Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Saint January 13 : St. Hilary of Poitiers a Bishop of Poitiers who Converted from Paganism after Studying the Bible


Born:
300, Poitiers
Died:
368, Poitiers

Bishop, born in that city at the beginning of the fourth century; died there 1 November, according to the most accredited opinion, or according to the Roman Breviary, on 13 January, 368. Belonging to a noble and very probably pagan family, he was instructed in all the branches of profane learning, but, having also taken up the study of Holy Scripture and finding there the truth which he sought so ardently, he renounced idolatry and was baptized. Thenceforth his wide learning and his zeal for the Faith attracted such attention that he was chosen about 350 to govern the body of the faithful which the city had possessed since the third century. We know nothing of the bishops who governed this society in the beginning. Hilary is the first concerning whom we have authentic information, and this is due to the important part he played in opposing heresy. The Church was then greatly disturbed by internal discords, the authority of the popes not being so powerful in practice as either to prevent or to stop them. Arianism had made frightful ravages in various regions and threatened to invade Gaul, where it already had numerous partisans more or less secretly affiliated with it. Saturninus, Bishop of Arles, the most active of the latter, being exposed by Hilary, convened and presided over a council at B├ęziers in 356 with the intention of justifying himself, or rather of establishing his false doctrine. Here the Bishop of Poitiers courageously presented himself to defend orthodoxy, but the council, composed for the most part of Arians, refused to hear him, and being shortly afterwards denounced to the Emperor Constantius, the protector of Arianism, he was at his command transported to the distant coasts of Phrygia.
But persecution could not subdue the valiant champion. Instead of remaining inactive during his exile he gave himself up to study,  completed certain of his works which he had begun, and wrote his treatise on the synods. In this work he analysed the professions of faith uttered by the Oriental bishops in the Councils of Ancyra, Antioch, and Sirmium, and while condemning them, since they were in substance Arian, he sought to show that sometimes the difference between the doctrines of certain heretics and orthodox beliefs was rather in the words than in the ideas, which led to his counselling the bishops of the West to be reserved in their condemnation. He was sharply reproached for his indulgence by certain ardent Catholics, the leader of whom was Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari. However, in 359, the city of Seleucia witnessed the assembly in synod of a large number of Oriental bishops, nearly all of whom were either Anomoeans or Semi-Arians. Hilary, whom everyone wished to see and hear, so great was his reputation for learning and virtue, was invited to be present at this assembly. The governor of the province even furnished him with post horses for the journey. In presence of the Greek fathers he set forth the doctrines of the Gallic bishops, and easily proved that, contrary to the opinion current in the East, these latter were not Sabellians. Then he took part in the violent discussions which took place between the Semi-Arians, who inclined toward reconciliation with the Catholics, and the Anomoeans, who formed as it were the extreme left of Arianism.
After the council, which had no result beyond the wider separation of these brothers in enmity, he left for Constantinople, the stronghold of heresy, to continue his battle against error. But while the Semi-Arians, who were less numerous and less powerful, besought him to become the intermediary in a reconciliation between themselves and the bishops of the West, the Anomoeans, who had the immense advantage of being upheld by the emperor, besought the latter to send back to his own country this Gallic bishop, who, they said, sowed discord and troubled the Orient. Constantius acceded to their desire, and the exile was thus enabled to set out on his journey home. In 361 Hilary re-entered Poitiers in triumph and resumed possession of his see. He was welcomed with the liveliest joy by his flock and his brothers in the episcopate, and was visited by Martin, his former disciple and subsequently Bishop of Tours. The success he had achieved in his combat against error was rendered more brilliant shortly afterwards by the deposition of Saturninus, the Arian Bishop of Arles by whom he had been persecuted. However, as in Italy the memory still rankled of the efforts he had made to bring about a reconciliation between the nearly converted Semi-Arians and the Catholics, he went in 364 to the Bishop of Vercelli to endeavour to overcome the intolerance of the partisans of the Bishop Lucifer mentioned above. Almost immediately afterwards, that it might be seen that, if he was full of indulgence for those whom gentleness might finally win from error, he was intractable towards those who were obstinate in their adherence to it, he went to Milan, there to assail openly Auxentius, the bishop of that city, who was a firm defender of the Arian doctrines. But the Emperor Valentinian, who protected the heretic, ordered Hilary to depart immediately from Milan.
He then returned to his city of Poitiers, from which he was not again to absent himself and where he was to die. This learned and energetic bishop had fought against error with the pen as well as in words. The best edition of his numerous and remarkable writings is that published by Dom Constant under the title: "Sancti Hilarii, Pictavorum episcopi opera, ad manuscriptos codices gallicanos, romanos, belgicos, necnon ad veteres editiones castigata" (Paris, 1693). The Latin Church celebrates his feast on 14 January, and Pius IX raised him to the rank of Doctor of the Universal Church. The Church of Puy glories in the supposed possession of his relics, but according to one tradition his body was borne to the church of St-Denys near Paris, while according to another it was taken from the church of St-Hilaire at Poitiers and burned by the Protestants in 1572.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Pope Francis' FULL TEXT Message for World Day of the Sick "United to Christ...we are called to be merciful like the Father and to love in particular our frail, infirm..."


Pope Francis' Full Text Message for World Day of the Sick: 
 
In his message for the 29th World Day of the Sick on 11 February, You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8).

A trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick

Dear brothers and sisters,

The celebration of the XXIX World Day of the Sick on 11 February 2021, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities. We think in particular of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. To all, and especially to the poor and the marginalized, I express my spiritual closeness and assure them of the Church’s loving concern.

1. The theme of this Day is drawn from the Gospel passage in which Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of those who fail to practise what they preach (cf. Mt 23:1-12). When our faith is reduced to empty words, unconcerned with the lives and needs of others, the creed we profess proves inconsistent with the life we lead. The danger is real. That is why Jesus uses strong language about the peril of falling into self-idolatry. He tells us: “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers (v. 8).

Jesus’ criticism of those who “preach but do not practise” (v. 3) is helpful always and everywhere, since none of us is immune to the grave evil of hypocrisy, which prevents us from flourishing as children of the one Father, called to live universal fraternity.

Before the needs of our brothers and sisters, Jesus asks us to respond in a way completely contrary to such hypocrisy. He asks us to stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them (cf. Lk 10:30-35).

2. The experience of sickness makes us realize our own vulnerability and our innate need of others. It makes us feel all the more clearly that we are creatures dependent on God. When we are ill, fear and even bewilderment can grip our minds and hearts; we find ourselves powerless, since our health does not depend on our abilities or life’s incessant worries (cf. Mt 6:27).

Sickness raises the question of life’s meaning, which we bring before God in faith. In seeking a new and deeper direction in our lives, we may not find an immediate answer. Nor are our relatives and friends always able to help us in this demanding quest.

The biblical figure of Job is emblematic in this regard. Job’s wife and friends do not accompany him in his misfortune; instead, they blame him and only aggravate his solitude and distress. Job feels forlorn and misunderstood. Yet for all his extreme frailty, he rejects hypocrisy and chooses the path of honesty towards God and others. He cries out to God so insistently that God finally answers him and allows him to glimpse a new horizon. He confirms that Job’s suffering is not a punishment or a state of separation from God, much less as sign of God’s indifference. Job’s heart, wounded and healed, then makes this vibrant and touching confession to the Lord: “I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you” (42:5).

3. Sickness always has more than one face: it has the face of all the sick, but also those who feel ignored, excluded and prey to social injustices that deny their fundamental rights (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 22). The current pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in our healthcare systems and exposed inefficiencies in the care of the sick. Elderly, weak and vulnerable people are not always granted access to care, or in an equitable manner. This is the result of political decisions, resource management and greater or lesser commitment on the part of those holding positions of responsibility. Investing resources in the care and assistance of the sick is a priority linked to the fundamental principle that health is a primary common good. Yet the pandemic has also highlighted the dedication and generosity of healthcare personnel, volunteers, support staff, priests, men and women religious, all of whom have helped, treated, comforted and served so many of the sick and their families with professionalism, self-giving, responsibility and love of neighbour. A silent multitude of men and women, they chose not to look the other way but to share the suffering of patients, whom they saw as neighbours and members of our one human family.

Such closeness is a precious balm that provides support and consolation to the sick in their suffering. As Christians, we experience that closeness as a sign of the love of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan, who draws near with compassion to every man and woman wounded by sin. United to Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be merciful like the Father and to love in particular our frail, infirm and suffering brothers and sisters (cf. Jn 13:34-35). We experience this closeness not only as individuals but also as a community. Indeed, fraternal love in Christ generates a community of healing, a community that leaves no one behind, a community that is inclusive and welcoming, especially to those most in need.

Here I wish to mention the importance of fraternal solidarity, which is expressed concretely in service and can take a variety of forms, all directed at supporting our neighbours. “Serving means caring … for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people” (Homily in Havana, 20 September 2015). In this outreach, all are “called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable… Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, ‘suffers’ that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people” (ibid.).

4. If a therapy is to be effective, it must have a relational aspect, for this enables a holistic approach to the patient. Emphasizing this aspect can help doctors, nurses, professionals and volunteers to feel responsible for accompanying patients on a path of healing grounded in a trusting interpersonal relationship (cf. New Charter for Health Care Workers [2016], 4). This creates a covenant between those in need of care and those who provide that care, a covenant based on mutual trust and respect, openness and availability. This will help to overcome defensive attitudes, respect the dignity of the sick, safeguard the professionalism of healthcare workers and foster a good relationship with the families of patients.

Such a relationship with the sick can find an unfailing source of motivation and strength in the charity of Christ, as shown by the witness of those men and women who down the millennia have grown in holiness through service to the infirm. For the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection is the source of the love capable of giving full meaning to the experience of patients and caregivers alike. The Gospel frequently makes this clear by showing that Jesus heals not by magic but as the result of an encounter, an interpersonal relationship, in which God’s gift finds a response in the faith of those who accept it. As Jesus often repeats: “Your faith has saved you”.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, the commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples is also kept in our relationship with the sick. A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. Let us strive to achieve this goal, so that no one will feel alone, excluded or abandoned.

To Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Infirm, I entrust the sick, healthcare workers and all those who generously assist our suffering brothers and sisters. From the Grotto of Lourdes and her many other shrines throughout the world, may she sustain our faith and hope, and help us care for one another with fraternal love. To each and all, I cordially impart my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 20 December 2020, Fourth Sunday of Advent.

FRANCIS

FULL TEXT Source: Official Translation - http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/it/2021/1/12/messaggio-giornata-delmalato.html

Vatican Issues Official Modification of Distribution of Ashes on Ash Wednesday - FULL Official TEXT from Congregation of Divine Worship



NOTE ON ASH WEDNESDAY - The Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Issued this note on the Distribution of Ashes for Ash Wednesday during the Pandemic.
FULL TEXT:
Distribution of Ashes in Time of Pandemic
The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water,without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything. From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 12 January 2021.Robert Card. SarahPrefectArthur RocheArchbishop Secretary

US Bishops' Chairmen Ask Congress to Abolish Federal Death Penalty and Call for End to Executions



U.S. Bishop Chairmen Call for End to Executions and Ask Congress to Abolish Federal Death Penalty JANUARY 11, 2021 

WASHINGTON —With three more federal executions scheduled in January, two bishop chairmen call on the current Administration to stop, and for the new Congress and incoming Administration to abolish the death penalty in federal law. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

 “Following a year where the federal government, for the first time, executed more people than all fifty states combined, there are three more federal executions scheduled this week.  We renew our constant call to President Trump and Acting Attorney General Rosen: stop these executions. 

“It is long past time to abolish the death penalty from our state and federal laws, and we call on the new Congress and President-Elect Biden to make this a priority.  One vehicle to accomplish this in federal law is the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act (S. 2390 and H.R. 4052 in the 116th Congress).  In addition, we ask President-Elect Biden to declare a moratorium on federal executions and to commute current federal death sentences to terms of imprisonment. 

“The terrible loss suffered by victims’ families must be considered as well.  We encourage lawmakers to redirect the energy and resources that currently go towards executions to provide compassionate and professional assistance to the families of victims.

“Every person is created in the image and likeness of God, and we encourage everyone to work to rid the death penalty from our state and federal laws and to develop greater appreciation for the sacred dignity of every human life.”

Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann wrote to all members of Congress asking to abolish the federal death penalty in a letter here

For additional USCCB statements and resources on the death penalty and the recent resumption of federal executions:

  • In July 2019, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, then-chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the administration to abandon plans to resume federal executions. 
  • In October 2019, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory* and Bishop Frank J. Dewane participated in a roundtable discussion for the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
  • Archbishop Coakley, Archbishop Gregory*, and Bishop Dewane co-authored an op-ed in America Magazine in December 2019. 
  • The USCCB restated its opposition to the death penalty in an amicus curiae brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2020.  
  • Archbishop Coakley called on Attorney General Barr and President Trump to reverse course on the executions after the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of the death row inmates in June 2020.
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in August 2020 urging the administration to stop the executions. 
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann issued a statement in September 2020 asking the administration to forgo the executions. 
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann renewed their call to end executions in a statement in November 2020. 
  • Archbishop Coakley and Archbishop Naumann again called for an end to executions in a statement in December 2020.
  • A USCCB action alert continues to allow Catholics to raise their voices in opposition to the death penalty. 

 

*Then-Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Francis on November 28, 2020. 

Source: USCCB

Saint January 12 : St. Marguerite Bourgeoys a Foundress and Patron of Poverty, Orphans, People Rejected by Religious orders


Feast: January 12 (Canada)
Born:
17 April 1620, Troyes, France
Died:
12 January 1700, Montreal,
Canonized:
31 October 1982, by Pope
John Paul II
Major Shrine:
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
Chapel, Montreal

Patron:
Against poverty, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders


FOUNDRESS, SISTERS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE-DAME MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS was born in Troyes, in the province of Champagne (France), on Good Friday, April 17, 1620. She was baptized on the same day in the church of Saint-Jean, a church that was located near her home. Marguerite was the sixth child in a family of twelve. Her parents were Abraham Bourgeoys and Guillemette Gamier, and she was privileged to grow up in a milieu that was middle class and thoroughly Christian.

Marguerite was nineteen years of age when she lost her mother. In the following year, 1640, in the course of a procession held on October 7 in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, she had an unforgettable experience. Her eyes rested on a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and at that moment she felt inspired to withdraw from the world and to consecrate herself to the service of God. She registered, at once, as a member of the extern Congregation of Troyes, an association of young girls devoted to the charitable work of teaching children in the poor districts of the town. While engaged in this apostolate she learned about the foundation of Ville Marie (Montreal) in Canada. The year was 1642, and at that time she sensed a first call to missionary life. This call was rendered concrete in 1652 when she met Monsieur de Maisonneuve, founder and governor of the settlement begun in New France, who was in search of someone who would volunteer her services for the gratuitous instruction of the French and Indian children. Our Lady confirmed the call addressed to her: "Go, I will not forsake you", she said. Thus assured, Marguerite left Troyes in February, 1653, in a spirit of complete detachment. She arrived in Montreal on the following 16th of November, and without delay she set to work to promote the best interests of the colony. She is rightly considered co-foundress of Montreal, with the nurse, Jeanne Mance, and the master designer, Monsieur de Maisonneuve.

In order to encourage the colonists in their faith, she arranged for the restoration of the Cross on Mount Royal after it has been destroyed by hostile Indians, and she undertook the construction of a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Convinced of the importance of the family in the building of this new country, and perceiving the significance of the role to be exercised by women, she devoted herself to the task of preparing those whose vocation it would be to preside in a home. In 1658, in a stable which had been given to her by the governor for her use, she opened the first school in Montreal. She also organized an extern Congregation, patterned after the one which she had known in Troyes but adapted to the actual needs. In this way, she could respond to the needs of the women and young girls on whom much depended as far as the instruction of children was concerned. In 1659, she began receiving girls who were recommended by "les cures" in France, or endowed by       the King, to come to establish homes in Montreal, and she became a real mother to them. Thus were initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country, and which led people to refer to Marguerite as "Mother of the Colony".

On three occasions, Marguerite Bourgeoys made a trip to France to obtain help. As of
1658, the group of teachers who associated themselves       with her in her life of prayer, of heroic poverty, and of untiring devotedness to the service of others, presented the image of a religious institute. The Congregation de Notre-Dame received its civil charter from Louis XIV in 1671, and canonical approbation by decree of the Bishop of Quebec in 1676. The Constitutions of the Community were approved in 1698. The foundation having been assured, Sister Bourgeoys could leave the work to others. She died in Montreal on January 12, 1700, acknowledged for her holiness of life. Her last generous act was to offer herself as a sacrifice of prayer for the return to health of a young Sister. Forty members of the Congregation de Notre-Dame were there to continue her work.

On November 12, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite Bourgeoys. Canonizing her on October 31, 1982, Pope John Paul II gave the Canadian Church its first woman saint.

(Abridged from Vatican News Services)