Wednesday, June 5, 2013

TODAY'S SAINT : JUNE 6 : ST. NORBERT

St. Norbert
FOUNDER
Feast: June 6


Information:
Feast Day:June 6
Born:1080 at Xanten, Germany
Died:6 June 1134 at Magdeburg, Germany
Canonized:1582 by Pope Gregory XIII
Patron of:invoked during childbirth for safe delivery; Magdeburg, peace
St. Norbert was born at Santen, in the duchy of Cleves, in 1080. His father, Heribert, count of Gennep, was related to the emperor, and his mother derived her pedigree from the house of Lorraine. The rank which his birth gave him was rendered more illustrious by the excellent qualifications of his mind and body. His application to his studies was equal to the quickness of his parts, and he went through his academical exercises with extraordinary applause. But being at first blinded by the flattery of the world, he suffered himself to be carried away by its pleasures and pastimes, and had no higher thoughts than how he might live in honor and at his ease. He even received the ecclesiastical tonsure with a worldly spirit; and though he was instituted to a canonry at Santen and ordained sub-deacon, he neither changed his spirit nor his conduct. Being naturally inclined to mirth and gayety, he was the soul of all parties of pleasure, and by living in a circle of diversions, he drowned his soul in a round of vanities and trifling amusements, and was a stranger to serious reflection on himself, which would have opened his eyes. He would not be prevailed on to receive any higher orders for fear of a greater restraint on his conduct; and he led the same manner of life in the court of his cousin, the emperor Henry IV., who appointed him his almoner. God beheld with compassion the heart of this young nobleman enslaved to the world, in which he in vain sought that contentment and quiet of mind which no earthly advantages can afford, and which it is in the power of virtue alone to give. But to break his secret chains an extraordinary grace was necessary; and God awakened him from his spiritual lethargy by an alarming accident. Norbert was riding to a village in Westphalia, called Freten, in pursuit of his pleasures, mounted on a horse richly caparisoned, and attended by only one servant, when, in the midst of a pleasant meadow, he was overtaken by a violent storm, accompanied with dreadful thunder and lightning. Finding himself at a great distance from any shelter, he was overwhelmed with perplexity and fear, and while he was going on briskly, having set spurs to his horse, a ball of fire, or lightning, with a loud clap of thunder, fell just before his horse's feet, burned the grass, and cleft the earth. The poor beast, thus affrighted, threw his rider who lay like one dead for near an hour. At last coming to himself, like another Saul, he cried out to God, in the bitter compunction of his heart, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" To which the divine grace interiorly suggested this reply, "Turn away from evil, and do good: seek after peace, and pursue it." Being thus humbled in the full career of his passions, he became upon the spot a sincere penitent. Returning no more to the court, he withdrew to his canonry at Santen, there led a life of silence and retirement, wore a hair shirt next his skin, and spent his time in tears, holy prayer, and meditation. Now taking a serious review of himself and the world, he detested his past ingratitude to God, and his folly in serving a deceitful world which mingles in all its delights much gall and bitterness, far outweighing the false and momentary pleasure. The remembrance of the divine mercy which had spared him, while many others had been cut off in their sins, and in a moment been buried in hell, pierced his heart to the quick, and drew daily from his eyes streams of tears, by which he endeavored to wash away the stains of his soul. The fire of divine love thus kindled in his heart, gained strength every day by his fidelity, and by fresh supplies of grace. But his conversion was completed by a retreat which he made in St. Sigebert's monastery near Cologne, and by the pious exhortations of Conon, the holy abbot of that house, who was made soon after bishop of Ratisbon. Norbert was at this time in the thirtieth year of his age.

After his conversion, he employed two years in preparing himself for the priesthood, which he received from the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, together with the order of deacon, his fervor seeming a sufficient cause for such a dispensation. At the time of his ordination, he appeared in a lambskin cassock tied with a cord, and thus published to the world, that from that moment he renounced all its vanities. After his ordination, he returned to Conon, and made, under his direction, a severe retreat of forty days to dispose himself by tears, prayer, and fasting to say his first mass, which he came back to Santen to celebrate with his chapter. After the gospel was sung at high mass, he mounted the pulpit, and made a most pathetic sermon on the vanity of the world, the shortness of human life, and the insufficiency of all created beings to satisfy the heart of man; and he indirectly inveighed against the disorders of his colleagues. In a chapter which was held the next day, he pointed them out more distinctly, and pressed a reformation so vigorously, that several of them became perfect converts, and loudly condemned their past irregularities. But others, who could not bear that their sores should be touched to the quick, burst out into intemperate rage against him, and not content with ill-usage, they accused him to the pope's legate as an innovator, a hypocrite, and one who covered pernicious designs under the specious presence of zeal for a reformation of manners. The saint, having before his eyes the sins of his past life, confessed that he deserved all manner of contempt and ill treatment, and rejoiced under injuries and afflictions Nevertheless, reflecting on what he owed to God's honor, he purged himself before the legate, in a council held at Fritzlar, in 1118. Soon after, inflamed with an ardent zeal to live to God alone, he resigned all his ecclesiastical preferments into the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, and sold his own estate, giving the money to the poor, reserving only to himself ten marks of silver, a mule, and sacred vestments and ornaments for the altar. Thus divested of all that could engage his stay in his own country, he travelled barefoot to St. Giles's in Languedoc, where pope Gelasius II. was at that time. He threw himself at his holiness's feet, and with extraordinary compunction, made to him a general confession of his whole life, begging absolution of all his past disorders, especially of the irregularity committed in his receiving the holy orders of deacon and priest at the same time, with out observing the interstices prescribed by the canons, though it had been done by the dispensation of his diocesan; and cheerfully offered himself to make any satisfaction. He obtained of the pope faculties to preach the gospel where he judged proper. It was then the depth of winter. Yet he walked barefoot through the snow, and, inflamed with an ardent love of God, and desire of promoting his glory, seemed insensible to the rigors of the season. His whole life was a perpetual lent, and he never took his meal till evening, except on Sundays. He preached penance with incredible fruit over the provinces of Languedoc, Guienne, Poitou, and Orleanois. Till he came to Orleans, he had been accompanied only by two laymen; but, passing through that city, was joined by a subdeacon, who desired to assist him in his mission. His three disciples all fell sick, and died at Valenciennes, in Hainault, in 1119. In that city Burchard, bishop of Cambray, who had been acquainted with the saint in the emperor's court, meeting him, was extremely edified with his humility, penance, and zeal; and Hugh, his chaplain, quitting his hopes and prospects in the world, resolved to accompany Norbert in his apostolical labors: this great man afterwards succeeded him in the government of his order. With this companion, the saint preached penance through all Hainault, Brabant, and the territory of Liege. The people crowded to hear him wherever he came, and his sermons, enforced and illustrated by an evangelical life, procured the conversion of great numbers, reconciled those that were at variance, and engaged usurers and others to make restitution of their ill-gotten goods.

Pope Calixtus II. having succeeded Gelasius II. in 1119, Norbert went to Rheims, where his Holiness held a council soon after his exaltation. The prelates of that assembly were no less charmed with the eloquence, wisdom, and piety of this great servant of God, than amazed at the austerity of his penance, which some advised him in vain to moderate. He was introduced to the pope, who was one of the greatest men that had filled the apostolic chair, by Bartholomew bishop of Laon, and obtained a fresh grant of the privileges and faculties he had received from his predecessor. That prelate earnestly requested that his Holiness would allow him to fix the holy man in his diocese, that he might employ him in reforming the regular canons of St. Martin's church at Laon. The pope readily consented, but these canons could not be induced to submit to his severe regulations. Wherefore the zealous bishop gave the holy man the choice of several places to build a house. The saint pitched upon a lonesome valley called Premontre, in the forest of Coucy, where he found the remains of a small chapel, which bore the name of St. John, but stood in so barren a soil that the monks of St. Vincent at Laon, the proprietors of it, had abandoned it. The bishop bought of them this desert piece of land, and there built a monastery for the saint, who assembled out of Brabant thirteen brethren, desirous to serve God under his direction. Their number soon increased to forty, who made their profession on Christmas-day, 1121. The saint gave them the rule of St. Austin, with a white habit, destining them, in imitation of the angels in heaven, to sing the divine praises on earth. Their manner of living was very austere; but their order is no other than a reformation of regular canons. It was soon spread over several parts of Europe. Among the foundations made by our saint, that of St. Michael's at Antwerp was attended with circumstances which were illustrious proofs of his zeal. That town was then in the diocese of Cambray, and consisted at that time but of one parish, which fell into the hands of an unworthy pastor, by whose sloth and irregular conduct the flock was sunk into great disorders. Tankelin, a bold and eloquent heretic, took his advantage of this unhappy state of the church at Antwerp, and openly asserted that the institution of the priesthood is a fiction, and that the eucharist and other sacraments are of no service to salvation. He drew after him three thousand persons, who believed him a great prophet, and were ready to commit any outrages to support his impious extravagances. After he had spread his errors in the dioceses of Utrecht, Cambray, and the adjacent churches, luring the people with magnificent banquets, and practising the most filthy abominations of the Gnostics, he was slain in 1115, in those tumults which himself had raised, meeting with the usual fate of the authors of seditions and disturbers of the public peace.

The combustion, however, continued still to rage with no less fury than ever, and to fill the whole country with desolation. The reputation of the sanctity and erudition of Norbert attracted the eyes of all Europe; and the canons of Antwerp, in this distress of their church, being joined by Burchard their bishop, who resided at Cambray, implored his charitable assistance. The saint lost no time, and arrived at Antwerp with a select number of his canons who labored under his direction. Such was the success of this mission, that in a short time the people were undeceived, the heretics converted, abuses reformed, and the city restored to its former tranquillity and lustre. The clergy of Antwerp settled St. Michael's church on the saint and his order; and removed the ancient college of secular canons to our Lady's, which in 1559 was erected by pope Paul IV. into a cathedral, when Antwerp was made a bishop's see. The bishop of Cambray confirmed the donation of St. Michael's to the saint in 1124. St. Norbert revived the devotion of the people to the holy sacrament of the altar, and its frequent use, which heresy had interrupted, and had the comfort to see this church flourish in piety before he returned to his first settlement. His order was then much increased, and contained ten abbeys and eight hundred religious men. Among others who embraced his rule, count Godfrey, a nobleman of high renown in the empire, put on the habit at Floreff near Namur, and led an exemplary life in that convent, serving God in the humble quality of a lay-brother. Several other persons of distinction fled from the corruption of the world to the sanctuaries established by this great director in the paths of salvation. His institute had been approved by the legates of Calixtus II., but a more solemn confirmation being judged necessary, St. Norbert undertook a journey to Rome in 1125. Pope Honorius II., who had succeeded Calixtus II. in the close of the foregoing year, and was a great encourager of learning and of good men, received him with all possible marks of respect and affection, and granted all he desired, as appears by his bull, dated in the February following. The saint at his return to Premontre, put the abbey of St. Martin's at Laon under his rule, which the canons then demanded, though they had rejected it six or seven years before. The abbey of Viviers in the diocese of Soissons made the same step. Theobald, a prime nobleman of France, desired to embrace his order; but the saint diverted him from that design, showing him that God, by the situation in which he had placed him in the world, pointed out what he required at his hands; he made him sensible that his obligations to his family and bleeding country were ties in conscience, and that by faithfully acquitting himself of them, he would most effectually labor to advance the honor, and accomplish the will of God.

