Thursday, March 30, 2017

Saint March 31 : St. Benjamin : Martyr and #Deacon of #Persia


St. Benjamin
MARTYR, DEACON
Feast: March 31
Feast Day:
March 31
Died:
424 in Persia Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.

The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations,  no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."
Edited from Butler's Lives of the Saints

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday March 30, 2017 - #Eucharist


Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 247


Reading 1EX 32:7-14

The LORD said to Moses,
"Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
'This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"
The LORD said to Moses,
"I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation."

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
"Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
'With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth'?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.'"
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial PsalmPS 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Verse Before The GospelJN 3:16

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

GospelJN 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:
"If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John's.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

"I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?"

Touching Song to INSPIRE for #Lent "Don't Give Up" by Josh Groban to SHARE because you are Loved!


This Amazing Viral Song by artist Josh Groban has reached over 5 Million Views - It is perfect for this season of Lent. Keep Praying, Fasting and Giving because you are Loved by God!
SHARE this to uplift your Friends Today!
"You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" Lyrics:
 Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
When your heart's heavy
I...I will lift it for you Don't give up Because you want to be heard If silence keeps you I...I will break it for you Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved
 Don't give up It's just the hurt that you hide When you're lost inside I...I will be there to find you
 Don't give up Because you want to burn bright If darkness blinds you I...I will shine to guide you Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved You are loved
Don't give up It's just the weight of the world
Don't give up Every one needs to be heard You are loved Music "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" by Josh Groban

#PopeFrancis “God weeps for me”, #Homily in Lent

Vatican Radio)  Beware of following fantasies and false idols, for only God loves us and waits for us like a father.  That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Thursday morning in the Casa Santa Marta.
Commenting on the First Letter from the Book of Exodus, the Holy Father focused on God’s love for His people, despite their infidelity. Even today, he said, it is good for us to ask whether we distance ourselves from the Lord to follow after idols and worldliness.
Pope Francis took inspiration from the Book of Exodus to reflect on the “dreams and disappointments of God”. The people, he said, is “God’s dream. He dreamed of them because he loved them.” But the people betrayed the Father’s dreams and so God “began to be disappointed,” asking Moses to come down from the mountain where he had gone to receive the Law. The people “did not have the patience to wait for God” for even 40 days. They had made themselves a golden calf and “they forgot God who had saved them”.
Temptation to infidelity towards God
The prophet Baruc, Pope Francis said, “had a good expression for this people: ‘You have forgotten the One who reared you’”.
“To forget God who made us, who raised us, and who accompanies us in our lives: this is the disappointment of God. And many times in the Gospel Jesus speaks in parables about that man who builds a vineyard, which then fails, because the workers want to take it for themselves. In the human heart there is always this restlessness! It is not satisfied with God, with faithful love. The human heart always tends towards infidelity. This is a temptation.”
God is “disappointed” by the infidelity of His people who go after idols
God, therefore, “through the prophet rebukes this people”, which “is inconstant and does not know how to wait”. They go astray from God to seek another god.
“The disappointment of God is the infidelity of the people… And we are God’s people. We know well how [the dispositions] of our heart, and every day we must take up again the path so as not to slide slowly towards idols, fantasies, worldliness, and infidelity. I think it would do us good today to reflect on the disappointed Lord: ‘Tell me, Lord, are you disappointed in me?’ In something, yes, surely. But reflect, and ask yourself this question.”
Reflect in Lent whether we have distanced ourselves from God
God, Pope Francis affirmed, “has a tender heart, the heart of a father”. He recalled that Jesus wept “over Jerusalem”. Let us ask ourselves, he said, if “God weeps for me”, if “He is disappointed in me”, and if “I have distanced myself from the Lord”. He asked aloud, “How many idols do I have, which I am unable to remove, which make me a slave? The idolatry that we have within us… And God weeps for me.”
“Let us reflect today on this disappointment of God, who created us for love, whilst we go in search of love, of wellbeing elsewhere and not in His love. We distance ourselves from this God who raised us. This is a thought for Lent. It will do us good. Do this small examination of conscience daily: ‘Lord, you who have so many dreams for me, I know that I have gone away from you, but tell me where and how to return…’ The surprise will be that He ever awaits us, like the father of the prodigal son who saw him from afar, because he was waiting for him.”

(Devin Sean Watkins)