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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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2014

Pope Francis "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians".

(Vatican Radio) The Christian who does not witness to the faith becomes sterile. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope drew inspiration from the martyrdom of St. Stephen, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. The Church, he said, is "not a university of religion", but the people who follow Jesus. Only in this way, he added , is the Church both “fruitful and mother".

In his homily Pope Francis traced the path that led to the death of the first martyr of the Church, a death that was the exact replica of Christ’s. He, too, like Jesus , he said, had encountered “the jealousy of the leaders who were trying" to eliminate him. He too had "false witnesses" , a "rushed judgment”. Stephen warns them that are resisting the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had said , but "these people - said the Pope – were uneasy, were not at peace in their hearts". These people , he added, had " hatred " in their heart . That is why, on hearing Stephen’s words, they were furious . "This hatred - said Pope Francis - was sown in their hearts by the devil", "this is the devil’s hatred of Christ”.

The devil "who did what he wanted with Jesus Christ in his Passion now does the same" with Stephen. This "struggle between God and the devil" is clearly seen in martyrdom. “On the other hand, Jesus had told his disciples that they had to rejoice to be persecuted in his name: "To be persecuted, to be a martyr, to gives ones’ life for Jesus is one of the Beatitudes". That is why, the Pope added , "the devil cannot stand seeing the sanctity of a church or the sanctity of a person, without trying to do something". This is what he does with Stephen, but "he died like Jesus forgiving".

"Martyrdom is the translation of a Greek word that also means witness. And so we can say that for a Christian the path follows in the footsteps of this witness, Christ’s footsteps, to bear witness to Him and, many times, this witness ends up in laying down one’s life . You cannot understand a Christian without witness. We are not a ' religion' of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ - and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives”. 
On Stephen’s death, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "a severe persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem". These people , the Pope observed , "felt strong and the devil provoked them to do this" and so "Christians scattered to the regions of Judea and Samaria". This persecution, the Pope noted, means that "the people spread far and wide" and wherever they went they explained the Gospel , gave testimony of Jesus , and so "mission of the Church" began. "So many - he recalled - converted, on hearing these people". One of the Fathers of the Church, explained this by saying : "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians". With "their witness, they preach the faith" :


"Witness, be it in everyday life, in difficulties, and even in persecution and death, always bears fruit. The Church is fruitful and a mother when she witnesses to Jesus Christ. Instead , when the church closes in on itself , when it thinks of itself as a - so to speak - 'school of religion', with so many great ideas, with many beautiful temples, with many fine museums, with many beautiful things, but does not give witness, it becomes sterile. The Christian is the same. The Christian who does not bear witness, is sterile, without giving the life he has received from Jesus Christ".

The Pope continued, "Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit", and "we cannot bear witness without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us". Pope Francis advised those present: “In difficult times, where we have to choose the right path, where we have to say 'no' to a lot of things that maybe try to seduce us, there is prayer to the Holy Spirit, and He makes us strong enough to take this path of witness":


"Today thinking about these two icons - Stephen, who dies, and the people, the Christians, fleeing, scattering far and wide because of the violent persecution - let us ask: How is my witness? Am I a Christian who witnesses to Jesus or are a simple numerary in this sect ? Am I fruitful because I bear witness, or sterile because unable to let the Holy Spirit lead me forward in my Christian vocation?" .


Text from  Vatican Radio website 

Pope Francis to Swiss Guards - Swearing in Ceremony - Give their Lives for Defense of the Church


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday received new members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and their families on the eve of their swearing in ceremony in the Vatican.

May 6th marks the commemoration of the Sack of Rome in which in the year 1527 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard gave their lives for the defense of the Church and the Pope. On the eve of that significant date in history, Pope Francis greeted the new recruits of the Swiss Guard and the families.


The Pope told them that serving in the Pontifical Swiss Guard means experiencing life in a very particular way.

The Holy Father stressed that although the city of Rome is filled with countless monuments and historical and artistic places that show the greatness of its culture and its history, the city is not only a great museum, but a crossroads for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world, people of different languages, traditions , religions and cultures.

He went on to say that they as new recruits were called to give a peaceful and joyful Christian witness to those who come to the Vatican to visit St. Peter's Basilica and see the Pope.


Pope Francis noted that the uniform of the Guard which is known throughout the world for its colours and shape, its reliability and dedication, this year celebrates its centenary.

But he underlined that behind every uniform is the wearer. With that in mind the Holy Father stressed a Swiss Guard should also be known for his spirit of hospitality, kindness, and an attitude of charity towards all.


The Pope also urged the new members to give importance to their life as part of a community of Guards, making time to share happy moments but also not ignoring fellow members in difficulty and in need of encouragement and friendship.

Pope Francis told those gathered that he sees the dedication and commitment of the Swiss Guard every day and very was very grateful for it.
Text from the Vatican Radio website 

Saint May 6 : St. Eadbert Bishop - Died 698


St. Eadbert
BISHOP
Feast: May 6


     Information:
Feast Day:May 6
Born:7th century England
Died:6 May 698
Venerable Bede assures us, that this holy man excelled both in the knowledge of the holy scriptures, and in the observance of the divine precepts. All his lifetime he was remarkable for his alms-deeds, and it was a law with him to lay aside yearly the tenth part of his goods for the poor. He was ordained successor to St. Cuthbert, in the see of Lindisfarne, in 687, and most worthily governed that church eleven years. It was his custom twice a year, in Lent, and during forty days before Christmas, to retire into a solitary place, encompassed by the waters of the sea, where St. Cuthbert had for some time served God in private before he went to the isle of Ferne. St. Eadbert spent this time remote from all company, in abstinence, prayers, and tears. St. Cuthbert had been buried about eleven years, when the brethren desired, with the approbation of Eadbert, to take up the bones of that eminent servant of God, whose life had been signalized by many illustrious miracles. Instead of dust, to which they expected they were reduced to their great surprise they found the body as entire, and the joints all as pliable as if it had been living—all the vestments and clothes in which it was laid were also sound, and wonderfully fresh and bright. The monks made haste to inform the holy bishop, who was then in his Lent retreat, and they brought him part of the garments which covered the holy body. These he devoutly kissed, and ordered that the blessed body should be laid in other garments, put into the new coffin which was made for the holy relics, and, for greater veneration, placed above the pavement in the sanctuary. He added, that the grave which had been sanctified by so great a miracle of heavenly grace, would not remain long empty. This was accordingly done, and presently after Eadbert, the bishop beloved of God, fell dangerously sick, and his distemper daily increasing, on the 6th of May following he departed to our Lord. His body was laid in St. Cuthbert's grave, and over the place was deposited the uncorrupted body of that glorious servant of God. "Miracles here wrought from time to time, in curing the sick, bear testimony to the merits of them both," says Bede. The same historian informs us, that St. Eadbert covered with lead the church of Lindisfarne, which was dedicated by the archbishop Theodorus, under the patronage of St. Peter. It had been formerly built by bishop Finan, after the Scottish fashion, of oak boards and thatched with reeds.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/E/steadbert.asp#ixzz1u6cGJ9RD

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pope Francis "four pillars:" "intellectual, spiritual, human and pastoral" to Bishops of Burundi Africa



(Vatican Radio) In a country which continues to feel the wounds of the " terrible conflict " of its recent past, consecrated people can be “witnesses of fraternity” for the public sector and the lay community. That’s what Pope Francis told the bishops of Burundi, whom he received Monday during their ad limina visit to Rome. In a discourse in French, the Pope said peace is possible even after war has taught people to hate.

Observing that the deep wounds of the 1993 - 2005 conflict continue to scar and divide Burundi’s population, the Pope said only an “authentic conversion of hearts to the Gospel” can lead people to “fraternal love and forgiveness.”

Noting the bishops’ desire for evangelization of the Burundian people as a means for “true reconciliation,” the Pope said the Church must offer witnesses whose actions “accord with their faith” and who courageously proclaim Christian values in the public sphere.

In particular, Pope Francis said the local Church must take initiatives in social and political dialogue to promote reconciliation. And he suggested that the local Church be open to dialogue with public authorities who "are in need of your witness to your faith and courageous proclamation of Christian values​​, so that they can understand the Church's social doctrine, appreciating its value and inspiration in the management of public affairs ."


In order to be up to the task, priests must be properly trained from the very beginning of their studies and assisted throughout their ministry. Each vocation to the priesthood, he reiterated , must in all cases be based on "four pillars:" "intellectual, spiritual, human and pastoral" development. The Gospel should remain their focus throughout their pastoral ministry, and the Pope affirmed that priests should not allow administrative concerns to dominate their duty to attend to the pastoral needs of the faithful, nor should they focus strictly on providing the sacraments without offering other forms of evangelization.

Today, the Pope acknowledged, vocations " are fragile " and young people " need to be carefully supported in their journey.” The priests who minister to them must be “true examples of joy and priestly perfection, (people) who are their neighbors and share their lives , who really listen to them and guide them so as to know better.” “It is only at this price,” he added, “that fair judgment can be exercised to avoid unfortunate mistakes. "


The Pope acknowledged the many good works carried out by consecrated people in the areas of social education, health care and the assistance they provide to the many refugees in Burundi. But he noted that Burundi’s lay people and youth as a whole are also in need of authentic Christian development: "In a world undergoing secularization, it is necessary to give the younger generation an authentic view of life, society , the family." To achieve this, the Pope concluded , it will be essential to do " everything possible" to immerse education in Christian values - both within and outside Catholic schools - so that Burundi 's future leaders, can build a "more humane and just " society.

Text from page Vatican Radio website 

Pope Francis 3 Attitudes we must Avoid "Those who follow Jesus for money..."

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday warned that there are people in the Church that follow Jesus for vanity or thirst for power and wealth, and he prayed the Lord to give us the grace to follow him for love.

The Pope was speaking during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

Pope Francis took his cue from the Gospel reading of the day in which Jesus tells a group of people who were looking for him that they are doing so “ not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled”.

This episode, the Pope said, invites us to ask ourselves whether we are following the Lord for personal gain or because we love Him, because, he said, we are all sinners, and we need to make an effort and look into ourselves in the way we live our Faith.

Jesus – Pope Francis pointed out – mentions three attitudes that we must avoid when we follow God or search for Him. The first – he said – is vanity. In particular he refers to those who are in public positions who give alms or fast because they want to be seen doing so:

“This is not the right attitude. Vanity is not good, vanity causes us to slip on our pride and everything ends there. So I ask myself the question: and me? How do I follow Jesus? When I do good, do I do it under the public eye, or do I do it in private?

And the Pope said, “I also think of pastors, because a pastor who is vain does not do good to the people of God: even if he is a priest or a bishop, he does not follow Jesus if he is besotted by vanity”.

And the other attitude Jesus warns against – the Pope continued – is thirst for power:

“Some of those who follow Jesus do so in search of power. Perhaps they do not do so with full consciousness. A clear example of this is to be found in John and James, the sons of Zebedee who asked Jesus to seat them in places of honour, one on His right and one on His left in his Kingdom. And in the Church there are climbers, people driven by ambition! There are many of them! But if you like climbing go to the mountains and climb them: it is healthier! Do not come to Church to climb! And Jesus scolds people with this kind of ambitious attitude in the Church”.

And Pope Francis noted that only when the Holy Spirit came, did the disciples change. But, he warned, sin remains in our Christian lives and we must continue to ask ourselves the question: “in what way do I follow Christ? Only for Him, even to the Cross, or do I do it for power? Do I use the Church, the Christian community, the parish, the diocese to gain some power?”

The third thing that takes us away from the righteousness of our intentions – Pope Francis said – is money:

“Those who follow Jesus for money, trying to take economic advantage of the parish, of the diocese, of their Christian community, of the hospital, or the college… Let us think of the first Christian community that was swayed by this intention: Simon, Ananias and Sapphira… this has been a temptation right from the beginning. And since, we have heard of so many good Catholics, good Christians, friends and benefactors of the Church that – it has been revealed - acted for personal profit. They presented themselves as benefactors of the Church and made money on the side…”

Pope Francis concluded asking the Lord for the grace to follow Jesus with the right intentions: without vanity, without desire for power, without lusting for wealth.



Text from Vatican Radio website 

Saint May 5 : St. Hilary of Arles : Bishop - Died 449 - France


St. Hilary of Arles
BISHOP
Feast: May 5


     Information:
Feast Day:May 5
Born:400 at Lorraine
Died:449
This saint was nobly born about the year 401, and was related to St. Honoratus of Arles, and of the same country in Gaul, which was probably Lorraine, or some other part of Austrasia. He was brought up in a manner suitable to his birth, in the study of the liberal arts, and of every branch of polite learning. especially of eloquence and philosophy. But how little value we ought to set on all things that appear great in the eyes of the world, he himself has taught us. "We are all equal," says he, "in Jesus Christ; and the highest degree of our nobility is to be of the number of the true servants of God. Neither science, nor birth, according to this world, can exalt us, but in proportion to our contempt of them." Before God had put these sentiments into his heart, he seems to have been not altogether insensible to the advantages of this world, in which he was raised to the highest dignities. His kinsman, St. Honoratus, who had forsaken his country to seek Christ in the solitude of the isle of Lerins, where he had founded a great monastery, was the instrument made use of by the Almighty to open his eyes. This holy man had always loved Hilary, and thought he could not give him more solid proof of his friendship than by endeavoring to gain him entirely to God. He therefore left his retirement for a few days to seek him out, and endeavored to move him by the same powerful, weighty reflections, which had made the deepest impression on his own mind, and induced him to break the chains of the world. "What floods of tears," says St. Hilary, "did this true friend shed to soften the hardness of my heart! How often did he embrace me with the most tender and compassionate affection, to obtain of me that I would take into serious consideration the salvation of my soul! Yet, by an unhappy victory, I still remained conqueror." Honoratus, finding his endeavors to wean him from the charms of a deceitful world ineffectual, had recourse to prayer, his ordinary refuge. "Well," said he to Hilary, "I will obtain of God, what you will not now grant me." Upon which they took leave of each other. Hilary, reflecting on what Honoratus had said to him, was not long before he began to feel a violent conflict within himself. "On one side," says he, "me-thought I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the world offering me its seducing charms and pleasures. How often did I embrace and reject, will and not will the same thing! But in the end Jesus Christ triumphed in me. And three days after Honoratus had left me, the mercy of God, solicited by his prayers, subdued my rebellious soul." He then went in person to seek St. Honoratus, and appeared before him as humble and tractable as the saint had left him haughty and indocile.
From this moment there appeared in Hilary that wonderful change which the Holy Ghost produces in a soul which he truly converts. His words, looks, and whole comportment breathed nothing but humility, patience, sweetness, mortification, and charity. Every one saw in him a man who began to labor in earnest to save his soul, and who had put his hand to the plough to look no more behind him, or to send a single thought alter v. hat he had left for Christ's sake. Aspiring to perfection, he sold all his several estates to his brother, and distributed all the money accruing from the sale among the poor, and the most indigent monasteries. Thus disengaged from the world, and naked, no less in the inward disposition of soul than in his exterior, he, like Abraham, took leave of his own country, and made the best of his way to Lerins; where from his first entrance he made it appear that he was worthy to live in the company of saints. He set out in the pursuit of monastic perfection with such zeal and fervor, as to become in a short time the pattern of those on whose instructions and example he came to form his own conduct. His application to prayer and mortification, and his watchfulness and care to avoid the smallest faults and imperfections, prepared him to receive the gift of tears. It is thought that his baptism was posterior to his retirement. St. Honoratus having been chosen archbishop of Arles, in 426, Hilary followed him to that city; but it was not long before his love of solitude occasioned his return to Lerins. All the holy inhabitants of that isle testified as great joy to receive him again,  as he felt to see himself among them. But God, who had other designs upon him, did not permit him to enjoy long his beloved retirement. St. Honoratus begged his assistance, and the comfort of his company, and as he did not yield to entreaties, went himself to fetch him from Lerins. Soon after God called St. Honoratus to himself, his death happening in 428 or 429. Hilary, though sensibly afflicted for the loss of such a friend, rejoiced however to see himself at liberty, and set out directly for Lerins. But no sooner were the citizens apprized of his departure, than messengers posted after him with such expedition, that he was overtaken, brought back, and consecrated archbishop, though only twenty-nine years of age.
In this high station the virtues which he had acquired in solitude shone with lustre to mankind. The higher he was exalted by his dignity, the more did he humble himself beneath all others in his heart. He reduced himself in every thing to the strictest bounds of necessity: and he had only one coat for winter and summer. He applied himself diligently to meditation on the holy scriptures, and preaching the word of God, was assiduous in prayer, watching, and fasting. He had his hours also for manual labor, with a view of gaming something for the poor; choosing such work as he could join with reading or prayer. He travelled always on foot, and had attained to so perfect an evenness of temper, that his mind seemed never ruffled with the least emotion of anger. He had an admirable talent in preaching. When he spoke before the learned of the world, his elocution, his accent, his discourse, his action, were such as the greatest orators justly admired, but despaired ever to come up to. Yet when he instructed the illiterate, he changed his manner of address, and proportioned his instructions to the capacities of the most simple and ignorant, though always supporting the dignity of the divine word by a maimer and expression suitable to its majesty. He preached the truth in its purity, without flattering the great. He had often in private admonished a certain judge in the province of a criminal