Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars Conversion to Catholicism of Actor Sir Alec Guinness the #Jedi Knight Obiwan - SHARE #StarWars

 Sir Alec Guinness is best known as having played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Guinness was born in 1914 in London, England, as Alec Guinness de Cuffe. His mother's maiden name was Agnes Cuff. The identity of Guinness's father has never been confirmed. Guinness believed that his father was a Scottish banker, Andrew Geddes, who paid for Guinness's education. Geddes also visited Guinness and his mother, posing as an uncle.  Alec was confirmed in the Anglican faith at 16; but he later tried Presbyterianism, atheism, Marxism, Buddhism, and even the Quaker sect. .Guinness married the actress Merula Sylvia Salaman (1914–2000) in 1938; and in 1940, they had a son, Matthew Guinness. He conversion started when he was 40 years old in France working on the film Father Brown. This series is based on G. K. Chesterton's novels about a detective priest. Guinness was playing the role of Fr. Brown and was dressed in a cassock as a Catholic priest. When walking down the street in costume, a child saw him and thought him to be a priest. The child grabbed his hand, and walked with him down the road; afterwards saying goodbye Father.  He later explained: “Continuing my walk, I reflected that a Church that could inspire such confidence in a child, making priests, even when unknown, so easily approachable, could not be as scheming or as creepy as so often made out. I began to shake off my long-taught, long-absorbed prejudices.” Then his 11 year old son Matthew was struck with polio and thought be near death. Guinness then started visiting a Catholic church to pray. Alec made a deal with God: if God healed Matthew, he would allow his son to become Catholic. Then them miracle happened; his son recovered. Guinness then enrolled Matthew in a Jesuit Catholic school. These events led to Alec's conversion at the age of 42. A few years later, his wife, and his son all converted to Catholicism. Guinness was a faithful Catholic till his death in 2000. (with Information from Wikipedia and This Rock Magazing 2005)
SHARE this Amazing Conversion Story- May the FAITH be with you!

#PopeFrancis "I express a warm wish for a serene Christmas festivity, rich in joy and peace..." to Artists - FULL TEXT + Video

Pope Francis met with 180 people involved in the Christmas Concert” who will be performing in the Vatican, Saturday evening.Funds raised by the concert in the Vatican will support two children’s projects: the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes, headquartered in Argentina and a programme to free children enslaved in the coltan mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). (Vatican Radio excerpt)
FULL TEXT OF Pope Francis 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I receive you in this meeting, which enables me to express my appreciation for your participation in the concert “Christmas in the Vatican,” whose proceeds will go to finance two projects in favor of children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of young people of Argentina. I greet and thank the promoters of the event and all those who will perform tomorrow evening, as well as all those that will take part, thus expressing sensitivity to the needs of the neediest and those in hardship, who ask for help and solidarity.
Christmas — we know — is a warm, widely celebrated feast, able to warm the coldest hearts, to remove the barriers of indifference to one’s neighbor, to encourage openness to the other and to the free gift. Therefore, there is need also today to spread the message of peace and fraternity proper of Christmas; there is need to represent this event by expressing the genuine sentiments that animate it. And art is a formidable means to open the doors of the mind and of the heart to the true meaning of Christmas. The creativity and genius of the artists, with their works, also with music and singing, succeed in reaching the most intimate registers of the conscience. Art enters precisely in the depth of the conscience.
I express my best wishes that the Concert of Christmas in the Vatican may be an occasion to sow tenderness – this word so forgotten today! “Violence,” “war” . . . no, no, tenderness – to sow tenderness, peace and hospitality, which spring from the Bethlehem cave. I renew to each one my gratitude and, while I express a warm wish for a serene Christmas festivity, rich in joy and peace, I bless each one of you, your families and your dear ones.
And please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you!
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s working translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

#BreakingNews 30 Catholic Seminarians and 2 Priests held Hostage for Christmas Carols in India - Please PRAY

Madhya Pradesh, dangerous Christmas songs: 30 seminarians and two priests held hostage

Nirmala Carvalho
AsiaNews Report:The Christians were detained yesterday in Satna. Their car was burned. Like every year, they wanted to reach a remote village to hold a Christmas carol service.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Yesterday in Satna, in Madhya Pradesh, 30 seminarians and two priests were held hostage by Hindu fundamentalists for a few hours, after being arrested while they were going to a distant village to perform a Christmas carol service. One of their cars was set on fire by the angry mob.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Stephen Maria, head of public relations in the Madhya Pradesh region, denounces: "The freedom to practice and profess one's faith is suspended by extremists. The celebrations of Christmas have already been disturbed. This is an attack on the secular nature of the country ".
The seminarians and priests come from St. Ephrem's Theological College in Satna. Like every year, they were traveling to a village to perform a Carol service marking the birth of Jesus and bring his message of peace.
Yesterday at 8 pm (local time) the priests and seminarians were blocked by fundamentalists and forced by them to follow them to the police station. The agents collected their depositions and wanted to release them, but the mob of extremists locked them up inside the structure, shouting  against them.
The Christians were able to leave the station only when the multitude dispersed and they no longer risked harm. Released outside, they found one of the cars burning. Stephen Maria relates: "The extremists have burned the car of our singers. They went to the village to give false testimony against the Christians, they wanted to show that they were proselityzing".
The arrest in Satna is the second episode of intolerance against the Christian minority of Madhya Pradesh in this period of Advent. On December 10th, four Pentecostals were imprisoned in the village of Kalibai because they were "guilty" of praying for Christmas.

Wow Beautiful #Advent Hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" with Stunning Images of Art - will touch your heart - SHARE

An absolutely haunting and beautiful rendition of this song from Linda Ronstadt's "A Merry Little Christmas" album, released in 2000. Stunning vocal performance . . .to SHARE

Wow World's Tallest Christmas Tree built by Buddhists in Sri Lanka - Asia - 72.1 M in the Guinness World Records

Colombo, the world's tallest Christmas tree “symbol of unity"

Melani Manel Perera
AsiaNews Report: The project by a Buddhist group is listed in the Guinness World Records. The artificial tree measures 72.1 metres and cost almost US$ 72,000. For the prime minister, “although Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country, it has shown the world that all religions".


Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Christmas tree built last year on the Galle Face Green in Colombo has been included in the Guinness World Records as the tallest artificial tree in the world.
On 13 December Arjuna Ranatunga, minister of Ports and Fisheries and one of the major backers of the initiative, presented the certificate to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe.
The latter in turn thanked "all people, regardless of religious differences, who made the tallest Christmas tree in the world possible. It stands out as a symbol of peace and unity."
Last year the construction of the 72.1-metre tree was very controversial, especially for the leaders of the local Catholic Church, who described it as a waste of money.
The event was backed however by a group of Buddhists, led by the Foundation of Social Services of Minister Ranatunga, a former captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team.
During the award ceremony, Prime Minister Wickremasinghe stressed that "although Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country, it has shown the world that all religions are respected the same way".
He then praised the group that built the tree for their "tireless work and commitment to establishing this world record".
The tree was lit on 23 December 2016 until 31 December. Its main frame was made of metal cables, covered with bark and natural pine cones.
The project cost 11 million rupees (almost US$ 72,000). Its creator, Mahinda Nanayakkara, a Buddhist, told AsiaNews that he was “happy to have put the name of my country in the Guinness World Record, thanks to my capacity for innovation and team spirit."

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Fri. December 15, 2017 - #Eucharist


Friday of the Second Week of Advent
Lectionary: 185


Reading 1IS 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

Responsorial PsalmPS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see John 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Alleluia 

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord will come; go out to meet him!
He is the prince of peace.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds:
"To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.'
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
'He is possessed by a demon.'
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'
But wisdom is vindicated by her works."

Saint December 15 : St. Mary di Rosa : #Foundress of the Handmaids of Charity

St. Mary di Rosa
FOUNDRESS
Feast: December 15


Information:
Feast Day: December 15
Born: November 6, 1813, Brescia, Italy
Died: 1855, Brescia, Italy
Canonized: 12 June 1954 by Pope Pius XII
Foundress of the Handmaids of Charity of Brescia, also called the Servants of Charity. Born into a wealthy family in Brescia, Italy, on November 6, 1813, by age seventeen she was running her father's household and caring for the girls in her father's mill and estate. In the cholera epidemic of 1836, she became well-known as she directed a home for girls and begame another residence for deaf and mute young ladies. In 1840, she became superior of a community that evolved into her congregation. The women of the Servants of Charity ministered to the wounded on the battlefields of northern Italy and in hospitals. Maria died at Brescia on December 15. She was canonized in 1954.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pope Francis “It seems that our God wants to sing us a lullaby. Our God is gifted at this. His tenderness..." Homily


(Vatican Radio) The tenderness of God, as his defining trait, was at the heart of the Pope’s homily this morning  at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The theme was taken from the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and the psalm where God says of himself: "... his tenderness expands over all creatures".
The image presented by Isaiah is that of a God who speaks to us as a father with his child, imitating his voice to make it as similar as possible to his. And first of all he reassures him by caressing him: "Do not be afraid, I will come to your aid".
“It seems that our God wants to sing us a lullaby. Our God is gifted at this. His tenderness is this: he is a father and a mother. Many times he said: "But if a mother forgets her son, I will not forget you. He carries us in his deep within. He is the God who with this dialogue makes himself small to make us understand, to make us trust in him and we can tell him with the courage of Paul who changes the word and says: ", Abba Father". Father ... It's the tenderness of God.”
The great that becomes small and the small that is great
It is true, said Pope Francis, sometimes God raps us over the knuckles, He is great, but with his tenderness he approaches us and saves us. And this is a mystery and one of the most beautiful things:
“He is the great God who makes himself small and in his smallness he does not stop being great. And in this great dialectic he is small: there is the tenderness of God. The great that makes himself small and the small  that is great. Christmas helps us to understand this: in that manger ... the little God. A phrase from St. Thomas comes to mind in the first part of Summa [Theologica]. Wanting to explain this: "What is divine? What is the most divine thing? ", He says:" “to the maximum tamen continents at the minimum divinum est", that is, do not be frightened of big things, but keep small things in mind. This is divine, both together.”
But where, in particular, is the tenderness of God shown?
God not only helps us, but he also makes us promises of joy, of a great harvest, to help us move forward. God, repeated Pope Francis, is not just father but a Dad:
“Am I able to speak with the Lord like this or am I afraid? Everyone answers. But someone can say, he can ask: "But what is the theological place of God's tenderness? Where can the tenderness of God be found? What is the place where God's tenderness is best manifested? "-" The wounds ". My wounds, your sores, when you meet my wound with his wound. We have been healed in their wounds.
And the Pope recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan: there, someone bent over the man who had stumbled upon brigands and helped him by cleaning his wounds and paying for his recovery. Here is "the theological place of God's tenderness: our wounds". And the Pope concludes by exhorting us to think about the Lord's invitation during the day: "Come on, come on: show me your wounds. I want to heal them ".

Pope Francis meets with World Evangelical Leaders to promote Religious Freedom

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with leaders of the World Evangelical Alliance who were in Rome to discuss closer cooperation with the Catholic Church, especially regarding issues of religious freedom.
The WEA is a network of Protestant Churches in 129 nations representing more than 600 million evangelical Christians worldwide. Its secretary general, Bishop Efraim Tendero, was leading the delegation to the papal audience and for talks with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
He talked to Philippa Hitchen about his hopes for strengthening practical cooperation with Catholics in countries around the globe..
Bishop Efraim said he is bringing to the Pope a “call for closer partnership” in protecting religious freedom, promoting the distribution of bibles and addressing social justice issues. “We want to see this world to be a place where peace, justice and righteousness reign”, he says, “where everyone has a decent standard of living, and where Jesus Christ is recognised as Lord of all.”
Searching for common agenda
He notes that the WEA and the Pontifical Council have just completed seven years of dialogue, culminating in a joint document on Scripture and Tradition. While major theological differences remain, he says, it’s increasingly important to “look for a common agenda”, rather than “focus on what differs and what pulls us apart”.
Prior to his appointment as head of the WEA, Bishop Efraim served as for over 20 years as National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches and as President of the Philippine Relief and Development Services, working to support the poor and needy.
Ecumenism in the Philippines
In the country which is 80 percent Roman Catholic, he says ecumenical relations are very good and he was recently asked to address a retreat for the Filipino bishops conference. There is also strong practical cooperation on issues including human trafficking, combating climate change, fighting corruption, promoting peace, and providing relief and development for victims of the many typhoons which affect the region.
Also attending the papal audience was Rev. Thomas K. Johnson, the WEA’s Religious Freedom Ambassasdor to the Vatican. He explains why there is an urgent need to join forces to combat the increasing persecution of Christians worldwide.
Worsening persecution of Christians
Johnson notes the problem is not confined to one particular area of the globe but he says the last three years may have seen the worst persecution in the whole history of the Christian Church.
He recalls the important international consultation that took place two years ago in the Albanian capital, Tirana, on discrimination, persecution and martyrdom. Representatives of the WEA, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and the Pentecostal world discussed ways of responding to the problem “in a unified manner”.
Hopes for joint educational materials
While Johnson admits there are still problems of discrimination between Evangelicals and Catholics in some countries, he adds that Evangelicals have always been made to feel “very welcome in the Vatican”.
As a philosophy professor and human rights specialist, he is particularly interested in Catholics and Evangelicals publishing “education materials that we’ve developed together”. While no-one is expecting any major pronouncements from Thursday’s meeting, he says the small steps undertaken together can lead “to a broader coalition over years” and reinforce the message that, “Christians of all varieties need to be protecting each other in the public square”.

