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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Catholic News World : Saturday February 25, 2017 - SHARE

#BreakingNews Coptic Christians brutally Killed by ISIS cells in Egypt - Please PRAY

Sinai, Coptic Christian killed with a bullet to the neck, third victim in two days



The Coptic minority is being targeted by local cells of the Islamic state. The murder took place yesterday in Al-Arich. The man's house was set on fire. Previously a 60 year old Christian and son were killed; the young man was burnt alive. Daesh announces new attacks on social networks.
Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An Egyptian Coptic Christian was killed yesterday and his house was set on fire in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. A jihadist cell linked to the Islamic State (SI) claimed the murder the same cell implicated in past attacks against Christians. This is the third victim in two days for the local Coptic community.

On February 19, in a video posted on the Telegram messaging site, the Islamic State had promised to strike the Christian community. And the attacks have not been long in coming.

On February 22, the authorities found the bullet-riddled body of a Christian about 60; his son died with him also, burned alive by jihadists. The authorities h found the body of the young man at dawn, in the backyard of a school of Al-Arich.

Yesterday the third victim in just two days: a Christian of 40, was found lifeless, killed by a gunshot to the head, on the roof of his home. After killing him, the terrorists set fire his house on fire.

Yesterday’s murder also happened  in Al-Arich, the capital of North Sinai Governorate. Investigators have now focused their attention on the jihadist track, and it was later confirmed by Daesh militiamen [Arabic acronym for the Islamic state] in the region.

Earlier, on February 12  in Al-Arich, some masked men on a motorcycle gunned down a Christian veterinarian, while he was at the wheel of his own car. In late January, a Christian officer was killed by a group of armed men; the identity of the attackers is still unknown, in this case.

Since the military coup of 2013, which put an end to the presidency of Mohamed Morsi and overthrew the government of the Muslim Brotherhood, the northern Sinai has been the scene of bloody attacks perpetrated by militiamen jihadists. Most often the attacks are concentrated against army units, police, security officials. However, the attacks have not spared the Christian Coptic minority. Among these, the most serious was the suicide bombing on 11 December against a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, which caused 29 victims.

In the past, al Qaeda had set its sights on the Coptic Christians. In particular, in 2010 the local cell of the terror network led by Osama bin Laden had promised the "cleansing" of Christians from the Sinai region. Threats that came to fruition on the night of New Year's Day 2011, when a car bomb exploded in front of a Coptic church, killing 29 people. SHARED from AsiaNews IT

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Saturday February 25, 2017 - #Eucharist


Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 346


Reading 1SIR 17:1-15

God from the earth created man,
and in his own image he made him.
He makes man return to earth again,
and endows him with a strength of his own.
Limited days of life he gives him,
with power over all things else on earth.
He puts the fear of him in all flesh,
and gives him rule over beasts and birds.
He created for them counsel, and a tongue and eyes and ears,
and an inventive heart,
and filled them with the discipline of understanding.
He created in them knowledge of the spirit;
With wisdom he fills their heart;
good and evil he shows them.
He put the fear of himself upon their hearts,
and showed them his mighty works,
That they might glory in the wonder of his deeds
and praise his holy name.
He has set before them knowledge,
a law of life as their inheritance;
An everlasting covenant he has made with them,
his justice and his judgments he has revealed to them.
His majestic glory their eyes beheld,
his glorious voice their ears heard.
He says to them, "Avoid all evil";
each of them he gives precepts about his fellow men.
Their ways are ever known to him,
they cannot be hidden from his eyes.
Over every nation he places a ruler,
but God's own portion is Israel.
All their actions are clear as the sun to him,
his eyes are ever upon their ways.

Responsorial PsalmPS 103:13-14, 15-16, 17-18

R. (see 17) The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,
For he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.
R. The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
Man's days are like those of grass;
like a flower of the field he blooms;
The wind sweeps over him and he is gone,
and his place knows him no more.
R. The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity
to eternity toward those who fear him,
And his justice toward children's children
among those who keep his covenant.
R. The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.

AlleluiaSEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 10:13-16

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
"Let the children come to me; do not prevent them,
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it."
Then he embraced the children and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.

