Friday, October 24, 2014

5th century Pope



    

Image of St. Boniface I

Facts

Feastday: October 25
Patron of brewers; Fulda; Germany; World Youth Day
Death: 422

Boniface I Ordained by Pope Damasus I, St. Boniface was a priest at Rome and served as papal legate to Constantinople under Innocent I. When Pope Zosimus died in December, 418, a majority elected Boniface pope, and a minority elected Eulalius pope. Pope and antipope were consecrated on the same day. The Council of Spoleto was convoked in 419 to settle the dispute. Symmachus the Prefect supported Eulalius, and the Emperor Honorius supported Boniface, who was enthroned after the council. Boniface condemned Pelagianism and encouraged St. Augustine to write against it. When Boniface died in 422, he was buried in a chapel which he had built in the cemetary of St. Felicity.

All about unity from Pope Francis

Pope Francis: Christians Are Called to Build the Unity of the Church

At Morning Mass, Encourages the Faithful to Be Living Stones

Vatican City, (Zenit.org)    

The task of every Christian is to build “the unity of the Church.” This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today.



The Holy Father reflected on the first reading in which St. Paul calls on the Christian community of Ephesus “to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”
Recalling St. Paul’s image of the Church as living stones, the Pope stressed that as Christians, we are also tasked with “building the unity of the Church."
“When constructing a temple or a building, the first thing ones does is find suitable land,” he explained.
“Then one lays the cornerstone, the Bible says. And the cornerstone of the unity of the Church, or rather the cornerstone of the Church, is Jesus and the cornerstone of the unity of the Church is Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper: 'Father, that they may be one!'. And this is its strength!”
The 77-year-old Pontiff went on to say that it is only through the grace of the Holy Spirit that one is capable of constructing this unity. The Spirit does this, he said, “in the diversity of nations, cultures and people.”
Contemplating St. Paul’s advice to be weak bricks, the Pope noted that in the eyes of the world, that is weak advice.
"Humility, gentleness, magnanimity: These are weak things, because the humble person appears good for nothing; gentleness, meekness appear useless; generosity, being open to all, having a big heart,” he said. “The weaker we are with these virtues of humility, generosity, gentleness, meekness, the stronger we become as stones in this Temple."
The Pope called on the faithful to follow the path of Jesus who “became strong” only after becoming weak and dying on the Cross.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis encouraged those present to hold on to “the hope of journeying towards the Lord” and “the hope of living in a living Church made of living stones.”
“We have been called to a great hope. Let's go there!” he exclaimed. “But with the strength that Jesus prayer’ for unity gives us; with docility to the Holy Spirit, who is capable of making living stones from bricks; and with the hope of finding the Lord who has called us, to encounter Him in the fullness of time."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From Spain to become Archbishop in Cuba after founding a religious order




Image of St. Anthony Mary Claret

Facts

Feastday: October 24
Patron of Textile Merchants, Weavers, Savings, Catholic press, Claretians Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Diocese of the Canary Islands , Claretian Students , Claretian Educators, Technical and Vocational Educators
Birth: 1807
Death: 1870

Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in Catalonia, Spain, in 1807, the son of a weaver. He took up weaving but then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented his entering the Order, and he served as a secular priest. In 1849, he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the Claretians, and the Apostolic Training Institute of the Immaculate Conception, Claretian nuns. From 1850 to 1857, Anthony served as the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He returned to the court of Queen Isabella II as confessor, and went into exile with her in 1868. In 1869 and 1870, Anthony participated in the First Vatican Council. He died in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southern France on October 24, 1870. Anthony Mary Claret had the gift of prophecy and performed many miracles. He was opposed by the liberal forces of Spain and Cuba and endured many trials.

Pope Francis continues to teach and preach on the Holy Spirit

Pope at Santa Marta: Our Own Forces Are Weak, We Need God

Reminds Faithful That God Has the Power 'To Do What We Do Not Dare to Think or Ask'

Vatican City, (Zenit.org)    

At this morning’s Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that left to ourselves, we are weak, but he encouraged the faithful to turn to God and the Holy Spirit, who not only have the power to strengthen us, but also to do the unthinkable.



Reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, the Pope recalled how St. Paul’s experience of Jesus “led him to leave everything behind" because "he was in love with Christ."
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reminded those present that, like the Apostle, when we bend our knees before the Father and humble ourselves before Him, He "has the power to do much more than we can ever think or ask."
“Our own forces are weak,” he said. “We cannot go forward without the power of the Spirit. Without the grace of the Spirit, we cannot be Christians.”
The Pope went on to say that the Spirit changes hearts and keeps Christians moving forward in virtue, to fulfill the commandments.
"This is a mystical experience of Paul and it teaches us the prayer of praise and the prayer of adoration. Before our pettiness, our many, selfish interests, Paul bursts out in praise, in this act of worship and asks the Father to send us the Holy Spirit to give us strength and to be able to move forward.”
Paul, he said, helps us understand the love of Christ and that Christ consolidates us in love, seen through his prayer to the Father: 'Thank you, because you are able to do what we do not dare to think.'
Reflecting on Paul’s inner life, the Holy Father said, we can understand how the Apostle "gave up everything and considered it all rubbish, in order to gain Christ and be found in Christ.”
“It does us good to think of this, it does us good to worship God,” he said. “It does us good to praise God, to enter this world of amplitude, of grandeur, generosity and love.”
Pope Francis concluded, noting that this active worship allows us “to move forward in the great commandment - the only commandment, which is the basis of all others - love. Love God and love your neighbor."

From conception to natural death: Pope Francis calls for an end to the death penalty

Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and life imprisonment
By Francis X. RoccaCatholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, and denounced what he called a "penal populism" that promises to solve society's problems by punishing crime instead of pursuing social justice.

"It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples' lives from an unjust aggressor," the pope said Oct. 23 in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law.

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct. 22. (CNS/Paul Haring)
"All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty. And this, I connect with life imprisonment," he said. "Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty."

The pope noted that the Vatican recently eliminated life inprisonment from its own penal code.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, cited by Pope Francis in his talk, "the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor," but modern advances in protecting society from dangerous criminals mean that "cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

The pope said that, although a number of countries have formally abolished capital punishment, "the death penalty, illegally and to a varying extent, is applied all over the planet," because "extrajudicial executions" are often disguised as "clashes with offenders or presented as the undesired consequences of the reasonable, necessary and proportionate use of force to apply the law."

The pope denounced the detention of prisoners without trial, who he said account for more than 50 percent of all incarcerated people in some countries. He said maximum security prisons can be a form of torture, since their "principal characteristic is none other than external isolation," which can lead to "psychic and physical sufferings such as paranoia, anxiety, depression and weight loss and significantly increase the chance of suicide."

He also rebuked unspecified governments involved in kidnapping people for "illegal transportation to detention centers in which torture is practiced."

The pope said criminal penalties should not apply to children, and should be waived or limited for the elderly, who "on the basis of their very errors can offer lessons to the rest of society. We don't learn only from the virtues of saints but also from the failings and errors of sinners."

Pope Francis said contemporary societies overuse criminal punishment, partially out of a primitive tendency to offer up "sacrificial victims, accused of the disgraces that strike the community."

The pope said some politicians and members of the media promote "violence and revenge, public and private, not only against those responsible for crimes, but also against those under suspicion, justified or not."

He denounced a growing tendency to think that the "most varied social problems can be resolved through public punishment ... that by means of that punishment we can obtain benefits that would require the implementation of another type of social policy, economic policy and policy of social inclusion."

Using techniques similar to those of racist regimes of the past, the pope said, unspecified forces today create "stereotypical figures that sum up the characteristics that society perceives as threatening."

Pope Francis concluded his talk by denouncing human trafficking and corruption, both crimes he said "could never be committed without the complicity, active or passive, of public authorities."

The pope spoke scathingly about the mentality of the typical corrupt person, whom he described as conceited, unable to accept criticism, and prompt to insult and even persecute those who disagree with him.

"The corrupt one does not perceive his own corruption. It is a little like what happens with bad breath: someone who has it hardly ever realizes it; other people notice and have to tell him," the pope said. "Corruption is an evil greater than sin. More than forgiveness, this evil needs to be cured."

END

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Catholic seminarian with cancer addresses the problems with assisted suicide

I am a Catholic seminarian. I have terminal brain cancer. This is my response to Brittany Maynard.
Philip G. Johnson                                                                                              
Image
Last week I came across the heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer one year after her wedding.  When doctors suggested that she might only have six months to live, she and her family moved from California to Oregon in order to obtain the prescriptions necessary for doctor-assisted euthanasia.  She is devoting her last days to fundraising and lobbying for an organization dedicated to expanding the legality of assisted suicide to other States.
Brittany’s story really hit home, as I was diagnosed with a very similar incurable brain cancer in 2008 at the age of twenty-four.  After years of terrible headaches and misdiagnosis, my Grade III brain cancer (Anaplastic Astrocytoma) proved to be inoperable due to its location.  Most studies state that the median survival time for this type of cancer is eighteen months, even with aggressive radiation and chemotherapy.  I was beginning an exciting career as a naval officer with my entire life ahead of me.  I had so many hopes and dreams, and in an instant they all seemed to be crushed.  As Brittany said in her online video, “being told you have that kind of timeline still feels like you’re going to die tomorrow.”
I was diagnosed during my second Navy deployment to the Northern Arabian Gulf.  After many seizures, the ship’s doctor sent me to the naval hospital on the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, where my brain tumor was discovered.  I remember the moment I saw the computer images of the brain scans – I went to the Catholic chapel on base and fell to the floor in tears.  I asked God, “why me?”  The next day, I flew home to the United States to begin urgent treatment.  A few months after radiation and chemotherapy, I was discharged from the Navy and began formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood, a vocation to which I have felt called since I was nineteen years old.  Despite all of the hardships and delays in my training and formation over the past six years, I hope to be ordained to the transitional diaconate this Spring and to the priesthood one year later.
I have lived through six years of constant turmoil, seizures, and headaches.  I often changed hospitals and doctors every few months, seeking some morsel of hope for survival.  Like Brittany, I do not want to die, nor do I want to suffer the likely outcome of this disease.  I do not think anyone wants to die in this way.  Brittany states relief that she does not have to die the way that it has been explained that she would – she can die “on her own terms.”  I have also consulted with my doctors to learn how my illness is likely to proceed.  I will gradually lose control of my bodily functions at a young age, from paralysis to incontinence, and it is very likely that my mental faculties will also disappear and lead to confusion and hallucinations before my death.  This terrifies me, but it does not make me any less of a person.  My life means something to me, to God, and to my family and friends, and barring a miraculous recovery, it will continue to mean something long after I am paralyzed in a hospice bed.  My family and friends love me for who I am, not just for the personality traits that will slowly slip away if this tumor progresses and takes my life.
Image
Brittany Maynard on her wedding day.
Obviously, I have lived much longer than originally expected, and I attribute this to the support and prayers of others who have helped me to keep a positive outlook.  I will never claim that I have dealt with my illness heroically or with great courage, no matter what others might observe or believe from my reserved disposition.  I am shy and introverted, so I have not let many people become aware of the depth of my suffering.  There have been times over the past six years that I wanted the cancer to grow and take my life swiftly so that it would all be over.  Other times, I have sought forms of escape through sin and denial just to take my mind off of the suffering and sadness, even if only for a few moments.  However, deep in my heart I know that this approach is futile.  My illness has become a part of me, and while it does not define me as a person, it has shaped who I am and who I will become.
In Brittany’s video, her mother mentions that her immediate hope was for a miracle.  My response to my diagnosis was the same – I hoped for a miraculous recovery so that I would not have to deal with the suffering and pain that was likely to come.  However, I now realize that a “miracle” does not necessarily mean an instant cure.  If it did, would we not die from something else later in our lives?  Is there any reason that we deserve fifteen, twenty, or thirty or more years of life?  Every day of life is a gift, and gifts can be taken away in an instant.  Anyone who suffers from a terminal illness or has lost someone close to them knows this very well.
I have outlived my dismal prognosis, which I believe to be a miracle, but more importantly, I have experienced countless miracles in places where I never expected to find them.  Throughout my preparation for the priesthood I have been able to empathize with the sick and suffering in hospitals and nursing homes.  I have traveled to Lourdes, France, the site of a Marian apparition and a place of physical and spiritual healing that is visited by millions of pilgrims each year.  I have had the great opportunity to serve the infirm there who trust in God with their whole hearts to make sense of their suffering. Through my interaction with these people, I received much more than I gave.  I learned that the suffering and heartache that is part of the human condition does not have to be wasted and cut short out of fear or seeking control in a seemingly uncontrollable situation.  Perhaps this is the most important miracle that God intends for me to experience.
Suffering is not worthless, and our lives are not our own to take.  As humans we are relational – we relate to one another and the actions of one person affects others.  Sadly, the concept of “redemptive suffering” – that human suffering united to the suffering of Jesus on the Cross for our salvation can benefit others – has often been ignored or lost in modern times.  It is perfectly understandable that medication should be made available to give comfort and limit suffering as much as possible during the dying process, especially during a terminal illness, but it is impossible to avoid suffering altogether.  We do not seek pain for its own sake, but our suffering can have great meaning if we try to join it to the Passion of Christ and offer it for the conversion or intentions of others.  While often terrifying, the suffering and pain that we will all experience in our lives can be turned into something positive. This has been a very difficult task for me, but it is possible to achieve.
There is a card on Brittany’s website asking for signatures “to support her bravery in this very tough time.”  I agree that her time is tough, but her decision is anything but brave.  I do feel for her and understand her difficult situation, but no diagnosis warrants suicide.  A diagnosis of terminal cancer uproots one’s whole life, and the decision to pursue physician-assisted suicide seeks to grasp at an ounce of control in the midst of turmoil.  It is an understandable temptation to take this course of action, but that is all that it is – a temptation to avoid an important reality of life.  By dying on one’s “own terms,” death seems more comfortable in our culture that is sanitized and tends to avoid any mention of the suffering and death that will eventually come to us all.
Image
"May Brittany come to understand the love that we all have for her before she takes her own life, and that if she chooses instead to fight this disease, her life and witness would be an incredible example and inspiration to countless others."
Brittany comments, “I hope to pass in peace.  The reason to consider life and what’s of value is to make sure you’re not missing out, seize the day, what’s important to you, what do you care about – what matters – pursue that, forget the rest.”  Sadly, Brittany will be missing out on the most intimate moments of her life – her loved ones comforting her through her suffering, her last and most personal moments with her family, and the great mystery of death – in exchange for a quicker and more “painless” option that focuses more on herself than anyone else.  In our culture, which seeks to avoid pain at any cost, it is not difficult to understand why this response is so common among those who suffer.
I have experienced so much sadness due to my illness, but there have also been times of great joy.  The support I have received from others encourages me to keep pushing on. I want to be a priest, I want to see my three young nephews grow up, and these goals give me the hope to wake up each day and live my life with trust.
I will continue to pray for Brittany as she deals with her illness, as I know exactly what she is going through. I still get sad. I still cry. I still beg God to show me His will through all of this suffering and to allow me to be His priest if it be His will, but I know that I am not alone in my suffering.  I have my family, my friends, and the support of the entire universal Church.  I have walked in Brittany’s shoes, but I have never had to walk alone. Such is the beauty of the Church, our families, and the prayerful support that we give to one another.
May Brittany come to understand the love that we all have for her before she takes her own life, and that if she chooses instead to fight this disease, her life and witness would be an incredible example and inspiration to countless others in her situation.  She would certainly be an inspiration to me as I continue my own fight against cancer.
Philip Johnson is a seminarian with the diocese of Raleigh, on whose website this article first appeared. It is reprinted with permission.

Devoted to Holy Name of Jesus and leader of a Crusade





Image of St. John of Capistrano

Facts

Feastday: October 23
Patron of Jurists
Birth: 1386
Death: 1456

St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight in that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and practiced as a lawyer in the courts of Naples. King Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia. During a war with a neighboring town he was betrayed and imprisoned. Upon his release he entered the Franciscan community at Perugia in 1416. He and St. James of the March were fellow students under St. Bernardine of Siena, who inspired him to institute the devotion to the holy Name of Jesus and His Mother. John began his brilliant preaching apostolate with a deacon in 1420. After his ordination he traveled throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia preaching penance and establishing numerous communities of Franciscan renewal. When Mohammed II was threatening Vienna and Rome, St. John, at the age of seventy, was commissioned by Pope Callistus III to preach and lead a crusade against the invading Turks. Marching at the head of seventy thousand Christians, he gained victory in the great battle of Belgrade against the Turks in 1456. Three months later he died at Illok, Hungary. His feast day is October 23. He is the patron of jurists

3 more schools to close in Archdiocese of New Orleans

Three New Orleans-area Catholic schools to close in 2015


(Archdiocese of New Orleans)
 
Danielle Dreilinger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Danielle Dreilinger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune  
 
on October 22, 2014 






The Archdiocese of New Orleans announced Wednesday (Oct. 22) that three of its schools will close at the end of the current school year: Holy Ghost in New Orleans, St. Agnes in Jefferson and Our Lady of Grace in Reserve.
The reason given was low enrollment.
Catholic schools Superintendent Jan Daniel Lancaster said the decisions were sad and difficult, but necessary: "They were made after much prayer and out of concern for the best interests of our students."
Officials planned to meet with parents Wednesday evening. The schools will continue with full staff for the rest of the academic year.
Roman Catholic school enrollment dropped 25 percent in the greater New Orleans area from 2003 to 2013, and the archdiocese closed more than 20 of its 100-plus schools in that time.

Michael Voris issues an amazing apology; yes, I believe in miracles!

After the crazy messed up video he produced last week that accused the Pope of harming the Church, and the resulting feeding frenzy by misguided Catholics, Michael Voris really apologized today and it is incredible:




http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2014/10/well-done-michael-voris-2.html