Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Saint January 1 : Solemnity of Mary Mother of God - Holy day of Obligation

Saint January 1 : Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - Holy Day of Obligationa
The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God is celebrated on January 1st and is a Holy Day of Obligation; meaning Catholics must attend Mass. The Solemnity falls exactly one week after Christmas, the end of the octave of Christmas. It is fitting to honor Mary as Mother of Jesus, at this time, following the birth of Christ. When we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God ,we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God incarnate, but we are also honoring our Lord, who is fully God and fully human. Calling Mary "mother of God" is the highest honor we can give Mary. Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the "Prince of Peace," the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honors Mary as the "Queen of Peace" The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, falling on New Year's Day, is also designated the World Day of Peace. Text from 365Rosaries

Primate of Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin says "I pray that we will all have the courage to be bearers of the light, spreading the light and peace and joy of Christ’s..."


Homily of Archbishop Eamon Martin for Christmas Eve 2019 
Midnight Mass 24. DEC, 2019
Homily of Archbishop Eamon Martin for Christmas Eve 2019 Midnight Mass Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh
“Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation remind us that evil continues to profit from the misfortune and misery of our fellow human beings” – Archbishop Martin Four weeks ago a group of Austrian scouts visited Manger Square in Bethlehem – the place where Jesus was born. They lit a candle there and prayed for peace, and then, as they travelled home, they brought the ‘peace light’ with them, passing it on from country to country, from scout troop to scout troop. According to Google maps, it is 3,489 miles from Bethlehem to Armagh but still, on Sunday last, the Armagh scouts were able to receive the Bethlehem ‘peace light’ and carry it here into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Long ago Isaiah the prophet wrote about the coming of the Messiah: ‘The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who lived in the land of deep shadow a light has shone’. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase’ (Isaiah 9:2).
We gather together here on this Holy Night to celebrate that Jesus Christ our Saviour is born. It may be the darkest time of the year, but He is the Light that darkness cannot overpower; He is Heavenly Peace.
Like the scouts, we can be all be bearers of the light of Christ to others – and there is such a need for the light of Christ to enter into the darkness of our troubled world. Sadly, war and violence rage on in many parts of the world – from Afghanistan to the Yemen, from Mexico to Syria and Somalia. Millions of families, including many of our Christian brothers and sisters, are being displaced because of persecution and oppression. Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation remind us that evil continues to profit from the misfortune and misery of our fellow human beings. In all this darkness – where can the light of Christ be found?
It shines out when kindness and generosity refuse to be mastered by darkness and despair; it inspires good people to continue working for lasting peace and reconciliation here in Ireland; it motivates children and young people to raise awareness of the climate crisis by challenging themselves and others to avoid waste and the ‘throwaway culture’. The light of Christ enkindles a spirit of generosity in families who fill shoeboxes and food hampers for the needy and homeless; it emboldens us to be ‘pro-life’ despite a creeping culture of choosing death; it enlightens whole communities to welcome and find homes for migrants and refugees in their midst; it arouses charity in the form of thousands of gifts of goats and chicks and trees and school lunches for those less fortunate in faraway places.
The light of Christ shines in you every time you visit someone who is sick, or recently bereaved, or when you call on an elderly or lonely neighbour; it radiates when you exchange a hug of friendship, or simply text or phone someone to say: ‘I miss you’, ‘I love you’, ‘Thank you’, ‘I am sorry’, ‘Let’s start over’. The light of Christ draws you away from the madness of the Christmas rush, to a quiet place to pray – perhaps in front of the Christmas crib – and there it moves you in gratitude to God for the gift of life, and love and friendship and food and warmth and health and all the other good things which we so easily take for granted.
I pray this Christmas night that the light of Christ will enlighten your homes and shine out in you and with you in the coming days.
The angel said to the shepherds: ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you news of great joy. Today is born for you in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10-11).
In the name of Christ – Light in the darkness, and Prince of Peace – I pray that we will all have the courage to be bearers of the light, spreading the light and peace and joy of Christ’s birth from heart to heart, from person to person in our homes, communities and world this Christmas.
The Bethlehem Peace Light Prayer
Light of Bethlehem: burn brightly in our hearts this Christmas;
Light of Peace: heal the bitter wounds in our community; show us the path of forgiveness and love;
Light of Joy: fill our homes with happiness – cast out the darkness of conflict or worry;
Light of Comfort: strengthen the sick, the needy, refugees and prisoners and all those who cannot be at home on Christmas Day;
Light of Hope: guide our way forward as we begin a New Year;
Light of the World: teach us to love you more and more each day;
Light of Bethlehem: shine out in our lives this Christmas and always. Amen.
ENDS
· Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore and Primate of All Ireland
Full Text Source: Bishops' Conference of Ireland

LIVE Vespers on New Year's Eve with Pope Francis for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God with Te Deum from Vatican


St. Peter’s Basilica- Vespers and Te Deum From St. Peter’s Basilica, Vespers of the Feast of Saint Mary, Most Holy Mother of God and Te Deum of Thanksgiving at year’s end with Pope Francis presiding.
Full Text Homily
 FIRST VESPERS OF THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
AND TE DEUM OF THANKS FOR THE LAST YEAR

HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica
Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son" (Gal 4: 4).

