Tuesday, May 11, 2021

RIP - Death Toll Rises to 68 Killed during Explosion - Most Victims are School Girls with Over 165 Injured



In Afghanistan the death toll has risen to 68 people killed after a school explosion with most victims being children.

CNBC reports that a car bomb was detonated in front of the Sayed Al-Shuhada school and two more bombs exploded when students rushed out in panic.

Officials said most of those killed were schoolgirls.  

 Some families were still searching hospitals for their children.

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday blamed Taliban insurgents but a spokesman for the group denied involvement and condemned any attacks on Afghan civilians.

Doctors are struggling to care for 165 injured victims and families searching desperately for missing children.

The neighborhood was called Dasht-e-Barchi, home to a large community of Shi’ites from the Hazara ethnic minority which has been targeted in the past by Islamic State, a Sunni militant group.

Pope Francis called the attack as “inhuman act” in remarks to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Sunday.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack.

The Taliban, have waged war to overthrow the foreign-backed government since they were removed from power in Kabul in 2001.

The US military pullout has begun, with President Joe Biden announcing that all troops will be gone by Sept. 11.

Edited from CNBC

Wow One of the World's most Beautiful Ave Maria's sung by Famous Artist with Images of the Life of Christ - #AveMaria


The "Ave Maria" is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, derived from the New Testament; the Gospel of Luke. This video has had Millions of Views and is one of the most famous Ave Maria's sung in the World - the video also tells the story of the life of Christ with beautiful images. 
Latin:
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Ave, Ave, Dominus, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, Et benedictus fructus ventris (tui),
Ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis, In hora, hora mortis nostrae, AMEN
English:
  Hail Mary, full of grace, Mary, full of grace, Hail, Hail, the Lord, The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary! Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners,Now, and at the hour of our death, The hour of our death. AMEN


For Breaking News- Music- Prayers - Movies and More LIKE Facebook.com/catholicnewsworld

Cardinal Ladaria of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Writes Letter to US Bishops' President Archbishop Gomez on Reception of Communion by Politicians











A letter, dated May 7, 2021, was issued by Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, S.J., the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to Archbishop José H. Gomez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was a response to a March 30th letter from Archbishop Gomez to the C.D.F. in which he informed the congregation that the U.S.C.C.B. was preparing to draft a document on “the worthiness to receive Communion” of Catholic politicians who support legislation permitting abortion, euthanasia or other moral evils.
According the CNS, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, congregation prefect, reiterated what he said he had told several groups of U.S. bishops during their 2019-2020 "ad limina" visits, namely that "the effective development of a policy in this area requires that dialogue occurs in two stages: first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions." 
Cardinal Ladaria begins the letter by responding at length to Archbishop Gomez’s request that the C.D.F. make available a copy of a letter from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to former cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2004 on the subject. Cardinal Ladaria explained that since it was “in the form of a private letter to the bishops” and Cardinal Ratzinger had stipulated that “these principles were not intended for publication,” the C.D.F. would respect his wish.
At the same time, Cardinal Ladaria acknowledged that the principles contained in the letter may assist the bishops in drafting their document, but they “should only be discussed within the context of the [C.D.F.’s] authoritative doctrinal note” of 2002: “On some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life.” He said that text predates Cardinal Ratzinger’s “personal communication” and “provides the teaching of the Magisterium on the theological foundation for any initiative regarding the question of the worthy reception of Holy Communion.”
"Cardinal Ratzinger's communication," he said, "should thus be discussed only within the context of the authoritative doctrinal note which provides the teaching of the magisterium on the theological foundation for any initiative regarding the question of worthy reception of holy Communion."
The 2002 note said, "Those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a 'grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them."
The 2002 note did not, however, mention reception of the Eucharist.
Cardinal Ratzinger's 2004 letter, which was never published by the Vatican, said, "Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest -- understood in the case of a Catholic politician as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws -- his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist."
"When 'these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,' and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the holy Eucharist, 'the minister of holy Communion must refuse to distribute it,'" Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, quoting from a declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts on the issue of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
Writing to Archbishop Gomez, Cardinal Ladaria said the U.S. bishops need an "extensive and serene dialogue" among themselves and between individual bishops and Catholic politicians in their dioceses who do not support the fullness of the church's teaching to understand "the nature of their positions and their comprehension of Catholic teaching."
Only after both dialogues, the cardinal said, the bishops' conference "would face the difficult task of discerning the best way forward for the church in the United States to witness to the grave moral responsibility of Catholic public officials to protect human life at all stages."
"If it is then decided to formulate a national policy on worthiness for Communion, such a statement would need to express a true consensus of the bishops on the matter, while observing the prerequisite that any provisions of the conference in this area would respect the rights of individual ordinaries in their dioceses and the prerogatives of the Holy See," the cardinal said, citing St. John Paul II's 1998 document on bishops' conferences.
Cardinal Ladaria specifically pointed to paragraphs 22 of the document, "Apostolos Suos," which says bishops' conferences may publish doctrinal declarations when they are "approved unanimously," but "a majority alone" is not enough for publication without the approval of the Vatican.
He also cited paragraph 24, which says the bishops' conference cannot hinder an individual bishop's authority in his diocese "by substituting themselves inappropriately for him, where the canonical legislation does not provide for a limitation of his episcopal power in favor of the episcopal conference."
(Edited from Angelus News from Catholic News Service of the USCCB)
According to America Magazine; the counsel from the congregation seems to suggest clearly that the drafting of a document as envisaged by the U.S.C.C.B. president is something that cannot be rushed and would inevitably take time, and it would have to reflect “true consensus” among the bishops, something that cannot be taken for granted now.
The CDF's letter may lead to a reconsideration of the plan of some bishops to get the conference to approve the document. 
In the letter to Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Cardinal Ladaria also insisted: such a policy cannot usurp the authority of an individual bishop in his diocese on the matter; the policy would require near unanimity; and it would be "misleading" to present abortion and euthanasia as "the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics."

Former Coptic Orthodox Monk Receives Death Penalty for Murdering Bishop Epiphanios



Agenzia Fides reports that in Damanhur Prison, the death penalty was carried out against Wael Saad Tawadros, the former Coptic Orthodox monk convicted of murdering Bishop Epiphanios. The bishop was found dead on 29 July 2018 in the Monastery of San Macario of which he was Abbot. The news of the execution was confirmed on Sunday, May 9th, by the relatives of the man sentenced to death. "We were informed this morning at 8.00 that the execution took place in Damanhur prison, and I am on my way to recover the body", a brother of the man sentenced to death told the Egyptian media. 
The entire Coptic Church and in particular the network of monastic communities was shocked at the killing of the bishop. On July 1, 2020, the Supreme Court in Egypt upheld the death sentence already imposed on Wael Saad Tawadros in the first instance, while a death sentence initially pronounced against his accomplice, the monk Falta'os Al-Makary, was turned into life imprisonment. Throughout the trial, both defendants declared themselves innocent and withdrew previous confessions of guilt, which they said had been blackmailed through investigative psychological pressure. As emerges from the investigations on which the trial is based, there were disputes between the murdered abbot and the two convicts over economic issues and various violations of the monks' rules by the two monks. Anba Epiphanius, aged 64 at the time of the murder, was a native of Tanta and a doctor of medicine. In 1984 he entered the monastery of San Macario in the Wadi Natrun region and was ordained a priest in 2002. As a researcher and scholar, he had worked on translations from Greek into Arabic of various books of the Bible and participated as an expert at the 10th International Conference on Coptic Studies, held in Rome in 2012. The majority of the 100 monks of the monastery of San Macario elected him abbot on February 3, 2013. He was a student of Matta el Meskin - the spiritual father and key figure in the recent history of the Coptic Orthodox monastery - and enjoyed intense spiritual moments with monastic communities of the Catholic Church. The tragic story of Anba Epiphanios accelerated the process of discernment around the monastic life already started some time ago within the Coptic Orthodox Church. On Friday, August 3, 2018, the Committee of the Holy Synod responsible for Coptic Orthodox monasteries approved 12 rules. The rules already ratified by Patriarch Tawadros II should henceforth be obeyed by everyone who lives in a monastic community of the Coptic Orthodox Church. (GV) (Edited from Agenzia Fides, 10/5/2021)

