Friday, September 20, 2019

This Gospel writer is the patron Saint of bankers(like me)

St. Matthew
Image of St. Matthew
Little is known about St. Matthew, except that he was the son of Alpheus, and he was likely born in Galilee. He worked as a tax collector, which was a hated profession during the time of Christ.
According to the Gospel, Matthew was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Christ came to him and asked, "Follow me." With this simple call, Matthew became a disciple of Christ.
From Matthew we know of the many doings of Christ and the message Christ spread of salvation for all people who come to God through Him. The Gospel account of Matthew tells the same story as that found in the other three Gospels, so scholars are certain of its authenticity. His book is the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament.
Many years following the death of Christ, around 41 and 50 AD, Matthew wrote his gospel account. He wrote the book in Aramaic in the hope that his account would convince his fellow people that Jesus was the Messiah and that His kingdom had been fulfilled in a spiritual way. It was an important message at a time when almost everyone was expecting the return of a militant messiah brandishing a sword.

It is thought he departed for other lands to escape persecution sometime after 42 AD. According to various legends he fled to Parthia and Persia, or Ethiopia. Nothing is recorded of Matthew's passing. We do not know how he died, if his death was natural or if he was martyred.
Saint Matthew is often depicted with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7, which reads, "The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third living creature had a human face, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle."
Matthew was a tax collector and is therefore the patron saint of bankers. The Church established St. Matthew's feast day as September 21

Friday morning Mass with Pope Francis

Copyright: Vatican Media

Pope at Santa Marta: ‘Do You Pray for Your Priests . . . or Just Criticize Them?’

A Bishop’s ‘Proximity’

“Do you pray for your priests  . . . or just criticize them? Asked Pope Francis at the Mass at Casa Santa Marta on September 20, 2019.
Gossip, “slanders, stupid discussions” weaken the life of a priest, just as attachment to money,” warned the Pope in his homily. He reflected on the “proximities” of a Bishop, who is first of all “a man of proximity to God.” His “first duty” is to pray, said the Pontiff. That “gives him the strength, . . . the awareness of this gift — that we must not forget — which is the ministry.”
The Bishop is also a man “close to priests.” “You must love first the one who is closest, who are your priests and your deacons,” insisted the Pope. “It’s sad when a Bishop forgets those close to him. It’s sad to hear the complaints of priests, who tell you: ‘I called the Bishop; I needed a meeting to tell him something, and the secretary told me that everything is full for three months . . . ‘When a priest calls, the Bishop must return his call latest the following day, “because he has the right to know that he has a father.”
Pope Francis also warned priests against “divisions.” “The devil enters there to divide the Presbyterium,” “ideologies,” “antipathies.”
A Bishop is close to the People of God. “Don’t forget your people. Don’t forget your roots! . . . As Bishop and as priest, it’s necessary to be close to the People of God. When a Bishop detaches himself from the People of God, he ends up in an atmosphere of ideology, which has nothing to do with the ministry: he is not a minister, he is not a servant. He’s forgotten the gift — free — which was given to him.”
In conclusion, the Pontiff appealed to Christians to pray for Bishops and priests, “those who lead you on the road of salvation.” “Do you pray for your priests, for your parish priest, for your Vicar, or do you just criticize them? It’s necessary to pray for priests and for Bishops, so that all of us — the Pope is a Bishop — are able to protect this gift.”

An awful tragedy close to home; one officer has died, another was injured

In a beautiful Northshore community just to the south of Abita and 2 blocks from the building I was worked in a Mandeville police officer died at the hands of an evil criminal and another officer was shot in the face.  This is horrible; tragic and so close to home.  Mandeville is such a safe place that the deceased officer is the first to fall in the line of duty since 1958.

May the  soul of the deceased officer and the soul of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace Amen.

And prayers all around for the Mandeville Police Dept. and all first responders.

No photo description available.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Friday Saints of the Day

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions

Image of Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions

Feastday: September 20
The evangelization of Korea began during the 17th century through a group of lay persons. A strong vital Christian community flourished there under lay leadership until missionaries arrived from the Paris Foreign Mission Society.
During the terrible persecutions that occurred in the 19th century (in 1839, 1866, and 1867), one hundred and three members of the Christian community gave their lives as martyrs. Outstanding among these witnesses to the faith were the first Korean priest and pastor, Andrew Kim Taegon, and the lay apostle, Paul Chong Hasang.
Among the other martyrs were a few bishops and priests, but for the most part lay people, men and women, married and unmarried, children, young people, and the elderly. All suffered greatly for the Faith and consecrated the rich beginnings of the Church of Korea with their blood as martyrs.
Pope John Paul II, during his trip to Korea, canonized these martyrs on May 6, 1984, and inserted their feast into the Calendar of the Universal Church.

