Monday, August 19, 2013



Feast Day:
August 20
1090, Fontaines, France
August 20, 1153, Clairvaux, France
January 18, 1174, Rome by Pope Alexander III
Major Shrine:
Patron of:
Cistercians, Burgundy, beekeepers, candlemakers, climbers
Born in 1090, at Fontaines, near Dijon. France; died at Clairvaux, 21 August, 1153. His parents were Tescelin, lord of Fontaines, and Aleth of Montbard, both belonging to the highest nobility of Burgundy. Bernard, the third of a family of seven children, six of whom were sons, was educated with particular care, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny. At the age of nine years, Bernard was sent to a much renowned school at Chatillon-sur-Seine, kept by the secular canons of Saint-Vorles. He had a great taste for literature and devoted himself for some time to poetry. His success in his studies won the admiration of his masters, and his growth in virtue was no less marked. Bernard's great desire was to excel in literature in order to take up the study of Sacred Scripture, which later on became, as it were, his own tongue. "Piety was his all," says Bossuet. He had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and there is no one who speaks more sublimely of the Queen of Heaven. Bernard was scarcely nineteen years of age when his mother died. During his youth, he did not escape trying temptations, but his virtue triumphed over them, in many instances in a heroic manner, and from this time he thought of retiring from the world and living a life of solitude and prayer.
St. Robert, Abbot of Molesmes, had founded, in 1098, the monastery of Citeaux, about four leagues from Dijon, with the purpose of restoring the Rule of St. Benedict in all its rigour. Returning to Molesmes, he left the government of the new abbey to St. Alberic, who died in the year 1109. St. Stephen had just succeeded him (1113) as third Abbot of Citeaux, when Bernard with thirty young noblemen of Burgundy, sought admission into the order. Three years later, St. Stephen sent the young Bernard, at the head of a band of monks, the third to leave Citeaux, to found a new house at Vallee d'Absinthe, or Valley of Bitterness, in the Diocese of Langres. This Bernard named Claire Vallee, of Clairvaux, on the 25th of June, 1115, and the names of Bernard and Clairvaux thence became inseparable. During the absence of the Bishop of Langres, Bernard was blessed as abbot by William of Champeaux, Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne, who saw in him the predestined man, servum Dei. From that moment a strong friendship sprang up between the abbot and the bishop, who was professor of theology at Notre Dame of Paris, and the founder of the cloister of St. Victor.
The beginnings of Clairvaux were trying and painful. The regime was so austere that Bernard's health was impaired by it, and only the influence of his friend William of Champeaux, and the authority of the General Chapter could make him mitigate his austerities. The monastery, however, made rapid progress. Disciples flocked to it in great numbers, desirous of putting themselves under the direction of Bernard. His father, the aged Tescelin, and all his brothers entered Clairvaux as religious, leaving only Humbeline, his sister, in the world and she, with the consent of her husband, soon took the veil in the Benedictine Convent of Jully. Clairvaux becoming too small for the religious who crowded there, it was necessary to send out bands to found new houses. In 1118, the Monastery of the Three Fountains was founded in the Diocese of Chalons; in 1119, that of Fontenay in the Diocese of Auton (now Dijon) and in 1121, that of Foigny, near Veirins, in the Diocese of Lain (now Soisson), Notwithstanding this prosperity, the Abbot of Clairvaux had his trials. During an absence from Clairvaux, the Grand Prior of Cluny, Bernard of Uxells, sent by the Prince of Priors, to use the expression of Bernard, went to Clairvaux and enticed away the abbot's cousin, Robert of Chatillon. This was the occasion of the longest, and most touching of Bernard's letters.
In the year 1119, Bernard was present at the first general chapter of the order convoked by Stephen of Citeaux. Though not yet thirty years old, Bernard was listened to with the greatest attention and respect, especially when he developed his thoughts upon the revival of the primitive spirit of regularity and fervour in all the monastic orders. It was this general chapter that gave definitive form to the constitutions of the order and the regulations of the "Charter of Charity" which Pope Callixtus II confirmed 23 December, 1119. In 1120 Bernard composed his first work "De Gradibus Superbiae et Humilitatis" and his homilies which he entitles "De Laudibus Mariae". The monks of Cluny had not seen, with satisfaction, those of Citeaux take the first place among the religious orders for regularity and fervour. For this reason there was a temptation on the part of the "Black Monks" to make it appear that the rules of the new order were impracticable. At the solicitation of William of St. Thierry, Bernard defended himself by publishing his "Apology" which is divided into two parts. In the first part he proves himself innocent of the invectives against Cluny, which had been attributed to him, and in the second he gives his reasons for his attack upon averred abuses. He protests his profound esteem for the Benedictines of Cluny whom he declares he loves equally as well as the other religious orders. Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, answered the Abbot of Clairvaux without wounding charity in the least, and assured him of his great admiration and sincere friendship. In the meantime Cluny established a reform, and Suger himself, the minister of Louis le Gros, and Abbot of St. Denis, was converted by the apology of Bernard. He hastened to terminate his worldly life and restore discipline in his monastery. The zeal of Bernard did not stop here; it extended to the bishops, the clergy, and the faithful, and remarkable conversions of persons engaged in worldly pursuits were among the fruits of his labours. Bernard's letter to the Archbishop of Sens is a real treatise "De Officiis Episcoporum". About the same time he wrote his work on "Grace and Free Will".
In the year 1128, Bernard assisted at the Council of Troyes, which had been convoked by Pope Honorius II, and was presided over by Cardinal Matthew, Bishop of Albano. The purpose of this council was to settle certain disputes of the bishops of Paris, and regulate other matters of the Church of France. The bishops made Bernard secretary of the council, and charged him with drawing up the synodal statutes. After the council, the Bishop of Verdun was deposed. There then arose against Bernard unjust reproaches and he was denounced even in Rome, as a monk who meddled with matters that did not concern him. Cardinal Harmeric, on behalf of the pope, wrote Bernard a sharp letter of remonstrance. "It is not fitting" he said "that noisy and troublesome frogs should come out of their marshes to trouble the Holy See and the cardinals". Bernard answered the letter by saying that, if he had assisted at the council, it was because he had been dragged to it, as it were, by force. "Now illustrious Harmeric", he added, "if you so wished, who would have been more capable of freeing me from the necessity of assisting at the council than yourself? Forbid those noisy troublesome frogs to come out of their holes, to leave their marshes . . . Then your friend will no longer be exposed to the accusations of pride and presumption". This letter made a great impression upon the cardinal, and justified its author both in his eyes and before the Holy See. It was at this council that Bernard traced the outlines of the Rule of the Knights Templars who soon became the ideal of the French nobility. Bernard praises it in his "De Laudibus Novae Militiae".
The influence of the Abbot of Clairvaux was soon felt in provincial affairs. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes, and recalled to their duty Henry Archbishop of Sense, and Stephen de Senlis, Bishop of Paris. On the death of Honorius II, which occurred on the 14th of February, 1130, a schism broke out in the Church by the election of two popes, Innocent II and Anacletus II. Innocent II having been banished from Rome by Anacletus took refuge in France. King Louis le Gros convened a national council of the French bishops at Etampes, and Bernard, summoned thither by consent of the bishops, was chosen to judge between the rival popes. He decided in favour of Innocent II, caused him to be recognized by all the great Catholic powers, went with him into Italy, calmed the troubles that agitated the country, reconciled Pisa with Genoa, and Milan with the pope and Lothaire. According to the desire of the latter, the pope went to Liege to consult with the emperor upon the best means to be taken for his return to Rome, for it was there that Lothaire was to receive the imperial crown from the hands of the pope. From Liege, the pope returned to France, paid a visit to the Abbey of St. Denis, and then to Clairvaux where his reception was of a simple and purely religious character. The whole pontifical court was touched by the saintly demeanor of this band of monks. In the refectory only a few common fishes were found for the pope, and instead of wine, the juice of herbs was served for drink, says an annalist of Citeaux. It was not a table feast that was served to the pope and his followers, but a feast of virtues. The same year Bernard was again at the Council of Reims at the side of Innocent II, whose oracle he was; and then in Aquitaine where he succeeded for the time in detaching William, Count of Poitiers, from the cause of Anacletus.
In 1132, Bernard accompanied Innocent II into Italy, and at Cluny the pope abolished the dues which Clairvaux used to pay to this celebrated abbey—an action which gave rise to a quarrel between the "White Monks" and the "Black Monks" which lasted twenty years. In the month of May, the pope supported by the army of Lothaire, entered Rome, but Lothaire, feeling himself too weak to resist the partisans of Anacletus, retired beyond the Alps, and Innocent sought refuge in Pisa in September, 1133. In the meantime the abbot had returned to France in June, and was continuing the work of peacemaking which he had commenced in 1130. Towards the end of 1134, he made a second journey into Aquitaine, where William X had relapsed into schism. This would have died out of itself if William could have been detached from the cause of Gerard, who had usurped the See of Bordeaux and retained that of Angoul EAme. Bernard invited William to the Mass which he celebrated in the Church of La Couldre. At the moment of the Communion, placing the Sacred Host upon the paten, he went to the door of the church where William was, and pointing to the Host, he adjured the Duke not to despise God as he did His servants. William yielded and the schism ended. Bernard went again to Italy, where Roger of Sicily was endeavouring to withdraw the Pisans from their allegiance to Innocent. He recalled the city of Milan, which had been deceived and misled by the ambitious prelate Anselm, Archbishop of Milan, to obedience to the pose, refused the Archbishopric of Milan, and returned finally to Clairvaux. Believing himself at last secure in his cloister Bernard devoted himself with renewed vigour to the composition of those pious and learned works which have won for him the title of "Doctor of the Church". He wrote at this time his sermons on the "Canticle of Canticles".
In 1137 he was again forced to leave his solitude by order of the pope to put an end to the quarrel between Lothaire and Roger of Sicily. At the conference held at Palermo, Bernard succeeded in convincing Roger of the rights of Innocent II and in silencing Peter of Pisa who sustained Anacletus. The latter died of grief and disappointment in 1138, and with him the schism. Returning to Clairvaux, Bernard occupied himself in sending bands of monks from his too-crowded monastery into Germany, Sweden, England, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, and Italy. Some of these, at the command of Innocent II, took possession of Three Fountains Abbey, near the Salvian Waters in Rome, from which Pope Eugenius III was chosen. Bernard resumed his commentary on the "Canticle of Canticles", assisted in 1139, at the Second General Lateran Council and the Tenth Oecumenical, in which the surviving adherents of the schism were definitively condemned. About the same time, Bernard was visited at Clairvaux by St. Malachi, metropolitan of the Church in Ireland, and a very close friendship was formed between them. St. Malachi would gladly have taken the Cistercian habit, but the sovereign pontiff would not give his permission. He died, however, at Clairvaux in 1148.
In the year 1140, we find Bernard engaged in other matters which disturbed the peace of the Church. Towards the close of the eleventh century, the schools of philosophy and theology, dominated by the passion for discussion and a spirit of independence which had introduced itself into political and religious questions, became a veritable public arena, with no other motive than that of ambition. This exaltation of human reason and rationalism found an ardent and powerful adherent in Abelard, the most eloquent and learned man of the age after Bernard. "The history of the calamities and the refutation of his doctrine by St. Bernard", says Ratisbonne, "form the greatest episode of the twelfth century". Abelard's treatise on the Trinity had been condemned in 1121, and he himself had thrown his book into the fire. But in 1139 he advocated new errors. Bernard, informed of this by William of St. Thierry, wrote to Abelard who answered in an insulting manner. Bernard then denounced him to the pope who caused a general council to be held at Sens. Abelard asked for a public discussion with Bernard; the latter showed his opponent's errors with such clearness and force of logic that he was unable to make any reply, and was obliged, after being condemned, to retire. he pope confirmed the judgment of the council, Abelard submitted without resistance, and retired to Cluny to live under Peter the Venerable, where he died two years later.
Innocent II died in 1143. His two successors, Celestin II and Lucius, reigned only a short time, and then Bernard saw one of his disciples, Bernard of Pisa, Abbott of Three Fountains, and known thereafter as Eugenius III, raised to the Chair of St. Peter. Bernard sent him, at his own request, various instructions which compose the "Book of Consideration", the predominating idea of which is that the reformation of the Church ought to commence with the sanctity of the head. Temporal matters are merely accessories; the principal are piety, meditation, or consideration, which ought to precede action. The book contains a most beautiful page on the papacy, and has always been greatly esteemed by the sovereign pontiffs, many of whom used it for their ordinary reading.