Saint February 25 : St. Tarasius : #Pariarch of #Constantinople

Patriarch of Constantinople, date of birth unknown; died 25 February, 806.
He was the son of the Patrician and Prefect of Constantinople, George, and his wife Eukratia, and entered the service of the State. In 784 when Paul IV Patriarch of Constantinople died Tarasius was an imperial secretary, and a champion of the veneration of images. It may be that before his death the patriarch had recommended Tarasius as his successor in the patriarchate to the Empress Irene who was regent for her son Constantine VI (780-797). After the burial of Paul IV a great popular assembly was held before the Magnaura Palace to discuss the filling of the vacant see. The empress delivered an oration on the new appointment to the patriarchate and the people proclaimed Tarasius as the most worthy candidate. The empress agreed but said that Tarasius refused to accept the position. Tarasius now made a speech himself in which he declared he felt himself unworthy of the office, further that the elevation of a layman was very hazardous, and that the position of the Church of Constantinople had become a very difficult one, as it was separated from the Catholics of Western Europe and isolated from the other Oriental patriarchates; consequently he would only be willing to accept the position of patriarch on condition that Church unity be restored and that, in connection with the pope, an oecumenical council be called. The majority of the populace approved of these views and the imperial Court agreed to it. So on 25 December, 784, Tarasius was consecrated patriarch. In 785 he sent the priest George as his legate to Hadrian I with a letter in which he announced his appointment. In his reply the pope expressed his disapproval of the elevation of Tarasius directly from the laity to the dignity of a bishop contrary to canonical regulation, but allowed clemency to rule in view of the orthodoxy of the new patriarch's views, and recognized him as patriarch. After this by joint action with the pope and the imperial Court Tarasius called the Second Council of Nicaea, the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which rejected Iconoclasm. Union with the Roman Church was restored.
After the synod the patriarch had a number of struggles not only with the Iconoclastic party of the capital but also with a party of Orthodox monks. First, the latter upbraided him for restoring to office the bishops who had formerly maintained Iconoclasm, but who had submitted to the decrees of the Council of 787. As, however, this was in accordance with the decrees of the council the accusation was allowed to drop. Another accusation was much more serious, namely, that Tarasius tolerated and encouraged simony, because those bishops who had given money to obtain their positions were only commanded by him to do a year's penance and were permitted to retain their offices. The patriarch defended himself in writing against this accusation which he denied in toto; moreover, he issued a severe synodal letter against Simonists. The monks, however, were not satisfied; they maintained their accusations and also attacked the Council of 787. At a later date Theodore of Studium, who took part in these disputes, changed his opinion of Tarasius, and also of the Second Council of Nicaea, the oecumenical character of which he acknowledged. Many serious difficulties still existed in regard to Western Europe. There were also fresh disputes in Constantinople when the Emperor Constantine VI put aside his lawful wife and wished to marry Theodata, a relative of Abbot Theodore of Studium. Tarasius positively refused to perform the second marriage and expressed his displeasure at the conduct of the priest Joseph who had married the emperor. The zealous monks, whose leaders were the Abbots Plato of Saccudium and Theodore of Studium, accused the patriarch of weakness, because he took no further steps against the emperor. They refused to have Church fellowship any longer with Tarasius, and were, consequently, violently persecuted by the emperor who, however, also treated the patriarch harshly. After Irene had dethroned Constantine in 797, Tarasius deposed the priest Joseph and peace was once more restored between the patriarch and the monks. (See THEODORE OF STUDIUM). In 802 Tarasius crowned as emperor Nicephorus, who had overthrown Irene, an act that greatly dissatisfied the populace. The patriarch had nothing to do with the intrigues of the court. His life was ascetic and simple, he checked the luxury of the clergy, preached with great zeal, and was very benevolent to the poor. After his death he was venerated as a saint. His name is also placed in the Roman Martyrology under the date of 25 February. Catholic Enclopedia

Saint February 25 : St. Walburga - Patron of Eichstadt

St. Walburga Feb 25 ( Hist. ) Born in Devonshire, about 710; died at Heidenheim, 25 Feb., 777. She is the patroness of Eichstadt, Oudenarde, Furnes, Antwerp, Gronigen, Weilburg, and Zutphen, and is invoked as special patroness against hydrophobia, and in storms, and also by sailors. She was the daughter of St. Richard, one of the under-kings of the West Saxons, and of Winna, sister of St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, and had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. St. Richard, when starting with his two sons on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, entrusted Walburga, then eleven years old, to the abbess of Wimborne. In the claustral school and as a member of the community, she spent twenty-six years preparing for the great work she was to accomplish in Germany. The monastery was famous for holiness and austere discipline. There was a high standard at Wimborne, and the child was trained in solid learning, and in accomplishments suitable to her rank. Thanks to this she was later able to write St. Winibald's Life and an account in Latin of St. Willibald's travels in Palestine. She is thus looked upon by many as the first female author of England and Germany. Scarcely a year after her arrival, Walburga received tidings of her father's death at Lucca. During this period St. Boniface was laying the foundations of the Church in Germany. He saw that for the most part scattered efforts would be futile, or would exert but a passing influence. He, therefore, determined to bring the whole country under an organized system. As he advanced in his spiritual conquests he established monasteries which, like fortresses, should hold the conquered regions, and from whose watch-towers the light of faith and learning should radiate far and near.
Boniface was the first missionary to call women to his aid. In 748, in response to his appeal, Abbess Tetta sent over to Germany St. Lioba and St. Walburga, with many other nuns. They sailed with fair weather, but before long a terrible storm arose. Hereupon Walburga prayed, kneeling on the deck, and at once the sea became calm. On landing, the sailors proclaimed the miracle they had witnessed, so that Walburga was everywhere received with joy and veneration. There is a tradition in the Church of Antwerp that, on her way to Germany, Walburga made some stay there; and in that city's most ancient church, which now bears the title of St. Walburga, there is pointed out a grotto in which she was wont to pray. This same church, before adopting the Roman Office, was accustomed to celebrate the feast of St. Walburga four times a year. At Mainz she was welcomed by her uncle, St. Boniface, and by her brother, St. Willibald. After living some time under the rule of St. Lioba at Bischofsheim, she was appointed abbess of Heidenheim, and was thus placed near her favourite brother, St. Winibald, who governed an abbey there. After his death she ruled over the monks' monastery as well as her own. Her virtue, sweetness, and prudence, added to the gifts of grace and nature with which she was endowed, as well as the many miracles she wrought, endeared her to all. It was of these nuns that Ozanam wrote: "Silence and humility have veiled the labours of the nuns from the eyes of the world, but history has assigned them their place at the very beginning of German civilization: Providence has placed women at ever cradleside." On 23 Sept., 776, she assisted at the translation of her brother St. Winibald's body by St. Willibald, when it was found that time had left no trace upon the sacred remains. Shortly after this she fell ill, and, having been assisted in her last moments by St. Willibald, she expired.
St. Willibald laid her to rest beside St. Winibald, and many wonders were wrought at both tombs. St. Willibald survived till 786, and after his death devotion to St. Walburga gradually declined, and her tomb was neglected. About 870, Otkar, then Bishop of Eichstadt, determined to restore the church and monastery of Heidenheim, which were falling to ruin. The workmen having desecrated St. Walburga's grave, she one night appeared to the bishop, reproaching and threatening him. This led to the solemn translation of the remains to Eichstadt on 21 Sept. of the same year. They were placed in the Church of Holy Cross, now called St. Walburga's. In 893 Bishop Erchanbold, Otkar's successor, opened the shrine to take out a portion of the relics for Liubula, Abbess of Monheim, and it was then that the body was first discovered to be immersed in a precious oil or dew, which from that day to this (save during a period when Eichstadt was laid under interdict, and when blood was shed in the church by robbers who seriously wounded the bell-ringer) has continued to flow from the sacred remains, especially the breast. This fact has caused St. Walburga to be reckoned among the Elaephori, or oil-yielding saints (see OIL OF SAINTS). Portions of St. Walburga's relics have been taken to Cologne, Antwerp, Furnes, and elsewhere, whilst her oil has been carried to all quarters of the globe.
The various translations of St. Walburga's relics have led to a diversity of feasts in her honour. In the Roman Martyrology she is commemorated on 1 May, her name being linked with St. Asaph's, on which day her chief festival is celebrated in Belgium and Bavaria. In the Benedictine Breviary her feast is assigned to 25 (in leap year 26) Feb. She is represented in the Benedictine habit with a little phial or bottle; as an abbess with a crozier, a crown at her feet, denoting her royal birth; sometimes she is represented in a group with St. Philip and St. James the Less, and St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy, because she is said to have been canonized by Pope Adrian II on 1 May, the festival of these saints. If, however, as some maintain, she was canonized during the episcopate of Erchanbold, not in Otkar's, then it could not have been during the pontificate of Adrian II. The Benedictine community of Eichstadt is flourishing, and the nuns have care of the saint's shrine; that of Heidenheim was ruthlessly expelled in 1538, but the church is now in Catholic hands. Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday February 24, 2017 - #Eucharist


Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 345


Reading 1SIR 6:5-17

A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain a friend, first test him,
and be not too ready to trust him.
For one sort is a friend when it suits him,
but he will not be with you in time of distress.
Another is a friend who becomes an enemy,
and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you.
Keep away from your enemies;
be on your guard with your friends.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;
For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.

Responsorial PsalmPS 119:12, 16, 18, 27, 34, 35

R. (35a) Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.
R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
In your statutes I will delight;
I will not forget your words.
R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.
R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.
R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

AlleluiaJN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 10:1-12

Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan.
Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom,
he again taught them.
The Pharisees approached him and asked,
"Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?"
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?"
They replied,
"Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her."
But Jesus told them,
"Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate."
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery."

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Saint February 24 : St. Ethelbert : #King of #Kent

KING OF KENT Feast: February 24

Born:
552
Died:
24 February 616
King of Kent; b. 552; d. 24 February, 616; son of Eormenric, through whom he was descended from Hengest. He succeeded his father, in 560, as King of Kent and made an unsuccessful attempt to win from Ceawlin of Wessex the overlordship of Britain. His political importance was doubtless advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks (see BERTHA I). A noble disposition to fair dealing is argued by his giving her the old Roman church of St. Martin in his capital of Cantwaraburh (Canterbury) and affording her every opportunity for the exercise of her religion, although he himself had been reared, and remained, a worshipper of Odin. The same natural virtue, combined with a quaint spiritual caution and, on the other hand, a large instinct of hospitality, appears in his message to St. Augustine when, in 597, the Apostle of England landed on the Kentish coast
In the interval between Ethelbert's defeat by Ceawlin and the arrival of the Roman missionaries, the death of the Wessex king had left Ethelbert, at least virtually, supreme in southern Britain, and his baptism, which took place on Whitsunday next following the landing of Augustine (2 June, 597) had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months. Thenceforward Ethelbert became the watchful father of the infant Anglo-Saxon Church. He founded the church which in after-ages was to be the primatial cathedral of all England, besides other churches at Rochester and Canterbury. But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism. Moreover, as the lawgiver who issued their first written laws to the English people (the ninety "Dooms of Ethelbert", A.D. 604) he holds in English history a place thoroughly consistent with his character as the temporal founder of that see which did more than any other for the upbuilding of free and orderly political institutions in Christendom. When St. Mellitus had converted Sæbert, King of the East Saxons, whose capital was London, and it was proposed to make that see the metropolitan, Ethelbert, supported by Augustine, successfully resisted the attempt, and thus fixed for more than nine centuries the individual character of the English church. He left three children, of whom the only son, Eadbald, lived and died a pagan.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia) 

#PopeFrancis ‘but to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ #Homily

(Vatican Radio) Don’t scandalize “the little ones” with a double life, because scandal destroys. That was the message of Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. And so, the Pope said, we should not put off conversion.
“Cut off your hand,” “Pluck out your eye,” but “don’t scandalize the little ones,” that is, the just, those who confide in the Lord, who believe simply in the Lord. That was the Pope’s exhortation in the homily, based on the day’s Gospel. For the Lord, he said, scandal is destruction:
“But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard – all of us, around the neighbourhood and elsewhere – ‘but to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that, scandal. You destroy. You beat down. And this happens every day, it’s enough to see the news on TV, or to read the papers. In the papers there are so many scandals, and there is also the great publicity of the scandals. And with the scandals there is destruction.”
The Pope gave the example of a company that was on the brink of failure. The leaders wanted to avoid a just strike, but the company had not done well, and they wanted to talk with the authorities of the company. The people didn’t have money for their daily needs because they had not received their wages. And the head of the company, a Catholic, was taking his winter vacation on a beach in the Middle East, and the people knew it, even if it hadn’t made the papers. “These are scandals,” Pope Francis said:
“Jesus talks, in the Gospel, about those who commit scandal, without saying the world ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood: But you will arrive in heaven and you will knock at the gate: ‘Here I am, Lord!’ – ‘But don’t you remember? I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?’ ‘Yes, I remember. The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.’ That will be Jesus’ response to these scandalous people who live a double life.
“The double life comes from following the passions of the heart, the capital sins that are the wounds of original sin,” hiding the passions, but following them, the Pope explained. The first Reading, in fact, tells us that they do not satisfy, and not to trust in riches, to not say, “There’s enough for myself.” And so Pope Francis calls us to not put off conversion:
“It would be good for all of us, each one of us, today, to consider if there is something of a double life within us, of appearing just, of seeming to be good believers, good Catholics, but underneath doing something else; if there is something of a double life, if there is an excessive confidence: ‘But, sure, the Lord will eventually forgive everything, but I’ll keep going as I have been…’ If there is something saying, “Sure, this is not going well, I will convert, but not today: tomorrow.’ Let’s think about that. And let us profit from the Word of the Lord and consider the fact that on this point, the Lord is very strict. Scandal destroys.”

