reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Yep, in just 2 short hours here in southeast Louisiana it will be October! Ah October, how I've waited for you. October ushers in a string of months in these parts that brings happiness and relief from the intense summer heat and humidity. From October through early April, things are so delightful compared to those other months.
I look forward to more fall weather, fall festivals, football, the end of daylight savings time, then the holidays and the winter and everything that is part of the best part of the year.
Thank-you October for showing up, now bring along a cold front or two!
Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for own lives than in volumes by theologians.
Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called "Story of a Soul." (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.
Over the years, some modern Catholics have turned away from her because they associate her with over- sentimentalized piety and yet the message she has for us is still as compelling and simple as it was almost a century ago.
Therese was born in France in 1873, the pampered daughter of a mother who had wanted to be a saint and a father who had wanted to be monk. The two had gotten married but determined they would be celibate until a priest told them that was not how God wanted a marriage to work! They must have followed his advice very well because they had nine children. The five children who lived were all daughters who were close all their lives.
Tragedy and loss came quickly to Therese when her mother died of breast cancer when she was four and a half years old. Her sixteen year old sister Pauline became her second mother -- which made the second loss even worse when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent five years later. A few months later, Therese became so ill with a fever that people thought she was dying.
The worst part of it for Therese was all the people sitting around her bed staring at her like, she said, "a string of onions." When Therese saw her sisters praying to statue of Mary in her room, Therese also prayed. She saw Mary smile at her and suddenly she was cured. She tried to keep the grace of the cure secret but people found out and badgered her with questions about what Mary was wearing, what she looked like. When she refused to give in to their curiosity, they passed the story that she had made the whole thing up.
Without realizing it, by the time she was eleven years old she had developed the habit of mental prayer. She would find a place between her bed and the wall and in that solitude think about God, life, eternity.
When her other sisters, Marie and Leonie, left to join religious orders (the Carmelites and Poor Clares, respectively), Therese was left alone with her last sister Celine and her father. Therese tells us that she wanted to be good but that she had an odd way of going about. This spoiled little Queen of her father's wouldn't do housework. She thought if she made the beds she was doing a great favor!
Every time Therese even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn't appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.
Therese wanted to enter the Carmelite convent to join Pauline and Marie but how could she convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life, if she couldn't handle her own emotional outbursts? She had prayed that Jesus would help her but there was no sign of an answer.
On Christmas day in 1886, the fourteen-year-old hurried home from church. In France, young children left their shoes by the hearth at Christmas, and then parents would fill them with gifts. By fourteen, most children outgrew this custom. But her sister Celine didn't want Therese to grow up. So they continued to leave presents in "baby" Therese's shoes.
As she and Celine climbed the stairs to take off their hats, their father's voice rose up from the parlor below. Standing over the shoes, he sighed, "Thank goodness that's the last time we shall have this kind of thing!"
Therese froze, and her sister looked at her helplessly. Celine knew that in a few minutes Therese would be in tears over what her father had said.
But the tantrum never came. Something incredible had happened to Therese. Jesus had come into her heart and done what she could not do herself. He had made her more sensitive to her father's feelings than her own.
She swallowed her tears, walked slowly down the stairs, and exclaimed over the gifts in the shoes, as if she had never heard a word her father said. The following year she entered the convent. In her autobiography she referred to this Christmas as her "conversion."
Therese be known as the Little Flower but she had a will of steel. When the superior of the Carmelite convent refused to take Therese because she was so young, the formerly shy little girl went to the bishop. When the bishop also said no, she decided to go over his head, as well.
About 200 priests from the Archdiocese of New Orleans last week attended a three-day convocation to discuss the art of effective preaching, according to the Clarion Herald. The discussions at the gathering, held Sept. 23-25, were led by two priests from the Dominican Order, known as the Order of the Preachers.
The Rev. Gregory Heille, author of an upcoming book on the preaching of Pope Francis and a professor of homiletics at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, and The Rev. David Caron, director of the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization, discussed the underpinnings of the homily and provided tips to priests on how they could prepare to preach effectively during weekend Masses, according to the Clarion Herald, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Read the entire Clarion Herald story here.