Alarming news came at this time from the East. Edessa had fallen into the hands of the Turks, and Jerusalem and Antioch were threatened with similar disaster. Deputations of the bishops of Armenia solicited aid from the pope, and the King of France also sent ambassadors. The pope commissioned Bernard to preach a new Crusade and granted the same indulgences for it which Urban II had accorded to the first. A parliament was convoked at Vezelay in Burgundy in 1134, and Bernard preached before the assembly. The King, Louis le Jeune, Queen Eleanor, and the princes and lords present prostrated themselves at the feet of the Abbot of Clairvaux to receive the cross. The saint was obliged to use portions of his habit to make crosses to satisfy the zeal and ardour of the multitude who wished to take part in the Crusade. Bernard passed into Germany, and the miracles which multiplied almost at his every step undoubtedly contributed to the success of his mission. The Emperor Conrad and his nephew Frederick Barbarossa, received the pilgrims' cross from the hand of Bernard, and Pope Eugenius, to encourage the enterprise, came in person to France. It was on the occasion of this visit, 1147, that a council was held at Paris, at which the errors of Gilbert de la Poree, Bishop of Poitiers, were examined. He advanced among other absurdities that the essence and the attributes of God are not God, that the properties of the Persons of the Trinity are not the persons themselves in fine that the Divine Nature did not become incarnate. The discussion was warm on both sides. The decision was left for the council which was held at Reims the following year (1148), and in which Eon de l'Etoile was one of the judges. Bernard was chosen by the council to draw up a profession of faith directly opposed to that of Gilbert, who concluding by stating to the Fathers: "If you believe and assert differently than I have done I am willing to believe and speak as you do". The consequence of this declaration was that the pope condemned the assertions of Gilbert without denouncing him   personally. After the council the pope paid a visit to Clairvaux, where he held a general chapter of the order and was able to realize the prosperity of which Bernard was the soul.
The last years of Bernard's life were saddened by the failure of the Crusade he had preached, the entire responsibility for which was thrown upon him. He had accredited the enterprise by miracles, but he had not guaranteed its success against the misconduct and perfidy of those who participated in it. Lack of discipline and the over-confidence of the German troops, the intrigues of the Prince of Antioch and Queen Eleanor, and finally the avarice and evident treason of the Christian nobles of Syria, who prevented the capture of Damascus, appear to have been the cause of disaster. Bernard considered it his duty to send an apology to the pope and it is inserted in the second part of his "Book of Consideration". There he explains how, with the crusaders as with the Hebrew people, in whose favour the Lord had multiplies his prodigies, their sins were the cause of their misfortune and miseries. The death of his contemporaries served as a warning to Bernard of his own approaching end The first to die was Suger (1152), of whom the Abbot wrote to Eugenius III: "If there is any precious vase adorning the palace of the King of Kings it is the soul of the venerable Suger". Thibaud, Count of Champagne, Conrad, Emperor of Germany, and his son Henry died the same year. From the beginning of the year 1153 Bernard felt his death approaching. The passing of Pope Eugenius had struck the fatal blow by taking from him one whom he considered his greatest friend and consoler. Bernard died in the sixty-third year of his age, after forty years spent in the cloister. He founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe; at his death they numbered three hundred and forty-three. He was the first Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints and was canonized by Alexander III, 18 January 1174. Pope Pius VIII bestowed on him the title of Doctor of the Church. The Cistercians honour him as only the founders of orders are honoured, because of the wonderful and widespread activity which he gave to the Order of Citeaux.
The works of St. Bernard are as follows:
"De Gradibus Superbiae", his first treatise; "Homilies on the Gospel 'Missus est'" (1120); "Apology to William of St. Thierry" against the claims of the monks of Cluny; "On the Conversion of Clerics", a book addressed to the young ecclesiastics of Paris (1122); "De Laudibus Novae Militiae", addressed to Hughes de Payns, first Grand Master and Prior of Jerusalem (1129). This is a eulogy of the military order instituted in 1118, and an exhortation to the knights to conduct themselves with courage in their several stations.
"De amore Dei" wherein St. Bernard shows that the manner of loving God is to love Him without measure and gives the different degree of this love; "Book of Precepts and Dispensations" (1131), which   contains answers to questions upon certain points of the Rule of St. Benedict from which the abbot can, or cannot, dispense; "De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio" in which the Catholic dogma of grace and free will is proved according to the principles of St. Augustine; "Book of Considerations", addressed to Pope Eugenius III; "De Officiis Episcoporum", addressed to Henry, Archbishop of Sens.
His sermons are also numerous: "On Psalm 90, 'Qui habitat'" (about 1125); "On the Canticle of Canticles". St. Bernard explained in eighty-six sermons only the first two chapters of the Canticle of Canticles and the first verse of the third chapter.
There are also eighty-six "Sermons for the Whole Year"; his "Letters" number 530. Many other letters, treatises, etc., falsely attributed to him are found among his works, such as the "l'Echelle du Cloitre", which is the work of Guigues, Prior of La Grande Chartreuse, les Meditations, l'Edification de la Maison interieure, etc. SOURCE: EWTN


Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 420

Reading 1               JGS 6:11-24A

The angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah
that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite.
While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press
to save it from the Midianites,
the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said,
“The LORD is with you, O champion!”
Gideon said to him, “My Lord, if the LORD is with us,
why has all this happened to us?
Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers
told us when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’
For now the LORD has abandoned us
and has delivered us into the power of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have
and save Israel from the power of Midian.
It is I who send you.”
But Gideon answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel?
My family is the lowliest in Manasseh,
and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.”
“I shall be with you,” the LORD said to him,
“and you will cut down Midian to the last man.”
Gideon answered him, “If I find favor with you,
give me a sign that you are speaking with me.
Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you
and bring out my offering and set it before you.”
He answered, “I will await your return.”

So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and a measure of flour
in the form of unleavened cakes.
Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot,
he brought them out to him under the terebinth
and presented them.
The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unleavened cakes
and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth.”
When he had done so,
the angel of the LORD stretched out the tip of the staff he held,
and touched the meat and unleavened cakes.
Thereupon a fire came up from the rock
that consumed the meat and unleavened cakes,
and the angel of the LORD disappeared from sight.
Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the LORD,
said, “Alas, Lord GOD,
that I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”
The LORD answered him,
“Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.”
So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD
and called it Yahweh-shalom.

Responsorial Psalm                   PS 85:9, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 9b) The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace
To his people, and to his faithful ones,
and to those who put in him their hope.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Gospel                  MT 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

POPE FRANCIS WRITES TO PRISONER WHO MADE HOSTS FOR MASS REPORT: Officials with the Prison Pastoral Care of Buenos Aires launched a workshop to have inmates make the hosts used during Eucharistic celebrations in their region.   

But for several weeks now, Pope Francis has celebrated Mass at Santa Marta with the hosts made by Gaby, one of the inmates taking part in the program. 

The woman sent the hosts as a gift, along with a personal letter where she described her story. 

 The Pope was moved by her letter and responded with his very own, handwritten letter to thank her for the hosts. In it, he assured her that he keeps the photos she sent him and that he prays for her. Gaby said she felt comforted and encouraged to reclaim her life. 

Pope Francis had previously said that, as his time allowed, he would respond personally to as many people that wrote to him as possible. Gaby's letter is now evidence of that.  SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA


Address: Thirsting for Hope, Thirsting for God - Catechesis I for WYD13, Basilica da Imaculada Conceiçāo, Botefogo, Rio de Janiero, 24 July 2013
Thirsting for Hope, Thirsting for God - Catechesis I of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP for WYD13, Basilica da Imaculada Conceiçāo, Botefogo, Rio de Janiero, 24 July 2013

1. Thirsty?

When was the last time you were really thirsty? Perhaps you’ve already had a long queue for drinks or thirsty-making walk at World Youth Day. Or you remember a serious thirst when you were working outdoors, playing sport, catching rays on the beach or doing some serious partying. Or when on the couch gorging on salty snacks while contemplating the electronic icon. Some people are more desperate for water than that. One billion people around the world lack access to reliable clean water. If the climate scientists are right, there’ll be a lot more thirsty people in the years ahead.

But there’s another kind of thirst. I used to live at the entrance to Sydney Harbour on a cliff called The Gap. It’s spectacularly beautiful, like the view many of us have seen these past few days from Corcovado under the statue of Cristo Redentor. But The Gap is also a favourite place for suicides. When I heard a helicopter hovering I would know someone had died. I would go to the bluff to say a prayer. Sometimes I saw the bodies. They were nearly always young people – young people who’d been thirsting for hope – young people who died of that thirst.
Many of us suffer depression or grief at some time, a kind of sickness or death in our hearts. It may be over the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job or aspiration. Our problems seem too big, our resilience too small. We may despair of human goodness or of divine mercy. Our courage fails. Our optimism evaporates. While some aspects of our culture support our best hopes, other things undermine us. Most ‘news’ in our media is bad news, chosen to scare us. The random universe of secularism, with no transcendent power or redemption, says life is meaningless. People are left feeling they have no future. Some try to shore themselves up by maximising wealth, power or security. Others escape into some fantasy world. Some give up on life altogether. Quite apart from youth suicide, there are many ‘little suicides’, such as taking drugs that mess with the mind or doing things that abuse the body or dabbling in practices that damage the soul.
What’s going on here? What is this deep thirst modernity can’t quench? We’ve got psychiatrists, teachers, doctors, government, finance, technology, social media – everything imaginable to throw at our problems. Yet people are dissatisfied.
A songwriter named Davey Rex once wrote a hit called Thirsty. I’m not sure how well you know the pop charts from 1000BC, but you might know this one. It begins: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is thirsting.” A deer in the desert, a buck that’s been running, perhaps pursued by hunters or wolves: it’s panting, sweating, desperately thirsty: our lyricist feels like that. “My soul is thirsting … My tears run night and day … My spirit is downcast … Cries pierce me to the heart.”
It’s a great song, Thirsty, known as Psalm 41 in the Catholic Bible and Psalm 42 for Protestants. (For some reason Catholics and Protestants count psalms differently. In fact, the ‘next’ psalm is really part of this one and so the Jews point out we both get the numbering wrong.) Thirsty is the song of an exile, far away from home. He used to “lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God,” he says. No more. His band was really popular back then, but now he’s a has-been, depressed, lonely, homesick. There’s a vacuum in his soul which all sorts of things might rush into, but they don’t satisfy.

