Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Saint March 25 : The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Angel Gabriel that Jesus would be her Son - "Little Christmas" - VIDEO

 

On March 25, 9 months before Christmas, every year the Annunciation to Mary is remembered as a solemnity or special feast day. It is on this day that Jesus became incarnate (flesh) in the womb of the Virgin Mary, after she consented. The Catechism, in article 497,  explains that the Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", said the angel to Joseph about Mary. The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise of the Messiah, given to the Hebrew people, through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son."
Following from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The fact of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is related in Luke 1:26-38. The Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused (i.e. married) to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother's house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. (Bardenhewer, Maria Verk., 69). And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: "Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favoured one), the Lord is with thee." Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation. And the angel continued and said: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (St. Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word of God like Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"
The angel to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word."
Since 1889 Holzmann and many Protestant writers have tried to show that the verses Luke 1:34-35, containing the message of conception through the Holy Ghost are interpolated. Usener derives the origin of the "myth" from the heathen hero worship; but Harnack tries to prove that it is of Judaic origin (Isaiah 7:14, Behold a Virgin shall conceive, etc.). Bardenhewer, however, has fully established the authenticity of the text (p. 13). St. Luke may have taken his knowledge of the event from an older account, written in Aramaic or Hebrew. The words: "Blessed art thou among women" (v. 28), are spurious and taken from verse 42, the account of the Visitation. Cardinal Cajetan wanted to understand the words: "because I know not man", not of the future, but only of the past: up to this hour I do not know man. This manifest error, which contradicts the words of the text, has been universally rejected by all Catholic authors. The opinion that Joseph at the time of the Annunciation was an aged widower and Mary twelve or fifteen years of age, is founded only upon apocryphal documents. The local tradition of Nazareth pretends that the angel met Mary and greeted her at the fountain, and when she fled from him in fear, he followed her into the house and there continued his message. (Buhl, Geogr. v. Palaest., 1896.) The year and day of the Annunciation cannot be determined as long as new material does not throw more light on the subject. The present date of the feast (25 March) depends upon the date of the older feast of Christmas.
The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother He is a member of the human race. If the virginity of Mary before, during, and after the conception of her Divine Son was always considered part of the deposit of faith, this was done only on account of the historical facts and testimonials. The Incarnation of the Son of God did not in itself necessitate this exception from the laws of nature. Only reasons of expediency are given for it, chiefly, the end of the Incarnation. About to found a new generation of the children of God, The Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Sts. Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of God, St. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.
Excerpt shared from the Catholic Encyclopedia 

Pope Francis says "Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense..." FULL TEXT + Video

 

POPE FRANCIS at the GENERAL AUDIENCE

Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Catechesis on prayer - 27. To pray in communion with Mary

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today the catechesis is dedicated to prayer in communion with Mary. It occurs precisely on the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation. We know that the main pathway of Christian prayer is the humanity of Jesus. In fact, the confidence typical of Christian prayer would be meaningless if the Word had not become incarnate, giving us in the Spirit His filial relationship with the Father. We heard in the Scripture of the gathering of the disciples, the pious women and Mary, praying after Jesus’s Ascension. The first Christian community was awaiting Jesus’s gift, Jesus’s promise.

Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). He is the only Redeemer: there are no co-redeemers with Christ. He is the only one. He is the Mediator par excellence. He is the Mediator. Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place: there is no other name by which we can be saved: Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and humanity (see Acts 4:12).

