Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Second Sunday of Advent A & St. John Damascene, December 4,2016

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Second Sunday of Advent A & St. John Damascene, December 4,2016

    On a foggy night at sea during WW II a commanding officer of a ship saw what appeared to be the lights of another ship heading directly toward him. He instructed his signalman to contact the other ship by light with this message: “Change your direction 10 degrees to the north.  I am an admiral.” “Message received,” came the reply, “but you must change your direction to the south.”  This infuriated the admiral.  He signaled back, “I am a battleship, so change your direction to the north or else…” To which came the reply: “I am a lighthouse.  Change your direction…. or else!

    In today’s Gospel (Mt 3:1-12), John the Baptist’s message is: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Unless we repent and change our direction to God’s direction we are headed for destruction. He said, “Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt 3:10). Now is the time to repent, humble ourselves and align our direction to the One who comes. Even John the Baptist says, “I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire…. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Mt 3:11-12). We now know him. He is Jesus Christ (Mt 3:13,17). Christ himself is the kingdom of God who has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst (CCC: 2816). Let us listen to him and immediately obey his command through his Church. Let us begin our act of repentance during this advent season by going to confession, actively participate in the Church’s ministry and do not delay.

Here’s a story for you to reflect on. There is an ancient story about three devils who were arguing over the best way to destroy the souls of people in the world. The first demon says: “Let’s tell all the Christians that the Bible is all a fable.” “No, that will not do,” the second devil said: “Let me go and I will tell them that there is no heaven or hell. Take away the fear of punishment and the man will not believe.” The third demon says, “There is one better way. Tell the Christians that there is a God, that the Bible is inspired, that the Bible is true, that there is heaven and hell. Yes, but I’ll tell them there is NO HURRY; there is always a tomorrow.” But then all is too late. And all the devils agreed and they sent him. Are you caught up in one of this demon? How do you reject these three demons in your life?


Opening Prayer

Lord give us the grace to drop all our airs of superiority and pride, and humble ourselves before your mighty throne because You are truly our all in all. Give us the humility of John the Baptist as we endeavor to bring your Word to the ends of the world.  Amen.

Reading 1

Is 11:1-10 – He shall judge the poor with justice.

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.

He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

  1. (cf. 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
    O God, with your judgment endow the king,
    and with your justice, the king’s son;
    he shall govern your people with justice
    and your afflicted ones with judgment.
    R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
    Justice shall flower in his days,
    and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
    May he rule from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
    For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
    and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
    He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
    the lives of the poor he shall save.
    R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
    May his name be blessed forever;
    as long as the sun his name shall remain.
    In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
    all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
    R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Reading 2

Rom 15:4-9 – Christ saves everyone.

Brothers and sisters:
Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction,
that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.
May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant you to think in harmony with one another,
in keeping with Christ Jesus,
that with one accord you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God.
For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised
to show God’s truthfulness,
to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,
but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
As it is written:
Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles
and sing praises to your name.

The word of the Lord.


Mt 3:1-12 – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily: Eden, The Mountain and the One who baptizes with fire click below:

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Kingdom come

Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” John proclaims. And the Liturgy today paints us a vivid portrait of our new king and the shape of the kingdom He has come to bring.

The Lord whom John prepares the way for in today’s Gospel is the righteous king prophesied in today’s First Reading and Psalm. He is the king’s son, the son of David—a shoot from the root of Jesse, David’s father (see Ruth 4:17).

He will be the Messiah, anointed with the Holy Spirit (see 2 Samuel 23:11 Kings 1:39Psalm 2:2), endowed with the seven gifts of the Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

He will rule with justice, saving the poor from the ruthless and wicked. His rule will be not only over Israel—but will extend from sea to sea, to the ends of the earth. He will be a light, a signal to all nations. And they will seek Him and pay Him homage.

In Him, all the tribes of the earth will find blessing. The covenant promise to Abraham (see Genesis 12:3), renewed in God’s oath to David (see Psalm 89:4,28), will be fulfilled in His dynasty. And His name will be blessed forever.

In Christ, God confirms His oath to Israel’s patriarchs, Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. But no longer are God’s promises reserved solely for the children of Abraham. The Gentiles, too, will glorify God for His mercy. Once strangers, in Christ they will be included in “the covenants of promise” (see Ephesians 2:12).

John delivers this same message in the Gospel. Once God’s chosen people were hewn from the rock of Abraham (see Isaiah 51:1-2). Now, God will raise up living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5)—children of Abraham born not of flesh and blood but of the Spirit.

This is the meaning of the fiery baptism He brings—making us royal heirs of the kingdom of heaven, the Church. – Read the source:

Reflection 2 – God shows no partiality.

“Not by appearance shall he judge nor by hearsay shall he decide but he shall judge the poor with justice and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.”

Judging other people by how they appear and by what one hears about them may be considered one form of prejudice.  Faith in Jesus and prejudice against our neighbor are incompatible, very much like oil and water.

Although prejudice has no place in the life of a Christian they have somehow strangled the church for generations and they still exist among believers today. The only way we can resolve our prejudice against others is by conforming to the objective standard of God’s Word.  If “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34) neither should we show partiality.

Prejudice blurs our spiritual vision and can make us measure people by how they appear and by what we hear about them. We ought to realize that the ones highly valued by God are the very people the world values least and that the true wealth and status of people He will show only on judgment day.

Today let us look deep into our hearts and search our hearts for our SYMPATHIES and ANTIPATHIES. Let us ask ourselves how we have lifted up the “NOBODIES” in the world to make them feel like “SOMEBODIES.” Have we treated our neighbor according to the person’s relative importance to us? Have we treated them as God’s loved children? Have we related to them with full acceptance as CO-EQUALS that though we are all children of the same Father, we can ALL be broken and sinful in our own ways and not any better than the rest of humanity? Have we rigidly judged them by their cover and not given value to the inherent goodness in their hearts? Have we truly loved our neighbor as ourselves?

If our relative importance in this world (and even within God’s own church) has produced prideful insensitivity toward those we consider beneath us or even less valuable to God, then it is certainly time to wake up and ask God for His grace. We need to ask God for His understanding and forgiveness for our sin of prejudice, partiality and even favoritism. There is nothing in us that should bring us to judge and measure our neighbor as it is only our Lord Who can do this.

The only way we can cure prejudice is when we address every man with a “spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips”

Psalm 72:12-13 says, “For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.” Let us then do good and bring everyone back to our God, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, for as often as we do it for one of God’s least brethren then we have done it for Him!  We have to treat people with Christ’s JUSTICE as it is a way to glorify God in the life that we live!

Let us avoid the model set by the Pharisees and Sadducees who claimed salvation through Abraham and yet never bore the right fruit of repentance.

Let us pray that we may be blessed with the heart of Jesus that we may see what He sees for many prophets and kings desired to see what He sees, but did not see it, and to hear what He hears, but did not hear it!


Choose to do kind and loving things to our neighbor in Jesus’ Name and for His sake.


Heavenly Father, give me the grace to see the goodness in the hearts of your people. In Jesus I pray. Amen.

Reflection 3 – The Worst Calamity

Three drunken men were walking down the road. The first one noticed the wind, and said, “It’s windy, isn’t it?” The second one replied, “No. It’s Thursday.” The third guy said, “Yes, me too. Let’s get some more beer.”

The three men were not able to hear each other properly because they were drunk. Alcohol impairs the senses. When a person is drunk not only with alcohol, but also figuratively drunk with the pleasures and concerns of this world – promiscuity, lust, rivalry, jealousy, ambition – he will surely be deaf to truth and right reason, and definitely, deaf also to God’s voice.

According to recent medical findings, more and more people nowadays, especially the young, have defective hearing faculties. This generation is turning deaf. With cell phones and iPods stuck to their ears all the time, this is expected. With noise and sound at all times, and with defective ears, who will hear the word of God? With all the excitement and attractions all around, who will be interested to listen to teachings about salvation and eternal life?

I remember my childhood years in the province back when portable sound systems were still unknown. We would be excited to hear the clanging of a tin can. That means the town crier is going around to read an announcement from the office of the mayor. We would run to the street corner and listen to the announcement, and rush back home to relay the news to our parents. As expected, the news reaches every nook and cranny of the town. That’s because there was no other competing sound or noisy distraction in the town.

This was similar to the condition during the time of John the Baptist. He was the “voice crying out in the wilderness”. The people flocked to him and listened to his message. This does not happen anymore nowadays. Although the amazing technological inventions have made communications faster and easier, it has also brought in more noise, distractions and confusion among the people. The voice of truth is muffled, and the facts are subjected to manipulations and distortions. Worst of all, the voice of God is drowned and rendered irrelevant and ineffective in the world.

On this second Sunday of Advent, the image of St. John the Baptist is presented to us to remind us of two things. First, we need to heed the call of the Precursor. His call to repentance is serious and urgent, for he knows how infinitely destructive the evil of sin is. Blessed John Henry Newman pointed this out: “The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in the extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul . . . should commit one single venial sin, should tell one willful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.”

In other words, he is saying that the worst calamities may befall upon the world, but that is only in the temporal order. Sin, even only venial sin, is more destructive than any of these calamities because it pertains to the eternal order, affecting the soul for eternity. The worst calamity ever that is happening now in the world is the loss of the sense of sin among many people. They are not anymore afraid of God. They do not mind if they offend Him. They do not see and feel the need to repent. I am sure most of us here know of some Catholics who publicly live in habitual mortal sin and still regularly receive Holy Communion. Many sins, even the most grievous ones, are tolerated and justified. The sacrament of Confession has lost its value and attraction to so many people. Even priests, many of them are not anymore readily available for confessions.

As a result, the world has now come up with a new set of moral standards. Morality depends not anymore on God’s laws and natural laws but on what the majority decides. Look at how many societies have legalized abortion, contraception, death penalty and same sex marriages through a simple majority vote in Congress. This is what Pope Benedict XVI calls the “dictatorship of relativism.” In this sad and precarious situation, John the Baptist’s message is seriously urgent: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Second, we need to become precursors ourselves. John announced the first coming of Jesus. But He will come again, and this time, no longer as an Infant in a manger, but as the Glorious Judge of both the living and the dead. As Christians, it is our duty to continually remind ourselves and other people about this and to lead them to repentance and conversion – the best ways to prepare for the Lord’s Second Coming. We are called to be the new John the Baptist of our time. We must announce the imminent coming of the Lord and point out to the people: “Look, there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

In a remote parish, an elderly woman went to Sunday Mass. A male usher greeted her at the door and politely asked, “Where would you like to sit?” “The front row please,” the woman answered. “Oh, really?” the usher said. “You would not want to be in that place. I tell you, the priest is really boring.” The woman looked at him and asked, “Do you happen to know who I am?” “No.” he said. “Well, I’m the mother of the priest!” The usher tried to recover from his shock. “By the way, ma’am, do you know who I am?” he asked. “No,” she said. “That’s good,” he answered.

Jesus is asking us: “Do you know who I am?” More and more people do not know that Jesus Christ is the only reason for Christmas. There is no Christmas without Christ. So, the best way to celebrate this season is by having Jesus in our hearts. It is only He who can give us true and lasting peace and joy. At this time, we are already contemplating on what gifts to give to our friends and loved ones. Working on a tight budget, this may not be easy. How about giving them the gifts of peace and joy? – Free of charge and infinitely more meaningful and lasting! But this will only happen through reconciliation with God. Hence, bringing a loved one or a friend to Confession during Advent is the best apostolate we can do, so that we all can receive the best gifts for Christmas: peace and joy in the Lord (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).

Reflection 4 – Baptizes with Holy Spirit and fire

When the Lord comes “he baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”  Do you want to be on fire for God and for the return of the Lord Jesus when he comes in his glory?  Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people.  God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2).  The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deut. 4:24), righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16).  It is also used of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11 and Acts 2:3).  God’s fire both purifies and cleanses, and it inspires a reverent fear of God and of his word in us.

John the Baptist’s life was fueled by one burning passion — to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of his kingdom.  Who is John the Baptist and what is the significance of his message for our lives?  Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit.  When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth John leapt in her womb as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah.  John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God.  John’s clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (see Kings 1:8).  John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel.  His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them.  Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came. Are you eager to hear God’s word and to be changed by it through the power of the Holy Spirit?

John the Baptist was more than a prophet (Luke 7:26).  John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3).  He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matt. 11:13-14).  What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God’s Anointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  With John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to the human race of the “divine likeness”, prefiguring what would be achieved with and in the Lord Jesus.  John’s baptism was for repentance — turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God’s word.  Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit results in a new birth and entry into God’s kingdom as his beloved sons and daughters (John 3:5).  Jesus is ready to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy and truth of the gospel to a world in desperate need of God’s light and truth.  His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be lights pointing others to Christ.  Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you point others to Christ in the way you live, work, and speak?

“Lord, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your gospel and to point others to Jesus Christ.”

Reflection 5 – Prophet John and Jesus

John the Baptist was a prophet in his day by calling attention to behavioral changes that were needed. There is a long list of religious and secular prophets who have like John called people to change their ways, e.g. Archbishop Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day to name just two. Advent is a time to consider and act on the social issues of today with a prophetic voice like John the Baptist, Romero, and Day. What do Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day and John the Baptist have in common?

They all were prophetic. They proclaimed an “inconvenient truth.” John the Baptist exhorted the people to repent because “the kingdom of heaven has come near.” One role of the prophets was to point out when the people were going astray and needed to adjust their behaviors. The prophet was to draw the people back to the truth of their relationships.

John the Baptist like many of the prophets spoke hard and sometimes harsh words to get the attention of those who needed to hear his message and addressed the Pharisees and Sadducees, “You brood of vipers!” (Mt 3:7). He cautions, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance” (Mt 3:10). In other words, don’t just show up with the words of repentance. Back it up with deeds. Anyone can confess their sins, but the measure of its sincerity is in the actions that either precede or follow the confessing. He implies that baptism with the water of repentance is nothing in comparison with being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. The baptism of Jesus is one that changes and transforms like fire does. The baptism of Jesus is one that enables those baptized to become like Christ and true witnesses. The words of repentance are backed up with deeds. Of course, this is not without some purifying, some letting go, some changing of the old ways. John puts it like this, “the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Mt 3:12). Transformation is not a magical event. It is a process in which some hard things have to happen and choices are made.

Here are some examples: Archbishop Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day are people who knew the truth of being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. Neither probably set out to be a prophet, but their own transforming journey initiated at baptism turned each into a prophet.

Archbishop Oscar Romero knew the truth of the Baptist’s words, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven has come near: and “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” In 1978 he preached, “A Church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth – beware! – is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call.” On March 23,1980, Archbishop Romero challenged an army of peasants with these words, “Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasant… No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God…” These beliefs and actions ultimately led to Romero’s death.

Dorothy Day was called “a kind of conscience for American Catholics”(Joseph W. Goetz in Mirrors of God). Like John the Baptist and Romero, Dorothy Day challenged people to see the truth of their actions. Once it was claimed that “Dorothy’s vocation was to comfort the afflicted increasingly and to afflict the comfortable unceasingly.”

John the Baptist, Romero and Day are models for being prophetic. All acted on their beliefs and challenged and inspired others to do the same. How could will you be prophetic this advent? Being a prophetic is not an easy task but one we can accomplish with the nourishment of the Eucharist.

Reflection 6 – Deeper conversion

Purpose: To foster a deeper conversion in the hearers through an increase in the supernatural virtues of faith and hope.

Last week, the liturgy focused on God’s promises to establish the fullness of his Kingdom when Jesus comes again. We considered those promises because your hope in their fulfillment is the foundation for your whole lives as Christians. In fact, the motivation for all you do as Christians depends on the truth of God’s promises of a reward that is still to come, namely, the gift of our final reward in eternal life. Were it not for that reward, nothing that you do in this life as Christians would fully make sense (1 Cor 15:19, 29b-34), so that all of Christian morality rests on the fulfillment of God’s promises. This truth moved St. Augustine to claim that:

…anyone who does not think about the age to come, and is not a Christian precisely in order to receive what God promises at the end, is not yet a Christian. (Sermon 198 {augmented} 1-2).

In this second week of Advent, with those promises of Jesus’ Second Coming held in our sight, the figures of Isaiah (first reading) and John the Baptist (Gospel) continue to view Jesus’ Second Coming, while also beginning to call our attention to the first.

This shift of focus from Jesus’ second to first coming raises an important question: Why does the Church place side-by-side for us this week the promises of these two comings, asking us to turn our attention from one to the other, while keeping both in view? The reason is this: The whole pattern of God’s work is a pattern of promise and fulfillment—a promise, by which God offers us a future full of hope, and the fulfillment of that promise. All throughout salvation history, God promises long before He acts. Why does God do this? He does it so that as we consider how God has already fulfilled his promises to send Jesus the first time, our faith in God’s faithfulness in the past can grow, as well as our hope that he will fulfill his remaining promise to send Jesus the second time, and to complete all that he has begun. And as our hope in Jesus’ Second Coming grows, our love and longing for him and his future coming can also grow.