2. Thirsting for God

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Catechesis I for WYD
Photography: Alphonsus Fok

Our songwriter guesses what he’s really thirsty for: God. “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life,” he sings. The world around him does not sympathise. We hear their refrain: Where is this God of yours? The Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, writes that people used to see themselves as part of something bigger, a cosmic order, a great chain of Being, including each of us and all the other human beings throughout time, the angels and the animals, the seas and skies and all they contain (The Ethics of Authenticity). But we no longer feel bound to some hierarchical order that restricts our opportunities and choices. We can be anything, do anything. We invent our own values, our own meaning. We can travel where we please, play our music loud, drink as much as we like …
But there’s a downside to this liberation from an ordered universe. The world can seem meaningless, without purpose, rules, responsibilities. We try to drown out the cries of the world and deep within us, with the thump-thump-thump of our music machines. We cultivate callouses on our hearts so they are almost impenetrable. But the doubts remain.
In the late 4th and early 5th Centuries AD there was a really cool Afro-Roman dude called Gus. He had it all: good family, the best education, girlfriends, plenty of career opportunities. He dabbled in New Age religion, sex, astrology, drink, you name it. He was decadent. But he was also a searcher. In his blog called Confessions of St Augustine he wrote about his thirst and his personal journey from concupiscence to holiness. You get his great line “O God, You have formed us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” (Confessions 1.1) But there’s much more for restless hearts in Gus’ Confessions. He discovers that it wasn’t just him searching for God and looking in all the wrong places: God was searching for him. “You called, You shouted, and You finally broke through my deafness,” he blogged. “You flashed, You shone, and You finally dispelled my blindness. I breathed in your air and now I pant for You. I tasted You and now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burn for Your peace.” (Confessions 27.30)
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in his encyclical On Christian Hope: “Augustine is describing the fundamental human situation that gives rise to all our contradictions and hopes. In some way we want life itself, true life, untouched even by death; yet at the same time we don’t know what it is we feel driven towards. We cannot stop reaching out for it, and yet all we experience or accomplish is not what we yearn for. This unknown thing is the true hope that drives us … The fact that it is unknown is the cause both of despair and also of all our positive efforts … ‘Eternal life’ is the name we give to this known ‘unknown’ … life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy… [This is] the object of Christian hope.” (Spe Salvi 12)
It was only in this quest for ‘life in the full sense’ that Gus was eventually able to understand himself. As Charles Taylor observes we can only define our own identity only against a background of things that matter. If the universe is meaningless so are we and all our endeavours. The search for meaning, the thirst for hope, is essential if we are to plot our own future, write our own autobiography, a narrative with a character and a plot and, hopefully, a really great beginning and middle. Above all, we must write a really great end to our story – and a new beginning!

3. God thirsts too

Back to my number one hit from 1000BC. Palestrina, Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn all had their versions of Sicut cervus. Psalm 62(63) reprised it. It’s been sung by some great bands. But the most famous soloist to singThirsty was Jesus. The stage He sang from was the most important in history: the cross. “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I led the rejoicing crowd into the house of God,” the song says. Only a few days before His execution Jesus had led the people into Jerusalem all the way to the Temple, singing Hosanna and waving palms.