The 31st meeting of Council of Cardinals now over


31st Meeting of Council of Cardinals Concludes

C6 Focused on Re-reading & Modification of Draft of New Apostolic Constitution on Basis of Many Contributions Received

The 31st meeting of the Council of Cardinals concludes today in the Vatican.
The Council used to be commonly called the C9 but now is being termed by many as the C6, following the dismissal of three of its members during the December 2018 meeting. The Council is studying the plans for reforming the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus” on the Roman Curia.
The Council of Cardinals, whose meeting began Tuesday and concludes today, consisted of the following nine prelates: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (not present, in Australia); Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State.
However, now there are six cardinal members, as Chilean Cardinal Errazuriz resigned from the Council on Nov. 14, 2018. The Pope has thanked him, Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya for their service.
The working sessions are held in the morning from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and in the afternoon, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and are always dedicated to further considerations on several dicasteries of the Curia.
Those present were Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, as well as the secretary of the Council, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, and adjunct secretary, Msgr. Marco Mellino.
Today in the Holy See Press Office, its Director, Matteo Bruni, spoke about the developments, confirming that the Holy Father also participated in this morning’s meeting, around his commitments.
“As expected,” he noted, “the activity of this Council meeting focused on the re-reading and modification of the draft of the new Apostolic Constitution on the basis of the many contributions received from the Episcopal Conferences, the precise observations of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the suggestions made by the bodies concerned.”
“This first reading, which has come to an end, was a phase of listening and reflection responding to the Holy Father’s indications with regard to communion and synodality.”
The Council, Bruni explained, has established the calendar of meetings for 2020.
The 32nd Meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled to take place Dec. 2-4, 2019.

At Mass Thursday Pope Francis has message for ordained ministers

Pope Francis preaches at Mass on Thursday Pope Francis preaches at Mass on Thursday  (Vatican Media)

Pope at Mass: Ministry is a gift to be contemplated

In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, Pope Francis says ordained ministry is a gift which should be appreciated and shared.

By Vatican News
Pope Francis reflected on ordained ministry at Mass on Thursday, saying Jesus offers this gift to deacons, priests, and bishops so they might serve others.
The occasion for his remarks was the presence of a group of priests and bishops celebrating their silver jubilee, or 25 years of ordination.
The Pope invited everyone to reflect on the day’s first reading (1 Tim 4:12-16), in which St Paul invites Timothy not to neglect the gift of ordained ministry.
“It is not a job contract: ‘I have to do it’. The act of doing is in the second place. I must receive the gift and care for it, and from there flows all the rest: in contemplation of the gift. When we forget this, appropriate the gift, and turn it into a function, then we lose the heart of ministry and lose Jesus’ gaze who looked upon us and said: ‘Follow me.’ Gratuitousness is lost.”

Risk of self-centered ministry

Pope Francis then warned everyone against the risk of making ministry into a self-centered exercise.
If we do not contemplate the gift we have received, he said, “all the deviations we can imagine are unleashed, from the most horrible – which are terrible – to the most mundane, which make us turn our ministry into being about us, rather than about the gratuitousness of the gift and about our love for He who gave us the gift of ministry.”
Listen to our report

First contemplate, then act

The Pope invited deacons, priests, and bishops to contemplate their ministry and service as a gift. We do what we can, he said, with good intentions, intelligence, and “even with a little cunning”, but always taking care of the gift.
It is human to forget this aspect, said Pope Francis, as the Pharisee does in the day’s Gospel (Lk 7:36-50) when he forgets several rules of hospitality as he welcomes Jesus to his table.
“There was this man, a good man, a good Pharisee but he had forgotten the gift of courtesy, the gift of hospitality – which is also a gift. Gifts are always forgotten when there is some sort of self-interest involved, when I want to do this or that thing – always doing, doing… Yes, we priests must all do things, and our first task is to proclaim the Gospel, but we must take care of our center, our source from which our mission flows, which is the gift we have freely received from the Lord.”

God guides the gift

Pope Francis concluded his homily with a prayer for all the Church’s ordained ministers.
May the Lord “help us to care for this gift, to consider our ministry above all as a gift, then as service”, he prayed.
In this way, said the Pope, ministers can avoid becoming “businessmen or do-gooders”.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Saint with the blood that bubbles year after year

St. Januarius
Image of St. Januarius

St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento during the Emperor Diocletion persecution. Bishop Januarius went to visit two deacons and two laymen in prison. He was then also imprison along with his deacon and lector. They were thrown to the wild beasts, but when the animals did not attack them, they were beheaded. What is believed to be Januarius' blood is kept in Naples, as a relic. It liquifies and bubbles when exposed in the cathedral. Scientists have not been able to explain this miracle to date. St. Januarius lived and died around 305 A.D. and his feast day is September 19th.

The Church's abuse crisis is proving to be a huge financial hit

Abuse crisis, leadership failure seen having impact on church giving

By Brian Fraga Catholic News Service
9.16.2019 4:12 PM ET

The Catholic Church in the United States has spent a staggering amount of money -- close to $4 billion in the past 20 years -- to investigate, adjudicate and prevent clergy sex abuse, and to compensate victims for the harm they've suffered.
And as those expenses have prompted dioceses to lay off staff, sell property and liquidate some assets, there is growing evidence that more Catholics across the country are deciding not to contribute to their bishops' diocesan appeals because of the scandals.
"Clearly the leadership failures related to the abuse crisis are a major factor in some of the church's financial problems," said Kim Smolik, CEO of the Leadership Roundtable, a national Catholic organization.
At least 20 dioceses since 2004 have filed for bankruptcy protection to pay their bills and provide financial compensation for clergy sex abuse survivors. On Sept. 12, the Diocese of Rochester in New York became the latest to petition the federal courts for Chapter 11 reorganization.
"This is a very difficult and painful decision," Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of Rochester said during a Sept. 12 news conference. The diocese is facing nearly 50 lawsuits filed in the wake of New York's Child Victims Act, which took effect Aug. 14 and suspended the state's civil statute of limitations in sex abuse cases for one year.
The Catholic Courier, Rochester's diocesan newspaper, reported Bishop Matano as saying that filing for Chapter 11 was "the best and fairest course of action for the victims and for the well-being of the diocese, its parishes, agencies and institutions."
"We believe this is the only way we can provide just compensation for all who suffered the egregious sin of sexual abuse while ensuring the continued commitment of the diocese to the mission of Christ," Bishop Matano said.
The most recent figures compiled by, a website that tracks the bishops' response to the clergy sex abuse scandals, indicates the scandals to date have cost dioceses and religious orders in the United States more than $3.8 billion in total settlements.
And according to data provided by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, dioceses and religious orders in the 2018 fiscal year incurred almost $302 million in total expenses related to investigating sex abuse allegations, legal fees, victim payments, living costs and therapy for offenders, and operating abuse prevention programs. In the last five fiscal years, those expenses have cost dioceses and religious orders an estimated $1.1 billion, according to CARA figures.
"It's a difficult financial time for the church," Mark Gray, director of CARA Catholic Polls and a senior research associate at CARA, told Catholic News Service.
The dollar amounts of what dioceses have spent only capture a small snapshot of the financial impact the clergy sex abuse scandals have wrought on the church.
"There are other things that are probably happening and very real, but they're not as easily identifiable as a direct result of the abuse crisis," said Pat Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, an organization that provides fiscal and administrative expertise for the local and national church.
"If someone wants to stop withholding from a capital campaign or the bishop's appeal, it could be because of the abuse crisis, but that's a lot more difficult to make that cause and effect connection," Markey told CNS.
A Pew Research Center survey released this past summer indicated that 26 percent of U.S. Catholics reported giving less money as a result of the recent reports of sexual abuse and misconduct by priests and bishops. Father Jay Mello, a pastor of two parishes in Fall River, Massachusetts, told CNS that his parishioners have been quite "vocal" about not donating to diocesan collections.
"They don't trust the bishops and feel this is the only way they can send the message," Father Mello said.
However, there are no readily available spreadsheets to document the extent that lay Catholics across the board have actually stopped donating to parish collections, bishops' appeals or national collections. The data is anecdotal, and often varies from parish to parish, even within the same diocese.
"In terms of dollar for dollar week to week, anecdotally I haven't seen a real fluctuation. My fear however is that five to 10 years from now is when it will be felt as those who contribute fade away and aren't replaced by anyone," said Father Bryan Small, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Atlanta. Father Small told CNS he fears the abuse scandals have pushed away future parish council presidents and other lay leaders.
Gray, of CARA, said there is a perception the church "should be like Walmart" and have a national spreadsheet and financial report. However, he noted that religious institutes, individual parishes, Catholic social service agencies and other diocesan entities have their own budgets and financial systems.
"There is nothing that aggregates all those figures and then releases it publicly," Gray said. "It's always been a bit of a blind spot for the church. There is just no way to connect all the dots and fill in all the information. One diocese may report one set of financials that may not match what is publicly reported by another diocese."
Matt Manion, faculty director of the Center for Church Management at Villanova University's School of Business, identified three major financial impacts from the clergy sex abuse scandals: Chapter 11 filings and settlement payments for sex abuse survivors, the potential losses in donations and collections, as well as the expenses of litigation and other related administrative responses to the crisis.
"That's time that could have been spent on other parts of the church's mission," Manion told CNS.
The settlements that dioceses have given to clergy sex abuse survivors have prompted many of them to liquidate assets and shrink operating budgets. In some 2018 diocesan financial reports and accompanying documents, church officials admit the settlements have impacted their ability to carry out the works of evangelization and ministry.
"To be certain, the crisis has had an ongoing impact on the church's ability to invest in its mission," Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, told the Fairfield County Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, when the diocese released its 2018 financial report.
Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2011 and emerged from the process in 2015, said the archdiocese over the years sold its pastoral center, liquidated property that had been set aside for a cemetery and future parish sites, and cut its staff by more than 45 percent.
"You start cutting things when you can, and when you are a service organization, like a central office of a diocese is, it's people who are the bulk of our budget," said Topczewski. He told CNS the Chapter 11 process enabled the archdiocese to maintain day-to-day operations while creating an equitable system that distributed $21 million to 355 priest-abuse survivors and established a $500,000 fund to cover victims' personal therapy expenses.
"It's all been quite the strategic pivot that all began with Chapter 11," Topczewski said. "When you don't have two dimes to rub together, you've got to figure out what to do."
In the past year and a half, at least four Catholic dioceses -- the St. Cloud and Winona-Rochester dioceses in Minnesota, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and New York's Rochester Diocese -- have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In letters to the faithful and via news conferences, the bishops in those dioceses cited the need to provide financial compensation to victims while keeping the mission of the local church alive.
"We could see where this was all leading and the trajectory wasn't changing. We just don't have any money. If we're not here, we can't help anybody," Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe said during a November 2018 news conference in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Manion, of the Center for Church Management, said Chapter 11 in theory has the benefit of keeping the diocese up and running while it goes through a plan of reorganization. The process also can create a compensation fund that enables abuse survivors to be compensated fairly.
"The victims are all evaluated together, so it's not like the first ones in get the most money," Manion said. "Chapter 11 creates a steady fund so all claimants are evaluated in a consistent fashion, so there is the potential for this to be a more fair way for the claimants than doing it on a case by case basis."
Each diocese has its own set of financial realities when deciding whether to file for bankruptcy protection, according to Smolik, of the Leadership Roundtable, which promotes best practices and accountability in management, finances, communications and human resource development for the church in the U.S.
Noting the recent Pew Research Center survey, Smolik said the apparent drop in giving appears to be connected to the twin crises of clergy sexual abuse and the failure of church leadership.
"I think Catholics are concerned about how their contributions are being used, and it's important that dioceses move toward greater accountability, transparency and co-responsibility, in terms of their financial affairs," Smolik said.
In February, the Leadership Roundtable convened the Catholic Partnership Summit, a gathering of more than 200 Catholic lay leaders and clergy. From the summit, it released a report, "Healing the Body of Christ," which is a plan to develop a new culture of leadership in the church and a new response to the abuse crisis.
The report urged church leaders to "provide full financial transparency regarding all aspects of the (abuse) crisis, include how donations are used." The report also called upon bishops to "build a broad, deep, and transparent financial management and accounting system."
Said Smolik, "We're going to have to look at new models at how the church is served."