partiality in the administration of justice, but without effect. One day the magistrate came into the church, attended by his officers, while the saint was preaching. The holy bishop broke off his sermon on the spot, and gave his surprised audience for reason, that he who had so often neglected the advice he had given him for his salvation, was not worthy to partake of the nourishment of the divine word. the judge no sooner heard his reflection, but withdrew in  confusion, and the saint resumed his discourse Observing one day that many went out of the church immediately after the reading of the gospel, just as he was going to preach, he prevailed with them to return, by saying: "You will not so easily get out of hell, if you are once unhappily fallen into its dungeons." He had such a love for the poor, that to have the more to bestow on them, he lived himself in the greatest poverty: he never kept a horse, and labored hard in digging and manuring the ground, though educated according to the dignity of his family. To redeem captives, he caused the church plate to be sold, not excepting the sacred vessels; making use of patens and chalices of glass ill the celebration of the divine mysteries. If his compassion for the corporal miseries of the faithful was so tender, we may judge how much more he was moved to pity at their spiritual necessities. He bore the weak with tenderness, but never indulged the passions or sloth of any. When he put any one in a course of penance he was himself bathed in tears; whereby he troth excited the penitent to the like, and with ardent sighs and prayer obtained for him of God the grace of compunction and pardon. He visited the bishops of his province, and endeavored to make them walk in the perfect spirit of Christ, the prince of pastors. He established many monasteries and took particular care to enforce a strict observance of monastic discipline among them. He had a close friendship with St. Germanus, whom he called his father, and respected as an apostle. He presided in the council of Ries in 439, in the first council of Orange in 441, in the council of Vaison in 442, and probably in 443, in the second council of Arles, in all which several canons of discipline were framed.
His zeal exasperated several tepid persons; and some of these, by misconstruing his actions, gave the holy pope St. Leo a disadvantageous character of him. His zeal, indeed, had been on some occasions too hasty and precipitate: but this was owing in him to mistake, not to passion; for the circumstances of his actions, and of his eminent piety, oblige us to interpret his intention by the same spirit by which he governed himself in his whole conduct. This disagreement between St. Leo and St. Hilary proved a trial for the exercise of zeal in the former, and of patience in the latter, for his greater sanctification by humility, submission, and silence. Chelidonius, bishop of Besancon, had been deposed by St. Hilary Upon an allegation, that, before he was consecrated bishop, he had married a widow, and had condemned persons to death as magistrate; both which were looked upon as irregularities or disqualifications for holy orders. Chelidonius hereupon set out for Rome, to justify himself to the pope, St. Leo, who received his appeal from his metropolitan, and acquitted him of the irregularity with which he stood charged. St. Hilary, upon hearing that his suffragan was gone for Rome, followed him thither on foot, and in the midst of winter. The pope having assembled a council to judge this affair, St. Hilary took his seat among the other bishops that composed it: but from his not attempting to prove the irregularity which had been alleged against Chelidonius, the saint seemed to own that he had been imposed on as to the matter of fact. But he pretended, that the cause ought not to be judged otherwise than by commissaries deputed by the pope to take cognizance of it in the country that gave it birth, a point for which some Africans had contended. This plea was overruled, the contrary having been frequently practiced, when both parties could appear at Rome: though the manner of judging appeals is only a point of discipline, which may vary in different places. Another affair brought St. Hilary into a greater difficulty. Projectus, a bishop of his province, being sick, St. Hilary, upon information, hastened to his see, and ordained a new bishop: after which Projectus recovering, there were two bishops contending for the same see, and Hilary supported the last ordained; perhaps because the first might remain disabled for his functions. The author of St. Hilary's life does not clear up his conduct in this particular: but we cannot doubt of the sincerity of his intention. Moreover the discipline of the church in such matters was not at that time so clearly settled by the canons as it has been since. St. Hilary therefore imagined a metropolitan might have a discretionary power in such matters. However St. Leo rightly judged such an ordination irregular, liable to great inconveniences, and productive of schisms. Wherefore he forbade St. Hilary to ordain any bishops for the future. Our holy prelate cancelled his mistakes by his patience, and St. Leo, writing immediately after the saint's death, to his successor Ravennus, calls him, . Exhausted by austerities and labors, St. Hilary passed to a better life on the 5th of May, 449, being only forty-eight years old. St. Honoratus, the eloquent bishop of Marseilles, who has given us an abstract of his life, relates several miraculous cures wrought by the saint while he was living. His body lies in a subterraneous chapel, under the high altar, in the church of St. Honoratus at Arles, with an elegant ancient epitaph. The name of St. Hilary stands in the Roman Martyrology.
That this saint never gave in to the Semi-Pelagian doctrine, though it hard not been then condemned by any decree of the pastors of the church, is clearly shown by Tillemont and Dom. Rivet. This is proved from several passages in his life by St. Honoratus; and in the Martyrologies of Rabanus and Notker it is mentioned that he vigorously exerted his zeal in bringing a light and in correcting the Pelagian heresy, which is taught in the conferences of Cassian. His exposition of the creed, commended by the ancients, is now lost: his homilies on all the feasts of the year were much esteemed, but are not known at present. The best edition of his works is given by John Salinas, regular canon of St. John Lateran, in Italy, in 1731.

SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/H/sthilaryofarles.asp#ixzz1u3LxGWUD

Sunday, May 4, 2014

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