Friday, February 28, 2020

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chair to Government "Americans should be outraged that our U.S. Congress cannot pass a law to ensure that newborn babies are not vulnerable to infanticide." Full Text



U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Reacts to House Rejection of Born-Alive Abortion Survivor Protection Act 
WASHINGTON–Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to advance the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. A procedural vote to amend another piece of legislation (H.R. 2339, Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019) to include the Born Alive Abortion Survivors’ Protection Act failed by a vote of 187 to 220. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response: “Just three days ago, the U.S. Senate tragically failed to advance the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives shamefully followed suit. The Born-Alive bill simply and rightly provides additional protections to ensure that newborn babies who survive an abortion attempt are given the same care as any other baby and are not left to die or directly killed. Americans should be outraged that our U.S. Congress cannot pass a law to ensure that newborn babies are not vulnerable to infanticide. We will not and cannot stop pressing Congress to do the right thing and pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.”
Previous Statement from Feb. 25:
U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Reacts to Senate Rejection of Pro-Life Bills

February 25, 2020
WASHINGTON – Earlier today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 3275) and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311). In the Senate, 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster and advance a bill to a vote on passage. The Pain-Capable bill would protect unborn children from late-term abortions. It failed to advance by a vote of 53 to 44. The Born-Alive bill would prohibit infanticide by ensuring that a child born alive following an abortion would receive the same degree of care to preserve her life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. It failed to advance by a vote of 56 to 41.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:

“Today, the United States Senate failed to advance two critical human rights reforms that most Americans strongly support. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization when a child can certainly feel pain and has a reasonable chance of survival. And the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act helps ensure that Roe v. Wade’s license to kill unborn children does not extend to killing the newborn babies who survive abortion. It is appalling that even one senator, let alone more than 40, voted to continue the brutal dismemberment of nearly full-grown infants, and voted against protecting babies who survive abortion. Our nation is better than this, and the majority of Americans who support these bills must make their voices heard.”
Full Text Source: USCCB

Canadian Catholic Bishops Statement to Government on Assisted Suicide Legislation "It is very troubling.." and based on a "..biased and rushed online survey" Full Text


Response by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to the tabling
of Bill C-7: “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)”
The Catholic Bishops of Canada wish to express the greatest concern and dismay in regards to
the tabling of Bill C-7 which seeks to expand the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted
suicide by removing the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” criterion currently in the
Criminal Code. The bill would also loosen some of the existing “safeguards” and would even
allow patients whose death is “reasonably foreseeable” to waive final consent to receiving
euthanasia by making an advance directive. This means that those who change their minds at a
later date, but whose ability to communicate has since been impaired, would be left to express
their refusal in potentially vague “words, sounds, and gestures” (Bill C-7, 3.2.c), making it
immensely difficult and highly subjective for medical practitioners and lawyers to decipher
whether or not the patient still wishes to consent to the lethal procedure.
Discounting the open letter from over sixty-five of Canada’s leading disability advocate
organizations, and ignoring the stark apprehensions expressed in the End of Mission Statement
by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities concerning
the implementation of “Medical Assistance in Dying” in Canada from a disability perspective,
the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada regrettably chose not to appeal the
Quebec Superior Court decision (Truchon v. Procureur général du Canada) and is now
imprudently moving forward to amend the Criminal Code to accommodate the Superior Court’s
ruling.
It is very troubling that the introduction of Bill C-7 was justified on the basis of a highly
questionable, biased and rushed online survey, which took place over just two weeks between
13 and 27 January 2020. First, the questions in this survey were framed in a manner which
presupposed agreement with euthanasia and assisted suicide, including its broadening, without
giving Canadians who are opposed an equal voice. Second, while garnering close to
300,000 responses (less than 1% of the population), it regrettably did not ask for detailed and
essential demographic data from participants (age, gender, ethnicity, disability, etc.), hence, the
online survey cannot purport to represent a “wide spectrum” of the Canadian population, as has
been claimed. Third, the online survey excluded households which cannot afford the internet,
and made it ever more difficult for those people living in remote northern communities, the
elderly, as well as individuals with visual, cognitive, and mobility impairments to participate.
Such a flawed survey cannot be used realistically to justify Bill C-7. Furthermore, the
“roundtable consultations” conducted by the Government this past January and February, clearly
excluded at least a number of major stakeholders, and thus fell short in engaging the public in a
comprehensive democratic process.
- 2 -
With Bill C-7, the Government has effectively short-circuited the mandatory assessment of
euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada as provided in the original Act of 17 June 2016 to
amend the Criminal Code, which specifically called for “a parliamentary review of [the Act’s]
provisions and of the state of palliative care in Canada to commence at the start of the fifth year
following the day on which [the Act] receives Royal Assent.”
The Catholic Bishops of Canada with Catholic faithful as well as innumerable other Canadians –
religious or otherwise – remain opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide in any form because
of their interest in protecting and promoting human life, because it is always wrong to take the
life of an innocent person, and because medical science and compassionate care have provided
effective ways of easing pain and suffering without having to resort to direct killing. It would be
beneficial to recall once again the World Medical Association’s stance reaffirming its longstanding policy of opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
As episcopal Catholic leadership in Canada, the Bishops further wish to impress upon the
Government: first, given the lamentable legislative aim, that every opportunity for due diligence
be taken during the parliamentary process; second, that every effort be made to understand more
fully the grave implications of what is being contemplated by way of Bill C-7, including the
unavoidable, negative and detrimental dangers facing those who are most vulnerable in society.
For these reasons, the Bishops sincerely hope and earnestly request that the House of Commons
exercises its ability to refer Bill C-7 to a committee for detailed examination before Second
Reading, as is permitted according to the Standing Orders (Ch. 9 § 73), in order to allow input
from expert witnesses in a manner which is fully public, transparent, and open to a wide range of
voices – religious and non-religious alike – as well as in full and prudent consideration of
inviolable moral and ethical principles, the common good, and concern for future generations.
The Catholic Bishops of Canada are strongly opposed to this proposed legislation and will
monitor the parliamentary process closely. They call upon all Canadians to make their voices
heard; they strongly urge members of Parliament to acknowledge the giftedness of life as an
inalienable right not to be taken away by others, the importance of compassion for the ill and the
dying, as well as our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us.
26 February 2020
Source: https://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/CCCB_response_to_Bill_C-7_-_EN.pdf

Pope Francis forms Child Protection Task Force to assist Episcopal Conferences


Pope Francis forms Child Protection Task Force
Following up on a plan announced at last year’s Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church, Pope Francis has launched a task force to help Bishops’ Conferences prepare and update child protection guidelines.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis has established a task force “in order to assist the Episcopal Conferences in the preparation and updating of guidelines for the protection of minors”. The intention to form such a group had already been announced by the Pope at last year’s Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church, which ran from 21-24 February 2019. One year later, after the details of the project had been worked out, Pope Francis has made the plan a reality.

Supervising committee
In a statement released on Friday, the Holy See Press Office explained that the task force will be supervised by Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, together with the  members of the organizing Committee for last year’s Meeting: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago; Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Deputy Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Father Hans Zollner, SJ, Dean of the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Membership of the task force
The task force itself is composed of a Coordinator, Dr Andrew Azzopardi, head of the Safeguarding Commission of the Maltese Bishops (established by the Archdiocese of Malta, the Diocese of Gozo, and the Conference of Religious Major Superiors);  and a number of canon law experts of different nationalities. The Coordinator will report quarterly to the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State on the work undertaken by the task force.

Providing assistance to Episcopal Conferences
According to communiqué, the task force will assist Episcopal Conferences, as well as Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, in preparing and updating guidelines for the protection of minors, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and current canonical legislation, especially the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

The task force’s mandate will last for two years, beginning 24 February 2020. It will be supported by a special fund established by benefactors.

Episcopal Conferences, Institutes of Religious, and Societies of Apostolic Life can request assistance at the following email address: taskforce@org.va.

Full Text Source: VaticanNews.va

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday, February 28, 2020 - #Eucharist


Friday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 221

Reading 1IS 58:1-9A

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Responsorial Psalm51:3-4, 5-6AB, 18-19

R.    (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R.    A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R.    A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R.    A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before The GospelAM 5:14

Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the Lord will be with you.

GospelMT 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Saint February 28 : St. Hilary : Pope

St. Hilary
POPE



Feast Day:February 28 or November 17
Born:
at Sardinia
Died:28 February 468 at Rome, Italy
Information:
Elected 461; the date of his death is given as 28 Feb., 468.
After the death of Leo I, an archdeacon named Hilarus, a native of Sardinia, according to the "Liber Pontificalis", was chosen to succeed him, and in all probability received consecration on 19 November, 461. Together with Julius, Bishop of Puteoli, Hilarus acted as legate of Leo I at the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus in 449. There he fought vigorously for the rights of the Roman See and opposed the condemnation of Flavian of Constantinople (see FLAVIAN, SAINT). He was therefore exposed to the violence of Dioscurus of Alexandria, and saved himself by flight. In one of his letters to the Empress Pulcheria, found in a collection of letters of Leo I ("Leonis I Epistolae", num. xlvi., in P.L., LIV, 837 sq.), Hilarus apologizes for not delivering to her the pope's letter after the synod; but owing to Dioscurus, who tried to hinder his going either to Rome or to Constantinople, he had great difficulty in making his escape in order to bring to the pontiff the news of the result of the council. His pontificate was marked by the same vigorous policy as that of his great predecessor. Church affairs in Gaul and Spain claimed his special attention. Owing to political disorganization in both countries, it was important to safeguard the hierarchy by strengthening church government. Hermes, a former archdeacon of Narbonne, had illegally acquired the bishopric of that town. Two Gallican prelates were dispatched to Rome to lay before the pope this and other matters concerning the Church in Gaul. A Roman synod held on 19 November, 462, passed judgment upon these matters, and Hilarus made known the following decisions in an Encyclical sent to the provincial bishops of Vienne, Lyons, Narbonne, and the Alps: Hermes was to remain Titular Bishop of Narbonne, but his episcopal faculties were withheld. A synod was to be convened yearly by the Bishop of Arles, for those of the provincial bishops who were able to attend; but all important matters were to be submitted to the Apostolic See. No bishop could leave his diocese without a written permission from the metropolitan; in case such permission be withheld he could appeal to the Bishop of Arles. Respecting the parishes (paroeciae) claimed by Leontius of Arles as belonging to his jurisdiction, the Gallican bishops could decide, after an investigation. Church property could not be alienated until a synod had examined into the cause of sale. Shortly after this the pope found himself involved in another diocesan quarrel. In 463 Mamertus of Vienne had consecrated a Bishop of Die, although this Church, by a decree of Leo I, belonged to the metropolitan Diocese of Arles. When Hilarus heard of it he deputed Leontius of Arles to summon a great synod of the bishops of several provinces to investigate the matter. The synod took place and, on the strength of the report given him by Bishop Antonius, he issued an edict dated 25 February, 464, in which Bishop Veranus was commissioned to warn Mamertus that, if in the future he did not refrain from irregular ordinations, his faculties would be withdrawn. Consequently the consecration of the Bishop of Die must be sanctioned by Leontius of Arles. Thus the primatial privileges of the See of Arles were upheld as Leo I had defined them. At the same time the bishops were admonished not to overstep their boundaries, and to assemble in a yearly synod presided over by the Bishop of Arles. The metropolitan rights of the See of Embrun also over the dioceses of the Maritime Alps were protected against the encroachments of a certain Bishop Auxanius, particularly in connection with the two Churches of Nice and Cimiez.
In Spain, Silvanus, Bishop of Calahorra, had, by his episcopal ordinations, violated the church laws. Both the Metropolitan Ascanius and the bishops of the Province of Tarragona made complaint of this to the pope and asked for his decision. Before an answer came to their petition, the same bishops had recourse to the Holy See for an entirely different matter. Before his death Nundinarius, Bishop of Barcelona, expressed a wish that Irenaeus might be chosen his successor, although he had himself made Irenaeus bishop of another see. The request was granted, a Synod of Tarragona confirming the nomination of Irenaeus, after which the bishops sought the pope's approval. The Roman synod of 19 Nov., 465, took the matters up and settled them. This is the oldest Roman synod whose original records have been handed down to us. It was held in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. After an address of the pope, and the reading of the Spanish letters, the synod decided that the church laws must not be tampered with. In addition to this Hilarus sent a letter to the bishops of Tarragona, declaring that no consecration was valid without the sanction of the Metropolitan Ascanius; and no bishop was permitted to be transferred from one diocese to another, so that some one else must be chosen for Barcelona in place of Irenaeus. The bishops consecrated by Silvanus would be recognized if they had been appointed to vacant sees, and otherwise met the requirements of the Church. The "Liber Pontificalis" mentions an Encyclical that Hilarus sent to the East, to confirm the Oecumenical Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and the dogmatic letter of Leo I to Flavian, but the sources at our disposal furnish us no further information. In Rome Hilarus worked zealously for the integrity of the Faith. The Emperor Anthemius had a favourite named Philotheus, who was a believer in the Macedonian heresy and attended meetings in Rome for the promulgation of this doctrine, 476. On one of the emperor's visits to St. Peter's, the pope openly called him to account for his favourite's conduct, exhorting him by the grave of St. Peter to promise that he would do all in his power to check the evil. Hilarus erected several churches and other buildings in Rome. Two oratories in the baptistery of the Lateran, one in honour of St. John the Baptist, the other of St. John the Apostle, are due to him. After his flight from the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus, Hilarus had hidden himself in the crypt of St. John the Apostle, and he attributed his deliverance to the intercession of the Apostle. Over the ancient doors of the oratory this inscription is still to be seen: "To St. John the Evangelist, the liberator of Bishop Hilarus, a Servant of Christ". He also erected a chapel of the Holy Cross in the baptistery, a convent, two public baths, and libraries near the Church of St. Laurence Outside the Walls. He built another convent within the city walls. The "Liber Pontificalis" mentions many votive offerings made by Hilarus in the different churches. He died after a pontificate of six years, three months, and ten days. He was buried in the church of St. Laurence Outside the Walls. His feast day is celebrated on 17 November.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Pope Francis misses Penitential service due to Slight Illness but sends Priests message "..to live a life of substantial prayer." Full Text


Vatican News reports that a traditional penitential liturgy was held for clergy of the Diocese of Rome on Thursday. The ceremony took place in the Archbasilica of St John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese. After a meditation by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Angelo De Donatis, the priests of the diocese had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation during a penitential liturgy at St John Lateran.

Normally, Pope Francis, as the Bishop of Rome, is present for the event, and personally hears the confessions of several priests. This year, however, due to a “slight indisposition”, the Pope “preferred to remain in the vicinity of Santa Marta”, according to a statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office. The Holy Father’s prepared remarks were read out to the Roman clergy by Cardinal De Donatis.


Vatican.va Release of the Full Text: Address of the Holy Father for today's penitential liturgy read by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, 27.02.2020

Speech of the Holy Father

The bitterness in the life of the priest.

A reflection ad intra

I don't want to reflect so much on the tribulations that derive from the mission of the presbyter: they are things that are well known and already widely diagnosed. I wish to speak with you, on this occasion, about a subtle enemy who finds many ways to disguise and hide and like a parasite slowly steals the joy of the vocation to which we were called one day. I want to talk to you about that bitterness focused on the relationship with the faith, the Bishop, the confreres. We know that other roots and situations may exist. But these summarize many encounters that I have had with some of you.

I immediately note two things: the first, that these lines are the result of listening to some seminarians and priests from different Italian dioceses and cannot or should not refer to any specific situation. The second: that most of the priests I know are happy with their lives and consider these bitterness as part of normal living, without drama. I preferred to redundate what I listen to rather than express my opinion on the topic.

