Monday, August 31, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - Virtual Church




FIRST READING

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians        2:10-16
The Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God. After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God. Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us. Therefore we teach, not in the way in which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us: we teach spiritual things spiritually. An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit. A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men. As scripture says: Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him ? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.
The Word of the Lord

Responsorial Psalm        Ps 144
Response                             The Lord is just in all his ways.

1. The Lord is kind and full of compassion’,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.              Response

2. All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O ,God,
to make known to men your mighty deeds
and the glorious splendour of your reign.  Response

3. Yours is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule lasts from age to age.
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and loving in all his deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall
and raises all who are bowed down.           Response

Gospel  Acclamation           Heb 4: 12
Alleluia, alleluia!
The word of God is something alive and active:
it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.
Alleluia !

Or                                                Lk 7:16
Alleluia, alleluia!
A great prophet has appeared among us;
God has visited his people.
Alleluia !

GOSPEL

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke               4:31-37
 Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil, throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all.
Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint September 1 : St. Giles the Patron of Breast Cancer , Beggars and Disabled with Novena Prayer

ABBOT
Feast: September 1
Information: Feast Day: September 1

Born: Athens, Greece

Died: France
Major Shrine: St. Giles' Cathedral (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Patron of: beggars; blacksmiths; breast cancer; breast feeding; cancer patients; disabled people; epilepsy; fear of night; forests; hermits; horses; lepers; mental illness; noctiphobics; outcasts; poor peoples; rams; spur makers; sterility;
An Abbot, said to have been born of illustrious Athenian parentage about the middle of the seventh century. Early in life he devoted himself exclusively to spiritual things, but, finding his noble birth and high repute for sanctity in his native land an obstacle to his perfection, he passed over to Gaul, where he established himself first in a wilderness near the mouth of the Rhone and later by the River Gard. But here again the fame of his sanctity drew multitudes to him, so he withdrew to a dense forest near Nîmes, where in the greatest solitude he spent many years, his sole companion being a hind. This last retreat was finally discovered by the king's hunters, who had pursued the hind to its place of refuge. The king [who according to the legend was Wamba (or Flavius?), King of the Visigoths, but who must have been a Frank, since the Franks had expelled the Visigoths from the neighbourhood of Nîmes almost a century and a half earlier] conceived a high esteem for solitary, and would have heaped every honour upon him; but the humility of the saint was proof against all temptations. He consented, however, to receive thenceforth some disciples, and built a monastery in his valley, which he placed under the rule of St. Benedict. Here he died in the early part of the eighth century, with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles.
His cult spread rapidly far and wide throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, as is witnessed by the numberless churches and monasteries dedicated to him in France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the British Isles; by the numerous manuscripts in prose and verse commemorating his virtues and miracles; and especially by the vast concourse of pilgrims who from all Europe flocked to his shrine. In 1562 the relics of the saint were secretly transferred to Toulouse to save them from the hideous excesses of the Huguenots who were then ravaging France, and the pilgrimage in consequence declined. With the restoration of a great part of the relics to the church of St. Giles in 1862, and the discovery of his former tomb there in 1865, the pilgrimages have recommenced. Besides the city of St-Gilles, which sprang up around the abbey, nineteen other cities bear his name, St-Gilles, Toulouse, and a multitude of French cities, Antwerp, Bridges, and Tournai in Belgium, Cologne and Bamberg, in Germany, Prague and Gran in Austria-Hungary, Rome and Bologna in Italy, possess celebrated relics of St. Giles. In medieval art he is a frequent subject, being always depicted with his symbol, the hind. His feast is kept on 1 September. On this day there are also commemorated another St. Giles, an Italian hermit of the tenth century (Acta SS., XLI, 305), and a Blessed Giles, d. about 1203, a Cistercian abbot of Castaneda in the Diocese of Astorga, Spain (op. cit. XLI, 308).
SOURCE the Catholic Encyclopedia
Novena in Honor of St. Giles
Preparatory Prayer 
For Each  Novena to a Holy Helper
ALMIGHTY and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy Heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy Divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the Saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen. Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be each day of the Novena.
Prayer in Honor of St. Giles
O GOD, we beseech Thee to grant us, through the merits and intercession of St. Giles, to flee from the vanity and praise of this world, to avoid carefully all occasions of sin, to cleanse our hearts from all wickedness by a sincere Confession, to leave this world in Thy love and rich in good works, and to find Thee gracious on the day of judgment. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invocation of St. Giles
ZEALOUS follower of Christ, St. Giles; from early youth thou didst take to heart the words of our Savior: "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart." Therefore thou didst flee from the praise and honors of the world, and wast rewarded with the grace to preserve thy heart from all sin and to persevere in a holy life to a ripe old age. I, on my part, through pride, self-confidence, and negligence, yielded to my evil inclinations, and thereby sinned grievously and often, offending my God and Lord, my Creator and Redeemer, my most loving Father. Therefore I implore thee to help me through thy mighty intercession to be enlightened by the Holy Ghost, that I may know the malice, grievousness, and multitude of my sins, confess them humbly, fully, and contritely, and receive pardon, tranquillity of heart, and peace of conscience from God. Amen.
Prayer
My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.
SOURCE:
THE FOURTEEN HOLY HELPERS, Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, O.F.M. 

Official Novena for the Birth of Mary, Blessed Virgin with Plenary Indulgence - Powerful Prayers to Share!

To all faithful Christians who, in private or public, in church or in their own houses, shall keep any of the following Novenas, in preparation for the principal feasts of most holy Mary, Pope Pius VII., at the prayer of several holy persons, granted, by Rescripts issued through his Eminence the Cardinal-Vicar, Aug. 4 and Nov. 24, 1808, and Jan. 11, 1800 (all of which are kept in the Segretaria of the Vicariate) -
i. An indulgence of 300 days, daily.

ii. A plenary indulgence to all who shall assist at these Novenas every day, and who shall afterwards, either on the Feast-day itself, to which each Novena respectively has reference, or on some one day in its Octave, after Confession and Communion, pray to our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin ac cording to the pious intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

 FOR THE FEAST OF OUR LADY’S NATIVITY.


Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

TRANSLATION.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Most holy Mary, Elect One, predestined from all eternity by the Most Holy Trinity to be Mother of the only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, foretold by the Prophets, expected by the Patriarchs, desired by all nations, Sanctuary and living Temple of the Holy Ghost, Sun without stain, conceived free from original sin, Mistress of Heaven and of Earth, Queen of angels:- humbly prostrate at thy feet we give thee our homage, rejoicing that the year has brought round again the memory of thy most happy Nativity; and we pray thee with all our hearts to vouchsafe in thy goodness now to come down again and be reborn spiritually in our souls, that, led captive by thy loveliness and sweetness, they may ever live united to thy most sweet and loving heart.

i. So now whilst we say nine angelic salutations, we will direct our thoughts to the nine months which thou didst pass enclosed in thy mother’s womb; celebrating at the same time thy descent from the royal house of David, and how thou didst come forth to the light of heaven with high honour from the womb of holy Anna, thy most happy mother.
Ave Maria.

ii. We hail thee, heavenly Babe, white Dove of purity; who in spite of the serpent wast conceived free from original sin.
Ave Maria.

iii. We hail thee, bright Morn; who, forerunner of the Heavenly Sun of Justice, didst bring the first light to earth.
Ave Maria.

iv. We hail thee, Elect; who, like the untarnished Sun, didst burst forth in the dark night of sin.
Ave Maria.

v. We hail thee, beauteous Moon; who didst shed light upon a world wrapt in the darkness of idolatry.
Ave Maria.

vi. We hail thee, dread Warrior-Queen; who, in thyself a host, didst put to flight all hell.
Ave Maria.

vii. We hail thee, fair Soul of Mary; who from eternity wast possessed by God and God alone.
Ave Maria.

viii. We hail thee, dear Child, and we humbly venerate thy most holy infant body, the sacred swaddling-clothes wherewith they bound thee, the sacred crib wherein they laid thee, and we bless the hour and the day when thou wast born.
Ave Maria.

ix. We hail thee, much-loved Infant, adorned with every virtue immeasurably above all saints, and therefore worthy Mother of the Saviour of the world; who, having been made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, didst bring forth the Word Incarnate.
Ave Maria.

PRAYER

O most lovely Infant, who by thy holy birth hast comforted the world, made glad the heavens, struck terror into hell, brought help to the fallen, consolation to the sad, salvation to the weak, joy to all men living; we entreat thee, with the most fervent love and gratitude, to be spiritually reborn in our souls by means of thy most holy love; renew our spirits to thy service, rekindle in our hearts the fire of charity, bid all the virtues blossom there, that so we may find more and more favour in thy gracious eyes. Mary! be thou our Mary, and may we feel the saving power of thy sweetest name; may it ever be our comfort to call on that name in all our troubles; may it be our hope in dangers, our shield in temptation, and our last utterance in death. Sit nomen Mariae mel in ore, melos in aure, et jubilus in corde. Amen. Let the name of Mary be honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart. Amen.

V. Nativitas tua, Dei Genitrix Virgo.
R. Gaudium annuntiavit universo mundo.

Oremus.
Famulis tuis, quaesumus Domine, coelestis gratiae munus impertire: ut quibus Beata Virginis partus extitit salutis exordium, nativitatis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum.

Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

TRANSLATION.

V. Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God.
R. Hath brought joy to the whole world.

Let us pray.
Grant to us Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace; that to all those for whom the delivery of the Blessed Virgin was the beginning of salvation, this her votive festival may give increase of peace. Through, &c.

Let us pray.


O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Monday, August 31, 2020 - Virtual Church



FIRST READING

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians           2:1-5
The only knowledge I claimed to have was about  the crucified Christ.

Paul writing1Brothers, when I came to you, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ. Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy;
only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy
but on the power of God.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm         Ps 118
Response                              Lord, how I love your law!

1. Lord, how I love your law!
It is ever in my mind.
Your command makes me wiser than my foes;
for it is mine for ever.                               Response

2. I have more insight than all who teach me
for I ponder your will.
I have more understanding than the old
for I keep your precepts.                         Response

3. I turn my feet from evil paths
to obey your word.
I have not turned away from your decrees;
you yourself have taught me.                Response

Gospel  Acclamation       Jn 8: 12
Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the light of the world, says the Lord,
anyone who follows me will have the light of life.
Alleluia !

Or                                              Lk 4: 18
Alleluia, alleluia!
The Lord has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives.
Alleluia !

GOSPEL                 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke     4:16-30
Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen’. And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips

They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’ But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside”‘. And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint August 31 : St. Raymond Nonnatus - a Pro-Life Saint and the Patron of Pregnant, Midwives and Newborns with Novena Prayer

(In Spanish SAN RAMON). Born 1200 or 1204 at Portello in the Diocese of Urgel in Catalonia; died at Cardona, 31 August, 1240. His feast is celebrated on 31 August. He is pictured in the habit of his order surrounded by ransomed slaves, with a padlock on his lips. He was taken from the womb of his mother after her death, hence his name. Of noble but poor family, he showed early traits of piety and great talent. His father ordered him to tend a farm, but later gave him permission to take the habit with the Mercedarians at Barcelona, at the hands of the founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Raymond made such progress in the religious life that he was soon considered worthy to succeed his master in the office of ransomer. He was sent to Algiers and liberated many captives. When money failed he gave himself as a hostage. He was zealous in teaching the Christian religion and made many converts, which embittered the Mohammedan authorities. Raymond was subjected to all kinds of indignities and cruelty, was made to run the gauntlet, and was at last sentenced to impalement. The hope of a greater sum of money as ransom caused the governor to commute the sentence into imprisonment. To prevent him from preaching for Christ, his lips were pierced with a red-hot iron and closed with a padlock. After his arrival in Spain, in 1239, he was made a cardinal by Gregory IX. In the next year he was called to Rome by the pope, but came only as far as Cardona, about six miles from Barcelona, where he died. His body was brought to the chapel of St. Nicholas near his old farm. In 1657 his name was placed in the Roman martyrology by Alexander VII. He is invoked by women in labour and by persons falsely accused. The appendix to the Roman ritual gives a formula for the blessing of water, in his honour, to be used by the sick, and another of candles. Text shared from The Catholic Encyclopedia
NOVENA TO
SAINT RAYMOND NONNATUS
Glorious St. Raymond, filled with compassion for those who invoke you
and with love for those who suffer heavily burdens
with the weight of my troubles,
I cast myself at your feet
and humbly beg of you to take my present concerns
which I recommend to you under your special protection.