#PopeFrancis "... the key role that dialogue plays in enabling diversity to be lived in.." FULL TEXT to Ambassadors


Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the new Non-Resident AmbassadorsTo the Non-Resident Ambassadors of Yemen, New Zealand, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein and India,
Your Excellencies,
I extend a warm welcome to all of you for this presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See on the part of your respective countries: Yemen, New Zealand, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein and India.  I would ask you to convey to the Heads of State of your respective countries my sentiments of appreciation and esteem, and to assure them of my prayers for them and the people they serve.
At the beginning of your new mission, I am conscious of the diverse countries you represent, and of the various cultural and religious traditions that characterize the history of each of your nations.  This gives me the opportunity to emphasize the positive and constructive role that such diversity plays in the concert of nations.  The international community faces a series of complex threats to the sustainability of the environment and of the world’s social and human ecology, as well as risks to peace and concord stemming from violent fundamentalist ideologies and regional conflicts, which often appear under the guise of opposing interests and values.  Yet it is important to remember that the diversity of the human family is not itself a cause of these challenges to peaceful coexistence.  Indeed the centrifugal forces that would drive peoples apart are not found in their differences but in the failure to set out on the path of dialogue and understanding as the most effective means of responding to these challenges.
Your very presence here is a reminder of the key role that dialogue plays in enabling diversity to be lived in an authentic and mutually enhancing way in our increasingly globalized society.  Respectful communication leads to cooperation, especially in fostering reconciliation where it is most needed.  This cooperation in turn assists the progress of that solidarity which is the condition for the growth of justice and due respect for the dignity, rights and aspirations of all.  A commitment to dialogue and cooperation must be the hallmark of every institution of the international community, as well as of every national and local institution, for all are charged with the pursuit of the common good.
The promotion of dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation cannot be taken for granted.  The delicate art of diplomacy and the arduous craft of nation-building need to be learned afresh with each new generation.  We share the collective responsibility to educate our young people about the importance of these principles that sustain the social order.  Passing this precious legacy on to our children and grandchildren will not only secure a peaceful and prosperous future but will also meet the demands of intergenerational justice and of that integral human development that is the right of every man, woman and child.
Dear Ambassadors, as you take up your high responsibilities in the service of your nations, I assure you of the support of the various offices of the Holy See.  I offer you my prayerful best wishes for your important work, and upon you, your families, and all your fellow citizens, I willingly invoke an abundance of divine blessings.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thurs. December 14, 2017 - #Eucharist


Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 184


Reading 1IS 41:13-20

I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, "Fear not,
I will help you."
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the LORD,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Responsorial PsalmPS 145:1 AND 9, 10-11, 12-13AB

R. (8) The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let them make known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.

AlleluiaSEE IS 45:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds:
"Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Saint December 14 : St. John of the Cross : Patron of #Contemplatives; #Mystics; Spanish poets


St. John of the Cross
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, FOUNDER, GREAT MYSTICAL THEOLOGIAN
Feast: December 14



Founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology,
b. at Hontoveros, Old Castile, 24 June, 1542;
d. at Ubeda, Andalusia, 14 Dec., 1591. John de Yepes, youngest child of Gonzalo de Yepes and Catherine Alvarez, poor silk weavers of Toledo, knew from his earliest years the hardships of life. The father, originally of a good family but disinherited on account of his marriage below his rank, died in the prime of his youth; the widow, assisted by her eldest son, was scarcely able to provide the bare necessities. John was sent to the poor school at Medina del Campo, whither the family had gone to live, and proved an attentive and diligent pupil; but when apprenticed to an artisan, he seemed incapable of learning anything. Thereupon the governor of the hospital of Medina took him into his service, and for seven years John divided his time between waiting on the poorest of the poor, and frequenting a school established by the Jesuits. Already at that early age he treated his body with the utmost rigour; twice he was saved from certain death by the intervention of the Blessed Virgin.
Anxious about his future life, he was told in prayer that he was to serve God in an order the ancient perfection of which he was to help bring back again. The Carmelites having founded a house at Medina, he there received the habit on 24 February, 1563, and took the name of John of St. Matthias. After profession he obtained leave from his superiors to follow to the letter the original Carmelite rule without the mitigations granted by various popes. He was sent to Salamanca for the higher studies, and was ordained priest in 1567; at his first Mass he received the assurance that he should preserve his baptismal innocence. But, shrinking from the responsibilities of the priesthood, he determined to join the Carthusians. However, before taking any further step he made the acquaintance of St. Teresa, who had come to Medina to found a convent of nuns, and who persuaded him to remain in the Carmelite Order and to assist her in the establishment of a monastery of friars carrying out the primitive rule. He accompanied her to Valladolid in order to gain practi cal experience of the manner of life led by the reformed nuns. A small house having been offered, St. John resolved to try at once the new form of life, although St. Teresa did not think anyone, however great his spirituality, could bear the discomforts of that hovel. He was joined by two companions, an ex-prior and a lay brother, with whom he inaugurated the reform among friars, 28 Nov., 1568. St. Teresa has left a classical description of the sort of life led by these first Discalced Carmelites, in chaps. xiii and xiv of her "Book of Foundations". John of the Cross, as he now called himself, became the first master of novices, and laid the foundation of the spiritual edifice which soon was to assume majestic proportions. He filled various posts in different places until St. Teresa called him to Avila as director and confessor to the convent of the Incarnation, of which she had been appointed prioress. He remained there, with a few interruptions, for over five years. Meanwhile, the reform spread rapidly, and, partly through the confusion caused by contradictory orders issued by the general and the general chapter on one hand, and the Apostolic nuncio on the other, and partly through human passion which sometimes ran high, its existence became seriously endangered.
St. John was ordered by his provincial to return to the house of his profession (Medina), and, on his refusing to do so, owing to the fact that he held his office not from the order but from the Apostolic delegate, he was taken prisoner in the night of 3 December, 1577, and carried off to Toledo, where he suffered for more than nine months close imprisonment in a narrow, stifling cell, together with such additional punishment as might have been called for in the case of one guilty of the most serious crimes. In the midst of his sufferings he was visited with heavenly consolations, and some of his exquisite poetry dates from that period. He made good his escape in a miraculous manner, August, 1578.
During the next years he was chiefly occupied with the foundation and government of monasteries at Baeza, Granada, Cordova, Segovia, and elsewhere, but took no prominent part in the negotiations which led to the establishment of a separate government for the Discalced Carmelites. After the death of St. Teresa (4 Oct., 1582), when the two parties of the Moderates under Jerome Gratian, and the Zelanti under Nicholas Doria struggled for the upper hand, St. John supported the former and shared his fate. For some time he filled the post of vicar provincial of Andalusia, but when Doria changed the government of the order, concentrating all power in the hands of a permanent committee, St. John resisted and, supporting the nuns in their endeavour to secure the papal approbation of their constitutions, drew upon himself the displeasure of the superior, who deprived him of his offices and relegated him to one of the poorest monasteries, where he fell seriously ill. One of his opponents went so far as to go from monastery to monastery gathering materials in order to bring grave charges against him, hoping for his expulsion from the order which he had helped to found.
As his illness increased he was removed to the monastery of Ubeda, where he at first was treated very unkindly, his constant prayer, "to suffer and to be despised", being thus literally fulfilled almost to the end of his life. But at last even his adversaries came to acknowledge his sanctity, and his funeral was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm. The body, still incorrupt, as has been ascertained within the last few years, was removed to Segovia, only a small portion remaining at Ubeda; there was some litigation about its possession. A strange phenomenon, for which no satisfactory explanation has been given, has frequently been observed in connexion with the relics of St. John of the Cross: Francis de Yepes, the brother of the saint, and after him many other persons have noticed the appearance in his relics of images of Christ on the Cross, the Blessed Virgin, St. Elias, St. Francis Xavier, or other saints, according to the devotion of the beholder. The beatification took place on 25 Jan., 1675, the translation of his body on 21 May of the same year, and the canonization on 27 Dec., 1726.
Text shared from the Catholic Encyclopedia
Feast Day:December 14
Born:
24 June 1542, Fontiveros, Spain
Died:December 14, 1591, Ubeda, Andalusia, Spain
Canonized:27 December 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Major Shrine:Tomb of Saint John of the Cross, Segovia, Spain
Patron of:contemplative life; contemplatives; mystical theology; mystics; Spanish poets