Growing in the virtues of faith, hope, and love is essential to our conversion and growth in holiness, because they are the only ways we have of being connected to God and, as it were, “grasping him.” Consider that God is present to us in a way that is different from the way we are present to God. While we are present to God by means of his omnipresence, and his dwelling in us, God can be present to us only by these three virtues. By faith—the acceptance of the truth of his revelation—we are able to perceive and know his presence in us. The Church fathers called faith a kind of “spiritual sense” which they compared to the physical sense of sight. When a healthy eye is open, it is able to perceive and “accept” the presence of light in a room. If my eye is closed, however, even though the light may be present all around me, I cannot “receive it” in a way that makes it “present to me.” Because of God’s transcendence, we have no way to grasp Him directly. Instead, our knowledge of Him depends entirely on the acceptance of the “light” of His self-revelation to us. Faith in Christ includes complete trust in Him as truthful, with the result that you are able then to live by what He has revealed because you are certain that it is true, since He is truthful. Faith thus becomes a true source of knowledge about God. If faith allows us to know God’s reality with respect to our past and present, then hope—trust in his promises—is what allows us to perceive Him (who is outside of time) with respect to our future—present “ahead of us,” as it were. A good friend of mine describes hope as “faith thrown into the future.” Finally, love allows us to value God as the One who is of infinite value, and to choose and seek union with Him above all other things.

Since these three virtues of faith, hope, and love are our only means of “grasping God,” then our nearness to Him, and the extent of our conversion and holiness, will be in proportion to our desire for these virtues. The Eucharist we are about to receive will benefit us spiritually only to the extent that we receive it with lively faith, hope, and love. – Read the source:

St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermons (New), Sermon 198 (augmented) [= Sermon Dolbeau 26], sections 1-2 (in The Works of St. Augustine: A Translation for the Twenty-First Century III/11) ed. John Rotelle. Tr. Edmund HILL (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1997).

Catechism of the Catholic Church: Theological Virtues §1812 – 1821

Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith (In the Arms of Mary Foundation, 2012).

Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, and Love. Tr. Sr. Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (Ignatius, 1986).

Reflection 7 – Prophet John

Here we are, on this second Sunday of Advent, listening to this unpleasant prophet again as Christmas draws near. This prophet, John the Baptist, is obviously not a popular figure to work up in cheery ceramics. You won’t find him as a character in the creche, as a sugar cookie figure, or on a Hallmark card. He, with his gaunt and stark visage, wearing a dusty camel’s hair coat–not cashmere–reeking of locust and honey and smelling of poverty and desert discipline, is not one we embrace easily. How many Christmas cards have you received depicting John the Baptist? “Greetings from our house to yours. Our thoughts of you at this time of the year are best expressed in the words of John the Baptist, ‘You brood of Vipers! The ax is laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be thrown into the fire.’ Merry Christmas from the Smiths.”

By and large, we prefer the round, jolly, overgrown elf in the red velour suit with a bag full of gifts for those who have too much already.

Yet, all three gospels have John the Baptist at the beginning of the Christmas story and so the message is clear: if you want to get to the joy of Bethlehem, you must get past the Jordan where John the Baptist is. The church has always demanded that, if you really want to see what’s in Bethlehem’s manger, you must first confront this crazy prophet out in the wilderness whose sermons are as bitter and wild as the terrain. In short, no Jesus without John. Not a pleasant prospect, but there it is.

There it is. That’s why John comes ranting down every Christian church aisle today hurling invective, demanding to cleanse us of our delusions with a cold dip in the icy Jordan. “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” proclaims John. “Good,” we say. “At last God has come to give us what we deserve, to set us up, treat us right, soothe our pain, take our side.”

“Therefore, repent!” cries John. Therefore? Do what? Repent. Turn around. Let go.

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee the coming fire? Bear fruit of repentance!” And we say, “He’s attacking street hoodlums, criminals, and perverts, not us.” Then John turns to us, screaming:?“And don’t you say, We have Abraham for our father. Don’t tell me that your family has always been members of this church, that you’re kind to your spouse and children and support several important charities, and everyone thinks you’re nice. Don’t tell me that you give at the office at Christmas and use envelopes.”

Repent, repent–not only of your sins, but of trying to hide them: the small-mindedness, backbiting, jealousy, adulterous affairs, minor embezzlements, self-centeredness, the sloth. Somewhere along the line, preaches John, you must do the A.A. thing, “Hi, there. My name is Mary and I’m an alcoholic.”?“Hi, there. My name is Andrew and I’m a sinner.”

Beneath our Christmas card cheer, our Norman Rockwell image, we are fitting subjects for the preaching of John. Beneath our celebrations of our human potential, our glorious attainments, our cultivated self-esteem is someone worthy of the preaching of John the Baptist who comes calling us to account, measuring our lives not by what nine out of ten Americans think, but by what Almighty God commands.

Picture this very moment, this wild figure sprinting out of the sacristy and into the sanctuary and running up and down our aisles, looking into our very souls and stopping in front of different parishioners and crying, “Repent!” and all the others wondering what they might be repenting of. But they know. They know. Over there, fellow parishioner Saul repents of his part in a murder and knows in his heart that he will have to live and preach another gospel. John stands in front of another parishioner named Augustine, who lowers his head in the pew and thinks of his impurity. Over here, Ignatius, the military man, ponders his marauding. Over there, John Newton thinks of his shameful treatment of slaves and vows here and now to write “Amazing Grace.” In the center aisle, Dorothy Day repents of her communism and promises to live and work among the poor. Over at the side, Charles Colson, sitting there in the pew as he sat in the Oval Office as a trusted advisor and fellow conspirator to the Watergate president, feels the keen look of John and decides that he, a convicted criminal, will minister the word of God to prisoners.

And now. Now John is in front of us, looking, pointing. Saying nothing. Just there with his unsettling, wild presence. And we lower our heads and promise . . . what? What? Repent. Repent. We know what we need to repent of. Or do we? Pause for a moment beneath his uncomfortable gaze and think. Think, for example, of the instances I used before: the minor embezzlements, the self-centeredness, the sloth. Sloth? Isn’t that one of the seven capital sins? Why mention that one? Anger, maybe. Lust, yes. Pride. Yes. But sloth? If there’s anything we’re not guilty of, it’s sloth. Sloth is laziness and we are a people who run around, commute, taxi the kids all over, belong to a hundred groups and organizations. We never have enough time. We’re exhausted. No, sloth is the one thing we’re not guilty of.

Oh? says John. O.K. Let’s take that example. Did you know that sloth is a kind of living death? Let me explain. As a lad, Bruno Bettelheim lived in Germany and at that time the Nazi terror was starting to move through Germany, and the signs were clear that it was going to engulf Bettelheim and his Jewish family. He wrote a book called The Informed Heart. He tells in that book how he and his peers pleaded with the elder people to flee Germany, run away, because this terror was at their door. But the more they pleaded the more the old people said, “No, we can’t leave our possessions, we can’t leave our homes, we’re settled here.” And this went on week after week until finally the young people left and the Nazi terror came and swallowed up those Jews and killed them. This is an example of sloth.

Sloth is when one knows that one is setting upon a damaging or deadly course and somehow can’t muster the courage, the hope, the faith to do something different. The man who detests his job but continues in it for a lifetime is guilty of sloth. The man or woman who sits at the Internet computer on-line for hour after hour, neglecting real life relationships, forgetting that life in the real world is far more interesting, far more important, far richer than anything they’ll find on the computer screen. The woman who sees herself as a martyr to her family, the grownup children who never make a break with her. The married couple whose marriage is a lifelong hell, the teenager whose crowd is leading him or her into drugs or drink or premarital sex–they’re guilty of sloth. They know they’re on a damaging course. They know they’re going to die from this. They know their behavior is utterly destructive to themselves and others, but they can’t bring themselves to get out of it.

As a matter of fact, the one thing that the slothful have in common is the perfect alibi. If you should mention to some of these people, as I have done, that they might possibly have a different reaction and way of life, they come upon you with a ton of ex-cusses and anger.

The man who is in this terrible job he hates, which is giving him ulcers and is going to shorten his life by 20 years, will say, “But I’ve got to support my family.” The computer addict who sits–and eats–seven, eight, ten hours in front of the screen says, “Yeah, but the payoff is so great: the money.” The martyred housewife will say, “But how can my kids do without me if I’m not here every moment? How will they make the bed? How will they find the refrigerator? How will they work the microwave? How will they have clean clothes?”

And you say, “Well, at some point, they’ve got to be on their own. How old is your little boy?” “Thirty-four.” Teenagers know they are going to destroy themselves with drugs and drink, but the need of peer acceptance and popularity is so great they don’t have the courage to move on. And that’s sloth. We’re guilty of sloth when we find ourselves continually depressed or in pain and can produce excellent moral and practical reasons why we can’t improve our lot.

So, there you are. An example of the need to repent. There he is; you know, that terrible, unwanted, smelly prophet from the desert, still standing there in front of you. And the fact is, he is going to stand there blocking your view of the Christmas Crib when it’s up because, as we said, that’s his job; that’s what he’s about and what this gospel is about and what this liturgy is about:

No Jesus without John.

No joy without the Jordan.

No rejoicing without repentance.

Today, the prophet has spoken.

(Source: Fr. William J. Bausch. Story Telling The Word. Connecticut: Twenty-Third Publications, 2002, pp. 238-242)

Reflection 8 – Peace of Christ

Peace is the theme of the Second Sunday of Advent. The first reading describes Christ, the Messiah who came from the line of Jesse, King David’s father. It also describes how to obtain peace – a peace that sustains us even in the midst of troubles. It’s the very nature of Jesus himself: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him”; can you feel the Holy Spirit “resting” on you? It’s the very nature of Jesus himself: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him”; have you felt the Holy Spirit “resting” on you lately?

We experience true peace when we’re in a restful relationship with God, i.e., when we’re not struggling against him and his ways and his plans for us. Peace does not depend on bringing to an end the struggles we have with people or the problems we have with financial shortages or addictions or health, etc. We can work hard to accomplish peace in any trial, win the war, and still not be at peace.

Peace comes to us in the wisdom and understanding that we get from the Holy Spirit. Peace comes from following the Spirit’s counsel and relying upon God’s strength. Peace comes from gaining knowledge of the truth that God wants us to know, in total submission to his authority, obediently acting upon the truth.

In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist reminds us to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths.” To receive the Spirit of God and his peace, we must prepare ourselves to meet Jesus in the Mass and in all the other ways that he wants to come to us. How? By identifying and repenting of our sins, thus straightening our crooked paths. We must get rid of obstacles that block our view of Jesus. We must stop following the moods and fascinations that lead us into twisted circles that get us nowhere in our quest for peace.

Whatever separates us from God’s peace, we must get rid of it. To do this, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation and (when we’ve committed only small, venial sins) the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass. Christ equips us for the journey into true peace!

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What turmoil is going on in your life? What has stolen your peace? The only control you have over the problems that disturb you is how you let them affect you. Where is Jesus? What obstacles (e.g., unforgiveness or resentment) do you need to repent of to see him and feel his peace?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What methods do you use to settle down and rest in the Spirit of Jesus when turmoil is spinning around you? What kind of prayer helps? Do you go on retreat or confide in a spiritual director? What are some other ideas?

Reflection 9 – The entrance of the Messiah

1) The waiting for God and conversion.

On this second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy invites us to the conversion necessary to accommodate the coming Kingdom of heaven[1]: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3,1). This Kingdom of heaven is Jesus himself, our neighbor is the Son of God made flesh in the womb of a woman who brings salvation to all mankind. The salvation, brought by Christ and expected by us, is righteousness, joy, peace, love, truth, kindness, solidarity, fraternity, honest, and kindness.

Since the coming of God in our lives is imminent, John the Baptist strongly asks us to do penance. Penance cleans the heart, opens us to hope and enables us to encounter Jesus coming into the world.

However, it is important to consider that the call to conversion doing penance, is not just to live – during Advent – with a more sober style of life, more frequent prayer and more generous charity. Converting calls to an inner change, which begins with the recognition and the confession of sins. In fact, conversion indicates change of mind and behavior and demands the recognition that we are not worthy of God coming to live at our house.

It should also be kept in mind that the first conversion consists in faith[2], which is not only adherence to the content of a message, but adherence to a person who asks us to come into our lives and be accepted. Therefore, conversion is a radical and profound change. It implies not only a moral, but a theological change, that is a new way of thinking about God and to live in Him. It is a reorientation of our whole being: mind and heart, thought and action.

On the one hand, this orientation toward the Kingdom of Heaven is in line with the prophets, who intended the concreteness of conversion as the radical departure from anything that, up to this moment, was important. On the other hand, it goes further and shows that conversion is a turn towards the Kingdom of Heaven and to a novelty forthcoming with its needs and perspectives. It is about giving a decisive turn to life, orienting it in a new direction. It is the Kingdom of heaven that establishes and defines conversion, and not a series of human efforts.

For this conversion to occur, let’s make our own the prayer that the priest does at the beginning of today’s Mass: “God of the living, awakens in us the desire for conversion, so that, renewed by your Holy Spirit, we implement in every human relationship the justice, meekness and peace that the incarnation of your Word has made sprout out on the earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ our Lord (Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent – Year A).” Then the wish of St. Paul will become true: “May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it. “(1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

2) Conversion from the top and conversion to the top of the stars.

This Sunday we are called to go spiritually in the desert, because the Gospel makes us listen to the “Voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight! And he, John, wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey “(Mt 3: 3-4). St. John the Baptist, the voice proclaiming the Word, is presented as an ascetic of the desert who wears rough robes, has a leather belt around his waist and feeds on insects. If we are not asked to be ascetic and to live John’s life in the desert, we are asked that our conversion be as evangelical as his.

This conversion has at least three characteristics.

The first is radicalism. Conversion is not an exterior or partial change, but a total reorientation of the whole being. It is a real shift from selfishness to love, from keeping everything to self to the gift of self.

The second feature is religiosity. It is not confronting with himself, but referring to God that man discovers the extent and the direction of his own change. The first conversion(in the etymological sense of turning to someone to be with him) is not that of a person towards God, but that of God towards every human being. It is a movement of grace that makes possible the change of man and provides the model for this change. In the night and in the solitude of a cave, the spring of humanity is coming: the Son of God who becomes a pilgrim from the stars above.

The third characteristic of the evangelical conversion is its profound humanity. Conversion means the return home, the recovery of full humanity and the finding of the identity of being a child, as in the parable of the prodigal son.

When on reasons in non-evangelical way, conversion is seen as a loss of what is human: In a wrong way, the people think: “if I do not convert to Crist, I find my humanity”. On the contrary, in fact, with the Cristian conversion, man is not lost, but finds himself, becoming free from the alienations that fascinate but destroy him.

Conversion is a constant journey to Christ to renew our “heavenly behavior” through a new desire for heaven. Let us therefore make different (changed) our hearts with the holy desire of Christ. In this way heaven (Christ) will find in us more space.

If we want life to grow, flourish and reach maturity so to pierce, one day, the veils of transience, the most important thing is that it must put more and deeper roots. If we want the fullness of God to fill us with grace, it is critical that our heart widens more and more to hold more and more.

Christian conduct, therefore fully human, becomes more perfect when it flows from a stronger desire for heaven: “Come, Lord, to visit us in peace, so that there we rejoice in You with a perfect heart” (see Antiphon to the Magnificat, first Vespers of Second Sunday of Advent).

This request: “Come, Lord Jesus” must be made by all Christians. The consecrated virgins, through their total gift of self to Christ, give an example beautiful, great and generous. They are aware that the bridegroom seeks his beloved and that they vigil waiting for him. They make theirs that passage of the Song of Songs: “A voice! My beloved! Here it comes, springing upon the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. See! He is standing behind our wall; gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices .”(2,8-9). I was sleeping, but my heart was awake. The sound of my lover knocking! “Open to me, my sister, my friend,my dove, my perfect one! (5.2). “I am my beloved and my beloved belongs to me” (6.3).

With their consecration, these virgin women show how it is possible and a source of joy to welcome Christ a sweetly expected guest and as the groom to whom to devote loyalty forever. They show us with humility that it is possible to always keep the lamps lit, waiting with love the coming of the Savior.

Starting from their example, I wish that, not only in this Advent season, all try to always be attentive to the voice of Christ and to love him above all things.