[Mention your intention(s) here...]

Promise to recommend these to the Blessed Virgin Mary
and lay them before the Throne of Jesus,
so that He may bring it to a happy ending.
Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.
Above all, obtain for me the grace of one day
coming face to Face with God,
and with you, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints
praising and blessing together for all eternity.

Amen.

Good St. Raymond,
pray for us and obtain our request.

Good St. Raymond,
pray for us and obtain our request.

Good St. Raymond,
pray for us and obtain our request.

Say 1 Our Father..., Say 1 Hail Mary..., Say 1 Glory Be... (Say these prayers for 9 days)

Watch a Beautiful Ave Maria Sung at the White House by Christopher Macchio during the RNC


A Beautiful Ave Maria sung at the White House by Christopher Macchio during the Republican National Convention.

Pope Francis says "..let us make sure that the cross hanging on the wall of the house, or ...around our necks, The cross is a holy sign of God's love.."




ANGELUS
St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 30 August 2020


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel passage (cf. Mt 16 : 21-27) is linked to that of last Sunday (cf. Mt 16 : 13-20). After Peter, also in the name of the other disciples, professed faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, Jesus himself begins to speak to them about his passion. On the way to Jerusalem, he openly explains to his friends what awaits him at the end in the holy city: he foretells his mystery of death and resurrection, humiliation and glory. He says that he will have to "suffer a great deal from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and rise again on the third day" ( Mt 16:21). But his words are not understood, because the disciples have a faith that is still immature and too tied to the mentality of this world (cf.Rom 12.2). They think of a victory that is too earthly, and for this reason they do not understand the language of the cross.

Faced with the prospect that Jesus could fail and die on the cross, Peter himself rebels and says to him: «God forbid, Lord; this will never happen to you! " (v. 22). He believes in Jesus - Peter is like that - he has faith, he believes in Jesus, he believes; he wants to follow him, but does not accept that his glory passes through passion. For Peter and the other disciples - but also for us! - the cross is an uncomfortable thing, the cross is a "scandal", while Jesus considers fleeing from the cross "scandal", which would mean withdrawing from the will of the Father, from the mission that He has entrusted to him for our salvation. For this reason Jesus replies to Peter: «Get behind me, Satan! You are a scandal to me, because you do not think according to God, but according to men! " (v. 23). Ten minutes earlier, Jesus praised Peter, promised him to be the foundation of his Church, the foundation; ten minutes later he says "Satan". How come this is understood? It happens to all of us! In moments of devotion, fervor, good will, closeness to our neighbor, let us look at Jesus and go forward; but in the moments when the cross comes, we flee. The devil, Satan - as Jesus says to Peter - tempts us. It is proper to the bad spirit, it is proper to the devil to distance ourselves from the cross, from the cross of Jesus.
Then addressing everyone, Jesus adds: "If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me" (v. 24). In this way He points the way of the true disciple, showing two attitudes. The first is "renouncing oneself", which does not mean a superficial change, but a conversion, a reversal of mentality and values. The other attitude is to take up one's cross. It is not just a question of bearing the daily tribulations with patience, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of the effort, that part of suffering that the struggle against evil entails. The life of Christians is always a struggle. The Bible says that the believer's life is a militia: to fight against the bad spirit, to fight against Evil.
Thus the commitment to "take up the cross" becomes participation with Christ in the salvation of the world. Thinking about this, let us make sure that the cross hanging on the wall of the house, or the small one we carry around our necks, is a sign of our desire to join Christ in lovingly serving our brothers, especially the smallest and most fragile. The cross is a holy sign of God's love, it is a sign of the Sacrifice of Jesus, and should not be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental jewel. Every time we fix our gaze on the image of Christ crucified, we think that he, as a true Servant of the Lord, fulfilled his mission by giving his life, shedding his blood for the remission of sins. And let us not allow ourselves to be led to the other side, into the temptation of the Evil One. Consequently, if we want to be his disciples, we are called to imitate him,
May the Virgin Mary, united with her Son to Calvary, help us not to retreat in the face of the trials and sufferings that the witness of the Gospel entails for all of us.

After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters ,
the day after tomorrow, September 1st, is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. From this date, until 4 October, we will celebrate the "Jubilee of the Earth" with our Christian brothers of various Churches and traditions, to commemorate the institution, 50 years ago, of Earth Day. I greet the various initiatives promoted all over the world and, among these, the Concert which is taking place today in the cathedral of Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius, where unfortunately an environmental disaster has recently occurred.
I am following with concern the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean area, undermined by various outbreaks of instability. Please, I appeal to constructive dialogue and respect for international law to resolve the conflicts that threaten the peace of the peoples of that region.
And I greet all of you gathered here today from Rome, Italy and various countries. I see the flags there, and I greet the Religious Community of East Timor in Italy. Well done, with flags! The pilgrims of Londrina and Formosa, in Brazil; and the young people of Grantorto, diocese of Vicenza. Welcome! I also see Polish flags, I greet the Poles; Argentine flags, even the Argentines. Welcome everyone!


I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!


FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Sunday, August 30, 2020 - Virtual Church



22 Sunday Ordinary Time - A
FIRST READING

A reading from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah  20:7-9
The word of the Lord has meant insult for me.

You have seduced me, the Lord, and I have let myself be seduced;
you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.
I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt.
Each time I speak the word,
I have to howl and proclaim: ‘Violence and ruin!’
The word of the Lord has meant for me
insult, derision, all day long.
I used to say, ‘I will not think about him,
I will not speak in his name any more.
Then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones.
The effort to restrain it wearied me,
I could not bear it.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm            Ps 62
Response                                For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

1. O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.     Response

2. So I gaze on you in the sanctuaryglory of Jesus
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.                 Response

3. So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.       Response

4. For you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.                 Response

SECOND READING

A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans         12:1-2
Offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice.

Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.

The Word of the Lord.

Gospel Acclamation                 Eph 1: 17.18
Alleluia, alleluia!
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.
Alleluia!

GOSPEL

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew              16:21-27
Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord;’ he said ‘this must not happen to you’.
But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint August 30 : St. Jeanne Jugan, Founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who was on fire with love for God! - with Novena Prayer






















Jeanne Jugan, a Saint for old age and every age
Jeanne Jugan is the foundress and first Little Sister of the Poor. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 1982 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009. A Saint for old age and every age
Jeanne Jugan gave herself entirely to God and the elderly poor. As our aging population continues to grow and dignity at the end of life is increasingly threatened, Jeanne Jugan offers herself as a friend and patron of the elderly. She is a Saint for old age.

But she is more than that!

Jeanne is a Saint for every age as she challenges young people to give themselves to God and neighbor.
She is a role model for those who care for the poor, the sick and the aging.
To those who feel anxious in these tough economic times, she offers an invitation to live the Beatitudes, trusting that God will provide.
She challenges all of us to do everything through love.
Jeanne is a friend of God and a hero for the poor. She is a Gospel witness for our time and a Saint for all times!

Her Life

Growing up in hard times
Jeanne Jugan grew up in a small town in revolutionary France. Times were tough. Violence ruled the day. For thousands, begging was a way of life.
Those who openly practiced their faith were not merely ridiculed—they were imprisoned or killed. Jeanne received her faith formation—secretly and at great risk—from her mother and a group of women who belonged to an ecclesial movement of the day.
By the time Jeanne was four years old her father had been lost at sea. Her mother found odd jobs to make ends meet. Neighbor helped neighbor. As a young girl Jeanne worked as a shepherdess. She learned to knit and spin wool. Later she went to work as a kitchen maid for a wealthy family.

On fire with love for God

Jeanne barely learned to read and write. Her education consisted mostly of on-the-job training in the school of real life. Neither beautiful nor talented in the usual sense, she was gifted with an extraordinary heart. Jeanne was on fire with love for God!
Those who let themselves be seized by the love of Christ cannot help abandoning everything to follow him… Barely out of her teens, Jeanne felt the call of divine love. Preparing to leave home, she told her mother “God wants me for himself. He is keeping me for a work which is not yet founded.”
Jeanne took the road less traveled, setting out to work among the poor and forsaken in a local hospital.

Jeanne meets Christ in the Poor
Many years went by before Jeanne discovered her vocation. Finally, one cold winter night she met Jesus Christ in the person of an elderly, blind and infirm woman who had no one to care for her. Jeanne carried the woman home, climbed up the stairs to her small apartment and placed her in her own bed. From then on, Jeanne would sleep in the attic.
God led more poor old people to her doorstep. Generous young women came to help. Like Jeanne, they wanted to make a difference. Like her, they believed that “the poor are Our Lord.” A religious community was born!
There were so many old people in need of a home, so many souls hungry for love! The work rapidly spread across France and beyond. Struck by their spirit of humble service, local citizens dubbed the group the Little Sisters of the Poor. The name stuck!
For herself Jeanne chose the religious name Sister Mary of the Cross. She would live it in its fullness.…
Jeanne is grafted into the cross
The work of the Little Sisters continued to spread, borne by the wind of the Spirit. So did Jeanne’s renown—until one day she was mysteriously cast aside by an ambitious priest who had taken over the direction of the young community.
Jeanne was replaced as superior and sent out begging on behalf of the poor. And then one day she was placed in retirement, relegated to the shadows. At the time of her death 27 years later, the young Little Sisters didn’t even know that she was the foundress.
Jeanne had often told them, “We are grafted into the cross and we must carry it joyfully unto death.” How she lived these words! What a radiant example of holiness she gave to generations of Little Sisters!

God lifts up the lowly

Like the grain of wheat that falls into the earth and dies, Jeanne’s life would bear much fruit. Thousands of young women followed in her footsteps. The Little Sisters’ mission of hospitality spread to the ends of the earth, like a great wave of charity.
In his time, God would raise Jeanne up. At her beatification Pope John Paul II said that “God could glorify no more humble a servant than she.”
Pope Benedict said that Saint Jeanne’s canonization would “show once again how living faith is prodigious in good works, and how sanctity is a healing balm for the wounds of humankind.”

A friend of the poor — a Gospel witness for our time — a Saint for old age and every age!

Shared from Little Sisters of the Poor Website

Quote to SHARE by St. Augustine “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”


“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
 by St. Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church

Novena to St. John the Baptist : Patron of Baptism, Monks - Powerful Prayers to the cousin of Jesus

Novena Prayer
O Holy St. John, from all eternity you were chosen
To prepare the way for Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We implore your intercession for ...,
For all of our members in their work
And for all those we serve.

Pray for us that we may receive the courage and strength
To persevere in announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ,
Who came to seek and save the lost,

To heal the broken hearted and to bind up their wounds.

May we be guided by the Holy Spirit
With good words of counsel for those in need.
May we be strengthened by your prayers
And good example as we prepare the way for the
Healing power of Jesus to heal and transform
Those entrusted to our care.

We ask all of this through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us!
SAY THESE PRAYERS FOR 9 DAYS

Friday, August 28, 2020

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Saturday, August 29, 2020 - Virtual Church



FIRST READING     

A reading from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah                     1:17-19
Stand up and tell them all I command you; do not be dismayed at their presence.

The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying:

‘Brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.
I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you –
it is the Lord who speaks.’

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm               Ps 70:1-6.15. 17.
Response                                     My lips will tell of your justice, 0 Lord.

1. In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, free me:
pay heed to me and save me.                                     Response

2. Be a rock where I can take refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked.                     Response

3. It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help. Response

4. My lips will tell of your justice
and day by day of your help.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
and I proclaim your wonders still.                            Response

Gospel Acclamation      Mt 5:10
Alleluia, alleluia!
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Alleluia!

GOSPEL
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark               6:17-29
I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.

Herod had sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him; but she was not able to, because Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.

An opportunity came on Herod’s birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.’ And he swore an oath, ‘I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother,Beheadinf of Jthe B ‘What shall I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ The girl hurried straight back to the king and made her request, ‘I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.’ The king was deeply distressed, but thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, be was reluctant to break his word to her. So the king at once sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion.
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint August 29 : The Beheading of St. John the Baptist - Martyrdom of the Cousin of Jesus - #JohntheBaptist


The principal sources of information concerning the life and ministry of St. John the Baptist are the canonical Gospels. Of these St. Luke is the most complete, giving as he does the wonderful circumstances accompanying the birth of the Precursor and items on his ministry and death. St. Matthew's Gospel stands in close relation with that of St. Luke, as far as John's public ministry is concerned, but contains nothing in reference to his early life. From St. Mark, whose account of the Precursor's life is very meagre, no new detail can be gathered. Finally, the fourth Gospel has this special feature, that it gives the testimony of St. John after the Saviour's baptism. Besides the indications supplied by these writings, passing allusions occur in such passages as Acts 13:24; 19:1-6; but these are few and bear on the subject only indirectly. To the above should be added that Josephus relates in his Jewish Antiquities (XVIII, v, 2), but it should be remembered that he is woefully erratic in his dates, mistaken in proper names, and seems to arrange facts according to his own political views; however, his judgment of John, also what he tells us regarding the Precursor's popularity, together with a few details of minor importance, are worthy of the historian's attention. The same cannot be said of the apocryphal gospels, because the scant information they give of the Precursor is either copied from the canonical Gospels (and to these they can add no authority), or else is a mass of idle vagaries.
 Zachary, the father of John the Baptist, was a priest of the course of Abia, the eighth of the twenty-four courses into which the priests were divided (1 Chronicles 24:7-19); Elizabeth, the Precursor's mother, "was of the daughters of Aaron", according to St. Luke (1:5); the same Evangelist, a few verses farther on (1:36), calls her the "cousin" (syggenis) of Mary. These two statements appear to be conflicting, for how, it will be asked, could a cousin of the Blessed Virgin be "of the daughters of Aaron"? The problem might be solved by adopting the reading given in an old Persian version, where we find "mother's sister" (metradelphe) instead of "cousin".
A somewhat analogous explanation, probably borrowed from some apocryphal writing, and perhaps correct, is given by St. Hippolytus (in Nicephor., II, iii). According to him, Mathan had three daughters: Mary, Soba, and Ann. Mary, the oldest, married a man of Bethlehem and was the mother of Salome; Soba married at Bethlehem also, but a "son of Levi", by whom she had Elizabeth; Ann wedded a Galilean (Joachim) and bore Mary, the Mother of God. Thus Salome, Elizabeth, and the Blessed Virgin were first cousins, and Elizabeth, "of the daughters of Aaron" on her father's side, was, on her mother's side, the cousin of Mary. Zachary's home is designated only in a vague manner by St. Luke: it was "a city of Juda", "in the hill-country" (1:39). Reland, advocating the unwarranted assumption that Juda might be a misspelling of the name, proposed to read in its stead Jutta (Joshua 15:55; 21:16; D.V.; Jota, Jeta), a priestly town south of Hebron. But priests did not always live in priestly towns (Mathathias's home was at Modin; Simon Machabeus's at Gaza). A tradition, which can be traced back to the time before the Crusades, points to the little town of Ain-Karim, five miles southwest of Jerusalem.
The birth of the Precursor was announced in a most striking manner. Zachary and Elizabeth, as we learn from St. Luke, "were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame; and they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren" (1:6-7). Long they had prayed that their union might be blessed with offspring; but, now that "they were both advanced in years", the reproach of barrenness bore heavily upon them. "And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and they wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: and thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people" (1:8-17). As Zachary was slow in believing this startling prediction, the angel, making himself known to him, announced that, in punishment of his incredulity, he should be stricken with dumbness until the promise was fulfilled. "And it came to pass, after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days, Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months" (1:23-24).
Now during the sixth month, the Annunciation had taken place, and, as Mary had heard from the angel the fact of her cousin's conceiving, she went "with haste" to congratulate her. "And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant" — filled, like the mother, with the Holy Ghost — "leaped for joy in her womb", as if to acknowledge the presence of his Lord. Then was accomplished the prophetic utterance of the angel that the child should "be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb". Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment John was cleansed from the stain of original sin. When "Elizabeth's full time of being delivered was come. . .she brought forth a son" (1:57); and "on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father's name Zachary. And his mother answering, said: Not so, but he shall be called John. And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made sign to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered" (1:59-63). They were not aware that no better name could be applied (John, Hebrew; Jehohanan, i.e. "Jahweh hath mercy") to him who, as his father prophesied, was to "go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto remission of their sins: through the bowels of the mercy of our God" (1:76-78). Moreover, all these events, to wit, a child born to an aged couple, Zachary's sudden dumbness, his equally sudden recovery of speech, his astounding utterance, might justly strike with wonderment the assembled neighbours; these could hardly help asking: "What an one, think ye, shall this child be?" (1:66).
As to the date of the birth of John the Baptist, nothing can be said with certainty. The Gospel suggests that the Precursor was born about six months before Christ; but the year of Christ's nativity has not so far been ascertained. Nor is there anything certain about the season of Christ's birth, for it is well known that the assignment of the feast of Christmas to the twenty-fifth of December is not grounded on historical evidence, but is possibly suggested by merely astronomical considerations, also, perhaps, inferred from astronomico-theological reasonings. Besides, no calculations can be based upon the time of the year when the course of Abia was serving in the Temple, since each one of the twenty-four courses of priests had two turns a year. Of John's early life St. Luke tell us only that "the child grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and was in the deserts, until the day of his manifestation to Israel" (1:80). Should we ask just when the Precursor went into the wilderness, an old tradition echoed by Paul Warnefried (Paul the Deacon), in the hymn, "Ut queant laxis", composed in honour of the saint, gives an answer hardly more definite than the statement of the Gospel: "Antra deserti teneris sub annis. . .petiit . . ." Other writers, however, thought they knew better. For instance, St. Peter of Alexandria believed St. John was taken into the desert to escape the wrath of Herod, who, if we may believe report, was impelled by fear of losing his kingdom to seek the life of the Precursor, just as he was, later on, to seek that of the new-born Saviour. It was added also that Herod on this account had Zachary put to death between the temple and the altar, because he had prophesied the coming of the Messias (Baron., "Annal. Apparat.", n. 53). These are worthless legends long since branded by St. Jerome as "apocryphorum somnia".
Passing, then, with St. Luke, over a period of some thirty years, we reach what may be considered the beginning of the public ministry of St. John (see BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY). Up to this he had led in the desert the life of an anchorite; now he comes forth to deliver his message to the world. "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. . .the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching" (Luke 3:1-3), clothed not in the soft garments of a courtier (Matthew 11:8; Luke 7:24), but in those "of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins"; and "his meat" — he looked as if he came neither eating nor drinking (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33) — "was locusts and wild honey" (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6); his whole countenance, far from suggesting the idea of a reed shaken by the wind (Matthew 11:7; Luke 7:24), manifested undaunted constancy. A few incredulous scoffers feigned to be scandalized: "He hath a devil" (Matthew 11:18). Nevertheless, "Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the country about Jordan" (Matthew 3:5), drawn by his strong and winning personality, went out to him; the austerity of his life added immensely to the weight of his words; for the simple folk, he was truly a prophet (Matthew 11:9; cf. Luke 1:76, 77). "Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2), such was the burden of his teaching. Men of all conditions flocked round him.
Pharisees and Sadducees were there; the latter attracted perhaps by curiosity and scepticism, the former expecting possibly a word of praise for their multitudinous customs and practices, and all, probably, more anxious to see which of the rival sects the new prophet would commend than to seek instruction. But John laid bare their hypocrisy. Drawing his similes from the surrounding scenery, and even, after the Oriental fashion, making use of a play on words (abanimbanium), he lashed their pride with this well-deserved rebuke: "Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire" (Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9). It was clear something had to be done. The men of good will among the listeners asked: "What shall we do?" (Probably some were wealthy and, according to the custom of people in such circumstances, were clad in two tunics. - Josephus, "Antiq.", XVIII, v, 7). "And he answering, said to them: He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner" (Luke 3:11). Some were publicans; on them he enjoined not to exact more than the rate of taxes fixed by law (Luke 3:13). To the soldiers (probably Jewish police officers) he recommended not to do violence to any man, nor falsely to denounce anyone, and to be content with their pay (Luke 3:14). In other words, he cautioned them against trusting in their national privileges, he did not countenance the tenets of any sect, nor did he advocate the forsaking of one's ordinary state of life, but faithfulness and honesty in the fulfillment of one's duties, and the humble confession of one's sins. To confirm the good dispositions of his listeners, John baptized them in the Jordan, "saying that baptism was good, not so much to free one from certain sins [cf. St. Thomas, Summa III.38.2 and 3] as to purify the body, the soul being already cleansed from its defilements by justice" (Josephus, "Antiq.", XVIII, vii). This feature of his ministry, more than anything else, attracted public attention to such an extent that he was surnamed "the Baptist" (i.e. Baptizer) even during his lifetime (by Christ, Matthew 11:11; by his own disciples, Luke 7:20; by Herod, Matthew 14:2; by Herodias, Matthew 14:3). Still his right to baptize was questioned by some (John 1:25); the Pharisees and the lawyers refused to comply with this ceremony, on the plea that baptism, as a preparation for the kingdom of God, was connected only with the Messias (Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1, etc.), Elias, and the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15. John's reply was that he was Divinely "sent to baptize with water" (John 1:33); to this, later on, our Saviour bore testimony, when, in answer to the Pharisees trying to ensnare him, he implicitly declared that John's baptism was from heaven (Mark 11:30). Whilst baptizing, John, lest the people might think "that perhaps he might be the Christ" (Luke 3:15), did not fail to insist that his was only a forerunner's mission: "I indeed baptize you with water; but there shall come one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand and he will purge his floor; and will gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Luke 3:16, 17). Whatever John may have meant by this baptism "with fire", he, at all events, in this declaration clearly defined his relation to the One to come.
Here it will not be amiss to touch on the scene of the Precursor's ministry. The locality should be sought in that part of the Jordan valley (Luke 3:3) which is called the desert (Mark 1:4). Two places are mentioned in the Fourth Gospel in this connection: Bethania (John 1:28) and Ennon (A.V. Ænon, John 3:23). As to Bethania, the reading Bethabara, first given by Origen, should be discarded; but the Alexandrine scholar perhaps was less wrong in suggesting the other reading, Bethara, possibly a Greek form of Betharan; at any rate, the site in question must be looked for "beyond the Jordan" (John 1:28). The second place, Ennon, "near Salim" (John 3:23), the extreme northern point marked in the Madaba mosaic map, is described in Eusebius's "Onomasticon" as being eight miles south of Scythopolis (Beisan), and should be sought probably at Ed-Deir or El-Ftur, a short distance from the Jordan (Lagrange, in "Revue Biblique", IV, 1895, pp. 502-05). Moreover, a long-standing tradition, traced back to A.D. 333, associates the activity of the Precursor, particularly the Baptism of the Lord, with the neighbourhood of Deir Mar-Yuhanna (Qasr el-Yehud).
The Precursor had been preaching and baptizing for some time (just how long is not known), when Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan, to be baptized by him. Why, it might be asked, should He "who did no sin" (1 Peter 2:22) seek John's "baptism of penance for the remission of sins" (Luke 3:3)? The Fathers of the Church answer very appropriately that this was the occasion preordained by the Father when Jesus should be manifested to the world as the Son of God; then again, by submitting to it, Jesus sanctioned the baptism of John. "But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?" (Matthew 3:14). These words, implying, as they do, that John knew Jesus, are in seeming conflict with a later declaration of John recorded in the Fourth Gospel: "I knew him not" (John 1:33). Most interpreters take it that the Precursor had some intimation of Jesus being the Messias: they assign this as the reason why John at first refused to baptize him; but the heavenly manifestation had, a few moments later, changed this intimation into perfect knowledge. "And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfil all justice. Then he suffered him. And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him. . .And, behold, a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:15-17). After this baptism, while Jesus was preaching through the towns of Galilee, going into Judea only occasionally for the feast days, John continued his ministry in the valley of the Jordan. It was at this time that "the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who are thou? And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. They said, therefore, unto him: Who are thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias" (John 1:19-23). John denied he was Elias, whom the Jews were looking for (Matthew 17:10; Mark 9:10). Nor did Jesus admit it, though His words to His disciples at first sight seem to point that way; "Elias indeed shall come, and restore all things. But I say to you, that Elias is already come" (Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:11-12). St. Matthew notes "the disciples understood, that he had spoken to them of John the Baptist" (Matthew 17:13). This was equal to saying, "Elias is not to come in the flesh." But, in speaking of John before the multitude, Jesus made it plain that he called John Elias figuratively: "If you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:14, 15). This had been anticipated by the angel when, announcing John's birth to Zachary, he foretold that the child would go before the Lord "in the spirit and power of Elias" (Luke 1:17). "The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me. . .that he may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water . . . . And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God" (John 1:20-34). Among the many listeners flocking to St. John, some, more deeply touched by his doctrine, stayed with him, thus forming, as around other famous doctors of the law, a group of disciples. These he exhorted to fast (Mark 2:18), these he taught special forms of prayer (Luke 5:33; 11:1). Their number, according to the pseudo-Clementine literature, reached thirty (Homily 2.23). Among them was Andrew of Bethsaida of Galilee (John 1:44). One day, as Jesus was standing in the distance, John, pointed Him out, repeated his previous declaration: "Behold the Lamb of God". Then Andrew, with another disciple of John, hearing this, followed Jesus (John 1:36-38). The account of the calling of Andrew and Simon differs materially from that found in St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke; yet it should be noticed that St. Luke, in particular, so narrates the meeting of the two brothers with the Saviour, as to let us infer they already knew Him. Now, on the other hand, since the Fourth Evangelist does not say that Andrew and his companions forthwith left their business to devote themselves exclusively to the Gospel or its preparation, there is clearly no absolute discordance between the narration of the first three Gospels and that of St. John. The Precursor, after the lapse of several months, again appears on the scene, and he is still preaching and baptizing on the banks of the Jordan (John 3:23). Jesus, in the meantime, had gathered about Himself a following of disciples, and He came "into the land of Judea: and there He abode with them, and baptized" (John 3:22), — "though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples" (John 4:2). — "There arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews [the best Greek texts have "a Jew"] concerning purification" (John 3:25), that is to say, as is suggested by the context, concerning the relative value of both baptisms. The disciples of John came to him: "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony, behold he baptizeth, and all men come to him" (John 3:26-27). They undoubtedly meant that Jesus should give way to John who had recommended Him, and that, by baptizing, He was encroaching upon the rights of John. "John answered and said: A man cannot receive anything, unless it be given him from heaven. You yourselves do bear me witness, that I said, I am not Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's voice. This my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above, is above all. He that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh. He that cometh from heaven, is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth. . ." (John 3:27-36). The above narration recalls the fact before mentioned (John 1:28), that part of the Baptist's ministry was exercised in Perea: Ennon, another scene of his labours, was within the borders of Galilee; both Perea and Galilee made up the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas. This prince, a son worthy of his father Herod the Great, had married, likely for political reasons, the daughter of Aretas, king of the Nabathaeans. But on a visit to Rome, he fell in love with his niece Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Philip (son of the younger Mariamne), and induced her to come on to Galilee. When and where the Precursor met Herod, we are not told, but from the synoptic Gospels we learn that John dared to rebuke the tetrarch for his evil deeds, especially his public adultery. Herod, swayed by Herodias, did not allow the unwelcome reprover to go unpunished: he "sent and apprehended John and bound him in prison". Josephus tell us quite another story, containing perhaps also an element of truth. "As great crowds clustered around John, Herod became afraid lest the Baptist should abuse his moral authority over them to incite them to rebellion, as they would do anything at his bidding; therefore he thought it wiser, so as to prevent possible happenings, to take away the dangerous preacher. . .and he imprisoned him in the fortress of Machaerus" (Antiq., XVIII, v, 2). Whatever may have been the chief motive of the tetrarch's policy, it is certain that Herodias nourished a bitter hatred against John: "She laid snares for him: and was desirous to put him to death" (Mark 6:19). Although Herod first shared her desire, yet "he feared the people: because they esteemed him as a prophet" (Matthew 14:5). After some time this resentment on Herod's part seems to have abated, for, according to Mark 6:19-20, he heard John willingly and did many things at his suggestion. John, in his fetters, was attended by some of his disciples, who kept him in touch with the events of the day. He thus learned of the wonders wrought by Jesus. At this point it cannot be supposed that John's faith wavered in the least. Some of his disciples, however, would not be convinced by his words that Jesus was the Messias. Accordingly, he sent them to Jesus, bidding them say: "John the Baptist hath sent us to thee, saying: Art thou he that art to come; or look we for another? (And in that same hour, he cured many of their [the people's] diseases, and hurts, and evil spirits; and to many that were blind he gave sight.) And answering, he said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached: and blessed is he whosoever shall not be scandalized in me" (Luke 7:20-23; Matthew 11:3-6).
How this interview affected John's disciples, we do not know; but we do know the encomium it occasioned of John from the lips of Jesus: "And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak to the multitudes concerning John. What went ye out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" All knew full well why John was in prison, and that in his captivity he was more than ever the undaunted champion of truth and virtue. — "But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel, and live delicately, are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke 7:24-28). And continuing, Jesus pointed out the inconsistency of the world in its opinions both of himself and his precursor: "John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say: He hath a devil. The Son of man is coming eating and drinking: and you say: Behold a man that is a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners. And wisdom is justified by all her children" (Luke 7:33-35).
St. John languished probably for some time in the fortress of Machaerus; but the ire of Herodias, unlike that of Herod, never abated: she watched her chance. It came at the birthday feast which Herod, after Roman fashion, gave to the "princes, and tribunes, and chief men of Galilee. And when the daughter of the same Herodias [Josephus gives her name: Salome] had come in, and had danced, and pleased Herod and them that were at table with him, the king said to the damsel: Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee. . .Who when she was gone out, said to her mother, what shall I ask? But she said: The head of John the Baptist. And when she was come in immediately with haste to the king, she asked, saying: I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad. Yet because of his oath, and because of them that were with him at table, he would not displease her: but sending an executioner, he commanded that his head should be brought in a dish: and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother" (Mark 6:21-28). Thus was done to death the greatest "amongst them that are born of women", the prize awarded to a dancing girl, the toll exacted for an oath rashly taken and criminally kept (St. Augustine). At such an unjustifiable execution even the Jews were shocked, and they attributed to Divine vengeance the defeat Herod sustained afterwards at the hands of Aretas, his rightful father-in-law (Josephus, loc. cit.). John's disciples, hearing of his death, "came, and took his body, and laid it in a tomb" (Mark 6:29), "and came and told Jesus" (Matthew 14:12). The lasting impression made by the Precursor upon those who had come within his influence cannot be better illustrated than by mentioned the awe which seize upon Herod when he heard of the wonders wrought by Jesus who, in his mind, was not other than John the Baptist come to life (Matthew 14:1, 2, etc.). The Precursor's influence did not die with him. It was far-reaching, too, as we learn from Acts 18:25; 19:3, where we find that proselytes at Ephesus had received from Apollo and others the baptism of John. Moreover, early Christian writers speak of a sect taking its name from John and holding only to his baptism. The date of John the Baptist's death, 29 August, assigned in the liturgical calendars can hardly be relied upon, because it is scarcely based upon trustworthy documents. His burial-place has been fixed by an old tradition at Sebaste (Samaria). But if there be any truth in Josephus's assertion, that John was put to death at Machaerus, it is hard to understand why he was buried so far from the Herodian fortress. Still, it is quite possible that, at a later date unknown to us, his sacred remains were carried to Sebaste. At any rate, about the middle of the fourth century, his tomb was there honoured, as we are informed on the testimony of Rufinus and Theodoretus. These authors add that the shrine was desecrated under Julian the Apostate (c. A.D. 362), the bones being partly burned. A portion of the rescued relics were carried to Jerusalem, then to Alexandria; and there, on 27 May, 395, these relics were laid in the gorgeous basilica just dedicated to the Precursor on the site of the once famous temple of Serapis. The tomb at Sebaste continued, nevertheless, to be visited by pious pilgrims, and St. Jerome bears witness to the miracles there wrought. Perhaps some of the relics had been brought back to Sebaste. Other portions at different times found their way to many sanctuaries of the Christian world, and long is the list of the churches claiming possession of some part of the precious treasure. What became of the head of the Precursor is difficult to determine. Nicephorus (I, ix) and Metaphrastes say Herodias had it buried in the fortress of Machaerus; others insist that it was interred in Herod's palace at Jerusalem; there it was found during the reign of Constantine, and thence secretly taken to Emesa, in Phoenicia, where it was concealed, the place remaining unknown for years, until it was manifested by revelation in 453. In the many and discordant relations concerning this relic, unfortunately much uncertainty prevails; their discrepancies in almost every point render the problem so intricate as to baffle solution. This signal relic, in whole or in part, is claimed by several churches, among them Amiens, Nemours, St-Jean d'Angeli (France), S. Silvestro in Capite (Rome). This fact Tillemont traces to a mistaking of one St. John for another, an explanation which, in certain cases, appears to be founded on good grounds and accounts well for this otherwise puzzling multiplication of relics. The honour paid so early and in so many places to the relics of St. John the Baptist, the zeal with which many churches have maintained at all times their ill-founded claims to some of his relics, the numberless churches, abbeys, towns, and religious families placed under his patronage, the frequency of his name among Christian people, all attest the antiquity and widespread diffusion of the devotion to the Precursor. The commemoration of his Nativity is one of the oldest feasts, if not the oldest feast, introduced into both the Greek and Latin liturgies to honour a saint. But why is the feast proper, as it were, of St. John on the day of his nativity, whereas with other saints it is the day of their death? Because it was meant that the birth of him who, unlike the rest, was "filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb", should be signalized as a day of triumph. The celebration of the Decollation of John the Baptist, on 29 August, enjoys almost the same antiquity. We find also in the oldest martyrologies mention of a feast of the Conception of the Precursor on 24 September. But the most solemn celebration in honour of this saint was always that of his Nativity, preceded until recently by a fast. Many places adopted the custom introduced by St. Sabas of having a double Office on this day, as on the day of the Nativity of the Lord. The first Office, intended to signify the time of the Law and the Prophets which lasted up to St. John (Luke 16:16), began at sunset, and was chanted without Alleluia; the second, meant to celebrate the opening of the time of grace, and gladdened by the singing of Alleluia, was held during the night. The resemblance of the feast of St. John with that of Christmas was carried farther, for another feature of the 24th of June was the celebration of three masses: the first, in the dead of night, recalled his mission of Precursor; the second, at daybreak, commemorated the baptism he conferred; and the third, at the hour of Terce, honoured his sanctity. The whole liturgy of the day, repeatedly enriched by the additions of several popes, was in suggestiveness and beauty on a part with the liturgy of Christmas. So sacred was St. John's day deemed that two rival armies, meeting face to face on 23 June, by common accord put off the battle until the morrow of the feast (Battle of Fontenay, 841). "Joy, which is the characteristic of the day, radiated from the sacred precincts. The lovely summer nights, at St. John's tide, gave free scope to popular display of lively faith among various nationalities. Scarce had the last rays of the setting sun died away when, all the world over, immense columns of flame arose from every mountain-top, and in an instant, every town, and village, and hamlet was lighted up" (Guéranger). The custom of the "St. John's fires", whatever its origin, has, in certain regions, endured unto this day. Text Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia