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Friday, October 3, 2014

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2014

Today's Mass Readings : Friday October 3, 2014


Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 459


Reading 1JB 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5

The LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said:

Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
and shown the dawn its place
For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
till the wicked are shaken from its surface?
The earth is changed as is clay by the seal,
and dyed as though it were a garment;
But from the wicked the light is withheld,
and the arm of pride is shattered.

Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
or walked about in the depths of the abyss?
Have the gates of death been shown to you,
or have you seen the gates of darkness?
Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all:
Which is the way to the dwelling place of light,
and where is the abode of darkness,
That you may take them to their boundaries
and set them on their homeward paths?
You know, because you were born before them,
and the number of your years is great!

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again;
though twice, I will do so no more.

Responsorial Psalm PS 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14AB

R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Gospel LK 10:13-16

Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Pope Francis "...following the footsteps of Jesus who always surprises us, opening doors to that mystery of God’s mercy and pardon..." Homily


Pope Francis in the Santa Marta chapel
03/10/2014

(Vatican Radio) Are we open to the gift of God’s salvation, or do we prefer to take refuge in the safety of our man-made rules and regulations? That was the question Pope Francis posed during his homily at the morning Mass at Santa Marta on Friday. God’s only wish, Pope Francis told his listeners, is to save his people, but so often we want to make the rules for our own salvation. This is the dramatic paradox of so many of the Bible stories which culminate in the life of Jesus himself. Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope spoke of Jesus’ sadness at being rejected and ignored by his own people. “If the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon,” Jesus warns the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida, “they would long ago have repented.” Just as the prophets were rejected and killed by their people, so they do the same to Jesus. And it’s the leaders, the Pope said, who provoke this resistance to the salvation he’s offering:
E proprio la classe dirigente quela che chiude le porte al modo col quale Dio vuole salvarci…..
It’s the ruling class which closes the door to God’s way of salvation, Pope Francis said. That’s why Jesus has such strong words with the leaders of his day – they argue, they try to trick him and catch him out because they are resisting his offer of salvation. Jesus says to them, “I don’t understand you! You are like those children who say ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’. What do you want?” They want, the Pope said, to save themselves and remain closed to the way of the Lord.
This attitude, the Pope continued, is quite different from that of the people of God, who understand and accept salvation brought to them through Jesus. Their leaders, on the other hand, reduce salvation to the fulfilment of the 613 commandments they have created through their intellectual and theological fervour.
Loro non credono nella misericordia e nel perdono…..
These leaders, the Pope said, don’t believe in mercy and forgiveness but simply in sacrifices. They want everything clearly sorted out and this is the drama of their resistance to salvation. Each one of us, he said, shares this drama and we should ask ourselves: How do I want to be saved? On my own? Through a spirituality which is good, but fixed and clear so that there are no risks? Or following the footsteps of Jesus who always surprises us, opening doors to that mystery of God’s mercy and pardon?
If I don’t follow Jesus but go looking for other gurus and seek refuge in man-made commandments, the Pope concluded, I may feel safe but the truth is I am buying my salvation, instead of receiving the free gift that God gives me. 

Pope Francis "“A truth-filled love is the basis on which to build the peace that today is especially desired and necessary..."


