Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Saint July 3 : St. Thomas the Apostle who Doubted and Patron of the Blind, Architects and India - #Apostle

St. Thomas
Died: 72 in India
Patron of:
against doubt, architects, blind people, builders, East Indies, geometricians, India, masons, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, surveyors, theologians
Little is recorded of St. Thomas the Apostle, nevertheless thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. His name occurs in all the lists of the Synoptists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6, cf. Acts 1:13), but in St. John he plays a distinctive part. First, when Jesus announced His intention of returning to Judea to visit Lazarus, "Thomas" who is called Didymus [the twin], said to his fellow disciples: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). Again it was St. Thomas who during the discourse before the Last Supper raised an objection: "Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" (John 14:5). But more especially St. Thomas is remembered for his incredulity when the other Apostles announced Christ's Resurrection to him: "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: "Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed" (John 20:29).
This exhausts all our certain knowledge regarding the Apostle but his name is the starting point of a considerable apocryphal literature, and there are also certain historical data which suggest that some of this apocryphal material may contains germs of truth. The principal document concerning him is the "Acta Thomae", preserved to us with some variations both in Greek and in Syriac, and bearing unmistakeable signs of its Gnostic origin. It may indeed be the work of Bardesanes himself. The story in many of its particulars is utterly extravagant, but it is the early date, being assigned by Harnack (Chronologie, ii, 172) to the beginning of the third century, before A.D. 220. If the place of its origin is really Edessa, as Harnack and others for sound reasons supposed (ibid., p. 176), this would lend considerable probability to the statement, explicitly made in "Acta" (Bonnet, cap. 170, p. 286), that the relics of Apostle Thomas, which we know to have been venerated at Edessa, had really come from the East. The extravagance of the legend may be judged from the fact that in more than one place (cap. 31, p. 148) it represents Thomas (Judas Thomas, as he is called here and elsewhere in Syriac tradition) as the twin brother of Jesus. The Thomas in Syriac is equivalant to didymos in Greek, and means twin. Rendel Harris who exaggerates very much the cult of the Dioscuri, wishes to regards this as a transformation of a pagan worship of Edessa but the point is at best problematical. The story itself runs briefly as follows: At the division of the Apostles, India fell to the lot of Thomas, but he declared his inability to go, whereupon his Master Jesus appeared in a supernatural way to Abban, the envoy of Gundafor, an Indian king, and sold Thomas to him to be his slave and serve Gundafor as a carpenter. Then Abban and Thomas sailed away until they came to Andrapolis, where they landed and attended the marriage feast of the ruler's daughter. Strange occurrences followed and Christ under the appearance of Thomas exhorted the bride to remain a Virgin. Coming to India Thomas undertook to build a palace for Gundafor, but spend the money entrusted to him on the poor. Gundafor imprisoned him; but the Apostle escaped miraculously and Gundafor was converted. Going about the country to preach, Thomas met with strange adventures from dragons and wild asses. Then he came to the city of King Misdai (Syriac Mazdai), where he converted Tertia the wife of Misdai and Vazan his son. After this he was condemed to death, led out of city to a hill, and pierced through with spears by four soldiers. He was buried in the tomb of the ancient kings but his remains were afterwards removed to the West.
Now it is certainly a remarkable fact that about the year A.D. 46 a king was reigning over that part of Asia south of Himalayas now represented by Afghanistan, Baluchistan, the Punjab, and Sind, who bore the name Gondophernes or Guduphara. This we know both from the discovery of coins, some of the Parthian type with Greek legends, others of the Indian types with the legends in an Indian dialect in Kharoshthi characters. Despite sundry minor variations the identity of the name with the Gundafor of the "Acta Thomae" is unmistakable and is hardly disputed. Further we have the evidence of the Takht-i-Bahi inscription, which is dated and which the best specialists accept as establishing the King Gunduphara probably began to reign about A.D. 20 and was still reigning in 46. Again there are excellent reasons for believing that Misdai or Mazdai may well be transformation of a Hindu name made on the Iranian soil. In this case it will probably represent a certain King Vasudeva of Mathura, a successor of Kanishka. No doubt it can be urged that the Gnostic romancer who wrote the "Acta Thomae" may have adopted a few historical Indian names to lend verisimilitude to his fabrication, but as Mr. Fleet urges in his severely critical paper "the names put forward here in connection with St.Thomas are distinctly not such as have lived in Indian story and tradition" (Journal of R. Asiatic Soc., 1905, p. 235).
On the other hand, though the tradition that St. Thomas preached in "India" was widely spread in both East and West and is to be found in such writers as Ephraem Syrus, Ambrose, Paulinus, Jerome, and, later Gregory of Tours and others, still it is difficult to discover any adequate support for the long-accepted belief that St. Thomas pushed his missionary journeys as far south as Mylapore, not far from Madras, and there suffered martyrdom. In that region is still to be found a granite bas-relief cross with a Pahlavi (ancient Persian) inscription dating from the seventh century, and the tradition that it was here that St. Thomas laid down his life is locally very strong. Certain it is also that on the Malabar or west coast of southern India a body of Christians still exists using a form of Syriac for its liturgical language. Whether this Church dates from the time of St. Thomas the Apostle (there was a Syro-Chaldean bishop John "from India and Persia" who assisted at the Council of Nicea in 325) or whether the Gospel was first preached there in 345 owing to the Persian persecution under Shapur (or Sapor), or whether the Syrian missionaries who accompanied a certain Thomas Cana penetrated to the Malabar coast about the year 745 seems difficult to determine. We know only that in the sixth century Cosmas Indicopleustes speaks of the existence of Christians at Male (? Malabar) under a bishop who had been consecrated in Persia. King Alfred the Great is stated in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" to have sent an expedition to establish relations with these Christians of the Far East. On the other hand the reputed relics of St. Thomas were certainly at Edessa in the fourth century, and there they remained until they were translated to Chios in 1258 and towards to Ortona. The improbable suggestion that St. Thomas preached in America (American Eccles. Rev., 1899, pp. 1-18) is based upon a misunderstanding of the text of the Acts of the Apostles (1:8; cf. Berchet "Fonte italiane per la storia della scoperta del Nuovo Mondo", II, 236, and I, 44).
Besides the "Acta Thomae" of which a different and notably shorter redaction exists in Ethiopic and Latin, we have an abbreviated form of a so-called "Gospel of Thomas" originally Gnostic, as we know it now merely a fantastical history of the childhood of Jesus, without any notably heretical colouring. There is also a "Revelatio Thomae", condemned as apocryphal in the Decree of Pope Gelasius, which has recently been recovered from various sources in a fragmentary condition (see the full text in the Revue benedictine, 1911, pp. 359-374).
Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia

#BreakingNews Orthodox Priest Dies while trying to Save his 4-year-old Daughter who also Drowned


Belo Tserkov, Ukraine, June 26, 2019
The Belotserkov Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is requesting prayers for the repose of the soul of Archpriest Bogdan Sushansky, who drowned on Monday trying to save his own 4-year-old daughter, Anisia, who also perished.
Fr. Bogdan, 58, served as the rector of the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Yablonovka in the Belotserkov Deanery of the Belotserkov Diocese, where he was respected by clergy and laity alike.
According to a press release from the National Police, Fr. Bogdan and his wife and two of his children drove to the village of Scherbaki to pick up another son who was on vacation there with some friends. While they waited to leave, Fr. Bogdan took his dauther Anisia for a walk, and their bodies were later found by the elder son.
“The man started calling for help, and people who were relaxing nearby called an ambulance, and they pulled the man with his daughter out of the water, already without signs of life,” the police statement reads.
Anisia’s funeral was held last night in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Bela Tserkov, after which their bodies were transported to Pochaev, where Fr. Bogdan’s funeral will be served.
Fr. Bogdan leaves behind his matushka and six children.
Edited from Orthochristian.com

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

Vatican Note Approved by Pope Francis on Inviolability of Confession "The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction over it..." Full Text

Presentation of the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the importance of the internal forum and the inviolability of the sacramental seal, 01.07.2019

On the occasion of the recent audience with the participants in the Course on the internal forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary (29 March 2019), Pope Francis repeatedly emphasized two themes so central to theology, law and the practice of the Church, extraneous to current public opinion: the sacredness of the internal forum and the inviolability of the sacramental seal.
At the beginning of his address, the Holy Father recalled, in the first place, the sacred nature of the internal forum, the intimate sphere of the relationship between God and the faithful, which is not always understood and correctly protected, even within the ecclesial community itself:
“And I would like to add — beyond the text — a word on the term “internal forum”. This is not a trivial expression: it is stated seriously. The internal forum is an internal forum, and it cannot go “outside”. And I say this because I have noticed that some groups in the Church, representatives, superiors — let us put it this way — blend the two things and take from the internal forum to make decisions in the external one, and vice versa. Please, this is a sin! It is a sin against the dignity of the person who trusts the priest, and who expresses his or own situation to ask for forgiveness, and then this is used to organize matters for a group or a movement, perhaps — I don’t know, I am improvising — perhaps even a new congregation, I don’t know. But the internal forum is an internal forum. And it is a sacred thing. I wanted to say this because I am concerned about this.”
The Pope then went on to reiterate the absolute inviolability of the sacramental seal, an indispensable guarantee of the sacrament of reconciliation:
“Reconciliation itself is a benefit that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all her moral and legal might, with the sacramental seal. Although it is not always understood by the modern mentality, it is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the freedom of conscience of the penitent, who must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain within the secrecy of the confessional, between one’s conscience that opens to grace, and God, with the necessary mediation of the priest. The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction over it, nor can lay any claim to it.”
The Apostolic Penitentiary, which for eight centuries has been the Apostolic Tribunal responsible for matters concerning the internal forum, knows well the inestimable value of the sacramental secret, of the reserve, and of the inviolability of the conscience. In writing the Note that is now presented, he wished to place himself at the service of Peter, the Church and all men of good will, reaffirming their importance and promoting a better understanding of such concepts that currently seem to be widely misunderstood or even, in some cases, opposed.
The document begins with the observation that in today’s highly mediated society, technological development and the implementation of the media do not correspond, in general, to a similar commitment to the search for truth, but rather to the morbid desire of circulating news, true or false, amplified or diminished according to interests. Today everything is displayed, everything must be known. “By invoking, in fact, the judgment of public opinion as the final court, information of all kinds, belonging also to the most private and reserved spheres, which inevitably (...) induce, or at least favour reckless judgments, unlawfully and irreparably damage the good reputation of others”. This generalized attitude is also reflected on the Church, whose legal order is expected, at times, to conform to that of the States in which it lives in the name of a supposed correctness and transparency.
In this context, the Apostolic Penitentiary considered it urgent to recall, in the first place, the absolute inviolability of the sacramental seal, which is based on divine law and does not admit any exception. The priest confessor, acting in persona Christi capitis, knows the sins of the penitent “not as a man, but as God”, according to a well-known expression of Saint Thomas Aquinas. For this reason, he is called to defend the secret of the content of the Confession not only through “loyalty” to the penitent, but, moreover, out of respect for the sanctity of the sacrament.
In this sense, it is essential to insist on the incomparability of the seal of confession to the professional secrecy proper to certain professional groups (doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, etc.) in order to prevent secular laws from applying to the seal, which is inviolable, the exceptions legitimately applied to professional secrecy.
The secrecy of confession is not an obligation imposed from the outside, but rather an intrinsic requirement of the sacrament and, as such, can not be dissolved even by the penitent. The penitent does not speak to the confessor as a man, but to God, so to stake a claim to what rightfully belongs to God would be a sacrilege. It concerns the defence of the sacrament itself, instituted by Christ to be a safe harbour of salvation for sinners. If trust in the seal were to be defrauded, the faithful would be discouraged to access the sacrament of Reconciliation, which would obviously lead to serious damage to souls. On the other hand, it is precisely this concern for the salus animarum that moves the Church to establish the most severe penalties for those who violate the seal (see canon 1388 CIC 728, § 1, No. 1 and can. 1456 CCEO). Secondly, the Note considers the juridical-moral scope of those acts of the internal forum that take place outside the sacrament of Penance. The classic example is that of spiritual direction. Also in these cases, canon law guarantees a special reserve for spiritual conversation, which involves the most intimate and personal sphere of the faithful in order to listen and discern the will of God. Thus, for example, on the occasion of admission to the sacred Order, it is forbidden to ask the opinion not only of the confessor but also of the spiritual director of the candidate, to avoid any possible abuse of power.
Finally, the last point of the Note deals with the other “types” of secrecy that fall outside the scope of the internal forum. In this sense, the principle of the natural right to keep secrecy is reaffirmed, “save in exceptional cases where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth” (CCC, No. 2491). More generally, when communicating or concealing the truth, the Note proposes as a general criterion that of “conforming one’s life to the precept of brotherly love, with an eye toward good and security, respect for private life and the common good”. It should be noted that the text of the Note cannot and does not seek to be any way a justification or a form of tolerance towards the execrable cases of abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy. No compromise is acceptable when it comes to promoting the protection of minors and vulnerable people, and of preventing and combating all forms of abuse, in the spirit of what Pope Francis has constantly reiterated and has recently regulated with the Motu Proprio Vox estis lux mundi (7 May 2019).
By publishing a Note on the importance of the internal forum and the inviolability of the sacramental seal, the Penitentiary has the absolute conviction that “the defence of the sacramental seal and the sanctity of confession can never constitute a form of connivance with evil; on the contrary, it represents the only true antidote against the evil that threatens man and the whole world, are the real possibility of surrendering to the love of God, of allowing himself to be transformed and transformed by this love, learning to correspond to it concretely with his own life”.
Mauro Cardinal Piacenza       Msgr. Krzysztof Nykiel
Major Penitentiary                 Regent
The following is the link to the text, in Italian, of the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the importance of the internal form and the inviolability of the sacramental seal

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - #Eucharist

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 378

Reading 1GN 19:15-29

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "On your way!
Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here,
or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom."
When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD's mercy,
seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters
and led them to safety outside the city.
As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told:
"Flee for your life!
Don't look back or stop anywhere on the Plain.
Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away."
"Oh, no, my lord!" Lot replied,
"You have already thought enough of your servant
to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life.
But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me,
and so I shall die.
Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to.
It's only a small place.
Let me flee there–it's a small place, is it not?–
that my life may be saved."
"Well, then," he replied,
"I will also grant you the favor you now ask.
I will not overthrow the town you speak of.
Hurry, escape there!
I cannot do anything until you arrive there."
That is why the town is called Zoar.

The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar;
at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire
upon Sodom and Gomorrah
from the LORD out of heaven.
He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain,
together with the inhabitants of the cities
and the produce of the soil.
But Lot's wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham went to the place
where he had stood in the LORD's presence.
As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah
and the whole region of the Plain,
he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.

Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain,
he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval
by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.

Responsorial PsalmPS 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12

R.(3a) O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Search me, O LORD, and try me;
test my soul and my heart.
For your mercy is before my eyes,
and I walk in your truth.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Gather not my soul with those of sinners,
nor with men of blood my life.
On their hands are crimes,
and their right hands are full of bribes.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
But I walk in integrity;
redeem me, and have mercy on me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the assemblies I will bless the LORD.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.

AlleluiaPS 130:5

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
"Lord, save us!  We are perishing!"
He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?"
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, "What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?"