Norbert having completed the great work of the establishment of his order, was obliged to quit his monastery, to be placed in a more exalted station for the benefit of many. The count of Champagne, who did nothing of importance without the advice and direction of our saint, took him into Germany, whither he was going to conclude a treaty of marriage between himself and Maud, a niece to the bishop of Ratisbon. After the death of the unhappy emperor Henry V., Lothaire II., duke of Saxony, was chosen king of the Romans in 1125, though he was only crowned emperor at Rome in 1132, by pope Innocent II. This excellent prince, whose reign was equally glorious and religious, was holding a diet at Spire when the count and St. Norbert arrived at that city. Deputies from the city of Magdeburg were come to the same place to solicit Lothaire for an archbishop in the room of Roger, who died the year before. Two persons were proposed for that dignity; but Lothaire preferred Norbert to them both. At his name the deputies rejoiced exceedingly; and, indeed, the saint was the only person not pleased with the nomination. The pope's legate, cardinal Gerard, who afterwards sat in St. Peter's chair under the name of Lucius II., made use of his authority to oblige him to comply. The deputies of Magdeburg took him with them to that city, where he was met at a distance by the principal persons, and by his clergy. He followed the procession barefoot, and was conducted to the church, and thence to his palace. But his dress was so mean and poor, that the porter shut the door against him, saying: "Why will you go in to disturb my lords?" Those that followed cried out: "He is our bishop." The saint said to the porter: "Brother, you know me better than they do who have raised such a one to this dignity." In this high station the austerity of his life was the same he had practiced in a cloister, only his humility was snore conspicuous. By the joint weight of his authority, eloquence, and example, he made a great reformation both; in the clergy and laity of his diocese; and by his strenuous and undaunted resolution, he recovered a considerable part of the lands of his church which had fallen into the hands of certain powerful secular princes. But his zeal made those his enemies whom his charity could not gain to their duty They loaded him with injuries, decried him among themselves, and encouraged one another in their disobedience and contempt of his person, calling him a stranger, whose manners were opposite to theirs. To such an excess did their rage carry them, that some even made attempts upon his life. One who saw himself obliged by the saint to renounce his licentious manner of life, hired a villain to assassinate him under presence of going to confession on Maundy-Thursday. The saint was apprized of his design, as some authors affirm, by revelation, and he caused him to be searched as he came in, and a dagger was found upon him. Another shot an arrow at the saint, which only missed him to wound another that was near him. Of these villanies Norbert only said, without the least emotion: "Can you be surprised that the devil, after having offered violence to our divine Head, should assault his members?" He always pardoned the assassins, and showed himself ever ready to lay down his life in the defence of truth and justice. By this patience and unshaken courage, ha in three years broke through the chief difficulties which obstructed the reformation of manners he labored to introduce, and from that time he carried on the work, and performed the visitation of his diocese with ease and incredible success. He continued still to superintend the observance of discipline in his order, though upon his episcopal consecration he had left the government thereof to his first disciple Hugh. The fourth general chapter consisted of eighteen abbots.
After the death of pope Honorius II. an unhappy schism divided the church. Innocent II. was duly chosen on the 14th of February, 1130: notwithstanding which, Peter, the son of Leo, under the name of Anacletus II., was acknowledged at Rome, and by Roger duke of Sicily. The true pope was obliged to fly into France, where he held councils at Clermont, Rheims, and Puy in Velay. St. Bernard and St. Norbert labored vigorously to prevent or remedy the disorders which the schism brought into many places. St. Norbert assisted for this purpose at the council which the pope assembled at Rheims in 1131. Upon his return home, the emperor Lothaire, who resolved to march with an army to Rome to put Innocent II. in possession of the Lateran church in 1132, carried our holy bishop with him in that expedition, trusting that his piety, prayers, and zealous exhortations, would contribute very much to the success of his undertaking; and the event answered his expectations. The saint returned to Magdeburg, where he fell, ill, and after four months' tedious sickness, died the death of the just on the 6th of June, in the eighth year of his episcopal dignity, the fifty-third of his age, of our redemption 1134. He was canonized by Gregory XIII. in 1582. Pope Urban VIII. appointed his festival to be kept on the 10th of June. His body remained at Magdeburg till that city embraced the Lutheran doctrine and revolted. The emperor Charles V. laid siege to it; but was prevailed upon to withdraw his army for a great sum of money. In the reign of Ferdinand II. the Lutheran magistrates, at the request of the Norbertine order, and of many princes, consented that the body of St. Norbert should be removed out of their city. The emperor ordered that it should be translated to Prague; which was done with great pomp in 1627. The sacred treasure was carried into that city by fourteen abbots with their mitres on, and laid in the church called of Mount Sion, all the orders of the city attending the ceremony in the most solemn and magnificent procession.

St. Norbert is usually painted holding a ciborium in his hand. He is distinguished by this symbol on account of his extraordinary devotion to the blessed sacrament. He inculcated in all his sermons the frequent use of this divine food, being sensible from daily experience, and from the words of truth itself, that a neglect, and much more a distaste or loathing of the holy communion, is a deplorable symptom of a most dangerous state in a spiritual life. A short interval in order to a better preparation is often a wholesome counsel, and sometimes a necessary duty. But "he who seldom approaches, because he is tepid and cold, is like one who should say I never approach the fire, because I am cold: I have not recourse to the physician, because I am sick," as the devout Gerson writes. This divine sacrament is the most powerful strengthener of our weakness, the sovereign remedy of our spiritual miseries, and the source of heavenly comfort to alleviate the labors and sorrows of our mortal pilgrimage. The deeper sense we have of our spiritual indigence, with so much the greater eagerness ought we continually to cry out: If I shall but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be saved. Can we slight the most tender invitations of our divine Redeemer? Can we disobey his repeated commands, and contemn his threats? Above all, can we be insensible to that excess of infinite love by which he has wrought so many wonders, that he might here abide in us by the strongest alliance? That person cannot love Jesus who is not solicitous to unite himself often with him in this sacrament of love. The devil employs all his artifices to deprive us of this seed of immortality, as the fathers style it. Holofernes, when he besieged Bethulia, seeing the place impregnable, attempted to take it by stopping the pipes which conveyed water to the city, being sure by this stratagem to reduce it. In like manner the devil seeks to draw a soul from this banquet, that when she has lost her strength he may make her an easy prey. St. Ambrose applies to this spiritual food that passage of the psalmist: They that go far from thee, shall perish.
source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/N/stnorbert.asp#ixzz1x11dyn9i

POPE FRANCIS "THE HUMAN PERSON IS IN DANGER" AND LATEST FROM VATICAN

RADIO VATICANA IMAGE:
GENERAL AUDIENCE: CULTURE OF WASTE TREATS PERSONS AS IF THEY WERE GARBAGE
Vatican City, 5 June 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of today's Wednesday morning general audience to the environment, noting that today marks the World Environment Day promoted by the United Nations.
Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis:Catechesis

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today I want to focus on the issue of the environment, which I have already spoken of on several occasions. Today we also mark World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which sends a strong reminder of the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food.

When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it (cf. 2:15). And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb "to cultivate" reminds me of the care that the farmer has for his land so that it bear fruit, and it is shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone. Benedict XVI recalled several times that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not “care” for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation; thus we are no longer able to read what Benedict XVI calls "the rhythm of the love story of God and man." Why does this happen? Why do we think and live in a horizontal manner, we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.

But to "cultivate and care" encompasses not only the relationship between us and the environment, between man and creation, it also regards human relationships. The Popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis: we see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind. The human person is in danger: this is certain, the human person is in danger today, here is the urgency of human ecology! And it is a serious danger because the cause of the problem is not superficial but profound: it is not just a matter of economics, but of ethics and anthropology. The Church has stressed this several times, and many say, yes, that's right, it's true ... but the system continues as before, because it is dominated by the dynamics of an economy and finance that lack ethics. Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the "culture of waste." If you break a computer it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs, the dramas of so many people end up becoming the norm. If on a winter’s night, here nearby in Via Ottaviano, for example, a person dies, that is not news. If in so many parts of the world there are children who have nothing to eat, that's not news, it seems normal. It cannot be this way! Yet these things become the norm: that some homeless people die of cold on the streets is not news. In contrast, a ten point drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy. A person dying is not news, but if the stock markets drop ten points it is a tragedy! Thus people are disposed of, as if they were trash.