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with participants of the Plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Listen to Christopher Wells' report: In his address, the Holy Father noted the Plenary assembly coincides with the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in veritate, which Pope Francis called “a foundational document for the evangelization of the social sphere.” Caritas in veritate, the Pope said, drew attention “to the benefits, but also the dangers of globalization.” Pope Francis highlighted the issue of the exploitation of labour markets, as well as the growth of poverty and inequality. Referring to his own encyclical, Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis pointed out “three basic instruments for the social inclusion of those most in need: education, access to health care, and work for all.” The Holy Father said “it is necessary to keep alive concern for the poor and social justice,” which must involve the sharing of the riches that are produced and “the universalization of free markets in the service of families;” as well as “the redistribution of sovereignty, both on the national and supra-national levels.”
Caritas in veritate also addressed other current social issues, including environmental concerns, and especially the link between “environmental ecology and human ecology.” The principles of Caritas in veritate, the Pope said, are extremely relevant today: “A truth-filled love is,” he said, “is the basis on which to build the peace that today is especially desired and necessary for the good of all.” Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the complete text of the Pope’s remarks: I greet you with affection and I thank Cardinal Peter Turkson for the words with which he has introduced this meeting. Your Plenary coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Caritas in veritate. [It is] a foundational document for the evangelization of the social sphere, which offers precious indications for the presence of Catholics in society, in institutions, in the economy, in finance and in politics. Caritas in veritate has drawn attention to the benefits, but also to the dangers of globalization, when it is not oriented to the good of the people. If globalization has greatly increased the aggregate wealth of the whole and of several individual states, it has also exacerbated the gaps between different social groups, creating new inequalities and poverty in those countries considered to be the richest. One of the aspects of today’s economic system is the exploitation of international disequilibrium in labor costs, which relies on billions of people living on less than two dollars a day. Such an imbalance not only does not respect the dignity of those who supply the cheap labor, but it destroys sources of employment in those regions where it is more protected. This raises the problem of creating mechanisms for the protection of labor rights and the environment, in the presence of a growing consumerist ideology, which does not show responsibility in the confrontation between the cities and the created world. The growth of inequality and poverty threaten inclusive and participatory democracy, which always presupposes an economy and a market that does not exclude [people] and which are equitable. It deals, then, with overcoming the structural causes of inequality and poverty. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium I wanted to point out three basic instruments for the social inclusion of those most in need: education, access to health care, and work for all (cf. n. 192). In other words, the State of social rights – and, in particular, the fundamental right to work – is not to be dismantled. This cannot be considered a variable dependent upon the financial and monetary markets. It is a fundamental good with respect to dignity (cf. ibid.), the formation of a family, and the realization of the common good and of peace.
Education and employment, access to welfare for all (cf. ibid, 205), are key elements for the development and the fair distribution of goods; for the achievement of social justice; for belonging to society (see ibid, 53) and participating freely and responsibly in political life, understood as the management of the res publica. Visions that claim to increase profitability, at the cost of the restriction of the labor market that creates new excluded [people], do not conform to an economy at the service of humanity and the common good, to an inclusive and participatory democracy. Another problem arises from the persistent imbalance between economic sectors, between salaries, commercial banks and banks of speculation, between institutions and global problems: it is necessary to keep alive the concern for the poor and social justice (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 201). It requires, on the one hand, deep reforms that provide for the redistribution of the wealth that is produced, and the universalization of free markets in the service of families; and on the other, redistribution of sovereignty, both on the national and the supranational level. Caritas in veritate also encouraged us to look at current social questions such as environmental questions.
 In particular, it highlighted the link between environmental ecology and human ecology, between the first and the ethics of life. The principle of Caritas in veritate is extremely topical. A truth-filled love is, in fact, the basis on which to build the peace that today is especially desired and necessary for the good of all. It allows one to overcome dangerous fanaticisms, conflicts for the possession of resources, migrations of biblical proportions, the enduring wounds of hunger and poverty, human trafficking, injustice, and social and economic disparities, imbalance in collective goods. Dear brothers and sisters, the Church is always on a journey, seeking new ways to proclaim the Gospel, even in the social field. I thank you for your efforts in this area, and in entrusting you to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I ask you to pray for me, and I bless you from the heart.

 2014

Saint October 3 : St. Mother Theodore Guérin : Founder of the Sisters of Providence



American Catholic Report: 
Mother Theodore Guérin: Indiana's Very Own Saint By John F. Fink
The founder of the Sisters of Providence survived rough seas, poor health and one bad-tempered bishop. Last month she was canonized.
CNS PHOTO/COURTESY OF THE SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE
SIX NUNS AND A PRIEST—Father Stanislaus Buteux—were traveling on a stagecoach through thick forests on a nonexistent road on October 22, 1840. The coach had already overturned once in a deep mud hole, throwing the passengers out. At another point, they had crossed the Wabash River, which was so deep the horses were swimming.
“Suddenly,” one of the nuns later recorded, “Father Buteux stopped the carriage and said, ‘Come down, sisters, we have arrived.’ What was our astonishment to find ourselves still in the midst of the forest, no village, not even a house in sight.”
Father Buteux led them down into a ravine from which they could see a frame house and some sheds on the other side. This was to be their home, deep in the woods of western Indiana. The sisters wondered how it would ever be possible to establish a novitiate and a school in this remote forest. That, though, was their plan.
The nun who recorded their arrival was Mother Theodore Guérin, who was canonized on October 15 of this year as St. Theodora. She and the other five Sisters of Providence had already experienced a harrowing trip from France. The journey had taken more than three months. Their ship was almost destroyed several times by a hurricane and other severe storms.
Mother Theodore’s diary described the feeling of “passing the night in the bottom of a vessel, hearing continually the dreadful creaking which makes one fear that it will split open.” After another storm, she wrote, “Nothing was heard on board but screams and lamentations.”
Finally reaching New York on September 4, 1840, she wrote, “We threw ourselves on our knees with hearts full of gratitude.” But their problems weren’t over yet. The sisters had expected a representative of Bishop Celestine de la Hailandière of Vincennes, Indiana, to meet the ship when it docked, but there was no one.
None of the sisters could speak English and they had no idea how to get to Indiana. A doctor who boarded the ship with customs officials took pity on them and contacted the bishop of New York about their plight.
The next day they were taken to Brooklyn where they stayed with a woman accustomed to caring for missionaries. A man who spoke French accompanied them to Philadelphia, where they stayed with the Sisters of Charity. There they accompanied a French priest who was going to Vincennes.
They traveled by train, stagecoach and steamboat and finally reached Madison, Indiana. There they met Bishop Celestine de la Hailandière, who told them that they were to be settled on land northwest of Terre Haute.
Another steamboat took them to Evansville, Indiana, and then a stagecoach to Vincennes. That’s where they met Father Buteux, assigned as their chaplain, who accompanied them the rest of the way.
Four postulants (candidates) were waiting for the sisters when they arrived. The sisters began studying English, and Mother Theodore started to instruct the postulants in the way of religious life.
Thus began the community of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Mother Theodore was born Anne-Thérèse Guérin in the village of Etables in Brittany, France, on October 2, 1798, as the French Revolution was drawing to a close. She was the second child and first daughter of Laurent and Isabelle Lefevre Guérin.
Two more children would be born to the family but two of them—the firstborn son and the fourth child, also a son—died very young. Anne-Thérèse and her younger sister, Marie-Jeanne, survived.
Laurent was an officer in the French Navy and was away from home most of the time, leaving Isabelle to care for the children. Since it was dangerous in those days to practice their religion openly, Isabelle taught her daughters reading and catechism at home. Anne-Thérèse, however, attended a small school in Etables for a short time and was taught by a former seminarian who lived with the Guérin family for several months.
She became a devout young girl and her spiritual development was so sufficient that she was permitted to receive her First Communion when she was 10—two years earlier than normal in those days.
When Anne-Thérèse was 15, her father was murdered. This was more than Isabelle could take. The intensity of her grief incapacitated her so much that her eldest daughter had to assume the responsibility of caring for herself and for Marie-Jeanne. In time, Anne-Thérèse worked as a seamstress to support the family.
When she was 20, Anne-Thérèse asked her mother for permission to join a religious order. Isabelle refused. She could not lose her daughter, too! It was another five years before Isabelle recovered from her grief enough to give her daughter permission to follow her vocation.
Anne-Thérèse chose the Sisters of Providence, a new order in France founded by Father Jacques-Francois Dujarié. The French Revolution was over, but few priests remained in France and the people were suffering from the effects of the revolution. His religious order would be devoted to teaching and working among the poor.
Anne-Thérèse entered the Sisters of Providence novitiate at Ruille on August 18, 1823, professed her first vows on September 8, 1825, and her perpetual vows on September 5, 1831.
In 1825, while Anne-Thérèse was still a novice, Mother Mary Lecor, the order’s superior, sent her to teach at Preuilly-sur-Claise. While she was there, she contracted a serious illness. In curing the sickness, the doctors damaged her digestive system to such an extent that afterward she could eat only a simple, bland diet.
After she professed first vows, Sister Theodore was named superior of the sisters’ establishment in the parish of St. Aubin in a town called Rennes. She was there for eight years during which she honed her skills at teaching young girls.
In 1834, Sister Theodore was transferred to Soulanis in the Diocese of Angers, where she was again superior of the sisters.
In 1838, Father Hailandière arrived in Rennes in search of a congregation of women willing to establish a mission in Indiana. Father Hailandière was a native of Rennes who had been persuaded by Bishop Simon Gabriel Bruté of Vincennes, Indiana, to become his vicar general in 1835.
The Diocese of Vincennes included the state of Indiana and the eastern part of Illinois—330 miles long and just as wide—with about 50,000 Catholics amid a population of about 600,000.
When Bishop Bruté was looking for priests, Father Hailandière was one of 20 who answered the call. He returned to France in search of sisters in 1838.
