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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Catholic News World : Saturday March 25, 2017 - SHARE

 2017



#PopeFrancis "..in this way opening Mary’s present to the whole of Salvation History...Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.” Homily + FULL Mass Video for Annunciation Solemnity


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in Monza Park for the people of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy on Saturday during a pastoral visit, reflecting on the annunciation of Jesus as a message of joy at the peripheries of society.
The Holy Father invited them to be joyful members of God’s people and to avoid “speculating” on the future of others.
Two were the questions Pope Francis put to the people gathered for Mass in Monza Park: “How can we live the joy of the Gospel today within our cities? Is Christian hope possible in this situation, here and now?”
The Holy Father said these two questions “touch our identities” and “require of us a new way of seeing our place in history”.
He was reflecting on the difference between the two annunciation stories in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: that of John the Baptist (Lc 1,26-38), which took place in the inner sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, and that of Jesus (Lc 1,5-10).
He said the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary by the Angel Gabriel took place in Galilee: “a peripheral city with a less-than-excellent reputation (Jn 1,46)”.
The Pope said the contrast indicates that “God’s new encounter with His people will take place in places we would not normally expect: on the margins and peripheries”.
He said, “It is God Himself who takes the initiative and chooses to enter – as Mary did – in our houses and daily struggles, full of anxiety and desires.”
Pope Francis said finding joy in our daily lives can be a challenge due to the speculation or taking advantage of others.
“Some people speculate on life, on work, and on the family. They speculate on the poor and migrants, on young people and their future. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers, on the other hand leaving the daily life of families to be discolored by precariousness and insecurity.”
The keys to finding joy in our mission, the Pope said, are “memory, belonging, and seeing the possible in the impossible”.
“The first thing the Angel [Gabriel] does is evoke her memory, in this way opening Mary’s present to the whole of Salvation History. He evokes the promises made to David as a fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.”
This memory, the Holy Father said, allows Mary to recognize her belonging to the People of God.
He said the Archdiocese of Milan is inhabited by “a people called to welcome differences and integrate them with respect and creativity, celebrating the newness offered by others. It is a people unafraid of embracing borders.”
Third, Pope Francis reminded Milan’s pilgrims that “Nothing is impossible for God” (Lc 1,37).
“When we open to allowing ourselves to be helped or counseled and when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become reality.”
In conclusion, the Pope said, “As before, God continues to seek allies and men and women capable of believing and capable of remembering, recognizing themselves as belonging to His people in order to cooperate with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.”


#Novena for the Annunciation of Mary - 9 Months for Impossible Requests - #Miracle Prayer to SHARE



















9 MONTH NOVENA FOR
IMPOSSIBLE REQUESTS

(This Novena honours the nine months during which Our Lady carried Our Blessed Lord in her womb.)

"Hail, Holy Queen, 
Mother of Mercy, 
our life, our sweetness and our hope! 
To thee do we cry, 
poor banished children of Eve; 
to thee do we send up our sighs, 
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. 
Turn then, most gracious advocate, 
thine eyes of mercy towards us; 
and after this our exile, 
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus. 
O clement, O loving, 
O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen." 

V - Pray for us, most holy mother of God.
R - That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

"Virgin of the Incarnation, 
a thousand times we greet thee, 
a thousand times we praise thee 
for thy joy when God was incarnated in thee. 
Because thou art so powerful 
a Virgin and Mother of God, 
grant what we ask of thee for the love of God." 

State your first intention.
Repeat above and then state your second intention. 
Repeat above and then state your third intention. 


CONCLUSION:

After the above prayers and intentions, say the Memorare. Remember, O most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my mother. To thee do I cry, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen. Hail Mary... Blessed and praised be the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, in Heaven, on earth and everywhere. AMEN.

