Monday, March 9, 2015

Saint March 10 : Forty Martyrs of Sebaste



Information:
Feast Day:March 10
Died:320 AD, Sebaste
MARTYRS
A party of soldiers who suffered a cruel death for their faith, near Sebaste, in Lesser Armenia, victims of the persecutions of Licinius, who, after the year 316, persecuted the Christians of the East. The earliest account of their martyrdom is given by St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (370-379), in a homily delivered on the feast of the Forty Martyrs (Hom. xix in P.G., XXXI, 507 sqq.). The feast is consequently more ancient than the episcopate of Basil, whose eulogy on them was pronounced only fifty or sixty years after martyrdom, which is thus historic beyond a doubt. According to St. Basil, forty soldiers who had openly confessed themselves Christians were condemned by the prefect to be exposed naked upon a frozen pond near Sebaste on a bitterly cold night, that they might freeze to death. Among the confessors, one yielded and, leaving his companions, sought the warm baths near the lake which had been prepared for any who might prove inconstant. One of the guards set to keep watch over the martyrs beheld at this moment a supernatural brilliancy overshadowing them and at once proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and placed himself beside the thirty-nine soldiers of Christ. Thus the number of forty remained complete. At daybreak, the stiffened bodies of the confessors, which still showed signs of life, were burned and the ashes cast into a river. The Christians, however, collected the precious remains, and the relics were distributed throughout many cities; in this way the veneration paid to the Forty Martyrs became widespread, and numerous churches were erected in their honour.
One of them was built at Caesarea, in Cappadocia, and it was in this church that St. Basil publicly delivered his homily. St. Gregory of Nyssa was a special client of these holy martyrs. Two discourses in praise of them, preached by him in the church dedicated to them, are still preserved (P. G., XLVI, 749 sqq., 773 sqq.) and upon the death of his parents, he laid them to rest beside the relics of the confessors. St. Ephraem, the Syrian, has also eulogized the forty Martyrs (Hymni in SS. 40 martyres). Sozomen, who was an eye-witness, has left us (Hist. Eccl., IX, 2) an interesting account of the finding of the relics in Constantinople through the instrumentality of the Empress Pulcheria. Special devotion to the forty martyrs of Sebaste was introduced at an early date into the West. St. Gaudentius, Bishop of Brescia in the beginning of the fifth century (d. about 410 or 427), received particles of the ashes of martyrs during a voyage in the East, and placed them with other relics in the altar of the basilica which he had erected, at the consecration of which he delivered a discourse, still extant (P. L., XX, 959 sqq.) Near the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua, in the Roman Forum, built in the fifth century, a chapel was found, built, like the church itself, on an ancient site, and consecrated to the Forty Martyrs. A picture, still preserved there, dating from the sixth or seventh century, depicts the scene of the martyrdom. The names of the confessors, as we find them also in later sources, were formerly inscribed on this fresco. Acts of these martyrs, written subsequently, in Greek, Syriac and Latin, are yet extant, also a "Testament" of the Forty Martyrs. Their feast is celebrated in the Greek, as well as in the Latin Church, on 9 March.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)


Breaking News Families Freed by IS but some still in Captivity - Please PRAY

 Not all Christian hostages in Syria freed, more families abducted

Damascus (AsiaNews) - After telling AsiaNews that 52 Christian families held by the Islamic State (IS) group had been released without a ransom paid, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria Mgr Mario Zenari updated his early information and said not all of the families are free.
Speaking to AsiaNews Monday evening (local time), the papal envoy said that fresh reports indicate that some of the families were not released.
"My source tells me that the release had already been decided upon and seemed a done deal," the prelate explained. "A few dozen families had already boarded the bus and left the area where they had been kept captive."
As the remaining families were preparing to get on other buses to leave, IS fighters stopped the operation when they came under attack, probably from Kurdish fighters. "IS still holds many families," the nuncio noted. "In fact, they took some more from three villages".
Now the situation is even more confusing, and it is unclear what might happen next. However, Mgr Zenari is keen to point out that the case of these Christian families "is not comparable to what happened to the 21 Copts killed in Libya."
In this case, IS forces "took the Christians for use as human shields" to protect their withdrawal under Kurdish attacks.
Sources told AsiaNews that in Syria abducted Christians are still afforded some respect from IS fighters, especially if they are Syrian. Local Muslims know in fact the Church's commitment to the poor and to young people.

The same is not true with fighters from other Islamic countries like Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Shared from AsiaNewsIT

Today's Mass Readings : Monday March 9, 2015


Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 237

Reading 12 KGS 5:1-15AB
Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram,
was highly esteemed and respected by his master,
for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram.
But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.
Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel
a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.
“If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,”
she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went and told his lord
just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said.
“Go,” said the king of Aram.
“I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents,
six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read:
“With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you,
that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter,
the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed:
“Am I a god with power over life and death,
that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?
Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha, the man of God,
heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments,
he sent word to the king:
“Why have you torn your garments?
Let him come to me and find out
that there is a prophet in Israel.”

Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
The prophet sent him the message:
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
“I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure the leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
“My father,” they said,
“if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?
All the more now, since he said to you,
‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”
So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before him and said,
“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4

R. (see 42:3) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Verse Before The GospelSEE PSALM 130:5, 7

I hope in the LORD, I trust in his word;
with him there is kindness and plenteous redemption.

GospelLK 4:24-30

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Pope Francis meets with King and Queen of Belgium


Pope Francis on Monday met with His Majesty Philippe, King of the Belgians, and Queen Mathilde. - REUTERS
09/03/2015 13:29



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday met with His Majesty Philippe, King of the Belgians, and Queen Mathilde, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
A statement by the Holy See Press Office said the talks were “cordial”, and the good bilateral relations between Belgium and the Holy See were confirmed.
The parties also discussed other matters of mutual interest, such as social cohesion, the education of the young, the phenomenon of migration, and the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue.
Mention was then made of various problems of an international nature, with special reference to the future prospects of the European continent.

Pope Francis "He speaks silently to you, to the heart." Lent Homily


Pope Francis celebrating Mass in the chapel at Casa Santa Marta. - OSS_ROM
09/03/2015 12:24



(Vatican Radio) God acts in humility and in silence; “spectacle” is not His style. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Monday in the Casa Santa Marta.Jesus rebukes people of Nazareth for their lack of faith
In the Gospel of the day, Jesus rebukes the inhabitants of Nazareth for their lack of faith: at first, the Pope said, they listened with admiration, but later they exploded “with anger, with outrage”:
“In that moment, this people, who had heard with pleasure what Jesus had said, but did not like what He had said to one, two, or three of them; and perhaps some gossip had stood up and said, ‘But who is this who’s come to talk to us? Where has he studied in order to say these things to us? Let’s see his degree! This is the son of the carpenter, we know him.’ Fury erupted, and even violence. ‘And they drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the brow of the hill’… they wanted to throw Him down!”
Humility is God’s style
The first Reading speaks about Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, who was a leper. The prophet Elisha tells him to wash himself seven times in the Jordan to be healed, and yet Naaman was indignant because he expected a grand gesture. But then he listened to the advice of the servants, and did what the prophet said, and he was cleansed of leprosy. The inhabitants of Nazareth were like Naaman, the Pope said. “They wanted a spectacle,” but “the style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility, in silence, in the little things.” This begins with Creation, the Pope said, where the Lord does not use a “magic wand,” but creates man “with mud.” It is a style that runs through “the whole of salvation history”:
“When He desired to free His people, He freed them through the faith and confidence of a man, Moses. When He desired to cause the fall of the powerful city of Jericho, He did so through a prostitute. And for the conversion of the Samaritans He required the work of another sinner. When He invited David to fight against Goliath, it seemed crazy: the little David standing before that giant, who had a sword, who had so many things, while David had only a sling and the stones. When He told the Magi that a King was born to them, the Great King, what did they find? A little child, a manger. The simple things, the humility of God… this is the divine style, never the spectacle.”
God works in humility, not spectacles
The Pope noted that “one of the three temptations of Jesus in the desert” was to create a spectacle. Satan invites Him to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple so that, seeing the miracle, the people might believe in Him. “The Lord, instead, is revealed in simplicity, in humility,” he said. “It would do us good this Lent,” the Pope said, “to consider how the Lord has helped us in our lives, and how the Lord has led us onward. We will find that the Lord has always done this with simple things.”
He concluded, “This is how the Lord acts: He does things simply. He speaks silently to you, to the heart. Let us remember in our lives the many time we have felt these things: the humility of God is His style; the simplicity of God is His style. And even in the liturgical celebration, in the sacraments, what is beautiful is that which manifests the humility of God, and not the worldly spectacle. It would do us good to journey through our life and to consider the many times the Lord has visited us with His grace, and always with this humble style, the style He calls us, too, to have: humility.”