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Thursday, January 12, 2017

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2017

#PopeFrancis “‘Today’ is played out in our hearts. Are our hearts opened to the Lord?" #Homily

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday morning. In remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father reflected on the unique and unrepeatable opportunities each day offers to  grow in faith and love of God.
The day in which we have received God's love
Pope Francis took as the focal point of his reflections the text from Psalm 95, which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews took up in the 3rd chapter, a portion of which was read at Mass. There is “only one ‘today’, in our lives,” – only one real, concrete today. Our temptation and everyone’s temptation is to say: “Yes, I will do tomorrow,” though this is the temptation of a “‘tomorrow’ there will not be,” as Jesus says in the parable of the ten virgins – the five foolish ones who had not taken oil with them along with their lamps, then find the door locked when they go to buy it. Francis also referred to the parable of the man who knocks on the door saying to the Lord, “I ate with you, I was with you,” and hear him respond, “I do not know you, you came late.”:
“I say this not to scare you, but simply to say that our life is today: now or never. I think of this: tomorrow will be the eternal tomorrow that never sets, with the Lord forever – if I am true to this day; and the question that I put to you is the same the Holy Spirit is putting to all of us, i.e. ‘How ought I to live, this day?”
Let our hearts be open to the Lord
The second word that is repeated in the Reading is “heart”. For with the heart “we meet the Lord” and many times Jesus rebukes people saying they are “slow of heart”, late to understand. The call is therefore not to harden the heart and to wonder whether it is not “without faith” or “deceived by sin”:
“‘Today’ is played out in our hearts. Are our hearts opened to the Lord? To me it always strikes me when I find an older person – often priests or nuns – who tell me, ‘Father, pray for my final perseverance’ – ‘But, you did well all your life long, all the days of your ‘today’ are in the service of the Lord, and still you are afraid?’ ‘No, no, my life has not yet waned: I want to live it fully, I pray that the day arrives full, full, with a heart strong in faith, and not ruined by sin, vices, corruption.’”
To ask about our day and our hearts
Pope Francis went on to urge the faithful present – and all of us – to question ourselves about our own time and our own heart. Today is “full of days” but “we will not repeat” any one of them. Days go by until the Lord says “enough”:
“Today does not repeat itself: this is life. –and  the heart, the open heart, open to the Lord, not closed, not hard, not hardened, not without faith, not perverted, not deceived by sin. The Lord has met so many of these, who had closed their hearts: the doctors of the law, all these people who persecuted him, put him to the test to convict him – and in the end they managed to do it. We go home with these two words only: how is my ‘today’? The sunset can be today, this day or many days later. But how are you, my today, in the presence of the Lord? And how is my heart? Is it open? Is it firm in the faith? is it led by the Lord? With these two questions we ask the Lord for the grace which each of us needs.”

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday January 12, 2017


Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 308


Reading 1HEB 3:7-14

The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
"Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, 'They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.'
As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter into my rest.'"

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today,"
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

Responsorial PsalmPS 95:6-7C, 8-9, 10-11

R. (8) 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.
Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
I said: "This people's heart goes astray,
they do not know my ways."
Therefore I swore in my anger:
"They shall never enter my rest."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

AlleluiaMT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Saint January 12 : St. Marguerite Bourgeoys : #Foundress : Patron of #poverty, orphans, people rejected by religious orders


FOUNDRESS, SISTERS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE-DAME
Feast: January 12 (Canada)
Information:
Feast Day:January 12
Born:17 April 1620, Troyes, France
Died:12 January 1700, Montreal,

 Canada
Canonized:31 October 1982, by Pope
John Paul II
Major Shrine:Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
Chapel, Montreal
Patron:Against poverty, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders
MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS was born in Troyes, in the province of Champagne (France), on Good Friday, April 17, 1620. She was baptized on the same day in the church of Saint-Jean, a church that was located near her home. Marguerite was the sixth child in a family of twelve. Her parents were Abraham Bourgeoys and Guillemette Gamier, and she was privileged to grow up in a milieu that was middle class and thoroughly Christian.

