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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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 2014


Pope Francis on Synod “Everything happened cum Petro et sub Petro," at Audience in Vatican Video/Text


Pope Francis at the weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square - AFP





(Vatican Radio) Following a series of reflections concentrating on the Church, Pope Francis at his weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday opened a new Chapter, a weekly catechesis focusing on the Family.
He began this new cycle by recalling the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family which took place in October.The Holy Father told the thousands of faithful present that he wanted to share with them what took place and what the Synod has produced.
He continued saying, that during this time there was much media attention on the work being done at the Synod and for that the Pope expressed his thanks. But, Pope Francis added,  often the vision of the media was a bit 'in the style of sports or political coverage,: “they often spoke of two teams, pro and con, conservatives and liberals, and so on.”
The Pope explained that, first of all he asked the Synod Fathers to speak frankly and courageously and to listen with humility.
He also stressed there was no prior censorship and that everyone had the chance to say what was in his heart.
The meeting, said the Holy Father began with a very frank discussion of the serious pastoral challenges affecting the Family, in the light of the fundamental truths about the sacrament of Matrimony – its indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life. 
The fruits of this period of discussion and discernment were collected in a preliminary report, which was then discussed in smaller groups, he said. 
The observations and suggestions which emerged were incorporated in a Final Report, which served as the basis for the Final Message of the Synod Fathers.  The Pope went on to say that the Final Report is being sent to the Bishops throughout the world, and the results of this consultation will be brought to the Synod meeting next October.
The Holy Father also mentioned the fact that in preparation for the General Synod of Bishops on the Family next year the Synod Secretariat on Tuesday announced the publication of its preparatory document, known as the ‘Lineamenta’.
This, said Pope Francis was the course of the Synod Assembly. “Everything happened "cum Petro et sub Petro," that is, in the presence of the Pope, that is a guarantee of freedom and trust for all, and a guarantee of orthodoxy.”
The synod , concluded Pope Francis, is not a parliament, but a protected space in which the Holy Spirit can work;” there was no clash between factions, but a dialogue between the Bishops, which came after a long process of preparation and now continues, for the good of the family, the Church and society. I have been asked, said the Pope, if the Synod Father’s fought? The Holy Father replied, “I don’t know about ‘fought’ but they had strong words. This is freedom, this is just the kind of freedom that there is in the Church.”
Following his Catechesis the Pope greeted English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present from Nigeria, Australia and the United States.  

Pope Francis “Open the doors to the consolation of the Lord.” Homily

(Vatican Radio) The joy of the Church is to be a mother, to go out and seek the lost sheep. That was the message of Pope Francis during Tuesday’s morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said that the Church does not need to have “a perfect organizational chart” if that would make her sorrowful and closed on herself, if that would make her “not a mother.” He then invited his listeners to be “joyful Christians,” with the “consolation of the tenderness of Jesus.” “Open the doors to the consolation of the Lord.” In this passage, which served as the starting point for the Pope’s homily, Isaiah is speaking about the end of the tribulation of Israel after the Babylonian exile. “The people,” Pope Francis said, “have need of consolation. The very presence of the Lord consoles [them].” It is one consolation that is with them even in tribulation. And yet, he warned, “we usually flee from consolation; we have no confidence; we are more comfortable in our stuff, we are more comfortable even in our failures, in our sins.” This, he said, “is our country.” On the other hand, the Pope continued, “when the Spirit comes, consolation comes as well, and bears us to another state that we cannot control: this is precisely abandonment in the consolation of the Lord.” Pope Francis emphasized that “the greatest consolation is that of mercy and forgiveness.” He then turned his thoughts to Ezekiel, chapter 16, when, after so many sins of the people, our Lord says, “I will never abandon you; I will give you more; this will be my revenge: consolation and pardon.” This, the Pope said, is our God.” For this reason, he said, “it is good to repeat: allow yourselves to be consoled by the Lord; He alone can console us.” And we should do so even if “we are used to ‘renting’ small consolations of our own making,” but that simply “doesn’t work.”
The Holy Father then spoke about the parable of the lost sheep, from the day’s Gospel:
“I ask myself, what is the consolation of the Church? Just as an individual is consoled when he feels the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord, the Church rejoices and is happy when she goes out of herself. In the Gospel, the pastor who goes out goes to seek the lost sheep – he could keep accounts like a good businessman. [He could say]: ‘Ninety-nine sheep, if I lose one, it’s no problem; the balance sheet – gains and losses. But it’s fine, we can get by.’ No, he has the heart of a shepherd, he goes out and searches for [the lost sheep] until he finds it, and then he rejoices, he is joyful.
“The joy of going out to seek the brothers and sisters who are far off: This is the joy of the Church. Here the Church becomes a mother, becomes fruitful”:

“When the Church does not do this, then the Church stops herself, is closed in on herself, even if she is well organized, has a perfect organizational chart, everything’s fine, everything’s tidy – but she lacks joy, she lacks peace, and so she becomes a disheartened Church, anxious, sad, a Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother, and this Church doesn’t work, it is a Church in a museum. The joy of the Church is to give birth; the joy of the Church is to go out of herself to give life; the joy of the Church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost; the joy of the Church is precisely the tenderness of the shepherd, the tenderness of the mother.”
The end of the passage from Isaiah, he explained, again takes up this image: “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs.” This, the Pope said, “is the joy of the Church, to go out of herself and to become fruitful.”
“May the Lord give us the grace of working, of being joyful Christians in the fruitfulness of Mother Church, and keep us from falling into the attitude of these sad Christians, impatient, disheartened, anxious, that have all the perfection in the Church, but do not have ‘children.’ May the Lord console us with the consolation of a Mother Church that goes out of herself and consoles us with the consolation of the tenderness of Jesus and His mercy in the forgiveness of our sins.” Shared from Radio Vaticana

Latest News from Vatican Information Service and Pope Francis - Official Release



09-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 218 

Summary
- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia
The Pope at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: “Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility”
- Publication of the Lineamenta of the next Synod on the Family
- Presentation of the International Campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”
- Pope Francis pays homage to the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna
- Angelus: like Mary, welcome grace and correspond with faith
- The Pope lights the tallest Christmas tree in the world
- Angelus: be messengers of God's consolation
- Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
- Director of the Holy See Press Office on the inquiry on two ex-executives of the IOR
- Telegram for the death of Queen Fabiola of Belgium
- Pope's video message for the Christians and people of Iraq
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Telegram for the death of Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Alejandro Jaime Mejia for the death of his brother, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, at the age of 91. The Pontiff comments that the cardinal dedicated “long years of service with fidelity and competence to various organs of the Holy See”, and assures his prayers for the deceased, to whom he was joined in “a long friendship”, so that the Lord may grant peace to the Cardinal, who demonstrated “such intense and generous commitment to the Church”.
 “With faith in the Paschal mystery of Christ, that illuminates and fills Christian life with hope, and the memory of a Pastor devoted to the evangelising mission, I beg for divine consolation in these moments of suffering, for you and for those loved ones who mourn his passing, to whom I impart the comfort of my heartfelt apostolic blessing”, he concluded.
The Pope at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: “Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility”
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration was read today during the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna, Austria on 8 and 9 December.
“The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons’ potential for mass-killing, more attention must be given to the 'unnecessary suffering' brought on by their use. Military codes and international law, among others, have long banned peoples from inflicting unnecessary suffering. If such suffering is banned in the waging of conventional war, then it should all the more be banned in nuclear conflict. There are those among us who are victims of these weapons; they warn us not to commit the same irreparable mistakes which have devastated populations and creation”.
He continued, “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. … Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust and sincere dialogue. Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritise such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price”.
“The desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It is rooted in the Creator who makes all people members of the one human family. This desire can never be satisfied by military means alone, much less the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. … Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples. Pope Paul VI stated this succinctly in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio: 'Development is the new name for peace'. It is incumbent on us to adopt concrete actions which promote peace and security, while remaining always aware of the limitation of short-sighted approaches to problems of national and international security”.
“In the context of this Conference, I wish to encourage sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states”. He emphasised, “This dialogue must be inclusive, involving international organisations, religious communities and civil society, and oriented towards the common good and not the protection of vested interests. 'A world without nuclear weapons' is a goal shared by all nations and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality”.
Publication of the Lineamenta of the next Synod on the Family
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has today issued a press release regarding the publication of the Lineamenta of the next Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, to take place from 4 to 25 October, on the theme “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”.
The Lineamenta, or rather the first document for this Assembly, as indicated by Pope Francis in the concluding discourse of the Third Extraordinary Assembly, are constituted essentially by the Relatio Synodi, drafted by the same Assembly. However, to facilitate the reception of the synodal document and to allow its themes to be considered in depth, the Relatio is accompanied by a series of questions that help to further the Synod's progress on the path it has undertaken, and to assist in the preparation of the subsequent Instrumentum laboris for the next Ordinary Synod.
The document, thus composed – the Italian-language original of which is published today – is sent to the Episcopal Conferences, the Synods of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches, the Union of Religious Superiors and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
The aforementioned ecclesial organisms, who will receive the document translated into the most commonly-used languages, will be able to select the most appropriate methods for confirming the reception and further examination of the Relatio Synodi, involving the different components of the particular Churches and academic organisations, lay associations and other ecclesial bodies with the aim of promoting wide consultation on the family in accordance with the spirit of the synodal process.
The results of this consultation shall be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops by 15 April 2015, to allow them to be examined and taken into consideration in the preparation of the Instrumentum laboris, to be published before the summer.
The Episcopal Conferences and the various ecclesial bodies are invited to accompany the synodal process with timely moments of prayer and celebration for the family and in preparation for the next Assembly. This should take place in particular on the occasion of the upcoming liturgical feast of the Holy Family on 28 December. In addition, the faithful are invited to recite the Holy Father's prayer for the Synod on the Family. The full text in Italian can be found at http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it
The text of the Lineamenta in Italian may be consulted on the Vatican website:http://www.vatican.va
Presentation of the International Campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office during which Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, presented the international online bullying awareness campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”, in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other speakers at the conference were Don Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l'Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”.
In the presentation, it was shown that bullying on the Internet is a new form of violence, and the related issue of the time the internet subtracts from family relations emerged. Alongside this there arose the question of adolescents and young people living in a condition of being continually “connected”, a problem about which we all complain, and it was suggested that this might have its origins precisely in parents not spending enough time with them, and in not taking the time to listen to them. It was explained that numerous sociological studies exist, examining the risks linked to the rapid development of information and communication technology, a phenomenon that requires parents to act as mediators of the technological experience for their children. Therefore, there are examples that show that when family relationships are positive it is more likely that the potential of social networks lead to greater inter- and intra-generational cohesion, and where family relationships are poor or conflictual, the social networks more easily facilitate individualistic routes and forms of surrogate relationship. It was also mentioned that, in the globalised world in which we live, it is increasingly common for family members to live far from each other, and therefore social networks may constitute an important vehicle for information and entertainment. However, it is essential to remember that online connection is accompanied by “real”, offline relationships, and that we cannot live alone, wrapped up in ourselves.
Faced with these situations, it was noted that the Church cannot be excluded: emphasis was placed on the opportunities that the Web offers for evangelisation or spiritual assistance, and the need for pastoral efforts in the formation of families. In this way, Cardinal Turkson highlighted that the Holy See, through the ratification of treaties on the rights of the Child, expresses its constant concern for the well-being of children and their families, in the hope that these agreements are able to guarantee the protection of the rights and interests of children, whom St. John Paul II described as a precious treasure, given to each generation as a challenge to its wisdom and humanity.
Pope Francis pays homage to the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, and then to Piazza di Spagna where he carried out the traditional act of veneration of Mary Immaculate. For the occasion, Francis composed and recited a prayer, the full text of which is published below:
 “Mary our Mother, today the People of God celebrate you and venerate you as Immaculate, preserved forever from the stain of sin.
Accept the homage I offer you in the name of the Church in Rome and throughout the world.
Knowing that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin, is of great comfort to us.
Knowing that evil has no power over you, fills us with hope and strength in the daily struggle we have to face against the threats of the evil one.
But we are not alone in this struggle, we are not orphans because Jesus, before dying on the Cross, gave you to us as our Mother.
Even though we are sinners, we are still your children, children of the Immaculate, called to that holiness that shines in you by the grace of God since the beginning.
Inspired by this hope, today we invoke your maternal protection for us, our families, this city and the whole world.
Through your intercession, may the power of God’s love that preserved you from original sin, free humanity from every form of spiritual and material slavery and make God’s plan of salvation be victorious in both hearts and in history.
May grace prevail over pride in us too, your children.
May we become merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.
During this time leading to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, teach us to go against the flow: to strip ourselves, to be humble and giving, to listen and be silent, to go out of ourselves, giving space to the beauty of God, source of true joy.
Pray for us, our Immaculate Mother!”.
Angelus: like Mary, welcome grace and correspond with faith
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – “Everything is given freely by God, all is grace, all is a gift of His love for us”. This, said Pope Francis, is the message of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, appearing at the window of his study to pray the Angelus at midday with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Holy Father explained that in the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace”, since “in her there was no space for sin: God had always chosen her as the mother of Jesus, and so He protected her from original sin. Mary corresponds to this grace and abandons herself to it, saying to the Angel, 'Be it done to me according to your word'. She does not say 'I will do it according to your word', but rather, 'Be it done to me…'. And the Word was made flesh in her womb. We too are asked to listen to God Who speaks to us and to accept His will; according to the logic of the Gospel, nothing is more active and fruitful than to listen and receive the Word of the Lord”.
The attitude of Mary of Nazareth “shows us that being comes before doing, and we must let God act in order to truly become what He wants us to be. It is He Who works so many marvels in us. Mary is receptive, but not passive. Just as, at a physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit but then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God Who grows in her, she also receives grace and corresponds with faith, on a spiritual level. This mystery of the acceptance of grace, that in Mary by unique privilege was without the obstacle of sin, is a possibility for all. … As Mary is greeted by St. Elizabeth as 'blessed among women', so we too have always been 'blessed', that is, loved, and therefore 'chosen first from the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate'. Mary was preserved, whereas we have been saved thanks to baptism and faith: all of us, however, Mary and ourselves, through Christ”.
“Faced with love, faced with mercy, with the divine grace poured into our hearts, just one consequence is imposed: gratuity. None of us can buy salvation! Salvation is a gift freely given by the Lord, a free gift from God who comes to us and abides in us. In the same way as we have received his gift freely, so we are called to freely give, in imitation of Mary, who straight after having received the Annunciation of the Angel, goes to share the gift of her fertility with her relative Elizabeth. Because, if all has been given, everything must be given again in turn. How? By letting the Holy Spirit make of us a gift for others. The Spirit is a gift for us and we, through the Spirit, must be a gift for others and enable the Holy Spirit to make us into instruments of acceptance, instruments of reconciliation, instruments of forgiveness”.
“If our existence is allowed to be transformed by the Lord's grace, so that the Lord's grace may transform us, we cannot keep for ourselves the light that comes from His face, but must instead pass it on so that it may illuminate others”.
The Pope lights the tallest Christmas tree in the world
Vatican City, 8 December 2014 (VIS) – Every year on this day in Gubbio, the Italian city where St. Francis tamed the wolf, the tallest Christmas tree in the world is lit up. Situated on the slopes of Mount Ingino, it is made up of dots of light of different types: 250 green dots trace a silhouette more than 650 metres high, which contains more than 300 lights of various colours. It is topped with a star of 1000 square metres, made up of 200 white lights. At dusk yesterday, 7 December, the Holy Father illuminated the tree from the Vatican using a tablet, and he greeted those in attendance in Gubbio.
“In switching on the light of the Nativity scene, we wish for the light of Christ to be in us. A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in the soul, in the heart; let there be forgiveness to others; let there be no hostilities, which are dark. Let there be the beautiful light of Jesus. This is my wish for all of you, when you turn on the light of the crib.
“Many thanks for your gift, it is beautiful. Also I give to you my warmest wishes, peace and happiness.
“If you have something dark in your soul, ask the Lord for forgiveness. Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul. Do not fear, the priest is merciful, forgiving all in the name of God, because God forgives everything.
“May there be light in your hearts, in your families, in your cities. And now, with this wish, let us turn on the light.
“Blessed be God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Merry Christmas and pray for me”.
Angelus: be messengers of God's consolation
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace at midday today to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, Francis spoke about the second Sunday of Advent as a “wonderful time that reawakens in us the expectation of Christ's return and the memory of his historic coming. It is the Lord's invitation as expressed by the prophet Isaiah: 'Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God'”.
“The prophet invites those who listen to him – including us, today – to spread among the people this message of hope: that the Lord consoles us. And to allow room for the Lord's consolation”, he continued. “But we cannot be messengers of God's consolation if we do not first experience the joy of being consoled and loved by Him. This happens especially when we listen to the Word, the Gospel, which we should carry with us in our pockets … and when we remain in silent prayer in His presence, when we encounter Him in the Eucharist or in the sacrament of Reconciliation”.
The Pope recalled those who are “oppressed by suffering, injustice and abuse; those who are slaves to money, to power, to success and worldliness. “Theirs are false consolations, they are not the true consolation of the Lord! We are all called to console our brethren, showing that only God can eliminate the causes of existential and spiritual crisis”. The Pontiff went on to encourage all those present to allow themselves to be consoled by the Lord, and he concluded by entrusting to Mary the hopes for salvation and peace for all men and women of our time.
Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Vatican City, 7 December 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, 6 December, Pope Francis received in private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Holy Father authorised the promulgation of the following decrees regarding:
MIRACLES, attributable to the intercession of:
- Blessed Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve, France, foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres (1811-1854);
- Blessed Marie-Alphonsine (nee Maryam Sultanah Danil Ghattas), Turco-British Palestine, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem of the Latins (1843-1927);
- Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (nee Maryam Baouardy), Turkish Palestine, professed nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (1846-1878);
HEROIC VIRTUES
- Servant of God Carmela of Jesus (nee Francesca Paola Prestigiacomo), Italy, foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of the Incarnate Word (1858- 1948);
- Servant of God Maria Seiquer Gaya, Spain, foundress of the Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified (1891-1975);
- Servant of God Adalberta (nee Vojtecha) Hasmandova, Czech Republic, superior general of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Charles Borromeo (1914-1988);
- Servant of God Praxedes Fernandez Garcia, Spain, laywoman and member of the Third Order of St. Dominic (1886-1936);
- Servant of God Elisabetta Tasca, Italy, laywoman and mother (1899-1978).
Director of the Holy See Press Office on the inquiry on two ex-executives of the IOR
Vatican City, 7 December 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office has issued the following statement in response to questions from the press:
“I can confirm that the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Tribunal has opened an investigation against two former executives of the IOR for suspected embezzlement of funds in the context of real estate transactions that took place during the period from 2001 to 2008. The investigation has also been extended to a lawyer for involvement in the case.
The matter was presented to the Vatican City State judiciary by the IOR authorities as a result of the internal audit carried out last year.
The accounts of those concerned in the IOR were frozen as a precautionary measure a few weeks ago.
Telegram for the death of Queen Fabiola of Belgium
Vatican City, 6 December 2014 (VIS) – The Pope has sent a telegram of condolences to His Majesty the King Philippe of Belgium for the death of Queen Fabiola yesterday, 5 December, at the age of 86.
In the text, Francis communicates to the monarch and all the Royal family, along with the Government and the Belgian people, his sorrow at learning of the death of the Queen, and expressed his deepest condolences. “I fervently pray that the Lord may receive his faithful servant in His Kingdom of Light, and that He may grant comfort and hope to all those affected by her departure”, he writes.
Pope's video message for the Christians and people of Iraq
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France, will transmit a video message from Pope Francis to the Christians and the population as a whole in Iraq, to be screened this afternoon in the city of Erbil. The twinning of the diocese with Mosul, which began last summer, has given rise to several initiatives to support the Iraqi population. The full text of the Pope's message is published below:
“I would like to greet each and every one of you, along with Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who once again brings you the concern and the love of the entire Church. I too would like to be there with you, but since I am unable to travel, I will do this instead … but I am very close to you in these difficult moments. I said, during my return journey from Turkey: Christians are being driven out of the Middle East, with suffering. I thank you for the witness you give; and there is a great deal of suffering in your witness. Thank you! Many thanks.
“It would seem that there they do not want there to be any Christians, but you bear witness to Christ. I think of the wounds, of the pain of women with their children, the elderly and the displaced, the wounds of those who are victims of every type of violence.
“As I mentioned in Ankara, particular concern is caused by the fact that above all, due to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially, – but not only – Christians and Yazidi, have suffered and continue to suffer inhuman violence because of their religious and ethnic identity. Christians and Yazidis have been forced out of their homes, they have had to abandon everything to save their lives, but they have not denied their faith. Even holy buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural heritage have been affected by the violence, almost as if to cancel every trace, every memory of the other.
“As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations of the dignity and rights of humanity.
“Today I wish to draw closer those of you who tolerate this suffering, and to be close to you … And I think of St. Therese of the Baby Jesus, who said that she and the Church were like a rod: when the wind rises and the storm comes, the rod bends but it does not break. At the moment, you are like this rod: you bend painfully, but you have the strength to carry forth your faith, which is a testimony to us. You are God's rod today! The rods that bend under this ferocious wind, but then rise up again.
“I wish to thank you again. I pray that the Spirit, Who makes all things new, will give each of you strength and resistance. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And I strongly urge, as I did in Turkey, greater international collaboration to resolve the conflicts that cause blood to be shed in your lands of origin, to combat the other causes that lead people to leave their homelands and to promote suitable conditions for them to remain or return. I hope that you will return, that you will be able to return.
“Dear brothers and sisters, you are in my heart and my prayers, and in the hearts and prayers of all Christian communities, whom I will ask to pray in a special way for you on 8 December, to pray to Our Lady to protect you: she is our mother and will protect you.
“Brothers and sisters, your resistance is martyrdom, it is dew that brings fruitfulness. Please, I ask you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.
May God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 6 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy;
- Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, apostolic nuncio in Korea and Mongolia;
- Bishop Pier Giorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo, Italy;
- Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B.;
- Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Bishop Martin Musonde Kivuva of Machakos, Kenya, as archbishop of Mombasa (area 38,000, population 2,214,000, Catholics 323,000, priests 116, religious 321), Kenya.
- Msgr. Adolfo Ramon Canecin as coadjutor of the diocese of Goya (area 33,603, population 307,500, Catholics 283,000, priests 48, religious 51), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Formosa, Argentina in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He has served as vicar in the parish of “Maria Madre de la Iglesia” and parish priest of the “Sagrada Familia” parish, Formosa; rector of the cathedral of Formosa; and vicar general and rector of “La Encarnacion” interdiocesan seminary in Resistencia, Chaco. He is currently episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry and parish priest in the “San Francisco de Asis” parish.
On Monday, 8 December, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda, Angola, as archbishop of Luanda (area 343, population 3,682,000, Catholics 2,717,000, priests 14, religious 493), Angola.

2014

Today's Mass Readings : Wednesday December 10, 2014



Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Lectionary: 183


Reading 1IS 40:25-31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 AND 10

R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Saint December 10 : Our Lady of Loreto


Our Lady of Loretto

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
10 Dec 2009
The title Our Lady of Loreto refers to the Holy House of Loreto, the house in which Mary was born, and where the Annunciation occurred, and to a statue of Our Lady which is found there.
It is the first shrine of international renown dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and has been a true Marian centre of Christianity for several centuries.
Flown By AngelsTradition has it that a band of angels scooped up the house from Nazareth in the Holy Land to save it.
From pillaging and destruction and transported it first to Tersatto, Dalmatia in 1291. It is said investigations at the time found the house was built of limestone, mortar and cedar wood. These materials were commonplace In Nazareth, but almost unobtainable in Dalmatia (Yugoslavia).
Then three years later, the little house was said to have been once more flown by angels this time to Recanati, where he did not stay long, and finally on to Loreto in Italy.
Today's BasilicaA vast Basilica with a huge dome has been built over the site of the Holy House. The Popes have always held the Shrine of
Loreto in special esteem, taking it directly under the authority because of the "divine mysteries which took place there".
Written at the door of the Basilica are the words: "The whole word has no place more sacred....for here was the word made flesh, and here was born the Virgin Mother..."
On entering the Basilica, one finds beneath the central dome, and just behind the high altar, a rectangular edifice of white marble, richly adorned with statues. However the white marble forms only a protective coat. The contrast between the exterior richness and the poverty of the interior is stark.
Inside are the plain, rough walls of a cottage of great antiquity, ten metres by five metres and about five metres high. In its original form the Holy House had only three walls because the eastern side, where the altar now stands, opened onto a Grotto.
In the centre of the House of Our Lady, there is a replica of a wooden statue of the Madonna. The original one, made of cedar of Lebanon, arrived at Loreto together
with the house, but has since been destroyed. The dark colour of the image represents the original image of Our Lady of Loreto, which was carved from wood and subsequently darkened over the centuries of being exposed to the soot from the oil lamps which burn in the Chapel. The original statue was destroyed by fire, and the friars determined that it would be most proper that the replacement statue reflect the darkened condition of the original prior to the destruction by fire.
Sacred OilsThere are seven oil lamps which burn continuously in the Shrine. Each day the lamps are filled with a special oil which will burn through the time the Chapel is open to pilgrims,
who come in their thousands. Prior to filling the lamps each day, what oil remains in the lamps is poured into small bottles. For centuries this oil, blessed by both a priest with a sacred blessing, and by Our Lady as it burns in the Shrine, has long been valued by pilgrims to the Shrine as an oil of blessing and healing.
The Pope's believe divine mysteries have taken place at the Shrine.
Papal MessagesOn 4 October, 1962, Pope John XX111 announced: "This is the lesson that comes from Nazareth: holy families blessed love and homely virtue, blossom with the warmth of ardent hearts that are full of generosity and good will."
The same theme was also taken up by Pope John Paul 11 when he went on a pilgrimage to Loreto on 8 September, 1979. He said:" The House of the Holy Family!
It was the first temple, the first church, on which the Mother of God shed her light through her motherhood. She irradiated it with the light which
comes from the great mystery of the Incarnation; from the mystery of her Son."
Pope John Paul 11 also expressed the hope that all the children belonging to the human family may have a roof over their heads and be given a home. The Holy Family of Nazareth is a model and the guardian of all Christian families. This is why the faithful invoke the Virgin of Loreto, Patroness of the family and of the home.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY


IMAGE SHARE http://www.salvemariaregina.info/MarianShrines/Loretto.html

Saint December 10 : St. Gregory III : Pope


St. Gregory III
POPE
Feast: December 10


Information:
Feast Day:December 10
Died:741

Pope St. Gregory III was the son of a Syrian named John. The date of his birth is not known. His reputation for learning and virtue was so great that the Romans elected him pope by acclamation, when he was accompanying the funeral procession of his predecessor, 11 February, 731. As he was not consecrated for more than a month after his election, it is presumed that he waited for the confirmation of his election by the exarch at Ravenna. In the matter of Iconoclasm, he followed the policy of his predecessor. He sent legates and letters to remonstrate with the persecuting emperor, Leo III, and held two synods in Rome (731) in which the image-breaking heresy was condemned. By way of a practical protest against the emperor's action he made it a point of paying special honour to images and relics, giving particular attention to the subject of St. Peter's. Fragments of inscriptions, to be seen in the crypts of the Vatican basilica, bear witness to this day of an oratory he built therein, and of the special prayers he ordered to be there recited.
Leo, whose sole answer to the arguments and apologies for image worship which were addressed to him from both East and West, was force, seized the papal patrimonies in Calabria and Sicily, or wherever he had any power in Italy, and transferred to the patriarch of Constantinople the ecclesiastical jurisdiction which the popes had previously exercised both there, and throughout the ancient Prefecture of Illyricum. Gregory III confirmed the decision of his predecessors as to the respective rights of the Patriarchs of Aquileia and Grado, and sent the pallium to Antoninus of Grado. In granting it also to Egbert of York, he was only following out the arrangements of St. Gregory I who had laid it down that York was to have metropolitical rights in the North of England, as Canterbury had to have them in the South. Both Tatwine and Nothelm of Canterbury received the pallium in succession from Gregory III (731 and 736). At his request Gregory III extended to St. Boniface the same support and encouragement which had been afforded him by Gregory II. "Strengthened exceedingly by the help of the affection of the Apostolic See", the saint joyfully continued his glorious work for the conversion of Germany. About 737 Boniface came to Rome for the third time to give an account of his stewardship, and to enjoy the pope's "life-giving conversation", At Gregory's order the monk and great traveller, St. Willibald, went to assist his cousin St. Boniface in his labours.
The close of Gregory's reign was troubled by the Lombards. Realizing the ambition which animated Liutprand, Gregory completed the restoration of the walls of Rome which had been begun by his predecessors, and bought back Gallese, a stronghold on the Flaminian Way, from Transamund, Duke of Spoleto, which helped to keep open the communications between Rome and Ravenna. In 739, Liutprand was again in arms. His troops ravaged the exarchate, and he himself marched south to bring to subjection his vassals, the Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, and the Duchy of Rome. Transamund fled to Rome, and Gregory implored the aid of the great Frankish chief, Charles Martel. At length ambassadors from the viceroy (subregulus) of the Franks appeared in Rome (739). Their arrival, or the summer heats, brought a momentary peace. But in the following year, Liutprand again took the field. This time the Romans left their walls, and helped Transamund to recover Spoleto. When, however, he had recovered his duchy, he would not or could not comply with Gregory's request, and endeavour to recover for the pope "the four cities of the Roman duchy which had been lost for his sake." In the midst of all these wars and rumours of war, Gregory died, and was buried in the oratory of our Lady which he had himself built in St. Peter's. He died in 741, but whether in November or December is not certain. It is however, on 28 November that he is commemorated in the Roman martyrology.

Novena to Our Lady of Guadelupe - Miracle Prayer and chaplet - SHARE

Miraculous Prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe
Beautiful Virgin of Guadalupe, I ask you on behalf of all my brothers and sisters of the world that you bless us and protect us. Give us proof of your love and kindness. Oh pure Virgin of Guadalupe, give me through your Son, forgiveness for my sins, blessings for my job, cure for my diseases and needs, and all that you deem necessary I ask for my family. Oh Mother of God, do not disdain the pleas we present to you in our needs. Amen.

Prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe by Pope John Paul II
O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church! You, who from this place reveal your clemency and your piety to all those who ask for your protection; hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
Mother of mercy, teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love.
We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities, and our sorrows.
Grant peace, justice, and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother.
We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church: Hold us always with your loving hand.
Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls.
Contemplate this immense harvest, and interced with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole People of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God's mysteries.
Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God.
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Fair Love, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.
Our hope, lookk upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.
Thus, most holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which comes to us from your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe
First DayDearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness
and strength. Hear my humble prayer offered with heartfelt confidence to beg this favor....
(name your intention)Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Second DayO Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent
devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title
of Guadalupe. Obtain for me a lively faith to do your Son's holy will always: May His
will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Third DayO Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk
valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to
be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Fourth DayDearest Mother of Guadalupe, I beg you for a fortified will to imitate your divine Son's
charity--to always seek the good of others in need. Grant me this, I humbly ask of you.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Fifth DayO most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to
serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you
forever in heaven.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Sixth DayMary, Mother of vocations, multiply priestly vocations and fill the earth with religious
houses which will be light and warmth for the world, safety in stormy nights. Beg your
Son to send us many priests and religious. This we ask of you, O Mother.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Seventh DayO Lady of Guadalupe, we beg you that parents live a holy life and educate their children
in a Christian manner; that children obey and follow the directions of their parents; that
all members of the family pray and worship togeter. This we ask of you, O Mother.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Eighth DayWith my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before you,
O Mother, to ask you to obtain for me the grace to fulfill the duties of my state in life
with faithfulness and constancy.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be
Ninth DayO God, You have been please to bestow upon us unceasing favors by having placed us
under the special protection of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Grant us, Your humble
servants, who rejoice in honoring her today upon earth, the happiness of seeing her face
to face in heaven.
Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be

Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of Holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my prayer, offered with deep-felt confidence to beg this favor...(mention your intentions here).
O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to thee under the glorious Aztec title of "Guadalupe"--the Virgin who crushed the serpent.
Queen of Martyrs, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Invoke the Holy Spirit of Wisdom to fortify my will to frequent the Sacraments so that, thus enlightened and strengthened, I may prefer God to all creatures and shun every occasion of sin.
Help me, as a living branch of the Vine that is Jesus Christ, to exemplify His divine charity always seeking the good of others. Queen of Apostles, aid me to win souls for the Sacred Heart of my Saviour. Keep my apostolate fearless, dynamic, and articulate, to proclaim the loving solicitude of Our Father in heaven so that the wayward may heed His pleading and obtain pardon, through the merits of your merciful Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Chaplet of Our Lady of Guadalupe
On the Crucifix:Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, make intercession for our Holy Church, protect the sovereign Pontiff, help all those who invoke you in their necessities, and since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most Holy Son the grace of keeping our faith, of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, of burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen.
1 Our Father, 4 Hail Mary's, 1 Glory Be
First Apparition: Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to Juan Diego the first time. Our Lady requests a temple in her honor.
1 Our Father, then Meditation: Our Lady of Guadalupe, my Queen and my Mother, I thank you for your first apparition to Juan Diego when you revealed that you are the Most Pure Virgin, Mary. Mother of the true God and Mother of all mankind, I thank you for your requesting a temple to be built where you stood, to bear witness to your love, your compassion, your aid, and your protection for all who would love you, trust you, and invoke your help.
3 Hail Mary's, 1 Glory Be
Second Apparition: Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to Juan Diego a second time.
1 Our Father, then Meditation: Our Lady of Guadalupe, my Queen and my Mother, I thank you for your second apparition to Juan Diego when, upon his return from the Bishop's house, he knelt in humiliation and defeat before you since he was unable to accomplish your mission. I thank you for the courage and encouragement you gave to Juan Diego to make a second appeal to the Bishop.
3 Hail Mary's, 1 Glory Be
Third Apparition: Our Lady of Guadalupe promises a sign to Juan Diego for the Bishop.
1 Our Father, then Meditation: Our Lady of Guadalupe, my Queen and my Mother, I thank you for your third apparition to Juan Diego when after this unsuccessful attempt to have a temple built, you said to him, "So be it, son. Return tomorrow in order that you may secure for the Bishop the sign for which he has asked. When this is in your possession, he will believe you; he will no longer doubt your word and suspect your good faith. Be assured that I shall reward you for all that you have undergone."
3 Hail Mary's, 1 Glory Be
Fourth Apparition: Our Lady of Guadalupe fulfills her promise by showing herself on the tilma of Juan Diego.
1 Our Father, then Meditation: Our Lady of Guadalupe, my Queen and my Mother, I thank you for your fourth apparition to Juan Diego when you ordered him to pick the roses he would find on the summit of the hill and bring them to you. I thank you for arranging them in his tilma when you said, "this cluster of roses is the sign you shall take to the Bishop. You are to tell him in my name that in this he will recognize my will and that he must fulfill it. You are my ambassador, wholly worthy of confidence. Only in the presence of the Bishop shall you unfold your mantle and disclose that which you carry." I thank you for your image printed on the tilma which appeared when the roses were released.
3 Hail Mary's, 1 Glory Be
Closing Prayer: Remember O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother, to you I come, before you I kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

Saint December 9 : St. Juan Diego : Witness of Our Lady of Guadelupe in Mexixco

St. Juan Diego
WITNESS OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Feast: December 9


Information:
Feast Day:December 9
Born:1474, Tlayacac, Cuauhtitlan, Mexico
Died:May 30, 1548, Tenochtitlan, Mexico City, Mexico
Canonized:July 31, 2002, Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico by Pope John Paul II
Major Shrine:Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico

In the sixteenth century, the Blessed Virgin, moved with pity for the Aztec people who, living in the darkness of idolatry, offered to their idols multitudes of human victims, deigned to take into her own hands the evangelization of these Indians of Central America who were also her children. One of the Aztec gods, originally considered the god of fertility, had transformed himself over time into a ferocious god. A symbol of the sun, this god was in continuous battle with the moon and the stars and was believed to need human blood to restore his strength; if he died, life would be extinguished. Ever new victims, to be offered to him in perpetual sacrifice, therefore seemed essential.
An eagle on a cactus
Aztec priests had prophesied that their nomadic people would settle in the place where an eagle would be seen perched on a cactus, devouring a serpent. This eagle appears on the Mexican flag today. Having arrived on a swampy island, in the middle of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs saw the foretold sign: an eagle, perched on a cactus, was devouring a serpent. This was in 1369. There they founded their town Tenochtitlan, which would become Mexico City. The town expanded to become a city on pilings, with many gardens abounding in flowers, fruit, and vegetables. The organization of the Aztec kingdom was very structured and hierarchical. The knowledge of their mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, architects, doctors, artists, and artisans was excellent for that time. But the laws of the physical world remained scarcely known. Tenochtitlan drew its power and wealth primarily from war. The conquered cities had to pay a tribute of various foodstuffs and men for war and sacrifices. The Aztecs' human sacrifices and cannibalism are almost unequaled throughout the course of history.
In 1474, a child was born who was given the name Cuauhtlatoazin ("speaking eagle"). After his father's death, the child was taken in by his uncle. From the age of three, he was taught, as were all young Aztecs, to join in domestic tasks and to behave in a dignified manner. At school, he learned singing, dancing, and especially the worship of many gods. The priests had a very strong influence over the population, whom they kept in a submission bordering on terror. Cuauhtlatoazin was thirteen years old when the great temple at Tenochtitlan was consecrated. Over the course of four days, the priests sacrificed 80,000 human victims to their god. After his military service, Cuauhtlatoazin married a young woman of his social status. Together they led a modest life as farmers.
In 1519, the Spaniard Cortez disembarked in Mexico, leading 500 soldiers. He conquered the country for Spain, yet was not lacking in zeal for the evangelization of the Aztecs. In 1524 he obtained the arrival of twelve Franciscans to Mexico. These missionaries quickly integrated into the population. Their goodness contrasted with the harshness of the Aztec priests, as well as that of some conquistadors. They began to build churches. However, the Indians were reluctant to accept Baptism, primarily because it would require them to abandon polygamy.
Cuauhtlatoazin and his wife were among the first to receive Baptism, under the respective names of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. After his wife's death in 1529, Juan Diego withdrew to Tolpetlac, 14 km from Mexico City, to the home of his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who had become a Christian as well. On December 9, 1531, as was his custom every Saturday, he left very early in the morning to attend the Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, at the Franciscan fathers' church, close to Mexico City. He walked past Tepeyac Hill. Suddenly, he heard a gentle and resounding song that seemed to come from a great multitude of birds. Raising his eyes to the top of the hill, he saw a white and radiant cloud. He looked around him and wondered if he was dreaming. All of a sudden, the song stopped and a woman's voice, gentle and graceful, called him: "Juanito, Juan Dieguito!" He quickly climbed the hill and found himself in the presence of a very beautiful young woman whose garments shone like the sun.

"A church where I will show my love"
Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she said to him, "Juanito, my son, where are you going?"—"Noble Lady, my Queen, I am going to the Mass in Mexico City to hear the divine things that the priest teaches us there."—"I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here."
Juan Diego went straight to the bishop. Bishop Zumárraga, a Franciscan, the first bishop of Mexico, was a pious man and full of zeal, who had a heart overflowing with kindness towards the Indians. He heard the poor man attentively, but fearing an illusion, did not put much faith in his story. Towards evening, Juan Diego started on his way home. At the top of Tepeyac Hill, he had the pleasant surprise of meeting the Apparition again. He told her about his mission, then added, "I beg you to entrust your message to someone more known and respected so that he will believe it. I am only a simple Indian whom you have sent as a messenger to an important person. Therefore, he didn't believe me, and I do not want to greatly disappoint you."—"My dearest son, "replied the Lady, "you must understand that there are many more noble men to whom I could have entrusted my message and yet, it is because of you that my plan will succeed. Return to the bishop tomorrow... Tell him that it is I myself, the Blessed Virgin MARY, Mother of God, who am sending you."
On Sunday morning after the Mass, Juan Diego went to the bishop's house. The prelate asked him many questions, then asked for a tangible sign of the truth of the apparition. When Juan Diego went home, the bishop had him discreetly followed by two servants. At Tepeyac Bridge, Juan Diego disappeared from their sight, and despite all their searches on the hill and in the surrounding area, they could not find him again. Furious, they declared to the bishop that Juan Diego was an impostor who must absolutely not be believed. During this time, Juan Diego told the beautiful Lady, who was waiting for him on the hill, about his most recent meeting with the bishop. "Come back tomorrow morning to seek the sign he is asking for," replied the Apparition.
Roses, in the middle of winter!
Returning home, the Indian found his uncle ill, and the next day, he had to stay at his bedside to take care of him. As the illness got worse, the uncle asked his nephew to go look for a priest. At dawn on Tuesday, December 12, Juan Diego started on the road to the city. Approaching Tepeyac Hill, he thought it best to make a detour so as not to meet the Lady. But suddenly, he perceived her coming to meet him. Embarrassed, he explained his situation and promised to come back when he had found a priest to administer last rites to his uncle. "My dear little one," replied the Apparition, "do not be distressed about your uncle's illness, because he will not die from it. I assure you that he will get well... Go to the top of the hill, pick the flowers that you will see there, and bring them to me." When he had arrived at the top of the hill, the Indian was stunned to find a great number of flowers in bloom, Castillian roses that gave off a very sweet fragrance. Indeed, in the winter, the cold allows nothing to survive, and besides, the place was too dry for flowers to grow there. Juan Diego gathered the roses, enfolded them in his cloak, or tilma, then went back down the hill. "My dear son," said the Lady, "these flowers are the sign that you are to give the bishop... This will get him to build the church that I have asked of him."
Juan Diego ran to the bishop. When he arrived, the servants made him wait for hours. Amazed at his patience, and intrigued by what he was carrying in his tilma, they finally informed the bishop, who, although with several people, had him shown in immediately. The Indian related his adventure, unfolded his tilma, and let the flowers, which were still shining with dew, scatter to the floor. With tears in his eyes, Bishop Zumárraga fell to his knees, admiring the roses from his country. All of a sudden, he perceived, on the tilma, the portrait of Our Lady. MARY's image was there, as though printed on the cloak, very beautiful and full of gentleness. The bishop's doubts gave way to a sure faith and a hope filled with wonder. He took the tilma and the roses, and placed them respectfully in his private oratory. The next day he went with Juan Diego to the hill where the apparitions had taken place. After having examined the sites, he let the seer return to his uncle's house. Juan Bernardino had been completely cured. His cure had taken place at the very hour when Our Lady appeared to his nephew. He told him, "I have also seen her. She even came here and talked to me. She wants a church to be built on Tepeyac Hill and wants her portrait to be called 'Saint MARY of Guadalupe.' But she didn't explain to me why." The name "Guadalupe" is well known by the Spanish, because in their country there is a very old sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The news of the miracle spread quickly. In a short time, Juan Diego became well-known. "I will spread your fame," MARY had told him, but the Indian remained as humble as ever. To make it easier to meditate on the Image, Bishop Zumárraga had the tilma transported to his cathedral. Then work was begun on the construction of a small church and a hermitage for Juan Diego on the hill of apparitions. The next December 25, the bishop consecrated his cathedral to the Most Blessed Virgin, to thank her for the remarkable favors with which she had blessed his diocese. Then, in a magnificent procession, the miraculous Image was carried to the sanctuary that had just been completed on Tepeyac Hill. To express their joy, the Indians shot arrows. One of them, shot carelessly, went through the throat of a participant in the procession, who fell to the ground, fatally wounded. A great silence fell and intense supplication rose to the Mother of God. Suddenly the wounded man, who had been placed at the foot of the miraculous Image, collected himself and got up, full of vigor. The crowd's enthusiasm was at its peak.

Millions of Indians become Christian
Juan Diego moved into his little hermitage, seeing to the maintenance and cleaning of the site. His life remained simple—he carefully farmed a field close to the sanctuary that had been placed at his disposal. He received pilgrims in ever larger numbers, and enjoyed talking about the Blessed Virgin and untiringly relating the details of the apparitions. He was entrusted with all kinds of prayer intentions. He listened, sympathized, and comforted. A good amount of his free time was spent in contemplation before the image of his Lady. He made rapid progress in the ways of holiness. Day after day, he fulfilled his duty as a witness up until his death on December 9, 1548, seventeen years after the first apparition.

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