DONATE TO JCE NEWS

Friday, September 19, 2014

Catholic News World : Friday September 19, 2014 - Share!

2014

Pope Francis
19/09/

Pope Francis "There is still time...there is still time for Him to come to us.” New Evangelization Conference

Pope Francis "This is the future that awaits us and this is the fact that brings us to pose so much resistance...' Homily

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in a conference on his post-Synodal Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium on Friday. Some 2,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall to meet the Holy Father, on the afternoon of the second day of a three-day conference organized by the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation in order to explore strategies and avenues for the pastoral renewal of the Church in the missionary key of the Joy of the Gospel.

In his words to the group, the Pope reflected on the words of St Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus felt compassion for the crowds who were “tired and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd”. So many people today, he said, are on the margins of our society, feeling tired and dejected, awaiting an answer from the Church.
How can we share our experience of faith, the Pope asked? He said he is not offering any detailed analysis of the complex realities of today’s world, but rather urging the Church to read the signs of the times which can offer us hope and courage.  Bishops, priests, deacons, catechists and all those working to pass on the faith have a particular responsibility to read these signs of the times, the Pope said, and to respond with wisdom and generosity.
Instead of being afraid and defensive, like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the Pope said those involved in pastoral work must go out constantly in search  of those on the margins who are looking for the comfort that Christ can bring. Rather than merely increasing pastoral initiatives, the Pope said  it’s important to focus on the needs of these people, with patience and perseverance. We don’t have a magic wand to solve all the problems, the Pope concluded, but we do have faith in the Lord who accompanies all our efforts and who will never abandon us.
Those taking part in the conference have come from all around the world, and represent every state of life in the Church: lay people with families and in the single life; bishops; priests; deacons; men and women religious – all involved in missionary work, and especially in service to the poor and marginalized.
The President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, told Vatican Radio that the participants bring a wealth of diversity in experience, all of which is focused on a single purpose: spreading the Good News of salvation as effectively as possible. “[In the conference] we have the possibility to share a common understanding,” he said, “and then to translate [that understanding] into the different cultural and ecclesial traditions of our Churches.”
The conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation on The Pastoral Project of Evangelii gaudium opened Thursday, September 18th, and concludes on Saturday, September 20th.

Scotland votes NO and remains part of UK - Official Statement from Bishops

Catholic Bishops Statement on Referendum
 “The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland recognises and respects the result of the Scottish referendum, that Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom, and commends all those who participated in what was a was a passionate and sometimes partisan debate. The vast majority of Scots engaged with the Referendum and it is our hope that we can all now cooperate for the benefit of our nation in future. We urge the Catholic community to continue to engage in public debate and decision-making and, in doing so, to uphold the meaning and importance of the Christian message. May God bless Scotland.” Shared from Scottish Catholic Media Office - Image Share Google