Looking our bitterness in the face and confronting them allows us to make contact with our humanity, with our blessed humanity. And so remember that as priests we are not called to be omnipotent but sinful men forgiven and sent. As Saint Irenaeus of Lyon said: "what is not assumed is not redeemed". Let these "bitternesses" also show us the way towards greater adoration of the Father and help us to experience again the strength of his merciful anointing (cf. Lk 15: 11-32). To put it in the psalmist: "You have changed my lament into dance, you have taken off my sackcloth, you have clothed me with joy, so that my heart will sing you, without keeping silent" (Ps 30: 12-13).

First cause of bitterness: problems with faith.

"We thought it was him," the disciples of Emmaus confide to one another (cf. Lk 24:21). A disappointed hope is at the root of their bitterness. But we must reflect: is it the Lord who has disappointed us or have we exchanged hope with our expectations? Christian hope does not really disappoint and does not fail. Hope is not to be convinced that things will get better, but that everything that happens makes sense in the light of Easter. But to hope in a Christian way it is necessary - as Saint Augustine taught in Proba - to live a life of substantial prayer. It is there that you learn to distinguish between expectations and hopes.

Now, the relationship with God - more than pastoral disappointments - can be a profound cause of bitterness. Sometimes it almost seems that He does not respect the expectations of a full and abundant life that we had on the day of ordination. Sometimes an unfinished adolescence does not help to pass from dreams to spes. Perhaps as priests we are too "respectable" in our relationship with God and we do not dare to protest in prayer, as the psalmist does very often - not only for ourselves, also for our people; because the shepherd also brings the bitterness of his people -; but also the psalms have been "censored" and we hardly make our own a spirituality of protest. So we fall into cynicism: discontented and a little frustrated. The real protest - of the adult - is not against God but before Him, because it arises precisely from confidence in Him: the person praying reminds the Father who he is and what is worthy of his name. We have to sanctify his name, but sometimes the disciples have to wake up the Lord and say to him: "Don't you care that we are lost?" (Mk 4,35-41). So the Lord wants to involve us directly in his kingdom. Not as spectators, but actively participating.
What is the difference between expectation and hope? The expectation arises when we spend our lives saving our lives: we struggle to find safety, rewards, progress ... When we receive what we want, we almost feel that we will never die, that it will always be like this! Because we are the reference point. Hope is instead something that is born in the heart when you decide not to defend yourself anymore. When I recognize my limitations, and that not everything starts and ends with me, then I recognize the importance of trusting. Already the Theatine Lorenzo Scupoli in his spiritual Combat taught it: the key to everything is in a dual and simultaneous movement: to be wary of yourself, to trust in God. I hope not when there is nothing more to do, but when I stop giving myself by do just for me. Hope rests on an alliance: God spoke to me and promised me on the day of ordination that mine will be a full life, with the fullness and flavor of the Beatitudes; certainly troubled - like that of all men - but beautiful. My life is tasty if I do Easter, not if things go as I say.

And here we understand another thing: listening to history is not enough to understand these processes. We must listen to history and our life in the light of the Word of God. The disciples of Emmaus overcame the disappointment when the Risen One opened their minds to the intelligence of the Scriptures. Here: things will get better not only because we will change superiors, or mission, or strategies, but because we will be comforted by the Word. Jeremiah prophet confessed: "Your Word was the joy and gladness of my heart" (15:16).

Bitterness - which is not a fault - must be accepted. It can be a great opportunity. Perhaps it is also healthy, because it makes the inner alarm bell ring: be careful, you have exchanged security with the alliance, you are becoming "foolish and late-hearted". There is a sadness that can lead us to God. Let us welcome it, we do not get angry with ourselves. It may be the right time. Saint Francis of Assisi also experienced it, he reminds us of it in his Testament (cf. Franciscan sources, 110). The bitterness will change into a great sweetness, and the easy, worldly sweetnesses will turn into bitterness.

Second cause of bitterness: problems with the Bishop

I don't want to fall into rhetoric or look for the scapegoat, or even defend myself or defend those in my area. The commonplace that finds the blame for everything in superiors no longer holds. We are all missing in the small and the large. Nowadays it seems to breathe a general atmosphere (not only among us) of a widespread mediocrity, which does not allow us to climb on easy judgments. But the fact remains that much bitterness in the life of the priest is given by the omissions of the Pastors.

We all experience our limitations and shortcomings. We face situations in which we realize that we are not adequately prepared ... But going up to the services and ministries with greater visibility, the shortcomings become more evident and noisy; and it is also a logical consequence that there is a lot of play in this relationship, for better or for worse. What omissions? We do not allude here to the often inevitable divergences about managerial problems or pastoral styles. This is tolerable and part of life on this earth. As long as Christ is not all in all, all will try to impose themselves on all! It is the fallen Adam who is in us to make these jokes.

The real problem that is bitter are not the differences (and perhaps not even the mistakes: even a bishop has the right to make mistakes like all creatures!), But rather two very serious and destabilizing reasons for priests.

First of all a certain soft authoritarian drift: we do not accept those of us who think differently. For a word you are transferred to the category of those who row against, for a "distinction" you are registered among the discontented. The parrhesia is buried in the frenzy of imposing plans. The cult of initiatives is replacing the essential: one faith, one baptism, one God the Father of all. Adherence to initiatives risks becoming the yardstick of communion. But it does not always coincide with the unanimity of opinions. Nor can one expect that communion is exclusively one-way: priests must be in communion with the bishop ... and bishops in communion with priests: it is not a question of democracy, but of fatherhood.
St. Benedict in the Rule - we are in the famous chapter III - recommends that the abbot, when facing an important question, consult the entire community, including the youngest. Then he continues by reiterating that the final decision is up to the abbot alone, that everything must be disposed of with prudence and equity. For Benedetto there is no question of authority, quite the opposite, it is the abbot who answers before God for the running of the monastery; however it is said that in deciding he must be "prudent and fair". We know the first word well: prudence and discernment are part of the common vocabulary.

