Thursday, November 30, 2023

The first December Saint of the Day


St. Edmund Campion

Edmund was born in London, the son of a bookseller. He was raised a Catholic, given a scholarship to St. John's College, Oxford, when fifteen, and became a fellow when only seventeen. His brilliance attracted the attention of such leading personages as the Earl of Leicester, Robert Cecil, and even Queen Elizabeth. He took the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging Elizabeth head of the church in England and became an Anglican deacon in 1564. Doubts about Protestanism increasingly beset him, and in 1569 he went to Ireland where further study convinced him he had been in error, and he returned to Catholicism. Forced to flee the persecution unleashed on Catholics by the excommunication of Elizabeth by Pope Pius V, he went to Douai, France, where he studied theology, joined the Jesuits, and then went to Brno, Bohemia, the following year for his novitiate. He taught at the college of Prague and in 1578 was ordained there. He and Father Robert Persons were the first Jesuits chosen for the English mission and were sent to England in 1580. His activities among the Catholics, the distribution of his Decem rationes at the University Church in Oxford, and the premature publication of his famous Brag (which he had written to present his case if he was captured) made him the object of one of the most intensive manhunts in English history. He was betrayed at Lyford, near Oxford, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and when he refused to apostatize when offered rich inducements to do so, was tortured and then hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on December 1 on the technical charge of treason, but in reality because of his priesthood. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the forty English and Welsh Martyrs. His feast day is December 1.

NYT Article: Pope Francis cracks down on those he views as seeking to derail his papal agenda


Pope’s Critics Feel the Sting After His Patience Runs Out

Vatican observers see a leader more willing to crack down on those seeking to derail his agenda for the Roman Catholic Church.

Reporting from Rome

As Pope Francis smiled warmly at the circus performers spinning and flipping in front of him at his weekly general audience in the Vatican on Wednesday, he looked every bit the grandfatherly figure who has for the last decade sought to make the church a kinder, gentler and more inclusive place.

Except for the people feeling his wrath.

There is a sense among some Vatican analysts and conservatives that Francis, who is suffering from a lung inflammation that forced him to pass off his readings at the event and to cancel an important trip to Dubai this weekend, is increasingly focusing his depleted energies on settling scores and cleaning house.

In the last month, he has turned his focus on two of his most vocal and committed conservative critics in the United States, and in the year since the death of his conservative predecessor, Benedict XVI, he has exiled a previously protected chief antagonist and moved against others who have accused him of destroying the church.

While some have wondered whether his ailing health might be driving his actions, Francis, who from the beginning said he didn’t expect to live long in the job, has often moved with urgency. And when it comes to personnel moves, analysts said, it has always been thus.

“He has always acted like this,” said Sandro Magister, a veteran Vatican observer at L’Espresso magazine, who cited cases of bishops that Francis had iced out for publicly divulging private conversations or for making him look bad or causing scandal, whether or not they were actually to blame.

But Mr. Magister said the death of Benedict XVI last December was the real catalyst for an even more intensive period of “frenetic activism” against his foes, with the former pope no longer a presence in the Vatican gardens.

While conservatives have long complained that the publicly cuddly pontiff has actually acted as a ruthless and impetuous autocrat, supporters of Francis, who will turn 87 next month and is increasingly slowed by the use of a cane and a wheelchair, say that he has exercised patience far beyond that of his conservative predecessors.

But that patience, people close to him say, has limits. And after years of allowing criticism in the interest of allowing good-faith debates, Francis has come to the conclusion that some of the invective is simply politically and ideologically driven.

Earlier this month, a Vatican investigation into the bishop of Tyler, Texas, Joseph Strickland, who uses his broad conservative radio and internet platform to sharply criticize the pope, resulted in his removal. Last week, after Pope Francis started feeling under the weather, he told a meeting of church office heads that he would take action against another American antagonist, Cardinal Raymond Burke, by revoking his right to a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary because, according to one attendee, the American was “sowing disunity” in the church. The conservative Italian outlet that first reported Cardinal Burke’s possible eviction, La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, also claimed that Francis had called Cardinal Burke “my enemy.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the pope’s biographer Austen Ivereigh said that Francis denied calling Cardinal Burke his enemy. “I never used the word ‘enemy,’ nor the pronoun ‘my,’” Francis wrote in a note to Mr. Ivereigh.  Francis also told Mr. Ivereigh that he had decided to strip Cardinal Burke of his Vatican apartment and salary because the American prelate had been acting against the unity of the church.

A spokesman for Cardinal Burke on Wednesday said the prelate had received no eviction notice.

“His Eminence did not receive any notification on that matter,” said Canon Erwan Wagner, Cardinal Burke’s secretary.

Yet even if Cardinal Burke does lose his lease, he will not exactly end up on the street. A conservative Catholic celebrity, his guest appearances at churches and speaking engagements are often paired with promotions of his many books. He is close to well-financed conservative groups in the United States that are supportive of his campaigns. He also maintains the real instrument of his power in the church: a vote in the next conclave to elect a pope.

“Taking away an apartment is not a sanction, it’s a gesture of spite,” said Alberto Melloni, a church historian and the director of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Sciences in Bologna. The removal of Bishop Strickland was more serious because while Cardinal Burke’s punishment “was administrative, the other was sacramental.”

Mr. Melloni argued that Francis had long been wary of giving his opponents something to complain about and has in the past been careful not to make martyrs out of his antagonists. But now, the conservatives would make a meal out of his latest crackdowns and eventually enter the next conclave, the meeting of cardinals that selects the pope’s successor, saying “never again.”

But if conservatives are worried about Francis’ hard actions recently, liberals have lamented his inaction. In major church policy areas, such as allowing married priests, same-sex blessings or communion for the divorced and remarried, Francis has instead punted time and again.

A recent major assembly in the Vatican of bishops and laypeople drew the condemnation of Cardinal Burke, who depicted it as a hostile and illegitimate takeover of the Catholic church by progressive interest groups. But the gathering ended up doing very little, and left forces urging meaningful change in the role of L.G.B.T.Q. and female followers of the church disappointed. And Francis has strongly resisted the efforts of the progressive German church to move independently of the Vatican on issues ranging from priestly celibacy to same-sex blessings.

But after his more conservative predecessors cracked down on, and even fired, liberal theologians, Francis and his reform agenda have clearly been better news for progressives in the church, and bad news for traditionalists accustomed to getting what they wanted.

Cardinal Burke, who in many ways became a champion to conservatives for the opposition to Pope Francis, also became perhaps the greatest papal punching bag.

In 2013, the year he was elected pope, Francis did not reappoint Cardinal Burke to his position on the Congregation for Bishops, and the following year, he also removed him from his post as prefect of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, and named him cardinal patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, a ceremonial post for a medieval religious order. He eventually removed him from that too. For good measure, Francis later removed the cardinal’s ally, the traditionalist leader of the Order of Malta, Matthew Festing, over a staffing conflict.

But Cardinal Burke is hardly alone in facing the pope’s ire.

In 2014, Francis seemed to give a major promotion to the Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, a figure beloved by traditionalists, making him head of the church’s office on liturgy. But critics argued that Cardinal Sarah was isolated at the top because Francis surrounded him with his own allies. He ultimately removed the church’s prayer book from Cardinal Sarah’s hands altogether, accepting his resignation, and then cracked down on the use of the old Latin Mass, beloved by Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Burke and other conservatives, arguing it had been used for disunity in the church.

In 2017, Francis perplexed Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, then the church’s doctrinal watchdog, by ordering him to fire three conservative priests in his office. Then Francis got rid of Cardinal Müller.

The current occupant of that job is Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, a fellow Argentine who Mr. Magister called “the direct opposite of Benedict,” the conservative pope often called “God’s Rottweiler” who himself headed that office for decades when he was a cardinal.

Earlier this year, soon after the death of Benedict XVI, Francis essentially exiled to Germany Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, who had served as prefect of the papal household. Archbishop Gänswein had published a book that exposed tensions between Francis and Benedict.

Those measures drew attention, but the punishment of the prelates from the United States, a country whose clerics the Argentine pontiff has long been skeptical of, has touched a conservative nerve. Close allies of Francis have said that America, with its well-funded conservative Catholic media apparatus, amplified far and wide criticism intended to derail the pope’s vision of a more inclusive church.

Asked on the papal plane returning from Africa in 2019 about the American conservatives attacking his pontificate across vast media platforms, he seemed to shrug off the possibility of their splitting off from the church.

“I pray there are no schisms,” he said. “But I’m not scared.”

On Feast of St. Andrew, Pope Francis sends greetings to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew


Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew embrace during a meeting in Rome in SeptemberPope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew embrace during a meeting in Rome in September  (Vatican Media)

Pope sends greetings to Ecumenical Patriarch on feast of St. Andrew

In his traditional greetings to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the occasion of the feast of Saint Andrew, the patron of Constantinople, Pope Francis highlights the historic meeting of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964, and prays that Sts Peter and Andrew might obtain for us the gifts of fraternal communion and peace.

By Christopher Wells

Sixty years ago, Paul VI and Athenagoras met together in Jerusalem, the first such meeting between a Pope and an Ecumenical Patriarch in more than a thousand years.

“That encounter was a vital step forward in breaking down the barrier of misunderstanding, distrust and even hostility that had existed for almost a millennium,” writes Pope Francis, in his annual greetings to the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I.

The Pope continues, saying, “It is noteworthy that today we remember not so much the words and statements of those two prophetic Pastors, but above all their warm embrace.”

He says their example shows “that all authentic paths to the restoration of full communion among the Lord’s disciples are characterized by personal contact and time spent together.”

At the same time, “friendly dialogue, common prayer and joint action in service to humanity” can similarly contribute to overcoming the differences between Christ’s disciples.”

Pope Francis recalls that, “with God’s help,” he and Bartholomew have been able to follow in the footsteps of their “Venerable Predecessors.” In particular, the Pope expresses his gratitude for the Patriarch’s participation in the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil ahead of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October, and the participation of a fraternal delegate from Constantinople in the work of the Assembly.

The Pope concludes his letter with an invitation to “fervently pray to God, our merciful Father, that the clamour of arms, which brings only death and destruction, may cease, and that government and religious leaders may always seek the path of dialogue and reconciliation.”

“May the Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew intercede for all peoples and obtain for them the gifts of fraternal communion and peace.”

Pope reflects on the feminine dimension of Church; calls for more women theologians


Pope Francis greets members of the International Theological CommissionPope Francis greets members of the International Theological Commission  (Vatican Media)

Pope calls for reflection on feminine dimension of Church

Pope Francis highlights the need for more women theologians in remarks to members of the International Theological Commission on Thursday, and calls on the Commission to propose “an evangelizing theology, which promotes dialogue with the world of culture.”

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis highlighted the feminine dimension of the Church on Thursday, emphasizing the need for women’s perspective in theology. “Women have a different capacity for theological reflection than we men do,” the Pope said.

His extemporaneous remarks came during an audience with members of the International Theological Commission (ITC), which, as the Pope noted, is composed primarily of men.

The Church is woman

“The Church is woman,” he said, continuing his reflection. “And if we do not understand what woman is or what the theology of womanhood is, we will never understand what the Church is.” He described the "masculinizing" of the Church as a “great sin,” which has yet to be resolved.

The Pope appealed to a distinction proposed by Jesuit theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who described a “Petrine” or ministerial principle, and a “Marian” or mystical principle. “The Marian is more important than the Petrine,” Pope Francis said, “because there is the bride Church, the woman Church, without being masculine.”

This should lead not only to more women represented in the ITC, but also to greater reflection on the Church as woman and as bride. “This is a task I ask of you, please. 'Demasculinize' the Church.”