Patristic Reading

Saint John Chrysostom ( 344/354 –407)

Homily X. Matthew Chapter 3, Verse 1 And Matthew Chapter 3, Verse 2

Mt 3,1-7

“In those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

How “in those days”? For not then, surely, when He was a child, and came to Nazareth, but thirty years after, John cometh; as Luke also testifies. How then is it said, “in those days”? The Scripture is always wont to use this manner of speech, not only when it is mentioning what occurs in the time immediately after, but also of things which are to come to pass many years later. Thus also, for example, when His disciples came unto Him as He sat on the Mount of Olives, and sought to learn about His coming, and the taking of Jerusalem:1 and yet ye know how great is the interval between those several periods. I mean, that having spoken of the subversion of the mother city, and completed His discourse on that subject, and being about to pass to that on the consummation, he inserted, “Then shall these things also come to pass;”2 not bringing together the times by the word then, but indicating that time only in which these things were to happen. And this sort of thing he doth now also, saying, “In those days.” For this is not put to signify the days that come immediately after, but those in which these things were to take place, which he was preparing to relate.

“But why was it after thirty years,” it may be said, “that Jesus came unto His baptism”? After this baptism He was thenceforth to do away with the law: wherefore even until this age, which admits of all sins, He continues fulfilling it all; that no one might say, that because He Himself could not fulfill it, He did it away. For neither do all passions assail us at all times; but while in the first age of life there is much thoughtlessness and timidity, in that which comes after it, pleasure is more vehement, and after this again the desire of wealth. For this cause he awaits the fullness of His adult age, and throughout it all fulfills the law, and so comes to His baptism, adding it as something which follows upon the complete keeping of all the other commandments.

To prove that this was to Him the last good work of those enjoined by the law, hear His own words: “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”3 Now what He saith is like this: “We have performed all the duties of the law, we have not transgressed so much as one commandment. Since therefore this only remains, this too must be added, and so shall we “fulfill all righteousness.” For He here calls by the name of “righteousness” the full performance of all the commandments.

  1. Now that on this account Christ came to His baptism, is from this evident. But wherefore was this baptism devised for Him For that not of himself did the son of Zacharias proceed to this, but of God who moved him,—this Luke also declares, when he saith, “The word of the Lord came unto him,”4 that is, His commandment. And he himself too saith, “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending like a dove, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”5 Wherefore then was he sent to baptize? The Baptist again makes this also plain to us, saying, “I knew Him not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.”6

And if this was the only cause, how saith Luke, that “he came into the county about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins?”7 And yet it had not remission, but this gift pertained unto the baptism that was given afterwards; for in this “we are buried with Him,”8 and our old man was then crucified with Him, and before the cross there doth not appear remission anywhere; for everywhere this is imputed to His blood. And Paul too saith, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified,” not by the baptism of John, but “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”9 And elsewhere too he saith, “John verily preached a baptism of repentance,” (he saith not “of remission,”) “that they should believe on Him that should come after him.”10 For when the sacrifice was not yet offered, nether had the spirit yet come down, nor sin was put away, nor the enmity removed, nor the curse destroyed; how was remission to take place?

What means then, “for the remission of sins?”

The Jews were senseless, and had never any feeling of their own sins, but while they were justly accountable for the worst evils, they were justifying themselves in every respect; and this more than anything caused their destruction, and led them away from the faith. This, for example, Paul himself was laying to their charge, when he said, that “they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about11 to establish their own, had not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”12 And again: “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained13 to righteousness; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained14 unto the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works.”15

Since therefore this was the cause of their evils, John cometh, doing nothing else but bringing them to a sense of their own sins. This, among other things, his very garb declared, being that of repentance and confession. This was indicated also by what he preached, for nothing else did he say, but “bring forth fruits meet for repentance.”16 Forasmuch then as their not condemning their own sins, as Paul also hath explained, made them start off from Christ, while their coming to a sense thereof would set them upon longing to seek after their Redeemer, and to desire remission; this John came to bring about, and to persuade them to repent, not in order that they might be punished, but that having become by repentance more humble, and condemning themselves, they might hasten to receive remission.

But let us see how exactly he hath expressed it; how, having said, that he “came preaching the baptism of repentance in the wilderness of Judaea,” he adds, “for remission,”as though he said, For this end he exhorted them to confess and repent of their sins; not that they should be punished, but that they might more easily receive the subsequent remission. For had they not condemned themselves, they could not have sought after His grace; and not seeking, they could not have obtained remission.

Thus that baptism led the way for this; wherefor also he said, that “they should believe on Him which should come after him;”17 together with that which hath been mentioned setting forth this other cause of His baptism. For neither would it have been as much for him to have gone about to their houses, and to have led Christ around, taking Him by the hand, and to have said, “Believe in This Man;” as for that blessed voice to be uttered, and all those other things performed in the presence and sight of all.

On account of this He cometh to the baptism. Since in fact both the credit of him that was baptizing, and the purport of the thing itself,18 was attracting the whole city, and calling it unto Jordan; and it became a great spectacle.19

Therefore he humbles them also when they are come, and persuades them to have no high fancies about themselves; showing them liable to the utmost evils, unless they would repent, and leaving their forefathers, and all vaunting in them, would receive Him that was coming.

Because in fact the things concerning Christ had been up to that time veiled, and many thought He was dead, owing to the massacre which took place at Bethlehem. For though at twelve years old He discovered Himself, yet did He also quickly veil Himself again. And for this cause there was need of that splendid exordium and of a loftier beginning. Wherefore also then for the first time he with clear voice proclaims things which the Jews had never heard, neither from prophets, nor from any besides; making mention of Heaven, and of the kingdom there, and no longer saying anything touching the earth.

But by the kingdom in this place he means His former and His last advent.

  1. “But what is this to the Jews?” one may say, “for they know not even what thou sayest.” “Why, for this cause,” saith he, “do I so speak, in order that being roused by the obscurity of my words, they may proceed to seek Him, whom I preach.” In point of fact, he so excited them with good hopes when they came near, that even many publicans and soldiers inquired whet they should do, and how they should direct their own life; which was a sign of being thenceforth set free from all worldly things, and of looking to other greater objects, and of forebodings things to come. Yea, for all, both the sights and the words of that time, led them unto lofty thoughts.

Conceive, for example, how great a thing it was to see a man after thirty years coming down from the wilderness, being the son of a chief priest, who had never known the common wants of men, and was on every account venerable, and had Isaiah with him. For he too was present proclaiming him, and saying, “This is he who I said should come crying, and preaching throughout the whole wilderness with a clear voice.” For so great was the earnestness of the prophets touching these things, that not their own Lord only, but him also who was to minister unto Him, they proclaimed a long time beforehand, and they not only mentioned him, but the place too in which he was to abide, and the manner of the doctrine which he had to teach when he came, and the good effect that was produced by him. – Read the source:

[1] “Kingdom of Heaven” is an expression typical of Saint Matthew who uses it 33 times in his Gospel. It is a Jewish way of saying that out of respect, substitutes “heaven” for God. The expression “Kingdom of Heaven’ indicates that God will reveal himself to all and with great power: the power of the Love that donates and doesn’t control.

[2]  Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-IIae,q.113,a.4

Reflection 10 – St. John Damascene (676?-749 A.D.)

John spent most of his life in the monastery of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, and all of his life under Muslim rule, indeed, protected by it. He was born in Damascus, received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Arabs. After a few years he resigned and went to the monastery of St. Sabas.

He is famous in three areas. First, he is known for his writings against the iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Muslim territory that his enemies could not silence him. Second, he is famous for his treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the Greek Fathers (of which he became the last). It is said that this book is for Eastern schools what theSumma of Aquinas became for the West. Thirdly, he is known as a poet, one of the two greatest of the Eastern Church, the other being Romanus the Melodist. His devotion to the Blessed Mother and his sermons on her feasts are well known.


John defended the Church’s understanding of the veneration of images and explained the faith of the Church in several other controversies. For over 30 years he combined a life of prayer with these defenses and his other writings. His holiness expressed itself in putting his literary and preaching talents at the service of the Lord.


“The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: ‘But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God….’ Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory” (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith).

Read the source:

Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

Please click this link to read the 8 Quotes from St. John Damascene about Islam as Christian Heresy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
For the poem by Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy, see John of Damascus (poem).
“Chrysorrhoas” redirects here. For the river, see Barada.
يوحنا الدمشقي (ARABIC)
John Damascus (arabic icon).gif

Saint John Damascene (Arabic icon)
BORN c. 675 or 676
Damascus, Bilad al-Sham,Umayyad Caliphate
DIED December 4, 749
Mar Saba, Jerusalem, Bilad al-Sham, Umayyad Caliphate
CANONIZED Pre-Congregation by Eastern Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
Anglican Communion
FEAST December 4
March 27 (General Roman Calendar 1890–1969)

Saint John of Damascus (Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Δαμασκηνός, Iōannēs ho Damaskēnos; Latin: Ioannes Damascenus;Arabic: يوحنا الدمشقي ‎, ALA-LC: Yūḥannā ad-Dimashqī), also known as John Damascene and as Χρυσορρόας /Chrysorrhoas (literally “streaming with gold”—i.e., “the golden speaker”; c. 675 or 676 – 4 December 749) was a Syrianmonk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.[1]

A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination.[2][3] He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christianpractice throughout the world as well as in western Lutheranism at Easter.[4] He is one of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox church and is best known for his strong defense of icons.[5] The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.[6]

The most common source of information for the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified therein as the Patriarch of Jerusalem.[7] This is an excerpted translation into Greek of an earlier Arabic text. The Arabic original contains a prologue not found in most other translations, and was written by an Arab monk, Michael. Michael explained that he decided to write his biography in 1084 because none was available in his day. However, the main Arabic text seems to have been written by an earlier author sometime between the early 9th and late 10th centuries AD.[7] Written from a hagiographical point of view and prone to exaggeration and some legendary details, it is not the best historical source for his life, but is widely reproduced and considered to contain elements of some value.[8] The hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John, is in fact a work of the 10th century.[9]

Family background[edit]

John was born into a prominent Syriac family known as Mansour in Damascus in the 7th century AD.[10][11] His grandfather had been responsible for the taxes of the region under the Emperor Heracliusand seems to have played a role in the capitulation of Damascus to the troops of Khalid b. al-Walid in 635.[10] Eutychius, a 10th-century Melkite patriarch mentions him as one high ranking official involved in the surrender of the city to the Muslims.[12] When the region came under Arab Muslimoccupation in the late 7th century AD, the court at Damascus retained its large complement of Christian civil servants, John’s grandfather among them.[10][12] John’s father, Sarjun (Sergius) or Ibn Mansur, went on to serve the Umayyadcaliphs.[10] According to John of Jerusalem and some later versions of his life, after his father’s death John also served as an official to the caliphal court before leaving to become a monk. This claim, that John actually served in a Muslim court, has been questioned since he is never mentioned in Muslim sources, which however do refer to his father Sarjun (Sergius) as a secretary in the caliphal administration.[13] In addition, John’s own writings never refer to any experience in a Muslim court. It is believed that John became a monk at Mar Saba, and that he was ordained as a priest in 735.[10][11]


One of the vitae describes his father’s desire for him to “learn not only the books of the Muslims, but those of the Greeks as well.” From this it has been suggested that John may have grown up bilingual.[14] John does indeed show some knowledge of the Quran, which he criticizes harshly.[15]

Other sources describes his education in Damascus as having been conducted in accordance with the principles of Hellenic education, termed “secular” by one source and “Classical Christian” by another.[16][17] One account identifies his tutor as a monk by the name of Cosmas, who had been kidnapped by Arabs from his home in Sicily, and for whom John’s father paid a great price. Under the instruction of Cosmas, who also taught John’s orphan friend (the future St. Cosmas of Maiuma), John is said to have made great advances in music, astronomy and theology, soon rivalling Pythagoras in arithmetic and Euclid in geometry.[17] As a refugee from Italy, Cosmas brought with him the scholarly traditions of Western Christianity.


John had at least one and possibly two careers: one (less well-documented) as a civil servant for the Caliph in Damascus, and the other (better-attested) as a priest and monk at the Mar Sabamonastery near Jerusalem. One source believes John left Damascus to become a monk around 706, when al-Walid I increased the Islamicisation of the Caliphate’s administration.[18] However, Muslim sources only mention that his father Sarjun (Sergius) left the administration around this time, and fail to name John at all.[19]During the next two decades, culminating in the Siege of Constantinople (717-718), the Umayyad Caliphate progressively occupied the borderlands of the Byzantine Empire. An editor of John’s works, Father Le Quien, has shown that John was already a monk at Mar Saba before the dispute over iconoclasm, explained below.[20]

In the early 8th century AD, iconoclasm, a movement opposed to the veneration of icons, gained acceptance in the Byzantine court. In 726, despite the protests ofSt. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Emperor Leo III (who had forced the emperor to abdicate and himself assumed the throne in 717 immediately before the great siege) issued his first edict against the veneration of images and their exhibition in public places.[21]

All agree that John of Damascus undertook a spirited defence of holy images in three separate publications. The earliest of these works, his “Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images”, secured his reputation. He not only attacked the Byzantine emperor, but adopted a simplified style that allowed the controversy to be followed by the common people, stirring rebellion among those of Christian faith. Decades after his death, John’s writings would play an important role during the Second Council of Nicaea (787), which convened to settle the icon dispute.[citation needed]

John’s biography recounts at least one episode deemed improbable or legendary.[20][22] Leo III reportedly sent forged documents to the caliph which implicated John in a plot to attack Damascus. The caliph then ordered John’s right hand be cut off and hung up in public view. Some days afterwards, John asked for the restitution of his hand, and prayed fervently to the Theotokos before her icon: thereupon, his hand is said to have been miraculously restored.[20] In gratitude for this miraculous healing, he attached a silver hand to the icon, which thereafter became known as the “Three-handed”, or Tricheirousa.[23]

Last days[edit]

John died in 749 as a revered Father of the Church, and is recognized as a saint. He is sometimes called the last of the Church Fathers by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1883 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII.


When the name of Saint John of Damascus was inserted in the General Roman Calendar in 1890, it was assigned to 27 March. The feast day was moved in 1969 to the day of the saint’s death, 4 December, the day on which his feast day is celebrated also in the Byzantine Rite calendar,[24] Lutheran Commemorations.[25] and the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church [26]

List of works[edit]

John of Damascus Greek icon.

Besides his purely textual works, many of which are listed below, John of Damascus also composed hymns, perfecting the canon, a structured hymn form used in Eastern Orthodox church services.[27]

Early works[edit]

  • Three Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images – These treatises were among his earliest expositions in response to the edict by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III, banning the veneration or exhibition of holy images.[28]

Teachings and dogmatic works[edit]

  • Fountain of Knowledge or The Fountain of Wisdom, is divided into three parts:
    1. Philosophical Chapters (Kephálaia philosophiká) – commonly called ‘Dialectic’, it deals mostly with logic, its primary purpose being to prepare the reader for a better understanding of the rest of the book.
    2. Concerning Heresy (Perì hairéseōn) – the last chapter of this part (Chapter 101) deals with the Heresy of the Ishmaelites.[29]Unlike earlier sections devoted to other heresies, which are disposed of succinctly in just a few lines, this chapter runs into several pages. It constitutes one of the first Christian refutations of Islam.
    3. An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Ékdosis akribès tēs Orthodóxou Písteōs) – a summary of the dogmatic writings of the Early Church Fathers. This writing was the first work of Scholasticism in Eastern Christianity and an important influence on later Scholastic works.[30]
  • Against the Jacobites
  • Against the Nestorians
  • Dialogue against the Manichees
  • Elementary Introduction into Dogmas
  • Letter on the Thrice-Holy Hymn
  • On Right Thinking
  • On the Faith, Against the Nestorians
  • On the Two Wills in Christ (Against the Monothelites)
  • Sacred Parallels (dubious)
  • Octoechos (the Church’s service book of eight tones)
  • On Dragons and Ghosts

The Arabic translation[edit]

John of Damascus.

It is believed that the homily on the Annunciation was the first work to be translated into Arabic. We can find a big part of this text in the manuscript 4226 of the Library of Strasbourg (France), a copy achieved in 885 AD.[31]

Later in the 10th century, Antony, superior of the monastery of St. Simon (near Antioch) translated a corpus of saint John Damascene. In his introduction to John’s work, Sylvestre patriarch of Antioch (1724–1766) said that Antony was monk at Saint Saba. This could be a misunderstanding of the title Superior of Saint Simon probably because Saint Simon’s monastery was in ruins in the 18th century.[32]

Most manuscripts give the text of the letter to Cosmas,[33] the philosophical chapters,[34] the theological chapters and five other small works.[35] Since March 2013, a first edition of this translation is available on the web.[36]

In 1085, Mikhael, a monk from Antioch wrote the Arabic life of the Chrysorrhoas.[37] This work was first edited by Bacha in 1912 and then translated in many languages (German, Russian and English).

