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Friday, March 7, 2014

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : FRI. MARCH 7, 2014 - SHARE

2014










POPE BENEDICT XVI GIVES INTERVIEW ON BL. POPE JOHN PAUL II

POPE FRANCIS "“This is the charity or fasting that our Lord wants! Fasting that is concerned about the life of our brother..."


(Vatican Radio) Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has granted a lengthy interview on the topic of his years with Blessed John Paul II. The interview appears as the first in an Italian-language collection titled: Accanto a Giovanni Paolo II. Gli amici & I collaborator raccontano. Published by the Italian Edizioni Ares press, and in stores now, the volume features recollections by more than a dozen of the soon-to-be canonized Pope’s friends and closest collaborators, including: Bl. John Paul II’s secretaries, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop Emery Kabongo and Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki; the former Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro-Valls; the Blessed Pope’s life-long friend, Wanda Poltawska; the postulator of his Cause for Sainthood, Fr. Slawomir Oder; and many others.

It was in November of 2013 that Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI agreed to answer Polish journalist Wlodzimierz Redzioch’s questions in writing, which he did by January of this year. The Pope-emeritus also personally verified the Italian translation of the original German text of his answers.

Among the topics covered in the interview are: the work Bl. John Paul II and then-Cardinal Ratzinger did to respond to liberation theology; their work on the Catechism of the Catholic Church; the most important aspects of Bl, John Paul II’s spirituality; the decision of the Pope-emeritus to open his predecessor’s Cause; the spirit of gratitude that pervades his memory of the man he served and succeeded.

The Italian dailies, Avvenire and Corriere della sera, ran lengthy excerpts from the interview in their Friday, March 7th editions, which included the Pope-emeritus’s recollection of the great faithfulness and support Bl. John Paul II showed him, even and especially in the most trying of circumstances. “Often he would have [had] sufficient reasons to blame me or to put an end to my [tenure as] Prefect [of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith],” said Benedict. “Nevertheless,” he continued, “[Bl. John Paul II] supported me with fidelity and absolutely incomprehensible goodness.”

The Pope-emeritus went on to recount how, in the face of the storm that had developed around the declaration, Dominus Iesus [On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church], then-Pope John Paul II told the then-Cardinal of his plans to use his remarks at the upcoming Sunday Angelus to defend the document unequivocally. “[The Pope] invited me to write a text for the Angelus that was, so to speak, watertight, [one that would] not allow for any other interpretation.” Explaining that John Paul wanted his unconditional and unqualified approval of the document to be unmistakably clear, the Pope-emeritus added, “I prepared a little speech. I did not, however, desire to be overly brusque, and so I tried to express myself with clarity but without harshness. After reading it, the Pope asked me again, ‘But, is it really clear enough?. I said ‘yes’. Anyone who knows theologians will not be shocked, though, [to learn that], nevertheless, there were those who argued that the Pope had prudently distanced himself from that text.”


Text from  Vatican Radio website 

Please continue to PRAY for the UKRAINE as Russian military threaten the region

ASIA NEWS REPORT: A referendum date has been set for 16 March in violation of Ukraine's constitution, which provides for a pan-Ukrainian referendum. Christian leaders are united to defend the territorial integrity of the country, including Metropolitan Onufry, who has ties with the Moscow Patriarchate.


Kyiv (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Crimea's parliament has asked Moscow to become part of the Russian Federation. If there is a positive response from Moscow, Crimea will hold a referendum on 16 March. The proposal was adopted by a vote of 78 in favour and 8 abstentions.
In Kyiv, the government said that according to the Constitution of Ukraine "alterations to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by an all-Ukrainian referendum".
The Crimean Peninsula has been at the centre of recent tensions. With an ethnic Russian majority (57 per cent), it has resisted the new Ukrainian government's shift towards Europe.
Russian and pro-Russian military have isolated the region and forced Ukrainian forces to stay in their barracks.
In case of a referendum under the current constitution, it is almost certain that a pro-Russia vote would fail since ethnic Russians are only 17 per cent of the overall Ukrainian population.
In recent days, Ukraine's religious leaders have come out openly in favour of a solution through peaceful talks to preserve national unity, including Metropolitan Onufry, locum tenens (pro tem head) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is tied to the Moscow Patriarchate

In an appeal to Kirill, Onufry asked the Orthodox Patriarch in Moscow "to lift your voice about the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state" and "prevent bloodshed on the territory of Ukraine.
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : FRI. MARCH 7, 2014 - LENT

