Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Saint February 1 : St. Bridgid of Ireland : Patron of #Babies; #Children of unwed parents; #Fugitives; #Ireland; Midwives; Poets

Information: Feast Day: February 1 Born: 451 or 452 at Faughart, County Louth, Ireland Died:
1 February 525 at Kildare, Ireland Patron of:
babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle; chicken farmers; children whose parents are not married; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; mariners; midwives; milk maids; newborn babies; nuns; poets; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen
VIRGIN, PATRONESS OF IRELAND
Born in 451 or 452 of princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525, at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, "the church of the oak" (now Kildare), in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigid's biographers, but the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the court of her father Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650. It is metrical, as may be seen from the following specimen:
Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach Ni bu huarach im sheire Dé, Sech ni chiuir ni cossens Ind nóeb dibad bethath che.
(Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God's love; Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for The wealth of this world below, the holy one.)
Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare in the eighth century, expounded the metrical life of St. Brigid, and versified it in good Latin. This is what is known as the "Second Life", and is an excellent example of Irish scholarship in the mid-eighth century. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cogitosus's work is the description of the Cathedral of Kildare in his day: "Solo spatioso et in altum minaci proceritate porruta ac decorata pictis tabulis, tria intrinsecus habens oratoria ampla, et divisa parietibus tabulatis". The rood-screen was formed of wooden boards, lavishly decorated, and with beautifully decorated curtains. Probably the famous Round Tower of Kildare dates from the sixth century. Although St. Brigid was "veiled" or received by St. Macaille, at Croghan, yet, it is tolerably certain that she was professed by St. Mel of Ardagh, who also conferred on her abbatial powers. From Ardagh St. Macaille and St. Brigid followed St. Mel into the country of Teffia in Meath, including portions of Westmeath and Longford. This occurred about the year 468. St. Brigid's small oratory at Cill- Dara became the centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed St. Conleth as spiritual pastor of them. It has been frequently stated that she gave canonical jurisdiction to St. Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but, as Archbishop Healy points out, she simply "selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction", and her biographer tells us distinctly that she chose St. Conleth "to govern the church along with herself". Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superioress general of the convents in Ireland. Not alone was St. Bridget a patroness of students, but she also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination, over which St. Conleth presided. From the Kildare scriptorium came the wondrous book of the Gospels, which elicited unbounded praise from Giraldus Cambrensis, but which has disappeared since the Reformation. According to this twelfth- century ecclesiastic, nothing that he had ever seen was at all comparable to the "Book of Kildare", every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and he concludes a most laudatory notice by saying that the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that "all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill". Small wonder that Gerald Barry assumed the book to have been written night after night as St. Bridget prayed, "an angel furnishing the designs, the scribe copying". Even allowing for the exaggerated stories told of St. Brigid by her numerous biographers, it is certain that she ranks as one of the most remarkable Irishwomen of the fifth century and as the Patroness of Ireland. She is lovingly called the "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael" by a writer in the "Leabhar Breac". St. Brigid died leaving a cathedral city and school that became famous all over Europe. In her honour St. Ultan wrote a hymn commencing: Christus in nostra insula Que vocatur Hivernia Ostensus est hominibus Maximis mirabilibus Que perfecit per felicem Celestis vite virginem Precellentem pro merito Magno in numdi circulo. (In our island of Hibernia Christ was made known to man by the very great miracles which he performed through the happy virgin of celestial life, famous for her merits through the whole world.) The sixth Life of the saint printed by Colgan is attributed to Coelan, an Irish monk of the eighth century, and it derives a peculiar importance from the fact that it is prefaced by a foreword from the pen of St. Donatus, also an Irish monk, who became Bishop of Fiesole in 824. St. Donatus refers to previous lives by St. Ultan and St. Aileran. When dying, St. Brigid was attended by St. Ninnidh, who was ever afterwards known as "Ninnidh of the Clean Hand" because he had his right hand encased with a metal covering to prevent its ever being defiled, after being he medium of administering the viaticum to Ireland's Patroness. She was interred at the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, and a costly tomb was erected over her. In after years her shrine was an object of veneration for pilgrims, especially on her feast day, 1 February, as Cogitosus related. About the year 878, owing to the Scandinavian raids, the relics of St. Brigid were taken to Downpatrick, where they were interred in the tomb of St. Patrick and St. Columba. The relics of the three saints were discovered in 1185, and on 9 June of the following year were solemnly translated to a suitable resting place in Downpatrick Cathedral, in presence of Cardinal Vivian, fifteen bishops, and numerous abbots and ecclesiastics. Various Continental breviaries of the pre-Reformation period commemorate St. Brigid, and her name is included in a litany in the Stowe Missal. In Ireland today, after 1500 years, the memory of "the Mary of the Gael" is as dear as ever to the Irish heart, and, as is well known, Brigid preponderates as a female Christian name. Moreover, hundreds of place-names in her honour are to be found all over the country, e.g. Kilbride, Brideswell, Tubberbride, Templebride, etc. The hand of St. Brigid is preserved at Lumiar near Lisbon, Portugal, since 1587, and another relic is at St. Martin's Cologne. Viewing the biography of St. Brigid from a critical standpoint we must allow a large margin for the vivid Celtic imagination and the glosses of medieval writers, but still the personality of the founder of Kildare stands out clearly, and we can with tolerable accuracy trace the leading events in her life, by a careful study of the old "Lives" as found in Colgan. It seems certain that Faughart, associated with memories of Queen Meave (Medhbh), was the scene of her birth; and Faughart Church was founded by St. Morienna in honour of St. Brigid. The old well of St. Brigid's adjoining the ruined church is of the most venerable antiquity, and still attracts pilgrims; in the immediate vicinity is the ancient mote of Faughart. As to St. Brigid's stay in Connacht, especially in the County Roscommon, there is ample evidence in the "Trias Thaumaturga", as also in the many churches founded by her in the Diocese of Elphim. Her friendship with St. Patrick is attested by the following paragraph from the "Book of Armagh", a precious manuscript of the eighth century, the authenticity of which is beyond question: "inter sanctum Patricium Brigitanque Hibernesium columpnas amicitia caritatis inerat tanta, ut unum cor consiliumque haberent unum. Christus per illum illamque virtutes multas peregit". (Between St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the columns of the Irish, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many miracles.) At Armagh there was a "Templum Brigidis"; namely the little abbey church known as "Regles Brigid", which contained some relics of the saint, destroyed in 1179, by William Fitz Aldelm. It may be added that the original manuscript of Cogitosus's "Life of Brigid", or the "Second Life", dating from the closing years of the eighth century, is now in the Dominican friary at Eichstätt in Bavaria. (Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Pope Francis "..to listen to the Word of God it’s necessary to have an open heart to receive the word.." FULL TEXT + Video at Audience



At today's General Audience, on Jan. 31, 2018, Pope Francis let several children ride in the Pope mobile (Image Share from Vatican.va)
FULL Text of The Holy Father’s Catechesis 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We continue today with the catecheses on the Mass. After having reflected on the rites of introduction of the Mass, we now consider the Liturgy of the Word, which is a constitutive part because, in fact, we gather to listen to what God has done and still intends to do for us. It’s an experience that happens “directly” and not by having heard, because “when Sacred Scripture is read in Church, God Himself speaks to His people and Christ, present in the Word, proclaims the Gospel” (Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano, 29; Cf. Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7; 33). And how often, while the Word of God is read, one comments: “Look at him . . . , look at her . . . , look at the hat she is wearing: It’s ridiculous . . . “And they begin to make comments. Isn’t that true? Should comments be made while the Word of God is being read?  [They respond: “No!]. No, because if you gossip with people you don’t listen to the Word of God. When the Word of God is read in the Bible  — the First Reading, the Second, the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel – we must listen, open our heart, because it’s God Himself who is speaking to us,  and we must not think of other things or talk about other things. Understood? . . . I will explain to you what happens in this Liturgy of the Word.

The pages of the Bible cease to be a writing to become living word pronounced by God. It’s God that, through the person that reads, speaks to us and questions us, who listen with faith. The Spirit “who has spoken through the prophets” (Creed) and has inspired the sacred authors, acts so that “that the Word of God truly operates in hearts what He makes resound in ears” (Lectionary, Introd., 9). However, to listen to the Word of God it’s necessary to have an open heart to receive the word in the heart. God speaks and we listen to Him, to then put into practice what we have heard. It’s very important to listen. Sometimes, perhaps, we don’t understand well because there are some Readings that are a bit difficult. However, God speaks the same to us in another way. [It’s necessary to be] in silence and to listen to the Word of God. Don’t forget this. At Mass, when the Readings begin, we listen to the Word of God.
We need to listen to Him! It is, in fact, a question of life, as the incisive expression well reminds that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) — the life that the Word of God gives us. In this connection, we speak of the Liturgy of the Word as the “table” that the Lord prepares to feed our spiritual life. That of the Liturgy is an abundant table, which draws widely from the treasures of the Bible (Cf. SC , 51) be it of the Old or of the New Testament, because in them the Church proclaims the one and the same mystery of Christ (Cf. Lectionary, Introd., 5). We think of the richness of the biblical Readings offered by three Sunday cycles that, in the light of the Synoptic Gospels, accompany us in the course of the Liturgical Year: a great richness. I wish to recall here the importance of the Responsorial Psalm, whose function is to foster meditation on all that was heard in the Reading that preceded it. It’s good that the Psalm is enhanced with the song, at least in the refrain (Cf. OGMR, 61; Lectionary, Introd., 19-22).
The liturgical proclamation of the same Readings, with the songs deduced from Sacred Scripture, expresses and fosters ecclesial communion, accompanying the path of each and all. One understands, therefore, why subjective choices, such as the omission of Readings or their substitution with non-biblical texts, are prohibited. I’ve heard that some, if there is news, read the newspaper, because it’s the news of the day. No! The Word of God is the Word of God! We can read the newspaper later, but there, the Word of God is read. It’s the Lord who speaks to us. To substitute that Word with other things, impoverishes and compromises the dialogue between God and His people in prayer. On the contrary, [required is] the dignity of the pulpit and the use of the Lectionary,[1] the availability of good readers and psalmists. However, it’s necessary to find good readers! – those that are able to read, not those that read [mangling the words] and nothing is understood. It’s so – good readers <are needed>. They must prepare themselves and try before the Mass to read well. And this creates a receptive atmosphere of silence [2].
We know that the Lord’s word is an indispensable aid not to get lost, as the Psalmist well recognizes that, addressing the Lord, confesses: “Thy word is a lamp for my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). How can we face our earthly pilgrimage, with its toils and trials, without being regularly fed and illumined by the Word of God that resounds in the Liturgy?
It’s certainly not enough to listen with the ears, without receiving in the heart the seed of the divine Word, enabling it to bear fruit. Let us remember the parable of the sower and the different results according to the different types of soil (Cf. Mark 4:14-20). The action of the Spirit, which renders the response effective, is in need of hearts that allow themselves to be worked and cultivated, so that what is heard at Mass passes in daily life, in keeping with the Apostle James’ admonition: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). The Word of God makes a path within us. We hear it with the ears and it passes to the heart. It doesn’t stay in the ears; it must go to the heart, and from the heart it passes to the hands, to good works. This is the course that the Word of God follows: from the ears to the heart to the hands. Let us learn these things. Thank you!
[1] Criteria and ordering of the Readings of the Mass in the Roman Rite are described in the Introduction to the Lectionary.
[2] “The Liturgy of the Word must be celebrated in a way to foster meditation. Therefore, all forms of haste that impede recollection must be avoided. Opportune in it also are brief moments of silence, adapted to the gathered assembly, through which, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is heard in the heart and the response is prepared with prayer” (OGMR, 56).
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I’m happy to receive the National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works and the Women Religious of Jesus-Mary. I encourage all to live the mission with authenticity, a spirit of service and the capacity of mediation.
I greet the workers of the Ideal Standard industrial complex and the Association of Italian Blood Volunteers of Potenza.  In addition, I greet the school and formation Institutes, especially those of Saint Mary Help of Christians of Rome and of Jesus-Mary of Rome, hoping that the teaching that is offered is rich in values, to form persons that are able to make fructify the talents that God has entrusted to each one.
Finally, I address the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Today we remember Saint John Bosco, father and teacher of youth. Dear young people, look to him as an exemplary educator.  You, dear sick, follow his, Christ Crucified’s example always. And you, dear newlyweds, take recourse to his intercession to assume your conjugal mission with generous commitment.
[Original text: Italian]  [Blog entry SHARE of ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Get on the Road to Discipleship - A guide by Dr. Gary Knight


Discernment
Father Bob Bedard, founder of the Ottawa-based Companions of the Cross, was known for the quip “be one who’s sent, not one who went !”. A friendly retort “be one who’s called, not one who’s stalled” will need to wait, while we look briefly at this important character of the disciple: a discerning spirit. Again, like nearly everything else, this is a continuing goal of formation more than it is a prerequisite for being a disciple. The only discerning prerequisite is that of James and John who thought it may be good to ask Jesus “where do you dwell?”. Every disciple should start with that question; because when Jesus says “come and see” it is the first step of seeing something new, and of walking with Christ.
Seeing something new is just what Jesus promised, in some humour, to Nathaniel who’d been convinced of Jesus’ lordship in that Jesus had seen him spiritually communing with God under a fig tree. “You will see greater things than these” Jesus said to a man whose character was already so advanced that he had no deceit (or conceit, which is self-deceit), and had ‘seen’ that Jesus must be the messiah. ‘Greater things’ would mean Jesus curing lepers, raising persons from death (Lazarus, the widow’s son, the little girl Tabitha), he Himself rising from the tomb, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jews and Gentiles alike. Nathaniel Bartolomeus - the son of Tolomeus (Talmai) - would see himself raised from death into glory.
Discernment is a marvellous faculty of the soul growing in grace, or conformity with the mind of Christ. It is often described as ‘light’ or enlightenment: enablement to see something new. Sometimes it is to see something old and even hidden, in a new light. Not all that discernment gives to the disciple’s mind is about good things: it is as often about bad things newly seen to be avoided.
A positive example is the ‘light’ dimly dawning for the woman at the well, who said “I see that you are a prophet” when Jesus recited her (extra)marital history.  A negative example is Jesus discerning what was in the hearts of the questioning Pharisees on more than one occasion. A modern example is finding (as pope Benedict did) that ‘pluralism’ may look on the surface as harmless as diversity; but if it means ideological pluralism it is found to have a monolithic secular agenda against the truth.
A place where the surface scripture suggests Jesus did not ‘discern’ is where he asks a question “why did you strike me?”. But seen more deeply, His adroit discernment was what the abusive temple guard needed to ask himself: “if I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if not, ask yourself ‘why do you strike me’?”. If later the guard should soul-search, he might have been saved like repentant Peter.
Discernment is closely linked to and taught by the Word of God, which saint Paul describes as keener than a two-edged sword, able to pierce between the marrow and the bone: the marrow which is hidden from view made clear to the anatomist of the joint. It pierces and brings to light the hidden thoughts of many, as the prophet remarked about the Word nestling in Mary’s arms. All of which is to say that no disciple can develop or hone a trustworthy discerning character without daily meditating on the Word of God: scripture in its entirety and the words of Jesus in very particular.
Even the inspired words of the Church as expressed in the prayers of the divine liturgy beget discernment. Attending to all these words and actions of Jesus and His body (for to speak is still a bodily gesture) is to ‘ponder them in the heart’, as Mary constantly did. The fruit of heart-felt pondering, such as experienced by the disciples at Emmaus, is bright discernment. “Did our hearts not burn within us?” It is why Augustine so perceptively urged “I would that all would think in their heart”. Otherwise,  we remain quite undiscerning.