An evangelizing theology

In his prepared remarks, which were distributed to those present, Pope Francis said, “Today we are called to dedicate ourselves with all the energy of our hearts and minds to ‘a missionary conversion of the Church’.” This, he said, is a response “to Jesus’ call to evangelize, which the Second Vatican Council made its own and which still guides our ecclesial journey.”

He added that the ITC is called to take the lead, in a qualified way, in finding “a way of thinking” that knows how to share the truth about God convincingly and does so by proposing “an evangelizing theology that promotes dialogue with the world of culture.” He added that this must be done in harmony with the people of God, “with a privileged place for the poor and the simple,” but also in prayer and adoration before God.”

Anniversary of the Council of Nicea

The Pope then noted the Commission’s work on anthropological and ecological questions, while focusing especially on their “updated and incisive reflection on the permanent relevance of the Trinitarian and Christological faith confessed by Nicea,” which is being undertaken in preparation for the 1700th anniversary of the first Ecumenical Council.

Pope Francis highlighted the spiritual, synodal, and ecumenical significance of the Council of Nicea. Theologians, he said, are called “to spread new and surprising gleams of Christ’s eternal light in the house of the Church and in the darkness of the world.”

Nicea and synodality

The Pope insisted that synodality “is the way to translate into attitudes of communion and processes of communion the Trinitarian dynamic with which God, through Christ and in the breath of the Holy Spirit, comes to humanity," while theologians have the responsibility “of unleashing the richness of this wonderful ‘humanizing energy’.”

Toward a common celebration of Easter

Finally, the Holy Father recalled the ecumenical significance of the anniversary, noting that all “disciples of Jesus” are united in professing the Creed proclaimed at Nicea.

He noted that in 2025, the year of the anniversary, all Christians will celebrate Easter on the same date, saying, “How beautiful it would be if it marked the concrete start of an always common celebration of Easter!”

He invited those present to “carry this dream in our hearts, and invoke the creativity of the Spirit, so that the light of the Gospel and of communion may shine more brightly.”

Pope Francis discusses poor health leading to fragility


Pope Francis with seminar participantsPope Francis with seminar participants  (Vatican Media)

Pope: ‘Poorly cared-for health succumbs to fragility’

Meeting with participants in a seminar on “Ethics in Health Management’, Pope Francis says he is recovering from infectious bronchitis, and reflects on the importance of caring for one’s health.

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis held an audience on Thursday with participants in a seminar on “Ethics in Health Management”.

In off-the-cuff remarks, he took the opportunity to reflect on his own health.

“As you can see, I am alive,” he joked. “The doctor didn't let me go to Dubai. The reason is that it's very hot there, and going from the heat to air conditioning is not convenient in this bronchial situation.”

The Pope also thanked God that his illness was not pneumonia, calling it “a very acute, infectious bronchitis.”

“I no longer have a fever, but antibiotics and such things are still ongoing,” he said.

Strength and fragility

Pope Francis then turned to the topic of health in general and the importance of caring for it.

“Health is both strong and fragile,” he said. “‘What health this person has, how resilient, how strong,’ but it is also fragile. Poorly cared-for health succumbs to fragility.”

The Pope added that he sees the value of preventative medicine, because it “prevents events before they occur.”

He expressed his appreciation for the topic of the seminar, and said people should both seek medical solutions when they are ill and preserve their health when they are well.

“Not only seeking medical and pharmacological solutions but also caring for health, thinking about the good of health, and how to preserve that good,” he said. “Not just curing but preserving.”

Pope’s health situation

The Pope has been recovering from a pulmonary inflammation since Saturday when he underwent a CT scan to properly assess his medical condition amid flu symptoms.

He had been due to make an Apostolic Journey to Dubai to attend the COP28 climate summit on 1-3 December but cancelled the visit on Tuesday evening on the advice of his doctors.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Tommorrow starts the St. Andrew Christmas Novena


When does the St. Andrew Christmas Novena start?

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/29/23

The feast of St. Andrew marks the beginning of the Christmas Novena, which contains a beautiful prayer that can be prayed throughout Advent.

Each year many Catholics around the world prepare for the birth of Jesus by praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena.

When does it start?

The Christmas Novena begins on the feast of St. Andrew, which is always on November 30. The prayers do not contain any reference to St. Andrew, but only use his feast as a starting point.

One of the reasons for this starting point is that Advent always begins on the Sunday closest to November 30.

The prayer itself is entirely focused on Christmas and pictures the night of Jesus’ birth with beautifully poetic language.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight,
in Bethlehem,
in the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O my God,
to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
[here mention your request]
through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

According to Catholic Company, “While the origins of this prayer are unknown, it is over 100 years old (at least) and may have come from Ireland.”

The prayer is customarily prayed 15 times a day, but in reality it can be prayed once a day or whenever you remember throughout the next month, all the way until Christmas Day.

The St. Andrew Christmas Novena is a beautiful way to prepare your heart for Christmas, looking forward to his coming, while also recalling the humble conditions of his birth.

Saints Feast of an Apostle


St. Andrew the Apostle

Feastday: November 30
Patron: of Fishermen, singers, Scotland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Patras
Birth: Early 1st Century
Death: Mid-to late 1st Century

St. Andrew, also known as Andrew the Apostle, was a Christian Apostle and the older brother to St. Peter.

According to the New Testament, Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee during the early first century. Much like his younger brother, Simon Peter, Andrew was also a fisherman. Andrew's very name means strong and he was known for having good social skills.

In the Gospel of Matthew, it is said Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and saw Andrew and Simon Peter fishing. It is then he asked the two to become disciples and "fishers of men."

In the Gospel of Luke, Andrew is not initially named. It describes Jesus using a boat, believed to be solely Simon's, to preach to the multitudes and catch a large amount of fish on a night that originally was dry. Later, in Luke 5:7, it mentions Simon was not the only fisherman on the boat, but it is not until Luke 6:14 that there is talk of Andrew being Simon Peter's brother.

However, the Gospel of John tells a separate story, stating Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist stated, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" It is then that Andrew and another made the decision to follow Jesus.

Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels, but it is believed Andrew was one of the closer disciples to Jesus. It was he who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes, according to John 6:8. When Philip wanted to speak to Jesus about Greeks seeking him, he spoke to Andrew first. Andrew was also present at the last supper.

Per Christian tradition, Andrew went on to preach the Good News around the shores of the Black Sea and throughout what is now Greece and Turkey. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras. He was bound, rather than nailed, to a cross, as is described in the Acts of Andrew. He was crucified on a cross form known as "crux decussata," which is an X-shaped cross or a "saltire." Today this is commonly referred to as "St. Andrew's Cross." It is believed Andrew requested to be crucified this way, because he deemed himself "unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus."

Andrew's remains were originally preserved at Patras. However, some believe St. Regulus, who was a monk at Patras, received a vision telling him to hide some of Andrew's bones. Shortly after Regulus' dream, many of Andrew's relics were transferred to Constantinople by order of Roman emperor Constantius II around 357. Regulus later received orders in a second dream telling him to take the bones "to the ends of the earth." He was to build a shrine for them wherever he shipwrecked. He landed on the coat of Fife, Scotland.

In September 1964, Pope Paul VI had all of St. Andrew's relics that ended up in Vatican City sent back to Patras. Now, many of Andrew's relics and the cross on which he was martyred are kept in the Church of St. Andrew in Patras.

St. Andrew is venerated in Georgia as the first preacher of Christianity in that territory and in Cyprus for having struck the rocks creating a gush of healing waters upon landing on the shore.

His saltire cross is featured on the flag of Scotland and is represented in much of his iconography. He is commonly portrayed as an old man with long white hair and a beard, often holding the Gospel book or a scroll.

St. Andrew is the patron saint of fishermen and singers. He is also the patron saint to several countries and cities including: Scotland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Patras and his feast day is celebrated on November 30.