Modern English translations[edit]

  • On holy images; followed by three sermons on the Assumption, translated by Mary H. Allies, (London: Thomas Baker, 1898).
  • Exposition of the Orthodox faith, translated by the Reverend SDF Salmond, in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. 2nd Series vol 9. (Oxford: Parker, 1899) [reprint Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1963.]
  • Writings, translated by Frederic H. Chase. Fathers of the Church vol 37, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1958) [ET of The fount of knowledge; On heresies; The orthodox faith]
  • Daniel J. Sahas, John of Damascus on Islam: The “Heresy of the Ishmaelites”, (Leiden: Brill, 1972)
  • On the divine images: the apologies against those who attack the divine images, translated by David Anderson, (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980)
  • Three Treatises on the Divine Images. Popular Patristics. Translated by Andrew Louth. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. 2003. ISBN 0-88141-245-7. Louth, who also wrote the introduction, was at the University of Durham as Professor of Patristics and Byzantine Studies.

2 translations exist of the 10th century hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John:

  • Barlaam and Ioasaph, with an English translation by G.R. Woodward and H. Mattingly, (London: Heinemann, 1914)
  • The precious pearl: the lives of Saints Barlaam and Ioasaph, notes and comments by Augoustinos N Kantiotes; preface, introduction, and new translation by Asterios Gerostergios, et al., (Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1997)


  1. Jump up^ M. Walsh, ed. Butler’s Lives of the Saints (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991), p. 403.
  2. Jump up^ Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Idols in the East: European representations of Islam and the Orient, 1100-1450, Cornell University Press, 2009 p. 204
  3. Jump up^ David Richard Thomas, Syrian Christians under Islam: the first thousand years,Brill 2001 p. 19.
  4. Jump up^ Lutheran Service Book (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 2006), pp. 478, 487.
  5. Jump up^ Aquilina 1999, p. 222
  6. Jump up^ Rengers, Christopher (2000). The 33 Doctors of the Church. Tan Books. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-89555-440-6.
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b Sahas 1972, p. 32
  8. Jump up^ Sahas 1972, p. 35
  9. Jump up^ R. Volk, ed., Historiae animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph(Berlin, 2006).
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Brown 2003, p. 307
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b McEnhill & Newlands 2004, p. 154
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b Sahas 1972, p. 17
  13. Jump up^ Hoyland 1996, p. 481
  14. Jump up^ Valantasis, p. 455
  15. Jump up^ Hoyland 1996, pp. 487–489
  16. Jump up^ Louth 2002, p. 284
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b Butler, Jones & Burns 2000, p. 36
  18. Jump up^ Louth 2003, p. 9
  19. Jump up^ Hoyland 1996, pp. 481
  20. ^ Jump up to:a b c Catholic Online. “St. John of Damascus”.
  21. Jump up^ O’Connor, John Bonaventure. “St. John Damascene”. The Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  22. Jump up^ Jameson 2008, p. 24
  23. Jump up^ Louth 2002, pp. 17, 19
  24. Jump up^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), pp. 109, 119; cf.Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
  25. Jump up^ Kinnaman, Scot A. Lutheranism 101 (Concordia Publish House, St. Louis, 2010) p. 278.
  26. Jump up^ Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006 (Church Publishing, 2006), pp. 92–93.
  27. Jump up^ Shahîd 2009, p. 195
  28. Jump up^ St. John Damascene on Holy Images, Followed by Three Sermons on the Assumption – Eng. transl. by Mary H. Allies, London, 1899.
  29. Jump up^ “St. John of Damascus: Critique of Islam”.
  30. Jump up^ Ines, Angeli Murzaku (2009). Returning home to Rome: the Basilian monks of Grottaferrata in Albania. 00046 Grottaferrata (Roma) – Italy: Analekta Kryptoferri. p. 37. ISBN 88-89345-04-7.
  31. Jump up^
  32. Jump up^ Nasrallah, Saint Jean de Damas, son époque, sa vie, son oeuvre, Harissa, 1930, p.180
  33. Jump up^ Habib Ibrahim. “Letter to Cosmas – Lettre à Cosmas de Jean Damascène (Arabe)”.
  34. Jump up^
  35. Jump up^ Nasrallah, Joseph. Histoire III, pp. 273–281
  36. Jump up^
  37. Jump up^ Habib Ibrahim. “Arabic life of John Damascene – Vie arabe de Jean Damascène”.


Cuban Priest: “Kill Me, Jail Me, But We Won’t Suspend Holy Mass”

Cuban Priest: “Kill Me, Jail Me, But We Won’t Suspend Holy Mass”
(Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
By Kathy Schiffer,  DEC. 2, 2016
Cuban Priest: “Kill Me, Jail Me, But We Won’t Suspend Holy Mass”
“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God’s. Kill me, jail me, but we are not going to suspend Holy Mass.”

A pastor in Cuba has stood firm against the Cuban government, refusing to suspend Masses during the nation’s nine-day period of mourning for Cuban despot Fidel Castro, who died November 25.

For fifty-nine years, Castro ruled his island nation with an iron fist. After the 1959 revolution, Cuba officially embraced atheism—and practicing Catholics and others of faith were regarded with suspicion. Viewing the Catholic Church as a rival for the hearts of the people, Castro canceled the celebration of the Christmas holiday and deported the archbishop and 150 Spanish priests. Catholic schools were shuttered, and all children were required to attend state-sponsored schools where they would be indoctrinated into Marx-Leninist ideology. Catholics were excluded from the Communist party, since the tenets of the faith were in opposition to the party’s Marxist ideals; and so Catholics were denied the political benefits of party membership.

In all, more than 140,000 people have been executed by the brutal Castro regime, often by firing squad. Thousands more have been imprisoned or sent to forced labor camps. Basic human rights were suspended.

The totalitarian regime prompted a mass exodus of more than 300,000 Cubans, many of whom sought refuge in the United States.

There was a limited relaxation of policies in 1992, when Catholics were finally permitted to join the Communist party; but private schools have never reopened. Despite the government’s boasts about free health care and education, most citizens subsist on an average income of only $25 per month.

*          *          *          *

Now the dictator is gone. Fidel Castro—who had turned the reigns of government over to his younger brother Raul in 1995—died last week at the age of ninety. But still, freedom eludes the Cuban citizenry.

As news of Fidel’s passing spread among Cuban-American immigrants, people in Miami took to the streets to dance and cheer, nurturing the hope of greater freedom in their country of origin; but their relatives back home in Cuba had to be much more circumspect in their celebrations. Cuba’s current government under the rule of Fidel’s brother, President Raul Castro, has imposed a mandatory nine-day period of mourning. State security officials have forced the closure of nightclubs, businesses and schools, and have apparently forced citizens to participate in parades and rallies honoring the fallen leader.

And in a policy which will have prayerful Christians scratching their heads, the government has attempted to force churches to suspend their services until after the period of mourning, and to instead join the celebratory parades in Castro’s honor.

Mario Félix Lleonhart, a Baptist minister who has experienced firsthand government persecution in Cuba, reports that several pastors have refused to abide by the government’s directive. He quotes one unnamed priest who refused to close his church’s doors:

Things remain complicated here, my friend. Today, I received news that many churches have suspended adoration and prayer services and that others are singing without accompaniment out of “respect for national mourning.” Just as Daniel prayed three times a day with the window open in the manner to which he was accustomed, so we celebrate our Sundays as usual, though we now only use a piano and play it softly so as not to seem disrespectful of those who “feel the loss.”

The priest went on to report that the president of the local Ministry of Justice and one of her officials had come to the church between Sunday school and Mass. They had brought with them an official order to cancel Mass that day and to suspend all other services through December 9, during the mandatory mourning period. “You know what I told her?” said the priest.

“You can go fetch the police or anyone else you want but I am not going to suspend any Masses and we are not going to stop singing. We sing and hold adorations even when one of our own dies. That does not show a lack of respect. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God’s. Kill me, jail me, but we are not going to suspend Holy Mass.”

According to Lleonart, the Ministry of Justice officials eventually softened their tone, asking the priest, “Well, at least tone it down.” The priest reported the conversation to the 200 people gathered in his church, telling them that if they wanted to leave Mass, they could go home. No one left; the Mass went on as planned, and the priest described it as “a glorious service, like in the early church.”

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CBCP warns vs giving condoms in schools

CBCP warns vs giving condoms in schools

/ 05:35 AM December 03, 2016
Paulyn Ubial

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial encourages the use of condom to stop the spread of HIV during press briefing in Paranaque City. PDI Photo / Richard A. Reyes

An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) warned that distributing condoms in schools as part of an anti-HIV/AIDS drive would  only condone sexual activities among students.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, said the government should instead focus its efforts on educating people than giving away condoms.

“Yes, we need to address the rising number of HIV cases in the country. But the government should invest more in educating people about the perils of sporadic sexual activity than procuring and distributing condoms,” he said.

The CBCP official made the statement after the Department of Health (DOH) announced its plan to distribute condoms in schools next year as part of its anti-HIV/AIDS campaign.

The distribution of condoms would be coupled with counseling sessions for students.

Data showed that from 1984 to October 2016, 38,114 HIV/AIDS cases had been recorded. Of this figure, 32,099 were reported from 2011 to 2016.

The DOH noted that there were 10,279 HIV/AIDS cases in the 15-to-24-years-old category, of which 9,066 were reported since 2011.

These figures alarmed the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Health Care and the DOH, especially that HIV/AIDS infections were rising among the youth.

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US Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz backs personhood in powerful new video: “Defend the right to life of born and unborn”

Pro-life Song and Video: Stand Up For Life

Is Health Care a Pro Life Issue?

Pro-lifers will keep losing and babies will keep dying until we do this…

Planned Parenthood Videos Put a Spotlight on Another Issues: Procurement Companies

Top Planned Parenthood Abortionist Admits She Dismembered & Killed Born Alive Babies

Video: Laughing abortionists ‘pull out baby hearts after abortion, just for fun’. It’s cute.

Undercover pro-life investigator: I saw evil in the face of late-term abortionist

Does God want Christians to stand up against the injustice of abortion? Here’s what the Bible says…

Fidelity to fertility

THE VORTEX: THE PILL KILLS – Contraception is destroying the faith

Scientific Fact: Human Life Begins at Conception or Fertilization

‘I made a huge mistake’ – Why one radical feminist changed her mind on abortion

THE VORTEX: TIME BOMBS IN THE MARCH FOR LIFE – The March for Life has been hijacked by the Church of Nice

THE VORTEX: GHOST ABORTIONS – The cost of abortion is too high to count  but it can be calculated

WATCH: U.S. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz push for gay ‘equality’ will ‘destroy everything Christian’

She Had an Abortion at 15, Now She’s Had 5 Miscarriages and Can’t Ever Have Children

Low Natality, Low Growth: The Economic Consequences of Fewer Babies

Study: IUD use puts girls at risk for STDs

US Congress Subpoenas StemExpress, Which Buys Fully Intact Aborted Babies From Planned Parenthood

Breastfeeding: A social justice issue

MRI Shows Breastfed Babies’ Brains Develop Better/Faster than Formula or Mixed-Fed Infants

ABORTIONS EASIER THROUGH NEW FDA REGULATIONS: Abortion pill can now be taken up to 10 weeks after conception

My mother was advised to abort me, says Cardinal Raymond Burke in new book


‘Catholics for Choice’ Draws Clarification From Bishops


Michael Voris talks an in-depth discussion of the true, financial cost of abortion and its effects to the United States. Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death” (CDF, Donum vitae III; CCC: 2273).

Contraception & the New Dark Age, Part 1-4: Where we are & How we got here by Dr. Martin Brenner click below:

Contraception & the New Dark Age, Part 1-4: Where we are & How we got here?

Contraception’s dark fruits

CIA: The Rockefeller Foundation – Actively Undermining the Catholic Church click below:

CIA: Rockefeller Foundation – Actively Undermining the Catholic Church

We are used to thinking of the Rockefellers as simply a byword for wealth, power and financial success. Perhaps we might think of them as determined businessmen or see them as great philanthropists. But the truth is far different; the Rockefeller Foundation is actively undermining the Catholic Church, and in the process, attempting to erase man’s natural orientation to the eternal.

Global Warming Unmasked click below:

Global Warming Unmasked

Are the environmental movements and groups simply devoted to laudable, correct stewardship of God’s creation, or do they have a more sinister, hidden agenda? Is “global warming” being used as an excuse for something far darker? Is the final goal of the liberal elites behind the push of junk science population control, eugenics and Gaia worship?

Mic’d Up “Is Contraception Killing the Church?” click below:

Mic’d Up: Is Contraception Killing the Church?

This week on Mic’d Up we’ll be tackling the terrible scourge of Contraception on the Church. Michael Hichborn and Rey Flores from American Life League will join us to expose Catholic Relief Services complicity with Organizations who support contraception and to Discuss The Pill Kills Day of Action 2014. Also joining us will be Lynn Mills who will be discussing the continued prayer rally at Providence Park Hospital in the Archdiocese of Detroit because of their complicity in abortion, contraception and sterilization. Following that same thread we’ll break down the announcement from Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron concerning the crisis of parish closings facing Detroit. Also dropping by will be author James Kalb, to discuss the plague of pluralism on the Church’s Hierarchy.

Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the First Week of Advent & St. Francis Xavier, December 3,2016

Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the First Week of Advent & St. Francis Xavier, December 3,2016

A founding member of the Jesuit Order, Francis eagerly accepted a commission to preach the Gospel to the peoples of the East. Arriving at Goa, India, he began his work catechizing the Portuguese. From there he traveled to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Japan. In a letter from India he wrote, “I looked or desired for nothing here but to wear myself out with work and sacrifice my life itself in bringing about the salvation of souls.” But in Japan, where the daimyo demanded formality, Francis approached suitably dressed as an ambassador. Sir Walter Scott eulogized him thus: “The most rigid Protestant, and the most indifferent philosopher, cannot deny to him to courage and patience of a martyr, with the good sense, resolution, ready wit, and address of the best negotiator that ever went on a temporal embassy.” Firm, thorough, and determined, Francis was always looking for a way to extend the reach of the Gospel. He was preparing to enter the vast territory of China when he died in 1552 A.D.


Opening Prayer

“Lord, you have chosen me to be your disciple.  Take and use what I can offer, however meager it may seem, for the greater glory of your Name.” In your Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading 1 IS 30:19-21, 23-26

Thus says the Lord GOD,
the Holy One of Israel:
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem,
no more will you weep;
He will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The Lord will give you the bread you need
and the water for which you thirst.
No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or to the left.

He will give rain for the seed
that you sow in the ground,
And the wheat that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your flock will be given pasture
and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows;
The oxen and the asses that till the ground
will eat silage tossed to them
with shovel and pitchfork.
Upon every high mountain and lofty hill
there will be streams of running water.
On the day of the great slaughter,
when the towers fall,
The light of the moon will be like that of the sun
and the light of the sun will be seven times greater
like the light of seven days.
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

  1. (see Isaiah 30:18d)Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
    Praise the LORD, for he is good;
    sing praise to our God, for he is gracious;
    it is fitting to praise him.
    The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;
    the dispersed of Israel he gathers.
    R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
    He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
    He tells the number of the stars;
    he calls each by name.
    R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
    Great is our LORD and mighty in power:
    to his wisdom there is no limit.
    The LORD sustains the lowly;
    the wicked he casts to the ground.
    R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.

Alleluia IS 33:22

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    The LORD is our Judge, our Lawgiver, our King;
    he it is who will save us.
    R.Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 9:35–10:1, 5A, 6-8

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – The Kingdom of heaven is at hand

Today, our Heavenly Father inscribes in our hearts that in our Lord Jesus a new covenant has been forged between Him and mankind. Jesus has come not only to rescue us from the ill effects of our sins but also to set us free from both our bondage to sin and our attachment to the world. He reveals to us that every sinful act we commit is always followed by His divine mercy rather than one of justice and punishment.

As our Father’s instruments in bringing Jesus to every man we are all enjoined not only to rely on justice but to be merciful as He is merciful. We are asked to witness to all that we live by the merciful ways of Jesus and are guided by His compassion for the afflicted and the sinful. We are all enjoined to be the embodiment of the new covenant that we have in Jesus, our Christ and Lord. Jesus paid for our sins at no cost to us so that we may be all be forgiven. If we have been forgiven, we too should give His mercy and forgive all those who have sinned against us.

In today’s gospel, Jesus shows us how we should bring His gospel to the world when He said: “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” He enjoins us to be merciful to all those around us and give more of ourselves in His love and service. He wants us to bring His Word to all nations with a cheerful heart at no cost to anyone but for FREE!

