Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE


(Original Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico - shared from Google)
Novena by Fr. Lovasik:
Our Lady of Guadalupe,  According to your message in Mexico  I venerate you as "the Virgin Mother  Of the true God for whom we live,  The Creator of all the world,  Maker of heaven and earth."  In spirit I kneel before your most holy Image  Which you miraculously imprinted  Upon the cloak of the Indian Juan Diego,  And with the faith  Of the countless numbers of pilgrims  Who visit your shrine,  I beg you for this favor:  To be a generous, self-sacrificing,  Faithful Marian Catechist all the days of my life.
Remember, O Immaculate Virgin,  The words you spoke to your devout client,  "I am a merciful Mother to you  And to all your people  Who love me and trust in me And invoke my help.  I listen to their lamentations and solace All their sorrows and their sufferings."  I beg you to be a merciful Mother to me,  Because I sincerely love you and trust in you  And invoke your help.  I entreat you, Our Lady of Guadalupe,  To grant my request,  If this should be the Will of God,  In order that I may  "Bear witness to your love, your compassion,  Your help and protection."  Do not forsake me in my needs. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Hail Mary . . . (3 times)
DAY ONE
Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my humble prayer offered with heartfelt confidence to beg this favor... State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY TWO
O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title of Guadalupe. Obtain for me a lively faith to do your Son’s holy will always: May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY THREE
O Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY FOUR
Dearest Mother of Guadalupe, I beg you for a fortified will to imitate your divine Son’s charity, to always seek the good of others in need. Grant me this, I humbly ask of you. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY FIVE
O most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you forever in heaven. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY SIX
Mary, Mother of vocations, multiply priestly vocations and fill the earth with religious houses which will be light and warmth for the world, safety in stormy nights. Beg your Son to send us many priests and religious. This we ask of you, O Mother. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY SEVEN
O Lady of Guadalupe, we beg you that parents live a holy life and educate their children in a Christian manner; that children obey and follow the directions of their parents; that all members of the family pray and worship together. This we ask of you, O Mother. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY EIGHT
With my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before you, O Mother, to ask you to obtain for me the grace to fulfill the duties of my state in life with faithfulness and constancy. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
DAY NINE
O God, You have been pleased to bestow upon us unceasing favors by having placed us under the special protection of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Grant us, your humble servants, who rejoice in honoring her today upon earth, the happiness of seeing her face to face in heaven. State your request here... Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
 
 

  Closing Prayer:
    Remember, 0 most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe,     that in thy celestial apparition on the Mount of Tepeyac,     thou didst promise to show thy compassion     and pity towards all who,     loving and trusting thee,     seek thy help and call upon thee     in their necessities and afflictions;     also to hearken to our supplications,     to dry our tears and to give us consolation and relief.
    Inspired with this confidence     we come before thy august presence,     certain that thou wilt deign     to fulfill thy merciful promises.     We are full of hope that,     standing beneath thy protection     nothing will trouble or afflict us.     Thou has desired to remain with us     through thy admirable image,     thou who art our Mother,     our health and our life.
    O Mary, Mother of God,     hear our petitions and in thy mercy answer us.
    Amen
This novena prayer, written by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D., is approved by Bishop Burke for use preceding Consecration / Renewal.

