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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Catholic News World : Tues. December 29, 2015 - SHARE

 2015

#CatholicQuote to SHARE by #MotherTeresa "The time you spend with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament will be the best..."


"The time you spend with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament will be the best; the most profitable time you will ever spend here on earth." ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (soon to be St.Teresa of Calcutta)

Amazing Version of Little Drummer Boy by #Pentatonix - A Present for Baby Jesus!

Incredible A Cappella Version Of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ – 

#BreakingNews Boko Haram attacks #Maiduguri in #Nigeria with Girl Suicide Bomber - Please PRAY

(Agenzia Fides) - "The terrorists of Boko Haram arrived in the afternoon of December 27 in different areas of Maiduguri, introducing themselves in some homes and killing the inhabitants, while in other areas they sent women and girls to blow themselves up among the people", says to Fides His Exc. Mgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme, Bishop of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, in northern Nigeria. "A substantial number of people were killed, but we do not yet know the exact number".
According to agency sources, the dead in the course of several simultaneous attacks which took place in Maiduguri and the town of Madagali are at least 80. 
A mosque was also attacked. "Even a member of the local Islamic community was killed in his home", said Mgr. Doeme, who emphasizes: "Boko Haram is a sect that does not make a big distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. The majority of the population wants to live in peace. Boko Haram kills whoever does not adhere to its ideology that in particular prohibites 'Western' education. Muslims who do not support their ideology become enemies of Boko Haram".
"Boko Haram now is part of the worldwide phenomenon of international terrorism, as evidenced by the simultaneous attacks perpetrated here in Maiduguri that seem to trace some modes of terrorist attacks in Paris or elsewhere in the world" the Bishop concluded. (L.M.) Text shared from Agenzia Fides 29/12/2015 - Image share Google Images

#BreakingNews Taliban attacks #Government in #Pakistan Killing 22 - Please PRAY

Pakistan Taliban attack government office, kills 22
A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the National Database and Registration Authority in Mardan. The Taliban splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar claimed responsibility for the deadliest incident since the Peshawar army school massacre. The death toll is expected to rise. Since 2004, 27,000 people have died in terror attacks.

Mardan (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 22 people have died and another 50 have been injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside a government office in Mardan, in north-western Pakistan, just over 50 kilometres from Peshawar.
If a security guard at the office’s gate had not stopped the attacker, the death toll would be significantly higher, said Mardan police Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazie. Still, the number of deaths is expected to rise.
Jamaatul Ahrar, a Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group, claimed responsibility for the blast near the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office in Mardan, which is usually crowded with people lining up to get ID cards.
If a security guard at the office’s gate had not stopped the attacker, the death toll would be significantly higher, since the latter was carrying 12 kilograms of explosive material. Unable to get inside, the suicide bomber rammed his motorbike into the gate.
This is the deadliest attack since the Peshawar army school massacre a year ago, almost to the day, which saw 134 pupils and 9 adults killed by the same group.

The families of the victims and survivors, who are still demanding justice, are but a few of the more than 27,000 civilians and security forces personnel killed in terror attacks since 2004, this according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a monitoring site.
Shared from AsiaNewsIT

Free Movie : Becket : Stars Peter O'Toole - Drama on St. Thomas Becket

FOR AMAZING FREE MOVIES LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
In honor of the Feast of St. Thomas Becket JCE News is sharing the entire film BECKET. This Hollywood production stars the award winning Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole.
St. Thomas Becket

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND MARTYR

Feast: December 29
1118 - 1170 AD
Becket was in conflict with King Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tues. December 29, 2015


The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 202


Reading 11 JN 2:3-11

Beloved:
The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments.
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Responsorial PsalmPS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 5B-6

R. (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty go before him;
praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

AlleluiaLK 2:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 2:22-35

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

#Novena #Prayer for the #Epiphany - #Prayers to SHARE

Novena to the Magi for the Epiphany - Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be Each Day

DAY 1:
O holy Magi! You were living in continual expectation of the rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; obtain for us an increase of faith and charity, and the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

DAY 2:
O holy Magi! who at the first appearance of the wondrous star left your native country to go and seek the newborn King of the Jews; obtain for us the grace of corresponding with alacrity to every divine inspiration. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

 DAY 3:
O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season, nor the inconveniences of the journey that you might find the newborn Messiah; obtain for us the grace not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by any of the difficulties which may meet us on the way of salvation. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 

DAY 4:
O holy Magi, who, when deserted by the star in the city of Jerusalem, sought humbly, and without human respect, from the rulers of the Church, the place where you might discover the object of your journey; obtain for us grace to have recourse, in faith and humility, in all our doubts and perplexities to the counsel of our superiors, who hold the place of God on earth. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 

DAY 5:
O holy Magi, who were gladdened by the reappearance of the star which led you to Bethlehem; obtain for us from God the grace, that, remaining always faithful to Him in afflictions, we may be consoled in time by His grace, and in eternity by His glory. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

DAY 6:
O holy Magi, who, entering full of faith into the stable of Bethlehem, prostrated yourselves on the earth, to adore the newborn King of the Jews, though he was surrounded only by signs of poverty and weakness; obtain from the Lord for us a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament, the true spirit of poverty, and a Christ-like charity for the poor and suffering. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 

DAY 7:
O holy Magi, who offered to Jesus Christ gold, incense, and myrrh, thereby recognizing Him to be at once King, God, and Man; obtain from the Lord for us the grace never to present ourselves before Him with empty hands; but that we may continually offer to Him the gold of charity, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

DAY 8:
O holy Magi, who, when warned by an angel not to return to Herd, traveled back to your country be another road; obtain for us from the Lord, the grace that, after having found Him in true repentance, we may avoid all danger of losing Him again. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

DAY 9:
O holy Magi, who were first among the Gentiles called to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and who persevered in the faith till your deaths, obtain for us of the Lord the grace of living always in conformity to our baptismal vows, ever leading to a life of faith; that like you we may attain to the beatific vision of that God Who now is the object of our faith. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Saint December 29 : St. Thomas Becket : #Archbishop of #Canterbury : Martyr : Patron of #Clergy


Feast Day:December 29
Born:21 December 1118 at London, England
Died:29 December 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England
Canonized:21 February 1173 by Pope Alexander III
Patron of:clergy
Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, born at London, 21 December, 1118 (?); died at Canterbury, 29 December, 1170. St. Thomas was born of parents who, coming from Normandy, had settled in England some years previously. No reliance can be placed upon the legend that his mother was a Saracen. In after life his humble birth was made the subject of spiteful comment, though his parents were not peasants, but people of some mark, and from his earliest years their son had been well taught and had associated with gentlefolk. He learned to read at Merton Abbey and then studied in Paris. On leaving school he employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l'Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was "Justiciar" of London. Somewhere about the year 1141, under circumstances that are variously related, he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and in that household he won his master's favour and eventually became the most trusted of all his clerks. A description embodied in the Icelandic Saga and derived probably from Robert of Cricklade gives a vivid portrait of him at this period. To look upon he was slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech in his discourses, but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner. Theobald recognized his capacity, made use of him in many delicate negotiations, and, after allowing him to go for a year to study civil and canon law at Bologna and Auxerre, ordained him deacon in 1154, after bestowing upon him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury (see Radford, "Thomas of London", p. 53). It was just at this period that King Stephen died and the young monarch Henry II became unquestioned master of the kingdom. He took "Thomas of London", as Becket was then most commonly called, for his chancellor, and in that office Thomas at the age of thirty-six became, with the possible exception of the justiciar, the most powerful subject in Henry's wide dominions. The chroniclers speak with wonder of the relations which existed between the chancellor and the sovereign, who was twelve years his junior. People declared that "they had but one heart and one mind". Often the king and his minister behaved like two schoolboys at play. But although they hunted or rode at the head of an army together it was no mere comradeship in pastime which united them. Both were hard workers, and both, we may believe, had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart. Whether the chancellor, who was after all the elder man, was the true originator of the administrative reforms which Henry introduced cannot now be clearly determined. In many matters they saw eye to eye. The king's imperial views and love of splendour were quite to the taste of his minister. When Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he travelled with such pomp that the people said: "If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?" In 1153 Thomas acted as justice itinerant in three counties. In 1159 he seems to have been the chief organizer of Henry's expedition to Toulouse, upon which he accompanied him, and though it seems to be untrue that the impost of "scutage" was called into existence for that Occasion (Round, "Feudal England", 268-73), still Thomas undoubtedly pressed on the exaction of this money contribution in lieu of military service and enforced it against ecclesiastics in such a way that bitter complaints were made of the disproportionately heavy burden this imposed upon the Church. In the military operations Thomas took a leading part, and Garnier, a French chronicler, who lived to write of the virtues of St. Thomas and his martyrdom, declares that in these encounters he saw him unhorse many French knights. Deacon though he was, he lead the most daring attacks in person, and Edward Grim also gives us to understand that in laying waste the enemy's country with fire and sword the chancellor's principles did not materially differ from those of the other commanders of his time. But although, as men then reported, "he put off the archdeacon", in this and other ways, he was very far from assuming the licentious manners of those around him. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct or foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely. He seems at all times to have had clear principles with regard to the claims of the Church, and even during this period of his chancellorship he more than once risked Henry's grievous displeasure. For example, he opposed the dispensation which Henry for political reasons extorted from the pope, and strove to prevent the marriage of Mary, Abbess of Romsey, to Matthew of Boulogne. But to the very limits of what his conscience permitted, Thomas identified himself with his master's interests, and Tennyson is true to history when he makes the archbishop say: I served our Theobald well when I was with him: I served King Henry well as Chancellor: I am his no more, and I must serve the Church. Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, and in the course of the next year Henry seems to have decided that it would be good policy to prepare the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor to the primacy. Our authorities are agreed that from the first Thomas drew back in alarm. "I know your plans for the Church," he said, "you will assert claims which I, if I were archbishop, must needs oppose." But Henry would not be gainsaid, and Thomas at the instance of Cardinal Henry of Pisa, who urged it upon him as a service to religion, yielded in spite of his misgivings. He was ordained priest on Saturday in Whitweek and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, 3 June, 1162. It seems to have been St. Thomas who obtained for England the privilege of keeping the feast of the Blessed Trinity on that Sunday, the anniversary of his consecration, and more than a century afterwards this custom was adopted by the papal Court, itself and eventually imposed on the whole world. A great change took place in the saint's way of life after his consecration as archbishop. Even as chancellor he had practised secret austerities, but now in view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fastings and disciplines, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display which he had previously affected. On 10 Aug. he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome. Contrary to the king's wish he resigned the chancellorship. Whereupon Henry seems to have required him to surrender certain ecclesiastical preferments which he still retained, notably the archdeaconry, and when this was not done at once showed bitter displeasure. Other misunderstandings soon followed. The archbishop, having, as he believed, the king's express permission, set about to reclaim alienated estates belonging to his see, a procedure which again gave offence. Still more serious was the open resistance which he made to the king's proposal that a voluntary offering to the sheriffs should be paid into the royal treasury. As the first recorded instance of any determined opposition to the king's arbitrary will in a matter of taxation, the incident is of much constitutional importance. The saint's protest seems to have been successful, but the relations with the king only grew more strained. Soon after this the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king's officials when they attempted to assert jurisdiction over criminous clerks. The question has been dealt with in some detail in the article ENGLAND. That the saint himself had no wish to be lenient with criminous clerks has been well shown by Norgate (Angevin Kings, ii, 22). It was with him simply a question of principle. St. Thomas seems all along to have suspected Henry of a design to strike at the independence of what the king regarded as a too powerful Church. With this view Henry summoned the bishops at Westminster (1 October, 1163) to sanction certain as yet unspecified articles which he called his grandfather's customs (avitæ consuetudines), one of the known objects of which was to bring clerics guilty of crimes under the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The other bishops, as the demand was still in the vague, showed a willingness to submit, though with the condition "saving our order", upon which St. Thomas inflexibly insisted. The king's resentment was thereupon manifested by requiring the archbishop to surrender certain castles he had hitherto retained, and by other acts of unfriendliness. In deference to what he believed to be the pope's wish, the archbishop in December consented to make some concessions by giving a personal and private undertaking to the king to obey his customs "loyally and in good faith". But when Henry shortly afterwards at Clarendon (13 January, 1164) sought to draw the saint on to a formal and public acceptance of the "Constitutions of Clarendon", under which name the sixteen articles, the avitæ consuetudines as finally drafted, have been commonly known, St. Thomas, though at first yielding somewhat to the solicitations of the other bishops, in the end took up an attitude of uncompromising resistance. Then followed a period of unworthy and vindictive persecution. When opposing a claim made against him by John the Marshal, Thomas upon a frivolous pretext was found guilty of contempt of court. For this he was sentenced to pay £500; other demands for large sums of money followed, and finally, though a complete release of all claims against him as chancellor had been given on his becoming archbishop, he was required to render an account of nearly all the moneys which had passed through his hands in his discharge of the office. Eventually a sum of nearly £30,000 was demanded of him. His fellow bishops summoned by Henry to a council at Northampton, implored him to throw himself unreservedly upon the king's mercy, but St. Thomas, instead of yielding, solemnly warned them and threatened them. Then, after celebrating Mass, he took his archiepiscopal cross into his own hand and presented himself thus in the royal council chamber. The king demanded that sentence should be passed upon him, but in the confusion and discussion which ensued the saint with uplifted cross made his way through the mob of angry courtiers. He fled away secretly that night (13 October, 1164), sailed in disguise from Sandwich (2 November), and after being cordially welcomed by Louis VII of France, he threw himself at the feet of Pope Alexander III, then at Sens, on 23 Nov. The pope, who had given a cold reception to certain episcopal envoys sent by Henry, welcomed the saint very kindly, and refused to accept his resignation of his see. On 30 November, Thomas went to take up his residence at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, though he was compelled to leave this refuge a year later, as Henry, after confiscating the archbishop's property and banishing all the Becket kinsfolk, threatened to wreak his vengeance on the whole Cistercian Order if they continued to harbour him. The negotiations between Henry, the pope, and the archbishop dragged on for the next four years without the position being sensibly changed. Although the saint remained firm in his resistance to the principle of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he was willing to make any concessions that could be reasonably asked of him, and on 6 January, 1169, when the kings of England and France were in conference at Montmirail, he threw himself at Henry's feet, but as he still refused to accept the obnoxious customs Henry repulsed him. At last in 1170 some sort of reconciliation was patched up. The question of the customs was not mentioned and Henry professed himself willing to be guided by the archbishop's council as to amends due to the See of Canterbury for the recent violation of its rights in the crowning of Henry's son by the Archbishop of York. On 1 December, 1170, St. Thomas again landed in England, and was received with every demonstration of popular enthusiasm. But trouble almost immediately occurred in connection with the absolution of two of the bishops, whose sentence of excommunication St. Thomas had brought with him, as well as over the restoration by the de Broc family of the archbishop's castle at Saltwood. How far Henry was directly responsible for the tragedy which soon after occurred on 29 December is not quite clear. Four knights who came from France demanded the absolution of the bishops. St. Thomas would not comply. They left for a space, but came back at Vesper time with a band of armed men. To their angry question, "Where is the traitor?" the saint boldly replied, "Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God." They tried to drag him from the church, but were unable, and in the end they slew him where he stood, scattering his brains on the pavement. His faithful companion, Edward Grim, who bore his cross, was wounded in the struggle. A tremendous reaction of feeling followed this deed of blood. In an extraordinary brief space of time devotion to the martyred archbishop had spread all through Europe. The pope promulgated the bull of canonization, little more than two years after the martyrdom, 21 February, 1173. On 12 July, 1174, Henry II did public penance, and was scourged at the archbishop's tomb. An immense number of miracles were worked, and for the rest of the Middle Ages the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe. The martyr's holy remains are believed to have been destroyed in September, 1538, when nearly all the other shrines in England were dismantled; but the matter is by no means clear, and, although the weight of learned opinion is adverse, there are still those who believe that a skeleton found in the crypt in January, 1888, is the body of St. Thomas. The story that Henry VIII in 1538 summoned the archbishop to stand his trial for high treason, and that when, in June, 1538, the trial had been held and the accused pronounced contumacious, the body was ordered to be disinterred and burnt, is probably apocryphal. Text shared from the Catholic Enclyclopedia

Latest #News of #Vatican Information Service and #PopeFrancis at #HolySee - SHARE


28-12-2015 - Year XXII - Num.  

Summary
- ''Family Life: A Pilgrimage for Experiencing the Joy of Forgiveness''
- Angelus: The Holy Family: Domestic Church and True School of the Gospel
- Pope Calls Attention to Migrant Cubans in Difficulty
- Pope?s Message to Young Adults at the European Meeting of the Taize Community
- Telegram on the Attacks in the Philippines
- Pope?s Condolences on Gas Plant Accident in Nigeria
- Angelus: ''Never Tire of Asking for Divine Forgiveness''
- Christmas Message: ''Only God?s Mercy Can Free Humanity from the Many Forms of Evil''
- Christmas Eve Mass: ''The Mission of Making Known ''The Prince of Peace'''
- Other Pontifical Acts
''Family Life: A Pilgrimage for Experiencing the Joy of Forgiveness''
Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) ? At 10:00 this morning, on the Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter?s Basilica. During the celebration, attended by Roman and pilgrim families for the Jubilee of Family, he gave the following homily:
 ''The biblical readings which we just heard presented us with the image of two families on pilgrimage to the house of God. Elkanah and Hannah bring their son Samuel to the Temple of Shiloh and consecrate him to the Lord. In the same way, Joseph and Mary, in the company of Jesus, go as pilgrims to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.''
''We often see pilgrims journeying to shrines and places dear to popular piety. These days, many of them are making their way to the Holy Door opened in all the cathedrals of the world and in many shrines. But the most beautiful thing which emerges from the word of God today is that the whole family goes on pilgrimage. Fathers, mothers and children together go to the house of the Lord, in order to sanctify the holy day with prayer. It is an important teaching, which is meant for our own families as well. Indeed, we could say that family life is a series of pilgrimages, both small and big.''
''For example, how comforting it is for us to reflect on Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray! This is a sort of pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of education in prayer. And it is comforting also to know that throughout the day they would pray together, and then go each Sabbath to the synagogue to listen to readings from the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord with the assembly. Certainly, during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they prayed by singing the Psalm: ?I was glad when they said to me, ''Let us go to the house of the Lord!'' Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem?.''
''How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer. What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism? Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children? To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day. In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need. These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of everyday life.''

''At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents. This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little ?escapade?, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn?t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary?s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience. Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.''
''In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.''
''Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission ? the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life ? which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.''
Angelus: The Holy Family: Domestic Church and True School of the Gospel
Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) ? After celebrating the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Family, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled this past September''s meeting with families in Philadelphia, USA as well as all the families he has met during his apostolic trips and all the families around the world with these words:
 ''I would like to greet you all with affection and gratitude, especially at this present time when the family is subjected to various kinds of misunderstandings and difficulties that weaken it. Today's Gospel,'' he continued, ''invites families to capture the light of hope coming from the house of Nazareth where Jesus grew up in joyfulness.''
''The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is, for every believer and especially for families, a true school of the Gospel. Here we admire the fulfillment of God's plan to make the family a special community of life and love. Here we learn that every Christian family is called to be a ?domestic church'', to make the light of the Gospel virtues shine forth and to become leaven for the good in society. The typical characteristics of the Holy Family are meditation and prayer, mutual understanding and respect, a spirit of sacrifice, labor, and solidarity.''
''Each family can draw valuable guidance for lifestyles and life choices and can draw strength and wisdom for the everyday journey from the example and witness of the Holy Family. Our Lady and St. Joseph teach us how to welcome children as a gift from God, to generate and educate them by cooperating in a wonderful way with the Creator's work; giving the world a new smile with every child. It is in the united family that children bring their existence to maturity, living a meaningful and effective experience of gratuitous love, of tenderness, of reciprocal respect, of mutual understanding, of forgiveness, and of joy.''
''The true joy experienced in the family is not something casual or accidental. It is a joy born of the profound harmony among persons, which gives us a taste of the beauty of being together, of supporting one another along the journey of life. But at the heart of that joy is always God's presence, his welcoming, merciful, and patient love toward all. If the doors of the family are not opened to the presence of God and his love, the family loses its harmony, selfishness prevails, and joy is extinguished. Instead, the family that lives the joy of life, the joy of faith, spontaneously communicating it, is the salt of the earth and light of the world. It is the leaven for all of society.''
Pope Calls Attention to Migrant Cubans in Difficulty
Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) ? After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke on behalf of the ''numerous Cuban migrants who are in difficulty in Central America,'' many of whom are victims of human trafficking. He called on the countries in the region to generously renew the necessary efforts to finding a timely solution to this humanitarian tragedy.
At the same time, the pontiff also greeted the families and the pilgrims from around the world present in the square, thanking them for their witness. He thanked everyone for their well wishes and prayers.
Pope?s Message to Young Adults at the European Meeting of the Taize Community
Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) ? Pope Francis, through a telegram sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, addressed the participants in the 38th European Meeting of Young Adults organized by the Taize Community, which will take place from Monday, 28 December 2015 until 1 January 2016, in Valencia, Spain.
The Holy Father encouraged the more than 30,000 expected participants to ''have the courage of mercy, which will guide you not only to receive it in your lives but also to be close to those who are in distress. You know that the Church is here for all of humanity and where there are Christians everyone should find an oasis of mercy. This,'' he emphasized, ''particularly applies to the many migrants in such need of your welcome.'' The Pope also expressed his hope that ''during these beautiful days ? you might better discover Christ, ?the face of the Father?s mercy'', and he sent them his blessing.
Telegram on the Attacks in the Philippines
Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) ? Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of the Pope Francis to Msgr. Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio in Manila, following the attacks on the island of Mindanao, in the south of the country.
''The Holy Father was deeply saddened to learn of the senseless killing of innocent people in Mindanao, and he sends condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. His Holiness prays that security and safety will be established for all people in the region, so that dialogue, tolerance and peace may enable each person to live free from fear. He asks all believers to reject violence in the name of God who is love, and invokes abundant divine gifts of consolation, mercy and strength upon those affected by this tragedy.''
Pope?s Condolences on Gas Plant Accident in Nigeria
Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) ? Pope Francis, through Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, has sent the following telegram of condolences to Msgr. Augustine Kasuja, apostolic nuncio in Abuya, following the tragic accident that occurred in the Nigerian city of Nnewi when a truck exploded in a gas plant.
''The Holy Father was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic explosion at a gas plant in Nnewi, in which so many people died or were seriously injured. He sends heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and injured, to the authorities and to the entire Nation. His Holiness, commending the souls of the departed to the tender mercy of God, invokes the abundant divine gifts of consolation and strength upon those who mourn and upon all who have been affected by this tragedy.''
Angelus: ''Never Tire of Asking for Divine Forgiveness''
Vatican City, 25 December 2015 (VIS) ? ''Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen,'' said the Pope today at noon from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace, when he prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter?s Square. ''This memorial of the first martyr follows immediately after the Solemnity of Christmas. Yesterday we contemplated the merciful love of God who became man for us. Today we see the consistent response of Jesus? disciple who gives his life. Yesterday, the Savior was born on earth; now his faithful witness is born in heaven. Yesterday as today, the darkness of the denial of life looms, but the light of love that overcomes hatred and inaugurates a new world shines still stronger.''
''There is a particular aspect in today?s story from the Acts of the Apostles that ties St. Stephen to the Lord. It is the forgiveness he offered before he died from being stoned. Nailed to the cross, Jesus said: ?Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?. Likewise, Stephen ?bent his knees and cried out: ''Lord, do not charge them with this sin''.? Stephen, therefore, is a martyr, which means witness because he does as Jesus does. In fact, the true witnesses are those who act as does Jesus: those who pray, those who love, those who give, but above all, those who forgive because forgiveness, as the word implies, is the greatest expression of giving.''
''But ? we might ask ? what is the use of forgiving?'' the pontiff continued. ''Is it just a good deed or does it bring results? We find the answer precisely in Stephen?s martyrdom. Among those for whom he begged forgiveness was a young man named Saul who persecuted the Church and tried to destroy it. Shortly thereafter, Saul became Paul, the great saint, the Apostle to the Gentiles. He had received Stephen?s forgiveness. We can say that Paul was born of God?s grace and Stephen?s forgiveness.''
''We also are born of God?s forgiveness. Not only in Baptism but every time we are forgiven our hearts are reborn, are remade. From the beginning, every step forward in the life of faith is impressed with the seal of divine mercy. Because only when we are loved can we in turn love. It does us good to remind ourselves of this: if we want to move forward in faith, we must first of all receive God?s forgiveness. We must meet the Father who is always ready to forgive everything and who, in forgiving us, heals our hearts and reignites our love. We must never tire of asking God?s forgiveness,'' Pope Francis emphasized, ''because it is only when we are forgiven, when we feel ourselves pardoned, that we can learn to forgive.''
The Holy Father acknowledged that forgiving ''is not easy. It is always very difficult.'' He explained that, in order to imitate Christ and forgive the great and small offenses that we suffer every day, we have to start with prayer like St. Stephen. ''It starts from our hearts. We can deal with the resentment we feel through prayer, entrusting those who have done us wrong to God?s mercy. ? Then we discover that this inner struggle to forgive purifies us from evil and that prayer and love set us free from the inner chains of rancor. ? Through forgiveness we overcome evil with good, we turn hatred into love, and thus make the world cleaner.''
Before finishing, Pope Francis entrusted to the Virgen Mary all those who, ''like St. Stephen, suffer persecution in the name of the faith, our many martyrs today. Help direct our prayers to receive and to offer forgiveness.''
Christmas Message: ''Only God?s Mercy Can Free Humanity from the Many Forms of Evil''
Vatican City, 25 December 2015 (VIS) ? At noon today, the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord, the Pope gave the traditional Christmas message from the central balcony of St. Peter?s Basilica. On finishing the address, which is given in its entirety below, he imparted the Urbi et Orbi blessing ''to the city [of Rome] and to the world''.
''Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas!
Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!''
 ''Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant ?day? which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and, above all, reconciliation. A day of joy: a ?great joy? for the poor, the lowly and for all the people.''
''On this day, Jesus, the Savior is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the ?sign? which God has given us: ?a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger?. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church. Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. Like Mary, the Church shows to everyone the ?sign? of God: the Child whom she bore in her womb and to whom she gave birth, yet who is the Son of the Most High, since he ?is of the Holy Spirit?. He is truly the Savior, for he is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world. With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God?s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts. This is something we all need!''
''He alone, he alone can save us. Only God?s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations.''
''Where God is born, hope is born. He brings hope. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet precisely where the incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built. May Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue and reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony, ending a conflict which has long set them at odds with grave repercussions for the entire region.''
''We pray to the Lord that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people. It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country. May the attention of the international community be unanimously directed to ending the atrocities which in those countries, as well as in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, even now reap numerous victims, cause immense suffering and do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples. My thoughts also turn to those affected by brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.''
''To our brothers and sisters who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith, may the Child Jesus grant consolation and strength. They are our martyrs of today.''
''We also pray for peace and concord among the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan, that dialogue may lead to a strengthened common commitment to the building of civil societies animated by a sincere spirit of reconciliation and of mutual understanding.''
''May Christmas also bring true peace to Ukraine, offer comfort to those suffering from the effects of the conflict, and inspire willingess to carry out the agreements made to restore concord in the entire country.''
''May the joy of this day illumine the efforts of the Colombian people so that, inspired by hope, they may continue their commitment to working for the desired peace.''
''Where God is born, hope is born; and where hope is born, persons regain their dignity. Yet even today great numbers of men and woman are deprived of their human dignity and, like the child Jesus, suffer cold, poverty, and rejection. May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade.''
''Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives. May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.''
''On this festal day may the Lord grant renewed hope to all those who lack employment ? and they are so many! May he sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities in political and economic life, that they may work to pursue the common good and to protect the dignity of every human life.''
''Where God is born, mercy flourishes. Mercy is the most precious gift which God gives us, especially during this Jubilee year in which we are called to discover that tender love of our heavenly Father for each of us. May the Lord enable prisoners in particular to experience his merciful love, which heals wounds and triumphs over evil.''
''Today, then, let us together rejoice in the day of our salvation. As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show us the merciful embrace of God, as we hear the cries of the Child who whispers to us: ?for my brethren and companions? sake, I will say: Peace be within you?.''
Christmas Eve Mass: ''The Mission of Making Known ''The Prince of Peace'''
Vatican City, 24 December 2015 (VIS) ? This evening, beginning at 9:30pm, Pope Francis presided over Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. During the course of the celebration he gave this homily:
''Tonight 'a great light' shines forth; the light of Jesus' birth shines all about us. How true and timely are the words of the prophet Isaiah which we have just heard: ''You have brought abundant joy and great rejoicing'! Our heart was already joyful in awaiting this moment; now that joy abounds and overflows, for the promise has been at last fulfilled. Joy and gladness are a sure sign that the message contained in the mystery of this night is truly from God. There is no room for doubt; let us leave that to the skeptics who, by looking to reason alone, never find the truth. There is no room for the indifference which reigns in the hearts of those unable to love for fear of losing something. All sadness has been banished, for the Child Jesus brings true comfort to every heart.''
''Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Savior of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey's end. Now must we put away all fear and dread, for the light shows us the path to Bethlehem. We must not be laggards; we are not permitted to stand idle. We must set out to see our Savior lying in a manger. This is the reason for our joy and gladness: this Child has been ''born to us'; he was ''given to us', as Isaiah proclaims. The people who for two thousand years have traversed all the pathways of the world in order to allow every man and woman to share in this joy are now given the mission of making known ''the Prince of Peace' and becoming his effective servant in the midst of the nations.''
''So when we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God's glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul says, ''to reject godless ways' and the richness of the world, in order to live ''temperately, justly and devoutly'.''
''In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God's will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.''
''Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: ''Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation'.''
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 28 December 2015 (VIS) ? Today, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Brian McGee as Bishop of Argyll and the Isles (area 31,080, population 77,400, Catholics 10,179, priests 25, permanent deacons 1, religious 32), Scotland. Bishop-elect McGee was born in Greenock, in the Diocese of Paisley, in 1965 and was ordained a priest of the clergy of Paisely in 1989. He has served as a pastor as well as the Scots College?s spiritual director. He was diocesan director of the RCIA program as well as Episcopal Vicar for marriage and the family. Since 2014 he has served as Paisley?s vicar general.
On Thursday, 24 December, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Wojciech Tomasz Osial as auxiliary bishop of Lowicz (area 5,806, population 609,479, Catholics 607,825, priests 166, religious 390), Poland. Bishop-elect Osial was born in Lowicz in 1970 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a doctorate in catechetics from Rome?s Pontifical Salesian University and has been serving as Lowicz?s diocesan director for catechism and curial notary. He is also a professor in the seminaries of Lowicz and Oltarzew as well as the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. He has been a canon of the cathedral chapter since 2014.
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