Friday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 221


Reading 1           IS 58:1-9A

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Responsorial Psalm                PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 18-19

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Gospel                 MT 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”

PRO-LIFE LENT VIGIL 40 DAYS FOR LIFE BEGINS IN AUSTRALIA

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
5 Mar 2014

40 Days for Life Lenten Vigil's candlelight procession was led by Bishop Brady
The past week of rain and drizzle cleared in time for last night's 40 Days for Life candlelight procession led by Bishop Terry Brady from St Peter's Catholic Church in Surry Hills to the Preterm Abortion Clinic at the corner of Randle and Elizabeth Streets.
For the fifth year in succession, pro-life supporters and Sydney's faithful, will join in a daily prayer vigil from 6 am until 8pm opposite Sydney's oldest and best-known abortion clinic in Surry Hills. From 8 pm until 6 am the next day the vigil will continue at St Peter's Catholic Church.
"Each year more and more people join the vigil giving half an hour to several hours each day to pray for the unborn, raise awareness about abortion and to help bring an end to the loss of more than 100,000 precious lives in Australia each year," says Paul Hanrahan, Director of Family Life International which organises Sydney's annual Lenten 40 Days for Life prayer vigil.
Launched each year on Shrove Tuesday on the eve of Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, Paul estimates at least 1000 men and women of all ages will take part in the vigil in a bid to "change minds and save lives."
They will also spend the 40 Days for Life vigil in peaceful prayer, fasting and outreach, offering emotional as well as financial support if this is also needed, to women who may be considering abortion.

Many hundreds joined in prayer at the start of the Vigil
"The majority of women who seek abortions are coerced into this by relatives, their boyfriends and even their parents, and mistakenly believing they have no one and nowhere to turn, and have no support, they decide ending their pregnancy is the only option," Paul says.
By holding the vigil outside the Preterm Clinic many desperate and confused young women are given a chance to discover alternatives to killing their unborn child. Each day trained and experienced counsellors take part in the vigil and are on hand to help comfort and advise women who may be contemplating an abortion and asks one of those participating in the vigil for help.
"We don't approach women entering or coming out of the Preterm clinic. Instead we pray and wait for them to approach us. Once they do, we talk to them and if they need support and counsel, we refer them to our psychologists and Family Life International counsellors who can offer a wide range of services and support," Paul says.

Most Rev Julian Porteous was patron of Family Life International Sydney before becoming Archbishop of Hobart
Often volunteers from FLI will step in to help with baby sitting the younger children of the mother who may have seen abortion as her only option in a situation where money is tight, a husband has lost his job or she has just moved to Sydney and has no friends and back up.
"We will help out so she can meet her medical appointments and take much of the stress of that way," says Paul. "Everyone we talk to is different and every story is different. But what comes through loud and clear is that when people have someone to confide in and the name and telephone number of someone they trust whom they know will do whatever they can to help them, their whole attitude changes. Almost always the women don't need much more than someone to listen, resassure and let them know there is backup and support if and when they need it."
Thanks to FFI,  a young Australian-born young woman whose parents migrated here from Africa, is awaiting the birth of twins.
"She went to Africa on a visit to her parents family and was reunited with a former boyfriend and fell in love. They want to marry but he cannot get a visa and we are working to try to change this, and looking after her in the meantime," says Paul.
Another young woman he is talking to regularly at present is confused and desperate. She is in her 30s and being pressured to abort her unborn baby by her family.

Priests and Religious join young Catholics to participate in 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil
"Family can exert a lot of pressure and boyfriends can use blackmail, saying they will break up with the woman unless she has an abortion," Paul says.
But of the more than 100 women he and FFI have been able to help over the past decade who have decided not to abort their baby but continue with their pregnancies, not one has expressed regret at continuing her pregnancy.
"We stay in touch and give help and support throughout the first six to 12 months of the baby's life, but in virtually every case once the tiny newborn is in her arms, the problems that overwhelmed her during her pregnancy no longer seem important," Paul says.
As Sydney begins its own 40 Days for Life prayer vigil similar vigils are being held across Australia as well as in 21 countries and 522 cities worldwide. In the USA where the vigil first began, 253 communities are now committed to observing the 40 Days for Life Vigil while in Australia vigils are now held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Tweed Heads and Albury.