The Son sent by the Father placed his tent in Bethlehem of Efrata, "so small to be among the villages of Judah" (Mi 5,1); he lived in Nazareth, a town never mentioned in Scripture except to say: "can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1:46), and died discarded by the great city, by Jerusalem, crucified outside its walls. God's decision is clear: to reveal his love he chooses the small city and the despised city, and when he reaches Jerusalem he joins the people of sinners and the discarded. None of the inhabitants of the city realize that the Son of God made man is walking on his streets, probably not even his disciples, who will fully understand only with the resurrection the Mystery present in Jesus.

The words and signs of salvation that He performs in the city arouse amazement and a momentary enthusiasm, but they are not accepted in their full meaning: shortly they will no longer be remembered, when the Roman governor will ask: "Do you want Jesus or Barabbas free?" . Outside the city, Jesus will be crucified, high on Golgotha, to be condemned by the gaze of all the inhabitants and derided by their sarcastic comments. But from there, from the cross the new tree of life, the power of God will draw everyone to himself. And also the Mother of God, who is the Sorrowful under the cross, is about to extend her motherhood to all men. The Mother of God is the Mother of the Church and her maternal tenderness reaches all men.

In the city God has set up his tent ..., and from there he never left! Its presence in the city, even in our city of Rome, "must not be manufactured, but discovered, revealed" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 71). It is we who must ask God for the grace of new eyes, capable of "a contemplative gaze, that is, a gaze of faith that discovers God who lives in his houses, in his streets, in his squares" (ibid., 71). The prophets, in Scripture, warn against the temptation to link the presence of God only to the temple (Jer 7,4): He lives among his people, walks with it and lives his life. His loyalty is concrete, it is proximity to the daily existence of his children. Indeed, when God wants to make all things new through his Son, it does not start from the temple, but from the womb of a small and poor woman of his People. This choice of God is extraordinary! History does not change through the powerful men of civil and religious institutions, but starting from the women of the periphery of the empire, like Mary, and from their sterile womb, like that of Elizabeth.

In Psalm 147, which we prayed a little while ago, the psalmist invites Jerusalem to glorify God, because He "sends his Word to earth, his message runs fast" (v. 4). By means of his Spirit, who pronounces his Word in every human heart, God blesses his children and encourages them to work for peace in the city. Tonight I would like our gaze on the city of Rome to take things from the point of view of the gaze of God. The Lord rejoices in seeing how many realities of good are made every day, how many efforts and how much dedication in promoting fraternity and solidarity. Rome is not just a complicated city, with many problems, with inequalities, corruption and social tensions. Rome is a city where God sends his Word, which nestles through the Spirit in the hearts of its inhabitants and pushes them to believe, to hope despite everything, to love by fighting for the good of all.

I think of many courageous people, believers and non-believers, whom I have met in recent years and who represent the "beating heart" of Rome. Truly God has never stopped changing the history and face of our city through the people of the little and poor who live there: He chooses them, inspires them, motivates them to action, makes them supportive, pushes them to activate networks , to create virtuous bonds, to build bridges and not walls. It is precisely through these thousand streams of the living water of the Spirit that the Word of God fecundates the city and makes it sterile as a "joyful mother of children" (Ps 113: 9).
And what does the Lord ask of the Church of Rome? He entrusts us with his Word and urges us to throw ourselves into the fray, to involve us in the meeting and in the relationship with the inhabitants of the city so that "his message will run fast". We are called to meet others and listen to their existence, their cry for help. Listening is already an act of love! Having time for others, dialoguing, recognizing with a contemplative gaze the presence and action of God in their lives, witnessing the new life of the Gospel with deeds rather than words, is truly a service of love that changes the reality. In doing so, in fact, new air is circulating in the city and also in the Church, the desire to get back on the road, to overcome the old logic of opposition and the fences, to collaborate together, building a more just and fraternal city.


We must not be afraid or feel inadequate for such an important mission. Let us remember: God does not choose us because of our "skill", but precisely because we are and we feel small. We thank him for his grace that has sustained us in this year and with joy we raise the song of praise to him.
Source: Vatican.va - Click Play on the Video below:

New Archaeological Discovery of Ancient Christian Church in Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa - 1,700 year old Basilica in Ethiopia


ChristianPost reports that the remains of a 1,700-year-old Christian basilica have been uncovered in Ethiopia, giving archaeologists new insight into when Christianity arrived in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Roman-style basilica, from the fourth century A.D., was found in Beta Samati, an ancient town that was once part of the Aksumite civilization, according to a paper published in Antiquity. The remains of the 60 feet long, 40 feet wide building dates back to the time when Christianity became the official religion of the Aksumite empire.
Originally developed by the Romans for administrative purposes, the oldest-known Christian church in sub-Saharan Africa was likely adopted by Christians at the time of Constantine for their places of worship.
The Smithsonian reports: An international assemblage of scientists discovered the church 30 miles northeast of Aksum, the capital of the Aksumite kingdom, a trading empire that emerged in the first century A.D. and would go on to dominate much of eastern Africa and western Arabia. Through radiocarbon dating artifacts uncovered at the church, the researchers concluded that the structure was built in the fourth century A.D., about the same time when Roman Emperor Constantine I legalized Christianty in 313 CE and then converted on his deathbed in 337 CE. The team detailed their findings in a paper published today in Antiquity.
The discovery of the church and its contents confirm Ethiopian tradition that Christianity arrived at an early date in an area nearly 3,000 miles from Rome. The find suggests that the new religion spread quickly through long-distance trading networks that linked the Mediterranean via the Red Sea with Africa and South Asia, shedding fresh light on a significant era about which historians know little.
“The find suggests that the new religion spread quickly through long-distance trading networks that linked the Mediterranean via the Red Sea with Africa and South Asia, shedding fresh light on a significant era about which historians know little,” it adds.

Although Christianity had reached Egypt by the third century A.D., it was not until Constantine’s legalization of Christian observance that the church expanded widely across Europe and the Near East, notes the Smithsonian. Thanks to their new discovery, researchers “can now feel more confident in dating the arrival of Christianity to Ethiopia to the same time frame."


Both secular and religious artifacts were discovered in and around the basilica, including a gold ring, cattle figurines, crosses, stamp seals, and tokens that were likely used for trade and administration.
Edited from the Smithsonian and Christian Post - Image Source: Google Images - Ancient-origins

Christmas Message from Archbishop Fisher of Australia “Every human being matters,” God said.


Full Text Message from Archbishop Fisher, OP of Sydney: 
Christmas tells us we are valued, we are wanted, we are loved. Each one of us is precious, irreplaceable, made for greatness.
It might sound overblown, even vain. But that’s what Christmas says.  
You matter so much, that God would become one of us – for your sake!
It’s news Christians never tire of telling. It’s what inspires so much good they do in families, parishes, schools, hospitals, welfare, missions.
It inspires our efforts to support farmers and all affected by drought. It inspires our brave firefighters and our care for those struggling after personal disaster.
The Christmas Babe speaks to every human need because He came for every human person.
So powerful was that message that the angels broke into song, the leaders brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, the workers came with their sheep.
“Every human being matters,” God said. “Every human being matters,” they echoed.
Not everyone agreed.
Herod was so threatened by the message of human dignity and redemption, he sought to kill the Baby Jesus. The ‘slaughter of the innocents’ continues to this day: unborn innocents, more endangered than ever in this state of New South Wales; newborn innocents, the disabled and unwanted; oppressed innocents, including persecuted Christians and detained asylum seekers; elderly innocents, in substandard aged care and threatened with euthanasia.
Christmas presents us with a choice. To join Herod in saying only some people matter. Or to join the angels, shepherds and kings at the crib singing Glory to God and praying for peace on earth.
Every human being matters. You matter. May our Christmas Lord lift up your heart and inspire you to share that Good News in the year ahead. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!
SOURCE: Full Text Archdiocese of Sydney Australia

Don't Drink and Drive! Most Powerful Drunk Driving Ad - SHARE you might Save a Life - VIRAL with 17 Million Views

The holidays are here, it is a time for parties & for some time off work. It is a time for enjoying ourselves, having a drink with family & friends. This five minute retrospective of the road safety campaigns produced by the TAC over the last 20 years have been compiled for this powerful message. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 33,561 people died in traffic crashes in 2012 in the United States, with an estimated 10,322 people who died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths that year.
PLEASE WATCH & Share, & maybe, just maybe, you might save a Life....

Are you Traveling? Prayer to St. Christopher for Safe Travels and Motorists - #Driving Prayers to Share!

Saint Christopher Prayer"Motorist's Prayer:" Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye, that no one shall be hurt as I pass by. Thou gavest life, I pray no act of mine may take away or mar that gift of Thine. Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company from the evils of fire and all calamity.Teach me to use my car for others need; Nor miss through love of undue speed. The beauty of the world; that thus I may with joy and courtesy go on my way. St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me, and lead me safely to my destiny.
Saint Christopher's Protection Prayer
 Dear Saint Christopher, protect me today in all my travels along the road's way. Give your warning sign if danger is near so that I may stop while the path is clear. Be at my window and direct me through when the vision blurs From out of the blue. Carry me safely to my destined place, like you carried Christ in your close embrace. Amen.


FOR  BREAKING NEWS, INSPIRATIONAL STORIES AND FREE MOVIES

 St. Christopher's Prayer
O Glorious St. Christopher you have inherited a beautiful name, Christbearer, as a result of the wonderful legend that while carrying people across a raging stream you also carried the Child Jesus. Teach us to be true Christbearers to those who do not know Him. Protect all of us that travel both near and far and petition Jesus to be with us always. Amen.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday December 31, 2019 -#Eucharist in Christmastide


The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 204
 Reading 11 JN 2:18-21
Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

Responsorial PsalmPS 96:1-2, 11-12, 13

R. (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD comes,
he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

AlleluiaJN 1:14A, 12A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted him
he gave power to become the children of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man's decision
but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father's only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying,
"This was he of whom I said,
'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.'"
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father's side,
has revealed him.

Free New Year's #Recipe by Maria Von Trapp of the Sound of Music

Sylvester Punch

NEW YEAR'S EVE PUNCH BY MARIA VON TRAPP 
Sylvester Punch
(In Austria the last day of the year is dedicated to the Holy Pope, St. Sylvester, who baptized Constantine the Great, thereby bringing about the dawning not only of the New Year but of a new era; for this reason, the night before the New Year is called "Sylvesterabend" (Eve of St. Sylvester).
Ingredients:
Red burgundy (or red wine) (count one bottle for six people)
Equal amount of hot tea
12 cloves
rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. sugar to each bottle of wine
2 cinnamon sticks to each bottle of wine

Pour the liquid into an enamel pot, add the cloves, the thinly pared rind 
of 1 lemon, the sugar, and the cinnamon. Heat over a low flame but do not 
allow to boil. At the last moment add the tea. Serve hot.

If there are many children and very young people, it is good to know 
different fruit punch combinations. Here is a basic recipe, with 
variations:


1/2 cup lemon juice           grated rind of 1 lemon
1 cup orange juice            1 qt. water
grated rind of 1/2 orange     1 cup sugar

Cook sugar and water for five minutes. Cool. Add juices and the grated 
rind and any of the following combinations:

(1) 1 cup grated pineapple, 1 qt. ginger ale.

(2) 1 qt. strained, sweetened strawberry juice, 1 qt. raspberry juice, 2 
qts. ginger ale.

(3) 1 glass currant jelly dissolved in 1 cup hot water. Cook, chill, and 
add 1/4 cup mint, finely minced.

(4) 1 qt. cider, 1 qt. grape juice, 1 qt. soda water.

It is great fun to try out new variations every year. One starts with 
lemonade or orangeade and soon the children will go on to pineapple-ade, 
raspberry-ade....In our family we have something called "Hedwig-ade" 
because it is Hedwig's own secret.

Source: Maria Augusta Trapp
Music Arranged by Franz Wasner
Illustrations by Rosemary Trapp and Nikolaus E. Wolff
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NO. M[55]-1016
Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Gain a Plenary Indulgence on New Year's Eve with these Powerful Prayers

Plenary Indulgences for 31 December 
The Enchiridion Indulgentiarum 26 indicates that we can gain plenary indulgences on the 31 December. (Video Below)
A plenary indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, recite or sing the Te Deum
Under the usual conditions, a plenary indulgence can be gained:
1. Sacramental confession within eight days
2. A prescribed good work (for Dec. 31 the recital of the Te Deum)
3. Sacramental Holy Communion within eight days.
4. Prayers for the intentions of the Roman Pope (usually 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be)
5. Detestation of venial sin 

TE DEUM PRAYER in Latin and English
Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.O God, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.Everlasting Father, all the earth doth worship Thee.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi Caeli et universae Potestates;To Thee all the Angels, the Heavens and all the Powers,
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:all the Cherubim and Seraphim, unceasingly proclaim:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,The glorious choir of the Apostles,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,the wonderful company of Prophets,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.the white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,Holy Church throughout the world doth acknowledge Thee:
Patrem immensae maiestatis:the Father of infinite Majesty;
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.Thou, having taken it upon Thyself to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.Thou overcame the sting of death and hast opened to believers the Kingdom of Heaven.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.Thou sitest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thine inheritance!
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.
V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yea, forever and ever.
V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.R. O Lord, in Thee I have hoped; let me never be put to shame.


Saint December 31 : St. Sylvester the Pope who converted and baptized Constantine and miraculously cured him of leprosy

Feast Day:
December 31
Died:
31 December 335 at Rome, Italy
Patron of:
Feroleto Antico, Italy
Saint Sylvester I, also spelled Silvester (born , Rome [Italy]—died 335, Rome; Western feast day December 31, Eastern feast day January 2), pope from 314 to 335, whose long pontificate saw the beginnings of the Christian Roman Empire. A presbyter when elected to succeed Pope St. Miltiades (Melchiades), Sylvester was consecrated on Jan. 31, 314. The most important event of his reign was the Council of Nicaea (May 325), which condemned the Alexandrian Christian priest Arius, founder of Arianism, a heretical doctrine teaching that the Son was neither equal with God the Father nor eternal. While the Roman emperor Constantine I the Great favoured Christianity and was a major controller of its ecclesiastical affairs, neither he nor his immediate successors gave any official recognition to papal primacy over the church. Thus, it was a rare and significant exception when Sylvester was accorded a preeminent role in the Arian crisis. Although invited, he did not attend the Council of Nicaea personally but was represented by two legates, who were treated with great honour and respect yet did not preside at the debates. According to subsequent legend, Sylvester converted and baptized Constantine, who was the first Roman emperor to become a Christian, and miraculously cured him of leprosy, for which the emperor allegedly gave him the Donatio Constantini (Donation of Constantine), a grant of spiritual supremacy over the Eastern patriarchates and over all matters of faith and worship as well as temporal dominion over Rome and the entire Western world. The Donation is now universally admitted to be an 8th-century forgery, but it was important in the development of the medieval theory of church and state. Sylvester is believed to have built at the Cemetery of St. Priscilla on the Via Salaria a church, where he was buried. His relics were transferred in 762 by Pope St. Paul I to the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, now the national church of English Catholics in Rome. Text source Britannica

Free Movie : Becket : Stars Peter O'Toole - Drama on St. Thomas Becket


In honor of the Feast of St. Thomas Becket here is the film BECKET. This Hollywood production stars the award winning Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole.
St. Thomas Becket

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND MARTYR

Feast: December 29
1118 - 1170 AD
Becket was in conflict with King Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral.

Truck Bomb in Somalia Kills over 80 People including many University Students with 125 Injured - Pope Francis prays for victims


A Truck bomb in the capital of Somalia has killed over 80 people.

CBC news reports that most of those killed were university and other students returning to class, and police officers.

The blast occurred during rush hour as Somalia returned to work after its weekend. At least 125 people were wounded, Aamin Ambulance service director Abdiqadir Abdulrahman said, and hundreds of Mogadishu residents donated blood.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed condemned the attack as a "heinous act of terror" and blamed the al-Shabaab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaeda and whose reach has extended to deadly attacks on luxury malls and schools in neighbouring Kenya.

Bodies lay on the ground and at a hospital, families and friends examined the dozens of the dead.

The vehicle detonated after police at the checkpoint blocked it from proceeding into the city.

Two Turkish brothers were among the dead, Somalia's foreign minister said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but  al-Shabaab often carries out such attacks. The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas, such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city.
Edited from CBC News
Vatican News reported that Pope Francis prayed for the victims during the Angelus.
“Let us pray to the Lord for the victims of yesterday’s horrible terrorist attack in Mogadishu in Somalia, where the explosion of a car bomb killed more than 70 people”, he said. The Pope also promised his closeness to “all of their family members and those who mourn their deaths”.

RIP Cardinal Prosper Grech - Sudden Death of Augustinian Cardinal from Malta at the Age of 94


Cardinal Prosper Grech dies suddenly in Rome
On Monday afternoon, just days after celebrating his 94th birthday, Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech dies suddenly.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Augustinian Cardinal Prosper Grech died suddenly on Monday afternoon. He had just celebrated his 94th birthday.

Biography
Born in Malta, Cardinal Grech entered the Order of St Augustine in 1943 and was ordained in 1950.

He earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and a diploma in educational philosophy at the University of Fribourg. In addition, he also studied Hebrew at Oxford University and did research on Maltese literature at Cambridge University.

After teaching theology at the Augustinian College and at the Mater Admirabilis College in Malta, he was appointed dean of the Augustinian Theological Institute in 1965. In 1969 he founded the "Augustinianum" Institute for Patristic Studies, where he was dean from 1971 until 1979.

In 1984 he was appointed consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2003 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy. From 2004 to 2013 he was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. He was also a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas and of the International Association of Patristic Studies.

At the age of 86, he was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict on 18 February 2012. In view of that appointment, he received episcopal ordination on 8 February 2012. On the first afternoon of the conclave that elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Grech was chosen to give the homily.

Earlier this year, in February, Pope Francis paid Cardinal Grech a compliment when he met with the professors and students of the Augustinianum. The Pope greeted Cardinal Grech in a special way, acknowledging him as one of the founders of the Institute. Then he said of Cardinal Grech: "his homilies are truly simple... Those who are wise, when they reach a certain age, take on a grandiose simplicity, which does so much good".

His own memories
In March 2013, Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick spoke with Cardinal Grech about his experiences in the Vatican and some memories of the Popes he served as sacristan. As providence would have it, he would be the one to hear Cardinal Montini’s confession before he became Paul VI.
Full Text Source: VaticanNews.va

Wow Breathtaking Acappella version of "O Holy Night" in an Empty Church by Home Free - Share with a Friend!

Home Free’s version of "O Holy Night" is amazing singing a cappella in this beautiful church. Founded in 2000’s by brothers Chris and Adam Rupp, Home Free puts anyone in the Christmas spirit with this classic - and a Reminder to Fill the Churches Everywhere not just at Christmas but year round!
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Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday, December 30, 2019 - #Eucharist in Christmas Tide

Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 203
Reading 11 JN 2:12-17
I am writing to you, children,
because your sins have been forgiven for his name's sake.

I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

I am writing to you, young men,
because you have conquered the Evil One.

I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.

I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,
because you are strong and the word of God remains in you,
and you have conquered the Evil One.

Do not love the world or the things of the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life,
is not from the Father but is from the world.
Yet the world and its enticement are passing away.
But whoever does the will of God remains forever.

Responsorial PsalmPS 96:7-8A, 8B-9, 10

R.(11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Bring gifts, and enter his courts;
worship the LORD in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A holy day has dawned upon us.
Come, you nations, and adore the Lord.
Today a great light has come upon the earth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 2:36-40

There was a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Saint December 30 : Bl. Eugenia Ravasco : Foundress

Bl. Eugenia Ravasco
FOUNDRESS

Born:
4 January 1845 in Milan, Italy
Died:
30 December 1900 in Genoa, Italy

Eugenia Ravasco was born on 4 January 1845 in Milan, Italy, the third of Francesco Matteo and Carolina Mozzoni Frosconi's six children. When she was three years old her mother died and her father moved to Genoa where his two brothers lived, taking with him his eldest son, Ambrose, and the youngest daughter, Elisa. Eugenia remained in Milan with her Aunt Marietta Anselmi, who became a second mother to her and carefully educated her in the faith.
In 1852, the family was reunited in Genoa and following her father's death in March 1855, Eugenia went to live for some time with her uncle Luigi Ravasco and her aunt Elisa and their 10 children. Luigi Ravasco was careful to give his nephews and nieces a Christian upbringing. He was well aware of the anticlericalism on the rise in Italy at the time and of the efforts of the Freemasons, and was especially worried about Eugenia's brother, Ambrose, who had come under the influence of this spreading problem.
From early adolescence, Eugenia was deeply influenced by her uncle's responsible Christian example and his generosity towards the poor. Unlike her shy younger sister, Elisa, Eugenia was expansive and energetic and loved to serve others. Eucharistic worship, together with devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, became an essential part of her spirituality.
On 21 June 1855, Eugenia made her First Communion and Confirmation in St Ambrose's Church and from that day on, whenever she passed a church she would enter it to pray. God was preparing her for greater things.
In December 1862, her Uncle died, leaving Eugenia with the responsibility of caring for the family. With the help of God and the advice of Canon Salvatore Magnasco, she valiantly faced the problems caused by her brother. Aunt Marietta joined Eugenia to help the family. Both made every effort to rescue Ambrose, but without success.
Although her aunt wanted her to marry, Eugenia prayed that the Lord would show her the path to take, since she felt a growing inner call to religious life. On 31 May 1863 she received an answer as she entered the Church of St Sabina to pray. Fr Giacinto Bianchi, an ardent missionary of the Sacred Heart, was celebrating Mass. When she heard him say to the faithful, "Is there no one out there who feels called to dedicate themselves to doing good for love of the Heart of Jesus?", Eugenia understood that God was speaking to her, calling her to him through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Eugenia found a spiritual director to help her discern what she was feeling, and shortly thereafter she began to teach catechism in the parish church to the disadvantaged young girls of the city. Her aunt and those close to her were against this, especially because these girls were unmannered and street-wise. But Eugenia persevered, accepting with patience the humiliations that she received from all sides. Little by little, she won the young girls over, organizing day trips and games for them and gaining their trust. She reached out to the most uneducated, neglected girls who, left to themselves, were in danger of going down the same errant path as her brother Ambrose.
As time went on, Eugenia felt that God was calling her to found a religious order that would form "honest citizens in society and saints in Heaven". Other young women had also joined her in this effort. On 6 December 1868, when she was 23 years old, she founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Canon (later Archbishop) Magnasco had prepared her carefully and she continued, together with the sisters, to teach catechism and to open schools.
Despite open hostility towards the Church and the activity of the Freemasons, Mother Eugenia opened in 1878 a school for girls to give them Christian instruction and to prepare "Christian teachers" for the future. She proved courageous in the face of the persecution and ridicule she received from the local press. She also gave particular attention to the dying, the imprisoned and those away from the Church.

Notwithstanding her poor health, she travelled around Italy and to France and Switzerland, opening new communities and attracting religious vocations.
In 1882 the Congregation received diocesan approval and in 1884, together with her sisters, Mother Eugenia made her perpetual profession. She guided the foundations and her sisters with love and prudence, giving them as model the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Her apostolic ideal in life was "to burn with the desire to do good to others, especially to youth", and to "live in abbandonment to God and in the hands of Mary Immaculate". Mother Eugenia Ravasco died on 30 December 1900 in Genoa, consumed by illness. And in 1909 the Congregation she founded received Pontifical approval.
Today the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (also known as the "Ravasco Institute") are present in Albania, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela, Africa and the Philippines. They continue their work in schools, parishes and missions and are especially dedicated to serving youth and the needy and to promoting the dignity of women.

(Taken from Vatican website)

Saint December 29 : St. Thomas Becket an Archbishop of Canterbury who was a Martyr and the Patron of Clergy


 Born:


21 December 1118 at London, England
Died:
29 December 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England
Canonized:
21 February 1173 by Pope Alexander III
Patron of:
clergy
Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, born at London, 21 December, 1118 (?); died at Canterbury, 29 December, 1170. St. Thomas was born of parents who, coming from Normandy, had settled in England some years previously. No reliance can be placed upon the legend that his mother was a Saracen. In after life his humble birth was made the subject of spiteful comment, though his parents were not peasants, but people of some mark, and from his earliest years their son had been well taught and had associated with gentlefolk. He learned to read at Merton Abbey and then studied in Paris. On leaving school he employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l'Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was "Justiciar" of London. Somewhere about the year 1141, under circumstances that are variously related, he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and in that household he won his master's favour and eventually became the most trusted of all his clerks. A description embodied in the Icelandic Saga and derived probably from Robert of Cricklade gives a vivid portrait of him at this period. To look upon he was slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech in his discourses, but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner.  Theobald recognized his capacity, made use of him in many delicate negotiations, and, after allowing him to go for a year to study civil and canon law at Bologna and Auxerre, ordained him deacon in 1154, after bestowing upon him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury (see Radford, "Thomas of London", p. 53). It was just at this period that King Stephen died and the young monarch Henry II became unquestioned master of the kingdom. He took "Thomas of London", as Becket was then most commonly called, for his chancellor, and in that office Thomas at the age of thirty-six became, with the possible exception of the justiciar, the most powerful subject in Henry's wide dominions. The chroniclers speak with wonder of the relations which existed between the chancellor and the sovereign, who was twelve years his junior. People declared that "they had but one heart and one mind". Often the king and his minister behaved like two schoolboys at play. But although they hunted or rode at the head of an army together it was no mere comradeship in pastime which united them. Both were hard workers, and both, we may believe, had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart. Whether the chancellor, who was after all the elder man, was the true originator of the administrative reforms which Henry introduced cannot now be clearly determined. In many matters they saw eye to eye. The king's imperial views and love of splendour were quite to the taste of his minister. When Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he travelled with such pomp that the people said: "If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?" In 1153 Thomas acted as justice itinerant in three counties. In 1159 he seems to have been the chief organizer of Henry's expedition to Toulouse, upon which he accompanied him, and though it seems to be untrue that the impost of "scutage" was called into existence for that Occasion (Round, "Feudal England", 268-73), still Thomas undoubtedly pressed on the exaction of this money contribution in lieu of military service and enforced it against ecclesiastics in such a way that bitter complaints were made of the disproportionately heavy burden this imposed upon the Church. In the military operations Thomas took a leading part, and Garnier, a French chronicler, who lived to write of the virtues of St. Thomas and his martyrdom, declares that in these encounters he saw him unhorse many French knights. Deacon though he was, he lead the most daring attacks in person, and Edward Grim also gives us to understand that in laying waste the enemy's country with fire and sword the chancellor's principles did not materially differ from those of the other commanders of his time. But although, as men then reported, "he put off the archdeacon", in this and other ways, he was very far from assuming the licentious manners of those around him. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct or foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely. He seems at all times to have had clear principles with regard to the claims of the Church, and even during this period of his chancellorship he more than once risked Henry's grievous displeasure. For example, he opposed the dispensation which Henry for political reasons extorted from the pope, and strove to prevent the marriage of Mary, Abbess of Romsey, to Matthew of Boulogne. But to the very limits of what his conscience permitted, Thomas identified himself with his master's interests, and Tennyson is true to history when he makes the archbishop say: I served our Theobald well when I was with him: I served King Henry well as Chancellor: I am his no more, and I must serve the Church. Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, and in the course of the next year Henry seems to have decided that it would be good policy to prepare the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor to the primacy. Our authorities are agreed that from the first Thomas drew back in alarm. "I know your plans for the Church," he said, "you will assert claims which I, if I were archbishop, must needs oppose." But Henry would not be gainsaid, and Thomas at the instance of Cardinal Henry of Pisa, who urged it upon him as a service to religion, yielded in spite of his misgivings. He was ordained priest on Saturday in Whitweek and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, 3 June, 1162. It seems to have been St. Thomas who obtained for England the privilege of keeping the feast of the Blessed Trinity on that Sunday, the anniversary of his consecration, and more than a century afterwards this custom was adopted by the papal Court, itself and eventually imposed on the whole world. A great change took place in the saint's way of life after his consecration as archbishop. Even as chancellor he had practised secret austerities, but now in view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fastings and disciplines, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display which he had previously affected. On 10 Aug. he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome. Contrary to the king's wish he resigned the chancellorship. Whereupon Henry seems to have required him to surrender certain ecclesiastical preferments which he still retained, notably the archdeaconry, and when this was not done at once showed bitter displeasure. Other misunderstandings soon followed. The archbishop, having, as he believed, the king's express permission, set about to reclaim alienated estates belonging to his see, a procedure which again gave offence. Still more serious was the open resistance which he made to the king's proposal that a voluntary offering to the sheriffs should be paid into the royal treasury. As the first recorded instance of any determined opposition to the king's arbitrary will in a matter of taxation, the incident is of much constitutional importance. The saint's protest seems to have been successful, but the relations with the king only grew more strained. Soon after this the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king's officials when they attempted to assert jurisdiction over criminous clerks. The question has been dealt with in some detail in the article ENGLAND. That the saint himself had no wish to be lenient with criminous clerks has been well shown by Norgate (Angevin Kings, ii, 22). It was with him simply a question of principle. St. Thomas seems all along to have suspected Henry of a design to strike at the independence of what the king regarded as a too powerful Church. With this view Henry summoned the bishops at Westminster (1 October, 1163) to sanction certain as yet unspecified articles which he called his grandfather's customs (avitæ consuetudines), one of the known objects of which was to bring clerics guilty of crimes under the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The other bishops, as the demand was still in the vague, showed a willingness to submit, though with the condition "saving our order", upon which St. Thomas inflexibly insisted. The king's resentment was thereupon manifested by requiring the archbishop to surrender certain castles he had hitherto retained, and by other acts of unfriendliness. In deference to what he believed to be the pope's wish, the archbishop in December consented to make some concessions by giving a personal and private undertaking to the king to obey his customs "loyally and in good faith". But when Henry shortly afterwards at Clarendon (13 January, 1164) sought to draw the saint on to a formal and public acceptance of the "Constitutions of Clarendon", under which name the sixteen articles, the avitæ consuetudines as finally drafted, have been commonly known, St. Thomas, though at first yielding somewhat to the solicitations of the other bishops, in the end took up an attitude of uncompromising resistance. Then followed a period of unworthy and vindictive persecution. When opposing a claim made against him by John the Marshal, Thomas upon a frivolous pretext was found guilty of contempt of court. For this he was sentenced to pay £500; other demands for large sums of money followed, and finally, though a complete release of all claims against him as chancellor had been given on his becoming archbishop, he was required to render an account of nearly all the moneys which had passed through his hands in his discharge of the office. Eventually a sum of nearly £30,000 was demanded of him. His fellow bishops summoned by Henry to a council at Northampton, implored him to throw himself unreservedly upon the king's mercy, but St. Thomas, instead of yielding, solemnly warned them and threatened them. Then, after celebrating Mass, he took his archiepiscopal cross into his own hand and presented himself thus in the royal council chamber. The king demanded that sentence should be passed upon him, but in the confusion and discussion which ensued the saint with uplifted cross made his way through the mob of angry courtiers. He fled away secretly that night (13 October, 1164), sailed in disguise from Sandwich (2 November), and after being cordially welcomed by Louis VII of France, he threw himself at the feet of Pope Alexander III, then at Sens, on 23 Nov. The pope, who had given a cold reception to certain episcopal envoys sent by Henry, welcomed the saint very kindly, and refused to accept his resignation of his see. On 30 November, Thomas went to take up his residence at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, though he was compelled to leave this refuge a year later, as Henry, after confiscating the archbishop's property and banishing all the Becket kinsfolk, threatened to wreak his vengeance on the whole Cistercian Order if they continued to harbour him. The negotiations between Henry, the pope, and the archbishop dragged on for the next four years without the position being sensibly changed. Although the saint remained firm in his resistance to the principle of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he was willing to make any concessions that could be reasonably asked of him, and on 6 January, 1169, when the kings of England and France were in conference at Montmirail, he threw himself at Henry's feet, but as he still refused to accept the obnoxious customs Henry repulsed him. At last in 1170 some sort of reconciliation was patched up. The question of the customs was not mentioned and Henry professed himself willing to be guided by the archbishop's council as to amends due to the See of Canterbury for the recent violation of its rights in the crowning of Henry's son by the Archbishop of York. On 1 December, 1170, St. Thomas again landed in England, and was received with every demonstration of popular enthusiasm. But trouble almost immediately occurred in connection with the absolution of two of the bishops, whose sentence of excommunication St. Thomas had brought with him, as well as over the restoration by the de Broc family of the archbishop's castle at Saltwood. How far Henry was directly responsible for the tragedy which soon after occurred on 29 December is not quite clear. Four knights who came from France demanded the absolution of the bishops. St. Thomas would not comply. They left for a space, but came back at Vesper time with a band of armed men. To their angry question, "Where is the traitor?" the saint boldly replied, "Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God." They tried to drag him from the church, but were unable, and in the end they slew him where he stood, scattering his brains on the pavement. His faithful companion, Edward Grim, who bore his cross, was wounded in the struggle. A tremendous reaction of feeling followed this deed of blood. In an extraordinary brief space of time devotion to the martyred archbishop had spread all through Europe. The pope promulgated the bull of canonization, little more than two years after the martyrdom, 21 February, 1173. On 12 July, 1174, Henry II did public penance, and was scourged at the archbishop's tomb. An immense number of miracles were worked, and for the rest of the Middle Ages the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe. The martyr's holy remains are believed to have been destroyed in September, 1538, when nearly all the other shrines in England were dismantled; but the matter is by no means clear, and, although the weight of learned opinion is adverse, there are still those who believe that a skeleton found in the crypt in January, 1888, is the body of St. Thomas. The story that Henry VIII in 1538 summoned the archbishop to stand his trial for high treason, and that when, in June, 1538, the trial had been held and the accused pronounced contumacious, the body was ordered to be disinterred and burnt, is probably apocryphal. Text shared from the Catholic Enclyclopedia