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pope Francis "Some...have lost the Christian sense of Sunday illumined by the Eucharist. This is sin!" FULL TEXT Audience + Video

The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Taking up the series of catecheses on the Mass, today we ask ourselves: Why go to Mass on Sunday?
The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2177). We Christians go to Mass on Sunday to encounter the Risen Lord, or, better, to let ourselves be encountered by Him, to listen to His word, to eat at His table, and thus become Church, that is, His living Mystical Body in the world today.
It was understood, from the first moment, by Jesus’ disciples, who celebrated the Eucharistic encounter with the Lord in the day of the week that the Jews called “the first of the week” and the Romans “day of the sun,” because on that day Jesus rose from the dead and He appeared to His disciples, speaking with them, eating with them, giving them the Holy Spirit (Cf. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:9.14; Luke  24:1.13; John 20:1.19), as we heard in the biblical Reading. The great effusion of the Holy Spirit also happened on Sunday, the fiftieth day after Jesus’ Resurrection. For these reasons, Sunday is a holy day for us, sanctified by the Eucharistic celebration, the Lord’s living presence among us and for us. Hence, it is the Mass that makes Sunday Christian! The Christian Sunday revolves around the Mass. For a Christian, what sort of Sunday is it that lacks the encounter with the Lord?

Unfortunately, there are Christian communities that cannot enjoy the Mass every Sunday; however, on this holy day, they are also called to recollect themselves in prayer in the Lord’s name, listening to the Word of God and keeping alive the desire of the Eucharist.
Some secularized societies have lost the Christian sense of Sunday illumined by the Eucharist. This is sin! In these contexts, it’s necessary to revive this awareness, to recover the meaning of the celebration, of the joy of the parish community, of solidarity, of the rest that restores the soul and the body (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2177-2188). The Eucharist is the teacher of all these values, Sunday after Sunday. Therefore, Vatican Council II wanted to confirm that “Sunday is the primordial day of celebration which must be proposed and inculcated in the piety of the faithful, so that it also becomes a day of joy and of abstention from work” (Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 106).
Sunday’s abstention from work didn’t exist in the first centuries: it’s a specific contribution of Christianity. By biblical tradition the Jews rest on Saturday, while in Roman society a weekday of abstention from servile works was not foreseen. It was the Christian sense of living as children and not as slaves, animated by the Eucharist, which made Sunday – almost universally – the day of rest.
Without Christ we are condemned to be dominated by tiredness of the every day, with its preoccupations and the fear of tomorrow. The Sunday encounter with the Lord gives us strength to live today with trust and courage and to go on with hope. This is why we Christians go to encounter the Lord on Sunday in the Eucharistic celebration.
Eucharistic Communion with Jesus, Risen and Living for ever, anticipates the Sunday without sunset, when there will no longer be fatigue, or pain, or mourning, or tears, but only the joy of living fully and for ever with the Lord. Sunday Mass also speaks of this blessed rest, teaching us, in the flow of the week, to entrust ourselves to the hands of the Father who is in Heaven.
What can we answer one who says there is no need to go to Mass, not even on Sunday, because what is important is to live well, to love one’s neighbor? It’s true that the quality of a Christian life is measured by the capacity to love, as Jesus said: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another” (John 13:35); but how can we practice the Gospel without drawing the necessary energy to do so, Sunday after Sunday, from the inexhaustible source of the Eucharist? We don’t go to Mass to give God something, but to receive from Him what we truly need. The prayer of the Church reminds us of this, which addresses God thus: “You do not need our praise, but by a gift of your love you call us to render thanks to you; our hymns of blessing do not enhance your grandeur, but obtain for us the grace that saves us” (Roman Missal, Ordinary Preface IV).
In conclusion, why go to Mass on Sunday? It’s not enough to answer that it’s a precept of the Church; this helps to keep its value, but it’s not enough on its own. We Christians need to take part in Sunday Mass because only with Jesus’ grace, with His living presence in us and among us, can we put into practice His commandment, and thus be His credible witnesses.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
I’m happy to receive the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart and the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary. May the pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles be an occasion to grow in the love of God, so that you communities become places in which one experiences communion and mission. I greet the Parishes, the School Institutes, the Associations and the Groups, in particular the Jacques Maritain International Institute.
Finally, a thought goes to young people the sick and newlyweds. Today the liturgy remembers Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr: dear young people, contemplate the grandeur of the love of Jesus, who is born and dies for us; dear sick, accept your suffering with courage for the conversion of sinners; and you, dear newlyweds, make more room for prayer, especially in this Season of Advent, so that your life becomes a way of Christian perfection.
[Original text: Italian]  [Blog share of ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

#BreakingNews RIP Fr. Andrew Apostoli - Famous Franciscan Priest dies at 75 - FULL TEXT Statement from FFR

Press Release: It is with a profound joy mixed with sadness that we announce the passing of our dear founder and spiritual father. Father Andrew Joseph Apostoli, CFR, peacefully breathed his last at 9:26 AM, on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. He was surrounded by the love and prayers of his brothers. Funeral and viewing details will be posted here shortly.
Obituary: FATHER ANDREW APOSTOLI, BELOVED PRIEST & RETREAT MASTER, DIES AT 75 
Apostoli Inspired the Faithful with His Love of the Church, Devotion to Mary, and Joyful Preaching of the Gospel 

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, admired preacher and retreat master, died on December 13, 2017. He was 75. Fr. Andrew was born on July 3, 1942,in Woodbury, NJ, to Dominic and Malvina Apostoli. After a devout upbringing, Fr. Andrew entered the Capuchin Friars in 1959 at the age of seventeen. He professed perpetual vows in 1963 and was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on March 16, 1967. Twenty years later, in 1987, Fr. Andrew was one of eight Capuchin Friars who founded the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a reform community based in the South Bronx. One year later, he became the spiritual father and founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, whose mission of serving the poor and spreading the gospel is similar to that of the Friars. For over fifty years, Fr. Andrew served his community and the universal church in numerous capacities as a priest. These assignments include: teacher, spiritual director, novice master (1987- 1990), Community Superior (1993-1999), Professor of Spiritual Theology at St. Joseph Seminary (1985-2013), and vice postulator of the cause of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (2001-2017). In addition, Fr. Andrew was the spiritual father of the Blue Army Shrine in Washington, NJ, a well sought after retreat master, preacher, prolific writer, and beloved television host on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). Father Andrew is survived by older brother Emidio and his wife Gretchen; younger brother Michael and his wife Beth; sister-in-law Yvonne; four nephews and two nieces; numerous cousins; as well as by 128 CFR brothers and priests and 35 CFR sisters in community. He was preceded in death by his brother, Francis. 
Father Andrew had been a friend and confidant to Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
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As the night concluded the brothers gathered around his bed and sang this traditional hymn to Mother Mary. 
   Ultima in mortis hora
   Filium pro nobis ora
   Bonam mortem impetra
   Virgo, Mater Domina

   In our last and needful hour,
   Come and aid us with thy power,
   Happy death for us obtain,
   Virgin Mary, fairest Queen