Sunday, October 2, 2016

Saint October 3 : St. Mother Theodore Guérin : Founder of the Sisters of #Providence

THÉODORE GUÉRIN (1798 – 1856)

“What strength the soul draws from prayer! In the midst of a storm, how sweet is the calm it finds in the heart of Jesus. But what comfort is there for those who do not pray?” These words, written by Mother Théodore Guérin after surviving a violent storm at sea, perhaps best exemplify her life and ministry. Truly, Mother Theodore drew strength from prayer, from conversations with God, with Jesus and with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout her life, she encouraged prayer as she sought to share the love of God with people everywhere.
Mother THÉODORE—ANNE-THÉRÈSE GUÉRIN—was born Oct. 2, 1798, in the village of Etables, France. Her devotion to God and to the Roman Catholic Church began when she was a young child. She was allowed to receive her First Communion at the age of 10 and, at that time, told the parish priest that someday she would be a nun.
The child Anne-Thérèse often sought solitude along the rocky shore near her home, where she devoted hours to meditation, reflection and prayer. She was educated by her mother, Isabelle Guérin, who centered lessons on religion and Scripture, thus nurturing the child’s love of God. Anne-Thérèse’s father, Laurent, who served in Napoleon’s navy, was away from home for years at a time. When Anne-Thérèse was 15 years old, her father was murdered by bandits as he traveled home to visit his family. The loss of her husband nearly overwhelmed Isabelle and, for many years, Anne-Thérèse bore the responsibility of caring for her mother and her young sister, as well as the family’s home and garden.
Through those years of hardship and sacrifice, indeed through all the years of her life, Mother Théodore’s faith in God neither wavered nor faltered. She knew in the depths of her soul that God was with her and always would be with her, a constant companion.
Anne-Thérèse was nearly 25 years old when she entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir, a young community of women religious serving God by providing opportunities for education to children and by caring for the poor, sick and dying.
While teaching and caring for the sick in France, Mother Théodore, then known as Sister St. Theodore, was asked to lead a small missionary band of Sisters of Providence to the United States of America, to establish a motherhouse, to open schools and to share the love of God with pioneers in the Diocese of Vincennes in the State of Indiana. Humble and prone to feelings of unworthiness, Mother Theodore could not imagine that she was suitable for such a mission. Her health was fragile. During her novitiate with the Sisters of Providence, she became very ill. Remedies cured the illness but severely damaged her digestive system; for the remainder of her life she was able to consume only soft, bland foods and liquids. Her physical condition added to her doubts about accepting the mission. Nevertheless, after hours of prayer and lengthy consultations with her superiors, she accepted the mission, fearing that if she did not, no one would venture to the wilderness to share the love of God.
Equipped with little more than her steadfast desire to serve God, Mother Théodore and her five companion Sisters of Providence arrived at the site of their mission at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, the evening of October 22, 1840, and immediately hastened along a muddy, narrow path to the tiny log cabin that served as the chapel. There, they knelt in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to thank God for their safe journey and to ask for God’s blessings for the new mission.
Here, on this hilly, ravine-cut, densely forested land, Mother Théodore would establish a motherhouse, a school and a legacy of love, mercy and justice that continues to this day.
Throughout years of sorrow and years of peace, Mother Théodore relied upon God’s Providence and her own ingenuity and faith for counsel and guidance. She urged Sisters of Providence to “Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.” In letters to France, she stated, “But our hope is in the Providence of God, which   has protected us until the present, and which will provide, somehow, for our future needs.”
In the fall of 1840, the mission at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods consisted only of a tiny log cabin chapel that also served as lodging for a priest, and a small frame farmhouse, where Mother Théodore, the sisters from France and several postulants lived. During that first winter, harsh winds blew from the north to rattle the little farmhouse The sisters were often cold and frequently hungry. But they transformed a porch into a chapel and were comforted by the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the humble motherhouse. Mother Théodore said, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”
During the early years at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Mother Théodore encountered numerous trials: prejudice against Catholics and, especially, against Catholic women religious; betrayals; misunderstandings; the separation of the Congregation in Indiana from the one in Ruillé; a devastating fire that destroyed an entire harvest leaving the sisters destitute and hungry, and frequent life-threatening illnesses. Still she persevered, desiring only that “In all and everywhere may the will of God be done.” In correspondence to friends, Mother Théodore acknowledged the tribulations. She wrote: “If ever this poor little Community becomes settled, it will be established on the Cross; and that is what gives me confidence and makes me hope, sometimes even against hope.”
Less than a year after arriving at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Mother Théodore opened the Congregation’s first Academy and, in 1842, established schools at Jasper, Indiana, and St. Francisville, Illinois By the time of her death on May 14, 1856, Mother Théodore had opened schools in towns throughout Indiana, and the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence was strong, viable and respected. Always, Mother Théodore attributed the growth and success of the Sisters of Providence to God and to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to whom she dedicated the ministry at Saint Mary-of-the- Woods.
Mother Théodore’s holiness was evident to people who knew her, and many described her simply as “saintly”. She possessed the ability to draw out the best in people, to enable them to attain more than they thought possible. Mother Théodore’s love was one of her great hallmarks. She loved God, God’s people, the Sisters of Providence, the Roman Catholic Church and the people she served. She did not exclude anyone from her ministries or her prayers, for she dedicated her life to helping people know God and live better lives.
Mother Théodore knew that alone she could do nothing, but that all things were possible with God. She accepted trials, trouble and occasions when she was treated unjustly as part of her life. In the midst of persecution, Mother Théodore remained true, a faithful woman of God.
Mother Théodore died sixteen years after she arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. During those fleeting years, she touched a countless number of lives—and continues to do so today.
The gift she gives to each succeeding generation is her life as a model of holiness, virtue, love and faith.
Text shared from Vatican.va

Saint October 3 : St. Gerard of Brogne : #Belgium


St. Gerard of Brogne
ABBOT
Feast: October 3
Information:
Feast Day:
October 3
Born:
895 at Staves, Namur, Belgium
Died:
3 October 959 at Brogne, Belgium
Major Shrine:
Saint-Gérard, Namur
Patron of:
Saint-Gérard, Namur

Born at Staves in the county of Namur, towards the end of the ninth century; died at Brogne or St-Gérard, 3 Oct. 959. The son of Stance, of the family of dukes of Lower Austrasia, and of Plectrude, sister of Stephen, Bishop of Liège, the young Gérard, like most omen of his rank, followed at first the career of arms. His piety, however, was admirable amid the distractions of camp. He transformed into a large church a modest chapel situated on the estate of Brogne which belonged to his family. About 917, the Count of Namur charged him with a mission to Robert, younger brother of Eudes, King of France. He permitted his followers to reside at Paris, but himself went to live at the Abbey of St-Denis, where he was so struck by the deifying lives of the monks that, at the conclusion of his embassy, with the consent of the Count of Namur and Bishop Stephen, his maternal uncle, he returned to St-Denis, took the religious habit, and after eleven years was ordained priest. He then requested to be allowed to return to Brogne, where he replaced the lax clerics with monks animated by a true religious spirit. Thereupon he himself retired to a cell near the monastery for more austere mortification. From this retreat he was summoned by the Archbishop of Cambrai who confided to him the direction of the community of St-Ghislain in Hainault. Here also he established monks instead of the canons, whose conduct had ceased to be exemplary, and he enforced the strictest monastic discipline. Gradually he became superior of eighteen other abbeys situated in the region between the Meuse, the Somme, and the sea, and through his efforts the Order of St. Benedict was soon completely restored throughout this region. Weighed down by age and infirmities, he placed vicars or abbots in his stead, in the various abbeys with which he was charged, and retired to that of Brogne. He still had courage to take a journey to Rome in order to obtain a Bull confirming the privileges of that abbey. On his return he paid a final visit to all the communities which he had reorganized, and then awaited death at Brogne. His body is still preserved at Brogne, now commonly calledSt-Gérard.

SOURCE The Catholic Encyclopedia

#PopeFrancis "God changes the world by transforming our hearts..." FULL TEXT Homily + Sunday Mass Video