This "culture of waste" tends to become the common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person is no longer perceived as a primary value to be respected and protected, especially if poor or disabled, if not yet useful - such as the unborn child - or no longer needed - such as the elderly. This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times, we are no longer able to give a just value, which goes well beyond mere economic parameters. We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.

A few days ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read the story of the miracle of the loaves: Jesus feeds the crowd with five loaves and two fishes. And the conclusion of the piece is important: " They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets" (Lk 9:17). Jesus asks his disciples not to throw anything away: no waste! There is this fact of twelve baskets: Why twelve? What does this mean? Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel, which symbolically represent all people. And this tells us that when food is shared in a fair way, with solidarity, when no one is deprived, every community can meet the needs of the poorest. Human ecology and environmental ecology walk together.

So I would like us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter. Thank you.


Summary in English

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Our Audience today coincides with World Environment Day, and so it is fitting to reflect on our responsibility to cultivate and care for the earth in accordance with God’s command (cf. Gen 2:15). We are called not only to respect the natural environment, but also to show respect for, and solidarity with, all the members of our human family. These two dimensions are closely related; today we are suffering from a crisis which is not only about the just management of economic resources, but also about concern for human resources, for the needs of our brothers and sisters living in extreme poverty, and especially for the many children in our world lacking adequate education, health care and nutrition. Consumerism and a “culture of waste” have led some of us to tolerate the waste of precious resources, including food, while others are literally wasting away from hunger. I ask all of you to reflect on this grave ethical problem in a spirit of solidarity grounded in our common responsibility for the earth and for all our brothers and sisters in the human family.Greeting:
I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore and the United States. God bless you all!



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SUPPORT PRIESTS WITH YOUR PRAYERS, BENEVOLENCE, AND GOOD COUNSEL
Vatican City, 5 June 2013 (VIS) – After his catechesis, greeting the faithful from the different language groups, the Pope welcomed the French-speaking pilgrims from the Antilles, Mauritius, and the Ivory Coast. He took advantage of the opportunity to note the presence of a group of imams from France who are engaged in interreligious dialogue. He also invited all, as he had already urged during the catechesis, to care for creation and for the human person.
He also greeted the seminarians and newly ordained priests from Poland, urging them to thank Christ for the gift of their vocation and to cultivate it “in the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, so that you will always be zealous ministers of God's grace and true guides of the paths of holiness.” He then invited all the Polish people to give thanks to God for their priests and to “support them with your prayers, benevolence, and good counsel.”
 
(Vatican Radio REPORT: Lamenting one’s suffering to God is not a sin, but a prayer of the heart that reaches the Lord: this was Pope Francis’ reflection at Mass Wednesday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence at the Vatican, with the presence of some members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Among others, the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera; Archbishop Joseph DiNoia, secretary of the same Congregation; and Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Library. Listen: RealAudioMP3


The story of Tobit and Sarah, reported in the first reading of the day, was the focus of the Pope’s homily: Two just people who live dramatic situations. The first is blinded despite his performing good works, even risking his life, and the second marries seven men in turn, each of whom dies before their wedding night. Both, in their great sorrow, pray to God to let them die. “They are people in extreme situations,” explained Pope Francis, “and they seek a way out.” He said, “They complain,” but, “they do not blaspheme.”:

“To lament before God is not a sin. A priest I know once said to a woman who lamented to God about her misfortune: ‘But, madam, that is a form of prayer. Go ahead [with it].’ The Lord hears, He listens to our complaints. Think of the greats, of Job, when in chapter III (he says): ‘Cursed be the day I came into the world,’ and Jeremiah, in the twentieth chapter: ‘Cursed be the day’ – they complain even cursing, not the Lord, but the situation, right? It is only human.”

The Holy Father also reflected on the many people who live borderline cases: malnourished children, refugees, the terminally ill. He went on to observe that, in the Gospel of the day, there are the Sadducees who present to Jesus the difficult case of a woman, who is the widow of seven men. Their question, however, was not posed with sincerity:

“The Sadducees were talking about this woman as if she were a laboratory, all aseptic - hers was an [abstract] moral [problem]. When we think of the people who suffer so much, do we think of them as though they were an [abstract moral conundrum], pure ideas, ‘but in this case ... this case ...’, or do we think about them with our hearts, with our flesh, too? I do not like it when people speak about tough situations in an academic and not a human manner, sometimes with statistics ... and that’s it. In the Church there are many people in this situation.”

The Pope said that in these cases, we must do what Jesus says, pray:

“Pray for them. They must come into my heart, they must be a [cause of] restlessness for me: my brother is suffering, my sister suffers. Here [is] the mystery of the communion of saints: pray to the Lord, ‘But, Lord, look at that person: he cries, he is suffering. Pray, let me say, with the flesh: that our flesh pray. Not with ideas. Praying with the heart.”

And the prayers of Tobit and Sarah, which they offer up to the Lord even despite their asking to die, give us hope, because they are accepted by God in His own way, who does not let them die, but heals Tobit and finally gives a husband to Sara. Prayer, he explained, always reaches God, [so long as] it is prayer from the heart.” Instead, “when it is [an abstract exercise], such as that the Sadducees were discussing, never reaches him, because it never goes out of ourselves: we do not care. It is an intellectual game.” In conclusion, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for those who live dramatic situations and who suffer as much as Jesus on the cross, who cry, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” Let us pray - he concluded – “so that our prayer reaches [heaven] and let it be [a source of] hope for all of us.”


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POPE REPEATS HIS CONCERN FOR SYRIA: ASKS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR NEGOTIATED SOLUTION TO CONFLICT AND HUMANITARIAN AID FOR REFUGEES
Vatican City, 5 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning, shortly after 9:00am, in the sitting room of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Pope received participants in the coordination meeting between the Catholic charitable organizations that are acting in the situation of the crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries. The meeting was sponsored by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, whose president is Cardinal Robert Sarah.
“I would like to thank you for coming together,” said the Pope, “and for all the humanitarian work that you are doing to aid the suffering peoples of Syria and nearby countries owing to the conflict there. I encouraged the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to promote this meeting designed to coordinate the activities carried out by Catholic charitable organizations in the region. I wish to express my gratitude to Cardinal Sarah for his greetings. I offer a special welcome to those who have come from the Middle East, especially those representing the Church in Syria.”
“The Holy See’s concern for the crisis in Syria, and in a particular way, for the people, often defenceless, who are suffering as a result of it, is well known. Benedict XVI repeatedly called for a ceasefire and for a search for a resolution through dialogue in order to achieve a profound reconciliation between the sides. Let the weapons be silent! Furthermore, he wished to express his personal closeness this past November, when he sent Cardinal Sarah into the region, accompanying this gesture with the request to 'spare no effort in the search for peace' and manifesting his concrete and fatherly solicitude with a donation, to which the Synod Fathers had also contributed in October.
“The destiny of the Syrian people,” he repeated, “is a concern that is also close to my heart. On Easter Sunday I asked for peace 'above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict, and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there be before a political solution to the crisis is found?'”
“In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace. In recent weeks the international community has reaffirmed its intention to promote concrete initiatives to bring about a fruitful dialogue designed to bring an end to the war. These initiatives are to be encouraged, and it is hoped that they will lead to peace. The Church feels herself called to give her humble yet concrete and sincere witness to the charity which she has learned from Christ, the Good Samaritan. We know that where there is suffering, Christ is present. We cannot pull back, precisely from those situations where the suffering is greatest. Your presence at this coordinating meeting demonstrates your will to faithfully continue this precious work of humanitarian assistance, in Syria and in neighbouring countries which generously receive those who have fled from the war. May your timely and coordinated work be an expression of the communion to which it gives witness, as the recent Synod on the Church in the Middle East suggested.”
“To the international community, besides the pursuit of a negotiated solution to the conflict, I ask for the provision of humanitarian aid for the Syrians who have been displaced and made refugees, showing in the first place the good of each human person and safeguarding their dignity. For the Holy See, the work of various Catholic charitable agencies is extremely significant: assisting the Syrian population, without regard for ethnic or religious affiliation, is the most direct way to contribute to peace and to the construction of a society open and welcoming to all of its different constituent parts. The Holy See also lends its efforts to the building of a future of peace for a Syria in which everyone can live freely and express themselves in their own particular way.”
The Pope also directed his thoughts at the moment “to the Christian communities who live in Syria and throughout the Middle East. The Church supports the members of these communities who today find themselves in special difficulty. These have the great task of continuing to offer a Christian presence in the place where they were born. And it is our task to ensure that this witness remain there. The participation of the entire Christian community to this important work of assistance and aid is imperative at this time. Let us all, each of us, think of Syria. There is so much suffering and poverty, so much pain of Jesus who suffers, who is poor, who is forced out of his homeland. It is Jesus! This is a mystery but it is our Christian mystery. In the beloved Syrians we see Jesus suffering.”
“I offer my gratitude once again,” he concluded, “for this initiative and I invoke upon each one of you abundant divine blessings. This heavenly benediction extends in a particular way to the beloved faithful who live in Syria and to all Syrians who have been forced to leave their homes because of the war. May all of you here present tell the beloved people of Syria and the Middle East that the Pope accompanies them and is near to them. The Church will not abandon them!”
 
TELEGRAM ON DEATH OF CARDINAL NAGY, EXPERT THEOLOGIAN
Vatican City, 5 June 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Cracow, Poland, on receiving news of the death there this morning of Cardinal Stanislaw Kazimierz Nagy, S.C.I., cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria della Scala. Cardinal Nagy was 91 years old.
“On hearing the news of the death of the venerable Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy, I wish to express to you, to the entire diocesan community, to the family members of the worthy prelate, and to the Congregation of Dehonian Fathers my heartfelt participation in their sorrow, affectionately thinking of this dear brother who generously served the Gospel and the Church, especially in the academic world, which appreciated this studious and experienced theology teacher. I recall with gratitude his fruitful collaboration, warm friendship, and mutually shared esteem with Blessed John Paul II, as well as his intense ecumenical activity. I pray earnestly that the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, welcome this faithful servant and eminent man of the Church to eternal peace and joy and I wholeheartedly impart to all who mourn his loss the comfort of the Apostolic Blessing.”
 

RIP CARDINAL STANISLAW NAGY SCI AGE 91 - EXPERT THEOLOGIAN - POPE'S CONDOLENCES


TELEGRAM ON DEATH OF CARDINAL NAGY, EXPERT THEOLOGIAN
Vatican City, 5 June 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Cracow, Poland, on receiving news of the death there this morning of Cardinal Stanislaw Kazimierz Nagy, S.C.I., cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria della Scala. Cardinal Nagy was 91 years old.
“On hearing the news of the death of the venerable Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy, I wish to express to you, to the entire diocesan community, to the family members of the worthy prelate, and to the Congregation of Dehonian Fathers my heartfelt participation in their sorrow, affectionately thinking of this dear brother who generously served the Gospel and the Church, especially in the academic world, which appreciated this studious and experienced theology teacher. I recall with gratitude his fruitful collaboration, warm friendship, and mutually shared esteem with Blessed John Paul II, as well as his intense ecumenical activity. I pray earnestly that the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, welcome this faithful servant and eminent man of the Church to eternal peace and joy and I wholeheartedly impart to all who mourn his loss the comfort of the Apostolic Blessing.”
IMAGE RADIO VATICANA/BING
 

OVER 150000 AT VIGIL OF CHINA'S TIANAMEN SQUARE IN HONG KONG

UCAN REPORT
Demand for vindication of victims 'will not diminish'
<p>Thousands of people packed Victoria Park to commemorate the ‘Tiananmen Incident’</p>

Thousands of people packed Victoria Park to commemorate the ‘Tiananmen Incident’
 
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Tens of thousands of people yesterday braved heavy downpours to mark the 24th anniversary of the “Tiananmen Incident,” a student-led pro-democracy movement that ended in a bloody crackdown in Beijing on June 4, 1989.
The annual two-hour vigil in which organizers called on new Chinese President Xi Jinping to improve human rights and embrace democracy was cut short by an hour due to heavy rain.
Despite this, most of the participants who packed six soccer fields at Victoria Park chose to stay until a democracy movement song that usually concludes the event was sung.
 “We will persist to the end. By this, the Communist Party will be scared,” said one participant who called herself Mrs. Shum.
Noting that the turnout for the event is closely watched by local and international media every year, another participant Leung Wai-si said, “We use our bodies and flesh to tell others that although 24 years has passed our demand for the vindication of the victims has not diminished.”
The organizers, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, estimated 150,000 people took part. The police however estimated the crowd at only 54,000.
Before the vigil there was a split over this year’s slogan: “Love the country, love the people.” Some people felt the wording was meant to promote patriotism for China.
Lee Cheuk-yan, the alliance chairperson later told reporters at the vigil that the turnout shows that “Hong Kong people can put aside arguments and unite together.”
Chan Shu-fai, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, told the crowd that the student-led movement in 1989 was motivated in the name of patriotism. “It is a progressive force. We know the Communist Party twisted its meaning. But why can’t we define our own?” he said.
A smaller group of 200 people took part in separate commemoration at a different location.
“The alliance’s vigil is the same every year. It fails to attract the younger generation,” said Chan Tzi-chun, the organizer.
“We think commemoration of the Tiananmen Incident is not just about casualties but also issues on anti-corruption and the fight for freedom,” said the 27-year-old.
Meanwhile, the former mayor of Beijing who was said to have played a major role in the 1989 crackdown has died.
Chen Xitong died of cancer on Sunday, the Hong Kong China News Agency said without giving further details.
Although credited with supporting the crackdown he was quoted in a book published last year as saying the crackdown could have been avoided and that he regretted the loss of life.   
SHARED FROM UCAN NEWS