"Equity" is less usual: equity means taking everyone's opinion into account and safeguarding the representativeness of the flock, without making preferences. The great temptation of the shepherd is to surround himself with "his", "neighbors"; and so, unfortunately, real competence is supplanted by a certain presumed loyalty, no longer distinguishing between those who please and those who advise selflessly. This makes the flock suffer a lot, which often accepts without outsourcing anything. The Code of Canon Law recalls that the faithful "have the right, and sometimes even the duty, to express their thoughts to the sacred Pastors on what concerns the good of the Church" (can. 212 § 3). Of course, in this time of precariousness and widespread fragility, the solution seems to be authoritarianism (in the political sphere this is evident). But the real cure - as San Benedetto advises - lies in fairness, not in uniformity. [1]

Third cause of bitterness: problems between us

The priest in recent years has suffered the blows of scandals, financial and sexual. Suspicion has drastically made relationships colder and more formal; one no longer enjoys the gifts of others, on the contrary, it seems that it is a mission to destroy, minimize, make people suspect. In the face of scandals, the evil one tempts us by pushing us towards a "Donatist" vision of the Church: inside the impeccable, out who is wrong! We have false conceptions of the militant Church, in a sort of ecclesiological puritanism. The Bride of Christ is and remains the field in which wheat and tares grow up to parousia. Whoever has not made this evangelical vision of reality his own exposes himself to unspeakable and useless bitterness.

However, the public and publicized sins of the clergy have made everyone more cautious and less willing to forge meaningful bonds, especially in order to share the faith. Common appointments multiply - ongoing formation and others - but you participate with a less willing heart. There is more "community", but less communion! The question we ask ourselves when we meet a new confrere emerges silently: “Who do I really have before me? I can trust?".

It is not about loneliness: it is not a problem but an aspect of the mystery of communion. Christian solitude - that of those who enter their room and pray to the Father in secret - is a blessing, the true source of the loving welcome of the other. The real problem lies in not finding time to be alone anymore. Without loneliness there is no free love, and others become a substitute for the voids. In this sense as priests we must always re-learn to be alone "evangelically", like Jesus at night with the Father. [2]

Here the drama is isolation, which is something other than loneliness. An isolation not only and not so much external - we are always in the midst of people - as inherent in the soul of the priest. I start from the deepest isolation and then touch its most visible form.

Isolated from grace: lapped by secularism we no longer believe or feel we are surrounded by heavenly friends - the "large number of witnesses" (cf Heb 12: 1) -; we seem to experience that our story, the afflictions, do not affect anyone. The world of grace has gradually become foreign to us, the saints seem to us only the "imaginary friends" of children. The Spirit that inhabits the heart - substantially and not in the figure - is something that perhaps we have never experienced through dissipation or negligence. We know, but we don't "touch". The distance from the force of grace produces rationalisms or sentimentalisms. Never a redeemed flesh
Isolated from grace: lapped by secularism we no longer believe or feel we are surrounded by heavenly friends - the "large number of witnesses" (cf Heb 12: 1) -; we seem to experience that our story, the afflictions, do not affect anyone. The world of grace has gradually become foreign to us, the saints seem to us only the "imaginary friends" of children. The Spirit that inhabits the heart - substantially and not in the figure - is something that perhaps we have never experienced through dissipation or negligence. We know, but we don't "touch". The distance from the force of grace produces rationalisms or sentimentalisms. Never a redeemed meat.

To isolate oneself from history: everything seems to be consumed in the here and now, without hope in the promised goods and in the future reward. Everything opens and closes with us. My death is not the passing of the witness, but an unjust interruption. The more special, powerful, rich in gifts you feel, the more you close your heart to the continuous meaning of the history of the people of God to whom you belong. Our individualized consciousness makes us believe that there has been nothing before and nothing after. This is why we struggle so much to take care of and keep what our predecessor has started out well: we often arrive in the parish and we feel compelled to make a clean slate, in order to distinguish ourselves and mark the difference. We are unable to continue to live the good that we did not give birth to! We start from scratch because we do not feel the taste of belonging to a community path of salvation.

Isolated from others: isolation from grace and history is one of the causes of the inability among us to establish significant relationships of trust and evangelical sharing. If I am isolated, my problems seem unique and insurmountable: nobody can understand me. This is one of the father's favorite thoughts of the lie. We remember the words of Bernanos: «Only after a long time do you recognize it, and the sadness that announces it, precedes it, how sweet it is! It is the most substantial of the elixirs of the devil, his ambrosia! ". [3] Thought that gradually takes shape and closes us in ourselves, distances us from others and puts us in a position of superiority. Because nobody would live up to the needs. Thought that by dint of repeating it ends up nesting in us. "Whoever hides his sins will not succeed, whoever confesses and abandons them will find mercy" (Pr 28,13).

The devil does not want you to speak, that you tell, that you share. So you are looking for a good spiritual father, a "smart" elderly man who can accompany you. Never isolate yourself, never! The deep feeling of communion occurs only when, personally, I become aware of the "we" that I am, I have been and will be. Otherwise, the other problems come cascading: from isolation, from a community without communion, competition arises and certainly not cooperation; the desire for recognition emerges and not the joy of shared holiness; one enters into a relationship or to compare oneself or to support one another.

We remember the people of Israel when, walking in the desert for three days, they arrived in Mara, but could not drink the water because it was bitter. Faced with the protest of the people, Moses invoked the Lord and the water became sweet (cf. Ex 15.22-25). The holy faithful people of God know us better than anyone else. They are very respectful and know how to accompany and take care of their shepherds. They know our bitterness and also pray to the Lord for us. Let's add ours to their prayers, and ask the Lord to turn our bitterness into fresh water for his people. We ask the Lord to give us the ability to recognize what is embittering us and thus let us transform and be reconciled people who reconcile, pacified who pacify, full of hope that instill hope. The people of God await from us teachers of spirit capable of indicating the wells of fresh water in the middle of the desert.
[1] A second reason for bitterness comes from a "loss" in the ministry of pastors: suffocated by management problems and personnel emergencies, we risk neglecting the munus docendi. The bishop is the teacher of faith, of orthodoxy and "orthopathy", of right belief and right feeling in the Holy Spirit. In episcopal ordination, the epiclesis is prayed with the Gospel Book open on the candidate's head and the imposition of the miter externally reaffirms the munus of transmitting not personal beliefs but evangelical wisdom. Who is the catechist of that permanent disciple who is the priest? The bishop of course! But who remembers it? It could be argued that priests do not usually want to be educated by bishops. And it's true. But this - even if it were - is not a good reason to give up the munus. The holy people of God have the right to have priests who teach to believe; and deacons and priests have the right to have a bishop who in turn teaches to believe and hope in the One Master, Way, Truth and Life, who inflames their faith. As a priest I don't want the bishop to please me, but to help me believe. I wish I could found my theological hope in him! Sometimes we are reduced to following only the confreres in crisis (and it is a good thing), but even the "healthy donkeys" would need a more targeted, serene and out of emergency listening. So here is a second omission that can cause bitterness: the renunciation of the munus docendi towards priests (and not only). Authoritarian pastors who have lost the authority to teach?

[2] It is a loneliness in the middle - let's face it - because it is the loneliness of the shepherd who is full of names, faces, situations, of the shepherd who arrives in the evening tired of talking with his Lord about all these people. The shepherd's solitude is a solitude inhabited by laughter and tears of people and the community; it is a solitude with faces to offer to the Lord.

[3] Diary of a country curate, Milan 2017, 103.

[00287-IT.01] [Original text: Italian].

Powerful Devotion to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows and Litany Prayers to SHARE with Promises

 The Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows remembers, in prayer, 7 times when the mother of Jesus experienced great pains in her heart due to the sufferings of Jesus. Honoring Our Lady due to her sorrows became popular in the 12th Century especially by the Benedictines. A feast to Our Lady of Sorrows was first celebrated in 1482 under the title of Our Lady of Compassion. In 1814 the feast was changed to Our Lady of Sorrows and is celebrated on September 15. (On February 27, is the feast day of St. Gabriel of the Seven Sorrows, who promoted this devotion)
The Seven Graces (promises) of this Devotion
  1. I will grant peace to their families.

  2.They will be enlightened about the Divine mysteries.

  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
  5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
  7. I have obtained this Grace from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.


7 Sorrows Devotional Prayers: 
Sorrow 1

The Presentation in the Temple

FIRST PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary
 

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

1. I grieve for you, O Mary, most sorrowful, in the affliction of your tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by your heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Sorrow 2
The Flight into Egypt
 
THE SECOND PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary
V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
2. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of your most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and your sojourn there.
Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Sorrow 3
Loss of Jesus For Three Days
THE THIRD PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary
V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

3. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the lost of your dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen. 
Sorrow 4
The Way to Calvary
 
THE FOURTH PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
 4. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of your heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His cross. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Sorrow 5
The Crucifixion 
THE FIFTH PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary
 

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

5. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which your generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by your afflicted heart, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Sorrow 6
The Descent from the Cross
THE SIXTH PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary
 

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

6. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of
understanding.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Sorrow 7
The Burial of Jesus
THE SEVENTH PRAYER OF THE CHAPLET:
The Seven Dolors of The Blessed Virgin Mary
 

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

7. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched your most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
PRAYER OF ST. BONAVENTURE TO
THE MOTHER OF SORROWS

O sorrowful Virgin, unite me at least to the humiliations and wounds of thy Son, so that both He and thee may find comfort in having someone sharing thy sufferings. Oh, how happy I would be if I could do this! For is there perhaps anything greater, sweeter, or more advantageous for a person? Why dost thou not grant me what I ask? If I have offended thee, be just and pierce my heart. If I have been faithful to thee, leave me not without a reward: give me thy sorrows.

 

PRAYER OF ST. ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI
 

O afflicted Virgin, O soul great in virtues, as in sorrows, both the one and the other spring from that great fire burning in thyr heart for God, the only love of thy heart!
Mother, have pity on me, who has not loved God, and who has so greatly offended Him. Thy sorrows, it is true, assure me of pardon, but that is not sufficient. I wish to love God. Who could obtain for me that grace if not thee, who are the Mother of holy love! O Mary, Thou consolest everyone; favor me also, with thy consolations. Amen. 

APPROVED BY POPE PIUS VII  IN 1815 

Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows

by Pope Pius VII
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, [etc.]
Sorrowful Mother
Mournful Mother
Sighing Mother
Afflicted Mother
Foresaken Mother
Desolate Mother
Mother most sad
Mother set around with anguish
Mother overwhelmed by grief
Mother transfixed by a sword
Mother crucified in thy heart
Mother bereaved of thy Son
Sighing Dove
Mother of Dolors
Fount of tears
Sea of bitterness
Field of tribulation
Mass of suffering
Mirror of patience
Rock of constancy
Remedy in perplexity
Joy of the afflicted
Ark of the desolate
Refuge of the abandoned
Shiled of the oppressed
Conqueror of the incredulous
Solace of the wretched
Medicine of the sick
Help of the faint
Strength of the weak
Protectress of those who fight
Haven of the shipwrecked
Calmer of tempests
Companion of the sorrowful
Retreat of those who groan
Terror of the treacherous
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs
Treasure of the Faithful
Light of Confessors
Pearl of Virgins
Comfort of Widows
Joy of all Saints
Queen of thy Servants
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled
V. Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.
The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady
1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
4. Mary meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb.


Litany by Pope Pius VII

Young Indigenous Girl Killed in Paraguay - Appeal "to collaborate in the protection of children's rights" - RIP Francisca Araújo Cáceres, at age of 12


AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Girl killed: being indigenous should not be a reason for discrimination and cruelty
Thursday, 27 February 2020

Nestor Soto, La Nacion

Asuncion (Agenzia Fides) - The National Coordination of Indigenous Pastoral Care (CONAPI) of the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference "is saddened and repudiates what happened to the indigenous girl found dead, with hands and feet tied, in a backpack near the bus terminal in Asuncion, and the latest deaths of our indigenous brothers and sisters, which have occurred in various violent and inexplicable ways, which to date have not been clarified".
The Observatory on Gender Violence has informed that the girl was identified as Francisca Araújo Cáceres, 12 years old, belonging to the Mbya Guaraní ethnic group and a native of Curuguaty, Department of Canindeyú. In the first two months of 2020, according to the Observatory, three other indigenous girls were found dead, one with signs of sexual violence.
In the message of CONAPI sent to Agenzia Fides, which bears the date of 26 February, it is stated that in Paraguay there are laws for the protection of minors, as also envisaged by the Constitution of the nation, and recall that, according to law 234/93 on indigenous and tribal peoples, the State "has taken on the responsibility of promoting, with the participation of the peoples concerned, a coordinated and systematic action that aims to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and to guarantee respect for their integrity".
"In the perspective of a culture of human rights and respect for differences, being indigenous should not be a reason for acts of discrimination and cruelty" says CONAPI, launching an appeal to society in general "to collaborate in the protection of children's rights and adolescents, based on the principles of non-discrimination and the right to life". The press release ends by urging the competent authorities to multiply their efforts "to promote wider public policies, knowledge and respect for cultural diversity, to respond to the needs of indigenous peoples". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 27/2/2020)
Image Source Wikipedia Commons of Natives in Paraguay

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday, February 27, 2020 - #Eucharist


Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 220

Reading 1DT 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Responsorial Psalm1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R.    (40:5a)  Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Verse Before The GospelMT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

GospelLK 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
 “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Full Text - US President Trump on Ash Wednesday "We join in prayer with everyone observing this holy day and wish you a prayerful Lenten journey..."


Presidential Message on Ash Wednesday, 2020
Issued on: February 26, 2020

Melania and I wish everyone observing Ash Wednesday a peaceful and prayerful day.

For Catholics and many other Christians, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season that concludes with the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday.  Today, millions of Christians will be marked on their foreheads with the sign of the cross.  The imposition of ashes is an invitation to spend time during Lent fasting, praying, and engaging in acts of charity.  This powerful and sacred tradition reminds us of our shared mortality, Christ’s saving love, and the need to repent and accept the Gospel more fully.

We join in prayer with everyone observing this holy day and wish you a prayerful Lenten journey.  May you grow closer to God in your faith during this blessed season.
Source ' https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/presidential-message-ash-wednesday-2020/

Saint February 27 : St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows the Patron of: Students, Youth, Seminarians and a Passionist Monk

February 27, marks the feast day of Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862), the patron saint of young people, students, and young religious. Saint Gabriel’s short life is marked by piety, faith, and obedience to the Lord, and religious vocation at the behest of Our Blessed Mother. While the last six years of his life, spent as a brother in the Passionist Order, were marked by humility, self-denial, and simplicity, Gabriel’s early life was quite the opposite. His complete consecration of his life to the Lord, despite the temptations of the modern world which he so loved, make his sacrifice a vivid example of the Christian love and obedience we should strive for.
Born Francis Possenti, in Assisi, Italy in 1838, Saint Gabriel was the eleventh of thirteen children produced by the union of his parents. His father, a pious man with great political recognition in the area, and his mother, a well-connected religious woman from a respected family, were delighted in their son. He was baptized at the same font that his saintly namesake had been baptized nearly 600 years earlier.
From an early age, Francis demonstrated the potential for thoughtfulness and piety. He encouraged his teacher and siblings to pay more attention to the poor, oftentimes choosing to give some of his portions to those in need. Before he reached the age of four, his mother passed away from a serious illness, as did four of his siblings. Francis, the most sensitive of the family, was severely moved by these losses, increasing his empathy for others and his sensitivity to those in need.
As Francis matured, he developed insight into the fact that he was smart, charming, and attractive. He pursued hedonistic pleasures like art and theater, which he would later write to friends almost “cost him his soul.” He dressed to perfection, paying careful attention to his appearance. Francis excelled at school, and was generally the award-winner in all of his classes. He was chosen to give his commencement address upon graduation from the Jesuit College. Francis embraced the world, and to his classmates and friends, he appeared to have all the tools required for great success. He was the center of attention wherever he went, all the doors of the finest families and establishments open to him throughout the city. And while he was impulsive, prone to anger, and pridefully vain, he was poised to achieve great worldly things.
But Francis felt called in a different direction. Twice, Francis came down with serious illnesses while in school, illnesses he was not expected to recover from. During these times, he prayed to the Lord, promising to become a religious if his life was spared. While a student at the Jesuit College, he had asked permission to enter the Order, and was granted permission from his spiritual director. But Francis delayed entering the Order, finding reasons to wait. He maintained his faith, praying daily in the chapel and receiving the Eucharist, but could not commit to the religious life and give up his worldly enjoyments. As time went on, Francis began to doubt his choice of the Jesuit Order, instead feeling called to become a Passionist, the Order formed by Saint John of the Cross. His spiritual director encouraged him to wait and pray, and see where the Lord led him.
Following the cholera outbreak in 1856, the town rejoiced in thanks to the Blessed Mother, who interceded to save Spoleto. In veneration, a statue of Our Lady was carried throughout the streets. Francis observed the procession, more curious than devoted. As the statue was carried past him, he gazed into the face of the Blessed Virgin, and through the eyes of the statue, Mary pierced his heart with a gaze so strong it felt as a ‘dart of fire.” At the same time, he heard the words deep within in, “Why! thou art not made for the world! What art thou doing in the world? Hasten, become a religious!”
From that moment, Francis’ life changed. He entered the noviatiate of the Passionists, where he would live until his death. The Passionist Order is a strict order, and his family and friends urged him not to commit to such a life. Rather, they suggested he become a priest, or better yet, not become a religious and use his “talents” in the world. Francis was not to be disuaded. After his initial retreat, he was clothed in the robes of the Passionists, and gave up his name for a new name: Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
His days were spent in prayer, chanting, study, and manual labor. The Passionist Order maintains a rule of silence, and speaking was forbidden without permission. Gabriel spent the majority of his time meditating on the Passion of Christ, and praying the Rosary to Our Lady of Sorrows. Despite the rules and strict lifestyle, Gabriel was filled with joy. “My life is a continuous delight; what I experience inside these sacred walls is almost inexpressible; the 24 hours of the day seem to me like 24 short instants; really my life is full of delight.” He looked at each sacrifice as a way in which to polish away his sinful life, his pride, his vanity, and devote his life to Jesus. He wrote, “I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own”
Saint Gabriel looked to the Blessed Mother as his comfort and refuge in times of suffering, of which he had plenty due to illness. He wrote of her to his brother, “Love Mary!… She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.” Within a few years of joining the Order, Gabriel was stricken with Consumption. He died a slow and painful death, over the course of two years, during which he maintained a cheerful and joyous disposition, so much so that his brothers in the Order wished to spend their days with him. In his dying moments, he asked for his picture of the Crucifixion, with the Blessed Virgin standing at the foot of the cross. It was well-worn from use. He devoutly kissed it, placed it upon him, folded his hands across it, and began to pray. With indescribable love he began to say aloud: “Oh, my Mother make haste, make haste!”
Many from the Order watched and prayed in his cell with him, as they knew his moment of death was close at hand. They were moved to tears by his devotion, and by the love with which he implored the comfort of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. By their records, Gabriel suddenly turned his eyes to the left and above him, gazing in rapture upon some heavenly vision. With a peaceful smile, he died, never letting go of his beloved picture. Not yest a priest when he died at age 24, Gabriel was buried at the Passionist retreat in Isola di Gran Sasso, Italy.
Since his death, numerous miracles have been reported via his intercession. For exmaple, Saint Gemma (1878-1903), a young woman with numerous ailments including deafness from meningitis, paralysis, abcesses, and curvature of the spine was miraculously cured after praying a novena to Saint Gabriel. In her own words, "I grew in admiration of his virtues and his ways. My devotion to him increased. At night I did not sleep without having his picture under my pillow, and after that I began to see him near me. I don’t know how to explain this, but I felt his presence. At all times and in every action Brother Gabriel came to mind.”
When she was approximately 20, and on her deathbed, Gemma began her novena to Saint Gabriel. While trying to sleep, she heard the rattling of a Rosary and he appeared to her, saying, “Do you wish to recover? Pray with faith every evening to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I will come to you until the Novena is ended, and will pray together to this Most Sacred Heart.” On the last night of the Novena, Gemma was miraculously cured of all her ailments, a scientific impossibility at the time. Saint Gemma went on to be visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary, and bore the stigmata throughout her prayerful life, committed to Jesus.
One of his brothers wrote of him: “In the garden within the monastery walls at Isola stands a large crucifix. A seed fell to the ground before it. A plant sprang up, and twined itself around the cross until it reached the feet of the figure nailed upon it. It then bent outward, as if to behold what was above. A bud formed, swelled, burst into bloom, and gazed in loving awe upon the figure of Christ Crucified. Lo! it was a true flower of the Passion! Its heart was pierced and stamped with the signs of Him Who hung upon the cross. The seed that fell at the foot of the crucifix was Francis Possenti. The plant that grew there from and flowered was Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Passionist.”
Text shared from 365 Rosaries