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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : MARCH 18, 2014 - SHARE

2014

POPE FRANCIS " “Lent is to adjust life, to fix life, to change life, to draw closer to the Lord."

(Vatican Radio) Lent is a time to “adjust your life,” “to get closer to the Lord.” That was the message of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope warned against thinking of ourselves as “better than others.” The hypocrites, he warned, “disguise themselves as good people” and do not understand that no one is made just by his own efforts; we all need to undergo justification.

Pope Francis began his homily stressing “conversion” as the key word of Lent, a favourable time “to grow closer” to Jesus. Commenting on the First Reading, from the book of Isaiah, he said that the Lord calls two “sinful cities” like Sodom and Gomorrah to conversion. This shows us that we all “need to make a change of life,” to take a “good look into our soul” — where we always find something. The purpose of Lent, then, is precisely “to adjust my life,” to draw closer to the Lord. Jesus, the Pope said, wants to be close to us; He assures us the He is “waiting for us in order to forgive us.” However, he cautioned, the Lord wants “a sincere approach;” and warns us against being hypocrites:

“What makes people hypocrites? They disguise themselves, they disguise themselves as good people: they make themselves up like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as they pray, making sure they are seen—they believe they are more righteous than others, they despise others. ‘Mah,’ they say, “I’m very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family is this, I’m that… I’ve learned... I know this bishop, this Cardinal, this priest... I am this or that...’ They think they are better than others. This is hypocrisy. The Lord says, ‘No, not that.’ No one is justified by himself. We all need to be justified. And the only one who justifies us is Jesus Christ.“

For this reason, he said, we must approach the Lord: “In order not to be Christians in disguise, so that when the appearance passes, one can see the reality that they are not Christians.” What, then, is “the yardstick” to ensure that we are not hypocrites and that we are able to draw closer to the Lord?” The answer, the Pope said is that given us by the Lord in the First Reading: “Wash yourselves clean!” Purify yourself! “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.” This is the invitation. But, Pope Francis asked, “what is the sign that we are going along on a good path?”

“‘Redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.’ Take care of the neighbour: the sick, the poor, the needy, the ignorant. This is the yardstick. The hypocrites do not know how to do this, they can’t, because they are so full of themselves that they are blind on account of watching others. When one walks a little bit and comes closer to the Lord, the light of the Lord makes him see these things and he goes to help the brothers. This is the sign, this is the sign of conversion.”
Of course, he said, “this is not the whole of conversion;” that, in fact, “is the encounter with Jesus Christ.” The “sign that we are with Jesus Christ is this: caring for the brothers and sisters, the poorest, the sick, as the Lord teaches us,” as we read in chapter 25 of the Gospel of St Matthew:

“Lent is to adjust life, to fix life, to change life, to draw closer to the Lord. The sign that we are far from the Lord is hypocrisy. The hypocrite does not need the Lord, he is saved by himself — so he thinks — and he disguises himself as a saint. The sign that we are drawing closer to the Lord with repentance, asking for forgiveness, is that we care for the needy brethren. May the Lord give us all light and courage: light to know what’s happening within us, and courage to convert, to draw closer to the Lord. It is beautiful to be close to the Lord.”


Text from  Vatican Radio website 

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 18 : ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM


St. Cyril of Jerusalem
BISHOP OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: March 18


Information:
Feast Day:March 18
Born:
315
Died:386
Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. In the East his feast is observed on the 18th of March, in the West on the 18th or 20th. Little is known of his life. We gather information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. Cyril himself gives us the date of his "Catecheses" as fully seventy years after the Emperor Probus, that is about 347, if he is exact. Constans (d. 350) was then still alive. Mader thinks Cyril was already bishop, but it is usually held that he was at this date only as a priest. St. Jerome relates (Chron. ad ann. 352) that Cyril had been ordained priest by St. Maximus, his predecessor, after whose death the episcopate was promised to Cyril by the metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea, and the other Arian bishops, on condition that he should repudiate the ordination he had received from Maximus. He consented to minister as deacon only, and was rewarded for this impiety with the see. Maximus had consecrated Heraclius to succeed himself, but Cyril, by various frauds, degraded Heraclius to the priesthood. So says St. Jerome; but Socrates relates that Acacius drove out St. Maximus and substituted St. Cyril. A quarrel soon broke out between Cyril and Acacius, apparently on a question of precedence or jurisdiction. At Nicaea the metropolitan rights of Caesarea had been guarded, while a special dignity had been granted to Jerusalem. Yet St. Maximus had held a synod and had ordained bishops. This may have been as much as the cause of Acacius' enmity to him as his attachment to the Nicene formula. On the other hand, Cyril's correct Christology may have been the real though veiled ground of the hostility of Acacius to him. At all events, in 357 Acacius caused Cyril to be exiled on the charge of selling church furniture during a famine. Cyril took refuge with Silvanus, Bishop of Taraus. He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the Semi-Arian party was triumphant. Acacius was deposed and St. Cyril seems to have returned to his see. But the emperor was displeased at the turn of events, and, in 360, Cyril and other moderates were again driven out, and only returned at the accession of Julian in 361. In 367 a decree of Valens banished all the bishops who had been restored by Julian, and Cyril remained in exile until the death of the persecutor in 378. In 380, St. Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem on the recommendation of a council held at Antioch in the preceding year. He found the Faith in accord with the truth, but the city a prey to parties and corrupt in morals. St. Cyril attended the great Council of Constantinople in 381, at which Theodosius had ordered the Nicene faith, now a law of the empire, to be promulgated. St. Cyril then formally accepted the homoousion; Socrates and Sozomen call this an act of repentance. Socrates gives 385 for St. Cyril's death, but St. Jerome tells us that St. Cyril lived eight years under Theodosius, that is, from January 379.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/stcyrilofjerusalem.asp#ixzz1pTue7f76

