Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A most intriguing look at New Orleans' own St. Augustine Parish

Source: ‘Infrogmation’, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Source: ‘Infrogmation’, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blogs  |  Jun. 26, 2017
The War of the Pews—the Other Battle of New Orleans
In its 175-year history, St. Augustine parish in New Orleans has survived slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, Hurricane Katrina—and the War of the Pews.
I know. If an event from American Catholic history is known as “the War of the Pews” it probably won’t be edifying. But that is a misperception. There is a happy ending to this “war.”
This year marks the 175th anniversary of the consecration of the Church of St. Augustine in New Orleans, and the squabble it set off among the congregation of the new parish. Before we get to the unseemly details, here’s a little backstory.
St. Augustine stands in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. It is named after Claude and Julie Tremé, whose plantation covered this area in the late 1700s. For reasons best known to the Tremés, at some point they began to divide up their land into a few dozens lots and put them up for sale. Among the buyers were the Ursuline nuns, who opened a small school here for free girls of color.
New Orleans was, and in many ways still is, a city unlike any other in America. In the 18th and 19th centuries there was little or no stigma attached to being of mixed race, and many of the city’s wealthiest and most distinguished families were a combination of French, Spanish, and African descent. There was even an entire class of free women of mixed race who received fine educations and were tutored in all the social graces. The goal for these young ladies was to attract the attention of a wealthy white man, become his mistress, and live in comfort as a fine gentlewoman of New Orleans. One of these women was Marie-Josephe “Pouponne” Dias, the mother of the candidate for sainthood, Venerable Henriette Delille. In fact, Marie-Joseph trained her daughter to follow in her footsteps, but Henriette defied her mother and chose the life of a nun.
Until the end of the Civil War and the final abolition of slavery in the United States, in New Orleans there were enslaved Africans and free Africans, slaves of mixed race—usually known as people of color—and free people of mixed race. And almost all of them were Catholic.
In the early 1800s, a considerable number of working class free people of color made their homes on the site of the old Tremé plantation. It is said that the community they established there is the oldest black neighborhood in America. One of Tremé’s landmarks is Congo Square, where slaves gathered after church on Sunday to socialize and dance to the rhythms of African drummers. Another Tremé landmark is the Church of St. Augustine.
For all of its racial intermixture, New Orleans was not an entirely color blind society. Sad to say, there were instances of predominantly white Catholic congregations consigning people of color—slave and free—to the pews at the rear of the church or up in the gallery where they would be out of sight. The free inhabitants of Tremé petitioned Bishop Antoine Blanc for their own parish where they would not have to endure discrimination at Mass. Bishop Blanc approved of the project. The Ursulines offered to donate a piece of property at what is now the corner of Governor Nicholls and St. Claude streets, with the understanding that the new church would be dedicated to one of their patrons, St. Augustine of Hippo. The founders of the parish agreed—after all, St. Augustine was an African.
As the church neared completion, the residents of Tremé began to purchase pews that would be reserved for themselves and their families when they came to Mass. That custom has died out in our time, but in the 19th century purchasing a pew was common among virtually all Christian denominations.
Trouble arose when some of the Tremé area’s white residents began to buy pews in the best locations in the new church, and so reduced the seats available to people of color. The contest for the prime pews flanking the center aisle of the church became fierce, but the pews in the sides aisles had not been taken. The mixed race parishioners of St. Augustine’s snapped up all of them. Then they announced that they were donating, in perpetuity, these side aisle pews to slaves who lived in the parish. Overnight, St. Augustine became the most racially integrated, racially complex Catholic congregation in the United States. For 175 years, black, white, and mixed race Catholics have knelt side-by-side in the pews and side-by-side at the communion rail.
By the way, 2017 also marks the 175th anniversary of the day Venerable Henriette Delille and her friend and coworker, Juliette Guadin, knelt before the altar of St. Augustine, pronounced the vows of poverty, chastity, and organized themselves as the Sisters of the Holy Family, dedicating their lives to the education of children and the care of the elderly, either slave or free.
Although the parish was founded by free people, many of the laborers who built the church were slaves. It is believed that an unknown number of slaves lie buried in unmarked graves in the old churchyard. To recall these unknown but not forgotten souls, in 2004 the parish erected a monument known as the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. It is a large cross, forged from the heavy links of a marine chain. Dangling from the cross are shackles. Archbishop Alfred Schulte blessed the cross, and the bronze tablet beside it that explains the significance of this monument.
Of even greater significance for St. Augustine is that in its 175-year history, this parish has survived slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, and Hurricane Katrina. Compared to these awful challenges, the War of the Pews comes off as a memorable but petty skirmish

Wednesday General Audience with Pope Francis

Pope’s General Audience: On Hope, Strength of Martyrs
‘Martyrs have the certain hope that nothing and no one can separate them from the love of God’
CTV Screenshot
This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian the Pope reflected on the theme: “Hope, Strength of the Martyrs” (Cf. Matthew 10:16-17.21-22).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
Below is a working translation of the Pope’s address:
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we reflect on Christian hope as strength of the martyrs. When, in the Gospel, Jesus sends His disciples on mission, He does not deceive them with mirages of easy success; on the contrary, He warns them clearly that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God entails always opposition. And he even uses an extreme expression: “You will be hated — hated — by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). Christians love, but they are not always loved. Jesus puts Himself immediately before this reality: in a more or less strong measure, the confession of faith happens in an atmosphere of hostility.
Christians, therefore, are “counter current” men and women. It is normal, because the world is marked by sin, which manifests itself in various forms of egoism and injustice. One who follows Christ walks in the opposite direction. Not out of a controversial spirit, but out of fidelity to the logic of the Kingdom of God, which is the logic of hope, and is translated in a style of life based on Jesus’ indications.
The first indication is poverty. When Jesus sends His own on mission, it seems He puts more care in “stripping” them than in “clothing” them! In fact, a Christian who is not humble and poor, detached from riches and power and above all detached from himself, is not like Jesus. A Christian goes on his way in this world with the essential for the way, but with his heart full of love. The true defeat for him or for her is to fall into the temptation of a vendetta or of violence, responding to evil with evil. Jesus says to us: “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16) – hence, without claws, without weapons. Rather, a Christian must be prudent, sometimes even sly: these are virtues accepted by the evangelical logic, but violence never. Evil methods cannot be shared [used] to defeat evil.
The Gospel is the sole strength of a Christian. In times of difficulty, we must believe that Jesus is before us, and does not cease to accompany His disciples. Persecution is not a contradiction of the Gospel, but part of it: if they persecuted our Master, how can we hope that we will be spared the fight? However, in the midst of the whirlwind a Christina must not lose hope, thinking that he has been abandoned. Jesus reassures His own saying: “even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). As if to say that none of man’s sufferings, not even the most minute and hidden, are invisible to God’s eyes. God sees, and He certainly protects, and He will offer His rescue. There is in fact in our midst Someone who is stronger than evil, stronger than the mafias, than dark conspiracies, than one who profits on the skin of the desperate, than one who crushes others with arrogance . . . Someone who always listens to the voice of Abel’s blood, which cries from the earth.
Therefore, Christians must always be found on the “other side” of the world, that chosen by God: not persecutors but persecuted; not arrogant but meek; not vendors of smoke but submitted to truth; not impostors but honest.
This fidelity to Jesus’ style – style of hope – to death, would be called by the first Christians with a most beautiful name: martyrdom,: which means “witness.” There were many other possibilities offered by the vocabulary: it could be called heroism, abnegation, self-sacrifice. And instead, the Christians of the first hour called it with a name that has the perfume of discipleship. Martyrs do not live for themselves, they do not fight to affirm their own ideas, and they accept having to die only out of fidelity to the Gospel. Martyrdom is not even the supreme ideal of the Christian life because above it is charity, namely love of God and of neighbor. The Apostle Paul says it very well in the hymn of charity, understood as love of God and love of neighbor. The Apostle Paul says it very well in the hymn of charity: “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Repugnant to Christians is the idea that suicide attackers can be called “martyrs”: there is nothing in their end that comes close to the attitude of children of God.
Sometimes, reading the histories of the many martyrs of yesterday and of today – that are more numerous than the martyrs of the early times –, we remain astonished in face of the fortitude with which they faced their trial. This fortitude is sign of the great hope that animated them: the certain hope that nothing and no one could separate them from the love of God given to us in Jesus Christ (Cf. Romans 8:38-39).
May God give us always the strength to be His witnesses. May He give us the strength to live Christian hope especially in the hidden martyrdom of doing well and with love our duties of every day.
Thank you.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester] In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the “Tabor Oasis” Handmaids of the Visitation and the Daughters of Divine Providence, on the occasion of their respective General Chapters, and I encourage them to promote their charism with a spirit of service and fidelity to the Church.
A special greeting goes to the participants in the Congress of the National Association of Relatives of the Clergy, and I exhort its members to cultivate friendship with priests, particularly those that are most alone, supporting their vocation and accompanying their ministry. I greet the Basilian monks of Saint Josaphat, who are observing the fourth centenary of their foundation; the pilgrims of Via Francigena; the military men of the 17th Regiment “Acqui” of Capua, as well as the faithful of Altamura and the flag wavers of Grumo Appula.
Finally, I greet young people, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Patrons of Rome. Dear young people, from the courage of martyrs, on whose blood the Church is founded, learn to witness the Gospel and the values in which you believe; dear sick, may the love of the Apostles for the Lord be your hope in the trial of pain; dear newlyweds, teach your children the passion for virtue and dedication without reservations for God and for brothers!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A power player from the patristic period

St. Irenaeus

Image of St. Irenaeus

Facts

Feastday: June 28
Death: 202


The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place among the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic Faith from the real danger of the doctrines of those heretics.
He was probably born about the year 125, in one of those maritime provinces of Asia Minor where the memory of the apostles was still cherished and where Christians were numerous. He was most influenced by St. Polycarp who had known the apostles or their immediate disciples
Many Asian priests and missionaries brought the gospel to the pagan Gauls and founded a local church. To this church of Lyon, Irenaeus came to serve as a priest under its first bishop, St. Pothinus, an oriental like himself. In the year 177, Irenaeus was sent to Rome. This mission explains how it was that he was not called upon to share in the martyrdom of St Pothinus during the terrible persecution in Lyons. When he returned to Lyons it was to occupy the vacant bishopric. By this time, the persecution was over. It was the spread of gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making among the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He produced a treatise in five books in which he sets forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of the Holy Scripture. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated to Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing a death-blow to gnosticism. At any rate, from that time onwards, it ceased to offer a serious menace to the Catholic faith.
The date of death of St. Irenaeus is not known, but it is believed to be in the year 202. The bodily remains of St. Irenaeus were buried in a crypt under the altar of what was then called the church of St. John, but was later known by the name of St. Irenaeus himself. This tomb or shrine was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562, and all trace of his relics seems to have perished

The first Pope to take the name Paul

St. Paul I, Pope


Image of St. Paul I, Pope

Facts

Feastday: June 28
Birth: 700
Death: 767


Pope from 757-767. The brother of Pope Stephen 11 and a Roman, he was educated in the Lateran Palace, became a deacon under Pope Zachary, and wielded considerable influence in his brother's administration. Elected to succeed Stephen, he took as his primary concern the threat posed to Rome and the Papal States by the Lombards. Paul secured an alliance with the Frankish king Pepin the Short, thereby cementing the relationship between the Holy See and the Frankish Empire which culminated with the historically significant alliance between Pope Leo III and Charlemagne. Paul also opposed the Iconoclast policies of the Byzantine emperor Constantine V, thereby exacerbating further the deteriorating relationship between the papacy and the Byzantine Empire. He died on June 28 at St. Paul's Outside the Walls, in Rome

Today we celebrated the Feast of Mary under the title of Perpetual Help

Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, is celebrated on June 27th by the universal Church.

The devotion to this Marian icon centers around the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, written on wood, with a background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is purported to have been written in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child with the Archangels Michael (left) and Gabriel (right) presenting Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively.

Symbolism of the Icon

the face of Our Lady appears full of sorrow, yet supremely dignified in her contemplation of the sufferings of her Son. His passion is represented by angels holding instruments of His passion, most often the cross, the lance, the sponge, and the nails.

The Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon is of this type. The angels holding the instruments of the Passion have their hands covered with a protecting veil as a sign of reverence in handling sacred objects.

The Child Jesus is shown with an adult face and a high brow, indicating His divine Mind of infinite intelligence. As God, He knew that the angelic apparition was prophetic of His future passion. Yet in His human nature as a small child, He is frightened and runs to His Mother for protection. Our Lady hastily picks Him up and clasps Him to her bosom. This action is indicated by the fact that the Lord’s right foot is nervously curled about the left ankle and in such haste that His right sandal has become loosened and hangs by a single strap. Further action is indicated by the way the Child Jesus clasps His Mother’s right hand with both of His, holding tightly to Our Lady’s thumb.

Our Lady is clothed in a dress of dark red which was long reserved in the Byzantine world for the Empress alone, indicating the Queenship of Mary.The archangels Gabriel and Michael were tunics of purple since they carry the instruments of the passion and death of Christ. The figures of the icon are identified with abbreviations of their names and Mary is designated by her chief title to glory: Mother of God.

Our Lady’s face is of unspeakable majesty and calm and yet her large eyes, partly closed, express ineffable sorrow and sympathy. Our Lady is not looking at Jesus, but rather to us, to express compassion for us in our fears and sorrows.

Sources: Catholic News Agency, Catholic Culture.org.

Pope Francis celebrates 25th anniversary as a Bishop

‘Rise Up, Look, Hope,’ Says Pope at Mass for His 25th Anniversary of Episcopal Ordination
In the Pauline Chapel, Francis Reminds That God Wants the Very Elderly to Transmit Their Dream to the Young Generations
CTV Screenshot
The theme of Pope Francis’ homily in the Mass he celebrated, in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel, with the cardinals present in Rome, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination, was to not remain seated, but to rise and go out–as Abraham, whom the Lord invited to do so when he was already elderly–and thus, transmit their dream and horizons particularly to the young generations.
The Holy Father began with the “rise” and “”go” of Abraham, who “was always on the way” and “the symbol of the tent,” specifying that he never built a house for himself, but “only an altar.”
“Look” is the second imperative: lift up your eyes, “look at the horizon, do not build walls, look always and go forth.” “It is the mysticism of the horizon that, the more one goes forward, the farther the horizon becomes.
The third imperative is “have hope”: the heir will come from you, have hope, said to a man who could not have descendants because of his age, because of his wife’s sterility. “Look at the sky and count the stars if you can, so shall be your descendants.”
The Pontiff recalled that, when he was called, he was “more or less, our age,” ready to retire and rest, instead, he “began at that age.”
An elderly man, with the weight of age, with his pains, as if he were a youth: “go,” as “if he were a scout”: “go.”
“This word is also for us, with our age, as Abraham’s, although there are some who are younger here among us.” The Lord says to us: rise, look and have hope. “He says to us that our history is open until the end.”
“Some who do not love us say we are the gerontocracy of the Church; it is a mockery, we are not the aged, we are grandfathers, and if we do not feel it, we must ask for the grace to feel it.”
The Pope assured those in the Chapel that they must give young people the sense of life with their experience. Not closed in and melancholy, but open.
“We are grandfathers called to dream and to transmit our dream to today’s youth, because they will draw from our dreams the capacity to prophesy and to carry out their tasks.
Pope Francis also recalled the capacity that Simeon and Anna had to dream. Anna went everywhere pointing out that Jesus was the awaited Messiah. Young people, said Francis, await “our experience and positive dreams.”
“I ask the Lord to give us all the grace to be grandfathers, to dream and to give this dream to our young people,” he said.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bishop, Doctor of the Church and Saint

St. Cyril of Alexandria    

 

Image of St. Cyril of Alexandria

Facts

Feastday: June 27



St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (June 27) Cyril was born at Alexandria, Egypt. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him. He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions. In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril. Emperor Theodosius II arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council's actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile. During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. His feast day is June 27th

Pope Francis final homily before summer break

‘Be Open to God’s Surprises,’ Pope Says in Last Morning Homily Before Summer Break
At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Says to Trust God’s Promises, Not Horoscopes Nor Fortune Tellers
Pope Francis delivers his homily in Santa Marta
PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO
‘The journey of a Christian starts anew every morning, trusting in the Lord and open to his many surprises.’
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, today, June 26, 2017, marking his last daily Mass until after the summer break and his Sept. 6-11 Apostolic Trip to Colombia.
Drawing inspiration from today’s readings, the Holy Father focused on when God asks a 75-year-old Abraham to leave his country, his homeland, his father’s house and go forth where to Lord directed him.
The Bible and the Gospels, the Jesuit Pope said, are full of stories and episodes in which the prophets and the disciples are called to go forth.
Don’t be “too settled, stationary, fixed,” the Pope noted, saying the lifestyle of a Christian is based on three dimensions: renouncing and going forth, trusting in G0d’s promises and receiving His blessing.
“To be a Christian always implies this dimension of stripping oneself of something,” the Pope said, noting this dimension reflects Jesus’s renunciation on the Cross. “There is always the need to ‘go forth,’ to take a first step.”
If Christians do not have the “capacity” to be “stripped and to renounce,” the Pope warned, they are not “authentic Christians.”
Abraham did not build a house, the Jesuit Pope observed, but only pitched a tent, showing “he was on a journey and trusted God.” Every morning, a Christian’s journey and trust in God’s surprises, he noted, starts anew.
At times, the Pope recognized, these surprises are good and bad, “such as illness or of a death,” but, he encouraged: “We must always be open because we know that He will take us to a safe place, to a land that has been prepared especially for us.”
“A Christian,” he noted, “does not read the horoscope to foresee the future; a Christian does not consult a fortune teller who looks into a crystal ball or reads your palm…” the Pope said.
Like Abraham, we walk toward a new land, the Pope stressed, noting Christians allow themselves to be guided by God who takes them on the path toward fulfilling His promises.
Pope Francis concluded, noting, “Deep down, Christian life is so simple!”

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The popular founder of Opus Dei

St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer 

Image of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

Facts

Feastday: June 26
Death: June 26, 1975
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II


Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902, the second of six children of Jose and Dolores Escriva. Growing up in a devout family and attending Catholic schools, he learned the basic truths of the faith and practices such as frequent confession and communion, the rosary, and almsgiving. The death of three younger sisters, and his father's bankruptcy after business reverses, taught him the meaning of suffering and brought maturity to his outgoing and cheerful temperament. In 1915, the family moved to Logrono, where his father had found new employment.

Beginning in 1918, Josemaria sensed that God was asking something of him, although he didn't know exactly what it was. He decided to become a priest, in order to be available for whatever God wanted of him. He began studying for the priesthood, first in Logrono and later in Saragossa. At his father's suggestion and with the permission of his superiors at the seminary he also began to study civil law. He was ordained a priest and began his pastoral ministry in 1925.

In 1927, Fr. Josemaria moved to Madrid to study for a graduate degree in law. He was accompanied by his mother, sister, and brother, as his father had died in 1924 and he was now head of the family. They were not well-off, and he had to tutor law students to support them. At the same time he carried out a demanding pastoral work, especially among the poor and sick in Madrid, and with young children. He also undertook an apostolate with manual workers, professional people and university students who, by coming into contact with the poor and sick to whom Fr. Josemaria was ministering, learned the practical meaning of charity and their Christian responsibility to help out in the betterment of society.

On October 2, 1928, while making a retreat in Madrid, God showed him his specific mission: he was to found Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church dedicated to helping people in all walks of life to follow Christ, to seek holiness in their daily life and grow in love for God and their fellow men and women. From that moment on, he dedicated all his strength to fulfilling this mission, certain that God had raised up Opus Dei to serve the Church. In 1930, responding to a new illumination from God, he started Opus Dei's apostolic work with women, making clear that they had the same responsibility as men to serve society and the Church.

The first edition of The Way, his most widely read work, was published in 1934 under the title Spiritual Considerations. Expanded and revised, it has gone through many editions since then; more than four million copies in many different languages are now in print. His other spiritual writings include Holy Rosary; The Way of the Cross; two collections of homilies, Christ Is Passing By and Friends of God; and Furrow and The Forge, which like The Way are made up of short points for prayer and reflection.

The development of Opus Dei began among the young people with whom Fr. Josemaria had already been in contact before 1928. Its growth, however, was seriously impeded by the religious persecution inflicted on the Catholic Church during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The founder himself suffered severe hardships under this persecution but, unlike many other priests, he came out of the war alive. After the war, he traveled throughout the country giving retreats to hundreds of priests at the request of their bishops. Meanwhile Opus Dei spread from Madrid to several other Spanish cities, and as soon as World War II ended in 1945, began starting in other countries. This growth was not without pain; though the Work always had the approval of the local bishops, its then-unfamiliar message of sanctity in the world met with some misunderstandings and suspicions-which the founder bore with great patience and charity.

While celebrating Mass in 1943, Fr. Josemaria received a new foundational grace to establish the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which made it possible for some of Opus Dei's lay faithful to be ordained as priests. The full incorporation of both lay faithful and priests in Opus Dei, which makes a seamless cooperation in the apostolic work possible, is an essential feature of the foundational charism of Opus Dei, affirmed by the Church in granting Opus Dei the canonical status of a personal Prelature. In addition, the Priestly Society conducts activities, in full harmony with the bishops of the local churches, for the spiritual development of diocesan priests and seminarians. Diocesan priests can also be part of the Priestly Society, while at the same time remaining clergy of their own dioceses.

Aware that God meant Opus Dei to be part of the mission of the universal Church, the founder moved to Rome in 1946 so as to be close to the Holy See. By 1950 the Work had received pontifical approvals affirming its main foundational features-spreading the message of holiness in daily life; service to the Pope, the universal church, and the particular churches; secularity and naturalness; fostering personal freedom and responsibility, and a pluralism consistent with Catholic moral, political, and social teachings.

Beginning in 1948, full membership in Opus Dei was open to married people. In 1950 the Holy See approved the idea of accepting non-Catholics and even non-Christians as cooperators-persons who assist Opus Dei in its projects and programs without being members. The next decade saw the launching of a wide range of undertakings: professional schools, agricultural training centers, universities, primary and secondary schools, hospitals and clinics, and other initiatives, open to people of all races, religions, and social backgrounds but of manifestly Christian inspiration.

During Vatican Council II (1962-1965), Monsignor Escriva worked closely with many of the council fathers, discussing key Council themes such as the universal call to holiness and the importance of laypersons in the mission of the Church. Deeply grateful for the Council's teachings, he did everything possible to implement them in the formative activities offered by Opus Dei throughout the world.

Between 1970 and 1975 the founder undertook catechetical trips throughout Europe and Latin America, speaking with many people, at times in large gatherings, about love of God, the sacraments, Christian dedication, and the need to sanctify work and family life. By the time of the founder's death, Opus Dei had spread to thirty nations on six continents. It now (2002) has more than 84,000 members in sixty countries.

Monsignor Escriva's death in Rome came suddenly on June 26, 1975, when he was 73. Large numbers of bishops and ordinary faithful petitioned the Vatican to begin the process for his beatification and canonization. On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed before a huge crowd in St. Peter's Square. He is to be canonized-formally declared a saint-on October 6, 2002

A very busy weekend

A busy weekend for the Deacon especially since I was free of any extra work responsibilities for a change!  On Saturday afternoon I was privileged to baptize a 6 month old baby boy, Finn Joseph.  This was a private family baptism.  The family is well known to me so I was happy to be able to do the baptism.

I took off Saturday evening so I could be prepared for a very active Sunday.  With a brother deacon out of town and another currently out sick, I knew it would be a hectic day!  I was assigned the 8, 10 and 6 pm masses.  Now that makes for a pretty busy Sunday but today was also our farewell celebration for Fr. Kevin Delerno.  For 4 years he has been our parochial vicar(we used to call them associate pastors?) and now he moves on to a new parish closer to New Orleans. After our 10 am mass we had a grand celebration; one of our always incredible parish pot luck dinner.  It was great and the celebration was well attended.

After getting home around 1pm I tried to get some rest before returning tonight for Benediction before our well attended last chance mass.  Arriving home around 7:45 this evening I could relax before getting ready for my Monday!

I really want to mention again our best wishes, along with our prayers, for Fr. Kevin.  We will miss him but, as is often the case this time of year, we will soon be welcoming our new parochial vicar. 

So I'm glad it was a nice, busy weekend primarily focused on ministry.

Have a great, blessed week ahead!

The beatification of this Catholic martyr of Lithuania

Thousands attend Beautification of Lithuania's Catholic martyr Matulionis


Bishops attend the beatification ceremony of Teofilius Matulionis in Cathedral Square. Vilnius, Lithuania, 25 June 2017. - EPA
Bishops attend the beatification ceremony of Teofilius Matulionis in Cathedral Square. Vilnius, Lithuania, 25 June 2017. - EPA

25/06/2017 18:59

(Vatican Radio) Thousands of people have gathered in Lithuania's capital Vilnius to attend the official beautification ceremony of Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, whom - as Stefan Bos reports - became a symbol of persecution endured by Christians when the country was still part of the Soviet Union.

They gathered while Pope Francis called to pay respects to Matulionis and the Lithuanian people as the late church leader became the first Catholic martyr from Lithuania's communist era to be declared blessed.
In front of the neo-classical Vilnius Cathedral in the capital, many sang and prayed as they remembered the suffering of a man who spent many years in prisons and labor camps because of his public dedication to Christ and the Church when Lithuania and effectively ruled by atheist leaders in Moscow.
Teofilius Matulionis was eventually executed in 1962 after 16 years in detention.
He was raised to archbishop by Pope John XXIII in 1962. But the archbishop was refused Soviet permission to attend the Second Vatican Council. Soon after, on August 20, 1962, he died from a lethal injection, which was apparently administered by a police nurse of the secret service KGB, following a brutal beating in his apartment.
SAINTHOOD CAUSE
The sainthood cause launched in 1990 after Lithuania’s independence from Soviet rule. A papal decree on his martyrdom in December 2016 opened the door to his beautification which, seen by those involved in the procedure as a crucial step to sainthood.    
In a recent pastoral message, the Lithuanian bishops’ conference said Matulionis had “lived the Easter message” referring to his strong faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and salvation for everyone who believes in Him.
The bishops noted that the late Matulionis had in their words consistently shown “peace, confidence, and goodness,” even to his persecutors.
Sunday's beatification was also the highlight of the Ninth National Day of Lithuanian youths in Vilnius of which Matulionis has been declared the Patron Saint. Thousands of young believers gathered around this year's theme taken from the Biblical Gospel of John: “truth will set you free”.
The last Lithuanian to be beatified was Bishop Jerzy Matulewicz-Matulaitis, who lived from 1871 to 1927 and was the founder of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception order. He was declared blessed in Rome by then Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Lithuania's Catholic Church seeks the beatification of Bishop Vincentas Borisevicius, who was shot and killed in 1946 for alleged links with underground fighters, and Archbishop Mecislovas Reinys. He died in a Russian prison in 1953.

Today's Angelus Address on being a disciple

Angelus Address: On the Life of the Missionary Disciple
“The Disciple Is Called to Conform Himself to Christ’s Own Life, Who Was Persecuted by Men, Knew Rejection, Abandonment and Death on the Cross”
Angelus / Foto: Francesco Sforza - © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO
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!
In today’s Gospel (Cf. Matthew 10:26-33), the Lord Jesus, after calling and sending His disciples on mission, He instructed and prepared them to face the trials and persecutions they would encounter. To go on mission is not to engage in tourism, and Jesus admonishes His disciples: “You will encounter persecutions.” Thus He exhorts them: “Have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed [. . .] What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light [. . .] And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (vv. 26-28). They can only kill the body, but they do not have power to kill the soul: have no fear of them. Jesus’ sending the disciples on mission does not guarantee them success, as it does not shelter them from failures and sufferings. They must take into account be it the possibility of rejection be it that of persecution. This is somewhat frightening, but it is the truth.
The disciple is called to conform himself to Christ’s own life, who was persecuted by men, knew rejection, abandonment and death on the cross. Christian mission dominated by tranquillity does to exist. Difficulties and tribulations are part of the work of evangelization, and we are called to find in them the occasion to verify the authenticity of our faith and of our relationship with Jesus. We must regard these difficulties as the possibility to be even more missionaries and to grow in that trust of God, our Father, who does not abandon His children in the hour of the storm. In the difficulties of Christian witness in the world, we are never forgotten, but always helped by the Father’s loving concern. Therefore, in today’s Gospel, for a good three times Jesus reassures the disciples saying: “Have no fear!”
In our days also, brothers and sisters, persecution against Christians is present. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and we praise God because, despite this, they continue to witness their faith with courage and fidelity. May their example help us to not hesitate in taking a position in favor of Christ, witnessing Him courageously in everyday situations, even in apparently tranquil contexts. In fact, a form of test could also be the absence of hostilities and tribulations. In addition to being “sheep in the midst of wolves,” in our time also the Lord sends us as watchmen in the midst of people who do not want to be awakened from worldly torpor, who ignore the words of Truth of the Gospel, constructing their own ephemeral truths. And if we move and live in these contexts and say the Words of the Gospel, this annoys and we will not be looked at well.
However, in all of this the Lord continues to say to us, as He said to the disciples of His time: “Have no fear!” Let us not forget this word: When we have some tribulation, some persecution, something that makes us suffer, we must always listen to Jesus’ voice in our heart: “Have no fear! Have no fear; go on! I am with you!”  Have no fear of one who derides you and mistreats you; and have no fear of one who ignores or honors you “before” others but “behind” you combats the Gospel. There are so many that smile before us but behind us they combat the Gospel. We all know them. Jesus does not leave us alone: each one is precious for Jesus, and He accompanies us.
May the Virgin Mary, model of humble and courageous adherence to the Word of God, help us to understand that, in witnessing the faith, successes do not count but fidelity, fidelity to Christ, recognizing in any circumstances, even the most problematic, the inestimable gift of being His missionary disciples.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
*
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I express my closeness to the population of the Chinese village of Xinmo, affected yesterday morning by a landslide caused by heavy rains. I pray for the deceased and the wounded and for all those that lost their home. May God comfort the families and support the rescuers. I am very close to them!
Proclaimed Blessed today at Vilnius (Lithuania) was Bishop Theophilus Matulionis, killed out of hatred for the faith in 1962, when he was already almost 90 years old. We praise God for the witness of this strenuous defender of the Church and of man’s dignity. We greet him with applause and all the Lithuanian people!
My greeting goes to you all, Romans and pilgrims! In particular, I greet the Archbishop Major, the Bishops, the priests and the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, as well as the pilgrims of Byelorussia, who are observing the 159th anniversary of the Canonization of Saint Josaphat. I unite myself spiritually to the Divine Liturgy that you will celebrate shortly in St. Peter’s Basilica, invoking the Lord for each one the courage of Christian witness and the gift of peace for the beloved Ukrainian land.
I greet the Ministers of Komorow (Poland) and the other Polish faithful, with a thought also for the pilgrims to the Shrine of the Mother of God of Gietrzwald. I greet the Chilean faithful of Santiago de Chile, Rancagua and Copiapo, as well as those of Montpellier and Corsica. I greet the Confirmation candidates of Tombolo and the pilgrimage of the Order of Minims of Saint Francis of Paula.
I wish you all a good Sunday and, please, do no forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and good-bye!

New Permanent Deacons in Baton Rouge; 2 to serve in prsion ministry

Seven Deacons Ordained

Posted June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

By Richard Meek
The Catholic Commentator
Bishop Robert W. Muench and a large crowd at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge welcomed seven new permanent deacons during the Rite of Ordination of Deacons on June 10.
page 1 deacon photo edit2.tif Bishop Robert W. Muench, center, ordained seven permanent deacons during The Rite of Ordination Deacons at St. Joseph Cathedral on June 10. Pictured, from left, are Deacon Minos Ponville, Deacon Steve Brunet, Deacon Kirk Duplantis, Deacon Gary Mooney, Deacon Tim Messenger, Deacon George Hooper and Deacon William Corbett. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator

Bishop Muench ordained Deacon Stephen Brunet, Deacon William Corbett, Deacon Kirk Duplantis, Deacon George Hooper, Deacon Tim Messenger, Deacon Gary Mooney and Deacon Minos Ponville Jr.
In his homily, Bishop Muench said the morning was one of a “spirit of joy, excitement and enthusiasm.”
“All deacons are marked with an irremovable imprint, configuring them to Christ, the servant,” the bishop said. “You, our deacons, and the diaconal community, who exercise your ministry with diligent commitment, are the source of much admiration and inspiration.”
During his homily Bishop Muench revealed how in the past 70 years the church has been significant developments in the dioaconate. He said in 1947 Pope Pius XII declared the laying on of hands and prayer constituted the matter and form for the ordination of deacons, priests and bishops.
During Vatican II the case for permanent deacons was approved and in 1964 the final version was ratified.
Since 1976, Bishop Muench said the diocese has ordained or incardinated 83 deacons, and after the ordination there will be 60 permanent deacons in pastoral assignments.
“Can we not perceive the Holy Spirit’s continued dynamic action in the church?” he said.
Deacon Corbett and Deacon Messenger will serve as deacon assistants at St. Margaret Queen of Scotland Church in Albany; Deacon Brunet will serve as deacon assistant at St. George Church in Baton Rouge; Deacon Duplantis will serve as deacon assistant at St. Gabriel Church in St. Gabriel; Deacon Hooper will serve as deacon at Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs; Deacon Mooney at St. Joseph Cathedral; and Deacon Ponville at Holy Family Church in Port Allen. 
Deacon Messenger will also serve as chaplain at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel. 
Deacon Mooney will also serve as chaplain at Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

This monastery founder is Sunday Saint of the Day

St. William of Vercelli

     
 
Image of St. William of Vercelli

Facts

Feastday: June 25
Patron of Irpinia
Birth: 1085
Death: 1142


William of Vercelli, Saint 1085-1142. founder, born in Vercelli Italy he was brought up as an orphan became a hermit on Monte Vergine, Italy after a pilgrimage to Compostella and attracted so many followers that a monastery was buillt. By 1119 his followers were united in the Benedictine congregation, the Hermits of Monte Vergine (Williamites) which he headed. The austerity of his rule led to dissension among his monks to restore peace he left and was taken under the protection of Roger I of Naples who built a monastery for him in Salerno. He founded monasteries through out Naples, and died at the Guglielmo monastery near Nusco Italy. He is also called William of Monte Vergine. Feast day June

A great inside look at our new Priests

Typical new US priest: 34-year-old who prays Rosary, takes part in Eucharistic adoration

June 09, 2017
The typical member of the priestly ordination class of 2017 is a 34-year-old cradle Catholic, according to a recently released survey of 444 of the 590 men slated to be ordained to the priesthood in the United States this year. The survey was conducted for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
The typical ordinand also prayed the Rosary and regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration before entering seminary, according to the survey.
77% of the men were preparing for the diocesan priesthood, with the largest ordination classes in Paterson, NJ (13 men), St. Paul and Minneapolis (11), and Wichita (10). Among religious ordinations, the Jesuits (27 men), Dominicans (12), and Capuchin Franciscans (8) have the largest ordination classes.
25% of the ordinands are foreign born, with the most typical foreign countries of birth being Mexico (4%), Vietnam (3%), the Philippines (2%), and Colombia (2%). On average, these foreign-born seminarians have lived in the United States for 12 years and arrived in the US at age 25.
A disproportionately high percentage of ordinands attended a Catholic elementary school (50%), Catholic high school (41%), or Catholic college (40%).
In addition, a disproportionately high percentage were home schooled: 8% were home schooled, typically for eight years, at a time when less than 2% of US children were educated at home. If one assumes that all of the homeschooled seminarians came from the United States, then 11% of US-born ordinands were home schooled.
Among the survey’s findings:
  • the typical diocesan ordinand lived in his diocese for 16 years before entering seminary
  • 70% of ordinands are white, 14% are Latino, 10% are Asian, and 4% are black
  • 7% are converts, with the average age of reception into the Church being 21
  • 35% have a relative who was a priest or religious
  • in 80% of cases, both parents were Catholic
  • 5% have served in the US Armed Forces; 12% had a parent with a military career
  • 69% prayed the Rosary, and 77% regularly participated in Eucharistic adoration, before entering the seminary
  • ordinands typically first began to consider the priesthood at 16
  • 70% were encouraged by a parish priest to consider a vocation; 45% were encouraged by a friend, 44% by a parishioner, 40% by their mother, and 32% by their father. The average ordinand received encouragement from four people.
  • 7% were discouraged by a priest from considering a vocation; 11% were discouraged by their fathers, 13% by their mothers, and 23% by other family members
  • ordinands, on average, have three siblings, with only 4% being only children
  • 42% are the oldest children in their families; 23% are the youngest
  • 43% had earned their undergraduate degree before entering seminary, and 16% had earned a graduate degree
  • 57% worked full time before entering seminary
  • 48% took part in a parish youth group, 31% took part in Boy Scouts, and 23% took part in the Knights of Columbus or Knights of St. Peter Claver
  • 15% took part in a World Youth Day, and 13% took part in a Franciscan University of Steubenville summer conference
  • 75% had served as altar servers, 52% as readers, and 43% as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion before entering seminary

A beautiful prayer for a widow or widower

A Widow(er)’s Prayer

JOSE OTO / BSIP
   

Give me the strength to say, thy will be done.

June 23 is the UN International Widows’ Day.
As in Jesus’ time, widows today in many parts of the world still face grave economic and social challenges. Joining in this day of recognition of those challenges, we offer to widows, widowers and all those who mourn with them this prayer:


Father you have taken my husband/wife home to you.
We were created by you in order to return to you, and for a portion of this journey, we were side-by-side.
We shared joys and sorrows, happiness and difficulty.
It was beautiful, though not always easy. I thank you for all of it.
Now, my spouse has gone and I am left alone. Give him/her eternal joy, and give me the strength to say, thy will be done.
And allow us to one day find each other again in our eternal homeland.
Mary, solace of the afflicted, pray for us.  Amen.





“Widowhood, accepted bravely as a continuation of the marriage vocation, should be esteemed by all” (The Vatican II document Gaudium et spes, 48)

Translated and adapted from Church Forum, through Aleteia Spanish