Paul Hanrahan of Family Life International holds an icon of Our Lady
Vigils also take place daily throughout Lent in towns and cities in Canada, Croatia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Britain, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Poland and Spain.
But in Tasmania where the Most Rev Julian Porteous who was patron of 40 Days for Life for the past four years is now Archbishop of Hobart there will be no vigils or peaceful demonstrations against abortion.
"That's because Tasmania's coalition government of Greens and Labor introduced laws last year that make it illegal to hold a prayer vigil or gather outside an abortion clinic. If you are closer than 150 yards you get arrested and if convicted face a fine of $9750 as well as 12 months in gaol," Paul says and recalls Archbishop Porteous' pivotal role and strong support of Family Life International during his years as the Archdiocese of Sydney's Vicar for Evangelisation and Renewal.
"Archbishop Porteous was a champion of the unborn and an outspoken fearless critic of abortion throughout his many years in Sydney, and we will miss him very much," Paul says.
To take part in the 40 Days for Life Sydney prayer vigil logon to http://www.40daysforlife.com/Sydney/
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

POPE FRANCIS "“This is the charity or fasting that our Lord wants! Fasting that is concerned about the life of our brother..."

(Vatican Radio) Are we ashamed to touch the flesh of our wounded or suffering brothers and sisters? This was one of the key questions posed by Pope Francis during his homily at the morning Mass on Friday at the Santa Marta residence. The Pope stressed that our life of faith is closely linked to a life of charity and Christians who do not practice the latter are hypocrites.

Pope Francis used his homily to reflect on the essential role of charity in the life of every Christian. He said Christianity is not a repository of formal observances for people who put on a hypocritical good appearance to conceal their hearts empty of any charity. Christianity is showing the flesh of Jesus who bends down without shame in front of whoever is suffering. This contrasts with the Pharisees who criticized Jesus and the disciples for not practicing the commandment to fast and who as Doctors of the Law transformed the observance of these commandments into a formality and transformed religious life into an ethic.

“Receiving from our Lord the love of a Father, receiving from our Lord the identity of a people and then transforming it into an ethic means we are refusing that gift of love. These hypocritical people are good persons. They do all they should do. They seem good. But they are ethicists without goodness because they have lost the sense of belonging to a people! Our Lord gives us salvation through belonging to a people.” 

But as the Pope went on to remind, true charity or fasting means breaking the chains of evil, freeing the oppressed, sharing our bread with the hungry, opening our houses to the homeless and clothing the naked.

“This is the charity or fasting that our Lord wants! Fasting that is concerned about the life of our brother, that is not ashamed – Isaiah said it himself – of the flesh of our brother. Our perfection, our holiness is linked with our people where we are chosen and become part. Our greatest act of holiness relates to the flesh of our brother and the flesh of Jesus Christ. Our act of holiness today, here at the altar is not a hypocritical fasting: instead it means not being ashamed of the flesh of Christ which comes here today! This is the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ. It means going to share our bread with the hungry, taking care of the sick, the elderly, those who can’t give us anything in return: this is not being ashamed of the flesh!”
He said the most difficult charity (or fasting) is the sacrifice of goodness such as that practiced by the Good Samaritan who bent over the wounded man unlike the priest who hurried past, maybe out of fear of becoming infected. And this is the question posed by the Church today: “Am I ashamed of the flesh of my brother and sister”

“When I give alms, do I drop the coin without touching the hand (of the poor person, beggar)? And if by chance I do touch it, do I immediately withdraw it? When I give alms, do I look into the eyes of my brother, my sister? When I know a person is ill, do I go and visit that person? Do I greet him or her with affection? There’s a sign that possibly may help us, it’s a question: Am I capable of giving a caress or a hug to the sick, the elderly, the children, or have I lost sight of the meaning of a caress? These hypocrites were unable to give a caress. They had forgotten how to do it….. Don’t be ashamed of the flesh of our brother, it’s our flesh! We will be judged by the way we behave towards this brother, this sister.”


Text from Vatican Radio website 

2014

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 7 : SAINT PERPETUA AND SAINT FELICITY


Sts. Perpetua & Felicity
MARTYRS
Feast: March 7


Information:
Feast Day:March 7
Died:7 March 202 or 203, Carthage, Roman Province of Africa
Patron of:Mothers, Expectant Mothers
From their most valuable genuine acts, quoted by Tertullian, l. de anima, c. 55, and by St. Austin, serm. 280, 283, 294. The first part of these acts, which reaches to the eve of her martyrdom, was written by St. Perpetua. The vision of St. Saturus was added by him. The rest was subjoined by an eye-witness of their death. See Tillemont, t. 3, p. 139. Ceillier, t. 2, p. 213. These acts have been often republished; but are extant, most ample and correct, in Ruinart. They were publicly read in the churches of Africa, as appears from St. Austin, Serm. 180. See them vindicated from the suspicion of Montanism, by Orsi, Vindicae Act. SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis.
A violent persecution being set on foot by the emperor Severus, in 202, it reached Africa the following year; when, by order of Minutius Timinianus, (or Firminianus,) five catechumens were apprehended at Carthage for the faith: namely, Revocatus, and his fellow-slave Felicitas, Saturninus, and Secundulus, and Vibia Perpetua. Felicitas was seven months gone with child; and Perpetua had an infant at her breast, was of a good family, twenty-two years of age, and married to a person of quality in the city. She had a father, a mother, and two brothers; the third, Dinocrates, died about seven years old. These five martyrs were joined by Saturus, probably brother to Saturninus, and who seems to have been their instructor: he underwent a voluntary imprisonment, because he would not abandon them. The father of St. Perpetua, who was a pagan, and advanced in years, loved her more than all his other children. Her mother was probably a Christian, as was one of her brothers, the other a catechumen. The martyrs were for some days before their commitment kept under a strong guard in a private house: and the account Perpetua gives of their sufferings to the eve of their death, is as follows: "We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: 'Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?' He said: 'No.' I replied: 'Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say, a Christian.' At that word my father in a rage fell upon me, as if he would have pulled my eyes out, and beat me: but went away in confusion, seeing me invincible: after this we enjoyed a little repose, and in that interval received baptism. The Holy Ghost, on our coming out of the water, inspired me to pray for nothing but patience under corporal pains. A few days after this we were put into prison: I was shocked at the horror and darkness of the place, for till then I knew not what such sort of places were. We suffered much that day, chiefly on account of the great heat caused by the crowd, and the ill-treatment we met with from the soldiers. I was moreover tortured with concern, for that I had not my infant. But the deacons, Tertius and Pomponius, who assisted us, obtained, by money, that we might pass some hours in a more commodious part of the prison to refresh ourselves. My infant being brought to me almost famished, I gave it the breast. I recommended him afterwards carefully to my mother, and encouraged my brother, but was much afflicted to see their concern for me. After a few days my sorrow was changed into comfort, and my prison itself seemed agreeable. One day my brother said to me: 'Sister, I am persuaded that you are a peculiar favorite of Heaven: pray to God to reveal to you whether this imprisonment will end in martyrdom or not, and acquaint me of it.' I, knowing God gave me daily tokens of his goodness, answered, full of confidence, 'I will inform you tomorrow.' I therefore asked that favor of God, and had this vision. I saw a golden ladder which reached from earth to the heavens; but so narrow, that only one could mount it at a time. To the two sides were fastened all sorts of iron instruments, as swords, lances, hooks, and knives; so that if any one went up carelessly he was in great danger of having his flesh torn by those weapons. At the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of an enormous size, who kept guard to turn back and terrify those that endeavored to mount it. The first that went up was Saturus, who was not apprehended with us, but voluntarily surrendered himself afterwards on our account: when he was got to the top of the ladder, he turned towards me and said: 'Perpetua, I wait for you; but take care lest the dragon bite you.' I answered: 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he shall not hurt me.' Then the dragon, as if afraid of me, gently lifted his head from under the ladder, and I, having got upon the first step, set my foot upon his head. Thus I mounted to the top, and there I saw a garden of an immense space, and in the middle of it a tall man sitting down dressed like a shepherd, having white hair. He was milking his sheep, surrounded with many thousands of persons clad in white. He called me by my name, bid me welcome, and gave me some curds made of the milk which he had drawn: I put my hands together and took and ate them; and all that were present said aloud, Amen. The noise awaked me, chewing something very sweet. As soon as I had related to my brother this vision, we both concluded that we should suffer death.
"After some days, a rumor being spread that we were to be examined, my father came from the city to the prison overwhelmed with grief: 'Daughter,' said he, 'have pity on my gray hairs, have compassion on your father, if I yet deserve to be called your father; if I myself have brought you up to this age: if you consider that my extreme love of you, made me always prefer you to all your brothers, make me not a reproach to mankind. Have respect for your mother and your aunt; have compassion on your child that cannot survive you; lay aside this resolution, this obstinacy, lest you ruin us all: for not one of us will dare open his lips any more if any misfortune be fall you.' He  took me by the hands at the same time and kissed them; he threw himself at my feet in tears, and called me no longer daughter, but, my lady. I confess, I was pierced with sharp sorrow when I considered that my father was the only person of our family that would not rejoice at my martyrdom. I endeavored to comfort him, saying: 'Father, grieve not; nothing will happen but what pleases God; for we are not at our own disposal.' He then departed very much concerned. The next day, while we were at dinner, a person came all on a sudden to summon us to examination. The report of this was soon spread, and brought together a vast crowd of people into the audience-chamber. We were placed on a sort of scaffold before the judge, who was Hilarian, procurator of the province, the proconsul being lately dead. All who were interrogated before me confessed boldly Jesus Christ. When it came to my turn, my father instantly appeared with my infant. He drew me a little aside, conjuring me in the most tender manner not to be insensible to the misery I should bring on that innocent creature to which I had given life. The president Hilarian joined with my father, and said: 'What! will neither the gray hairs of a father you are going to make miserable, nor the tender innocence of a child, which your death will leave an orphan, move you? Sacrifice for the prosperity of the emperor.' I replied, 'I will not do it.' 'Are you then a Christian?' said Hilarian. I answered: 'Yes, I am.' As my father attempted to draw me from the scaffold, Hilarian commanded him to be beaten off, and he had a blow given him with a stick, which I felt as much as if I had been struck myself; so much was I grieved to see my father thus treated in his old age. Then the judge pronounced our sentence, by which we were all condemned to be exposed to wild beasts. We then joyfully returned to our prison; and as my infant had been used to the breast, I immediately sent Pomponius, the deacon, to demand him of my father, who refused to send him. And God so ordered it that the child no longer required to suck, nor did my milk incommode me." Secundulus, being no more mentioned, seems to have died in prison before this interrogatory. Before Hilarian pronounced sentence, he had caused Saturus, Saturninus, and Revocatus, to be scourged; and Perpetua and Felicitas to be beaten on the face. They were reserved for the shows which were to be exhibited for the soldiers in the camp, on the festival of Geta, who had been made Caesar four years before by his father Severus, when his brother Caracalla was created Augustus. St. Perpetua relates another vision with which she was favored, as follows: "A few days after receiving sentence, when we were all together in prayer, I happened to name Dinocrates, at which I was astonished, because I had not before had him in my thoughts; and I that moment knew that I ought to pray for him. This I began to do with great fervor and sighing before God; and the same night I had the following vision: I saw Dinocrates coming out of a dark place, where there were many others, exceeding hot and thirsty; his face was dirty, his complexion pale, with the ulcer in his face of which he died at seven years of age, and it was for him that I had prayed. There seemed a great distance between him and me, so that it was impossible for us to come to each other. Near him stood a vessel full of water, whose brim was higher than the statue of an infant: he attempted to drink, but though he had water he could not reach it. This mightily grieved me, and I awoke. By this I knew my brother was in pain, but I trusted I could by prayer relieve him: so I began to pray for him, beseeching God with tears, day and night, that he would grant me my request; as I continued to do till we were removed to the damp prison: being destined for a public show on the festival of Caesar Geta. The day we were in the stocks I had this vision: I saw the place, which I had beheld dark before, now luminous; and Dinocrates, with his body very clean and well clad, refreshing himself, and instead of his wound a scar only. I awoke, and I knew he was relieved from his pain.
"Some days after, Pudens, the officer who commanded the guards of the prison, seeing that God favored us with many gifts, had a great esteem of us, and admitted many people to visit us for our mutual comfort. On the day of the public shows my father came to find me out, overwhelmed with sorrow. He tore his beard, he threw himself prostrate on the ground, cursed his years, and said enough to move any creature; and I was ready to die with sorrow to see my father in so deplorable a condition. On the eve of the shows I was favored with the following vision. The deacon Pomponius, methought, knocked very hard at the prison-door, which I opened to him. He was clothed with a white robe, embroidered with innumerable pomegranates of gold. He said to me: 'Perpetua, we wait for you, come along.' He then took me by the hand and led me through very rough places into the middle of the amphitheatre, and said: 'Fear not.' And, leaving me, said again: 'I will be with you in a moment, and bear a part with you in your pains.' I was wondering the beasts were not let out against us, when there appeared a very ill-favored Egyptian, who came to encounter me with others. But another beautiful troop of young men declared for me, and anointed me with oil for the combat. Then appeared a man of prodigious stature, in rich apparel, having a wand in his hand like the masters of the gladiators, and a green bough on which hung golden apples. Having ordered silence, he said that the bough should be my prize, if I vanquished the Egyptian: but that if he conquered me, he should kill me with a sword. After a long and obstinate engagement, I threw him on his face, and trod upon his head. The people applauded my victory with loud acclamations. I then approached the master of the amphitheatre, who gave me the bough with a kiss, and said: 'Peace be with you, my daughter.' After this I awoke, and found that I was not so much to combat with wild beasts as with the devils." Here ends the relation of St. Perpetua.
St. Saturus had also a vision which he wrote himself. He and his companions were conducted by a bright angel into a most delightful garden, in which they met some holy martyrs lately dead, namely, Jocundus, Saturninus, and Artaxius, who had been burned alive for the faith, and Quintus, who died in prison. They inquired after other martyrs of their acquaintance, say the acts, and were conducted into a most stately place, shining like the sun: and in it saw the king of this most glorious place surrounded by his happy subjects, and heard a voice composed of many, which continually cried: "Holy, holy, holy." Saturus, turning to Perpetua, said: "You have here what you desired." She replied: "God be praised, I have more joy here than ever I had in the flesh." He adds, Going out of the garden they found before the gate, on the right hand, their bishop of Carthage, Optatus, and on the left, Aspasius, priest of the same church, both of them alone and sorrowful. They fell at the martyr's feet, and begged they would reconcile them together, for a dissension had happened between them. The martyrs embraced them, saving: "Are not you our bishop, and you a priest of our Lord? It is our duly to prostrate ourselves before you." Perpetua was discoursing with them; but certain angels came and drove hence Optatus and Aspasius; and bade them not to disturb the martyrs, but be reconciled to each other. The bishop Optatus was also charged to heal the divisions that reigned among several of his church. The angels, after these reprimands, seemed ready to shut the gates of the garden. "Here," says he, "we saw many of our brethren and martyrs likewise. We were fed with an ineffable odor, which delighted and satisfied us." Such was the vision of Saturus. The rest of the acts were added by an eye-witness. God had called to himself Secondulus in prison. Felicitas was eight months gone with child, and as the day of the shows approached, she was inconsolable lest she should not be brought to bed before it came; fearing that her martyrdom would be deferred on that account, because women with child were not allowed to be executed before they were delivered: the rest also were sensibly afflicted on their part to leave her alone in the road to their common hope. Wherefore they unanimously joined in prayer to obtain of God that she might be delivered against the shows. Scarce had they finished their prayer, when Felicitas found herself in labor. She cried out under the violence of her pain: one of the guards asked her, if she could not bear the throes of childbirth without crying out, what she would do when exposed to the wild beasts. She answered: "It is I that suffer what I now suffer; but then there will be another in me that will suffer for me, because I shall suffer for him." She was then delivered of a daughter, which a certain Christian woman took care of, and brought up as her own child. The tribune, who had the holy martyrs in custody, being informed by some persons of little credit, that the Christians would free themselves out of prison by some magic enchantments, used them the more cruelly on that account, and forbade any to see them. Thereupon Perpetua said to him: "Why do you not afford us some relief, since we are condemned by Caesar, and destined to combat at his festival? Will it not be to your honor that we appear well fed?" At this the tribune trembled and blushed, and ordered them to be used with more humanity, and their friends to be admitted to see them. Pudens, the keeper of the prison, being already converted, secretly did them all the good offices in his power. The day before they suffered they gave them, according to custom, their last meal, which was called a free supper' and they ate in public. But the martyrs did their utmost to change it into an Agape, or Love-feast. Their chamber was full of people, whom they talked to with their usual resolution, threatening them with the judgments of God, and extolling the happiness of their own sufferings. Saturus smiling at the curiosity of those that came to see them, said to them, "Will not tomorrow suffice to satisfy your inhuman curiosity in our regard? However you may seem now to pity us, tomorrow you will clap your hands at our death, and applaud our murderers. But observe well our faces, that you may know them again at that terrible day when all men shall be judged." They spoke with such courage and intrepidity, as astonished the infidels, and occasioned the conversion of several among them.