Latest Vatican Information Service News and Pope Francis


Summary
- Audience with the president of Armenia: special attention to Christian communities and other religious minorities, and to refugees in conflict zones
- Francis prays at St. Mary Major before his trip to Albania
- The Pope to visit Naples on 21 March 2015
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
- The Pope receives the bishops of Cote d'Ivoire: the role of the Church can be crucial in rebuilding your country
- Francis to bishops: men able to cultivate God's fields
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Audience with the president of Armenia: special attention to Christian communities and other religious minorities, and to refugees in conflict zones
Vatican City, 19 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in Audience the President of the Republic of Armenia, His Excellency Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the development and strengthening of bilateral relations, highlighting the special role of Christianity in the history and life of Armenian society.
With regard to the regional political situation, it is hoped that complex and hitherto unresolved issues may be overcome through dialogue between all the interested parties. Furthermore, mention was made of the theme of conflict in the Middle East, and trust was expressed in the common efforts of interested nations and religious communities to achieve a peaceful co-existence of peoples throughout the entire region. Special attention was paid to the situation faced by Christian communities and other religious minorities in the area, and to the humanitarian crisis regarding refugees from the affected zones.
Francis prays at St. Mary Major before his trip to Albania
Vatican City, 19 September 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Pope made a private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray in silence before the image of the Virgin “Salus Populi Romani” on the eve of his apostolic trip to Albania, as he has done before his previous trips to other countries. The Holy Father left a floral tribute before the image and stayed in the Basilica, which was closed to the public, for half an hour.
The Pope to visit Naples on 21 March 2015
Vatican City, 19 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy, announced today that the Holy Father will visit Naples on 21 March 2015, confirmed by the Holy See Press Office. Today is the feast day of St. Januarius, patron of the city.
Audiences
Vatican City, 19 September 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
- Archbishop James Patrick Green, apostolic nuncio in Peru;
- Professor Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community;
- Professor Ignazio Marino, mayor of Rome.
Yesterday, Thursday 18 September, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”;
- Bishop Oscar Vicente Ojea of San Isidro, Argentina;
- A group of cyclists from the “Cruce por la educacion argentina” Association.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 19 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr, auxiliary of the diocese of Mainz, Federal Republic of Germany, as bishop of Erfurt (area 12,000, population 2,188,589, Catholics 152,282, priests 200, permanent deacons 1, religious 240), Federal Republic of Germany.
The Pope receives the bishops of Cote d'Ivoire: the role of the Church can be crucial in rebuilding your country
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The bishops of Cote d'Ivoire were received by the Holy Father this morning, at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit, and the written discourse he handed to them emphasised the need for dialogue and brotherhood among prelates and their priests, along with the successful inculturation of faith.
“The fraternal communion that unites the bishops of a nation around Christ is essential for the growth of the Church as well as for the progress of society as as whole”, he writes. “This is especially true in a country that has suffered serious divisions and is in need of your witness and your firm commitment to rebuilding fraternity. Let us not be robbed of the ideal of brotherly love! By really being brothers, open to dialogue and mutual trust, listening to all – even when there are differences and contradictions – and making space for everyone, especially the youngest among you, you will provide a new missionary impulse and will truly transform society, so that it is more consistent with the Gospel ideal”.
“Therefore”, he continued, “I can only encourage you to take on the role that is yours in the task of national reconciliation, setting aside any personal involvement in political disputes at the expense of the common good. However, it is important to maintain constructive relations with the authorities within the country, as well as with the various components of society, so as to spread the true evangelical spirit of dialogue and collaboration. The role of the Church – which is valued and listened to – can be crucial. … I urge you to continue in your dialogue with Muslims, so as to discourage any drift towards violence or any incorrect religious interpretation of the conflict you have experienced”.
“Of course, you are not alone in facing the enormous task of evangelisation and the conversion of hearts: you have the support of the clergy, generous and motivated, and whose numbers continue to grow”, he remarks. “However, to avoid difficulties and shortcomings that some priests encounter, the best approach is without doubt to ensure the quality of formation, both initial and permanent, the encouragement of a priestly fraternity that overcomes ethnic divisions and, in particular, the closeness and attention that, like loving and caring fathers, you must give to each one of them. Use, wherever possible, gentleness, persuasion and encouragement to awaken pastoral zeal, rather than immediate sanctions or severity. I urge you to visit your priests often in order to listen to them and get to know them better. The formation of a fraternal, united 'presbyterium' around the bishop is necessary for a priest to remain attached to his own diocese and to prioritise its needs, rather than giving in to the temptation to leave it, to the detriment of the people of God who need his ministry”.
The Pope offers warm thanks to the consecrated persons for “the considerable task they take on, along with laypersons working alongside them, in the sectors of education, health and development. Their work is appreciated by all and is absolutely indispensable in view of the intimate connection between evangelisation and human development”: He also invites the bishops to ensure their pastoral closeness to all the lay faithful, but especially families, “who are more fragile nowadays, both on account of the secularisation of Ivorian society and the movement of the population and divisions caused by the conflict, as well as by less morally demanding temptations that arise all around them”. The Pontiff also draws attention to the elderly as, “despite the traditional African mentality that reserves a special veneration for them, many now find themselves alone and abandoned, due to the 'throwaway' culture that has appeared in your societies. However, their participation is essential for the equilibrium of the people and the education of the young”.
Francis concludes by expressing his joy and gratitude for the great work of evangelisation that is being carried out in Cote d'Ivoire. “However”, he warns, “faith remains fragile and the wind does not blow in its favour. Often, as the recent conflicts have unfortunately shown, ethnic particularism overrides evangelical fraternity, and many baptised persons, tired or disillusioned, drift away from the light of truth in search of easier solutions, whereas others simply do not put the demands of faith into practice in their lives. Undoubtedly the key for the future is found partly in ensuring the Word of God is more deeply rooted in people's hearts. It is certainly also necessary to enter into deeper dialogue with cultural, religious and traditional reality in order to achieve a true inculturation of our faith, unambiguously rejected what is contrary to it while welcoming and nurturing what is good. I therefore encourage you to continue ceaselessly in your work of evangelisation. In this way, the Church in Cote d'Ivoire can face the challenges of the future with serenity”.
Francis to bishops: men able to cultivate God's fields
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received in audience the bishops appointed during the last year, who are participating in the congress organised by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Francis commented that he was happy to meet them and said that they were “the fruit of the arduous work and tireless prayer of the Church who, when she chooses her pastors, recalls that entire night the Lord spent on the mount, in the presence of the Father, before naming those He wanted to stay with him and to go forth into the world”.
The Pope asked them now that they have overcome their initial fears and excitement of their consecration, never to take for granted the ministry entrusted to them, never to lose their wonder before God's plan nor the awe of walking aware of His presence and the presence of the Church who is, first and foremost, His. He also reminded them of “the inseparable bond between the stable presence of the bishop and the growth of the flock”. “When the pastor is missing or unavailable, pastoral care and the salvation of souls is at risk. In fact, in the pastors Christ gives to the Church, He shows His love for His bride and gives His life for her”.
He continued, “we do not need superficially happy bishops; it is necessary to dig deeper to discover what the Spirit continues to inspire in your Bride. You are not fixed-term bishops, who always need to change address, like medicines that lose their power to cure, or like those insipid foodstuffs that have to be thrown away because they have lost their usefulness. It is important not to block the curative force that springs from within the gift you have received, and this defends you from the temptation to come and go aimlessly, because no wind is favourable to he who does not know where he is going. And we have learned where we are going: we are always going towards Jesus”. He added, “in this way, your watch over your flock will never fail to encounter the flame of the Risen Christ”.
“I also beg you not to fall prey to the temptation to change the people. Love the people that God has given you, even when they have committed grave sins, without tiring of turning to the Lord for forgiveness and a new beginning, even at the cost of having to cancel your false images of the divine face or the fantasies you have nurtured of how to ensure their communion with God”. The Church, he added, is to offer “welcome to all without discrimination, offering the firmness of the authority that enables growth and the gentleness of paternity that generates. Do not fall prey the temptation to sacrifice your freedom by surrounding yourself with courts, networks or choirs of assent, as the Church and the world always have the right to hear from the lips of bishops the Gospel that sets them free”.
Pope Francis advised the bishops to imitate Moses' patience in leading his people, as “nothing is more important than introducing people to God!”. He therefore urged them to begin with the young and the elderly, “because the first are our wings, and the second are our roots. Wings and roots without which we do not know what we are, much less where we are going”. He added that he saw the bishops as sentinels, able to awaken their Churches; “men able to cultivate and ripen God's fields and pastors able to restore unity. “Do not waste energy in conflict and disagreement, but rather use it to build and to love”, he concluded, wishing them “fruitfulness, patience, humility and much prayer”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 18 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience fourteen prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Cote d'Ivoire on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwa, archbishop of Abidjan;
- Bishop Alexis Touabli Youlo of Agboville;
- Bishop Raymond Ahoua, F.D.P., of Grand-Bassam;
- Archbishop Paul-Simeon Ahouanan Djro, O.F.M., of Bouake;
- Bishop Ziri Boniface Gbaya of Abengourou;
- Bishop Marcellin Yao Kouadio of Yamoussoukro;
- Archbishop Joseph Ake Yapo of Gagnoa;
- Bishop Maurice Konan Kouassi of Daloa;
- Bishop Gaspard Beby Gneba of Man;
- Bishop Jean-Jacques Koffi Oi Koffi of San Pedro-en-Cote d'Ivoire;
- Archbishop Marie-Daniel Dadiet of Korhogo;
- Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola;
- Bishop Antoine Kone of Odienne;
- Bishop Jean Salomon Lezoutie, coadjutor of Yopougon.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Anthony Colin Fisher of Parramatta, Australia, as metropolitan archbishop of Sydney (area 1,264, population 2,482,000, Catholics 664,000, priests 484, permanent deacons 3, religious 1,537), Australia.

Catholic Quote to SHARE by St. Louis de Montfort "Pray with great confidence....."

"Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray." -St. Louis de Montfort

Today's Mass Readings : Friday September 19, 2014


Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 447


Reading 11 COR 15:12-20

Brothers and sisters:
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead,
then neither has Christ been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching;
empty, too, your faith.
Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God that he raised Christ,
whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1BCD, 6-7, 8B AND 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings,
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Gospel LK 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.

Pope Francis "This is the future that awaits us and this is the fact that brings us to pose so much resistance...' Homily


Pope Francis at Mass
19/09/

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Friday morning. In remarks to the gathered faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the Resurrection as the seal of Christian identity. Drawing on the words of St Paul the Apostle from his Letter to the Corinthians, which were proclaimed at Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the difficulty that some Christians – and others, who might otherwise be attracted to the Faith – have in understanding and living with the certain knowledge in faith that our bodies will be transformed and that we shall be restored to them.
“[The Corinthians],” said Pope Francis, “had other ideas: ‘sure, the dead are justified, they shall not go to hell – good thing, too! – but they’ll go into the cosmos, into the air – just the soul before God’,” and so St. Paul had to offer a “difficult correction”: that of the Resurrection. Nor were the Christians of Corinth the only ones to have difficulty with the teaching. The Greeks at Athens, to whom St. Paul also preached – the wise philosophers – were even afraid of the notion:
“[The Christian teaching on the bodily resurrection] is a scandal: they cannot understand it. This is why Paul offers the following line of reasoning, which is quite clear: ‘if Christ is risen, how can they say that there is not among yourselves resurrection from the dead, as well? If Christ is risen, the dead, too, shall rise’. There is resistance to the transformation, resistance to the work of the Spirit we received at Baptism, which is to transform us utterly, unto the Resurrection. When we speak of this, our language tlls us: ‘I want to go to heaven, I don’t want to go to hell’, but we stop there. None of us says: ‘I shall rise as Christ [did]’. No, even for us it is difficult to understand this.”
Pope Francis went on to say that a sort of “cosmic pantheism” is easier to grasp, since there is this resistance to transformation – St Paul’s word – and, “in the Resurrection, we shall all be transformed.”: 
“This is the future that awaits us and this is the fact that brings us to pose so much resistance: resistance to the transformation of our bodies. Also – resistance to Christian identity. I’ll say more: perhaps we are not so much afraid of the Apocalypse of the Evil One, of the Antichrist who must come first – perhaps we are not so afraid [of him]. Perhaps we are not so afraid of the voice of the Archangel or the sound of his trumpet – that shall sound the victory of the Lord. Fear of our resurrection, however, we have: we shall all be transformed. That transformation shall be the end of our Christian journey.”
Pope Francis went on to say that the essence of Christian identity is, “being with the Lord, in body and soul.” He went on to say, Our Christian identity is completed, therefore, “with the resurrection of our bodies, with our resurrection.”:
“That is the end, right there: [that point in which we are] satiated, by the image of the Lord. Christian identity is a way, a journey, on which we ‘are’ with the Lord, as those two disciples who ‘were with the Lord’ on that night. Our whole life is called to 'being with the Lord', in order – at the end – after the voice of the Archangel, after the sound of his trumpet, to remain with Him and abide with the Lord [forever].”

 2014

Saint September 19 : St. Januarius : Patron of Blood banks and Volcanic eruptions

St. Januarius
BISHOP AND MARTYR
Feast: September 19
Information:
Feast Day:
September 19
Born:
275, Benevento or Naples, Campania, Roman Empire
Died:
305, Pozzuoli, Campania
Major Shrine:
Cathedral of San Gennaro, Naples, Italy
Patron of:
blood banks; Naples; volcanic eruptions

St. Januarius is believed to have suffered in the persecution of Diocletian, c. 305. With regard to the history of his life and martyrdom, we know next to nothing. The various collections of "Acts", though numerous (cf. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, n. 4115-4140), are all extremely late and untrustworthy. Bede (c. 733) in his "Martyrologium" has epitomized the so-called "Acta Bononiensia" (see Quentin, "Les Martyrologes historiques", 76). To this source we may trace the following entry in the present Roman Martyrology, though the reference to the miracle of the liquefaction is an addition of much later date. "At Pozzuoli in Campania [the memory] of the holy martyrs Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, Festus his deacon, and Desiderius lector, together with Socius deacon of the church of Misenas, Proculus deacon of Pozzuoli, Eutyches and Acutius, who after chains and imprisonment were beheaded under the Emperor Diocletian. The body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and there honourably interred in the church, where his holy blood is kept unto this day in a phial of glass, which being set near his head becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh."
In the Breviary a longer account is given. There we are told that "Timotheus, President of Campania," was the official who condemned the martyrs, that Januarius was thrown into a fiery furnace, but that the flames would not touch him, and that the saint and his companions were afterwards exposed in the amphitheatre to wild beasts without any effect. Timotheus declaring that this was due to magic, and ordering the martyrs to be beheaded, the persecutor was smitten with blindness, but Januarius cured him, and five thousand persons were converted to Christ before the martyrs were decapitated. Then, as the Breviary lesson continues, "the cities of these coasts strove to obtain their bodies for honourable burial, so as to make sure of having them advocates with God. By God's will, the relics of Januarius were taken to Naples at last, after having been carried from Pozzuoli to Beneventum and from Beneventum to Monte Vergine. When they were brought thence to Naples they were laid in the chief church there and have been there famous on account of many miracles. Among these is remarkable the stopping of eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, whereby both that neighbourhood and places afar off have been like to be destroyed. It is also well known and is the plain fact, seen even unto this day, that when the blood ofSt. Januarius, kept dried up in a small glass phial, is put in sight of the head of the same martyr, it is wont to melt and bubble in a very strange way, as though it had but freshly been shed."
It is especially this miracle of the liquefaction which has given celebrity to the name of Januarius, and to this we turn our attention. Let it at once be said that the supposition of any trick or deliberate imposture is out of the question, as candid opponents are now willing to admit. For more than four hundred years this liquefaction has taken place at frequent intervals. If it were a trick it would be necessary to admit that all the archbishops of Naples, and that countless ecclesiastics eminent for their learning and often for their great sanctity, were accomplices in the fraud, as also a number of secular officials; for the relic is so guarded that its exposition requires the concurrence of both civil and ecclesiastical authority. Further, in all these four hundred years, no one of the many who, upon the supposition of such a trick, must necessarily have been in the secret, has made any revelation or disclosed how the apparent miracle is worked. Strong indirect testimony to this truth is borne by the fact that even at the present time the rationalistic opponents of a supernatural explanation are entirely disagreed as to how the phenomenon is to be accounted for.
What actually takes place may be thus briefly described: in a silver reliquary, which in form and size somewhat suggests a small carriage lamp, two phials are enclosed. The lesser of these contains only traces of blood and need not concern us here. The larger, which is a little flagon-shaped flask four inches in height and about two and a quarter inches in diameter, is normally rather more than half full of a dark and solid mass, absolutely opaque when held up to the light, and showing nodisplacment when the reliquary is turned upside down. Both flasks seem to be so fixed in the lantern cavity of the reliquary by means of some hard gummy substance that they are hermetically sealed. Moreover, owing to the fact that the dark mass in the flask is protected by two thicknesses of glass it is presumably but little affected by the temperature of the surrounding air. Eighteen times in each year, i.e. (1) on theSaturday before the first Sunday in May and the eight following days, (2) on the feast of St. Januarius (19 Sept.) and during the octave, and (3) on 16 December, a silver bust believed to contain the head of St. Januarius is exposed upon the altar, and the reliquary just described is brought out and held by the officiant in view of the assembly. Prayers are said by the people, begging that the miracle may take place, while a group of poor women, known as the "zie di San Gennaro" (aunts of St. Januarius), make themselves specially conspicuous by the fervour, and sometimes, when the miracle is delayed, by the extravagance, of their supplications.
The officiant usually holds the reliquary by its extremities, without touching the glass, and from time to time turns it upside down to note whether any movement is perceptible in the dark mass enclosed in the phial. After an interval of varying duration, usually not less than two minutes or more than an hour, the mass is gradually seen todetach itself from the sides of the phial, to become liquid and of a more or less ruby tint, and in some instances to froth and bubble up, increasing in volume. The officiant then announces, "Ilmiracolo é fatto", a Te Deum is sung, and the reliquary containing the liquefied blood is brought to the altar rail that the faithful may venerate it by kissing the containing vessel. Rarely has the liquefaction failed to take place in the expositions of May or September, but in that of 16 December the mass remains solid more frequently than not.
It is of course natural that those who are reluctant to admit the supernatural character of the phenomenon should regard the liquefaction as simply due to the effects of heat. There are, they urge, certain substances (e.g. a mixture of spermaceti and ether) which have a very low boiling point. The heat produced by the hands of the officiant, the pressing throng of spectators, thelights on the altar, and in particular the candle formerly held close to the reliquary to enable the people to see that the mass is opaque, combine to raise the temperature of the air sufficiently to melt the substance in the phial--a substance which is assumed to be blood, but which no one has ever analysed. Further, ever since the early years of the eighteenth century, sceptical scientists, by using certain chemical preparations, have reconstructed the miracle with more or less of success; that is to say, they have been able to exhibit some red substance which, though at first apparently solid, melted after an interval without any direct application of heat. None the less, it may be said withabsolute confidence that the theory of heat affords no adequate explanation of the phenomena observed.
For more than a century careful observations of the temperature of the air in the neighbourhood of the relic have been made on these occasions and the records have been kept. It is certain from the scientific memoirs of Professors Fergola, Punzo, and Sperindeo that there is no direct relation between the temperature, and the time and manner of the liquefaction. Often when the thermometer has stood at 77° Fahrenheit or even higher, liquefaction has been delayed for as much as twenty or even forty minutes, while on the other hand the contents of the phial have sometimesliquefied in considerably less time than this when the thermometer remained as low as 60 or 65 degrees. Moreover, the heat theory by no means accounts for another more remarkable fact observed for quite two hundred years past. The mass in melting commonly increased in volume, but when itsolidifies again it does not necessarily return to its original bulk. Sometimes the whole phial is seen to be occupied, at other times hardly more than half. This has led a Neapolitan scientist of modern times, Professor Albini, to suggest a new physical theory derived from observing the behaviour of a viscous fluid such as partly congealed honey. He conjectures that the unknown substance in the phial consists of some highly divided solid matter which is partly held in suspension by a disproportionately small quantity of liquid. When at rest, the liquid sinks to the bottom of the phial, while the solid particles form a sort of crust not easily displaced when the vessel is turned upside down. This cohesion is however overcome by repeated movements, such as those that the reliquary experiences when the moment of liquefaction is impatiently waited for. Further, such a viscous fluid easily cakes upon the walls of the containing vessel, and admits large air bubbles which cause the deceptive appearance of a change of volume.
Professor Albini claims to have reproduced all the phenomena with a compound made of powdered chocolate and the serum of milk. On the other hand, those who have studied closely the process of liquefaction of the contents of the phial declare that such an explanation is absolutely impossible. Moreover, there seem to bewell-attested instances of liquefaction taking place both in the case of this and other similar relics of blood, when the reliquary has been standing by itself without any movement whatsoever.
Accordingly, the suggestion has also been made (see Di Pace, "Ipotesi scientifica sulla Liquefazione", etc., Naples, 1905) that the phenomenon is due to some form of psychic force. The concentration of thought and will of the expectant crowd and specially of the "aunts of St. Januarius" are held to be capable of producing a physical effect. Against this, however, must be set the fact that the liquefaction has sometimes taken place quite unexpectedly and in the presence of very few spectators.
Probably the most serious difficulty against the miraculous character of the phenomenon is derived from the circumstance that the same liquefaction takes place in the case of other relics, nearly all preserved in the neighbourhood of Naples, or of Neapolitan origin. These include relics which are affirmed to be the blood of St. John the Baptist, of St. Stephen the first martyr, of St. Pantaleone, of St. Patricia, of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, and others. In the case of the alleged liquefaction of the so-called "Milk of Our Lady" (see Putignani, S.J., "De Redivivi Sanguine S. Januarii", Naples, 1723, I, 90) or of the fat of St. Thomas Aquinas (see Magnoni Valenti, "Discorso istorico" 1772, 47) we have probably a pure fiction, but the phials traditionally associated with the names of St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, and St. Pantaleone undoubtedly still exhibit on the respective feast days of these saints phenomena exactly analogous to those shown in the case of the more famous relic of St. Januarius. Further, it is asserted by eyewitnesses of scientific credit and high respectability that a block of basalt at Pozzuoli, reputed to bear traces of the blood of St. Januarius, grows vividly red for a short time in May and September at the hour when the miracle of the liquefaction takes place in Naples (se Cavène, "Célèbre Miracle de S. Janvier", 1909, 277-300).
Three other points attested by recent investigators seem worthy of special note.
* It now appears that the first certain record of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius dates from 1389 (see de Blasiis, "Chronicon Siculum incerti auctoris", Naples, 1887, 85), and not from 1456, as formerly supposed.* In 1902 Professor Sperindeo was allowed to pass a ray of light through the upper part of the phial during liquefaction and examine this beam spectroscopically. The experiment yielded the distinctive lines of the spectrum of blood. This, however, only proves that there are at any rate traces of blood in the contents of the phial (see Cavène, "Le Célèbre Miracle", 262-275).* Most remarkable of all, the apparent variation in the volume of the relic led in 1902 and 1904 to a series of experiments in the course of which the whole reliquary was weighed in a very accurate balance. It was found that the weight was not constant any more than the volume, and that the weight of the reliquary when the blood filled the whole cavity of the phial exceeded, by 26 grammes, the weight when the phial seemed but half full. This very large difference renders it impossible tobelieve that such a substantial variation in weight can be merely due to an error of observation.
We are forced to accept the fact that, contrary to all known laws a change goes on in the contents of this hermetically sealed vessel which makes them heavier and lighter in a ratio roughly, but not exactly, proportional to their apparent bulk (Cavène, 333-39). The reality of the miracle of St. Januarius has repeatedly been made the subject of controversy. It has had much to do with many conversions to Catholicism, notably with that of the elder Herder. Unfortunately, however, allegations have often been made as to the favourable verdict expressed by scientific men of note, which are not always verifiable. The supposed testimony of the great chemist, Sir Humphry Davy, who is declared to have expressed his belief in the genuineness of the miracle, seems to be a case in point.


Post a Comment