Monday, December 31, 2012

Seventh Day of Christmas - St. Sylvester

St. Sylvester, a native Roman, was chosen by God to govern His holy Church during the first years of Her temporal prosperity and triumph over Her persecuting enemies. Pope Melchiades died in January, 314. St. Sylvester was chosen as his successor. He governed the Church for more than twenty-one years, ably organizing the discipline of the Roman Church, and taking part in the negotiations concerning Arianism and the Council of Nicaea. He also sent Legates to the first Ecumenical Council.

During his Pontificate were built the great churches founded at Rome by Constantine — the Basilica and baptistery of the Lateran, the Basilica of the Sessorian palace (Santa Croce), the Church of St. Peter in the Vatican, and several cemeterial churches over the graves of martyrs. No doubt St. Sylvester helped towards the construction of these churches. He was a friend of Emperor Constantine, confirmed the first General Council of Nicaea (325), and gave the Church a new discipline for the new era of peace. He might be called the first "peace Pope" after centuries of bloody persecution. He also established the Roman school of singing. On the Via Salaria he built a cemeterial church over the Catacomb of St. Priscilla, and it was in this church that he was buried when he died on December 31, 335.

Numerous legends dramatize his life and work, e.g., how he freed Constantine from leprosy by baptism; how he killed a ferocious dragon that was contaminating the air with his poisonous breath. Such legends were meant to portray the effects of baptism and Christianity's triumph over idolatry. For a long time the feast of St. Sylvester was a holyday of obligation. The Divine Office notes: He called the weekdays feria, because for the Christian every day is a "free day" (the term is still in use; thus Monday is feria secunda.).

Compiled from Heavenly Friends, Rosalie Marie Levy and The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Priests

“Contrary to popular media portrayals, priests, as a group, are very happy men. They like the priesthood and are committed to it. In fact, 92 percent say they are happy in their ministry, among the highest rate of satisfaction of any profession in the United States.” 

Stephen Rosseti, author of: Why Priests Are Happy

The Fifth Day of Christmas - Memorial of St. Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket was born in 1118 of a merchant family. He studied in London and Paris, entered the service of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, became Lord Chancellor under King Henry II in 1155, and in 1162 Archbishop of Canterbury. Till then a submissive courtier, he now initiated a fearless struggle against the king for the freedom of the Church and the inviolability of ecclesiastical property, occasioning his imprisonment, exile, and finally martyrdom (December 29, 1170). Canonization came quickly (1173); in 1539 King Henry VIII ordered his remains burned.

Formerly the Breviary included this summary of the saint's last days: "Calumniators informed the king that the bishop was agitating against him and the peace of the realm; and the king retorted that with one such priest he could not live in peace. Hearing the royal displeasure, several godless courtiers agreed to do their sovereign a favor by assassinating Thomas. Secretly they traveled to Canterbury and fell upon the bishop while he was attending Vespers. His priests rushed to his aid and tried to bar the church door; Thomas opened it himself with these words: The house of God may not be defended like a fortress. I gladly face death for the Church of God. Then to the soldiers: I command it in the Name of God: No harm may be done to any of mine. Thereupon he cast himself on his knees, commended his flock and himself to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St. Denis and other holy patrons of his church, and with the same heroic courage with which he had withstood the king's laws, he bowed his holy head to the sacrilegious sword on December 29, 1170."

With all the strength that is given us for the defense of God's rights, we must resist those who seek to subject the Church to their power, even if they are those to whom on other grounds we owe service. In St. Thomas of Canterbury the Church celebrates one of her great bishops; by applying to him the Gospel of the Good Shepherd she venerates in him the true pastor of Christ's flock who gave his life for his sheep.

Patron: Clergy; secular clergy; Exeter College Oxford; Portsmouth, England.

Symbols: Sword through a mitre; pallium and archbishop's cross; battle axe and crosier; red chasuble; altar and sword.

Often Portrayed As: Archbishop with a wounded head; archbishop holding an inverted sword; archbishop kneeling before his murderers; archbishop being murdered in church

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fourth Day of Christmas: Massacre of the Holy Innocents

Nor must we forget that our greatest happiness and our most authentic good are not always those which we dream of and long for. It is difficult for us to see things in their true perspective: we can only take in a very small part of complete reality. We only see the tiny piece of reality that is here, in front of us. We are inclined to feel that earthly existence is the only real one and often consider our time on earth to be the period in which all our longings for perfect happiness ought to be fulfilled.

There is anguish for us, twenty centuries later, in thinking of the slain babies and their parents. for the babies the agony was soon over; in the next world they would come to know whom they had died to save and for all eternity would have that glory. For the parents, the pain would have lasted longer; but at death they too must have found that there was a special sense in which God was in their debt, as he had never been indebted to any. They and their children were the only ones who ever agonized in order to save God's life ... (F. J. Sheed, To Know Christ Jesus)

We forget that the first martyrs were the most innocent of all, victims of someone in a blind rage at being thwarted and fearful of being displaced. This year the slaughter of the innocents feels more personal than ever, after the Newtown tragedy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Daily Strength - The shepherds made haste

The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. 

In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. 

Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? 

Let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI  - Christmas Vigil Mass 25/12/12

The Third Day of Christmas - Feast of Saint John

St. John was born in Bethsaida, and like his brother James, was a fisherman. He was called while mending his nets to follow Jesus. He became the beloved disciple of Jesus. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world and life of our souls, are among the finest of the New Testament.

He is the evangelist of the divinity of Christ and His fraternal love. With James, his brother and Simon Peter, he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration. At the Last Supper, he leans on the Master's breast. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusts His Mother to his care. John's pure life kept him very close to Jesus and Mary. In years to come John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian, but lived to an old age. —From the Daily Roman Missal

Day Three activity (Blessing of Wine)
Day Three Recipe (St. John's Wine)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Second Day of Christmas - Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr


Saint Stephen is the first martyr of the Church, and is the patron of stonemasons, masons, bricklayers, deacons, headaches, and horses. His story comes from the Acts of the Apostles. He is usually pictured in deacon's vestments, holding the symbol of martyrdom, a palm branch. Sometimes he has a stone in his left hand, to indicate his death by stoning. He is depicted in many images wearing a wreath, which refers to the origin of his name, the Greek word Stephanos meaning "wreath."

"If you know what witness means, you understand why God brings St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents to the crib in the cave as soon as Christ is born liturgically. To be a witness is to be a martyr. Holy Mother Church wishes us to realize that we were born in baptism to become Christ — He who was the world's outstanding Martyr." — Love Does Such Things, by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.

Day Two activity (Boxing Day)
Day Two recipe (St. Stephen's Horns)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pope: Christmas Urbi et Orbi Message

(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has urged people never to loose hope in peace this Christmas, even in situations of conflict such as Syria, or nations afflicted by terrorism such as Nigeria, because the “Truth has sprung out of the earth”, with the birth of Christ.

Below the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s Message this Christmas 

“Veritas de terra orta est!” – “Truth has sprung out of the earth” (Ps 85:12).

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, a happy Christmas to you and your families!

In this Year of Faith, I express my Christmas greetings and good wishes in these words taken from one of the Psalms: “Truth has sprung out of the earth”. Actually, in the text of the Psalm, these words are in the future: “Kindness and truth shall meet; / justice and peace shall kiss. / Truth shall spring out of the earth, /and justice shall look down from heaven. / The Lord himself will give his benefits; / our land shall yield its increase. / Justice shall walk before him, / and salvation, along the way of his steps” (Ps 85:11-14).

Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth have indeed met; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven. Saint Augustine explains with admirable brevity: “What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth … truth has been born of the Virgin Mary” (En. in Ps. 84:13). And in a Christmas sermon he says that “in this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: ‘truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven’. The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman ... The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe” (Sermones, 185, 1).

“If we believe”. Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith! We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born! “The earth has yielded its fruits” (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.

Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims. Once again I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.

May peace spring up in the Land where the Redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.

In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future – and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus – may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person.

May peace spring up on the vast continent of Asia. May the Child Jesus look graciously on the many peoples who dwell in those lands and, in a special way, upon all those who believe in him. May the King of Peace turn his gaze to the new leaders of the People’s Republic of China for the high task which awaits them. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.

May the Birth of Christ favour the return of peace in Mali and that of concord in Nigeria, where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. May the Redeemer bring help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grant peace to Kenya, where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship.

May the Child Jesus bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.

Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

O God With Us



Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the humility of His handmaiden.

For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His Name. And His Mercy is from generation unto generations upon them that fear Him.

He hath shewed might in His arm, He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away.

He hath received Israel, His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our Fathers, Abraham and His seed forever.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

O King of the Gentiles - Antiphon for December 22


O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one. Come, and save man whom you fashioned out of clay.

Isaiah 28:16: "Therefore, thus says the Lord God: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation".

Ephesians 2:14: "He it is who is our peace, and who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart".

The earlier antiphons have already alluded to the Messiah coming not only to Israel but to convert the gentile nations and redeem them for his own. Now this sixth antiphon clearly addresses the savior as the king of the gentiles (Jer.10:7) and the Desired One of the nations. The Messiah is the cornerstone on whom our spiritual foundations are laid, but on whom unbelievers stumble (Matt. 21:42). This cornerstone unites and binds Jew and gentile into one, making peace between them.

The plea is that God save all humanity, all his creation that he formed from the dust of the earth (Gen.2:7). We yearn for him once again to breathe the breath of his new life into us.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pope takes anti-gay marriage stance to new level

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The pope took his opposition to gay marriage to new heights Friday, denouncing what he described as people manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices - and destroying the very "essence of the human creature" in the process. (Source: Associated Press)

Pope on how Christians should respond to the end of world


The Pope has not addressed the Mayan calendar, or theories that the world will end in 2012. However, the end of the world appears frequently throughout the Bible and Benedict XVI spoke about that topic back in November 12, 2008.

He explained how Christians should respond to the end of the world, during the second coming of Jesus.

BENEDICT XVI
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our continuing catechesis on Saint Paul, we now turn from his proclamation of Christ’s death and resurrection to his teaching on the Lord’s second coming. For Paul, the Lord’s return at the end of time will be accompanied by the resurrection of the dead and the consummation of his Kingdom, when all those who believed in him and trusted in his promises "will be with him for ever" in glory (cf. 1 Thess 4:17).

Christ’s victorious reign has in fact already begun. Yet we, who have received the Spirit as the first fruits of our redemption, patiently await the fulfilment of that plan in our lives. Our life in this world, marked by trials and tribulations, must be inspired by the hope of heaven and the expectation of our resurrection to glory. Paul’s rich eschatology, linking the "already" of Christ’s resurrection to the "not yet" of our life in this world, is reflected in his statement that "in hope we were saved" (Rom 8:24)

. This same joyful expectation of the Lord’s return and the fulfilment of the Father’s saving plan is seen in the ancient Christian prayer with which he concludes his first Letter to the Corinthians: Maranà, thà! Come, Lord Jesus!

O Rising Dawn - Antiphon for December 21

O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.Isaiah 9:1: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone".

Malachi 3:20: "For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays".

2 Peter 1:19: "Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would on a lamp shining in a dark place, until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your heart".

This title is variously translated "morning star", "Dayspring", "rising sun", "radiant dawn", "orient". All beautifully express the idea of light shattering the darkness of night, of sin and death, of sickness and despair, with its brightness bringing healing and warmth to cold hearts. Jesus is indeed the true light, the radiance of his Father's splendor. The church prays this petition daily in the Benedictus, joining in the words of Zechariah: "He, the Dayspring, shall visit us in his mercy to shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1:78-79).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan calendar: new excuse for aficionados to predict end of the world


The push to predict when the world will end has gained momentum recently with the end of the Mayan calendar. And even if they're wrong, there are those already looking at other dates to fulfill their apocalyptic theories. 

The nearest date to it all is December 21, 2012. As it nears, the fear that the world might end grows for some, but not everyone is convinced. 

Each day, more and more experts assure that the world's end is not just very unlikely, but nearlyimpossible for the Earth to cease to exist as we know it. 

CARD. OSCAR RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA 
President, Caritas Internationalis 
“Where does the idea that the world is ending come from? Some say the Mayan calendar. But it's not in the Mayan calendar. They are very arbitrary interpretations, because with these things there is always someone looking to make money. And that's the case here.” 

FR. MARCELLO STAZIONE 
Theologian and Writer 
“It deals with an ideology from New Age, which has strengthened over time and says that the Mayan calendar will end on December 21. It's a very complicated calendar, but in reality, studies done by the Maya, had considered another calendar after December 21.” 
Experts explained that something similar happens whenever our modern calendar ends. There is no date after December 31, but they say that does not mean the world will end. It just signifies the end of a cycle. 

Debated scenarios for the end of the world include an asteroid hitting Earth, a re-alignment of the planets or the poles. But NASA spoke out about the topic and called it a farce, saying none of those possibilities are likely on that date. 

The Vatican added its input as well. One of its most respected astronomers, Father Jose Funes, wrote an article in L'Osservatore Romano explaining that many astronomers believe that the end of the world will occur in separate phases. But that none of those will take place on December 21, 2012. 

CARD. OSCAR RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA 
President, Caritas Internationalis 
“It just superstition, but the important part is this: when will be the end of the world? When our Lord Jesus is known across the entire world. To think that only 20 percent of the world's population knows our Lord Jesus Christ. So you can sit down and wait, but we won't see the end of the world anytime soon.” 

FR. MARCELLO STAZIONE 
Theologian and Writer 
“There is one thing for certain, the end of the world will happen when the last person becomes a saint, and will take the place of fallen angels. So we probably still have a few thousand years. And of course, our planet will end because the Sun is a star that at one point will lose its energy. But we have millions and millions of years before this happens.” 

NASA also explained that something similar happened as the year 2000 approached, and there was much speculation about a computer crash. In any case, we will have to wait until December 22 to be sure that the end of world theories are wrong.

O Key of David - Antiphon for December 20

O Key of David and Scepter of the House of Israel; you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens. Come, and deliver from the chains of prison those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Isaiah 22:22: "I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder. When he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open.

Revelation 3:7: "To the presiding spirit of the church in Philadelphia write this: 'The holy One, the true, who wields David's key, who opens and no one can close, who closes and no one can open'".

Isaiah 42:6-7: "I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon those who live in darkness".

The key and scepter are traditional symbols of kingly power and authority. Christ, the anointed one, is the heir of David and possessor of the kingdom. Jesus himself also made use of this symbol, showing the propheticrelationship of the earthly kingdom of David to the kingdom of God. All power and authority was given to him after the resurrection, and he entrusted this power to "bind and to loose" to Peter and the ministers of his church.

In the closing petition we look to Jesus to unlock the fetters of sin that keepus s tightly chained. It is he who frees us from our captivity. We recall the deliverance proclaimed by the psalmist of old: "they dwelt in darkness and gloom, bondsmen in want and in chains,...and he led them forth fromdarkness and gloom and broke their bonds asunder"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Root of Jesse - Antiphon for December 19

O Root of Jesse, you stand as a sign for the peoples; before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse. Come, save us, and do not delay.

Isaiah 52:13, 15; 53:2: "See, my servant shall prosper...So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless. ...He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot".

Isaiah prophesied a restoration of David's throne - a new branch budding out 
of the old root. Christ is the root of Jesse in a two-fold sense: he is the descendant of David, who was the youngest son of Jesse, and he inherited the royal throne. The angel foretold to Mary, "The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end" (Luke 1:32-33).

Our hearts more and more urgently cry out for God's reign to extend over all humanity: "Come, save us, and do not delay".

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

O Antiphon for December 18


O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and on Mount Sinai gave him your law. Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.

Exodus 3:2: "An angel of the Lord appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed".

Exodus 6:6: "Therefore say to the Israelites: I am Yahweh. I will free you from the enforced labor of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will rescue you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment".

"Adonai" is Hebrew for "my Lord", and was substituted by devout Jews for the name "Yahweh", out of reverence. With this second antiphon we progress from creation to the familiar story of God manifesting himself by name to Moses and giving his law to Israel as their way of life. We are also reminded of the Israelites' deliverance from bondage under pharaoh - a foreshadowing of our own redemption from sin. The image of God's arm outstretched in power to save his chosen people also brings to mind the later scene of Jesus with his arms outstretched for us on the cross.

Monday, December 17, 2012

O COME, O COME EMMANUEL - THE PIANO GUYS



As we prepare for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas, have a listen to this beautiful interpretation of the Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", by The Piano Guys.

This song is an opportunity to reflect on everything we are blessed with in life - family, a beautiful earth, a place to rest our head, the warmth of the sun.

O Wisdom


O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

This antiphon, like all the others to follow, is based on a composite of Scripture texts.

Sirach 24:3: "From the mouth of the Most High I came forth, and like mist covered the earth".

Wisdom 8:1: "She reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well".

Wisdom is here personified, present with God at the beginning of creation. This is a prefigurement of Jesus, the eternal Word of God, the "logos" John described in the opening of his gospel. Wisdom is the foundation of fear of the Lord, of holiness, or right living: it is wisdom whom we bid to come and teach us prudence. The cry "Come" will be repeated again and again, insistent and hope-filled.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Novena - Day 1


Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires
(mention request here). 

Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

Day One

God's Love Revealed In His Becoming Man.

Thought:
Because our first parent Adam had rebelled against God, he was driven out of paradise and brought on himself and all his descendants the punishment of eternal death. But the son of God, seeing man thus lost and wishing to save him from death, offered to take upon Himself our human nature and to suffer death Himself, condemned as a criminal on a cross. "But, My Son," we may imagine the eternal Father saying to Him, "think of what a life of humiliations and sufferings Thou wilt have to lead on earth. Thou wilt have to be born in a cold stable and laid in a manger, the feeding trough of beasts.
While still an infant, Thou wilt have to flee into Egypt, to escape the hands of Herod. After Thy return from Egypt, Thou wilt have to live and work in a shop as a lowly servant, poor and despised. And finally, worn out with sufferings, Thou wilt have to give up Thy life on a cross, put to shame and abandoned by everyone." "Father," replies the Son, "all this matters not. I will gladly bear it all, if only I can save man."

What should we say if a prince, out of compassion for a dead worm, were to choose to become a worm himself and give his own life blood in order to restore the worm to life? But the eternal Word has done infinitely more than this for us. Though He is the sovereign Lord of the world, He chose to become like us, who are immeasurably more beneath Him than a worm is beneath a prince, and He was willing to die for us, in order to win back for us the life of divine grace that we had lost by sin.
When He saw that all the other gifts which He had bestowed on us were not sufficient to induce us to pray His love with love, He became man Himself and gave Himself all to us. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us;" "He loved us anddelivered Himself up for us."

Prayer:

O Great Son of God, Thou hast become man in order to make Thyself loved by men. But where is the love that men give Thee in return?
Thou hast given Thy life blood to save our souls. Why then are we so unappreciative that, instead of repaying Thee with love, we spurn Thee with ingratitude? And I, Lord, I myself more than others have thus ill treated Thee.
But Thy Passion is my hope. For the sake of that love which led Thee to take upon Thyself human nature and to die for me on the cross, forgive me all the offenses I have committed against Thee.

I love Thee, O Word Incarnate; I love Thee, O infinite goodness. Out of love for Thee, that I could die of grief for these offenses. Give me, O Jesus, Thy love. Let me no longer live in ungrateful forgetfulness of the love Thou bearest me. I
wish to love Thee always. Grant that I may always preserve in this holy desire.

O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray for me that thy Son may give me the grace to love Him always, unto death.
Amen.

Pope: prayers at Angelus for victims of Connecticut school massacre


(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of Friday’s mass murder of school children in Newtown, Connecticut on Sunday. Speaking in English to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with him on this third Sunday in Advent, the Holy Father renewed expressions (first offered on Friday in a Message of condolence to the Diocese of Bridgeport, of which Newtown is part) of his profound grief over the incident, as well as his promises of prayers for the victims and spiritual closeness to their families. The Pope went on to call all the faithful everywhere to renew their prayer and action in favour of the cause of peace. Below, please find the full text and audio of Pope Benedict's English remarks:

**************************************

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. I was deeply saddened by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut. I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer. May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain. During this Advent Season, let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace. Upon those affected by this tragedy, and upon each of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

Friday, December 14, 2012

St. John of the Cross

Juan de Yepes was the Castilian son of a poor silk weaver of Fontiberos, Toledo, Spain and was born in 1542. His father was of noble birth; he had married much beneath him, and for that offense had been entirely cut off by his family. He had taken to silk weaving as a means of livelihood, but had never been able to make much of it. Soon after the birth of Juan he died, worn out with the effort to keep his wife and three children. The family was left in direst poverty; the children grew up always underfed, so that to the end of his life Juan remained dwarfed in stature.

Unable to learn a trade, he became the servant of the poor in the hospital of Medina, while still pursuing his sacred studies. In 1563, being then twenty-one, he humbly offered himself as a lay-brother to the Carmelite friars, who, however, knowing his talents, had him ordained priest. He would now have exchanged to the severe Carthusian Order, had not St. Teresa of Avila, with the instinct of a saint, persuaded him to remain and help her in the reform of his own Order.

Thus he became the first prior of the Discalced (meaning "barefoot") Carmelites. His reform, though approved by the general, was rejected by the elder friars, who condemned the saint as a fugitive and apostate, and cast him into prison, whence he only escaped, after nine months' suffering, at the risk of his life. Twice again, before his death, he was shamefully persecuted by his brethren, and publicly disgraced. But his complete abandonment by creatures only deepened his interior peace and devout longing for heaven.

St. John was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on August 24, 1926. He is the patron of contemplative life, mystical theology, mystics, and Spanish poets.

Excerpted from Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints © 1878 and Saints for Sinners by Alban Goodier, S.J.

"With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart?"

Excerpted from Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love — St. John of the Cross

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage your self in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father's table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

Excerpted from Sayings of Light and Love, 26-27 — St. John of the Cross

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#HabemusPapam – @Pontifex Tweets

The message read in English:


In the minutes surrounding the launch, the eight language feeds for the PopeTweets surpassed a combined million followers, two-thirds of whom have signed onto the English-speaking account.

The Jesse Tree - December 12 - Samuel


The lamp is a symbol for the Word of God, 
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet." (Psalm 119:105)
Samuel became a prophet, the light of God to His people.

Recommended Readings: 1 Kings 3:2-4

2 The people, however, were still sacrificing on the high places, because at that time a dwelling-place for the name of Yahweh had not yet been built.

3 Solomon loved Yahweh: he followed the precepts of his father David, except that he offered sacrifice and incense on the high places.

4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, since that was the principal high place -- Solomon presented a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

John Paul II’s Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

His Holiness John Paul II
Mexico, January 1979. Visiting Her Basilica during his first foreign trip as Pope.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

"Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything." 
— Our Lady to Juan Diego

In the winter of 1531, a poor, 57-year-old Aztec Indian living five miles outside of Mexico City encountered a miraculous happening on his way to morning Mass. First he heard strange music coming from Tepeyac Hill, and then he heard a woman's voice calling his name. Juan Diego climbed the hill and encountered a young woman, appearing to be of his own people in physical appearance and dress. The woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and told Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and be a source of consolation to the people.

Juan Diego obeyed the request, but the bishop was skeptical regarding the message, even though he perceived that Juan was a humble, and well meaning Catholic. Juan reported the bishop's doubt to Our Lady at Tepeyac Hill, and she asked him to return to the bishop once again, bearing the same message. The bishop once again heard the story, and told Juan Diego to ask Our Lady for a sign that it was indeed herself that wished for the church to be built.

When he returned to the hill, Mary gave Juan Diego such a sign. Miraculously, roses appeared on the hill in the middle of winter, and Juan gathered them in his tilma, or cloak. Our Lady arranged the roses in his tilma with her own hands, and Juan returned to the bishop's presence. When Juan released the tilma, allowing the flowers to fall to the floor, it was revealed that a miraculous image of Our Lady had imprinted itself on his tilma (see above).

The bishop immediately fell to his knees, and came to believe in Juan Diego's message. A church was built on the spot of the apparition, as Mary had requested, and 8 million people converted to Catholicism in a short period of time upon hearing of or viewing the miraculous image of Our Lady.

The tilma of Juan Diego has been the subject of much modern research. The tilma, woven out of coarse cactus fiber, should have disintegrated after 20 years, but although over 500 years have passed the tilma is still in perfect condition. The pupils of Mary in the picture reflect the Indians and clergy present at the time of the first revelation of the image. No paint was used, and chemical analysis has not been able to identify the color imprint. Additionally, studies have revealed that the stars on Mary's mantle match exactly what a Mexican would have seen in the sky in December of 1531.

Patron: The Americas; pro-life movement.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Soul Stirrings


“Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.”

The things you put in your home bring life and love to those who pass through and those that stay. We are attracted to beauty because God is the Great Artist and we are made in His image. Christmas is the perfect time to place soul stirring pieces of beauty in your home. Some of these items, like the calligraphy quote above, can be left up all year round.

Monday, December 10, 2012

IS GOD GOOD?


Take a look at this powerful animation that explores the nagging question, "If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there evil in the world?"

"Down through the centuries and generations it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace many saints, such as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and others, owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering but above all that he becomes a completely new person. He discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and vocation. 

"This discovery is a particular confirmation of the spiritual greatness which in man surpasses the body in a way that is completely beyond compare. When this body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal."

SALVIFICI DOLORIS - Letter of Pope John Paul II on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, 1984

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Now Archbishop Gaenswein…

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Father on Friday named Monsignor Georg Gänswein as Prefect of the Pontifical Household, at the same time elevating him to the titular see of Urbisaglia with the title of Archbishop.  [Source]

The Holy Father on Friday named Monsignor Georg Gänswein as Prefect of the Pontifical Household, at the same time elevating him to the titular see of Urbisaglia with the title of Archbishop. 

Msgr Gänswein was born in 1956 in Waldshut, Germany. In 1984 he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau. Msgr Gänswein holds a degree in Canon Law from the Catholic Theology Faculty of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich.

After serving as a judge on the Diocesan Tribunal and a personal collaborator of the Archbishop of Freiburg, in 1995 he took up a position with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. One year later, he was transferred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he later became personal Secretary of the Prefect – at the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. 

Since the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, Msgr Gänswein has continued to serve as his personal Secretary.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the solemn dogma defined by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. As Our Lady Immaculately Conceived is the patroness of the United States of America, this is a holy day of obligation in the United States.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed on December 8, 1854: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."

~ Catechism of the Catholic Church

"In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God’s grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures. In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God, let us prepare to welcome her Son into our lives and into our hearts." Pope Benedict XVI, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2011

Collect: Father, You prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by His death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is undoubtedly one of the most popular saints honored in the Western world. In the United States, his memory has survived in the unique personality of Saint Claus — the jolly, rotund, white-bearded gentleman who captivates children with promises of gifts on Christmas Eve. Considered primarily as the patron saint of children, Nicholas is also invoked by sailors, merchants, bakers, travelers and pawnbrokers, and with Saint Andrew is honored as the co-patron of Russia.

In spite of his widespread fame, Saint Nicholas, from the historian's point of view, is hardly more than a name. He was born in the last years of the third century in Asia Minor. His uncle, the archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him and appointed him abbot of a nearby monastery. At the death of the archbishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy, and he served in this position until his death. About the time of the persecutions of Diocletian, he was imprisoned for preaching Christianity but was released during the reign of Emperor Constantine.

Popular legends have involved Saint Nicholas in a number of charming stories, one of which relates Nicholas' charity toward the poor. A man of Patara had lost his fortune, and finding himself unable to support his three maiden daughters, was planning to turn them into the streets as prostitutes. Nicholas heard of the man's intentions and secretly threw three bags of gold through a window into the home, thus providing dowries for the daughters. The three bags of gold mentioned in this story are said to be the origin of the three gold balls that form the emblem of pawnbrokers.

After Nicholas' death on December 6 in or around 345, his body was buried in the cathedral at Myra. It remained there until 1087, when seamen of Bari, an Italian coastal town, seized the relics of the saint and transferred them to their own city. Veneration for Nicholas had already spread throughout Europe as well as Asia, but this occurrence led to a renewal of devotion in the West. Countless miracles were attributed to the saint's intercession. His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

The story of Saint Nicholas came to America in distorted fashion. The Dutch Protestants carried a popularized version of the saint's life to New Amsterdam, portraying Nicholas as nothing more than a Nordic magician and wonder-worker. Our present-day conception of Santa Claus has grown from this version. Catholics should think of Nicholas as a saint, a confessor of the faith and the bishop of Myra — not merely as a jolly man from the North Pole who brings happiness to small children. Many countries and locations honor St. Nicholas as patron: Greece, Russia, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, and many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Belgium.

Excerpted in part from Lives of the Saints for every day of the Year, Volume III © 1959, by The Catholic Press, Inc.

Patron: against imprisonment; against robberies; against robbers; apothecaries; bakers; barrel makers; boatmen; boot blacks; boys; brewers; brides; captives; children; coopers; dock workers; druggists; fishermen; grooms; judges; lawsuits lost unjustly; longshoremen; maidens; mariners; merchants; murderers; newlyweds; old maids; parish clerks; paupers; pawnbrokers; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; pilgrims; poor people; prisoners; sailors; scholars; schoolchildren; shoe shiners; spinsters; students; thieves; travellers; unmarried girls; watermen; Greek Catholic Church in America; Greek Catholic Union; Bari, Italy; Fossalto, Italy; Duronia, Italy; Portsmouth, England; Greece; Lorraine; Russia; Sicily.

Symbols: Three children in a trough or tub; three golden balls on a book; six golden balls; three golden apples; three loaves; three purses or bags of gold; anchor; ship; Trinity symbol on a cope; angel; small church; three balls;

Often Portrayed As: Bishop with three children in a tub at his feet; Bishop calming a storm; bishop holding three balls; bishop holding three bags of gold; bishop with three children.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saint Sabbas

Saint Sabbas the Sanctified was born in the fifth century in Cappadocia, in the pious Christian family of John and Sophia. His father was a military commander. Journeying to Alexandria on military matters, his wife went with him, but they left their five-year-old son in the care of an uncle. When the boy reached eight years of age, he entered the monastery of St. Flavian, located nearby. The gifted child quickly learned to read and became an expert on the Holy Scriptures. In vain did his parents urge St. Sabbas to return to the world and enter into marriage. At seventeen years of age he received monastic tonsure, and attained such perfection in fasting and prayer that he was given the gift of wonderworking. After spending ten years at the monastery of St. Flavian, he went to other monasteries. St. Sabbas lived in obedience at this monastery until the age of thirty.

He was later blessed to seclude himself in a cave. On Saturdays, however, he left his hermitage and came to the monastery, where he participated in divine services and ate with the brethren. After a certain time St. Sabbas received permission not to leave his hermitage at all, and he struggled in the cave for five years. After several years, disciples began to gather around St. Sabbas, seeking the monastic life. As the number of monks increased, a lavra sprang up. When a pillar of fire appeared before St. Sabbas as he was walking, he found a spacious cave in the form of a church.

St. Sabbas founded several more monasteries. Many miracles took place through the prayers of St. Sabbas: at the Lavra a spring of water welled up, during a time of drought there was abundant rain, and there were also healings of the sick and the demoniacs. The saint surrendered his soul to God in the year 532.

Symbols: Abbot with an apple.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent. Take Time. Slow Down. Open Up.



Each year we have an opportunity, to dramatically change our life. But most of the time we miss it. We spend our time running around, trying to get everything done in time. When most of us forget, to get the most important thing ready...Our Heart. This is what Advent is all about. Slowing Down and Waiting. To get our Heart ready... To bring Jesus into our life... A bit more fully, than before.

Advent. Take Time. Slow Down. Open Up.

Pope Benedict XVI's Reflection for Advent 2012

Dear brothers and sisters!


The Word of God reminds us of the conduct that is necessary to ready for the Lord’s coming. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be weighed by dissipation, drunkenness and the troubles of life ... be vigilant, therefore, praying at all times” (Luke 21:34, 36). So, sobriety and prayer. And the apostle Paul also invites us to “grow and superabound in love” among ourselves and toward others, to make our hearts strong and blameless in sanctity (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). In the midst of the upheavals of the world, or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians welcome the salvation that comes from God and bear witness to it with a different way of living, like a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah announces, “Jerusalem will live in peace and be called ‘the Lord our justice’” (33:16). The community of believers is a sign of God, of his justice, which is already present and active in history but is not yet fully realized, and because of this is always awaited, invoked, sought with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly incarnates the spirit of Advent; this spirit is one of listening to God, of profound desire to do his will, of joyous service to our neighbor. Letting ourselves be guided by her, so that the God who comes does not find us closed and distracted, but can, in each one of us, extend a part of his kingdom of love, of justice and of peace.

I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday and a good Advent journey. Happy Advent, have a good Sunday, everyone. Thank you.

St. John Damascene

John of Damascus or Damascene, the last of the Greek Fathers, was one of the principal defenders of the veneration of images against the Iconoclasts, who condemned this practice.

When John was born, Damascus was under the jurisdiction of caliphs, but Christians were allowed to hold high offices. John's father was chief revenue officer of the caliph and a sterling Christian. He entrusted his son's education to a monk, Cosmas, who had been brought from Sicily as a slave, and who schooled the young man in theology, the sciences, and poetry.

John succeeded his father in office, and while living at the court gave an example of a model Christian. But he had set his sights higher, and after resigning his office he became a monk at St. Sabbas monastery near Jerusalem. Here he spent his time writing books and composing hymns. When Leo the Isaurian issued decrees against the veneration of images, John took up the challenge and wrote treatises defending this ancient practice.

At this time the Patriarch of Jerusalem, desirous of having John among his clergy, ordained him priest and brought him to Jerusalem. After some time, however, John returned to the monastery and devoted the rest of his life to writing. His most important work is his Fountain of Wisdom, in which he compiled and collated the teachings of all the great theologians before him; this is the first attempt at a Summa Theologica, a summary of philosophy and theology, that has come down to us. John's writings are a rich treasure of ancient traditions, and are held in high esteem. Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1890.

St. John was such a great orator that he was known as Chrysorrhoas ("golden-stream"). He was the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, and the first of the Christian Aristotleans. He also adapted choral music for use in the liturgy. His eloquent defense of Christian images has given him the title of "Doctor of Christian Art."

— A Saint A Day © 1957

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pope launches Twitter account @Pontifex


For the first time in history a Pope joins cyberspace with his own social media account. The name of the Benedict XVI's official Twitter account will be @Pontifex. His followers will be able to ask him questions using the hashtag #askpontifex. But those looking forward to his first tweet will have to wait until December 12.

St. Francis Xavier

This saint, one of the Church's most illustrious missionaries, came from a noble Basque family in Spain. He studied at the University of Paris, where he taught philosophy after obtaining his degree of master of arts. Here he met Ignatius of Loyola and was enrolled as one of the first seven Jesuits. They decided to go to the Holy Land, but the war between the Turks and Venice prevented this, so for a time Francis labored at Padua, Bologna, and Rome.

In 1540 Ignatius chose him as the first missionary to the Portuguese East Indies. Francis sailed from Lisbon armed with four papal briefs making him nuncio with full powers and recommending him to the Eastern princes. He landed at Goa in India and began a vast apostolate lasting over ten years. Here he instructed the adults, gathered the children by ringing a bell in the streets, catechized them, and also visited the hospitals and prisons. He then turned to the native Indians, teaching the simple folk by versifying Catholic doctrine and fitting the verses to popular tunes. He then went on to Cape Comorin and began the conversion of the Paravas, some days baptizing so many that at night he could not raise his arm from fatigue. Then to Travencore where he founded forty-five churches in various villages. Then to Malacca in Malaya, and for eighteen months from island to island, preaching, instructing, baptizing.

On his return to Goa he heard of the vast harvest of souls awaiting the laborers in Japan and he set out for this field with several companions, arriving at Kagoshima in 1549. He set himself to learn the language and started to preach and teach with such success that twelve years later his converts were found still retaining their first fervor. In 1551 he returned to Malacca to revisit his converts in India. Now a new goal loomed up before his eyes—pagan China, but he was not to reach it.

Arriving on the island of Sancian at the mouth of the Canton river, he became ill of a fever and would have died abandoned on the burning sands of the shore if a poor man named Alvarez had not taken him to his hut. Here he lingered for two weeks, praying between spells of delirium, and finally died, his eyes fixed with great tenderness on his crucifix. He was buried in a shallow grave and his body covered with quicklime, but when exhumed three months later it was found fresh and incorrupt. It was taken to Goa where it is still enshrined. St. Francis Xavier was proclaimed patron of foreign missions and of all missionary works by Pope St. Pius X.

Excerpted from A Saint A Day by Berchmans Bittle, O.F.M.Cap

Patron: African missions; diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; black missions; Borneo; China; East Indies; foreign missions; Goa, India; diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana; Japan; diocese of Joiliet, Illinois; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith.

Symbols: bell; crucifix; vessel; Pilgrim's staff; rosary; lily; font; ship and crucifix; globe.
Often portrayed as: young bearded Jesuit with a torch, flame, cross and lily; young bearded Jesuit in the company of Saint Ignatius Loyola; preacher carrying a flaming heart.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The group of cardinals that tweet


The moment was historic as the Pope sent out his first ever tweet.

One year and half later, Benedict XVI will have his own account on social networking site Twitter, a monumental occasion within the virtual world. But, within the Vatican, the Pope is not the first to embrace this new technology.


Among the most popular Catholic leaders in cyberspace is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York. He has over 61,500 followers, and uses Twitter frequently to share photos and articles about his latest events. He also shows off his great sense of humor. 

Yet despite the popularity among American cardinals, Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi also stands out. The prefect of the Pontifical Council for Culture has 26,000 followers and often tweets in various languages.

Another popular Italian is Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Milan. His latest tweet uses the hashtag #Advent, which kicks off Sunday, and offers advice on how to spend that time. He even has his own web page, www.angeloscola.it. 

Meanwhile, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has his own blog, which he updates weekly, and his own Twitter account to share photos and articles with his 6,700 followers. 

The archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Luis Martínez Sistach, is new to social networking and follows only 22 people, among them the Catalunya Cristiana weekly. He has over 1,000 followers, and growing.

Still other Princes of the Church are sticking to Facebook. Newly created Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, has over 100,000 likes on his Facebook profile.

With Benedict XVI slated to join cyberspace, it is likely that he will top the rankings in the coming days.

What is Advent? Gangnam Style!



Welcome to Xt3's Advent Calendar for 2012 - www.xt3.com/advent. Every day they will release a new reflection or resource as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Why is this Advent season so important? It is a time to stop - to prepare - to wait. Take a look at today's exciting feature video on the real meaning of Advent!

Feasts for December


The month of December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated on December 8. The first 24 days of December fall during the liturgical season known as Advent and are represented by the liturgical color purple. The remaining days of December mark the beginning of the Christmas season. The liturgical color changes to white or gold — a symbol of joy, purity and innocence. 
The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of December are:

2. First Sunday of Advent, Sunday
3. Francis Xavier, Memorial
6. Nicholas, Opt. Mem.
7. Ambrose, Memorial
8. Immaculate Conception, Solemnity
9. Second Sunday of Advent, Sunday
11. Damasus I, Opt. Mem.
12. Our Lady of Guadalupe (USA), Feast
13. Lucy, Memorial
14. John of the Cross, Memorial
16. Third Sunday of Advent, Sunday
21. Peter Canisius, Opt. Mem.
23. Fourth Sunday of Advent, Sunday
24. Christmas Eve, Sunday
25. Christmas, Solemnity
26. Stephen, Feast
27. John, Feast
28. Holy Innocents, Feast
29. Thomas Becket, Opt. Mem.
30. Holy Family, Feast
31. Sylvester I, Opt. Mem.