Priests in Germany Defiantly Offer Blessings to Same-Sex Couples Despite the Vatican Ban - Cardinal Warns of Possible Schism



Catholic congregations in Germany have been blessing same sex couples. Over 100 Catholic priests in Germany have offered blessings to same sex couples this week. The Church in Germany does not permit this, and the Vatican forbids it.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, official Catholic teachings, calls homosexual relations "contrary to the natural law."  
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome issued a  responsum (response) forbidding blessings for same-sex partnerships. Their text was, as the authors stressed, "endorsed" by Pope Francis. Certain Catholic groups in Germany, were offended by the Vatican response.  
The Church in Germany also has a synodal path (synodaler Weg), a gathering of bishops and laypeople working on reforms. One of their main calls is for allowing the ordination of women as priests and deacons. 

In response to this, an Italian cardinal warned of schism in Germany. The former Bishops' Conference chairman Ruini was worried about the announced blessing celebrations for homosexual couples in Germany. 

Cardinal Camillo Ruini (90), the former long-time chairman of the Italian Bishops' Conference, expressed concern about the planned blessing celebrations for homosexual couples in Germany. He did not hope that this would lead to a schism, but said the danger existed, Ruini explained to the newspaper "Il Foglio" (online edition). With the supported initiative, according to Ruini, problems that have existed for some time will come to light. He also sees this in the Synodal Way, which clearly states "goals: not only the blessing of same-sex couples, but also the priesthood for women, the abolition of the obligation to church celibacy, intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants". Ruini referred to a response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in March. Accordingly, homosexual connections are not allowed to receive a blessing. Only that which corresponds to God's designs can be blessed - not that which contradicts them, he said. As secretary and then as president of the Italian Bishops' Conference from 1986 to 2008 he decisively determined the line of the country's Catholic Church - spiritually as well as politically.

Pope Francis Establishes Ministry of Catechist "The ministry of Catechist in the Church is an ancient one." FULL TEXT Motu Proprio



Pope Francis establishes ministry of catechist With a new Apostolic Letter issued “motu proprio,” Pope Francis establishes the lay ministry of catechist, intended to respond to an urgent need for the evangelisation of the modern world, and undertaken in a “secular” manner, avoiding clericalisation. (Vatican News)

APOSTOLIC LETTER ISSUED "MOTU PROPRIO" BY THE SUPREME PONTIFF FRANCIS

"ANTIQUUM MINISTERIUM"

INSTITUTING THE MINISTRY OF CATECHIST

 

1. The ministry of Catechist in the Church is an ancient one. Theologians commonly hold that the first examples are already present in the writings of the New Testament. The service of catechesis may be traced back to those “teachers” mentioned by the Apostle in writing to the community of Corinth: “Some people God has designated in the Church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:28-31).

Saint Luke begins his Gospel by stating: “I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received” (Lk 1:3-4). The evangelist seems to be well aware that his writings offer a specific form of instruction that can give firm assurance to those already baptized. The Apostle Paul, for his part, tells the Galatians that: “one who is being instructed in the word should share all good things with his instructor” (Gal 6:6). As is evident, this text provides yet another detail; it speaks of the communion of life as a sign of the fruitfulness of an authentic catechesis.

2. From the beginning, the Christian community was characterized by many different forms of ministry carried out by men and women who, obedient to the working of the Holy Spirit, devoted their lives to the building up of the Church. At times, the charisms that the Spirit constantly pours out on the baptized took on a visible and tangible form of immediate service to the Christian community, one recognized as an indispensable diakonia for the community. The Apostle Paul authoritatively attests to this when he states that “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes” (1 Cor 12:4-11).

Within the broader charismatic tradition of the New Testament, then, we can see that certain baptized persons exercised the ministry of transmitting in a more organic and stable form related to different situations in life the teaching of the apostles and evangelists (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 8). The Church wished to acknowledge this service as a concrete expression of a personal charism that contributed greatly to the exercise of her mission of evangelization. This glance at the life of the first Christian communities engaged in the spread of the Gospel also encourages the Church in our day to appreciate possible new ways for her to remain faithful to the word of the Lord so that his Gospel can be preached to every creature.

3. The history of evangelization over the past two millennia clearly shows the effectiveness of the mission of catechists. Bishops, priests and deacons, together with many men and women in the consecrated life, devoted their lives to catechetical instruction so that the faith might be an effective support for the life of every human being. Some of them also gathered around themselves others of their brothers and sisters sharing the same charism, and founded religious orders wholly dedicated to catechesis.

Nor can we forget the countless lay men and women who directly took part in the spread of the Gospel through catechetical instruction. Men and women of deep faith, authentic witnesses of holiness, who in some cases were also founders of Churches and eventually died as martyrs. In our own day too, many competent and dedicated catechists are community leaders in various parts of the world and carry out a mission invaluable for the transmission and growth of the faith.  The long line of blesseds, saints and martyrs who were catechists has significantly advanced the Church’s mission and deserves to be recognized, for it represents a rich resource not only for catechesis but also for the entire history of Christian spirituality.

4. Beginning with the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Church has come to a renewed appreciation of the importance of lay involvement in the work of evangelization. The Council Fathers repeatedly emphasized the great need for the lay faithful to be engaged directly, in the various ways their charism can be expressed, in the “plantatio Ecclesiae” and the development of the Christian community. “Worthy of praise too is that army of catechists, both men and women, to whom missionary work among the nations is so indebted, who imbued with an apostolic spirit make an outstanding and absolutely necessary contribution to the spread of the faith and the Church by their great work. In our days, when there are so few clerics to evangelize such great multitudes and to carry out the pastoral ministry, the role of catechists is of the highest importance” (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, 17).

Along with the important teaching of the Council, mention should be made of the constant interest of the Popes, the Synod of Bishops, the Episcopal Conferences and individual Bishops who, in recent decades have contributed to a significant renewal of catechesis. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, the General Catechetical Directory, the General Directory for Catechesis and the recent Directory for Catechesis, as well as the many national, regional and diocesan Catechisms, have confirmed the centrality of a catechesis that gives priority to the education and ongoing formation of believers.

5. Without prejudice to the Bishop’s mission as the primary catechist in his Diocese, one which he shares with his presbyterate, or to the particular responsibility of parents for the Christian formation of their children (cf. CIC can. 774 §2; CCEO can. 618), recognition should be given to those lay men and women who feel called by virtue of their baptism to cooperate in the work of catechesis (cf. CIC can. 225; CCEO cans. 401 and 406). This presence is all the more urgently needed today as a result of our increasing awareness of the need for evangelization in the contemporary world (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 163-168), and the rise of a globalized culture (cf. Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, 100138). This requires genuine interaction with young people, to say nothing of the need for creative methodologies and resources capable of adapting the proclamation of the Gospel to the missionary transformation that the Church has undertaken. Fidelity to the past and responsibility for the present are necessary conditions for the Church to carry out her mission in the world.

Awakening personal enthusiasm on the part of all the baptized and reviving the awareness of their call to carry out a proper mission in the community demands attentiveness to the voice of the Spirit, who is unfailingly present and fruitful (cf. CIC can. 774 §1; CCEO can. 617). Today, too, the Spirit is calling men and women to set out and encounter all those who are waiting to discover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Christian faith. It is the task of pastors to support them in this process and to enrich the life of the Christian community through the recognition of lay ministries capable of contributing to the transformation of society through the “penetration of Christian values into the social, political and economic sectors” (Evangelii Gaudium, 102).

6. The lay apostolate is unquestionably “secular”. It requires that the laity “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will” (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 31). In their daily life, interwoven with family and social relationships, the laity come to realize that they “are given this special vocation: to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth” (ibid., 33). We do well to remember, however, that in addition to this apostolate, “the laity can be called in different ways to more immediate cooperation in the apostolate of the hierarchy, like those men and women who helped the apostle Paul in the Gospel, working hard in the Lord” (ibid.).

The role played by catechists is one specific form of service among others within the Christian community. Catechists are called first to be expert in the pastoral service of transmitting the faith as it develops through its different stages from the initial proclamation of the kerygma to the instruction that presents our new life in Christ and prepares for the sacraments of Christian initiation, and then to the ongoing formation that can allow each person to give an accounting of the hope within them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). At the same time, every catechist must be a witness to the faith, a teacher and mystagogue, a companion and pedagogue, who teaches for the Church. Only through prayer, study, and direct participation in the life of the community can they grow in this identity and the integrity and responsibility that it entails (cf. Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Directory for Catechesis, 113).

7. With great foresight, Saint Paul VI issued the Apostolic Letter Ministeria Quaedam with the intention not only of adapting the ministries of Lector and Acolyte to changed historical circumstances (cf. Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini), but also of encouraging Episcopal Conferences to promote other ministries, including that of Catechist. “In addition to the ministries common to the entire Latin Church, nothing prevents Episcopal Conferences from asking the Apostolic See for the institution of others, which for particular reasons, they consider necessary or very useful in their own region. Among these are, for example, the offices of PorterExorcist and Catechist.” The same pressing invitation is found in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi; in calling for a discernment of the present needs of the Christian community in faithful continuity with its origins, the Pope encouraged the development of new forms of ministry for a renewed pastoral activity. “Such ministries, apparently new but closely tied up with the Church’s living experience down the centuries, such as that of catechists… are valuable for the establishment, life, and growth of the Church, and for her capacity to influence her surroundings and to reach those who are remote from her” (SAINT PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 73).

To be sure, “there has been a growing awareness of the identity and mission of the laity in the Church. We can indeed count on many lay persons, although still not nearly enough, who have a deeply-rooted sense of community and great fidelity to the tasks of charity, catechesis and the celebration of the faith” (Evangelii Gaudium, 102). It follows that the reception of a lay ministry such as that of Catechist will emphasize even more the missionary commitment proper to every baptized person, a commitment that must however be carried out in a fully “secular” manner, avoiding any form of clericalization.

8. This ministry has a definite vocational aspect, as evidenced by the Rite of Institution, and consequently calls for due discernment on the part of the Bishop. It is in fact a stable form of service rendered to the local Church in accordance with pastoral needs identified by the local Ordinary, yet one carried out as a work of the laity, as demanded by the very nature of the ministry. It is fitting that those called to the instituted ministry of Catechist be men and women of deep faith and human maturity, active participants in the life of the Christian community, capable of welcoming others, being generous and living a life of fraternal communion. They should also receive suitable biblical, theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation to be competent communicators of the truth of the faith and they should have some prior experience of catechesis (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 14; CIC can. 231 §1; CCEO can. 409 §1). It is essential that they be faithful co-workers with priests and deacons, prepared to exercise their ministry wherever it may prove necessary, and motivated by true apostolic enthusiasm.

Therefore, after having taken all things into consideration, and by apostolic authority

I establish

the lay ministry of Catechist

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will soon publish the Rite of Institution of the lay ministry of Catechist.

9. I invite the Episcopal Conferences to render effective the ministry of Catechist, determining the necessary process of formation and the normative criteria for admission to this ministry and devising the most appropriate forms for the service which these men and women will be called to exercise in conformity with the content of this Apostolic Letter.

10. The Synods of the Oriental Churches or the Assemblies of Hierarchs may adopt what is established here for their respective Churches sui iuris, in accordance with their particular law.

11. Bishops should make every effort to comply with the exhortation of the Council Fathers: “Pastors… know that they were not established by Christ to undertake by themselves the entire saving mission of the Church to the world. They appreciate, rather, that it is their exalted task to shepherd the faithful and at the same time acknowledge their ministries and charisms so that all in their separate ways, but of one mind, may cooperate in the common task” (Lumen Gentium, 30). May the discernment of the gifts that the Holy Spirit never fails to grant to the Church sustain their efforts to make the lay ministry of Catechist effective for the growth of their communities.

I order that what has been laid down by this Apostolic Letter issued “Motu Proprio” have firm and stable effect, anything to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, taking effect that same day, and published thereafter in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at Saint John Lateran, on the tenth day of May in the year 2021, the liturgical memorial of Saint John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church, the ninth of my Pontificate.

Franciscus

FULL TEXT Release : Vatican.va

Monday, May 10, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church - Eastertide



Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 292
Reading I
Acts 16:22-34
The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas,
and the magistrates had them stripped
and ordered them to be beaten with rods.
 
 After inflicting many blows on them,
they threw them into prison
and instructed the jailer to guard them securely.
When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell
and secured their feet to a stake.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened,
there was suddenly such a severe earthquake
that the foundations of the jail shook;
all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. 
When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open,
he drew his sword and was about to kill himself,
thinking that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted out in a loud voice,“Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.”
He asked for a light and rushed in and,
trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas.
Then he brought them out and said,
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus
and you and your household will be saved.”
So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house.
He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds;
then he and all his family were baptized at once.
He brought them up into his house and provided a meal
and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.
Responsorial Psalm
138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8
R.    (7c)  Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
    for you have heard the words of my mouth;
    in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple,
    and give thanks to your name.
R.    Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Because of your kindness and your truth,
    you have made great above all things
    your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
    you built up strength within me.
R.    Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
    your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
    forsake not the work of your hands.
R.    Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Alleluia
See Jn 16:7, 13
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord;
he will guide you to all truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel
Jn 16:5-11
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me; 
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
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 May 11 : St. Francis of Girolamo, a Priest who Walked the Streets with a Bell Inviting People to Holy Communion


St. Francis of Girolamo
PRIEST
 
Born:
17 December 1642 at Grottaglie, Apulia, near Taranto, Italy
Died:
11 May 1716 at Naples, Italy
Canonized:
26 May 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI
Patron of:
Grottaglie, Italy
In that part of the kingdom of Naples which is commonly called Terra d'Otranto, a small village near Taranto gave birth to St. Francis di Girolamo. This event, which was destined to exercise so important an influence over the world in these latter times, took place upon the 17th of December, 1642. His parents, John Leonard di Girolamo and Gentilesca Gravina, were distinguished less by the honorable station which they occupied in society, than by their virtues and the excellent education they gave to their children—eleven in number, of whom Francis was the eldest.

But not only was virtue thus the inheritance of our saint, and as it were the natural growth of his soul, but it sprung up therein with an energy that early developed the rich qualities of the soil it occupied. A judgment beyond his years, a sweet submission and obedience to his parents, a virginal modesty, and an ardent love of prayer and retirement, marked the childhood of the saint, and betokened his future greatness and sanctity. At a proper age the holy youth was admitted to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist; from which moment his hunger and thirst for this sacred banquet constantly increased, drew him to its participation as often as possible, and nourished in him that love for our Lord, which kept him ever in communion with the Spouse of souls. His pious parents were careful to cultivate the extraordinary talents with which God had blessed him, by procuring him early instruction. He was taught the rudiments of the Latin tongue, which he acquired with surprising facility; and so quickly did he learn, and so correctly retain, the truths of religion, that already, in his tender years, he commenced his apostolic career, by teaching the children of his own age their catechism. When he was sixteen years of age, his parents, ever watchful over his interests, sent him to Taranto, that he might study philosophy and theology in the schools of the Society of Jesus. Here his exemplary conduct won for him the esteem and affection of his venerable archbishop, who, more and more persuaded of his worthiness, advanced him successively to the minor orders, subdeaconship and deaconship. With the consent of his parents he went to Naples, in order to acquire the canon and civil law, at the same time that he prosecuted the study of theology. But what Francis had most at heart-to complete the dedication of himself to God-occupied his first thoughts on arriving at Naples. Wherefore, procuring dimissorial letters from his archbishop, and a dispensation from the pope, on account of his age, he received priest's orders from the hands of Don Sanchez de Herrera, bishop of Possuoli. Deeply penetrated with a sense of the awful responsibility he had assumed, and the exalted dignity with which he was invested, Francis, although pure and holy and studious before, became now more watchful, fervent, and assiduous, and dreaded lest the shadow of imperfection should obscure for a moment the virginal purity of his soul. And though he lived in the world as one not belonging to the world, still he was now anxious to quit it entirely, and to betake himself to some solitude far removed from its dissipations and the breath of its polluted atmosphere, where he might have full leisure to attend to his advancement in learning and sanctity. Heaven granted the wish of its favored servant. A prefect's post became vacant in the College of Nobles of the Society of Jesus. Francis applied for, and obtained it. The youths who were submitted to his care, were not slow to discover that a saint had been set over them. His countenance and demeanor, his amiable manners and sweet and pious conversation, the austerities and mortifications which all his efforts did not entirely conceal, soon manifested the exalted degree of perfection which he had attained.

After five years' residence there, in the situation of prefect, our saint, in his twenty-eighth year, felt a sudden and strong inclination to enter the Society. Indeed, he had all the qualifications requisite to become a member, and though the idea presented itself to him for the first time, his mind was prepared to receive it with avidity, from the sentiments which he had long cherished, and which his education among the Jesuits, and his long connection since with the order, had considerably strengthened. But now an obstacle arose, which it cost the saint no little pains to overcome. This was his father's opposition to the step. He wrote Francis a long and vehement letter, full of pathetic remonstrances, which the saint so affectionately and eloquently answered, as at least to subdue his reluctance, and induce him to acquiesce in the will of God. Thus all difficulties being removed, on the eve of the Visitation of Our Lady, in the year 1670, being then in his twenty-eighth year, he repaired to the house of probation to perform his novitiate.
No sooner did Francis find himself admitted among the novices, and bearing the sacred habit, than his soul burst into lively effusions of gratitude; and with such zeal did he apply himself to the duties now imposed upon him, that the master of the novices soon perceived what an acquisition the Society had made. A more fervent, mortified, and obedient novice than Francis, never was found. He scrupulously complied with the minutes" and most irksome ordinances. Being of a meek and affable disposition, he won the hearts of others by his amiable conduct; and, being appointed to preside over the lay-novices, his exalted virtues and profound spirituality speedily wrought a beneficial change in their dispositions. Armed at all points, and strengthened against every assailant, he issued from the first year of his novitiate, exulting like a giant, to run the career of apostolic virtue. He was sent to Leece, together with the celebrated Father Agnello Bruno, and during three years, these holy missionaries traversed every city and village in the two provinces of Terra d'Otranto, and in that of Apulia, preaching, and converting, wherever they went, an infinite number of sinners. It used to be said of them, "Father Bruno and Father Girolamo seem not mere mortals, but angels sent expressly to save souls." In 1674, our saint was recalled to Naples, in order to finish his course of scholastic theology, previous to his being solemnly professed. When his studies were completed, he was, in 1675, by a special disposition of Providence, appointed to the church called the Gesu Nuovo, where he commenced the labors of that apostolic career, which he continued for forty years, without intermission, unto the close of his earthly pilgrimage. For the first three years, indeed, his only fixed duty was to give the invitation to communion, as is the custom in that church, on the third Sunday of every month; which task, however, is arduous enough to discourage any but a most zealous laborer. Yet, oven this and the other incessant works of charity in which he spent these three years, could not satisfy the cravings of our saint's zeal. Wherefore, on the news reaching him that the mission of Japan was once more to be opened, he importuned the superiors, by letters dispatched to Rome, to let him have a part in this glorious enterprise, so that he might slake, in some degree, the burning thirst which devoured him. For his desire had ever been to die for the faith, yet was he content to linger out a painful life, amidst the thorns of martyrdom, even though it should be denied him to pluck the rose he so much coveted. The answer came, precise and peremptory. He was to consider Naples as his <India>, and to perfect the sacrifice he had made of himself to God, by the surrender of his inclinations. Thenceforward he looked upon Naples as that province in the vineyard of our Lord, which the divine husbandman wished him to exclusively cultivate. Such was the sovereign will of God, manifested in the command of his superiors, and in which our humble saint acquiesced without hesitation; nor was that Providence, which rules events, slow in carrying its purpose into effect.

The superiors, in 1678, confided the whole mission to Francis. Here it may be proper to describe the duties such a charge imposed. First, to watch over and maintain the fervor of a pious congregation, who assisted at all the processions, and were the right arm of the missionary: secondly, to preach every Sunday and festival-day during the year, in the squares or other frequented parts of the city; and this not only in Naples, but also in other towns and provinces of the kingdom. And thirdly, to give the monthly invitations to communion. Our saint undertook the first of these obligations with an ardor only surpassed by the success which attended his efforts. He reformed all abuses, and excluded every imperfection that could retard the spiritual advancement of his scholars. He introduced, or established among them, the custom of frequenting the sacraments every Sunday, and on all the festivals of our Lady, and the practice of mental as well as vocal prayer, and of public penance and humiliation. The law of the Gospel he was careful to instil into them by frequent exhortations, and he gave efficacy to his precepts by his example. But as the members of this confraternity were destined to be his partners and coadjutors in the apostolic ministry, he was, above all, assiduous in kindling and keeping alive the flames of zeal in their breasts; so that they became his zealous and indefatigable assistants. Besides this, he chose seventy-two of the most efficient and capable, with whom he held counsel twice a month, and sent them into the heart of the city, to spy out the evil that existed, and learn what souls stood most in need of ghostly and bodily succor. The vigilance he exercised over all, extended to each in particular. With marvellous dexterity he practiced what St. Basil calls the insinuating arts of grace. His charity also and forbearance were unbounded: in sickness he never abandoned them a moment, but continued his affectionate attentions to the last. Another practice, to which he had recourse, to promote piety, was the visit to the seven churches, in commemoration of our Redeemer's seven journeys. This was performed in the following manner: a procession, carrying the crucifix, chanted the litanies as they went, and at every church where they stopped, Francis delivered an impressive exhortation. The devotion terminated with a renewal of the oblation each one made of himself, to our Lord Jesus and our Lady, with vows of perpetual fidelity.

The second duty, of preaching in public, embraced a much more extensive range, and required a proportionately greater degree of toil. When the Sunday came, he first spent two hours in mental prayer, then said Mass, and afterwards recited the Canonical Hours, bareheaded and kneeling, either in his room, or in the church before the blessed Sacrament. His private devotions being satisfied, he spent the rest of the morning in the Confessional, or with his congregation. At the appointed hour the saint and his companions went into the streets in procession, and then, distributing themselves in divers parts, began to preach to the people. Francis usually mounted a stage, near or opposite to the dancers or mountebanks, who either slunk away at his approach, or vainly strove, through rage and spite, to distract the attention of the audience, who were fascinated by his eloquence. After the discourse, he would kneel at the foot of the cross, and scourge his shoulders with the discipline: then once more he betook himself to the Confessional, where he remained till the doors of the church were closed. Still his ardor longed for more extensive occupation; and, with the approbation of the superiors, and the concurrence of his companions, he repeated the missionary labors on holidays, during the week as well as Sundays.

The third duty annexed to his charge was the invitation to communion. For nine days preceding the third Sunday of every month he went about the principal streets, along with a few companions; by ringing a little bell, he gave notice of the approaching day of communion; and, to excite the attention of his hearers, recited, in a loud voice, some short, but sententious maxim or admonition from Holy Writ. Thus he continued all the morning until dinner-hour,  and after noon resumed his task with never-wearying zeal till nightfall.

In the suburbs, also, of Naples, he performed this laborious duty; nor is it easy to conceive the pains and privations it cost him; how, under the scorching sun, or pouring rain, he journeyed through marshes, over rocks, oft times to the peril of life and limb, and always on foot, until, in his latter days, he was constrained to ride. When the day arrived, and from fifteen to twenty thousand communicants appeared, Francis used his strenuous efforts to keep order among them. The troops of men and women who came from the adjoining towns and villages, he received at the door, and placed in their respective posts. The children, crowned with cowers, were welcomed by him with tears of joy; but it was in imparting to them the life-giving food, that his soul overflowed with tenderness, and the love of Jesus beamed from his countenance, and thrilled in the fervid expressions with which he excited their devotion. Such were the labors of our saint's mission, and such the manner he discharged them. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, in the year 1682, Francis made his solemn profession; on which occasion he manifested that humility which distinguished him, by falling on his knees in public, and kissing the feet of the superior, thanking him aloud for admitting so unworthy a member into the society.

Before we enter further into the detail of his apostolic career, it may not be improper to give some notions of that quality whereby he wrought so many wonders,—his extraordinary eloquence. His voice was loud and sonorous, and was heard distinctly at a great distance; and the style of his preaching was copious, simple, and impressive. No one ever knew the human passions better, or swayed them with more tact and delicacy. Sometimes he stole upon his hearers with an insinuating grace, that charmed them almost unconsciously into persuasion, at other times, he would pour out such a volley of arguments, sustained by suitable quotations from Scripture, or the fathers, and illustrated by all the images of a lively fancy, so as to overpower all opposition, and force conviction on the most stubborn. His descriptions were forcible and graphic; his pathetic appeals were sure to draw tears, and his energy astounded and terrified. Indeed, he was accustomed to speak with so much vehemence, as occasionally to bring blood to his lips: he often talked himself hoarse, and till his palate was parched; and once, in the midst of an animated invective against sins, he dropped down suddenly and swooned away. The method he ordinarily pursued in his discourses, was first to paint the enormous malice of sin and the terrors of the Divine judgments, in colors so striking as to raise self-indignation and alarm in sinners. Then, changing his tone with a master-skill, he dwelt upon the sweetness and mildness of Jesus Christ, so as to make despair give way to hope, and the most hardened melt into compunction. This moment he seized, to make an appeal so tender and so overpowering as to cause his hearers to bend their knees before the image of their crucified Lord, and implore, in tears, and sobs, and broken accents, forgiveness and reconciliation. It was usual for him to subjoin, at the conclusion, some striking example of God's chastisements or favors, whereby his audience might carry away a deeper and more lively impression of the truths he had just been inculcating. His eloquence, however, was less the result of any natural talent, than of his ardent love of God and zeal for his service. When he was to preach, he used to note down in few words his arguments, authorities, and examples; and at the foot of the crucifix, he prepared himself to treat on his affairs with men, by communing with God. Thence, like another Moses, he descended—all on fire from his colloquy with the Deity; and it seemed as if God himself often inspired him with expressions of supernatural efficacy.
It was matter of surprise to all who knew him, how he could possibly go through so many labors, which were more than sufficient to occupy five missionaries, and far beyond the natural strength of his weak constitution and emaciated frame; so that it was not unreasonably thought, that to prolong such exertions for the space of forty years, he must have been supported by a miracle. He was in constant attendance on the hospitals, prisons, and galleys, besides visiting the sick in their houses, and ministering to the spiritual necessities of monasteries, asylums, confraternities, and schools. The  consequence of these labors was the amendment of numberless sinners; the conversion of several Turkish infidels to the faith of Jesus Christ; and the introduction of a surprising regularity of manner in those habitual abodes of wretchedness and vice—the galleys and the prisons. His zeal also reclaimed the soldiery from a state of the greatest disorder to the most edifying piety. Still, however, his ardor, which knew no bounds, thirsted for more fruit; accordingly he used to go and preach, during the night, in the very hotbeds and receptacles of vice, that sinners might be awed into repentance by the novelty and solemnity of this warning, at the hour when they least apprehended interruption. Once our saint, being in prayer in his chamber, felt a sudden inspiration to go out and preach, which, by the advice of his superiors, he obeyed. For some time, he wandered in the dark—he knew not whither, till he came to the corner of a street, where he began to preach on the necessity of immediate correspondence with the divine grace; and having finished, returned home, satisfied with having complied with his duty, though ignorant to what purpose, or with what fruit. The next morning, however, a young woman came to him to confession; and, with signs of the bitterest compunction, told him that when in company, the evening before with her paramour, her attention was suddenly arrested by his voice in the street, denouncing God's vengeance against unrepenting and procrastinating sinners, which so terrified her that she began to exhort her partner in guilt to break off their unlawful intercourse. To this, however, he would by no means consent, and even laughed at and derided the holy man's threats: when, to her horror, she beheld their awful fulfilment. For the man suddenly ceasing to speak, she found him a breathless corpse; his soul having taken its flight to God's tribunal, while the words of blasphemy were yet upon his lips. Plunged into the greatest alarm by this catastrophe, she implored pardon of God, with sighs and tears, and now came to effect her reconciliation, and to expiate her past scandals by a life of penance.
Francis had to experience many mortifying contradictions. Yielding to certain representations, the cardinal archbishop forbade him to preach any more. The humble saint uttered no complaint or remonstrance, but consoled his zeal by a perpetual attendance in the confessional. Soon after, moved by the conduct of the saint, as well as by the entreaties of wiser and more virtuous advisers, who assured him that he was depriving Naples of its apostle, the cardinal gave Francis back his faculties. For the purpose of proving his virtue, the superior forbade him to quit the house without obtaining express permission—a command with which Francis for several months scrupulously complied; till she father, edified by his humility, and convinced of his virtue, removed the restraint. Even the lay-brother who was assigned him, being a man of morose temper, was a great cause of trouble to him. Where his zeal thought to effect most good, it often met with the harshest construction and reproof. He was abused as a meddling busybody-a disturber of the public quiet. He was often overwhelmed with outrages, and more than once turned out of doors. A certain cavalier had such an aversion for him, that he could not bear his presence. A large sum was entrusted to Francis for this person, with whom he more than once sought an interview, without being able to attain it. "Well!" said the cavalier, who admitted him at last, "what brings you here? the usual story! charity, I suppose—I've nothing for you." My lord duke," replied the saint, "I certainly have a small favor to ask, which is, that you would exercise your benevolence so far as to furnish a poor person with money to purchase a bed to sleep upon. And this cannot inconvenience you, for in the purse I here present, you will find two hundred ducats, which I have been the means of restoring to you." The cavalier exclaimed, in a rage: "That's not all." "Nay," replied the saint, "I know nothing, but that such a sum was given to me." "And by whom?" "I cannot inform you." Whereupon he snatched the purse out of his hands, and turning his back upon him, left him to depart. But not long after he had occasion to recall him: for falling dangerously ill, he was anxious to conciliate the man he had so grossly insulted; and though he was then forty miles distant from Naples, he sent for him. The saint assisted him at the hour of his death, to his great spiritual advantage and consolation.

His charity, indeed, towards those who injured him, was remarkable. Attempting one day to quell a strife among some soldiers, he received from one of them a blow upon the head that drew blood copiously: and when the captain, hearing of it, would have punished the man severely for the sacrilege, our saint did not desist from his entreaties until he obtained his pardon. Even in the tribunal of confession he was not secure from insults. Two poor women had come from a great distance to confession, and were anxious to get home early, as there was no one to take care of their houses in their absence. Whereupon the saint requested a man, who was also waiting, to allow them precedence. This he did, but with a very bad grace. He even threw out a slanderous insinuation against the saint, who, after he had dismissed the women, heard the confession of this very man, and treated him with so much sweetness and charity, that he sent him away with an altered temper and feelings of esteem and admiration.

One of the most frequent and effectual instruments which our saint employed for the sanctification of souls, were the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. It is impossible to conceive with what energy and fruit he delivered the meditations which compose this course of Christian philosophy. Often he was obliged to interrupt his discourses, that the sighs, tears, and, sobs which they occasioned, might subside. Private individuals, as well as communities-ignorant and learned-the aged and the young of both sexes, alike profited by his exhortations, and to such a pitch of enthusiasm did he excite tile compunction of sinners, that they openly declared their offences and inflicted severe chastisements upon themselves, so that sometimes it was necessary to restrain their ardor. Nor was this a transient effect, but a durable benefit; hence followed many conversions of sinners, who for ten, twenty, or thirty, or even fifty years, had thrown off the yoke of religion. Indeed, Francis possessed a wonderful tact in bringing back sinners to duty, as the following examples will show.

A certain man had not been to the sacraments for five-and-twenty years; at length, admonished more than once in a dream to have recourse to our saint, he obeyed, to his own great happiness and the glory of Our Lady, to whose mercy he was indebted for the admonition. Another, commencing his confession, was asked by the saint, how long it was since he had last made it; whereat he burst into  tears, and besought the holy mall not to dismiss him, for that he was a great sinner; but he, bidding him not be discouraged, asked him if it was ten, twenty, or fifty years? "Fifty," said he, "exactly, father, have I kept aloof from God." "Kept aloof from God?" repeated Francis, "why should you avoid so tender a parent-a Saviour, who has poured out the last drop of his blood for you? Nay, rather turn and meet Him who has been running after you so long." And the man confessed with sincerity and compunction all the crimes he had committed, and thenceforward led a virtuous life. An inveterate sinner was once dying, without giving any sign of hope, or manifesting a wish to repent. After Francis had urged him long in vain to confide in the mercies of God, suddenly changing his tone, he thus addressed him: "Do you think that God incurs any obligation, if you accept his offer of Paradise; or that he must needs mourn if you prefer hell? how many princes and nobles are lost, whom God suffers to perish; and do you suppose God cares more for you? If <you> will be damned, be so;" and he turned away from him. This sudden and impressive address wrought a wonderful change in the dying man, who in agony of grief and alarm, besought the saint not to abandon him. He then confessed his sins, with every demonstration of sincere contrition, and expired full of hope. Indeed, no heart, however hardened, could withstand the exhortations of the holy man. A young man once threw himself at the feet of the saint, exclaiming: "Father, behold here, not a human being, but a very demon: a soul abandoned to despair. Many years ago, a confessor denied me absolution; I have never since confessed, never heard mass, never entered a church, or even as much as recited a Hail Mary, or made the sign of the cross. Alas, I have even gone so far in wickedness as to league myself with Satan, and to have recourse to his aid, through those who are skilled in the black art. Can I, after such a life, presume to hope; dare I ask for mercy?" "Why not, my son?" replied Francis: "it is true thy crimes are great, yet cloth the mercy of God surpass their magnitude: was it not for sinners that Jesus Christ died? There is yet pardon for thee, if thou wilt seek it earnestly, and fervently, and set about reforming instantly thy life." These consoling words revived the sinner, long dead in iniquity, and gave to God a persevering penitent.

Still more remarkable is the following occurrence, which the saint was  accustomed to relate in his public sermons. One day a young man presented himself before him, with a grave and devout air: "Father," said he, "I am come to declare to you the wonders of God's mercy in my regard, and to beseech you both to return him thanks for his signal favors, and to counsel me how I may best profit by them. Many years have elapsed since I was addicted to a certain vice, which struck such deep root into my soul, that God permitted my reason to be clouded, and my heart to be changed, so that I fancied myself a beast. In this persuasion I stripped myself of clothing, and wandered through the fields, and crawled along the ground exposed to the sun and rain, the frost and the snow, in company with the irrational animals, partaking their food, and imitating their cries. After a year of this life it pleased God to take compassion on me, and to restore me to my reason. Words cannot describe the confusion and shame I felt. I clearly perceived that it had been a punishment of my sins. I made the best confession I was able, as soon as I could, and have lived ever since, by God's grace, up to his divine laws. What think you-hath he not used unparalleled mercy towards me?" Our saint, embracing him, said: "In very deed cloth the sinner become like the brute beast, that hath no understanding." He approved his present conduct, confirmed his sentiments, and comforted him by the assurance that God would never withdraw his grace from him, so long as he was faithful to his resolutions.
An assassin, who had been hired to murder some persons, passing a crowd to whom the saint was preaching, stopped on his road, saying within himself, "Perhaps he whom I seek is among this multitude." Whereupon he stood to observe, and could not help hearing the discourse of the preacher, and hearing, was, as it were, spell-bound to the spot. When suddenly these words caught his ear—"thousands bewail past sins, and cost thou, wretched sinner, meditate new crimes? Unhappy creature whom neither the arm of God outstretched to launch his thunderbolts, nor hell opening beneath Thy feet to swallow thee, can deter from thy wickedness!" His guilty conscience smote him, his heart turned away from evil, he confessed his enormities, and from a murderer became a saint. A youth of disordered life was so moved by another sermon of Francis, that overcoming every human respect, he cast himself in public at the foot of the crucifix, and exclaimed—" Father, I am lost: for nearly twenty years I have not been to a confessor," and so saving, wept bitterly, and lashed himself with the discipline. Then, accompanying the confraternity to the Gesu Nuovo, he sought Francis, who embraced him like a tender father, and exhorted him to have confidence in God, with whom he was instrumental in reconciling him. The young man not only forsook his former vicious habits, but exhibited a model of repentance, and persevered in an exemplary life. But if, on the one hand, the happiest results were experienced by all who attended to his counsels, on the other, grievous chastisements often befell those who neglected or despised his warnings. A youth of depraved conduct had the effrontery to laugh at and deride his remonstrances, and even dared to heap abuse upon him. Francis bore all meekly, in imitation of our Blessed Saviour, "who when he was reviled, did not revile;" but God would not suffer such a crime to go unpunished, for shortly after the young man perished miserably in a riot. But it is now time to take a rapid view of his labors out of Naples.
The fame of his great achievements in this city occasioned earnest solicitations to be made, that the fields of his exertions might be extended to the provinces. But Naples was by no means willing to surrender its apostle, even for a short time; and the intervention of several distinguished persons was requisite to effect the desired object. In upwards of a hundred missions which Francis undertook in consequence, he traversed all the provinces of the kingdom, with the exception of the Calabrias. Incredible were the hardships and privations he encountered,—the difficulties and obstacles he surmounted in the execution of this work of charity. Wherever he went, the clergy and most respectable inhabitants came out to meet him, and gave him an honorable reception. Without however losing a moment, the indefatigable servant of God commenced his career by an introductory discourse and an invocation of the tutelar saint and guardian angels of the place. At daybreak he celebrated mass, and spent the remainder of the morning in a manner somewhat similar to that already described, in speaking of his mist signs in Naples. It was an edifying and affecting sight, to witness the communion of the children, and the procession of penitents through the streets. But when at length he came to give the concluding discourse, and to repeat his farewell admonitions, then was it that the fruit of his exertions was perceptible. The seed of grace, which had struck deep root, gave signs of vigorous growth and duration; for when he exhorted the people to perseverance, with one voice they promised to preserve inviolably their engagements; and when he imparted his last blessing, with his customary "adieu, to meet again in Paradise," no words can describe, no imagination is able to conceive, the emotions of the multitude.

Not always, however, did Francis meet with such consoling encouragement to his zeal. The devil, raging to behold so many souls redeemed from his snares by the active charity of the holy man, spared no pains to molest and baffle him, by raising against him hosts of enemies, who threw discredit, upon his conduct, fomented suspicions and jealousies, and waged war against him by every possible art that bad passions or his own malignant spirit could suggest. Hence it not infrequently happened that he experienced insults instead of welcome, on his arrival at places where calumnies had beforehand been industriously spread. Sometimes he found no attention paid to his exhortations; yet, finally, his invincible forbearance and persevering charity, his saintly demeanor-itself a confutation of his calumniators-triumphed over all opposition. Few details respecting these memorable missions have been recorded, but some, preserved by the testimony of eye-witnesses, have been rescued from the oblivion of time.

When the holy man was on his way to Capua, the carriage stuck in a deep ditch, and resisted all the efforts of the driver to extricate it. Whereupon, after the manner of this class of persons, he began to curse and swear. "O my son," cried the saint, "blaspheme not, for God's sake." "Why, father," said the man, would not a saint swear in such an infernal hobble, with nobody near, nor a chance of any one's coming to assist us?" "Have patience," rejoined the holy man; and as he was yet speaking, two robust young men, turning the corner of the  road, volunteered their services and relieved the travellers from their difficulty; after which, without waiting to be thanked, they disappeared. Wherever he went he reconciled enemies, converted sinners, besides performing many prodigies.

He had to contend against obstacles of another description. He applied to Monsignor Capece, bishop of Cheti, a capital town of the Abruzzi, for leave to preach there. "Certainly," replied the bishop; "but, Father Francis, you must be forewarned ours is a sensible and cultivated city, accustomed and able to weigh well the force of reason; and therefore you will at once perceive that certain addresses to the senses, such as the exposition of the crucifix, or images of the Virgin and other saints,—things admirable in themselves, would here be quite out of place, and calculated to do more harm than good." "Your lordship's wishes shall assuredly be attended to," said the humble saint, "till such time at least as you yourself shall deem it proper to recall them."

Not long after this the prelate felt an acute pain, for which he could not account; but as his conscience troubled him, he sent word to the saint, that in regard to the subject of their conversation he might use his discretion. The bishop had himself more than one occasion of witnessing the fruit which the practices he was disposed to condemn invariably produced; and Francis knew so well how to employ them, that the mission of Cheti succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations. With the like fruit did Francis perform the missions in various other towns, working conversions and prodigies too numerous to he here mentioned.
It would be superfluous to enlarge upon the particular virtues of our saint; his public life being rather the subject of this history. Yet are we unwilling to pass over unnoticed, his great and fervent love of Jesus Christ. Especially he honored and worshipped him in his divine infancy, his sacred passion, and his adorable sacrament. When he meditated upon these mysteries, he was always absorbed and penetrated with love; and when he approached the sacrament of the altar, his countenance glowed, as though he stood before a fire. Nothing provoked his indignation, or drew down his severe rebuke, so much as disrespect towards the blessed Eucharist. He removed many abuses: he would not suffer any levity in the church; and once reproved a lady of quality who had remained seated during the consecration. In like manner he was tenderly devoted to our blessed Lady. For twenty-two years he preached a sermon in her praise and honor every week. To youth especially, it was his custom to recommend this devotion as the surest preservation of innocence, and the best remedy after sin: saying that one could hardly be saved who felt no devotion towards the Mother of God.

Mary was his counsellor in doubt, his comfort in toil, his strength in all his enterprises, his refuge in danger and distress. He experienced an inexpressible delight whenever he recited the rosary of our tender Mother. He was likewise particularly devoted to his angel guardian, to St. Francis Xavier, and St. Januarius. His charity, humility, purity, and obedience, were never surpassed; nor did God withhold from him those gifts with which he is pleased at times to favor his chosen servants.

Our saint was favored with the foreknowledge of his dissolution. On the death of his brother he observed, "A year hence we shall meet;" and while he was still in health, taking leave of the nuns of St. Mary del Divino Amore—" My dear daughters," said he, "this is the last time I shall ever address you. Do not forget me in your prayers; adieu till we meet in Paradise." When he was sick, the festival of St. Cyr drawing near, "I shall not live to see it," he exclaimed. And finally, when the physician that attended him paid him his last visit, he thanked him for his attentions, and said:—"We shall never see each other again on this side of the grave, for Monday will be the last day of my life."

During the month of March, 1715, at the beginning of Lent, he was, for the third time, giving the retreat to the students of the noble college, when suddenly he felt a racking fever assail his limbs, insomuch that he was obliged to be carried home. In a few days, however, it was somewhat subdued; and, though weak, he resumed his usual labors. Still his health declined, and towards December his constitution appeared quite broken down. Anxious to preserve so valuable a life, the superior sent him to take the mineral waters of Puzzuoli. But he experienced not the smallest benefit; and in March, 1716, on his return to Naples, he took up his abode in the infirmary. The agonies he suffered are not to be expressed; and yet a murmur never escaped him. "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who consoles us in all tribulation," was his constant exclamation. When some one approached to sympathize with him, the heroic man crossed his hands on his breast, saying: "Crescant in mille millia." He was told of the great good he had achieved. "Nothing, nothing," he cried, "the fault I have most to apprehend is my slothfulness."

Death now began to hasten on apace; wherefore, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, making a general confession, he received the viaticum; and six days later was anointed. All night long, he gave vent to the fulness of his heart in such expressions as the following-" Let us bless the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; let us praise and exalt Him forever. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of our God, on his holy mountain." Then kissing the wounds of his crucified Saviour, he cried out, weeping, "Remember, dear Jesus, that this soul has cost the ransom of every drop of thy precious blood." And when the infirmarian entreated him to pray rather with his heart than his lips, by reason of the distress which speaking occasioned him: "Ah, my dear brother," said he, "whatsoever we think, or say of so great a God, his greatness is beyond all thought and expression." Then fixing his eyes upon an image of our Lady: "Ah, Mary," said he, "my dearest mother, thou last ever cherished me like a loving parent, though I have been thy too, too unworthy child. Complete now the measure of thy mercies in my regard, by obtaining for me the love of thy divine Son." Then, as though at the gate of Paradise, he exclaimed, "How great is the house of the Lord! Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house, O Lord; forever and ever shall they sing thy praise. Ye holy angels, why delay ye? Open the gates of Justice. Entering therein, I will praise the Lord."

His malady, however, continued for some days longer. Although he had repeatedly expressed a wish to be left alone, it was impossible to keep away numbers, who pressed to see him for the last time, to kiss his hand, and to receive his farewell blessing. With an amiable sweetness, he welcomed them all; and seeing their sorrow, said:-" Weep not; I go to heaven, where I shall remember you, and be better able to assist you." But what sunshine so serene is not occasionally clouded, what sea so calm as never to be ruffled by a storm? It pleased God to enhance our saint's virtue by submitting it to a dreadful trial. The frame of the holy man shook under the severity of the struggle. With a loud cry he called upon the Almighty, the eternal Son, our Lady, and all the saints, to save him. Being asked the cause of this fearful commotion, "I am fighting," he exclaimed, "fighting! pray for God's sake that I may not perish." Then, as if rebuking the evil spirit, he cried-"No, it shall never be. Begone! I have no part with you." His countenance at last brightening, he repeated softly, "'Tis well, 'tis well!" and so saying, chanted the <Magnificat> and <Te Deum>. He was anxious to receive the holy sacrament; but the superior did not judge it advisable, as he had lately been to communion; and the humble saint acquiesced. He now fell into his agony; the recommendation of a departing soul was recited; and, amidst the tears of his brethren, Francis di Girolamo expired, about mid-day, on Monday, the 11th of May, 1716, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and the forty-sixth of his religious life, having spent forty years in the labors of an apostolic career.

Although, from a motive of prudence, the superior had forbidden the bell to be tolled, to announce his death, there needed no sound to convey the intelligence through the city; it was read in every countenance, and spread so rapidly, that in a short time the Gesu Nuovo was filled with an immense concourse of people of all classes. The infirmarian being desirous of keeping some relic of so holy a man, before he laid him out in the sacerdotal habit, pared off a piece of the hard skin of the sole of his foot. But the pious theft soon became apparent, though he had used every effort to conceal it; for the blood began to flow so freely from the wound, as not merely to stem the knell, but to fill a vial holding three or four ounces: which portion being preserved, retained during three months its ruddiness and liquidity, and wrought many cures.

In the evening the body was carried into the church, that the office might be chanted, and a detachment of Swiss guards was hardly sufficient to protect it from the indiscreet devotion of the crowd. Indeed, three psalms had scarcely been sung, before they broke through all restraint, and pressed towards the body, eager to carry away some relic, especially to dip their handkerchiefs in the blood, which still streamed from the wound already mentioned. At length, the body was removed into a side-chapel, where it was secured against further violence by iron railing, through which, at the same time, it was visible to all. Still it was impossible to refuse the prayer of several devout persons, to be permitted to approach and kiss the hand or the saint, and at night some artists were admitted to take likenesses and effigies of him. A throng of suppliants crowded to the church next morning, and implored the saint to deliver them from their evils and distempers. Nor were they disappointed. Many cures took place on the spot, and the church again and again echoed with the cry of "A miracle, a miracle." Three days the body was left thus exposed, and the fourth was buried in a leaden coffin. On the 3d of July, 1736, leave being obtained, the coffin of our saint was disinterred, and the body was found mouldered into dust, which was carefully collected, deposited in another coffin of wood lined with brass, and translated from the common cemetery to the chapel of Saint Ignatius.

Numerous miracles quickly spread the fame of his holiness throughout Italy. He was scarcely dead, when the most prudent and virtuous individuals gave him the title of saint: and cardinal Orsini, afterwards Benedict XIII., who was singularly devoted to him, preached his panegyric in the cathedral of Benevento. Not long after his decease, the city of Naples, joined by Benevento, Nola, and several others, petitioned the Congregation of Rites to have him beatified; and the juridical process of his virtues and miracles was drawn up, and sent to Rome by Cardinal Pignatelli, in conjunction with other cardinals, nobles, and magistrates of the kingdom. After the requisite preliminaries, a decree declaring his heroic virtues was published by Benedict XIII., on the 2d of May, 1758. His miracles were approved by another, of Pius VII., dated the 9th of February, 1806, and finally the definitive decree of his beatification was issued by the same pontiff, on the feast of St. Joseph in the same year. He was subsequently canonized by Gregory XVI., on Trinity Sunday, 26th May, 1839.

The martyr sheds his blood but once, and is exalted forever; then what I reward will be prepared for the missionary, who, while he burns to die for I the faith, is yet content to live for the greater honor and glory of God, and the profit of his neighbor? He, therefore, who would imbibe the spirit of zeal, and learn the arts of wisdom necessary in directing souls, should study and contemplate the career of that extraordinary man whose virtues and achievements are the subject of the sketch we here present.


SOURCE: LIVES of the Saints - By Alban Butler