Readings & Reflections: Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church October 1,2014

Readings & Reflections: Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church October 1,2014

Therese was born in 1873 to Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin. Her mother died when she was four, and at age fifteen she followed her two older sisters into the Carmel at Lisieux, France. Eschewing extreme penances, Therese declared, “It is sufficient to acknowledge one’s nothingness and to abandon onelself like a child to God’s arms.’ Even after the onset of tuberculosis and a trial of interior darkness, Therese persevered in her “Little Way” of confidence and love. “My God, I love you!” was her final prayer. The “Little Flower” died in 1897 at the age of twenty-four. She is a Doctor of the Church.

AMDG+

Reading 1 JB 9:1-12, 14-16

Job answered his friends and said:

I know well that it is so;
but how can a man be justified before God?
Should one wish to contend with him,
he could not answer him once in a thousand times.
God is wise in heart and mighty in strength;
who has withstood him and remained unscathed?

He removes the mountains before they know it;
he overturns them in his anger.
He shakes the earth out of its place,
and the pillars beneath it tremble.
He commands the sun, and it rises not;
he seals up the stars.

He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads upon the crests of the sea.
He made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south;
He does great things past finding out,
marvelous things beyond reckoning.

Should he come near me, I see him not;
should he pass by, I am not aware of him;
Should he seize me forcibly, who can say him nay?
Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

How much less shall I give him any answer,
or choose out arguments against him!
Even though I were right, I could not answer him,
but should rather beg for what was due me.
If I appealed to him and he answered my call,
I could not believe that he would hearken to my words.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 88:10BC-11, 12-13, 14-15

  1. (3)Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    Daily I call upon you, O LORD;
    to you I stretch out my hands.
    Will you work wonders for the dead?
    Will the shades arise to give you thanks?
    R.Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    Do they declare your mercy in the grave,
    your faithfulness among those who have perished?
    Are your wonders made known in the darkness,
    or your justice in the land of oblivion?
    R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    But I, O LORD, cry out to you;
    with my morning prayer I wait upon you.
    Why, O LORD, do you reject me;
    why hide from me your face?
    R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

Gospel LK 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – I will follow you wherever you go

Glory awaits all of us when we surrender fully to our Lord. When we do, we realize that the only way to greatness is through the path our Lord has prepared for us. But to choose such path, we must pay the price and place God above all. We cannot be of the world and live for the world and be a man of God at the same time. Following God by being a disciple of Jesus requires total commitment, sacrifice and dedication.

Commitment means an unwavering decision to abide by God’s will and plan and to follow His Word and His ways with a passion. Being committed to the Lord is simply being COMMITTED and never giving the enemy any space in one’s life.  It is never looking back at the pleasures that the world can offer but being totally focused to a lifelong relationship with the Lord.  It is walking straight paths with the Lord despite problems, trials and tribulations that come one’s way.

Being committed to Jesus implies one’s decision of great sacrifice to forget oneself for the sake of neighbor and God. It is to turn away from the pleasures of the world and the avoidance of what will pamper our lustful desires. To be with Jesus means giving our all for His glory and being able to dedicate all that we have, our resources, our time and talent to His cause. To be dedicated to God means being obedient to Him, living for Him and being a faithful and loyal follower EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

Being a disciple of Jesus, one should repudiate anything that will cause us to be separated from God and completely serving Him at all cost.

Following Jesus and living for God means giving up the world and never turning back as Jesus once said: “Whoever puts his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.”

Giving up everything for Christ is nothing compared to what God has prepared for all of us.

Direction

Live our lives for Jesus with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our heart.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be a true and faithful disciple of Jesus. In Him, I pray and hope. Amen.

Reflection 2 – No Looking Back

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. —Luke 9:62

When I was a boy on the farm, my dad would tell me, “You can’t plow a straight row if you look back.” You can test this for yourself by looking back as you walk through snow or along a sandy beach. Your tracks won’t be straight.

A good farmer doesn’t look back once he has put his hand to the plow. Jesus used this analogy to teach us that if we are to be His disciples we must make a complete break with all loyalties that hinder our relationship with Him.

Total allegiance to God is a principle that is rooted in the Old Testament. The Israelites, after being freed from slavery and fed by supernatural means, looked back longingly to the days when they enjoyed fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic in Egypt (Numbers 11:5-6). God was greatly displeased, and He judged His people. Their looking back indicated a lack of commitment to Him.

Today, people who cling to old sins and the worldly pleasures they enjoyed before becoming Christians cannot be loyal disciples of Jesus Christ. When we repent and believe in Him, we become citizens of a new kingdom. We are to break with the sins of the past.

Discipleship means no looking back.  — Herbert Vander Lugt

As a follower of Jesus,
I am walking in His way;
Straight ahead till life is over,
I will walk with Him each day. —Hess

In the dictionary of discipleship, you won’t find the word “retreat.” (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries)

Reflection 3 – The price of being Christian

In our American history on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a southern brigade was about to break through the northern line when General Hancock ordered a much smaller regiment, the First Minnesota, to charge the overwhelming numbers to give him time to bring up reinforcements. Of the 262 Minnesotans who attacked, 215 were either killed or wounded; only 47 came back. These men knew the meaning of sacrifice and commitment.

Dietrich Bonhoefer, the German Lutheran pastor hanged by the Nazis in 1945, wrote a still influential book titled The Cost of Discipleship. Linking Jesus’ call (“Come, follow me”) to Jesus’ crucifixion, Bonhoeffer concluded, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Today’s Gospel account makes it clear that a true disciple must be willing to forego his possessions, make any sacrifice, and persevere in his response. In Bonhoeffer’s terminology, anything less than wholehearted commitment to Christ is “cheap grace.” The grace of true discipleship is “costly.”

Dorothy Day, Catholic social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, once famously said, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Dorothy’s rejection of the title had nothing to do with pride or humility – rather, she did not want her efforts on behalf of the poor and oppressed (for example, her begging for food, sleeping on the floor of a jail, or devotion to Holy Mass) to be thought the works of only special or extraordinary people.  She wanted to make it clear that all who follow Christ are called to make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel and the good of their neglected brothers and sisters.

Our decision to follow Christ should not be made lightly. The consequences of our “yes” are dramatic. The Lord will always be with us. We have the support of the heavenly kingdom. But the cost of our discipleship is high – he meant it when he said we must pick up our cross if we wish to come after him! (Source: Norman Langenbrunner, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, September 30, 2009).

Reflection 4 – Humble like a child

The secrets of the Kingdom of God are hidden from the learned and the wise, but are revealed to those who, like Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (1873-1897), are little and humble. She is a Doctor of the Church, who received the knowledge of divine love from God and taught the world the “little way”, the Gospel way of holiness for all (see John Paul II, Divini amoris scientia, 19 October 1997, 2).

Thérèse experienced the grace of a complete conversion on Christmas Day 1886, and this enabled he to “run like a giant” along the way of perfection. Jesus, she writes, made her a fisher of souls; she desired to work for the conversion of sinners. Charity entered her soul; she forgot herself and wanted to please others. This is what filled her with happiness. She resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the Cross, to quench Jesus’ thirst and was consumed herself with a thirst for souls. The more she gave Jesus to drink, the more the thirst of her soul increased.

As a Carmelite, Thérèse embarked “on the way of holiness, insisting on the centrality of love. She discovers and imparts to the novices entrusted to her care the little way of spiritual childhood, by which she enters more and more deeply into the mystery of the Church and, drawn by the love of Christ, feels growing within her the apostolic and missionary vocation which spurs her to bring everyone with her to meet the divine Spouse” (see John Paul II, Divini amoris scientia, 5).

She understood that she was simple, but that the closer she approached to God, the simpler she would become. She saw herself as a little flower that would blossom under the shadow of Jesus’ Cross. The tears and blood of Jesus were to be her dew, and her Sun was the face of Jesus veiled with tears. She practiced little virtues, serving her sisters in small ways, and offering up small sacrifices.

On the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, June 9, 1895, Thérèse offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God. She understood how much Jesus desires to be loved. Only love, she writes, makes us acceptable to God and this love is what she desired. The road that leads to God is the surrender of a little child who sleeps without fear in her Father’s arms. “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” (Proverbs 9:4). For Thérèse, holiness was not something hard to attain. To attain sanctity, we need to be little and remain little.

The following year, on the night of Holy Thursday in 1896, she began to suffer an illness and experience a trial of faith that lasted until the day of her death, on September 30, 1897. Jesus, Thérèse understood, does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude. Jesus has no need of our works but only of our love. She saw that among Jesus’ own disciples, Jesus finds few hearts who surrender to him without reservations, few who understand the real tenderness of his infinite Love. She understood God’s love and that her vocation in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, was love.

The heart of Thérèse’s message, then, is the mystery of God who is Love. Through spiritual childhood, she experienced that everything comes from God, returns to him and abides in him, for the salvation of all, in a mystery of merciful love (see John Paul II, Divini amoris scientia, 8). Thérèse knew Jesus, loved him and made him loved with the passion of a bride. “She penetrated the mysteries of his infancy, the words of his Gospel, the passion of the suffering Servant engraved on his holy Face, in the splendor of his glorious life, in the Eucharistic presence” (John Paul II, Divini amoris scientia, 8).

On this day, we are all called to be simple and humble like children, to listen to God’s Word in Sacred Scripture and in prayer, and to welcome God’s merciful love into our lives as we run along the path to him.

Read the source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/daily-homily-humble-like-a-child

Relection 5 – St. Therese of Lisieux followed Jesus

Therese Martin was born in Alencon, France in 1873, the youngest of nine children, four of whom became Carmelite Nuns at Lisieux, and one, a Visitation sister. Therese was a rather sensitive, normal, little girl. Our Lady healed her of a serious illness at the age of ten. After a profound conversion at 13, Therese felt a call to enter Carmel as a contemplative Nun, so that she could give herself totally to Jesus. But she was too young, so she appealed directly and personally to the Pope. She was allowed to enter the Lisieux Carmel at the age of 15, and her father lived to see her professed a Carmelite Nun, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She developed a simple spirituality, based on childlike trust and confidence in God. The spirituality of her “little way” was about doing simple things of life well and with extraordinary love. She believed and taught that “everything is grace” – God’s face and presence can be experienced in every person and situation of our lives, if we just attend with love and expectancy. Her struggle, like ours, is to be where God places us in the real life situations of our lives. Experiencing the dark night of the senses and spirit refined the power and energy of this young, precocious Carmelite. Her love became surrender, as she slowly died of tuberculosis. Under obedience she wrote her autobiography, Story of a Soul. St. Therese died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 at the convent of Lisieux, France on September 30, 1897, promising to spend her heaven doing good on earth. Her promised “shower of roses” began and has become a torrent in the Church ever since. She was beatified in 1923 and canonized in 1925. In his bull of canonication, Pope Pius XI noted that she had achieved sanctity “without going beyond the common order of things.” She was declared the patron saint of the missions and then Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 1997.

She followed Jesus like a good farmer who didn’t look back once she had put his hand to the plow. In the gospel today (Lk 9:57-62), Jesus used this analogy of a good farmer to teach us that if we are to be His disciples we must make a complete break with all loyalties that hinder our relationship with Him.

Total allegiance to God is a principle that is rooted in the Old Testament. The Israelites, after being freed from slavery and fed by supernatural means, looked back longingly to the days when they enjoyed fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic in Egypt (Num 11:5-6). God was greatly displeased, and he judged His people. Their looking back indicated a lack of commitment to Him.

Today, people who cling to old sins and the worldly pleasures they enjoyed before becoming Christians cannot be loyal disciples of Jesus Christ. When we repent and believe in Him, we become citizens of a new kingdom. We are to break with the sins of the past by regular confessions, prayers and receiving the body of Christ at the Holy Eucharist.

Discipleship means no looking back. As a follower of Jesus, I am walking in His way; straight ahead till life is over, I will walk with Him each day with St. Therese of Lisieux as my example.

Reflection 6 – Putting our hand to the plow and not expecting consolation

“God wants to show (me)… that it would be mistaken in looking elsewhere for a shadow of beauty which it would be taking for beauty itself!…

“How good he is to me… how divinely lovable he is when not wanting to allow me to attach myself to any created thing. He knows well that if he were to give me a shadow of happiness, I would attach myself to it with all my energy, all the strength of my heart, and this shadow he is refusing me; he prefers leaving me in darkness to giving me a false light which would not be himself!…Since I can’t find any creature that contents me, I want to give all to Jesus, and I don’t want to give to the creature even one atom of my love. My Jesus always makes me understand that he alone is perfect joy when he appears to be absent!…

“Today more than yesterday, if that were possible, I was deprived of all consolation. I thank Jesus, who finds this good for my soul, and that, perhaps if he were to console me, I would stop at this sweetness; but he wants that all be for Himself!… Well, then, all will be for him, all, even when I feel I am able to offer nothing; so, just like this evening, I will give him this nothing!

“Although Jesus is giving me no consolation, he is giving me a peace so great that it is doing me more good!…

“Joy is to be found only in suffering and in suffering without any consolation!” (St. Therese of Lisieux, +1897 A.D.).

Reflection 7 – St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897 A.D.)

“I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.” These are the words of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite nun called the “Little Flower,” who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. (In French-speaking areas, she is known as Thérèse of Lisieux.) And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is read and loved throughout the world. Thérèse Martin entered the convent at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24. She was canonized in 1925, and two years later she and St. Francis Xavier were declared co-patrons of the missions.

Life in a Carmelite convent is indeed uneventful and consists mainly of prayer and hard domestic work. But Thérèse possessed that holy insight that redeems the time, however dull that time may be. She saw in quiet suffering redemptive suffering, suffering that was indeed her apostolate. Thérèse said she came to the Carmel convent “to save souls and pray for priests.” And shortly before she died, she wrote: “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”

On October 19, 1997, Saint John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be so recognized, in light of her holiness and the influence on the Church of her teaching on spirituality. Her parents, Louis and Zélie were beatified in 2008.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1155

Comment:

Thérèse has much to teach our age of the image, the appearance, the “sell.” We have become a dangerously self-conscious people, painfully aware of the need to be fulfilled, yet knowing we are not. Thérèse, like so many saints, sought to serve others, to do something outside herself, to forget herself in quiet acts of love. She is one of the great examples of the gospel paradox that we gain our life by losing it, and that the seed that falls to the ground must die in order to live (John 12:24).

Preoccupation with self separates modern men and women from God, from their fellow human beings, and ultimately from themselves. We must relearn to forget ourselves, to contemplate a God who draws us out of ourselves, and to serve others as the ultimate expression of selfhood. These are the insights of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and they are more valid today than ever.

Quote:

All her life St. Thérèse suffered from illness. As a young girl she underwent a three-month malady characterized by violent crises, extended delirium and prolonged fainting spells. Afterwards she was ever frail and yet she worked hard in the laundry and refectory of the convent. Psychologically, she endured prolonged periods of darkness when the light of faith seemed all but extinguished. The last year of her life she slowly wasted away from tuberculosis. And yet shortly before her death on September 30 she murmured, “I would not suffer less.”

Truly she was a valiant woman who did not whimper about her illnesses and anxieties. Here was a person who saw the power of love, that divine alchemy which can change everything, including weakness and illness, into service and redemptive power for others. Is it any wonder that she is patroness of the missions? Who else but those who embrace suffering with their love really convert the world?

Cardinal Parolin to UN: International community must stop terrorist aggression

Cardinal Parolin to UN: International community must stop terrorist aggression

Published on Sep 30, 2014

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Cardinal Pietro Parolin echoed the Pope’s call to “take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway” in the Middle East.

The Vatican Secretary of State, addressed the 69th UN General Assembly in New York, where he warned of the growing threat of the terrorist group ISIS.
The Cardinal also said that the “transnational” form of terrorism used by ISISrequires the combined forces of many nations to stop their violence and aggression.
CARD. PIETRO PAROLIN
Vatican Secretary of State
“My Delegation wishes to recall that it is both licit and urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force.”
Cardinal Parolin stressed the danger that terrorist groups, such as ISIS, pose to all nations by “persecuting and murdering in the name of God.”
CARD. PIETRO PAROLIN
Vatican Secretary of State
“With the dramatic situation in northem Iraq and some parts of Syria, we are seeing a totally new phenomenon: the existence of a terrorist organization which threatens all States, vowing to dissolve them and to replace them with a pseudo-religious world government.”
Cardinal Parolin emphasized the growing number of youth who have joined ISIS.
He said that the UN must focus on the cultural issues and the effectiveness of international law that bring young people to join such groups.
CARD. PIETRO PAROLIN
Vatican Secretary of State
“As a representative body of a worldwide religious community embracing different nations, cultures and ethnicities, the Holy See earnestly hopes that the international community will assume responsibility in considering the best means to stop all aggression and avoid the perpetration of new and even graver injustices.”
Cardinal Parolin concluded his address by bringing attention to the plight of world’s poor.
He also applauded the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which he said do not impose lifestyles “which tend to show a disregard for human life” on poorer states.

24 Reasons ISIS are wrong: Muslim scholars blast Islamic State.

To read, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=5901

Cardinal Parolin’s Address to 69th Session of UN General Assembly

“The promotion of a culture of peace calls for renewed efforts in favour of dialogue, cultural appreciation and cooperation, while respecting the variety of sensibilities.”

New York, (Zenit.org)

Here below is the address of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, at the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, Monday 29 September 2014).

Mr President,

In extending to you the Holy See’s congratulations on your election to the presidency of the sixty-ninth Session of the General Assembly, I wish to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis to you and to all the participating delegations. He assures you of his closeness and prayers for the work of this session of the General Assembly, with the hope that it will be carried out in an atmosphere of productive collaboration, working for a more fraternal and united world by identifying ways to resolve the serious problems which beset the whole human family today.

In continuity with his predecessors, Pope Francis recently reiterated the Holy See’s esteem and appreciation for the United Nations as an indispensable means of building an authentic family of peoples. The Holy See values the efforts of this distinguished institution “to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development” (Address to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 9 May 2014). Along these lines and on numerous occasions, His Holiness has encouraged men and women of good will to place their talents effectively at the service of all by working together, in tandem with the political community and each sector of civil society (cf. Letter to the World Economic Forum, 17 January 2014).

Though mindful of the human person’s gifts and abilities, Pope Francis observes that today there is the danger of widespread indifference. As much as this indifference concerns the field of politics, it also affects economic and social sectors, “since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens” (Address of Pope Francis to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 9 May 2014). At times, such apathy is synonymous with irresponsibility. This is the case today, when a union of States, which was created with the fundamental goal of saving generations from the horror of war that brings untold sorrow to humanity (cf. Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, 1), remains passive in the face of hostilities suffered by defenceless populations.

I recall the words of His Holiness addressed to the Secretary General at the beginning of August: “It is with a heavy and anguished heart that I have been following the dramatic events in northern Iraq”, thinking of “the tears, the suffering and the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities of [that] beloved land”. In that same letter the Pope renewed his urgent appeal to the international community to “take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway”. He further encouraged “all the competent organs of the United Nations, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the United Nations Charter” (Letter of the Holy Father to the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization concerning the situation in Northern Iraq, 9 August 2014).

Today I am compelled to repeat the heartfelt appeal of His Holiness and to propose to the General Assembly, as well as to the other competent organs of the United Nations, that this body deepen its understanding of the difficult and complex moment that we are now living.

With the dramatic situation in northern Iraq and some parts of Syria, we are seeing a totally new phenomenon: the existence of a terrorist organization which threatens all States, vowing to dissolve them and to replace them with a pseudo-religious world government. Unfortunately, as the Holy Father recently said, even today there are those who would presume to wield power by coercing consciences and taking lives, persecuting and murdering in the name of God (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, 3 May 2014). These actions bring injury to entire ethnic groups, populations and ancient cultures. It must be remembered that such violence is born out of a disregard for God and falsifies “religion itself, since religion aims instead at reconciling men and women with God, at illuminating and purifying consciences, and at making it clear that each human being is the image of the Creator” (Benedict XVI,Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 7 January 2013).

In a world of global communications, this new phenomenon has found followers in numerous places, and has succeeded in attracting from around the world young people who are often disillusioned by a widespread indifference and a dearth of values in wealthier societies. This challenge, in all its tragic aspects, should compel the international community to promote a unified response, based on solid juridical criteria and a collective willingness to cooperate for the common good. To this end, the Holy See considers it useful to focus attention on two major areas. The first is to address the cultural and political origins of contemporary challenges, acknowledging the need for innovative strategies to confront these international problems in which cultural factors play a fundamental role. The second area for consideration is a further study of the effectiveness of international law today, namely its successful implementation by those mechanisms used by the United Nations to prevent war, stop aggressors, protect populations and help victims.

Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, when the world woke up to the reality of a new form of terrorism, some media and “think tanks” oversimplified that tragic moment by interpreting all subsequent and problematic situations in terms of a clash of civilizations. This view ignored longstanding and profound experiences of good relations between cultures, ethnic groups and religions, and interpreted through this lens other complex situations such as the Middle Eastern question and those civil conflicts presently occurring elsewhere. Likewise, there have been attempts to find so-called legal remedies to counter and prevent the surge of this new form of terrorism. At times, unilateral solutions have been favoured over those grounded in international law. The methods adopted, likewise, have not always respected the established order or particular cultural circumstances of peoples who often found themselves unwillingly at the centre of this new form of global conflict. These mistakes, and the fact that they were at least tacitly approved, should lead us to a serious and profound examination of conscience. The challenges that these new forms of terrorism pose should not make us succumb to exaggerated views and cultural extrapolations. The reductionism of interpreting situations in terms of a clash of civilizations, playing on existing fears and prejudices, only leads to reactions of a xenophobic nature that, paradoxically, then serve to reinforce the very sentiments at the heart of terrorism itself. The challenges we face ought to spur a renewed call for religious and intercultural dialogue and for new developments in international law, to promote just and courageous peace initiatives.

What, then, are the paths open to us? First and foremost, there is the path of promoting dialogue and understanding among cultures which is already implicitly contained in the Preamble and First Article of the Charter of the United Nations. This path must become an ever more explicit objective of the international community and of governments if we are truly committed to peace in the world. At the same time we must recall that it is not the role of international organizations or states to invent culture, nor is it possible to do so. Similarly, it is not the place of governments to establish themselves as spokespersons of cultures, nor are they the primary actors responsible for cultural and interreligious dialogue. The natural growth and enrichment of culture is, instead, the fruit of all components of civil society working together. International organizations and states do have the task of promoting and supporting, in a decisive way, and with the necessary financial means, those initiatives and movements which promote dialogue and understanding among cultures, religions and peoples. Peace, after all, is not the fruit of a balance of powers, but rather the result of justice at every level, and most importantly, the shared responsibility of individuals, civil institutions and governments. In effect, this means understanding one other and valuing the other’s culture and circumstances. It also entails having concern for each other by sharing spiritual and cultural patrimonies and offering opportunities for human enrichment.

And yet, we do not face the challenges of terrorism and violence with cultural openness alone. The important path of international law is also available to us. The situation today requires a more incisive understanding of this law, giving particular attention to the “responsibility to protect”. In fact, one of the characteristics of the recent terrorist phenomenon is that it disregards the existence of the state and, in fact, the entire international order. Terrorism aims not only to bring change to governments, to damage economic structures or simply to commit common crimes. It seeks to directly control areas within one or various states, to impose its own laws, which are distinct and opposed to those of the sovereign State. It also undermines and rejects all existing juridical systems, attempting to impose dominion over consciences and complete control over persons.

The global nature of this phenomenon, which knows no borders, is precisely why the framework of international law offers the only viable way of dealing with this urgent challenge. This reality requires a renewed United Nations that undertakes to foster and preserve peace. At present, the active and passive participants of such a system are all the states, which place themselves under the authority of the Security Council and who are committed not to engage in acts of war without the approval of the same Council. Within this framework, military action carried out by one state in response to another state is possible only in the event of self-defence when under direct armed attack and only up until such time as the Security Council successfully takes the necessary steps to restore international peace and security (cf. Charter of the United Nations, Art. 51). New forms of terrorism engage in military actions on a vast scale. They are not able to be contained by any one state and explicitly intend to wage war against the international Community. In this sense we are dealing with criminal behaviour that is not envisaged by the juridical configuration of the United Nations Charter. This notwithstanding, it must be recognized that the norms in place for the prevention of war and the intervention of the Security Council are equally applicable, on varying grounds, in the case of a war provoked by a “non-State actor”.

In the first place, this is because the fundamental objective of the Charter is to avoid the scourge of war for future generations. The juridical structure of the Security Council, for all its limits and defects, was established for this very reason. Moreover, Article 39 of the Charter of the United Nations assigns the Security Council the task of determining threats or aggressions to international peace, without specifying the type of actors carrying out the threats or aggressions. Finally, the states themselves, by virtue of membership to the UN, have renounced any use of force which is inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations (cf. Charter of the United Nations, Art.2, 4).

Given that the new forms of terrorism are “transnational”, they no longer fall under the competence of the security forces of any one state: the territories of several states are involved. Thus the combined forces of a number of nations will be required to guarantee the defence of unarmed citizens. Since there is no juridical norm which justifies unilateral policing actions beyond one’s own borders, there is no doubt that the area of competence lies with the Security Council. This is because, without the consent and supervision of the state in which the use of force is exercised, such force would result in regional or international instability, and therefore enter within the scenarios foreseen by the Charter of the United Nations.

My Delegation wishes to recall that it is both licit and urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force. As a representative body of a worldwide religious community embracing different nations, cultures and ethnicities, the Holy See earnestly hopes that the international community will assume responsibility in considering the best means to stop all aggression and avoid the perpetration of new and even graver injustices. The present situation, therefore, though indeed quite serious, is an occasion for the member states of the United Nations Organization to honour the very spirit of the Charter of the United Nations by speaking out on the tragic conflicts which are tearing apart entire peoples and nations. It is disappointing, that up to now, the international community has been characterized by contradictory voices and even by silence with regard to the conflicts in Syria, the Middle East and Ukraine. It is paramount that there be a unity of action for the common good, avoiding the cross-fire of vetoes. As His Holiness wrote to the Secretary General on 9 August last, “the most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities”.

While the concept of “the responsibility to protect” is implicit in the constitutional principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of Humanitarian Law, it does not specifically favour a recourse to arms. It asserts, rather, the responsibility of the entire international community, in a spirit of solidarity, to confront heinous crimes such as genocide, ethnic cleansing and religiously motivated persecution. Here with you today, I cannot fail to mention the many Christians and ethnic minorities who in recent months have endured atrocious persecution and suffering in Iraq and Syria. Their blood demands of us all an unwavering commitment to respect and promote the dignity of every single person as willed and created by God. This means also respect for religious freedom, which the Holy See considers a fundamental right, since no one can be forced “to act against his or her conscience”, and everyone “has the duty and consequently the right to seek the truth in religious matters” (Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae, 3).

In summary, the promotion of a culture of peace calls for renewed efforts in favour of dialogue, cultural appreciation and cooperation, while respecting the variety ofsensibilities. What is needed is a far-sighted political approach that does not rigidly impose a priori political models which undervalue the sensibilities of individual peoples. Ultimately, there must be a genuine willingness to apply thoroughly the current mechanisms of law, while at the same time remaining open to the implications of this crucial moment. This will ensure a multilateral approach that will better serve human dignity, and protect and advance integral human development throughout the world. Such a willingness, when concretely expressed in new juridical formulations, will certainly bring fresh vitality to the United Nations. It will also help resolve serious conflicts, be they active or dormant, which still affect some parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, and whose ultimate resolution requires the commitment of all.

Mr President,

With Resolution A/68/6 of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, it was decided that this present Session would discuss the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to be then formally adopted in the 70th Session in September 2015. You yourself, Mr President, aptly chose the main theme of this present Session: Delivering and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda.

During your recent meeting with all the Chief Executives of Agencies, Funds and Programs of the United Nations (cf. Address to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 9 May 2014), His Holiness requested that future objectives for sustainable development be formulated “with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labour for all, and provide an appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the ‘economy of exclusion’, the ‘throwaway culture’ and the ‘culture of death’”. Pope Francis encouraged the Chief Executives to promote “a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded” (ibid).

In this regard, the Holy See welcomes the 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” proposed by the Working Group (Open Working Group for Sustainable Goals), which seek to address the structural causes of poverty by promoting dignified labour for everyone. Equally, the Holy See appreciates that the goals and targets, for most part, do not echo wealthy populations’ fears regarding population growth in poorer countries. It also welcomes the fact that the goals and targets do not impose on poorer states lifestyles which are typically associated with advanced economies and which tend to show a disregard for human dignity. Furthermore, with regard to the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the incorporation of the results of the OWG [Open Working Group for Sustainable Goals], alongside the indications given in the Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and those arising out of the interagency consultation, would seem indispensable for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the efforts of the United Nations and of many people of good will, the number of the poor and excluded is increasing not only in developing nations but also in developed ones. The “Responsibility to protect”, as stated earlier, refers to extreme aggressions against human rights, cases of serious contempt of humanitarian law or grave natural catastrophes. In a similar way there is a need to make legal provision for protecting people against other forms of aggression, which are less evident but just as serious and real. For example, a financial system governed only by speculation and the maximization of profits, or one in which individual persons are regarded as disposable items in a culture of waste, could be tantamount, in certain circumstances, to an offence against human dignity. It follows, therefore, that the UN and its member states have an urgent and grave responsibility for the poor and excluded, mindful always that social and economic justice is an essential condition for peace.

Mr President,

Each day of the 69th Session of the General Assembly, and indeed of the next four Sessions, up until November 2018, will bear the sad and painful memory of the futile and inhumane tragedy of the First World War (a senseless slaughter, as Pope Benedict XV referred to it), with its millions of victims and untold destruction. Marking the centenary of the start of the conflict, His Holiness Pope Francis expressed his desire that “the mistakes of the past are not repeated, that the lessons of history are acknowledged, and that the causes for peace may always prevail through patient and courageous dialogue” (Angelus, 27 July 2014). On that occasion, the thoughts of His Holiness focused particularly on three areas of crisis: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. He urged all Christians and people of faith to pray to the Lord to “grant to these peoples and to the Leaders of those regions the wisdom and strength needed to move forward with determination on the path toward peace, to address every dispute with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and with the power of reconciliation. May the common good and respect for every person, rather than specific interests, be at the centre of every decision. Let us remember that in war all is lost and in peace nothing” (ibid).

Mr President,

In making my own the sentiments of the Holy Father, I fervently hope that they may be shared by all present here. I offer to each of you my best wishes for your work, while trusting that this Session will spare no effort to put to an end the clamour of weapons that marks existing conflicts and that it will continue to foster the development of the entire human race, and in particular, the poorest among us.

Thank you, Mr President.

Pope Francis’ Mass: Some Christians overdramatize while others are suffering persecution

Pope Francis’ Mass: Some Christians overdramatize while others are suffering persecution

Published on Sept 30, 2014

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During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about suffering. He said that the plight of   persecuted Christians should make everybody think twice before complaining.

POPE FRANCIS
“Our life is too easy, our complaints are over-dramatized. Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope – who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves – nothing!
Pope Francis compared persecuted Christians to Job, who stayed loyal to God despite the difficulties.
He also explained that every Christian faces moments of darkness, and that they should pray for those who are going through hard times.
SUMMARY OF THE POPE’S HOMILY
(Source: Vatican Radio)
“Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains – ‘Father, why have You forsaken me’? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, ‘Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer’. It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: ‘Why  have You forsaken me!'”.
“And so many people, so many today, are in the same situation as Job. So many good people, just like Job, do not understand what has happened to them, or why. Many brothers and sisters who have no hope. Just think of the tragedies, the great tragedies, for example, of these brothers and sisters of ours who because they are Christians were driven out of their homes and left with nothing: ‘But, Lord, I have believed in you. Why? Is believing in you a curse, Lord? ‘”.
“We all go through this situation, we experience this situation. There are so many people who think it all ends in nothing.  Yet Saint Teresa, prayed and asked for strength to persevere in the dark. This is called entering into patience. Our life is too easy, our complaints are overdramatized. Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope – who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves – nothing! Jesus walked this path: from sunset on the Mount of Olives to the last word from the Cross: ‘Father, why have you forsaken me!”

Pope’s Morning Homily: Pray for Those Suffering Great Tragedy

Cautions Against Overdramatizing Complaints

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Staff Reporter

In moments of darkness, our lament becomes a prayer, but we must guard ourselves against overdramatizing our complaints and remember that there are people experiencing “great tragedies” who have good reason to lament, like the Christians driven from their homes for the faith, said Pope Francis Tuesday during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

Reflecting on the First Reading of the day, in which Job curses the day he was born, the Pope noted that his prayer at first appears to us like a curse. Pope Francis recalled how Job was “put to the test”, how he “lost his entire family, everything he possessed”, how he lost his health and “his body had become a plague, a disgusting plague”.

The Pope said in that moment “he had lost all patience and he says these things. They are ugly! But he was always accustomed to speak the truth and this is the truth that he feels at that moment”. Pope Francis recalled how even Jeremiah, “uses almost the same words: ‘Cursed be the day I was born!'”, and then he asked: “But is this man blaspheming? This is my question: Is this man who is so very alone, blaspheming?”.

“Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains – ‘Father, why have You forsaken me’? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, ‘Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer’. It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: ‘Why  have You forsaken me!'”.

The Pope continued that what Job is doing in the First Reading is praying, because prayer means being truthful before God. This was the only way Job could pray. “We should pray with reality – he added – true prayer comes from the heart, from the moment that we are living in”. “It is prayer in times of darkness, in those moments of life that seem hopeless, where we cannot see the horizon”.

“And so many people, so many today, are in the same situation as Job. So many good people, just like Job, do not understand what has happened to them, or why. Many brothers and sisters who have no hope. Just think of the tragedies, the great tragedies, for example, of these brothers and sisters of ours who because they are Christians were driven out of their homes and left with nothing: ‘But, Lord, I have believed in you. Why? Is believing in you a curse, Lord? ‘”.

“Just think of the elderly who are sidelined,” he continued. “Think of the sick, of the many lonely people in hospitals”. The Pope assured that the Church prays for all of these people and for those of us when we walk in darkness. “The Church prays! She takes this pain upon herself and prays”. And those of us who “are not sick, or hungry, who have no pressing needs, when we suffer a little darkness of soul, act like martyrs and stop praying”.

The Pope continued that there are even those who say: “I am angry with God, I will not go to Mass”. “But why? Over some trifling thing” is the answer. Pope Francis recalled that St. Therese of the Child Jesus, in the last months of her life, “tried to think of heaven, but heard a voice within herself, telling her not to be silly, not to be led astray by fantasies. Do you know what awaits you? Nothing!”.

“We all go through this situation, we experience this situation. There are so many people who think it all ends in nothing.  Yet Saint Teresa, prayed and asked for strength to persevere in the dark. This is called entering into patience. Our life is too easy, our complaints are over-dramatized. Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope – who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves – nothing! Jesus walked this path: from sunset on the Mount of Olives to the last word from the Cross: ‘Father, why have you forsaken me!”.

Pope Francis concluded that there are two things that can help in such situations: “First, to prepare ourselves for when the darkness comes” which perhaps, will not be as hard as that of Job, “but which will come.  Prepare your heart for that moment”. Second: “Pray, pray as the Church prays, pray with the Church for so many brothers and sisters who suffer exile from themselves, who are in darkness and suffering, without hope at hand.” It is the prayer of the Church for these ‘Suffering Jesus’ who are everywhere”.

Readings & Reflections: Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church September 30.2014

Readings & Reflections: Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church September 30.2014

In paintings, Jerome carries a large rock, a symbol of mortification. Having received a fine education in the classics in Rome, he was baptized and fled to the desert of Chalcis, where he undertook strenuous fasts. He learned Hebrew by translating the Old Testament as a remedy for his frequent temptations of the flesh. The great fruit of his studies was the Vulgate, or Latin translation of the Bible, completed under Pope Damasus. In later years, he lived in a cave in Bethlehem: “He never rests, day or night,” it was observed. “He is reading or writing the whole time.” Jerome is one of the four great Latin Fathers. He died in Bethlehem in 420 A.D.

AMDG+

Reading 1 JB 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23

Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.
Job spoke out and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,
the night when they said, “The child is a boy!”

Why did I not perish at birth,
come forth from the womb and expire?
Or why was I not buried away like an untimely birth,
like babes that have never seen the light?
Wherefore did the knees receive me?
or why did I suck at the breasts?

For then I should have lain down and been tranquil;
had I slept, I should then have been at rest
With kings and counselors of the earth
who built where now there are ruins
Or with princes who had gold
and filled their houses with silver.

There the wicked cease from troubling,
there the weary are at rest.

Why is light given to the toilers,
and life to the bitter in spirit?
They wait for death and it comes not;
they search for it rather than for hidden treasures,
Rejoice in it exultingly,
and are glad when they reach the grave:
Those whose path is hidden from them,
and whom God has hemmed in!

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8

  1. (3)Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    O LORD, my God, by day I cry out;
    at night I clamor in your presence.
    Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my call for help.
    R.Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    For my soul is surfeited with troubles
    and my life draws near to the nether world.
    I am numbered with those who go down into the pit;
    I am a man without strength.
    R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    My couch is among the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
    Whom you remember no longer
    and who are cut off from your care.
    R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
    You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit,
    into the dark abyss.
    Upon me your wrath lies heavy,
    and with all your billows you overwhelm me.
    R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

Gospel LK 9:51-56

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

Today’s gospel gives us an idea of how man reacts to another amidst conflict and difference in belief. The Samaritan towns denied Jesus, James and John admission within their gates, simply because they were known to be on their way to Jerusalem. It was rather stupid as the Samaritans eventually had to pay up for their blind hostility as they missed God and the life He wanted to bring them. But the reaction of James and John to the Samaritans was not commendable as well. They maintained an “eye for an eye” attitude quite far what Jesus taught them. What they proposed to Jesus was very discouraging. They said: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Such a suggestion brings to our hearts how POWER can influence a man’s way of addressing situations especially if it evolves around a conflict.

James and John were so angered with what the Samaritans did to them as their ego was extremely damaged. Pride came into the picture as they thought of using – fire from heaven – to be their FIRST response. Their reaction was not out of concern for the Samaritans and what they would miss because they have turned their backs on Jesus. Their reaction was very much founded on vengeance and vindictiveness, on raw power and on proving who was more formidable. They were quite proud and boastful. Possibly the only thought in their minds was to prove that they were stronger. They were practically saying: “We are Jesus’ APOSTLES and we have been empowered so don’t you forget that!”

Pointless conflicts happen every day among nations, families, social groups, even within God’s very own church. Sad to say they, at times, have always involved the use of excessive force to serve the cause of out-of-control egos that at times, wars break up, families separate and social groups disintegrate. In churches, new sects and denominations proliferate while spiritual communities break up, mushrooming without much spiritual guidance and leadership. When these divisions transpire, hardly could one say that God’s church is of one mind, heart and spirit in Christ.

Our Lord’s response to conflict and vindictiveness is not to destroy each other but to agree to save one another. Just as He came to save people and not to destroy them, we too should help one another, minister to each other, lift each other up to God and bring the Good News of salvation to all men. We need to give our egos and pride to the Lord for healing and accept that we are nothing on our own as all we have came from God and His generosity. We have to let go of our personal aspirations for vainglory but do everything for God.

We need to make love and humility the bond that will bring us together as God’s people and not a set of rules which in time may become obsolete soon as egos and thirst for power start to take over.

Let us be one in making God the sole ruler of all affairs- personal, familial or communitarian.

Direction

Rejection should be received with grace and not vengeance. Be One in Christ!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give us the grace to transcend our human differences and be able to treat each other in your love and care. In Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:21

As Jesus began to make His way to Jerusalem, He sent messengers ahead to prepare a Samaritan village along the way for His arrival. But the people there rejected Him.

When James and John heard about their refusal, they fumed, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54). They had just been on the Mount of Transfiguration and had seen their Lord with Moses and Elijah (vv.28-36). The account of Elijah and the fire from heaven must have come to their minds (1 Kings 18:36-39). But when they asked if they could call down fiery judgment on the Samaritans, Jesus rebuked them.

It is not our business to judge God’s enemies. “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Our business is to tell the world, and even those who oppose us, about His offer of salvation.

Paul gave us these instructions: “‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink’ . . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (vv.20-21). We must overwhelm evil opponents with love if we can, bring them to Jesus if they will come, and leave judgment with God.  —DHR  — David H. Roper

It’s easy to be kind and good
To those who show us love,
But loving those who won’t respond
Takes grace from God above. —Sper

The best weapon to use against your enemy is love (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 3 – Your word became the joy of my heart

Saint Jerome was born in the Roman Province of Dalmatia in the town of Stridon (located in modern-day Slovenia) in 342/7, he studied in Rome and, after leaving behind a life of worldly pleasure, became a Christian in 366 and devoted himself to the ascetic life.

He made his way to the East and lived as a hermit in the Desert of Chalcis, where he learned Greek and Hebrew. As he studied and meditated on the Word of God, he experienced a deep regret for the sins of his youth. He was “keenly aware of the contrast between the pagan mentality and the Christian life: a contrast made famous by the dramatic and lively ‘vision’ – of which he has left us an account – in which it seemed to him that he was being scourged before God because he was ‘Ciceronian rather than Christian’ (cf. Ep. 22,30)” (Pope Benedict XVI, 7 November 2007).

Saint Jerome returned to Rome in 382 and worked as a secretary and counselor to Pope Damasus, who encouraged him to produce a new Latin translation of the Bible. When Pope Damasus died in 385, Jerome went to the Holy Land and Egypt. From 386 to his death on September 30, 419/20, he stayed in Bethlehem. There, “he commented on the Word of God; he defended the faith, vigorously opposing various heresies; he urged the monks on to perfection; he taught classical and Christian culture to young students; he welcomed with a pastor’s heart pilgrims who were visiting the Holy Land” (Pope Benedict XVI, 7 November 2007).

Saint Jerome comments on Matthew 13:46-52 as follows. With regard to the first parable about the pearl of great price: “The good pearls that the salesman seeks are the Law and the prophets… but the one pearl of very great price is the knowledge of the Savior and the concealed mystery of his Passion and Resurrection. When the businessman finds it, he acts as the apostle Paul does. He despises as off scouring and refuse all the mysteries of the Law and the prophets and the former observances in which he had lived blamelessly, that he might gain Christ. It is not the case that the finding of the new pearl means that the old pearls are condemned. Rather, it means that in comparison with it, every other gem is rather cheap” (Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, CUA Press, 164).

In the second parable, Jerome sees a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “Behold, I am sending many fishermen to you”  (Jeremiah 16:16). Jerome continues, saying that the fishermen who became apostles, cast a net of Gospel-doctrines “into the sea of the world, and it stretches out in the midst of the waves until the present day, capturing anything that falls into it from the salty and bitter waters. That is to say, it catches both good and bad men, both the best fish and the worse. But when the consummation and end of the world comes, as he explains more clearly below, at that time the net will be drawn to shore. Then a true judgment for separating the fish will be demonstrated, and, as though in some very quiet harbor, the good will be cast into the vessels of the heavenly mansions, but the flame of Gehenna will take the bad to be baked and dried” (Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, CUA Press, 164-165).

Jesus wants his apostles not only to hear the parables, but to understand them since they will be teachers, a vocation that Jerome fulfilled faithfully. The apostles impress the Word of God on the tablets of their heart. “They had been instructed in the mysteries of the heavenly kingdoms. They were powerful in the wealth of the householder, and from the treasury of their doctrines they cast out new things and old. Thus whatever they proclaimed in the Gospel, they proved by means of the words of the Law and the prophets. This is why the bride says in the Song of Songs:  ‘I have save for you new things with the old, my brother’ (7:13)” (Saint Jerome, Commentary on Matthew, CUA Press, 165).

Saint Jerome teaches us first of all that, like him, we should seek the pearl of great price and be prepared to sell all things to obtain it. Second, we can imitate his love for Sacred Scripture, which is capable of giving us “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”. Ignorance of the Scriptures, Jerome says, is ignorance of Christ. Jerome saw prayer as our speaking to Christ and reading Scripture as Christ speaking to us. Third, Jerome served the Church with his talents and gifts, and, through the Latin translation of the Bible, made a lasting contribution. He invested the many talents given him and presented them to his Lord on the day of his passing. Fourthly, Jerome was known to have a difficult personality and hot-temper. He shows how even this passion and energy can be placed at the service of the Gospel. Throughout his long life, he was attentive to the Holy Spirit and was obedient to God.

Read the source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/daily-homily-your-word-became-the-joy-of-my-heart

Reflection 4 – St. Jerome (345-420 A.D.)

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine (August 28) said of him, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known.”

St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, “No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work.” The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers. He once served as private secretary of Pope Damasus (December 11).

After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ’s life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1154

Comment:

Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. A pope is said to have remarked, on seeing a picture of Jerome striking his breast with a stone, “You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).

Quote:

“In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was” (“Letter to St. Eustochium”).

Pope Francis to Jesuits: “Row, be strong, even with the winds against you!”

Pope Francis to Jesuits: “Row, be strong, even with the winds against you!”

Published on Sept 29, 2014

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The first Jesuit Pope celebrated the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus at the ‘Gesu’ Church in Rome.

Pope Francis presided over Vespers with a painting of Our Lady of the Way present on the main altar. It is an image that is venerated by the Society, especially by their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola, who prayed often to Her in Rome.
The Pope spoke about the time the Jesuits were suppressed and reminded them of how God accompanied them.
POPE FRANCIS
“God loves us and he saves us. At times the path that takes us to life is strait and narrow, but tribulation, if lived in the light of mercy, purifies us like fire, it gives us so much consolation and inflames our hearts, making it accustomed to prayer”.
Pope Francis also asked the Jesuits to be “expert and courageous rowers” and to always be at the service of the Church.
POPE FRANCIS
“Row then! Row, be strong, even with the winds against you! Let us row at the service of the Church! Let us row together!
Before leaving, the Pope blessed a recently installed painting at the ‘Gesu’ Church. It is called the “Descent of Christ” and three important Jesuits are portrayed, among them,Fr. Pedro Arrupe.

Pope Francis’ Mass: The devil hates mankind and wants to destroy it

Pope Francis’ Mass: The devil hates mankind and wants to destroy it

Published on Sept 29, 2014

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During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about the devil. He explained that it only pursues one goal: to destroy mankind.

POPE FRANCIS
“So many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization come from the devil, simply because he hates it. And he is clever, so is written in the first page of the Genesis. He is clever. He shows things as if they were good. But what he really wants is destruction.”
Pope Francis added that angels help Christians fight and overcome temptation. That’s why, he added, Christians should pray regularly to the three Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael.
SUMMARY OF POPE´S HOMILY
Source: Vatican Radio
“This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child.  Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: ‘Thou hast made man superior to the angels,’ and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it.”
“So many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute. He presents things as if they were a good thing. But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honors the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh.”
”This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches … If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation , after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night”.

Celebrating the Archangels: 7 things to know and share

Celebrating the Archangels: 7 things to know and share

Sunday, September 28, 2014 

On Sept. 29th, we celebrate St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael–Archangels. Here are 7 things to know and share . . .

September 29th is the feast of St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael—archangels.

These are the only three angels whose names are mentioned in Scripture, and this is their day.

Here are 7 things to know and share . . .

1) What is an archangel?

The word “archangel” (Greek, archangelos) means “high-ranking angel”—the same way that “archbishop” means a high-ranking bishop.

Only St. Michael is described as an archangel in Scripture (Jude 9), but it is common to honor St.s Gabriel and Raphael as archangels also.

2) Why are they called “saints” if they’re angels rather than humans?

The word “saint” (Greek, hagios) means “holy one.”

It does not mean “holy human being.” As a result, it can apply to holy ones that aren’t human.

Since St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael all chose to side with God rather than the devil, they are holy angels and thus saints.

All angels that sided with God are saints, but these three’s names are known to us, and so they are picked out by name in the liturgy.

3) Does this day have any other names?

Yes. Traditionally in English it has also been called “Michaelmas” (i.e., the Mass that celebrates St. Michael, on the same principle that “Christmas” is the Mass that celebrates Christ’s birth).

4) What do we know about St. Michael?

His name means “Who is like God?” (The implied answer is: Nobody; God is the greatest there is.)

St. Michael is mentioned by name in three books of Scripture:

  • In Daniel, he is described as “one of the chief princes” in the heavenly hierarchy (Dan. 10:13). He is also described to Daniel as “your prince” (Dan. 10:12). The meaning of this phrase is later clarified, and Michael is described as “the great prince who has charge of your people” (Dan. 12:1). He is thus depicted as the guardian angel of Israel. These same passages also refer to Michael doing battle against the spiritual forces at work against Israel.
  • In Jude 9, Michael is said to have contended with the devil over the body of Moses. On this occasion, we are told, “he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’”
  • In Revelation, Michael and his angels are depicted fighting the devil and casting them out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-8). He is also commonly identified as the angel who binds the devil and seals him in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3), though the name “Michael” is not given on this occasion.

5) What do we know about St. Gabriel?

His name means “God is my warrior” (meaning, essentially, “God is my defender”).

St. Gabriel is mentioned in two books of Scripture:

  • In Daniel, he is assigned to help Daniel understand the meaning of a vision he has seen (Dan. 8:16). Later, while Daniel is in a prolonged period of prayer, Gabriel comes to him (Dan. 9:21) and gives him the prophecy of “seventy weeks of years” concerning Israel’s future (Dan. 9:24-27).
  • In Luke, he appears to Zechariah the priest and announces the conception and birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-19). Later, he appears to the Virgin Mary and announces the conception and birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-33).

6) What do we know about St. Raphael?

His name means “God heals.”

St. Raphael is mentioned in a single book of Scripture: Tobit.

In Tobit, the blind Tobit and the maid Sarah, whose seven husbands have been killed by the demon Asmodeus, pray to God.

The prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God. And Raphael was sent to heal the two of them: to scale away the white films of Tobit’s eyes; to give Sarah the daughter of Raguel in marriage to Tobias the son of Tobit, and to bind Asmodeus the evil demon, because Tobias was entitled to possess her (Tob. 3:16-17).

Raphael thus becomes a travelling companion of Tobias, posing as a relative named Azarias son of Ananias (Tob. 5:12). He eventually binds the demon, enabling Tobias to safely marry Sarah, and provides the means for Tobit to be healed of his blindness.

Afterward, he reveals his true identity, saying:

I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One (Tob. 12:15).

7) How is this day celebrated?

In addition to its commemoration in the liturgy, there are various local ways of celebrating this day. See here for some examples.

See also here.

It might also be a good day to say the Prayer to St. Michael:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/celebrating-the-archangels-7-things-to-know-and-share#ixzz3EjWWuHO8

18 Questions on Angels Answered by the Church

18 Questions on Angels Answered by the Church

by on

http://www.stpeterslist.com/8680/angels-18-questions-ranging-from-are-they-happy-to-do-they-have-bodies/

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences, 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments,and What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.

SPL recently published four lists with questions explaining the Eucharist:

The following is the second part of the Creation section. The first pertains to Creation as a whole and the second pertains to angels.

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

LESSON FOUR
On Creation – Part II

Q. 215. How may God’s creatures on earth be divided?

A. God’s creatures on earth may be divided into four classes:

Things that exist, as air;
Things that exist, grow and live, as plants and trees;
Things that exist, grow, live and feel, as animals;
Things that exist, grow, live, feel and understand, as man.

Q. 216. What are angels?

A. Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy God in heaven.

Q. 217. If Angels have no bodies, how could they appear?

A. Angels could appear by taking bodies to render themselves visible for a time; just as the Holy Ghost took the form of a dove and the devil took the form of a serpent.

Q. 218. Name some persons to whom Angels appeared.

A. Angels appeared to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph; also to Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Tobias and others.

Q. 219. Were the angels created for any other purpose?

A. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and to minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God to man; and are also appointed our guardians.

Q. 220. Are all the Angels equal in dignity?

A. All the Angels are not equal in dignity. There are nine choirs or classes mentioned in the Holy Scripture. The highest are called Seraphim and the lowest simply Angels. The Archangels are one class higher than ordinary Angels.

Q. 221. Mention some Archangels and tell what they did.

A. The Archangel Michael drove Satan out of heaven; the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to become the Mother of God. The Archangel Raphael guided and protected Tobias.

Q. 222. Were Angels ever sent to punish men?

A. Angels were sometimes sent to punish men. An Angel killed 185,000 men in the army of a wicked king who had blasphemed God; an Angel also slew the first-born in the families of the Egyptians who had persecuted God’s people.

Q. 223. What do our guardian Angels do for us?

A. Our guardian Angels pray for us, protect and guide us, and offer our prayers, good works and desires to God.

Q. 224. How do we know that Angels offer our prayers and good works to God?

A. We know that Angels offer our prayers and good works to God because it is so stated in Holy Scripture, and Holy Scripture is the Word of God.

Q. 225. Why did God appoint guardian Angels if He watches over us Himself?

A. God appointed guardian Angels to secure for us their help and prayers, and also to show His great love for us in giving us these special servants and faithful friends.

Q. 226. Were the angels, as God created them, good and happy?

A. The angels, as God created them, were good and happy.

Q. 227. Did all the angels remain good and happy?

A. All the angels did not remain good and happy; many of them sinned and were cast into hell, and these are called devils or bad angels.

Q. 228. Do we know the number of good and bad Angels?

A. We do not know the number of the good or bad Angels, but we know it is very great.

Q. 229. What was the devil’s name before he fell, and why was he cast out of heaven?

A. Before he fell, Satan, or the devil, was called Lucifer, or light-bearer, a name which indicates great beauty. He was cast out of heaven because through pride he rebelled against God.

Q. 230. How do the bad Angels act toward us?

A. The bad Angels try by every means to lead us into sin. The efforts they make are called temptations of the devil.

Q. 231. Why does the devil tempt us?

A. The devil tempts us because he hates goodness, and does not wish us to enjoy the happiness which he himself has lost.

Q. 232. Can we by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil?

A. We cannot by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil, because the devil is wiser than we are; for, being an Angel, he is more intelligent, and he did not lose his intelligence by falling into sin any more than we do now. Therefore, to overcome his temptations we need the help of God.