"The Annunciation, therefore, is the revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation at the very beginning of its fulfillment on earth." a Reflection on the Annunciation


by: Kathy Vestermark: I was reading my morning prayers and meditation and was struck by something that I suppose I must have heard over and over before, but this morning it resonated like a newly discovered truth: There was no fear in Mary. Now, being visited by an angel has got to be astounding, can't say for sure myself. But, from what has been written in Scripture and by countless saints regarding angels, it is an awesome and ecstatic event. Yet, Mary, pure of heart, knelt before the Archangel Gabriel, and without fear inquired about how she might come to be the Theotokos.


Step inside that event for a second:

You are Mary. You are young. You are simple and pure. You have been raised by wonderful and holy parents. We don't know that they are aware or if you are aware of your difference among your peers. Maybe because of your spiritual perfection you have suffered some ridicule or been admonished for your desire to remain untainted by the world. Yet, when the angel comes and suggests that something outside of the moral standard would be required of you, you don't cower, although he does remind that you should not fear. That reminder is because the visit of an angel is a fearsome thing, not because you are afraid of what he might want. And so, you recognize without a doubt the messenger from God. There is no question in your heart other than how it should come to be, your reason is working with your faith to make sense of the situation. But, even in the midst of what others might have immediate concern about -- their own reputation -- you simply say, "Fiat". You will is so tethered to the Father, that when He announces your participation in the Incarnation, you are ready and willing. You delight in being His handmaid, you delight in doing His will. And, that delight is a pure and generous consolation to you because what is about to happen to you is riddled with uncertainty and pain. The trials that you are about to encounter in participation with the will of God would crush any other person. You have been prepared from the moment of your Immaculate Conception for this level of participation. Not forced, but prepared; Not coerced, but chosen and free to offer your consent.

Pope St. John Paul II said this in his marvelous work Redemptoris Mater about the Annunciation: 
The Annunciation, therefore, is the revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation at the very beginning of its fulfillment on earth. God's salvific giving of himself and his life, in some way to all creation but directly to man, reaches one of its high points in the mystery of the Incarnation. This is indeed a high point among all the gifts of grace conferred in the history of man and of the universe: Mary is "full of grace," because it is precisely in her that the Incarnation of the Word, the hypostatic union of the Son of God with human nature, is accomplished and fulfilled. As the Council says, Mary is "the Mother of the Son of God. As a result she is also the favorite daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses all other creatures, both in heaven and on earth" (RM 9).
Ahh, thank you, Sweet Virgin, for your YES and for understanding the message of the angel so clearly and with full faith and consent. Thank you for having not even a moment's hesitation in bring Our Savior into the world, for giving Him life, for nurturing Him and training Him for the duty he had before Him. Thank you for being ever present to Him with your humble spouse St. Joseph, for being the model exemplar of what makes a Holy Family. Thank you for never doubting your role in the Incarnation which places you higher than all other created beings. Thank you for being Our Mother, too.

Blessed Solemnity of the Annunciation! Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
Kathy Vestermark is the US Correspondent of Catholic News World, a mother of 6 beautiful children and Professor at CDU.

#PopeFrancis "...she brings Jesus to all, he who is the love of God made flesh and gives meaning to our lives and saves us from evil.” FULL VIDEO - in Milan


(Combined Vatican Radio Reports)  Pope Francis on Saturday greeted the Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of Milan at the beginning of his one-day pastoral visit to the city.
Upon his arrival, residents gave the Holy Father two gifts: a priestly stole and a picture of a statuette of the Madonna.
Pope Francis thanked them for their gifts and said it was important for him to be welcomed to Milan by a community of families.
He said the stole was a reminder that he comes “as a priest: I come to Milan as a priest”.
He also recognized that it had been handmade by several residents of the Forlanini quarter: “It’s a reminder that the Christian priest is chosen from among the people and at the service of the people. My priesthood…is a gift from Christ, but it is ‘woven’ by you, by our people with their faith, labours, prayers, and tears.”
Pope Francis then said the statuette of Our Lady is a sign of his being welcomed to Milan by the Madonna.
“It reminds me of Mary’s care, who ran to meet Elizabeth. This is the care and concern of the Church, which does not remain in the city centre waiting but comes to meet all at the peripheries; she goes also to meet non-Christians and non-believers…; and she brings Jesus to all, he who is the love of God made flesh and gives meaning to our lives and saves us from evil.”
Afterwards, the Holy Father made his way to Milan’s Duomo Cathedral to meet with priests and consecrated men and women.

 For the curious pilgrim or tourist a trip to Milan is not complete without a visit the “Duomo” or Cathedral Church. And it was here in front of this iconic building that Pope Francis recited the Angelus on Saturday greeted by thousands of well- wishers.
A short time earlier inside this magnificent building, the Pope met with priests and consecrated persons, listening to their questions and offering words of advice. During the question and answer session the Holy Father said that in a world that is multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic,  the Church, over its entire history, has had much to teach us and to help us towards a culture of diversity. The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis noted “is the master of diversity.” The Pope also underlined the importance of prayer and of service in the church; service by priests, religious and consecrated to the poor and to the Word of God.
Responding to a question from a religious mother who asked how it was possible to continue to be a significant presence today despite being fewer and older, the Pope said, that it was most important not to become resigned to one’s fate. He said that realities today were a challenge, but religious orders who were in the minority were being invited to rise again like yeast with the help of the Holy Spirit, who also inspired the hearts of their founders.
This one day pastoral visit began on Saturday morning with the Holy Father’s going out to Milan’s peripheries to meet with Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of the city. Greeting the crowds of people that had gathered to see him, he told them that the Church “always needs to be restored” because he added, it is made by us, who are sinners.” Let us be restored, he said by God’s mercy.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : #Solemnity of the Annunciation - Saturday March 25, 2017


Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Lectionary: 545

Reading 1IS 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
"I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us!" 

Responsorial PsalmPS 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, "Behold I come."
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!"
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2HEB 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'"

First he says, "Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in."
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, "Behold, I come to do your will."
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this "will," we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Verse Before The GospelJN 1:14B

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.

GospelLK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.

#PopeFrancis "Respect for the dignity of the human person... love of family, respect for life, tolerance, the desire for cooperation and peace" FULL TEXT to Leaders

Pope Francis addressed Heads of State and Heads of Government of European Union countries
Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks, in their official English translation
**********************************************
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
to European Heads of State and Government
24 March 2017
Distinguished Guests,
I thank you for your presence here tonight, on the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaties instituting the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.  I convey to each of you the affection of the Holy See for your respective countries and for Europe itself, to whose future it is, in God’s providence, inseparably linked.  I am particularly grateful to the Honourable Paolo Gentiloni, President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Italy, for his respectful words of greeting in your name and for the efforts that Italy has made in preparing for this meeting.  I also thank the Honourable Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, who has voiced the aspirations of the peoples of the Union on this anniversary.
 Returning to Rome, sixty years later, must not simply be a remembrance of things past, but the expression of a desire to relive that event in order to appreciate its significance for the present.  We need to immerse ourselves in the challenges of that time, so as to face those of today and tomorrow.  The Bible, with its rich historical narratives, can teach us a basic lesson.  We cannot understand our own times apart from the past, seen not as an assemblage of distant facts, but as the lymph that gives life to the present.  Without such an awareness, reality loses its unity, history loses its logical thread, and humanity loses a sense of the meaning of its activity and its progress towards the future.
25 March 1957 was a day full of hope and expectation, enthusiasm and apprehension.  Only an event of exceptional significance and historical consequences could make it unique in history.  The memory of that day is linked to today’s hopes and the expectations of the people of Europe, who call for discernment in the present, so that the journey that has begun can continue with renewed enthusiasm and confidence.
This was very clear to the founding fathers and the leaders who, by signing the two Treaties, gave life to that political, economic, cultural and primarily human reality which today we call the European Union.  As P.H. Spaak, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated, it was a matter “indeed, of the material prosperity of our peoples, the expansion of our economies, social progress and completely new industrial and commercial possibilities, but above all… a particular conception of life that is humane, fraternal and just”.[1]
After the dark years and the bloodshed of the Second World War, the leaders of the time had faith in the possibility of a better future.  “They did not lack boldness, nor did they act too late.  The memory of recent tragedies and failures seems to have inspired them and given them the courage needed to leave behind their old disputes and to think and act in a truly new way, in order to bring about the greatest transformation… of Europe”.[2]
The founding fathers remind us that Europe is not a conglomeration of rules to obey, or a manual of protocols and procedures to follow. It is a way of life, a way of understanding man based on his transcendent and inalienable dignity, as something more than simply a sum of rights to defend or claims to advance.  At the origin of the idea of Europe, we find “the nature and the responsibility of the human person, with his ferment of evangelical fraternity…, with his desire for truth and justice, honed by a thousand-year-old experience”.[3]  Rome, with its vocation to universality,[4] symbolizes that experience and was thus chosen as the place for the signing of the Treaties.  For here – as the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, J. Luns, observed – “were laid the political, juridical and social foundations of our civilization”.[5]
It was clear, then, from the outset, that the heart of the European political project could only be man himself.  It was also clear that the Treaties could remain a dead letter; they needed to take on spirit and life.  The first element of European vitality must be solidarity.  As the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, J. Bech stated, “the European economic community will prove lasting and successful only if it remains constantly faithful to the spirit of European solidarity that created it, and if the common will of the Europe now being born proves more powerful than the will of individual nations”.[6]  That spirit remains as necessary as ever today, in the face of centrifugal impulses and the temptation to reduce the founding ideals of the Union to productive, economic and financial needs.
Solidarity gives rise to openness towards others.  “Our plans are not inspired by self-interest”,[7] said the German Chancellor, K. Adenauer.  The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, C. Pineau, echoed this sentiment: “Surely the countries about to unite… do not have the intention of isolating themselves from the rest of the world and surrounding themselves with insurmountable barriers”.[8]  In a world that was all too familiar with the tragedy of walls and divisions, it was clearly important to work for a united and open Europe, and for the removal of the unnatural barrier that divided the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic.  What efforts were made to tear down that wall!  Yet today the memory of those efforts has been lost.  Forgotten too is the tragedy of separated families, poverty and destitution born of that division.  Where generations longed to see the fall of those signs of forced hostility, these days we debate how to keep out the “dangers” of our time: beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones.
In today’s lapse of memory, we often forget another great achievement of the solidarity ratified on 25 March 1957: the longest period of peace experienced in recent centuries.  “Peoples who over time often found themselves in opposed camps, fighting with one another… now find themselves united and enriched by their distinctive national identities”.[9]  Peace is always the fruit of a free and conscious contribution by all.  Nonetheless, “for many people today, peace appears as a blessing to be taken for granted”,[10] one that can then easily come to be regarded as superfluous.  On the contrary, peace is a precious and essential good, for without it, we cannot build a future for anyone, and we end up “living from day to day”.