(Vatican Radio) In moments of darkness, our lament becomes a prayer, but we must guard ourselves against overdramatizing our complaints and remember that there are people experiencing “great tragedies” who have good reason to lament, like the Christians driven from their homes for the faith, said Pope Francis Tuesday during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
Reflecting on the First Reading of the day, in which Job curses the day he was born, the Pope noted that his prayer at first appears to us like a curse. Pope Francis recalled how Job was “put to the test”, how he “lost his entire family, everything he possessed”, how he lost his health and “his body had become a plague, a disgusting plague". The Pope said in that moment "he had lost all patience and he says these things. They are ugly! But he was always accustomed to speak the truth and this is the truth that he feels at that moment”. Pope Francis recalled how even Jeremiah, "uses almost the same words: 'Cursed be the day I was born!'", and then he asked: "But is this man blaspheming? This is my question: Is this man who is so very alone, blaspheming?”. "Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains - 'Father, why have You forsaken me’? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, 'Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer'. It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: 'Why have You forsaken me!'".
The Pope continued that what Job is doing in the First Reading is praying, because prayer means being truthful before God. This was the only way Job could pray. "We should pray with reality - he added - true prayer comes from the heart, from the moment that we are living in". "It is prayer in times of darkness, in those moments of life that seem hopeless, where we cannot see the horizon". "And so many people, so many today, are in the same situation as Job. So many good people, just like Job, do not understand what has happened to them, or why. Many brothers and sisters who have no hope. Just think of the tragedies, the great tragedies, for example, of these brothers and sisters of ours who because they are Christians were driven out of their homes and left with nothing: 'But, Lord, I have believed in you. Why? Is believing in you a curse, Lord? '".
"Just think of the elderly who are sidelined - he continued - think of the sick, of the many lonely people in hospitals". The Pope assured that the Church prays for all of these people and for those of us when we walk in darkness. “The Church prays! She takes this pain upon herself and prays". And those of us who “are not sick, or hungry, who have no pressing needs, when we suffer a little darkness of soul, act like martyrs and stop praying”.
The Pope continued that there are even those who say: "I am angry with God, I will not go to Mass". "But why? Over some trifling thing” is the answer. Pope Francis recalled that St. Therese of the Child Jesus, in the last months of her life, "tried to think of heaven, but heard a voice within herself, telling her not to be silly, not to be led astray by fantasies. Do you know what awaits you? Nothing!”. "We all go through this situation, we experience this situation. There are so many people who think it all ends in nothing. Yet Saint Teresa, prayed and asked for strength to persevere in the dark. This is called entering into patience. Our life is too easy, our complaints are overdramatized. Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope – who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves - nothing! Jesus walked this path: from sunset on the Mount of Olives to the last word from the Cross: 'Father, why have you forsaken me!”.
Pope Francis concluded that there are two things that can help in such situations: “First, to prepare ourselves for when the darkness comes” which perhaps, will not be as hard as that of Job, “but which will come. Prepare your heart for that moment". Second: "Pray, pray as the Church prays, pray with the Church for so many brothers and sisters who suffer exile from themselves, who are in darkness and suffering, without hope at hand." It is the prayer of the Church for these ‘Suffering Jesus’ who are everywhere".
St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church. He was born about the year 342 at Stridonius, a small town at the head of the Adriatic, near the episcopal city of Aquileia. His father, a Christian, took care that his son was well instructed at home, then sent him to Rome, where the young man's teachers were the famous pagan grammarian Donatus and Victorinus, a Christian rhetorician. Jerome's native tongue was the Illyrian dialect, but at Rome he became fluent in Latin and Greek, and read the literatures of those languages with great pleasure. His aptitude for oratory was such that he may have considered law as a career. He acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to check his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. Yet in spite of the pagan and hedonistic influences around him, Jerome was baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. He tells us that "it was my custom on Sundays to visit, with friends of my own age and tastes, the tombs of the martyrs and Apostles, going down into those subterranean galleries whose walls on both sides preserve the relics of the dead." Here he enjoyed deciphering the inscriptions.
Marriage experts and marriage advocates from all over the world have signed an open letter addressed to Pope Francis and the members of the upcoming Synod on the Family.
The letter focuses on the greatest challenges affecting the family in the world today and vigorously reiterates timeless truths about marriage.
Signed by 48 scholars and leaders from several countries, both Catholic and non-Catholic, the letter was sent to the Vatican in June through the good offices of the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
It does not engage the problem of Communion for divorced Catholics, but is dedicated to other issues that the signatories believe the upcoming Synod, and the one to take place next year, should address.
Here below is the full text of the letter:
Holy Father, Eminences, and Excellencies,
We rejoice that the Holy Father has captured the world’s attention and so much good will for the Christian faith! Like others we are deeply moved by his expressions of love and mercy, echoing the love and mercy of Christ, especially for those who are defenseless and abandoned.
It is in this context that we welcome the decision to convene an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops to examine the challenges to marriage and the family. Like each of you, we believe the family is, with the Church itself, the greatest institutional manifestation of Christ’s love. For those who wish to love as He would have us love, marriage and the family are indispensable, both as vehicles of salvation and as bulwarks of human society.
Recent popes have made these points abundantly clear. For example, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that, “Marriage is truly an instrument of salvation, not only for married people but for the whole of society.” And, in Evangelii Gaudium, Your Holiness wrote that “the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.”
This Synod is an opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage. Why do those truths matter? How do they represent true love, not “exclusion” or “prejudice,” or any of the other charges brought against marriage today? Men and women need desperately to hear the truth about why they should get married in the first place. And, once married, why Christ and the Church desire that they should remain faithful to each other throughout their lives on this earth. That, when marriage gets tough (as it does for most couples), the Church will be a source of support, not just for individual spouses, but for the marriage itself.
You have written so powerfully, Holy Father, of the importance of a new evangelization within the Church: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”
May we humbly suggest that in the context of marriage and family life your words are a call to personal responsibility, not only for our own spouses and children, but for the marriages of those God has put by our side: our relatives and friends, those in our churches and in our schools.
The stakes are high. According to a 2013 Child Trends international report: “Dramatic increases in cohabitation, divorce, and nonmarital childbearing in the Americas, Europe, and Oceania over the last four decades suggest that the institution of marriage is much less relevant in these parts of the world.” In the United States the marriage rate is the lowest ever recorded, unmarried cohabitation is rapidly becoming an acceptable alternative to marriage, and more than half of births to women under 30 years of age now occur outside marriage. Among countless other negative associations, each of these trends has been linked to lower net worth and economic mobility, poverty, and welfare – for women and children, in particular.
Among existing marriages, many are fragile and strained. Between forty and fifty percent of all first marriages in the U.S. are projected to end in divorce. This rate rises sharply with each successive remarriage and research suggests the reason is not low marital quality, but weak commitment.
The consequences of divorce and cohabitation for children and adults are many and diverse – from poverty and lower educational achievement to poorer physical health; from lower marital commitment in adulthood to earlier death. And while every nation is unique, studies show that the impact of these trends spans the globe. A small sampling of such studies: China, Finland, Sweden, Uruguay, Mexico,Greece, Africa, and East Asian Pacific nations.
The costs of pornography to societies are significant. Studies of pornography’s impact on relationshipssuggest it is a major contributor to the destruction of marriages. Unfortunately, long-term research on pornography’s effect on marriage is virtually nonexistent.
So called “no fault divorce” laws in the U.S. and many other nations have licensed a system in which judges and lawyers facilitate the dissolution of marriages, often against the will of spouses who stand firm in their marital commitment.
Despite the bleakness of these trends, we are encouraged and made resolute by the Holy Father’s exhortation: “Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment.”
Perhaps the boldest new way we can evangelize married couples (and by extension their children’s future marriages) is to build small communities of married couples who support each other unconditionally in their vocations to married life. These communities would provide networks of support grounded in the bonds of faith and family, commitment to lifelong marriage, and responsibility to and for each other.
Here we offer some practical ways to create and sustain such communities:
* Commission the Pontifical Council on the Family to conduct cross-discipline, longitudinal research on the role of pornography and “no fault” divorce in the marriage crisis.
* Educate seminarians. Provide mandatory courses covering social science evidence on the benefits of marriage, threats to marriage, and the consequences of divorce and cohabitation to children and society.
* Train priests to showcase in their homilies the spiritual and social value of marriage, contemporary challenges to it, and parish help for troubled marriages. A recent study found that 72% of American Catholic women say the weekly homily is their primary source for learning about the faith.
* Create small, vibrant networks of strong married couples as mentors at the parish level, available to give spouses the tools to sustain healthy, lifelong marriages.