Due to Christ’s one mediation, other references Christians find for their prayer and devotion take on meaning, first among them being the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

She occupies a privileged place in the lives of Christians, and therefore, in their prayer as well, because she is the Mother of Jesus. The Eastern Churches have often depicted her as the Odigitria, the one who “shows the way”; and the way is her Son, Jesus Christ. The beautiful, ancient painting of the Odigitria in the Cathedral of Bari comes to my mind. It is simple. The Madonna who shows Jesus, naked; then they put a shirt on him to cover his nakedness, but the truth is that Jesus is naked, he himself, man, born of Mary, is the Mediator. And she indicates the Mediator: she is the Odigitria. Her presence is everywhere in Christian iconography, sometimes very prominently, but always in relation to her Son and in connection with Him. Her hands, her eyes, her behavior are a living “catechism”, always indicating the hinge, she always points out the center: Jesus. Mary is completely directed toward Him (see CCC, 2674) to such an extent that we can say she is more disciple than Mother. The directions she gave at the wedding at Cana: “He: do whatever he will tell you”. She always refers to Christ. She is the first disciple.

This is the role Mary fulfilled throughout her entire earthly life and which she forever retains: to be the humble handmaid of the Lord, nothing more. At a certain point in the Gospels she almost seems to disappear; but then she reappears in the more crucial moments, such as at Cana, when her Son, thanks to her caring intervention, performs his first “sign” (see Jn 2:1-12), and then on Golgotha at the foot of the cross.

Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross. From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon – sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers’, like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother. It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things. But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the Saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma – some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.

And so, we began to pray to her using several expressions present in the Gospels directed to her: “full of grace”, “blessed are you among women” (see CCC, 2676 f.). Sanctioned by the Council of Ephesus, the title “Theotokos”, “Mother of God”, was soon added to the Hail Mary. And, analogously as with the Our Father, after the praise we add the supplication: we ask that Mary pray for us sinners, that she might intercede with her tenderness, “now and at the hour of our death”. Now, in the concrete situations of life, and in the final moment, so that she might accompany us – as Mother, as the first disciple – in our passage to eternal life.

Mary is always present at the bedside of her children when they depart this world. If someone is alone and abandoned, she is Mother, she is there, near, as she was next to her Son when everyone else abandoned him.

Mary was and is present in these days of the pandemic, near to the people who, unfortunately, have concluded their earthly journey all alone, without the comfort of or the closeness of their loved ones. Mary is always there next to us, with her maternal tenderness.

Prayers said to her are not in vain. The Woman who said “yes”, who promptly welcomed the Angel’s invitation, also responds to our supplications, she hears our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts that haven’t the strength to be uttered but which God knows better that we ourselves do. She listens as Mother. Just like, and more than, every good mother, Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. To pray with us. Why? Because she is our Mother.


Special Greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful. May our Lenten journey bring us to the joy of Easter with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!


APPEALS

I learned with sorrow the news of the recent terrorist attacks in Niger, which caused the deaths of 137 people. Let us pray for the victims, for their families and for the entire population so that the violence suffered may not cause them to lose trust in the path of democracy, justice and peace.

In recent days, major floods have caused serious damage in New South Wales in Australia. I am near the people and the families affected once again by this calamity, especially those who saw their houses destroyed. I give encouragement to those who are doing everything possible to search for those who are missing and to bring aid.

Today is World Tuberculosis Day. May this annual event foster a renewed interest in the treatment of this disease and increased solidarity toward those who suffer from it. Upon them and their families, I invoke the Lord’s consolation.

Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot



INTERVIEW with Clergy Abuse Survivor - Faith Hakesley who Found Faith and Forgiveness - New Book which Helps those Involved in Sexual Abuse - Video



Catholic News World was honored to interview Faith Hakesley, who is a clergy abuse survivor. She has written a new book where she discusses faith, forgiveness and healing from abuse. LISTEN to her explain how her experiences have helped her write this new book which can help other victims, church leaders and faithful on how to deal with abuse on all levels.

(WATCH the Video Below and Listen to Faith's True Story)  


Biography of Faith from her Website:

Faith Hakesley was born and raised in Massachusetts where she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Following graduation, she worked in the Psychology field until the birth of her first child. Over the course of her life, she has overcome many traumas including rape by a Catholic priest, the death of a brother, and has lived through cancer as well as a serious heart condition. Faith and her husband homeschool their three children and are just welcomed their fourth child.

In 2008, Faith was one of five victims of clerical abuse from the Archdiocese of Boston to meet with Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Washington, D.C. As a result of their meeting, she began reaching out to others suffering from trauma, particularly sexual abuse, and became passionate about sharing her story in an effort to offer hope, healing, and peace to those who are suffering. Faith strives to be an advocate for survivors, break the stigmas associated with trauma, and encourage others to find hope through their faith. 

 

Faith has been interviewed on CNN with Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper, Face the Nation, Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo, Kresta in the Afternoon with Al Kresta, EWTN News and more

About her book: "Glimmers of Grace" from her Websie:
It started with a Tootsie Roll.

The day then-18-year-old Faith Hakesley was to testify in court against the well-liked Catholic priest who had raped her, a court guard pressed a Tootsie Roll into her hand. It was the first glimmer.

The little piece of candy reminded her of the Scripture about "faith the size of a mustard seed," and this bit of encouragement, by way of the guard, but really from God, gave her the courage she needed to endure the trial.

In Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse, Faith shares what she has learned about the gifts God wants to give victims throughout their journey of healing. Practical, personal, and versatile, Glimmers of Grace accompanies readers step by step from acceptance to true freedom.
In each reflection, you'll explore the healing gifts God offers, including:
 
Hope
Kindness
Perseverance
Self-compassion
Joy

Each reflection includes a gratitude prompt, positive affirmation, achievable to-dos, and journaling questions to help you embrace each gift. Like Faith, you can learn, slowly but surely, to see where and how God is speaking to you and find hope and healing after sexual abuse.

Glimmers of Grace can also help spouses, friends, loved ones, or anyone who works with abuse victims gain perspective and understanding.

Our Sunday Visitor (July 13, 2020)

Pope Francis Reduces Salaries of Cardinals and Vatican Employees - Release of New Motu Prio - Apostolic Letter - FULL TEXT



Vatican News reports that due to COVID, the salaries of Cardinals will be reduced by 10%, department heads and secretaries by 8%, clergy and religious by 3%. A two-year freeze in automatic seniority increases will affect all employees from paygrade level 4 on up. Pope Francis has released a Motu Proprio in this regard; full text below:

APOSTOLIC LETTER

ISSUED "MOTU PROPRIO"
BY THE SUPREME PONTIFF

FRANCIS

regarding the containment of expenditures for employees of the Holy See,
the Governorate of Vatican City State, and other connected Entities

 

An economically sustainable future requires that today, among other decisions, measures be taken concerning staff salaries.

a) In view of the deficit that has characterised the economic management of the Holy See for several years;

b) in view of the worsening of this situation following the health emergency caused by the spread of Covid-19, which has adversely affected all sources of revenue for the Holy See and Vatican City State;

(c) considering that staff costs constitute a significant item of expenditure in the budget of the Holy See and the Vatican City State;

d) considering that, although the Holy See and the Vatican City State are adequately capitalized, it is necessary to ensure sustainability and balance between income and expenditure in current economic and financial management;

e) deemed it necessary to proceed in this regard according to criteria of proportionality and progressiveness;

(f) with a view to safeguarding current jobs;

g) having obtained the competent opinion of the Secretariat for the Economy and having carefully examined every question concerning this matter, I hereby establish the following:

Article 1

Remuneration of Cardinals

§1 With effect from 1 April 2021 the salary, however denominated, paid by the Holy See to Cardinals shall be reduced by ten per cent (10%) compared to the last salary paid.

Article 2

Remuneration of other Superiors

§1 As from 1 April 2021, the remuneration, however denominated, net of and excluding the additional remuneration agreed in the relevant contract, paid by the Holy See and the Governorate of Vatican City State to persons classified in salary levels C and C1, shall be reduced by eight per cent (8%) compared to the last remuneration paid.

Article 3

Remuneration of clergymen and religious

§1 With effect from 1 April 2021, the remuneration paid by the Holy See and the Governorate of the Vatican City State to clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life, classified in salary levels C2 and C3 and in the ten non-executive functional levels, shall be reduced by three per cent (3%) compared to the last remuneration paid.

Article 4

§1 The reduction referred to in Articles 1, 2 and 3 shall not apply if the person concerned provides evidence that he cannot meet fixed expenses related to his own health or that of relatives up to the second degree. The conditions for the application of this Article shall be assessed annually. The relevant documentation shall be submitted

(a) to the Secretariat for the Economy for employees who are administratively dependent on it;

b) to the Governorate of the Vatican City State for its employees;

c) to the Institution to which they belong for employees of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and of the Institutions mentioned in Art. 6;

Article 5

Two-year seniority increments

§1 In the period between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023, the accrual of biennial seniority increments is suspended for the persons mentioned in Articles 2 and 3 and for personnel with contracts at functional levels 4 to 10, both included, of the Holy See, the Governorate of Vatican City State and the Entities whose salaries are paid by the Holy See or by Vatican City State.

Article 6

Other Entities

§1 The provisions of the preceding articles also apply to the Vicariate of Rome, the Chapters of the Papal Basilicas of the Vatican, the Lateran and the Liberian, the Fabric of Saint Peter and the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Article 7

§1 The Secretariat for the Economy, in agreement with the Governorate of Vatican City State and after consulting the Pension Fund, the Health Care Fund and other interested entities, shall adopt measures to implement this Decree.

I decree that the provisions herein have immediate, full and stable effect, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, and that this Decree be promulgated by publication in “L’Osservatore Romano” of 24 March 2021 and subsequently in Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 23 March 2021, the ninth of my Pontificate

 

FRANCISCUS

__________________________________

Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office, 24 March 2021

Pope Francis' Video Message to Bangladesh "..I trust that the growing climate of interreligious encounter and dialogue...will continue to enable believers to express freely.." On Anniversary FULL TEXT + Video


 

VIDEO MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

ON THE OCCASIONS OF THE BIRTH CENTENARY CELEBRATION
OF SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN AND THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF BANGLADESH

 

I welcome this opportunity to offer my heartfelt greetings and best wishes to the President, Prime Minister and the beloved people of Bangladesh as the nation celebrates the hundredth birthday of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. I join all of you in thanking God for the many blessings bestowed upon Bangladesh over these years.

Bangladesh – “Golden Bengal” (Sonar Bangla) – is a country of unique natural beauty and a modern nation that strives to join unity of language and culture with respect for the different traditions and communities within it. This is one of the legacies which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman left behind for all Bangladeshis. He promoted a culture of encounter and dialogue, marked by wisdom, insight and breadth of vision. He knew that it is only in such a pluralistic and inclusive society, in which every person could live in freedom, peace and security, that a more just and fraternal world can be built.

Bangladesh is a young state, and it has always had a special place in the heart of the Popes, who from the start have expressed solidarity with its people, sought to accompany them in overcoming initial adversities, and supported them in the demanding task of nation building and development. It is my hope that the good relations between the Holy See and Bangladesh will continue to flourish. So too, I trust that the growing climate of interreligious encounter and dialogue, which I witnessed during my visit, will continue to enable believers to express freely their deepest convictions about the meaning and purpose of life, and thus contribute to promoting the spiritual values that are the sure basis for a peaceful and just society.

Dear brothers and sisters, as you mark the hundredth anniversary of your independence, I renew my firm conviction that the future of the democracy and health of the political life of Bangladesh are essentially linked to its founding vision and to the legacy of sincere dialogue and respect for legitimate diversity that you have sought to achieve over these years.

As a friend of Bangladesh, I encourage each of you, particularly the younger generations, to devote yourselves anew to working for peace and prosperity for the noble nation that you represent. And I ask all of you to continue in your work of generosity and humanitarian outreach to the refugees, the poor, the underprivileged and those who have no voice.

With these heartfelt good wishes, I invoke upon Golden Bangladesh and all its citizens an abundance of divine blessings.


Source: Vatican.va