United Europe was born of a clear, well-defined and carefully pondered project, however embryonic at first.  Every worthy project looks to the future, and the future are the young, who are called to realize its hopes and promises.[11]  The founding fathers had a clear sense of being part of a common effort that not only crossed national borders, but also the borders of time, so as to bind generations among themselves, all sharing equally in the building of the common home.
Distinguished Guests,
I have devoted this first part of my talk to the founding fathers of Europe, so that we can be challenged by their words, the timeliness of their thinking, their impassioned pursuit of the common good, their certainty of sharing in a work greater than themselves, and the breadth of the ideals that inspired them.  Their common denominator was the spirit of service, joined to passion for politics and the consciousness that “at the origin of European civilization there is Christianity”,[12] without which the Western values of dignity, freedom and justice would prove largely incomprehensible.  As Saint John Paul II affirmed: “Today too, the soul of Europe remains united, because, in addition to its common origins, those same Christian and human values are still alive.  Respect for the dignity of the human person, a profound sense of justice, freedom, industriousness, the spirit of initiative, love of family, respect for life, tolerance, the desire for cooperation and peace: all these are its distinctive marks”.[13]  In our multicultural world, these values will continue to have their rightful place provided they maintain a vital connection to their deepest roots.  The fruitfulness of that connection will make it possible to build authentically “lay” societies, free of ideological conflicts, with equal room for the native and the immigrant, for believers and nonbelievers.
The world has changed greatly in the last sixty years.  If the founding fathers, after surviving a devastating conflict, were inspired by the hope of a better future and were determined to pursue it by avoiding the rise of new conflicts, our time is dominated more by the concept of crisis.  There is the economic crisis that has marked the past decade; there is the crisis of the family and of established social models; there is a widespread “crisis of institutions” and the migration crisis.  So many crises that engender fear and profound confusion in our contemporaries, who look for a new way of envisioning the future. Yet the term “crisis” is not necessarily negative.  It does not simply indicate a painful moment to be endured.  The word “crisis” has its origin in the Greek verb kríno, which means to discern, to weigh, to assess.  Ours is a time of discernment, one that invites us to determine what is essential and to build on it.  It is a time of challenge and opportunity.
So what is the interpretative key for reading the difficulties of the present and finding answers for the future?  Returning to the thinking of the founding Fathers would be fruitless unless it could help to point out a path and provide an incentive for facing the future and a source of hope.  When a body loses its sense of direction and is no longer able to look ahead, it experiences a regression and, in the long run, risks dying.  What, then, is the legacy of the founding fathers?  What prospects do they indicate for surmounting the challenges that lie before us?  What hope do they offer for the Europe of today and of tomorrow?
Their answers are to be found precisely in the pillars on which they determined to build the European economic community.  I have already mentioned these: the centrality of man, effective solidarity, openness to the world, the pursuit of peace and development, openness to the future.  Those who govern are charged with discerning the paths of hope, identifying specific ways forward to ensure that the significant steps taken thus far have not been wasted, but serve as the pledge of a long and fruitful journey.
Europe finds new hope when man is the centre and the heart of her institutions.  I am convinced that this entails an attentive and trust-filled readiness to hear the expectations voiced by individuals, society and the peoples who make up the Union.  Sadly, one frequently has the sense that there is a growing “split” between the citizenry and the European institutions, which are often perceived as distant and inattentive to the different sensibilities present in the Union.  Affirming the centrality of man also means recovering the spirit of family, whereby each contributes freely to the common home in accordance with his or her own abilities and gifts.  It helps to keep in mind that Europe is a family of peoples[14] and that – as in every good family – there are different sensitivities, yet all can grow to the extent that all are united.  The European Union was born as a unity of differences and a unity in differences.  What is distinctive should not be a reason for fear, nor should it be thought that unity is preserved by uniformity.  Unity is instead harmony within a community.  The founding fathers chose that very term as the hallmark of the agencies born of the Treaties and they stressed that the resources and talents of each were now being pooled.  Today the European Union needs to recover the sense of being primarily a “community” of persons and peoples, to realize that “the whole is greater than the part, but it is also greater than the sum of its parts”,[15] and that therefore “we constantly have to broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all”.[16]  The founding fathers sought that harmony in which the whole is present in every one of the parts, and the parts are – each in its own unique way – present in the whole.
Europe finds new hope in solidarity, which is also the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism.  Solidarity entails the awareness of being part of a single body, while at the same time involving a capacity on the part of each member to “sympathize” with others and with the whole.  When one suffers, all suffer (cf. 1 Cor 12:26).  Today, with the United Kingdom, we mourn the victims of the attack that took place in London two days ago.  For solidarity is no mere ideal; it is expressed in concrete actions and steps that draw us closer to our neighbours, in whatever situation they find themselves.  Forms of populism are instead the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and “looking beyond” their own narrow vision.  There is a need to start thinking once again as Europeans, so as to avert the opposite dangers of a dreary uniformity or the triumph of particularisms.  Politics needs this kind of leadership, which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent, but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the Union as a whole develop harmoniously.  As a result, those who run faster can offer a hand to those who are slower, and those who find the going harder can aim at catching up to those at the head of the line.
Europe finds new hope when she refuses to yield to fear or close herself off in false forms of security.  Quite the contrary, her history has been greatly determined by encounters with other peoples and cultures; hers “is, and always has been, a dynamic and multicultural identity”.[17]   The world looks to the European project with great interest.  This was the case from the first day, when crowds gathered in Rome’s Capitol Square and messages of congratulation poured in from other states.  It is even more the case today, if we think of those countries that have asked to become part of the Union and those states that receive the aid so generously offered them for battling the effects of poverty, disease and war.  Openness to the world implies the capacity for “dialogue as a form of encounter”[18] on all levels, beginning with dialogue between member states, between institutions and citizens, and with the numerous immigrants landing on the shores of the Union.  It is not enough to handle the grave crisis of immigration of recent years as if it were a mere numerical or economic problem, or a question of security. The immigration issue poses a deeper question, one that is primarily cultural.  What kind of culture does Europe propose today?  The fearfulness that is becoming more and more evident has its root cause in the loss of ideals.  Without an approach inspired by those ideals, we end up dominated by the fear that others will wrench us from our usual habits, deprive us of familiar comforts, and somehow call into question a lifestyle that all too often consists of material prosperity alone.  Yet the richness of Europe has always been her spiritual openness and her capacity to raise basic questions about the meaning of life.  Openness to the sense of the eternal has also gone hand in hand, albeit not without tensions and errors, with a positive openness to this world.  Yet today’s prosperity seems to have clipped the continent’s wings and lowered its gaze.  Europe has a patrimony of ideals and spiritual values unique in the world, one that deserves to be proposed once more with passion and renewed vigour, for it is the best antidote against the vacuum of values of our time, which provides a fertile terrain for every form of extremism.  These are the ideals that shaped Europe, that “Peninsula of Asia” which stretches from the Urals to the Atlantic.
Europe finds new hope when she invests in development and in peace.  Development is not the result of a combination of various systems of production.  It has to do with the whole human being: the dignity of labour, decent living conditions, access to education and necessary medical care.  “Development is the new name of peace”,[19]  said Pope Paul VI, for there is no true peace whenever people are cast aside or forced to live in dire poverty.  There is no peace without employment and the prospect of earning a dignified wage.  There is no peace in the peripheries of our cities, with their rampant drug abuse and violence.
Europe finds new hope when she is open to the future.  When she is open to young people, offering them serious prospects for education and real possibilities for entering the work force.  When she invests in the family, which is the first and fundamental cell of society.  When she respects the consciences and the ideals of her citizens.  When she makes it possible to have children without the fear of being unable to support them.  When she defends life in all its sacredness.
Distinguished Guests,
Nowadays, with the general increase in people’s life span, sixty is considered the age of full maturity, a critical time when we are once again called to self-examination.  The European Union, too, is called today to examine itself, to care for the ailments that inevitably come with age, and to find new ways to steer its course.  Yet unlike human beings, the European Union does not face an inevitable old age, but the possibility of a new youthfulness.  Its success will depend on its readiness to work together once again, and by its willingness to wager on the future.  As leaders, you are called to blaze the path of a “new European humanism”[20] made up of ideals and concrete actions.  This will mean being unafraid to take practical decisions capable of meeting people’s real problems and of standing the test of time.
For my part, I readily assure you of the closeness of the Holy See and the Church to Europe as a whole, to whose growth she has, and always will, continue to contribute.  Invoking upon Europe the Lord’s blessings, I ask him to protect her and grant her peace and progress.  I make my own the words that Joseph Bech proclaimed on Rome’s Capitoline Hill: Ceterum censeo Europam esse aedificandam – furthermore, I believe that Europe ought to be built.
Thank you.
[1] P.H. SPAAK, Address on the Signing of the Treaties of Rome, 25 March 1957.
[2] Ibid.
[3] A. DE GASPERI. La nostra patria Europa.  Address to the European Parliamentary Conference, 21 April 1954, in Alcide De Gasperi e la politica internazionale, Cinque Lune, Rome, 1990, vol. III, 437-440.
[4] Cf. P.H. SPAAK, loc. cit.
[5] J. LUNS, Address on the Signing of the Treaties of Rome, 25 March 1957.
[6] J. BECH, Address on the Signing of the Treaties of Rome, 25 March 1957.
[7] K. ADENAUER, Address on the Signing of the Treaties of Rome, 25 March 1957.
[8] C. PINEAU, Address on the Signing of the Treaties of Rome, 25 March 1957.
[9] P.H. SPAAK, loc. cit.
[10] Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2017.
[11] Cf. P.H. SPAAK, loc. cit.
[12] A. DE GASPERI, loc. cit.
[13] JOHN PAUL II, European Act, Santiago de Compostela, 9 November 1982: AAS 75/1 (1983), 329.
[14] Cf. Address to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 25 November 2014: AAS 106 (2014), 1000.
[15] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 235.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Address at the Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize, 6 May 2016: L’Osservatore Romano, 6-7 May 2016, p. 4.
[18] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 239.
[19] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 26 March 1967, 87: AAS 59 (1967), 299.

[20] Address at the Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize, loc. cit., p. 5.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Saint March 25 : The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary : #Annunciation


The fact of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is related in Luke 1:26-38. The Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused (i.e. married) to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother's house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. (Bardenhewer, Maria Verk., 69). And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: "Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favoured one), the Lord is with thee." Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation. And the angel continued and said: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (St. Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word of God like Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"
The angel to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word."
Since 1889 Holzmann and many Protestant writers have tried to show that the verses Luke 1:34-35, containing the message of conception through the Holy Ghost are interpolated. Usener derives the origin of the "myth" from the heathen hero worship; but Harnack tries to prove that it is of Judaic origin (Isaiah 7:14, Behold a Virgin shall conceive, etc.). Bardenhewer, however, has fully established the authenticity of the text (p. 13). St. Luke may have taken his knowledge of the event from an older account, written in Aramaic or Hebrew. The words: "Blessed art thou among women" (v. 28), are spurious and taken from verse 42, the account of the Visitation. Cardinal Cajetan wanted to understand the words: "because I know not man", not of the future, but only of the past: up to this hour I do not know man. This manifest error, which contradicts the words of the text, has been universally rejected by all Catholic authors. The opinion that Joseph at the time of the Annunciation was an aged widower and Mary twelve or fifteen years of age, is founded only upon apocryphal documents. The local tradition of Nazareth pretends that the angel met Mary and greeted her at the fountain, and when she fled from him in fear, he followed her into the house and there continued his message. (Buhl, Geogr. v. Palaest., 1896.) The year and day of the Annunciation cannot be determined as long as new material does not throw more light on the subject. The present date of the feast (25 March) depends upon the date of the older feast of Christmas.
The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother He is a member of the human race. If the virginity of Mary before, during, and after the conception of her Divine Son was always considered part of the deposit of faith, this was done only on account of the historical facts and testimonials. The Incarnation of the Son of God did not in itself necessitate this exception from the laws of nature. Only reasons of expediency are given for it, chiefly, the end of the Incarnation. About to found a new generation of the children of God, The Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Sts. Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of God, St. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.
Text shared from the Catholic Encyclopedia
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