Let us be reminded that whenever we ask the Lord to take care of us and His Church and protect what His right hand has planted, He responds to us and says, “My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger. I will not destroy Ephraim again for I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you. I will not let the flames consume you.” Hosea 9:11 The same should be our attitude to those who have sinned against us. We should extend our forgiveness no matter how difficult and hurting it could be, not under constraint and not for any cost but for  FREE!

If we do not bring the gospel respond to the ends of the earth, who else will?  We need to act NOW! As our Lord Jesus has expressed. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”


Meditate on God’s mercy upon us and the punishment we deserve as a sinners. Resolve to be merciful, forgiving and compassionate to those who have sinned against us.


Heavenly Father, I acknowledge my sinfulness as I ask You to forgive my sins and to save me from the fires of hell. Lead me to my home with You as I struggle to live in your mercy and love, through Jesus, our Christ and Savior. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Praying And Working

Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. –Psalm 55:17

While driving through a small town in Pennsylvania, I saw these words on a church sign: Pray for a good harvest, but keep on hoeing.

This made me think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 9. Before telling His disciples to pray that laborers would be sent out, He reminded them that a good harvest was waiting but that the laborers were few (vv.37-38).

We sometimes forget that God may want us to be part of the answer to our own prayers. We expect Him to do everything, and then we sit back and do nothing.

We ask Him to bless the work of our church but offer excuses when asked to serve. We plead for loved ones to be saved, yet never speak a word of testimony to them. We earnestly intercede for people with serious financial needs, but we won’t dig deep into our own pockets even though we have the means to help them. We ask the Lord to comfort and encourage the shut-ins and lonely, but we never go out of our way to pay them a visit or send them a note of encouragement.

Yes, God wants us to bring our requests to Him, but many times He wants us to add feet to our prayers. Working often goes hand-in-hand with praying.  —Richard De Haan  — Richard De Haan

Your faith in God is proven when
You serve as one who cares;
Faith finds a way to love and help—
Putting action to your prayers. —Hess

Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 3 – Working In The Harvest

Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. —Matthew 9:38

While D. L. Moody was attending a convention in Indianapolis on mass evangelism, he did more than just talk about it. He asked a friend, who was a gifted musician, to meet him on a street corner at 6 o’clock one evening. The man stood on a box and sang a song. When a crowd gathered, Moody spoke briefly and then invited the people to follow him to the nearby convention hall.

Soon the auditorium was filled with spiritually hungry people, and he preached to them. When the convention attendees began to arrive, Moody stopped preaching and said, “Now we must close, as the brethren of the convention want to discuss the topic, ‘How to reach the masses.’”

When Jesus saw the masses, He was “moved with compassion” for them (Matthew 9:36). He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful . . . . Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers” (vv.37-38). And He sent them out to preach the good news of His kingdom (10:1).

It is estimated that only 10 percent of the world’s population of 6.3 billion are believers in Jesus Christ. And more than 25 percent have never heard of Jesus’ love even once.

As His disciples today, let’s not just talk about the need—let’s pray and go.
— Anne Cetas

Far, far away, in heathen darkness dwelling,
Millions of souls forever may be lost;
Who, who will go, salvation’s story telling,
Looking to Jesus, minding not the cost? —McGranahan

The next person you meet may be your mission field (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 4 – Through The Eyes Of Jesus

As [Jesus] drew near, He saw the city and wept over it. –Luke 19:41

Actor Bruce Marchiano wanted to see the world through the eyes of the character he was playing. So as he prepared for the role of Jesus in a presentation of Matthew’s Gospel, he prayed, “Lord, show me what it all looks like through Your eyes.”

That prayer was answered one day while Marchiano was filming the Lord’s heartbroken denunciation of the unrepentant cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida (Mt. 11:20-22). The actor began to weep uncontrollably as he looked at the people around him. He said that he “saw people living their lives in ways that God didn’t plan.” He likened his reaction to what parents might feel if they saw their toddler walking into the street as a truck was coming. Marchiano realized that compassion is not just feeling sorry for people; it’s a heartache so intense that it moves us to action.

As Jesus walked among people, He saw them as shepherdless sheep–spiritually ignorant, without hope, eternally lost. Moved with compassion, He taught them and used His supernatural power to meet their needs (Mt. 9:35).

Do we see people through the eyes of Jesus? Are we moved with compassion, not with just a passing twinge of pity but a profound reaction that motivates action?  — Vernon C. Grounds

Beautiful lives have they who bear
The burdens of those heavy laden with care;
Earnest are they who daily show
Compassionate service wherever they go. –Anon.

Compassion is love in action (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 5 – St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552 A.D.)

Jesus asked, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:26a). The words were repeated to a young teacher of philosophy who had a highly promising career in academics, with success and a life of prestige and honor before him.

Francis Xavier, 24 at the time, and living and teaching in Paris, did not heed these words at once. They came from a good friend, Ignatius of Loyola, whose tireless persuasion finally won the young man to Christ. Francis then made the spiritual exercises under the direction of Ignatius, and in 1534 joined his little community, the infant Society of Jesus. Together at Montmartre they vowed poverty, chastity and apostolic service according to the directions of the pope.

From Venice, where he was ordained a priest in 1537, Francis Xavier went on to Lisbon and from there sailed to the East Indies, landing at Goa, on the west coast of India. For the next 10 years he labored to bring the faith to such widely scattered peoples as the Hindus, the Malayans and the Japanese. He spent much of that time in India, and served as provincial of the newly established Jesuit province of India.

Wherever he went, he lived with the poorest people, sharing their food and rough accommodations. He spent countless hours ministering to the sick and the poor, particularly to lepers. Very often he had no time to sleep or even to say his breviary but, as we know from his letters, he was filled always with joy.

Francis went through the islands of Malaysia, then up to Japan. He learned enough Japanese to preach to simple folk, to instruct and to baptize, and to establish missions for those who were to follow him. From Japan he had dreams of going to China, but this plan was never realized. Before reaching the mainland he died. His remains are enshrined in the Church of Good Jesus in Goa. He and St. Therese of Lisieux were declared co-patrons of the missions in 1925.


Francis died on the island of Sancian, a hundred miles southwest of Hong Kong. In his final sickness he had to be removed from the ship because the Portuguese sailors feared that kindness to him would offend their master. They were forced to leave him on the sands of the shore, exposed to a bitter wind, but a Portuguese merchant led him into a ramshackle hut. He prayed continually, between spasms of delirium and the doubtful therapy of bleeding. He grew weaker and weaker. “I [Anthony, his friend] could see that he was dying, and put a lighted candle in his hand. Then, with the name of Jesus on his lips, he gave his spirit to his Creator and Lord with great peace and repose.”


All of us are called to “go and preach to all nations” (see Matthew 28:19). Our preaching is not necessarily on distant shores but to our families, our children, our husband or wife, our coworkers. And we are called to preach not with words, but by our everyday lives. Only by sacrifice, the giving up of all selfish gain, could Francis Xavier be free to bear the Good News to the world. Sacrifice is leaving yourself behind at times for a greater good, the good of prayer, the good of helping someone in need, the good of just listening to another. The greatest gift we have is our time. Francis gave his to others.

Patron Saint of: Japan, Missionaries

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

Four Great Spanish Saints, by Jack Wintz, OFM

Read the source:

Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

FRANCIS XAVIER, ST. (1506-1552). Born in the family castle of Xavier, near Pamplona in the Basque area of Spanish Navarre on Apr. 7, he was sent to the University of Paris 1552, secured his licentiate in 1528, met Ignatius Loyola and became one of the seven who in 1534, at Montmartre founded the Society of Jesus.

In 1536 he left Paris to join Ignatius in Venice, from whence they all in tended to go as missionaries to Palestine (a trip which never materialized), was ordained there in 1537, went to Rome in 1538, and in 1540, when the pope formally recognized the Society, was ordered, with Fr. Simon Rodriguez, to the Far East as the first Jesuit missionaries. King John III kept Fr. Simon in Lisbon, but Francis, after a year’s voyage, six months of which were spent at Mozambique where he preached and gave aid to the sick eventually arrived in Goa, India in 1542 with Fr. Paul of Camerino an Italian, and Francis Mansihas, a Portuguese. There he began preaching to the natives and attempted to reform his fellow Europeans, living among the natives and adopting their customs on his travels.

During the next decade he converted tens of thousands to Christianity. He visited the Paravas at the tip of India. near Cape Comorin, Tuticorin (1542), Malacca (1545), the Moluccas near New Guinea and Morotai near the Philippines (1546-47), and Japan (1549- 51). In 1551, India and the East were set up as a separate province and Ignatius made Francis its first provincial. In 1552 he set out for China, landed on the island of Sancian within sight of his goal, but died before he reached the mainland. Working against great difficulties, language problems (contrary to legend, he had no proficiency in foreign tongues ), inadequate funds, and lack of cooperation, often actual resistance, from European officials, he left the mark of his missionary zeal and energy on areas which clung to Christianity for centuries. He was canonized in 1622 and proclaimed patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X. F. D. Dec. 3.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

This article is about the person. For schools and other uses, see St. Xavier (disambiguation).
“François Xavier” redirects here. For the French journalist, see François Xavier (journalist).
Franciscus de Xabier.jpg

A painting of St. Francis Xavier, held in theKobe City Museum.
BORN 7 April 1506
Javier, Kingdom of Navarre(present Spain)
DIED 3 December 1552 (aged 46)
Portuguese Base at São João Island (now China)
VENERATED IN Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Anglican Communion
BEATIFIED 25 October 1619 by Pope Paul V
CANONIZED 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV
FEAST 3 December
ATTRIBUTES crucifix; preacher carrying a flaming heart; bell; globe; vessel; young bearded Jesuit in the company of Saint Ignatius Loyola; young bearded Jesuit with a torch, flame, cross and lily
PATRONAGE African missions; Agartala, India; Ahmedabad, India;Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia;Bombay, India; Borneo; Cape Town, South Africa; China; Dinajpur, Bangladesh; East Indies; Fathers of the Precious Blood; foreign missions; Freising, Germany; Goa, India;Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; Indianapolis, Indiana; Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan; Joiliet, Illinois; Kabankalan, Philippines;Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines; Alegria, Cebu, Philippines; diocese of Malindi, Kenya; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith; Zagreb, Croatia; Indonesia; Malacca; Malaysia,Mongolia
Society of Jesus

History of the Jesuits
Regimini militantis
SuppressionJesuit Hierarchy
Superior General
Adolfo Nicolás

Ignatian Spirituality
Spiritual Exercises
Ad majorem Dei gloriam

Notable Jesuits
St. Ignatius of Loyola
St. Francis Xavier
St. Peter Faber
St. Aloysius Gonzaga
St. Robert Bellarmine
St. Peter Canisius
St. Edmund Campion
Pope Francis

Saint Francis Xavier, SJ, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552), was aNavarrese Basque Roman Catholic missionary, born in Xavier, Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain), and a co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a companion of St. Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuitswho took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534.[1] He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in thePortuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelization work most notably in India. He also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands, and other areas which had, until then, not been visited by Christian missionaries. In these areas, struggling to learn the local languages and in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. It was a goal of Xavier to extend his missionary preaching to China but he died in Shangchuan Islandshortly before doing so.

St. Francis Xavier was beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622. In 1624 he was made co-patron of Navarre alongside Santiago. Known as the “Apostle of the Indies,” and the “Apostle of Japan”, he is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since St. Paul.[2] In 1927, Pope Pius XIpublished the decree “Apostolicorum in Missionibus” naming St. Francis Xavier, along with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, co-patron of all foreign missions.[3] He is now co-patron saint of Navarre with San Fermin. The Day of Navarre (Día de Navarra) in Spain marks the anniversary of Saint Francis Xavier’s death on 3 December 1552.

Early life[edit]

The castle of the Xavier family was later acquired by the Society of Jesus.

Francis Xavier was born in the castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre, on 7 April 1506 according to a family register. He was the youngest son of Juan de Jasso y Atondo, who belonged to a prosperous farming family and had acquired a doctorate in law at the University of Bologna,[4] and later became privy counselor and finance minister to King John III of Navarre (Jean d’Albret).[5]Francis’ mother was Doña Maria de Azpilcueta y Aznárez, sole heiress of two noble Navarrese families. He was thus related to the great theologian and philosopher Martín de Azpilcueta.[6]Notwithstanding different interpretations on his first language,[7]no evidence suggests that Xavier’s mother tongue was other than Basque, as stated by himself, and confirmed by the sociolinguistic environment of the time.[A]

In 1512, Ferdinand, King of Aragon and regent of Castile, invaded Navarre, initiating a war that lasted over 18 years. Three years later, Francis’ father died when Francis was only nine years old. In 1516, Francis’s brothers participated in a failed Navarrese-French attempt to expel the Spanish invaders from the kingdom. The Spanish Governor, Cardinal Cisneros, confiscated the family lands, demolished the outer wall, the gates, and two towers of the family castle, and filled in the moat. In addition, the height of the keep was reduced by half.[9] Only the family residence inside the castle was left. In 1522 one of Francis’s brothers participated with 200 Navarrese nobles in dogged but failed resistance against the Castilian Count of Miranda in Amaiur,Baztan, the last Navarrese territorial position south of the Pyrenees.

Until he left for studies in Paris in 1525, Francis’ life was surrounded by this war, which ended with Spanish conquest of Navarre in 1530.

In 1525, Francis went to study at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, University of Paris, where he would spend the next eleven years.[10]In the early days he acquired some reputation as an athlete[11]and a fine high-jumper.[12]

In 1529, Francis shared lodgings with his friend Pierre Favre. A new student, Ignatius of Loyola, came to room with them.[13] At 38, Ignatius was much older than Peter and Francis, who were both 23 at the time. Pierre was won over by Ignatius to become a priest, but Francis had aspirations of worldly advancement. At first Francis was not much taken with Ignatius. He regarded the new lodger as a joke and was sarcastic about his efforts to convert students. [14] Only after Pierre left their lodgings to visit his family, when Ignatius was alone with the proud Navarrese, was he was able to slowly break down Francis’s stubborn resistance.[15] According to most biographies Ignatius is said to have posed the question: “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”[16]However, according to James Broderick such method is not characteristic of Ignatius and there is no evidence that he employed it at all.[14]

In 1530 Francis received the degree of Master of Arts, and afterwards taught Aristotelian philosophy at Beauvais College, University of Paris.[14]

Church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, Paris.

On 15 August 1534, seven students met in a crypt beneath the Church of Saint Denis (now Saint Pierre de Montmartre), in Montmartreoutside Paris. They were Francis, Ignatius of Loyola, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Spain, Peter Faber fromSavoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal. They made private vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Pope, and also vowed to go to the Holy Land to convert infidels.[17][18] Francis began his study of theology in 1534 and was ordained on June 24, 1537.

In 1539, after long discussions, Ignatius drew up a formula for a new monastic order, the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). [15] Ignatius’s plan for the order was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540.[19]

Missionary work[edit]

Francisco Xavier asking John III of Portugal for an expedition.

In 1540 King John of Portugal had Pedro Mascarenhas, Portuguese ambassador to the Vatican, request Jesuit missionaries to spread the faith in his new Indian possessions, where the king believed that Christian values were eroding among the Portuguese. After successive appeals to the Pope asking for missionaries for the East Indies under the Padroadoagreement, John III was encouraged by Diogo de Gouveia, rector of the Collège Sainte-Barbe, to recruit the newly graduated youngsters that would establish the Society of Jesus.[20]

Loyola promptly appointed Nicholas Bobadilla and Simão Rodrigues. At the last moment, however, Bobadilla became seriously ill. With some hesitance and uneasiness, Ignatius asked Francis to go in Bobadilla’s place. Thus, Xavier accidentally began his life as the first Jesuit missionary.[21][22][23]

Leaving Rome on 15 March 1540, in the Ambassador’s train,[24]Francis took with him a breviary, a catechism, and De Institutione bene vivendi by Croatian humanist Marko Marulić,[25] a Latin book that had become popular in the Counter-Reformation. According to a 1549 letter of F. Balthasar Gago in Goa, it was the only book that Francis read or studied.[26]Francis reached Lisbon in June 1540 and four days after his arrival, he and Rodrigues were summoned to a private audience with the King and the Queen.[27]

Francis Xavier devoted much of his life to missions in Asia, mainly in four centers: Malacca, Amboina and Ternate, Japan, and China. His growing information about new places indicated to him that he had to go to what he understood were centers of influence for the whole region. China loomed large from his days in India. Japan was particularly attractive because of its culture. For him, these areas were interconnected; they could not be evangelized separately.[28]

Goa and India[edit]

He left Lisbon on 7 April 1541, Xavier’s thirty-fifth birthday, along with two other Jesuits and the new viceroy Martim Afonso de Sousa, on board the Santiago.[29] As he departed, Francis was given a brief from the pope appointing him apostolic nuncio to the East.[23] From August until March 1542 he remained in Portuguese Mozambique, and arrived in Goa, then capital of Portuguese India on 6 May 1542, thirteen months after leaving Lisbon.

Following quickly on the great voyages of discovery, the Portuguese had established themselves at Goa thirty years earlier. Francis’ primary mission, as ordered by King John III, was to restore Christianity among the Portuguese settlers. According to Teotonio R. DeSouza, recent critical accounts indicate that apart from the posted civil servants, “the great majority of those who were dispatched as “discoverers” were the riff-raff of Portuguese society, picked up from Portuguese jails.” [30]Nor did the soldiers, sailors, or merchants come to do missionary work, and Imperial policy permitted the outflow of disaffected nobility. Many of the arrivals formed liaisons with local women and adopted Indian culture. Missionaries often wrote against the “scandalous and undisciplined” behavior of their fellow Christians.[31]

The Christian population had churches, clergy, and a bishop, but there were few preachers and no priests beyond the walls of Goa. Xavier decided that he must begin by instructing the Portuguese themselves, and gave much of his time to the teaching of children. The first five months he spent in preaching and ministering to the sick in the hospitals.[32] After that, he walked through the streets ringing a bell to summon the children and servants to catechism.[33]He was invited to head Saint Paul’s College, a pioneer seminary for the education of secular priests, which became the first Jesuit headquarters in Asia.[34]

Conversion of the Paravars by Francis Xavier in South India, in a 19th-century colored lithograph.

Xavier soon learned that along the Pearl Fishery Coast, which extends from Cape Comorin on the southern tip of India to the island of Manaar, off Ceylon (Sri Lanka), there was a Jāti of people called Paravas. Many of them had been baptized ten years before, merely to please the Portuguese, who had helped them against the Moors, but remained uninstructed in the faith. Accompanied by several native clerics from the seminary at Goa, he set sail for Cape Comorin in October 1542. First he set himself to learn the language of the Paravas; he taught those who had already been baptized, and preached to those who weren’t. His efforts with the high-caste Brahmins remained unavailing.[33]

He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of southern India and Ceylon, converting many. Many were the difficulties and hardships which Xavier had to encounter at this time, sometimes because the Portuguese soldiers, far from seconding his work, hampered it by their bad example and vicious habits.[35] He built nearly 40 churches along the coast, including St. Stephen’s Church, Kombuthurai, mentioned in his letters dated 1544.

During this time, he was able to visit the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle in Mylapore (now part of Madras (Chennai) then in Portuguese India).[23] He set his sights eastward in 1545 and planned a missionary journey to Makassar on the island ofCelebes(today’s Indonesia).

As the first Jesuit in India, Francis had difficulty achieving much success in his missionary trips. His successors, such as de Nobili, Matteo Ricci, and Beschi, attempted to convert the noblemen first as a means to influence more people, while Francis had initially interacted most with the lower classes (later though, in Japan, Francis changed tack by paying tribute to the Emperor and seeking an audience with him).[36]

Voyages of St. Francis Xavier

South East Asia[edit]

In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Portuguese Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year. About January 1546, Xavier left Malacca for the Maluku Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements. For a year and a half he preached the Gospel there. He went first to Ambon Island, where he stayed until mid-June. He then visited other Maluku Islands, including Ternate, Baranura, and Morotai.[35] Shortly after Easter 1546, he returned to Ambon Island; a few months later he returned to Malacca.


In Malacca in December 1547, Francis Xavier met a Japanese man named Anjirō.[35] Anjirō had heard of Francis in 1545 and had traveled from Kagoshima to Malacca to meet him. Having been charged with murder, Anjirō had fled Japan. He told Francis extensively about his former life and the customs and culture of his homeland. Anjirō became the first Japanese Christian and adopted the name of ‘Paulo de Santa Fe’. He later helped Xavier as a mediator and translator for the mission to Japan that now seemed much more possible.

In January 1548 Francis returned to Goa to attend to his responsibilities as superior of the mission there.[37] The next 15 months were occupied with various journeys and administrative measures. He left Goa on 15 April 1549, stopped at Malacca, and visited Canton. He was accompanied by Anjiro, two other Japanese men, Father Cosme de Torrès, and Brother João Fernandes. He had taken with him presents for the “King of Japan” since he was intending to introduce himself as theApostolic Nuncio.

Europeans had already come to Japan: the Portuguese had landed in 1543 on the island of Tanegashima, where they introduced the first firearms to Japan.[38]

From Amboina, he wrote to his companions in Europe: “I asked a Portuguese merchant, … who had been for many days in Anjirō’s country of Japan, to give me … some information on that land and its people from what he had seen and heard …. All the Portuguese merchants coming from Japan tell me that if I go there I shall do great service for God our Lord, more than with the pagans of India, for they are a very reasonable people. (To His Companions Residing in Rome, From Cochin, 20 January 1548, no. 18, p. 178).[28]

Francis Xavier reached Japan on 27 July 1549, with Anjiro and three other Jesuits, but he was not permitted to enter any port his ship arrived at[38] until 15 August, when he went ashore at Kagoshima, the principal port of Satsuma Province on the island of Kyūshū. As a representative of the Portuguese king, he was received in a friendly manner. Shimazu Takahisa (1514–1571), daimyo of Satsuma, gave a friendly reception to Francis on 29 September 1549, but in the following year he forbade the conversion of his subjects to Christianity under penalty of death; Christians in Kagoshima could not be given any catechism in the following years. The Portuguese missionary Pedro de Alcáçova would later write in 1554:

In Cangoxima, the first place Father Master Francisco stopped at, there were a good number of Christians, although there was no one there to teach them; the shortage of laborers prevented the whole kingdom from becoming Christian.[38]

He was hosted by Anjirō’s family until October 1550.[16] From October to December 1550, he resided in Yamaguchi. Shortly before Christmas, he left for Kyoto but failed to meet with the Emperor. He returned to Yamaguchi in March 1551, where he was permitted to preach by the daimyo of the province. However, lacking fluency in the Japanese language, he had to limit himself to reading aloud the translation of a catechism.

Francis was the first Jesuit to go to Japan as a missionary.[39] He brought with him paintings of the Madonna and the Madonna and Child. These paintings were used to help teach the Japanese about Christianity. There was a huge language barrier as Japanese was unlike other languages the missionaries had previously encountered. For a long time Francis struggled to learn the language.

Having learned that evangelical poverty had not the appeal in Japan that it had in Europe and in India, he decided to change his method of approach. Hearing after a time that a Portuguese ship had arrived at a port in the province of Bungo in Kyushu and that the prince there would like to see him, Xavier now set out southward. The Jesuit, in a fine cassock, surplice, and stole, was attended by thirty gentlemen and as many servants, all in their best clothes. Five of them bore on cushions valuable articles, including a portrait of Our Lady and a pair of velvet slippers, these not gifts for the prince, but solemn offerings to Xavier, to impress the onlookers with his eminence. Handsomely dressed, with his companions acting as attendants, he presented himself before Oshindono, the ruler of Nagate, and as a representative of the great kingdom of Portugal offered him the letters and presents, a musical instrument, a watch, and other attractive objects which had been given him by the authorities in India for the emperor.[33]

For forty-five years the Jesuits were the only missionaries in Asia, but the Franciscans also began proselytizing in Asia as well. Christian missionaries were later forced into exile, along with their assistants. Some were able to stay behind, however Christianity was then kept underground as to not be persecuted.[40]

The Japanese people were not easily converted; many of the people were already Buddhist or Shinto. Francis tried to combat the disposition of some of the Japanese that a God who had created everything, including evil, could not be good. The concept of Hell was also a struggle; the Japanese were bothered by the idea of their ancestors living in Hell. Despite Francis’ different religion, he felt that they were good people, much like Europeans, and could be converted.[41][42][43]

Xavier was welcomed by the Shingon monks since he used the word Dainichi for the Christian God; attempting to adapt the concept to local traditions. As Xavier learned more about the religious nuances of the word, he changed to Deusu[16] from the Latin and Portuguese Deus. The monks later realized that Xavier was preaching a rival religion and grew more aggressive towards his attempts at conversion.

The Altar of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines. St. Francis is the principal patron of the town, together with Our Lady of Escalera.

With the passage of time, his sojourn in Japan could be considered somewhat fruitful as attested by congregations established in Hirado, Yamaguchi, and Bungo. Xavier worked for more than two years in Japan and saw his successor-Jesuits established. He then decided to return to India. Historians debate the exact path he returned by, but from evidence attributed to the captain of his ship, he may have traveled through Tanegeshima and Minato, and avoided Kagoshima because of the hostility of the daimyo.[38] During his trip, a tempest forced him to stop on an island near Guangzhou, China where he met Diogo Pereira, a rich merchant and an old friend from Cochin. Pereira showed him a letter from Portuguese prisoners in Guangzhou, asking for a Portuguese ambassador to speak to the Chinese Emperor on their behalf. Later during the voyage, he stopped at Malacca on 27 December 1551, and was back in Goa by January 1552.

On 17 April he set sail with Diogo Pereira on the Santa Cruz for China. He planned to introduce himself as Apostolic Nuncio and Pereira as ambassador of the King of Portugal. But then he realized that he had forgotten his testimonial letters as an Apostolic Nuncio. Back in Malacca, he was confronted by the capitão Álvaro de Ataíde da Gama who now had total control over the harbor. The capitãorefused to recognize his title of Nuncio, asked Pereira to resign from his title of ambassador, named a new crew for the ship, and demanded the gifts for the Chinese Emperor be left in Malacca.

Casket of Saint Francis Xavier in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa

In late August 1552, the Santa Cruz reached the Chinese island of Shangchuan, 14 km away from the southern coast of mainland China, near Taishan, Guangdong, 200 km south-west of what later became Hong Kong. At this time, he was accompanied only by a Jesuit student, Álvaro Ferreira, a Chinese man called António, and a Malabar servant called Christopher. Around mid-November he sent a letter saying that a man had agreed to take him to the mainland in exchange for a large sum of money. Having sent back Álvaro Ferreira, he remained alone with António. He died at Shangchuan from a fever on 3 December 1552, while he was waiting for a boat that would agree to take him to mainland China.

Burials and relics[edit]

He was first buried on a beach at Shangchuan Island, Taishan, Guangdong. His incorrupt body was taken from the island in February 1553 and was temporarily buried in St. Paul’s church in Portuguese Malacca on 22 March 1553. An open grave in the church now marks the place of Xavier’s burial. Pereira came back from Goa, removed the corpse shortly after 15 April 1553, and moved it to his house. On 11 December 1553, Xavier’s body was shipped to Goa. The body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on 2 December 1637.[44] This casket, constructed by Goan silversmiths between 1636 and 1637, was an exemplary blend of Italian and Indian aesthetic sensibilities. There are 32 silver plates on all the four sides of the casket depicting different episodes from the life of the Saint:

  • Francis lies on the ground with his arms and legs tied, but the chords break miraculously.
  • Francis kisses the ulcer of a patient in a Venetian hospital.
  • He is visited by St. Jerome as he lies ailing in the hospital of Vicenza.
  • A vision about his future apostolate.
  • A vision about his sister’s prophecy about his fate.
  • He saves the secretary of the Portuguese Ambassador while crossing the Alps.
  • He lifts a sickman who dies after receiving communion but freed from fever.
  • He baptises in Travancore.
  • He resuscitates a boy who died in a well at Cape Comorin.
  • He cures miraculously a man full of sores.
  • He drives away the Badagas in Travancore.
  • He resuscitates three persons: a man who was buried at Coulao; a boy about to be buried at Multao; and a child.
  • He takes money from his empty pockets and gives to a Portuguese at Malyapore.
  • A miraculous cure.
  • A crab restores his crucifix which had fallen into the sea. • He preaches in the island of Moro.
  • He preaches in the sea of Malacca and announces the victory against the enemies.
  • He converts a Portuguese soldier.
  • He helps the dying Vicar of Malacca.
  • Francis kneels down and on his shoulders there rests a child whom he restores to health.
  • He goes from Amanguchi to Meaco walking.
  • He cures a dumb and paralytic in Amanguchi.
  • He cures a deaf Japanese.
  • He prays in the ship during a storm.
  • He baptizes three kings in Cochin.
  • He cures a religious in the college of St. Paul.
  • Due to the lack of water, he sweetens the sea water, during a voyage.
  • The agony of Francis at Sancian.
  • After his death he is seen by a lady according to his promise.
  • The body dressed in sacerdotal vestments is exposed for public veneration.
  • Francis levitates as he distributes communion in the College of St. Paul.
  • The body is placed in a niche at Chaul with lighted candles. On the top of this casket there is a cross with two angels. One is holding a burning heart and the other a legend which says, “Satis est Domine, satis est.” (It’s enough Lord, it’s enough)
St. Francis Xavier’shumerus. St. Joseph’s Church, Macao
Sign accompanying St. Francis Xavier’s humerus

The right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptize his converts, was detached bySuperior General Claudio Acquaviva in 1614. It has been displayed since in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù.

Another of Xavier’s arm bones was brought to Macau where it was kept in a silverreliquary. The relic was destined for Japan but religious persecution there persuaded the church to keep it in Macau’s Cathedral of St. Paul. It was subsequently moved to St. Joseph’s and in 1978 to the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier on Coloane Island. More recently the relic was moved to St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum.[45]

In 2006, on the 500th anniversary of his birth, the Xavier Tomb Monument and Chapel on the Shangchuan Island, in ruins after years of neglect under communist rule in China was restored with the support from the alumni of Wah Yan College, a Jesuit high school in Hong Kong.


Beatification and canonization[edit]

Francis Xavier was beatified by Paul V on 25 October 1619, and was canonized by Gregory XV on 12 March (12 April[46]) 1622, at the same time as Ignatius Loyola.[47] Pius XI proclaimed him the “Patron of Catholic Missions”.[48] His feast day is 3 December.[49]

Pilgrimage centres[edit]

Stained glass church window inBéthanie, Hong Kong, of St Francis Xavier baptizing a Chinese man


Saint Francis Xavier’s relics are kept in a silver casket, elevated inside the Bom Jesus Basilica and are exposed (being brought to ground level) generally every ten years, but this is discretionary. The sacred relics went on display starting on 22 November 2014 at the XVII Solemn Exposition. The display closed on 4 January 2015. The previous exposition, the sixteenth, was held from 21 November 2004 to 2 January 2005.

Relics of Saint Francis Xavier are also found in the Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit) Church, Margão, in Sanv Fransiku Xavierachi Igorz (Church of St. Francis Xavier), Batpal, Canacona, Goa and at St. Francis Xavier Chapel, Portais, Panjim.

Other places[edit]

Other pilgrimage centres include Saint Francis Xavier’s birthplace in Navarra, Church of Il Gesu, Rome, Malacca (where he was buried for 2 years, before being brought to Goa), Sancian (Place of death) etc.

In Magdalena de Kino in Sonora, Mexico in the Temple of Santa María Magdalena, there is a statue of San Francisco Xavier, an important historical figure for both Sonora and the neighboring U.S. state of Arizona. The statue is said to be miraculous and is the object of pilgrimage for many of the region.

Novena of grace[edit]

Fumaroles at Mt. Unzen, Japan

Further information: Novena of grace

The Novena of Grace is a popular devotion to Francis Xavier, typically prayed either on the nine days before 3 December, or on 4 March through 12 March (the anniversary of Pope Gregory XV’s canonization of Xavier in 1622). It began with the Italian Jesuit missionary Marcello Mastrilli. Before he could travel to the Far East, Mastrilli was gravely injured in a freak accident after a festive celebration dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in Naples. Delirious and on the verge of death, Mastrilli saw Xavier, who he later said asked him to choose between traveling or death by holding the respective symbols, to which Mastrilli answered, “I choose that which God wills.”[50] Upon regaining his health, Mastrilli made his way via Goa and the Philippines to Satsuma, Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate beheaded the missionary in October 1637, after undergoing three days of tortures involving the volcanic sulfurous fumes from Mt. Unzen, known as the Hell mouth or “pit” that had supposedly caused an earlier missionary to renounce his faith.[51]


“The Vision of St. Francis Xavier”, by Giovanni Battista Gaulli.

St. Francis Xavier is noteworthy for his missionary work, both as organizer and as pioneer, reputed to have converted more people than anyone else has done since Saint Paul. Pope Benedict XVI said of both Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier: “not only their history which was interwoven for many years from Paris and Rome, but a unique desire — a unique passion, it could be said — moved and sustained them through different human events: the passion to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored.”[48] By consulting with the earlier ancient Christians of St. Thomas in India, Xavier developed Jesuit missionary methods. His success also spurred many Europeans to join the order, as well as become missionaries throughout the world. His personal efforts most affected Christians in India and the East Indies (Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor). India still has numerous Jesuit missions, and many more schools. Xavier also worked to propagate Christianity in Chinaand Japan. However, following the persecutions of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the subsequent closing of Japan to foreigners, the Christians of Japan were forced to go underground to develop an independent Christian culture. Likewise, while Xavier inspired many missionaries to China, Chinese Christians also were forced underground and developed their own Christian culture.