* Educate parishioners on the extraordinary influence they can have on the marriages of friends and family. Social science data show that the presence of divorced family and friends increases one’s own risk of divorce. Alternatively, the data suggest that family members and friends can increasecommitment and satisfaction within marriages of those they love through their example and support.
* Encourage and support the reconciliation of married couples who are separated or have been divorced by civil courts.
* Request bishops worldwide to initiate regular prayers during Sunday Mass for strong, faithful marriages.
* Support efforts to preserve what is right and just in existing marriage laws, to resist any changes to those laws that would further weaken the institution, and to restore legal provisions that protect marriage as a conjugal union of one man and one woman, entered into with an openness to the gift of children, and lived faithfully and permanently as the foundation of the natural family.
* Support religious freedom in divorce courts. Many do not know that religious freedom is routinely violated by divorce judges who ignore or demean the views of a spouse who seeks to save a marriage, keep the children in a religious school, or prevent an abandoning spouse from exposing the children to an unmarried sexual partner. Begin a consortium of attorneys and legislators to combat this problem.
To accomplish any of these goals on an international scale would be a great step forward for marriages and families. To accomplish them all may turn the worldwide marriage crisis on its head.
With your leadership we will help marriages to succeed and flourish by placing the greatest value on marital commitment - at every level of society, in every corner of the world. We thank Your Holiness, Eminences, and Excellencies for taking up this vital task and you may be assured of our prayers for its great success.
A Canadian archbishop visited the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese last week on behalf of the Vatican to investigate the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn, the first Catholic prelate to be found criminally guilty of shielding a priest in the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Ottawa, Ontario, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast visited the Midwestern diocese for several days last week, interviewing more than a dozen people about Finn's leadership, several of those interviewed told NCR.
According to those who spoke with Prendergast, the main question he asked was: "Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?"
The communications officer for the Ottawa archdiocese, Sarah Du Broy, said the archdiocese did not a have comment as "the Archbishop considers it a private visit."
The director of the Kansas City diocese's communications office, Jack Smith, originally told NCR that no one in the diocese had heard of Prendergast's visit. Smith then wrote in an email to NCR later Monday that Finn had been aware that Prendergast was in Kansas City.
"He cooperated with the process and was obligated by the terms of the visitation not to speak of it to anyone, including his senior staff and communications director," Smith wrote.
Smith said Finn is currently in Rome for deacon ordinations of several of the diocese's seminarians studying at the Pontifical North American College.
Prendergast, according to those who spoke to him, said he was visiting the diocese on behalf of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope on the appointment of bishops around the world.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2014 / 06:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday’s feast of the archangels Pope Francis spoke of the ongoing battle between the devil and mankind, encouraging attendees to pray to the angels, who have been charged to defend us.
“He presents things as if they were good, but his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us,” the Roman Pontiff told those gathered for his Sept. 29 mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence.
The Bishop of Rome began by pointing to the day’s readings taken from Daniel Chapter 7 in which the prophet has a vision of God the Father on a throne of fire giving Jesus dominion over the world, and Revelation Chapter 12 which recounts the battle in which Satan, as a large dragon, is cast out of heaven by St. Michael.
Noting how these are strong images portraying “the great dragon, the ancient serpent” who “seduces all of inhabited earth,” the Pope also drew attention to Jesus’ words to the prophet Nathanael in the day’s Gospel from John when he tells him “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
All of these readings, he said, speak of “the struggle between God and the devil” which “takes place after Satan tries to destroy the woman who is about to give birth to a son.”
“Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathaniel would come in glory,” the pontiff observed, explaining that “From the beginning the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan's (use of) seduction to destroy.”
Envy could be the devil’s motive, he said, pointing to how psalm 8 tells us ‘You have made man superior to the angels.’ And that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation; that a lower creature was made superior to him; and he tries to destroy it.”
Pope Francis then noted how “So many projects, except for one's own sins, but many, many projects for mankind's dehumanization, are his work, simply because he hates mankind.”
He continued by explaining that although the bible tells us that the devil is astute and cunning in his attacks, we have the angels to defend us.
“They defend mankind and defend the God-man, the superior man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect,” he said.
“This is why the Church honors the angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God – namely, that the Word was made flesh.”
