Thursday, November 6, 2014

Saint November 7 : St. Willibrord : Bishop : Patron of Convulsions; Epilepsy; Netherlands

St. Willibrord

CONFESSOR, FIRST BISHOP OF UTRECHT
Feast: November 7
Information:
Feast Day:
November 7
Born:
658, Northumbria
Died:
November 7, 739
Major Shrine:
Echternach
Patron of:
convulsions; epilepsy; epileptics; Luxembourg; Netherlands

St Willibrord was born in the kingdom of Northumberland towards the year 658, and placed by his virtuous parents, before he was seven years old, in the monastery of Ripon, which was at that time governed by St. Wilfrid, its founder. Wilgris, our saint's father, retired also into a monastery, afterwards became a hermit, and in his old age founded and governed a small monastery between the ocean and the Humber. He is honoured among the saints in the monastery of Epternac and in the English calendars. Alcuin has left us an account of his life. Willibrord, by carrying the yoke of our Lord with fervour from his infancy, found it always easy and sweet, and the better to preserve the first fruits which he had gathered, made his monastic profession when he was very young. He had made great progress in virtue and sacred learning when, out of a desire for further improvement, in the twentieth year of his age he went over into Ireland, with the consent of his abbot and brethren, where he joined St. Egbert or Ecgbright, and the blessed Wigbert, who were gone thither before upon the same errand. In their company our saint spent twelve years in the study of the sacred sciences and in the most fervent exercise of all virtues. Though his constitution was weak, in fervour and exactness he outdid the most advanced: he was humble, modest, and of an easy obliging temper; and his whole conduct was regular and uniform. St. Egbert had long entertained an ardent desire of going to preach the gospel to the inhabitants of those unhappy countries in which barbarism and idolatry still reigned without control, and he had chiefly Friesland or Lower Germany in his eye. But he was diverted from that apostolical design by persons of piety and authority, who engaged him to employ his zealous labours in the islands between Ireland and Scotland, in all which he settled the true manner of celebrating Easter, especially at Hij, where he died a little before Bede wrote his history. St. Egbert is honoured in the English Calendar on the 24th of April. Bede gives a most edifying account of his austere penance, devotion, zeal, and charity. His companion, the holy priest Wigbert, went in the meantime to Friesland; but after staying there two years came back without having met with any prospect of success. This disappointment did not discourage Egbert and other zealous promoters of this mission, but excited them the more earnestly to solicit the divine mercy with prayers and tears in favour of so many souls who were perishing eternally. Willibrord, who was then about thirty-one years of age and had been ordained priest a year before, expressed a great desire to be allowed by his superiors to undertake this laborious and dangerous charge. St. Egbert, by the known zeal and great talents of our saint and by his cheerfulness, doubted not but God had reserved to him the conversion of that nation, and encouraged him in this zealous design. St. Willibrord was joined by St. Swidbert and ten other English monks in this mission.
The authors of Batavia Sacra doubt not but our twelve missionaries landed at Catwic upon the sea, which was at the mouth of the Rhine before it was blocked up with sands, and thither the English were accustomed to export corn, even from the north, coasting part of their island. The British tower, as it was called, was built by the Romans at Catwic to defend this harbour. Pepin of Herstal, or the Big, who was at that time Duke of the French, received courteously St. Willibrord and his companions. But Willibrord set out for Rome and cast himself at the feet of Pope Sergius, begging his apostolic blessing and authority to preach the gospel to idolatrous nations. The pope, charmed with his zeal and sanctity, granted him the most ample licences for that purpose, and gave him a great quantity of relics for the consecration of churches. With this treasure the saint returned with all possible expedition to his province, considering the pressing necessities and dangers of so many souls which called for his compassion and relief. St. Swidbert was taken from him and ordained Bishop of the Borroctuarians, who seem to have inhabited the territory of Berg and the neighbouring country towards Cologne.
St. Willibrord, with his ten other companions, under the protection of Pepin, preached the gospel with wonderful success in that part of Friesland that had been conquered by the French; so that after six years Pepin, by the advice of his bishops, sent the saint to Rome with strong letters of recommendation that he might be ordained bishop. His humility made him endeavour that some other should be pitched upon for that dignity, but he was not heard. Pope Sergius, who still sat in St. Peter's chair, received him with great marks of honour, changed his name into that of Clement, with great solemnity ordained him Archbishop of the Frisons in St. Peter's church and gave him the pallium, with authority to fix his see in what part of the country he should think most convenient. The holy man stayed only fourteen days in Rome, being impatient to return to his flock, and regretting an hour's absence from them more than was necessary to procure them greater advantages. He came back to Utrecht the same year, 696, and chose that city for his residence, Pepin having bestowed on him the royal castle of Viltaburg which, as Bede assures us, was at Utrecht. St. Willibrord built at Utrecht the Church of our Saviour, in which he fixed his metropolitical see, says St. Boniface, and that of St. Martin, though this latter he only restored, for it had been a church, but destroyed by the pagans. The archbishop's indefatigable application to the conversion of souls seemed to prove that, with the new obligation he had received at his consecration of labouring to enlarge the kingdom of his Divine Master, he had acquired fresh strength and a considerable augmentation of his zeal. In the second year after his episcopal consecration, assisted by the liberality of Pepin and the abbess Irmina, who is said to have been daughter of Dagobert II, he founded, in 698, the abbey of Epternac in the diocese of Triers, and now in the duchy of Luxemburg, which he governed to his death. Alcuin relates that the nunnery of Horrea, of which Irmina was abbess, had been delivered from a pestilence by water blessed by St. Willibrord, and by his saying mass in the church. Pepin of Herstal before his death put away his concubine Alpais, by whom he had Charles Martel, and was reconciled to his wife Plectrudis, and in his last will, which is signed by Plectrudis, he recommended to St. Willibrord his nephews (without any mention of his natural son Charles), and bestowed on our saint the village of Swestram, now Susteren, in the duchy of Juliers, near the Meuse, with which the holy man endowed a nunnery which he built there.
Pepin of Herstal died in December 714. A little before his death, Charles Martel's son, Pepin the Short, afterwards King of France, was born, and baptized by St. Willibrord, who on that occasion is related by Alcuin to have prophesied that the child would surpass in glory all his ancestors. Charles Martel in a short time became mayor of the palace, and approved himself equally the first general and statesman of his age. In 723 he settled upon the monastery which St. Willibrord had erected at Utrecht to serve his cathedral all the royal revenues belonging to his castle there. Of this monastery St. Gregory was afterwards abbot; in succeeding times it was secularized. Several other donations of estates made by Charles Martel to several churches founded by our saint may be seen in Miraeus and others. By a charter that prince conferred on him the royalties of the city of Utrecht with its dependencies and appurtenances. By such establishments our saint sought to perpetuate the work of God. Not content to have planted the faith in the country which the French had conquered, he extended his labours into West-Friesland, which obeyed Radbod, Prince or King of the Frisons, who continued an obstinate idolater; yet hindered not the saint's preaching to his subjects, and himself sometimes listened to him. The new apostle penetrated also into Denmark; but Ongend (perhaps Biorn), who then reigned there, a monster of cruelty rather than a man, was hardened in his malice, and his example had a great influence over his subjects. The man of God, however, for the first fruits of this country, purchased thirty young Danish boys, whom he instructed, baptized, and brought back with him. In his return he was driven by stress of weather upon the famous pagan island called Fositeland, now Amelandt, on the coast of Friesland, six leagues from Leuwarden, to the north, a place then esteemed by the Danes and Frisons as most sacred in honour of the idol Fosite. It was looked upon as an unpardonable sacrilege for anyone to kill any living creature in that island, to eat of anything that grew in it, or to draw water out of a spring there without observing the strictest silence. St. Willibrord, to undeceive the inhabitants, killed some of the beasts for his companions to eat, and baptized three persons in the fountain, pronouncing the words aloud. The idolaters expected to see them run mad or drop down dead; and seeing no such judgment befall them, could not determine whether this was to be attributed to the patience of their god or to his want of power. They informed Radbod who, transported with rage, ordered lots to be cast three times a day for three days together, and the fate of the delinquents to be determined by them. God so directed it that the lot never fell upon Willibrord; but one of his company was sacrificed to the superstition of the people, and died a martyr for Jesus Christ.
The saint, upon leaving Amelandt, directed his course to Warckeren, one of the chief islands belonging to Zealand. His charity and patience made considerable conquests to the Christian religion there, and he established several churches. After the death of Radbod, which happened in 719, Willibrord was at full liberty to preach in every part of the country. He was joined in his apostolical labours, in 720, by St. Boniface, who spent three years in Friesland, then went into Germany. Bede says, when he wrote his history in 731: "Willibrord, surnamed Clement, is still living, venerable for his old age, having been bishop thirty-six years, and sighing after the rewards of the heavenly life, after many conflicts in the heavenly warfare." "He was," says Alcuin, "of a becoming stature, venerable in his aspect, comely in his person, graceful, and always cheerful in his speech and countenance, wise in his counsel, unwearied in preaching and all apostolic functions, amidst which he was careful to nourish the interior life of his soul by assiduous prayer, singing of psalms, watching, and fasting." Alcuin, who wrote about fifty years after his death, assures us that this apostle was endowed with the gift of miracles, and relates that whilst he preached in the isle of Warckeren, where the towns of Flessingue and Middleburg are since built, going from village to village, he found in one of them a famous idol to which the people were offering their vows and sacrifices, and, full of holy zeal, threw it down and broke it in pieces. In the meantime an idolater, who was the priest and guardian of the idol, gave him a blow on the head with his backsword, with which, nevertheless, the saint was not hurt; and he would not suffer the assassin to be touched or prosecuted. But the unhappy man was soon after possessed with a devil and lost his senses. By the tears, prayers, and zealous labours of this apostle and his colleagues, the faith was planted in most parts of Holland, Zealand, and all the remaining part of the Netherlands, whither St. Amand and St. Lebwin had never penetrated; and the Frisons, till then a rough and most barbarous people, were civilized, and became eminent for virtue and the culture of arts and sciences. St. Wulfran, Archbishop of Sens, and others, excited by the success of our saint's missions, were ambitious to share in so great a work under his direction. St. Willibrord was exceeding cautious in admitting persons to holy orders, fearing lest one unworthy or slothful minister should defeat by scandal all the good which the divine mercy had begun for the salvation of many souls. It is also mentioned of him that he was very strict and diligent in examining and preparing thoroughly those whom he admitted to baptism, dreading the condemnation which those incur who, by sloth or facility, open a door to the profanation of our most tremendous mysteries. The schools which St. Willibrord left at Utrecht were very famous. Being at length quite broken with old age, he resigned the administration of his diocese to a coadjutor whom he ordained bishop, and in retirement prepared himself for eternity. He died, according to Pagi, in 739; according to Mabillon, in 740 or 741, and according to Mr. Smith, in 745; some adhering to Alcuin, others to Bede, &c. St. Boniface says that St. Willibrord spent fifty years in preaching the gospel, which Mr. Smith dates from his episcopal consecration, Mabillon from his coming into Friesland, but others think these fifty years mean only thereabouts. Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus place his death on the 6th of November; but the Chronicle of Epternac, Usuard, Ado, and the Roman and Benedictin Martyrologies commemorate him on the 7th. He was buried, as he had desired, at his monastery of Epternac, and his relics are there enshrined at this day. The portative altar which he made use of for the celebration of the divine mysteries, in travelling through Friesland, Zealand, and Holland, is kept in the Benedictin abbey of our Lady ad Martyres, at Triers.
SOURCE http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/W/stwillibrord.asp

Today's Mass Readings : Thursday November 6, 2014


Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 488


Reading 1PHIL 3:3-8A

Brothers and sisters:
We are the circumcision,
we who worship through the Spirit of God,
who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh,
although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh.

If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I.
Circumcised on the eighth day,
of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage,
in observance of the law a Pharisee,
in zeal I persecuted the Church,
in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.

But whatever gains I had,
these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.
More than that, I even consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (3b) Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel LK 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Pope Francis "..God goes all the way, to the very limit, He always goes to the limit..." Homily

Pope Francis preaches at Mass Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta - OSS_ROM
(Vatican Radio) The true Christian is not afraid to get his hands dirty by reaching out to sinners, even at the risk of losing his reputation, because as the parable of the Good Shepherd teaches us, no one should be lost, said Pope Francis at Mass on Thursday morning.
Pope Francis based his homily on the two parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. The Pharisees and scribes were scandalized because Jesus "welcomes sinners and eats with them". "It was quite a scandal at the time, for these people," observed the Pope. "Just imagine if there had been press at that time!”. "But Jesus came for this very reason: to look for those who had strayed from the Lord”. These two parables - he said - "allow us to see what the heart of God is like. God does not stop, God does not go up to a certain point, God goes all the way, to the very limit, He always goes to the limit; He does not stop at the half way point on the journey of Salvation, as if to say 'I did all I could, it’s their problem. He always goes, moves out, takes to the field".
The Pharisees and the scribes, however, stop "half-way. They were only concerned about balancing their profits and losses and were quite content with this.  'Yes, it's true, I've lost three coins, I lost ten sheep, but I earned a lot more”. This does not even enter God’s mind, God is not a moneymaker, God is a Father and He goes to the very end to save us, to the limit. This is God’s love.  Half-way shepherds are so sad”.
"It is sad to see a shepherd open the doors of the church and just stand there waiting. It’s sad that the Christian does not feel within, in his heart, the need, the need to go to tell others that the Lord is good. How much perversion there is in the hearts of those who think they are righteous, like these scribes, these Pharisees. Well, they do not want to dirty their hands with sinners. Let us recall what they thought, 'Well, if he were a prophet, he would know that she is a sinner'. The contempt. They used people, then they despised them".
"Being a half-way shepherd - Pope Francis said - is a defeat". "A shepherd must have the heart of God, go to the very limit" because he does not want anyone to be lost:

"The true shepherd, the true Christian has this zeal within: no one should be lost. And this is why they are not afraid to get his hands dirty. He is not afraid. He goes where he needs to go. He risks his life, he risks his reputation, he risks losing his comforts, his status, even lose his ecclesiastical career as well, but he is the Good Shepherd. Even Christians have to be this way. It is so easy to condemn others, as they [the Pharisees] did - the tax collectors and sinners - it's so easy, but it is not Christian! It is not [the attitude of] the children of God. The Son of God goes to the very limit, the giver of life, as Jesus gave his for others. He cannot be content, keeping to himself: his comfort, his reputation, his peace of mind. Remember this: no half-way shepherds, never! No half-way Christians, never! That’s what Jesus did".
"The good shepherd, the good Christian - said the Pope – is outward bound, is always outward bound: he is moves out of himself, he moves toward God in prayer, in worship; he moves out towards others to bring them the message of salvation”. The good shepherd and the good Christian know what tenderness is:
"These scribes, the Pharisees did not know, did not know what it means to set the sheep on his shoulders, with tenderness, and bring it back to its place. These people do not know what joy is. The half-way Christian and shepherd knows perhaps know some fun, calm, a certain peace, but joy, the joy there is in heaven, the joy that comes from God, the joy that comes from the heart of a father who saves! 'I have heard the cries of the Israelites and I took to the field’! This is so beautiful; do not be afraid that they badmouth us because we go to visit our brothers and sisters who are distant from the Lord. Let us ask this grace for each of us and for our Mother, the Holy Church. "(Emer McCarthy)

Pope Francis "... it is essential that you keep always before you the needs, experiences and realities of families in your efforts to spread the Gospel...

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Bishops of Malawi, who are in Rome on their ad limina visit. The southeast African country has a population of over 16 million, of whom around 20% are Catholic. Pope Francis met and spoke with the Bishops informally, and presented them with his prepared remarks in writing.
In his address, he expressed his “appreciation” for the “admirable spirit” of the Malawian people, noting that despite “serious obstacles, have remained strong in their commitment to family life. “It is in the family, with its unique capacity to form each member, particularly the young, into persons of love, sacrifice, commitment and fidelity, that the Church and society in Malawi will find the resources necessary to renew and build up a culture of solidarity,” Pope Francis said. “There is no aspect of family life – childhood and youth; friendship, engagement and marriage; spousal intimacy, fidelity and love; interpersonal relations and support – which is excluded from the healing and strengthening touch of God’s love, communicated through the Gospels and taught by the Church,” he continued. “There is scarcely a greater commitment that the Church can make to the future of Malawi – and indeed, to her own development – than that of a thorough and joyful apostolate to families.”
Pope Francis said a “natural result” of this apostolate will be an increase in religious and priestly vocations. “As the Church in Malawi continues to mature, it is imperative that the strong foundations laid by generations of faithful missionaries be built upon by local men and women evangelizers,” he said. The Holy Father concluded his address by speaking of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, particularly to the orphaned children and parents left without love and support as a result of this illness. “Continue to be close to those in distress, to the sick, and especially to the children,” said Pope Francis “I ask you, particularly, to offer my gratitude to the many men and women who present Christ’s tenderness and love in Catholic healthcare institutions.”
 The full text of the Pope’s prepared speech to the Bishops of Malawi is below
 Dear Brother Bishops, I offer a joyful welcome to you who have come from “the warm heart of Africa”, as you make your pilgrimage to Rome, “the warm heart of the Church”. I pray that the Lord will richly bless you during these days of prayer, meetings and dialogue. May Saints Peter and Paul, whom you have come to venerate, intercede for us all, so as to strengthen the bonds of spiritual communion between the Successor of Peter and the Church in Malawi. I thank Bishop Joseph Zuza for the kind words he offered on your behalf and on behalf of the priests, religious and laity of Malawi. I ask you kindly to assure them of my spiritual closeness. I wish to begin by expressing my esteem for each one of you and for the good work that you do – indeed, that the Lord does through you – in your ministry to God’s holy people in Malawi. The effectiveness of your pastoral and administrative efforts is the fruit of your faith as well as of the unity and fraternal spirit that characterize your episcopal conference. The communion that you live, which is a sign of the oneness of God and of the unity of the universal Church, has enabled you to speak with one voice on matters of importance to the nation at large. In this way, together with your priests, you are ensuring that the Gospel message of reconciliation, justice and peace (cf. Africae Munus) is proclaimed for the good of all society. I pray that your fellowship in “one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32) may continue to be a hallmark of your ministry, and that it may always grow and continue to bear rich fruit. I wish also to express my appreciation for the admirable spirit of the Malawian people, who, though faced with many serious obstacles in terms of development, economic progress and standards of living, remain strong in their commitment to family life.
 It is in the family, with its unique capacity to form each member, particularly the young, into persons of love, sacrifice, commitment and fidelity, that the Church and society in Malawi will find the resources necessary to renew and build up a culture of solidarity. You yourselves know well the challenges and the value of family life, and, as fathers and shepherds, you are called to nurture, protect and strengthen it in the context of the “family of faith”, which is the Church. Indeed, for Christians, family life and ecclesial vitality depend on and reinforce each other (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 62, 66-67). In this regard, dear brothers, it is essential that you keep always before you the needs, experiences and realities of families in your efforts to spread the Gospel. There is no aspect of family life – childhood and youth; friendship, engagement and marriage; spousal intimacy, fidelity and love; interpersonal relations and support – which is excluded from the healing and strengthening touch of God’s love, communicated through the Gospels and taught by the Church.
 There is scarcely a greater commitment that the Church can make to the future of Malawi – and indeed, to her own development – than that of a thorough and joyful apostolate to families. “Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds” (Evangelii Gaudium, 67) – a humanizing and sanctifying process that begins, and finds its natural fulfilment, in the family. Thus, by doing everything you can to support, educate and evangelize families, especially those in situations of material hardship, breakdown, violence or infidelity, you will bring inestimable benefit to the Church and all of Malawian society. A natural result of this apostolate will be an increase in young men and women who are willing and able to dedicate themselves to the service of others in the priesthood and religious life.
 As the Church in Malawi continues to mature, it is imperative that the strong foundations laid by generations of faithful missionaries be built upon by local men and women evangelizers. We can never be satisfied with past gains, but must always strive to share blessings and advance the mission of the Church (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 69). This is a sure sign that our motivation is a love which seeks the good of the other. Where genuine love for Christ and neighbour is fostered, there will be no shortage of generous priests and men and women consecrated to God in the religious life. In a special way, I would ask you to be close to your priests, to listen to them and to support them. They often feel pulled in so many different directions, responding with charity and often at great personal sacrifice. They need to know that you love them as a father should. One indispensible way to show this paternal care is by providing candidates for the priesthood with an ever more complete human formation – upon which an integrated spiritual, intellectual and pastoral training depend. I encourage you to further your efforts to ensure that seminarians and religious be adequately prepared for ministry in your country, so that God who has begun the good work in them may bring it to completion (cf. Phil 1:6). Well formed priests and religious in turn will be able joyfully and selflessly to offer the fruits of their formation in the service of the new evangelization, so necessary for Malawi and the whole world. I know that you are conscious of the Church’s responsibility to youth, who are a precious part of Malawi’s present and the promise for her future. Do not hesitate to offer them the truths of our faith and to show them the joy of living out the moral demands of the Gospel. Preach Christ with conviction and love, thus promoting the stability of family life and contributing to a more just and virtuous culture.

 Dear brothers, the number of people in Malawi living in poverty and who have a much reduced life expectancy is a tragedy. My thoughts go to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, and particularly to the orphaned children and parents left without love and support as a result of this illness. Continue to be close to those in distress, to the sick, and especially to the children. I ask you, particularly, to offer my gratitude to the many men and women who present Christ’s tenderness and love in Catholic healthcare institutions. The service which the Church offers to the sick, through pastoral care, prayer, clinics and hospices, must always find its source and model in Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us (cf. Gal 2:20). Indeed, how else could we be followers of the Lord if we did not personally engage in ministry to the sick, the poor, the dying and the destitute? Our faith in Christ, born of having recognized our own need for him who has come to heal our wounds, to enrich us, to give us life, to nourish us, “is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members” (Evangelii Gaudium, 186). I thank you for being close to those who are ill and all the suffering, offering them the loving presence of their shepherd. With these thoughts, dear brother Bishops, I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and with great affection I impart my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to all the beloved priests, religious and lay faithful of Malawi. From the Vatican, 6 November 2014

Pope Francis "The reality of our divisions disfigures the beauty of the seamless garment of Christ but never..." Full Text to Evangelical Alliance


Pope Francis - ANSA

(Vatican Radio) In a meeting on Thursday with a delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance, Pope Francis expressed his confidence that the Holy Spirit “can inaugurate a new stage in the relations between Catholics and Evangelicals—a stage that allows us to realize more fully the will of the Lord to bring the Gospel even to the furthest ends of the earth.”
Pope Francis spoke about the Sacrament of Baptism as “an inestimable divine gift” that all Christians have in common. “The Sacrament of Baptism reminds us of a fundamental and very consoling truth: that the Lord always goes before us with His love and His grace… The reign of God always precedes us, as does the mystery of the unity of the Church.”
The Holy Father frankly acknowledged the presence of divisions among Christians “from the beginning,” and noted that “rivalries and conflicts” continue between Christian communities. “Such situations,” he said, “weaken our capacity to fulfil the command of the Lord to preach the Gospel to all nations.” Christians would be able to better proclaim the Gospel if they could overcome their differences so that, together, they might spread the Word of God and witness to Christian charity.
Pope Francis said he was pleased to learn of efforts in various countries to build better relations between Catholic and Evangelicals. He pointed especially to the work of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance. The Holy Father also expressed his hope that a joint document, “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” might “become a motive of inspiration for the proclamation of the Gospel in multi-religious contexts.
Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's address to the delegation: 
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Father” (Gal 1:3-4). With these words, the Apostle Paul expresses our common faith, our common hope. I would like for this my greeting, which proclaims that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, to also reach the members of your communities of origin.
In offering our whole will, with renewed love, to the service of the Gospel, we help the Church to become ever more, in Christ and with Christ, the fruitful life of the Lord “until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:13). This reality has its foundation in Baptism, through which we participate in the fruits of the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptism is an inestimable divine gift that we have in common (cf. Gal 3:27). Thanks to it, we no longer live solely in the earthly dimension, but in the power of the Spirit.
The Sacrament of Baptism reminds us of a fundamental and very consoling truth: that the Lord always goes before us with His love and His grace. It precedes our communities; it precedes, anticipates, and prepares the hearts of those who proclaim the Gospel and of those who welcome the Gospel of Salvation. “Reading the Scriptures also makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God. Nor should our loving response to God be seen simply as an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need… or a series of acts aimed solely at easing our conscience. The Gospel is about the kingdom of God (cf. Lk 4:43); it is about loving God who reigns in our world” (Ap. Exhort. Evangelii gaudium, 180). The reign of God always precedes us, as does the mystery of the unity of the Church.
From the beginning there were divisions among Christians, and even now unfortunately rivalries and conflicts remain between our communities. Such situations weaken our capacity to fulfil the command of the Lord to preach the Gospel to all nations (cf Mt 28:19-20). The reality of our divisions disfigures the beauty of the seamless garment of Christ but never completely destroys the profound unity generated by the grace in all the baptized (cf. Ec. Conc. Vat. II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 13). The efficacy of the Christian announcement would certainly be greater if Christians would overcome their divisions and could celebrate together the Sacraments and together spread the Word of God and witness to charity.
I am pleased to learn that, in different countries in the world, Catholics and Evangelicals have established relations of brotherhood and collaboration. Furthermore, the joint efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance have opened new perspectives, clarifying misunderstandings, and showing ways to overcome prejudices. I hope that such consultations can ultimately inspire our common witness and our efforts as evangelizers: “If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us” (Ev. gaud., 246). I hope, too, that the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” may become a motive of inspiration for the proclamation of the Gospel in multi-religious contexts.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am confident that the Holy Spirit, who inspires in the Church, with his mighty breath, the courage to persevere and event to seek new means of evangelization, can inaugurate a new stage in the relations between Catholics and Evangelicals—a stage that allows us to realize more fully the will of the Lord to bring the Gospel even to the furthest ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). I assure you of my prayers for this, and I ask you also to pray for me and for my ministry. Thank you!