Francis Xavier is the patron saint of his native Navarre, which celebrates his feast day on 3 December as a government holiday. In addition to Roman Catholic masses remembering Xavier on that day (now known as the Day of Navarra), celebrations in the surrounding weeks honor the region’s cultural heritage. Furthermore, in the 1940s, devoted Catholics instituted the Javierada, an annual day-long pilgrimage (often on foot) from the capital at Pamplona to Xavier, where his order has built a basilica and museum and restored his family’s castle.


Statue of Staint Francis Xavier, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, inSuperior, Wisconsin, USA

As the foremost saint from Navarre and one of the main Jesuit saints, he is much venerated in Spain and the Hispanic countries where Francisco Javier or Javier are common male given names.[52]The alternative spelling Xavier is also popular in Portugal, Catalonia, Brazil, France, Belgium, and southern Italy. In India, the spelling Xavier is almost always used, and the name is quite common among Christians, especially in Goa and the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka. The names Francisco Xavier, António Xavier, João Xavier, Caetano Xavier, Domingos Xavier et cetera, were very common till quite recently in Goa. In Austria and Bavaria the name is spelled as Xaver (pronounced [ˈk͡saːfɐ]) and often used in addition to Francis as Franz-Xaver [frant͡sˈk͡saːfɐ]. Many Catalan men are named for him, often using the two-name combination Francesc Xavier. In English speaking countries, “Xavier” until recently was likely to follow “Francis”; in the 2000s, however, “Xavier” by itself has become more popular than “Francis”, and since 2001 is now one of the hundred most common male baby names in the U.S.A.[53]Furthermore, the Sevier family name, possibly most famous in the United States for John Sevier originated from the name Xavier.

Many churches all over the world, often founded by Jesuits, have been named in honor of Xavier. Those in the United States include the historic St. Francis Xavier Shrine at Warwick, Maryland, (founded 1720, and at which American founding father,Charles Carroll of Carrollton, (1737–1832), (longest living signer and only Catholic at the Continental Congress to sign theDeclaration of Independence, 1776) and cousin to the first American-born Bishop John Carroll, (1735–1815), Bishop and later Archbishop of Baltimore, 1790–1815, (at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore) began their education), also the American educational teaching order Xaverian Brothers, the Basilica of St. Francis Xavierin Dyersville, Iowa, and theMission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, Arizona (founded in 1692, and known for its Spanish Colonial architecture).

In art[edit]

Rubens painted “St Francis Xavier Raising the Dead”, for a Jesuit church in Antwerp, and in which he depicted one of St Francis’ many miracles (in this case a resurrection).[54]

In popular culture[edit]

Francis Xavier’s name is mentioned in an unnamed episode of the satirical webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.


Shortly before leaving he had issued a famous instruction to Father Gaspar Barazeuz who was leaving to go to Ormuz (a kingdom on an island in the Persian Gulf, formerly attached to the Empire of Persia, now part of Iran), that he should mix with sinners:

And if you wish to bring forth much fruit, both for yourselves and for your neighbors, and to live consoled, converse with sinners, making them unburden themselves to you. These are the living books by which you are to study, both for your preaching and for your own consolation. I do not say that you should not on occasion read written books… to support what you say against vices with authorities from the Holy Scriptures and examples from the lives of the saints.[26]

Modern scholars place the number of people converted to Christianity by Francis Xavier at around 30,000. And while some of Xavier’s methods have been since criticized (he forced converts to take Portuguese names and dress in Western clothes, approved the persecution of the Eastern Church, and used the Goagovernment as a missionary tool), he has also earned praise. He insisted that missionaries adapt to many of the customs, and most certainly the language, of the culture they wish to evangelize. And unlike later missionaries, Xavier supported an educated native clergy. Though for a time, it seemed his work in Japan was subsequently destroyed by persecution, Protestant missionaries three centuries later discovered that approx. 100,000 Christians still practiced in the Nagasakiarea.[55]

Francis Xavier’s work initiated permanent change in eastern Indonesia, and he was known as the ‘Apostle of the Indies’ where in 1546–1547 he worked in theMaluku Islands among the people of Ambon, Ternate, and Morotai (or Moro), and laid the foundations for a permanent mission. After he left the Maluku Islands, others carried on his work and by the 1560s there were 10,000 Roman Catholics in the area, mostly on Ambon. By the 1590s there were 50,000 to 60,000.[56]

Role in the Goa Inquisition[edit]

It was in Kenya that Francis Xavier had his first contact with another religion, Islam. Although extremely tolerant of human flaws,[citation needed] he, as many Christians of that time, was not tolerant of other religions, which he considered to be “Devil’s instruments”. Deeply imbued with the theology of the later Augustine, he was fiercely “jealous” of “God’s greater glory” and deeply suspicious of the “untutored” efforts of man to scale the heights of the spirit.[57] This worldview led him to missionary tactics that even the Jesuit James Patrick Broderick, though writing an admiring biography, condemns Xavier’s “woefully inadequate views about Indian religion and civilization”.[58]

The role of Francis Xavier in the Goa Inquisition is controversial. He had written to King João III of Portugal in 1546, encouraging him to dispatch the Inquisition to Goa, which he did many years later in 1560.[59] Francis Xavier died in 1552 without living to see the horrors of the Goa Inquisition, but some historians believe that he was aware of the Portuguese Inquisition’s brutality. In an interview to an Indian newspaper, historian Teotónio de Souza stated that Francis Xavier and Simão Rodrigues, another founder-member of the Society of Jesus, were together in Lisbon before Francis left for India. Both were asked to assist spiritually the prisoners of the Inquisition and were present at the very first Auto-da-fé celebrated in Portugal in September 1540, at which 23 were absolved and two were condemned to be burnt, including a French cleric. Hence, he believes that Xavier was aware of the brutality of the Inquisition.[60]


  • Hesperion XXI (artist, orchestra), La Capella Reial de Catalunya (artist, orchestra), Jordi Savall (artist, conductor), (1 January 2007). Francisco Javier: La Ruta de Oriente (Audio CD, MP3). Alia Vox. ASIN B0012JJP40.

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Attwater (1965), p. 141.
  2. Jump up^ De Rosa 2006, pp. 90.
  3. Jump up^ Pope Pius XI (14 December 1927). “Apostolicorum in Missionibus”. Papal Encyclicals Online. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  4. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 17.
  5. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 18.
  6. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 16.
  7. Jump up^ (French) François Xavier naquit au sud de cette démarcation à la limite de l’Aragon (1506) et vécut dans son château natal de Xavier jusqu’à l’âge de 19 ans. C’est là qu’il apprit ses deux premières langues: d’une part le basque dans sa famille bascophone (de la région du Baztan et de la Basse-Navarre) et avec ceux qui arrivaient des provinces voisines encore bascophones au château et d’autre part la langue romane de son entourage géographique immédiat. Ce qui explique pourquoi le missionraire navarrais désignera l’euskara comme “sa langue naturelle bizcayenne” (1544), terme très étendu à cette époque.
  8. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 15.
  9. Jump up^ Sagredo Garde, Iñaki. Navarra. Castillos que defendieron el Reino. Pamiela, 2006. ISBN 84-7681-477-1
  10. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 28.
  11. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 21.
  12. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 33.
  13. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 40.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b c Brodrick 1952, p. 41.
  15. ^ Jump up to:a b De Rosa 2006, p. 93.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b c Butler, Rev. Alban. “St Francis Xavier, Confessor, Apostle Of The Indies”.The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, Vol. III. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  17. Jump up^ De Rosa 2006, p. 95.
  18. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 47.
  19. Jump up^ De Rosa 2006, p. 37.
  20. Jump up^ Lach, Donald Frederick (1994). Asia in the making of Europe: A century of wonder. The literary arts. The scholarly disciplines (University of Chicago Press, 1994 ed.). ISBN 0-226-46733-3. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  21. Jump up^ De Rosa 2006, p. 96.
  22. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 77.
  23. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Wintz O.F.M., Jack, “St. Francis Xavier: Great Missionary to the Orient”, Franciscan Media, November 29, 2006″. Retrieved 6 April2015.
  24. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 78.
  25. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 96.
  26. ^ Jump up to:a b Ante Kadič. St. Francis Xavier and Marko Marulić. The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring, 1961), pp. 12–18
  27. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 85.
  28. ^ Jump up to:a b Zuloaga SJ, Ismael G., “Francis Xavier, Founder of the Jesuit Mission in Asia”, Jesuit Asia Pacific Conference
  29. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952, p. 100.
  30. Jump up^ “DeSouza, Teotonio R., “The Portuguese in Goa”, Universidade Lusófona”(PDF). Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  31. Jump up^ de Mendonça, D. (2002). Conversions and Citizenry: Goa Under Portugal, 1510-1610. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 9788170229605. Retrieved 6 April2015.
  32. Jump up^ “Astrain, Antonio. “St. Francis Xavier.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 22 Mar. 2015″. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  33. ^ Jump up to:a b c “”Saint Francis Xavier Apostle Of The Indies And Japan”, Lives of Saints, John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.”. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  34. Jump up^ Goa and Daman, Archdiocese of. “St Paul’s College & Rachol Seminary”.website. Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  35. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Astrain, Antonio. “St. Francis Xavier.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 7 Mar. 2013″. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  36. Jump up^ Duignan, Peter. “Early Jesuit Missionaries: A Suggestion for Further Study.”American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 60, No. 4 (August 1958). pp. 725–732. Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  37. Jump up^ Wintz O.F.M., Jack. “Four Great Spanish Saints – December 2006 Issue of St. Anthony Messenger Magazine Online”. Retrieved 6 April2015.
  38. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Diego Pacheco. “Xavier and Tanegashima.” Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter, 1974), pp. 477–480
  39. Jump up^ Shusaku Endo (1969), Silence, p. vii, Translator’s Preface, William Johnston, Taplinger Publishing Company, New York
  40. Jump up^ Vlam, Grace A. H. (1979). “The Portrait of S. Francis Xavier in Kobe”. Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte (Deutscher Kunstverlag). 42. Bd. (H. 1): 48–60.doi:10.2307/1482014. ISSN 0044-2992. JSTOR 1482014 – via JSTOR.(registration required (help)).
  41. Jump up^ Ellis, Robert Richmond (2003). “”The Best Thus Far Discovered”: The Japanese in the Letters of Francisco Xavier”. Hispanic Review (University of Pennsylvania Press) 71 (2): 155–69. doi:10.2307/3247185. ISSN 1553-0639.JSTOR 3247185 – via JSTOR. (registration required (help)).
  42. Jump up^ Xavier, Francis. The Letters and Instructions of Francis Xavier. Translated by M. Joseph Costellos, S.J. St Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992
  43. Jump up^ “St. Francis Xavier: Letter from Japan, to the Society of Jesus in Europe, 1552”. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  44. Jump up^ Cappella di san Francesco Saverio, at the official website of Il Gesù. (Italian)
  45. Jump up^ Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, at the official website of the Macau Government Tourist Office.
  46. Jump up^ Jesuit prayer-book “Srce Isusovo Spasenje naše” (“Heart of Jesus our Salvation”), Zagreb, 1946, p. 425
  47. Jump up^ For the most recent study of Francis Xavier’s canonization process, see Franco Mormando, “The Making of the Second Jesuit Saint: The Campaign for the Canonization of Francis Xavier, 1555–1622” in Francis Xavier and the Jesuit Missions in the Far East, ed. F. Mormando, Chestnut Hill, MA: The Jesuit Institute, Boston College, 2006, pp. 9–22.
  48. ^ Jump up to:a b “Address Of Benedic XVI To The Fathers And Brothers Of The Society Of Jesus, April 22, 2006”. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  49. Jump up^ Attwater (1965), pp. 141–142.
  50. Jump up^ Japanese Sketches in The Month, Volume 11 (1869) p.241
  51. Jump up^ isbn = 978-0-674-02448-9
  52. Jump up^ The most frequent names, simple and exact for the national total and exact for the province of residence, Instituto Nacional de Estadística. Excel spreadsheetformat. Javier is the 10th most popular complete name for males, Francisco Javier, the 18th. Together, Javier becomes the 8th most frequent name for males.
  53. Jump up^ “Popular Baby Names”. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  54. Jump up^ Rubens, William Unger, S. R. K. St. Francis Xavier Raising the Dead. The American Art Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Dec. 1879), p. 66
  55. Jump up^ “Francis Xavier – Christian History & Biography –”. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  56. Jump up^ Ricklefs, M.C. (1993). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300, 2nd Edition. London: MacMillan. p. 25. ISBN 0-333-57689-6.
  57. Jump up^ De Rosa 2006, p. 99.
  58. Jump up^ Brodrick 1952.
  59. Jump up^ Abram, D. (2003). Goa. Rough Guides. p. 94. ISBN 9781843530817. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  60. Jump up^ “‘Xavier was aware of the brutality of the Inquisition’”. Retrieved 27 October 2014.


Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa’s Advent Sermon: “I believe in the Holy Spirit”

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa’s Advent Sermon: “I believe in the Holy Spirit”

Cantalamessa. Advent 2016

© PHOTO.VA – Osservatore Romano

Today, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the pontifical household, gave the the first Advent sermon of this season.

Here is a translation of the text:



  1. The Innovation after the Council

With the celebration of the 50th year of the end of the Second Vatican Council, the first “post-conciliar” period comes to a close and a new one begins. If the first period was categorized by problems relating to the “reception” of the Council, this new period will be characterized, I believe, by the completion and integration of the Council—in other words, by re-reading the Council in the light of the fruit it produced while also highlighting what was lacking in it or only present in a seminal phase.

The major innovation in theology and in the life of the Church after the Council has a specific name: the Holy Spirit. The Council had certainly not ignored the Holy Spirit’s action in the Church, but it had spoken of it almost always “in passing,” often mentioning him but without emphasizing his central role, not even in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. In one conversation during the time that we were together on the International Theological Commission, I remember that Father Yves Congar used a striking image in this regard: he spoke of a Holy Spirit who is sprinkled here and there throughout the texts like sugar sprinkled on top of pastries without, however, being part of the recipe itself.

Nevertheless, the thaw had begun. We can say that the intuition of St. John XXIII about the Council as “a new Pentecost for the Church” found its actualization only later after the conclusion of the Council, as has so often happened in the history of the Councils.

In the coming year, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church will occur. It is one of the many signs—the most noticeable because of the magnitude of the phenomenon—of an awakening to the Holy Spirit and charisms in the Church. The Council had paved the way for this reception, speaking in Lumengentium of the charismatic dimension of the Church alongside the institutional and hierarchical dimension and insisting on the importance of charisms.[1] In his homily for the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday in 2012, Benedict XVI affirmed,

Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit.

Contemporaneously the renewed experience of the Holy Spirit stimulated theological reflection.[2] Soon after the Council, treatises on the Holy Spirit multiplied: among Catholics, that of Yves Congar[3], of Karl Rahner[4], of Heribert Mühlen[5], and of Hans Urs von Balthasar[6]; among Lutherans, that of Jürgen Moltmann[7], of Michael Welker[8], and many others. On the part of the magisterium there was the encyclicalDominum et vivificantem (On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World) by St. John Paul II. In 1982 on the occasion of Sixteenth Centenary of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, that same Supreme Pontiff sponsored the International Congress of Pneumatology at the Vatican, and its proceedings were published in two large volumes called Credo in Spiritum Sanctum[9].

In recent years we have witnessed a decisive step forward in this direction. Toward the end of his career Karl Barth made a provocative statement that was in part a self-criticism. He said that in the future a new theology would be developed, the “theology of the third article”[10]. By “third article” he of course meant the article in the creed about the Holy Spirit. His suggestion did not fall on deaf ears. It has given rise to the present theological current that is precisely named the “Theology of the Third Article.”

I do not think that such a current aims to substitute itself for traditional theology (and it would be mistake if it did); rather it is meant to come alongside of it and reinvigorate it. It proposes to make the Holy Spirit not only the object of one treatise, pneumatology, but also the atmosphere, so to speak, in which the whole life of the Church and all theological research unfolds—for the Holy Spirit is the “light of dogmas,” as an ancient Church Father described him.

The most complete treatment of this recent theological current is a volume by scholars that appeared in English this last September called Third Article Theology[11]. Beginning with the great tradition of the trinitarian doctrine, theologians from various Christian Churches offer their contributions to this book as an introduction to a systematic theology that is more open to the Spirit and more responsive to current needs. As a Catholic, I too was invited to contribute to the book with an essay on “Christology and Pneumatology in the Early Centuries of the Church.”

  1. The Creed Read from Below

The reasons that warrant this new theological orientation are not only dogmatic but also historical. In other words, we can understand what the theology of the third article is and what it aims for if we keep in mind how the actual Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol came about. That history clearly points to the usefulness of examining that symbol “in reverse” at some point, that is, starting from the end instead of from the beginning.

Let me explain what I mean. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol reflects the Christian faith in its ultimate phase after all the council clarifications and definitions were completed in the 5th century. It reflects the order reached at the end of the process of formulating the dogma, but it does not, however, reflect the process itself, faith in the making. In other words, it does not correspond to the process by which the faith of the Church was actually formed historically, nor does it correspond to the process by which someone arrives at faith today, understood as a living faith in a living God.

In today’s creed one begins with God the Father and Creator and moves on from him to the Son and his redemptive work, and finally to the Holy Spirit operating in the Church. In reality, the faith followed a reverse path. It was the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit that brought the Church to discover who Jesus was and what his teaching was. With Paul and above all with John we reach the point of ascending from Jesus to the Father. It is the Paraclete who, according to Jesus’ promise (see Jn 16:13), leads the disciples into “all the truth” about himself and the Father.

Basil of Caesarea summarizes the development of revelation and of salvation history this way:

The way of the knowledge of God lies from One Spirit through the One Son to the One Father, and conversely the natural Goodness and the inherent Holiness and the royal Dignity extend from the Father through the Only-begotten to the Spirit[12].

In other words, on the level of creation and being, everything comes from the Father, goes through the Son, and reaches us through the Spirit. However, in the order of redemption and conscious awareness, everything begins with the Holy Spirit, goes through the Son Jesus Christ, and returns to the Father. We could say that St. Basil is the real initiator of Third Article Theology! In the Western tradition this is expressed concisely in the final stanza of the hymn “Veni creator.” Addressing the Holy Spirit, the Church prays,

Per te sciamus da Patrem
noscamus atque Filium,
Te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

This does not in the least mean that the Church’s creed is imperfect or that it needs to be reformulated.  It cannot be other than what it is. However, what is sometimes useful is to change our approach to reading it so as to retrace the path by which it was formulated. There is the same contrast between the two ways of approaching the creed—as a finished product or in its process of formulation—as there is, on the one hand, between leaving St. Catherine’s Monastery early in the morning and personally climbing Mount Sinai and, on the other hand, reading the account of someone who climbed it before we did.

  1. A Commentary on the “Third Article”

With this in view, I would like to offer reflections on some aspects of the Holy Spirit’s action in the three meditations for Advent, beginning precisely with the third article of the creed that pertains to him.  The article includes three great affirmations. Let us start with the first one that says,

a) “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.”

The creed does not say that the Holy Spirit is “the” Lord (just above in the creed we proclaim, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”!). “Lord” (in the original text, to kyrion, neuter!) indicates here the nature, not the person; it says what the Holy Spirit is but notwho he is.  “Lord” means that the Holy Spirit shares in the lordship of God, that he is in the category of Creator, and not the category of a creature. In other words, he has a divine nature.

The Church reached this certainty based not only on Scripture, but also on her own experience of salvation. The Spirit, wrote St. Athanasius, cannot be a creature because when we are touched by him (in the sacraments, in the word, in prayer), we experience entering into contact with God in person and not with his intermediary. If the Spirit divinizes us, it means that he is God himself[13].

Could we not say the same thing in the symbol of faith in a more explicit way, defining the Holy Spirit purely and simply as “God and consubstantial with the Father” as was done for the Son? Certainly, and this was the criticism of the definition quickly leveled by some bishops, including Gregory Nazianzus. However, for reasons of expediency and peace, saying the same the thing  with equivalent expressions was preferred, attributing to the Spirit, in addition to the title of “Lord,” the isotimia, that is, equality with the Father and the Son in being adored and glorified by the Church.

The description of the Spirit as “the giver of life” is drawn from various passages in the New Testament: “It is the Spirit that gives life” (Jn 6:63); “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2); “the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45); “the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (1 Cor 3:6).

Let us ask three questions here. First, what kind of life does the Holy Spirit give? The answer: divine life, the life of Christ. A supernatural life, not a natural super-life. He creates the new man, not Nietzsche’s superman with his “pride of life.” Second, where does he give us this life? The answer: in baptism, which is in fact represented as a “rebirth in the Spirit” (see Jn 3:5), in the sacraments, in the word of God, in prayer, in faith, and in suffering that is accepted in union with Christ. Third, how does the Spiritgive us life? The answer: by making the works of the flesh die! He gives us that life through a death. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live,” St. Paul says in Romans 8:13.

b) . . . Who Proceeds from the Father (and the Son), Who with the Father and the Son Is Adored and Glorified”

Let us now move on to the second great affirmation of the creed about the Holy Spirit. Up to this point the creed has told us about the nature of the Spirit but not yet about theperson of the Spirit. It has spoken of what he is but not who he is. It has also spoken to us about what the Spirit and the Father and the Son have in common—the fact of being God and giving life. With this present affirmation, however, we move on to what distinguishes the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son. What distinguishes him from the Father is that he proceeds from him. (The one who proceeds is other than the one from whom he proceeds!) What distinguishes the Spirit from the Son is that he proceeds from the Father not by generation but by spiration, a breathing forth. To express this in symbolic terms, he is not like a concept (logos) that proceeds from the mind but like a breath that proceeds from the mouth.

This is the pivotal part of the article in the creed because it is intended to define the position that the Paraclete occupies in the Trinity. This part of the creed is known primarily for the problem of the Filioque that for a millennium was the main point of disagreement between the East and the West. I will not spend time on this problem because it has been discussed more than enough and also because I spoke about it myself in this setting during Lent last year in treating the points of agreement on faith between the East and the West[14].

I will limit myself to highlighting what we can retain from this part of the symbol that enriches our common faith, setting aside theological disputes.  It tells us that the Holy Spirit is not simply a “poor relative,” so to speak, in the Trinity. He is not “a way that God acts,” an energy or a fluid that permeates the universe like the Stoics thought. He is a “subsistent relation” and therefore a person.

He is not so much “a third person singular” as he is “a first person plural.” He is the “We” of the Father and Son[15]. To express this in a human way, when the Father and the Son speak of the Holy Spirit they do not say “he”; instead they say “we” because he is the unity between the Father and the Son. Here we can see the extraordinary fecundity of St. Augustine’s insight in which the Father is the one who loves, the Son is the one loved, and the Spirit is the love that unites them, the reciprocal gift[16]. The belief of the Western Church that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son” is based on this.

The Holy Spirit, nevertheless, will always remain the hidden God, even if we can know him by his effects. He is like the wind: no one knows where it comes from and where it will blow, but we can see the effects of its passing. He is like the light that illuminates everything around it but remains invisible.

This is why the Spirit is the least known and least beloved of the three Persons, despite the fact that he is Love in person. It is easier to think of the Father and Son as “persons,” but that is more difficult for us to do with the Spirit. There are no human categories that can help us understand this mystery. To speak of the Father, we have the assistance of philosophy that deals with the First Cause (the God of the philosophers); to speak about the Son, we have the human analogy of a father-son relationship, and we also have the history of the Word becoming flesh. However, to speak of the Holy Spirit we have nothing but revelation and experience. Scripture itself speaks of him almost always by using symbols from nature: light, fire, wind, water, perfume, the dove.

We will fully understand who the Holy Spirit is only in Paradise. There we will live a life that will have no end, in a deepened understanding of him that will give us immense joy. He will be like a very gentle fire that will inundate our souls and fill us with bliss, like when love fills a person’s heart and that person is happy.

c) “. . . Who Has Spoken through the Prophets”

We have now come to the third and last affirmation about the Holy Spirit. After we have professed our faith in the life-giving and sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit in the first part of the article (the Spirit is the Lord and the giver of life), now his charismatic action is also mentioned. Regarding this action, there is one charism that is mentioned, the one that Paul holds to be the most important, namely, prophecy (see 1 Cor 14).

In regard to the prophetic charism, the article mentions only one of its manifestations by the Holy Spirit: he “has spoken through the prophets,” that is, in the Old Testament. This affirmation is based on various texts in Scripture but in particular 2 Peter 1:21: “no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

  1. An Article to Complete

The Letter to the Hebrews says, “God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb1:1). The Spirit has not, therefore, ceased speaking by means of the prophets; he did so through Jesus and still speaks today in the Church. This point and other gaps in the symbol were gradually filled in by the practice of the Church without the need to change the text of the creed because of it (as unfortunately happened in the Latin world with the addition of the Filioque). We have an example of this in the epiclesis of the Orthodox liturgy attributed to St. James that prays as follows:

Send . . . your most Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who is seated with you, God and Father, and with your only-begotten Son; he rules with you consubstantially and coeternally. He spoke through the Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament; he descended in the form of a dove upon our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, resting upon him, and descended on his holy apostles . . . on the day of holy Pentecost[17].

Anyone who tries to find everything in the article about the Holy Spirit, is going to be disappointed. This fact demonstrates the nature and the limit of every dogmatic definition. Its purpose is not to say everything about a tenet of faith but to draw a perimeter within which every affirmation about that doctrine must be placed and that no affirmation can contradict. In this case, there are the additional factors that the article was formulated at a time when the reflection on the Paraclete was just beginning and, as I said above, contingent historical circumstances (the emperor’s desire for peace) led to a compromise between the parties.

We are not, however, left with only the words in the creed about the Paraclete. Theology, liturgy, and Christian piety, both in the East and the West, have clothed in “flesh and blood” the succinct affirmations of the symbol of faith. In the sequence of Pentecost of our Latin liturgy, the intimate personal relationship of the Holy Spirit with every individual soul, which is not mentioned in the symbol, is expressed by titles like “father of the poor,” “the light of the heart,” “sweet guest of the soul,” and “greatest comforter.” The same sequence addresses a series of prayers to the Holy Spirit that are particularly beautiful and responsive to our needs. Let us conclude by proclaiming them together, hopefully seeking to identify among them the one that we feel we need the most.

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Wash that which is sordid
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Make flexible that which is rigid,
warm that which is cold,
rule that which is deviant.


English translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson

[1] Lumen gentium (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), no. 12.

[2] See Klaus Heitmann and Heribert Mühlen, eds., Erfahrung und Theologie des Heiligen Geistes (Munich: Kösel, 1974).

[3]  Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, trans. Geoffrey Chapman (New York: Crossroad, 1983), p. 73ff; original, 1979-1980 in French.[4] Karl Rahner, The Spirit in the Church, trans. J. G. Cumming (New York: Crossroad, 1985); original, 1977 in German.[5] Heribert Mühlen, Der Heilige Geist als Person: Ich—Du—Wir [The Holy Spirit as a Person: I-You-We] (Munich: Aschendorf, 1963).[6]  Hans Urs von Balthasar, Creator Spirit, vol. 3, Explorations in Theology, trans. Brian McNeil (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993); original, 1967 in German.[7]  Jürgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), pp. 180-197; original, 1991 in German.[8]  Michael Welker, God the Spirit, trans. John F. Hoffmeyer (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress 1994), pp. 40-44; original, 1992 in German.[9]  Jose Saraiva Martins, ed., Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, 2 vols. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983).[10]  See Karl Barth, “Concluding Unscientific Postscript on Schleiermacher,” in The Theology of Schleiermacher, ed. Dietrich Ritschl, trans. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), p. 278, and Karl Barth’s Table Talk, trans. John D. Godsey (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1963), p. 28.[11]  Myk Habets, ed., Third Article Theology: A Pneumatological Dogmatics(Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2016).[12]  Basil of Caesarea, On the Holy Spirit, XVIII, 47, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, p. 29; see De Spiritu Sancto, XVIII, 47 (PG 32, 153).[13]  See St. Athanasius, “First Epistle to Serapion,” in The Letters of St. Athanasius Concerning the Holy Spirit, 1, 24, trans. C. R. B. Shapland (London: Epworth Press, 1951), p. 61ff; see also PG 26, p. 585.[14]  See Raniero Cantalamessa, Due polmoni, un solo respiro. Oriente e occidente di fronte ai grandi misteri della fede ( Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2016), pp. 51-66  (French trans. Deux poumons, une seule respiration: Vers une pleine communion de foi entre Orient et Occident [Nouan le Fuzelier, France: Editions des Béatitudes,  2016], pp. 49-64).[15]  See Mühlen, Der Heilige Geist als Person: Ich—Du—Wir. The first person to describe the Holy Spirit as the “divine we” was Søren Kierkegaard, Diary, 2A 731, April 23, 1838.[16]  See St. Augustine, “On the Trinity,” Basic Writings of St. Augustine,

Vatican analyzes the difference between humans and robots amidst Artificial Intelligence advancements

Vatican analyzes the difference between humans and robots amidst Artificial Intelligence advancements

Published on Dec 1, 2016


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December 12, 2016. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences convenes on the Power and Limitations of Artificial Intelligence.

Vatican analyzes the difference between humans and robots amidst AI advancements

Existing models of artificial intelligence are currently equipped with the capability to learn on their own, complete various tasks and are even being taught to dream at Google’s DeepMind. Yet, according to scientists, one of the main missing components in robots is their ability to recall memories from the past and use them in a useful way to plan for the future.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference at the Vatican on the Power and Limitations of Artificial Intelligence to discuss not only the advancements scientists have made, but how they relate to society and align with the dignity of humans.
Google DeepMind, Co-Founder
“It’s my second time here now and it seems like the Church is very interested in these topics, which is great to see, because I think we should have this debate on a wider scale. One of the things I’m most excited about are using these artificial intelligence systems to help us advance medicine and science. So I would like to see these AI systems as tools that our human experts help them make bigger breakthroughs. And then maybe one day, that will impact society on a wider scale, with things like climate and politics and all sorts of areas in society.”
This impact is already being seen and performed by Prof. John Donoghue, who is experimenting with these advancements through medicine. He said the artificial intelligence is helping people who have had strokes or spinal cord injuries gain back a small portion of their mobility. He continued explaining that for the missing pieces of the nervous system,   replacement parts are made that pick up the brain signals and allow the person to complete the task.
Now, this augmentation of capabilities being incorporated into a persons’ body is something that is raising concern.
Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering
“When if you’re 80 percent human and 20 percent machine, is that ok? But what happens when we’re 20 percent human and 80 percent machine? So these are dilemmas that we have to face. They are complex questions that we haven’t resolved. Something that the discussions here will really focus on and I think help begin to resolve this. But now is the time to really have these kinds of discussions, before we have the capability, so we can think about their implications in the future.”
However, despite augmentation or utilizing the mental capabilities of AI, one trait that at this moment still makes humans human is the soul and the moral compass that can drive each decision.
University of Namur (Belgium)
“Machines can be very important to help human persons, but there are some ethical and anthropological questions regarding the replacement of humans by machine because many tasks performed by humans, moral decision and so on, cannot be performed by machine. Then it is important to restore the unique place of human beings in artificial intelligence.”
While there has been rapid progress recently in the field of artificial intelligence, the scientists agreed that they’ve got a long way to go before they can mimic not only human level intelligence and memory in robots, but the morals and sense of reason that accompanies each person in their conscience.


Pope Francis’ intentions for December: the scandal of child soldiers – According to UNICEF, there are 300,000 children involved in wars

Pope Francis’ intentions for December: the scandal of child soldiers – According to UNICEF, there are 300,000 children involved in wars

Published on Dec 2, 2016


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December 1, 2016. According to UNICEF, there are 300,000 children involved in wars.

Pope Praying for an End to Use of Child Soldiers

And asking God to help the people of Europe rediscover the Gospel, in its beauty, goodness and truth

This month, Pope Francis is praying especially for an end to the use of child soldiers, and for the peoples of Europe.

The Apostleship of Prayer presented the Holy Father’s intentions for this last month of the year.

His universal prayer intention for December is: “That the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated the world over.”

His intention for evangelisation is: “That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.”

Pope’s Monthly Intention Video Highlights Horror of Child Soldiers

“Whoever you are, if you are moved as I am, I ask you to join in this prayer intention”


This year, Pope Francis began collaborating on video messages to illustrate his monthly prayer intentions, which are announced by the Apostleship of Prayer.

Today, the December video was released and is available here. It focuses on his prayer for an end to the use of child soldiers.

In the video, the Pope says:

In this world, which has developed the most sophisticated technologies, weapons are sold that end up in the hands of child soldiers.

We must do everything possible so that the dignity of children may be respected, and end this form of slavery.

Whoever you are, if you are moved as I am, I ask you to join in this prayer intention: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.

Videos for January-November can be viewed here: