Monday, December 11, 2017

Saint December 12 : Our Lady of Guadalupe : #Guadelupe Miracle Image

THE STORY OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE On December 9, 1531, in Mexico, Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, a poor humble Aztec Indian who had recently converted to the Catholic faith. She asked him to go to the Bishop and tell him to build a church where she said “I will show and offer all of my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to my people.” Juan Diego did as she asked, but the Bishop asked for a sign that this message was really from Our Lady. Mary granted his request. On December 12, she showed Juan where the most beautiful Castilian roses were and told him to gather them. It was a miracle that the roses were there and in bloom because there was frost on the ground, and the ground was an infertile place where only cactus and thistles grew. After he gathered them, she helped arrange them in his tilma, or poncho, and told him to show them to the Bishop. When he brought them to the Bishop, the Bishop was amazed at the roses, but was even more amazed at what began to happen to Juan Diego’s tilma. Right before their very eyes, the image of Our Lady began to form on the cloth. The picture of Mary was beautiful and the Bishop fell to his knees. He had the church built at her request. The tilma is still intact after 470 years. The colors have not faded and the cloth has not deteriorated. It has been on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe for all this time. The manner in which Our Lady appeared on the tilma was very significant to the Aztec Indians. God had her dressed in a way that they would understand who she was. She was dressed in royal clothes that showed that she was very important, perhaps a queen. She also had the symbol of the cross at her neck which was the same symbol the Spaniards had on their ships and in the churches they built. She had a sash tied around her waist which meant that she was with child, for this was the way the Aztec women dressed when they were pregnant. And on her beautiful dress were all sorts of designs and flowers. But there was one flower on her dress that was very significant. It had only four petals. To the Aztecs, the four petal flower was the symbol for the true God, the God above all gods. This flower was located on her abdomen, right over the place where Jesus was growing inside of her. The Aztecs immediately understood that this was the mother of the true God! This appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe was very important to the history of our continent. You see, the Aztec Indians and the Spaniards were on the brink of war. The Aztec Indians’ culture and religion were very different from the Spaniards. They worshipped gods, to whom they would offer human sacrifices, often killing 50,000 people a year. The Spaniards, who were Catholic, were naturally disgusted by this. But they were cruel to the Aztecs too, treating them like animals and sometimes killing them for no reason. If a war had occurred, it would have been very brutal and the Spaniards and Christianity would have been totally wiped out. Mary’s appearance changed everything, however. It helped the Indians to embrace Christianity and it helped the Spaniards to treat the Indians with respect and as human beings. In the course of seven years, 6,000,000 Indians converted to the Catholic faith. This was the biggest conversion in the history of the Church! This is why Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas. Juan Diego, the humble man to whom she appeared, was canonized in the summer of 2002. Mary’s appearance also put an end to the worship of stone gods and the ritual of human sacrifice. We pray for Mary’s help today to bring an end to the human sacrifice of God’s children through abortion and to convert non-believers. Our Lady of Guadalupe is also called the Patroness of the Unborn.
Shared from the Archdiocese of Baltimore 

Pope Francis said we must learn to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord, leaving behind our grudges and complaints.

(Vatican Radio) At his morning Mass at Santa Marta on Monday, Pope Francis said we must learn to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord, leaving behind our grudges and complaints.
Reflecting on the day’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah, he said the Lord has come to console us. Just as the first disciples could hardly believe the joy of the Resurrection, we often find it hard to let ourselves be consoled by the miracles that God performs in our lives.
It is easier for us to console others, than to let ourselves be consoled, the pope said. So often, we are attached to the negative sins and scars in our hearts and we prefer to remain there on our sick bed, like the paralised man in St Luke’s Gospel, not wanting to hear Jesus telling us to ‘Get up and walk!’
We prefer to stew in our own juice
Pope Francis continued by explaining that we prefer to bear grudges and to stew in our own juice because in that way we are masters of our own hard hearts. Like the paralised man, we prefer the ‘bitter root’ of original sin than the sweetness of God’s consolation.
Such bitterness always leads us to complain, the pope said, with a constant whining as the soundtrack to our lives. He described the prophet Job as the Nobel prize winner of whiners, who complained about everything that God did.
Have courage to let go of complaints
Pope Francis also recalled an elderly priest he knew who complained so much that his companions joked about what he would say to St Peter, upon arriving in heaven. They said his first thoughts would be to ask about hell and to complain that there were too few people denied salvation.
Faced with such bitterness, anger and complaining, the pope said, the Church repeats that we must have courage, just like the friends of the paralised man, who didn’t think about the reaction of the scribes, but only about helping their friend in need.
Let ourselves be consoled by the Lord
The message of today’s liturgy, Pope Francis concluded, is to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord, to be stripped of all our bitter egoisms and complaints. Let us examine our consciences and look into our hearts, he urged, asking if there is any sadness or bitterness there. Do we praise God, or do we always have something to complain about? Let us pray for the grace of courage, he said, asking the Lord to come and console us.

Quote to SHARE by Saint #MotherTeresa "At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving.."


"At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God's own love and concern."
Saint Mother Teresa

Pope Francis "Jesus bestowed upon the Church his healing power..." World Day of the Sick Message - FULL TEXT

Released by the Vatican on Monday, the message for the 26th World Day of the Sick has as its theme: 
Mater Ecclesiae: “Behold, your son... Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27). 
 Instituted by St. Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1992, the annual observance intends to draw attention to the sick and their caregivers. 
 Please find below the full text of the Pope’s message for the World Day of the Sick: 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Church’s service to the sick and those who care for them must continue with renewed vigour, in fidelity to the Lord’s command (cf. Lk 9:2-6; Mt 10:1-8; Mk 6:7-13) and following the eloquent example of her Founder and Master.
The theme for this year’s Day of the Sick is provided by the words that Jesus spoke from the Cross to Mary, his Mother, and to John: “Woman, behold your son ... Behold your mother.  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27).
1.         The Lord’s words brilliantly illuminate the mystery of the Cross, which does not represent a hopeless tragedy, but rather the place where Jesus manifests his glory and shows his love to the end.  That love in turn was to become the basis and rule for the Christian community and the life of each disciple.
Before all else, Jesus’ words are the source of Mary’s maternal vocation for all humanity.  Mary was to be, in particular, the Mother of her Son’s disciples, caring for them and their journey through life.  As we know, a mother’s care for her son or daughter includes both the material and spiritual dimensions of their upbringing.         
The unspeakable pain of the Cross pierces Mary’s soul (cf. Lk 2:35), but does not paralyze her.  Quite the opposite.  As the Lord’s Mother, a new path of self-giving opens up before her.  On the Cross, Jesus showed his concern for the Church and all humanity, and Mary is called to share in that same concern.  In describing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Acts of the Apostles show that Mary began to carry out this role in the earliest community of the Church.  A role that never ceases.
2.         John, the beloved disciple, is a figure of the Church, the messianic people.  He must acknowledge Mary as his Mother.  In doing so, he is called to take her into his home, to see in her the model of all discipleship, and to contemplate the maternal vocation that Jesus entrusted to her, with all that it entails: a loving Mother who gives birth to children capable of loving as Jesus commands.  That is why Mary’s maternal vocation to care for her children is entrusted to John and to the Church as a whole.  The entire community of disciples is included in Mary’s maternal vocation.
3.         John, as a disciple who shared everything with Jesus, knows that the Master wants to lead all people to an encounter with the Father.  He can testify to the fact that Jesus met many people suffering from spiritual sickness due to pride (cf. Jn 8:31-39) and from physical ailments (cf. Jn 5:6).  He bestowed mercy and forgiveness upon all, and healed the sick as a sign of the abundant life of the Kingdom, where every tear will be wiped away.  Like Mary, the disciples are called to care for one another, but not only that.  They know that Jesus’ heart is open to all and excludes no one.  The Gospel of the Kingdom must be proclaimed to all, and the charity of Christians must be directed to all, simply because they are persons, children of God.
4.       The Church’s maternal vocation to the needy and to the sick has found concrete expression throughout the two thousand years of her history in an impressive series of initiatives on behalf of the sick.  This history of dedication must not be forgotten.  It continues to the present day throughout the world.  In countries where adequate public health care systems exist, the work of Catholic religious congregations and dioceses and their hospitals is aimed not only at providing quality medical care, but also at putting the human person at the centre of the healing process, while carrying out scientific research with full respect for life and for Christian moral values.  In countries where health care systems are inadequate or non-existent, the Church seeks to do what she can to improve health, eliminate infant mortality and combat widespread disease.  Everywhere she tries to provide care, even when she is not in a position to offer a cure.  The image of the Church as a “field hospital” that welcomes all those wounded by life is a very concrete reality, for in some parts of the world, missionary and diocesan hospitals are the only institutions providing necessary care to the population.
5.       The memory of this long history of service to the sick is cause for rejoicing on the part of the Christian community, and especially those presently engaged in this ministry.  Yet we must look to the past above all to let it enrich us.  We should learn the lesson it teaches us about the self-sacrificing generosity of many founders of institutes in the service of the infirm, the creativity, prompted by charity, of many initiatives undertaken over the centuries, and the commitment to scientific research as a means of offering innovative and reliable treatments to the sick.  This legacy of the past helps us to build a better future, for example, by shielding Catholic hospitals from the business mentality that is seeking worldwide to turn health care into a profit-making enterprise, which ends up discarding the poor.  Wise organization and charity demand that the sick person be respected in his or her dignity, and constantly kept at the centre of the therapeutic process.  This should likewise be the approach of Christians who work in public structures; through their service, they too are called to bear convincing witness to the Gospel.
6.         Jesus bestowed upon the Church his healing power:  “These signs will accompany those who believe... they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mk 16:17-18).  In the Acts of the Apostles, we read accounts of the healings worked by Peter (cf. Acts 3:4-8) and Paul (cf. Acts 14:8-11).  The Church’s mission is a response to Jesus’ gift, for she knows that she must bring to the sick the Lord’s own gaze, full of tenderness and compassion.  Health care ministry will always be a necessary and fundamental task, to be carried out with renewed enthusiasm by all, from parish communities to the most largest healthcare institutions.  We cannot forget the tender love and perseverance of many families in caring for their chronically sick or severely disabled children, parents and relatives.  The care given within families is an extraordinary witness of love for the human person; it needs to be fittingly acknowledged and supported by suitable policies.  Doctors and nurses, priests, consecrated men and women, volunteers, families and all those who care for the sick, take part in this ecclesial mission.  It is a shared responsibility that enriches the value of the daily service given by each.
7.         To Mary, Mother of tender love, we wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul, that she may sustain them in hope.  We ask her also to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters.  The Church knows that she requires a special grace to live up to her evangelical task of serving the sick.  May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.  May the Virgin Mary intercede for this Twenty-sixth World Day of the Sick; may she help the sick to experience their suffering in communion with the Lord Jesus; and may she support all those who care for them.  To all, the sick, to healthcare workers and to volunteers, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 26 November 2017
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Source: Radio Vaticana

#BreakingNews over 20,000 Youth attend Catholic Festival in Sydney, Australia and Fill the World with Faith!