But now they’ve turned on Him. Now they crucify Him. “With cries that pierce me to the heart, my enemies revile me, saying to me all the day long: Where is your God?” Jesus hears those taunts from the crowd, the soldiers, even the guy on the cross beside Him. His soul is downcast within Him. Jesus enters the depths of human misery so that where we are, even at our worst, He will always be too. He is there to accompany and redeem us. The song goes on: “I will say to God, my rock: Why have you forgotten me?” And sure enough, we hear Him cry out towards the end: “My God, why have you forgotten me?” Just in case you’re still not convinced this song was on Jesus’ mind as He was dying, remember the opening words: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so … my soul is thirsting for the living God.” What does Jesus cry out from the cross at the end? I thirst.
For what does Jesus thirst? Someone bleeding to death will thirst for water, sure. The soldiers offer Him vinegar as a kind of anaesthetic. But His real thirst is for His Father-God. And for us. This was a great insight of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. God is perfect; He has no needs; He never hungers or thirsts, suffers or changes. Yet Jesus thirsts. And because Jesus is God that means God is thirsting. If it is God who is thirsting, the thirst is infinite. For what does He infinitely thirst? Not water, obviously. God thirsts for our love. When the dying Jesus cries from the cross “I thirst” it is God crying out for relationship with us, with you. So God Himself puts the thirst in our hearts. The 14th Century Dominican mystic of the Rhineland, Johannes Tauler, wrote that the source of our longing is “quite simply this: when the Holy Spirit comes into the soul He kindles there a fire of love, and the blazing sparks cause in us a great thirst, a longing for God.”
Today’s world tries to quench that thirst with various stop-gap measures. It distracts us from asking and answering the big questions. It robs us of hope by first robbing us of curiosity. It says the big questions have no answers or that young people aren’t interested in such things and should stick to “sex ’n’ drugs ’n’ rock ’n’ roll”. And so sometimes we forget to drink. We are having such a good time on the dance floor or the sports field or the beach that we end up with spiritual sun-stroke or dehydration. When we finally get around to drinking, our soul like a sponge absorbs all it can get.
Don’t let the world dehydrate you. Don’t let it rob you of curiosity. You might just miss the answer of a lifetime, the spring of living water that is Christ (Jn4:7-15). In our ancient pop-song the lyricist has an epiphany, an inspiration, a turn-around moment. He’s moaning about all his difficulties. He feels like he’s drowning. “Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of waters: your waves and breakers crash over me.” But then he realises whose torrents, whose waves these are. Even in the bad bits of life his God is there somewhere. “By day the Lord will send His loving kindness; by night I will sing to Him, praise the God of my life.” And so we get the refrain, the chorus of that great song: “Why so downcast, my soul, why groan within me? Hope in God; I will praise Him still, my Saviour and my God.”
On Palm Sunday Pope Francis met with young people and said this to them, to you: “We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that He accompanies us and carries us on His shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please, please, don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope! [Never let go of] the hope that Jesus gives us.” Amen! I say.
You must have hope – and faith and love – you must be the hope for our world. You are called to be the GMD generation, the go-make-disciples generation. Let Christ quench your thirst so that each of you can be a go-make-discipler. Do that and what a world we’ll have!


KONDUGA, August 13, 2013 (CISA) -Gunmen have killed at least 30 people in an attack in a farming region in northeast Nigeria where the Islamist sect Boko Haram is active, a military source and residents said.
Men dressed in military camouflage arrived in Konduga town on Sunday Morning August 11 and shot or hacked to death dozens of people returning from morning Muslim prayers, two residents said.
“They took everybody by surprise with the attack,” a military joint task force source told Reuters, asking not to be named. “They killed many people, the victims are more than 30 but I cannot confirm the exact number.”
A hospital source told Reuters that 26 wounded people were receiving treatment after the attack in Konduga, a small town around 25 km from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in Nigeria’s north, and other spin-off Islamist groups have become the biggest threats to stability in Africa’s top oil exporter.
In mid-May, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and launched an offensive against the group in its stronghold in the northeast. The insurgency was initially weakened but remains active, and guerrilla-style attacks persist.
The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in a video distributed to journalists that his fighters had carried out several attacks in Borno state in recent weeks where “soldiers fled under our heavy firepower”.
“We have killed countless soldiers and we are going to kill more. Our strength and firepower has surpassed that of Nigeria. We can now comfortably confront the United States of America,” he boasted in the local Hausa language.
Civilian vigilante groups have sprung up to help Nigerian forces identify and arrest Boko Haram members, but there are concerns among security experts that the spread of vigilantes could further erode law and order.


