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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Catholic News World : Ash Wednesday February 18, 2015 - Share!

2015

Ash Wednesday Mass with Pope Francis "The call to conversion is then a push to return, as did the son..." Full Text/Video at Vatican

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in the Basilica of St. Sabina on the Aventine Hilll in Rome on Wednesday afternoon – Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the great penitential season of Lent. Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the text the Holy Father prepared for the occasion.
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As God's people today we begin the journey of Lent, a time in which we try to unite ourselves more closely to the Lord Jesus Christ, to share the mystery of His passion and resurrection.
The Ash Wednesday liturgy offers us, first of all, the passage from the prophet Joel, sent by God to call the people to repentance and conversion, due to a calamity (an invasion of locusts) that devastates Judea. Only the Lord can save from the scourge, and so there is need of supplication, with prayer and fasting, each confessing his sin.
The prophet insists on inner conversion: “Return to me with all your heart” (2:12). To return to the Lord “with all [one’s] heart,” means taking the path of a conversion that is neither superficial nor transient, but is a spiritual journey that reaches the deepest place of our self. The heart, in fact, is the seat of our sentiments, the center in which our decisions and our attitudes mature.
That, “Return to me with all your heart,” does not involve only individuals, but extends to the community, is a summons addressed to all: “Gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. (2:16)”
The prophet dwells particularly on the prayers of priests, noting that their prayer should be accompanied by tears. We will do well to ask, at the beginning of this Lent, for the gift of tears, so as to make our prayer and our journey of conversion ever more authentic and without hypocrisy.
This is precisely the message of today’s Gospel. In the passage from Matthew, Jesus rereads the three works of mercy prescribed by the Mosaic law: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Over time, these prescriptions had been scored by the rust of external formalism, or even mutated into a sign of social superiority. Jesus highlights a common temptation in these three works, which can be described summarily as hypocrisy (He names it as such three times): “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them ... Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do ... And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men ... And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites. (Mt 6:1, 2, 5, 16)”
When you do something good, almost instinctively born in us the desire to be respected and admired for this good deed, to obtain a satisfaction. Jesus invites us to do these works without any ostentation, and to trust only in the reward of the Father "who sees in secret" (Mt 6,4.6.18).
Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord never ceases to have mercy on us, and desires to offer us His forgiveness yet again, inviting us to return to Him with a new heart, purified from evil, to take part in His joy. How to accept this invitation? St. Paul makes a suggestion to us in the second reading today: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20)” This work of conversion is not just a human endeavor. Reconciliation between us and God is possible thanks to the mercy of the Father who, out of love for us, did not hesitate to sacrifice his only Son. In fact, the Christ, who was righteous and without sin was made sin for us (v. 21) when on the cross He was burdened with our sins, and so redeemed us and justified before God. In Himwe can become righteous, in him we can change, if we accept the grace of God and do not let the “acceptable time (6:2)” pass in vain.
With this awareness, trusting and joyful, let us begin our Lenten journey. May Mary Immaculate sustain our spiritual battle against sin, accompany us in this acceptable time, so that we might come together to sing the exultation of victory in Easter.
Soon we will make the gesture of the imposition of ashes on the head. The celebrant says these words: “You are dust and to dust you shall return, (cf. Gen 3:19)” or repeats Jesus’ exhortation: “Repent and believe the gospel. (Mk 1:15)” Both formulae are a reminder of the truth of human existence: we are limited creatures, sinners ever in need of repentance and conversion. How important is it to listen and to welcome this reminder in our time! The call to conversion is then a push to return, as did the son of the parable, to the arms of God, tender and merciful Father, to trust Him and to entrust ourselves to Him.

What is Lent and Ash Wednesday - Biblical Roots and Rules to SHARE

Ash Wednesday a moveable feast that begins the liturgical season of Lent. It does not have a specific date but depends on when Easter is celebrated. On Ash Wednesday Christians begin the period of the fast. Healthy people between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast or perform some act of penance. Abstinence from meat is required on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Fasting requires the consumption of 1 full meal and only 2 smaller meals. Ash Wednesday starts the commemoration of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Lent is actually 46 days as the Sundays do not count for the fasting period. When people attend Church services on this day they are commonly blessed with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads. 
Is Ash Wednesday Mass a day of obligation to attend Mass and receive ashes? No, it is not required for the faithful to attend Mass nor receive ashes. It is encouraged and visible sign to pray, do penance, and be humble. 
Where do the ashes come from?
The ashes are usually derived from the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday. They are to remind people of their sins and call them to repentence. Usually a priest, deacon or lay person marks the person's forehead. The biblical verse is said:
Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.
Genesis 3: 19
OR
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Mark 1 : 15
This marking is called a sacramental. Churches are decorated with purple during the season of Lent. Statues and crosses are covered with purple cloth. Lent ends with the celebration of Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.The Church encourages the faithful to go to Confession or Reconciliation on this day. Confession involves the telling of one's sins to a priest who then provides forgiveness according to the commission of Christ.
John 20:21-23:
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

BIBLICAL ROOTS
There are many biblical roots to repentence for sin with ashes, here are a few sources:
Judith 7: 14
But the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, prostrated themselves upon the ground, putting ashes upon their heads, praying with one accord, that the God of Israel would shew his mercy upon his people.
Esther 4:3
And in all provinces, towns, and places, to which the king's cruel edict was come, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, wailing, and weeping, many using sackcloth and ashes for their bed.
Jeremiah 6:26
Gird thee with sackcloth, O daughter of my people, and sprinkle thee with ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, a bitter lamentation, because the destroyer shall suddenly come upon us.

3 year old Boy with Cancer celebrates Mass in #Viral Video - he wants to be Pope - SHARE

Rafael Freitas is a 3 year old boy from Brazil with Cancer. He celebrates Mass and wants to someday.  According to his father, Randersson Freitas, Rafael invites the other patients to attend his 'Mass,'” in the cancer treatment facility.  “When he started walking just after he turned one year old, Rafael started imitating the priest every time we went to Mass. When the priest raised up the chalice, he would raise up his little cup,” In 2014, the boy was diagnosed with stage 4 form of childhood cancer affecting the nervous system and bones.  Although, the doctors say he is terminal - he has shown some signs of improvement with the prayers and love of those around him. The priest at the hospital chapel gave him a paten, the plate used at Mass to hold the Host,and he also gave him a small tunic and stole made in his size. “The priest thought Rafael’s request was so beautiful that he gave him a whole set of unused liturgical objects. The day he received them he must have celebrated 300 hundred Masses,” his father said. “He was still ‘celebrating’ Mass at 11 o’clock that night.” This video of Rafael has gone Viral and many thousands have seen him celebrate Mass. “We are extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and we strive to attend Mass every day,” Randersson said.  “We are in a crucial week when new tests will be done to figure out what needs to be done still. Perhaps he will need a bone marrow transplant,” Randersson said. “We ask prayers from all bishops, priests, religious, laity and families. Pray for Rafael. Let us form a prayer chain. We know that Rafael’s healing is in God’s hands and we hope that this miracle will take place.”
SHARE this Story and Say a Prayer for Rafael - maybe 1 day his dream will come true....
Source: http://www.caminocatolico.org

#PopeFrancis "...when the poor are like a part of our family, our own Christian brotherhood comes back to life." Audience

Pope Francis blesses a child during the Wednesday general audience - REUTERS
18/02/2015 10:
(Vatican Radio)  In families, we learn how to be good brothers and sisters; what we learn at home then becomes a source of enrichment for society as a whole, said Pope Francis Wednesday during the general audience as he continued his series of lessons on the family.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis
Dear brothers and sisters,

in our journey of catechesis on the family, after considering the role of mother, father, children, today it is the turn of brothers and sisters. "Brother," "sister" are words that Christianity loves very much. And, thanks to the family experience, they are words that all cultures and all ages understand.
The fraternal bond has a special place in the history of the People of God, which receives its revelation in the living human experience. The psalmist sings of the beauty of the fraternal bond "How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!" (Ps 132,1). This is true; being brothers and sisters is beautiful. Jesus Christ brought even this human experience of being brothers and sisters to fulfillment, assimilating it into Trinitarian love and strengthening it so that it goes well beyond the ties of kinship and is capable of overcoming every obstacle of estrangement.
We know that when the fraternal relationship is ruined, when it is ruined, this opens the path to painful experiences of conflict, betrayal, hatred. The biblical story of Cain and Abel is an example of this negative result. After the murder of Abel, God asks Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" (Gen 4,9a). It is a question that the Lord continues to repeat to every generation. And unfortunately, in every generation, the Cain’s dramatic response continues to be repeated: "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"(Gen 4,9b).
When the bond between brothers is broken, it leads to something that is truly ugly, that is bad for humanity.  Even in families how many brothers and sisters have fought even over little things…over an inheritance… then they stop speaking to each other, they no longer greet each other…this is an awful thing.  Brotherhood is such a great thing. Just think, brothers and sisters, they all dwelt in the womb of the same mother for nine months, they come from their mother’s flesh.  We cannot break the bonds of brotherhood.  We all know families where brothers and sisters are divided; where they have fallen out, maybe in our own families we have cases like these.  Let’s ask the Lord to help us to reunite these families, to rebuild these families. The bonds of brotherhood should not be broken, because when they are broken, things happen like with Cain and Abel, when the Lord asks Cain, he responds I am not my brother’s keeper, this is awful, really terrible to hear.
The bond of brotherhood that is formed between the children in the family, if it takes place in a climate of an education open to others, is the great school of freedom and peace. Maybe we are not always aware of this, but it is the family that introduces brotherhood into the world! From this first experience of brotherhood, nourished by affection and by family education, style of fraternity radiates like a promise throughout society and relations between peoples.
The blessing that God, in Jesus Christ, poured out on this bond of brotherhood expands it in a way unimaginable, enabling it to overcome all differences of nationhood, language, culture and even religion.
Just think of what this bond between men, even very different from each other, becomes when they can say to another: "He is like a brother to me, she is like a sister to me"! This is beautiful! History has shown enough, moreover, that freedom and equality, without brotherhood, become full of individualism and conformity and personal interest too.
Brotherhood in the family is particularly illuminating when we see the care, patience, affection with which the weaker, sick, or disabled brother or sister are surrounded. World over there are many brothers and sisters who do this, and maybe we do not appreciate their generosity enough. And when there are many brothers and sisters in a family…today I greeted a family here who has nine children…the oldest helps the mother and father to take care of the younger ones, this work of helping each other as brothers and sisters, this is beautiful ….
Having a brother, a sister who loves you is a powerful, priceless, irreplaceable experience. Christian brotherhood happens in the same way. The little ones, the weak, the poor must provoke our tenderness: They have the "right" to in our heart and soul. Yes, they are our brothers and sisters and we love them and treat them as such. When this happens, when the poor are like a part of our family, our own Christian brotherhood comes back to life. Christians, in fact, go out to the poor and weak not in obedience to an ideological agenda, but because the word and example of the Lord tell us we are all brothers and sisters. This is the principle of love of God and of all justice among men.
I would like to suggest something before finishing, let us think in silence of our brothers and sisters; in the silence of our hearts let us pray for them…a moment of silence [pause]. With this prayer we have brought all of our brothers and sisters here in our hearts to this square for a blessing. Thank you.
Today more than ever it is necessary to bring brotherhood back to the heart of our technocratic and bureaucratic society: Only then will freedom and equality take on the correct intonation. Therefore, we must not deprive ourselves or our families in a light-minded manner, out of subjection or fear, of the beautiful of a wide-ranging fraternal experience of sons and daughters. And we must not lose our confidence in the breadth of horizons that faith is able to draw from this experience, illuminated by God’s blessing.(Emer McCarthy)

Today's Mass Readings : Ash Wednesday February 18, 2015


Video added at 10am

Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219


Reading 1JL 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Responsorial PsalmPS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 22 COR 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.


Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before The GospelSEE PS 95:8

If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

GospelMT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Saint February 18 : St. Simon of Jerusalem : Bishop and Martyr









St. Simon of Jerusalem
BISHOP, MARTYR
Feast: February 18


     Information:
Feast Day:February 18
Died:106 or 107 AD, Jerusalem
ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Saviour. We cannot doubt but that he was ail early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser,his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the seditions of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year,—before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea,—and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years.
(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

#Lent Inspiration - FREE Resources from Bishops + FREE Calendar

A graphic from Catholic News Service depicts the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.


USCCB: In his Lenten message for 2015. . . , Pope Francis asks us to "make our hearts firm" (Jas 5:8) and to be "merciful, attentive and generous." Embrace his call to mercy by reaching out to those in need.  Be attentive to the Lenten call to prayer; be generous with your time and treasure. 
"Through prayer, charity and humility before God, people receive a heart "which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference," Pope Francis says in his Lenten message. Lent begins February 18 for Latin-rite Catholics.
Raise Up. Sacrifice. Offer.
Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from the pope's message and our calendar.
This Lent, you are encouraged to raise up the needs of the world in prayer, tosacrifice by giving up food and material wants, and to offer your time, talent and treasure as good stewards of the gifts God has given you. 
"…how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!" — Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2015. . . 
During Lent, the Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection.
In Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.
The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
On these pages, you will find a variety of suggestions and resources to help you "raise up," "sacrifice," and "offer" during this Lent and to embrace your baptismal commitment.
Catholics are also encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their spiritual lives during Lent.  The U.S. Bishops' statement, "God's Gift of Forgiveness: The Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation" can be distributed and shared in parishes.  Dioceses are encouraged to make the sacrament available often during Lent and to use these resources to promote participation.  We also have resources to help individuals who have not been to confession in a while "rediscover" the sacrament.
SHARED from USCCB
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