The day of their triumph being come, they went out of the prison to go to the amphitheatre. Joy sparkled in their eyes, and appeared in all their gestures and words. Perpetua walked with a composed countenance and easy pace, as a woman cherished by Jesus Christ, with her eyes modestly cast down: Felicitas went with her, following the men, not able to contain her joy. When they came to the gate of the amphitheatre the guards would have given them, according to custom, the superstitious habits with which they adorned such as appeared at these sights. For the men, a red mantle, which was the habit of the priests of Saturn: for the women, a little fillet round the head, by which the priestesses of Ceres were known. The martyrs rejected those idolatrous ceremonies; and, by the mouth of Perpetua, said, they came thither of their own accord on the promise made them that they should not be forced to any thing contrary to their religion. The tribune then consented that they might appear in the amphitheatre habited as they were. Perpetua sung, as being already victorious; Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus threatened the people that beheld them with the judgments of God: and as they passed over against the balcony of Hilarian, they said to him; "You judge us in this world, but God will judge you In the next." The people, enraged at their boldness, begged they might be scourged, which was granted. They accordingly passed before the Venatores, or hunters, each of whom gave them a lash. They rejoiced exceedingly in being thought worthy to resemble our Saviour in his sufferings. God granted to each of  them the death they desired; for when they were discoursing together about what kind of martyrdom would be agreeable to each, Saturninus declared that he would choose to be exposed to beasts of several sorts in order to the aggravation of his sufferings. Accordingly he and Revocatus, after having been attacked by a leopard, were also assaulted by a bear. Saturus dreaded nothing so much as a bear, and therefore hoped a leopard would dispatch him at once with his teeth. He was then exposed to a wild boar, hut the beast turned upon his keeper, who received such a wound from him that he died in a few days after, and Saturus was only dragged along by him. Then they tied the martyr to the bridge near a bear, but that beast came not out of his lodge, so that Saturus, being sound and not hurt, was called upon for a second encounter. This gave him an opportunity of speaking to Pudens, the jailer that had been converted. The martyr encouraged him to constancy in the faith, and said to him: "You see I have not yet been hurt by any beast, as I desired and foretold; believe then steadfastly in Christ; I am going where you will see a leopard with one bite take away my life." It happened so, for a leopard being let out upon him, covered him all over with blood, whereupon the people jeering, cried out, "He is well baptized." The martyr said to Pudens, "Go, remember my faith, and let our sufferings rather strengthen than trouble you. Give me the ring you have on your finger." Saturus, having dipped it in his wound, gave it him back to keep as a pledge to animate him to a constancy in his faith, and fell down dead soon after. Thus he went first to glory to wait for Perpetua, according to her vision. Some with Mabillon,1 think this Prudens is the martyr honored in Africa, on the 29th of April.
In the meantime, Perpetua and Felicitas had been exposed to a wild cow; Perpetua was first attacked, and the cow having tossed her up, she fell on her back. Then putting herself in a sitting posture, and perceiving her clothes were torn, she gathered them about her in the best manner she could, to cover herself, thinking more of decency than her sufferings. Getting up, not to seem disconsolate, she tied up her hair, which was fallen loose, and perceiving Felicitas on the ground much hurt by a toss of the cow, she helped her to rise. They stood together, expecting another assault from the beasts, but the people crying out that it was enough, they were led to the gate Sanevivaria, where those that were not killed by the beasts were dispatched at the end of the shows by the confectores. Perpetua was here received by Rusticus, a catechumen, who attended her. This admirable woman seemed just returning to herself out of a long ecstasy, and asked when she was to fight the wild cow. Being told what had passed, she could not believe it till she saw on her body and clothes the marks of what she had suffered, and knew the catechumen. With regard to this circumstance of her acts, St. Austin cries out, "Where was she when assaulted and torn by so furious a wild beast, without feeling her wounds, and when, after that furious combat, she asked when it would begin? What did she, not to see what all the world saw? What did she enjoy who did not feel such pain. By what love, by what vision, by what potion was she so transported out of herself, and as it were divinely inebriated, to seem without feeling in a mortal body?" She called for her brother, and said to him and Rusticus, "Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings." All the martyrs were now brought to the place of their butchery. But the people, not yet satisfied with beholding blood, cried out to have them brought into the middle of the amphitheatre, that they might have the pleasure of seeing them receive the last blow. Upon this, some of the martyrs rose up, and having given one another the kiss of peace, went of their own accord into the middle of the arena; others were dispatched without speaking, or stirring out of the place they were in. St. Perpetua fell into the hands of a very timorous and unskillful apprentice of the gladiators, who, with a trembling hand, gave her many slight wounds, which made her languish a long time. Thus, says St. Austin, did two women, amidst fierce beasts and the swords of gladiators, vanquish the devil and all his fury. 'the day of their martyrdom was the 7th of March, as it is marked in the most ancient martyrologies, and in the Roman calendar as old as the year 354, published by Bucherius St. Prosper says they suffered at Carthage, which agrees with all the circumstances. Their bodies were in the great church of Carthage, in the fifth age, as St. Victor2 informs us. Saint Austin says, their festival drew yearly more to honor their memory in their church, than curiosity had done to their martyrdom, They are mentioned in the canon of the Mass


