Thursday, January 31, 2019

Our 1st Saint of the Day for February

St Brigid of Ireland

Image of St. Brigid of Ireland


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

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

Pope Francis special prayer intention for the month of February


Human Trafficking

For a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence.

Pope Francis preaches on feast of John Bosco

Pope at Santa Marta Copyright: Vatican Media

Pope at Santa Marta: “A Priest Must Look with the Eyes of Man and with the Eyes of God”

The Pontiff’s Homage to Don Bosco

“Don Bosco had the courage to look at reality with the eyes of man and with the eyes of God. May each priest imitate him, looking at reality with the eyes of man and with the eyes of God,” tweeted Pope Francis on January 31, 2019, words taken from his meditation during this morning’s Mass at Saint Martha’s.
In his homily, reported by “Vatican News,” the Holy Father recalled the figure of Don Bosco’s mother, a simple woman “who had not studied at the Faculty of Theology,” and who, at the moment of his Ordination, said to him: “Henceforth, you’re going to begin to suffer.” The Pontiff explained that a priest suffers, not because he is a “fakir,” but because he looks at reality with the eyes of men and of God.
Seeing boys left to themselves in the streets, Don Bosco “was moved as a man, and he began to think of ways . . . human ways, to make the young grow. And then he had the courage to look with God’s eyes . . . with a father’s love. And looking at God with the eyes of a beggar who asks for light, he began to go forward, “ stressed the Pope.
A priest must have “these two polarities,” continued Pope Francis. “To look at reality with the eyes of man and with the eyes of God,” and, to do so, he must spend “much time before the Tabernacle.”
Don Bosco “didn’t come only with the catechism and the crucifix, saying ‘do that.’ The youths would have said to him “Good night, see you tomorrow.’ No, no, he approached them with their vivacity. He made them play . . . he walked with them, he listened to them, he saw with them, he cried with them and he led them further.”
A priest must look at people “humanly,” and be “always unpretentious.” And the Holy Father warned once again: the priest “isn’t a functionary who receives from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm.” “We have so many good functionaries, who do their job . . . but a priest can’t be one. A priest looks with a man’s perspective to “understand that they are (his)children, (his) brothers” and he has “the courage to go to fight there: the priest is one who fights with God.”
If We Don’t Take the Risk
“There is always the risk of looking too much at man and not at the divine, or too much at the divine and not at man,” admitted the Holy Father, but “if we don’t take risks in life, we’ll do nothing.”
“What is the sign that a priest is doing well, that he looks at reality with the eyes of man and the eyes of God?” asked the Pope. Joy . . . When a priest doesn’t have joy in himself, he must stop immediately and ask himself why. Don Bosco’s joy is known, he is the master of joy, huh? Because he rejoiced others and he himself rejoiced.”
“Let us ask the Lord today, through the intercession of Don Bosco, for the grace that our priests be joyful, joyful because they have the true sense of looking …. . . with the eyes of man and with the eyes of God,” he concluded.

Pope Francis delivers message ahead of visit to the UAE

Vatican Media Screenshot

‘Faith in God Unites Rather Than Divides,’ Pope Reminds in Videomessage for United Arab Emirates

‘I am happy for this opportunity offered to me by the Lord to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of the relations between the religions, confirming that we are brothers even though we are different’

Faith in God unites rather than divides…
This was at the heart of the video message sent by Pope Francis to the people of the United Arab Emirates ahead of his upcoming Apostolic Trip, Feb. 3-5, 2019.
In the message, Francis expresses he is happy to visit their country, ” a land that seeks to be a model of coexistence, human fraternity and encounter between diverse civilizations and cultures, where many find a secure place to work and live freely, with respect for diversity.”
Pope Francis will be the first Catholic Pope in history to visit the Arabian peninsula.
He also stresses: “I am happy for this opportunity offered to me by the Lord to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of the relations between the religions, confirming that we are brothers even though we are different.”
Here is the Vatican-provided text of the video-message:
Dear people of the United Arab Emirates,
Al Salamu Alaikum / Peace be with you!
I am happy to be able to visit, in a few days’ time, your country, a land that seeks to be a model of coexistence, human fraternity and encounter between diverse civilizations and cultures, where many find a secure place to work and live freely, with respect for diversity.
I rejoice to meet a people that lives the present looking towards the future. Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, of honoured remembrance, was right when he declared: “True wealth does not reside solely in material resources; the true wealth of the nation resides in the people who build the future of their nation … Men are the true wealth”.
I warmly thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who invited me to participate in the religious meeting on the theme “Human brotherhood”. And I am grateful to the other authorities of the United Arab Emirates for their excellent collaboration, their generous hospitality and the fraternal welcome nobly offered to make this visit possible.
I thank my friend and dear brother the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, and those who have collaborated in the preparation of the meeting, for their courage and will to affirm that faith in God unites rather than divides, that it brings us closer even in difference, distancing us from banishing hostility and aversion.
I am happy for this opportunity offered to me by the Lord to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of the relations between the religions, confirming that we are brothers even though we are different.
With joy I prepare to meet and to greet “eyal Zayid fi dar Zayid / the sons of Zayid in the home of Zayid”, a land of prosperity and peace, a land of sun and harmony, a land of coexistence and encounter!
Thank you very much, and see you soon! Pray for me!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Salesian Founder and patron of schoolchildren

St John Bosco

Image of St. John Bosco


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

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

Since everyone is calling for excommunication let's make sure we even know what it is!

What is excommunication?

Excommunication is the Church’s most severe penalty imposed for particularly grave sins.  Through baptism, a person is incorporated into the body of the Church through which there is a “communication” of spiritual goods.  By committing a particularly grave sin and engaging in activities which cause grave scandal and fracture the body of the Church, that communication ceases, and the person is deprived of receiving the sacraments and other privileges.
The practice of excommunication arose in the early Church.  In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul castigated that community for tolerating the practice of incest–  “a man living with his father’s wife” (I Corinthians 5:1).  He admonished the Corinthians for not removing the offender from their midst.  St. Paul said, “I hand him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (5:5).  St. Paul further warned against associating with anyone who bears the title “brother” (indicating being a believer and part of the Church) but who is immoral, covetous, an idolater, an abusive person, a drunkard, or a thief.  He then closed the passage by quoting from the Torah, “Expel the wicked man from your midst” (Deuteronomy 6:13).
Note, however, that St. Paul also expressed hope.  He imposed the sanction upon the offender “so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord,” indicating a hope for repentance, conversion, and a readmittance into the community.  (This motive is affirmed also in II Thessalonians 3:15 and II Corinthians 2:5-11.)  Nevertheless, until such time, the obstinate sinner had to be removed to prevent both the infection of the rest of the believers and the appearance of condoning such a sinful action.
Later, excommunication became clearly associated with the Sacrament of Penance.  At this time, the Sacrament of Penance was generally received once.  Seeking forgiveness, serious sinners presented themselves to the bishop, who assigned them to a class of penitents (ordo paenitentium).  The penitents were liturgically excommunicated from the Church and assigned to perform a penance, which usually lasted weeks, even months.  Once the penance was completed, the bishop formally lifted the excommunication, absolved the sinners, and welcomed them back into full communion with the Church.  By the seventh century, the Sacrament of Penance was repeatable and became more as we know it today, while the idea of excommunication became a severe Church penalty imposed for only the most serious offenses.  Nevertheless, the lifting of the penalty of excommunication still was linked with the making of a good sacramental confession and the reception of absolution.
The Code of Canon Law (1983) specifies that an excommunicated person is forbidden to participate in a ministerial capacity (celebrant, lector, etc.) in the Sacrifice of the Mass or in any other form of public worship; to celebrate or to receive the sacraments; to celebrate the sacramentals; to exercise any ecclesiastical office or ministry; and to issue any act of governance (#1331.1).  An excommunicated person also cannot be received into a public association of the Christian faithful (#316.1).
On one hand, the penalty of excommunication can be imposed by a proper authority (ferendae sententiae) or incurred automatically (latae sententiae).  A bishop may directly impose the penalty of excommunication, but only for the most serious offenses and after giving due warning (#1318).  Following the same rationale of the early Church, this severe penalty intends to correct the individual and to foster better church discipline (#1317).  As the shepherd of his diocese, a bishop must protect both the souls of the faithful from the infection of error and sin, and of those who are jeopardizing their salvation.  The bishop or his delegate may remit the penalty when the sinner has repented and has sought reconciliation.
On the other hand, a person can also incur automatic excommunication.  A person who is an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic (#1364); or one who procures a successful abortion (#1398) is automatically excommunicated.  In these cases, the local ordinary or a delegated priest can remit the penalty.
In some very grievous cases, only the Holy See can lift the ban of an automatic excommunication:  if a person desecrates the Blessed Sacrament or uses it for a sacrilegious purpose (#1367); if a person uses physical force against the Pope (#1370); if a priest absolves an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment (#1378); if a bishop consecrates someone as a bishop without permission of the Holy Father (#1982); and if a priest directly violates the seal of confession (#1388).
We must keep in mind that the purpose of excommunication is to shock the sinner into repentance and conversion.  Excommunication is a powerful way of making a person realize his immortal soul is in jeopardy.  Excommunication does not “lock the door” of the Church to the person forever, but hopes to bring the person back into communion with the whole Church.  Moreover, this penalty awakens all of the faithful to the severity of these sins and deters them from the commission of these sins.  This line of thought is highlighted in the Catechism when it speaks of the automatic excommunication for abortion:  “The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.  Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society” (#2272).  In all, while the Church imposes this severe penalty for just cause, she also remembers, “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Psalm 51:19).

A different Bishop from NY(not Dolan) weighs in on why not to excommunicate this so called Catholic NY governor

Let Us Not Judge, Let Us Pray For Governor Cuomo

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio speaks at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston. (Photo Jorge Dominguez)
Recently, some in the Catholic community have called for the excommunication of Governor Andrew Cuomo and those Catholic members of the legislature who supported the change in the law to allow for the termination of a pregnancy up until the moment of birth.
Such calls are very understandable.  The gravity of evil merits such a call. Excommunication is meant to have a medicinal effect. It is intended to be so severe a penalty that the subject of the excommunication repents of evil, reforms his/her life and turns back to the Lord.  In this case, the governor is, in fact, taunting the Catholic community and would wear the excommunication as a badge of honor.
The culture we live in is poisonous to faith. New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who is a Democrat and Catholic, is now being targeted by pro-choice groups for his opposition to this legislation. Indeed, perhaps justified, the excommunication of the governor would be presented to the broader culture as the Church victimizing the governor. In the end, it would be a distraction from the horror of the crime and evil that cries out to Almighty God for vengeance.
We should not be naïve enough to think that the passage of the expansion of the abortion franchise was not strategically coordinated with the passage of the Child Victims Act. The news was meant to tie these two issues together. Both bills were passed without a public hearing, attesting to the state of our democracy in the State of New York.
The governor seems to have a remarkable capacity for dissembling words, which is disingenuous, changing his position on at least two occasions when he spoke to the Bishops of the State. On those occasions, Governor Cuomo indicated his opposition to the law based on its merits. As a lawyer, he waxed eloquently on the necessity of a statute of limitations in the law.
The truth is, the Bishops of New York State had expressed reservations in past versions of the Child Victims Act because it would have shielded public institutions from liability. Rather our position was that a full disclosure of all abuse – not just some abuse – was essential if we were to curb the scourge of child abuse. Once the legislature strengthened the bill this week to include all survivors, we dropped our opposition to the legislation.
I know that so many in the Catholic community are outraged by decisions that were made by some in Church leadership long ago.  We Catholics will pay the price for those decisions for generations to come. In fact, before there was any change in the law, we in the Catholic community sought to take dramatic steps to protect children in our care. Indeed, since the Dallas Charter was implemented in 2002 we have significantly reduced allegations of abuse. In our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, in the last 17 years there were two allegations of misconduct. Moreover, at great expense, the Diocese of Brooklyn sought to discover those that were harmed in our institutions and invited them to come forward and to have the explicit acknowledgment of the wrongdoing as well as compensation for the offense that caused such terrible pain.
Governor Cuomo and the legislature have done the right thing passing the Child Victims Act, but not the Reproductive Health Act.
Therefore, I propose that we do not excommunicate the governor, but rather that we pray for him every single day; perhaps it would be good to include him by name in the Prayer of the Faithful.  Specifically, that his eyes be opened to the sacredness of all human life. While excommunication may not have a favorable effect, as a person of faith, I am convinced that by prayer we will move mountains and even turn the stone-cold heart to flesh.
Yet, it is not my place to judge the governor. We should pray for him.  Andrew Cuomo was educated in Diocese of Brooklyn schools, at St. Gerard Majella and Archbishop Molloy High School, both in Queens. He says he is Catholic, but there are incongruities in that statement. Still it is not for us to judge, but only God to do so, as He is a merciful God.