2014

POPE FRANCIS "The merciful heart does not condemn, but forgives, forgets..."

(Vatican Radio) To find mercy we must first forgive. It is through forgiveness that our hearts, and the world, are filled with peace. This was the overarching theme of Pope Francis’ homily during Monday morning’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

“Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” Commenting on these words of Jesus, the Pope added that “it is not easy to understand this attitude of mercy” because we are habitually judgmental. “We are not [the sorts of people] who naturally [allow for understanding and mercy.”]

“To be merciful,” he said, “two attitudes are needed. The first is knowledge of oneself”. This self-knowledge means that we acknowledge “we have done many bad things: we are sinners!” And, when faced with the need for repentance, “the justice of God transforms us in mercy and forgiveness.” However, we must have shame for our sins.

“It is true none of us have murdered anyone, but many little things, many daily sins, every day… and when someone thinks: ‘ But what a small heart: I have done this against the Lord!’ And he is ashamed! He is ashamed before God, and this shame is a grace: it is the grace of being sinners. ‘I am a sinner, and I am ashamed before You and ask your forgiveness.’ It is simple, but very difficult, to say: ‘I have sinned.’”
Often, Pope Francis said, we blame others for our sins, like Adam and Eve did. “Maybe,” he continued “someone else did help me, facilitated the way to do it, but I did it myself!

If we [think like] this, how much good will occur, because we will be humble!” And “with this attitude of penitence we are more able to be merciful, because we feel within us the mercy of God,”. Just like in the Our Father: “Forgive, as we are forgiven.” Therefore, “if I do not forgive, I am somewhat out of the game!”

The other attitude we need to have in order to be merciful, the Pope continued, is to have a large heart, because “a small” and “egotistical heart is incapable of mercy.”

“Make the heart grow! ‘But I myself am a sinner.’ ‘Who am I to judge?’ This statement, ‘Who am I to judge this? Who am I to gossip about this?... Who am I, who have done the same or worse?’ The heart grows! And the Lord says, ‘Judge not, and you will not be judged! Condemn not, and you will not be condemned! Forgive, and you will be forgiven! Give, and you will receive!’ This [is] generosity of heart! And what will you receive? A good measure, pressed down and overflowing will be poured into your lap. And the image of the person of the person who goes out to collect the wheat with the apron and makes the apron larger so as to receive more, more wheat. If you have a wide, large heart, you can receive more.”
The merciful heart, said Pope Francis, “does not condemn, but forgives, forgets” because God has forgotten my sins; God has forgiven my sins. Enlarge the heart. This is beautiful,” the Pope said: “You are merciful.”

“Merciful men and women have a wide, wide heart: always forgiving others and thinking about their [own] sins. This is the way of mercy for which we must ask. But if all of is, if all people, individuals, families, neighbourhoods, had this attitude, how much peace there would be in the world – how much peace in our hearts! Because mercy brings us peace. Always remember: ‘Who am I to judge? Have shame and enlarge your heart. May the Lord give us this grace.”


Text from Vatican Radio website 

POPE FRANCIS meets with President of Argentina Cristina de Kirchner

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday received Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of the Republic of Argentina at the Domus Santa Marta.

President de Kirchner was accompanied by her official delegation.

The Argentinean leader had already met Pope Francis on two occasions: the first on 18 March 2013, the day prior to the Mass for the Inauguration of his Pontificate in which she participated; the second on 28 July 2013, when she participated in the concluding Mass for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

The aim of the visit on Monday was to present the Holy Father with the greetings and good wishes of the people of Argentina on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Pontificate.

According to the press release, the Pope awaited the arrival of President Kirchner at the front door of the Domus Santa Marta shortly after 1pm. The audience took place in a room on the ground floor, first with the entire Delegation, afterwards, with the President alone.

At about 1.30pm, the Pope and the President lunched together privately.


Text from the Vatican Radio website 

Novena Prayer to Saint Patrick - Share

Novena Prayer to St. Patrick: (say for 9 days)
Blessed saint Patrick, glorious Apostle of Ireland, who didst become a friend and father to me for ages before my birth, hear my prayer and accept, for God, the sentiments of gratitude and veneration with which my heart is filled. Through thee I have inherited that faith which is dearer than life. I now make thee the representative of my thanks, and the mediator of my homage to Almighty God. Most holy Father and patron of my country, despise not my weakness; remember that the cries of little children were the sounds that rose, like a mysterious voice from heaven, and invited thee to come amongst us. Listen, then, to my humble supplication; may my prayer ascend to the throne of God, with the praises and blessings which shall ever sanctify thy name and thy memory.
May my hope be animated by the patronage and intercession of our forefathers, who now enjoy eternal bliss and owe their salvation, under God, to thy courage and charity. Obtain for me grace to love God with my whole heart, to serve him with my whole strength, and to persevere in good purposes to the end, o faithful shepherd of the Irish flock, who wouldst have laid down a thousand lives to save one soul, take my soul, and the souls of my countrymen, under thy special care. Be a father to the Church of Ireland and her faithful people.
Grant that all hearts may share the blessed fruits of that Gospel thou didst plant and water. Grant that, as our ancestors of old had learned, under thy guidance, to unite science with virtue, we too, may learn, under thy patronage, to consecrate all Christian duty to the glory of God. I commend to thee my native land, which was so dear to thee while on earth. Protect it still, and, above all, direct its chief pastors, particularly those who teach us. Give them grace to walk in thy footsteps, to nurture the flock with the word of life and the bread of salvation, and to lead the heirs of the Saints thou hast formed to the possession of that glory which they, with Thee, enjoy in the kingdom of the Blessed: through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen. V. Pray for us, O glorious saint Patrick. R. And obtain for us the intention of this Novena.

2014

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 17 : ST. PATRICK


St. Patrick
PATRON SAINT OF IRELAND
Feast: March 17


Information:
Feast Day:March 17
Born:
between 387 and 390 at Scotland
Died:between 461 and 464 at Saul, County Down, Ireland
Patron of:Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, New York, Boston, Engineers, against snakes
The field of St. Patrick's labors was the most remote part of the then known world. The seed he planted in faraway Ireland, which before his time was largely pagan, bore a rich harvest: whole colonies of saints and missionaries were to rise up after him to serve the Irish Church and to carry Christianity to other lands. Whether his birthplace, a village called Bannavem Taberniae, was near Dunbarton-on-the-Clyde, or in Cumberland, or at the mouth of the Severn, or even in Gaul near Boulogne, has never been determined, and indeed the matter is of no great moment. We know of a certainty that Patrick was of Romano-British origin, and born about the year 389. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, his grandfather a priest, for at this time no strict law of celibacy had been imposed on the Christian clergy. Patrick's own full name was probably Patricius Magonus Sucatus.
His brief gives us a few details of his early years. At the age of fifteen he committed some fault—what it was we are not told—which caused him much suffering for the rest of his life. At sixteen, he tells us, he still "knew not the true God." Since he was born into a Christian family, we may take this to mean that he gave little heed to religion or to the priests. That same year Patrick and some others were seized and carried off by sea raiders to become slaves among the inhabitants of Ireland. Formerly it was believed that his six years of captivity were spent near Ballymena in County Antrim, on the slopes of the mountain now called Slemish, but later opinion names Fochlad, or Focluth, on the coast of Mayo. If the latter view is correct, then Croachan Aigli or Croag Patrick, the scene of his prolonged fast, was also the mountain on which in his youth he lived alone with God, tending his master's herds of swine or cattle. Wherever it was, he tells us him self that "constantly I used to pray in the daytime. Love of God and His fear increased more and more, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up, so that in a single day I said as many as a hundred prayers and at night nearly as many, and I used to stay out in the woods and on the mountain. Before the dawn I used to wake up to prayer, in snow and frost and rain, nor was there any such lukewarmness in me as now I feel, because then my spirit was fervent within."
At length he heard a voice in his sleep bidding him to get back to freedom and the land of his birth. Thus prompted, he ran away from his master and traveled to a harbor where a ship was about to depart. The captain at first refused his request for passage, but after Patrick had silently prayed to God, the pagan sailors called him back, and with them he made an adventurous journey. They were three days at sea, and when they reached land they traveled for a month through an uninhabited tract of country, where food was scarce. Patrick writes:
"And one day the shipmaster said to me: 'How is this, O Christian? Thou sayest that thy God is great and almighty; wherefore then canst thou not pray for us, for we are in danger of starvation? Likely we shall never see a human being again.' Then I said plainly to them: 'Turn in good faith and with all your heart to the Lord my God, to whom nothing is impossible, that this day He may send you food for your journey, until ye be satisfied, for He has abundance everywhere.' And, by the help of God, so it came to pass. Lo, a herd of swine appeared in the way before our eyes, and they killed many of them. And in that place they remained two nights; and they were well refreshed and their dogs were sated, for many of them had fainted and been left half- dead by the way. After this they rendered hearty thanks to God, and I became honorable in their eyes; and from that day they had food in abundance."
At length they arrived at human habitations, whether in Britain or Gaul we do not know. When Patrick was again restored to his kinfolk, they gave him a warm welcome and urged him to stay. But he felt he must leave them. Although there is no certainty as to the order of events which followed, it seems likely that Patrick now spent many years in Gaul. Professor Bury, author of the well-known , thinks that the saint stayed for three years at the monastery of Lerins, on a small islet off the coast of modern Cannes, France, and that about fifteen years were passed at the monastery of Auxerre, where he was ordained. Patrick's later prestige and authority indicate that he was prepared for his task with great thoroughness.
We now come to Patrick's apostolate. At this time Pelagianism[1] was spreading among the weak and scattered Christian communities of Britain and Ireland, and Pope Celestine I had sent Bishop Palladius there to combat it. This missionary was killed among the Scots in North Britain, and Bishop Germanus of Auxerre recommended the appointment of Patrick to replace him. Patrick was consecrated in 432, and departed forthwith for Ireland. When we try to trace the course of his labors in the land of his former captivity, we are confused by the contradictory accounts of his biographers; all are marked by a great deal of vagueness as to geography and chronology. According to tradition, he landed at Inverdea, at the mouth of the river Vautry, and immediately proceeded northwards. One chronicler relates that when he was again in the vicinity of the place where he had been a herdboy, the master who had held him captive, on hearing of Patrick's return, set fire to his house and perished in the flames. There is historical basis for the tradition of Patrick's preliminary stay in Ulster, and his founding of a monastic center there. It was at this time that he set out to gain the support and favor of the powerful pagan King Laeghaire, who was holding court at Tara. The stories of Patrick's encounter with the king's Druid priests are probably an accretion of later years; we are told of trials of skill and strength in which the saint gained a great victory over his pagan opponents. The outcome was royal toleration for his preaching. The text of the Senchus More, the old Irish code of laws, though in its existing form it is of later date, mentions an understanding reached at Tara. Patrick was allowed to preach to the gathering, "and when they saw Laeghaire with his Druids overcome by the great signs and miracles wrought in the presence of the men of Erin, they bowed down in obedience to God and Patrick."
King Laeghaire seems not to have become a Christian, but his chief bard and his two daughters were converted, as was a brother, who, we are told, gave his estate to Patrick for the founding of a church. From this time on, Patrick's apostolate, though carried on amid hardships and often at great risk, was favored by many powerful chieftains. The Druids, by and large, opposed him, for they felt their own power and position threatened. They combined many functions; they were prophets, philosophers, and priests; they served as councilors of kings, as judges, and teachers; they knew the courses of the stars and the properties of plants. Now they began to realize that the religion they represented was doomed. Even before the Christian missionaries came in strength, a curious prophecy was current among them. It was written in one of their ancient texts: "Adze-head (a name that the shape of the monk's tonsure might suggest) will come, with his crook-headed staff and his house (the word chasuble means also a little house) holed for his head. He will chant impiety from the  table in the east of his house. All his household shall answer: Amen, Amen. When, therefore, all these things come to pass, our kingdom, which is a heathen one, will not stand." As a matter of fact, the Druids continued to exist in Christian Ireland, though with a change of name and a limited scope of activity. They subjected Patrick to imprisonment many times, but he always managed to escape.
In 439 three bishops, Secundinus, Auxilius, and Iserninus, were sent from Gaul to assist Patrick. Benignus, an Irish chieftain who was converted by Patrick, became his favorite disciple, his coadjutor in the see of Armagh, and, finally, his successor. One of Patrick's legendary victories was his overthrow of the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim, where he forthwith built a church. He traveled again in Ulster, to preach and found monasteries, then in Leinster and Munster. These missionary caravans must have impressed the people, for they gave the appearance of an entire village in motion. The long line of chariots and carts drawn by oxen conveyed the appurtenances of Christian worship, as well as foodstuffs, equipment, tools, and weapons required by the band of helpers who accompanied the leader. There would be the priestly assistants, singers and musicians, the drivers, hunters, wood-cutters, carpenters, masons, cooks, horsemen, weavers and embroiderers, and many more. When the caravan stopped at a chosen site, the people gathered, converts were won, and before many months a chapel or church and its outlying structures would be built and furnished. Thus were created new outposts in the struggle against paganism. The journeys were often dangerous. Once, Odrhan, Patrick's charioteer, as if forewarned, asked leave to take the chief seat in the chariot himself, while Patrick held the reins; they had proceeded but a short way in this fashion when the loyal Odrhan was killed by a spear thrust meant for his master.
About the year 442, tradition tells us, Patrick went to Rome and met Pope Leo the Great, who, it seemed, took special interest in the Irish Church. The time had now come for a definite organization According to the annals of Ulster, the cathedral church of Armagh was founded as the primatial see of Ireland on Patrick's return. He brought back with him valuable relics. Latin was established as the language of the Irish Church. There is mention of a synod held by Patrick, probably at Armagh. The rules then adopted are still preserved, with, possibly, some later interpolations. It is believed that this synod was called near the close of Patrick's labors on earth. He was now undoubtedly in more or less broken health; such austerities and constant journeyings as his must have weakened the hardiest constitution. The story of his forty-day fast on Croagh Patrick and the privileges he won from God by his prayers is also associated with the end of his life. Tirechan tells it thus: "Patrick went forth to the summit of Mount Agli, and remained there for forty days and forty nights, and the birds were a trouble to him, and he could not see the face of the heavens, the earth, or the sea, on account of them; for God told all the saints of Erin, past, present, and future, to come to the mountain summit-that mountain which overlooks all others, and is higher than all the mountains of the West-to bless the tribes of Erin, so that Patrick might see the fruit of his labors, for all the choir of the saints came to visit him there, who was the father of them all."
In all the ancient biographies of this saint the marvelous is continuously present. Fortunately, we have three of Patrick's own writings, which help us to see the man himself. His is a brief autobiographical sketch; the , also known as , is a strange chant which we have reproduced in the following pages. < The Letter to Coroticus> is a denunciation of the British king of that name who had raided the Irish coast and killed a number of Christian converts as they were being baptized; Patrick urged the Christian subjects of this king to have no more dealings with him until he had made reparation for the outrage. In his writings Patrick shows his ardent human feelings and his intense love of God. What was most human in the saint, and at the same time most divine, comes out in this passage from his :
"It was not any grace in me, but God who conquereth in me, and He resisted them all, so that I came to the heathen of Ireland to preach the Gospel and to bear insults from unbelievers, to hear the reproach of my going abroad and to endure many persecutions even unto bonds, the while that I was surrendering my liberty as a man of free condition for the profit of others. And if I should be found worthy, I am ready to give even my life for His name's sake unfalteringly and gladly, and there (in Ireland) I desire to spend it until I die, if our Lord should grant it to me."
Patrick's marvelous harvest filled him with gratitude. During an apostolate of thirty years he is reported to have consecrated some 350 bishops, and was instrumental in bringing the faith to many thousands. He writes, "Wherefore those in Ireland who never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshiped idols and abominations, from them has been lately prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God. Sons and daughters of Scottish chieftains are seen becoming monks and virgins of Christ." Yet hostility and violence still existed, for he writes later, "Daily I expect either a violent death, or robbery and a return to slavery, or some other calamity." He adds, like the good Christian he was, "I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, for He rules everything."
Patrick died about 461, and was buried near the fortress of Saul, in the vicinity of the future cathedral town of Down. He was intensely spiritual, a magnetic personality with great gifts for action and organization. He brought Ireland into much closer contact with Europe, especially with the Holy See. The building up of the weak Christian communities which he found on arrival and planting the faith in new regions give him his place as the patron of Ireland. His feast day is one of festivity, and widely observed. Patrick's emblems are a serpent, demons, cross, shamrock, harp, and baptismal font. The story of his driving snakes from Ireland has no factual foundation, and the tale of the shamrock, as a symbol used to explain the Trinity, is an accretion of much later date.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpatrick.asp#ixzz1pKsGZhaa


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