Saturday, November 30, 2019

Saint and Martyr; killed for the crime of being Catholic in bloody England

St. Edmund Campion

Image of St. Edmund Campion

When in 1566 England's Queen Elizabeth I visited Oxford University, she was very impressed by a twenty six-year-old Protestant scholar chosen to greet her with a salutary speech, Edmund Campion. But soon, the study of the Church Fathers' works would lead the young man to begin questioning his Protestant beliefs. Journeying to Douai, France in 1572, Edmund converted to the Catholic faith and began studying for the priesthood. A year later he entered the Jesuit Order in Rome. As a novice, he experienced in a garden a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary foretelling his martyrdom in England. In 1580, three years after his ordination, Father Campion returned to England. He preached one to three times a day, mentally preparing his homilies while traveling on horseback across the English countryside, winning many converts. In July of 1581, Father Campion was captured by the Elizabethan authorities. He suffered torture on a rack before being sentenced to death in November. On December 1, 1581, he was executed by drawing and quartering at Tyburn, London.

The Special Prayer Intention for December by Pope Francis


The Future of the Very Young

That every country take the measures necessary to prioritize 
the future of the very young, especially those who are 

Archbishop Aymond shares reflections and thoughts on Advent

Advent reflections: The past, present and future

By Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, Clarion Herald Commentary
We are entering the season of Advent. Did you have any Advent traditions in your own family growing up?
Yes, we always had an Advent wreath in our home. I would encourage families to consider incorporating the Advent wreath into a time of prayer before supper or before bed. It only takes about five minutes, but it’s a time when a family can gather and share their faith, talk and pray. The four Advent candles reinforce the contrast between darkness and light. Christ is referred to in Scripture as the “Light of the World” in stark contrast to the darkness of sin. Each week, as Christ’s advent (coming) approaches more closely, we light another candle to dispel the darkness. The wreath forms a circle, which reminds us that God’s love for us does not have a beginning or an end. Each of the four candles is lit, one at a time, on a different Sunday of Advent. You might say that each candle represents 1,000 years – because humanity waited about 4,000 years for the Savior to be born. The first two candles are purple, representing the liturgical colors. The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, and we light a rose candle as a symbol for joy – that the Savior is almost here. The final purple candle is lit on the Fourth Sunday of Advent to signify our final week of prayer and penance as we await Christ’s birth.
Can you explain what Advent is?
People often say it’s a time to prepare for Christmas, and that’s correct, but that is only one of the three purposes of Advent. Advent really is an opportunity to look back and to prepare to celebrate the day when Christ was born and came among us; it’s also an opportunity to look forward to the future when he will come again in glory and to be prepared that we can stand before him when he comes before us at the end of our lives; and it also involves the present, when we open our eyes and we ask for the eyes of faith to see Jesus revealing himself to us in subtle and not-so-subtle ways every day. All day, the Lord Jesus is with us, walking with us, caring for us, and during Advent we can become more attentive to that and particularly see him in the events of the day. If we celebrate Advent as past, present and future, it will help us to do two things: It will help us to celebrate Christmas in a more joyful way, and it will also help us not to have to worry about going before the Lord at the end of our lives, because we will have done that on a daily basis, opening our eyes and hearts to the presence of the Lord.
The Advent readings change depending on the church cycle of readings. Do the readings have any thread that ties them together?
The readings certainly talk about the Israelite community awaiting the Messiah, and the Gospels for at least two weeks focus on John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord and helping people to be prepared for his coming among them. The Fourth Sunday of Advent – which this year falls on Dec. 22 – offers us Matthew’s account of the angel appearing to Joseph and telling him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home because it is through the Holy Spirit that the child has been conceived. He was told to name the child Jesus because he will save people from their sins. Joseph awoke from his dream and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. Mary, of course, accepts the angel Gabriel’s message that she will “bear the Son of the Most High.” She gives her total trust to God the Father, her “fiat.”
Quite a contrast to what is going on in the world today with all the signs of rampant materialism.
There has been a growing trend in terms of materialism and all the “stuff” that goes on with the season. I was thinking about all the secularism the other day. There’s Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. That’s often where our attention is turned. But when I see all of that, I think of the slogan, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Advent is our time to literally do that. We have an incredible billboard campaign every year from the Christ in Christmas Committee, which this year is putting up more than 70 “Keep Christ in Christmas” billboards around the archdiocese. That’s a wonderful reminder. Maybe we can put that little sticker somewhere around our house or on our car. Those secular celebrations are fine, but without the spiritual, it doesn’t make any sense. The whole idea of gift-giving on Christmas began because it is on Christmas that we remember the greatest gift that God has given to us – his Son. So, we exchange gifts with two meanings: When we give a gift, we remember that the greatest gift ever given was Christ himself, and we share a gift with others out of charity. Gift-giving also symbolizes what the three Magi did for Christ, coming to him bearing their gifts. So, we bear gifts to those whom we care about.
Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to

Don't look now but it's Advent

Advent 2019

Advent: A Time of Preparation

In the Catholic Church, Advent is a period of preparation, extending over four Sundays, before Christmas. (For more details, see "When Does Advent Start?") The word Advent comes from the Latin advenio, "to come to," and refers to the coming of Christ. This refers, first of all, to our celebration of Christ's birth at Christmas; but second, to the coming of Christ in our lives through grace and the Sacrament of Holy Communion; and finally, to His Second Coming at the end of time.

First We Fast, Then We Feast

That's why Advent has traditionally been known as a "little Lent." As in Lent, Advent should be marked by increased prayer, fasting, and good works. While the Western Church no longer has a set requirement for fasting during Advent, the Eastern Church, both Catholic and Orthodox, continues to observe what is known as Philip's Fast, from November 15 until Christmas.
Traditionally, all great feasts have been preceded by a time of fasting, which makes the feast itself more joyful. Sadly, Advent today has supplanted by "the Christmas shopping season," so that by Christmas Day, many people no longer enjoy the feast.

The Symbols of Advent

In its symbolism, the Church continues to stress the penitential and preparatory nature of Advent.

As during Lent, priests wear purple vestments, and the Gloria ("Glory to God") is omitted during Mass. The only exception is on the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, when priests can wear rose-colored vestments. As on Laetare Sunday during Lent, this exception is designed to encourage us to continue our prayer and fasting, because we can see that Advent is more than halfway over.

The Advent Wreath

Perhaps the best-known of all Advent symbols is the Advent wreath, a custom which originated among German Lutherans but was soon adopted by Catholics.
Consisting of four candles (three purple and one pink) arranged in a circle with evergreen boughs (and often a fifth, white candle in the center), the Advent wreath corresponds to the four Sundays of Advent. The purple candles represent the penitential nature of the season, while the pink candle calls to mind the respite of Gaudete Sunday. (The white candle, when used, represents Christmas.)

Celebrating Advent

We can better enjoy Christmas—all 12 days of it, from Christmas Day to Epiphany—if we revive Advent as a period of preparation. Abstaining from meat on Fridays, or not eating at all between meals, is a good way to revive the Advent fast. (Not eating Christmas cookies or listening to Christmas music before Christmas is another.) We can incorporate such customs as the Advent wreath, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena, and the Jesse Tree into our daily ritual, and we can set some time aside for special scripture readings for Advent, which remind us of the threefold coming of Christ.
Holding off on putting up the Christmas tree and other decorations is another way to remind ourselves that the feast is not here yet. Traditionally, such decorations were put up on Christmas Eve, but they would not be taken down until after Epiphany, in order to celebrate the Christmas season to its fullest.

On Saturday the Pope calls for a free and simple outward-looking Church

Pope addresses participants of the Evangelii Gaudium International Meeting Pope addresses participants of the Evangelii Gaudium International Meeting  (Vatican Media)

Pope: We need a free and simple outward looking Church

Pope Francis on Saturday receives those taking part in the International Meeting “Evangelii Gaudium: Reception and Perspectives. The “Church which goes forth"”. Over the last three days participants including Bishops, religious and lay people from all over the world have been gathered in the Vatican to discuss the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation six years on from its publication.

“I would like to say very simply: the joy of the Gospel springs from the encounter with Jesus.”  Those were the Pope’s words on Saturday in the newly restored Hall of Benedictions in the Vatican.
Speaking to participants taking part in this International Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, he said, "We need a free and simple Church, which does not think of looking good, of convenience and of entrances, but outward looking ".

The need to proclaim the Gospel arises spontaneously

“It is when we encounter the Lord that we are flooded with that love of which he alone is capable”. At that point, Pope Francis went on to say, “the need to proclaim the Gospel arises spontaneously and becomes irrepressible.”
“This is how evangelization began, on Easter morning”, the Pope explained, “with a woman, Mary Magdalene who, after meeting the risen Jesus, the Living One, evangelized the Apostles.”
“The experience of so many people today is not far from that of Mary of Magdala. Nostalgia for God, for an infinite and true love, is rooted in the heart of every man”, he said.
The Pope stressed that, “to live you need the God of love.”  If that love was constantly in our hearts, he added, we would not breathe indifference or be wrapped up in a culture of consumerism.
Those who evangelize, stressed the Pontiff, “can never forget that they are always on the road, searching with others.”

Follow new paths

During his address, Pope Francis said we must not “hold back our fear of making mistakes and our fear of following new paths.”
“Our poverties are not obstacles”, he commented, “but precious instruments, because God's grace loves to manifest itself in weakness”.
Concluding his speech, the Pope said that the first Christians, who everyone was against and who were persecuted for their faith should be our guide.
We should, “not be saddened by things that are not going well, by labours, by misunderstandings: they are small things in the face of "the sublimity of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord", Pope Francis advised.
“Let us not allow ourselves to be infected by the defeatism according to which everything goes wrong”, but instead, “let us invoke its author every day, the Holy Spirit, who makes life a love story with God.”