Monday, February 20, 2017

Saint February 21 : St. Peter Damian : #Bishop and #Doctor of the #Church


Feast Day:
February 21
Born:
988, Ravenna

Died:
February 22, 1072, Faenza
(Or Damiani). Doctor of the Church, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, b. at Ravenna "five years after the death of the Emperor Otto III," 1007; d. at Faenza, 21 Feb., 1072. He was the youngest of a large family; his parents were noble, but poor. At his birth an elder brother protested against this new charge on the resources of the family with such effect that his mother refused to suckle him and the babe nearly died. A family retainer, however, fed the starving child and by example and reproaches recalled his mother to her duty. Left an orphan in early years, he was at first adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd. The child showed signs of great piety and of remarkable intellectual gifts, and after some years of this servitude another brother, who was archpriest at Ravenna, had pity on him and took him away to be educated. This brother was called Damian and it was generally accepted that St. Peter added this name to his own in grateful recognition of his brother's kindness. He made rapid progress in his studies, first at Ravenna, then at Faenza, finally at the University of Parma, and when about twenty-five years old was already a famous teacher at Parma and Ravenna. But, though even then much given to fasting and to other mortifications, he could not endure the scandals and distractions of university life and decided (about 1035) to retire from the world. While meditating on his resolution he encountered two hermits of Fonte-Avellana, was charmed with their spirituality and detachment, and desired to join them. Encouraged by them Peter, after a forty days' retreat in a small cell, left his friends secretly and made his way to the hermitage of Fonte-Avellana. Here he was received, and, to his surprise, clothed at once with the monastic habit. Both as novice and as professed religious his fervour was remarkable and led him to such extremes of penance that, for a time, his health was affected. He occupied his convalescence with a thorough study of Holy Scripture and, on his recovery, was appointed to lecture to his fellow-monks. At the request of Guy of Pomposa and other heads of neighbouring monasteries, for two or three years he lectured to their subjects also, and (about 1042) wrote the life of St. Romuald for the monks of Pietrapertosa. Soon after his return to Fonte-Avellana he was appointed economus of the house by the prior, who also pointed him out as his successor. This, in fact, he became in 1043, and he remained prior of Fonte-Avellana till his death. His priorate was characterized by a wise moderation of the rule, as well as by the foundation of subject-hermitages at San Severino, Gamugno, Acerata, Murciana, San Salvatore, Sitria, and Ocri. It was remarkable, too, for the introduction of the regular use of the discipline, a penitential exercise which he induced the great abbey of Monte Cassino to imitate. There was much opposition outside his own circle to this practice, but Peter's persistent advocacy ensured its acceptance to such an extent that he was obliged later to moderate the imprudent zeal of some of his own hermits. Another innovation was that of the daily siesta, to make up for the fatigue of the night office. during his tenure of the priorate a cloister was built, silver chalices and a silver processional cross were purchased, and many books added to the library. (See Fonte-Avellana.) Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian watched closely the fortunes of the Church, and like his friend Hildebrand, the future Gregory VII, he strove for her purification in those deplorable times. In 1045 when Benedict IX resigned the supreme pontificate into the hands of the archpriest John Gratian (Gregory VI), Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, especially with the evil bishops of Pesaro, of Città di Castello, and of Fano (see BENEDICT IX; GREGORY VI.) He was present in Rome when Clement II crowned Henry III and his wife Agnes, and he also attended a synod held at the Lateran in the first days of 1047, in which decrees were passed against simony. After this he returned to his hermitage (see CLEMENT II; DAMASUS II). Pope St. Leo IX was solemnly enthroned at Rome, 12 Feb., 1049, to succeed Damasus II, and about two years later Peter published his terrible treatise on the vices of the clergy, the "Liber Gomorrhianus", dedicating it to the pope. It caused a great stir and aroused not a little enmity against its author. Even the pope, who had at first praised the work, was persuaded that it was exaggerated and his coldness drew from Damian a vigorous letter of protest. Meanwhile the question arose as to the validity of the ordinations of simoniacal clerics. The prior of Fonte-Avellana was appealed to and wrote (about 1053) a treatise, the "Liber Gratissimus", in favour of their validity, a work which, though much combatted at the time, was potent in deciding the question in their favour before the end of the twelfth century. In June, 1055, during the pontificate of Victor II, Damian attended a synod held at Florence, where simony and clerical incontinence were