It is therefore the responsibility of the People of God “to safeguard man, the man Jesus,” the Pope went on, because “He is the man who gives life to all men.”
However this is not easy because Satan has invented “humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God” in order to destroy us.
“This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches,” the Pope went on, adding that “if we do not struggle, we will be defeated.”
“But the Lord gave this task primarily to the angels: to do battle and win,” he said, drawing attention to the final song of Revelation which reads “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by encouraging those present to pray to the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and to recite the prayer to Saint Michael often.
We should do this “so he may continue to do battle and defend the greatest mystery of mankind: that the Word was made Man, died and rose again. This is our treasure. That he may battle on to safeguard it.”
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
FEAST of STS. MICHAEL, GABRIEL, and RAPHAEL - ARCHANGELS
Feast: September 29
The liturgy celebrates the feast of these three archangels who are venerated in the tradition of the Church. Michael (Who is like God?) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil. Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, "Hail, full of grace," is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people. Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.
The Catechism of the Catholic Churchteaches us that, "The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition."
Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible. In ascending order, the choirs or classes are 1) Angels, 2) Archangels, 3) Principalities, 4) Powers, 5) Virtues, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim.
St. Michael The name of the archangel Michael means, in Hebrew, who is like unto God? and he is also known as "the prince of the heavenly host." He is usually pictured as a strong warrior, dressed in armor and wearing sandals. His name appears in Scripture four times, twice in the Book of Daniel, and once each in the Epistle of St. Jude and the Book of Revelation. From Revelation we learn of the battle in heaven, with St. Michael and his angels combatting Lucifer and the other fallen angels (or devils). We invoke St. Michael to help us in our fight against Satan; to rescue souls from Satan, especially at the hour of death; to be the champion of the Jews in the Old Testament and now Christians; and to bring souls to judgment.
This day is referred to as "Michaelmas" in many countries and is also one of the harvest feast days. In England this is one of the "quarter days", which was marked by hiring servants, electing magistrates, and beginning of legal and university terms. This day also marks the opening of the deer and other large game hunting season. In some parts of Europe, especially Germany, Denmark, and Austria, a special wine called "Saint Michael's Love" (Michelsminne) is drunk on this day. The foods for this day vary depending on nationality. In the British Isles, for example, goose was the traditional meal for Michaelmas, eaten for prosperity, France has waffles or Gaufres and the traditional fare in Scotland used to be St. Michael's Bannock (Struan Micheil) — a large, scone-like cake. In Italy, gnocchi is the traditional fare.
Patron: Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; England; Germany; Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama; Papua, New Guinea; Puebla, Mexico; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Sibenik, Croatia; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Symbols: Angel with wings; dressed in armour; lance and shield; scales; shown weighing souls; millstone; piercing dragon or devil; banner charged with a dove; symbolic colors orange or gold.
St. Gabriel St. Gabriel's name means "God is my strength". Biblically he appears three times as a messenger. He had been sent to Daniel to explain a vision concerning the Messiah. He appeared to Zachary when he was offering incense in the Temple, to foretell the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist. St. Gabriel is most known as the angel chosen by God to be the messenger of the Annunciation, to announce to mankind the mystery of the Incarnation.
The angel's salutation to our Lady, so simple and yet so full of meaning, Hail Mary, full of grace, has become the constant and familiar prayer of all Christian people.
Patron: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; Portugal; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.
Symbols: Archangel; sceptre and lily; MR or AM shield; lantern; mirror; olive branch; scroll with words Ave Maria Gratia Plena; Resurrection trumpet; shield; spear; lily; symbolic colors, silver or blue.
St. Raphael Our knowledge of the Archangel Raphael comes to us from the book of Tobit. His mission as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life. Tradition also holds that Raphael is the angel that stirred the waters at the healing sheep pool in Bethesda. His name means "God has healed".
Patron: Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travellers; young people; young people leaving home for the first time; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.
Symbols: Staff; wallet and fish; staff and gourd; archangel; young man carrying a staff; young man carrying a fish; walking with Tobias; holding a bottle or flask; symbolic colors, gray or yellow.
Pope Francis calls Benedict XVI the ultimate 'grandfather'
Pope Francis speaks to the elderly in St. Peter's Square Sept. 28, 2014. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.
By Ann Schneible
Vatican City, Sep 28, 2014 / 10:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Retired pontiff Benedict XVI joined some 50,000 pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday, Sept. 28 for a meeting between Pope Francis and elderly people from around the world.
Welcoming his predecessor, the Holy Father described Pope Benedict as the “grandfather of all grandfathers.”
“I have said many times that it gives me great pleasure that he lives here in the Vatican, because it is like having a wise grandfather at home. Thank you!”
Gathered together in front of Saint Peter's Basilica beneath the sunny September sky, pilgrims heard from a number of people who gave witness of their own experiences, interspersed with musical interludes which included performances by Andrea Bocelli.
One of the motifs of the morning's events centered on an icon of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This image, which stood beside the altar, depicted Mary and Joseph presenting the child Jesus to the elderly prophets, Simeon and Anna. This icon will also be present on the square next Sunday during the opening Mass for the Synod on the Family.
Addressing the crowds, the Pope recalled the series of testimonies which had been given over the course of the morning, taking special note of those from the people of Erbil, Iraq, who had escaped violent persecution. “To all of these together we express a special 'thank you!'! It is very good that you have come here today: it is a gift for the Church.”
Like violence against children, the Pope said, “violence against the elderly is inhuman.”
“But God does not abandon you, and He is with you! With his help you are and continue to be the memory for your people; and also for us, the great family of the Church.”
The Pope noted the faith of these elderly persons, comparing it to “trees which continue to bear fruit,” as they give witness even amid the “most difficult trials.”
“And this is true even in the most ordinary of situations, where there might be other temptations, and other forms of discrimination.”
“Old age, in particular, is a time of grace, in which the Lord renews us in his call: he calls us to protect and transmit the faith, he calls us to pray, especially to intercede; he calls us to be close to those in need.”
The elderly and grandparents have the “the capacity to understand the most difficult situations,” he said, adding that their prayer “is strong” and “powerful!”
To grandparents in particular, the Pope entrusted a “great task: to transmit life experience, the history of a family, of a community, of a people; to share wisdom with simplicity, and the same faith: the most precious legacy!” It is a blessing, when a family keeps its grandparents close.
“The grandfather is twice father, and the grandmother is twice mother,” the Holy Father said. Recalling last Sunday's visit to Albania, where grandparents would baptize the children in secret, he said: “Well done! (These grandparents) were brave amid persecution and saved the faith in their country!”
Pope Francis noted that not all elderly persons and grandparents have a family which can take care of them. Therefore, “we welcome houses for the elderly... so long as they are truly houses, and not prisons!”These homes should not be institutions where the elderly are “forgotten, hidden, or neglected.”
The Holy Father expressed his closeness to those living in these institutions, and his gratitude for those who take care of them. These homes ought to be the “lungs” and “sanctuaries” of humanity, in which the old and weak are cared for. The Pope also recommended that young people, when they are “miserable and sad,” go and visit the elderly to “become joyful.”
Pope Francis warned against the reality of the abandonment of the elderly, describing it as a “hidden euthanasia,” the effect of a “culture which discards” human beings: children, unemployed youth, and elderly persons are discarded on the pretense of maintaining a system of economic “balance”. The center of this culture is no longer “the human person,” but “money.”
“We are all called to counter this poisonous culture of waste,” the Pope said.
All Christians and “men of good will” are called to create a society that, in contrast, is “more welcoming, more human, more inclusive,” one which “does not need to discard” those who are physically or mentally weak, those who are old: “a society which measures its success” according to according to the care given to these persons.
A people which does not care for its grandparents, Pope Francis said, jeopardizes its future by doing away with its memory, as well as its roots. He warned: “You have the responsibility of keeping these roots alive in yourselves” through prayer, the Gospel, and works of mercy. In this way, we are like “living trees,” which will continue to bear fruit even in old age.
Remember the rock band from Sweden called Abba? They sang a song that told us we can change our mind and to take a chance on me.
We often are called upon to change our mind in our everyday living. We may change our mind about big decisions, like a career change or moving to a new home. Sometimes we change our mind about simple things, like where to go to dinner tonight or what movie should we watch. My wife often changes her mind about what she will wear, yes she does this often.
As people of faith we are called to change, maybe not our minds, but our hearts, on our journey with Jesus.
There was a change of heart in today's Gospel. Jesus has just been challenged by the elders and chief priests about his authority. As he so often does, he turns the tables on his challengers by presenting a parable and asking a question. The parable is a landowner with two sons; one who insults his father to his face; no, I will not go. Yet this son has a change of heart and of mind and indeed goes to work in the vineyard. Then there is the other son, respectfully he answers his father with a Yes Sir! But we know that the second son did not mean anything by his yes and never goes to work in the vineyard. Who did the will of his father, Jesus asks and immediately the challengers answer the first son. Seems like the right answer, does it not? Then we hear the verbal slap down from the lips of Jesus, comparing the chief priests and elders to tax collectors and prostitutes, both of whom Jesus says will make their way to the kingdom of God before they will! Wow!
What's going on here? Jesus is teaching a lesson about many things: hypocrisy, humility and being able to change your heart and your mind! And this parable is also a lesson in obedience.
Let's be honest; both sons really don't respond to the father ideally. The initial no I will not go is disrespectful and hurtful. Yet the second sons Yes Sir, respectful and hopeful, turns out to be meaningless because he either never meant it or just did not care enough to go to the vineyard. The old saying is still true, actions speak louder than words. At least that first son seems to redeem himself, after his disrespectful reply by going to work in the vineyards.
Jesus' admonishing the chief priests and scribes can be a serious reminder for us to. While Jesus reminded them about their lack of response to what John had taught them, you and I have full knowledge of all that Jesus says, does, and more importantly is! Are we obedient to Him, are we humble in our relationship with Him, can we be hypocritical or do we, on prayer and reflection and relationship, have a change of heart and mind? Jesus demands nothing of us unreasonable or beyond what He gives to us. And He gives His everything.
For the faithful Catholic, and the not so faithful Catholic, and for the many, Jesus' teachings are conveyed to us in His Holy Word and His Church. How often does the Church ask of us obedience and humility and we answer: I will not. Or worse, we answer Yes but fail to follow Her teachings. In today's world, surveys and studies tell us that large numbers of Catholics see nothing wrong with artificial contraception, same-sex marriage and even the right to things like abortion and euthanasia. Another poll even indicates that nearly half of all Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Not my words but those of Jesus: I tell you, even tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven before you. We need to sit with this; we need to pray with this; we need to ask ourselves the hard and tough questions; will I be obedient, humble and experience that change of heart and mind?
In the week ahead, I challenge all of us to examine our conscious when it comes to those things we steadfastly and arrogantly cling to that are in total rejection of the teachings of Christ and the teachings of His Holy Church. Again, perhaps it can be another opportunity to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And just in case we are concerned for a loved one or a friend we believe living a life that separates them from Christ, then we should model our obedience and humility for them by our actions and our words. And pray for them with the same fervor St. Monica prayed for her son St. Augustine.
Yes, we can change our mind, and more importantly our hearts and take a chance on Jesus. For he took more than a chance on each of us, He gave us His everything and continues to do so. Will we respond with our obedience and humility and our whole heart and mind?
Feastday: September 28 Patron of Bohemia, Czech state, Prague
Patron saint of Bohemia, parts of Czech Republic, and duke of Bohemia frorn 924-929. Also called Wenceslas, he was born near Prague and raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, until her murder by his mother, the pagan Drahomira. Wenceslaus's mother assumed the regency over Bohemia about 920 after her husband's death, but her rule was so arbitrary and cruel in Wenceslaus' name that he was compelled on behalf of his subjects to overthrow her and assume power for himself in 924 or 925. A devout Christian, he proved a gifted ruler and a genuine friend of the Church. German missionaries were encouraged, churches were built, and Wenceslaus perhaps took a personal vow of poverty Unfortunately, domestic events proved fatal, for in 929 the German king Heinrich I the Fowler (r. 919-936) invaded Bohemia and forced Wenceslaus to make an act of submission. This defeat, combined with his pro-Christian policies, led a group of non-Christian nobles to conspire against him. On September 28, 919, a group of knights under the leadership of Wenceslaus' brother Boreslav assassinated the saint on the doorstep of a church. Virtually from the moment of his death, Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and venerated as a saint. Miracles were reported at his tomb, and his remains were translated to the church of St. Vitus in Prague which became a major pilgrimage site. The feast has been celebrated at least since 985 in Bohemia, and he is best known from the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus."