Monday, March 16, 2015

Saint March 17 : St. Patrick : Patron of: Ireland, Nigeria, New York, Engineers, Against snakes

Feast Day:March 17
between 387 and 390 at Scotland
Died:between 461 and 464 at Saul, County Down, Ireland
Patron of:Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, New York, Boston, Engineers, against snakes
The field of St. Patrick's labors was the most remote part of the then known world. The seed he planted in faraway Ireland, which before his time was largely pagan, bore a rich harvest: whole colonies of saints and missionaries were to rise up after him to serve the Irish Church and to carry Christianity to other lands. Whether his birthplace, a village called Bannavem Taberniae, was near Dunbarton-on-the-Clyde, or in Cumberland, or at the mouth of the Severn, or even in Gaul near Boulogne, has never been determined, and indeed the matter is of no great moment. We know of a certainty that Patrick was of Romano-British origin, and born about the year 389. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, his grandfather a priest, for at this time no strict law of celibacy had been imposed on the Christian clergy. Patrick's own full name was probably Patricius Magonus Sucatus.
His brief <Confession> gives us a few details of his early years. At the age of fifteen he committed some fault—what it was we are not told—which caused him much suffering for the rest of his life. At sixteen, he tells us, he still "knew not the true God." Since he was born into a Christian family, we may take this to mean that he gave little heed to religion or to the priests. That same year Patrick and some others were seized and carried off by sea raiders to become slaves among the inhabitants of Ireland. Formerly it was believed that his six years of captivity were spent near Ballymena in County Antrim, on the slopes of the mountain now called Slemish, but later opinion names Fochlad, or Focluth, on the coast of Mayo. If the latter view is correct, then Croachan Aigli or Croag Patrick, the scene of his prolonged fast, was also the mountain on which in his youth he lived alone with God, tending his master's herds of swine or cattle. Wherever it was, he tells us him self that "constantly I used to pray in the daytime. Love of God and His fear increased more and more, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred up, so that in a single day I said as many as a hundred prayers and at night nearly as many, and I used to stay out in the woods and on the mountain. Before the dawn I used to wake up to prayer, in snow and frost and rain, nor was there any such lukewarmness in me as now I feel, because then my spirit was fervent within."
At length he heard a voice in his sleep bidding him to get back to freedom and the land of his birth. Thus prompted, he ran away from his master and traveled to a harbor where a ship was about to depart. The captain at first refused his request for passage, but after Patrick had silently prayed to God, the pagan sailors called him back, and with them he made an adventurous journey. They were three days at sea, and when they reached land they traveled for a month through an uninhabited tract of country, where food was scarce. Patrick writes:
"And one day the shipmaster said to me: 'How is this, O Christian? Thou sayest that thy God is great and almighty; wherefore then canst thou not pray for us, for we are in danger of starvation? Likely we shall never see a human being again.' Then I said plainly to them: 'Turn in good faith and with all your heart to the Lord my God, to whom nothing is impossible, that this day He may send you food for your journey, until ye be satisfied, for He has abundance everywhere.' And, by the help of God, so it came to pass. Lo, a herd of swine appeared in the way before our eyes, and they killed many of them. And in that place they remained two nights; and they were well refreshed and their dogs were sated, for many of them had fainted and been left half- dead by the way. After this they rendered hearty thanks to God, and I became honorable in their eyes; and from that day they had food in abundance."
At length they arrived at human habitations, whether in Britain or Gaul we do not know. When Patrick was again restored to his kinfolk, they gave him a warm welcome and urged him to stay. But he felt he must leave them. Although there is no certainty as to the order of events which followed, it seems likely that Patrick now spent many years in Gaul. Professor Bury, author of the well-known <Life of St. Patrick>, thinks that the saint stayed for three years at the monastery of Lerins, on a small islet off the coast of modern Cannes, France, and that about fifteen years were passed at the monastery of Auxerre, where he was ordained. Patrick's later prestige and authority indicate that he was prepared for his task with great thoroughness.
