Friday, November 18, 2016

Saint November 19 : St. Mechtilde : Benedictine


St. Mechtilde
BENEDICTINE
Feast: November 19
Information:
Feast Day:
November 19
Born:
1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony
Died:
19 November, 1298

Benedictine; born in 1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony; died in the monastery of Helfta, 19 November, 1298. She belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families, while here sister was the saintly and illustrious Abbess Gertrude von Hackeborn. Some writers have considered that Mechtilde von Hackeborn and Mechtilde von Wippra were two distinct persons, but, as the Barons of Hackeborn were also Lords of Wippra, it was customary for members of that family to take their name indifferently from either, or both of these estates. So fragile was she at birth, that the attendants, fearing she might die unbaptized, hurried her off to the priest who was just then preparing to say Mass. He was a man of great sanctity, and after baptizing the child, uttered these prophetic words: "What do you fear? This child most certainly will not die, but she will become a saintly religious in whom God will work many wonders, and she will end her days in a good old age." When she was seven years old, having been taken by her mother on a visit to her elder sister Gertrude, then a nun in the monastery of Rodardsdorf, she became so enamoured of the cloister that her pious parents yielded to her entreaties and, acknowledging the workings of grace, allowed her to enter the alumnate. Here, being highly gifted in mind as well as in body, she made remarkable progress in virtue and learning.
Ten years later (1258) she followed her sister, who, now abbess, had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta given her by her brothers Louis and Albert. As a nun, Mechtilde was soon distinguished for her humility, her fervour, and that extreme amiability which had characterized her from childhood and which, like piety, seemed hereditary in her race. While still very young, she became a valuable helpmate to Abbess Gertrude, who entrusted to her direction the alumnate and the choir. Mechtilde was fully equipped for her task when, in 1261, God committed to her prudent care a child of five who was destined to shed lustre upon the monastery of Helfta. This was that Gertrude who in later generations became known as St. Gertrude the Great. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Mechtilde also possessed a special talent for rendering the solemn and sacred music over which she presided as domna cantrix. All her life she held this office and trained the choir with indefatigable zeal. Indeed, Divine praise was the keynote of her life as it is of her book; in this she never tired, despite her continual and severe physical sufferings, so that in Hisrevelations Christ was wont to call her His "nightingale". Richly endowed, naturally and supernaturally, ever gracious, beloved of all who came within the radius of her saintly and charming personality, there is little wonder that this cloistered virgin should strive to keep hidden her wondrous life. Souls thirsting for consolation or groping for light sought her advice; learned Dominicans consulted her on spiritual matters. At the beginning of her own mystic life it was from St. Mechtilde that St. Gertrude the Great learnt that the marvellous gifts lavished upon her were from God.
Only in her fiftieth year did St. Mechtilde learn that the two nuns in whom she had especially confided had noted down the favours granted her, and, moreover, that St. Gertrude had nearly finished a book on the subject. Much troubled at this, she, as usual, first had recourse to prayer. She had a vision of Christ holding in His hand the book of her revelations, and saying: "All this has been committed to writing by my will and inspiration; and, therefore you have no cause to be troubled about it." He also told her that, as He had been so generous towards her, she must make Him a like return, and that the diffusion of therevelations would cause many to increase in His love; moreover, He wished this book to be called "The Book of Special Grace", because it would prove such to many. When the saint understood that the book would tend to God's glory, she ceased to be troubled, and even corrected the manuscript herself. Immediately after her death it was made public, and copies were rapidly multiplied, owing chiefly to the widespread influence of the Friars Preachers. Boccaccio tells how, a few years after the death of Mechtilde, the book of her revelations was brought to Florence and popularized under the title of "La Laude di donna Matelda". It is related that the Florentines were accustomed to repeat daily before their sacred images the praises learned from St. Mechtilde's book. St. Gertrude, to whose devotedness we owe the "Liber Specialis Gratiae" exclaims: "Never has there arisen one like to her in our monastery; nor, alas! I fear, will there ever arise another such!" -- little dreaming that her own name would be inseparably linked with that of Mechtilde. With that of St. Gertrude, the body of St. Mechtilde most probably still reposes at Old Helfta thought the exact spot is unknown. Her feast is kept 26 or 27 February in different congregations and monasteries of her order, by special permission of the Holy See.There is another honour, inferior certainly to that of sanctity, yet great in itself and worthy of mention here: the homage of a transcendent genius was to be laid at the feet of St. Mechtilde. Critics have long been perplexed as to one of the characters introduced by Dante in his "Purgatorio" under the name of Matelda. After ascending seven terraces of a mountain, on each of which the process of purification is carried on, Dante, in Canto xxvii, hears a voice singing: "Venite, benedicti patris mei"; then later, in Canto xxviii, there appears to him on the opposite bank of the mysterious stream a lady, solitary, beautiful, and gracious. To her Dante addresses himself; she it is who initiates him into secrets, which it is not given to Virgil to penetrate, and it is to her that Beatrice refers Dante in the words: "Entreat Matilda that she teach thee this." Most commentators have identified Matilda with the warrior-Countess of Tuscany, the spiritual daughter and dauntless champion of St. Gregory VII, but all agree that beyond the name the two have little or nothing in common. She is no Amazon who, at Dante's prayer that she may draw nearer to let him understand her song, turns towards him "not otherwise than a virgin that droppeth her modest eyes". In more places than one the revelations granted to the mystics of Helfta seem in turn to have become the inspirations of the Florentine poet. All writers on Dante recognize his indebtedness to St. Augustine, the Pseudo-Dionysius, St. Bernard, and Richard of St. Victor. These are precisely the writers whose doctrines had been most assimilated by the mystics of Helfta, and thus they would the more appeal to the sympathies of the poet. The city of Florence was among the first to welcome St. Mechtilde's book. Now Dante, like all true poets, was a child of his age, and could not have been a stranger to a book which was so popular among his fellow-citizens. The "Purgatorio" was finished between 1314 and 1318, or 1319 --just about the time when St. Mechtilde's book was popular. This interpretation is supported by the fact that St. Mechtilde in her "Book of Special Grace" (pt. I, c. xiii) describes the place of purification under the same figure of a seven-terraced mountain. The coincidence of the simile and of the name, Matelda, can scarcely be accidental. For another among many points of resemblance between the two writers compare "Purgatorio", Canto xxxi, where Dante is drawn by Matelda through the mysterious stream with pt. II, c. ii. of the "Liber Specialis Gratiae". The serene atmosphere which seems to cling about the gracious and beautiful songstress, her virgin modesty and simple dignity, all seem to point to the recluse of Helfta rather than to the stern heroine of Canossa, whose hand was thrice bestowed in marriage. Besides, in politics Dante, as an ardent Ghibelline, supported the imperial pretensions and he would have been little inclined to sing the praises of the Tuscan Countess. The conclusion may therefore be hazarded that this "Donna Matelda" of the "Purgatorio" personifies St. Mechtilde as representing mystic theology.
SOURCE The Catholic Encyclopedia

#PopeFrancis " As the Blood of Christ, shed out of love, has reconciled and united..." Prayers for Peace with Patriarch

Pope Francis spoke on Thursday met with the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Gewargis III, who was making his first visit to the Vatican since being elected as Catholicos-Patriarch.
They participated in prayer in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. Here is a translation of the Pope’s address,Holiness,
Beloved Brothers in Christ,
It is a great joy and an occasion of grace to meet you here at Saint Peter’s tomb. I welcome you affectionately, thanking you for the kind words that were addressed to me. Through you, I wish to extend my cordial greeting in the Lord to all the Bishops, priests and faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East. With the words of the Apostle Paul, who shed his blood for the Lord in this city, I would like to say to you: “Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7).
This meeting and the prayer we will raise together today to the Lord invoke precisely the gift of peace. We are in fact consternated by all that continues happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. Shed there, on hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men, is the terrible violence of bloody conflicts, which no reason can justify or permit. There our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as different religious and ethnic minorities, are accustomed, unfortunately, to suffer daily great trials.
In the midst of so much pain, for which I implore an end, every day we see Christians that go on the way of the cross, following meekly in the footsteps of Jesus, uniting themselves to Him, who has reconciled us with His cross, “bringing hostility to an end (Ephesians 2:16).” These brothers and sisters are models that exhort us to remain with the Lord in every circumstance, to embrace His cross, to trust in His love. They indicate to us that the presence of Jesus is always at the center of our faith, who invites us, also in adversity, not to tire of living His message of love, of reconciliation and of forgiveness. We learn this from the martyrs and from all those who again today, also at the cost of their life, remain faithful to the Lord and with Him overcome evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21). We are grateful to these our brothers, who impel us to follow Jesus’ way to defeat enmity. As the Blood of Christ, shed out of love, has reconciled and united, making the Church blossom, so the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christian unity. This calls us to spend ourselves with fraternal charity for communion. I thank God for the firm fraternal bond that already exists between us and that this visit, so pleasing and precious, reinforces further. Many significant steps have already been taken. Your beloved predecessor, the Catholicos –Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, that I had the joy to meet two years ago, signed with Saint John Paul II here at Rome, the Joint Christological Declaration. This enables us to confess the same faith in the mystery of the Incarnation. This historic goal has opened the way to our pilgrimage towards full communion, a path that I ardently desire to continue. I confirm the Catholic Church’s commitment to this course, for the benefit of our communities, which often already live in close contact. Therefore, I earnestly hope that the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East is able to help us smooth the way towards the much awaited day, in which we will be able to celebrate the Lord’s Sacrifice at the same altar, as a real sign of fully re-established ecclesial communion.
In the meantime, we have the opportunity to take quick steps, growing in mutual knowledge and witnessing the Gospel together. May our closeness be leaven of unity. We are called to work together, in charity, wherever possible, so that love indicates the way of communion. In Baptism, we rediscovered the foundation of real communion between us. Catholics and Assyrians, “for by one Spirit, we were all baptized” (1 Corinthians 12:13); we belong to the one Body of Christ, we are brothers in Him. We proceed with this certainty, walking confidently together, nourishing – in prayer and especially at the Lord’s altar – the charity that “binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). It resets fractures and heals lacerations. Let us not tire of asking the Lord, divine doctor, to heal the wounds of the past with the beneficent anointing of His mercy.
It will also do us good to renew the common memory of our evangelizing activity. It finds its roots in the communion of the primitive Church. Originating from there was the spread of the Gospel that, at the dawn of the faith, reached Rome and the lands of Mesopotamia, cradle of very ancient civilizations, giving birth to flourishing Christian communities. The then great evangelizers, the saints and martyrs of all times, all fellow citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, exhort us and accompany us now to open, together, fruitful paths of communion and witness.
Holiness, beloved Brother, with joy and affection I wish to express my gratitude for your visit and for the gift of praying together today for one another, to invoke the protection and custody of the Lord, to ask that His merciful will be fully received and fraternally witnessed by us.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday November 18, 2016


Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 501


Reading 1RV 10:8-11

I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me.
Then the voice spoke to me and said:
“Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel
who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll.
He said to me, “Take and swallow it.
It will turn your stomach sour,
but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”
I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it.
In my mouth it was like sweet honey,
but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.
Then someone said to me, “You must prophesy again
about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

R. (103a) How sweet to my taste is your promise!
In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
Yes, your decrees are my delight;
they are my counselors.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
the joy of my heart they are.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!

AlleluiaJN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out
those who were selling things, saying to them,
“It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,
but you have made it a den of thieves.

And every day he was teaching in the temple area.
The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile,
were seeking to put him to death,
but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose
because all the people were hanging on his words.

#PopeFrancis “Our Lord God, the house of our Lord God is a house of prayer.." #Homily


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for God to grant believers the courage to embrace Christian poverty, saying people cannot forgive a priest who is attached to money. His remarks came during his Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. 
Taking his inspiration from the day’s Gospel reading where Jesus drove out the traders from the temple, accusing them of transforming it into a den of thieves, the Pope’s homily was a reflection on the power and allure of money. He said Jesus’ action helps us to understand where the seed of the antichrist is contained, the seed of the enemy that ruins his Kingdom: attachment to money.
“Our Lord God, the house of our Lord God is a house of prayer. Our encounter with the Lord (is) with the God of love. And the money-lord that enters into the house of God, is constantly seeking to enter inside. And those people who were changing money or selling things, they were renting their places, right? – from the priests… the priests were renting out those places and then received money. This is the lord that can ruin our life and can lead us to end our life in a bad way, without happiness, without the joy of serving the true Lord who is the only one capable of giving us that true joy.”
Noting it’s a personal choice, Pope Francis then asked his listeners: “How is your attachment to money?  Are you attached to money?”
“The people of God have a great flair for accepting, for canonizing as well as condemning – because the people of God are capable of condemning – for forgiving so many weaknesses, so many sins by priests but they cannot forgive two of them: attachment to money, because when they see a priest attached to money, they do not forgive him, and mistreating people, because when a priest mistreats the faithful: the people of God can’t accept this and they do not forgive him. The other things, the other weaknesses, the other sins ….. yes, it’s not right but the poor man is alone, it’s this…. And they seek to justify (his sins).  But their condemnation is not as strong or as definitive: the people of God could understand this. Following the lord of money leads a priest to be the head of a firm or be a prince or we can go even higher…”
The Pope went on to recall the teraphims, the idols that Jacob’s wife Rachel kept hidden, as an example of this attachment to material goods.
“It’s sad to see a priest who’s at the end of his life, he’s in agony, he’s in a coma and his relatives are there like vultures, looking to see what they can take away. Let us grant this pleasure to the Lord, a true examination of our conscience. ‘Lord, are you my Lord or is it – like Rachel – these teraphims hidden in my heart, this idol of money?’ And be courageous: be courageous. Make a choice. Sufficient money like that of an honest worker, sufficient savings like those of an honest worker. But all these financial interests are not permissible, this is idolatry. May the Lord grant us all the grace of Christian poverty.”
“May the Lord,” concluded the Pope, “give us the grace of the poverty of working people, those who work and earn a fair wage and who do not seek any more.” 

Feast November 18 : Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter & Paul


Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter & Paul
Feast: November 18
Information:
Feast Day:
November 18

The Vatican Church, dedicated in honour of St. Peter, is the second patriarchal church at Rome, and in it reposes one half of the precious remains of the bodies of SS. Peter and Paul. The tombs of the great conquerors and lords of the world have been long since destroyed and forgotten; but those of the martyrs are glorious by the veneration which the faithful pay to their memory.
The body of St. Peter is said to have been buried immediately after his martyrdom, upon this spot, on the Vatican hill, which was then without the walls and near the suburb inhabited by the Jews. The remains of this apostle were removed hence into the cemetery of Calixtus, but brought back to the Vatican. Those of St. Paul were deposited on the Ostian Way, where his church now stands. The tombs of the two princes of the apostles, from the beginning, were visited by Christians with extraordinary devotion above those of other martyrs. Caius, the learned and eloquent priest of Rome, in 210, in his dialogue with Proclus the Montanist, speaks thus of them: "I can show you the trophies of the apostles. For, whether you go to the Vatican hill, or to the Ostian road, you will meet with the monuments of them who by their preaching and miracles founded this church."
The Christians, even in the times of persecution, adorned the tombs of the martyrs and the oratories which they erected over them, where they frequently prayed. Constantine the Great, after founding the Lateran Church, built seven other churches at Rome and many more in other parts of Italy. The first of these were the churches of St. Peter on the Vatican hill (where a temple of Apollo and another of Idaea, mother of the gods, before stood) in honour of the place where the prince of the apostles had suffered martyrdom and was buried and that of St. Paul, at his tomb on the Ostian road. The yearly revenues which Constantine granted to all these churches, amounted to seventeen thousand seven hundred and seventy golden pence, which is above thirteen thousand pounds sterling, counting the prices, gold for gold; but, as the value of gold and silver was then much higher than at present, the sum in our money at this day would be much greater. These churches were built by Constantine in so stately and magnificent a manner as to vie with the finest structures in the empire, as appears from the description which Eusebius gives us of the Church of Tyre; for we find that the rest were erected upon the same model, which was consequently of great antiquity. St. Peter's Church on the Vatican, being fallen to decay, it was begun to be rebuilt under Julius II in 1506, and was dedicated by Urban VIII in 1626, on this day; the same on which the dedication of the old church was celebrated The precious remains of many popes, martyrs, and other saints, are deposited partly under the altars of this vast and beautiful church, and partly in a spacious subterraneous church under the other. But the richest treasure of this venerable place consists in the relics of SS. Peter and Paul, which lie in a sumptuous vault beyond the middle of the church, towards the upper end, under a magnificent altar at which only the pope says mass, unless he commissions another to officiate there. This sacred vault is called The confession of St. Peter, or The threshold of the Apostles (SOURCE:The Catholic Encyclopedia