Thursday, February 28, 2019

1st Saint for March is the Patron Saint of Wales

St. David

Image of St. David


Feastday: March 1

According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of South Wales and St. Non. He was ordained a priest and later studied under St. Paulinus. Later, he was involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries. The monastery he founded at Menevia in Southwestern Wales was noted for extreme asceticism. David and his monks drank neither wine nor beer - only water - while putting in a full day of heavy manual labor and intense study. Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire. His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church. He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism. David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II. He is revered as the patron of Wales. Undoubtedly, St. David was endowed with substantial qualities of spiritual leadership. What is more, many monasteries flourished as a result of his leadership and good example. His staunch adherence to monastic piety bespeaks a fine example for modern Christians seeking order and form in their prayer life.His feast day is March 1.

USCCB response to Senate's vote to kill babies in the delivery room

Wikimedia Commons

US: Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Says Senate Rejection Of Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act Should Horrify, Anger American People

People Must Demand Justice for Innocent Children

On February 25, 2019,  the US Senate failed to advance the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act—legislation that prohibits infanticide by ensuring that a child born alive following an abortion would receive the same degree of care to preserve her life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. The Senate rejected a motion to advance the bill on a vote of 53 to 44 with 3 not voting. In the Senate, 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster and pass a bill.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement on February 27 in response:
“There should be no bill easier for the Senate to pass than one that makes clear that killing newborn babies is wrong and should not be tolerated. That even one senator, let alone 44 senators voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, is an injustice that should horrify and anger the American people and commit us to decisive political action. A vote against this bill is a vote to extend Roe v. Wade’s license for killing unborn children to killing newborn babies. The American people, the vast majority of whom support this bill, must demand justice for innocent children.”

Pope Francis final morning homily in February

© Vatican Media

Pope’s Morning Homily: Not Sure When and How Your Life Will End, Dominate Your Passions and Convert Without Delay

During Morning Mass, Francis Reminds Not to Put Off Changing Your Ways Until Tomorrow

You are not sure how and when your life will end. Hence, examine your conscience, dominate your passions, and convert without delay.
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta.
Stop for a while to acknowledge our failures, aware that the end can come any moment, and let us not continue living as we want under the impression that God’s compassion is infinite.
Recalling today’s advice in the First Reading from the Book of Sirach, the Roman Pontiff called on faithful to have a change of heart and convert to the Lord.
Wisdom, the Jesuit Pope highlighted, is a daily thing that comes from reflecting on life and from stopping to think about how one lives.
“Do not follow your instincts, your strength, indulging in the passions of your heart,” Francis warned, acknowledging all have passions, but one must be careful and dominate them.
The Holy Father recognized that passions are not bad things, but they need to be managed. “They are like blood that helps do many good things but if you are not able to dominate them, they will dominate you,” he said.
Francis reminded those in his chapel that we are not eternal and therefore cannot do whatever we want, trusting in God’s infinite mercy.
Don’t believe you will get away with it
“So don’t be rash and reckless and believe that you will get away with it,” the Pontiff admonished, saying: “You may get away with it once, but you don’t know what’s next.”
“Don’t say: ‘God’s compassion is great, he’ll forgive me my many sins,’ and so I continue doing what I want,” Francis underscored, adding: “Regarding this, the advice of the father or grandfather is: “Don’t wait to convert yourself to the Lord, don’t postpone it from day to day because the anger of the Lord will suddenly burst forth.”
Don’t Put Off Conversion For Tomorrow
The Pope went on to give some daily homework, requiring only five minutes a day: “Let’s take a little time every day to examine our conscience, to convert to the Lord, without putting it off for tomorrow.”
“Try to not to let it happen again and if you manage to control yourself and not be controlled by your passion, perhaps it may happen less,” he said.
Again stressing that no one is sure of how and when our life will end, Francis concluded, reminding: “Five minutes at the end of each day will help us think about a change of heart and conversion to the Lord, without procrastination.”

Pope Francis monthly prayer intention for

Evangelization – Christian Communities

That Christian communities, especially those who are persecuted, feel that they are close to Christ and have their rights respected.

