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Friday, June 3, 2016

Catholic News World : Friday June 3, 2016 - SHARE

2016

#PopeFrancis "Christ loves and knows his sheep." FULL TEXT Homily - Mass Video


(Vatican Radio) On Friday 3 June, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass with priests in St Peter's Square as part of a special Jubilee of Mercy for Priests.
Please find below the prepared text for the Holy Father's Homily:
             This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.
            The Heart of the Good Shepherd is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word (cf. Lk 5:5).
            The Heart of the Good Shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), without ever being imposing.
            The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.
            Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: Where is my heart directed? Our ministry is often full of plans, projects and activities: from catechesis to liturgy, to works of charity, to pastoral and administrative commitments. Amid all these, we must still ask ourselves: What is my heart set on, where is it directed, what is the treasure that it seeks? For as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).
            The great riches of the Heart of Jesus are two: the Father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people. So too the heart of Christ’s priests knows only two directions: the Lord and his people. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself, but is turned towards God and his brothers and sisters. It is no longer “a fluttering heart”, allured by momentary whims, shunning disagreements and seeking petty satisfactions. Rather, it is a heart rooted firmly in the Lord, warmed by the Holy Spirit, open and available to our brothers and sisters.
            To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings:seek outinclude and rejoice.
            Seek out. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks. Without delaying, he leaves the pasture and his regular workday. He does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; I’ll worry about it tomorrow”. Instead, he immediately sets to it; his heart is anxious until he finds that one lost sheep. Having found it, he forgets his weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content.
            Such is a heart that seeks out – a heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, a heart that is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone; he is not worried about protecting his good name, but rather, without fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord.
            A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: he is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need. For the flock he is a shepherd, not an inspector, and he devotes himself to the mission not fifty or sixty percent, but with all he has. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he isstubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. Like every good Christian, and as an example for every Christian, he constantly goes out of himself. The epicentre of his heart is outside of himself. He is not drawn by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women.
            Include. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14).  His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name (cf. Jn 10:3-4). He wants to gather the sheep that are not yet of his fold (cf. Jn 10:16).
            So it is also with the priest of Christ. He is anointed for his people, not to choose his own projects but to be close to the real men and women whom God has entrusted to him. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his smile. With a father’s loving gaze and heart, he welcomes and includes everyone, and if at times he has to correct, it is to draw people closer. He stands apart from no one, but is always ready to dirty his hands. As a minister of the communion that he celebrates and lives, he does not await greetings and compliments from others, but is the first to reach out, rejecting gossip, judgements and malice. He listens patiently to the problems of his people and accompanies them, sowing God’s forgiveness with generous compassion. He does not scold those who wander off or lose their way, but is always ready to bring them back and to resolve difficulties and disagreements.
            Rejoice. God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joyfor himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freelygives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.
            Dear priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we rediscover each day our identity as shepherds. In every Mass, may we truly make our own the words of Christ: “This is my body, which is given up for you.”  This is the meaning of our life; with these words, in a real way we can daily renew the promises we made at our priestly ordination. I thank all of you for saying “yes” to giving your life in union with Jesus: for in this is found the pure source of our joy.

#Novena to St. Charles Lwanga and Martyrs of #Uganda in #Africa - SHARE

Novena in Honour of Saint Charles Lwanga & the Martyrs of Uganda

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end, Amen


OUR FATHER
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be
Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done,
on earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our
daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

HAIL MARY
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is
the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

GLORY BE
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


O Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer, through your passion and death, we adore and thank Thee.
Holy Mary, Mother and Queen of Martyrs, Obtain for us sanctification through our sufferings.
Holy Martyrs, followers of the suffering Christ, obtain for us the grace to imitate Him.
St. Joseph Balikuddembe, first Martyr of Uganda, who inspired and encouraged Nephytes, obtain for us a spirit of truth and justice.
St. Charles Lwanga, patron of the Youth and Catholic Action, obtain for us a firm and zealous faith.
St. Matthias Mulumba, ideal Chief and follower of Christ meek and humble, obtain for us a Christian gentleness.
St. Dionysius Sebuggwawo, zealous for the Christian Faith and renowned for your modesty, obtain for us the virture of modesty.
St. Andrew Kaggwa, model Catechist and teacher, obtain for us a love of the teaching of Christ.
St. Kizito, child resplendent in purity and Christian joy, obtain for us the gift of joy in our Lord.
St. Gyaviira, shining example of how to forgive and forget injuries, obtain for us the grace to forgive those who injure us.
St. Mukasa, fervent catechumen rewarded with the Baptism of your blood, obtain for us perseverance unto the death.
St. Adolfus Ludigo, conspicuous by your following of our Lord's spirit of service to others; obtain for us a love of unselfish service.
St. Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, humble servant preferring a devout life to wordly honours; obtain for us to love piety more than earthly things.
St. Ambrosius Kibuuka, young man full of joy and love of your neighbour; obtain for us fraternal charity.
St. Achilles Kiwanuka, who for the sake of Christ detested vain superstitious practices; obtain for us holy hatred of superstitious practices.
St. John Muzeeyi, prudent councilor, renowned for the practice of works of mercy; obtain for us a love of those works of mercy.
Blessed Jildo Irwa and Blessed Daudi Okello who gave up your lives for the spread of the Catholic Faith; obtain for us the zeal of spreading the Catholic Faith.
St. Pontaianus Ngondwe, faithful soldier, longing for the martyr's crown; obtain for us the grace to be always faithful to our duty.
St. Athanasius Bazzekuketta, faithful steward of the royal treasury; obtain for us a spirit of responsibility.
St. Mbaaga, who preferred death to the persuasions of your parents; obtain for us to follow generously divine grace.
St. Gonzaga Gonza, full of sympathy for prisoners, and all who were in trouble; obtain for us the spirit of mercy.
St. Noe Mawaggali, humble worker and lover of evangelical poverty; obtain for us love of evangelical poverty.
St. Luke Baanabakintu, who ardently desired to imitate the suffering Christ by Martyrdom; obtain for us a love of our motherland.
St. Bruno Serunkuuma, soldier who gave an example of repentance and temperance; obtain for us the virture to repentance and temperance.
St. Mugagga, young man renowned for your heroic chastity; obtain for us perserverance in chastity.
Holy Martyrs, firm in your fidelity to the true Church of Christ; help us to be always faithful to the true Church of Christ.
Let us pray
O Lord Jesus Christ, who wonderfully strengthened the Holy Martyrs of Uganda St. Charles Lwanga, Matthias Mulumba, Blessed Jildo Irwa, Blessed Daudi Okello and their Companions; and gave them to us as examples of faith and fortitude, chastity, charity, and fidelity; grant, we beseech you, that by their Intercession, the same virtues may increase in us, and that we may deserve to become propagators of the true faith. Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen


St. Charles Lwanga and the Martyrs of Uganda, we come to you asking your prayers of intercession on behalf of all who suffer from the unjust exercise of authority. May you who were so cruelly persecuted for your faith in Jesus Christ intercede for all who are oppressed, that they might be comforted by the Divine Mercy and empowered by the gift and grace of fortitude. May justice be the goal of all people and may all who are called by the name Christian join together in works of redemption directed at the sins and the structures of sin that afflict our communities. Amen.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday June 3, 2016 - Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Lectionary: 172


Reading 1EZ 34:11-16

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I will lead them out from among the peoples
and gather them from the foreign lands;
I will bring them back to their own country
and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel
in the land's ravines and all its inhabited places.
In good pastures will I pasture them,
and on the mountain heights of Israel
shall be their grazing ground.
There they shall lie down on good grazing ground,
and in rich pastures shall they be pastured
on the mountains of Israel.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.

Responsorial PsalmPS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading 2ROM 5:5B-11

Brothers and sisters:
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person
one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

AlleluiaMT 11:29AB

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Or:JN 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord,
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 15:3-7

Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes:
"What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.'
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance."

#PopeFrancis "... the confessional as the place where the truth makes us free for an encounter. " FULL TEXT


(Vatican Radio) The theme of the Pope’s third meditation at a spiritual retreat held on Thursday at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls was “the good odour of Christ and the light of his mercy.”
Listen to the report by Lydia O'Kane:
 
At the heart of his reflection were the Works of Mercy saying as priests, “being merciful is not only “a way of life”, but “the way of life”, adding,  “there is no other way of being a priest.”
Drawing from the passage of the Lord’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery, the Pope explained that when Jesus says “Go and sin no more”, “his command has to do with the future, to help her to make a new start and to “walk in love”.  Such is the sensitivity of mercy, the Holy Father continued. “ it looks with compassion on the past and offers encouragement for the future.” 
Focusing his attention of the Sacrament of Confession Pope Francis noted that “people come to confession  because they are penitent. They come to confession because they want to change.”
During his meditation, the Pope also invited priests to let themselves “be moved by people’s situation, which at times is a mixture of their own doing, human weakness, sin and insuperable conditionings.  He went on to say, “we have to be like Jesus, who was deeply moved by the sight of people and their problems…”
The Jubilee for priests concludes on Friday with Holy Mass presided over by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.

Please find below the English language of Pope Francis' meditation preached at St Paul's Outside the Walls


THIRD MEDITATION:
THE GOOD ODOUR OF CHRIST AND THE LIGHT OF HIS MERCY
In this, our third meeting, I propose that we meditate on the works of mercy, by taking whichever one we feel is most closely linked to our charism, and by looking at them as a whole.  We can contemplate them through the merciful eyes of Our Lady, who helps us to find “the wine that is lacking” and encourages us to “do whatever Jesus tells us” (cf. Jn 2:1-12), so that his mercy can work the miracles that our people need.
The works of mercy are closely linked to the “spiritual senses”.  In our prayer we ask for the grace so to “feel and savour” the Gospel that it can make us more “sensitive” in our lives.  Moved by the Spirit and led by Jesus, we can see from afar, with the eyes of mercy, those who have fallen along the wayside.  We can hear the cries of Bartimaeus and feel with Jesus the timid yet determined touch of the woman suffering from haemorrhage, as she grasps his robe.  We can ask for the grace to taste with the crucified Jesus the bitter gall of all those who share in his cross, and smell the stench of misery - in field hospitals, in trains and in boats crammed with people.  The balm of mercy does not disguise this stench.  Rather, by anointing it, it awakens new hope.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in discussing the works of mercy, tells us that “when her mother reproached her for care for the poor and the sick at home, Saint Rose of Lima said to her: ‘When we serve the poor and the sick, we are the good odour of Christ’” (No. 2449, Latin).  That good odour of Christ – the care of the poor – is, and always has been, the hallmark of the Church.  Paul made it the focus of his meeting with Peter, James and John, the “columns” of the Church.  He tells us that they “asked only one thing, that we remember the poor” (Gal 2:10).  The Catechism goes on to say, significantly, that “those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church, which from her origins, and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defence and liberation” (No. 2448).
In the Church we have, and have always had, our sins and failings.  But when it comes to serving the poor by the works of mercy, as a Church we have always followed the promptings of the Spirit.  Our saints did this in quite creative and effective ways.  Love for the poor has been the sign, the light that draws people to give glory to the Father.  Our people value this in a priest who cares for the poor and the sick, for those whose sins he forgives and for those whom he patiently teaches and corrects…  Our people forgive us priests many failings, except for that of attachment to money.  This does not have so much to do with money itself, but the fact that money makes us lose the treasure of mercy.  Our people can sniff out which sins are truly grave for a priest, the sins that kill his ministry because they turn him into a bureaucrat or, even worse, a mercenary.  They can also recognize which sins are, I won’t say secondary, but that have to be put up with, borne like a cross, until the Lord at last burns them away like the chaff.  But the failure of a priest to be merciful is a glaring contradiction.  It strikes at the heart of salvation, against Christ, who “became poor so that by his poverty we might become rich” (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).  Because mercy heals “by losing something of itself”.  We feel a pang of regret and we lose a part of our life, because rather than do what we wanted to do, we reached out to someone else.
So it is not about God showing me mercy for this or that sin, as if I were otherwise self-sufficient, or about us performing some act of mercy towards this or that person in need.  The grace we seek in this prayer is that of letting ourselves be shown mercy by God in every aspect of our lives and in turn to show mercy to others in all that we do.  As priests and bishops, we work with the sacraments, baptizing, hearing confessions, celebrating the Eucharist…  Mercy is our way of making the entire life of God’s people a sacrament.  Being merciful is not only “a way of life”, but “the way of life”.  There is no other way of being a priest.  Father Brochero, soon to be canonized, put it this way: “The priest who has scarce pity for sinners is only half a priest.  These vestments I wear are not what make me a priest; if I don’t have charity in my heart, I am not even a Christian.”
To see needs and to bring immediate relief, and even more, to anticipate those needs: this is the mark of a father’s gaze.  This priestly gaze – which takes the place of the father in the heart of Mother Church – makes us see people with the eyes of mercy.  It has to be learned from seminary on, and it must enrich all our pastoral plans and projects.  We desire, and we ask the Lord to give us, a gaze capable of discerning the signs of the times, to know “what works of mercy our people need today” in order to feel and savour the God of history who walks among them.  For, as Aparecida says, quoting Saint Alberto Hurtado: “In our works, our people know that we understand their suffering” (No. 386).  In our works...
The proof that we understand is that our works of mercy are blessed by God and meet with help and cooperation from our people.  Some plans and projects do not work out well, without people ever realizing why.  They rack their brains trying to come up with yet another pastoral plan, when all somebody has to say is: “It’s not working because it lacks mercy”, with no further ado.  If it is not blessed, it is because it lacks mercy.  It lacks the mercy found in a field hospital, not in expensive clinics; it lacks the mercy that values goodness and opens the door to an encounter with God, rather than turning someone away with sharp criticism…
I am going to propose a prayer about the woman whose sins were forgiven (Jn 8:3-11), to ask for the grace to be merciful in the confessional, and another prayer about the social dimension of the works of mercy.
I have always been struck by the passage of the Lord’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery, and how, by refusing to condemn her, he “fell short of” the Law.  In response to the question they asked to test him – “should she be stoned or not?” – he did not rule, he did not apply the law.  He played dumb, and then turned to something else.  He thus initiated a process in the heart of the woman who needed to hear those words: “Neither do I condemn you”.  He stretched out his hand and helped her to her feet, letting her see a gentle gaze that changed her heart.
Sometimes I feel a little saddened and annoyed when people go straight to the last words Jesus speaks to her: “Go and sin no more”.  They use these words to “defend” Jesus from bypassing the law.  I believe that Christ’s words are of a piece with his actions.  He bends down to write on the ground as a prelude to what he is about to say to those who want to stone the woman, and he does so again before talking to her.  This tells us something about the “time” that the Lord takes in judging and forgiving.  The time he gives each person to look into his or her own heart and then to walk away.  In talking to the woman, the Lord opens other spaces: one is that of non-condemnation.   The Gospel clearly mentions this open space.  It makes us see things through the eyes of Jesus, who tells us: “I see no one else but this woman”. 
Then Jesus makes the woman herself look around.  He asks her: “Where are those who condemned you?”  (The word “condemn” is itself important, since it is about what we find unacceptable about those who judge or caricature us…).  Once he has opened before her eyes this space freed of other people’s judgements, he tells her that neither will he throw a stone there: “Nor do I condemn you”.  Then he opens up another free space before her: “Go and sin no more”.  His command has to do with the future, to help her to make a new start and to “walk in love”.  Such is the sensitivity of mercy: it looks with compassion on the past and offers encouragement for the future. 
Those words, “Go and sin no more” are not easy.  The Lord says them “with her”.  He helps her put into words what she herself feels, a free “no” to sin that is like Mary’s “yes” to grace.  That “no” has to be said to the deeply-rooted sin present in everyone.  In that woman, it was a social sin; people approached her either to sleep with her or to throw stones at her.  That is why the Lord does not only clear the path before her, but sets her on her way, so that she can stop being the “object” of other people's gaze and instead take control of her life.  Those words, “sin no more” refer not only to morality, but, I believe, to a kind of sin that keeps her from living her life.  Jesus also told the paralytic at Bethzatha to sin no more (Jn 5:14).  But that man had justified himself with all the sad things that had “happened to him”; he suffered from a victim complex.  So Jesus challenged him ever so slightly by saying: “…lest something worse happen to you”.  The Lord took advantage of his way of thinking, his fears, to draw him out of his paralysis.  He gave him a little scare, we might say.  The point is that each of us has to hear the words “sin no more” in his own deeply personal way.
This image of the Lord who sets people on their way is very typical.  He is the God who walks at his people’s side, who leads them forward, who accompanies our history.  Hence, the object of his mercy is quite clear: it is everything that keeps a man or a woman from walking on the right path, with their own people, at their own pace, to where God is asking them to go.  What troubles him is that people get lost, or fall behind, or try to go it on their own.  That they end up nowhere.  That they are not there for the Lord, ready to go wherever he wants to send them.  That they do not walk humbly before him (cf. Mic 6:8), that they do not walk in love (cf. Eph 5:2).

THE SPACE OF THE CONFESSIONAL, WHERE THE TRUTH MAKES US FREE
Speaking of space, let us go to the confessional.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents the confessional as the place where the truth makes us free for an encounter.  “When he celebrates the sacrament of penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial Judge whose judgement is both just and merciful.  The priest is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner” (No. 1465).  The Catechism also reminds us that “the confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness but its servant.  The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ” (No. 1466).
Signs and instruments of an encounter.  That is what we are.  An attractive invitation to an encounter.  As signs, we must be welcoming, sending a message that attracts people’s attention.  Signs need to be consistent and clear, but above all understandable.  Some signs are only clear to specialists.  Signs and instruments.  Instruments have to be effective, readily available, precise and suitable for the job.  We are instruments if people have a genuine encounter with the God of mercy.  Our task is “to make that encounter possible”, face-to-face.  What people do afterwards is their business.  There is a prodigal son among the pigs and a father who goes out every afternoon to see if he is returning.  There is a lost sheep and a shepherd who goes out to seek him.  There is a wounded person left at the roadside and a good-hearted Samaritan.  What is our ministry?  It is to be signs and instruments enabling this encounter.  Let us always remember that we are not the father, the shepherd or the Samaritan.  Rather, inasmuch as we are sinners, we are on the side of the other three.  Our ministry has to be a sign and instrument of that encounter.  We are part of the mystery of the Holy Spirit, who creates the Church, builds unity, and constantly invites to encounter.
The other mark of a sign and instrument is that it is not self-referential.  Put more simply, it is not an end in itself.  Nobody sticks with the sign once they understand the reality.  Nobody keeps looking at the screwdriver or the hammer, but at the well-hung picture.  We are useless servants.  Instruments and signs that help two people to join in an embrace, like the father and his son.
The third mark of a sign and instrument is its availability.  An instrument has to be readily accessible; a sign must be visible.  Being a sign and instrument is about being a mediator.  Perhaps this is the real key to our own mission in this merciful encounter of God and man.  We could even put it in negative terms.  Saint Ignatius talked about “not getting in the way”.  A good mediator makes things easy, rather than setting up obstacles.  In my country, there was a great confessor, Father Cullen.  He would sit in the confessional and do one of two things: he would repair worn soccer balls for the local kids, or he would thumb through a big Chinese dictionary.  He used to say that when people saw him doing such completely useless things like fixing old soccer balls or trying to master Chinese, they would think: “I’m going to go up and talk to his priest, since he obviously doesn’t have much to do!”  He was available for what was essential.  He got rid of the obstacle of always looking busy and serious.
Everybody has known good confessors. We have to learn from our good confessors, the ones whom people seek out, who do not make them afraid but help them to speak frankly, as Jesus did with Nicodemus.  If people come to confession it is because they are penitent; repentance is already present.  They come to confession because they want to change.  Or at least they want to want to change, if they think their situation is impossible.  Ad impossibilia nemo tenetur, as the old maxim goes: no one is obliged to do the impossible.
We have to learn from good confessors, those who are gentle with sinners, who after a couple of words understand everything, as Jesus did with the woman suffering from a haemorrhage, and straightaway the power of forgiveness goes forth from them.  The integrity of confession is not a mathematics problem.  Sometimes people feel less shame in confessing a sin than in stating the number of times they committed it.  We have to let ourselves be moved by people’s situation, which at times is a mixture of their own doing, human weakness, sin and insuperable conditionings.  We have to be like Jesus, who was deeply moved by the sight of people and their problems, and kept healing them, even when they “didn’t ask properly”, like that leper, or seemed to beat around the bush, like the Samaritan woman.  She was like a bird we have in South America: she squawked in one place but had her nest in another.
We have to learn from confessors who can enable penitents to feel amendment in taking a small step forwards, like Jesus, who gave a suitable penance and could appreciate the one leper who returned to thank him, on whom he bestowed yet more.  Jesus had his mat taken away from the paralytic, and he made the blind man and the Syro-Phoenician woman have to ask.  It didn’t matter to him if they paid no attention to him, like the paralytic at the pool of Bethzatha, or told others what he ordered them not to tell, with the result that he himself became the leper, since he could not go into the towns or his enemies found reasons to condemn him.  He healed people, forgave their sins, eased their suffering, gave them rest and made them feel the consoling breath of the Spirit.
In Buenos Aires I knew a Capuchin Friar.  He is a little younger than myself and a great confessor.  There is always a line before his confessional, lots of people confessing all day long.  He is really good at forgiving.  He forgives, but every once in a while he has scruples about being so forgiving.  Once in conversation he told me: “Sometimes I have scruples”.  So I asked him: “What do you do when you have these scruples?”  He replied: “I go before the tabernacle, I look at our Lord and I tell him, ‘Lord, forgive me, today I was very forgiving.  But let’s be clear, it is all your fault, because you gave me bad example!”  He added mercy to mercy.
Lastly, as far as confession is concerned, I have two bits of advice.  First, never look like a bureaucrat or a judge, somebody who just sees “cases” to be dealt with.  Mercy sets us free from being this kind of priest, who is so used to judging “cases” that he is no longer sensitive to persons, to faces.  The rule of Jesus is to “judge as we would be judged”.  This is the key to our judgement: that we treat others with dignity, that we don’t demean or mistreat them, that we help raise them up, and that we never forget that the Lord is using us, weak as we are, as his instruments.  Not necessarily because our judgement is “the best”, but because it is sincere and can build a good relationship.
My other bit of advice is not to be curious in the confessional.  Saint Therese tells us that when her novices would confide in her, she was very careful not to ask how things turned out.  She did not pry into people’s souls (cf. History of a Soul, Ms C, to Mother Gonzaga, c. XII, 32r.).  It is characteristic of mercy to cover sin with its cloak, so as not to wound people’s dignity.  Like the two sons of Noah, who covered with a cloak the nakedness of their father in his drunkenness (cf. Gen 9:23).
THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF THE WORKS OF MERCY
At the end of the Exercises, Saint Ignatius puts “contemplation to attain love”, which connects what is experienced in prayer to daily life.  He makes us reflect on how love has to be put more into works than into words.  Those works are the works of mercy which the Father “prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph 2:10), those which the Spirit inspires in each for the common good (cf. 1 Cor 12:7).  In thanking the Lord for all the gifts we have received from his bounty, we ask for the grace to bring to all mankind that mercy which has been our own salvation.
I propose that we meditate on one of the final paragraphs of the Gospels.  There, the Lord himself makes that connection between what we have received and what we are called to give.  We can read these conclusions in the key of “works of mercy” which bring about the time of the Church, the time in which the risen Jesus lives, guides, sends forth and appeals to our freedom, which finds in him its concrete daily realization.
Matthew tells us that the Lord sends his Apostles to make disciples of all nations, “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded” (28:20).  This “instructing the ignorant” is itself one of the works of mercy.  It spreads like light to the other works: to those listed in Matthew 25, which deal more with the so-called “corporal works of mercy”, and to all the commandments and evangelical counsels, such as “forgiving”, “fraternally correcting”, consoling the sorrowing, and enduring persecution...
Mark’s Gospel ends with the image of the Lord who “collaborates” with the Apostles and “confirms the word by the signs that accompany it”.  Those “signs” greatly resemble the works of mercy.  Mark speaks, among other things, of healing the sick and casting out demons (cf. 16:17-18).
Luke continues his Gospel with the “Acts” – praxeis -- of the Apostles, relating the history of how they acted and the works they did, led by the Spirit.
John’s Gospel ends by referring to the “many other things” (21:25) or “signs” (20:30) which Jesus performed.  The Lord’s actions, his works, are not mere deeds but signs by which, in a completely personal way, he shows his love and his mercy for each person.
We can contemplate the Lord who sends us on this mission, by using the image of the merciful Jesus as revealed to Sister Faustina.  In that image we can see mercy as a single ray of light that comes from deep within God, passes through the heart of Christ, and emerges in a diversity of colours, each representing a work of mercy.
The works of mercy are endless, but each bears the stamp of a particular face, a personal history.  They are much more than the lists of the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy.  Those lists are like the raw material – the material of life itself – that, worked and shaped by the hands of mercy, turns into an individual artistic creation.  Each work multiplies like the bread in the baskets; each gives abundant growth like the mustard seed.  For mercy is fruitful and inclusive. 
We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness… But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.  Life itself, as “flesh”, hungers and thirsts; it needs to be clothed, given shelter and visited, to say nothing of receiving a proper burial, something none of us, however rich, can do for ourselves.  Even the wealthiest person, in death, becomes a pauper; there are no moving vans in a funeral cortege.  Life itself, as “spirit”, needs to be educated, corrected, encouraged and consoled.  We need others to counsel us, to forgive us, to put up with us and to pray for us.  The family is where these works of mercy are practised in so normal and unpretentious a way that we don’t even realize it.  Yet once a family with small children loses its mother, everything begins to fall apart.  The cruellest and most relentless form of poverty is that of street children, without parents and prey to the vultures.
We have asked for the grace to be signs and instruments.  Now we have to “act”, not only with gestures, but by projects and structures, by creating a culture of mercy.  Once we begin, we sense immediately that the Spirit energizes and sustains these works.  He does this by using the signs and instruments he wants, even if at times they do not appear to be the most suitable ones.  It could even be said that, in order to carry out the works of mercy, the Spirit tends to choose the poorest, humblest and most insignificant instruments, those who themselves most need that first ray of divine mercy.  They are the ones who can best be shaped and readied to serve most effectively and well.  The joy of realizing that we are “useless servants” whom the Lord blesses with the fruitfulness of his grace, seats at his table and serves us the Eucharist, is a confirmation that we are engaged in his works of mercy.
Our faithful people are happy to congregate around works of mercy.  In penitential and festive celebrations, and in educational and charitable activities, our people willingly come together and let themselves be shepherded in ways that are not always recognized or appreciated, whereas so many of our more abstract and academic pastoral plans fail to work.  The massive presence of our faithful people in our shrines and on our pilgrimages is an anonymous presence, but anonymous simply because it is made up of so many faces and so great a desire simply to be gazed upon with mercy by Jesus and Mary.  The same can be said about the countless ways in which our people take part in countless initiatives of solidarity; this too needs to be recognized, appreciated and promoted on our part.
As priests, we ask two graces of the Good Shepherd, that of letting ourselves be guided by the sensus fidei of our faithful people, and to be guided by their “sense of the poor”.  Both these “senses” have to do with the sensus Christi, with our people’s love for, and faith in, Jesus.
Let us conclude by reciting the Anima Christi, that beautiful prayer which implores mercy from the Lord who came among us in the flesh and graciously feeds us with his body and blood.  We ask him to show mercy to us and to his people.  We ask his soul to “sanctify us”, his body to “save us”, his blood to “inebriate us” and to remove from us all other thirsts that are not of him.  We ask the water flowing from his side “to wash us”, his passion “to strengthen us”.  Comfort your people, crucified Lord!  May your wounds “shelter us”…  Grant that your people, Lord, may never be parted from you.  Let nothing and no one separate us from your mercy, which defends us from the snares of the wicked enemy.  Thus, we will sing your mercies, Lord, with all your saints when you bid us come to you.

2016

What is the Sacred Heart of Jesus - #Novena - #Litany to the #SacredHeart - Prayers to SHARE

The month of  June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the after the 8th day of the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2016 June 3.  The Feast of the Sacred Heart in 2017 will be on June 23, 2017.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been evident for many centuries under different forms. However, Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visitation Nun of the monastery of Paray-le-Monial, France received visions of the Sacred Heart and spread its devotion with this feast. Jesus appeared asking for a devotion of expiatory  love and frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the observance of the Holy Hour.


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In 1856, Pope Pius IX extended the feast of the Sacred Heart to the universal Church. On 11 June, 1899, by order of Pope Leo XIII, all peoples were solemnly consecrated to the Sacred Heart. It is annually celebrated on the Friday 19 days after Pentecost.
12 Promises of Jesus given in the Vision

1. I will give them graces necessary for their state in life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
9. I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.
12. I promise thee in the excess of the mercy of My Heart, that its all-powerful Love will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of Nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

CONSECRATION TO THE SACRED HEART
FOR INDIVIDUAL FAMILIES



Lord Jesus Christ, we consecrate ourselves to You today, each one of us, and all of us together as a family. Your Sacred Heart, the heart of your crucified and risen Body, is the ever living source of mercy and grace, hope and love for all of us. We desire to pledge ourselves and our lives to You in return.

Teach us to be always united with You, through Your Holy Spirit in mind and heart, in all our thoughts, words, deeds, joy and sufferings. Grant that we may ever know You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly.

We wish to share in Your redeeming work in our world: that your Father's will may truly be done on earth as it is in heaven, that the civilization of justice and love may thus be built up in our land.

Heart of Jesus, help us to keep sin away from our lives. Help us to keep loving, serving and forgiving each other. Live in our hearts and in our homes always, Make us wholly Yours.

With Your Mother's Immaculate Heart, we renew our consecration to Your Sacred Heart, for the ever greater glory of the Father in Heaven, Amen.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, be with us and bless us now and at the hour of our death, Amen.


In 1899 Pope Leo XIII approved this Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for public use. 
Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy

Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God, the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God,
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother,
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God,
Heart of Jesus, of Infinite Majesty,
Heart of Jesus, Sacred Temple of God,
Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High,
Heart of Jesus, House of God and Gate of Heaven,
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity,
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love,
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love,
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues,
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise,
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts,
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity,
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased,
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received,
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful,
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke Thee,
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with opprobrium,
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offenses,
Heart of Jesus, obedient to death,
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
Heart of Jesus, our peace and our reconciliation,
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee,
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the Saints,

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.

have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.

spare us, O Lord.

graciously hear us, O Lord.

have mercy on us, O Lord.


R. Make our hearts like to Thine.
Let us pray;

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee forever and ever. Amen.
Padre Pio's Sacred Heart Novena


This powerful prayer was recited every day by Padre Pio for all those who recommended themselves to his prayers:

I. O my Jesus, You said "verily I say to You, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you", behold I knock, I seek and I ask for the grace of...

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father. Sacred Heart of Jesus I put all my trust in Thee.

II. O my Jesus, You said, "verily I say to You, whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you", behold in your name I ask the Father for the grace of...

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father. Sacred Heart of Jesus I put all my trust in Thee.

III. O my Jesus, You said, "verily I say to You, heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away", behold I encouraged by your infallible words, now ask for the grace of...

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father. Sacred Heart of Jesus I put all my trust in Thee.

O sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom one thing alone is impossible, namely, not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of Thee through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your and our tender Mother.


Say the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) and add, St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us

Saint June 3 : St. Clotilde : Patron of #Brides , #Adopted Children and #Widows


St. Clotilde
QUEEN
Feast: June 3


Information:
Feast Day:June 3
Born:475, Lyon, France
Died:545, Tours, France
Patron of:brides, adopted children, parents, exiles, widows
Was daughter of Chilperic, younger brother to Gondebald, the tyrannical king of Burgundy, who put him, his wife, and the rest of his brothers, except one, to death, in order to usurp their dominions. In this massacre he spared Chilperic's  two fair daughters, then in their infancy. One of them became afterwards a nun; the other, named Clotildis, was brought up in her uncle's court, and by a singular providence, was instructed in the Catholic religion, though she was educated in the midst of Arians. It was her happiness in the true faith, to be inspired from the cradle with a contempt and disgust of a treacherous world, which sentiments she cherished and improved by the most fervent exercises of religion. Though she saw herself surrounded with all the charms of the world, and was from her infancy its idol, yet her heart was proof against its seductions. She was adorned with the assemblage of all virtues; and the reputation of her wit, beauty, meekness, modesty, and piety, made her the adoration of all the neighboring kingdoms, when Clovis I., surnamed the great, the victorious king of the Franks, demanded and obtained her of her uncle in marriage granting her all the conditions she could desire for the free and secure exercise of her religion.1 The marriage was solemnized at Soissons, in 493. Clotildis made herself a little oratory in the royal palace, in which she spent much time in fervent prayer and secret mortifications. Her devotion was tempered with discretion, so that she attended all her business at court, was watchful over her maids, and did every thing with a dignity, order, and piety, which edified and charmed the king and his whole court. Her charity to the poor seemed a sea which could never be drained. She honored her royal husband, studied to sweeten his warlike temper by Christian meekness, conformed herself to his humor in things that were indifferent; and, the better to gain his affections, made those things the subject of her discourse and praises in which  she saw him to take the greatest delight. When she saw herself mistress of his heart, she did not defer the great work of endeavoring to win him to God, and often spoke to him on the vanity of his idols, and on the excellency of the true religion. The king always heard her with pleasure; but the moment of his conversion was not yet come. It was first to cost her many tears, severe trials, and earnest perseverance. After the baptism of their second son, Clodomir, and the infant's recovery from a dangerous indisposition, she pressed the king more boldly to renounce his idols. One day especially, when he had given her great assurances of his affection, and augmented her dowry by a gift of several manors, she said she begged only one favor of his majesty, which was the liberty to discourse with him on the sanctity of her religion, and to put him in mind of his promise of forsaking the worship of idols. But the fear of giving offence to his people made him delay the execution. His miraculous victory over the Alemanni, and his entire conversion in 496, were at length the fruit of our saint's prayers.

Clotildis, having gained to God this great monarch, never ceased to excite him to glorious actions for the divine honor: among other religious foundations he built in Paris, at her request, about the year 511, the great church of SS. Peter and Paul, now called St. Genevieve's. This great prince had a singular devotion to St. Martin, and went sometimes to Tours, to prostrate himself in prayer at his tomb. He sent his royal diadem, which is called, to this day, The Realm, a present to pope Hormisdas, as a token that he dedicated his kingdom to God. His barbarous education and martial temper made it, in certain sallies of his passions, difficult for Clotildis to bridle his inclination to ambition and cruelty, so that he scarce left any princes of his own relations living, except his sons. He died on the 27th of November, in the year 511, of his age the forty-fifth, having reigned thirty years. He was buried in the church of the apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, now called St. Genevieve's, where his tomb still remains. An ancient long epitaph, which was inscribed on it, is preserved by Aimoinus, and copied by Rivet. His eldest son Theodoric, whom he had by a concubine before his marriage, reigned at Rheims over Austrasia, or the eastern parts of France, which comprised the present Champagne, Lorraine, Auvergne, and several provinces of Germany. Metz was afterwards the capital of this country. As to the three sons of Clotildis, Clodomir reigned at Orleans, Childebert at Paris, and Clotaire I., at Soissons. This division produced wars and mutual jealousies, till, in 560, the whole monarchy was reunited under Clotaire, the youngest of these brothers. St. Clotildis lived to see Clodomir defeat and put to death Sigismund, king of Burgundy; but soon after, in 524, himself vanquished and slain by Gondemar, successor to Sigismund; Gondemar overcome and killed by Childebert and Clotaire, and the kingdom of Burgundy united to France. The most sensible affliction of this pious queen was the murder of the two eldest sons of Clodomir, committed in 526, by their uncles Childebert and Clotaire, who seized on the kingdom of Orleans. This tragical disaster contributed more perfectly to wean her heart from the world. She spent the remaining part of her life at Tours, near the tomb of St. Martin, in exercises of prayer, almsdeeds, watching, fasting, and penance, seeming totally to forget that she had been queen, or that her sons sat on the throne. Eternity filled her heart, and employed all her thoughts. She foretold her death thirty days before it happened; having been admonished of it by God at the tomb of St. Martin, the usual place of her tears. In her last illness, she sent for her sons Childebert, king of Paris, and Clotaire, king of Soissons, and exhorted them, in the most pathetic manner, to honor God and keep his commandments; to protect the poor, reign as fathers to their people, live in union together, and love and study always to maintain tranquillity and peace. She scarce ever ceased repeating the psalms with the most tender devotion, and ordered all she had left to be distributed among she poor; though this was very little; for she had always been careful to send her riches before her by their hands. On the thirtieth day of her illness she received the sacraments, made a public confession of her faith, and departed to the Lord on the 3d of June, in 545. She was buried, by her own order, in the church of St. Genevieve, at the feet of that holy shepherdess, and is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 3d of June. See St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc., and Fortunatus; and among the moderns, Abbe Du Bos and Gilb. le Gendre, Antiquites de la Nation et Monarchie Francoise, & c. (Image Source: http://catholicteen15.blogspot.ca/2013/06/st-clotilde.html )
Text : Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler

 2016

Saint June 3 : Sts. Charles Lwanga, Joseph Mkasa, Martyrs of Uganda : Patrons of African Catholic Youth



Feast Day:
June 3
Born:
Buganda, Uganda
Died:
June 3, 1886, Namugongo, Uganda
Canonized:
October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI
Major Shrine:
Basilica Church of the Uganda Martyrs, Namugongo
Patron of:
African Catholic Youth Action, converts, torture victims
ST. CHARLES LWANGA AND COMPANIONS
The 22 Martyrs of Uganda
Died 1886-1887

Charles was one of 22 Ugandan martyrs who converted from paganism. Though he was baptized the night before being put to death, he became a moral leader. He was the chief of the royal pages and was considered the strongest athlete of the court. He was also known as "the most handsome man of the Kingdom of the Uganda." He instructed his friends in the Catholic Faith and he personally baptized boy pages. He inspired and encouraged his companions to remain chaste and faithful. He protected his companions, ages 13-30, from the immoral acts and homosexual demands of the Babandan ruler, Mwanga.
Mwanga was a superstitious pagan king who originally was tolerant of Catholicism. However, his chief assistant, Katikiro, slowly convinced him that Christians were a threat to his rule. The premise was if these Christians would not bow to him, nor make sacrifices to their pagan god, nor pillage, massacre, nor make war, what would happen if his whole kingdom converted to Catholicism?
When Charles was sentenced to death, he seemed very peaceful, one might even say, cheerful. He was to be executed by being burnt to death. While the pyre was being prepared, he asked to be untied so that he could arrange the sticks. He then lay down upon them. When the executioner said that Charles would be burned slowly so death, Charles replied by saying that he was very glad to be dying for the True Faith. He made no cry of pain but just twisted and moaned, "Kotanda! (O my God!)." He was burned to death by Mwanga's order on June 3, 1886. Pope Paul VI canonized Charles Lwanga and his companions on June 22,1964. We celebrate his memorial on June 3rd of the Roman Calendar. Charles is the Patron of the African Youth of Catholic Action.
Text source : Savior.org


#PopeFrancis "...Jesus, who is the Father’s mercy incarnate." FULL TEXT + Video at Retreat on #Mercy

Pope Francis arrives to deliver his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major. - ANSA
Pope Francis arrives to deliver his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major. - ANSA
02/06/2016 13:


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major.
Thursday’s retreat is part of the Jubilee for Priests taking place from 1-3 June.
In his second mediation, Pope Francis reflected on the “vessel of mercy.” “Our sin is like a sieve, or a leaky bucket,” he said, “from which grace quickly drains.” But God keeps forgiving us, and applies mercy to our weakness, creating a clean heart within us. It is precisely our experience of mercy that leads us to be merciful to others.
This, the Pope said, is seen in the life of saints, such as Peter and Paul, John, Augustine, Francis, and Ignatius. In fact, it is precisely those who have experienced mercy who often are the “best practitioners of mercy.”
But it is the sinless Virgin Mary who is the “simple yet perfect vessel that receives and bestows mercy.” The Holy Father contrasted Mary’s “yes” to grace with the sin of the prodigal son, the subject of his first meditation.
Pope Francis, recalling his visit to Mexico and his prayer before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, reflected on the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin.
He concluded his second meditation by leading the priests in the prayer of theSalve Regina.
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for his second meditation for the Retreat for Priests:
SECOND MEDITATION:  THE VESSEL OF MERCY
The vessel of mercy is our sin.  Our sin is usually like a sieve, or a leaky bucket, from which grace quickly drains.  “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13).  That is why the Lord had to teach Peter the need to “forgive seventy times seven”.  God keeps forgiving, even though he sees how hard it is for his grace to take root in the parched and rocky soil of our hearts.  He never stops sowing his mercy and his forgiveness.
HEARTS CREATED ANEW
Let us take a closer look at this mercy of God that is always “greater” than our consciousness of our sinfulness.  The Lord never tires of forgiving us; indeed, he renews the wineskins in which we receive that forgiveness.  He uses a new wineskin for the new wine of his mercy, not one that is patched or old.  That wineskin is mercy itself: his own mercy, which we experience and then show in helping others.  A heart that has known mercy is not old and patched, but new and re-created.  It is the heart for which David prayed: “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 50:12). 
That heart, created anew, is a good vessel; it is no longer battered and leaky.  The liturgy echoes the heartfelt conviction of the Church in the beautiful prayer that follows the first reading of the Easter Vigil: “O God who wonderfully created the universe, then more wonderfully re-created it in the redemption”.  In this prayer, we affirm that the second creation is even more wondrous than the first.  Ours is a heart conscious of having been created anew thanks to the coalescence of its own poverty and God’s forgiveness; it is a “heart which has been shown mercy and shows mercy”.  It feels the balm of grace poured out upon its wounds and its sinfulness; it feels mercy assuaging its guilt, watering its aridity with love and rekindling its hope.  When, with the same grace, it then forgives other sinners and treats them with compassion, this mercy takes root in good soil, where water does not drain off but sinks in and gives life. 
The best practitioners of this mercy that rights wrongs are those who know that they themselves are forgiven and sent to help others.  We see this with addiction counsellors: those who have overcome their own addiction are usually those who can best understand, help and challenge others.  So too, the best confessors are usually themselves good penitents.  Almost all the great saints were great sinners or, like Saint Therese, knew that it was by sheer grace that they were not.
The real vessel of mercy, then, is the mercy which each of us received and which created in us a new heart.  This is the “new wineskin” to which Jesus referred (cf. Lk 5:37), the “healed sore”.
Here we enter more deeply into the mystery of the Son, Jesus, who is the Father’s mercy incarnate.  Here too we can find the definitive icon of the vessel of mercy in the wounds of the risen Lord.  Those wounds remind us that the traces of our sins, forgiven by God, never completely heal or disappear; they remain as scars.  Scars are sensitive; they do not hurt, yet they remind us of our old wounds.  God’s mercy is in those scars.  In the scars of the risen Christ, the marks of the wounds in his hands and feet but also in his pierced heart, we find the true meaning of sin and grace.  As we contemplate the wounded heart of the Lord, we see ourselves reflected in him.  His heart, and our own, are similar: both are wounded and risen.  But we know that his heart was pure love and was wounded because it willed to be so; our heart, on the other hand, was pure wound, which was healed because it allowed itself to be loved.
OUR SAINTS RECEIVED MERCY
We can benefit from contemplating others who let their hearts be re-created by mercy and by seeing the “vessel” in which they received that mercy.
Paul received mercy in the harsh and inflexible vessel of his judgement, shaped by the Law.  His harsh judgement made him a persecutor.  Mercy so changed him that he sought those who were far off, from the pagan world, and, at the same time showed great understanding and mercy to those who were as he had been.  Paul was willing to be an outcast, provided he could save his own people.  His approach can be summed up in this way: he did not judge even himself, but instead let himself be justified by a God who is greater than his conscience, appealing to Jesus as the faithful advocate from whose love nothing and no one could separate him.  Paul’s understanding of God’s unconditional mercy was radical.  His realization that God’s mercy overcomes the inner wound that subjects us to two laws, the law of the flesh and the law of the Spirit, was the fruit of a mind open to absolute truth, wounded in the very place where the Law and the Light become a trap.  The famous “thorn” that the Lord did not take away from him was the vessel in which Paul received the Lord’s mercy (cf. 2 Cor 12:7).
Peter receives mercy in his presumption of being a man of good sense. He was sensible with the sound, practical wisdom of a fisherman who knows from experience when to fish and when not to.  But he was also sensible when, in his excitement at walking on water and hauling in miraculous draughts of fish, he gets carried away with himself and realizes that he has to ask help from the only one who can save him.  Peter was healed of the deepest wound of all, that of denying his friend.  Perhaps the reproach of Paul, who confronted him with his duplicity, has to do with this; it may be that Paul felt that he had been worse “before” knowing Christ, whereas Peter had denied Christ, after knowing him…  Still, once Peter was healed of that wound, he became a merciful pastor, a solid rock on which one can always build, since it is a weak rock that has been healed, not a stumbling stone.  In the Gospel, Peter is the disciple whom the Lord most often corrects.  Jesus is constantly correcting him, even to the end: “What is that to you?  Follow me!” (Jn 21:22).  Tradition tells us that Jesus appeared once again to Peter as he was fleeing Rome.  The image of Peter being crucified head down perhaps best expresses this vessel of a hardhead who, in order to be shown mercy, abased himself even in giving the supreme witness of his love for the Lord.  Peter did not want to end his life saying, “I learned the lesson”, but rather, “Since my head is never going to get it right, I will put it on the bottom”.  What he put on top were his feet, the feet that the Lord had washed.  For Peter, those feet were the vessel in which he received the mercy of his Friend and Lord.
John was healed in his pride for wanting to requite evil with fire.  He who was a “son of thunder” (Mk 3:17) would end up writing to his “little children” and seem like a kindly grandfather who speaks only of love.
Augustine was healed in his regret for being a latecomer: “Late have I loved thee”.  He would find a creative and loving way to make up for lost time by writing his Confessions.
Francis experienced mercy at many points in his life.  Perhaps the definitive vessel, which became real wounds, was not so much kissing the leper, marrying Lady Poverty or feeling himself a brother to every creature, as the experience of having to watch over in merciful silence the Order he had founded.  Francis saw his brethren divided under the very banner of poverty.  The devil makes us quarrel among ourselves, defending even the most holy things “with an evil spirit”.
Ignatius was healed in his vanity, and if that was the vessel, we can catch a glimpse of how great must have been his yearning for vainglory, which was re-created in his strenuous efforts to seek the greater glory of God.
In his Diary of a Country Priest, Bernanos recounts the life of an ordinary priest, inspired by the life of the Curé of Ars.  There are two beautiful paragraphs describing the reflections of the priest in the final moments of his unexpected illness: “May God grant me the grace in these last weeks to continue to take care of the parish… But I shall give less thought to the future, I shall work in the present.  I feel such work is within my power.  For I only succeed in small things, and when I am tried by anxiety, I am bound to say that it is the small things that release me”.  Here we see a small vessel of mercy, one that has to do with the minuscule joys of our pastoral life, where we receive and bestow the infinite mercy of the Father in little gestures.
The other paragraph says: “It is all over now.  The strange mistrust I had of myself, of my own being, has flown, I believe for ever.  That conflict is done.  I cannot understand it any more.  I am reconciled to myself, to the poor, poor shell of me.  How easy it is to hate oneself.  True grace is to forget.  Yet if pride could die in us, the supreme grace would be to love oneself in all simplicity – as one would love any of those who themselves have suffered and loved in Christ”.  This is the vessel: “to love oneself in all simplicity, as one would love any of those who themselves have suffered and loved in Christ”.  It is an ordinary vessel, like an old jar we can borrow even from the poor.
Blessed José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, the Argentinian priest soon to be canonized, “let his heart be shaped by the mercy of God”.  In the end, his vessel was his own leprous body.  He wanted to die on horseback, crossing a mountain stream on the way to anoint a sick person.  Among the last things he said was: “There is no ultimate glory in this life”; “I am quite happy with what God has done with me regarding my sight, and I thank him for that.  While I could serve other people, he kept my senses whole and strong.  Today, when I can no longer do so, he has taken away one of my physical senses.  In this world there is no ultimate glory, and we have our more than enough misery”.  Often our work remains unfinished, so being at peace with that is always a grace.  We are allowed to “let things go”, so that the Lord can bless and perfect them.  We shouldn’t be overly concerned.  In this way, we can be open to the pain and joy of our brothers and sisters.  Cardinal Van Thuan used to say that, in prison, the Lord taught him to distinguish between “God’s business”, to which he was devoted in his free life as priest and bishop, and God himself, to whom he was devoted during his imprisonment (Five Loaves and Two Fish, Pauline Books and Media, 2003).
MARY AS VESSEL AND SOURCE OF MERCY
            Ascending the stairway of the saints in our pursuit of vessels of mercy, we come at last to Our Lady.  She is the simple yet perfect vessel that both receives and bestows mercy.  Her free “yes” to grace is the very opposite of the sin that led to the downfall of the prodigal son.  Her mercy is very much her own, very much our own and very much that of the Church.  As she says in the Magnificat, she knows that God has looked with favour upon her humility and she recognizes that his mercy is from generation to generation.  Mary can see the working of this mercy and she feels “embraced”, together with all of Israel, by it.  She treasures in her heart the memory and promise of God’s infinite mercy for his people.  Hers is the Magnificat of a pure and overflowing heart that sees all of history and each individual person with a mother’s mercy.
            During the moments I was able to spend alone with Mary during my visit to Mexico, as I gazed at Our Lady, the Virgin of Guadalupe and I let her gaze at me, I prayed for you, dear priests, to be good pastors of souls.  In my address to the bishops, I mentioned that I have often reflected on the mystery of Mary’s gaze, its tenderness and its sweetness that give us the courage to open our hearts to God’s mercy.  I would now like to reflect with you on a few of the ways that Our Lady “gazes” especially at priests, since through us she wants to gaze at her people.
            Mary’s gaze makes us feel her maternal embrace.  She shows us that “the only power capable of winning human hearts is the tenderness of God.  What delights and attracts, humbles and overcomes, opens and unleashes is not the power of instruments or the force of the law, but rather the omnipotent weakness of divine love, which is the irresistible force of its gentleness and the irrevocable pledge of its mercy” (Address to the Mexican Bishops, 13 February 2016).  What people seek in the eyes of Mary is “a place of rest where people, still orphans and disinherited, may find a place of refuge, a home.”  And that has to do with the way she “gazes” – her eyes open up a space that is inviting, not at all like a tribunal or an office.  If at times people realize that their own gaze has become hardened, that they tend to look at people with annoyance or coldness, they can turn back to her in heartfelt humility.  For Our Lady can remove every “cataract” that prevents them from seeing Christ in people’s souls.  She can remove the myopia that fails to see the needs of others, which are the needs of the incarnate Lord, as well as the hyperopia that cannot see the details, “the small print”, where the truly important things are played out in the life of the Church and of the family.
            Another aspect of Mary’s gaze to do with weaving.  Mary gazes “by weaving”, by finding a way to bring good out of all the things that her people lay at her feet.  I told the Mexican bishops that, “in the mantle of the Mexican soul, with the thread of its mestizo features, God has woven in la Morenita the face by which he wishes to be known”.  A spiritual master teaches us that “whatever is said of Mary specially is said of the Church universally and of each soul individually” (cf. Isaac of Stella, Serm. 51: PL 194, 1863).  If we consider how God wove the face and figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe into Juan Diego’s cloak, we can prayerfully ponder how he is weaving our soul and the life of the whole Church. 
They say that it is impossible to see how the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was “painted”; it seems to have been somehow “imprinted”.  I like to think that the miracle was not only that the image was imprinted or painted, but that the entire cloak was re-created, transformed from top to bottom.  Each thread – those threads of maguey leaf that women had learned from childhood to weave for their finest garments – was transfigured in its place, and, interwoven with all the others, revealed the face of our Lady, her presence and her surroundings.  God’s mercy does the same thing.  It doesn’t “paint” us a pretty face, or airbrush the reality of who we are.  Rather, with the very threads of our poverty and sinfulness, interwoven with the Father’s love, it so weaves us that our soul is renewed and recovers its true image, the image of Jesus.  So be priests “capable of imitating this freedom of God, who chooses the humble in order to reveal the majesty of his countenance, priests capable of imitating God’s patience by weaving the new humanity which your country awaits with the fine thread of all those whom you encounter.  Don’t give into the temptation to go elsewhere, as if the love of God were not powerful enough to bring about change” (Address to the Mexican Bishops, 13 February 2016).
            A third aspect is that of attentive care.  Mary’s gaze is one of complete attention.  She leaves everything else behind, and is concerned only with the person in front of her.  Like a mother, she is all ears for the child who has something to tell her.  “As the wonderful Guadalupe tradition teaches us, la Morenita treasures the gaze of all those who look to her; she reflects the faces of all who come to her.  There is something unique in the face of every person who comes to us looking for God.  We need to realize this, to open our hearts and to show concern for them.  Only a Church capable of attentive concern for all those who knock on her door can speak to them of God.  Unless we can see into people’s suffering and recognize their needs, we will have nothing to offer them.  The riches we possess only flow forth when we truly encounter the needs of others, and this encounter take places precisely in our heart as pastors” (ibid.).  I asked your bishops to be attentive to you, their priests, and not to leave you “exposed to loneliness and abandonment, easy prey to a worldliness that devours the heart” (ibid.).  The world is watching us closely, in order to “devour” us, to make us consumers…  All of us need attention, a gaze of genuine concern.  As I told the bishops: “Be attentive and learn to read the faces of your priests, in order to rejoice with them when they feel the joy of recounting all that they have ‘done and taught’ (Mk 6:30).  Also do not step back when they are humbled and can only weep because they ‘have denied the Lord’ (cf. Lk 22:61-62).  Offer your support, in communion with Christ, whenever one of them, discouraged, goes out with Judas into ‘the night’ (cf. Jn13:30).  In these situations your fatherly care for your priests must never be found wanting.  Encourage communion among them; seek to bring out the best in them, and enlist them in great ventures, for the heart of an apostle was not made for small things” (ibid.).
            Lastly, Mary’s gaze is “integral”, all-embracing.  It brings everything together: our past, our present and our future.  It is not fragmented or partial:mercy can see things as a whole and grasp what is most necessary.  At Cana, Mary “empathetically” foresaw what the lack of wine in the wedding feast would mean and she asked Jesus to resolve the problem, without anyone noticing.  We can see our entire priestly life as somehow “foreseen” by Mary’s mercy; she sees beforehand the things we lack and provides for them.  If there is any “good wine” present in our lives, it is due not to our own merits but to her “anticipated mercy”.  In the Magnificat, she proclaims how the Lord “looked with favour on her loneliness” and “remembered his (covenant of) mercy”, a “mercy shown from generation to generation” to the poor and the downtrodden.  For Mary, history is mercy.
            We can conclude by praying the Salva Regina.  The words of this prayer are vibrant with the mystery of the Magnificat.  Mary is the Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.  Her eyes of mercy are surely the greatest vessel of mercy, for their gaze enables us to drink in that kindness and goodness for which we hunger with a yearning that a look of love alone can satisfy.  Her eyes of mercy also enable us to see God’s mercy at work in human history and to find Jesus in the faces of our brothers and sisters.  In Mary, we catch a glimpse of the promised land – the Kingdom of mercy established by our Lord – already present in this life beyond the exile into which sin leads us.  From her hand and beneath her gaze, we can joyfully proclaim the greatness of the Lord.  To Mary we can say: My soul sings of you, Lord, for you have looked with favour on the lowliness and humility of your servant.  How blessed I am, to have been forgiven.  Your mercy, Lord, that you showed to your saints and to all your faithful people, you have also shown to me.  I was lost, seeking only myself, in the arrogance of my heart, yet I found no glory.  My only glory is that your Mother has embraced me, covered me with her mantle, and drawn me to her heart.  I want to be loved as one of your little ones.  I want to feed with your bread all those who hunger for you.  Remember, Lord, your covenant of mercy with your sons, the priests of your people.  With Mary, may we be the sign and sacrament of your mercy.
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