TODAY'S SAINT: DEC. 12: OUR LADY OF GUADELUPE

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Feast: December 12


Information:
Feast Day:December 12

More on Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

In the sixteenth century, the Blessed Virgin, moved with pity for the Aztec people who, living in the darkness of idolatry, offered to their idols multitudes of human victims, deigned to take into her own hands the evangelization of these Indians of Central America who were also her children. One of the Aztec gods, originally considered the god of fertility, had transformed himself over time into a ferocious god. A symbol of the sun, this god was in continuous battle with the moon and the stars and was believed to need human blood to restore his strength; if he died, life would be extinguished. Ever new victims, to be offered to him in perpetual sacrifice, therefore seemed essential.
An eagle on a cactus
Aztec priests had prophesied that their nomadic people would settle in the place where an eagle would be seen perched on a cactus, devouring a serpent. This eagle appears on the Mexican flag today. Having arrived on a swampy island, in the middle of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs saw the foretold sign: an eagle, perched on a cactus, was devouring a serpent. This was in 1369. There they founded their town Tenochtitlan, which would become Mexico City. The town expanded to become a city on pilings, with many gardens abounding in flowers, fruit, and vegetables. The organization of the Aztec kingdom was very structured and hierarchical. The knowledge of their mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, architects, doctors, artists, and artisans was excellent for that time. But the laws of the physical world remained scarcely known. Tenochtitlan drew its power and wealth primarily from war. The conquered cities had to pay a tribute of various foodstuffs and men for war and sacrifices. The Aztecs' human sacrifices and cannibalism are almost unequaled throughout the course of history.
In 1474, a child was born who was given the name Cuauhtlatoazin ("speaking eagle"). After his father's death, the child was taken in by his uncle. From the age of three, he was taught, as were all young Aztecs, to join in domestic tasks and to behave in a dignified manner. At school, he learned singing, dancing, and especially the worship of many gods. The priests had a very strong influence over the population, whom they kept in a submission bordering on terror. Cuauhtlatoazin was thirteen years old when the great temple at Tenochtitlan was consecrated. Over the course of four days, the priests sacrificed 80,000 human victims to their god. After his military service, Cuauhtlatoazin married a young woman of his social status. Together they led a modest life as farmers.
In 1519, the Spaniard Cortez disembarked in Mexico, leading 500 soldiers. He conquered the country for Spain, yet was not lacking in zeal for the evangelization of the Aztecs. In 1524 he obtained the arrival of twelve Franciscans to Mexico. These missionaries quickly integrated into the population. Their goodness contrasted with the harshness of the Aztec priests, as well as that of some conquistadors. They began to build churches. However, the Indians were reluctant to accept Baptism, primarily because it would require them to abandon polygamy.
Cuauhtlatoazin and his wife were among the first to receive Baptism, under the respective names of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia. After his wife's death in 1529, Juan Diego withdrew to Tolpetlac, 14 km from Mexico City, to the home of his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who had become a Christian as well. On December 9, 1531, as was his custom every Saturday, he left very early in the morning to attend the Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, at the Franciscan fathers' church, close to Mexico City. He walked past Tepeyac Hill. Suddenly, he heard a gentle and resounding song that seemed to come from a great multitude of birds. Raising his eyes to the top of the hill, he saw a white and radiant cloud. He looked around him and wondered if he was dreaming. All of a sudden, the song stopped and a woman's voice, gentle and graceful, called him: "Juanito, Juan Dieguito!" He quickly climbed the hill and found himself in the presence of a very beautiful young woman whose garments shone like the sun.

"A church where I will show my love"
Speaking to him in Nahuatl, his native language, she said to him, "Juanito, my son, where are you going?"—"Noble Lady, my Queen, I am going to the Mass in Mexico City to hear the divine things that the priest teaches us there."—"I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin MARY, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and Earth. I greatly desire that a church be built in my honor, in which I will show my love, compassion, and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love Me, trust in Me, and have recourse to Me. I will hear their complaints and I will comfort their affliction and their sufferings. So that I might show all My love, go now to the bishop in Mexico City and tell him that I am sending you to make known to him the great desire I have to see a church dedicated to me built here."
Juan Diego went straight to the bishop. Bishop Zumárraga, a Franciscan, the first bishop of Mexico, was a pious man and full of zeal, who had a heart overflowing with kindness towards the Indians. He heard the poor man attentively, but fearing an illusion, did not put much faith in his story. Towards evening, Juan Diego started on his way home. At the top of Tepeyac Hill, he had the pleasant surprise of meeting the Apparition again. He told her about his mission, then added, "I beg you to entrust your message to someone more known and respected so that he will believe it. I am only a simple Indian whom you have sent as a messenger to an important person. Therefore, he didn't believe me, and I do not want to greatly disappoint you."—"My dearest son, "replied the Lady, "you must understand that there are many more noble men to whom I could have entrusted my message and yet, it is because of you that my plan will succeed. Return to the bishop tomorrow... Tell him that it is I myself, the Blessed Virgin MARY, Mother of God, who am sending you."
On Sunday morning after the Mass, Juan Diego went to the bishop's house. The prelate asked him many questions, then asked for a tangible sign of the truth of the apparition. When Juan Diego went home, the bishop had him discreetly followed by two servants. At Tepeyac Bridge, Juan Diego disappeared from their sight, and despite all their searches on the hill and in the surrounding area, they could not find him again. Furious, they declared to the bishop that Juan Diego was an impostor who must absolutely not be believed. During this time, Juan Diego told the beautiful Lady, who was waiting for him on the hill, about his most recent meeting with the bishop. "Come back tomorrow morning to seek the sign he is asking for," replied the Apparition.
Roses, in the middle of winter!
Returning home, the Indian found his uncle ill, and the next day, he had to stay at his bedside to take care of him. As the illness got worse, the uncle asked his nephew to go look for a priest. At dawn on Tuesday, December 12, Juan Diego started on the road to the city. Approaching Tepeyac Hill, he thought it best to make a detour so as not to meet the Lady. But suddenly, he perceived her coming to meet him. Embarrassed, he explained his situation and promised to come back when he had found a priest to administer last rites to his uncle. "My dear little one," replied the Apparition, "do not be distressed about your uncle's illness, because he will not die from it. I assure you that he will get well... Go to the top of the hill, pick the flowers that you will see there, and bring them to me." When he had arrived at the top of the hill, the Indian was stunned to find a great number of flowers in bloom, Castillian roses that gave off a very sweet fragrance. Indeed, in the winter, the cold allows nothing to survive, and besides, the place was too dry for flowers to grow there. Juan Diego gathered the roses, enfolded them in his cloak, or tilma, then went back down the hill. "My dear son," said the Lady, "these flowers are the sign that you are to give the bishop... This will get him to build the church that I have asked of him."
Juan Diego ran to the bishop. When he arrived, the servants made him wait for hours. Amazed at his patience, and intrigued by what he was carrying in his tilma, they finally informed the bishop, who, although with several people, had him shown in immediately. The Indian related his adventure, unfolded his tilma, and let the flowers, which were still shining with dew, scatter to the floor. With tears in his eyes, Bishop Zumárraga fell to his knees, admiring the roses from his country. All of a sudden, he perceived, on the tilma, the portrait of Our Lady. MARY's image was there, as though printed on the cloak, very beautiful and full of gentleness. The bishop's doubts gave way to a sure faith and a hope filled with wonder. He took the tilma and the roses, and placed them respectfully in his private oratory. The next day he went with Juan Diego to the hill where the apparitions had taken place. After having examined the sites, he let the seer return to his uncle's house. Juan Bernardino had been completely cured. His cure had taken place at the very hour when Our Lady appeared to his nephew. He told him, "I have also seen her. She even came here and talked to me. She wants a church to be built on Tepeyac Hill and wants her portrait to be called 'Saint MARY of Guadalupe.' But she didn't explain to me why." The name "Guadalupe" is well known by the Spanish, because in their country there is a very old sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The news of the miracle spread quickly. In a short time, Juan Diego became well-known. "I will spread your fame," MARY had told him, but the Indian remained as humble as ever. To make it easier to meditate on the Image, Bishop Zumárraga had the tilma transported to his cathedral. Then work was begun on the construction of a small church and a hermitage for Juan Diego on the hill of apparitions. The next December 25, the bishop consecrated his cathedral to the Most Blessed Virgin, to thank her for the remarkable favors with which she had blessed his diocese. Then, in a magnificent procession, the miraculous Image was carried to the sanctuary that had just been completed on Tepeyac Hill. To express their joy, the Indians shot arrows. One of them, shot carelessly, went through the throat of a participant in the procession, who fell to the ground, fatally wounded. A great silence fell and intense supplication rose to the Mother of God. Suddenly the wounded man, who had been placed at the foot of the miraculous Image, collected himself and got up, full of vigor. The crowd's enthusiasm was at its peak.

Millions of Indians become Christian
Juan Diego moved into his little hermitage, seeing to the maintenance and cleaning of the site. His life remained simple—he carefully farmed a field close to the sanctuary that had been placed at his disposal. He received pilgrims in ever larger numbers, and enjoyed talking about the Blessed Virgin and untiringly relating the details of the apparitions. He was entrusted with all kinds of prayer intentions. He listened, sympathized, and comforted. A good amount of his free time was spent in contemplation before the image of his Lady. He made rapid progress in the ways of holiness. Day after day, he fulfilled his duty as a witness up until his death on December 9, 1548, seventeen years after the first apparition.
When the Indians had learned the news of Our Lady's apparitions, an enthusiasm and joy such as had never been seen before spread among them. Renouncing their idols, superstitions, human sacrifices, and polygamy, many asked to be baptized. Nine years after the apparitions, nine million Indians had converted to the Christian faith—nearly 3,000 a day! The details of the Image of MARY moved the Indians deeply—this woman is greater than the sun-god since she appears standing before the sun. She surpasses the moon god since she keeps the moon under her feet. She is no longer of this world since she is surrounded by clouds and is held above the world by an angel. Her folded hands show her in prayer, which means that there is Someone greater than she...
Even in our time, the mystery of this miraculous Image remains. The tilma, a large apron woven by hand from cactus fibers, bears the holy Image, which is 1.43 meters tall. The Virgin's face is perfectly oval and is a gray color verging on pink. Her eyes have a profound expression of purity and gentleness. The mouth seems to smile. The very beautiful face, similar to that of a mestizo Indian, is framed by a black head of hair that, up close, is comprised of silky locks. She is clad in a full tunic, of a pinkish red hue that no one has ever been able to reproduce, and that goes to her feet. Her bluish-green mantle is edged with gold braid and studded with stars. A sun of various shades forms a magnificent background, with golden rays shining out.
The fact that the tilma has remained perfectly preserved from 1531 to this day is inexplicable. After more than four centuries, this fabric of mediocre quality retains the same freshness and the same lively color as when it was new. By comparison, a copy of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe painted in the 18th century with great care, and preserved under the same climatic conditions as Juan Diego's, had completely deteriorated in a few years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a painful period of revolutions in Mexico, a load of dynamite was put by unbelievers at the foot of the Image, in a vase of flowers. The explosion destroyed the marble steps on the main altar, the candelabras, all the flower-holders. The marble altarpiece was broken into pieces, the brass Christ on the tabernacle was split in two. The windows in most of the houses near the basilica were broken, but the pane of glass that was protecting the Image was not even cracked. The Image remained intact.
The most moving experience of my life
In 1936, an examination conducted on two fibers from the tilma, one red and the other yellow, led to an astounding finding—the fibers contained no known coloring agent. Ophthalmology and optics confirm the inexplicable nature of the Image—it seems to be a slide projected onto the fabric. Closer analysis shows that there is no trace of drawing or sketching under the color, even though perfectly recognizable retouches were done on the original, retouches which moreover have deteriorated with time. In addition, the background never received any primer, which seems inexplicable if it is truly a painting, for even on the finest fabric, a coat is always applied, if only to prevent the fabric from absorbing the painting and the threads from breaking the surface. No brush strokes can be detected. After an infrared analysis conducted on May 7, 1979, a professor from NASA wrote, "There is no way to explain the quality of the pigments used for the pink dress, the blue veil, the face and the hands, or the permanence of the colors, or the vividness of the colors after several centuries, during which they ordinarily should have deteriorated... Studying this Image has been the most moving experience of my life."
Astronomers have observed that all the constellations present in the heavens at the moment Juan Diego opened his tilma before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, 1531, are in their proper place on MARY's mantle. It has also been found that by imposing a topographical map of central Mexico on the Virgin's dress, the mountains, rivers and principal lakes coincide with the decoration on this dress.
Ophthalmological tests have found that MARY's eye is a human eye that appears to be living, and includes the retina, in which is reflected the image of a man with outstretched hands—Juan Diego. The image in the eye conforms to the known laws of optics, particularly to that which states that a well-lighted object can be reflected three times in an eye (Purkinje-Samson's law). A later study allowed researchers to discover in the eye, in addition to the seer, Bishop Zumárraga and several other people present when the image of Our Lady appeared on the tilma. And the normal microscopic network of veins in the eyelids and the cornea of the Virgin's eyes is completely recognizable. No human painter would have been able to reproduce such details.
Three months pregnant
Gynecological measurements have determined that the Virgin in the Image has the physical dimensions of a woman who is three months pregnant. Under the belt that holds the dress in place, at the very location of the embryo, a flower with four petals stands out—the Solar Flower, the most familiar of Aztec hieroglyphs, and which symbolized for them divinity, the center of the earth, heaven, time, and space. On the Virgin's neck hangs a brooch, the center of which is decorated with a little cross, recalling the death of Christ on the Cross for the salvation of all mankind. Many other details of the Image of MARY form an extraordinary document for our age, which is able to observe them thanks to modern technology. Thus science, which has often been a pretext for unbelief, helps us today to give prominence to signs that had remained unknown for centuries and that science is unable to explain.
The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe bears a message of evangelization: the Basilica of Mexico is a center "from which flows a river of the light of the Gospel of Christ, spreading throughout the earth through the merciful Image of MARY" (John Paul II, December 12, 1981 ). In addition, through her intervention on behalf of the Aztec people, the Virgin played a role in saving innumerable human lives, and her pregnancy can be interpreted as a special appeal on behalf of unborn children and the defense of human life. This appeal has a burning relevance in our time, when threats against the lives of individuals and peoples, especially lives that are weak and defenseless, are widespread and becoming more serious. The Second Vatican Council forcefully deplored crimes against human life: "All offenses against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia... all these and the like are criminal: they poison civilization ; and they debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the Creator" ( Gaudium et Spes, 27). Faced with these plagues, which are expanding as a result of scientific progress and technology, and which benefit from wide social consensus as well as legal recognition, let us call upon MARY with confidence. She is an "incomparable model of how life should be welcomed and cared for... Showing us her Son, she assures us that in Him the forces of death have already been defeated" (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, March 25, 1995, nos. 102, 105). "Death and life are locked in an incredible battle; the Author of life, having died, lives and reigns" (Easter Sequence).

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : THURS. DEC. 12, 2013 - OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE FEAST

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Lectionary: 690A


Reading 1              ZEC 2:14-17

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Or                RV 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”

Responsorial Psalm                             JDT 13:18BCDE, 19

R. (15:9d) You are the highest honor of our race.
Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Gospel                                  LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Or                    LK 1:39-47

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

POPE FRANCIS PERSON OF THE YEAR BY TIME MAGAZINE

Vatican Radio  REPORT: Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine's ‘Person of the Year’ for 2013. He is the third Roman Pontiff to receive this honour after John XXIII in 1962 and John Paul II in 1994. 

The Head of the Holy See’s Press Office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, issued the following statement: 
“The decision didn’t come as a surprise given the great resonance and attention surrounding the election of Pope Francis right from the start of the new pontificate. The fact that one of the most prestigious awards to be attributed by the international press should go to someone who promotes spiritual, religious and moral values as well as call for peace and greater justice in an incisive manner is a positive sign. As for the Pope himself, he’s not someone who seeks fame and success, because he has put his life at the service of announcing the Gospel of the love of God for mankind. It is pleasing to the Pope that this service should appeal and give hope to women and men. And if this choice of ‘Person of the Year’ should mean that many people have understood this message - at least implicitly - the Pope is really happy about this." 


SHARED FROM the Vatican Radio website 

GENERAL AUDIENCE OF POPE FRANCIS "ONE HUMAN FAMILY, FOOD FOR ALL"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday spoke out against the scourge of hunger saying that “the scandal that millions of people suffer from hunger must not paralyze us, but push each and every one of us to act: singles, families, communities, institutions, governments, to eliminate this injustice”. 



Speaking at the end of his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope mentioned the global Caritas Internationalis campaign, “One Human Family, Food for All”, to end hunger and food waste. He had immediately put his full support behind the campaign when it was launched this week with a video message in which he noted that nearly one billion people still suffer from hunger worldwide today, and said: "We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist". 

And to those present in the Square on Wednesday Pope Francis said the Gospel shows us the way: trust in the Lord’s providence - he said - and share our daily bread without wasting it. 

Pope Francis concluded his appeal encouraging “Caritas” to carry this initiative forward, and inviting every one to join in this “wave” of solidarity.

The Pope was addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Audience. His appeal followed his weekly catechesis which was based on the Creed. He reminded those present that we will be held accountable before God for the good we have done or failed to do in this life. And he said, the Church invites us to regard this final judgment with joyful hope as Jesus will be at our side. But he noted, “God’s judgement takes place in our lives each day, by the way in which we respond to Christ’s teaching and imitate him in serving our brothers and sisters”.


SHARED FROM Vatican Radio website 

"HE GIVES US HOPE; THE LORD DRAWS US WITH HOPE" POPE FRANCIS

(Vatican Radio) When Jesus approaches us, He always opens the doors and gives us hope. That was the message of Pope Francis this morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said we must never fear the consolation of the Lord, but rather must ask for and seek that consolation that makes us feel the tenderness of God. 

“Comfort, give comfort to my people.” Pope Francis began his homily by reflecting on the reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, the book of the consolation of Israel. The Lord, he noted, approaches His people to comfort them, “to give them peace.” And this “work of consolation” is so strong that it “draws all things.” The Lord accomplishes a true re-creation: 

“He re-creates things. And the Church never tires of saying that this re-creation is more wonderful than the creation. The Lord re-creates more wonderfully. And so He visits His people: re-creating, with that power. And the people of God always had this idea, this thought, that the Lord will come to visit them. We remember the last word of Joseph to his brothers: “When the Lord will visit you, you must take my bones with you.” The Lord will visit His people. It is the hope of Israel. But He will visit them with this consolation.”

“And the consolation,” he continued, “is this drawing all things, not once, but many times, with the universe and also with us.” This “drawing of the Lord,” the Pope said, has two dimensions that it is important to emphasize. “When the Lord approaches,” he said, “He gives us hope; the Lord draws us with hope. He always opens a door. Always.” When the Lord approaches, the Pope repeated, “he doesn’t close doors, He opens [them].” The Lord “in His nearness gives us hope, this hope that is a true strength in the Christian life. It is a grace, it is a gift”:

“When a Christian forgets hope — or worse, loses hope — his life is senseless. It’s as if his life hit a wall: there’s nothing. But the Lord comforts us and draws us forward with hope. And He does it with a special closeness to each one, because the Lord comforts His people and comforts each one of us. It’s beautiful how today’s reading ends: ‘Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.’ That image of carrying the lambs in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care: that is tenderness. The Lord comforts us with tenderness.”
He continued, “God who is powerful “is not afraid of tenderness.” “He becomes tender, becomes a child, becomes small.” In the Gospel, he noted, Jesus says the same: “In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” In the eyes of the Lord, he added, “each one of us is very, very important. And He gives with tenderness.” And so He makes us “go forward, giving us hope.” This, he said again, “was the principle work of Jesus” in the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension: to comfort the disciples, to be close to them and give them consolation”:

“He was close to them and gave hope, He approached with tenderness. But we think of the tenderness He had with the Apostles, with Mary Magdalene, with those of Emmaus. He approached with tenderness: “Give me something to eat.” With Thomas: “Put your finger here.” The Lord is always this way. This is the consolation of the Lord. May the Lord give to all of us the grace to not be afraid of the consolation of the Lord, to be open: ask for it, seek it, because it is a consolation that will give us hope, and make us feel the tenderness of God the Father.”


Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/12/10/pope_francis:_the_door_of_the_lord_is_always_open/en1-754432
of the Vatican Radio website 

FEARS ABOUT FATE OF 12 KIDNAPPED NUNS IN SYRIA

ASIA NEWS REPORT;
According to video released by Al-Jazeera the women religious held in Yabrud were to be released on December 9. The Greek -Orthodox Patriarchate "concerned" about their condition. Ongoing intense fighting in the area between the army and Islamist insurgents. Two Spanish journalists in Syria to a report on the anti- Assad revolution held captive by Islamic extremists.


Damascus (AsiaNews) - 13 greek -orthodox nuns kidnapped Dec. 2 in Maaloula along with some young orphans are still in the hands of the Islamist group al- Ahrar Qalamoun . After the  video released December 6 by Al- Jazeera there has been no more news of the women religious, despite the speculation about their possible release as early as last December 9.

Contacted by AsiaNews, the Greek - orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch says it "does not have any news on the condition of the nuns and three young orphans from Ma'aloula ." The last direct contact was brief phone call to the Patriarch of Antioch Youhanna X a few days after the kidnapping .

"Since then - said a source in the Patriarchate - no one has been in touch with us and most of the news we read on the internet like the rest of the world. We have seen the video released by al- Jazeera , but we have no confirmation on the real condition of the sisters, nor the reasons for their seizure and we think that the video is unreliable and further investigation is required . "In the video the Ma'aloula sisters appeared in good health and denied having been abducted , but only brought to safety. The women were filmed wearing their religious clothing, but without the traditional crucifix.
Fierce fighting is being reported from the region of Qalamoun between the army and Islamist insurgents . The area which incorporates the small village of Yabrud is located about 50 km kilometers northwest of Damascus and is one of the most important strongholds of the rebels. In the mountainous area on the border with Lebanon, there are several predominantly Christian villages such as Sadad and Hofar fallen in recent months into the hands of Islamic extremists. Yesterday the army regained control of Nabak , Deir Attiya and Qara .
AsiaNews sources point out that the rebels fighting against Assad belong to different factions, each taking advantage of abductions for various purposes . Some groups, such as the authors of the seizure of the Sisters of Maaloula, trying to distance themselves from extremist and violent kidnappings say the abductions are " humanitarian actions aimed at the protection of civilians ." The most intransigent and violent use the hostages as human shields and as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Assad 's army . The last case concerns two Spanish journalists , Javier Espinosa ( El Mundo ) and Ricardo Garcia ( freelance photographer ) , who disappeared September 16 in the province of Raqqa ( Turkish border ) , who are reportedly in the hands of the militia of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant . The two were in Syria just to document the positive aspects of the rebellion against Assad.


According to El Mundo - which in recent months has silenced the news to deal with the kidnappers - the two journalists were kidnapped along with four fighters of the Free Syrian Army. The militiamen were released after 12 days, but not the two Spaniards . Today Monica Prieto , wife of Javier Espinosa , has appealed to the kidnappers : " Javier and Ricardo are not your enemies. Please honor the revolution that they have protected and free them ." There are also several Syrian anti- Assad activists in the hands of groups of kidnappers, not yet been identified . Today, theSyrian Observatory for Human Rights announced the disappearance of Razan Zaytouna , winner of the Anna Politkovskaya Award 2011. The woman was kidnapped in the suburb of Douma east of Damascus along with other activists by armed men. They raided the headquarters of the Centre for the documentation of human rights violations linked to the rebellion. Zaytouna had admitted receiving death threats from Islamic extremist groups . (SC)
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

FULL TEXT POPE FRANCIS APPEAL AGAINST HUNGER

(Vatican Radio) In a video message released Monday evening, Pope Francis put his full support behind a global campaign, launched by Caritas Internationalis, which seeks to end world hunger by 2025. The Pope said the work of Caritas, present in 200 countries, "is at the heart of the mission of the Church." Its attention, he said, is towards all those "who suffer because of the scandal of hunger, those with whom the Lord identified when he said, ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat’."

The Pope underlined that nearly one billion people still suffer from hunger worldwide today."We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist," he said. 

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ appeal: Message from Pope Francis for the launch of 
One Human Family, Food for All
Dear brothers and dear sisters,

Today, I am happy to announce to you the launch of a campaign against global hunger by our very own Caritas Internationalis and to tell you that I intend to give my full support. This confederation, together with its 164 member organisations works in 200 countries and territories around the world and its work is at the heart of the mission of the Church and of Her attention towards all those who suffer because of the scandal of hunger, those with whom the Lord identified when he said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat”. 

When the Apostles said to Jesus that the people who had come to listen to his words were hungry, He invited them to go and look for food. Being poor themselves, all they found were five loaves and two fish. But with the grace of God, they managed to feed a multitude of people, even managing to collect what was left over and avoiding that it went to waste.

We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion – one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist. The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone. The parable of the multiplication of the loaves and fish teaches us exactly this: that if there is the will, what we have never ends. On the contrary, it abounds and does not get wasted.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to make space in your heart for this emergency of respecting the God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food. We share what we have in Christian charity with those who face numerous obstacles to satisfy such a basic need. At the same time we promote an authentic cooperation with the poor so that through the fruits of their and our work they can live a dignified life.

I invite all of the institutions of the world, the Church, each of us, as one single human family, to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world.

This campaign is also an invitation to all of us to become more conscious in our food choices, which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us. It is also a reminder to stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger first-hand.

I ask you from the bottom of my heart to support our Caritas organisations in this noble campaign where they will act as one human family to ensure food for all. 
Let us pray that the Lord gives us the grace to envisage a world in which no one must ever again die of hunger. And asking for this grace, I give you my blessing. 


Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/12/09/pope_supports_appeal_to_end_scandal_of_hunger_/en1-754292
of the Vatican Radio website 

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. DEC. 11, 2013

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Lectionary: 183


Reading 1     IS 40:25-31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Responsorial Psalm                      PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 AND 10

R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Gospel                      MT 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

TODAY'S SAINT: DEC. 11: ST. DAMASUS I

St. Damasus I
POPE
Feast: December 11


Information:
Feast Day:December 11
Born:304 in Rome, Italy
Died:11 December, 384 in Rome, Italy
Major Shrine:archeologists

Born about 304; died 11 December, 384. His father, Antonius, was probably a Spaniards; the name of his mother, Laurentia, was not known until quite recently. Damasus seems to have been born at Rome; it is certain that he grew up there in the service of the church of the martyr St. Laurence. He was elected pope in October, 366, by a large majority, but a number of over-zealous adherents of the deceased Liberius rejected him, chose the deacon Ursinus (or Ursicinus), had the latter irregularly consecrated, and resorted to much violence and bloodshed in order to seat him in the Chair of Peter. Many details of this scandalous conflict are related in the highly prejudiced "Libellus Precum" (P.L., XIII, 83-107), a petition to the civil authority on the part of Faustinus and Marcellinus, two anti-Damasan presbyters (cf. also Ammianus Marcellinus, Rer. Gest., XXVII, c. iii). Valentinian recognized Damasus and banished (367) Ursinus to Cologne, whence he was later allowed to return to Milan, but was forbidden to come to Rome or its vicinity. The party of the antipope (later at Milan an adherent of the Arians and to the end a contentious pretender) did not cease to persecute Damasus. An accusation of adultery was laid against him (378) in the imperial court, but he was exonerated by Emperor Gratian himself (Mansi, Coll. Conc., III, 628) and soon after by a Roman synod of forty-four bishops (Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, s.v.; Mansi, op. cit., III, 419) which also excommunicated his accusers.
Damasus defended with vigour the Catholic Faith in a time of dire and varied perils. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism; he also sent his legates to the Council of Constantinople (381), convoked against the aforesaid heresies. In the Roman synod of 369 (or 370) Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, was excommunicated; he held the see, however, until his death, in 374, made way for St. Ambrose. The heretic Priscillian, condemned by the Council of Saragossa (380) appealed to Damasus, but in vain. It was Damasus who induced Saint Jerome to undertake his famous revision of the earlier Latin versions of the Bible. St. Jerome was also his confidential secretary for some time (Ep. cxxiii, n. 10). An important canon of the New Testament was proclaimed by him in the Roman synod of 374. The Eastern Church, in the person of St. Basil of Cæsarea, besought earnestly the aid and encouragement of Damasus against triumphant Arianism; the pope, however, cherished some degree of suspicion against the great Cappadocian Doctor. In the matter of the Meletian Schism at Antioch, Damasus, with Athanasius and Peter of Alexandria, sympathized with the party of Paulinus as more sincerely representative of Nicene orthodoxy; on the death of Meletius he sought to secure the succession for Paulinus and to exclude Flavian (Socrates, Church History V.15). He sustained the appeal of the Christian senators to Emperor Gratian for the removal of the altar of Victory from the Senate House (Ambrose, Ep. xvii, n. 10), and lived to welcome the famous edict of Theodosius I, "De fide Catholica" (27 Feb., 380), which proclaimed as the religion of the Roman State that doctrine which St. Peter had preached to the Romans and of which Damasus was supreme head (Cod. Theod., XVI, 1, 2).
When, in 379, Illyricum was detached from the Western Empire, Damasus hastened to safeguard the authority of the Roman Church by the appointment of a vicar Apostolic in the person of Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica; this was the origin of the important papal vicariate long attached to that see. The primacy of the Apostolic See, variously favoured in the time of Damasus by imperial acts and edicts, was strenuously maintained by this pope; among his notable utterances on this subject is the assertion (Mansi, Coll. Conc., VIII, 158) that the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Roman Church was based, not on the decrees of councils, but on the very words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). The increased prestige of the early papal decretals, habitually attributed to the reign of Siricius (384-99), not improbably belongs to the reign of Damasus ("Canones Romanorum ad Gallos"; Babut, "La plus ancienne décrétale", Paris, 1904). This development of the papal office, especially in the West, brought with it a great increase of external grandeur. This secular splendour, however, affected disadvantageously many members of the Roman clergy, whose worldly aims and life, bitterly reproved by St. Jerome, provoked (29 July, 370) and edict of Emperor Valentinian addressed to the pope, forbidding ecclesiastics and monks (later also bishops and nuns) to pursue widows and orphans in the hope of obtaining from them gifts and legacies. The pope caused the law to be observed strictly.
Damasus restored his own church (now San Lorenzo in Damaso) and provided for the proper housing of the archives of the Roman Church. He built in the basilica of St. Sebastian on the Appian Way the (yet visible) marble monument known as the "Platonia" (Platona, marble pavement) in honour of the temporary transfer to that place (258) of the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, and decorated it with an important historical inscription (see Northcote and Brownlow, Roma Sotterranea). He also built on the Via Ardeatina, between the cemeteries of Callistus and Domitilla, a basilicula, or small church, the ruins of which were discovered in 1902 and 1903, and in which, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", the pope was buried with his mother and sister. On this occasion the discoverer, Monsignor Wilpert, found also the epitaph of the pope's mother, from which it was learned not only that her name was Laurentia, but also that she had lived the sixty years of her widowhood in the special service of God, and died in her eighty-ninth year, having seen the fourth generation of her descendants. Damasus built at the Vatican a baptistery in honour of St. Peter and set up therein one of his artistic inscriptions (Carmen xxxvi), still preserved in the Vatican crypts. This subterranean region he drained in order that the bodies buried there (juxta sepulcrum beati Petri) might not be affected by stagnant or overflowing water. His extraordinary devotion to the Roman martyrs is now well known, owing particularly to the labours of Giovanni Battista De Rossi. For a good account of his architectural restoration of the catacombs and the unique artistic characters (Damasan Letters) in which his friend Furius Dionysius Filocalus executed the epitaphs composed by Damasus, see Northcote and Brownlow, "Roma Sotterranea" (2nd ed., London, 1878-79). The dogmatic content of the Damasan epitaphs (tituli) is important (Northcote, Epitaphs of the Catacombs, London, 1878). He composed also a number of brief epigrammata on various martyrs and saints and some hymns, or Carmina, likewise brief. St. Jerome says (Ep. xxii, 22) that Damasus wrote on virginity, both in prose and in verse, but no such work has been preserved. For the few letters of Damasus (some of them spurious) that have survived, see P.L., XIII, 347-76, and Jaffé, "Reg. Rom. Pontif." (Leipzig, 1885), nn. 232-254.


source
http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/D/stdamasusi.asp