Last night was a great night, inside the prison

Rayburn Correctional, Angie, LA, the home to over 1,100 incarcerated men, many carrying long sentences for unspeakable crimes.  Yet this is where I have been able to visit, as a chaplain for the Archdiocese, about 20-25 times a year since 2009.  I often come here or to FB after every visit with words of hope and joy from my perspective of spending time with our Catholic community, usually 100 men worshipping strong.

Last night we were privileged to host our very own Archbishop, Gregory Aymond.  He arrived to just be with the men, no fanfare, just a bishop and his flock.  He brought along one of the priests of the Archdiocese, Fr. Tim Hedrick, who is guiding an effort at his parish to get involved with prison ministry.

The Archbishop first offered an opportunity for confessions, along with Fr. Tim then we gathered for the celebration of the Mass.  The Archbishop delivered a wonderful homily based on the Gospel of that 1 lost sheep and the shepherd going after that sheep to bring him back to the flock.  He told the men that all of them are not only part of the flock, but each is specially loved by God.  He delivered the very right message for the men to hear.  The Archbishop and Fr. Tim distributed Holy Communion and like me were moved by the many men who knelt on hard concrete floors in adoration of the Eucharistic Lord.

When Mass was over the Archbishop, as usual, took his time telling each of the men good bye as they were called back to their dorms one dorm at a time.  He even posed for a few pictures, as provided by the institution since we can not carry cell phones or cameras into the prison.

And when we left for the evening he thanked all of us who work in ministry throughout the year to help bring Christ to the incarcerated, who in turn show us Christ in their personal and communal witness.

I want to recognize the many volunteers who come from Annunciation Parish in Bogalusa, Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Mandeville, Fr. Daniel Brouillette and Director John Messenheimer who together compose our ministry team.

And thank you Archbishop Aymond for your endless prayers and tangible support for our Catholic Community at Rayburn and prison ministry across the Archdiocese.

What to do when a Priest fathers a child

Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (Vatican Media)

Priests who Father a Child Must Put the Child First

‘Vatican News’ Interview with Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Vatican News on February 27, 2019, issued the following interview with Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. The interview explains the guidelines the Dicastery applies in cases of Latin-rite priests who father children.
Editorial Director of Vatican News
The topic of “children of priests” has long been considered taboo, with the result that often, especially in the past, these children grew up without a known and acknowledged father. This topic, then, is distinct from the questions addressed in last week’s Meeting in the Vatican, which focused on the abuse committed against minors.
Recently, Irish psychotherapist Vincent Doyle, a son of a priest, was present in Rome. He is the founder of “Coping International”, an association for the defense of the rights of children fathered by Catholic priests throughout the world. Doyle wants to waive his anonymity and offer psychological help to “the many people born from a relationship between a woman and a priest” in various parts of the world. In recent interviews with diverse media, Doyle has spoken of a document of the Congregation for the Clergy, regarding the attitude to be taken in these cases. The existence of these internal documents — sometimes described, inaccurately, as “secret” — has been known since 2017, and the general criteria regarding protecting the children of priests were recently confirmed by Alessandro Gisotti, the Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office. Vatican News spoke with Cardinal Beniamino Stella, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, which has the responsibility of dealing with cases of this sort.
Andrea Tornielli: What are the criteria that guide the decisions to be made in the case of priests with children?
Cardinal Stella: The Dicastery follows the longstanding practices from the time when Cardinal Claudio Hummes was prefect — about ten years — who first brought to the attention of the Holy Father (at the time, Benedict XVI) the cases of priests under the age of 40 with children, proposing that they obtain the dispensation [from clerical state] without waiting for the age of 40, as provided for in the norms [in force] at the time. Such a decision had, and has, as its principal objective, the safeguarding of the good of the child, that is, the right of the child to have at his side a father as well as a mother. Pope Francis, too, who had already expressed himself in this sense as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, during a conversation with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, published in the book, “On Heaven and Earth”, spoke categorically: the priority focus on the part of the priest must be with regard to the children.
Q. What is meant by “priority focus”?
A. Certainly, it does not refer only to the necessary economic support. What must accompany the growth of the child above all is the affection of the parents, an adequate education, in fact, all that pertains to an effective and responsible exercise of paternity, especially in the early years of life.
Q. Can you tell us what the document you spoke of consists of?
A. It concerns a text entitled “Nota relative alla prassi della Congregazione per il Clero a proposito dei chierici con prole” [Notes concerning the practice of the Congregation for the Clergy with regard to clerics with children], that gathers together and organizes the practices in force for years at the Dicastery. As was already explained, it concerns a working instrument to be referred to when presented with a situation of this kind; a “technical” text for the collaborators of the Dicastery, from which they may take guidance. It was only for this reason that it was not published. So it happens that Mr. Doyle was able to review it two years ago. This text was routinely presented, with commentary from the Congregation to the Episcopal Conferences and to individual Bishops who dealt with the question and asked how to proceed.
Q. Can you explain how the Dicastery which you head currently deals with these cases?
A. The presence of children in the dossiers related to priestly dispensations was treated, de facto, as a practically “automatic” reason for an expedited presentation of the case to the Holy Father, with the intention of obtaining the concession of the dispensation. It sought then to enable that the dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state should be obtained in the shortest time possible — a couple of months — so that the priest might be able to be close by the side of the mother in following the child. A situation of this kind is considered “irreversible” and requires the priest to abandon the clerical state even if he considers himself fit for ministry. An approximate calculation of the requests for dispensations shows that about 1.8 percent of these involve the presence of children, although often conceived after the ministry has already been abandoned.
Q. Are these rules applied always and everywhere? Do they apply even in cases in which the priest with a child does not want to ask for the dispensation from the ministry?
A. Sometimes it happens that Bishops or Religious Superiors present the situation of priests who do not intend to ask for the dispensation, even when there are children, especially when the affective relationship with their mother has ended. In such cases, there are, unfortunately, Bishops and Superiors who think that, after having provided economically for the children, or after having transferred the priest, the cleric could continue to exercise the ministry. The uncertainty in this matter, then, comes from the resistance of the priests to requesting the dispensation, from the absence of an affective relationship with the woman; and, at times, from the desire of some Ordinaries to offer to the penitent and repentant priest a new ministerial opportunity. When, according to the evaluation of the responsible Bishop or Superior, the situation demands that the priest should be made to accept the responsibilities deriving from paternity, but does not want to request the dispensation, the case is presented to the Congregation for the dismissal from the clerical state. Obviously, a child is always a gift from God, no matter how he or she was conceived. The loss of the clerical state is imposed because parental responsibility creates a series of permanent obligations that in the legislation of the Latin church does not provide for the exercise of the priestly ministry.
Q. Is this rule general and always valid, or is each case dealt with in a different manner?
A. Obviously, each case is examined on its merits and its own particular circumstances. The exceptions are actually very rare. For example, in the case of a new-born, the child of a priest, who in a particular situation enters into a family already consolidated, in which another parent assumes in his regard the role of the father. Or when it comes to an older priest, with children who are already “grown-up”, 20-30 years old. Priests who had in their youth an unfortunate affective occurrence, and who then provided for the children with economic, moral, and spiritual accompaniment; and who now exercise their ministry with zeal and commitment, after having overcome their previous affective fragility. In these situations, the Dicastery does not oblige the Bishop to invite the priests to request the dispensation. This, it seems to me, concerns cases in which the Dicastery counsels a more flexible discernment within the rigorous practice and guidelines of the Congregation.
Q. How would you respond to those who maintain that the presence of children of priests is an argument for the introduction of optional celibacy for priests in the Latin church?
A. The fact that some priests have experienced relationships and have brought children into the world does not affect the theme of priestly celibacy, which represents a precious gift for the Latin church, the ever-present value of which has been expressed by the recent Popes, from St Paul VI to Pope Francis. Similarly, cases of abandonment of the matrimonial union and from the children do not take away from the ever-present value of Christian marriage. What is important is that the priest, in dealing with the reality of the situation, should be able to understand his responsibilities with regard to the child: the child’s well-being and care of the child must be at the center of attention for the Church, so that the child does not lack, not only the necessities of life but especially the educative role and the affection of a father.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

He was a Pope and now a Saint

St. Hilary, Pope

Image of St. Hilary, Pope


Feastday: February 28
Death: 468

Pope from 461-468 and guardian of Church unity. He was born in Sardinia, Italy, and was a papal legate to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449, barely escaping with his life from this affair. Hilary was used by Pope St. Leo I the Great on many assignments. When Leo died, Hilary was elected pope and consecrated on November 19,461. He worked diligently to strengthen the Church in France and Spain, calling councils in 462 and 465. Hilary also rebuilt many Roman churches and erected the chapel of St. John Lateran. He also publicly rebuked Emperor Anthemius in St. Peter's for supporting the Macedonian heresy and sent a decree to the Eastern bishops validating the decisions of the General Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. Hilary consolidated the Church in Sandi, Africa, and Gaul. He died in Rome on February 28.

Pope Francis speaks Pro-Life against the death penalty

Vatican Media Screenshot

Pope Francis’ Video-Message to the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty

Being Held in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium from February 27 to March 2, 2019

Here is a translation of the text of the Video-Message that the Holy Father Francis sent, on the occasion of the opening session, to the organizers and participants in the 7th World Congress against the Death Penalty, promoted by the NGO ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty), in collaboration with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, being held in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium from February 27 to March 2, 2019.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Video-Message
I greet the organizers and participants in the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, being held in Brussels.
Human life is a gift we have received, the most important and primary gift, the source of all the other gifts and of all the other rights. And, as such, it needs to be protected. Moreover, for a believer, the human being has been created in the image and likeness of God. However, both for believers and non-believers, each life is good and its dignity must be protected without exceptions.
Hence, capital punishment implies a grave violation of the right to life that every person has. Although it’s true that human societies and communities must often face very grave crimes, which attempt against the common good and the security of people, it’s no less true that today there are other means to expiate the harm caused, and the systems of detention are increasingly effective to protect society from the evil that some persons can occasion. On the other hand, the conviction must never be abandoned of also offering the guilty one of crimes the possibility to repent.
For this very reason, it is a positive sign that that there are increasingly more countries that wager for life and that no longer use the death penalty, or have eliminated it completely from their criminal legislation.
The Church has always defended life, and her vision on the death penalty has matured. Therefore, I desired that the Catechism of the Catholic Church be modified on this point. For a long time, the death penalty was taken into account as an appropriate response to the gravity of some crimes and also to protect the common good. However, the dignity of a person is not lost even when he/she has committed the worst of crimes. The life of no one can be taken away and deprive him/her of the opportunity to be able to embrace the community again that he/she wounded and made suffer.
The objective of the abolition of the death penalty at the world level is a courageous affirmation of the principle of the dignity of the human person and of the conviction that the human race can address the crime, and also reject the evil, offering the condemned the possibility and the time to repair the damage committed, to think about his/her action and thus be able to change his/her life, at least interiorly.
I accompany you with my prayer and I encourage you in your works and deliberations, as well as the governments and all those that have responsibilities in their countries so that the necessary steps are taken towards the total abolition of the death penalty. It’s up to us to recognize in each person his/her dignity and to work so that no more lives are eliminated, but that they are won for the good of the whole society. Thank you very much.

Pope Francis Wednesday General Audience 02.27.2019

© Vatican Media

Pope at General Audience on ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ (Full Text)

‘Prayer chases away every fear’

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
Continuing with the series of catecheses on the “Our Father,” the Pope focused his meditation on “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (Biblical passage: From the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel 36:22.23).
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.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
It seems like winter is going away and so we have returned to the Square. Welcome to the Square! In our course of rediscovery of the “Our Father” prayer, today we will reflect further on the first of its seven invocations, namely, “hallowed be Thy Name.”
There are seven requests in the “Our Father,” which are easily divisible into two subgroups. The first three have at the center the “Thou” of God the Father; the other four have “us” at the center and our human needs. In the first part Jesus makes us enter in His desires, all addressed to the Father: “hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done”; in the second it’s He who enters us and makes Himself interpreter of our needs: daily bread, forgiveness of sin, help in temptation and deliverance from evil.
Here is the matrix of every Christina prayer — I’d say of every human prayer –, which is always made, on one hand, of contemplation of God, of His mystery, of His beauty and goodness and, on the other, of the sincere and courageous request of what we need to live, and live well. Thus, in its simplicity and essentialness, the “Our Father” educates the one who prays it not to multiply vain words because — as Jesus Himself says — “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8).
When we speak with God, we don’t do so to reveal to Him what we have in our heart: He knows it better than we do ourselves! If God is a mystery for us, we, instead, aren’t an enigma to His eyes (Cf. Psalm 139:1-4). God is like those mothers who only need one look to understand everything about their children: if they are happy or sad, if they are sincere or are hiding something…
The first step of Christian prayer, therefore, is our giving ourselves to God, to His Providence, it’s as if saying: “Lord, You know all, there isn’t even a need to tell you my pain. I only ask You to be next to me: You are my hope.” It’s interesting to note that, in the discourse on the mountain, immediately after transmitting the text of the “Our Father,” Jesus exhorts us not to be worried or anxious about things. It seems like a contradiction: first He teaches us to ask for our daily bread and then He says to us: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matthew 6:31). However, the contradiction is only apparent: a Christian’s requests express trust in the Father, and it is precisely this trust that makes us ask for what we need without anxiety or agitation.
It’s because of this that we pray saying: “Hallowed be Thy Name!” Felt, in this request — the first! “Hallowed be Thy Name!”  is Jesus’ whole admiration for the beauty and grandeur of the Father, and the desire that all recognize Him and love Him for what He really is. And, at the same time, there is the supplication that His Name be sanctified in us, in our family, in our community, in the whole world. It is God who sanctifies, who transforms us with His love, but at the same time it is also we who, with our witness, manifest God’s holiness in the world, rendering His Name present. God is holy, but if we, if our life isn’t holy, there is a great incoherence! God’s holiness must be mirrored in our actions, in our life. “I’m a Christian, God is holy, but I do so many awful things.” No, this isn’t right. This even does harm; it scandalizes and doesn’t help.
God’s holiness is an expanding force, and we entreat that the barriers of our world be quickly shattered. When Jesus begins to preach, the first to pay the consequences is in fact the evil that afflicts man. The evil spirits swear: “What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are, the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24). Such holiness had never been seen before: not preoccupied with itself but turned to the external. A holiness — that of Jesus — that widens in concentric circles, as when a stone is thrown into a pond. The days of evil are counted — evil isn’t eternal –, and evil can no longer hurt us: the strong man has arrived who takes possession of his house (Cf. Mark 3:23-27). And this strong man is Jesus, who gives us also the strength to take possession of our interior house.
Prayer chases away every fear. The Father loves us, the Son raises His arms supporting ours the Spirit works in secret for the redemption of the world. And we? We don’t hesitate in uncertainty, but we have a great certainty: God loves me, Jesus gave His life for me! The Spirit is within me. This is the great certain thing. And evil? It’s afraid, and this is good.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father:
I greet affectionately the Croatian pilgrims, among them the seminarians, the students and the Professors of the Catholic Theological Faculty of Djakovo. Dear friends, I encourage you to dedicate yourselves diligently and passionately to your studies to be “prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Above all, I exhort you to integrate your intellectual work with your personal and ecclesial life. May this Lent be a favourable time to renew the dedication of your heart and of your mind to the Lord. Praised be Jesus and Mary!
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful.
I’m happy to receive the pilgrims of the Diocese of Mantua, with the Bishop, Monsignor Gianmarco Busca; the Parish groups, in particular those of Alife, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo; of Gubbio and of Saint Vitus of the Normans.
I greet the Delegation of the Benedictine Torch, with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo.
A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
I hope that for each one of you your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Holy Apostles is an encouragement to spread enthusiastically the perennial novelty of the salvific message brought by Christ to every man, beginning with the most distant and disinherited.