Monday, September 21, 2020

Saint September 22 : St. Thomas of Villanova in Valencia Spain and an Augustinian Bishop

St. Thomas of Villanova

BISHOP
Feast: September 22
Information:
Feast Day:
September 22
Born:
1488, Spain
Died:
1555, in Valencia, Spain
Canonized:
November 1, 1658 by Pope Alexander VII

Educator, philanthropist, born at Fuentellana, Spain, 1488; died at Valencia, 8 September, 1555. Son of Aloazo Tomas Garcia and Lucia Martinez Castellanos, the saint was brought up in the practices of religion and charity. Every Friday his father was wont to give in alms all the meal he earned at the mill, besides his usual daily dole of bread. On great feast-days he added wood, wine, and money; while to poor farmers he loaned money and seed. On the death of her husband, Lucia continued the usual alms, and supplied indigent maidens in the neighbourhood with clothing and money. When sixteen tears old, Thomas entered the University of Alcala, where, after proceeding master of arts and licentiate in theology, he filled the chair (1514) of arts, logic, and philosophy. Among his auditors were the famed scholars Ferdinand de Encina and Dominic Soto. With Alcala, however, ended his university associations, he having declined the chair of natural philosophy at Salamanca, where he joined the Augustinians in 1516, his vows following a year later, and his ordination to priesthood the year after; his first Mass was celebrated at Christmas, 1518. At Salamanca Convent Thomas was given the class of scholastic theology because of his attachment for books, chiefly the Lombard and St. Thomas, and his exemplary life. Preaching in the pulpits of Spain was soon added to his duties, among other places at Valencia, the field of his later trials, and Valladolid, seat of the imperial Court and residence of the Emperor Charles V when on his visits to the Low Countries. In this last-named city St. Thomas was named by the emperor his court preacher, and one of his councillors of state. Rarely, however, did the saint pay visits of ceremony to the then master of Europe, though his written correspondence with Charles, who held his opinions in high esteem, was voluminous. Towards the close of his life, while at Valencia, he had all the emperor's letters destroyed; his own letters to the emperor, however, are now stored at Simancas.
 Apart from these burdens Thomas held many offices of trust in his order, e.g. as convent prior in various cities, among others at Valladolid in 1544, the very year he was called to the See of Valencia. Moreover, he was twice provincial-prior, first of Andalusia and Castile in 1527, then six years later of Castile alone, whence the first mission band of his brethren was sent across the Atlantic in 1533 to establish houses of their order in Mexico. On 5 Aug., 1544, he received his nomination to the Archbishopric of Valencia, a post that for well-nigh a hundred years had witnessed no bishop in residence, an appointment that was confirmed by Paul III. Previously St. Thomas had declined the See of Granada, offered him by the emperor, while that of Valencia he accepted only through obedience to his superiors. He was consecrated in the church of his order at Valladolid by Juan, Cardinal Tavera de Pardo, Archbishop of Toledo. On his entrance to his see on 1 Jan., 1545, of which he was thirty-second bishop and eighth archbishop, St. Thomas opened his career as legislator and philanthropist, which won for him the titles of "Almsgiver", "Father of the Poor", and "Model of Bishops", given him at his beatification in 1618 by Paul V. During his eleven years of episcopal rule his most noteworthy deeds were as follows: a visitation of his diocese, opened a few weeks after entrance into his see. Among other amendments he inhibited his visitators from accepting any gifts whatever. He then held a synod, the first at Valencia for many years, whereby he sought to do away with a number of abuses, as bloodshed, divorce, concubinage, and many excessive privileges or unreasonable exemptions; he abolished the underground prisons; rebuilt the general hospital at Valencia which had just been destroyed by fire; founded two colleges, one for young ecclesiastics, the other for poor students; laboured for the conversion of the , whose profession of Christianity was largely mere outward show; established a creche near his palace for foundlings and the offspring of indigent parents; had Mass said at early hours for the working-classes; and in brief, by statutes, by preaching, and by example, strove to reform the morals of churchman and layman.
Towards the poor especially his heart was ever alive with pity; to them his palace gate was always open; daily he had a repast for every poor person that applied for help, as many even as four to five hundred thus getting their meals at his hands. In every district of the city he had almoners appointed with orders especially to search out the respectable persons who shrank from asking alms; these he had supplied with money, food, clothing, while as to indigent workmen, poor farmers, and mechanics, he replenished their stock and brought them tools, thus putting them in the way of making a living. His whole life as replete with acts of practical kindness. He spent his spare time chiefly in prayer and study; his table was one of simple fare, with no luxuries. His dress was inexpensive; he mended with his own hands whatever needed repairs. Numberless are the instances of St. Thomas' supernatural gifts, of his power of healing the sick, of multiplication of food, of redressing grievances, of his ecstasies, of his conversions of sinners. He was taken ill in August, 1555, of angina pectoris, of which he died at the age of 67, at the termination of Mass in his bedroom. His last words were the versicles: "In manus tuas, Domine", etc.; his remains were entombed at the convent Church of Our Lady of Help of his order outside the city walls, whence later they were brought to the cathedral. The saint was of well-knit frame, of medium height, with dark complexion, brilliant eyes, ruddy cheeks, and Roman nose. He was beatified by Paul V (7 Oct., 1618), who set his feast-day for 18 Sept., and canonized by Alexander VII on 1 Nov., 1658.
Various reasons are given to account for St. Thomas' non-appearance at the Council of Trent, among them that he was ill, unable to stand the fatigue of travel; that his people would not brook his absence; and that the emperor was unable to do without his aid at home. The writings of St. Thomas, mainly sermons, are replete with practical norms of mystic theology. Some twenty editions have been published, the best and most complete being probably that of Manila, 1882-1884, in 5 tomes.SHARED FROM the Catholic Encyclopedia

Novena to the Archangels : Powerful Prayers to the Angels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael

 

September 29th is the Feast of the Archangels. Here are three novenas to the archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and ST. Raphael.Novena to St. Michael the Archangel



Novena Dates September 21 - 29, Feast Day September 29


St. Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and His people, I turn to you with confidence and seek your powerful intercession. For the love of God, Who made you so glorious in grace and power, and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels, be pleased to hear my prayer. You know the value on my soul in the eyes of God. May no stain of evil ever disfigure its beauty. Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me. I desire to imitate your loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church and your great love for God and people. And since you are God's messenger for the care of his people, I entrust to you this special request: (Mention your request).


St. Michael, since you are, by the Will of the Creator, the powerful intercessor of Christians, I have great confidence in your prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God's holy Will, my petition will be granted.


Pray for me, St. Michael, and also for those I love. Protect us in all dangers of body and soul. Help us in our daily needs. Through your powerful intercession, may we live a holy life, die a happy death, and reach heaven where we may praise and love God with you forever. Amen.



Novena to St. Gabriel the Archangel

Novena Dates September 21 - 29, Feast Day September 29


St. Gabriel the Archangel, I venerate you as the "Angel of the Incarnation," because God has specially appointed you to bear the messages concerning the God-Man to Daniel, Zechariah, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Give me a tender and devoted Mother, more like your own.


I venerate you also as the "strength from God," because you are the giver of God's strength, consoler and comforter chosen to strengthen God's faithful and to teach them important truths. I ask for the grace of a special power of the will to strive for holiness of life. Steady my resolutions, renew my courage, comfort and console me in the problems, trials, and sufferings of daily living, as you consoled our Savior in His agony and Mary in her sorrows and Joseph in his trials. I put my confidence in you.


St. Gabriel, I ask you especially for this favor: (Mention your request). Through your earnest love for the Son of God-Made-Man and for His blessed Mother, I beg of you, intercede for me that my request may be granted, if it be God's holy Will.


Pray for us, St. Gabriel the Archangel. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us Pray. Almighty and ever-living God, since You chose the Archangel Gabriel from among all the Angels to announce the mystery of Your Son's Incarnation, mercifully grant that we who honor him on earth may feel the benefit of his patronage in heaven. You live and reign for ever. Amen.




Novena to St. Raphael the Archangel

Novena Dates September 21 - 29, Feast Day September 29


Holy Archangel Raphael, standing so close to the throne of God and offering Him our prayers, I venerate you as God's special Friend and Messenger. I choose you as my Patron and wish to love and obey you as young Tobiah did. I consecrate to you my body and soul,all my work, and my whole life. I want you to be my Guide and Counselor in all the dangerous and difficult problems and decisions of my life.


Remember, dearest, St. Raphael, that the grace of God preserved you with the good Angels in heaven when the proud ones were cast into hell. I entreat you, therefore, to help me in my struggle against the world, the spirit of impurity, and the devil. Defend me from all dangers and every occasion of sin. Direct me always in the way of peace, safety, and salvation. Offer my prayers to God as you offered those of Tobiah, so that through your intercession I may obtain the graces necessary for the salvation of my soul. I ask you to pray that God grant me this favor if it be His holy Will: (Mention your request).


St. Raphael, help me to love and serve my God faithfully, to die in His grace, and finally to merit to join you in seeing and praising God forever in heaven. Amen.

Novena Prayer to St. Matthew the Apostle and Patron of Money Problems, Accountants, Taxes, Bankers

Author unknown. 
Opening Prayer
God of mercy you chose a tax collector, Saint Matthew, to share the dignity of the apostles. By his example and prayers help us to follow Christ and remain faithful in your service. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Amen.
Day One
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matthew 5:3)
Dear Jesus, I have sinned against God and you.  I have gone against you and hurt you with each and every sin I have committed.  I am not worthy of your love, but you are my only hope.  Please save me, and please forgive me, for I am lost without you.
Saint Matthew, as you were one of the lucky twelve who walked the Earth with Jesus by your side, you were continually made aware of your own nothingness before his greatness and saw many evidences of God’s immense grace.  Help me to be so poor in spirit that I acknowledge my own nothingness before God on a moment-by-moment basis, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.
Day Two
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Dear Jesus, even though I have committed such grave offenses against you and God, you still loved me enough to give your life for me so I could be free in Heaven.  With all my heart, please forgive me for ever having offended you.  I know it was my sins that condemned you to die.  I love you more than I love myself, and can do nothing without you.  All that I am and all that I hope to be is solely because of your grace and mercy and nothing else.
Saint Matthew, as a former tax-collector, you were considered one of the worst sinners, but Jesus called you anyway to be one of his apostles.  Help me to truly mourn for all the sins I have committed and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST). 
Amen.
Day Three
Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.”(Matthew 5:5)
Dear Jesus, I know that I can do all things through you who gives me strength, but not according to my will, but yours.  Therefore, I submit my will totally to you.  Although evil may seem to triumph, these are temporary triumphs indeed, because the meek, not the wicked, shall inherit the Earth.
Saint Matthew, you gave up a life of worldly pleasures to follow God’s word made flesh in Jesus, trusting that he would take care of all your needs.  This must not have been easy, since you came from a life of privilege.  Please help me to have the quality of meekness before God constantly being produced within me, relying on his strength for every move I make and every action I take, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.
Day Four
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Dear Jesus, I want to be just like you.  Please lead and guide me so I can live my life completely in conformity with the will of God, going contentedly wherever his will takes me.  Help me to do everything just as you would.
Saint Matthew, you left behind a very financially lucrative career and the ways of the world to follow Jesus’s way instead.  Help me to constantly hunger and thirst for righteousness just as you did, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST). 
Amen.
Day Five
Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Dear Jesus, thank you for the mercy you have shown me time and time again, even when my actions have not merited it.  Thank you for comforting me in times of sickness and trouble.  Help me to look at everyone I come across with a tender heart, truly feeling in my heart the pain and suffering of others.  Help me to always make the effort to ease the pain and suffering of others, with an ever ready, always affectionate, and joyful heart.
Saint Matthew, as an apostle, you were an extension of Jesus in the world.  You got to see his kindness and mercy displayed firsthand and then were asked to emulate it.  Help me to emulate Jesus by demonstrating true kindness and mercy to others, just as Jesus did, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.
Day Six
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”(Matthew 5:8)
Dear Jesus, I have so often let you down because of my impure heart; please forgive me.  Help me to be pure in my imagination, in my thoughts, in my words, in my decisions, and in my desires.  Help me to think how God thinks, desire what God desires, hate what God hates, and love only what God loves.  Please make my heart completely free of all evil thoughts.
Saint Matthew, I know you understand what it means to struggle with maintaining a pure heart because you were a man and struggled with the desires of the flesh just as I do.  Help me to remain truly pure in heart, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.
Day Seven
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Dear Jesus, first and foremost, help me to find peace with God, for only then can I find true peace with others.  Help me to do whatever it takes to create peace wherever I go, although my efforts may often meet with failure.  Help me to love, desire, and delight in peace.  Forgive me for all of the times my actions have resulted in discord and dissention, whether intentional or unintentional.
Saint Matthew, you made your peace with God through Jesus, now please help me to make mine.  Help me also to sow peace wherever I may go, just as you did, as a witness to Jesus Christ, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.
Day Eight
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
Dear Jesus, please show me how to persevere in this struggle for things which are holy and honorable, because I fall down and grow weak so often.  Help me to be faithful to you in all things, so that your will may be done in and through my life.  Help me to be bold in my steady struggle for faith and unwavering in my commitment to all Godly things.
Saint Matthew, please guide me to be courageous like you in standing on the side of God’s truth, even in the face of being persecuted for righteousness, and please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.
Day Nine
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”(Matthew 5:11)
Dear Jesus, as the times in which we live become darker and darker, living by your ways and following you is branding me in such a way that invites persecution and insult, just as it did you.  If I live by your ways and love you with my whole being, I live by the light and provide a target for those who do not live by the light.  Sinning is what gives most people pleasure, but I can no longer live that way, because I am aware of how much you sacrificed for me in love by dying on the cross.  For all that you have done for me, I no longer desire to live in the darkness.  Each time I receive an insult for belonging to you, please help me to bear it with great patience.
Saint Matthew, in being given the awesome honor of being chosen to be an apostle, you were persecuted just as Jesus was persecuted.  You felt, however, the persecution you experienced was also a great honor, because Jesus was not just a man, but he was indeed God.  Help me to be strong enough to love Jesus’s light and to run from the darkness of sin and then, when persecution comes, to be strong enough to handle that as well.  And please intercede with Jesus in asking him to grant my desperate request, (STATE REQUEST).
Amen.

Pope Francis Meets with Autistic Children and Says "Each one of us is also beautiful in God's eyes, and He loves us."


GREETING FROM THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE LITTLE GUESTS OF THE
“AUTISMUSZENTRUM SONNENSCHEIN ST. PÖLTEN "(AUSTRIA)

Pope Francis on Monday received in the Vatican a group of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who are being treated at a clinic in St. Polten, Austria. (VaticanNews)
Sala Clementina
Monday, 21 September 2020

Dear children, dear parents,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I welcome you here to the Vatican. I am happy to see your faces, and I see in your eyes that you too are happy to be with me for a while.
Your house is called " Sonnenschein ", meaning "the splendor of the sun". I can imagine why the people in charge chose this name. Because your house looks like a magnificent flower meadow in the splendor of the sun, and the flowers of this house are you! God created the world with a great variety of flowers of all colors. Each flower has its own beauty, which is unique. Each one of us is also beautiful in God's eyes, and He loves us. This makes us feel the need to say to God: thank you! Thanks for the gift of life, thanks for all creatures! Thanks for mom and dad! Thanks for our families! And thanks also for the friends of the “ Sonnenschein ” Center !
This saying "thank you" to God is a beautiful prayer. God likes this way of praying. Then you can also add a small question. For example: Good Jesus, could you help mom and dad in their work? Could you give some comfort to grandma who is sick? Could you provide for children all over the world who have no food? Or: Jesus, please help the Pope lead the Church well. If you ask in faith, the Lord certainly listens to you.
Finally, I express my gratitude to your parents, to those accompanying you, to the President of the Region and to all those present. Thank you for this beautiful initiative and for the commitment in favor of the little ones entrusted to you. Everything you did to one of these, you did to Jesus!
I remember you in my prayer. Jesus bless you always and Our Lady protect you.


Und bitte vergesst nicht, für mich zu beten. Diese Arbeit ist nicht einfach. Betet für mich bitte. Danke schön!

Religious Leaders in Malawi, Africa Unite to Defend Life and Say No to Abortion


AFRICA/MALAWI - Religious leaders united in defending the sacredness of life: no to abortion
Monday, 21 September 2020

Lilongwe (Agenzia Fides) - The Bishops' Conference of Malawi (ECM) and other religious bodies, such as the Council of Churches of Malawi (MCC), the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), the Muslim Association of Malawi and the Muslim Quadria Association from Malawi, expressed concern over the proposal of the Parliamentary Committee on health calling for a change regarding the abortion law.
According to religious organizations in Malawi, the proposed amendment of the abortion law is "immoral and sinful", because it is contrary to God's command to consider life sacred.
In a statement published on September 14, signed by the Bishops' Conference and other religious leaders, the proposal to legalize abortion is criticized, arguing that no institution, including Parliament, courts and the executive branch of the government, has a mandate to end of life, except God.
"Human life is a fundamental value because God created it (Gen 1-27). The Islamic faith on the other hand believes that Allah created humanity for a purpose", stresses the statement. The religious bodies of the country, citing Jeremiah 1-5, called citizens to consider life as sacred, protect it and preserve it with extreme care from conception, urging them to continue to safeguard the life of children, including the life of the unborn child, as established in section 13, 22 [1], 33 of the Republican Constitution.
The religious leaders then appealed to the people of Malawi to ask the members of Parliament not to approve the bill defined as "genocidal" for unborn children.
This is the second time that the controversial abortion law amendment has been proposed by civil society organizations (CSOs). CSOs have called for termination of pregnancy to be a choice of women, arguing that most of them are dying from dangerous illegal abortions. However, the country's religious leaders rejected the proposal in a nationwide protest on 6 December 2016 with the "March for Life and Family".
The abortion law in Malawi exceptionally provides for the termination of pregnancy when the life of the mother is in danger and prohibits the voluntary abortion of women and girls. (L.B.) (Full Text Source: Agenzia Fides, 21/9/2020)

RIP Fr Edward Tamar and Fr Firas Hejazin - Death of 2 Franciscan Priests in Syria from COVID-19


Two Franciscans die from COVID-19 in Aleppo as sanctions stop testing and medical imports
Four out of five priests contracted the virus and two, Fr Edward Tamar and Fr Firas Hejazin, have died. At the peak of the emergency, up to ten Christians died a day. International sanctions hinder testing and medical imports needed to fight the pandemic. The situation is worse than during the war.


Aleppo (AsiaNews) – The novel coronavirus has hit Aleppo, Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, apostolic vicar of the Latins, told AsiaNews.

At the height of the pandemic, “We have buried 10 victims a day in the Christian community alone,” the prelate he said. Since then, “the death rate seems to have declined and the number is constantly decreasing".

However, two Franciscan friars have died from COVID-19. “Unfortunately, the two were at the Holy Land college. Fr Edward Tamer (pictured) was 82 but in good condition and Fr Firas Hejazin was 49. What a tragedy!"

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has not spared Aleppo, Syria’s main economic centre, but the number of cases and victims remains uncertain because of limited testing and incomplete data provided by the authorities.

What is certain that of four of the five Franciscan Fathers present in the city contracted the virus and two of them have died. Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh, of the Latin parish, is the only one who has been spared.

In a letter to Crux, an online US Catholic paper, he complains of the state of "precariousness and lack of hospitals, medicines, doctors and nurses.”

Despite the lack of accurate data, the proportion of priests affected by the coronavirus can be projected onto the population in order to understand the magnitude of the pandemic.

In his letter, the clergyman describes the work of raising awareness among members of his parish and across the city, from social distancing to wearing masks, to "avoid a larger catastrophe.”

According to some estimates, at the height of the pandemic, the pandemic had hundreds of victims, up to 800 a day.

Bishop Abou Khazen notes that “the virus circulation was huge, but now things have improved a bit. Regulations, like the obligation to wear a mask, social distancing, and a ban on large gatherings and events, have worked.”

"Today traffic has resumed, schools reopened on 13 September and we are trying to see what the effects may be.”

Syria officially has reported 3,700 cases and 162 deaths, but it is clear that the number is far higher.

“We lack means and only recently Aleppo and Damascus got a facility to examine testing results. This is the effect of the international sanctions against Syria, which once again have hit the weakest segments of the population ".

“The worst time for infections and deaths was between June and August” so much so that “we had to close the churches and carry out Masses and celebrations via the internet.”

Four weeks ago, "we resumed in-person services,” but “with all possible precautions,” Bishop Abou Khazen said. “Funerals are held in cemeteries, whilst participation in baptisms and weddings is reserved for immediate family members.”

"Here people say that it was better during the war, because today we have to fight against the virus, inflation, the cost of living. Buying petrol can take up three or four days. It can take hours to buy some bread . . . Ours is a tragedy within a tragedy.”

Sometimes, “even we Christian leaders don't know what to say, but we just try to stay with people and help as much as possible. International sanctions also affect us and our ability to provide assistance and aid.

Increasingly, “We hear people say they were wrong not to run away. With this virus it is increasingly difficult to bring our solidarity to families and this makes people suffer even more.”
FULL TEXT Source: AsiaNews.IT - Image Source: OFM.org