FORMER SEMINARY STARS IN NEW MOVIE THE GREAT GATSBY IN AUSTRALIA

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
4 Jun 2013


St Patrick's Seminary at Manly transformed as Long Island Mansion for The Great Gatsby
One of the most outstanding landmarks in Sydney, the Archdiocese of Sydney's former seminary at Manly is one of the undisputed star's of Baz Luhrmann's hit movie, The Great Gatsby.
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel as American imploded on excess on the eve of the depression, the film centres around the mysterious Jay Gatsby, his enormous, enigmatic past, his fabulous parties which he never attends and his ongoing obsession with Daisy, the girl he fell in love with as a young man who is now married to an arrogant, rich philandering husband.
Although set in the US director Baz Luhrmann filmed the entire movie in Australia with the former seminary, now the International College of Management, taking centre stage as the Gatsby's home on Long Island where the fictional hero threw his fabulous Jazz Age parties.
According to Luhrmann, the Gatsby Mansion was created at the former Seminary with fountains and a pond added to the grounds for filming and ivy clustered over the first two floors of its sandstone Gothic exterior.

Cardinal Moran Responsible for St Patrick's College, Australia's first Catholic seminary
The front stairs and entrance way were also changed and gravel put down to create a sweeping driveway.
Originally conceived by the second Archbishop of Sydney, Roger Bede Vaughan, the Church applied for and was granted 12 hectares of land on North Head Reserve in 1859 on which to build a seminary. For almost 30 years the land stood vacant but finally work began in 1885 under the direction of Sydney's third Archbishop, Cardinal Patrick Moran who had arrived in Australia the previous year and was taken with the land and what must be one of the most spectacular sites in Sydney.
Well known 19th century architects, Joseph Sheerin and John Hennessey designed the seminary in a blend of neo-Gothic and Romanesque styles. Using stone quarried from North Head and finer stone sent by barge from Pyrmont, along with cedar and kauri, the four storey seminary with its six storey belltower was eventually finished winning wide praise worldwide.

Former Seminary becomes mansion of Great Gatsby where the fictional hero threw lavish jazz age parties
Hennessy and Sheerin designs were outstanding and before the building was even finished, they were awarded a medal for the architecture at the London's Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886. They would later go on to design other well known Catholic buildings including St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill, the Cathedral of Joseph and Mary at Armidale and were responsible for finishing William Wardell's designs for Sydney's much loved St Mary's Cathedral.
However despite all the praise and their meticulous attention to detail, when the seminary at Manly finally opened on 23 January 1889 there was also considerable controversy over its grandiose size.
"Some may think a seminary on so large a plot is not required. But I look to the future. In erecting this seminary I shall meet the want of all Australian dioceses," Cardinal Moran responded.
Over the next 100 years, 1714 men who studied at St Patrick's Seminary were ordained priests. Many of the nation's outstanding church leaders also trained there, including Cardinals Gilroy, Freeman, Cassidy and Clancy together with more than 41 bishops.

Archdiocese's former St Patrick's Seminary at Manly where much of The Great Gatsby was filmed
In 1995, after a modern purpose built seminary was constructed at Homebush, the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Australian Tourism Group undertook a major refurbishment of the nineteenth century building which was reopened in 2002 as the International College of Management, Sydney.
Although no longer used as a seminary, St Patrick's Estate as it is now called remains one of the most spectacular and historic areas of Sydney. The Hennessy and Sheerin-designed Cardinal Cerretti  Memorial Chapel in the Estate grounds remains a favourite with those planning weddings and on 25 June 2006 is where actress Nicole Kidman chose to wed Keith Urban.


SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

1000 INJURED IN ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS IN TURKEY

ASIA NEWS REPORT
Death toll now stands at three. In recent clashes 1000 injured in Istanbul and 700 in Ankara. In the capital, police use teargas in clashes against demonstrators. The Prime Minister claims the title of "Spring Turkish" to describe the work of his government. Protesters demand his resignation.



Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The public employee unions are starting a two-day strike in support of anti-government demonstrations that have spread throughout the country from Taksim.
The demonstrations that started five days ago in Istanbul, to defend the Gezi Park from property speculation, have become a mass protest movement against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In recent days, the violent clashes between protesters and police have left three people dead. The most recent victim is 22 year old  Comert Abdullah, who died in hospital after being hit by a gunshot during clashes in southern Turkey, on the border with Syria. The first victim was Sarisuluk Ethem, who died in Ankara from a shot of gunshot wound to the head. The second victim is 20 year old Mehmet Ayvalitas: he died in Istanbul hit by a car that drove into the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, human rights groups and doctors have updated the toll of the clashes: the wounded are at least 1000 in Istanbul and a further 700 in Ankara. The interior ministry said they have arrested 1,700 people.

Yesterday there were still demonstrations in Taksim Square. To the cry of "Tayyip, resign!" many protesters tried to reach the house of the Prime Minister in the Besiktas neighborhood, blocked by police and tear gas. This morning, there were clashes between demonstrators and police in Ankara.
The Prime Minister Erdogan, before flying to Morocco, spoke yesterday on television, blaming "vandals" and "extremists" of being behind the demonstrations. He warned against comparing the recent riots to a " Turkish Spring". " Was there a multiparty system in the Arab Spring countries?", he asked. He also claimed that his government, its political and economic reforms are already a "Turkish spring ". "Those in foreign media who talk about a Turkish Spring, we are already going through Turkish Spring, we have been living in it, and those who want to turn it into winter will not succeed".
Erdogan, who came to power in 2002, has modernized the economic structures of the country and reduced the power of the military, launching his nation as a model for the entire Islamic world. He has also recently launched a number of laws on religious education and against the sale of alcohol. But part of the secular society accuses him of wanting to Islamize the country and stifle personal freedoms. Most of the protesters liken him to an authoritarian dictator.

SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

WORLD BISHOPS CALL FOR G8 TO PROTECT POOR

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT

Coalition of world bishops urges G8 to protect poor, address fair trade |  Group of 8 nations,  agriculture, nutrition, trade, transparency, human dignity, Conferences of the European Community

Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the Group of eight nations (G8) are urging national leaders to protect the poor and assist developing countries at the upcoming G8 Summit in the United Kingdom. In a letter dated 3 June, 2013, the bishops urged leaders to focus on agriculture and nutrition ahead of the G8 Meeting.
“In a world that has made great strides in improving food production and distribution, far too many of God’s children still go to bed hungry or suffer from a lack of nutrition, a tragedy that has lifelong consequences for health and educational achievement. In particular, there is a need to strengthen assistance to African countries in order to improve local agriculture,” the letter says.
They also pressed for special attention to tax evasion, trade and transparency issues. “Trade and trade rules must serve the universal common good of the whole human family and the special needs of the most vulnerable nations. It is counterproductive to provide agricultural development assistance on the one hand and then to use unfair agricultural trade policies that harm the agricultural economics of poorer nations on the other,” the letter says.
“The G8’s emphasis on transparency is critical. Human dignity demands truth, and democracy requires transparency. With more and better information, civil societies, including faith-based organizations, can hold their governments accountable and help insure that resources reduce poverty and improve the health of the whole society,” they added.
The bishops argued for a consistent focus on the impact of policies on the poor.
“By asking first how a given policy will affect the poor and the vulnerable, you can help assure that the common good of all is served. As a human family we are only as healthy as our weakest members,” the bishops wrote.
The coalition of bishops who signed the letter includes the presidents of the Catholic Conferences of England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the Conferences of the European Community.
The full text of the letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/poverty/global/upload/2013-G8-Letter.pdf
SHARED FROM IND. CATH. NEWS

FREE CATHOLIC MOVIES - ST. AUGUSTINE - RESTLESS HEART - WATCH

FREE CATHOLIC MOVIES - ST. AUGUSTINE

IN HONOR OF THE YEAR OF FAITH JCE NEWS will be showing some of the Best Catholic Films of all time. Here is the drama of ST. AUGUSTINE in English :
FOR AMAZING FREE MOVIES LIKE US ON FACEBOOK NOW
Please click on Captions at the bottom of the Screen - then click translate Captions and Select English:

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. JUNE 5, 2013

Mark 12: 18 - 27

18 And Sad'ducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying,
19 "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother.
20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children;
21 and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise;
22 and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died.
23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife."
24 Jesus said to them, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?
25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?
27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong."

TODAY'S SAINT : JUNE 5 : ST. BONIFACE

St. Boniface
BISHOP, MARTYR
Feast: June 5


Information:
Feast Day:June 5
Born:673-680 at Crediton, Devonshire, England
Died:5 June 754 at Dokkum, Freisland
Patron of:brewers; file cutters; tailors
Isolated missionary groups had penetrated central Germany in earlier times, but not until the eighth century was there a systematic effort to Christianize the vast pagan wilderness. To the English monk Boniface belongs the honor of opening up this region and creating a hierarchy under direct commission from the Holy See. Thirty-six years of missionary labor under difficult and dangerous conditions, ending at last in martyrdom, entitle this good and courageous man to the designation, "Apostle of Germany."
Boniface, or Winfrid, to give him his baptismal name, was born into a Christian family of noble rank, probably at Crediton in Devonshire, about the year 680. The reorganized English Church, still under the inspiration brought to it from Rome two generations earlier by Augustine of Canterbury, was full of fervor and vitality. Winfrid was a very small boy when he found himself listening to the conversation of some monks who were visiting his home. He resolved then to enter the Church, and this resolution never weakened. Winfrid's father had other plans for his clever son, but a serious illness altered his attitude, and he sent the boy to the neighboring abbey of Exeter to be educated. Some years later, Winfrid went to the abbey of Bursling, in the diocese of Winchester. After completing his studies there, he was appointed head of the school.
His teaching skill attracted many students, and for their use he wrote a grammar which is still extant. The pupils diligently took notes at his classes, and these were copied and circulated in other monasteries, where they were eagerly studied. At the age of thirty he was ordained priest, and now added preaching to teaching and administrative work.

Winfrid was assured of rapid advancement in the English Church, but God revealed to him that his work was to be in foreign lands, where need was greater. Northern Europe and most of Central Europe were still in pagan darkness. In Friesland, which then included modern Netherlands and lands to the east, the Northumbrian missionary Willibrord had long been striving to bring the Gospel to the people. It was to this region that Winfrid felt himself called. Having obtained the consent of his abbot, he and two companions set out in the spring of 716. Soon after landing at Doerstadt they learned that Duke Radbold of Friesland, an enemy of Christianity, was warring with Charles Martel, the Frankish duke, and that Willibrord had been obliged to retire to his monastery at Echternacht. Realizing that the time was inauspicious, the missionaries prudently returned to England in the autumn. Winfrid's monks at Bursling tried to keep him there, and wished to elect him abbot, but he was not to be turned from his purpose.

This first attempt had shown him that to be effective as a missionary he must have a direct commission from the Pope, so in 718, with commendatory letters from the bishop of Winchester, he presented himself in Rome before Gregory II. The Pope welcomed him warmly, kept him in Rome until spring of the following year, when traveling conditions were favorable, and then sent him forth with a general commission to preach the word of God to the heathen. At this time Winfrid's name was changed to Boniface (from the Latin, <bonifatus>, fortunate). Crossing the lower Alps, the missionary traveled through Bavaria into Hesse. Duke Radbold had died and his successor was more friendly. Going into Friesland, Boniface labored for three years under Willibrord, who was now very old. Boniface declined to become Willibrord's coadjutor and successor as bishop of Utrecht, saying that his commission had been general, "to the heathen," and he could not be limited to any one diocese. He now returned to work in Hesse.

Boniface had little difficulty in making himself understood as a preacher, since the dialects of the various Teutonic tribes closely resembled his native Anglo-Saxon. He won the interest of two powerful local chieftains, Dettic and Deorulf, who at some previous time had been baptized. For lack of instruction they had remained little better than pagans; now they became zealous Christians and influenced many others to be baptized. They also gave Boniface a grant of land on which he later founded the monastery of Amoeneburg. Boniface was able to report such remarkable gains that the Pope summoned him back to Rome to be ordained bishop.

In Rome on St. Andrew's Day, November 30, 722, Pope Gregory II consecrated him as regionary bishop with a general jurisdiction over "the races in the parts of Germany and east of the Rhine who live in error, in the shadow of death." The Pope also gave him a letter to the powerful Charles Martel, "The Hammer." When Boniface delivered it to the Frankish duke on his way back to Germany, he received the valuable gift of a sealed pledge of Frankish protection. Armed thus with authority from both the Church and the civil power, the prestige of Boniface was vastly enhanced. On his return to Hesse, he decided to try to root out the pagan superstitions which seriously affected the stability of his converts. On a day publicly announced, and in the midst of an awe-struck crowd, Boniface and one or two of his followers attacked with axes Thor's sacred oak. These German tribes, along with many other primitive peoples, were tree-worshipers. Thor, god of thunder, was one of the principal Teutonic deities, and this ancient oak, which stood on the summit of Mt. Gudenberg, was sacred to him. After a few blows, the huge tree crashed to earth, splitting into four parts. The terrified tribesmen, who had expected a punishment to fall instantly on the perpetrators of such an outrage, now saw that their god was powerless to protect even his own sanctuary.

To signalize the victory, Boniface built a chapel on the spot. From that time the work of evangelization in Hesse proceeded steadily.

Moving east into Thuringia, Boniface continued his crusade. He found a few undisciplined Celtic and Irish priests, who tended to be a hindrance; many of them held heretical beliefs and others lived immoral lives. Boniface restored order among them, although his chief aim was to win over the pagan tribes. At Ohrdruff, near Gotha, he established a second monastery, dedicated to St. Michael, as a missionary center. Everywhere the people were ready to listen, but there was a critical lack of teachers. Boniface appealed to the English monasteries and convents, and their response was so wholehearted that for several years bands of monks, schoolmasters, and nuns came over to place themselves under his direction. The two monasteries already built were enlarged and new ones founded. Among the new English missionaries were Lullus, who was to succeed Boniface at Mainz, Eoban, who was to share his martyrdom, Burchard, and Wigbert; the nuns included Thecla, Chunitrude, and Boniface's beautiful and learned young cousin, Lioba, later to become abbess of Bischofsheim and friend of Hildegarde, Charlemagne's wife.

Pope Gregory III sent Boniface the pallium in 731, appointing him archbishop and metropolitan of all Germany beyond the Rhine, with authority to found new bishoprics. A few years later Boniface made his third trip to Rome to confer about the churches he had founded, and at this time he was appointed apostolic legate. Stopping at Monte Cassino, he enlisted more missionaries. In his capacity as legate he traveled into Bavaria to organize the Church there into the four bishoprics of Regensburg, Freising, Salzburg, and Passau. From Bavaria he returned to his own field and founded new bishoprics at Erfurt for Thuringia, Buraburg for Hesse, Wurzburg for Franconia, and Eichstadt for the Nordgau. An English monk was placed at the head of each new diocese. In 741 the great Benedictine abbey at Fulda was founded in Prussia to serve as the fountainhead of German monastic culture. Its first abbot was Boniface's young Bavarian disciple, Sturm or Sturmio. In the early Middle Ages Fulda produced a host of scholars and teachers, and became known as the Monte Cassino of Germany.

While the evangelization of Germany was proceeding steadily, the Church in Gaul, under the Merovingian kings, was disintegrating. High ecclesiastical offices were either kept vacant, sold to the highest bidder, or bestowed on unworthy favorites. Pluralism, the holding by one man of many offices, each of which should demand his full time, was common. The great mass of the clergy was ignorant and undisciplined. No synod or church council had been held for eighty-four years. Charles Martel had been conquering and consolidating the regions of western Europe, and now regarded himself as an ally of the papacy and the chief champion of the Church, yet he had persistently plundered it to obtain funds for his wars and did nothing to help the work of reform. His death, however, in 74I, and the accession of his sons, Carloman and Pepin the Short, provided an opportunity which Boniface quickly seized. Carloman, the elder, was very devout and held Boniface in great veneration; Boniface had no trouble in persuading him to call a synod to deal with errors and abuses in the Church in Austrasia, Alemannia, and Thuringia.

The first assembly was followed by several others. Boniface presided over them all, and was able to carry through many important reforms. The vacant bishoprics and parishes were filled, discipline reestablished, and fresh vigor infused into the Frankish Church.

A heretic who had been creating much disturbance, one Adalbert of Neustria, was condemned by the synod of Soissons in 744. In 747 another general council of the Frankish clergy drew up a profession of faith and fidelity which was sent to Rome and laid upon the altar in the crypt of St. Peter's. After five years' labor Boniface had succeeded in restoring the Church of Gaul to its former greatness.

Now Boniface desired that Britain too should share in this reform movement. At his request and that of Pope Zacharias, the archbishop of Canterbury held a council at Clovesho, in 747, which adopted many of the resolutions passed in Gaul. This was also the year when Boniface was given a metropolitan see. Cologne was at first proposed as his cathedral city, but Mainz was finally chosen. Even when Cologne and other cities became archiepiscopal sees, Mainz retained the primacy. The Pope also made Boniface primate of Germany as well as apostolic legate for both Germany and Gaul.

Carloman now retired to a monastery, but his successor, Pepin, who brought all Gaul under his control, gave Boniface his support. "Without the patronage of the Frankish chiefs," Boniface wrote in a letter to England, "I cannot govern the people or exercise discipline over the clergy and monks, or check the practice of paganism." As apostolic legate, Boniface crowned Pepin at Soissons in 75I, thus giving papal sanction to the assumption of royal power by the father of Charlemagne. Boniface, beginning to feel the weight of his years, made Lullus his coadjutor. Yet even now, when he was past seventy, his missionary zeal burned ardently. He wished to spend his last years laboring among those first converts in Friesland, who, since Willibrord's death, were relapsing once more into paganism. Leaving all things in order for Lullus, who was to become his successor, he embarked with some fifty companions and sailed down the Rhine. At Utrecht the party was joined by Eoban, bishop of that diocese. They set to work reclaiming the relapsed Christians, and during the following months made fruitful contact with the hitherto untouched tribes to the northeast. Boniface arranged to hold a great confirmation service on Whitsun Eve on the plain of Dokkum, near the banks of the little river Borne.

While awaiting the arrival of the converts, Boniface was quietly reading in his tent.

Suddenly a band of armed pagans appeared in the center of the encampment. His companions would have tried to defend their leader, but Boniface would not allow them to do so. Even as he was telling them to trust in God and welcome the prospect of dying for Him, the Germans attacked. Boniface was one of the first to fall; his companions shared his fate. The pagans, expecting to carry away rich booty, were disgusted when they found, besides provisions, only a box of holy relics and a few books They did not bother to carry away these objects, which were later collected by the Christians who came to avenge the martyrs and rescue their remains. The body of Boniface was carried to Fulda for burial, and there it still rests. The book the bishop was reading and which he is said to have lifted above his head to save it when the blow fell is also one of Fulda's treasures.

Boniface has been called the pro-consul of the papacy. His administrative and organizing genius left its mark on the German Church throughout the Middle Ages.

Though Boniface was primarily a man of action, his literary remains are extensive.

Especially interesting and important from the point of view of Church dogma and history are his letters. Among the emblems of Boniface are an oak, an axe, a sword, a book.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/B/stboniface.asp#ixzz1wuwLr1wN