Tuesday, January 31, 2017

She too is a patron Saint of Ireland

Image of St. Brigid of Ireland


Feastday: February 1
Patron of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies
Birth: 451
Death: 525

Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.
There is much debate over her birthparents, but it is widely believed her mother was Brocca, a Christian baptized by Saint Patrick, and her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. Brocca was a slave, therefore Brigid was born into slavery.
When Dubthach's wife discovered Brocca was pregnant, she was sold to a Druid landowner. It is not clear if Brocca was unable to produce milk or was not present to care for Brigid, but legend states Brigid vomited any food the druid attempted to feed her, as he was impure, so a white cow with red ears sustained her instead.
Many stories of Brigid's purity followed her childhood. She was unable to keep from feeding the poor and healing them.
One story says Brigid once gave her mother's entire store of butter, that was later replenished after Brigid prayed.
When she was about ten-years-old, Brigid was returned to her father's home, as he was her legal master. Her charity did not end when she left her mother, and she donated his possessions to anyone who asked.
Eventually, Dubthach became tired of her charitably nature and took her to the king of Leinster, with the intention of selling her. As he spoke to the king, Brigid gave his jeweled sword to a beggar so he could barter it for food for his family. When the king, who was a Christian, saw this, he recognized her heart and convinced Dubthach to grant her freedom by saying, "Her merit before God is greater than ours."
After being freed, Brigid returned to the Druid and her mother, who was in charge of the Druid's dairy. Brigid took over and often gave away milk, but the dairy prospered despite the charitable practice, and the Druid eventually freed Brocca.
Brigid then returned to Dubthach, who had arranged for her to marry a bard. She refused and made a vow to always be chaste.
Legend has it Brigid prayed that her beauty be taken so no one would want to marry her, and the prayer was granted. It was not until after she made her final vows that her beauty was restored.
Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he accidentally used the form for ordaining priests. When the error was brought to his attention, he simply replied, "So be it, my son, she is destined for great things."
Little is known about Saint Brigid's life after she entered the Church, but in 40 she founded a monastery in Kildare, called the Church of the Oak. It was built above a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, which was beneath a large oak tree.
Brigid and seven friends organized communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland and she founded two monastic institutions, one for men and one for women. Brigid invited a hermit called Conleth to help her in Kildare as a spiritual pastor.
Her biographer reported that Brigid chose Saint Conleth "to govern the church along with herself."
She later founded a school of art that included metalwork and illumination, which Conleth led as well. It was at this school that the Book of Kildare, which the Gerald of Wales praised as "the work of angelic, and not human skill," was beautifully illuminated, but was lost three centuries ago.
There is evidence that Brigid was a good friend of Saint Patrick's and that the Trias Thaumaturga claimed, "Between St. Patrick and Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works."
Saint Brigid helped many people in her lifetime, but on February 1 525, she passed away of natural causes. Her body was initially kept to the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, with a tomb "adorned with gems and precious stones and crowns of gold and silver," but in 878, during the Scandinavian raids, her relics were moved to the tomb of Patrick and Columba.
In 1185, John de Courcy had her remains relocated in Down Cathedral. Today, Saint Brigid's skull can be found in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Lumiar, Portugal. The tomb in which it is kept bears the inscription, "Here in these three tombs lie the three Irish knights who brought the head of St. Brigid, Virgin, a native of Ireland, whose relic is preserved in this chapel. In memory of which, the officials of the Altar of the same Saint caused this to be done in January AD 1283."
A portion of the skull was relocated to St. Bridget's Church and another was sent to the Bishop of Lisbon in St. Brigid's church in Killester.
Saint Brigid's likeness is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crozier, or a lamp.

Tuesday Morning Papal Homily

Pope’s Morning Homily: Jesus’ Gaze Is on Us Constantly
At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Points Out Jesus Was Always Surrounded by People, But Not Interested in Being Popular
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Santa Marta
If we keep our eyes constantly fixed on Jesus, we will discover with surprise that it is He Who looks lovingly upon each of us.
According to Vatican Radio, this message was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, as he recalled the Gospel of Mark which narrates two miracles.
First, Jesus heals a woman suffering from hemorrhaging for 12 years who, though pressed by the crowd, was able to touch his cloak. And he realizes that he was touched. Second, he raises the twelve year-old daughter of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He understands that the girl is hungry and tells her parents to give her something to eat.
Always Among People, Not to be Popular
“He didn’t walk around with guards to protect him, so that the people could not touch him. No, no! He stayed there and people surrounded him. And there were more people around every time Jesus went out.”
“Statisticians might have been inclined to publish: ‘Rabbi Jesus’ popularity is falling,’ Francis observed, adding “But He sought something else: He sought people. And the people sought Him. The people had their gaze fixed on Him and he had his fixed on them. ‘Yes, yes, on the people, on the multitude’ – ‘No, on each individual!’
This, Francis noted, is the peculiarity of Jesus’ gaze, namely that He does not “standardize” people, he looks at each person.”
“The gaze of Jesus falls on both the big and the small,” Francis said, explaining, “That’s how Jesus sees us all. He sees all things, but looks at each of us. He sees our big problems, our greatest joys, and also looks at the little things about us. Because he is close.”
While saying Jesus is not afraid of the big things, Francis underscored that He still takes account of the small ones. “That’s how Jesus looks at us.”
If we persevere, with our eyes fixed on Jesus,” Pope Francis said, “we will be completely astonished.”
His Gaze Is on Us, So Don’t Be Afraid
“I go forward, looking at Jesus. I walk ahead, keeping my gaze fixed on Jesus, and what do I find? That he has his gaze fixed on me! And that makes me feel this great astonishment. This is the astonishment of the encounter with Jesus.”
“But let us not be afraid!” he encouraged. “We are not afraid, just as that woman was not afraid to touch Jesus’ mantle. Let us not be afraid!”
Pope Francis concluded, saying, “Let us run down this road with our gaze ever fixed on Jesus. And we will have a beautiful surprise: He will fill us with awe.”
“Jesus himself has his gaze fixed on me,” he said.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Founder of the Salesians; champion in education, care of boys in trouble