Patience
Patience is sometimes called the crowning virtue, because if it is truly cultivated as an indelible character, it means no less than an intimate share in the passion of Christ. Those two words ‘patientia’ and passion are closely linked. To have patience with someone, or (equally important) with oneself is to wait upon the Lord. The death of Christ was not quick and summary, as he in his human nature might have wished, but long and tortured. He endured it patiently, even while ‘pressed’ or ‘vexed’ at its long coming, ‘waiting on the Father’. After having to feel the most abject abandonment, as sin on the cross,  He could say “it is finished”.
Disciples must learn to have patience with themselves and with others. One might feel impatient with a brother whom he’s already forgiven seven times; but the Lord counsels to do that stretch at least seven-fold more, signifying an indefinite number of times. A prisoner feels most impatient when he does not know when or if he will be released, with ticking time chaffing in his shackles. Likewise those who testify to the sanctity of life, and are kept at bay or in confinement by unjust laws, can barely endure the test of patience. But real patience is one of those signs that provokes others to ask “what can be the reason for your hope?”.
Patience in the disciple is developed by all the other exercises, since nothing changes solidly in any short order. We may read into this a supernatural law: there is a problem of evil, and its only recompense is an endurance with the Lord. The final prayer of any aspiring soul must be, Lord, help me endure: grant me that grace of final perseverance. It is the fulness of patience taken to the end, or what saint Paul calls the ‘finish line’. Not a few marathoners would die enroute, and Paul would say that they too had crossed the finish line and won the laurel.
The only ones who don’t ‘win’ are the ones who drop out of the race. In worldly terms, even dropping out is no loss if it means resuming again or entering a later race better prepared. The  analogy limps, in the spiritual walk, because to opt out of the hike for heaven is to accept the peril of being overrun by the wolves of the night.
But the borrowed truth is twofold. One: persons who formerly abjured the faith under fear and duress, but who recant and return to the fold, are welcomed by God with open arms. Two - and this similar - the disciple who backslides by any number of ways: imprudence or misuse of discernment, carping at obedience, impatience for reward or consolation a long time missing, is equally in peril.  Again though, should he or she repent, seek Mercy, and by grace resume their trek, they will be aided on and none of their delay held against them. What matters is to finish, and it is imprudent to risk delay. Thus patience and vigilance relate to prudence, the better part of wisdom, which of course is a principal gift of the Spirit.


Joy
Just about everyone has to eat the humble pie of failing to correspond fully, every day, to the calling of holiness. As the Lord says, whoever denies that he or she is a sinner is a liar.  As an aside .. you might wonder how that applies to sinless Mary or even Jesus, but there is no conflict because, while they never could have affirmed sin, they never undertook to deny it. “If I testify to myself, my testimony is void”. Even had they declared their sinlessness they wouldn’t be liars, but the point is, they didn’t. “The Lord has had regard for the lowliness of His handmaid”; and (to Satan’s invite) “you shall not tempt the Lord your God”. Many of Jesus’ challenging sayings, like “who is my mother?” and “shall the dogs be fed?” - can be better understood with that uncritical outlook, now so unpopular among biblical exegetes, to the great confusion of many.


Now, what character do we find in a person who has fallen back, like nearly anyone, but finds themselves saved from the downward spiral, or strengthened to confess and morally muscle on with increased resolve and sore memory of lessons learned? The distinctive character of this ‘realignment’ is Joy !
Joy is not just happiness or gladness. The circumstances under which we struggle as Christians, including persecution, injustice or long illness, are often very unhappy. But Joy is supernatural, a kind of reward in Peace and Assurance that Jesus is mine, as the sweet revivalist hymn goes. It gives a stamina for ongoing hope that nothing else can explain. As St. Peter says, be ready always to answer those who will ask ‘what is the reason for your hope?’ [1 Peter 3:15]
Is Joy given only at the finish line? Decidedly not ! Blessed assurance is transmitted in reverse time as it were, from the realization of victory in Christ, back to the disciple still on the track, and not alone. It is a joy to be in the race with God invisibly yet palpably at one’s side. Who was it that salved my wounds with balm when by my own fault, or lack of vigilance, I ran into that pit of vipers? Jesus. Who was it that gave me hope to get myself back to the race, however disgraced in my fall, and covered me with a clean tunic? Jesus. Who has plotted this race including the forks in my road and my vicissitudes, and will see me to its happy end if I but keep on trusting? It is the Lord.
We’ve already said that peace and joy are intimates. The saying “preserve your soul in peace” is a guarantor of continued joy. This peace-filled character of joy is the visible and perhaps most compelling provocateur of that question from others “where comes your hope?”. Some of course will still say with hate or envy that it is both folly and madness. You’d seem to be out of your mind to have any joyful peace when striving to find resources for war-torn refugees, dying by the thousands of disease and dehydration in camps; or when giving pro-conscience witness despite draconian measures in a nazified state to silence it. But you do, and sooner or later that will prompt someone - preferably not the thought-police - to say, “where do you dwell?”. A disciple of Christ will say “come and see”, for “one thing do I ask, this alone I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”.


Spirit-led
You sometimes find that responsible people with whom we must cooperate are, let’s say ‘pragmatic’ or down-to-earth to a fault. Even many a bishop is this way. A great caution about things spiritual is a good thing, coming from so many years of Christian history all too peppered with aberrations and excesses from ‘enthusiasm’, superstitions, ignorance of complex social and church factors, and countless other lurking dangers. The great concern is for wisdom not to be derailed by prideful presumptions or outlandish vanguard actions that have no rear-guard supply of grace.
Father Bob Bedard’s expression of this due caution, “be one who’s sent, not one who went” is an excellent precept. Yet, today there is also the extreme danger of compromising with secularity (which pope Benedict rightly called ‘aggressive’) that amounts to quenching the Spirit. If prodded by the Spirit, St. Paul advises “do not quench it”. My friendly rejoinder to father Bedard “yes, but if called, be not stalled” was something that he acknowledges in his own life, perhaps too long as a teacher or basketball coach. It is well received by anyone who’s developed an adept sense of where the Spirit leads and urges us. Caritas Dei urgit nos.
Caritas Dei is love, and to be Spirit-led is to be led by Love. To know Whom one is following, is real Joy. So, because of our weakness of discernment, it generally is better to be one who was sent than one who went; but being one who went is also excellent if the Spirit prompts you. This can easily be mistaken for or slip into activism per se, but as Saint Katharine Drexel said “we can trust God to take care of the master plan when we take care of the details”. The Spirit didn’t back Paul’s wish to go to Asia minor (and just imagine how different later Turkish and Arab history would be if he did), but He did back up his ventures the length and breadth of the Mediterranean. The Spirit confirmed nearly every word and deed of this man so in love with Christ, so over-joyed to have been found.
After a prayerful formation period, when Paul’s wish to enter Turkey was opposed by the Spirit, he like the horse in hand was not too stubborn to be turned aside. Four symbols or figures exist for the gospel writers, and if there were symbolic room for the ‘apostle untimely born’ (though not a gospel writer, and anyway Luke was his scribe) we could suggest a horse for Paul: a horse well-seated by the Holy Spirit. The bovine Ox is not so very far from the equine: with four hoofs it too  has great ‘understanding’, and can charge - especially with wings !


In the archdiocese of Quebec city, the oldest diocese  in Canada if not North America, the 216 churches in operation in 2011 (down greatly from the prior generation) are now 67, slated soon to be slashed to 37. In other words some 1 in 6 of the parishioners a decade ago - when the 49th international Eucharistic Congress was held in Quebec City - now attend church there. It is fair to estimate that ninety per cent of the children of nominally Catholic families in Montreal and Quebec know nothing true of the faith, and have no belief, while two generations ago most of them did.
The fallen away constitute a massive crop, spoiling for obdurate reversion back to tares when they had been golden wheat. To heed a harvest call, at least for the rest ready to fall, requires much circumspection. Given the pedophile and other abuse scandals in the Church, as well as the aggressive growth of paganism, one is caught between a tsunami and a volcano, and ‘redeeming the time’ in prayer is called for. But it also requires the zeal and boldness of Paul, infused with and led by the Spirit.
For years before that Eucharistic Congress, the Church was calling for the stirred-up gifts of the Holy Spirit.  After baptism, we came to ‘second’ the commitment made for us, to a bishop who ‘seconded’ it as well with the unction (Christening) of the holy Spirit. Still later, because of immaturity and dullness, the gifts may have needed stirring up by something like what Charismatics call ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’.
Father Bedard was asked about that, the questioner troubled with writings of Cardinal Suenens (cf. the Malines documents) which seemed to equivocate between confirmation and a ‘sacramental’ experience of quickening. Father Bob agreed that an easy read and acceptance of the roots of Charismatic renewal - historically an outgrowth of Catholic Action - is not for all. And if not for all, then the ‘born again’ consolations are not a sacrament. That said, the baptized Christian is to be ‘born from above’. One way to grasp that is to think of Baptism as one’s ‘second conception’, present life as gestation, and death in the Lord as new birth into Heaven. To fail to bring good account to the second birth is to suffer the ‘second death’ of perdition.
Popes who began to support the charismatic renewal, starting with blessed Paul VI, always expressed caution that adherents must work hard at retaining a Catholic identity. Three years ago a high-ranking Evangelical, unimpressed with priesthood or Mary or the promise of salvation after death, boasted “if you are involved in a Charismatic service today, in ten years’ time—inevitably—you are going to end up in one of my churches”. He speaks from well proven experience. It is tempting to say ‘unfortunately so’, except that it remains worth hoping that some who’ve left the Church in Quebec have indeed gone on to be fed on Scripture by evangelicals.
Father Bedard knew that Catholic identity requires close adherence to the Holy Spirit in liturgy. The same point was made almost a century before by Jean-Baptiste Chautard, cistercian author of The Soul of the Apostolate, an answer to the tendency to secular activism in Catholic Action. A preface to the classic includes this prayer (an ‘NIV’ type translation):
O Divine Fire, stir up in of all those who have part in Thy apostolate, the flames that transformed those fortunate retreatants in the Upper Room. Then they will be no longer mere preachers of dogma or moral theology, but men and women living to transfuse the Blood of God into the souls of others.
At confirmation, with character impressed by God, we are anointed ‘royal priests’, mandated to nurture and develop, or stir up the gifts of the Spirit. What is mandated is not automatic. Each anointed Christian (we won’t claim only Catholics fill the bill; but if not they, then whom?) is to develop character into the fullness of the ‘elect of God’. If the Spirit is the giver of saving gifts, He is the author and perfecter of everything that we need to be. Dom Chautard’s motto was “God Alone”, and clearly he was a disciple. The call to discipleship is to deepen not only the evangelizing or defending gifts, but to acquire like him the ability to mentor other souls.


In these brief reflections we have not expressly mentioned knowledge, fortitude, piety and the rest, or the wonderful attributes of love (“kindness, gentleness, displeasure at wrong” etc.). But these all come from the Holy Spirit as grace, which we can simply treat as a gratuitous share in the divine life of God.
A disciple cannot be anything if not a full-fledged Christian who appreciates, seeks, and tries to develop those gifts and virtues from week to week. And one who does not enough care to shun, with God’s help, vices, even vanity, sloth, gluttony and other outgrowths of self-indulgence and pride, is far from being able to avoid the mortal threats. Snakes on the path can hook their fangs into these very attachments, and cannot if we lack them. We keep in mind that the path lies largely in darkness, and if lit, it is often by a false or chimerical light: one cannot trust progress to oneself. If for that reason alone He sends us on in company, at least in twos and fours.
We trust implicitly our safety to the One who must often place blinders over equine eyes, lest we spook and buck or rear up, backing into snares; or we balk like stubborn mules thinking it safer to remain stuck in the valley of serpents. If “our hope is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth”, why should we ignore His firm spurring forward with a steady gait, or his gentle steerage on the reins to take a new link of the route ? Those of us He’s directing over the treacherous landscape may not all be taking the same links, but we may be sure we are making for Heaven and rescuing other strayed brumbies on the way.


Let it be said of all disciples that when the Lord said, “come and see”, we replied: I was full of Joy, alleluia, when I set out for the house of the Lord.


To His throne our Lord will not return a last time without the harvest, and there our pasture will be pleasant.   

“Even so, come Lord Jesus !”
The following reflection, by Dr. Gary Knight, on discipleship is a 'guiding text' originally developed for a series of five prayerful gatherings and discussion, covering two topics per meeting. It was piloted at St. George's Catholic church in Ottawa during the 2017-18 Advent & Christmas season, and was found edifying.  It is offered here by the author and his fellow disciples as a resource for other groups, or for individual reflection and encouragement in their growing discipleship.
SEE ALSO Part I: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2018/01/lessons-in-discipleship-ways-to-get-on.html


#BreakingNews US Bishop's Conf. Card. Dolan "The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable.""

Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Calls Senate Failure to Pass Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act “Appalling”

January 29, 2018
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities called the Senate's failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act "appalling". The bill proposes to ban abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization.
"The U.S. Senate's failure to adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, is appalling. Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother. The Senate's rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans. Opinion polls consistently show that a strong majority of the public opposes late-term abortions—including those who self-identify as 'pro-choice'. Furthermore, the United States is currently one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20-weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands. The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable."
---
USCCB Release

#Novena to Our Lady Help of Christians of St. John Bosco - SHARE #Miracle Prayer


Everyday of the Novena: 
Our Father...
Hail Mary, full of grace…
Glory Be...
V. Pray for us, O Immaculate, Help of Christians
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, place deep in our hearts the love of Mary, our help and the help of all Christians. May we
fight vigorously for the faith here on earth, and may
we one day praise your victories in heaven. Grant this
in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
Amen.
First Day
O Mary, you readily agreed to the Angel’s request when you were asked to be the mother of God’s Son, and throughout your life your one desire was to do the will of your Father in heaven. Help me always to be obedient and humble. May I, like you, always have the generosity to follow Jesus, wherever he calls.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)

Second Day
O Mary, by your visit to your cousin, Saint Elizabeth, you joyfully spread the good news of the coming of Jesus into the world. May many young people generously follow your example, and give their lives totally to the service of your Son as priests, brothers and sisters.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Third Day
O Mary, ever since the wedding feast of Cana you have always been the powerful help of all those who have asked your aid and protection. By your prayers, keep me free from all dangers and help me always to rise above my faults and failings.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Fourth Day
O Mary, by your presence at the foot of the cross, you comforted and strengthened your son as he offered his life to the Father. Be with me at the hour of my death, and lead me quickly to the joys of your Son’s kingdom in heaven.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Fifth Day
O Mary, by your presence in the upper room you strengthened and encouraged the apostles and disciples as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. May I always be open to the gifts of the Spirit, and may my faith always be deep and living.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Sixth Day
O Mary, throughout her long history you have always defended your Son’s Church from the attacks of her enemies. Be with her again in our days. Help each one of us to be her loyal subjects and to work without ceasing for that unity of peace and love for which your Son so fervently prayed.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Seventh Day
O Mary, you have always been the special guide and protector of Saint Peter’s successor, the Bishop of Rome. Keep our present Holy Father in your loving care. Defend him from all harm and give him all those gifts he needs to be the faithful shepherd of your Son’s flock.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Eight Day
O Mary, the wonderful way you helped Saint John Bosco’s work to grow and spread shows that you have a great love for the young. As you watched over the child Jesus at Nazareth, so now watch over all young people, especially those most in need, and help them to grow daily in love of your Son.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Ninth Day
O Mary, you so often showed great courage during your life here on earth. Help all those who are suffering pain and persecution as they try to worship your Son. Obtain for me a deep love of Jesus, so that my life may always be pure, my service of others generous and loving, and my death a truly happy one.
(add in this moment all your personal intentions)
Source: Salesians of St. Don Bosco
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Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. January 31, 2018 - #Eucharist


Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest
Lectionary: 325


Reading 12 SM 24:2, 9-17

King David said to Joab and the leaders of the army who were with him,
"Tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba
and register the people, that I may know their number."
Joab then reported to the king the number of people registered:
in Israel, eight hundred thousand men fit for military service;
in Judah, five hundred thousand.

Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people,
and said to the LORD:
"I have sinned grievously in what I have done.
But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant,
for I have been very foolish."
When David rose in the morning,
the LORD had spoken to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying:
"Go and say to David, 'This is what the LORD says:
I offer you three alternatives;
choose one of them, and I will inflict it on you.'"
Gad then went to David to inform him.
He asked: "Do you want a three years' famine to come upon your land,
or to flee from your enemy three months while he pursues you,
or to have a three days' pestilence in your land?
Now consider and decide what I must reply to him who sent me."
David answered Gad: "I am in very serious difficulty.
Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful;
but let me not fall by the hand of man."
Thus David chose the pestilence.
Now it was the time of the wheat harvest
when the plague broke out among the people.
The LORD then sent a pestilence over Israel
from morning until the time appointed,
and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba died.
But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it,
the LORD regretted the calamity
and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people,
"Enough now! Stay your hand."
The angel of the LORD was then standing
at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking the people,
he said to the LORD: "It is I who have sinned;
it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong.
But these are sheep; what have they done?
Punish me and my kindred."

Responsorial PsalmPS 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (see 5c) Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD,"
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.

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 6:1-6





Jesus departed from there and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.