Friday, January 20, 2017

Benedictine monk, founder, martyr

Image of St. Meinrad


Feastday: January 21

St. Meinrad, martyr is venerated as the patron and in some sense the founder of the Benedictine abbey of Einsiedeln in Switzerland which has kept an unbroken continuity since Carolingian times. He settled as a hermit at Einsiedeln, where he was murdered by two ruffians to whom he had given hospitality in 861. His feast day is January 21st.

Cardinal Dolan offers inauguration prayer

Presidential inauguration begins with King Solomon's prayer

Timothy Michael Dolan, Catholic cardinal and archbishop of New York, recites King Solomon's prayer at the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump.
(CNN)The presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump started on a spiritual note, with Timothy Michael Dolan, Catholic cardinal and archbishop of New York, reciting King Solomon's prayer from the Book of Wisdom:
"God of our ancestors and Lord of mercy, you have made all things. And in your providence have charged us to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and righteousness, and to render judgment with integrity of heart. Give us wisdom, for we are your servants, weak and short-lived, lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws. Indeed, though one might be perfect among mortals, if wisdom which comes from you be lacking, we count for nothing. Now with you is wisdom, who knows your will and was there when you made the world, who understands what is pleasing in your eyes, what is conformable with your commands, send her forth from your holy heavens. From your glorious throne, dispatch her that she may be with us and work with us, that we may grasp what is pleasing to you. For she knows and understands all things and will guide us prudently in our affairs and safeguard us by her glory."
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who represents the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, followed with another prayer. Pastor Paula White, a televangelist who has been described as Trump's spiritual adviser, delivered the invocation.

Pope Francis sends message to new President of USA, Donald Trump

Pope’s Congratulatory Message to New US President Donald J Trump
‘At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.’
Pope writing a letter
Below is the Vatican-provided text of the message Pope Francis sent today, January 20, 2017,  to the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, on the occasion of his inauguration.
The Honorable Donald Trump
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC
Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office. At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide. Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

This will be my morning prayer tomorrow

Prayer for Government Leader

God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President and other government leaders of these United
May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Pope, Martyr, Saint

St. Fabian

Image of St. Fabian


Feastday: January 20
Death: 250

Eusebius, born just a few years after Fabian's death, tells us how Fabian came to Rome after Pope Anteros died in 236. A layperson, and not a very important one, he may have come for the same reason many still come to Rome today during a papal election: concern for the future of the faith, curiosity about the new pope, a desire to grieve for the pope who had passed. Seeing all the important people gathered to make this momentous decision must have been overwhelming. Which one would be the new pope? Someone known for power? Someone known for eloquence? Someone known for courage?
Suddenly during the discussion, a dove descended from the ceiling. But it didn't settle on "someone known" for anything at all. The dove, according to Eusebius, "settled on [Fabian's] head as clear imitation of the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove upon the Savior." There must have been something of the Holy Spirit working because everyone suddenly proclaimed Fabian as "worthy" to be pope and this stranger was elected.
To us the dove signifies peace, and this dove was prophetic. Starting close to Fabian's election, the suffering and persecuted Church began a time of peace. The emperor, Philip, was friendly to Christians and not only was the persecution stopped but Christians experienced acceptance.
In this era of peace, Fabian was able to build up the structure of the Church of Rome, appointing seven deacons and helping to collect the acts of the martyrs.
But, in a timeless story, the people who had always been in power were not happy to see the newcomers growing and thriving. There were many incidents of pagans attacking Christians and when Philip died so died the time of peace. The new emperor, Decius, ordered all Christians to deny Christ by offering incense to idols or through some other pagan ritual.
In the few years of peace, the Church had grown soft. Many didn't have the courage to stand up to martyrdom. But Fabian, singled out by symbol of peace, stood as a courageous example for everyone in his flock. He died a martyr in 250 and is buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus that he helped rebuild and beautify. A stone slab with his name can still be found there.

Thursday Morning Homily Pope Francis

Pope’s Morning Homily: Don’t Let Temptations ‘Wage a War’ Against You
At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Says Christian Life Is a Daily Struggle Against Temptation
L'Osservatore Romano
Christian life is a daily struggle against temptation.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark, which tells of how large numbers of people followed Jesus with enthusiasm and their reasons for doing so, such as to be healed.
Francis encouraged faithful to be ‘drawn’ to Jesus, without succumbing to other subjects to which one can be ‘drawn.’
The Argentine Pontiff reminded faithful how resisting these natural sentiments will help them to not fall down the wrong path.
“A Christian life without temptations,” Francis said, “is not Christian, he said: it is ideological.”
For this very reason, the Pope said, St. Paul speaks of Christian life “as a struggle: a daily struggle. A fight!” he said. “That’s why Jesus came: ‘to destroy Satan’s empire, the empire of evil.’
“He came to destroy its influence in our hearts, the Pope said. “So while the Father is attracting you to Jesus, the spirit of evil is seeking to destroy that attraction.”
Reflecting on the end of the Gospel passage which says ‘whenever unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God,”’ Francis said that whenever we try to approach God, the unclean spirits try to prevent us from doing so, and “wage a war against us.”
Inviting faithful to fight on and feel the heart that struggles for the victory of Jesus, Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord give us the grace to know how to discern what is going on in our hearts and to choose the right path upon which the Father draws us to Jesus.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bishop, Martyr, Saint; from England to Sweden to Finland

St. Henry of Sweden

Feastday: January 19

Henry was an Englishman of the twelfth century residing at Rome. In 1152, he was consecrated Bishop of Uppsala, Sweden, by the Papal Legate Nicholas Breakspear, who later became Pope Adrian IV. In 1154, St. Eric, King of Sweden, led a punitive expedition against the Finns in retaliation for their marauding activity into Sweden, and Henry accompanied him. Eric offered peace and the Christian Faith to the people of Finland, but they refused. A battle ensued and the Swedes won.  Henry baptized the defeated people in the Spring of Kuppis near Turku. When Eric returned to Sweden, Henry remained behind, working to convert more of the Finns. To this end he built a church at Nousis, which became his headquarters. In time, Henry met a violent death on account of his love of God. A converted Finnish soldier named Lalli had murdered a Swedish soldier. After careful consideration of the facts and assiduous prayer, Henry imposed the penalty of excommunication on the murderer. Lalli became enraged and slew the saintly bishop with an ax. Henry was buried at Nousis, and miracles were reported at his tomb.

Louisiana Governor meets the Pope; discusses human trafficking

Gov. Edwards meets Pope Francis

Source: Governor's Office
Source: Governor's Office

(WAFB) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards met with Pope Francis on Wednesday during a visit to Italy to discuss human trafficking prevention.
Edwards and other state leaders, including Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police, left for Rome on Friday. The group asked the Pope to bless the pioneering work going on in Louisiana to prevent human trafficking and to protect victims of human trafficking.
Work being done in Louisiana includes special training for police officers and the opening of a shelter for 16 young women in a secure location near Baton Rouge.

The Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy also traveled with the governor. They worked with the governor to establish Metanoia Manor, the shelter for human trafficking victims.  
Edwards and his wife, Donna, were invited to a special meeting with Pope Francis to discuss further cooperation between churches and the state to combat human trafficking.

Wednesday Morning General Audience with Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Jonah: Hope and Prayer

‘However, God knows our weakness, He knows that we remember Him to ask for help, and with the indulgent smile of a father, He responds benevolently.’
Paul VI General Audience 11.30.16
© PHOTO.VA - Osservatore Romano
Here is a ZENIT working translation of Pope Francis’ address during this morning’s General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning. Among Israel’s prophets, a somewhat anomalous figure stands out in Sacred Scripture, a prophet who tries to flee from the Lord’s call, refusing to put himself at the service of the divine plan of salvation. It is the prophet Jonah, whose story is narrated in a small book of only four chapters, a sort of parable bearer of a great teaching, that of God’s mercy, who forgives.
Jonah is an “outgoing” prophet, and also a prophet in flight! He is an outgoing prophet that God sends “to the periphery,” to Nineveh, to convert the inhabitants of that great city. However, for an Israelite like Jonah, Nineveh represented a threatening reality, the enemy that put Jerusalem itself in danger, and therefore to be destroyed, certainly not to be saved. Hence, when God sends Jonah to preach in that city, the prophet, who knows the Lord’s goodness and His desire to forgive, attempts to withdraw from his task and flees.
During his flight, the prophet comes into contact with pagans, mariners of the ship on which he embarked to flee from God and from his mission. And He flees far away, because Nineveh was in the region of Iraq and he flees to Spain, he flees in earnest. And it is in fact the behavior of these men, as it will be later of the inhabitants of Nineveh, which enables us to reflect somewhat today on hope, which in face of danger and death, is expressed in prayer.
In fact, during the crossing of the sea, a mighty tempest breaks out and Jonah goes down to the ship’s hold and abandons himself to sleep. The mariners, instead, seeing themselves lost, “each cried to his god”: they were pagans (Jonah 1:5). The captain of the ship awoke Jonah and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call upon your god. Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we do not perish” (Jonah 1:6).
The reaction of these “pagans” was the right reaction in face of death, in face of danger, because it is then that man has a complete experience of his frailty and his need of salvation. The instinctive horror of dying awakens the necessity to hope in the God of life. “Perhaps the god will give thought to us, that we do not perish”: are the words of hope that becomes prayer, that supplication full of anguish that comes to the lips of man in face of the imminent danger of death.
We disdain too easily from turning to God in our need as if it were only a self-interested prayer and, hence, imperfect. However, God knows our weakness, He knows that we remember Him to ask for help, and with the indulgent smile of a father, He responds benevolently.
When Jonah, acknowledging his responsibilities, had himself thrown into the sea to save his travel companions, the tempest was placated. Imminent death led those pagan men to prayer and, despite everything, made the prophet live his vocation at the service of others, accepting to sacrifice himself for them, and now leads the survivors to acknowledgement of the true Lord and to praise. The mariners who, prey to fear, turned to their gods and prayed, now, with sincere fear of the Lord, acknowledge the true God and offer sacrifices and make vows. Hope, which had induced them to pray so that they would not die, is now revealed more powerful and operates a reality that goes beyond what they hoped for: not only do they not perish in the tempest, but they open themselves to the acknowledgement of the true and only Lord of Heaven and earth.
Subsequently, the inhabitants of Nineveh, in face of the prospect of being destroyed, also prayed, spurred by hope in God’s forgiveness. They would do penance, invoke the Lord and be converted to Him, beginning with the king, who, like the captain of the ship, gave voice to hope saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:9). For them too, as well as for the crew in the tempest, to have faced death and come out saved led them to the truth. Thus, under divine mercy, and even more so in the light of the Paschal Mystery, death can become, as it was for Saint Francis of Assisi, “our sister death” and represent for every man and for each one of us, the astonishing occasion to know hope and to encounter the Lord. May the Lord make us understand this connection between prayer and hope. Prayer leads one forward in hope and when things become dark, there must be more prayer! And there will be more hope. Thank you.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT] In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the pilgrimage of the Augustinian Sisters Servants of Jesus and Mary, the Augustinian Religious and the Association of Catholic Notaries, accompanied by the Archbishop of Assisi, Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino. To all I express the wish that the visit to the Eternal City may stimulate each one to reflect further on the Word of God to be able to recognize in Jesus the Savior.
Finally, I greet young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins, which this year makes us reflect on the love of Christ, which pushes to reconciliation. Dear young people, pray so that all Christians may return to be one family; dear sick, offer your sufferings for the cause of the unity of the Church; and you, dear newlyweds, experience gratuitous love like God’s for humanity.