Marguerite was nineteen years of age when she lost her mother. In the following year, 1640, in the course of a procession held on October 7 in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, she had an unforgettable experience. Her eyes rested on a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and at that moment she felt inspired to withdraw from the world and to consecrate herself to the service of God. She registered, at once, as a member of the extern Congregation of Troyes, an association of young girls devoted to the charitable work of teaching children in the poor districts of the town. While engaged in this apostolate she learned about the foundation of Ville Marie (Montreal) in Canada. The year was 1642, and at that time she sensed a first call to missionary life. This call was rendered concrete in 1652 when she met Monsieur de Maisonneuve, founder and governor of the settlement begun in New France, who was in search of someone who would volunteer her services for the gratuitous instruction of the French and Indian children. Our Lady confirmed the call addressed to her: "Go, I will not forsake you", she said. Thus assured, Marguerite left Troyes in February, 1653, in a spirit of complete detachment. She arrived in Montreal on the following 16th of November, and without delay she set to work to promote the best interests of the colony. She is rightly considered co-foundress of Montreal, with the nurse, Jeanne Mance, and the master designer, Monsieur de Maisonneuve.

In order to encourage the colonists in their faith, she arranged for the restoration of the Cross on Mount Royal after it has been destroyed by hostile Indians, and she undertook the construction of a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Convinced of the importance of the family in the building of this new country, and perceiving the significance of the role to be exercised by women, she devoted herself to the task of preparing those whose vocation it would be to preside in a home. In 1658, in a stable which had been given to her by the governor for her use, she opened the first school in Montreal. She also organized an extern Congregation, patterned after the one which she had known in Troyes but adapted to the actual needs. In this way, she could respond to the needs of the women and young girls on whom much depended as far as the instruction of children was concerned. In 1659, she began receiving girls who were recommended by "les cures" in France, or endowed by       the King, to come to establish homes in Montreal, and she became a real mother to them. Thus were initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country, and which led people to refer to Marguerite as "Mother of the Colony".

On three occasions, Marguerite Bourgeoys made a trip to France to obtain help. As of
1658, the group of teachers who associated themselves       with her in her life of prayer, of heroic poverty, and of untiring devotedness to the service of others, presented the image of a religious institute. The Congregation de Notre-Dame received its civil charter from Louis XIV in 1671, and canonical approbation by decree of the Bishop of Quebec in 1676. The Constitutions of the Community were approved in 1698. The foundation having been assured, Sister Bourgeoys could leave the work to others. She died in Montreal on January 12, 1700, acknowledged for her holiness of life. Her last generous act was to offer herself as a sacrifice of prayer for the return to health of a young Sister. Forty members of the Congregation de Notre-Dame were there to continue her work.

On November 12, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite Bourgeoys. Canonizing her on October 31, 1982, Pope John Paul II gave the Canadian Church its first woman saint.


(Abridged from Vatican News Services)

Saint January 12 : St. Bernard of Corleone : #Religious


Born:
1605, Sicily
Died:
12 January 1667, Palermo
Canonized:
10 June 2001, by Pope John Paul II

Saint Bernard was born on the island of Sicily in the year 1605. His father was a shoemaker and taught his son the ways of the trade. But it was difficult for the lively youth to interest himself in this work. Upon the death of his father, he immediately left the shop and, led by the love of adventure, he took up fencing. It was not long before he became quite adept at wielding the sword. His unusual vigor qualified him to challenge any comer to a contest.
As a youth and young adult he spent the greater part of his time in training and eagerly seized every opportunity to match swords with his countrymen.
Although this manner of life led him far away from God, nevertheless many noble characteristics were perceptible in St. Bernard. In taking up any quarrel he liked to defend old people and other helpless and defenseless persons against violence. He frequently made devout visits to a crucifix that was highly honored by the people, and provided that a lamp be kept burning before it. Moreover, he cherished great devotion towards Saint Francis of Assisi.
At one point, St. Bernard had been challenged to a duel, in the course of which he wounded his opponent mortally. In order to escape from his avengers, he sought refuge amongst the Capuchin Franciscans.
In order to atone for his sins, he begged for admission among the Capuchins as a lay brother, and on December 13, 1632 he entered the Franciscan novitiate. If in the past St. Bernard had yielded his bodily members to wayward purposes, he now used them as an atoning sacrifice unto salvation. It is reported that seven times a day he scourged himself to the blood. His sleep was limited to three hours on a narrow board, with a block of wood under his head. He fasted for the most part on bread and water. If anything delicious was placed before him, he would carry the food to his mouth so as to whet his appetite, and then lay it down without having tasted it. In spite of his austere life, he still undertook the most unpleasant and annoying tasks as being his due.
St. Bernard had an especially ardent devotion at prayer. St. Bernard cherished a special love for the Blessed Mary, and encouraged others to do the same. The Blessed Mother appeared to him and placed the Divine Child in his arms. Moreover, she gave him knowledge of the day of his death four months in advance. He died at Palermo on January 12, 1667.
His biographers stated that, attracted by the fame of his sanctity, there gathered for his burial so many people who raised their voices in praise of the deceased, that it was less a funeral cortège than a triumphal procession. Numerous miracles occurring at his grave promoted the cause of his beatification by pope Clement XIII in 1767 and subsequent canonization by pope John Paul II in 2001.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#PopeFrancis : "Hope in God makes us enter, so to speak, in the ray of action..." #Audience FULL TEXT + Video

THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last month of December and the first part of January we celebrated the Season of Advent and then that of Christmas, a period of the Liturgical Year that reawakens hope in the People of God. To hope is a primary need of man: to hope in the future, to believe in life, so-called “positive thinking.”
However, it is important that such hope be placed in what can truly help us to live and to give meaning to our existence. It is because of this that Sacred Scripture puts us on guard against the false hopes that the world presents to us, unmasking their uselessness and showing their folly. And it does so in several ways, but especially by denouncing the falsity of idols, in which man is continually tempted to place his trust, making them the object of his hope.
The prophets and wise men insist on this in particular, touching a neuralgic point of the believer’s journey of faith. Because faith is to trust in God — one who has faith trusts in God –, but the moment comes when, running into the difficulties of life, man experiences the fragility of that trust and feels the need of different certainties, of tangible, concrete securities. I entrust myself to God, but the situation is quite bad and I need a certainty that is somewhat more concrete. And therein lies the danger! And then we are tempted to seek even ephemeral consolations, which seem to fill the emptiness of solitude and soothe the fatigue of believing. And we think we can find it in the security that money can give, in alliances with the powerful, in worldliness, in false ideologies. Sometimes we seek them in a god that can bow to our requests and intervene magically to change the reality and make it as we wish; an idol, in fact, that as such can do nothing, is impotent and a liar. But we like idols, we like them so much! Once, at Buenos Aires, I had to go from one church to another, a thousand meters, more or less. And I did so walking. And there was a park in between, and there were small tables in the park, but many, many, where seers were seated. It was full of people, who also formed a queue. One would give one of them one’s hand, and would begin, but the discourse was always the same: there is a woman in your life, a shadow is coming, but everything will go well … And then, one paid. And this gives one security? It is the security of a – allow me the word – of a stupid thing. To go to a male seer or a female seer that reads cards: this is an idol! This is an idol, and when we are very attached to them, we buy false hopes. Whereas that, which is the hope of gratuitousness, which Jesus Christ has brought us, freely giving His life for us, that sometimes we do not trust so much.
Psalm 115, a Psalm full of wisdom which depicts for us in a very thought-provoking way the falsity of these idols, which the world offers to our hope and to which the men of all times are tempted to entrust themselves, states:
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them” (vv. 4-8).
The Psalmist presents to us, also in a somewhat ironic way, the absolutely ephemeral reality of these idols. And we must understand that it is not only about depictions made in metal or another material, but also those built with our mind, when we trust in limited realities which we transform into absolutes, or when we reduce God to our schemes and to our ideas of divinity; a god that is similar to us, comprehensible, predictable, in fact like the idols of which the Psalm speaks. Man, image of God, makes a god to his own image, and it is also a botched image: it does not feel, does not act and, above all, it cannot talk. But we are happier to go to idols than to go to the Lord. Many times we are happier with the ephemeral hope that this false idol gives us than with the great and sure hope that the Lord gives us.
To the hope in a Lord of life who with His Word has created the world and directs our existences, is contrasted trust in dumb simulacra. Ideologies with their claim of the absolute, riches – and this is a great idol –, power and success, vanity, with their illusion of eternity and omnipotence, values such as physical beauty and health, when they become idols to which to sacrifice everything, are all realities that confuse the mind and heart and, instead of fostering life, lead to death. It was awful to hear and it pained my soul what once, years ago, I heard in the diocese of Buenos Aires: a good, very beautiful woman, boasted about her beauty and commented, as if it were natural: “Ah yes, I had to abort because my figure is very important.” These are the idols, and they lead one on a mistaken way and do not give happiness.
The Psalm’s message is very clear: if one places one’s hope in idols, one becomes like them: empty images with hands that do not touch, feet that do not walk, mouths that cannot speak. There is nothing more to say, one becomes incapable of helping, of changing things, incapable of smiling, of giving oneself, incapable of loving. And we also, men of the Church, run this risk when we become “worldly.” It is necessary to remain in the world but to defend oneself from the illusions of the world, which are the idols I mentioned.
As the Psalm continues, it is necessary to trust and hope in God, and God will give a blessing. Thus says the Psalm: “Israel, trust in the Lord […] house of Aaron, put your trust in the Lord […] you who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord […] the Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us” (vv. 9.10.11.12). The Lord is always mindful of us. He is also mindful of us in awful moments, and this is our hope, and hope does not disappoint – never, never. Idols always disappoint: they are fantasies, not reality. Behold the stupendous reality of hope: trusting in the Lord one becomes like Him, His blessing transforms us into His children, who share His life. Hope in God makes us enter, so to speak, in the ray of action of His remembrance, of His memory, which blesses us and saves us. And then an alleluia can burst forth, the praise of the living and true God, who was born for us of Mary, died on the cross and rose in glory. And we hope in this God, and this God – who is not an idol – never disappoints.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. In particular, I greet the priests-teachers in the Major Seminaries or Institutes affiliated to the Pontifical Urban University; the “Fidelis Andria” Sports Society and the youngsters of the Caetani Institute of Cisterna di Latina. I exhort all to live generously their ecclesial commitment with a humble spirit of dedication to brothers.
Now I must say something that I do not want to say, but I must say it. There are tickets to enter the Audiences in which it is written in one, two, three, four, five and six languages, that “The ticket is totally free.” To enter an Audience, whether in the Hall or in the Square, one must not pay; it is a free visit made to the Pope to speak with the Pope, with the Bishop of Rome. However, I have learnt that there are wise guys that make one pay for tickets. If someone says to you that to go to the Pope’s Audience you need to pay something, he is cheating you: be careful, be careful! The entrance is free. One comes here without paying, because this is everyone’s home. And if someone makes you pay to come into the Audience he commits an offense, as a delinquent, and does something that shouldn’t be done!
A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a propitious occasion to rethink our Baptism in the faith of the Church. Dear young people, rediscover daily the grace that comes from the Sacrament received. Dear sick, draw from Baptism the strength to face moments of pain and discomfort. And you, dear newlyweds, be able to translate the commitments of Baptism into your journey of family life.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. January 11, 2017 - #Eucharist

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 307


Reading 1HEB 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and Flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Responsorial PsalmPS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations--
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord.
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

Saint January 11 : St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch : #Abbot and #Founder


Born:
423 at Garissus, Cappadocia (modern Turkey)
Died:
529 at Cathismus

St Theodosius was born at Mogariassus, called in latter ages Marissa, in Cappadocia, in 423. He imbibed the first tincture of virtue from the fervent example and pious instructions of his virtuous parents. He was ordained reader, but some time after being moved by Abraham's example to quit his country and friends, he resolved to put this motion in execution. He accordingly set out for Jerusalem, but went purposely out of his road to visit the famous St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar, who foretold him several circumstances of his life, and gave him proper instructions for his behaviour in each. Having satisfied his  devotion in visiting the holy places in Jerusalem, he began to consider in what manner he should dedicate himself to God in a religious state. The dangers of living without a guide made him prefer a monastery to a hermitage; and he therefore put himself under the directions of a holy man named Longinus, to whom his virtue soon endeared him in a very particular manner. A pious lady having built a church under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, on the high road to Bethlehem, Longinus could not well refuse her request that his pupil should undertake the charge of it; but Theodosius, who loved only to obey, could not be induced by any entreaties to consent to this proposal: absolute commands were necessary to force him to a compliance. Nor did he govern long; for dreading the poison of vanity from the esteem of men, he retired into a cave at the top of a neighbouring desert mountain, and employed his time in fasting, watching, prayers, and tears, which almost continually flowed from his eyes. His food was coarse pulse and wild herbs: for thirty years he never tasted so much as a morsel of bread. Many desired to serve God under his direction: he at first determined only to admit six or seven, but was soon obliged to receive a greater number, and at length came to a resolution, which charity extorted from him, never to reject any that presented themselves with dispositions that seemed sincere. The first lesson which he taught his monks was that the continual remembrance of death is the foundation of religious perfection; to imprint this more deeply in their minds, he caused a great grave or pit to be dug, which might serve for the common burial-place of the whole community, that by the presence of this memorial of death, and by continually meditating on that object, they might more perfectly learn to die daily. The burial-place being made, the abbot one day, when he had led his monks to it, said, The grave is made, who will first perform the dedication?" Basil, a priest, who was one of the number, falling on his knees, said to St. Theodosius, "I am the person, be pleased to give me your blessing." The abbot ordered the prayers of the church for the dead to be offered up for him, and on the fortieth day Basil wonderfully departed to our Lord in peace without any apparent sickness. When the holy company of disciples were twelve in number it happened that at the great feast at Easter they had nothing to eat; they had not even bread for the sacrifice: some murmured; the saint bid them trust in God and he would provide; which was soon remarkably verified by the arrival of certain mules loaded with provisions. The lustre of the sanctity and miracles of St. Theodosius drawing great numbers to him who desired to serve God under his direction, his cave was too little for their reception, therefore, having consulted heaven by prayer, he, by its particular direction, built a spacious monastery at a place called Cathismus, not far from Bethlehem, at a small distance from his cave, and it was soon filled with holy monks. To this monastery were annexed three infirmaries: one for the sick, the gift of a pious lady in that neighbourhood; the two others St. Theodosius built himself, one for the aged and feeble, the other for such as had been punished with the loss of their senses, or by falling under the power of the devil, for rashly engaging in a religious state through pride, and without a due dependence on the grace of God to carry them through it. All succours, spiritual and temporal, were afforded in these infirmaries, with admirable order, care, and affection. He erected also several buildings for the reception of strangers, in which he exercised an unbounded hospitality, entertaining all that came, for whose use there were one day above a hundred tables served with provisions: these, when insufficient for the number of guests, were more than once miraculously multiplied by his prayers. The monastery itself was like a city of saints in the midst of a desert, and in it reigned regularity, silence, charity, and peace. There were four churches belonging to it, one for each of the three several nations of which his community was chiefly composed, each speaking a different language; the fourth was for the use of such as were in a state of penance, which those that recovered from their lunatic or possessed condition before-mentioned, were put into, and detained till they had expiated their fault. The nations into which his community was divided were the Greeks, which was by far the most numerous, and consisted of all those that came from any provinces of the empire; the Armenians, with whom were joined the Arabians and Persians; and, thirdly, the Bessi, who comprehended all the northern nations below Thrace, or all who used the Runic or Sclavonian tongue. Each nation sung the first part of the mass to the end of the gospel in their own church, but after the gospel all met in the church of the Greeks, where they celebrated the essential part of the sacrifice in Greek, and communicated all together.
The monks passed a considerable part of the day and night at their devotions in the church, and at the times not set apart for public prayer and necessary rest every one was obliged to apply himself to some trade or manual labour, not incompatible with recollection that the house might be supplied with conveniences. Sallust, Bishop of Jerusalem, appointed St. Sabas superior general of the hermits and our saint of the Cenobites, or religious men living in community throughout all Palestine, whence he was styled the Cenobiarch. These two great servants of God lived in strict friendship, and had frequent spiritual conferences together; they were also united in their zeal and sufferings for the church.
The Emperor Anastasius patronised the Eutychian heresy, and used all possible means to engage our saint in his party. In 513 he deposed Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, as he had banished Flavian II, Patriarch of Antioch, and intruded Severus, an impious heretic, into that see, commending the Syrians to obey and hold communion with him. SS. Theodosius and Sabas maintained boldly the right of Elias, and of John his successor; whereupon the imperial officers thought it most advisable to connive at their proceedings, considering the great authority they had acquired by their sanctity. Soon after, the emperor sent Theodosius a considerable sum of money, for charitable uses in appearance, but in reality to engage him in his interest. The saint accepted of it, and distributed it all among the poor. Anastasius, now persuading himself that he was as good as gained over to his cause, sent him a heretical profession of faith, in which the divine and human natures in Christ were confounded into one, and desired him to sign it. The saint wrote him an answer full of apostolic spirit; in which, besides solidly confuting the Eutychian error, he added that he was ready to lay down his life for the faith of the church. The emperor admired his courage and the strength of his reasoning, and, returning him a respectful answer, highly commended his generous zeal, made some apology for his own inconsiderateness, and protested that he only desired the peace of the church. But it was not long ere he relapsed into his former impiety, and renewed his bloody edicts against the orthodox, dispatching troops everywhere to have them put in execution. On the first intelligence of this, Theodosius went over  all the deserts and country of Palestine, exhorting every one to be firm in the faith of the four general councils. At Jerusalem, having assembled the people together, he from the pulpit cried out with a loud voice: "If any one receives not the four general councils as the four gospels, let him be anathema." So bold an action in a man of his years inspired with courage those whom the edicts had terrified. His discourses had a wonderful effect on the people, and God gave a sanction to his zeal by miracles: one of these was, that on his going out of the church at Jerusalem, a woman was healed of a cancer on the spot by only touching his garments. The emperor sent an order for his banishment, which was executed; but, dying soon after, Theodosius was recalled by his catholic successor, Justin, who, from a common soldier, had gradually ascended the imperial throne.
Our saint survived his return eleven years, never admitting the least relaxation in his former austerities. Such was his humility that, seeing two monks at variance with each other, he threw himself at their feet, and would not rise till they were perfectly reconciled; and once having excommunicated one of his subjects for a crime, who contumaciously pretended to excommunicate him in his turn, the saint behaved as if he had been really excommunicated, to gain the sinner's soul by this unprecedented example of submission, which had the desired effect. During the last year of his life he was afflicted with a painful distemper, in which he gave proof of a heroic patience, and an entire submission to the will of God. Perceiving the hour of his dissolution at hand, he gave his last exhortations to his disciples, and foretold many things, which accordingly came to pass after his death; this happened in the one hundred and fifth year of his age, and of our Lord 529. Peter, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the whole country, assisted with the deepest sentiments of respect at the solemnity of his interment, which was honoured by miracles. He was buried in his first cell called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who came to adore Christ soon after his birth were said to have lodged in it. A certain count being on his march against the Persians, begged  the hair shirt which the saint used to wear next his skin, and believed that he owed the victory which he obtained over them to the saint's protection through the pledge of that relic. Both the Romans and Greek calendars mention his festival on the 11th of January.
It is the opinion of St. Gregory the Great that the world is to some persons so full of ambushes and snares, or dangerous occasions of sin, that they cannot be saved but by choosing a safe retreat. Yet there are some who find the greatest dangers in solitude itself; so that it is necessary for every one to sound his own heart, take a survey of his own forces and abilities, and consult God, that he may best be able to learn the designs of his providence with regard to his soul; in doing which, a great purity of intention is the first requisite. Ease and enjoyment must not be the end of Christian retirement, but penance, labour, and assiduous contemplation; without great fervour and constancy in which, close solitude is the road to perdition. If greater safety, or an unfitness for a public station, or a life of much business (in which several are only public nuisances), may be just motives to some for embracing a life of retirement, the means of more easily attaining to perfect virtue may be such to many. Nor do true contemplatives bury their talents, or cease either to be members of the republic of mankind, or to throw in their mite towards its welfare.
From the prayers and thanksgivings which they daily offer to God for the peace of the world, the preservation of the church, the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of all men, doubtless more valuable benefits often accrue to mankind than from the alms of the rich or the labours of the learned. Nor is it to be imagined how far and how powerfully their spirit, and the example of their innocence and perfect virtue, often spread their influence; and how serviceable persons who lead a holy and sequestered life may be to the good of the world; nor how great glory redounds to God by the perfect purity of heart and charity to which many souls are thus raised.

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Saint January 10 : St. William of #Bourges : #Cistercian #Bishop

St. William of Bourges
CISTERCIAN BISHOP
Feast: January 10

Information:
Feast Day:January 10
Born:
12th century in Nevers, France
Died:10 January 1209 at Bourges, France
Canonized:17 May 1217 by Pope Honorius III

Ciscertian bishop, also called William of Dongeon. He was born at Nevers, France, and studied under his uncle, Peter, the archdeacon of Soissons, before receiving ordination and appointment as a cannon of Soissons. He helpd the same post in Paris adn then entered the monastery of Grandmont, transferring to the Cistercian community at Pontigny. In succeeding years, he was abbot of Fontaine-Jean, in Sens; abbot of Chalis, near Senlis; and bishop of Bourges, receiving consecration in 1200. The last office he was compelled to take at the behest of Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216). As bishop, he distinguished himself by his austerities, concern for the poor, the defense of the rights of the Church against the French crown, and his success in converting many members of the Albigensian heresy. He was canonized by Pope Honorius III (r. 1216-1227).

(Taken from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints)

Monday, January 9, 2017

#PopeFrancis "That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion..." Prayer Intention for January

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for January:
Christian Unity: 
"That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity. "
 The Apostleship of Prayer has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention.  The full text of the Pope’s Video is below:
In today’s world, many Christians from various churches work together to serve humanity in need, to defend human life and its dignity, to defend creation, and to combat injustice. [1]
This desire to walk together, to collaborate in service and in solidarity with the weakest and with those who suffer, is a source of joy for us all. [2]
Join your voice to mine in praying for all who contribute through prayer and fraternal charity to restoring full ecclesial communion in service of the challenges facing humanity. [3]
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[1] Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity for the 50th anniversary of the decree "Unitatis Redintegratio".
[2] Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity for the 50th anniversary of the decree "Unitatis Redintegratio".
[3] Universal Prayer Intention of the Holy Father entrusted to the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer). January 2017.
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