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday at the Salesian centre in Baku, the central event of his 10-hour visit to Azerbaijan.
The Pope’s homily, delivered to the congregation gathered in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, centred on the Lord’s call for Christian’s to live in faith and in service.
Below, please find the official English language translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily:
 Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass, Baku, Church of the Immaculate Conception
2 October 2016
 The word of God presents us today with two essential aspects of the Christian life: faith and service.  With regard to faith, two specific requests are made to the Lord.
The first is made by the Prophet Habakkuk, who implores God to intervene in order to re-establish the justice and peace which men have shattered by violence, quarrels and disputes: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab 1:2), pleads the Prophet.  God, in response, does not intervene directly, does not resolve the situation in an abrupt way, does not make himself present by a show of force.  Rather, he invites patient waiting, without ever losing hope; above all, he emphasizes the importance of faith, since it is by faith that man will live (cf. Hab 2:4).  God treats us in the same way: he does not indulge our desire to immediately and repeatedly change the world and other people.  Instead, he intends primarily to heal the heart, my heart, your heart, and the heart of each person; God changes the world by transforming our hearts, and this he cannot do without us.  The Lord wants us to open the door of our hearts, in order to enter into our lives.  This act of opening to him, this trust in him is precisely “the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4).  For when God finds an open and trusting heart, then he can work wonders there.
But to have faith, a lively faith, is not easy; and so we pass to the second request, which the Apostles bring to the Lord in the Gospel: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:6).  It is a good question, a prayer which we too can direct to the Lord each day.  But the divine response is surprising and here too turns the question around: “If you had faith…”.  It is the Lord who asks us to have faith.  Because faith, which is always God’s gift and always to be asked for, must be nurtured by us.  It is no magic power which comes down from heaven, it is not a “talent” which is given once and for all, not a special force for solving life’s problems.  A faith useful for satisfying our needs would be a selfish one, centred entirely on ourselves.  Faith must not be confused with well-being or feeling well, with having consolation in our heart that gives us inner peace.  Faith is the golden thread which binds us to the Lord, the pure joy of being with him, united to him; it is a gift that lasts our whole life, but bears fruit only if we play our part.
And what is our part?  Jesus helps us understand that it consists of service. In the Gospel, immediately following his words on the power of faith, Jesus speaks of service.  Faith and service cannot be separated; on the contrary, they are intimately linked, interwoven with each other.   In order to explain this, I would like to take an image very familiar to you, that of a beautiful carpet.  Your carpets are true works of art and have an ancient heritage.  The Christian life that each of you has, also comes from afar.  It is a gift we received in the Church which comes from the heart of God our Father, who wishes to make each of us a masterpiece of creation and of history.  Every carpet, and you know this well, must be made according to a weft and a warp; only with this form can the carpet be harmoniously woven.  So too in the Christian life: every day it must be woven patiently, intertwining a precise weft and warp: the weft of faith and the warp of service.  When faith is interwoven with service, the heart remains open and youthful, and it expands in the process of doing good.  Thus faith, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, becomes powerful and accomplishes marvellous deeds. If faith follows this path, it matures and grows in strength, but only when it is joined to service.
But what is service?  We might think that it consists only in being faithful to our duties or carrying out some good action.  For Jesus it is much more.  In today’s Gospel, and in very firm and radical terms, he asks us for complete availability, a life offered in complete openness, free of calculation and gain.  Why is he so exacting?  Because he loved us in this way, making himself our servant “to the end” (Jn 13:1), coming “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk10:45).  And this takes place again every time we celebrate the Eucharist: the Lord comes among us, and as much as we intend to serve him and love him, it is always he who precedes us, serving us and loving us more than we can imagine or deserve.  He gives us his very own life.  He invites us to imitate him, saying: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).
And so, we are not called to serve merely in order to receive a reward, but rather to imitate God, who made himself a servant for our love.  Nor are we called to serve only now and again, but to live in serving.  Service is thus a way of life; indeed it recapitulates the entire Christian way of life: serving God in adoration and prayer; being open and available; loving our neighbour with practical deeds; passionately working for the common good.
For Christians too, there are temptations which lead us away from the path of service and end up by rendering life pointless.  Here too we can identify two forms.  One is that of allowing our hearts to grow lukewarm.  A lukewarm heart becomes self-absorbed in lazy living and it stifles the fire of love.  The lukewarm person lives to satisfy his or her own convenience, which is never enough, and in that way is never satisfied; gradually such a Christian ends up being content with a mediocre life.  The lukewarm person allocates to God and others a “percentage” of their time and their own heart, never spending too much, but rather always trying to economize.  And so, he or she can lose the zest for life: rather like a cup of truly fine tea, which is unbearable to taste when it gets cold.  I am sure, however, that when you look to the example of those who have gone before you in faith, you will not let your hearts become lukewarm.  The whole Church, in showing you special affection, looks to you and offers you encouragement: you are a little flock that is so precious in God’s eyes.          
There is a second temptation, which we can fall into not so much because we are passive, but because we are “overactive”: the one of thinking like masters, of giving oneself only in order to gain something or become someone.  In such cases service becomes a means and not an end, because the end has become prestige; and then comes power, the desire to be great. “It shall not be so among you”, Jesus reminds all of us, “but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:26).  This is the way the Church grows and is adorned.  Returning to our image of the carpet, and applying it to your fine community: each of you is like a magnificent silk thread.  Only if you are woven together, however, will the different threads form a beautiful composition; on their own, they are of no use.  Stay united always, living humbly in charity and joy; the Lord, who creates harmony from differences, will protect you. 
May we be aided by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the saints, especially Saint Teresa of Calcutta, the fruits of whose faith and service are in your midst.  Let us recall some of her noble words to summarize today’s message: “The fruit of faith is love.  The fruit of love is service.  The fruit of service is peace” (A Simple Path, Introduction).

Novena to Guardian Angels - #Angel - #Litany, #Chaplet and Special Prayers - SHARE

Guardian Angel Prayers

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this night/day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.
Amen.
Litany to the Guardian Angels 
   HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL
Angel, my counselor, inspire me.
Angel, my defender, protect me;
Angel, my faithful friend, intercede for me;
Angel, my consoler, fortify me;
Angel, my brother, defend me;
Angel, my teacher, instruct me;
Angel, witness of all my actions, purify me;
Angel, my helper, support me;
Angel, my intercessor, speak for me;
Angel, my guide, direct me;
Angel, my light, enlighten me;
Angel, whom God has assigned to lead me, govern me.

Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Raphael, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who unceasingly behold the Face
of the heavenly Father, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who never part from us, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who are devoted to us in heavenly friendship,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our faithful admonishers, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who preserve us from many evils of body and soul,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our mighty defenders against the attacks
of the evil enemy, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our support in the time of temptations, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who help us when we stumble and fall, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who comfort us in troubles and sufferings,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who uphold our prayers and carry them before the
Throne of God, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who through your inspirations and encouragement help us to progress in the good, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who despite our faults never leave us, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who rejoice over our improvement and advancement inperfection, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who watch over us and pray for us even when we rest, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who do not abandon us in our agony of death,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who console the souls in Purgatory, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who lead the righteous into Heaven, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, with whom one day we hope to eternally praise and
behold God, pray for us.
Noble Princes of Heaven, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord!

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Our Father...

Bless the Lord, all His Angels, you mighty ones who do His Will.
He has sent His Angels before you, to guard you on all your ways.
My God, in the presence of the Angels, I will bless You.
    I want to adore You and praise Your holy Name.
Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto You.

    LET US PRAY.
Almighty, Eternal God, in Your ineffable goodness You have assigned a special Angel to all men, from the womb onwards, as a protection for body and soul. Graciously grant that I may follow my holy Angel so faithfully and love him so dearly, that through Your grace and under his protection I may one day reach the heavenly Father's House and may merit to behold Your Divine Countenance together with him and all the holy Angels.  Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

A Mother's Prayer to the Guardian Angels of her children
I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly Friends of my children! I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them. Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me, for my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed company. Amen

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel
When Unable to Assist at Mass for Spiritual Communion
Go, my Angel Guardian dear, To Church for me, the Mass to hear. Go, kneel devoutly at my place and treasure for me every grace. At the Offertory time Please offer me to God Divine. All I have and all I am, present it with the Precious Lamb. Adore for me the great Oblation. Pray for all I hold most dear, be they far or be they near. Remember too, my own dear dead for whom Christ's Precious Blood was shed. And at Communion bring to me Christ's Flesh and Blood, my Food to be. To give me strength and holy grace , a pledge to see Him face to Face. And when the Holy Mass is done, then with His blessing, come back home. Amen.

Chaplet to the Guardian Angel
Heavenly Father, the moment You created my soul, You gave me to the care of an angel to enlighten, guard, rule, and govern me. I thank You for Your infinite goodness to me. I thank you also, my guardian angel, for accompanying me every day on my journey back to heaven. It is a great comfort for me to know that you give me holy inspirations, that you defend me from dangers to soul and body, and that you pray to the Father for me.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
My guardian angel, you always contemplate the Lord and you want me to be your fellow citizen in heaven. I beg you to obtain for me pardon from the Lord for being very often deaf to your counsels, and for sinning, unmindful of your presence.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
My guardian angel, faithful and strong in virtue, you are among the angels in heaven who, led by St. Michael, conquered Satan and his followers. That fight of old continues on earth today: the powers of evil are against Jesus Christ to ensnare souls. Pray to the Immaculate Queen of Apostles for the Church, the city of God that fights against the city of Satan. O Archangel St. Michael, with all your followers, defend us in the war; be our strength against the malice and snare of the demon. O that the Lord would subdue him! And you, the prince of the heavenly court, drive away into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who seek to ruin our salvation.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
O angels of paradise, take care of writers, technicians, and distributors of all media and all who use them. Guard them from spreading evil, guide them in truth and obtain for them true charity. Ask the Lord for necessary vocations to combat evil and accompany them in their delicate mission. Inspire all people to contribute with deeds, prayers, and offerings for the conversion of hearts and the salvation of souls. Pray that we serve to raise the standard of human life and direct the human race towards eternal good.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
All you angels of the Lord, you have been called to form a noble court, to praise and bless continuously the Holy Trinity, to make up for our forgetfulness. You are true lovers of God and of souls, and you continue to sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will."
We pray that all may know the true and only God, the Son sent by Him, and the Church, the pillar of truth. Pray that the Name of God may be held holy, that the kingdom of Jesus Christ may come, and His will may be done on earth as it is heaven. Protect and guide the civil authorities, the workers, and the suffering; obtain blessings and salvation for all those who search for truth, justice, and peace.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
(Prayers Shared from 2HeartsPrayerNetwork)

NOVENA TO OUR
GUARDIAN ANGEL


[Say the novena for nine consecutive days.] 

O holy angels, whom God, 
by the effect of His goodness and His tender regard for my welfare, 
has charged with the care of my conduct, 
and who assists me in all my wants 
and comforts me in all my afflictions, 
who supports me when I am discouraged 
and continually obtains for me new favors, 
I return thee profound thanks, 
and I earnestly beseech thee, 
O most amiable protector, 
to continue thy charitable care and defense of me 
against the malignant attacks of all my enemies. 
Keep me away from all occasions of sin. 
Obtain for me the grace of listening attentively 
to thy holy inspirations 
and of faithfully putting them into practice. 
In particular, I implore thee to obtain for me 
the favor which I ask for by this novena. 

[Here mention your need(s).] 

Protect me in all the temptations and trials of this life, 
but more especially at the hour of my death, 
and do not leave me until thou hast conducted me 
into the presence of my Creator 
in the mansions of everlasting happiness.

Amen.

#PopeFrancis "...our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist." FULL TEXT - Homily - Mass Video - in Georgia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the beginning of his second day in Georgia by presiding over Mass in Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in the nation’s capital city of Tbilisi.
In his homily, the Pope spoke on the importance of women, drawing from the writings of St Therese of the Child Jesus, whose feast is Oct 1.
He also spoke of the “urgent” mission to bring and receive God’s consolation. The Church, he said, is a “house of consolation.”
Please see below for the official English Translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily for Mass in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass, Tbilisi, Mikheil Meskhi Stadium
1 October 2016
Among the many treasures of this magnificent country, one that stands out is the importance of women.  As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, whom we commemorate today, wrote: “they love God in much larger numbers than men do” (Autobiography, Manuscript A, VI).  Here in Georgia there are a great number of grandmothers and mothers who unceasingly defend and pass on the faith that was sown in this land of Saint Nino; and they bring the fresh water of God’s consolation to countless situations of barrenness and conflict.
This enables us to appreciate the beauty of God’s message in the first reading: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Is 66:13).  As a mother takes upon herself the burdens and weariness of her children, so too does God take upon himself our sins and troubles.  He who knows us and loves us infinitely, is mindful of our prayers and wipes away our tears.  As he looks at us, he is always moved and becomes tender-hearted, with a love from the depths of his being, for beyond any evil we are capable of, we always remain his children; he wants to take us in his arms, protect us, and free us from harm and evil.  Let us allow these words of the Lord to resound in our hearts: “As a mother comforts, so will I comfort you”.
The consolation we need, amid the turmoil we experience in life, is precisely the presence of God in our hearts.  God’s presence in us is the source of true consolation, which dwells in us, liberates us from evil, brings peace and increases our joy.  For this reason, if we want to experience his consolation, we must give way to the Lord in our lives.  And in order for the Lord to abide continually in us, we must open the doors of our hearts to him and not keep him outside.  There are doors of consolation which must always be open, because Jesus especially loves to enter through them: the Gospel we read every day and carry around with us, our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist.   It is through these doors that the Lord enters and gives new flavour to reality.  When the door of our heart is closed, however, his light cannot enter in and everything remains dark.  We then get accustomed to pessimism, to things which aren’t right, to realities that never change.  We end up absorbed in our own sadness, in the depths of anguish, isolated. If, on the other hand, we open wide the doors of consolation, the light of the Lord enters in!
Yet God does not console us only in our hearts; through the prophet Isaiah he adds: “You shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (66:13).  In Jerusalem, that is, in the city of God, in the community: it is when we are united, in communion, that God’s consolation works in us.  In the Church we find consolation, the Church is the house of consolation: here God wishes to console us.  We may ask ourselves: I who am in the Church, do I bring the consolation of God?  Do I know how to welcome others as guests and console those whom I see tired and disillusioned?  Even when enduring affliction and rejection, a Christian is always called to bring hope to the hearts of those who have given up, to encourage the downhearted, to bring the light of Jesus, the warmth of his presence and his forgiveness which restores us.  Countless people suffer trials and injustice, and live in anxiety.  Our hearts need anointing with God’s consolation, which does not take away our problems, but gives us the power to love, to peacefully bear pain.  Receiving and bringing God’s consolation: thismission of the Church is urgent.  Dear brothers and sisters, let us take up this call: to not bury ourselves in what is going wrong around us or be saddened by the lack of harmony between us.  It is not good for us to become accustomed to a closed ecclesial “micro-environment”; it is good for us to share wide horizons open to hope, having the courage to humbly open our doors and go beyond ourselves.
There is, however, an underlying condition to receiving God’s consolation, and his word today reminds us of this: to become little like children (cf. Mt 18:3-4), to be “like a child quieted at its mother’s breast” (Ps 130:2).  To receive God’s love we need this littleness of heart: only little ones can be held in their mothers arms.
Whoever becomes like a little child, Jesus tells us, “is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:4).  The true greatness of man consists in making himself small before God.  For God is not known through grand ideas and extensive study, but rather through the littleness of a humble and trusting heart.  To be great before the Most High does not require the accumulation of honour and prestige or earthly goods and success, but rather a complete self-emptying.  A child has nothing to give and everything to receive.  A child is vulnerable, and depends on his or her father and mother.  The one who becomes like a little child is poor in self but rich in God.
Children, who have no problem in understanding God, have much to teach us: they tell us that he accomplishes great things in those who put up no resistance to him, who are simple and sincere, without duplicity.  The Gospel shows us how great wonders are accomplished with small things: with a few loaves and two fishes (cf. Mt 14:15-20), with a tiny mustard seed (cf. Mk4:30-32), with a grain of wheat that dies in the earth (cf. Jn 12:24), with the gift of just a single glass of water (cf. Mt 10:42), with the two coins of a poor widow (cf. Lk 21:1-4), with the humility of Mary, the servant of the Lord (cf. Lk1:46-55).
This is the surprising greatness of God, of a God who is full of surprises and who loves surprises: let us always keep alive the desire for and trust in God’s surprises!   It will help us to remember that we are constantly and primarily his children:  not masters of our lives, but children of the Father; not autonomous and self-sufficient adults, but children who always need to be lifted up and embraced, who need love and forgiveness.  Blessed are those Christian communities who live this authentic gospel simplicity!  Poor in means, they are rich in God.  Blessed are the Shepherds who do not ride the logic of worldly success, but follow the law of love: welcoming, listening, serving.  Blessed is the Church who does not entrust herself to the criteria of functionalism and organizational efficiency, nor worries about her image. Little and beloved flock of Georgia, who are so committed to works of charity and education, receive the encouragement of the Good Shepherd, you who are entrusted to him who takes you on his shoulders and consoles you.
I would like to summarize these thoughts with some words from Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, whom we commemorate today.  She shows her “little way” to God, “the trust of a little child who falls asleep without fear in his Father’s arms”, because “Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude” (Autobiography, Manuscript B).  Unfortunately, however, as she wrote then, and which still holds true today, God finds “few hearts who surrender to him without reservations, who understand the real tenderness of his infinite Love” (ibid).  The young saint and Doctor of the Church, rather, was an expert in the “science of love” (ibid), and teaches us that “perfect charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at their weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice”; she reminds also that “charity cannot remain hidden in the depths our hearts” (Autobiography, Manuscript C).  Together let us all implore today the grace of a simple heart, of a heart that believes and lives in the gentle strength of love; let us ask to live in peaceful and complete trust in God’s mercy.      
Pope Francis' remarks at the conclusion of Mass:

I am grateful to Monsignor Pasotto for his kind words offered on behalf of the Latin, Armenian and Syro-Chaldean communities.  I greet Patriarch Sako and the Chaldean Bishops, Monsignor Minassian and also those from neighbouring Armenia, and all of you, the beloved faithful from the various regions of Georgia.  I thank the Authorities, the beloved friends of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Christian communities gathered here, and in a particular way I thank the representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who honour us with their presence.  In asking you to please pray for me, I assure you of my own prayerful remembrance and to all of you I renew my gratitude: Didi madloba! [many thanks!]   

Sunday Mass Online : Sun. October 2, 2016 - 27th Ord. Time - C

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 141


Reading 1HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4

How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

Responsorial PsalmPS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 22 TM 1:6-8, 13-14

Beloved:
I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
that dwells within us.

Alleluia1 PT 1:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of the Lord remains forever.
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied,
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

#PopeFrancis " In the light that radiates from the maternal gaze of Mary..." at #Angelus

(Vatican Radio) After celebrating Mass in Baku’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, the city’s Salesian centre, Pope Francis encouraged Azerbaijan’s small Catholic community in their witness of the faith, before leading the faithful in the Angelus prayer.
In off-the-cuff remarks delivered after his prepared Angelus address, the Pope stressed that he is not “wasting time” travelling long distances to visit such a small community of Catholics in Azerbaijan and explained why it is so important for him to travel to these nations “on the peripheries.”
Please see below an English translation of the Pope’s off-the-cuff remarks:
Someone may think that the Pope wastes so much time: travelling so many kilometres to visit a small community of 700 people, in a country of 2 million.  Yet it is a community which is not uniform, because among you there are several languages spoken: Azeri, Italian, Spanish… many languages.  It is a community on the peripheries.  But the Pope, in this, imitates the Holy Spirit: he also descended from heaven to a small community in that closed periphery of the Cenacle.   And to that community, which was fearful, felt poor and perhaps persecuted or rejected, the Holy Spirit imparts fortitude, power, and bold eloquence to go forth and proclaim the name of Jesus!  And the doors of that community in Jerusalem, which were closed for fear or shame, were thrust wide open releasing the power of the Spirit.  The Pope wastes time as the Holy Spirit did in those days!
                Only two things are necessary: Mary was among that community.  Don’t forget our Mother!  And in that community resided charity, a fraternal love, which the Holy Spirit poured into their hearts.  Have courage!  Go ahead!  Without fear, go ahead!   

Below, see the official English language translation of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Eucharistic celebration I have given thanks to God with you, and also for you:  here the faith, after the years of persecution, has accomplished wonders.  I wish to recall the many courageous Christians who trusted in the Lord and were faithful in the face of adversity.  As did Saint John Paul II, I offer you the words of the Apostle Peter: “Honour to you who believe” (1 Pt2:7; Homily, Baku, 23 May 2002).
Our thoughts turn now to the Virgin Mary, who is venerated in this country not only by Christians.  To her we address the words of the Angel Gabriel who brought her the good news of salvation, prepared for humanity by God.
In the light that radiates from the maternal gaze of Mary, I offer a warm greeting to you, dear faithful of Azerbaijan, as I encourage each of you to witness joyfully to faith, hope and love, united among yourselves and with your Pastors.  I greet and thank in a particular way the Salesian family, who take such good care of you and who promote various good works, and the Missionary Sisters of Charity: continue with enthusiasm your work in the service of all!
Let us entrust these intentions to the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God and let us invoke her protection upon your families, the sick and the elderly, and upon all those who suffer in body or spirit.

#PopeFrancis "... may faith in God be a source and inspiration of mutual understanding" - FULL TEXT - Video

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday praised the people of Azerbaijan for the good relations that exisit between Catholic, Muslims, Orthodox and Jewish communities in the country.
In a speech on Sunday afternoon to political and civil authorities, the Pope expressed his hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase and said they lay the path for peace in the world.  
“These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible” he said. 
The Pope also said “the attachment to authentic religious values is utterly incompatible with the attempt to violently impose on others one’s own vision, using God’s holy name as ‘armour’”.
And he appealed to all so that faith in God may be “a source and inspiration of mutual understanding and respect, and of reciprocal help, in pursuit of the common good of society”.
During the Pope’s visit to the Heydar Aliyev Center in the presence of some 1,000 government representatives, the diplomatic corps and members of civil society, the Pope wrote these words in the ‘Book of Honor’:
“Grateful for the hospitality I have received, I encourage all in this place of meeting and culture to always choose the path of man: openness, respect, sharing”.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s discourse to Authorities at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku: 
Mr President,
Distinguished Authorities and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
    I am pleased to be visiting Azerbaijan, and I thank you for your warm welcome to this city, the country’s capital, on the shore of the Caspian Sea, a city which has been radically transformed with new buildings, such as the one where we are meeting.  I am most grateful, Mr President, for the kind sentiments of welcome which you have extended to me on behalf of the Government and Azeri people, and for allowing me to reciprocate your visit, together with your distinguished spouse, to the Vatican last year. 
    I have come to this country full of admiration for the intricacy and richness of your culture, fruit of the contribution of so many peoples who in the course of history have inhabited these lands.  They have given life to a fabric of experiences, values and distinctive features which characterize contemporary society and are reflected in the prosperity of the modern Azeri state.  This coming 18 October Azerbaijan will celebrate twenty-five years of independence.  This occasion affords the possibility of taking comprehensive stock of these decades, of the progress achieved and of the challenges which the country is facing.
    The road travelled thus far shows clearly the significant efforts undertaken to strengthen institutions and to promote the economic and civic growth of the nation.  It is a path which requires constant attention towards all, especially the weakest, and one which is possible thanks to a society which recognizes the benefits of multiculturalism and of the necessary complementarity of cultures.  This in turn leads to mutual collaboration and respect among the various components of civil society and among the adherents of various religious confessions. 
    This common effort to harmonize differences is of particular importance in our time, as it shows that it is possible to bear witness to one’s own ideas and worldview without abusing the rights of others who have different ideas and perspectives.  Every ethnic or ideological identity, as with every authentic religious path, must exclude attitudes and approaches which instrumentalize their own convictions, their own identity or the name of God in order to legitimize subjugation and supremacy. 
    It is my sincere hope that Azerbaijan may continue along the way of cooperation between different cultures and religious confessions.  May harmony and peaceful coexistence be evermore a source of vitality to the public and civil life of the country, in its multiplicity of expressions, ensuring to all men and women the possibility of offering their own contribution to the common good. 
    The world, unfortunately, is experiencing the tragedy of many conflicts fuelled by intolerance, which in turn is fomented by violent ideologies and by the effective denial of the rights of the weakest.  In order to effectively oppose these dangerous deviations, we need to promote a culture of peace, which is fostered by an untiring willingness for dialogue and by the awareness that there is no reasonable alternative to patiently and assiduously searching for shared solutions by means of committed and sustained negotiations. 
    Just as within a country’s borders it is necessary to promote harmony among the various sectors, so too between states it is necessary to persevere wisely and courageously on the path which leads to authentic progress and the freedom of peoples, opening up new avenues that lead to lasting agreements and peace.  In this way, peoples will be spared grave suffering and painful wounds, which are difficult to heal. 
    Mindful also of this country, I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to those who have had to leave their land and to the many people who suffer the effects of bloody conflicts.  I hope that the international community may be able to offer unfailingly its indispensable help.  At the same time, in order to initiate a new phase for stable peace in the region, I invite everyone to grasp every opportunity to reach a satisfactory solution.  I am confident that, with the help of God, and the good will of those involved, the Caucasus will be a place where, through dialogue and negotiation, disputes and differences will be resolved and overcome.  By such means, this area – “a gateway between East and West”, in the beautiful image used by Saint John Paul II when he visited your country (cf. Address at the Arrival Ceremony, 22 May 2002) – will also become a gateway open to peace, and an example to which we can look to solve old and new conflicts. 
    The Catholic Church, even though it has a small presence in the country, is truly present in the civic and social life of Azerbaijan; it participates in its joys and shares the challenges of confronting its difficulties.  The juridical recognition, made possible by the ratification of the international agreement with the Holy See in 2011, has furthermore offered a stable regulatory framework for the life of the Catholic community in Azerbaijan. 
I am moreover particularly pleased with the cordial relations enjoyed by the Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities.  It is my hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase.  These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible. 
    The attachment to authentic religious values is utterly incompatible with the attempt to violently impose on others one’s own vision, using God’s holy name as “armour”.  Rather, may faith in God be a source and inspiration of mutual understanding and respect, and of reciprocal help, in pursuit of the common good of society. 
    May God bless Azerbaijan with harmony, peace and prosperity.