2017

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
















Information:

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



MARTYR AND BISHOP OF SMYRNA
Saint Polycarp (69-155), whose feast day we celebrate today, was a holy and learned bishop of Smyrna—a second generation Christian who heard the word of the Lord directly from the apostle John. He is the first Christian martry whose acts of martyrdom were written at the time of his death, and preserved to demonstrate his faith and lack of fear in persecution. In a time of struggle an unrest in the fledgling faith, Polycarp, along with his friend Saint Ignatius of Antioch, looked to the life and Word of Christ as the example of how to celebrate the liturgy, how to worship, and how to live. Saint Ignatius said of Saint Polycarp, “Your mind is grounded in God as on an unmovable rock.”
Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna at a time when Roman persecution of Christians was in full effect. Despite the constant rear of arrest, torture, and death, Polycarp remained resolute in his faith, candidly preaching his belief in Christ, and telling those of other faiths who demanded recognition and respect, “Yes I recognize you- I recognize you as the son of Satan.”
Polycarp was well-known in the early community as learned, patient, and wise. He demonstrated forgiveness, humility, and diplomacy in settling conflict and controversy in the Church. He wrote prolifically, although few of his work survives. Only one letter, a letter to the Philippians, has been preserved. In this letter, Polycarp summarizes and transmits the teachings of Christ:
“Therefore, prepare yourselves. Serve God in reverence and truth, leaving behind empty, fruitless talk and the deception of the crowd, believing in the one who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him glory and a throne at his right hand, to whom all things in heaven and earth are subject, whom every breathing thing worships, who is coming as judge of the living and dead, whose blood God will require from those who disobey him. But the one who raised him from the dead also will raise us if we do his will and follow in his commandments and love the things he loved—refraining from all unrighteousness, greediness, love of money, evil speech, and false witness, not paying back evil for evil or abuse for abuse or blow for blow or curse for curse, but remembering what the Lord said when he taught: Do not judge so that you may not be judged; forgive and then you will be forgiven; show mercy so that you will be shown mercy; with what measure you measure out it will be measured again to you; and that blessed are the poor and those being persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Polycarp to the Philippians, 2) Saint Polycarp modeled his life after Christ. He did not seek out martyrdom as did some at the time, instead, like Jesus, waiting until the Lord decided it was his time. When the Romans, bloodthirsty for the death of Christians, called for his death at the hands of wild animals in the arena, Polycarp was persuaded by friends to hide in a small farmhouse outside of the populated area. While there, Polycarp had a dream in which his pillow caught fire, leading him to tell his followers that he would be martyred by fire. There he was eventually found, after the Romans tortured the servant boys providing him food. Hearing the soldiers approaching, Polycarp came out of hiding to greet them, saying “God’s will be done.” He offered them a meal, and asked permission to pray for one hour before being arrested. Given that he was 86 at the time, calm and gentle, and had showed them hospitality, the soldiers allowed him two hours of prayer, during which he prayed for the continuation of the Church, and “every person he had ever known.” Saint Polycarp was then led to the arena for martyrdom. Prior to release of the wild animals, expected to tear him to bits, the magistrate asked him to renounce Christ, unwilling to send an 86 year old man to his death. Polycarp answered, “Eighty six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Again, the magistrate asked for Polycarp to renounce his faith and pledge an oath of allegiance to Caesar. Polycarp responded, "If you imagine that I will swear by Caesar, you do not know who I am. Let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian." Running out of options, the magistrate begged Polycarp to change his mind, or else be thrown to the wild animals. Unafraid, Polycarp responded, "Change of mind from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."
Polycarp, due to his lack of apparent fear, was sentenced to being burned alive. As they were tying him to the stake and lighting the fire, Polycarp prayed to Heaven:
"Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."
The flames were lit, but miraculously did not touch the saint. Rather then spread around him like an arch, causing him to glow with a heavenly light. Seeing what was happening, the Roman soldiers stabbed him in the throat, killing him, his blood quenching the flames of the fire. His body was subsequently burned by the Romans to prevent him from being worshipped, although his bones were stolen by Christians and saved as relics. Saint Polycarp is an inspiration to us, especially during our Lenten season of preparation. He remained true in his faith, candid in his words, and did not go looking for a glorious martyr’s death. But when it came looking for him, he readily accepted the will of the Lord, proclaiming the Good News until the moment he expired. His courage and confidence in the face of persecution inspires us to step outside of our own perceived strength and power, and to look to Him who provides all for us—our Father in heaven. For he will provide us all that we need: hope, endurance, love, strength, and righteousness. All we need to do is repent, believe, and ask.
Therefore we should persevere unceasingly in our hope and down payment of our righteousness, which is Christ Jesus, who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, who committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth, but because of us, in order that we might live in him, endured all things. Therefore let us be imitators of his endurance, and if we should suffer because of his name, we should glorify him. For this is the example he set for us in himself, and this we have believed. (Polycarp to the Philippians, 8) Text shared from 365 Rosaries Blog

#PopeFrancis "I invite each one to become a promoter of the culture of peace in every realm of life." Audience - FULL TEXT + Video



The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We are often tempted to think that Creation is our property, a possession that we can exploit to our pleasure and to which we must render account to no one. In the passage of the Letter to the Romans (8:19-27), of which we just heard a part, the Apostle Paul reminds us, instead, that Creation is a wonderful gift that God has put in our hands, so that we can enter in relationship with Him and recognize  the sign of His design of love, to whose realization we are all called to collaborate, day after day.
However, when the human being lets himself be gripped by egoism, he ends up by ruining even the most beautiful things that were entrusted to him. And so it has happened also with Creation. We think of water. Water is a most beautiful thing and so important; water gives us life, it helps us in everything but to exploit minerals water is contaminated, Creation is soiled and destroyed. This is only one example. There are so many. With the tragic experience of sin, communion with God broken, we have broken the original communion with all that surrounds us and we have ended up by corrupting Creation, thus rendering it a slave, subject to our perishability. And, unfortunately, the consequence of all this is dramatically before our eyes every day. When man breaks his communion with God, he loses his original beauty and ends up disfiguring everything around him; and where everything at first referred back to the Father-Creator and to His infinite love, now it bears the sad and desolate sign of human pride and voracity. Human pride, exploiting Creation, destroys.
However, the Lord does not leave us alone and, even in this desolate picture, He offers us a new prospect of liberation, of universal salvation. It is what Paul makes evident with joy, inviting us to listen to the groaning of the whole of Creation. In fact, if we pay attention, everything around us groans: Creation itself groans, we human beings groan and the Spirit groans within us, in our heart. Now, these groans are not a sterile, disconsolate lament but – as the Apostle specifies – they are the groans of one giving birth; they are the groans of one who suffers, but who knows that a new life is about to come to light. And in our case it is truly so. We are still dealing with the consequences of our sin and everything around us still bears the sign of our toils, of our failures, of our closures. At the same time, however, we know that the Lord has saved us and it has already been given to us to contemplate and to enjoy in ourselves and in what surrounds us signs of the Resurrection, of Easter, which brings about a new Creation.

This is the content of our hope. A Christian does not live outside the world; he is able to recognize in his life and in what surrounds him signs of evil, of egoism and of sin. He is supportive of those who suffer, of those who weep, of those who are marginalized, of those who feel desperate …. But, at the same time, a Christian has learned to read all this with the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ. And so he knows that we are living a time of expectation, a time of longing that of goes beyond the present, the time of fulfilment. We know in hope that the Lord wants to heal, definitively with His mercy, wounded and humiliated hearts and all that man has disfigured in his impiety, and that thus He will regenerate a new world and a new humanity, finally reconciled in His love.
How many times we Christians are tempted to disappointment, to pessimism. Sometimes we let ourselves fall into useless lament or we remain without words and we do not even know what to ask for, what to hope for … However, once again the Holy Spirit comes to help us, breath of our hope, who keeps alive the groan and expectation of our heart. The Spirit sees for us beyond the negative appearances of the present and already now reveals to us the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord is preparing for humanity.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the Deacons of the Diocese of Milan and of the Society of Mary, as well as the delegation of the “Benedictine Torch of Peace,” with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo, the Abbot of Montecassino, Dom Donato Ogliari and the Abbot of Subiaco, Dom Mauro Meacci: I invite each one to become a promoter of the culture of peace in every realm of life.
I greet the Mayor and the delegation of the town of Farindola, stricken a month ago by the avalanche that destroyed a hotel, causing numerous victims. I greet the Royal Arch-Confraternity of Piedmonte Matese with the Bishop of Alife-Caiazzo, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo; the participants in the manifestation against bullying with the Bishop of Palestrina, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini and the members of the Sophia Naval Operation, geared to the prevention of tragedies of human beings in the Mediterranean. I greet the members of the “Giuseppe Toniolo” Bank of Cooperative Credit of Genzano of Rome, La Stanza Accanto Association and the artists of the Rony Rollers Circus, thanking them for their performance. They create beauty! And beauty leads us to God. It is a way to come to God. Continue to create beauty! Continue, as it does us all good. Thank you!
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the feast of the See of Saint Peter the Apostle, day of special communion of believers with the Successor of Saint Peter and with the Holy See. Dear young people, I encourage you to intensify your prayer for my Petrine ministry; dear sick, I thank you for the testimony of life given in suffering for the edification of the ecclesial community; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the same love that binds the Lord Jesus to His Church.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Of particular concern is the painful news reaching us of martyred South Sudan, where, joined to a fratricidal conflict, is a grave food crisis that scourges the region of the Horn of Africa and that condemns millions of people to death due to hunger, among them many children. At this moment, more than ever the commitment of all is necessary not to stop a declarations but to render food aid concrete and to enable it to reach the suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these brothers of ours and all those who work to help them.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. February 22, 2017 - #Eucharist



Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
Lectionary: 535


Reading 11 PT 5:1-4

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

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

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

AlleluiaMT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;
the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, 
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Saint February 22 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the #Apostle - #StPeter


