Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#PopeFrancis : "Hope in God makes us enter, so to speak, in the ray of action..." #Audience FULL TEXT + Video

THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last month of December and the first part of January we celebrated the Season of Advent and then that of Christmas, a period of the Liturgical Year that reawakens hope in the People of God. To hope is a primary need of man: to hope in the future, to believe in life, so-called “positive thinking.”
However, it is important that such hope be placed in what can truly help us to live and to give meaning to our existence. It is because of this that Sacred Scripture puts us on guard against the false hopes that the world presents to us, unmasking their uselessness and showing their folly. And it does so in several ways, but especially by denouncing the falsity of idols, in which man is continually tempted to place his trust, making them the object of his hope.
The prophets and wise men insist on this in particular, touching a neuralgic point of the believer’s journey of faith. Because faith is to trust in God — one who has faith trusts in God –, but the moment comes when, running into the difficulties of life, man experiences the fragility of that trust and feels the need of different certainties, of tangible, concrete securities. I entrust myself to God, but the situation is quite bad and I need a certainty that is somewhat more concrete. And therein lies the danger! And then we are tempted to seek even ephemeral consolations, which seem to fill the emptiness of solitude and soothe the fatigue of believing. And we think we can find it in the security that money can give, in alliances with the powerful, in worldliness, in false ideologies. Sometimes we seek them in a god that can bow to our requests and intervene magically to change the reality and make it as we wish; an idol, in fact, that as such can do nothing, is impotent and a liar. But we like idols, we like them so much! Once, at Buenos Aires, I had to go from one church to another, a thousand meters, more or less. And I did so walking. And there was a park in between, and there were small tables in the park, but many, many, where seers were seated. It was full of people, who also formed a queue. One would give one of them one’s hand, and <the seer> would begin, but the discourse was always the same: there is a woman in your life, a shadow is coming, but everything will go well … And then, one paid. And this gives one security? It is the security of a – allow me the word – of a stupid thing. To go to a male seer or a female seer that reads cards: this is an idol! This is an idol, and when we are very attached to them, we buy false hopes. Whereas that, which is the hope of gratuitousness, which Jesus Christ has brought us, freely giving His life for us, that sometimes we do not trust so much.
Psalm 115, a Psalm full of wisdom which depicts for us in a very thought-provoking way the falsity of these idols, which the world offers to our hope and to which the men of all times are tempted to entrust themselves, states:
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them” (vv. 4-8).
The Psalmist presents to us, also in a somewhat ironic way, the absolutely ephemeral reality of these idols. And we must understand that it is not only about depictions made in metal or another material, but also those built with our mind, when we trust in limited realities which we transform into absolutes, or when we reduce God to our schemes and to our ideas of divinity; a god that is similar to us, comprehensible, predictable, in fact like the idols of which the Psalm speaks. Man, image of God, makes a god to his own image, and it is also a botched image: it does not feel, does not act and, above all, it cannot talk. But we are happier to go to idols than to go to the Lord. Many times we are happier with the ephemeral hope that this false idol gives us than with the great and sure hope that the Lord gives us.
To the hope in a Lord of life who with His Word has created the world and directs our existences, is contrasted trust in dumb simulacra. Ideologies with their claim of the absolute, riches – and this is a great idol –, power and success, vanity, with their illusion of eternity and omnipotence, values such as physical beauty and health, when they become idols to which to sacrifice everything, are all realities that confuse the mind and heart and, instead of fostering life, lead to death. It was awful to hear and it pained my soul what once, years ago, I heard in the diocese of Buenos Aires: a good, very beautiful woman, boasted about her beauty and commented, as if it were natural: “Ah yes, I had to abort because my figure is very important.” These are the idols, and they lead one on a mistaken way and do not give happiness.
The Psalm’s message is very clear: if one places one’s hope in idols, one becomes like them: empty images with hands that do not touch, feet that do not walk, mouths that cannot speak. There is nothing more to say, one becomes incapable of helping, of changing things, incapable of smiling, of giving oneself, incapable of loving. And we also, men of the Church, run this risk when we become “worldly.” It is necessary to remain in the world but to defend oneself from the illusions of the world, which are the idols I mentioned.
As the Psalm continues, it is necessary to trust and hope in God, and God will give a blessing. Thus says the Psalm: “Israel, trust in the Lord […] house of Aaron, put your trust in the Lord […] you who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord […] the Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us” (vv. 9.10.11.12). The Lord is always mindful of us. He is also mindful of us in awful moments, and this is our hope, and hope does not disappoint – never, never. Idols always disappoint: they are fantasies, not reality. Behold the stupendous reality of hope: trusting in the Lord one becomes like Him, His blessing transforms us into His children, who share His life. Hope in God makes us enter, so to speak, in the ray of action of His remembrance, of His memory, which blesses us and saves us. And then an alleluia can burst forth, the praise of the living and true God, who was born for us of Mary, died on the cross and rose in glory. And we hope in this God, and this God – who is not an idol – never disappoints.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. In particular, I greet the priests-teachers in the Major Seminaries or Institutes affiliated to the Pontifical Urban University; the “Fidelis Andria” Sports Society and the youngsters of the Caetani Institute of Cisterna di Latina. I exhort all to live generously their ecclesial commitment with a humble spirit of dedication to brothers.
Now I must say something that I do not want to say, but I must say it. There are tickets to enter the Audiences in which it is written in one, two, three, four, five and six languages, that “The ticket is totally free.” To enter an Audience, whether in the Hall or in the Square, one must not pay; it is a free visit made to the Pope to speak with the Pope, with the Bishop of Rome. However, I have learnt that there are wise guys that make one pay for tickets. If someone says to you that to go to the Pope’s Audience you need to pay something, he is cheating you: be careful, be careful! The entrance is free. One comes here without paying, because this is everyone’s home. And if someone makes you pay to come into the Audience he commits an offense, as a delinquent, and does something that shouldn’t be done!
A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a propitious occasion to rethink our Baptism in the faith of the Church. Dear young people, rediscover daily the grace that comes from the Sacrament received. Dear sick, draw from Baptism the strength to face moments of pain and discomfort. And you, dear newlyweds, be able to translate the commitments of Baptism into your journey of family life.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. January 11, 2017 - #Eucharist

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 307


Reading 1HEB 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and Flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Responsorial PsalmPS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations--
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 10:27

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

GospelMK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

Saint January 11 : St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch : #Abbot and #Founder


Born:
423 at Garissus, Cappadocia (modern Turkey)
Died:
529 at Cathismus

St Theodosius was born at Mogariassus, called in latter ages Marissa, in Cappadocia, in 423. He imbibed the first tincture of virtue from the fervent example and pious instructions of his virtuous parents. He was ordained reader, but some time after being moved by Abraham's example to quit his country and friends, he resolved to put this motion in execution. He accordingly set out for Jerusalem, but went purposely out of his road to visit the famous St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar, who foretold him several circumstances of his life, and gave him proper instructions for his behaviour in each. Having satisfied his  devotion in visiting the holy places in Jerusalem, he began to consider in what manner he should dedicate himself to God in a religious state. The dangers of living without a guide made him prefer a monastery to a hermitage; and he therefore put himself under the directions of a holy man named Longinus, to whom his virtue soon endeared him in a very particular manner. A pious lady having built a church under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, on the high road to Bethlehem, Longinus could not well refuse her request that his pupil should undertake the charge of it; but Theodosius, who loved only to obey, could not be induced by any entreaties to consent to this proposal: absolute commands were necessary to force him to a compliance. Nor did he govern long; for dreading the poison of vanity from the esteem of men, he retired into a cave at the top of a neighbouring desert mountain, and employed his time in fasting, watching, prayers, and tears, which almost continually flowed from his eyes. His food was coarse pulse and wild herbs: for thirty years he never tasted so much as a morsel of bread. Many desired to serve God under his direction: he at first determined only to admit six or seven, but was soon obliged to receive a greater number, and at length came to a resolution, which charity extorted from him, never to reject any that presented themselves with dispositions that seemed sincere. The first lesson which he taught his monks was that the continual remembrance of death is the foundation of religious perfection; to imprint this more deeply in their minds, he caused a great grave or pit to be dug, which might serve for the common burial-place of the whole community, that by the presence of this memorial of death, and by continually meditating on that object, they might more perfectly learn to die daily. The burial-place being made, the abbot one day, when he had led his monks to it, said, The grave is made, who will first perform the dedication?" Basil, a priest, who was one of the number, falling on his knees, said to St. Theodosius, "I am the person, be pleased to give me your blessing." The abbot ordered the prayers of the church for the dead to be offered up for him, and on the fortieth day Basil wonderfully departed to our Lord in peace without any apparent sickness. When the holy company of disciples were twelve in number it happened that at the great feast at Easter they had nothing to eat; they had not even bread for the sacrifice: some murmured; the saint bid them trust in God and he would provide; which was soon remarkably verified by the arrival of certain mules loaded with provisions. The lustre of the sanctity and miracles of St. Theodosius drawing great numbers to him who desired to serve God under his direction, his cave was too little for their reception, therefore, having consulted heaven by prayer, he, by its particular direction, built a spacious monastery at a place called Cathismus, not far from Bethlehem, at a small distance from his cave, and it was soon filled with holy monks. To this monastery were annexed three infirmaries: one for the sick, the gift of a pious lady in that neighbourhood; the two others St. Theodosius built himself, one for the aged and feeble, the other for such as had been punished with the loss of their senses, or by falling under the power of the devil, for rashly engaging in a religious state through pride, and without a due dependence on the grace of God to carry them through it. All succours, spiritual and temporal, were afforded in these infirmaries, with admirable order, care, and affection. He erected also several buildings for the reception of strangers, in which he exercised an unbounded hospitality, entertaining all that came, for whose use there were one day above a hundred tables served with provisions: these, when insufficient for the number of guests, were more than once miraculously multiplied by his prayers. The monastery itself was like a city of saints in the midst of a desert, and in it reigned regularity, silence, charity, and peace. There were four churches belonging to it, one for each of the three several nations of which his community was chiefly composed, each speaking a different language; the fourth was for the use of such as were in a state of penance, which those that recovered from their lunatic or possessed condition before-mentioned, were put into, and detained till they had expiated their fault. The nations into which his community was divided were the Greeks, which was by far the most numerous, and consisted of all those that came from any provinces of the empire; the Armenians, with whom were joined the Arabians and Persians; and, thirdly, the Bessi, who comprehended all the northern nations below Thrace, or all who used the Runic or Sclavonian tongue. Each nation sung the first part of the mass to the end of the gospel in their own church, but after the gospel all met in the church of the Greeks, where they celebrated the essential part of the sacrifice in Greek, and communicated all together.
The monks passed a considerable part of the day and night at their devotions in the church, and at the times not set apart for public prayer and necessary rest every one was obliged to apply himself to some trade or manual labour, not incompatible with recollection that the house might be supplied with conveniences. Sallust, Bishop of Jerusalem, appointed St. Sabas superior general of the hermits and our saint of the Cenobites, or religious men living in community throughout all Palestine, whence he was styled the Cenobiarch. These two great servants of God lived in strict friendship, and had frequent spiritual conferences together; they were also united in their zeal and sufferings for the church.
The Emperor Anastasius patronised the Eutychian heresy, and used all possible means to engage our saint in his party. In 513 he deposed Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, as he had banished Flavian II, Patriarch of Antioch, and intruded Severus, an impious heretic, into that see, commending the Syrians to obey and hold communion with him. SS. Theodosius and Sabas maintained boldly the right of Elias, and of John his successor; whereupon the imperial officers thought it most advisable to connive at their proceedings, considering the great authority they had acquired by their sanctity. Soon after, the emperor sent Theodosius a considerable sum of money, for charitable uses in appearance, but in reality to engage him in his interest. The saint accepted of it, and distributed it all among the poor. Anastasius, now persuading himself that he was as good as gained over to his cause, sent him a heretical profession of faith, in which the divine and human natures in Christ were confounded into one, and desired him to sign it. The saint wrote him an answer full of apostolic spirit; in which, besides solidly confuting the Eutychian error, he added that he was ready to lay down his life for the faith of the church. The emperor admired his courage and the strength of his reasoning, and, returning him a respectful answer, highly commended his generous zeal, made some apology for his own inconsiderateness, and protested that he only desired the peace of the church. But it was not long ere he relapsed into his former impiety, and renewed his bloody edicts against the orthodox, dispatching troops everywhere to have them put in execution. On the first intelligence of this, Theodosius went over  all the deserts and country of Palestine, exhorting every one to be firm in the faith of the four general councils. At Jerusalem, having assembled the people together, he from the pulpit cried out with a loud voice: "If any one receives not the four general councils as the four gospels, let him be anathema." So bold an action in a man of his years inspired with courage those whom the edicts had terrified. His discourses had a wonderful effect on the people, and God gave a sanction to his zeal by miracles: one of these was, that on his going out of the church at Jerusalem, a woman was healed of a cancer on the spot by only touching his garments. The emperor sent an order for his banishment, which was executed; but, dying soon after, Theodosius was recalled by his catholic successor, Justin, who, from a common soldier, had gradually ascended the imperial throne.
Our saint survived his return eleven years, never admitting the least relaxation in his former austerities. Such was his humility that, seeing two monks at variance with each other, he threw himself at their feet, and would not rise till they were perfectly reconciled; and once having excommunicated one of his subjects for a crime, who contumaciously pretended to excommunicate him in his turn, the saint behaved as if he had been really excommunicated, to gain the sinner's soul by this unprecedented example of submission, which had the desired effect. During the last year of his life he was afflicted with a painful distemper, in which he gave proof of a heroic patience, and an entire submission to the will of God. Perceiving the hour of his dissolution at hand, he gave his last exhortations to his disciples, and foretold many things, which accordingly came to pass after his death; this happened in the one hundred and fifth year of his age, and of our Lord 529. Peter, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the whole country, assisted with the deepest sentiments of respect at the solemnity of his interment, which was honoured by miracles. He was buried in his first cell called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who came to adore Christ soon after his birth were said to have lodged in it. A certain count being on his march against the Persians, begged  the hair shirt which the saint used to wear next his skin, and believed that he owed the victory which he obtained over them to the saint's protection through the pledge of that relic. Both the Romans and Greek calendars mention his festival on the 11th of January.
It is the opinion of St. Gregory the Great that the world is to some persons so full of ambushes and snares, or dangerous occasions of sin, that they cannot be saved but by choosing a safe retreat. Yet there are some who find the greatest dangers in solitude itself; so that it is necessary for every one to sound his own heart, take a survey of his own forces and abilities, and consult God, that he may best be able to learn the designs of his providence with regard to his soul; in doing which, a great purity of intention is the first requisite. Ease and enjoyment must not be the end of Christian retirement, but penance, labour, and assiduous contemplation; without great fervour and constancy in which, close solitude is the road to perdition. If greater safety, or an unfitness for a public station, or a life of much business (in which several are only public nuisances), may be just motives to some for embracing a life of retirement, the means of more easily attaining to perfect virtue may be such to many. Nor do true contemplatives bury their talents, or cease either to be members of the republic of mankind, or to throw in their mite towards its welfare.
From the prayers and thanksgivings which they daily offer to God for the peace of the world, the preservation of the church, the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of all men, doubtless more valuable benefits often accrue to mankind than from the alms of the rich or the labours of the learned. Nor is it to be imagined how far and how powerfully their spirit, and the example of their innocence and perfect virtue, often spread their influence; and how serviceable persons who lead a holy and sequestered life may be to the good of the world; nor how great glory redounds to God by the perfect purity of heart and charity to which many souls are thus raised.

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)