Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Reopening in the Holy Land

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem  (© Vatican News)


Holy Land: Basilica of the Nativity reopens


The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem reopens its doors to the faithful limiting access to 50 people at a time.


By Vatican News
In the Holy Land, Tuesday 26 May is the turn of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem where 50 people will be allowed inside at a time.
This comes on the heels of the official reopening of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, as announced by the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francis Patton, OFM, and the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Theophilus III and Nourhan Manougian.
A statement signed by the heads of the Basilica’s three custodians said that “for security reasons and to avoid the risk of a new spread of the Covid-19 infection, the number will initially be limited to 50 people and the Basilica will be accessible only to those who have no fever or symptoms of infection and wear appropriate facial protection.”  It will also be necessary to respect the minimum safety distance of 2 metres and "avoid any act of devotion that may involve physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, icons, vestments and staff of the Basilica".
The closure of the Basilica of the Nativity, along with that of all churches and mosques in the Holy Land, was ordered last March 5 by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

A time of healing

In an interview with Vatican News, Fr Patton described this gradual reopening as a sort of a convalescence after a period of silence.
Regarding Pope Francis’ exhortation to continue to be prudent and safeguard each other’s health, Fr Patton said he embraces that message wholeheartedly.
“From now on, what we are trying to do is to ensure prudent and necessary measures. But then we have to look forward to going back to normality,” he said.
As we await effective therapies for the virus, he concluded, it is important to move beyond the fear of contagion “because that would mean no longer living authentic human relationships.”
“We risk becoming people, who, out of fear, do not sleep at night, no longer shake hands with the other, no longer kiss their children. And that would mean entering a phase of ‘anaesthetic anthropology’ and it would be a terrible result. So prudence yes, respect yes, excessive fear no, anxiety no, and certainly not thinking that we should continue in this way forever.”

Monday, May 25, 2020

A powerful and popular Saint

St. Philip Neri


Image of St. Philip Neri


Feastday: May 26
Patron: of Rome, US Special Forces, humor, joy
Birth: July 21, 1515
Death: May 26, 1595
Beatified: May 11, 1615 by Pope Paul V
Canonized: March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV






St. Philip Neri was a Christian missionary and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers.
He was born in Florence on July 21, 1515 as one of four children to Francesco Neri.
From a very young age, Philip was known for being cheerful and obedient. He was affectionately referred to as "good little Phil." He received his early teachings from friars at the Dominican monastery in Florence, San Marco.
At 18-years-old, Philip went off to live with a wealthy family member in San Germano. He was sent there to assist in - and possibly inherit - the family business. However, soon after his arrival, Philip experienced a mystical vision, which he eventually spoke of as his Christian conversion. This event was an encounter with the Lord and it dramatically changed his life.
He soon lost interest in owning property or participating in business. He felt a call from the Holy Spirit to radically live for and serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
So, Philip set out for Rome.
Once in Rome, Philip was the live-in tutor for a fellow Florentine's sons. Under Philip's guidance, the two boys improved in all aspects of life and faith, proving Philip's special talent with human relationships and in bringing out the best in people.





During his first two years in Rome, Philip spent his time in a solitary life. He also dedicated a lot of time to prayer. He ate very small meals of bread, water and a few vegetables, practicing an ascetical life.
In 1535, Philip began studying theology and philosophy at the Sapienza and at St. Augustine's monastery. Although he was considered a "promising scholar," after three years of studies, Philip gave up any thought of ordination. He set out to help the poor people of Rome and to re-evangelize the city. Sadly, Rome had lost its first love and its inhabitants were no longer really living as Christians.
He began talking to people on street corners and in public squares; he made acquaintances in places where people commonly gathered.
Philip, compared to Socrates, had a knack for starting up conversations and leading his listeners to consider a new and better way of life, the Christian Way. He easily caught others' attention with his warm personality and incredible sense of humor. He encouraged groups of people to gather for discussions, studies, prayer and the enjoyment of music. His customary question was always, "Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?"
Losing no time in converting good conversation to good actions, Philip would lead his followers to hospitals to wait on the sick or to the Church, to pray to and encounter Jesus Christ.
In short, Philip was an evangelist. He loved to share the Gospel and help people to find or rediscover their faith in Jesus Christ.
His days were dedicated to helping others, but his nights were set aside for solitude spent praying in the church or in the catacombs beside the Appian Way.
In 1544, on the eve of Pentecost, Philip saw what appeared to be a globe of fire. It is said the fire entered his mouth, causing Philip to feel his heart dilate. Philip was filled with such paroxysms of divine love that caused him to scream out, "Enough, enough, Lord, I can bear no more." Philip then discovered a swelling over his heart, though it caused him no pain.
In 1548, with the help of his confessor, Father Persiano Rossa, Philip founded a confraternity for poor laymen to meet for spiritual exercises and service of the poor, the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Philip's appealing nature won him over friends from all societal levels, including that of Ignatius of Loyola, Pius V and Charles Borromeo.




At 34-years-old, Philip had already accomplished so much, but his confessor was determined that his work would be more effective as a priest. Finally convinced, Philip was ordained to the diaconate and then to the priesthood on May 23, 1551.
From there, Philip went to live with Father Rossa and other priests at San Girolamo and carried on his mission, but mostly through the confessional.
Before sun up, until sun down, Philip spent hours sitting and listening to people of all ages. Sometimes Philip broke out informal discussions for those who desired to live a better life. He spoke to them about Jesus, the saints and the martyrs.
Influenced by St. Francis Xavier, Philip thought of going to India to join the foreign mission field, but was dissuaded by his peers because Rome still needed Philip's ministry and influence.
A large room was built above the church of San Girolamo to tend to Philip's growing number of pilgrims and other priests were called on to assist him. Philip and the priests were soon called the "Oratorians," because they would ring a bell to call the faithful in their "oratory."
The foundation of the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory would be laid a few years later with members who encouraged others to deepen their faith. Philip's rule for them was simple - share a common table and to perform spiritual exercises. Philip didn't want his followers to bind themselves to the life with a vow and he did not want them to denounce their property.
Philip's organization was officially approved by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575.
The Congregation was given an ancient church, but Philip made the quick decision to demolish it because the structure was in ruins and the size was not large enough. He had plans of rebuilding on a larger scale. People from all over, including Charles Borromeo and Pope Gregory, contributed financially toward the rebuilding.
By April 1577, the New Church was completed enough for the Congregation of the Oratory to be transferred there, but Philip stayed at San Girolamo for another seven years.
Philip was constantly in a crowd of people; he allowed his followers free access to him and continued hearing confessions and engaging in ministry and prayer.
In the words of one of his biographers, Philip was "all things to all men.... When he was called upon to be merry, he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy, he was equally ready..."



Philip was respected and loved throughout Rome; he became a trusted advisor to popes, kings, cardinals and equally as important to the poor.
He whole-heartedly desired the reform of the Catholic Church and worked toward that with a sense of gentleness and friendship, rather than criticism and harshness.
His efforts to reach out to the lay people of Rome and not simply associate with the clergy made him one of the great figures in the Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church. Sadly, the Catholic Church had fallen into clericalism. He soon earned the title, "Apostle of Rome."
On the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 25, 1595, Philip was told by his physician that he was not healthy. He had not looked well for ten years. Philip realized his time had come to pass on to the Lord. For the remainder of the day, he listened to confessions and saw his visitors as normal.
Before heading off to bed, Philip stated, "Last of all, we must die."
Around midnight of May 26, 1595, Philip suffered from a hemorrhage and passed away at 80-years-old. His body lays in the New Church, where the Oratorians still serve.
St. Philip Neri was beatified by Pope Paul V on May 11, 1615 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.
He is the patron saint of Rome, US Special Forces, humor and joy and his feast day is celebrated on May 26.

Day 4 of the Holy Spirit Novena

Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit Day Four:
The Gift of Fortitude

Thou in toil art comfort sweet, Pleasant coolness in the heat, solace in the midst of woe.
By the gift of Fortitude the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to under take without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."
Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.
Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory be to the Father...
Prayer for the Seven Gifts
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Who before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples,
deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me
that He may perfect in my soul,
the work of Your grace and Your love.
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom
that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal
the Spirit of Understanding
to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth
the Spirit of Counsel
that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven
the Spirit of Fortitude
that I may bear my cross with You
and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation
the Spirit of Knowledge
that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints
the Spirit of Piety
that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable
the Spirit of Fear
that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him.
Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of Your true disciples, and animate me in all things with Your Spirit.
Amen.

A Catholic Prayer for Memorial Day

Prayer for Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)

 

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your sons
      and daughters.

Keep in your mercy those men and women
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.

R/. Amen



Monday Morning Offering: Memorial Day 2020 from the Concord Pastor

Good morning, good God!

We pray today, Lord,
remembering those who died,
who’ve passed from this life to the next
to meet, at last, their Maker,
you, the lover of their souls...

We pray today, Lord,
remembering those gone long before,
marked with signs of faith,
marked as yours in ways unknown
to us and others' grief...

We pray today, Lord,
remembering those who gave their lives
without a thought of self,
who laid down all that we might stand
in freedom dearly won...

We pray today, Lord,
remembering selfless souls
who marched with courage sure and brave
down roads we’d dare not tread...

We pray today, Lord,
remembering love and sacrifice
so fully, freely given but easily forgotten
by just the ones
for whom the gift was made...

We pray on this Memorial day,
we offer you our thanks and praise
for those who served and gave their lives
that all of us might live secure in peace,
with liberty and justice for us all...

Amen.