From the earliest times the Church at Rome celebrated on 18 January the memory of the day when the Apostle held his first service with the faithful of the Eternal City. According to Duchesne and de Rossi, the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (Weissenburg manuscript) reads as follows: "XV KL. FEBO. Dedicatio cathedræ sci petri apostoli qua primo Rome petrus apostolus sedit" (fifteenth day before the calends of February, the dedication of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle in which Peter the Apostle first sat at Rome). The Epternach manuscript (Codex Epternacensis) of the same work, says briefly: "cath. petri in roma" (the Chair of Peter in Rome).
In its present (ninth-century) form the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" gives a second feast of the Chair of St. Peter for 22 February, but all the manuscripts assign it to Antioch, not to Rome. Thus the oldest manuscript, that of Berne, says: "VIII kal. mar. cathedræ sci petri apostoli qua sedit apud antiochiam". The Weissenburg manuscript says: "Natl [natale] sci petri apostoli cathedræ qua sedit apud antiocia." However, the words qua sedit apud antiochiam are seen at once to be a later addition. Both feasts are Roman; indeed, that of 22 February was originally the more important. This is clear from the Calendar of Philocalus drawn up in the year 354, and going back to the year 311; it makes no mention of the January feast but speaks thus of 22 February: "VIII Kl. Martias: natale Petri de cathedra" (eighth day before the Calends of March, the birthday [i.e. feast] of the Chair of Peter). It was not until after the insertion of Antioch in the copies of the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" that the feast of February gave way in importance to that of January. The Roman Church, therefore, at an early date celebrated a first and a second assumption of the episcopal office in Rome by St. Peter. This double celebration was also held in two places, in the Vatican Basilica and in a cemetery (coemeterium) on the Via Salaria. At both places a chair (cathedra) was venerated which the Apostle had used as presiding officer of the assembly of the faithful. The first of these chairs stood in the Vatican Basilica, in the baptismal chapel built by Pope Damasus; the neophytes in albis (white baptismal robes) were led from the baptistery to the pope seated on this ancient cathedra, and received from him the consignatio, i.e. the Sacrament of Confirmation. Reference is made to this custom in an inscription of Damasus which contains the line: "una Petri sedes, unum verumque lavacrum" (one Chair of Peter, one true font of baptism). St. Ennodius of Pavia (d. 521) speaks of it thus ("Libellus pro Synodo", near the end): "Ecce nunc ad gestatoriam sellam apostolicæ confessionis uda mittunt limina candidatos; et uberibus gaudio exactore fletibus collata Dei beneficio dona geminantur" (Behold now the neophytes go from the dripping threshold to the portable chair of the Apostolic confession; amid abundant tears called forth by joy the gifts of Divine grace are doubled). While therefore in the apse of the Vatican Basilica there stood a cathedra on which the pope sat amid the Roman clergy during the pontifical Mass, there was also in the same building a second cathedra from which the pope administered to the newly baptized the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Chair of St. Peter in the apse was made of marble and was built into the wall, that of the baptistery was movable and could be carried. Ennodius calls the latter a gestatoria sedes; throughout the Middle Ages it was always brought on 22 February from the above-mentioned consignatorium or place of confirmation to the high altar. That day the pope did not use the marble cathedra at the back of the apse but sat on this movable cathedra, which was, consequently, made of wood. The importance of this feast was heightened by the fact that 22 February was considered the anniversary of the day when Peter bore witness, by the Sea of Tiberias, to the Divinity of Christ and was again appointed by Christ to be the Rock of His Church. According to very ancient Western liturgies, 22 February was the day "quo electus est 1. Petrus papa" (on which Peter was first chosen pope). The Mass of this feast calls it at the beginning: "solemnitatis prædicandæ dies præcipue nobilis in quo . . . . beatus Bar-Jona voce Redemptoris fide devotâ prælatus est et per hanc Petri petram basis ecclesiæ fixus est", i.e. this day is called especially praiseworthy because on it the blessed Bar-Jona, by reason of his devout faith, was raised to pre-eminence by the words of the Redeemer, and through this rock of Peter was established the foundation of the Church. And the Oratio (collect) says: "Deus, qui hodiernâ die beatum Petrum post te dedisti caput ecclesiæ, cum te ille vere confessus sit" (O God, who didst this day give us as head of the Church, after Thyself, the Blessed Peter, etc.).
The second of the aforementioned chairs is referred to about 600 by an Abbot Johannes. He had been commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to collect in special little phials oil from the lamps which burned at the graves of the Roman martyrs (see CATACOMBS; MARTYR) for the Lombard queen, Theodolinda. According to the manuscript list of these oils preserved in the cathedral treasury of Monza, Italy, one of these vessels had on it the statement: "oleo de sede ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus" (oils from the chair where St. Peter first sat). Other ancient authorities describe the site as "ubi Petrus baptizabat" (where Peter baptized), or "ad fontes sancti Petri; ad Nymphas sancti Petri" (at the fountain of Saint Peter). Formerly this site was pointed out in the coemeterium majus (principal cemetery) on the Via Nomentana; it is now certain that it was on the Via Salaria, and was connected with the coemeterium, or cemetery, of Priscilla and the villa of the Acilii (Acilii Glabriones), situated above this catacomb. The foundation of this villa, showing masonry of a very early date (opus reticulatum), still exists. Both villa and cemetery, in one of whose burial chambers are several epitaphs of members of the family, or gens, of the Acilii, belong to the Apostolic Period. It is most probable that Priscilla, who gave her name as foundress to the catacomb, was the wife of Acilius Glabrio, executed under Domitian. There is hardly any doubt that the site, "ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus, ubi Petrus baptizabat" (where Saint Peter first sat, where Peter baptized), should be sought, not in an underground cubiculum (chamber) in the catacombs, but in an oratory above ground. At least nothing has been found in the oldest part of the cemetery of Priscilla now fully excavated, referring to a cathedra, or chair.
The feast of the Cathedra Petri was therefore celebrated on the Via Salaria on 18 January; in the Vatican Basilica it was observed on 22 February. It is easy to believe that after the triumph of Christianity the festival could be celebrated with greater pomp in the magnificent basilica erected by Constantine the Great over the confessio, or grave of Peter, than in a chapel far distant from the city on the Via Salaria. Yet the latter could rightly boast in its favour that it was there Saint Peter first exercised at Rome the episcopal office ("ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus", as Abbot Johannes wrote, or "qua primo Rome petrus apostolus sedit", as we read in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" at 18 January). This double festival of the Chair of St. Peter is generally attributed to a long absence of the Apostle from Rome. As, how ever, the spot, "ubi s. Petrus baptizabat, ubi prius sedit" was distant from the city, it is natural to think that the second feast of the cathedra is connected with the opening of a chapel for Christian worship in the city itself. Catholic Encyclopedia

#PopeFrancis "May the Lord give us the grace of ‘holy shame’ before the temptation of ambition.” #Homiliy


(Vatican Radio) “May the Lord give us the grace of ‘holy shame’ before the temptation of ambition.” That was Pope Francis’ message at daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday, saying that the one who wants to be the first must be last and the servant of all.
Pope Francis began his homily at daily Mass noting that “We will all be tempted.” He drew inspiration from the First Reading, which recalls that whoever wishes to serve the Lord must prepare for temptations, and the Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells his disciples of his impending death.
Temptation of ambition
The disciples do not understand why Jesus has told them of his coming death but are too afraid to ask what he means. This, the Pope said, is “the temptation to not complete the mission”. He said even Jesus suffered this temptation.
The day’s Gospel also mentioned another temptation, that of ambition. The disciples argue along the way about who among them was the greatest, but remain silent when Jesus asks them what they are discussing. The Holy Father said they do not respond because they are ashamed of their words:
“These were good people, who wanted to follow and serve the Lord. But they did not realize that the path of service to the Lord was not an easy one. It wasn’t like becoming part of a group, some charitable group doing good: No, it was something else. They were afraid of this. It happened, happens, and will happen. Let us think about infighting in a parish: ‘I want to be the president of this association, in order to climb the ladder. Who is the greatest here? Who is the greatest in this parish? No, I am the most important here; not that person there because he did something…’ And that is the chain of sin.”
Pope Francis also gave other examples of this temptation which brings one to “speak poorly of another” and to “climb the ladder”.
“Sometimes we priests say ashamedly within our presbyteries: ‘I want that parish… But the Lord is here… But I want that one…’ It is the same. It isn’t the way of the Lord but the path of vanity, of worldliness. The same occurs even among us bishops: worldliness comes as a temptation. Many times [it is said]: ‘I am in this diocese but look at how important that one is’ and I try to influence someone, or put pressure, to get somewhere…”
Therefore, Pope Francis exhorted his audience to always ask the Lord for “the grace to be ashamed when we find ourselves in these situations”.
Holy shame against the temptation to worldliness: ‘We are unworthy servants’
Jesus, he said, overturns this logic. Sitting among his disciples he reminds them that “if someone wishes to be first, they shall be last and the servant of all”. Jesus then takes a child and places it in their midst, telling them “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
The Pope asked his audience to pray for the Church, “for all of us” so that the Lord may defend us “from ambitions and from the worldliness of wishing to be greater than others”.
“May the Lord give us the grace of shame, of holy shame, when we find ourselves in that situation of temptation and to be ashamed: ‘But am I able to think such a thing? When I see my Lord on the cross and I would want to use the Lord to climb the ladder? And may God give us the grace of the simplicity of a child. I imagine a final question: ‘Lord, I have served you all my life. I have been the last all my life. And now what? What does the Lord say? Tell yourself: ‘I am an unworthy servant.’”

#PopeFrancis "For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself..." on #Migration - FULL TEXT


Forum  organized by the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalabrini International Migration Network.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s address to the Forum:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
    I extend to you my cordial greeting, with deep appreciation for your invaluable work.  I thank Archbishop Tomasi for his kind words, as well as Doctor Pöttering for his address.  I am also grateful for the three testimonies which reflect in a tangible way the theme of this Forum: “Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action”.  In effect, it is not possible to view the present challenges of contemporary migratory movement and of the promotion of peace, without including the twofold term “development and integration”: for this very reason I wanted to establish the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, with a Section concerned exclusively for migrants, refugees and the victims of human trafficking.
    Migration, in its various forms, is not a new phenomenon in humanity’s history.  It has left its mark on every age, encouraging encounter between peoples and the birth of new civilizations.  In its essence, to migrate is the expression of that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued.  For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland. 
    The beginning of this third millennium is very much characterized by migratory movement which, in terms of origin, transit and destination, involves nearly every part of the world.  Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this movement is forced, caused by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions: “The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another, or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is striking. Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 5 August 2013).
    Before this complex panorama, I feel the need to express particular concern for the forced nature of many contemporary migratory movements, which increases the challenges presented to the political community, to civil society and to the Church, and which amplifies the urgency for a coordinated and effective response to these challenges.  
    Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.
      To welcome.  “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 12 January 2015).  Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.  For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organisations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels.  A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter.  The enormous gathering together of persons seeking asylum and of refugees has not produced positive results.  Instead these gatherings have created new situations of vulnerability and hardship.  More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success.

      To protect.  My predecessor, Pope Benedict, highlighted the fact that the migratory experience often makes people more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 18 October 2005).  We are speaking about millions of migrant workers, male and female – and among these particularly men and women in irregular situations – of those exiled and seeking asylum, and of those who are victims of trafficking.  Defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.  Protecting these brothers and sisters is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices; prioritising constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programmes in the fight against “the trafficking of human flesh” which profits off others’ misfortune; coordinating the efforts of all actors, among which, you may be assured will always be the Church. 
    To promote.  Protecting is not enough.  What is required is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees.  This “takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” (Apostolic Letter Humanam Progressionem, 17 August 2016).  Development, according to the social doctrine of the Church (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 373-374), is an undeniable right of every human being.  As such, it must be guaranteed by ensuring the necessary conditions for its exercise, both in the individual and social context, providing fair access to fundamental goods for all people and offering the possibility of choice and growth.  Also here a coordinated effort is needed, one which envisages all the parties involved: from the political community to civil society, from international organisations to religious institutions.  The human promotion of migrants and their families begins with their communities of origin.  That is where such promotion should be guaranteed, joined to the right of being able to emigrate, as well as the right to not be constrained to emigrate (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 12 October 2012), namely the right to find in one’s own homeland the conditions necessary for living a dignified life.  To this end, efforts must be encouraged that lead to the implementation of programmes of international cooperation, free from partisan interests, and programmes of transnational development which involve migrants as active protagonists.  
      To integrate.  Integration, which is neither assimilation nor incorporation, is a two-way process, rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness: it is not the superimposing of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettoes.  Concerning those who arrive and who are duty bound not to close themselves off from the culture and traditions of the receiving country, respecting above all its laws, the family dimension of the process of integration must not be overlooked: for this reason I feel the need to reiterate the necessity, often presented by the Magisterium (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 15 August 1986), of policies directed at favouring and benefiting the reunion of families.  With regard to indigenous populations, they must be supported, by helping them to be sufficiently aware of and open to processes of integration which, though not always simple and immediate, are always essential and, for the future, indispensable.  This requires specific programmes, which foster significant encounters with others.  Furthermore, for the Christian community, the peaceful integration of persons of various cultures is, in some way, a reflection of its catholicity, since unity, which does not nullify ethnic and cultural diversity, constitutes a part of the life of the Church, who in the Spirit of Pentecost is open to all and desires to embrace all (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 5 August 1987).
    I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural, is today a responsibility, a duty we have towards our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, of civility and of solidarity.
     First of all, a duty of justice.  We can no longer sustain unacceptable economic inequality, which prevents us from applying the principle of the universal destination of the earth’s goods.  We are all called to undertake processes of apportionment which are respectful, responsible and inspired by the precepts of distributive justice.  “We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 8 December 2013, 9).  One group of individuals cannot control half of the world’s resources.  We cannot allow for persons and entire peoples to have a right only to gather the remaining crumbs.  Nor can we be indifferent or think ourselves dispensed from the moral imperatives which flow from a joint responsibility to care for the planet, a shared responsibility often stressed by the political international community, as also by the Magisterium (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 9; 163; 189, 406).  This joint responsibility must be interpreted in accord with the principle of subsidiarity, “which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power” (Laudato Si’, 196).  Ensuring justice means also reconciling history with our present globalized situation, without perpetuating mind-sets which exploit people and places, a consequence of the most cynical use of the market in order to increase the wellbeing of the few.  As Pope Benedict affirmed, the process of decolonization was delayed “both because of new forms of colonialism and continued dependence on old and new foreign powers, and because of grave irresponsibility within the very countries that have achieved independence” (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 33).  For all this there must be redress.
    Second, there is a duty of civility.  Our commitment to migrants, exiles and refugees is an application of those principles and values of welcome and fraternity that constitute a common patrimony of humanity and wisdom which we draw from.  Such principles and values have been historically codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in numerous conventions and international agreements.  “Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance” (ibid., 62).  Today more than ever, it is necessary to affirm the centrality of the human person, without allowing immediate and ancillary circumstances, or even the necessary fulfilment of bureaucratic and administrative requirements, to obscure this essential dignity. As Saint John Paul II stated, an “irregular legal status cannot allow the migrant to lose his dignity, since he is endowed with inalienable rights, which can neither be violated nor ignored” (John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 25 July 1995, 2).  From the duty of civility is also regained the value of fraternity, which is founded on the innate relational constitution of the human person: “A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 8 December 2013, 1).  Fraternity is the most civil way of relating with the reality of another person, which does not threaten us, but engages, reaffirms and enriches our individual identity (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Participants in an Interacademic Conference on “The Changing Identity of the Individual”, 28 January 2008).  
    Finally, there is a duty of solidarity.  In the face of tragedies which take the lives of so many migrants and refugees – conflicts, persecutions, forms of abuse, violence, death – expressions of empathy and compassion cannot help but spontaneously well-up.  “Where is your brother” (Gen 4:9): this question which God asks of man since his origins, involves us, especially today with regard to our brothers and sisters who are migrating: “This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us” (Homily at the "Arena" Sports Camp, Salina Quarter, Lampedusa, 8 July 2013).  Solidarity is born precisely from the capacity to understand the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and to take responsibility for these needs.  Upon this, in short, is based the sacred value of hospitality, present in religious traditions.  For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).  The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable.  Thus “a change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 5 August 2013).

    As I conclude these reflections, allow me to draw attention again to a particularly vulnerable group of migrants, exiles and refugees whom we are called to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.  I am speaking of the children and young people who are forced to live far from their homeland and who are separated from their loved ones.  I dedicated my most recent Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to them, highlighting how “we need to work towards protection, integration and long-term solutions” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 8 September 2016).
    I trust that these two days will bear an abundant fruit of good works.  I assure you of my prayers; and, please, do not forget to pray for me.  Thank you. 
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[1] Messaggio per la 100a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 5 agosto 2013.
[1] Discorso al Corpo diplomatico accreditato presso la Santa Sede, 12 gennaio 2015.
[1] Cfr Benedetto XVI, Messaggio per la 92a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 18 ottobre 2005.
[1] Lett. ap. in forma di Motu proprio Humanam progressionem, 17 agosto 2016.
[1] Cfr Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Compendio della Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, 373-374.
[1] Cfr Benedetto XVI, Messaggio per la 99a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 12 ottobre 2012.
[1] Cfr Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 15 agosto 1986.
[1] Cfr Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 5 agosto 1987.
[1] Messaggio per la 47ª Giornata Mondiale della Pace, 8 dicembre 2013, 9.
[1] Cfr Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Compendio della Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, 9;163;189;406.
[1] Lett. enc. Laudato si’, 196.
[1] Benedetto XVI, Lett. enc. Caritas in veritate, 33.
[1] Ibid., 62.
[1] Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 25 luglio 1995, 2.
[1] Messaggio per 47ª Giornata Mondiale della Pace, 8 dicembre 2013, 1.
[1] Cfr Benedetto XVI, Discorso ai partecipanti al convegno inter-accademico “L’identità mutevole dell'individuo”, 28 gennaio 2008.
[1] Omelia al Campo sportivo “Arena” in Località Salina, 8 luglio 2013.
[1] Messaggio per la 100a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato.
[1] Messaggio per la 103a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 8 settembre 2016.

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