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Monday, February 23, 2015

Catholic News World : Monday February 23, 2015 - Share!

 2015


Latest News from #Vatican Information Service and #PopeFrancis - New Doctor - Conversion of Mafia and more...


23-02-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 038 

Summary
- St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church
- Lent, time for spiritual battle against evil
- Spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia
- Audience with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel
- The Pope again urges affiliates of organised crime to convert
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church
Vatican City, 21 February 2015 (VIS) – On Saturday, 21 February the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience he confirmed the proposal by the cardinals and bishops, members of the Plenary Session of the Congregation, to concede the title of Doctor of the Universal Church to St. Gregory of Narek, priest and monk, who was born in Andzevatsij (then Armenia, present-day Turkey) in 1005 and died in Narek (then Armenia, present-day Turkey) around 1005.
Lent, time for spiritual battle against evil
Vatican City, 21 February 2015 (VIS) – Lent, the liturgical time that refers to the forty days Jesus spent in the desert after his baptism in the river Jordan, was the subject of the Pope's reflection before this Sunday's Angelus prayer with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
On the first Sunday of Lent, Francis explained that during these forty days of solitude in which Jesus prepared himself to announce the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, he “faces Satan 'body to body', he unmasks his temptations and is victorious. And in Him we all win, but it is up to us to protect this victory in our daily life”.
“The Church reminds us of this mystery at the beginning of every Lenten period”, he continued, “because it gives us the prospect and the meaning of this time, which is a time of combat – during Lent one must fight – a time of spiritual combat against the spirit of evil. And while we cross the Lenten 'desert', we keep our gaze fixed upon Easter, the definitive victory of Jesus against the Evil One, against sin and against death. This, then, is the meaning of this first Sunday of Lent: placing ourselves on the path of Christ, the road that leads to life”.
“And this, Jesus' path, passes through the desert, ... the place where both the voice of God and the voice of the Tempter can be heard. Amid noise and confusion; only superficial voices can be heard. Instead, in the desert we are able to descend to the depths, where our destiny is truly played out, life or death. And how do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in His Word. This is why it is important to know the Scripture, as otherwise we do not know how to respond to the deceptions of the Evil One. … Always keep a copy of the Gospel to hand. The Lenten desert helps us to say no to worldliness, to 'idols'; it helps us to make courageous decisions consistent with the Gospel and to strengthen solidarity with our brothers”.
“Therefore, let us enter into the desert without fear, because we are not alone; we are with Jesus, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit”, added the Holy Father. “Lent is an auspicious time to lead us to be increasingly aware of how much the Holy Spirit, received in baptism, has worked and can work in us. At the end of the Lenten itinerary, on the Easter Vigil, we are able to renew the baptismal alliance and the duties that derive from this with greater awareness”.
The Pope completed his reflection by entrusting to the Virgin the week of Spiritual Exercises that began yesterday afternoon, and in which his collaborators in the Roman Curia will also participate. He asked those present to pray, “so that in this 'desert' of the Spiritual Exercises, we can hear the voice of Jesus and also correct many flaws that we all have, and also to face up to the temptations that assail us every day. I therefore ask you to accompany us with your prayer”.
Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope referred again to Lent, “a path of conversion whose centre is the heart”, and gave the faithful present in the square a small booklet entitled “Custodisci il cuore”, “Safeguard your heart”. Distributed by a group of volunteers, including various homeless persons, it brings together a number of Jesus' teachings and the essential content of the faith, such as for instance the seven Sacraments, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the ten commandments, the virtues, the works of mercy, and so on.
 “As is always the case, today in the square the needy give us a great wealth: the wealth of our doctrine to safeguard the heart”, he remarked, referring to the work of the homeless volunteers. “Take a booklet and carry it with you, to help in spiritual conversion and growth, which always starts from the heart: there, where the daily choices between good and evil are made, between worldliness and the Gospel, between indifference and sharing. Humanity needs justice, peace and love, and will obtain this only by returning wholeheartedly to God, the source”.
Spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia
Vatican City, 22 February 2015 (VIS) – At 6 p.m. today, the first Sunday of Lent, at the House of the Divine Master in Ariccia, a few kilometres from Rome, the Roman Curia began its Spiritual Exercises, in which the Holy Father participates.
The meditations will be proposed by Fr. Bruno Secondin, O. Carm., and the theme will be “Servants and prophets of the living God”, a pastoral reading of the prophet Elijah.
The Exercises will be concluded on the morning of Friday, 27 February.
During the week of the Spiritual Exercises all audiences will be suspended, including the General Audience on Wednesday, 25 February.
Audience with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Vatican City, 21 February 2015 (VIS) – This morning, 21 February 2015, the Holy Father Francis received in Audience in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Her Excellency Angela Merkel, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
 During the cordial discussions, and in view of the upcoming G7 Summit to be held in Bavaria, special attention was paid to various questions of an International nature, with particular reference to the struggle against poverty and hunger; the exploitation of human beings and the rights of women; and the challenges of promoting world health and the protection of Creation. The themes of human rights and religious freedom in various parts of the world were also considered, emphasising the importance of spiritual values to social cohesion.
Finally, the Parties considered the situation in Europe, underlining in particular the commitment to reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.
The Pope again urges affiliates of organised crime to convert
Vatican City, 21 February 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Pope received in audience more than seven thousand people from the Italian diocese of Cassano all'Jonio, in the region of Calabria, which Francis visited last June, and whose church welcomes different rites and traditions that express “the variety of gifts that enrich Christ's Church”.
The Holy Father greeted the representatives of the various associations from the area that are occupied in “welcoming the suffering Christ”, especially those who have problems of substance abuse through support centres and homes, and recalled last year's meeting with the detainees in the Castrovillari prison, with the sick, and the extraordinary presence of the people on the Sibaris plain. “May the Lord help you to be welcoming communities, to accompany toward Christ those who find it difficult to discern his presence that saves”.
“I would like to reaffirm a thought that I suggested to you during my visit: he who loves Jesus, he who listens to Him and welcomes His Word, and he who lives in a sincere way the response to the Lord's call cannot in any way lend himself to the works of evil. Either Jesus, or evil! Jesus did not invite us to dine with demons: he cast them out, because they were evil. It is not possible to declare oneself Christian and then violate the dignity of people; those who belong to the Christian community cannot plan and implement violent acts against others and against the environment. The outward gestures of religiosity, unaccompanied by true and public conversion, are not sufficient to believe oneself in communion with Jesus and with His Church. The external gestures of religiosity are not enough to credit as believers those who, with the wickedness and arrogance typical of miscreants, make illegality their way of living. To those who have chosen the way of evil and who are affiliated to delinquent organisations, I renew my invitation to conversion. Open your heart to the Lord! The Lord awaits you and the Church will welcome you if, just as your decision to serve evil is public, your wish to serve good is clear and public”.
“The beauty of your land is a gift from God and an asset to conserve and to hand down in all its splendour to future generations”, remarked Francis. “Therefore, there is a need for courageous efforts by all, starting with the institutions, to ensure that it is not defaced irreparably by sordid interests”. He went on to list the Emmanuel Community among the places of beauty in the area: an place of “welcome and sharing” where young people whose lives have been devastated by drug abuse can find a “good Samaritan who tends to their wounds and knows how to anoint them with the balsam of closeness and affection”, and noted that it has restored hope to many families. “The Church thanks you for this service”, he said. “Placing yourself by the side of young people and adults who suffer as a result of addiction, you have embraced the suffering Christ and sowed hope”.
“Our time has a great need for hope!”, exclaimed the Holy Father. “The young can no longer be robbed of hope. … The young need hope. It is necessary to offer concrete signs of hope to those who experience pain and suffering. Social organisations and associations, as well as individuals who strive towards acceptance and sharing, are generators of hope. Therefore, I exhort your Christian communities to be agents of solidarity, never to stop before those who, for mere personal interest, sow self-centredness, violence and injustice. Oppose yourselves to the culture of death and be witnesses to the Gospel of life! May the light of God's Word and the support of the Holy Spirit help you to look with new and willing eyes upon the new forms of poverty that drive so many young people and families to desperation”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 21 February 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 21 February 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Bishop Freddy Antonio de Jesus Breton Martinez of Bani, Dominican Republic, as metropolitan archbishop of Santiago de los Caballeros (area 3,633, population 1,320,000, Catholics 1,105,000, priests 128, permanent deacons 121, religious 325), Dominican Republic. He succeeds Archbishop Ramon Benito de la Rosa y Carpio, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- Rev. Andres Napoleon Romero Cardenas as bishop of Barahona (area 6,973, population 396,270, Catholics 215,000, priests 28, permanent deacons 2, religious 54), Dominican Repubilc. The bishop-elect was born in Ramonal Arriba, Dominican Republic in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a licentiate in philosophy and letters and in religious sciences from the Pontifical University Mater et Magistra, Dominican Republic, and in biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including parish vicar, formator in the minor seminary and diocesan director for priestly vocations, professor of sacred scripture and research methodology, dean of the faculties of philosophy and theology, and formator at the St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical major seminary. He is currently parish priest of the Cathedral of Santa Ana in the diocese of San Francisco de Macoris. He succeeds Bishop Rafael Leonidas Felipe y Nunez, whose resignation from the pastoral governance of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- Fr. Hector Rafael Rodriguez Rodriguez M.S.C., as bishop of La Vega (area 4,919, population 977,000, Catholics 801,000, priests 92, permanent deacons 65, religious 223), Dominican Republic. The bishop-elect was born in Sanchez, Dominican Republic in 1961, gave his solemn vows in 1984 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a licentiate in spiritual theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. During his pastoral ministry he has served as parish vicar and, within his community, director for aspirants at the Vocational Centre, director of the post-novitiate, master of novices, Provincial. He has also served as member of the Managing Body of the Dominican Conference of Religious. He is currently first adviser of the Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He succeeds Bishop Antonio Camilo Gonzalez, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- Bishop Jose Miguel Gonzalez Rodriguez of Libano-Honda, Colombia, as bishop of Facatativa (area 2,311, population 546,000, Catholics 512,000, priests 93, permanent deacons 4, religious 305), Colombia.
On Saturday, 21 February appointed Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, apostolic nuncio in Pakistan, as apostolic nuncio in Mozambique.

#PopeFrancis is on #Lent Prayer Retreat with Curia from Feb. 22-27 in Rome

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and other members of the Roman Curia began their annual spiritual retreat on the first Sunday of Lent (February 22nd). The retreat is taking place in the town of Ariccia, in the Casa Divin Maestro centre, about 20 miles south of Rome.
The Pope is staying there, along with other members of the Roman Curia, from Sunday 22nd to Friday the 27th. During the retreat Pope Francis will have no public meetings or audiences, including no Wednesday general audience. The priest who is leading the spiritual exercises is Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin. The reflections will focus on the roots of the Christian faith and the inner strength to live it out consistently. They will also look at embracing an encounter with God and spreading the Gospel.

Catholic Quote to SHARE by St. Clare of Assisi - "Love God..."


"Love God, Serve God; Everything is in that." St. Clare of Assisi

Breaking News 69 Killed as Ferry and Cargo Ship Collide - Please Pray

Ferry and cargo ship collide in Bangladesh's Padma River, killing at least 69
by Sumon Corraya
About 150 people were on board, but there is no official passenger list. The cargo ship's captain has been arrested. Rescuers continue searching for survivors, but hope to find people alive is fading. Relatives are desperate. Government and district leaders announce compensation for the victims' families.

Manikganj (AsiaNews) - "Please, give me my mother, my sister and my niece back. They cannot die in the river," said a desperate Moni Begum, one of the relatives of the many victims of the ferry that sank yesterday in the Padma River, in central Bangladesh.
The boat with 150 people on board collided, for reasons still unknown, with a cargo ship about 40 km north-west of the capital Dhaka. At least 69 people died in the incident, including several children. There is no official passenger list.
The ferry, the ML Mostafa, was travelling the route that connects Paturia to Daulatdia, in Manikganj District. It sank after colliding with the Nargis-1 cargo ship, at 11:45 am local time. Police arrested the latter's captain and first officer.
Quick action by rescue teams saved at least 50 passengers. The search for survivors continues but with each passing hour, there is little hope of finding people alive. Experts expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.
The authorities in Rajbari and Manikganj are now organising the recovery operation for the bodies and their return to the families.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan visited the area of ​​the incident and announced compensation for the relatives of the victims. Manikganj District authorities also plan to provide financial aid.
Accidents involving vessels are a common in Bangladesh, a country with more than 300 rivers crisscrossed by often dilapidated and overcrowded boats, often without proper safety equipment. For the poor, boats are often the cheapest way to travel.
Earlier this month, a similar event occurred in southern Bangladesh in which at least seven people died.
In August of 2014, more than 100 people died when a boat with a maximum capacity of 85 capsized. At the time of the accident, it carried more than 200 passengers.

According to government figures, at least 11,000 people have died in the last 40 years in accidents involving ferries in the country's rivers and waterways. Shared from Asia News IT

Today's Mass Readings : Monday February 23, 2015

Monday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 224

Reading 1LV 19:1-2, 11-18
The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not steal.
You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another.
You shall not swear falsely by my name,
thus profaning the name of your God.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (John 6:63b) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Verse Before The Gospel2 COR 6:2B

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

GospelMT 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.” 

Saint February 23 : St. Polycarp : Martyr : Patron of Against Earaches, and Dysentery















Information:

Feast Day:
February 23
Born:
69
Died:
155 at Smyrna
Patron of:
against dysentery, against earache



MARTYR AND BISHOP OF SMYRNA
From his acts, written by the church of Smyrna in an excellent circular letter to the churches of Pontus, immediately after his martyrdom, a niece abridged by Eusebius, b. 4, c. 14 highly esteemed by the ancients. Joseph Scaliger, a supercilious critic, says that nothing in the whole course of church history so strongly affected him as the perusal of these acts, and those relating to the martyrs of Lyons; that he never read them but they gave him extraordinary emotions. Animad. in Chron. Eusebii, n. 2183 &c. They are certainly most valuable pieces of Christian antiquity. See Eusebius, St. Jerome, and St. Irenaeus also Tillemont, t. 2, p. 327; Dom Ceillier, t. 1; Dom Marechal, Concordance des Peres; Grecs et Latins, t. 1.

St Polycarp was one of the most illustrious of the apostolic fathers, who, being the immediate disciples of the apostles, received instructions from their mouths, and inherited of them the spirit of Christ in a degree so much the more eminent as they lived nearer the fountain head. He embraced Christianity very young, about the year 80, was a disciple of the apostles, in particular of St. John the Evangelist, and was constituted by him Bishop of Symrna, probably before his banishment to Patmos in 96, so that he governed that important see seventy years. He seems to have been the angel or bishop of Smyrna who was commended above all the bishops of Asia by Christ himself in the Apocalypse, and the only one without a reproach. Our Saviour encouraged him under his poverty, tribulation, and persecutions, especially the calumnies of the Jews, called him rich in grace, and promised him the crown of life by martyrdom. This saint was respected by the faithful to a degree of veneration. He formed many holy disciples, among whom were St. Irenaeus and Papias. When Florinus, who had often visited St. Polycarp, had broached certain heresies, St. Irenaeus wrote to him as follows: "These things were not taught you by the bishops who preceded us. I could tell you the place where the blessed Polycarp sat to preach the word of God. It is yet present to my mind with what gravity he everywhere came in and went out; what was the sanctity of his deportment, the majesty of his countenance and of his whole exterior, and what were his holy exhortations to the people. I seem to hear him now relate how he conversed with John and many others who had seen Jesus Christ; the words he had heard from their mouths. I can protest before God that if this holy bishop had heard of any error like yours, he would have immediately stopped his ears, and cried out, according to his custom, Good God! that I should be reserved to these times to hear such things! That very instant he would have fled out of the place in which he had heard such doctrine." St. Jerome mentions that St. Polycarp met at Rome the heretic Marcion in the streets, who resenting that the holy bishop did not take that notice of him which he expected, said to him, "Do you not know me, Polycarp?" "Yes," answered the saint, "I know you to be the firstborn of Satan." He had learned this abhorrence of the authors of heresy, who knowingly and willingly adulterate the divine truths, from his master, St. John, who fled out of the bath in which he saw Cerinthus. St. Polycarp kissed with respect the chains of St. Ignatius, who passed by Smyrna on the road to his martyrdom, and who recommended to our saint the care and comfort of his distant church of Antioch, which he repeated to him in a letter from Troas, desiring him to write in his name to those churches of Asia to which he had not leisure to write himself. St. Polycarp wrote a letter to the Philippians shortly after, which is highly commended by St. Irenaeus, St. Jerome, Eusebius, Photius, and others, and is still extant. It is justly admired both for the excellent instructions it contains and for the simplicity and perspicuity of the style, and was publicly read in the church in Asia in St. Jerome's time. In it he calls a heretic, as  above, the eldest son of Satan. About the year 158 he undertook a journey of charity to Rome, to confer with Pope Anicetus about certain points of discipline, especially about the time of keeping Easter, for the Asiatic churches kept it on the fourteenth day of the vernal equinoctial moon, as the Jews did, on whatever day of the week it fell; whereas Rome, Egypt, and all the West observed it on the Sunday following. It was agreed that both might follow their custom without breaking the bands of charity. St. Anicetus, to testify his respect, yielded to him the honour of celebrating the Eucharist in his own church. We find no further particulars concerning our saint recorded before the acts of his martyrdom.
In the sixth year of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, Statius Quadratus being proconsul of Asia, a violent persecution broke out in that country, in which the faithful gave heroic proofs of their courage and love of God, to the astonishment of the infidels. When they were torn to pieces with scourges till their very bowels were laid bare, amidst the moans and tears of the spectators, who were moved with pity at the sight of their torments, not one of them gave so much as a single groan, so little regard had they for their own flesh in the cause of God. No kinds of torture, no inventions of cruelty, were forborne to force them to a conformity to the pagan worship of the times. Germanicus, who had been brought to Smyrna with eleven or twelve other Christians, signalised himself above the rest, and animated the most timorous to suffer. The proconsul in the amphitheatre called upon him with tenderness, entreated him to have some regard for his youth, and to value at least his life, but he, with a holy impatience, provoked the beasts to devour him, to leave this wicked world. One Quintus, a Phrygian, who had presented himself to the judge, yielded at the sight of the beast let out upon him, and sacrificed. The authors of these acts justly condemn the presumption of those who offered themselves to suffer, and say that the martyrdom of St. Polycarp was conformable to the gospel, because he exposed not himself to the temptation, but waited till the persecutors laid hands on him, as Christ our Lord taught us by his own example. The spectators, seeing the courage of Germanicus and his companions, and being fond of their impious bloody diversions, cried out, "Away with the impious! let Polycarp be sought for!" The holy man, though fearless, had been prevailed upon by his friends to withdraw and conceal himself in a neighbouring village during the storm, spending most of his time in prayer. Three days before his martyrdom, he in a vision saw his pillow on fire, from which he understood by revelation, and foretold his companions, that he should be burnt alive.
When the persecutors were in quest of him he changed his retreat, but was betrayed by a boy, who was threatened with the rack unless he discovered him. Herod, the Irenarch, or keeper of the peace, whose office it was to prevent misdemeanours and apprehend malefactors, sent horsemen by night to beset his lodgings. The saint was above stairs in bed, but refused to make his escape, saying, "God's will be done." He went down, met them at the door, ordered them a handsome supper, and sired only some time for prayer before he went with them. This granted, he began his prayer standing, which he continued in that posture for two hours, recommending to God his own flock and the whole church with so much earnestness and devotion that several of those that were come to seize him repented they had undertaken the commission. They set him on an ass, and were conducting him towards the city when he was met on the road by Herod and his father Nicetes, who took him into their chariot, and endeavoured to persuade him to a little compliance, saying, "What harm is there in saying Lord Caesar, or even in sacrificing, to escape death?" By the word Lord was meant nothing less than a kind of deity or godhead. The bishop at first was silent, in imitation of our Saviour, but being pressed, he gave them this resolute answer, "I shall never do what you desire of me." At these words, taking off the mask of friendship and compassion, they treated him with scorn and reproaches, and thrust him out of the chariot with such violence that his leg was bruised by the fall. The holy man went forward cheerfully to the place where the people were assembled. Upon his entering it a voice from heaven was heard by many, "Polycarp, be courageous, and act manfully." He was led directly to the tribunal of the proconsul, who exhorted him to respect his own age, to swear by the genius of Caesar, and to say, "Take away the impious," meaning the Christians. The saint, turning towards the people in the pit, said, with a stern countenance, "Exterminate the wicked," meaning by this expression either a wish that they might cease to be wicked by their conversion to the faith of Christ, or this was a prediction of the calamity which befel their city in 177, when Smyrna was overturned by an earthquake, as we read in Dionand Aristides. The proconsul repeated, "Swear by the genius of Caesar, and I discharge you; blaspheme Christ." Polycarp replied, "I have served him these fourscore and six years, and he never did me any harm, but much good, and how can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? If you require of me to swear by the genius of Caesar, as you call it, hear my free confession- I am a Christian; but if you desire to learn the Christian religion, appoint a time, and hear me." The proconsul said, "Persuade the people." The martyr replied, "I addressed my discourse to you, for we are taught to give due honour to princes as far as is consistent with religion. But the populace is an incompetent judge to justify myself before." Indeed rage rendered them incapable of hearing him.
The proconsul then assuming a tone of severity, said: "I have wild beasts." "Call for them," replied the saint: "for we are unalterably resolved not to change from good to evil. It is only good to pass from evil to good." The proconsul said: "If you contemn the beasts, I will cause you to be burnt to ashes." Polycarp answered: "You threaten me with a fire which burns for a short time and then goes out, but are yourself ignorant of the judgment to come, and of the fire of everlasting torments which is prepared for the wicked. Why do you delay? Bring against me what you please." Whilst he said this and many other things, he appeared in a transport of joy and confidence, and his  countenance shone with a certain heavenly grace and pleasant cheerfulness, insomuch that the proconsul himself was struck with admiration. However, he ordered a crier to make public proclamation three times in the middle of the Stadium (as was the Roman custom in capital cases): "Polycarp hath confessed himself a Christian." At this proclamation the whole multitude of Jews and Gentiles gave a great shout, the latter crying out, "This is the great teacher of Asia; the father of the Christians; the destroyer of our gods, who preaches to men not to sacrifice to or adore them." They applied to Philip the Asiarch to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. He told them that it was not in his power, because those shows had been closed. Then they unanimously demanded that he should be burnt alive. Their request was no sooner granted but every one ran with all speed to fetch wood from the baths and shops. The pile being prepared, Polycarp put off his garments, untied his girdle, and began to take off his shoes, an office he had not been accustomed to, the Christians having always striven who should do these things for him, regarding it as a happiness to be admitted to touch him. The wood and other combustibles were heaped all round him. The executioners would have nailed him to the stake; but he said to them: "Suffer me to be as I am. He who gives me grace to undergo this fire will enable me to stand still without that precaution." They therefore contented themselves with tying his hands behind his back, and in this posture looking up towards heaven, he prayed as follows: "O Almighty Lord God, Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, God of angels, powers, and every creature, and of all the race of the just that live in thy presence! I bless thee for having been pleased in thy goodness to bring me to this hour, that I may receive a portion in the number of thy martyrs, and partake of the chalice of thy Christ, for the resurrection to eternal life, in the incorruptibleness of the holy Spirit. Amongst whom grant me to be received this day as a pleasing sacrifice, such an one as thou thyself hast prepared, that so thou mayest accomplish what thou, O true and faithful God! hast foreshown. Wherefore, for all things I praise, bless, and glorify thee, through the eternal high priest Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee and the Holy Ghost be glory now and for ever. Amen." He had scarce said Amen when fire was set to the pile, which increased to a mighty flame. But behold a wonder, say the authors of these acts, seen by us reserved to attest it to others; the flames forming themselves into an arch, like the sails of a ship swelled with the wind, gently encircled the body of the martyr, which stood in the middle, resembling not roasted flesh, but purified gold or silver, appearing bright through the flames; and his body sending forth such a fragrancy that we seemed to smell precious spices. The blind infidels were only exasperated to see his body could not be consumed, and ordered a spearman to pierce him through, which he did, and such a quantity of blood issued out of his left side as to quench the fire. The malice of the devil ended not here: he endeavoured to obstruct the relics of the martyr being carried off by the Christians; for many desired to do it, to show their respect to his body. Therefore, by the suggestion of Satan, Nicetes advised the proconsul not to bestow it on the Christians, lest, said he, abandoning the crucified man, they should adore Polycarp: the Jews suggested this, "Not knowing," say the authors of the acts, "that we can never forsake Christ, nor adore any other, though we love the martyrs, as his disciples and imitators, for the great love they bore their king and master." The centurion, seeing a contest raised by the Jews, placed the body in the middle, and burnt it to ashes. "We afterwards took up the bones," say they, "more precious than the richest jewels or gold, and deposited them decently in a place at which may God grant us to assemble with joy, to celebrate the birthday of the martyr." Thus these disciples and eye-witnesses. It was at two o'clock in the afternoon, which the authors of the acts call the eighth hour, in the year 166, that St. Polycarp received his crown, according to Tillemont; but in 169, according to Basnage.1 His tomb is still shown with great veneration at Smyrna, in a small chapel. St. Irenaeus speaks of St. Polycarp as being of an uncommon age.
The epistle of St. Polycarp to the Philippians, which is the only one among those which he wrote that has been preserved, is, even in the dead letter, a standing proof of the apostolic spirit with which he was animated, and of that profound humility, perfect meekness, burning charity, and holy zeal, of which his life was so admirable an example. The beginning is an effusion of spiritual joy and charity with which he was transported at the happiness of their conversion to God, and their fervor in divine love. His extreme abhorrence of heresy makes him immediately fall upon that of the Docaetae against which he arms the faithful, by clearly demonstrating that Christ was truly made man, died, and rose again: in which his terms admirably express his most humble and affectionate devotion to our divine Redeemer, under  these great mysteries of love. Besides walking in truth, he takes notice, that to be raised with Christ in glory, we must also do his will, keep all his commandments, and love whatever he loved; refraining from all fraud, avarice, detraction, and rash judgment; repaying evil with good forgiving and showing mercy to others that we ourselves may find mercy. "These things," says he, "I write to you on justice, because you incited me; for neither I, nor any other like me, can attain to the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, into whose epistles if you look, you may raise your spiritual fabric by strengthening faith, which is our mother, hope following, and charity towards God, Christ, and our neighbor preceding us. He who has charity is far from all sin." The saint gives short instructions to every particular state, then adds, "Every one who hath not confessed that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist; and who hath not confessed the suffering of the cross, is of the devil; and who hath drawn the oracles of the Lord to his passions, and hath said that there is no  resurrection nor judgment, he is the oldest son of Satan." He exhorts to watching always in prayer, lest we be led into temptation; to be constant in fasting, persevering, joyful in hope, and in the pledge of our justice, which is Christ Jesus, imitating his patience; for, by suffering for his name, we glorify him. To encourage them to suffer, he reminds them of those who had suffered before their eyes: Ignatius, Zozimus, and Rufus, and some of their own congregation, "who are now," says our saint, "in the place which is due to them with the Lord, with whom they also suffered."

source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/P/stpolycarp.asp#ixzz1nD7cNIML

True Story of Courage - Sophie Scholl and friends killed by Nazis - Free Oscar winning Movie - SHARE

On February 22nd we remember the heroic deaths of 3 young souls who courageously spoke against the Nazi regime. Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christof Probst were executed on February 22, 1943 by guillotine in Stadelheim Prison, Munich.Sophia Magdalena Scholl was born on 9 May 1921 she was a German student and active in the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans. They were then both executed by guillotine. The Scholls were brought up as Lutherans. Sophie and Hans both asked to be received into the Catholic Church an hour before they were executed but were dissuaded by their pastor who argued that such a decision would upset their mother, a Lutheran lay preacher. Sophie and her brother were influenced by the works of John Henry Newman, she gave her boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel two volumes of Cardinal John Henry Newman's sermons. The White Rose was founded after Scholl and others read a anti-Nazi sermon by Clemens August Graf von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Münster. The members initially included Hans Scholl (Sophie's brother), Willi Graf, and Christoph Probst. In early summer 1942, this group of produced six anti-Nazi political resistance leaflets.  Sophie Scholl last words were: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"  Fritz Hartnagel later married Sophie's sister Elisabeth. In mid-1943, Allied forces dropped over Germany millions of copies of the tract from White Rose, now retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich.  The Geschwister-Scholl-Institut ("Scholl Siblings Institute") for Political Science at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) is named in honour of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans.  Over 190 local schools as well as countless streets and squares in Germany have been named after Scholl and her brother. In February 2005, a movie about Scholl's last days, Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days), with actress Julia Jentsch was made and won an Oscar. It draws on interviews with survivors and transcripts hidden in East German archives until 1990. (from various sources)


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