Saturday, December 20, 2014

The secret agent of the Council of Trent; Doctor of the Church

St. Peter Canisius

Image of St. Peter Canisius


Feastday: December 21
Birth: 1521
Death: 1597

In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a simple errand in our day, was a dangerous assignment in the sixteenth century. The first envoy who tried to carry the decrees through territory of hostile Protestants and vicious thieves was robbed of the precious documents. Rome needed someone courageous but also someone above suspicion. They chose Peter Canisius. At 43 he was a well-known Jesuit who had founded colleges that even Protestants respected. They gave him a cover as official "visitor" of Jesuit foundations. But Peter couldn't hide the decrees like our modern fictional spies with their microfilmed messages in collar buttons or cans of shaving cream. Peter traveled from Rome and crisscrossed Germany successfully loaded down with the Tridentine tomes -- 250 pages each -- not to mention the three sacks of books he took along for his own university!
Why did the Vatican choose Peter Canisius for this delicate task?
Born in Holland in 1521, Peter had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent, and reformed the German universities from heresy. Called to Vienna to reform their university, he couldn't win the people with preaching or fancy words spoken in his German accent. He won their hearts by ministering to the sick and dying during a plague. The people, the king, and the pope all wanted to make Peter bishop of Vienna, but Peter declined vigorously and administered the diocese for a year.
For many years during the Reformation, Peter saw the students in his universities swayed by the flashy speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. Peter was not alone in wishing for a Catholic catechism that would present true Catholic beliefs undistorted by fanatics. Finally King Ferdinand himself ordered Peter and his companions to write a catechism. This hot potato got tossed from person to person until Peter and his friend Lejay were assigned to write it. Lejay was obviously the logical choice, being a better writer than Peter. So Peter relaxed and sat back to offer any help he could. When Father Lejay died, King Ferdinand would wait no longer. Peter said of writing: "I have never learned to be elegant as a writer, but I cannot remain dumb on that account." The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom -- including faith, hope, and charity -- and justice -- avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.
Because of the success and the need, Peter quickly produced two more versions: a Shorter Catechism for middle school students which concentrated on helping this age group choose good over evil by concentrating on a different virtue each day of the week; and a Shortest Catechism for young children which included prayers for morning and evening, for mealtimes, and so forth to get them used to praying.
As intent as Peter was on keeping people true to the Catholic faith, he followed the Jesuit policy that harsh words should not be used, that those listening would see an example of charity in the way Catholics acted and preached. However, his companions were not always as willing. He showed great patience and insight with one man, Father Couvillon. Couvillon was so sharp and hostile that he was alienating his companions and students. Anyone who confronted him became the subject of abuse. It became obvious that Couvillon suffered from emotional illness. But Peter did not let that knowledge blind him to the fact that Couvillon was still a brilliant and talented man. Instead of asking Couvillon to resign he begged him to stay on as a teacher and then appointed him as his secretary. Peter thought that Couvillon needed to worry less about himself and pray more and work harder. He didn't coddle him but gave Couvillon blunt advice about his pride. Coming from Peter this seemed to help Couvillon. Peter consulted Couvillon often on business of the Province and asked him to translate Jesuit letters from India. Thanks to Peter , even though Couvillon continued to suffer depression for years, he also accomplished much good.
Peter died in December 21, 1597. He is known as the Second Apostle of Germany and was named a Doctor of the Church.

A good time to really pray the Angelus

The Angelus

The Angelus 

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The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen. 
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 
Hail Mary . . . 
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 
Hail Mary . . . 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: 
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

>>> In my homily today one of my implications, or action steps, was to encourage the congregation to pray the Angelus a few times this week to remember today's Gospel and prepare for Christ's birth.

From the Concord Pastor, Fr. Austin Fleming: Light the 4th candle of Advent and pray for perserverance

Lighting the Fourth Candle on the Wreath

If you have an Advent Wreath at home, pray for perseverance in this fourth week of the season as you light the first, second, third (rose) and fourth candles each day. If you don't have an Advent Wreath - light any candle and pray for faith. If you have no candle, simply stay right here with candles above and pray for faith...  And yes: pray this same litany on each night of the third week of Advent...  

With the lighting of this fourth Advent candle, let us pray for perseverance: for the grace to be faithful in good times and in bad, in season and out of season, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ...

In the dark of night, Lord, help us persevere...

In the dead of winter, Lord, help us persevere...

In the heat of the day, Lord, help us persevere...

On the uphill side, Lord, help us persevere...

When the odds are against us, Lord, help us persevere...

When others have abandoned us, Lord, help us persevere...

When we just don't know the way, Lord, help us persevere...

When we cannot find your face, Lord, help us persevere...

When our burdens seem too great, Lord, help us persevere...

When we suffer for your name, Lord, help us persevere...

When we hunger for your word, Lord, help us persevere...

When we thirst for your joy, Lord, help us persevere...

When all our hope unravels, Lord, help us persevere...

When we want to give up, Lord, help us persevere...

When our faith wears thin, Lord, help us persevere...

When one more step seems just too much, Lord,  
   help us persevere...

Send us your Spirit, Lord, 
to strengthen our hearts,
to give us new purpose, 
to deepen our fidelity,
to light our path, 
to show us the way, 
and, to help us persevere, Lord...

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Looking back for a little help I found this homily for the 4th and final Sunday of Advent

Most of you know by now I am still on the road in North Carolina, enjoying my last 24 hours with Calvin and his mom and dad before we head back home.  My entire ending of Advent and final preparation for Christmas has been shaped by this wonderful visit from which great and awesome memories have been made.  Still, deep in my heart, I have been very aware of these last few precious days of Advent, thinking about all the traditional things I would normally be involved with this week.  This has prompted me to go looking and I found a 4th Sunday of Advent homily I delivered 3 years ago, in 20111, which was my 1st Advent and Christmas at Most Holy Trinity Parish.

I offer it again today with the high hopes that you and yours are enjoying special time with special loved ones, as we are with our #1 grandson and N. Carolina family, and are preparing spiritually for all the graces that an ending Advent and approaching Christmas brings:

Homily for 4th Sunday in Advent 2011
She said YES!  I said WOW!  She said when I said what about right now.  Love can’t wait!  These lyrics by country western super star Brad Paisley were probably not written with the Annunciation in mind but boy, they really seem to fit.  She said YES!

Most of us here have said YES at very important and profound moments in our lives.  Our YES may have launched us on a certain career path or our YES may have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship with that special someone we still love.  And for most of us here, our YES to God gives us meaning and purpose to our very lives.

As people of faith, can we imitate the YES in serving Christ as Mary did in today’s Gospel?

Arriving at this fourth and final week of Advent, Holy Mother Church gives us this beautiful Gospel from St. Luke describing the Annunciation.  For those of us who may be life-long Catholics we have been taught this beautiful story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary to announce that she is to be the mother of a baby; not just any baby; she is to be the mother of Jesus.  Imagine the scene, Mary, a young dutiful and faithful Jewish girl, in love with God and faithful to His teachings, perhaps as young as 14 or 15, from humble beginnings and a meager background, betrothed but not yet married to Joseph; yet she is the one visited by God’s angel Gabriel and told:

“Hail, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

What does this mean?  Why is this messenger from God saying these things to me?  Mary was greatly troubled and pondered this greeting.  Was Mary afraid?  Was she confused?  Was she disbelieving? 

The angel continues: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  And of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Does Mary understand the prophecy of Isaiah that indeed a Savior will come to this world through a Virgin?  Mary is quick to point this out, is she not?  “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” 

Some like to compare this question to that of Zechariah when he learned of the pregnancy of Elizabeth who was carrying John the Baptist.  But we would be wise to note the difference; Zechariah doubted; Mary did not.  Mary only asks how not if.  To answer my earlier question, Mary was NOT disbelieving.  The angel was more than happy to answer the how: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Even if Mary realized in this special moment of particular and unique grace the difficulties and sacrifices of this announcement, she said YES!  Mary proclaimed a clear and unambiguous YES:  “I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.”

This beautiful story of the Annunciation is also a lesson for all of us today.  How often does God come to us, through the promptings of the Holy Spirit or through His one holy Catholic Church and ask us to say YES?  Do we?  Do we reflect on Mary’s YES when we are faced with giving God our answer?  This is what we are called to ponder this week; this week before we celebrate anew the birth of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

How can we respond this week?  How can we imitate Mary’s YES in joyful hope?  In prayer, the Annunciation is best remembered in the beautiful prayer known as the Angelus.  Traditionally, the Angelus is prayed every day at noon.  Can we commit to pray the Angelus once a day this coming week leading up to Christmas Day?  Mary’s yes was informed by her deep devoted faith and her sinless nature.  You and I are sinners.  This week we have an extra opportunity to experience God’s amazing love and mercy through a good and thoughtful confession.  We will host the deanery-wide reconciliation service Wednesday night.  As we prepare for the feast of Christmas, with Mary as our guide in saying yes, can we say yes to make a good confession this week!
And finally, after accepting the message of the angel, Mary, being told of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy goes in haste to be of service to her.  There is one person in our lives who we know will not be celebrating this Christmas; will possibly not find much joy this year.  Just one person!  Can we go in haste to be of service to that one person, bringing to them the joy of saying YES to God; just as Mary said YES!

She said YES; I said WOW!  We can say YES right now.  Love can’t wait. 

We say: YES!

From A-Z, we got Saints and this one was a Pope

St. Zephyrinus

Image of St. Zephyrinus


Feastday: December 20
Death: 217

Little is known about St. Zephyrinus, who was pope of Rome from c. 198 or 199 until 217. The antipope who opposed him, Hippolytus, says he was a simple and avaricious man. He adds that Zephyrinus relied too much on his deacon, Callixtus, who was in charge of the church's cemetary. Zephyrinus battled the heresies of adoptionism, modalism, and monarchianism; the antipope also accuses him of being a modalist.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pope Francis again describes Church as mother

Pope Francis: The Church is not an entrepreneur but a mother

Pope at Mass - OSS_ROM


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence. 

The Pope’s reflections on the themes of sterility and motherhood were taken from the biblical account of two miraculous births, those of Samson and John the Baptist, both born to women who were formerly sterile. He said this symbol of sterility as recounted in the Bible is seen as the sign of a human person incapable of moving forward. Therefore the Church, he said, wants to make us reflect on the issue of human sterility.

Sterility and new Creation
“From sterility, the Lord is able to restart a new lineage, a new life.  And that is the message of today.  When humanity is exhausted and can no longer go forward, grace comes, the Son comes and Salvation comes. And that exhausted Creation gives way to a new creation.”
Today’s message, the Pope continued, is this second Creation that comes when the earth is exhausted.  We are awaiting the newness of God and that’s what Christmas is about. He pointed out that the mothers of Samson and John the Baptist were able to give birth thanks to the action of the Spirit of the Lord and asked what is the message of these biblical accounts?  The reply, he said, is that we must open ourselves to the Spirit of God because we cannot do it by ourselves.

Openess to the newness of God
“This too makes me think of our mother Church and of so much sterility within our Mother Church: when because of the weight of the hope in the Commandments, that pelagianism that all of us carry within our bones, she becomes sterile.  She believes she is capable of giving birth… no, she can’t!  The Church is a mother and only becomes a mother when she opens to the newness of God, to the strength of the Spirit.  When she says to herself: “I do everything, but I’ve finished, I can’t go forward!”, the Spirit comes.”

A mother and not an entrepreneur
Pope Francis then went on to reflect on the sterility within the Church and her openness to becoming a mother through her faith.
“And today is also a day to pray for our Mother Church, because of so much sterility within the people of God.  A sterility arising from egoism, from power … when the Church believes she can do everything, that she can take charge of the consciences of the people, walk along the road of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, along the road of hypocrisy, yes, the Church is sterile. Let’s pray. That this Christmas our Church may be open to the gift of God, that she may allow herself to be surprised by the Holy Spirit and be a Church that gives birth, a mother Church. Many times I think that in some places the Church is more like an entrepreneur than a mother.”
The Pope concluded his homily by imploring the Lord for the grace of fertility and motherhood within our Church so that above all the Church is a mother, just like Mary.

Lots of #1 Calvin fun for abitadeacon(a.k.a.POPS) and Nona

Calvin and daddy enjoying new Spiderman sleeping blanket.Day 3 of Nona and Pops' 5 days of Christmas. 100 Lego blocks!!

In England Midnight Mass is slowly going away; same starting to happen in USA

Midnight Mass: the ritual under threat from drunken yobbos and a drastic shortage of priests
19 December 2014 00:00 by Joanna Moorhead, Liz Dodd, Katherine Backler

With the church ablaze with candles, the Christ child in the crib and the choir singing their carols in perfect harmony, Midnight Mass is at the heart of Christmas. But according to a Tablet survey, it is on its way to becoming a thing of the past.
Priests at more than 50 deaneries – groups of parishes – across England and Wales contacted this week confirmed that there has been a decline in the number of churches offering a Mass that ushers in Christmas Day on the stroke of midnight. In some pastoral areas it will not be offered at all, while in many the first Mass of the nativity is now scheduled for as early as 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Though cherished by many Catholics, various issues have militated against the 1,500-year-old tradition. Many priests report problems with drunks infiltrating services that begin just as the pubs close – one parish even reported a streaker.
Ageing congregations have also made earlier Masses more popular; and the declining number of priests, and subsequent reorganisation of parishes, mean that increasingly Midnight Mass is only celebrated in one parish per deanery.
Mgr David Hogan, parish priest of St Bernadette’s, in Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, estimated that fewer than 25 per cent of parishes now offer Midnight Mass. “Last time we had it, we ended up with a drunk trying to get the doors off the church,” he said. “So we’ve made the decision not to have Mass when people are pouring out of the pubs sloshed.”
The roots of the decline, said Fr Hogan, went back to the 1970s and the introduction of an evening vigil Mass to fulfil the Sunday or Holyday obligation. “There has never been any significance in celebrating Mass at midnight at Christmas beyond the fact that it used to be the first opportunity there was to have it,” he added.
Other parishes have experienced bizarre interruptions to Midnight Mass over the years. Canon Alan Sheridan, of St George’s, in York, said the service was moved to 8 p.m. after a streaker caused havoc. “We are on the main drag into town so people are coming straight from the pub and it can make Mass very difficult,” he said.
Meanwhile, Canon Peter Turbitt, now a priest in Wantage, in Portstmouth diocese, recalled an incident at St Michael and All Angels, Havant, when police were called three times after drunks attacked his church. “It is not nice being showered with bricks by drunken yobbos when you’re trying to pray,” he said. “A lot of people were frightened to walk home afterwards.”
According to a parishioner at Holy Rood, Barnsley, in Hallam diocese, his church ensures there are men standing near the door to act as informal bouncers during Midnight Mass.
Where priests have consulted parishioners over the timing, most have opted for an earlier liturgy. Fr John Gott, of the Good Shepherd, Mytholmroyd, in Leeds diocese, said the popular vote had led to a change to 8.30 p.m. “We reckon that’s about midnight in Bethlehem, ” he said. Fr John Minh, priest in charge of St Luke’s, Peterborough, in East Anglia diocese, said parishioners had voted three to one in favour of a move to 10.30 p.m. “It’s still tradition, but for rural or semi-rural areas like ours, we have to abolish it,” he said.
Fr Tom Grufferty, of the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph’s Church in Christchurch, Dorset, reported that people preferred the vigil Mass “because they can get on with Christmas.”
At St Mary’s Church, Pembroke, in Menevia diocese, Carmelite priest Fr Patrick Fitzgerald-Lombard said he would celebrate two vigil Masses at different churches on Christmas Eve. He worried, however, about a 5 p.m. Mass becoming a substitute for Christmas Day Mass for children. “We have turned our practice of the faith into a matter of convenience rather than a matter of commitment,” he said.
Many priests spoke of their sadness that Midnight Mass was becoming a rarity. Fr Michael Marsden, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, at Hessle in Middlesbrough diocese, said the midnight service in his parish would be the only one in the deanery. “Going to Midnight Mass at Christmas used to be one of the hallmarks of being a Catholic; it is sad if that is changing,” he said.

>>>First seen at Deacon's Bench.

>>>And for the record, my current parish does not have a Midnight Mass, some neighboring parishes start early and a few stick to the tradition!

Vietnamese martyrs canonized by St. PJPII

St. Thomas De & Companions

Image of St. Thomas De & Companions


Feastday: December 19
Death: 1839
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Vietnamese martyrs. Thomas was a Vietnamese tailor who entered the Dominicans as a tertiary. Arrested on the charge of giving aid and shelter to foreign missionaries, he was strangled. Four other Catholic Vietnamese died with Thomas. They were canonized in 1988.