St. John Bosco

Image of St. John Bosco


Feastday: January 31
Patron of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents
Birth: August 16, 1815
Death: January 31, 1888
Beatified By: June 2, 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized By: April 1, 1934 by Pope Pius XI

John Bosco, also known as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco and Don Bosco, was born in Becchi, Italy, on August 16, 1815. His birth came just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars which ravaged the area. Compounding the problems on his birthday, there was also a drought and a famine at the time of his birth.
At the age of two, John lost his father, leaving him and his two older brothers to be raised by his mother, Margherita. His "Mama Margherita Occhiena" would herself be declared venerable by the Church in 2006.
Raised primarily by his mother, John attended church and became very devout. When he was not in church, he helped his family grow food and raise sheep. They were very poor, but despite their poverty his mother also found enough to share with the homeless who sometimes came to the door seeking food, shelter or clothing.
When John was nine years old, he had the first of several vivid dreams that would influence his life. In his dream, he encountered a multitude of boys who swore as they played. Among these boys, he encountered a great, majestic man and woman. The man told him that in meekness and charity, he would "conquer these your friends." Then a lady, also majestic said, "Be strong, humble and robust. When the time comes, you will understand everything." This dream influenced John the rest of his life.
Not long afterwards, John witnessed a traveling troupe of circus performers. He was enthralled by their magic tricks and acrobatics. He realized if he learned their tricks, he could use them to attract others and hold their attention. He studied their tricks and learned how to perform some himself.
One Sunday evening, John staged a show for the kids he played with and was heartily applauded. At the end of the show, he recited the homily he heard earlier in the day. He ended by inviting his neighbors to pray with him. His shows and games were repeated and during this time, John discerned the call to become a priest.
To be a priest, John required an education, something he lacked because of poverty. However, he found a priest willing to provide him with some teaching and a few books. John's older brother became angry at this apparent disloyalty, and he reportedly whipped John saying he's "a farmer like us!"
John was undeterred, and as soon as he could he left home to look for work as a hired farm laborer. He was only 12 when he departed, a decision hastened by his brother's hostility.
John had difficulty finding work, but managed to find a job at a vineyard. He labored for two more years before he met Jospeh Cafasso, a priest who was willing to help him. Cafasso himself would later be recognized as a saint for his work, particularly ministering to prisoners and the condemned.
In 1835, John entered the seminary and following six years of study and preparation, he was ordained a priest in 1841.
His first assignment was to the city of Turin. The city was in the throes of industrialization so it had slums and widespread poverty. It was into these poor neighborhoods that John, now known as Fr. Bosco, went to work with the children of the poor.
While visiting the prisons, Fr. Bosco noticed a large number of boys, between the ages of 12 and 18, inside. The conditions were deplorable, and he felt moved to do more to help other boys from ending up there.
He went into the streets and started to meet young men and boys where they worked and played. He used his talents as a performer, doing tricks to capture attention, then sharing with the children his message for the day.
When he was not preaching, Fr. Bosco worked tirelessly seeking work for boys who needed it, and searching for lodgings for others. His mother began to help him, and she became known as "Mamma Margherita." By the 1860s, Fr. Bosco and his mother were responsible for lodging 800 boys.
Fr. Bosco also negotiated new rights for boys who were employed as apprentices. A common problem was the abuse of apprentices, with their employers using them to perform manual labor and menial work unrelated to their apprenticeship. Fr. Bosco negotiated contracts which forbade such abuse, a sweeping reform for that time. The boys he hired out were also given feast days off and could no longer be beaten.
Fr. Bosco also identified boys he thought would make good priests and encouraged them to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Then, he helped to prepare those who responded favorably in their path to ordination.
Fr. Bosco was not without some controversy. Some parish priests accused him of stealing boys from their parishes. The Chief of Police of Turin was opposed to his catechizing of boys in the streets, which he claimed was political subversion.
In 1859, Fr. Bosco established the Society of St. Francis de Sales. He organized 15 seminarians and one teenage boy into the group. Their purpose was to carry on his charitable work, helping boys with their faith formation and to stay out of trouble. The organization still exists today and continues to help people, especially children around the world.
In the years that followed, Fr. Bosco expanded his mission, which had, and still has, much work to do.
Fr. Bosco died on January 31, 1888. The call for his canonization was immediate. Pope Pius XI knew Fr. Bosco personally and agreed, declaring him blessed in 1929. St. John Bosco was canonized on Easter Sunday, 1934 and he was given the title, "Father and Teacher of Youth."
In 2002, Pope John Paul II was petitioned to declare St. John Bosco the Patron of Stage Magicians. St. Bosco had pioneered the art of what is today called "Gospel Magic," using magic and other feats to attract attention and engage the youth.
Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. His feast day is on January 31.

Attack caught on video of Newark Bishop

Video shows man punching Newark bishop during Mass

Thomas Moriarty | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com By Thomas Moriarty | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The Star-Ledger 

on January 30, 2017 
NEWARK -- Prosecutors on Monday moved for pre-trial detention of a man allegedly caught on camera punching an auxiliary bishop in the mouth Saturday during a Mass at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, court records show.
CharlesEMiller.jpgCharles E. Miller. (Essex County Correctional Facility)  
Charles E. Miller, 48, is charged with aggravated assault in connection with the attack on the Rev. Manuel A. Cruz, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.
Video of Saturday's attack, obtained by TapIntoNewark and published Sunday, allegedly depicts Miller, followed closely by a security guard, approaching the front of the church and striking Cruz, who falls backwards.
The motion to keep Miller detained is a result of the recently enacted state Bail Reform and Speed Trial Act, under which a judge can order a defendant held without bail if they believe the defendant poses a risk to the community or is unlikely to keep his next court date.
Court records show Miller previously was charged in December 2012 with threatening a law enforcement officer while resisting arrest, an indictable offense that was later downgraded to a disorderly persons offense.
The circumstances of Miller's 2012 arrest were not immediately available Monday.
Miller remains in the Essex County Correctional Facility Monday afternoon. A date and time for his detention hearing had not yet been set, according to court records.
Cruz, who was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-serious injuries, addressed a congregation Sunday to assure them of his fair health, according to a spokesperson for the archdiocese.
Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find NJ.com on Facebook

Archbishop Aymond weighs in on Immigration Executive Order

"Welcome The Stranger" - Archbishop Aymond

Communications • Mon, Jan 30 2017

"Welcome The Stranger" - Archbishop Aymond
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Both the Old and New Testaments tell compelling stories of refugees forced to flee because of oppression. Jesus himself gave us the instruction, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35).
Catholic Social Teaching states that people have the right to move to provide for a better life for themselves and their families. We have never advocated to open our borders indiscriminately, but are called to live out this teaching with open hearts and to accompany those who are lawfully seeking a new life in a new land without discriminating by race, creed or religion. We strongly support protection of religious minorities, including Christians. We recognize that people of many faiths and nationalities are also persecuted and need protection. We support protection for all vulnerable refugees, regardless of nationality or religion.
The recent Executive Orders regarding immigration and refugee resettlement do not support our Catholic principles. While we must provide for the security of our communities and our nation, we must regulate our borders in a way that is just and merciful and supports the dignity of the human person and families. We must reach out with compassion to those who have lost loved ones and who are victims of persecution and violence.
We believe the immigration system in this country is broken, and that it has been broken for many years. These Executive Orders do nothing to address the critical issues affecting so many around the world seeking a new life. My plea to our government leaders is that we take up this very real issue.
I ask all people of good will to pray and reflect on this, remembering that Jesus himself was once a refugee, and that our call to reach out in love to those who are vulnerable and suffering comes from our Savior. I pray that voices are heard, and that those with opposing beliefs can come together in a peaceful way to work for justice. Let us together move from attitudes of defensiveness and fear towards acceptance and compassion so that we may answer the Gospel call to, “welcome the stranger.”

A little Monday morning Papal Preaching

Pope’s Morning Homily: Nowadays Many Persecuted for a Little Crucifix
At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Says Martyrs Carry the Church Forward
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Santa Marta
There are more martyrs today than in the first ages, but we don’t hear about them because the media doesn’t consider them newsworthy. However, the martyrs and those being persecuted are the Church’s greatest strength…
According to Vatican Radio, these messages were at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, as he invited those in his chapel to remember those suffering martyrdom.
“Without memory, there is no hope,” the Pope said, basing his homily on the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews which dealt with other memories, such as that of the great works of the Lord, accomplished by Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, and those “who have done great things in the history of Israel.”
Martyrs Carry Church Forward
“The martyrs are those that carry the Church forward, they are those who support the Church, who have supported her [in the past] and [who] support her today.”
“And today there are more than in the first centuries,” the Pope said, lamenting, “The media doesn’t speak of them because they’re not newsworthy, but so many Christians in the world today are blessed because [they are] persecuted, insulted, incarcerated.”
The Pope invited those present to think of our brothers and sisters who today, in numbers greater than in the first ages, are suffering martyrdom.
Can’t Even Carry a Crucifix
“There are so many imprisoned,” the Pope decried, “solely for carrying a cross or for confessing Jesus Christ!”
The greatest strength of the Church of today, Francis said, is in the “little Churches” that are persecuted.
“And we too – it’s also true and just – we are satisfied when we see a great ecclesial act, which has great success, Christians who demonstrate… and this is beautiful! Is this strength? Yes, it’s strength. But the greatest strength of the Church today is in the little Churches, tiny, with few people, persecuted, with their Bishops in prison. This is our glory today, this is our glory and our strength.”
“A Church without martyrs – I would dare to say – is a church without Jesus.”
Pope Francis concluded reminding that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians and inviting faithful to pray “for our martyrs, who suffer so much… for those Churches that are not free to express themselves: they are our hope.”
“Let us offer this Mass for our martyrs, for those who are now suffering, for the Churches that suffer, who do not have liberty,” he said.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Homily for 4th Sunday Ordinary Time

It might seem crazy what I'm about to say....because I'm happy....clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, clap along if you know what happiness is to you!  Somehow these lyrics from Pharrell Williams reminded me of the Beatitudes!
 I'm happy, how about you?  Are you happy? 

As people of faith, Jesus calls us to be happy, and he tells us how in today's Gospel.

How happy are you?  I'm not talking about the happiness we think comes from the balance in our checkbook, the car we drive, the home we own, the next vacation we will plan.  All these things do bring some happiness, but Jesus tells us in this Gospel what true happiness is.  In the beatitudes, we hear the word "blessed" but literally translated from the Hebrew and the Greek, the word is "happy".  It would be perfectly fine if we hear "happy are the poor in spirit" and "happy are the peacemakers".  The challenge, presented to us in the beatitudes, is to be happy in Christ, with Christ and to be like Christ.  And the beatitudes reveal for us an order of happiness and grace.  So to be really happy, we are called to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, to be clean of heart and to be a peacemaker.  And then Jesus adds that we will be really happy if we are persecuted and insulted for righteousness and the kingdom.  Now this happiness is true happiness because we are acknowledging our total dependence on God and it's everlasting nature in this life and the life to come in Heaven!

Let's unpack a couple of these beatitudes.  Poor in spirit has nothing to do with tangible wealth, it has everything to do with humility.  Are you and I capable of being humble in our walk with Christ and in our actions with one another?  St. Thomas tells us that there is no virtue without humility.  We are called, to be truly happy, to empty ourselves of all our stuff and make room for all things Christ.
What about being meek.  As red-blooded Americans we may reject that idea because we confuse meek with weak.  There is no weakness in being meek as Christ calls us to be meek.  Being meek calls us to control our own strength, to allow ourselves to be teachable, to allow Jesus to mold us like clay in the hands of the potter and then submit our own strengths to the Lord.

To follow these beatitudes, to allow ourselves to be really happy with Christ, requires a deeper personal relationship with Him and with His Church.  And when we do this, only then will we be happy, truly happy!

In the week ahead can I ask each of us to consider one or more of the following possibilities to "be attitude" and "be truly happy":

Plan to attend First Friday Adoration this coming Friday, and attend Benediction Friday night at 7 pm right here in this church, make a sincere confession, reconcile with someone or do something incredibly kind, sign up for our next parish Bible Study that focuses on the beauty of the Mass, pray the beatitudes at least twice this week and develop a true attitude of gratitude and be truly happy!
I'm happy, clap along because happy can't bring me down...Love is too happy to ever bring me down, clap along, because happiness is the truth!

Seperating fact from fiction; these are the 3 Principles of Immigration from the body of Catholic Social Teaching

Three Basic Principles of Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration

Although Catholic theology has always promoted human rights rooted in natural law and God's revelation, it was the encyclical Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor) in 1891 that developed a systematic presentation of principles of the rights and responsibilities of people. Rerum Novarum commented on the situation of immigrants; in later documents, popes and bishops' conferences have synthesized the Catholic theological tradition to articulate three basic principles on immigration.

First Principle: People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.

At the end of World War II, with the fall of the Nazi empire and the subsequent creation of the Soviet "Iron Curtain," Europe faced an unprecedented migration of millions of people seeking safety, food, and freedom. At that time, Pope Pius XII wrote Exsul Familia (The Emigre Family), placing the Church squarely on the side of those seeking a better life by fleeing their homes.

When there is a massive movement of people such as during a war, natural disaster, or famine, the lands that receive these displaced people may be threatened. The influx may make it impossible for the native population to live securely, as the land may not have enough resources to support both. Even in more orderly migrations, such as in the United States, citizens and residents of the land may fear that newcomers will take jobs, land, and resources, impoverishing the people already present.

Because of the belief that newcomers compete for scarce resources, immigrants and refugees are at times driven away, resented, or despised. Nevertheless, the first principle of Catholic social teaching regarding immigrants is that people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. This is based on biblical and ancient Christian teaching that the goods of the earth belong to all people. While the right to private property is defended in Catholic social teaching, individuals do not have the right to use private property without regard for the common good.

Every person has an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life—food, clothing, shelter. Moreover, every person has the right to education, medical care, religion, and the expression of one's culture. In many places people live in fear, danger, or dehumanizing poverty. Clearly, it is not God's will that some of his children live in luxury while others have nothing. In Luke's Gospel, the rich man was condemned for living well while the poor man starved at his doorstep (Lk 16:19-31).

The native does not have superior rights over the immigrant. Before God all are equal; the earth was given by God to all. When a person cannot achieve a meaningful life in his or her own land, that person has the right to move.

Second Principle: A country has the right to regulate its borders and to control immigration.

The overriding principle of all Catholic social teaching is that individuals must make economic, political, and social decisions not out of shortsighted self-interest, but with regard for the common good. That means that a moral person cannot consider only what is good for his or her own self and family, but must act with the good of all people as his or her guiding principle.

While individuals have the right to move in search of a safe and humane life, no country is bound to accept all those who wish to resettle there. By this principle the Church recognizes that most immigration is ultimately not something to celebrate. Ordinarily, people do not leave the security of their own land and culture just to seek adventure in a new place or merely to enhance their standard of living. Instead, they migrate because they are desperate and the opportunity for a safe and secure life does not exist in their own land. Immigrants and refugees endure many hardships and often long for the homes they left behind. As Americans we should cherish and celebrate the contributions of immigrants and their cultures; however, we should work to make it unnecessary for people to leave their own land.

Because there seems to be no end to poverty, war, and misery in the world, developed nations will continue to experience pressure from many peoples who desire to resettle in their lands. Catholic social teaching is realistic: While people have the right to move, no country has the duty to receive so many immigrants that its social and economic life are jeopardized.

For this reason, Catholics should not view the work of the federal government and its immigration control as negative or evil. Those who work to enforce our nation's immigration laws often do so out of a sense of loyalty to the common good and compassion for poor people seeking a better life. In an ideal world, there would be no need for immigration control. The Church recognizes that this ideal world has not yet been achieved.

Third Principle: A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.

The second principle of Catholic social teaching may seem to negate the first principle. However, principles one and two must be understood in the context of principle three. And all Catholic social teaching must be understood in light of the absolute equality of all people and the commitment to the common good.

A country's regulation of borders and control of immigration must be governed by concern for all people and by mercy and justice. A nation may not simply decide that it wants to provide for its own people and no others. A sincere commitment to the needs of all must prevail.

In our modern world where communication and travel are much easier, the burden of emergencies cannot be placed solely on nations immediately adjacent to the crises. Justice dictates that the world community contribute resources toward shelter, food, med
ical services, and basic welfare.

Even in the case of less urgent migrations, a developed nation's right to limit immigration must be based on justice, mercy, and the common good, not on self-interest. Moreover, immigration policy ought to take into account other important values such as the right of families to live together. A merciful immigration policy will not force married couples or children to live separated from their families for long periods.

Undocumented immigrants present a special concern. Often their presence is considered criminal since they arrive without legal permission. Under the harshest view, undocumented people may be regarded as undeserving of rights or services. This is not the view of Catholic social teaching. The Catholic Church teaches that every person has basic human rights and is entitled to have basic human needs met—food, shelter, clothing, education, and health care. Undocumented persons are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by employers, and they are not able to complain because of the fear of discovery and deportation. Current immigration policy that criminalizes the mere attempt to immigrate and imprisons immigrants who have committed no crime or who have already served a just sentence for a crime is immoral. In the Bible, God promises that our judgment will be based on our treatment of the most vulnerable. Before God we cannot excuse inhumane treatment of certain persons by claiming that their lack of legal status deprives them of rights given by the Creator.

Finally, immigration policy that allows people to live here and contribute to society for years but refuses to offer them the opportunity to achieve legal status does not serve the common good. The presence of millions of people living without easy access to basic human rights and necessities is a great injustice.

It is the position of the Catholic Church that pastoral, educational, medical, and social services provided by the Church are never conditioned on legal status. All persons are invited to participate in our parishes, attend our schools, and receive other services offered by our institutions and programs.

Sunday Angelus Address on the Beatitudes

Angelus Address: On the Beatitudes
“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven”
Angelus, January 29th 2017 / © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO
Present at the Angelus today, among others, were the youngsters of Catholic Action of the diocese of Rome (CAR)  who, with the “Caravan of Peace” concluded the month of January, traditionally dedicated by them to the theme of peace. At the end of the Angelus prayer, two children, a boy and a girl, invited to the Papal Apartment, read a message in the name of CAR of Rome.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
*  *  *
Before the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
This Sunday’s liturgy has us meditate on the Beatitudes (cf. Matthew 5:1-12a), which open the great address called “of the mountain,” the Magna Carta” of the New Testament. Jesus manifests God’s will to lead men to happiness. This message was already present in the preaching of the prophets: God is close to the poor and the oppressed and He delivers them from those who mistreat them. However, in this preaching Jesus follows a particular path: He begins with the term “Blessed,”  happy. He continues with the indication of the condition to be so and He concludes by making a promise. The motive for beatitude, namely for happiness, is not in the condition requested — for instance, “poor in spirit,” “mourn,” “hunger for righteousness,” “persecuted” … but in the subsequent promise, to be received with faith as gift of God. One begins from the condition of hardship to open oneself to God’s gift and enter the new world, the “Kingdom” proclaimed by Jesus. This is not an automatic mechanism, but a way of life following the Lord, so that the reality of hardship and affliction is seen in a new perspective and experienced according to the conversion undertaken. One is not blessed if one is not converted, able to appreciate and live God’s gifts.
I will pause on the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (v. 4). He is poor in spirit who has assumed the sentiments and the attitude of those poor, who do not rebel in their condition, but are able to be humble, docile, open to the grace of God. The happiness of the poor — of the poor in spirit —  has a twofold dimension: in relation to goods and in relation to God. In regard to goods, to material goods, this poverty in spirit is sobriety: not necessarily renunciation, but the capacity to enjoy the essential, to share; the capacity to renew every day the wonder of the goodness of things, without being weighed down in the opacity of voracious consumption. The more I have, the more I want; the more I have, the more I want: this is voracious consumption. And this kills the soul. And the man and woman who do this, who have this attitude “the more I have, the more I want,” are not happy and will not attain happiness. ”In relations with God, it is praise and gratitude that the world is a blessing and that at its origin is the creative love of the Father. But it is also openness to Him, docility to His lordship: He is the Lord; He is the Great One. I am not great because I have many things! He is: He who willed the world for all men and wanted it so that men would be happy.
A poor one in spirit is a Christian who does not trust in himself, in his material riches, who is not obstinate in his opinions but listens with respect and disposes himself willingly to others’ decisions. If there were more poor in spirit in our communities, there would be fewer divisions, oppositions and controversies! Humility, like charity, is an essential virtue for coexistence in Christian communities. The poor, in this evangelical sense, appear as those that keep alive the goal of the Kingdom of Heaven, making one perceive that it is anticipated in germ in a fraternal community, which prefers sharing to possession. I would like to stress this: to prefer sharing to possession. To always have an open heart and hands (he makes the gesture), not closed (he makes the gesture). When the heart is closed (he makes the gesture) it is a narrow: it does not even know how to love. When the heart is open (he makes the gesture), it goes on the way of love.
May the Virgin Mary, model and first fruit of the poor in spirit because totally docile to the Lord’s will, help us to abandon ourselves to God, rich in mercy, so that He will fill us with His gifts, especially the abundance of His forgiveness.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters, as you see, the invaders have arrived … they are here!
Celebrated today is World Leprosy Day. This sickness, though regressing, is still among the most feared and it strikes the poorest and marginalized. It is important to fight against this disease, but also against the discriminations it engenders. I encourage all those who are committed in the rescue and social reinsertion of persons stricken by Hansen’s disease, to whom we assure our prayer.
I greet you all affectionately, who have come from different parishes of Italy and of other countries, as well as the Associations and Groups. In particular, I greet the students of Murcia and Badajoz, the young people of Bilbao and the faithful of Castellon. I greet the pilgrims of Reggio Calabria, Castelliri, and the Sicilian group of the National Association of Parents. I would also like to renew my closeness to the populations of Central Italy that are still suffering the consequences of the earthquake and of difficult atmospheric conditions. May these brothers and sisters of ours not lack the constant support of institutions and common solidarity. And please, may no type of bureaucracy make them wait and suffer further!
Now I turn to you, boys and girls of Catholic Action, of the parishes and Catholic schools of Rome. Accompanied by the Cardinal Vicar, this year also you have come at the end of the “Caravan of Peace,” whose slogan is Surrounded by Peace: a beautiful slogan Thank you for your presence and for your generous commitment in building a society of peace. Now, we will all listen to the message that your friends, beside me here, will read to us.
[Reading of the message]
And now the balloons are released, symbol of peace, symbol of peace …
I wish you all a good Sunday. I wish you peace, humility, sharing in your families. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon!
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

Catholic Relief Services issues statement on immigration executive order


by Sean Callahan
CRS president & CEO

As an international humanitarian and development agency responding to the needs of vulnerable refugees every day, we know that restricting the ability of those fleeing violence to reach safety will jeopardize the lives of innocent people and call into question the very values on which our country was founded.
The United States was founded over 240 years ago as a nation of immigrants, many of them refugees fleeing religious persecution. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was founded 75 years ago to assist refugees from violence during and after World War II. We all should be proud of that shared heritage and work to further it, especially at a time when turmoil has produced over 65 million forcibly displaced persons in need of help.
People seeking refuge in the United States and elsewhere are victims -- often of the same terrorists from whom we must protect ourselves. We know the people most affected by extremists and conflict. They are people like all Americans, seeking safety and a better life for their families. In fact, in our work around the world, we depend on many of them for our own safety. They need our help - now!

Our elected officials have an obligation to protect the security of the American people, and we should all take concerns about security seriously. But, denying entry to people desperate enough to leave their homes, cross oceans in tiny boats, and abandon all their worldly possessions just to find safety will not make our nation safer. The United States is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees – especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries. CRS welcomes measures that will make our country safer, but they shouldn’t jeopardize the safety of those fleeing violence; should not add appreciable delay nor entail unjust discrimination. As Pope Francis has said: “Fear...weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others.” We have a moral obligation to ’welcome the stranger.’ Our faith compels us to do so.
As a Catholic agency founded on the social and moral teachings of the Church, we must act based on our values, and echo the Holy Father, who said, "there must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity."
This is not just a Catholic message; this is an American message. It is the message we should be sending to those in need around the world. Welcoming those in need is part of America’s DNA.
Protecting America means protecting the moral values embedded in our foundation. These values make our nation great. We must ensure that they are never eroded.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

As Catholics we may want to familiarize ourselves with the USCCB reaction to President Trump executive order on immigration

USCCB Committee on Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Executive Order Because It Harms Vulnerable Refugee and Immigrant Families


January 27, 2017
WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump issued today an Executive Order addressing the U.S. refugee admissions program and migration to the United States, generally. The executive order virtually shuts down the refugee admissions program for 120 days, reduces the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000 individuals, and indefinitely suspends the resettlement of Syrian refugees. In addition, it prioritizes religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, thereby deprioritizing all other persons fleeing persecution; calls for a temporary bar on admission to the United States from a number of countries of particular concern (all Muslim majority); and imposes a yet-to-be determined new vetting process for all persons seeking entry to the United States.
Regarding the Executive Order's halt and reduction of admissions, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration, stated:
"We strongly disagree with the Executive Order's halting refugee admissions. We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope. We will continue to engage the new administration, as we have all administrations for the duration of the current refugee program, now almost forty years. We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones."
Regarding the Executive Order's ban on Syrian refugees, the prioritization of religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, Bishop Vásquez added:
"The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion. This includes Christians, as well as Yazidis and Shia Muslims from Syria, Rohingyas from Burma, and other religious minorities. However, we need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country. They are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity. We believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do."
Moving forward after the announcement, Bishop Vásquez concluded:
"Today, more than 65 million people around the world are forcibly displaced from their homes. Given this extraordinary level of suffering, the U.S. Catholic Bishops will redouble their support for, and efforts to protect, all who flee persecution and violence, as just one part of the perennial and global work of the Church in this area of concern."

Newark Bishop Assaultedin the Sanctuary during Mass

Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Newark Assaulted During Mass in Cathedral
The Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.
A day meant to venerate a hero of Newark's Latino community ended in shock and horror when an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark was punched in the face during Mass at Newark's Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, was offering opening prayers at a Saturday afternoon service commemorating the life of baseball great Roberto Clemente, remembered by Latinos in Newark, especially those from his native Puerto Rico, for his tragic death in a plane crash en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1972.
The sanctity of the mass was shattered when a man wearing a white robe over a red suit shambled up to the altar from the crowd, reached Bishop Cruz and struck the 63-year-old in the face, knocking him backwards until he fell on the altar.

TAPintoNewark witnessed the assailant's apprehension after several Essex County's Sheriff's police officers ran onto the altar and handcuffed the man. One officer at the scene who saw Cruz after he was struck commented to another officer that several of the bishop's teeth had been loosened in the attack.
The Essex County's Sheriff's Officers at the scene soon cleared the cathedral in order to investigate the crime scene, telling TAPintoNewark that no further information was immediately available because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
However, several of the officers swarmed around a classic purple Cadillac Eldorado parked immediately in front of the cathedral. The car, which has a faux-zebra skin interior and New Jersey license plates, also has a residential parking permit for Foster Street, in Newark's South Ward, attached to the driver's rear view mirror.
"We're surprised and saddened by this, and we're very thankful that law enforcement was able to apprehend the assailant," said Jim Goodness, spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese. "Bishop Cruz is receiving excellent care."

Inside the cathedral immediately after the attack, the shock of the assault stunned the crowd. Many in the pews ducked when Cruz was first struck, not knowing what further to expect from the assailant. Others among the approximately 75 people assembled stood and screamed.
The mass was organized by Newark Councilman-at-large Luis Quintana and sponsored by the Mayor Ras Baraka and the City Council.
"We are all praying for Bishop Cruz," Quintana said. "It's hard understand what would provoke a man to attack a member of the clergy within the sanctity of a church. It just doesn't make any sense."
Quintana, visibly shaken and in tears, told the crowd that the mass honoring Clemente would be held the next day at the Sunday 12:30 pm Mass at nearby St. Lucy's Church, blocks away from the cathedral.
North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., who was attending the mass and witnessed the assault, said parishioners were terrified.
"This is truly one of the most shocking and disturbing things I have seen," Ramos said. "For a bishop to get attacked while conducting opening prayers during a mass honoring the humanitarian Roberto Clemente is horrendous."
Another woman in the crowd, clenching her hands together in prayer, called out to the assailant as he was marched away in handcuffs.
"I will pray for your dark soul, but this is evil," the woman cried out. "This can't happen here. This is a house of God." 

The Angelic Doctor; the most brilliant light of the Church

St. Thomas Aquinas

Image of St. Thomas Aquinas


Feastday: January 28
Patron of students and all universities
Birth: 1226
Death: 1274
Canonized By: Pope John XXII in 1323

Thomas is believed to have been born in the castle of Roccasecca in the old county of the Kingdom of Sicily, which is now known as the Lazio region of Italy, in 1225. His parents were well-off, but as the youngest son Thomas was expected to enter the monastery.
At 5-years-old, Thomas began his education at Monte Cassino, where he remained until the military conflict between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX reached the abbey. He was then transferred and enrolled at the studium generale in Naples.
It is believed that Thomas was introduced to his philosophical influences - Aristotle, Averroes, and Maimonides - at the university, where he also met John of St. Julian, a Dominican preacher, who influenced him to join the recently founded Dominican Order.
When Thomas' family learned of his decision, his mother Theodora arranged for him to be moved to Paris. When Thomas was travelling to Rome, his brothers captured him and returned him to their parents at the castle of Monte San Giovanni Campano.
Thomas was held captive in the castle for one year as his family tried to keep him from joining the Dominican Order. In the year he was held, Thomas tutored his sisters and communicated with members of the Dominican Order.
In an effort to change Thomas' mind, two of his brothers hired a prostitute to seduce him, but legends claim Thomas drove her off with a fire iron. That night, two angels appeared to him in a dream and strengthened his resolve to remain celibate.
When Theodora realized she could not sway her son, she tried to preserve the family name by arranging for his escape through a window. She believed a secret escape was better than appearing to accept his decision.
Following his escape in 1244, Thomas turned to Naples, then to Rome and met the Master General of the Dominical Order, Johannes von Wildeshausen.
The next year, Thomas went to study at the Faculty of the Arts at the University of Paris, where he is believed to have met Dominican scholar Albertus Mangus, the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James.
In 1248, Thomas chose to follow Mangus to the new studium generale at Cologne rather than accepting Pope Innocent IV's offer to appoint him abbot of Monte Cassino as a Dominican. Though Thomas hesitated, when they reached the university, Mangus appointed him magister studentium.
Thomas was quiet and seldom spoke at the university, leading other students to believe he was mentally delayed, but Mangus prophetically said, "You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world."
Following the conclusion of his education, Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor and instructed students on the books of the Old Testament. It was during this time he wrote Expositio super Isaiam ad litteram, Postilla super Ieremiam, and Postilla super Threnos.
In 1252, Thomas returned to Paris to earn his master's degree in theology. As an apprentice professor, he lectured on the Bible and devoted his final three years of his education to Peter Lombard's Sentences.
Thomas composed a commentary on Sentences, titled Scriptum super libros Sententiarium and also wrote De ente et essentia.
The spring of 1256 saw Thomas appointed regent master in theology at Paris, and one of his first works after assuming the office was Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem, in defense of mendicant orders, which William of Saint-Amour had been attacking.
Between 1256 to 1259, Thomas spent his tenure writing several books, such as Questiones disputatae de veritate, Quaestiones quodlibetales, Expositio super librum Boethii De trinitate, and Expositio super librum Boethii De hebdomadibus. At the conclusion of his regency, Thomas was in the process of writing one of his most famous works, Summa contra Gentiles.
In 1259, Thomas completed his first regency and returned to Naples, where he was appointed general preacher. In September 1261, he was asked to lecture in Orvieto, and during his stay he finished Summa contra Gentiles, as well as Catena aurea, and Contra errores graecorum.
In 1265, Thomas was summoned to Rome to serve as the papal theologian and was later ordered by the Dominican Chapter of Agnani to teach at the studium conventuale, which was the first school to teach the full range of philosophical subjects of both moral and natural natures.
While teaching, Thomas wrote his most famous work, Summa theologiae, which he believed was particularly useful to beginning students "because a doctor of Catholic truth ought not only to teach the progicient, but to him pertains also to instruct beginners."
He continued to write and released several more books until 1268, when he was called to Paris for a second teaching regency. He was named regent master again, and stayed until 1272. During this time, he wrote De virtutibus and De aeternitate mundi.
At the conclusion of his regency, the Dominicans called Thomas to establish a university wherever he wanted with a staff of whomever he wished. He established the university in Naples and took the regent master post. In 1273 Thomas was seen by the sacristan Domenic of Caserta to be crying and levitating in prayer before an icon of the crucified Christ at the Dominican convent of Naples, in the Chapel of Saint Nicholas.
During this prayer, Christ is said to have told him, "You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?"
Thomas replied, "Nothing but you, Lord."
Following this exchange, something happened but Thomas never wrote or spoke of it. He abandoned his routine and, when begged to return to work, replied, "I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me."
In May of 1274, Thomas was called to the Second Council of Lyon, where his works for Pope Urban IV would be presented. While journeying to the meeting, Thomas hit his head on the branch of a fallen tree and fell ill. He was escorted to Monte Cassino to recover, then he set out again.
Unfortunately, he became ill once again and stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey, where the monks cared for him for several days.
He received his last rites and prayed, "I receive Thee, ransom of my sou. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught..."
Thomas died on March 7, 1274 during a commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas' remains were placed in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse on January 28, 1369.
It is not known who beatified Thomas, but on July 18, 1323, Pope John XXII canonized him.
His original feast day was March 7, the day of his death, but because the date often falls within Lent, in 1969, a revision of the Roman Calendar changed his feast day to January 28, the date his relics were moved to Toulouse. Pope Pius V declared Saint Thomas a doctor of the church, saying Thomas was "the most brilliant light of the Church."
Saint Thomas' remains were moved to the Basilique de Sant-Sernin, Toulouse between 1789 and 1974. They were then returned to the Church of the Jacobins.
In the 16th century, the university in Paris Thomas often taught at was renamed the College of Saint Thomas, and in the 20th century it was relocated to the convent of Saints Dominic and Sixtus before being transformed into the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Saint Thomas' comments and philosophical writings are still debated today, and his aesthetic theories, such as the concept of claritas, deeply influenced the literary writings of James Joyce and Italian semiotician Umberto Eco.
Saint Thomas is often depicted with an open book or writing with a quill.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sustained by Eucharistic Adoration and Canonized by St. Pope JPII

St. Joseph Freinademetz

Image of Bl. Joseph Freinademetz


Feastday: January 28
Birth: 1852
Death: 1908
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Joseph Freinademetz was born near Abtei, Italy in the South Tyrol. When as a seminarian he heard on Good Friday the verse, "The babes cry for food, but there is no one to give it to them" (Lam 4:4), he thought of the many pagan children with no one to give them "the bread of truth," the Gospel, and longed to become a missionary. Following his ordination, he served in the Tyrolean village of Thurn. He would customarily enter the confessional with a stack of note cards, on which he had jotted down quotations from the saints and Church Fathers, with which he counseled his penitents. Father Freinademetz subsequently entered the Divine Word congregation to become a missionary. Of his departure for the Chinese missions, he would later say: "Kneeling before the tabernacle, we offered ourselves wholly to God...Then the hidden God in the tabernacle called out his parting words: 'I have chosen you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.'" He served in China for twenty-nine years, sustained by Eucharistic adoration and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He died on January 28, 1908.

New Orleans own Archbishop Aymond delivers powerful Pro-Life Homily right before the March for Life

From the national Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, our own Archbishop Aymond presided at the closing Mass for the overnight vigil right before the March for Life begins.  Here is the incredible homily, a powerful Pro-Life message:


Be Preaux Life!

NFL star and former New Orleans Saints Ben Watson stands for life at today's March for Life

NFL Player Ben Watson Tells March for Life: “We Must End the Unthinkable Practice of Abortion”

National   Micaiah Bilger   Jan 27, 2017   |      Washington, DC
Joining hundreds of thousands of people at the March for Life today is NFL star Ben Watson.
The Baltimore Ravens tight end has been using his fame not to speak for himself but to speak up for the most vulnerable lives in America – babies in the womb.
“Abortion will not end until men stand up” for women and babies in the womb, Watson challenged the crowd during the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. “We must end the unthinkable practice of abortion in the United States of America.”
While abortion activists try to silence pro-life men, Watson urged men to be an even stronger voice in the movement. A husband and father of five children, he challenged men to support and protect women’s and children’s rights and lives to the fullest extent of their abilities.
“Men, it is time we rise up [in] the pro-life movement. Men, we cannot be silent anymore,” Watson said. “As important as women have been in championing this cause, you men, us men, must rise up and lead the charge.”
“Even if it wasn’t demonstrated for you by a father, you can be different, you can change the course of generation,” he added. “Men, we can be silent no more.”

Many of his powerful remarks were posted on Twitter and other social media, including this one: “Let us remember the power of loving kindness. Being #prolife is a way of life!”

“Looking out, I see a sea of collective humanity, but looking closer I see individuals who have their own spheres of influence,” he said.
“This is the power of one. It is the power of influence, to influence people in our neighborhoods in our churches, in our workplaces on our teams,” Watson said. “It is also the power to unite as we have today as one, for a common cause to end the unthinkable practice of abortion in America.”
“To be pro-life should be all encompassing, from conception to the grave,” he said.

Watson has become a bold celebrity advocate for life.
In 2015, after the Center for Medical Progress began releasing its undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood discussing the sales of aborted babies’ body parts, Watson wasn’t shy about speaking up for unborn babies.
He posted on his Facebook wall:
As horrific as it is, the issue isn’t really the sale of human parts. It’s the legal practice that allows this to even be a possibility. Killing children and simply discarding the leftovers is not any more acceptable than profiting off of them. #PlannedParenthood
Asked if he has faced backlash for his stance, Watson told Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center, “I won’t say I’m not afraid, and I will say that I’ve received some flack for some of the things I’ve said … I decided that you know, if the spirit of God has prompted me to say something, I’m gonna trust in God and say it.”
An African American, he also has spoken out against the abortion industry’s racial targeting.
“… abortion saddens me period, but it seems to be something that is really pushed on minorities and provided to minorities especially as something that they should do,” Watson said.
He pointed to Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger and her eugenic push to exterminate people she deemed “unfit.” Today, “it’s working,” Watson said.
“We sit here and talk about advancing the black agenda, whatever that means, we talk about our interests, and what’s important to us – like having political power and advancement and all those things – and then we are turning around and we are killing our children,” Watson said. “And we are buying the lie that it’s our personal decision to make.”