By Robert Hiini 
 In moving scenes that would melt the soul of the most hardened cynic, more than 10,000 young people dropped to their knees to welcome their risen King at the final plenary for the Catholic Youth Festival on Friday night. Not a sound could be heard for 20 minute as those in the packed arena paid homage during a time of Eucharistic Adoration. 
 The silence could not have been more striking, given the crowd had only an hour earlier been chanting "Hilda, Hilda, Hilda" in adulation for highly regarded 70-year-old Benedictine Sr Hilda, who was holding court during her Hanging with Hilda sessions. It was a night of music, dance, catechesis and prayer. For more than two hours Qudos Bank Arena witnessed the most extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit not seen, perhaps, since World Youth Day 08. 
 Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn challenged participants to take God up on his offer of a genuine and expansive life, just as Mary had done when she gave her whole-hearted yes to God. "An encounter with Jesus deep within lasts for eternity," Archbishop Prowse told the jubilant crowd in a speech repeatedly interrupted by prolonged cheering from the youth. "A tsunami of grace for young people; that's what we want." Gary and Natasha Pinto lifted the crowd with a rendition of Justin Timberlake's hit Can't Stop the Feeling, before Steve Angrisano prepared the crowd for Adoration. 
 But it was headline act Matt Maher's accompaniment as the Blessed Sacrament was processed out of the building that will stay with the audience for a lifetime. He closed the night, eliciting the most lively and passionate crowd singing yet seen at an Australian Catholic Youth Festival, in a commanding display of the musical gifts that God has given him. 
 Earlier in the day, participants were treated to the witness of one of the festival's other major headline acts, Emily Wilson. The one-time aspiring sports broadcaster, who instead opted for a mission of speaking, YouTubing and writing about real life with God, held the 20,000-strong crowd in the palm of her hand as she spoke about vocation. The Californian said there were two truths she wanted her young audience to know. "God knows you, and he knows your heart," Emily told the crowd. "He has plans for each of our lives and those plans are very good." The first thing to do - often the most neglected thing - is to spend time speaking intimately with God, she said. "Have you prayed about it? We must talk to God to allow him to help us discover what our vocation is." There was a roar of mostly female voices around the packed Qudos Bank Arena when Emily showed pictures of her husband, Daniel, from their wedding - a segue into talking about what it means to give yourself over to your vocation. Emily spoke about Mary as the ultimate model of humanity in her openness, her receiving and surrender, citing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, made famous at World Youth Day 2008. "Are we all not perhaps afraid in some way? "Are we not afraid that he might take something away from us … "Do not be afraid of Christ. He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything." Five young people sitting around the arena joined her in leading the crowd in praying a decade of the Rosary, the final 'Amen' concluding her talk as she departed the stage. The youth also roared and clapped in approval earlier in the plenary when Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, the founders of Orange Sky Laundry for the homeless shared their story of how they came up with their award-winning idea. Waves of laughter echoed around the arena as the impressive young men told their tale of well-meaning but naïve beginning, blowing up expensive four washing machines after installing them in "sudsy" - their first mobile laundry van. The inspiration came for having deep conversations with a homeless man in their local area and wondering what they could actually do to make a difference. "So I jumped on Google and typed 'serious washing machines'," Lucas said to the crowd's amusement. The men recalled the very first time they had a washing machine-loaded in their van to work and their first "customer" Jordan - someone who was the same age as Lucas and who had studied the same degree at university. In the one hour it took to wash and dry the clothes they discovered what would turn out to be the most important part of their social enterprise - conversation. Through challenging the apathy and entropy that surrounded them, "We stumbled across a world first, connected a community and stopped the transmission of some nasty (diseases)." Three years after they started, they are now helping homeless throughout Australia in 156 locations, operating 22 vans and helping to wash and dry 1.2 tonnes of laundry a week. "Having clean clothes means I can go on with my life," one of their "street friends", John, said in a short video. "I can go and have job interviews and have conversations on public transport without feeling ashamed." Bishop Mark Edwards introduced the young men and spoke about the centrality of the Spirit of God - how God makes a home in all of his believers - in personal conversion and in affecting real change in the world.
Report from the Archdiocese of Sydney Australia - sydneycatholic.org

#BreakingNews 30,000 people at Procession for Our Lady of Guadelupe in Los Angeles California


30,000 Catholic people walked the streets of Los Angeles in a Sunday Morning procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 3rd. At the conclusion of the procession there was a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gomez. “We give our hearts to the Virgin of Guadalupe and we ask her to always intercede for us, to hear us and pray for us,” Archbishop José H. Gomez said in his homily.  “To find God, to find Jesus! This is the beautiful role that Our Mother plays,” Gomez said. This is an annual procession and is the oldest religious procession in Los Angeles.  86 years ago Mexican Catholics who fled persecution by the Mexican government during the Cristero war established this procession.  It included floats, horses, and native dancers. Children from Catholic schools followed an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was an exact digital production of the original image. The procession ended at East Los Angeles College stadium, where Archbishop Gomez celebrated Mass. He said, “So, today we profess our love for Our Mother. We thank her for her tender love for us – for our children and our families.” At the Mass a survivor of the October Las Vegas shooting was a lector. To prepare for the procession the Our Lady of Guadalupe image visited 20 parishes in the Los Angeles archdiocese and five detention facilities in the Los Angeles archdiocese.
Edited from CNA

Saint December 11 : St. Eulalia of Mérida - Virgin and Martyr of Spain

Saint Eulalia of Mérida is the best-known virgin martyr of Spain. She is praised by the Christian poets Prudentius and St Venantius Fortunatus. Praised by two Christian poets Two Christian poets Prudentius (348-413), a Spaniard, and St Venantius Fortunatus (535-605), who lived at Poitiers, France, have written poems about Eulalia. She is also the subject of a sermon by St Augustine and is mentioned in the Calendar of Carthage and Martyrology of Jerome. Prudentius’s account presents her as a consecrated virgin of noble family, who despised frivolity and luxury and showed austerity and strictness worthy of an older person. 
 Eulalia’s story 
The 7th century Acta present Eulalia as a girl of twelve, who was hidden by her mother in the countryside when the edict of Diocletian demanded that everyone sacrifice to the Roman gods (in AD 304). Eulalia, however, ran to the law court of the governor Dacian at Merida, professed herself a Christian, insulted the pagan gods and emperor Maximian, and challenged the authorities to martyr her. The judge’s attempts at flattery and bribery failed. 
Prudentius says that for her:
 Isis Apollo Venus nihil est, 
Maximianus et ipse nihil: 
illa nihil, quia factu manu; 
hic, manuum quia facta colit. 
 (Isis, Apollo and Venus are nothing, 
Even Maximian himself is nothing; 
They are nothing because they are made by hand, 
He, for he worships things made by hands). 
SPANISH MARTYRShe was then stripped by the soldiers, tortured with hooks and torches, and burnt at the stake, suffocating from smoke inhalation. She taunted her torturers all the while, and as she died a dove flew out of her mouth. This frightened away the soldiers and allowed a miraculous snow to cover her nakedness, its whiteness indicating her sainthood. A shrine over her tomb was soon erected. Her veneration Veneration of Eulalia was already popular with Christians by AD 350; relics from her were distributed through Iberia. Bishop Fidelis of Merida rebuilt a basilica in her honour around 560 AD. Her shrine was the most popular in Visigothic Spain. In 780 her body was transferred to Oviedo by King Silo. It lies in a coffin of Arab silver donated by Afonso VI in 1075. In 1639, she was made patron saint of Oviedo. Edited from Catholic Ireland.net

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Mon. December 11, 2017 - #Eucharist


Monday of the Second Week of Advent
Lectionary: 181


Reading 1IS 35:1-10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Responsorial PsalmPS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (Isaiah 35:4f) Our God will come to save us!
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD –for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Our God will come to save us!
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Our God will come to save us!
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Our God will come to save us!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth,
and he himself will lift the yoke of our captivity.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
"As for you, your sins are forgiven."

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
"Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
"What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
"We have seen incredible things today."