We now come to Patrick's apostolate. At this time Pelagianism[1] was spreading among the weak and scattered Christian communities of Britain and Ireland, and Pope Celestine I had sent Bishop Palladius there to combat it. This missionary was killed among the Scots in North Britain, and Bishop Germanus of Auxerre recommended the appointment of Patrick to replace him. Patrick was consecrated in 432, and departed forthwith for Ireland. When we try to trace the course of his labors in the land of his former captivity, we are confused by the contradictory accounts of his biographers; all are marked by a great deal of vagueness as to geography and chronology. According to tradition, he landed at Inverdea, at the mouth of the river Vautry, and immediately proceeded northwards. One chronicler relates that when he was again in the vicinity of the place where he had been a herdboy, the master who had held him captive, on hearing of Patrick's return, set fire to his house and perished in the flames. There is historical basis for the tradition of Patrick's preliminary stay in Ulster, and his founding of a monastic center there. It was at this time that he set out to gain the support and favor of the powerful pagan King Laeghaire, who was holding court at Tara. The stories of Patrick's encounter with the king's Druid priests are probably an accretion of later years; we are told of trials of skill and strength in which the saint gained a great victory over his pagan opponents. The outcome was royal toleration for his preaching. The text of the Senchus More, the old Irish code of laws, though in its existing form it is of later date, mentions an understanding reached at Tara. Patrick was allowed to preach to the gathering, "and when they saw Laeghaire with his Druids overcome by the great signs and miracles wrought in the presence of the men of Erin, they bowed down in obedience to God and Patrick."
King Laeghaire seems not to have become a Christian, but his chief bard and his two daughters were converted, as was a brother, who, we are told, gave his estate to Patrick for the founding of a church. From this time on, Patrick's apostolate, though carried on amid hardships and often at great risk, was favored by many powerful chieftains. The Druids, by and large, opposed him, for they felt their own power and position threatened. They combined many functions; they were prophets, philosophers, and priests; they served as councilors of kings, as judges, and teachers; they knew the courses of the stars and the properties of plants. Now they began to realize that the religion they represented was doomed. Even before the Christian missionaries came in strength, a curious prophecy was current among them. It was written in one of their ancient texts: "Adze-head (a name that the shape of the monk's tonsure might suggest) will come, with his crook-headed staff and his house (the word chasuble means also a little house) holed for his head. He will chant impiety from the  table in the east of his house. All his household shall answer: Amen, Amen. When, therefore, all these things come to pass, our kingdom, which is a heathen one, will not stand." As a matter of fact, the Druids continued to exist in Christian Ireland, though with a change of name and a limited scope of activity. They subjected Patrick to imprisonment many times, but he always managed to escape.
In 439 three bishops, Secundinus, Auxilius, and Iserninus, were sent from Gaul to assist Patrick. Benignus, an Irish chieftain who was converted by Patrick, became his favorite disciple, his coadjutor in the see of Armagh, and, finally, his successor. One of Patrick's legendary victories was his overthrow of the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim, where he forthwith built a church. He traveled again in Ulster, to preach and found monasteries, then in Leinster and Munster. These missionary caravans must have impressed the people, for they gave the appearance of an entire village in motion. The long line of chariots and carts drawn by oxen conveyed the appurtenances of Christian worship, as well as foodstuffs, equipment, tools, and weapons required by the band of helpers who accompanied the leader. There would be the priestly assistants, singers and musicians, the drivers, hunters, wood-cutters, carpenters, masons, cooks, horsemen, weavers and embroiderers, and many more. When the caravan stopped at a chosen site, the people gathered, converts were won, and before many months a chapel or church and its outlying structures would be built and furnished. Thus were created new outposts in the struggle against paganism. The journeys were often dangerous. Once, Odrhan, Patrick's charioteer, as if forewarned, asked leave to take the chief seat in the chariot himself, while Patrick held the reins; they had proceeded but a short way in this fashion when the loyal Odrhan was killed by a spear thrust meant for his master.
About the year 442, tradition tells us, Patrick went to Rome and met Pope Leo the Great, who, it seemed, took special interest in the Irish Church. The time had now come for a definite organization According to the annals of Ulster, the cathedral church of Armagh was founded as the primatial see of Ireland on Patrick's return. He brought back with him valuable relics. Latin was established as the language of the Irish Church. There is mention of a synod held by Patrick, probably at Armagh. The rules then adopted are still preserved, with, possibly, some later interpolations. It is believed that this synod was called near the close of Patrick's labors on earth. He was now undoubtedly in more or less broken health; such austerities and constant journeyings as his must have weakened the hardiest constitution. The story of his forty-day fast on Croagh Patrick and the privileges he won from God by his prayers is also associated with the end of his life. Tirechan tells it thus: "Patrick went forth to the summit of Mount Agli, and remained there for forty days and forty nights, and the birds were a trouble to him, and he could not see the face of the heavens, the earth, or the sea, on account of them; for God told all the saints of Erin, past, present, and future, to come to the mountain summit-that mountain which overlooks all others, and is higher than all the mountains of the West-to bless the tribes of Erin, so that Patrick might see the fruit of his labors, for all the choir of the saints came to visit him there, who was the father of them all."
In all the ancient biographies of this saint the marvelous is continuously present. Fortunately, we have three of Patrick's own writings, which help us to see the man himself. His <Confession> is a brief autobiographical sketch; the <Lorica>, also known as <The Song of the Deer>, is a strange chant which we have reproduced in the following pages. < The Letter to Coroticus> is a denunciation of the British king of that name who had raided the Irish coast and killed a number of Christian converts as they were being baptized; Patrick urged the Christian subjects of this king to have no more dealings with him until he had made reparation for the outrage. In his writings Patrick shows his ardent human feelings and his intense love of God. What was most human in the saint, and at the same time most divine, comes out in this passage from his <Confession>:
"It was not any grace in me, but God who conquereth in me, and He resisted them all, so that I came to the heathen of Ireland to preach the Gospel and to bear insults from unbelievers, to hear the reproach of my going abroad and to endure many persecutions even unto bonds, the while that I was surrendering my liberty as a man of free condition for the profit of others. And if I should be found worthy, I am ready to give even my life for His name's sake unfalteringly and gladly, and there (in Ireland) I desire to spend it until I die, if our Lord should grant it to me."
Patrick's marvelous harvest filled him with gratitude. During an apostolate of thirty years he is reported to have consecrated some 350 bishops, and was instrumental in bringing the faith to many thousands. He writes, "Wherefore those in Ireland who never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshiped idols and abominations, from them has been lately prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God. Sons and daughters of Scottish chieftains are seen becoming monks and virgins of Christ." Yet hostility and violence still existed, for he writes later, "Daily I expect either a violent death, or robbery and a return to slavery, or some other calamity." He adds, like the good Christian he was, "I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, for He rules everything."
Patrick died about 461, and was buried near the fortress of Saul, in the vicinity of the future cathedral town of Down. He was intensely spiritual, a magnetic personality with great gifts for action and organization. He brought Ireland into much closer contact with Europe, especially with the Holy See. The building up of the weak Christian communities which he found on arrival and planting the faith in new regions give him his place as the patron of Ireland. His feast day is one of festivity, and widely observed. Patrick's emblems are a serpent, demons, cross, shamrock, harp, and baptismal font. The story of his driving snakes from Ireland has no factual foundation, and the tale of the shamrock, as a symbol used to explain the Trinity, is an accretion of much later date.


Open House for #Homeschoolers at Dominican University in Ottawa - SHARE! March 21 with Free Lunch

Open House for Homeschoolers

Open House for Homeschoolers

Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 11:00 to 14:00
Dominican University College, 96 Empress Avenue, Ottawa, ON.

Finding a university that strives to develop the whole person is not easy. Dominican University College (DUC) offers intimate class sizes and a personalized academic environment, allowing professors to tailor their teaching to the needs of each student.
Come discover what DUC has to offer during our Open House for Homeschoolers. You will have the opportunity to learn more about our courses and take a tour of our historic campus. Lunch will be provided, allowing you to chat with members of the DUC community. 
11:00 amIntroductions and overview of DUC programs
12:00 pmLunch
1:00 pmTour
1:30 pmQuestions
2:00 pmDeparture
  * Find out about our Head Start program that allows you to earn university credit while in High School.
Please RSVP by March 18th, 2015.
For more information, contact Joseph Yawney or at 613-233-5696 x 306

#PopeFrancis "God is in love with us” #Lent Homily

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Casa Santa Marta - OSS_ROM
16/03/2015 12:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says we are loved by God in a way that no theologian can explain. He was speaking during morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.
Taking his cue from the first reading from the prophet Isaiah in which the Lord says He is “about to create new heavens and a new earth”, Pope Francis said that God’s second creation is even more “wonderful” than the first because when he makes the world over he does so in Jesus Christ. He renews everything and manifests his immense joy:
“We find that the Lord has so much enthusiasm: he speaks of joy and says ‘I will exult in my people’. The Lord thinks of what He will do and of how He will rejoice with His people. It’s almost as if he has a dream. He has a dream. His dream is about us. ‘Oh, how beautiful it will be when we are all together, when this and that person will walk with me… I will exult in that moment!’ To bring you an example that can help us better understand, it’s like when a girl or a boy think of their beloved: ‘when we will be together, when we marry…’. It’s God’s ‘dream’”.
“God – the Pope continued – thinks of each of us and loves each of us. He ‘dreams’ about us. He dreams of how He will rejoice with us. That’s why the Lord wants to ‘re-create’ us, He wants to renew our hearts so that joy can triumph:
“Have you thought about it? The Lord dreams of me! He thinks of me! I am in the Lord’s mind and in His heart! The Lord can change my life! And he has many projects: ‘we will build houses and plant vineyards, we will share our meals’… these are the dreams of someone who is in love…. Thus we can see that the Lord is in love with his people. And when he says to his people: ‘I haven’t chosen you because you are the strongest, the biggest, the most powerful. I have chosen you because you are the smallest of them all. You could add: the most miserable. This is whom I have chosen’. This is love”. – Francis repeated, as he commented on the Gospel reading that speaks of the miraculous healing of the son of a Royal official:
“I don’t think a theologian exists who can explain this: it is impossible to explain. We can only think about it, we can feel, we can cry with joy. The Lord can change us. ‘And what must I do?’ Believe. I must believe that the Lord can change me, that He has the power to do so: just like the man in the Gospel whose son was sick. ‘Sir, come down before my child dies’. ‘You may go (Jesus said to him). Your son will live!’ That man believed in the words of Jesus and had set off. He believed. He believed that Jesus had the power to change his child, the health of his child. And he won. To have faith is to make space for God’s love, to make space for his power, for God’s power. Not for the power of a powerful person, but for the power of one who loves me, who is in love with me and who wants to rejoice with me. This is faith. This is believing: making space for the Lord so that he can come and change me”.(Linda Bordoni)

#BreakingNews Nun Gang Raped in Bengal - Age 72 - has forgiven and prays for them

West Bengal: after elderly nun raped, faithful march to demand justice
by Nirmala Carvalho
A group of about eight individuals broke into Jesus and Mary Convent in Ranagath, which includes a highly regarded school. In the course of the robbery, the thieves raped the superior and beat up three other nuns. All the victims are currently in hospital. Reacting to the incident, local residents took to the streets and set up roadblocks. The authorities also condemned the "heinous crime".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A group of about eight individuals broke into the Jesus and Mary Convent in Ranagath, West Bengal, to carry out a robbery. The convent's 72-year-old superior tried to stop them but was attacked and raped. The thieves also beat up three other elderly sisters. All the victims are currently in hospital.
Shocked by the incident, local residents took to the streets to demand justice. For their part, the authorities described the attack as a "heinous crime" caused by "a desire to destabilise the state".
The robbery took place late last night when a group of armed individuals broke into the monastery, home to nuns who run a local school (highly regarded by local residents).
After overpowering the security guard, the criminals found a box with money. When the superior tried to stop them, she was raped.
Local government and police officials confirmed the attack. "It was a rape against humanity. We stand by the Sisters and we will give them every possible help," the Minister for Urban Development said.
"We will identify the culprits who must be punished. Things like this never happened before in the State," said Mgr Thomas D'Souza, archbishop of Kolkata.
Not long after the incident, students and parents took to the streets in protest. Other residents joined them. Together, they blocked roads and highways calling on the government to provide swift justice for the violated nuns.

Investigators are currently still at the scene.
AsiaNewsIT Report - Image Shared from India News Channels

Latest #Vatican News Information and #PopeFrancis

16-03-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 053 

- Fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino
- To the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina: social pastoral ministry to involve the people in reconstruction and growth
- Angelus: God loves us – the summary of all theology
- Appeal for an end to the persecution of Christians
- To the UCIIM: go to the peripheries of schools as witnesses of life and hope
- “Follow Me” Association: engage with earthly reality to serve the good of man
- To be able to confess our sins is a gift from God
- To the Korean community: be a Church of martyrs
- Audiences
- From the Oriental Churches
- Other Pontifical Acts
Fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino
Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Captains Regent of the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, Gianfranco Terenzi and Guerrino Zanotti, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, deep satisfaction was expressed regarding the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino, and the active collaboration in the social field between public institutions and the Church was underlined.
Finally, mention was made of the fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino at a bilateral level and in the context of the international community.
To the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina: social pastoral ministry to involve the people in reconstruction and growth
Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – The prelates of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina were received in audience this morning by the Pope, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he handed to them at the end of the visit the Holy Father, who will shortly visit Sarajevo, emphasised “the charity, the care and the closeness of the Church of Rome” with “the heirs of many martyrs and confessors, who during the troubled centuries-long history of the country have kept the faith alive”.
“Migration is justly one of the social issues close to your heart”, he writes. “It evokes the difficulty of return for many of your co-citizens, the scarcity of sources of work, the instability of families, the emotional and social laceration of entire communities, the practical precariousness of many parishes, and the still fresh memories of conflict, both at a personal and community level, in which wounded hearts are still painful. I am well aware that, in your hearts as Pastors, this gives rise to bitterness and concern. The Pope and the Church are with you in prayer and in active support for your programmes to assist those who live in your territories, without any form of discrimination. I therefore encourage you to spare no energies in supporting the weak, helping – in all ways possible – those who have a legitimate and honest desire to remain in the land of their birth, bring succour to the spiritual hunger of those who believe in the indelible values, born of the Gospel, that throughout the centuries have nurtured the life of your communities”.
“The society in which you live has a multicultural and multi-ethnic dimension. And you have been entrusted the task of being fathers to all, in spite of material limits and the crisis within which you work. May your heart always be large enough to accommodate all, just as the heart of Christ is able to receive in itself – with divine love – every human being. Every Christian community knows that it is called upon to open itself up and to irradiate the light of the Gospel; it cannot stay closed within its traditions, noble though they may be. It must come out of its 'enclosure', firm in faith, supported by prayer and encouraged by pastors, to live and announce the new life of which it is a depository, that of Christ, Saviour of all men. From this perspective, I encourage the initiatives that can extend the presence of the Church beyond liturgical parameters, assuming with imagination every other action that may affect society, bringing with it the fresh spirit of the Gospel. … Seek to promote a solid social pastoral ministry in relation to the faithful, especially the young, to ensure that consciences are formed, willing to remain in their own territories as agents and key actors in the reconstruction and the growth of your country, from which they cannot expect only to receive. In this educational and pastoral work, the social doctrine of the Church is of valid assistance. It is also a way of overcoming the residue of old materialism that still persists in the mentality and behaviour of some sectors of the society in which you live”.
The Pope remarks that the ministry of the prelates of Bosnia and Herzegovina assumes various dimensions – pastoral, ecumenical and interreligious – and underlines the intense work that they carry out in these sectors, an expression of their paternity towards the people entrusted to them. “I encourage you and remind you that, while with respect for all, this does not absolve you of the need to give open and frank testimony of your belonging to Christ. The priests, men and women religious and lay faithful, who live in close contact with citizens of different religious traditions, are able to offer you valid advice regarding your mixed communities. I consider an approach of this type to be wise as it may bear the seeds and fruits of pacification, understanding and collaboration”.
With reference to the relationship between clergy and men and women religious, Francis comments, “I know through direct experience the complexity of these relations, as well as the difficulties in harmonising their respective charisms. But the most important fact is that in both dimensions … a single mission is pursued: to serve the Kingdom of Christ. … In this year dedicated to Consecrated Life, we must show that all charisms and ministries are destined to the glory of God and the salvation of all men, taking care to ensure that these are effectively orientated towards the edification of the Kingdom of God and not contaminated by partial aims; that they are carried out in a regime of human and fraternal communion, bearing each other's burdens with a spirit of service”.
The Pontiff concludes with “a personal word between bishops, as is appropriate in full charity”. “I am aware that historical events make Bosnia and Herzegovina different in many areas. And yet you are a single body: you are Catholic bishops in communion with the Successor of Peter, in a frontier location. One word alone emerges spontaneously from my heart: you are in communion. Although at times imperfect, such communion is to be pursued vigorously at all levels, setting individual peculiarities aside. It is necessary to act on the basis of your belonging to the same Apostolic College; other considerations are of secondary importance and are to be analysed in the light of the catholicity of your faith and your ministry”.
Angelus: God loves us – the summary of all theology
Vatican City, 15 March 2015 (VIS) At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to recite the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, as usual, commented on day's Gospel reading, which this Sunday was Jesus' words to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son”. “God loves us!” exclaimed the Pope. “He loves us truly, and he loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that summarises the whole of the Gospel, all faith, all theology: God loves, us, with freely given and boundless love”.
“At the origin of the world there is only the Father's free and gratuitous love”, affirmed Pope Francis, cited the words of St. Irenaeus who, in his work “Adversus haereses”, wrote: “In the beginning God formed Adam, not because He was in need of humans, but so He might have someone to receive His benefits”. And after the fall, He did not abandon man to the power of death, but instead rescued him with His mercy. “As in creation”, explained Francis, “also the subsequent stages in the history of salvation emphasise the gratuity of God's love: the Lord chooses His people not because they were deserving, but because it was the smallest among all the peoples. And, in the fullness of time, although men have broken the covenant many times, instead of abandoning them God makes a new bond with them, in the blood of Jesus – the bond of the new and everlasting covenant – a bond that nothing can ever break”.
The Cross of Christ is “the supreme proof of God's love for us: Jesus has loved us 'unto the end', meaning not up to the final moment of his earthly life, but until the extreme limit of love. If in creation the Father has given us the proof of his great love by giving us life, in the passion of His Son He has given us the proof of all proofs: He has come to suffer and die for us. And this love that is so great is God's mercy, because He loves us, He forgives us. With his mercy, God forgives all and God always forgives”.
“May Mary, Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certainty that we are loved by God. May She be close to us in the moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of Her Son, so that our Lenten itinerary may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome and of charity”.
Appeal for an end to the persecution of Christians
Vatican City, 15 March 2015 (VIS) - “It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the terrorist attacks on two churches in the city of Lahore, Pakistan today, which have caused many deaths and casualties. They are Christian churches. Christians are persecuted. Our brothers shed blood solely because they are Christians. While I assure my prayers for the victims and for their families, I ask the Lord, I implore the Lord, the source of all good, to grant the gift of peace and harmony to the country. May this persecution of Christians, that the world seeks to conceal, come to an end, and may there be peace”, said the Holy Father following today's Angelus prayer.
Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the population of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean, devastated by a cyclone. “I pray for the deceased, for the injured, and for those who have lost their homes”, he said, “and I give thanks to those who have taken rapid action to bring aid and assistance.
To the UCIIM: go to the peripheries of schools as witnesses of life and hope
Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) - “Teaching is a beautiful job, as it allows you to see the growth day by day of the people entrusted to your care. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility”, said the Pope this morning to the members of the Catholic Union of Teachers (UCIIM), whom he received in audience in the Paul VI Hall. He added, “Teaching is a serious commitment, that only a mature and balanced person can undertake. A commitment of this type may inculcate apprehension, but remember that no teacher is ever alone; his or her work is shared with other colleagues and with all the educational community to which they belong”.
“As Jesus taught us, all the Law and the Prophets can be summarised in two commandments: love the Lord God and love your neighbour. We can ask ourselves: who is a teacher's neighbour? The neighbours are your students! It is with them that a teacher passes the day. They seek guidance, orientation, an answer – and first of all, good questions!”, he continued. “Among the tasks of the UCIIM is that of enlightening and promoting the correct idea of school, often obscured by discussions and reductive positions. The school is certainly make up of valid and qualified instruction, but also of human relations, that from our side are relationships of welcome and benevolence, due to all indiscriminately. Indeed, the duty of a good teacher, and far more so for a good Christian, is to love with greater intensity the most difficult, weakest, most disadvantaged students”.
Francis mentioned that if a professional association of Christian teachers wishes to bear witness to its inspiration, it is required to engage with the peripheries of school, “that cannot be abandoned to marginalisation, ignorance, and the underworld”, and he encouraged them to follow the example of many great teachers who exist in the Christian community to encourage from within the school that, independently of whether or not it is administered by the state, is in need of credible teachers and witnesses of mature and complete humanity. “Teaching is not just a job”, he concluded. “It is a relationship in which each teacher must feel that he is fully involved as as person, to give meaning to the task of educating his pupils. … I encourage you to renew your passion for mankind in the process of formation, and to be witnesses of life and hope”.
“Follow Me” Association: engage with earthly reality to serve the good of man
Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience members of the “Seguimi” (“Follow Me”) lay community, on the 50th anniversary of its foundation. “The gesture, symbolic and intensely spiritual, of the first members to depart from the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, demonstrate this wish, that you have expressed in the statutory form of your programme of life: 'Jesus Christ lives at the centre of Seguimi'. This is beautiful. … I encourage you to live according to this programme every day, with commitment; that is, to be decentred from yourselves and to place your vital centre in the living Person of Jesus. Yours is a form of evangelical life that is practised in a context of laicism and liberty. A programme of Christian life for laypeople, with clear and demanding objectives, an original way of incarnating the Gospel, an effective way of walking the world”.
Francis encouraged them to “conserve and develop this fraternal communion and exchange of gifts, aimed at the human and Christian growth of all, along with creativity, optimism, joy and the courage to go – when appropriate – against the grain. Be vigilant in your spiritual path and help each other to practice spiritual charity, which means defending yourselves against individualistic selfishness in order to be true witnesses to the Gospel”.
“As laypeople, you are immersed in the world and are occupied within earthly situations to serve the good of man. You are required to permeate with Christian values the environments in which you work with your witness and word, meeting people in their concrete situations, so that they have full dignity and are reached by Christ's salvation”. The Pope concluded by urging them to be “laypeople on the front line”, to “feel like an active part of the Church's mission, to live your secularity dedicating yourself to the situations typical of the earthly city: the family, the professions, social life in its various expressions. In this way you are able, as a leaven, to bring the spirit of the Gospel into the folds of history with your witness of faith, hope and charity”.
To be able to confess our sins is a gift from God
Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) - “The Sacrament of Reconciliation enables us to draw near to the Father trustfully, to have the certainty of his forgiveness. He is truly 'rich in mercy' and he extends it abundantly to those who turn to him with a sincere heart”, said the Pope in his homily during the penitential celebration in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday afternoon. “The transformation of the heart that leads us to confess our sins is a gift from God … it is 'His work'” he continued. “As we leave the confessional, we were his strength that restores life and rekindles the enthusiasm of faith. After confession we are reborn”.
“Jesus' call impels us all not to stop at the surface of things, especially when facing a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity each person is capable of. No-one must be excluded from God's mercy. Everyone knows that the way to reach it, and the Church, is the house that welcomes all and refuses no-one. Its doors are always wide open, so that those who are touched by grace may find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, the greater the love must be that the Church expresses towards those who convert”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought of how the Church may make more evident her mission as witness to mercy. It is a path that begins with a spiritual conversion; and we must take this path. Therefore, I have decided to convoke an extraordinary Jubilee, which will be centred upon God's mercy. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. Let us live this in the light of the Word of the Lord: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful'. And this is especially for confessors! Have mercy!”.
“I am convinced that all the Church, which is in great need of receiving mercy, as we are sinners, may find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful God's mercy, with which we are all called upon to give consolation to every man and every woman in our time. Let us not forget that God forgives everything, and God always forgives. Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness. Let us hereafter entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and keep watch over our path; our path of repentance, our path with an open heart, a year long, to receive God's indulgence, to receive God's mercy”.
To the Korean community: be a Church of martyrs
Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – On the afternoon of Thursday, 12 March, the Pope celebrated Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with the Korean community of Rome, accompanied by prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, in Rome on their “ad Limina” visit and whom Pope Francis had received in audience in the morning. In his homily, the Pope spoke about the laity, who carried forth the Church for two centuries, encouraging them to be as courageous as the first faithful; he urged all those present to be aware of this responsibility.
He went on to mention Korea's martyrs, and emphasised that the seedbed of the Church has been watered with their blood and thus given life. “Do not give up. Be on your guard against 'religious wellbeing'”, he said. “If you do not go ahead with the strength of faith, with the zeal and love of Jesus Christ, if you become soft – 'rosewater Christians', weak – your faith will diminish”. The Pope also highlighted the importance of being sons of martyrs, adding that “apostolic zeal is not negotiable. … You are a Church of martyrs, and this is a promise for all Asia. Keep going, and do not give up. No spiritual worldliness, nothing. No easy Catholicism, without zeal. No religious wellbeing. Love for Jesus Christ, love for Jesus Christ's Cross, and love for your history”.
Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments;
- Frère Alois, prior of Taizé
- Delegation of the Latin American Network on the Social Doctrine of the Church;
- Six prelates of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, with his auxiliary, Bishop Pero Sudar;
- Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka, with his auxiliary, Bishop Marko Senren;
- Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, apostolic administrator of Trebinje and Mrkan;
- Bishop Tomo Vuksic, military ordinary.
On Saturday, 14 March, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Archbishop Orlando Antonini, apostolic nuncio in Serbia.
From the Oriental Churches
Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – The Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Patriarchal Church, in its extraordinary session of 10 to 14 March 2015:
- accepted the resignation of Bishop Elias Sleiman from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Lattaquie upon reaching the age limit, and elected him as president of the Patriarchal Tribunal.
- elected Bishop Joseph Mouawad, patriarchal vicar of Ehden-Zgorta, Syria, as bishop of Zahle (Catholics 50,000, priests 34, religious 42), Lebanon.
- elected, with pontifical assent, the Rev. Corepiscopa Antoine Chbeir as bishop of Lattaquie of the Maronites (Catholics 35,000, priests 27, religious 50), Syria. The bishop-elect was born in Ghosta, Lebanon, and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a doctorate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome and has served as parish priest and diocesan chancellor. He is currently chancellor of the patriarchal vicariate of Jounieh, Lebanon, and succeeds Bishop Elias Sleiman.
Other Pontifical Acts
On Saturday, 14 March, the Holy Father:
- appointed Rev. Fr. Alojzij Cvikl, S.J., as metropolitan archbishop of Maribor (area 45,520, population 1,601,000, Catholics 47,900, priests 46, permanent deacons 71, religious 89), Slovenia. The bishop-elect was born in Celje, Slovenia in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He studied philosophy and theology at the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana and at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and holds a licentiate in pedagogy and social sciences from the “Lumen Vitae” Institute in Brussels, Belgium. He has served in a number of roles, including: deputy priest and parish priest in the parish of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in Ljubljana – Dravlje, rector of the Internate at the St. Stanislaw Archiepiscopal Institute in Ljubljana-Sentvid and teacher of religion at the Classical Lyceum of the same Institute, provincial of the Jesuits in Slovenia, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Slovenia, and rector of the Pontifical Russian College (Russicum), Rome. He is currently bursar of the Archdiocese of Maribor.
- appointed the following consultors of the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops: Msgr. Lluis Clavell, ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas; Giuseppe Bonfrate, lecturer in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Maurizio Gronchi, ordinary professor of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome; Michele Giulio Masciarelli, lecturer in dogmatic theology at the Marianum Faculty, Rome, and fundamental theology at the Theological Institue of Abruzzo and Molise, Chieti; Peter Paul Saldanha, lecturer in ecclesiology at the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome; Dario Vitali, lecturer in ecclesiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Aimable Musoni, S.D.B., lecturer in systematic theology, ecclesiology and ecumenism at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome; Fr. François Xavier Dumortier, S.J., Magnificent Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Fr. Georges Ruyssen, S.J., lecturer in canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome; Fr. Sabatino Majorano, C.SS.R., lecturer in systematic moral theology at the Alphonsianum Academy, Rome; Fr. Manuel Jesus Arroba Conde, C.M.F., dean of the Institutum Utriusque Iuris at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome; Fr. Jose Granados, D.C.J.M., vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family Studies, lecturer at the Pontifical Gregorian Institute.

Today's Mass Readings : Monday March 16, 2015

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 244

Reading 1IS 65:17-21

Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

Responsorial PsalmPS 30:2 AND 4, 5-6, 11-12A AND 13B

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Verse Before The GospelAM 5:14

Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the LORD will be with you.

GospelJN 4:43-54

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified
that a prophet has no honor in his native place.
When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,
since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast;
for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had made the water wine.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The royal official said to him,
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.”
The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
“Your son will live,”
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.