Monday, February 4, 2019

Saint February 5 : St. Agatha : Patron of Breast Cancer; Bakers; Nurses; Rape victims; Single laywomen; Sterility


Born: Catania or Palermo
Died: 251, Catania
Patron of:
bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses
One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, put to death for her steadfast profession of faith in Catania, Sicily. Although it is uncertain in which persecution this took place, we may accept, as probably based on ancient tradition, the evidence of her legendary life, composed at a later date, to the effect that her martyrdom occurred during the persecution of Decius (250-253). Historic certitude attaches merely to the fact of her martyrdom and the public veneration paid her in the Church since primitive times. In the so-called Martyrologium Hieronymianum (ed. De Rossi and Duchesne, in Acta SS., Nov. II, 17) and in the ancient Martyrologium Carthaginiense dating from the fifth or sixth century (Ruinart, Acta Sincera, Ratisbon, 1859, 634), the name of St. Agatha is recorded on 5 February. In the sixth century Venantius Fortunatus mentions her in his poem on virginity as one of the celebrated Christian virgins and martyrs (Carm., VIII, 4, De Virginitate: Illic Euphemia pariter quoque plaudit Agathe Et Justina simul consociante Thecla. etc.). Among the poems of Pope Damasus published by Merenda and others is a hymn to St. Agatha (P.L., XIII, 403 sqq.; Ihm, Damasi Epigrammata, 75, Leipzig, 1895). However, this poem is not the work of Damasus but the product of an unknown author at a later period, and was evidently meant for the liturgical celebration of the Saint's feast. Its content is drawn from the legend of St. Agatha, and the poem is marked by end-rhyme. From a letter of Pope Gelasius (492-496) to a certain Bishop Victor (Thiel. Epist. Roman. Pont., 495) we learn of a Basilica of St. Agatha in fundo Caclano, e.g., on the estate of that name. The letters of Gregory I make mention of St. Agatha at Rome, in the Subura, with which a diaconia or deaconry was connected (Epp., IV, 19; P.L., LXXVII, 688). It was in existence as early as the fifth century, for in the latter half of that century Rieimer enriched it with a mosaic. This same church was given the Arian Goths by Rieimer and was restored to Catholic worship by Pope Gregory I (590-604).
Although the martyrdom of St. Agatha is thus authenticated, and her veneration as a saint had even in antiquity spread beyond her native place, we still possess no reliable information concerning the details of her glorious death. It is true that we have the Acts of her martyrdom in two versions, Latin and Greek, the latter deviating from the former (Acta SS., I, Feb., 595 sqq.). Neither of these recensions, however, can lay any claim to historical credibility, and neither gives the necessary internal evidence that the information it contains rests, even in the more important details, upon genuine tradition. If there is a kernel of historical truth in the narrative, it has not as yet been possible to sift it out from the later embellishments. In their present form the Latin Acts are not older than the sixth century. According to them Agatha, daughter of a distinguished family and remarkable for her beauty of person, was persecuted by the Senator Quintianus with avowals of love. As his proposals were resolutely spurned by the pious Christian virgin, he committed her to the charge of an evil woman, whose seductive arts, however, were baffled by Agatha's unswerving firmness in the Christian faith. Quintianus then had her subjected to various cruel tortures. Especially inhuman seemed his order to have her breasts cut off, a detail which furnished to the Christian medieval iconography the peculiar characteristic of Agatha. But the holy virgin was consoled by a vision of St. Peter, who miraculously healed her. Eventually she succumbed to the repeated cruelties practised on her. As already stated, these details, in so far as they are based on the Acts, have no claim to historical credibility. Allard also characterizes the Acts as the work of a later author who was more concerned with writing an edifying narrative, abounding in miracles, than in transmitting historical traditions.
Both Catania and Palermo claim the honour of being Agatha's birthplace. Her feast is kept on 5 February; her office in the Roman Breviary is drawn in part from the Latin Acts. Catania honours St. Agatha as her patron saint, and throughout the region around Mt. Etna she is invoked against the eruptions of the volcano, as elsewhere against fire and lightning. In some places bread and water are blessed during Mass on her feast after the Consecration, and called Agatha bread. (Text- The Catholic Encyclopedia)

Pope Francis Signs Historic Document on "Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" with Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb in UAE - Full Official Text


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
(3-5 FERUARY 2019)

A DOCUMENT ON
HUMAN FRATERNITY
FOR WORLD PEACE AND LIVING TOGETHER


INTRODUCTION
Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings (equal on account of his mercy), believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.
This transcendental value served as the starting point for several meetings characterized by a friendly and fraternal atmosphere where we shared the joys, sorrows and problems of our contemporary world. We did this by considering scientific and technical progress, therapeutic achievements, the digital era, the mass media and communications. We reflected also on the level of poverty, conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption, inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other causes.
From our fraternal and open discussions, and from the meeting that expressed profound hope in a bright future for all human beings, the idea of this Document on Human Fraternity was conceived. It is a text that has been given honest and serious thought so as to be a joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and
sisters.


DOCUMENT
In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace;
In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity;
In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and of means;
In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries; in the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice; in the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction;
In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war;
In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal;
In the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women;
In the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings creating them free and distinguishing them by this gift;
In the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith;
In the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world;
In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.
We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.
We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.
This Declaration, setting out from a profound consideration of our contemporary reality, valuing its successes and in solidarity with its suffering, disasters and calamities, believes firmly that among the most important causes of the crises of the modern world are a desensitized human conscience, a distancing from religious values and a prevailing individualism accompanied by materialistic philosophies that deify the human person and introduce worldly and material values in place of supreme and transcendental principles.
While recognizing the positive steps taken by our modern civilization in the fields of science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, especially in developed countries, we wish to emphasize that, associated with such historic advancements, great and valued as they are, there exists both a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. All this contributes to a general feeling of frustration, isolation and desperation leading many to fall either into a vortex of atheistic, agnostic or religious extremism, or into blind and fanatic extremism, which ultimately encourage forms of dependency and individual or collective self-destruction.
History shows that religious extremism, national extremism and also intolerance have produced in the world, be it in the East or West, what might be referred to as signs of a “third world war being fought piecemeal”. In several parts of the world and in many tragic circumstances these signs have begun to be painfully apparent, as in those situations where the precise number of victims, widows and orphans is unknown. We see, in addition, other regions preparing to become theatres of new conflicts, with outbreaks of tension and a build-up of arms and ammunition, and all this in a global context overshadowed by uncertainty, disillusionment, fear of the future, and controlled by narrow-minded economic interests.
We likewise affirm that major political crises, situations of injustice and lack of equitable distribution of natural resources – which only a rich minority benefit from, to the detriment of the majority of the peoples of the earth – have generated, and continue to generate, vast numbers of poor, infirm and deceased persons. This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have fallen victim to despite their natural resources and the resourcefulness of young people which characterize these nations. In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level.
It is clear in this context how the family as the fundamental nucleus of society and humanity is essential in bringing children into the world, raising them, educating them, and providing them with solid moral formation and domestic security. To attack the institution of the family, to regard it with contempt or to doubt its important role, is one of the most threatening evils of our era.
We affirm also the importance of awakening religious awareness and the need to revive this awareness in the hearts of new generations through sound education and an adherence to moral values and upright religious teachings. In this way we can confront tendencies that are individualistic, selfish, conflicting, and also address radicalism and blind extremism in all its forms and expressions.
The first and most important aim of religions is to believe in God, to honour Him and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God who governs it. He is the Creator who has formed us with His divine wisdom and has granted us the gift of life to protect it. It is a gift that no one has the right to take away, threaten or manipulate to suit oneself. Indeed, everyone must safeguard this gift of life from its beginning up to its natural end. We therefore condemn all those practices that are a threat to life such as genocide, acts of terrorism, forced displacement, human trafficking, abortion and euthanasia. We likewise condemn the policies that promote these practices.
Moreover, we resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth of religion. This is done for the purpose of achieving objectives that are political, economic, worldly and short-sighted. We thus call upon all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression. We ask this on the basis of our common belief in God who did not create men and women to be killed or to fight one another, nor to be tortured or humiliated in their lives and circumstances. God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people.
This Document, in accordance with previous International Documents that have emphasized the importance of the role of religions in the construction of world peace, upholds the following:
- The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence; to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken religious awareness among young people so that future generations may be protected from the realm of materialistic thinking and from dangerous policies of unbridled greed and indifference that are based on the law of force and not on the force of law;
- Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;
- Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a right;
- Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity;
- Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for. It also means avoiding unproductive discussions;
- The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law;
- Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions;
- The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against;
- Good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other’s culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue. The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline. It is important to pay attention to religious, cultural and historical differences that are a vital component in shaping the character, culture and civilization of the East. It is likewise important to reinforce the bond of fundamental human rights in order to help ensure a dignified life for all the men and women of East and West, avoiding the politics of double standards;
- It is an essential requirement to recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of pleasure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights;
- The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world. All those practices that violate the dignity and rights of children must be denounced. It is equally important to be vigilant against the dangers that they are exposed to, particularly in the digital world, and to consider as a crime the trafficking of their innocence and all violations of their youth;
- The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.
To this end, by mutual cooperation, the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar announce and pledge to convey this Document to authorities, influential leaders, persons of religion all over the world, appropriate regional and international organizations, organizations within civil society, religious institutions and leading thinkers. They further pledge to make known the principles contained in this Declaration at all regional and international levels, while requesting that these principles be translated into policies, decisions, legislative texts, courses of study and materials to be circulated.
Al-Azhar and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, thus helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others, and to be defenders everywhere of the rights of the oppressed and of the least of our brothers and sisters.
In conclusion, our aspiration is that:
this Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people of good will;
this Declaration may be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to those who cherish the values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by religions;
this Declaration may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul;
this Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another.
This is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life.
Abu Dhabi, 4 february 2019

His Holiness
Pope Francis
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar
Ahmad Al-Tayyeb


Pope Francis "We cannot honour the Creator without cherishing the sacredness of every person and of every human life" at Interreligious Meeting FULL Official Text + Video


Pope in UAE: Address to Fraternity Conference - full text
Address of the His Holiness Pope Francis

Interreligious Meeting in the Presence of the Civil Authorities
and the Diplomatic Corps

Abu Dhabi, Founder’s Memorial
4 February 2019

As-salāmu alaykum! Peace be with you!
I give heartfelt thanks to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Doctor Ahmad Al-Tayyib, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, for their words.  I am grateful to the Council of Elders for the meeting that we have just had at the Grand Mosque of Sheikh Zayed.

I cordially greet the civil and religious authorities and the Diplomatic Corps.  Allow me also to thank you sincerely for the warm welcome that you all have given to me and our delegation.

I also thank all those who have contributed to making this journey possible and who have worked with dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism towards this event: the organizers, those in the Protocol Office, the security personnel, and all who have made their contribution in various ways “behind the scenes”.  A special word of thanks also to Mr Mohamed Abdel Salam, former Adviser to the Grand Imam.

From your country, my thoughts turn to all the countries of this peninsula.  To them I address my most cordial greetings, with friendship and esteem.

With a heart grateful to the Lord, in this eighth centenary of the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al Kāmil, I have welcomed the opportunity to come here as a believer thirsting for peace, as a brother seeking peace with the brethren.  We are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace.

The logo of this journey depicts a dove with an olive branch.  It is an image that recalls the story – present in different religious traditions – of the primordial flood.  According to the biblical account, in order to preserve humanity from destruction, God asked Noah to enter the ark along with his family.  Today, we too in the name of God, in order to safeguard peace, need to enter together as one family into an ark which can sail the stormy seas of the world: the ark of fraternity.

The point of departure is the recognition that God is at the origin of the one human family.  He who is the Creator of all things and of all persons wants us to live as brothers and sisters, dwelling in the common home of creation which he has given us.  Fraternity is established here at the roots of our common humanity, as “a vocation contained in God’s plan of creation”.[1]  This tells us that all persons have equal dignity and that no one can be a master or slave of others.

We cannot honour the Creator without cherishing the sacredness of every person and of every human life: each person is equally precious in the eyes of God, who does not look upon the human family with a preferential gaze that excludes, but with a benevolent gaze that includes.  Thus, to recognize the same rights for every human being is to glorify the name of God on earth.  In the name of God the Creator, therefore, every form of violence must be condemned without hesitation, because we gravely profane God’s name when we use it to justify hatred and violence against a brother or sister.  No violence can be justified in the name of religion.

The enemy of fraternity is an individualism which translates into the desire to affirm oneself and one’s own group above others.  This danger threatens all aspects of life, even the highest innate prerogative of man, that is, the openness to the transcendent and to religious piety.  True religious piety consists in loving God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbour as oneself.  Religious behaviour, therefore, needs continually to be purified from the recurrent temptation to judge others as enemies and adversaries.  Each belief system is called to overcome the divide between friends and enemies, in order to take up the perspective of heaven, which embraces persons without privilege or discrimination.

I wish to express appreciation for the commitment of this nation to tolerating and guaranteeing freedom of worship, to confronting extremism and hatred.  Even as the fundamental freedom to profess one’s own beliefs is promoted – this freedom being an intrinsic requirement for a human being’s self-realization – we need to be vigilant lest religion be instrumentalized and deny itself by allowing violence and terrorism.

Fraternity certainly “also embraces variety and differences between brothers and sisters, even though they are linked by birth and are of the same nature and dignity”.[2]  Religious plurality is an expression of this; in such a context the right attitude is neither a forced uniformity nor a conciliatory syncretism.  What we are called to do as believers is to commit ourselves to the equal dignity of all, in the name of the Merciful One who created us and in whose name the reconciliation of conflicts and fraternity in diversity must be sought.  Here I want to reaffirm the conviction of the Catholic Church: “We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God”.[3]

Various questions, however, confront us: how do we look after each other in the one human family?  How do we nourish a fraternity which is not theoretical but translates into authentic fraternity?  How can the inclusion of the other prevail over exclusion in the name of belonging to one’s own group?  How, in short, can religions be channels of fraternity rather than barriers of separation?

The human family and the courage of otherness
If we believe in the existence of the human family, it follows that it must, as such, be looked after.  As in every family, this happens above all through a daily and effective dialogue.  This presupposes having one’s own identity, not to be foregone to please the other person.  But at the same time it demands the courage of otherness,[4] which involves the full recognition of the other and his or her freedom, and the consequent commitment to exert myself so that the other person’s fundamental rights are always affirmed, everywhere and by everyone.  Without freedom we are no longer children of the human family, but slaves.  As part of such freedom, I would like to emphasize religious freedom.  It is not limited only to freedom of worship but sees in the other truly a brother or sister, a child of my own humanity whom God leaves free and whom, therefore, no human institution can coerce, not even in God’s name.

Dialogue and Prayer
The courage of otherness is the heart of dialogue, which is based on sincerity of intentions.  Dialogue is indeed compromised by pretence, which increases distance and suspicion: we cannot proclaim fraternity and then act in the opposite way.  According to a modern author, “The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others”.[5]

In all this, prayer is essential: while sincerely intended prayer incarnates the courage of otherness in regard to God, it also purifies the heart from turning in on itself.  Prayer of the heart restores fraternity.  Consequently, “as for the future of interreligious dialogue, the first thing we have to do is pray, and pray for one another: we are brothers and sisters!  Without the Lord, nothing is possible; with him, everything becomes so!  May our prayer – each one according to his or her own tradition – adhere fully to the will of God, who wants all men and women to recognize they are brothers and sisters and live as such, forming the great human family in the harmony of diversity”.[6]

There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future. Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures.  The time has come when religions should more actively exert themselves, with courage and audacity, and without pretence, to help the human family deepen the capacity for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace.

Education and Justice
Let us return, then, to the initial image of the dove of peace.  Peace, in order to fly, needs wings that uphold it: the wings of education and justice.

Education – in Latin it means “extracting, drawing out” – is to bring to light the precious resources of the soul.  It is comforting to note how in this country investments are being made not only in the extraction of the earth’s resources, but also in those of the heart, in the education of young people.  It is a commitment that I hope will continue and spread elsewhere.  Education also happens in a relationship, in reciprocity.  Alongside the famous ancient maxim “know yourself”, we must uphold “know your brother or sister”: their history, their culture and their faith, because there is no genuine self-knowledge without the other.  As human beings, and even more so as brothers and sisters, let us remind each other that nothing of what is human can remain foreign to us.[7]  It is important for the future to form open identities capable of overcoming the temptation to turn in on oneself and become rigid.

Investing in culture encourages a decrease of hatred and a growth of civility and prosperity.  Education and violence are inversely proportional.  Catholic schools – well appreciated in this country and in the region – promote such education on behalf of peace and reciprocal knowledge in order to prevent violence.

Young people, who are often surrounded by negative messages and fake news, need to learn not to surrender to the seductions of materialism, hatred and prejudice.  They need to learn to object to injustice and also to the painful experiences of the past.  They need to learn to defend the rights of others with the same energy with which they defend their own rights.  One day, they will be the ones to judge us.  They will judge us well, if we have given them a solid foundation for creating new encounters of civility.  They will judge us poorly, if we have left them only mirages and the empty prospect of harmful conflicts of incivility.

Justice is the second wing of peace, which often is not compromised by single episodes, but is slowly eaten away by the cancer of injustice.

No one, therefore, can believe in God and not seek to live in justice with everyone, according to the Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12).

Peace and justice are inseparable!  The prophet Isaiah says: “And the effect of righteousness will be peace” (32:17).  Peace dies when it is divorced from justice, but justice is false if it is not universal.  A justice addressed only to family members, compatriots, believers of the same faith is a limping justice; it is a disguised injustice!

The world’s religions also have the task of reminding us that greed for profit renders the heart lifeless and that the laws of the current market, demanding everything immediately, do not benefit encounter, dialogue, family – essential dimensions of life that need time and patience.  Religions should be the voice of the least, who are not statistics but brothers and sisters, and should stand on the side of the poor.  They should keep watch as sentinels of fraternity in the night of conflict.  They should be vigilant warnings to humanity not to close our eyes in the face of injustice and never to resign ourselves to the many tragedies in the world.

The desert that flourishes
Having spoken of fraternity as an ark of peace, I now want to take inspiration from a second image, that of the desert which surrounds us.

Here, in just a few years, with farsightedness and wisdom, the desert has been transformed into a prosperous and hospitable place.  From being an unapproachable and inaccessible obstacle, the desert has become a meeting place between cultures and religions.  Here the desert has flourished, not just for a few days in the year, but for many years to come.  This country, in which sand and skyscrapers meet, continues to be an important crossroads between the West and East, between the North and South of the planet: a place of development, where once inhospitable spaces supply jobs for people of various nations.

Nonetheless, development, too, has its adversaries.  If the enemy of fraternity is the individualism referred to above, I want to point to indifference as an obstacle to development, an indifference which ends up converting flourishing realities into desert lands.  In fact, a purely utilitarian development cannot provide real and lasting progress.  Only an integral and cohesive development provides a future worthy of the human person.  Indifference prevents us from seeing the human community beyond its earnings and our brothers and sisters beyond the work they do.  Indifference, in fact, does not look to the future; it does not care about the future of creation, it does not care about the dignity of the stranger and the future of children.

In this context I am delighted that here in Abu Dhabi last November the first Forum of the Interreligious Alliance for Safer Communities took place, whose theme was child dignity in the digital world.  This event recalled a message issued a year before in Rome during an international congress on the same theme, a congress to which I had given my complete support and encouragement.  I thank, therefore, all the leaders who are engaged in this field, and I assure them of my support, solidarity and participation and that of the Catholic Church, in this very important cause of the protection of minors in all its forms.

Here, in the desert, a way of fruitful development has been opened which, beginning from the creation of jobs, offers hope to many persons from a variety of nations, cultures and beliefs.  Among them, many Christians too, whose presence in the region dates back centuries, have found opportunities and made a significant contribution to the growth and well-being of the country.  In addition to professional skills, they bring you the genuineness of their faith.  The respect and tolerance they encounter, as well as the necessary places of worship where they pray, allow them a spiritual maturity which then benefits society as a whole.  I encourage you to continue on this path, so that those who either live here or are passing through may preserve not only the image of the great works erected in the desert, but also the image of a nation that includes and embraces all.

It is with this spirit that I look forward to concrete opportunities for meeting, not only here but in the entire beloved region, a focal point of the Middle East.  I look forward to societies where people of different beliefs have the same right of citizenship and where only in the case of violence in any of its forms is that right removed.

A fraternal living together, founded on education and justice; a human development built upon a welcoming inclusion and on the rights of all: these are the seeds of peace which the world’s religions are called to help flourish.  For them, perhaps as never before, in this delicate historical situation, it is a task that can no longer be postponed: to contribute actively to demilitarizing the human heart.  The arms race, the extension of its zones of influence, the aggressive policies to the detriment of others will never bring stability.  War cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death!

Human fraternity requires of us, as representatives of the world’s religions, the duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word “war”.  Let us return it to its miserable crudeness.  Its fateful consequences are before our eyes.  I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.  Together, as brothers and sisters in the one human family willed by God, let us commit ourselves against the logic of armed power, against the monetization of relations, the arming of borders, the raising of walls, the gagging of the poor; let us oppose all this with the sweet power of prayer and daily commitment to dialogue.  Our being together today is a message of trust, an encouragement to all people of good will, so that they may not surrender to the floods of violence and the desertification of altruism.  God is with those who seek peace.  From heaven he blesses every step which, on this path, is accomplished on earth.



[1] Benedict XVI, Address to the New Ambassadors to the Holy See, 16 December 2010.

[2] Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2015, 2.

[3] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate, 5.

[4] Cf. Address to Participants at the International Conference for Peace, Al-Azhar Conference Centre, Cairo, 28 April 2017.

[5] F. M. Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, II, 2.

[6] Interreligious General Audience, 28 October 2015.

[7] Cf. Terence, Heautontimorumenos (The Self-Tormentor) I, 1, 25.

Topics

Wow Pope Francis given Spectacular Welcome in United Arab Emirates' Presidential Palace - FULL Video

Pope Francis was given a spectacular reception on his first day in the United Arab Emirates.

In this historic visit as the 1st Pope visiting an Arabic peninsula; Pope Francis was welcomed by the Crown Prince who had acrobatic pilots of a special air team perform aerial acrobatics above the bay. They had trails of yellow and white smoke in honour of the Vatican colours.
Pope Francis greeted the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the band played the Vatican hymn.
 Both the pope and Crown Prince entered the palace for a private meeting.
 The Crown Prince presented a gift to the pope. The legal agreement that permitted Catholics to construct their first church in the country from June 1963.
 Pope Francis also presented this gift to the Crown Prince; a a medal with St. Francis of Assisi meeting the Sultan Al-Kamil in 1219.
The Pope wrote in the country's book of honor. He thanked them for the welcome; and sent his blessing to the whole country to live in peace and solidarity.

The papal motorcade  was accompanied by over a dozen horsemen on beautiful Arab stallions.

The Presidential Palace grounds cover an area of 150 hectares. The Arabian-style white palace  has over 70 mosaic, glass, and golden domes.

Pope Francis brings a message of love and solidarity for those in need.

Quote to SHARE by Saint Mother Teresa on Kindness “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better..."


“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” 
Saint Mother Teresa

#BreakingNews U.S. Bishops’ Head of Pro-Life Committee says “This Legislation is Evil, Pure and Simple,” FULL TEXT Release


“This Legislation is Evil, Pure and Simple,” Says Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee; Calls All Catholics to Fight with Renewed Vigor for Unborn 
 February 2, 2019
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, KS and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has issued the following statement in response to several states moving forward with legislation that would permit a baby to be aborted at nine months.
Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:
“Abortion has always been built on a lie. Today, the lie is switching from 'abortion is a choice' to 'abortion is healthcare.' A law recently passed in New York not only legalizes abortion essentially for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy but removes any protection for children born alive after abortion. A similar bill was proposed in Virginia along with several other states, all in the name of women’s health. 
This legislation is evil, pure and simple. And it shocks the conscience to see such evil legislation greeted with raucous cheers and standing ovations. Most grieving to our Lord of Life is that those who advocate for abortion put their eternal souls in jeopardy.  
It is sickeningly dishonest to claim that women’s lives or health depend on intentionally killing their children. This is especially true for late-term abortion, which always involves the purposeful destruction of a child which could have been born alive, with much less risk to the mother, had they both received real healthcare.  
Now is the time for all Catholics—bishops, priests, and laity—to fight for the unborn with renewed vigor. We must educate family, friends, legislators, and fellow citizens about how it is never necessary to intentionally kill unborn children in order to save their mothers. Local action is especially important. Though ending Roe v. Wade is a central goal of the pro-life movement, if the decision were overturned, only eleven states would immediately ban abortion; the other thirty-nine states would still allow it.  
I urge Catholics, and thoughtful Americans of all religions or none at all to advocate for local change. Sign up for your State Catholic Conference or diocesan pro-life advocacy network, which can help you communicate to elected officials. Or seek out state and local pro-life groups, including parish respect life groups, that are making a difference at the state level.  
Though we live in very dark days, we know that the Lord has already triumphed over death. But we must use this time on earth to be His hands and feet. This means each of us rededicating ourselves to prayer, and fighting for the most vulnerable among us, especially unborn children and their mothers.”  
FULL TEXT Release from USCCB

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday February 4, 2019 - #Eucharist


Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 323

Reading 1HEB 11:32-40

Brothers and sisters:
What more shall I say?
I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah,
of David and Samuel and the prophets,
who by faith conquered kingdoms,
did what was righteous, obtained the promises;
they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires,
escaped the devouring sword;
out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle,
and turned back foreign invaders.
Women received back their dead through resurrection.
Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance,
in order to obtain a better resurrection.
Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword's point;
they went about in skins of sheep or goats,
needy, afflicted, tormented.
The world was not worthy of them.
They wandered about in deserts and on mountains,
in caves and in crevices in the earth.

Yet all these, though approved because of their faith,
did not receive what had been promised.
God had foreseen something better for us,
so that without us they should not be made perfect.

Responsorial PsalmPS 31:20, 21, 22, 23, 24

R. (25) Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
How great is the goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
Blessed be the LORD whose wondrous mercy
he has shown me in a fortified city.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
Once I said in my anguish,
"I am cut off from your sight";
Yet you heard the sound of my pleading
when I cried out to you.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

AlleluiaLK 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 5:1-20

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
"What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!"
(He had been saying to him, "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!")
He asked him, "What is your name?"

He  replied, "Legion is my name.  There are many of us."
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
"Send us into the swine.  Let us enter them."
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
"Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you."
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

Saint February 4 : St. Joseph of Leonessa : Capuchin Priest


Born:
8 January 1556 at Leonissa, Umbria, Italy
Died:
Saturday 4 February 1612 at Umbria, Italy
Canonized:
29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
CAPUCHIN, PRIESTIn the world named Eufranio Desiderio; born in 1556 at Leonessa in Umbria; died 4 February, 1612. From his infancy he showed a remarkably religious bent of mind; he used to erect little altars and spend much time in prayer before them, and often he would gather his companions and induce them to pray with him. Whilst yet a boy he used to take the discipline on Fridays in company with the confraternity of St. Saviour. He was educated by his uncle, who had planned a suitable marriage for him, but in his sixteenth year he fell sick of a fever, and on his recovery, without consulting his relative, he joined the Capuchin reform of the Franciscan Order. He made his novitiate in the convent of the Carcerelle near Assisi. As a religious he was remarkable for his great abstinence. "Brother Ass", he would say to his body, "there is no need to feed thee as a noble horse would be fed: thou must be content to be a poor ass." In 1599, the year before his Jubilee year, he fasted the whole year by way of preparation for gaining the indulgence. In 1587 he was sent by the Superior General of his order to Constantinople to minister to the Christians held captive there. Arrived there he and his companions lodged in a derelict house of Benedictine monks. The poverty in which the friars lived attracted the attention of the Turks, who went in numbers to see the new missionaries. He was very solicitous in ministering to the captive Christians in the galleys. Every day he went into the city to preach, and he was at length thrown into prison and only released at the intervention of the Venetian agent. Urged on by zeal he at last sought to enter the palace to preach before the Sultan, but he was seized and condemned to death. For three days he hung on the gallows, held up by two hooks driven through his right hand and foot; then he was miraculously released by an angel. Returning to Italy, he took with him a Greek archbishop who had apostatized, and who was reconciled to the Church on their arrival in Rome. Joseph now took up the work of home missions in his native province, sometimes preaching six or seven times a day. In the Jubilee year of 1600 he preached the Lent at Otricoli, a town through which crowds of pilgrims passed on their way to Rome. Many of them being very poor, Joseph supplied them with food; he also washed their clothes and cut their hair. At Todi he cultivated with his own hands a garden, the produce of which was for the poor. His feast is kept on 4 February throughout the Franciscan Order. He was canonized by Benedict XIV. Text Catholic Encyclopedia