Bishop Bruté died in 1839 and Father Hailandière was consecrated bishop of Vincennes in Paris on August 18 of that year. When Bishop Hailandière spoke of the need for sisters in the United States, Mother Mary agreed to ask for volunteers to go to Indiana. Although Mother Theodore seemed to be the logical person to lead the group, she did not volunteer. But Mother Mary encouraged her to think about it.
Mother Theodore had never had any dreams of being a missionary. She feared that her fragile health might hinder the mission, and she didn’t feel capable of leading it.
After long hours of prayer and reflection, Mother Theodore agreed to go. She had, after all, taken a vow of obedience, and the rule of the congregation stated that “sisters will be disposed to go to whatsoever part of the world obedience calls them.”
After the sisters’ miserable trip to the forests of Indiana, Mother Theodore began the task of instructing her postulants. On Christmas night in 1840, though, she became critically ill, suffering from fever, severe headaches and periods of unconsciousness. The illness continued for almost two months.
After she recovered to some extent, Mother Theodore began to plan her academy for girls that would eventually become Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. By July of 1841, 10 young women were studying there. The following March the sisters opened a school in Jasper, Indiana, and in October 1842 two sisters were sent to St. Francisville, Illinois.
During the years that followed, the sisters faced numerous trials. They suffered from hunger, sometimes going without food for days. They experienced the heat, humidity and mosquitoes of Indiana summers and the heavy snows of winters. They planted crops and raised hogs and other animals on their farm. Once they suffered a fire that destroyed their barn and harvest.
The sisters were also short of money, and Bishop Hailandière refused to support them. He suggested that Mother Theodore go back to France to raise money for the community. In 1843, she returned to France and was gone for 11 months. She was successful in raising money and in solidifying the relationship between the sisters in the United States and those in France.
Mother Theodore’s return trip to Indiana was nearly as difficult as her first journey there. Her ship again experienced bad weather and she was ill when she reached New Orleans. Her health continued to be frail.
Mother Theodore’s greatest problem from 1843 to 1847, however, concerned her relationship with Bishop Hailandière. Even before she left for France, it was clear that the bishop believed he possessed total control over the Sisters of Providence, despite what the community’s Rule stated. Mother Theodore often had to oppose his decisions as they affected her community.
While she was in France, Bishop Hailandière took over the community. He admitted novices to vows, closed the school at St. Francisville, received three nuns from another community, opened a new establishment and called for the election of a new superior—all without input from the sisters and contrary to the community’s Rule. He hoped that the sisters would elect a different superior, but they reelected Mother Theodore.
After her return, Mother Theodore’s meetings with Bishop Hailandière grew more and more contentious, often lasting for hours. Sometimes the bishop berated her for her leadership of the community and other times he insisted that he did not want to be involved in their affairs.
The diocese still owned the property at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. At times the bishop would promise to give it to the sisters and other times he would refuse to do so. He insisted on an “Act of Reparation” from the sisters because he believed they had spoken out against him to his superiors.
The matter reached a crisis in 1847. Bishop Hailandière declared that Mother Theodore was no longer the superior. Furthermore, she was no longer a Sister of Providence. He released her from her vows and demanded that she leave his diocese.
It was at this point that the Vatican came to the rescue of Mother Theodore, who wasn’t the only one having difficulties with Bishop Hailandière. So were many of the diocesan and religious order priests. Holy Cross Father Edward Sorin, for example, also had been recruited from France. After a year of living in Vincennes, he wrote to his superior in France that he was determined to put as much distance as possible between Bishop Hailandière and himself. He located land at an unmanned old Indian mission near South Bend and there established the University of Notre Dame.
Amid the turmoil in the diocese, Bishop Hailandière submitted his resignation to the Vatican. The Vatican accepted his resignation in 1847 and appointed John Stephen Bazin the bishop of Vincennes. Bishop Hailandière returned to France, where he lived another 35 years before his death in 1882.
Bishop Bazin was consecrated bishop of the diocese on October 24, and one of his first acts was to deliver a valid deed to the property at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to Mother Theodore.
Bishop Bazin was able to restore peace and harmony to the Diocese of Vincennes. But he died only six months after his consecration. Seven months later, Jacques M. Maurice Landes d’Aussac de Saint-Palais was named bishop of Vincennes and he, too, supported the sisters without interfering in their work.
After discovering the pitiful condition of the building used as the motherhouse, he promised financial assistance so the sisters could erect a new building. A three-story brick structure with a basement was built, and the sisters occupied it in 1853.
Mother Theodore was finally able to devote all her energies to building and nurturing her congregation and establishing schools. She made annual visits by steamship and stagecoach to all the community’s foundations, which included parish schools in 10 cities in Indiana and one in Illinois.
In 1855, the community that began with six sisters 15 years earlier had increased to 60. The sisters were teaching 1,200 children and operating two orphanages. Between visits to each house, she kept up a large correspondence with the sisters there.
But Mother Theodore’s health continued to worsen. She died during the early morning hours of May 14, 1856, at the age of 57.
Since 1840, 5,239 women have entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Today there are 465 sisters.
The sisters still sponsor Saint Mary-of- the-Woods College, the country’s oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College boasts an enrollment of approximately 1,700 students in campus-based, undergraduate distance-learning and graduate programs, according to its Web site,www.smwc.edu.
The Sisters of Providence also have touched tens of thousands of lives through their various ministries in 20 states, the District of Columbia, Taiwan and China.
A statue of Mother Theodore is currently being sculpted. When it is completed, it will be placed in the garden outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

MOTHER THEODORE GUÉRIN, recently canonized as St. Theodora, became the United States’ eighth saint on October 15. The others are: Jesuit Fathers Isaac Jogues and René Goupil (the six other North American Martyrs died in Canada), Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Neumann, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Frances Xavier Cabrini and Katharine Drexel.
Mother Theodore was declared blessed on October 25, 1998, after Pope John Paul II accepted the healing of Providence Sister Mary Theodosia Mug—through the intercession of Mother Theodore—as a miracle. In April of this year, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the healing of Philip McCord as the second miracle required before canonization.
Sister Theodosia Mug’s healing occurred in 1908. When she was 46, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy that damaged nerves and muscles on her left side, leaving her arm rigid. The cancer then spread to her abdomen. She could no longer kneel, had to eat standing and walked with difficulty.
One night Sister Theodosia prayed at the vault where Mother Theodore’s remains reposed. When she awoke the next morning, her left arm was well again and the large abdominal tumor had disappeared. No trace of malignancy was ever again found. Sister Theodosia died in 1943 at age 82.
Philip McCord, a Protestant, has been director of facilities management for the Sisters of Providence since 1997. In 2001, an eye specialist recommended that he have cornea transplant surgery on his right eye since he could not see out of it. While considering whether or not to have the surgery, he said a prayer to Mother Theodore.
The following day, McCord realized that the heaviness he had felt around his eye had disappeared. The next time he had his eye examined, the specialist told him that he no longer needed the cornea transplant surgery. Today McCord has 20/20 vision in both eyes.
Medical and theological commissions of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints determined that there was no natural explanation for either healing and that they happened after the two prayed to Mother Theodore. This opened the way for the congregation to recommend Mother Theodore’s canonization.
Last July, in an announcement to an assembly of sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Sister Margaret O’Hara, the congregation’s general superior, stressed the universality of Mother Theodore’s significance. “This is a momentous time in our Congregation’s history, but it also is a time that is to be shared with people throughout Indiana, throughout the United States and throughout the world,” she said.
“This is the highest honor the Catholic Church can bestow on a person, but it is not just for Catholics. The canonization is something people of all faiths can share by recognizing the way Mother Theodore lived her life.”
At the gathering, Philip McCord expressed hope that his healing will help spread the word of America’s newest saint.
“I hope people will take a look at this healing and use it as a reason to look at Mother Theodore’s life, what she accomplished and what she continues to accomplish, and to look at what the sisters stand for and what they do,” he said.
Sister Ann Margaret, present at the assembly, praised the saint for a legacy that lives today. “Mother Theodore was available to and caring about all people regardless of their faith or their beliefs. By serving others, she was serving the Jesus to whom she had given her life.”

Author and journalist John F. Fink is editor emeritus of The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. One of his books, American Saints (Alba House), includes a chapter about St. Mother Theodore Guérin. (Shared from American Catholic)

Saint October 3 : St. Gerard of Brogne


St. Gerard of Brogne
ABBOT
Feast: October 3
Information:
Feast Day:
October 3
Born:
895 at Staves, Namur, Belgium
Died:
3 October 959 at Brogne, Belgium
Major Shrine:
Saint-Gérard, Namur
Patron of:
Saint-Gérard, Namur

Born at Staves in the county of Namur, towards the end of the ninth century; died at Brogne or St-Gérard, 3 Oct. 959. The son of Stance, of the family of dukes of Lower Austrasia, and of Plectrude, sister of Stephen, Bishop of Liège, the young Gérard, like most omen of his rank, followed at first the career of arms. His piety, however, was admirable amid the distractions of camp. He transformed into a large church a modest chapel situated on the estate of Brogne which belonged to his family. About 917, the Count of Namur charged him with a mission to Robert, younger brother of Eudes, King of France. He permitted his followers to reside at Paris, but himself went to live at the Abbey of St-Denis, where he was so struck by the deifying lives of the monks that, at the conclusion of his embassy, with the consent of the Count of Namur and Bishop Stephen, his maternal uncle, he returned to St-Denis, took the religious habit, and after eleven years was ordained priest. He then requested to be allowed to return to Brogne, where he replaced the lax clerics with monks animated by a true religious spirit. Thereupon he himself retired to a cell near the monastery for more austere mortification. From this retreat he was summoned by the Archbishop of Cambrai who confided to him the direction of the community of St-Ghislain in Hainault. Here also he established monks instead of the canons, whose conduct had ceased to be exemplary, and he enforced the strictest monastic discipline. Gradually he became superior of eighteen other abbeys situated in the region between the Meuse, the Somme, and the sea, and through his efforts the Order of St. Benedict was soon completely restored throughout this region. Weighed down by age and infirmities, he placed vicars or abbots in his stead, in the various abbeys with which he was charged, and retired to that of Brogne. He still had courage to take a journey to Rome in order to obtain a Bull confirming the privileges of that abbey. On his return he paid a final visit to all the communities which he had reorganized, and then awaited death at Brogne. His body is still preserved at Brogne, now commonly calledSt-Gérard.

Latest from Vatican Information Service News - Pope Francis



02-10-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 169 

Summary
The Pope to the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East: there is no religious, political or economic justification for the condition of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria
- To the prelates of Chad: the behaviour of the Church is a model for all society
- Pope Francis receives in audience the survivors of the Lampedusa shipwreck that claimed 368 lives
- Papal representatives in the Middle East gather in the Vatican to discuss the situation of Christians in the region

The Pope to the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East: there is no religious, political or economic justification for the condition of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – “Our meeting is marked by the suffering we share on account of the wars that beset various regions of the Middle East and in particular for the violence suffered by Christians and members of other religious minorities, especially in Iraq and Syria”, said Pope Francis this morning, as he received in audience His Holiness Mar Dinka IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. “When we think of their suffering, it is natural to overcome the distinctions of rite or confession; in them there is the body of Christ that, still today, is injured, beaten and humiliated. There are no religious, political or economic factors that can justify what is happening to hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. We are deeply united in our prayers for intercession and in charity towards these suffering members of the body of Christ”.
“Your visit is another step along the path of an increasing closeness and spiritual communion between us, after the bitter misunderstandings of previous centuries”, continued the bishop of Rome. Twenty years ago, the joint Christological declaration you signed along with my predecessor, the Pope St. John Paul II, was a milestone in our path to full communion. In this declaration we acknowledged that we confess the sole faith of the apostles, faith in the divinity and humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, united in a single person, without confusion or alteration, without division or separation.
Finally, the Pope referred to the work of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, which he accompanies with prayer “so that the blessed day may come in which we are able to celebrate at the same altar the sacrifice of praise, that will make us one in Christ. … What unites us is far greater than what divides, and for this reason we feel urged by the Spirit to share from now the spiritual treasures of our ecclesial traditions, to live, like true brothers, sharing the gifts that the Lord does not cease to give to our Churches, as a sign of His goodness and mercy”.
To the prelates of Chad: the behaviour of the Church is a model for all society
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The implementation of catechetical methods for inculturation, the defence of the family and the role of women, and the need for dialogue with other religions in a country where Catholics are a minority are the main themes of the discourse Pope Francis handed to the bishops of Chad this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. The Holy Father writes that the Catholic communities in this country “are growing, not only numerically, but also in terms of quality and the strength of their efforts”, and expressed his satisfaction for the work carried out in the spheres of education, health and development.
“The civil authorities are very grateful to the Catholic Church for her contribution to society as a whole in Chad. I encourage you to persevere along this path, as there is a strong bond between evangelisation and human development, a bond that must be expressed and developed in all the work of evangelisation. Service to the poor and the most disadvantaged constitutes a true testimony of Christ, Who made Himself poor in order to be close to us and to save us. Both the religious congregations and lay associations who work with them play an important role in this respect, and they are to be thanked for this”.
“However”, he observes, “it is certain that this commitment to social service does not constitute the entirety of evangelizing activity; the deepening and strengthening of faith in the hearts of the faithful, that translates into an authentic spiritual and sacramental life, are essential to enable them to withstand the many trials of contemporary life, and to ensure that the behaviour of the faithful is more coherent with the requirements of the Gospel. … This is especially necessary in a country where certain cultural traditions bear considerable weight, where less morally demanding religious possibilities are present everywhere, and where secularism begins to make headway”.
Therefore, “it is necessary for the faithful to receive a solid doctrinal and spiritual formation. And the first locus of formation is certainly catechesis. I invite you, with a renewed missionary spirit, to implement the catechetical methods used in your dioceses. First, the good aspects of their traditions must be considered and accorded their due value – because Christ did not come to destroy cultures, but rather to lead them to fulfilment – while that which is not Christian must be clearly denounced. At the same time, it is essential to ensure the accuracy and integrity of doctrinal content”.
The Pope goes on to refer to families, who are “the vital cell of society and the Church, and who are currently very vulnerable. … And within the family, it is important that the role and the dignity of the woman are recognised, to bear eloquent witness to the Gospel. Therefore, in this respect, “behaviour within the Church must be a model for the whole of society”.
After reiterating the need for the permanent formation of the clergy and the closeness of bishops and priests, Pope Francis observes that the Church in Chad, “despite her vitality and development, is a minority in a population in which there is a Muslim majority and which is still partly bound to its traditional religions”, and encouraged the prelates to ensure “that the Church, which is respected and listened to, occupies the space justly accorded to her in society in Chad, in which a significant element has converted, even though this remains a minority”. He continues, “in this context, I must urge you to foster interreligious dialogue, which was fortunately initiated by the late Archbishop of N'Djamena, Mathias M'Garteri Mayadi, who did much to promote the co-existence of different religious communities. I believe that it is necessary to continue with this type of initiative to prevent the violence to which Christians have fallen victim in neighbouring countries”.
The Holy Father concluded by reiterating the importance of maintaining the good relations established with the civil authorities, and highlighted the recent signing of a Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Chad that, once ratified, will greatly help the mission of the Church.

Pope Francis receives in audience the survivors of the Lampedusa shipwreck that claimed 368 lives
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father received a delegation of Eritrean survivors and relatives of the victims of the shipwreck that occurred a year ago in the waters of Lampedusa, Sicily, in which 368 migrants lost their lives. The delegation was composed of 37 people – more than 20 survivors and some relatives – from the various European countries where they have settled, often with family members who were already present there. These countries include Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. Other survivors are due to arrive tomorrow, to join the delegation to participate in the commemoration of the tragedy in Lampedusa tomorrow. A few days ago a proposal was put forward to the Italian parliament that 3 October be declared a “Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Sea”.
The delegation was organised by the “3 October Committee”, chaired by Tareke Brhane, and was accompanied by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, almoner of His Holiness, and Fr. Giovanni Lamanna, former president of the Astalli Centre, the Italian home of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an international Catholic organisation active in more than forty countries, whose mission is to accompany and assist refugees and asylum-seekers, and to defend their rights.
During the meeting, which took place in a room adjacent to the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, one of the refugees addressed the Pope, asking for his help and support in work that remains to be done, for instance in identifying the bodies, that in some cases has not yet been possible. Another young person thanked the Pope for his support for and interest in the welfare of migrants and refugees.
The Pope, moved by these testimonies, said, “I cannot find the words to say what I feel. What you have suffered is to be contemplated in silence; one weeps, and seeks a way of being close to you. At times, when you seem to have arrived in the port, we encounter very difficult situations. You find closed doors and do not know where to go. But there are many people whose hearts are open to you. The door of the heart is the most important in these moments. I implore all men and women in Europe to open the doors of their hearts! I want to say that I am close to you, I pray for you, I pray that the closed doors open up”.
The delegation presented the Holy Father with a sculpture in iron, depicting a bottle in the sea, containing a family. At the end of the encounter, the Pope personally greeted all those present.
Papal representatives in the Middle East gather in the Vatican to discuss the situation of Christians in the region
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The papal representatives in the Middle East are meeting in the Vatican from 2 to 4 October, at the Holy Father's behest, to discuss the presence of Christians in the region, due to the grave situation that has prevailed in recent months. The meeting began this morning at the Secretariat of State and was attended by the Superiors of the Secretariat of State and the Roman Curia directly linked with the issue, as well as the Holy See Permanent Observers at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and the apostolic nuncio to the European Union.
 The meeting demonstrates the Holy Father's closeness and interest in this important question. He opened the meeting, thanking the participants convened to pray and reflect together on what to do to approach the dramatic situation experienced by Christians in the Middle East, along with other religious and ethnic minorities who suffer as a result of the violence that continues to rage throughout the region. With heartfelt words the Holy Father demonstrated his concern regarding the situations of conflict currently in progress in many areas, and for the phenomenon of terrorism, which holds human lives to have no value. The Pontiff also mentioned the problem of arms trafficking that is the basis of many problems, as well as the humanitarian drama experienced by many people forced to leave their countries. In emphasising the importance of prayer, the Holy Father expressed his hope that multi-level initiatives and actions may be identified in order to manifest the solidarity of all the Church towards the Christians of the Middle East and also to involve the international community and all men and women of good will, to respond to the needs of the very many people who suffer in the region.
Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin illustrated the importance and aim of the meeting. Cardinal Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, offered a complete report on the situation experienced by Christians in the Middle East, presenting different aspects of the question and opening up dialogue with the participants. The papal representatives in Syria and Iraq then went on to provide information on the conditions of Christians in their respective countries, and finally, Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, spoke on the role of the Church in facing the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.
This afternoon, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will speak on religious dialogue with Islam, and the challenges faced by Christians in the Middle East. This will be followed by a presentation by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, on his recent visit to Iraq as the Holy Father's special envoy. After the debate, the session will close with Vespers.

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