once more condemned. About two years later he fell ill at Fonte-Avellana and nearly died, but suddenly, after seven weeks of pain, recovered, as he believed, through a miracle. During his illness the pope died, and Frederic, abbot of Monte Cassino, was elected as Stephen X. In the autumn of 1057, Stephen X determined to create Damian a cardinal. For a long time he resisted the offer, but was finally forced, under threat of excommunication, to accept, and was consecrated Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia on 30 Nov., 1057. In addition he was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gubbio. The new cardinal was impressed with the great responsibilities of his office and wrote a stirring letter to his brother-cardinals, exhorting them to shine by their example before all. Four months later Pope Stephen died at Florence and the Church was once more distracted by schism. The Cardinal of Ostia was vigorous in his opposition to the antipope Benedict X, but force was on the side of the intruder and Damian retired to Fonte-Avallana. (See NICHOLAS II; GREGORY VII.) About the end of the year 1059 Peter was sent as legate to Milan by Nicholas II. The Church at Milan had been, for some time, the prey of simony and incontinence. So bad was the state of things, that benefices were openly bought and sold and the clergy publicly "married" the women they lived with. But the faithful of Milan, led by St. Ariald the Deacon and St. Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, strove hard to remedy these evils. At length the contest between the two parties became so bitter that an appeal was made to the Holy See to decide the matter. Nicholas II sent Damian and the Bishop of Lucca as his legates. But now the party of the irregular clerics took alarm and raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan. At once Peter took action. Boldly confronting the rioters in the cathedral, he proved to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision. He exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he re-instated in their benefices all who under took to live continently. This prudent decision was attacked by some of the rigourists at Rome, but was not reversed. Unfortunately, on the death of Nicholas II, the same disputes broke out; nor were they finally settled till after the martyrdom of St. Ariald in 1066. Meanwhile Peter was in vain pleading to be released from the cares of his office. Neither Nicholas II nor Hildebrand would consent to spare him. In July, 1061, the pope died and once more a schism ensued. Damian used all his powers to persuade the antipope Cadalous to withdraw, but to no purpose. Finally Hanno, the Regent of Germany, summoned a council at Augsburg at which a long argument by St. Peter Damian was read and greatly contributed to the decision in favour of Alexander II. In 1063 the pope held a synod at Rome, at which Damian was appointed legate to settle the dispute between the Abbey of Cluny and the Bishop of Mâcon. He proceeded to France, summoned a council at Châlon-sur-Saône, proved the justice of the contentions of Cluny, settled other questions at issue in the Church of France, and returned in the autumn to Fonte-Avellana. While he was in France the antipope Cadalous had again become active in his attempts to gain Rome, and Damian brought upon himself a sharp reproof from Alexander and Hildebrand for twice imprudently appealing to the royal power to judge the case anew. In 1067 the cardinal was sent to Florence to settle the dispute between the bishop and the monks of Vallombrosa, who accused the former of simony. His efforts, however, were not successful, largely because he misjudged the case and threw the weight of his authority on the side of the bishop. The matter was not settled till the following year by the pope in person. In 1069 Damian went as the pope's legate to Germany to prevent King Henry from repudiating his wife Bertha. This task he accomplished at a council at Frankfort and returned to Fonte-Avellana, were he was left in peace for two years. Early in 1072 he was sent to Ravenna to reconcile its inhabitants to the Holy See, they having been excommunicated for supporting their archbishop in his adhesion to the schism of Cadalous. On his return thence he was seized with fever near Faenza. He lay ill for a week at the monastery of Santa Maria degl'Angeli, now Santa Maria Vecchia. On the night preceding the feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch, he ordered the office of the feast to be recited and at the end of the Lauds he died. He was at once buried in the monastery church, lest others should claim his relics. Six times has his body been translated, each time to a more splendid resting-place. It now lies in a chapel dedicated to the saint in the cathedral of Faenza in 1898. No formal canonization ever took place, but his cultas has existed since his death at Faenza, at Fonte-Avellana, at Monte Cassino, and at Cluny. In 1823 Leo XII extended his feast (23 Feb.) to the whole Church and pronounced him a Doctor of the Church. The saint is represented in art as a cardinal bearing a discipline in his hand; also sometimes he is depicted as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations. Catholic Encyclopedia



#PopeFrancis " Prayer is an antidote against hatred, against wars, these wars that begin at home, that begin in the neighborhood, that begin in families." Homily FULL TEXT + Mass Video


Today, there is what I would call a unique message in the Readings. In the first Reading there is the Word of the Lord who says to us: “Be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” Leviticus 19:2). God the Father says this to us. And the Gospel ends with that Word of Jesus: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”(Matthew 5:48) – the same thing. This is the program of life. Be holy, for He is holy; be perfect, for He is perfect. And you can ask me: But, Father, what is the way to holiness, what is the path to become saints?” Jesus explains it well in the Gospel: He explains it with concrete things.
First of all: “It was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil” (Matthew 5:38-39), namely, no revenge. If I have rancor in my heart for something that someone did to me and I want to revenge myself, this moves me away from the path to sanctity. No revenge. “You did it to me, you’ll pay for it!” Is this Christian? No. “You will pay for it” does not enter the language of a Christian. No revenge. No rancor. “But he makes my life impossible! …” That neighbor speaks badly about me every day! I also speak badly about her …” No. What does the Lord say? “Pray for her” – “But must I pray for her?” – “Yes, pray for her.” It’s the path of forgiveness, of forgetting offenses. You are slapped on the right cheek? Give the other too. Evil is overcome by good, sin is overcome with this generosity, with this strength. Rancor is awful. We all know it’s not a small thing. The great wars – we see it on the TV news, in the newspapers, this massacre of people, of children … How much hatred there is! But it is the same hatred, the same hatred you have in your heart for this man, for that woman, or for that relative or that mother-in-law, or for that other one, it’s the same. It’s greater, but it’s the same. Rancor, the desire to vindicate myself: “You’ll pay for it!” this isn’t Christian.
“Be holy as God is holy”; “be perfect as your Father is perfect,” who makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He is good. God gives His goods to all. “But if he speaks badly of me, if he has done a bad thing to me, if he has …” Forgive, in your heart. This is the path of sanctity; and this dispels wars. If all the men and women of the world learnt this, there wouldn’t be wars, there wouldn’t be. War begins here, in bitterness, in rancor, in the desire for vengeance, to make one pay. But this destroys families, destroys friendships, destroys neighborhoods, destroys so much, so much …. “And what must I do, Father, when I feel this?” Jesus says it, I don’t say it: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). “Must I love that person?” – Yes – “I can’t” – Pray so that you can –. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Ibid.). “Must I pray for one who does me harm?” – Yes, so that he changes his life , so that the Lord forgives him. This is the magnanimity of God, the magnanimous God, the God of a great heart, who forgives everything, who is merciful. “It’s true, Father, God is merciful.” And you, are you merciful with persons who have harmed you? Or who do not love you? If He is merciful, if He is holy, if He is perfect, we must be merciful, holy and perfect like Him.
This is holiness. A man or a woman who does this merits to be canonized: they become saints. Christian life is that simple. I suggest that you begin somewhat. We all have enemies; we all know that he or she speaks badly of me; we all know it. And we all know that he or she hates me. We all know it. And we begin a little. “But I know he’s calumniated me, he has said awful things about me.” I suggest to you: take a minute, turn to God the Father: “He or she is your child, she is your daughter: change her heart. Bless him, bless her.” This is called praying for those who don’t love you, for enemies. It can be done with simplicity. Perhaps rancor remains; perhaps rancor remains in us, but we are making the effort to go on the path of this God who is so good, merciful, holy and perfect; who has the sun rise on the evil and on the good: He is for all, He is good to all. We must be good to all, and we must pray for those who aren’t good – for all.
Do we pray for those who kill children in war? It’s difficult, it’s very far away, but we must learn to do so, so that they convert. Do we pray for those persons who are closest to us and hate us or do us harm? Ah, Father, it’s difficult. I would like to ring his neck!” – Pray, pray so that the Lord changes their life. Prayer is an antidote against hatred, against wars, these wars that begin at home, that begin in the neighborhood, that begin in families. Think only of the wars in families over inheritance: how many families are destroyed, hate one another over inheritance. Pray so that there is peace. And if I know that someone wishes me evil, doesn’t love me, I must pray especially for him. Prayer is powerful, prayer overcomes evil; prayer brings peace.
The Gospel, God’s Word today is simple. This advice: “Be holy for I, the Lord your God am holy.” And then: “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Therefore, we must ask for the grace not to remain in rancor, the grace to pray for enemies, to pray for people who don’t love us, for the grace of peace.
I ask you, please, to have this experience: a prayer every day. ”Oh, he doesn’t love me, but Lord, I ask you …” One a day, thus one overcomes, thus we’ll go on this path of holiness and of perfection. So be it.
ZENIT - [Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday February 20, 2017


Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 341


Reading 1SIR 1:1-10

All wisdom comes from the LORD
and with him it remains forever, and is before all time
The sand of the seashore, the drops of rain,
the days of eternity: who can number these?
Heaven's height, earth's breadth,
the depths of the abyss: who can explore these?
Before all things else wisdom was created;
and prudent understanding, from eternity.
The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom
and her ways are everlasting.
To whom has wisdom's root been revealed?
Who knows her subtleties?
To whom has the discipline of wisdom been revealed?
And who has understood the multiplicity of her ways?
There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring,
seated upon his throne:
There is but one, Most High
all-powerful creator-king and truly awe-inspiring one,
seated upon his throne and he is the God of dominion.
It is the LORD; he created her through the Holy Spirit,
has seen her and taken note of her.
He has poured her forth upon all his works,
upon every living thing according to his bounty;
he has lavished her upon his friends.

Responsorial PsalmPS 93:1AB, 1CD-2, 5

R. (1a) The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
And he has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O LORD.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed:
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, for length of days.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.

Alleluia2 TM 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 9:14-29

As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John
and approached the other disciples,
they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them.
Immediately on seeing him,
the whole crowd was utterly amazed.
They ran up to him and greeted him.
He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?"
Someone from the crowd answered him,
"Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.
Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down;
he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so."
He said to them in reply,
"O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you? Bring him to me."
They brought the boy to him.
And when he saw him,
the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions.
As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around
and foam at the mouth.
Then he questioned his father,
"How long has this been happening to him?"
He replied, "Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
Jesus said to him,
"'If you can!' Everything is possible to one who has faith."
Then the boy's father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!"
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
"Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!"
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, "He is dead!"
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private,
"Why could we not drive the spirit out?"
He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer."