Friday, January 10, 2014

TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 11 : ST. THEODOSIUS THE CENOBIARCH


St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
ABBOT AND FOUNDER
Feast: January 11


Information:
Feast Day:January 11
Born:
423 at Garissus, Cappadocia (modern Turkey)
Died:529 at Cathismus
St Theodosius was born at Mogariassus, called in latter ages Marissa, in Cappadocia, in 423. He imbibed the first tincture of virtue from the fervent example and pious instructions of his virtuous parents. He was ordained reader, but some time after being moved by Abraham's example to quit his country and friends, he resolved to put this motion in execution. He accordingly set out for Jerusalem, but went purposely out of his road to visit the famous St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar, who foretold him several circumstances of his life, and gave him proper instructions for his behaviour in each. Having satisfied his  devotion in visiting the holy places in Jerusalem, he began to consider in what manner he should dedicate himself to God in a religious state. The dangers of living without a guide made him prefer a monastery to a hermitage; and he therefore put himself under the directions of a holy man named Longinus, to whom his virtue soon endeared him in a very particular manner. A pious lady having built a church under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, on the high road to Bethlehem, Longinus could not well refuse her request that his pupil should undertake the charge of it; but Theodosius, who loved only to obey, could not be induced by any entreaties to consent to this proposal: absolute commands were necessary to force him to a compliance. Nor did he govern long; for dreading the poison of vanity from the esteem of men, he retired into a cave at the top of a neighbouring desert mountain, and employed his time in fasting, watching, prayers, and tears, which almost continually flowed from his eyes. His food was coarse pulse and wild herbs: for thirty years he never tasted so much as a morsel of bread. Many desired to serve God under his direction: he at first determined only to admit six or seven, but was soon obliged to receive a greater number, and at length came to a resolution, which charity extorted from him, never to reject any that presented themselves with dispositions that seemed sincere. The first lesson which he taught his monks was that the continual remembrance of death is the foundation of religious perfection; to imprint this more deeply in their minds, he caused a great grave or pit to be dug, which might serve for the common burial-place of the whole community, that by the presence of this memorial of death, and by continually meditating on that object, they might more perfectly learn to die daily. The burial-place being made, the abbot one day, when he had led his monks to it, said, The grave is made, who will first perform the dedication?" Basil, a priest, who was one of the number, falling on his knees, said to St. Theodosius, "I am the person, be pleased to give me your blessing." The abbot ordered the prayers of the church for the dead to be offered up for him, and on the fortieth day Basil wonderfully departed to our Lord in peace without any apparent sickness. When the holy company of disciples were twelve in number it happened that at the great feast at Easter they had nothing to eat; they had not even bread for the sacrifice: some murmured; the saint bid them trust in God and he would provide; which was soon remarkably verified by the arrival of certain mules loaded with provisions. The lustre of the sanctity and miracles of St. Theodosius drawing great numbers to him who desired to serve God under his direction, his cave was too little for their reception, therefore, having consulted heaven by prayer, he, by its particular direction, built a spacious monastery at a place called Cathismus, not far from Bethlehem, at a small distance from his cave, and it was soon filled with holy monks. To this monastery were annexed three infirmaries: one for the sick, the gift of a pious lady in that neighbourhood; the two others St. Theodosius built himself, one for the aged and feeble, the other for such as had been punished with the loss of their senses, or by falling under the power of the devil, for rashly engaging in a religious state through pride, and without a due dependence on the grace of God to carry them through it. All succours, spiritual and temporal, were afforded in these infirmaries, with admirable order, care, and affection. He erected also several buildings for the reception of strangers, in which he exercised an unbounded hospitality, entertaining all that came, for whose use there were one day above a hundred tables served with provisions: these, when insufficient for the number of guests, were more than once miraculously multiplied by his prayers. The monastery itself was like a city of saints in the midst of a desert, and in it reigned regularity, silence, charity, and peace. There were four churches belonging to it, one for each of the three several nations of which his community was chiefly composed, each speaking a different language; the fourth was for the use of such as were in a state of penance, which those that recovered from their lunatic or possessed condition before-mentioned, were put into, and detained till they had expiated their fault. The nations into which his community was divided were the Greeks, which was by far the most numerous, and consisted of all those that came from any provinces of the empire; the Armenians, with whom were joined the Arabians and Persians; and, thirdly, the Bessi, who comprehended all the northern nations below Thrace, or all who used the Runic or Sclavonian tongue. Each nation sung the first part of the mass to the end of the gospel in their own church, but after the gospel all met in the church of the Greeks, where they celebrated the essential part of the sacrifice in Greek, and communicated all together.
The monks passed a considerable part of the day and night at their devotions in the church, and at the times not set apart for public prayer and necessary rest every one was obliged to apply himself to some trade or manual labour, not incompatible with recollection that the house might be supplied with conveniences. Sallust, Bishop of Jerusalem, appointed St. Sabas superior general of the hermits and our saint of the Cenobites, or religious men living in community throughout all Palestine, whence he was styled the Cenobiarch. These two great servants of God lived in strict friendship, and had frequent spiritual conferences together; they were also united in their zeal and sufferings for the church.
The Emperor Anastasius patronised the Eutychian heresy, and used all possible means to engage our saint in his party. In 513 he deposed Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, as he had banished Flavian II, Patriarch of Antioch, and intruded Severus, an impious heretic, into that see, commending the Syrians to obey and hold communion with him. SS. Theodosius and Sabas maintained boldly the right of Elias, and of John his successor; whereupon the imperial officers thought it most advisable to connive at their proceedings, considering the great authority they had acquired by their sanctity. Soon after, the emperor sent Theodosius a considerable sum of money, for charitable uses in appearance, but in reality to engage him in his interest. The saint accepted of it, and distributed it all among the poor. Anastasius, now persuading himself that he was as good as gained over to his cause, sent him a heretical profession of faith, in which the divine and human natures in Christ were confounded into one, and desired him to sign it. The saint wrote him an answer full of apostolic spirit; in which, besides solidly confuting the Eutychian error, he added that he was ready to lay down his life for the faith of the church. The emperor admired his courage and the strength of his reasoning, and, returning him a respectful answer, highly commended his generous zeal, made some apology for his own inconsiderateness, and protested that he only desired the peace of the church. But it was not long ere he relapsed into his former impiety, and renewed his bloody edicts against the orthodox, dispatching troops everywhere to have them put in execution. On the first intelligence of this, Theodosius went over  all the deserts and country of Palestine, exhorting every one to be firm in the faith of the four general councils. At Jerusalem, having assembled the people together, he from the pulpit cried out with a loud voice: "If any one receives not the four general councils as the four gospels, let him be anathema." So bold an action in a man of his years inspired with courage those whom the edicts had terrified. His discourses had a wonderful effect on the people, and God gave a sanction to his zeal by miracles: one of these was, that on his going out of the church at Jerusalem, a woman was healed of a cancer on the spot by only touching his garments. The emperor sent an order for his banishment, which was executed; but, dying soon after, Theodosius was recalled by his catholic successor, Justin, who, from a common soldier, had gradually ascended the imperial throne.
Our saint survived his return eleven years, never admitting the least relaxation in his former austerities. Such was his humility that, seeing two monks at variance with each other, he threw himself at their feet, and would not rise till they were perfectly reconciled; and once having excommunicated one of his subjects for a crime, who contumaciously pretended to excommunicate him in his turn, the saint behaved as if he had been really excommunicated, to gain the sinner's soul by this unprecedented example of submission, which had the desired effect. During the last year of his life he was afflicted with a painful distemper, in which he gave proof of a heroic patience, and an entire submission to the will of God. Perceiving the hour of his dissolution at hand, he gave his last exhortations to his disciples, and foretold many things, which accordingly came to pass after his death; this happened in the one hundred and fifth year of his age, and of our Lord 529. Peter, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the whole country, assisted with the deepest sentiments of respect at the solemnity of his interment, which was honoured by miracles. He was buried in his first cell called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who came to adore Christ soon after his birth were said to have lodged in it. A certain count being on his march against the Persians, begged  the hair shirt which the saint used to wear next his skin, and believed that he owed the victory which he obtained over them to the saint's protection through the pledge of that relic. Both the Romans and Greek calendars mention his festival on the 11th of January.
It is the opinion of St. Gregory the Great that the world is to some persons so full of ambushes and snares, or dangerous occasions of sin, that they cannot be saved but by choosing a safe retreat. Yet there are some who find the greatest dangers in solitude itself; so that it is necessary for every one to sound his own heart, take a survey of his own forces and abilities, and consult God, that he may best be able to learn the designs of his providence with regard to his soul; in doing which, a great purity of intention is the first requisite. Ease and enjoyment must not be the end of Christian retirement, but penance, labour, and assiduous contemplation; without great fervour and constancy in which, close solitude is the road to perdition. If greater safety, or an unfitness for a public station, or a life of much business (in which several are only public nuisances), may be just motives to some for embracing a life of retirement, the means of more easily attaining to perfect virtue may be such to many. Nor do true contemplatives bury their talents, or cease either to be members of the republic of mankind, or to throw in their mite towards its welfare.
From the prayers and thanksgivings which they daily offer to God for the peace of the world, the preservation of the church, the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of all men, doubtless more valuable benefits often accrue to mankind than from the alms of the rich or the labours of the learned. Nor is it to be imagined how far and how powerfully their spirit, and the example of their innocence and perfect virtue, often spread their influence; and how serviceable persons who lead a holy and sequestered life may be to the good of the world; nor how great glory redounds to God by the perfect purity of heart and charity to which many souls are thus raised.

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/T/sttheodosiusthecenobiarch.asp#ixzz1jAyxrlAs

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SAT. JAN. 11, 2014

Saturday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 217


Reading 1                      1 JN 5:14-21

Beloved:
We have this confidence in him
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life.
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly.
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray.
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
And we are in the one who is true,
in his Son Jesus Christ.
He is the true God and eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against idols.

Responsorial Psalm                  PS 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel             JN 3:22-30

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea,
where he spent some time with them baptizing.
John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,
because there was an abundance of water there,
and people came to be baptized,
for John had not yet been imprisoned.
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew
about ceremonial washings.
So they came to John and said to him,
“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,
to whom you testified,
here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
John answered and said,
“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ,
but that I was sent before him.
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;
the best man, who stands and listens for him,
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.”

POPE FRANCIS "FAITH MAKES ALL THINGS POSSIBLE"


(Vatican Radio) “Faith makes all things possible,” but we must place our trust completely in God. This was the central focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Friday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

Pope Francis concentrated especially on the 1st Letter of St John, in which he speaks of the faithful Christian as the one who is truly victor over the world. Pope Francis explained that genuine faith must be total and complete, not partial, and must express itself as an abiding in the Lord, abiding in Love:

“Whoever abides in God, whoever is begotten by God, whoever abides in love, has victory over the world – and this victory is our faith – on our part, it is the faith. On God’s part, [it is] the Holy Spirit who makes this [abiding, this victory] possible through faith. For our part, faith: it is powerful! The strength of faith has overcome the world! Our faith can do everything! It is victory! It would be beautiful to repeat this, even to ourselves, because we are often [as] Christians defeated. The Church is full of defeated Christians who do not believe in this, that faith is the victory - who do not live this faith, because if you do not live this faith, there is defeat, the world wins, the prince of this world.”

Pope Francis went on to recall the great praise that Our Lord had for the faith of the haemmoragic woman, the Caananite woman, or the man who was blind from birth – saying that faith as large as a mustard seed could move mountains. “This faith,” he said, “affirms and requires of us two attitudes: confessing and trusting.

“Faith,” Said Pope Francis, “means confessing God – the God who revealed Himself to us, from the time of our fathers down to the present: the God of history. This we recite each day in the Creed – but it is one thing to recite the Creed heartily, and another [merely] to parrot it, no? I believe, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe – but do I believe what I am saying? Is this a true confession of faith or is it something I says somehow by rote, because it is [the thing to say]? Do I believe only halfway? Confess the Faith! All of it, not part of it! Safeguard this faith, as it came to us, by way of tradition: the whole Faith! And how may I know that I confess the Faith well? There is a sign: he, who confesses the faith well – the whole Faith – has the capacity to worship God.”

The other attitude is that of trusting:

“The man or woman who has faith relies on God: entrusts himself or herself to Him! Paul, in a dark time in his life, said, ‘I know well to whom I have entrusted myself.’ To God! To the Lord Jesus! Trusting [in God] is what leads us to hope. Just as the confession of faith leads us to the worship and praise of God, so trust in God leads us to an attitude of hope. There are many Christians with a hope too watered down, not strong: a faint hope. Why? Because they do not have the strength and the courage to trust in the Lord. But if we Christians believe confessing the faith, and safeguarding it, taking custody of the faith, and, entrusting ourselves to God, to the Lord, we shall be Christian victors- and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.”
SHARED
Text from Vatican Radio 

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : FRI. JAN. 10, 2014

Friday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 216


Reading 1                       1 JN 5:5-13

Beloved:
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you so that you may know
that you have eternal life,
you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

Responsorial Psalm                         PS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel                  LK 5:12-16

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
And the leprosy left him immediately.
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

12 MILLION CATHOLICS AT PROCESSION IN PHILIPPINES ASIA

UCAN REPORT: Cardinal Tagle beats hasty retreat as devotees surge to touch statue

<p>As many as 12 million devotees jopined this year's procession through the streets of Manila (Photo: Vincent Go)</p>
As many as 12 million devotees jopined this year's procession through the streets of Manila (Photo: Vincent Go)
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  • Joe Torres, Manila
  • Philippines
  • Manila archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was forced to cut short a Mass during the annual procession of the Black Nazarene on Thursday.
The archbishop, along with other dignitaries, including Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, was bundled from the stage in the capital’s Luneta Park when dozens of eager devotees burst through barricades to try and touch the revered statue of Christ.
Security officials said the crowd ignored repeated warnings to stay back before overpowering them.
The life-sized, dark-skinned wooden sculpture of the Black Nazarene is held to be miraculous by Filipino Catholics.
The procession, held every January 9, is one of the most spectacular religious events in the country.
Authorities estimated some 12 million people attended this year’s procession which lasted about 18 hours. Health officials later said an estimated 1,600 people were injured. 
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro expressed disappointment over the unruly behavior of some devotees. “That is not genuine religion. It can be improved,” he said.
“There’s a lot more that we need to teach our devotees,” said Monsignor Ignacio Clemente of Quaipo Church in Manila, home to the Black Nazarene shrine.
Before the procession began, Tagle urged devotees to "translate love and devotion" into helping the poor and in fighting corruption.
"We could not follow Christ if our minds are always filled with the greed for money, more so, if we could swindle and abuse our brothers and sisters," he told them.
He also urged the devotees, who later walked barefoot in procession through the streets of Manila, not to forget the victims of calamities.
"If we truly pray, if we are truly united with the Lord, we will not forget our brothers and sisters," he said, referring to all those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Bohol earthquake, and the fighting in Zamboanga which killed hundreds and displaced thousands more.

See our dramatic picture gallery of this year's Black Nazarene procession.

SHARED FROM UCAN NEWS

CATHOLICS WHO VOTED IN BANGLADESH ATTACKED BY EXTREMISTS

ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Sumon Corraya
The Islamic extremists wanted to punish the community of the Diocese of Mymensigh who, despite the threats, went to the polls for the general election. The brother of Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi among the victims. The local Caritas gives medical and legal assistance to the assaulted .


Dhaka (AsiaNews ) - A group of Islamist fanatics has attacked the Catholic community in Jamalpur district, " guilty" of having voted in the parliamentary elections on 5 January. Eight people were injured in the attack: three are hospitalized in serious condition at the Dhaka Medical Institute. Among these was the older brother of Msgr. Paul Ponen Kubi , bishop of the Diocese of Mymensigh .
Theophilus Nokrek , regional director of the diocesan Caritas , told AsiaNews : " The attack was launched against the Adivasi of Garo ethnicity , who decided to vote despite the extremists threats. Their houses were set on fire and the assailants promised to return, burn what is left and take the lands of the tribe. Sonendra Kubi , the bishop's brother, is in a serious condition.  His wife was injured in the attack . "

At the moment, Caritas and the diocese are assisting the wounded: "We want to be assured that justice is done- concludes Nokrek - and for that we are also seeking legal help at least in the initial stages of the investigation. Please pray for the victims".


The extremists also attacked the parish of Baromari , in the district of Sherpur . The faithful of the area live in fear: five of them were injured, one was hospitalized for tests. Polas Rema , a young Catholic in the area, said: " The government needs to stop this terrorism against adivasi minorities and against religious minorities ." Xavier Sku adds: "The minorities are still victims in a political game. But the situation will get worse day after day, if we do not obtain justice."

The outgoing governing party the Awami League won the January 5th elections by a landslide majority. The result was a foregone conclusion, given that the opposition and the Bangladesh National Party had announced that it would boycott the polls. About 20% of the population participated in the vote, compared to 70 % in 2008. At least 25 people have died the violence unleashed during the vote.

SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

"CHRISTIAN LOVE IS CONCRETE...." POPE FRANCIS


Radio Vaticana report: January 9, 2014: Christian love is always “concrete,” Pope Francis said in his homily at the morning Mass celebrated at the Casa Santa Marta. Love, then, consists “more in actions than in words, more in giving than in receiving.”

Love is not a kind of romanticism: either it is a selfless and solicitous love which rolls up its sleeves and looks to the poor, preferring to give rather than to receive; or it has nothing to do with Christian love.

Pope Francis took as the starting point for his reflection the words of the First Letter of John, in which the Apostle insists: “if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” The experience of faith, the Pope said, is found in this double “remaining”:

“We are in God and God is in us: this is the Christian life. Not remaining in the spirit of the world, not remaining in superficiality, not remaining in idolatry, not remaining in vanity. No, no, remaining in the Lord. And He reciprocates: He abides in us. But He remains in us first. Many times we push Him out and we cannot remain in Him. It is the Spirit that remains.”

Having clarified the dynamics of the spirit that prompts the love of Christians, Pope Francis goes on to examine the application. “Remaining in the love of God,” he says, is not so much an ecstasy of the heart, a nice thing to feel:

“You see that the love John speaks of is not the love of soap operas! No, it is something else. Christian love has a particular quality: concreteness. Christian love is concrete. Jesus Himself, when He speaks of love, speaks to us about concrete things: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and many concrete things. Love is concrete. . . . And when this concreteness is not there, you can live a Christianity of illusions, because you don’t understand where the centre of Jesus' message is. This love does not arrive at concrete being: it is a love of illusions, like the illusions the disciples had when, looking at Jesus, they thought He was a ghost.”

The “ghost,” in fact, (from the story in today's Gospel) is what the disciples, astonished and fearful, see coming toward them, walking on the sea. But their astonishment arises from a hardness of heart, because, as the Gospel says, “they had not understood” the multiplication of the loaves which had taken place shortly before. “If you have a hardened heart,” Pope Francis said, you cannot love, and you think that love is to imagine things. No, love is concrete.” And this concreteness, he adds, is based on two criteria:

“The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are taken away by the wind! They are here today, tomorrow they are not. The second criterion of concreteness is: in love it is more important to give than to receive. The one who loves, gives. . . . Gives things, gives life, gives oneself to God and to others. On the other hand, [is] the one who does not love, who is selfish, always seeks to receive, always seeks to have things, to have advantages. Stay with an open heart, not like that of the disciples, which was closed, which did not understand anything: remaining in God and God remaining in us; remaining in love.”
Shared Text from
of the Vatican Radio 

"IT IS BY BAPTISM, INDEED, THAT WE ARE FREED FROM SIN..." POPE FRANCIS

VATICAN RADIO REPORT: Pope Francis held his mid weekly general audience on Wednesday, during which he began a series of teachings on the Seven sacraments of the church. His reflection on Wednesday morning was on the first of the Seven sacraments, Baptism. Baptism, said Pope Francis, the first of the Church’s seven sacraments, gives us new birth in Christ, makes us sharers in the mystery of his death and resurrection, grants the forgiveness of sin and brings us new freedom as God’s children and members of his Church. 
Below is the English version of the Holy Father's Catechesis during his first audience of 2014
********************* 
Vatican City, 8 January 2014 (VIS) – In his first general audience of 2014, Pope Francis began a new series of catechesis on the Sacraments, starting with Baptism and recalling that by a fortunate coincidence, next Sunday will be the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. 
Baptism is the Sacrament “on which our faith is based, and which grafts us to Christ and His Church, as living members. Together with the Eucharist and Confirmation it forms the so-called 'Christian initiation', which constitutes a single, great sacramental event that aligns us with the Lord and makes us into a living sign of His presence and His love”. 
However, the Bishop of Rome observed, we might ask, “Is Baptism truly necessary for us to live as Christians and to follow Jesus? Is it not fundamentally a simple rite, a formal act of the Church, for naming a child?” To answer this, he repeated the words of the apostle Paul: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life'”. 
“Therefore, it is not a mere formality! A baptised child is not the same as an child who is not baptised; a baptised person is not the same as one who has not received baptism. It is an act that touches the depth of our existence. We are immersed in that inexhaustible fount of life that is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love of all history; and thanks to this love we are able to live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, sin and death, but rather in communion with God and with our brothers”. 
The Pope again commented that many of us do not know the date when we were baptised and, as before, asked, those present in St. Peter's Square to find out the date of their baptism, as “it is a happy date”. “Obviously we do not remember the ceremony, especially if we were baptised soon after birth, but it is a pity not to recognise the importance of this day, as we thereby “risk losing sight of what the Lord has done for us, of the gift we have received. We end up considering it merely as an event that took place in the past – and not even by our will, but rather by that of our parents – that has no effect on the present”. 
Instead, “we are called to live out our Baptism day after day, as a current fact of our existence. If we succeed in following Jesus and remaining in the Church, even with our limits and our frailty, it is precisely because of the Sacrament in which we became new creatures and were re-clothed in Christ. It is by Baptism, indeed, that we are freed from sin and enter into Jesus' relationship with God the Father, that we become bearers of new hope, that nothing and nobody may extinguish; the hope of taking the road to salvation; that we are able to forgive and love even those who offend us or harm us; and that we are able to recognise in the marginalised and the poor the face of the Lord who visits and draws close to us”. 
Another characteristic of Baptism, concluded the Pontiff, is that “no-one can baptise himself; we can ask for baptism, wish for it, but we always need someone to confer this Sacrament in the name of the Lord. This is because Baptism is a gift that is given in a context of care and fraternal sharing. Throughout history, one person baptises another, who baptises another, and another … it is a chain. A chain of grace. But I cannot baptise myself; I have to ask another person to baptise me. It is an act of brotherhood, an act of affiliation to the Church. In the celebration of Baptism we recognise the truest features of the Church, who is like a mother who continues to generate new children in Christ, in the fecundity of the Holy Spirit”. 
Following his catechesis and speaking in Italian, the Pope greeted those present, including the members of a circus company which will travel to Latin America this year; he encouraged them on their travels from city to city to “be messengers of joy and brotherhood in a society that greatly needs these qualities”.
Shared Text from Vatican Radio 

TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 10 : ST. WILLIAM OF BOURGES

St. William of Bourges
CISTERCIAN BISHOP
Feast: January 10


Information:
Feast Day:January 10
Born:
12th century in Nevers, France
Died:10 January 1209 at Bourges, France
Canonized:17 May 1217 by Pope Honorius III
Ciscertian bishop, also called William of Dongeon. He was born at Nevers, France, and studied under his uncle, Peter, the archdeacon of Soissons, before receiving ordination and appointment as a cannon of Soissons. He helpd the same post in Paris adn then entered the monastery of Grandmont, transferring to the Cistercian community at Pontigny. In succeeding years, he was abbot of Fontaine-Jean, in Sens; abbot of Chalis, near Senlis; and bishop of Bourges, receiving consecration in 1200. The last office he was compelled to take at the behest of Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216). As bishop, he distinguished himself by his austerities, concern for the poor, the defense of the rights of the Church against the French crown, and his success in converting many members of the Albigensian heresy. He was canonized by Pope Honorius III (r. 1216-1227).

(Taken from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints)
SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/W/stwilliamofbourges.asp#ixzz1jADAtO9I