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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Catholic News World : Sunday October 2, 2016 - SHARE

2016


#PopeFrancis "God changes the world by transforming our hearts..." FULL TEXT Homily + Sunday Mass Video

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday at the Salesian centre in Baku, the central event of his 10-hour visit to Azerbaijan.
The Pope’s homily, delivered to the congregation gathered in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, centred on the Lord’s call for Christian’s to live in faith and in service.
Below, please find the official English language translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily:
 Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass, Baku, Church of the Immaculate Conception
2 October 2016
 The word of God presents us today with two essential aspects of the Christian life: faith and service.  With regard to faith, two specific requests are made to the Lord.
The first is made by the Prophet Habakkuk, who implores God to intervene in order to re-establish the justice and peace which men have shattered by violence, quarrels and disputes: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab 1:2), pleads the Prophet.  God, in response, does not intervene directly, does not resolve the situation in an abrupt way, does not make himself present by a show of force.  Rather, he invites patient waiting, without ever losing hope; above all, he emphasizes the importance of faith, since it is by faith that man will live (cf. Hab 2:4).  God treats us in the same way: he does not indulge our desire to immediately and repeatedly change the world and other people.  Instead, he intends primarily to heal the heart, my heart, your heart, and the heart of each person; God changes the world by transforming our hearts, and this he cannot do without us.  The Lord wants us to open the door of our hearts, in order to enter into our lives.  This act of opening to him, this trust in him is precisely “the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4).  For when God finds an open and trusting heart, then he can work wonders there.
But to have faith, a lively faith, is not easy; and so we pass to the second request, which the Apostles bring to the Lord in the Gospel: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:6).  It is a good question, a prayer which we too can direct to the Lord each day.  But the divine response is surprising and here too turns the question around: “If you had faith…”.  It is the Lord who asks us to have faith.  Because faith, which is always God’s gift and always to be asked for, must be nurtured by us.  It is no magic power which comes down from heaven, it is not a “talent” which is given once and for all, not a special force for solving life’s problems.  A faith useful for satisfying our needs would be a selfish one, centred entirely on ourselves.  Faith must not be confused with well-being or feeling well, with having consolation in our heart that gives us inner peace.  Faith is the golden thread which binds us to the Lord, the pure joy of being with him, united to him; it is a gift that lasts our whole life, but bears fruit only if we play our part.
And what is our part?  Jesus helps us understand that it consists of service. In the Gospel, immediately following his words on the power of faith, Jesus speaks of service.  Faith and service cannot be separated; on the contrary, they are intimately linked, interwoven with each other.   In order to explain this, I would like to take an image very familiar to you, that of a beautiful carpet.  Your carpets are true works of art and have an ancient heritage.  The Christian life that each of you has, also comes from afar.  It is a gift we received in the Church which comes from the heart of God our Father, who wishes to make each of us a masterpiece of creation and of history.  Every carpet, and you know this well, must be made according to a weft and a warp; only with this form can the carpet be harmoniously woven.  So too in the Christian life: every day it must be woven patiently, intertwining a precise weft and warp: the weft of faith and the warp of service.  When faith is interwoven with service, the heart remains open and youthful, and it expands in the process of doing good.  Thus faith, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, becomes powerful and accomplishes marvellous deeds. If faith follows this path, it matures and grows in strength, but only when it is joined to service.
But what is service?  We might think that it consists only in being faithful to our duties or carrying out some good action.  For Jesus it is much more.  In today’s Gospel, and in very firm and radical terms, he asks us for complete availability, a life offered in complete openness, free of calculation and gain.  Why is he so exacting?  Because he loved us in this way, making himself our servant “to the end” (Jn 13:1), coming “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk10:45).  And this takes place again every time we celebrate the Eucharist: the Lord comes among us, and as much as we intend to serve him and love him, it is always he who precedes us, serving us and loving us more than we can imagine or deserve.  He gives us his very own life.  He invites us to imitate him, saying: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).
And so, we are not called to serve merely in order to receive a reward, but rather to imitate God, who made himself a servant for our love.  Nor are we called to serve only now and again, but to live in serving.  Service is thus a way of life; indeed it recapitulates the entire Christian way of life: serving God in adoration and prayer; being open and available; loving our neighbour with practical deeds; passionately working for the common good.
For Christians too, there are temptations which lead us away from the path of service and end up by rendering life pointless.  Here too we can identify two forms.  One is that of allowing our hearts to grow lukewarm.  A lukewarm heart becomes self-absorbed in lazy living and it stifles the fire of love.  The lukewarm person lives to satisfy his or her own convenience, which is never enough, and in that way is never satisfied; gradually such a Christian ends up being content with a mediocre life.  The lukewarm person allocates to God and others a “percentage” of their time and their own heart, never spending too much, but rather always trying to economize.  And so, he or she can lose the zest for life: rather like a cup of truly fine tea, which is unbearable to taste when it gets cold.  I am sure, however, that when you look to the example of those who have gone before you in faith, you will not let your hearts become lukewarm.  The whole Church, in showing you special affection, looks to you and offers you encouragement: you are a little flock that is so precious in God’s eyes.          
There is a second temptation, which we can fall into not so much because we are passive, but because we are “overactive”: the one of thinking like masters, of giving oneself only in order to gain something or become someone.  In such cases service becomes a means and not an end, because the end has become prestige; and then comes power, the desire to be great. “It shall not be so among you”, Jesus reminds all of us, “but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:26).  This is the way the Church grows and is adorned.  Returning to our image of the carpet, and applying it to your fine community: each of you is like a magnificent silk thread.  Only if you are woven together, however, will the different threads form a beautiful composition; on their own, they are of no use.  Stay united always, living humbly in charity and joy; the Lord, who creates harmony from differences, will protect you. 
May we be aided by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the saints, especially Saint Teresa of Calcutta, the fruits of whose faith and service are in your midst.  Let us recall some of her noble words to summarize today’s message: “The fruit of faith is love.  The fruit of love is service.  The fruit of service is peace” (A Simple Path, Introduction).

Novena to Guardian Angels - #Angel - #Litany, #Chaplet and Special Prayers - SHARE

Guardian Angel Prayers

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this night/day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.
Amen.
Litany to the Guardian Angels 
   HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL
Angel, my counselor, inspire me.
Angel, my defender, protect me;
Angel, my faithful friend, intercede for me;
Angel, my consoler, fortify me;
Angel, my brother, defend me;
Angel, my teacher, instruct me;
Angel, witness of all my actions, purify me;
Angel, my helper, support me;
Angel, my intercessor, speak for me;
Angel, my guide, direct me;
Angel, my light, enlighten me;
Angel, whom God has assigned to lead me, govern me.

Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Raphael, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who unceasingly behold the Face
of the heavenly Father, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who never part from us, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who are devoted to us in heavenly friendship,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our faithful admonishers, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who preserve us from many evils of body and soul,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our mighty defenders against the attacks
of the evil enemy, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our support in the time of temptations, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who help us when we stumble and fall, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who comfort us in troubles and sufferings,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who uphold our prayers and carry them before the
Throne of God, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who through your inspirations and encouragement help us to progress in the good, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who despite our faults never leave us, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who rejoice over our improvement and advancement inperfection, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who watch over us and pray for us even when we rest, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who do not abandon us in our agony of death,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who console the souls in Purgatory, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who lead the righteous into Heaven, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, with whom one day we hope to eternally praise and
behold God, pray for us.
Noble Princes of Heaven, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord!

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Our Father...

Bless the Lord, all His Angels, you mighty ones who do His Will.
He has sent His Angels before you, to guard you on all your ways.
My God, in the presence of the Angels, I will bless You.
    I want to adore You and praise Your holy Name.
Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto You.

    LET US PRAY.
Almighty, Eternal God, in Your ineffable goodness You have assigned a special Angel to all men, from the womb onwards, as a protection for body and soul. Graciously grant that I may follow my holy Angel so faithfully and love him so dearly, that through Your grace and under his protection I may one day reach the heavenly Father's House and may merit to behold Your Divine Countenance together with him and all the holy Angels.  Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

A Mother's Prayer to the Guardian Angels of her children
I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly Friends of my children! I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them. Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me, for my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed company. Amen

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel
When Unable to Assist at Mass for Spiritual Communion
Go, my Angel Guardian dear, To Church for me, the Mass to hear. Go, kneel devoutly at my place and treasure for me every grace. At the Offertory time Please offer me to God Divine. All I have and all I am, present it with the Precious Lamb. Adore for me the great Oblation. Pray for all I hold most dear, be they far or be they near. Remember too, my own dear dead for whom Christ's Precious Blood was shed. And at Communion bring to me Christ's Flesh and Blood, my Food to be. To give me strength and holy grace , a pledge to see Him face to Face. And when the Holy Mass is done, then with His blessing, come back home. Amen.

Chaplet to the Guardian Angel
Heavenly Father, the moment You created my soul, You gave me to the care of an angel to enlighten, guard, rule, and govern me. I thank You for Your infinite goodness to me. I thank you also, my guardian angel, for accompanying me every day on my journey back to heaven. It is a great comfort for me to know that you give me holy inspirations, that you defend me from dangers to soul and body, and that you pray to the Father for me.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
My guardian angel, you always contemplate the Lord and you want me to be your fellow citizen in heaven. I beg you to obtain for me pardon from the Lord for being very often deaf to your counsels, and for sinning, unmindful of your presence.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
My guardian angel, faithful and strong in virtue, you are among the angels in heaven who, led by St. Michael, conquered Satan and his followers. That fight of old continues on earth today: the powers of evil are against Jesus Christ to ensnare souls. Pray to the Immaculate Queen of Apostles for the Church, the city of God that fights against the city of Satan. O Archangel St. Michael, with all your followers, defend us in the war; be our strength against the malice and snare of the demon. O that the Lord would subdue him! And you, the prince of the heavenly court, drive away into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who seek to ruin our salvation.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
O angels of paradise, take care of writers, technicians, and distributors of all media and all who use them. Guard them from spreading evil, guide them in truth and obtain for them true charity. Ask the Lord for necessary vocations to combat evil and accompany them in their delicate mission. Inspire all people to contribute with deeds, prayers, and offerings for the conversion of hearts and the salvation of souls. Pray that we serve to raise the standard of human life and direct the human race towards eternal good.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
All you angels of the Lord, you have been called to form a noble court, to praise and bless continuously the Holy Trinity, to make up for our forgetfulness. You are true lovers of God and of souls, and you continue to sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will."
We pray that all may know the true and only God, the Son sent by Him, and the Church, the pillar of truth. Pray that the Name of God may be held holy, that the kingdom of Jesus Christ may come, and His will may be done on earth as it is heaven. Protect and guide the civil authorities, the workers, and the suffering; obtain blessings and salvation for all those who search for truth, justice, and peace.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
(Prayers Shared from 2HeartsPrayerNetwork)

NOVENA TO OUR
GUARDIAN ANGEL


[Say the novena for nine consecutive days.] 

O holy angels, whom God, 
by the effect of His goodness and His tender regard for my welfare, 
has charged with the care of my conduct, 
and who assists me in all my wants 
and comforts me in all my afflictions, 
who supports me when I am discouraged 
and continually obtains for me new favors, 
I return thee profound thanks, 
and I earnestly beseech thee, 
O most amiable protector, 
to continue thy charitable care and defense of me 
against the malignant attacks of all my enemies. 
Keep me away from all occasions of sin. 
Obtain for me the grace of listening attentively 
to thy holy inspirations 
and of faithfully putting them into practice. 
In particular, I implore thee to obtain for me 
the favor which I ask for by this novena. 

[Here mention your need(s).] 

Protect me in all the temptations and trials of this life, 
but more especially at the hour of my death, 
and do not leave me until thou hast conducted me 
into the presence of my Creator 
in the mansions of everlasting happiness.

Amen.

#PopeFrancis "...our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist." FULL TEXT - Homily - Mass Video - in Georgia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the beginning of his second day in Georgia by presiding over Mass in Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in the nation’s capital city of Tbilisi.
In his homily, the Pope spoke on the importance of women, drawing from the writings of St Therese of the Child Jesus, whose feast is Oct 1.
He also spoke of the “urgent” mission to bring and receive God’s consolation. The Church, he said, is a “house of consolation.”
Please see below for the official English Translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily for Mass in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass, Tbilisi, Mikheil Meskhi Stadium
1 October 2016
Among the many treasures of this magnificent country, one that stands out is the importance of women.  As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, whom we commemorate today, wrote: “they love God in much larger numbers than men do” (Autobiography, Manuscript A, VI).  Here in Georgia there are a great number of grandmothers and mothers who unceasingly defend and pass on the faith that was sown in this land of Saint Nino; and they bring the fresh water of God’s consolation to countless situations of barrenness and conflict.
This enables us to appreciate the beauty of God’s message in the first reading: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Is 66:13).  As a mother takes upon herself the burdens and weariness of her children, so too does God take upon himself our sins and troubles.  He who knows us and loves us infinitely, is mindful of our prayers and wipes away our tears.  As he looks at us, he is always moved and becomes tender-hearted, with a love from the depths of his being, for beyond any evil we are capable of, we always remain his children; he wants to take us in his arms, protect us, and free us from harm and evil.  Let us allow these words of the Lord to resound in our hearts: “As a mother comforts, so will I comfort you”.
The consolation we need, amid the turmoil we experience in life, is precisely the presence of God in our hearts.  God’s presence in us is the source of true consolation, which dwells in us, liberates us from evil, brings peace and increases our joy.  For this reason, if we want to experience his consolation, we must give way to the Lord in our lives.  And in order for the Lord to abide continually in us, we must open the doors of our hearts to him and not keep him outside.  There are doors of consolation which must always be open, because Jesus especially loves to enter through them: the Gospel we read every day and carry around with us, our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist.   It is through these doors that the Lord enters and gives new flavour to reality.  When the door of our heart is closed, however, his light cannot enter in and everything remains dark.  We then get accustomed to pessimism, to things which aren’t right, to realities that never change.  We end up absorbed in our own sadness, in the depths of anguish, isolated. If, on the other hand, we open wide the doors of consolation, the light of the Lord enters in!
Yet God does not console us only in our hearts; through the prophet Isaiah he adds: “You shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (66:13).  In Jerusalem, that is, in the city of God, in the community: it is when we are united, in communion, that God’s consolation works in us.  In the Church we find consolation, the Church is the house of consolation: here God wishes to console us.  We may ask ourselves: I who am in the Church, do I bring the consolation of God?  Do I know how to welcome others as guests and console those whom I see tired and disillusioned?  Even when enduring affliction and rejection, a Christian is always called to bring hope to the hearts of those who have given up, to encourage the downhearted, to bring the light of Jesus, the warmth of his presence and his forgiveness which restores us.  Countless people suffer trials and injustice, and live in anxiety.  Our hearts need anointing with God’s consolation, which does not take away our problems, but gives us the power to love, to peacefully bear pain.  Receiving and bringing God’s consolation: thismission of the Church is urgent.  Dear brothers and sisters, let us take up this call: to not bury ourselves in what is going wrong around us or be saddened by the lack of harmony between us.  It is not good for us to become accustomed to a closed ecclesial “micro-environment”; it is good for us to share wide horizons open to hope, having the courage to humbly open our doors and go beyond ourselves.
There is, however, an underlying condition to receiving God’s consolation, and his word today reminds us of this: to become little like children (cf. Mt 18:3-4), to be “like a child quieted at its mother’s breast” (Ps 130:2).  To receive God’s love we need this littleness of heart: only little ones can be held in their mothers arms.
Whoever becomes like a little child, Jesus tells us, “is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:4).  The true greatness of man consists in making himself small before God.  For God is not known through grand ideas and extensive study, but rather through the littleness of a humble and trusting heart.  To be great before the Most High does not require the accumulation of honour and prestige or earthly goods and success, but rather a complete self-emptying.  A child has nothing to give and everything to receive.  A child is vulnerable, and depends on his or her father and mother.  The one who becomes like a little child is poor in self but rich in God.
Children, who have no problem in understanding God, have much to teach us: they tell us that he accomplishes great things in those who put up no resistance to him, who are simple and sincere, without duplicity.  The Gospel shows us how great wonders are accomplished with small things: with a few loaves and two fishes (cf. Mt 14:15-20), with a tiny mustard seed (cf. Mk4:30-32), with a grain of wheat that dies in the earth (cf. Jn 12:24), with the gift of just a single glass of water (cf. Mt 10:42), with the two coins of a poor widow (cf. Lk 21:1-4), with the humility of Mary, the servant of the Lord (cf. Lk1:46-55).
This is the surprising greatness of God, of a God who is full of surprises and who loves surprises: let us always keep alive the desire for and trust in God’s surprises!   It will help us to remember that we are constantly and primarily his children:  not masters of our lives, but children of the Father; not autonomous and self-sufficient adults, but children who always need to be lifted up and embraced, who need love and forgiveness.  Blessed are those Christian communities who live this authentic gospel simplicity!  Poor in means, they are rich in God.  Blessed are the Shepherds who do not ride the logic of worldly success, but follow the law of love: welcoming, listening, serving.  Blessed is the Church who does not entrust herself to the criteria of functionalism and organizational efficiency, nor worries about her image. Little and beloved flock of Georgia, who are so committed to works of charity and education, receive the encouragement of the Good Shepherd, you who are entrusted to him who takes you on his shoulders and consoles you.
I would like to summarize these thoughts with some words from Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, whom we commemorate today.  She shows her “little way” to God, “the trust of a little child who falls asleep without fear in his Father’s arms”, because “Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude” (Autobiography, Manuscript B).  Unfortunately, however, as she wrote then, and which still holds true today, God finds “few hearts who surrender to him without reservations, who understand the real tenderness of his infinite Love” (ibid).  The young saint and Doctor of the Church, rather, was an expert in the “science of love” (ibid), and teaches us that “perfect charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice”; she reminds also that “charity cannot remain hidden in the depths our hearts” (Autobiography, Manuscript C).  Together let us all implore today the grace of a simple heart, of a heart that believes and lives in the gentle strength of love; let us ask to live in peaceful and complete trust in God’s mercy.      
Pope Francis' remarks at the conclusion of Mass:

I am grateful to Monsignor Pasotto for his kind words offered on behalf of the Latin, Armenian and Syro-Chaldean communities.  I greet Patriarch Sako and the Chaldean Bishops, Monsignor Minassian and also those from neighbouring Armenia, and all of you, the beloved faithful from the various regions of Georgia.  I thank the Authorities, the beloved friends of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Christian communities gathered here, and in a particular way I thank the representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who honour us with their presence.  In asking you to please pray for me, I assure you of my own prayerful remembrance and to all of you I renew my gratitude: Didi madloba! [many thanks!]   

Sunday Mass Online : Sun. October 2, 2016 - 27th Ord. Time - C

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 141


Reading 1HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4

How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

Responsorial PsalmPS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 22 TM 1:6-8, 13-14

Beloved:
I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
that dwells within us.

Alleluia1 PT 1:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of the Lord remains forever.
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

#PopeFrancis " In the light that radiates from the maternal gaze of Mary..." at #Angelus

(Vatican Radio) After celebrating Mass in Baku’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, the city’s Salesian centre, Pope Francis encouraged Azerbaijan’s small Catholic community in their witness of the faith, before leading the faithful in the Angelus prayer.
In off-the-cuff remarks delivered after his prepared Angelus address, the Pope stressed that he is not “wasting time” travelling long distances to visit such a small community of Catholics in Azerbaijan and explained why it is so important for him to travel to these nations “on the peripheries.”
Please see below an English translation of the Pope’s off-the-cuff remarks:
Someone may think that the Pope wastes so much time: travelling so many kilometres to visit a small community of 700 people, in a country of 2 million.  Yet it is a community which is not uniform, because among you there are several languages spoken: Azeri, Italian, Spanish… many languages.  It is a community on the peripheries.  But the Pope, in this, imitates the Holy Spirit: he also descended from heaven to a small community in that closed periphery of the Cenacle.   And to that community, which was fearful, felt poor and perhaps persecuted or rejected, the Holy Spirit imparts fortitude, power, and bold eloquence to go forth and proclaim the name of Jesus!  And the doors of that community in Jerusalem, which were closed for fear or shame, were thrust wide open releasing the power of the Spirit.  The Pope wastes time as the Holy Spirit did in those days!
                Only two things are necessary: Mary was among that community.  Don’t forget our Mother!  And in that community resided charity, a fraternal love, which the Holy Spirit poured into their hearts.  Have courage!  Go ahead!  Without fear, go ahead!   

Below, see the official English language translation of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Eucharistic celebration I have given thanks to God with you, and also for you:  here the faith, after the years of persecution, has accomplished wonders.  I wish to recall the many courageous Christians who trusted in the Lord and were faithful in the face of adversity.  As did Saint John Paul II, I offer you the words of the Apostle Peter: “Honour to you who believe” (1 Pt2:7; Homily, Baku, 23 May 2002).
Our thoughts turn now to the Virgin Mary, who is venerated in this country not only by Christians.  To her we address the words of the Angel Gabriel who brought her the good news of salvation, prepared for humanity by God.
In the light that radiates from the maternal gaze of Mary, I offer a warm greeting to you, dear faithful of Azerbaijan, as I encourage each of you to witness joyfully to faith, hope and love, united among yourselves and with your Pastors.  I greet and thank in a particular way the Salesian family, who take such good care of you and who promote various good works, and the Missionary Sisters of Charity: continue with enthusiasm your work in the service of all!
Let us entrust these intentions to the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God and let us invoke her protection upon your families, the sick and the elderly, and upon all those who suffer in body or spirit.

#PopeFrancis "... may faith in God be a source and inspiration of mutual understanding" - FULL TEXT - Video

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday praised the people of Azerbaijan for the good relations that exisit between Catholic, Muslims, Orthodox and Jewish communities in the country.
In a speech on Sunday afternoon to political and civil authorities, the Pope expressed his hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase and said they lay the path for peace in the world.  
“These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible” he said. 
The Pope also said “the attachment to authentic religious values is utterly incompatible with the attempt to violently impose on others one’s own vision, using God’s holy name as ‘armour’”.
And he appealed to all so that faith in God may be “a source and inspiration of mutual understanding and respect, and of reciprocal help, in pursuit of the common good of society”.
During the Pope’s visit to the Heydar Aliyev Center in the presence of some 1,000 government representatives, the diplomatic corps and members of civil society, the Pope wrote these words in the ‘Book of Honor’:
“Grateful for the hospitality I have received, I encourage all in this place of meeting and culture to always choose the path of man: openness, respect, sharing”.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s discourse to Authorities at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku: 
Mr President,
Distinguished Authorities and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
    I am pleased to be visiting Azerbaijan, and I thank you for your warm welcome to this city, the country’s capital, on the shore of the Caspian Sea, a city which has been radically transformed with new buildings, such as the one where we are meeting.  I am most grateful, Mr President, for the kind sentiments of welcome which you have extended to me on behalf of the Government and Azeri people, and for allowing me to reciprocate your visit, together with your distinguished spouse, to the Vatican last year. 
    I have come to this country full of admiration for the intricacy and richness of your culture, fruit of the contribution of so many peoples who in the course of history have inhabited these lands.  They have given life to a fabric of experiences, values and distinctive features which characterize contemporary society and are reflected in the prosperity of the modern Azeri state.  This coming 18 October Azerbaijan will celebrate twenty-five years of independence.  This occasion affords the possibility of taking comprehensive stock of these decades, of the progress achieved and of the challenges which the country is facing.
    The road travelled thus far shows clearly the significant efforts undertaken to strengthen institutions and to promote the economic and civic growth of the nation.  It is a path which requires constant attention towards all, especially the weakest, and one which is possible thanks to a society which recognizes the benefits of multiculturalism and of the necessary complementarity of cultures.  This in turn leads to mutual collaboration and respect among the various components of civil society and among the adherents of various religious confessions. 
    This common effort to harmonize differences is of particular importance in our time, as it shows that it is possible to bear witness to one’s own ideas and worldview without abusing the rights of others who have different ideas and perspectives.  Every ethnic or ideological identity, as with every authentic religious path, must exclude attitudes and approaches which instrumentalize their own convictions, their own identity or the name of God in order to legitimize subjugation and supremacy. 
    It is my sincere hope that Azerbaijan may continue along the way of cooperation between different cultures and religious confessions.  May harmony and peaceful coexistence be evermore a source of vitality to the public and civil life of the country, in its multiplicity of expressions, ensuring to all men and women the possibility of offering their own contribution to the common good. 
    The world, unfortunately, is experiencing the tragedy of many conflicts fuelled by intolerance, which in turn is fomented by violent ideologies and by the effective denial of the rights of the weakest.  In order to effectively oppose these dangerous deviations, we need to promote a culture of peace, which is fostered by an untiring willingness for dialogue and by the awareness that there is no reasonable alternative to patiently and assiduously searching for shared solutions by means of committed and sustained negotiations. 
    Just as within a country’s borders it is necessary to promote harmony among the various sectors, so too between states it is necessary to persevere wisely and courageously on the path which leads to authentic progress and the freedom of peoples, opening up new avenues that lead to lasting agreements and peace.  In this way, peoples will be spared grave suffering and painful wounds, which are difficult to heal. 
    Mindful also of this country, I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to those who have had to leave their land and to the many people who suffer the effects of bloody conflicts.  I hope that the international community may be able to offer unfailingly its indispensable help.  At the same time, in order to initiate a new phase for stable peace in the region, I invite everyone to grasp every opportunity to reach a satisfactory solution.  I am confident that, with the help of God, and the good will of those involved, the Caucasus will be a place where, through dialogue and negotiation, disputes and differences will be resolved and overcome.  By such means, this area – “a gateway between East and West”, in the beautiful image used by Saint John Paul II when he visited your country (cf. Address at the Arrival Ceremony, 22 May 2002) – will also become a gateway open to peace, and an example to which we can look to solve old and new conflicts. 
    The Catholic Church, even though it has a small presence in the country, is truly present in the civic and social life of Azerbaijan; it participates in its joys and shares the challenges of confronting its difficulties.  The juridical recognition, made possible by the ratification of the international agreement with the Holy See in 2011, has furthermore offered a stable regulatory framework for the life of the Catholic community in Azerbaijan. 
I am moreover particularly pleased with the cordial relations enjoyed by the Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities.  It is my hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase.  These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible. 
    The attachment to authentic religious values is utterly incompatible with the attempt to violently impose on others one’s own vision, using God’s holy name as “armour”.  Rather, may faith in God be a source and inspiration of mutual understanding and respect, and of reciprocal help, in pursuit of the common good of society. 
    May God bless Azerbaijan with harmony, peace and prosperity. 

 2016

Saint October 2 : Guardian Angels Feast : #Angels

This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the Roman calendar. It was not one of the feasts retained in the Pian breviary, published in 1568; but among the earliest petitions from particular churches to be allowed, as a supplement to this breviary, the canonical celebration of local feasts, was a request from Cordova in 1579 for permission to have a feast in honour of the guardian angels. (Bäumer, "Histoire du Breviaire", II, 233.) Bäumer, who makes this statement on the authority of original documents published by Dr. Schmid (in the "Tübinger Quartalschrift", 1884), adds on the same authority that "Toledo sent to Rome a rich proprium and received the desired authorization for all the Offices contained in it, Valencia also obtained the approbation in February, 1582, for special Offices of the Blood of Christ and the Guardian Angels."
So far the feast of Guardian Angels remained local. Paul V placed it (27 September, 1608) among the feasts of the general calendar as a double "ad libitum" (Bäumer, op. cit., II, 277). Nilles gives us more details about this step. "Paul V", he writes, "gave an impetus to the veneration of Guardian Angels (long known in the East and West) by the authorization of a feast and proper office in their honour. At the request of Ferdinand of Austria, afterwards emperor, he made them obligatory in all regions subject to the Imperial power; to all other places he conceded them ad libitum, to be celebrated on the first available day after the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel. It is believed that the new feast was intended to be a kind of supplement to the Feast of St. Michael, since the Church honoured on that day (29 September) the memory of all the angels as well as the memory of St. Michael (Nilles, "Kalendarium", II, 502). Among the numerous changes made in the calendar by Clement X was the elevation of the Feast of Guardian Angels to the rank of an obligatory double for the whole Church to be kept on 2 October, this being the first unoccupied day after the feast of St. Michael (Nilles, op. cit., II, 503). Finally Leo XIII (5 April, 1883) favoured this feast to the extent of raising it to the rank of a double major.
Such in brief is the history of a feast which, though of comparatively recent introduction, gives the sanction of the Church's authority to an ancient and cherished belief. The multiplicity of feasts is in fact quite a modern development, and that the guardian angels were not honoured with a special feast in the early Church is no evidence that they were not prayed to and reverenced. There is positive testimony to the contrary (see Bareille in Dict. de Theol. Cath., s.v. Ange, col. 1220). It is to be noted that the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael is amongst the oldest feasts in the Calendar. There are five proper collects and prefaces assigned to this feast in the Leonine Sacramentary (seventh century) under the title "Natalis Basilicae Angeli in Salaria" and a glance at them will show that this feast included a commemoration of the angels in general, and also recognition of their protective office and intercessory power. In one collect God is asked to sustain those who are labouring in this world by the protecting power of his heavenly ministers (supernorum . . . . praesidiis . . . . ministrorum). In one of the prefaces, God is praised and thanked for the favour of angelic patronage (patrociniis . . . . angelorum). In the collect of the third Mass the intercessory power of saints and angels is alike appealed to (quae [oblatio] angelis tuis sanctisque precantibus et indulgentiam nobis referat et remedia procuret aeterna" (Sacramentarium Leonianum, ed. Feltoe, 107-8). These extracts make it plain that the substantial idea which underlies the modern feast of Guardian Angels was officially expressed in the early liturgies. In the "Horologium magnum" of the Greeks there is a proper Office of Guardian Angels (Roman edition, 329-334) entitled "A supplicatory canon to man's Guardian Angel composed by John the Monk" (Nilles, II, 503), which contains a clear expression of belief in the doctrine that a guardian angel is assigned to each individual. This angel is thus addressed "Since thou the power (ischyn) receivest my soul to guard, cease never to cover it with thy wings" (Nilles, II, 506).
For 2 October there is a proper Office in the Roman Breviary and a proper Mass in the Roman Missal, which contains all the choice extracts from Sacred Scripture bearing on the three-fold office of the angels, to praise God, to act as His messengers, and to watch over mortal men. "Let us praise the Lord whom the Angels praise, whom the Cherubim and Seraphim proclaim Holy, Holy, Holy" (second antiphon of Lauds). "Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. Take notice of him, and hear his voice" (Exodus 23; capitulum ad Laudes). The Gospel of the Mass includes that pointed text from St. Matthew 18:10: "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." Although 2 October has been fixed for this feast in the Roman calendar, it is kept, by papal privilege, in Germany and many other places on the first Sunday (computed ecclesiastically) of September, and is celebrated with special solemnity and generally with an octave (Nilles, II, 503). (See ANGEL; INTERCESSION.) The Catholic Encyclopedia

#PopeFrancis "I have come as a pilgrim of peace..." to Muslim leaders in Azerbaijan - FULL TEXT

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on Muslim leaders to join him in giving a united response to a conflict-ridden world and to build together a future of peace.    
Speaking on Sunday afternoon to Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, Grand Mufti of the Caucasus during an interreligious meeting at the end of his apostolic visit to Azerbaijan, the Pope said that today “we are challenged to give a response that can no longer be put off”.
To the Sheikh – who is also the Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office – and who received him in the Aliyev Mosque of Baku, the Pope said: “now is not the time for violent or abrupt solutions, but rather an urgent moment to engage in patient processes of reconciliation.  The real question of our time is not how to advance our own causes, but what proposals for life are we offering to future generations; how to leave them a better world than the one we have received”.
And reiterating his appeal: “no more violence in the name of God!”, Pope Francis said it is not opposition but cooperation that helps to build better and more peaceful societies.
“The fraternity and sharing that we seek to increase will not be appreciated by those who want to highlight divisions, reignite tensions and profit from opposition and differences; rather, fraternity and sharing are invoked and longed for by those who desire the common good, and are above all pleasing to God, the Compassionate and All Merciful, who wishes his sons and daughters in the one human family to be ever more united among themselves and always in dialogue with one another” he said.
The Pope also pointed to the important role of religions that, he said, “ are called to help us understand that the centre of each person is outside of himself, that we are oriented towards the Most High and towards the other who is our neighbour”.
“Religion is a compass that orients us to the good and steers us away from evil” he said.
Pope Francis also said that as spiritual leaders “we have a great responsibility, in order to offer authentic responses to men and women who are searching, who are often lost among the swirling contradictions of our time”
On the contrary religions, he said,  help to discern the good and put it into practice and they are called to do so by building “a culture of encounter and peace, based on patience, understanding, and humble, tangible steps”.
“For its part, society must always overcome the temptation to take advantage of religious factors: religions must never be instrumentalized, nor can they ever lend support to, or approve of, conflicts and disagreements” he said. 
“In this night of conflict  that we are currently enduring, Pope Francis said; “may religions be a dawn of peace”.
Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ speech to the Sheikh and the Representatives of the different Religious Communities of the Country:
    Our being here together is a blessing.  I thank the Leader of the Muslims in the Caucasus, who welcomes us with his customary hospitality, and the local religious Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the Leaders of the Jewish Communities.  Meeting one another in fraternal friendship in this place of prayer is a powerful sign, one that shows the harmony which religions can build together, based on personal relations and on the good will of those responsible.  This is seen, for example, in the tangible help that the Islamic Leader has guaranteed to the Catholic community here on more than one occasion, along with the wise counsel that, in a familial spirit, he shares with that community.  I wish also to highlight the good relations that unite local Catholics to the Orthodox community in solid fraternity and daily affection which are an example for all, as well as the warm friendship shared with the Jewish community.  
    The benefits of this harmony are felt throughout Azerbaijan, a country that distinguishes itself for its welcome and hospitality, gifts which I have experienced on this memorable day, one for which I am truly grateful.  There is here a desire to protect the great heritage of religions and, at the same time, a pursuit of deeper and more fruitful openness.  The Catholic Church, for example, finds a place and lives in harmony among other religions that have far more members, demonstrating concretely that it is not opposition but cooperation that helps to build better and more peaceful societies.  Our being together at this place is also in continuity with the many meetings that are held in Baku to promote dialogue and multiculturalism.  Opening the doors of welcome and integration means opening the doors of each person’s heart and the doors of hope to everyone.  I am confident that this country, “the gateway between East and West” (John Paul II, Address at the Welcome Ceremony, Baku, 22 May 2002), will always cultivate its vocation to openness and encounter, the indispensable conditions for building lasting bridges of peace and a future worthy of humanity.
    The fraternity and sharing that we seek to increase will not be appreciated by those who want to highlight divisions, reignite tensions and profit from opposition and differences; rather, fraternity and sharing are invoked and longed for by those who desire the common good, and are above all pleasing to God, the Compassionate and All Merciful, who wishes his sons and daughters in the one human family to be ever more united among themselves and always in dialogue with one another.  A great poet, a son of this land, wrote: “If you are human, mix with humans, because people go well with each other” (Nizami Ganjavi, The Book of Alexander, I, On his own state of life and the passage of time).  Opening ourselves to others does not lead to impoverishment but rather enrichment, because it enables us to be more human: to recognize ourselves as participants in a greater collectivity and to understand our life as a gift for others; to see as the goal, not our own interests, but rather the good of humanity; to act with neither abstract idealism nor with interventionism, not by harmful interference or forceful actions, but rather out of respect for the dynamics of history, cultures and religious traditions.
    Religions have an enormous task: to accompany men and women looking for the meaning of life, helping them to understand that the limited capacities of the human being and the goods of this world must never become absolutes.  Again, Nizami wrote: “Do not base yourself solidly on your own strength, such that in heaven you will find no resting place!  The fruits of this world are not eternal; do not adore that which perishes!” (Leylā and Majnūn, Death of Majnūn on the tomb of Leylā).  Religions are called to help us understand that the centre of each person is outside of himself, that we are oriented towards the Most High and towards the other who is our neighbour.  In this way, the vocation of human life is to set out towards the highest and truest love: this alone is the culmination of every authentically religious aspiration.  For, as the poet says, “love is that which never mutates, love is that which has no end” (ibid, The Despair of Majnūn).
    Humanity therefore needs religion if it is to reach its goal.  Religion is a compass that orients us to the good and steers us away from evil, which is always crouching at the door of a person’s heart (cf. Gen 4:7).  Religions, therefore, have an educational task: to help bring out the best in each person.  We, as guides, have a great responsibility, in order to offer authentic responses to men and women who are searching, who are often lost among the swirling contradictions of our time.  Indeed, today we observe, on the one hand, the dominance of the nihilism of those who no longer believe in anything except their own wellbeing, advantage and profit, of those who throw life away, having become accustomed to the saying, “if God does not exist then everything is permissible” (cf. F.M. Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, XI, 4.8.9); on the other hand, we see the growing emergence of rigid and fundamentalist reactions on the part of those who, through violent words and deeds, seek to impose extreme and radical attitudes which are furthest from the living God.
    Religions, on the contrary, which help to discern the good and put it into practice through deeds, prayer and diligent cultivation of the inner life, are called to build a culture of encounter and peace, based on patience, understanding, and humble, tangible steps.  This is the way a humane society is best served.  For its part, society must always overcome the temptation to take advantage of religious factors: religions must never be instrumentalized, nor can they ever lend support to, or approve of, conflicts and disagreements. 
    There is, furthermore, a fruitfulness deriving from the virtuous rapport between society and religions, that respectful alliance which needs to be built up and protected, and which I would like to evoke with an image dear to this country.  I refer to the precious artistic windows that have been here for centuries, crafted simply out of wood and tinted glass (Shebeke).  When they are made using traditional methods, there is a peculiar characteristic: neither glue nor nails are used, but the wood and the glass are set into each other through time-consuming and meticulous effort.  Thus, the wood supports the glass and the glass lets in the light.  In the same way, it is the task of every civil society to support religion, which allows a light to shine through, indispensable for living.  In order for this to happen, an effective and authentic freedom must be guaranteed.  Artificial kinds of “glue” cannot be used, which bind people to believe, imposing on them a determined belief system and depriving them of the freedom to choose; nor is there a need for the external “nails” of worldly concerns, of the yearning for power and money.  For God cannot be used for personal interests and selfish ends; he cannot be used to justify any form of fundamentalism, imperialism or colonialism.  From this highly symbolic place, a heartfelt cry rises up once again: no more violence in the name of God!  May his most holy Name be adored, not profaned or bartered as a commodity through forms of hatred and human opposition.
    We honour, rather, the divine mercy that is given to us, through assiduous prayer and real dialogue, “a necessary condition for peace in the world… a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 250).  Prayer and dialogue are profoundly interconnected: they flow from an openness of heart and extend to the good of others, thus enriching and reinforcing each other.  The Catholic Church, in continuity with the Second Vatican Council, heartily “exhorts her sons and daughters, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men and women (SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Nostra Aetate, 2).  This is not an accommodating “facile syncretism”, nor a “diplomatic openness which says yes to everything in order to avoid problems” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 251), but rather a path of dialogue with others and a path of prayer for all: these are our means “of turning spears into pruning hooks” (cf. Is 2:4), to give rise to love where there is hatred, and forgiveness where there is offence, of never growing weary of imploring and tracing the ways of peace.
    A true peace, founded on mutual respect, encounter and sharing, on the will to go beyond prejudices and past wrongs, on the rejection of double standards and self-interests; a lasting peace, animated by the courage to overcome barriers, to eradicate poverty and injustice, to denounce and put an end to the proliferation of weapons and immoral profiteering on the backs of others.  The blood of far too many people cries out to God from the earth, our common home (cf. Gen 4:10).  Today, we are challenged to give a response that can no longer be put off: to build together a future of peace; now is not the time for violent or abrupt solutions, but rather an urgent moment to engage in patient processes of reconciliation.  The real question of our time is not how to advance our own causes, but what proposals for life are we offering to future generations; how to leave them a better world than the one we have received.  God, and history itself, will ask us if we have spent ourselves pursuing peace; the younger generations, who dream of a different future, pointedly direct this question to us.  
    In this night of conflict that we are currently enduring, may religions be a dawn of peace, seeds of rebirth amid the devastation of death, echoes of dialogue resounding unceasingly, paths to encounter and reconciliation reaching even those places where official mediation efforts seem not to have borne fruit.  Particularly in this beloved Caucasus region, which I have very much wished to visit and to which I have come as a pilgrim of peace, may religions be active agents working to overcome the tragedies of the past and the tensions of the present.  May the inestimable richness of these countries be known and valued: the treasures old and ever new of the wisdom, culture and religious sensibility of the people of the Caucasus, are a tremendous resource for the future of the region and especially for European culture; they are goods which we cannot renounce.
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