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stperpetua_felicity.asp#ixzz1oUcsqZ3N

(Vatican Radio) Good priests must be close to their people, sharing their suffering and healing their wounds. That was Pope Francis’ message to priests from the Rome diocese who met with their bishop in the Paul VI audience hall on Thursday morning. The Pope focused his words on the theme of God’s infinite mercy, saying a priest can only share this gift with others if he feels it in his own heart first.

Pope Francis began his reflection by commenting on the reading from St Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus is moved with compassion as he sees people ‘distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd’. In the same way, he said, priests here in Rome and around the world see so many people suffering in difficult situations and their hearts too must be filled with compassion.

Describing this period in the life of the Church as a time of God’s mercy, Pope Francis said priests must be men of mercy, experiencing that ‘gut reaction’ of compassion as they welcome, listen, advise and absolve those seeking healing and forgiveness. They can only do this effectively, he went on, if they allow themselves to be wrapped in God’s embrace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Reiterating the image of the Church as a field hospital, the Pope said mercy means first and foremost being close to people and healing their wounds. Priests who are detached from reality, he stressed, do not help the Church and he asked his listeners how well they know the wounds of their own parishioners.

Mercy, the Pope continued, means not being either too lenient or too strict with people who come to Confession. Rather it means being like the Good Samaritan who takes care of the individual, listening, respecting and accompanying people on their journey of healing and Reconciliation.

Finally Pope Francis asked the priests of his diocese if they still cry with their people? If they pray and struggle with God on behalf of their people? If they turn to God or to the TV at the end of their day? If they are able to embrace the elderly, the sick, the children, with hearts that are open and moved to compassion? Only those who are not ashamed to touch the wounded flesh of those on the margins of society, he said, will one day be admitted to God’s kingdom to gaze on the glorified flesh of Christ.
Text from the Vatican Radio website 

POPE FRANCIS "At the beginning of Lent, let us ask the Lord to teach us a little of this style of Christian service, of joy..."

(Vatican Radio) Humility, meekness, generosity: this is the Christian “style,” a way of life that travels along the way the Cross, as Jesus did, and is a life that leads to joy. That was the message of Pope Francis in his homily on Thursday during the Mass at Santa Marta.

In the Gospel for the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, Jesus says to His disciples: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This, the Pope emphasized, is the “Christian style,” because it was first put into practice by Jesus:

“We can’t think of the Christian life apart from this path. There is always this journey, a journey that He took first: the journey of humility, the journey, too, of humiliation, of denying oneself, and then rising. But this is the path. Without the Cross, the Christian style is not Christian, and if the Cross is a Cross without Jesus, it is not Christian. The Christian style takes the Cross with Jesus and goes forward — not without the Cross, not without Jesus.”
Jesus gave us an example, the Pope continued. Although He is one in being with God, He “denied Himself, and was made a servant for all of us”:

“And this style will save us, will give us joy and make us fruitful, because this path of denying oneself is there to give us life, it is opposed to the path of selfishness, of being attached to all the good things for myself alone… This path is open to others, because the path Jesus took — of abnegation —, that path was to give life. The Christian style is precisely this style of humility, of mildness, of meekness.”
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,” Jesus said, “because if the grain of wheat does not die, it can’t bear fruit.” This is a source of joy, the Pope said, “because He Himself gives us this joy. Following Jesus is a source of joy, but following Jesus in the style of Jesus, not in the style of the world. Following Jesus means following the way of the Lord, as far as one is able, “to give life to others, not to give oneself life. It is the spirit of generosity.” Our selfishness makes us want to appear important in the sight of others. Pope Francis pointed to “the good advice” found in the book, The Imitation of Christ: “love to be unknown and considered as nothing.” This, he said, “is Christian humility” the kind of humility practiced in the first place by Jesus:

And this is our joy, and this is our fruitfulness: to go with Jesus. Other joys are not fruitful; as Jesus said, they think only to gain the whole world, but in the end lose and ruin their lives. At the beginning of Lent, let us ask the Lord to teach us a little of this style of Christian service, of joy, of self-abnegation, and of fruitfulness with Him, as He desires.”


Text from Vatican Radio website 
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