way: everyone [he helps], he helps to return to his proper place – He leaves no one on the side of the road. These acts of Jesus are very beautiful, indeed."

Pope Francis went on to explain that such gestures are found throughout the Gospels: from the resurrection of Lazarus; to the raising of the daughter of Jairus or of the widow’s son – as well as the lost sheep returned to the fold or the lost coin recovered by the woman. “Jesus,” said Pope Francis, “always makes sure we get safely home. He never leaves us alone along the way.”:

“Because Jesus did not only come from Heaven. He is the Son of a People. Jesus is the promise made to that People, which, beginning with Abraham, made its way toward the promise. These gestures of Jesus teach us that every healing, every [act of] pardon, always helps us return to our People, which is the Church."

Jesus always forgives, and his acts [of forgiveness] become “revolutionary” or “inexplicable” when they reach those who [seem to us to be too far gone], like Matthew the tax collector or his colleague, Zacchaeus. Christ’s healing acts always lead people “home” – and thus it is impossible to understand Jesus without the People of God. “It is,” he said, “an absurdity to love Christ without the Church, to feel Christ but not the Church, to follow Christ from the outskirts of the Church.” “Christ and the Church are united,” he said. “Whenever Christ calls a person, He brings that person to the Church.” For this, said Pope Francis, “it is good [that a child] “come to be baptized in Church – Mother Church.”:

“And these, Jesus’ gestures of so much tenderness make us realize this: that our doctrine, let us say, or our following Christ, is not an idea. It is a constant abiding at home – and though each of us has the opportunity and the real experience of leaving home for a sin, a mistake - God knows - salvation [means] going home with Jesus in the Church. These are gestures of tenderness. One by one, the Lord is calling us as well, to His people, into His family, our mother, the Holy Church. Let us think on these acts of Jesus.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 

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