Agenzia Fides REPORT - 58 churches and Christian institutions were attacked and set on fire in Egypt in past days. This was reported to Fides Agency by Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops of Egypt. "Out of 58 churches attacked 14 are Catholic, the rest belong to the Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant communities" says Fr. Greiche. "The attacks against the churches took place all over the Country, but are concentrated especially in the areas of Al Minya and Assiut, because it is there that we find the headquarters of the jihadists, responsible for this violence", adds Fr. Greiche.
"It should be emphasized – the priest says - that Muslims who live in the vicinity of the affected churches have helped men and women religious to put out the fires of the religious buildings".
"This is not a civil war between Christians and Muslims", emphasizes Fr. Greiche. "It is not a civil war but a war against terrorism. And the majority of the population is against terrorism and religious extremism", concludes Fr. Greiche. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19/08/2013


Man avoids death sentence for killing his lover and children
<div>Herman Jumat Masan celebrates Independence Day on August 17 in prison</div>
Herman Jumat Masan celebrates Independence Day on August 17 in prison
  • reporters, Maumere & Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • August 19, 2013A court in East Nusa Tenggara province sentenced an ex-priest to life imprisonment on Monday for killing his lover, a former nun, and her two children more than a decade ago.
Herman Jumat Masan had callously “premeditated the killings, concealed his crimes for a long time, and was a danger to other people,” presiding judge Beslin Sihombing said when reading the verdict at Maumere district court.
The sentence was lighter than the one demanded by prosecutors, who had requested the death sentence.
Herman was a priest serving in Larantuka diocese when he had an illicit affair with Yosefin, a former nun who had left the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit in 1997.
The affair resulted in the birth of a first child in 1999, but Herman strangled the baby to cover up the affair.
But the relationship continued, and in 2002, a second birth took place. This time there were complications and Yosefin suffered heavy bleeding.
Herman did nothing to try and save them and she and her baby later died.
The former priest then buried their bodies in the compound of a school belonging to St Peter Major Seminary, where he worked, to conceal his crimes.
He left the priesthood in 2008 and worked in East Kalimantan before surrendering to police this year, following the discovery of the Yosefin and her baby’s remains.
Adam Kati, a relative of Yosefin, said the family was satisfied with the verdict and that Herman would spend the rest of his life in prison.
“At first, we hoped he would be sentenced to death. But then we realized that as human beings we don’t have the right to take someone else’s life,” he said.


Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 419

Reading 1             JGS 2:11-19

The children of Israel offended the LORD by serving the Baals.
Abandoning the LORD, the God of their fathers,
who led them out of the land of Egypt,
they followed the other gods of the various nations around them,
and by their worship of these gods provoked the LORD.

Because they had thus abandoned him and served Baal and the Ashtaroth,
the anger of the LORD flared up against Israel,
and he delivered them over to plunderers who despoiled them.
He allowed them to fall into the power of their enemies round about
whom they were no longer able to withstand.
Whatever they undertook, the LORD turned into disaster for them,
as in his warning he had sworn he would do,
till they were in great distress.
Even when the LORD raised up judges to deliver them
from the power of their despoilers,
they did not listen to their judges,
but abandoned themselves to the worship of other gods.
They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,
and did not follow their example of obedience
to the commandments of the LORD.
Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge
and save them from the power of their enemies
as long as the judge lived;
it was thus the LORD took pity on their distressful cries
of affliction under their oppressors.
But when the judge died,
they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors,
following other gods in service and worship,
relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.

Responsorial Psalm                   PS 106:34-35, 36-37, 39-40, 43AB AND 44

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They did not exterminate the peoples,
as the LORD had commanded them,
But mingled with the nations
and learned their works.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They served their idols,
which became a snare for them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They became defiled by their works,
and wanton in their crimes.
And the LORD grew angry with his people,
and abhorred his inheritance.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Many times did he rescue them,
but they embittered him with their counsels.
Yet he had regard for their affliction
when he heard their cry.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Gospel              MT 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.



Feast Day:
August 19
November 14, 1601, Ri, France
August 19, 1680, Caen, France
1925 by Pope Pius XI
French missionary and founder of the Eudists and of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity; author of the liturgical worship of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; b. at Ri, France, 14 Nov., 1601; d. at Caen, 19 Aug., 1680. He was a brother of the French historian, François Eudes de Nézeray. At the age of fourteen he took a vow of chastity. After brilliant studies with the Jesuits at Caen, he entered the Oratory, 25 March, 1623. His masters and models in the spiritual life were Fathers de Bérulle and de Condren. He was ordained priest 20 Dec., 1625, and began his sacerdotal life with heroic labours for the victims of the plague, then ravaging the country. As a missionary, Father Eudes became famous. Since the time of St. Vincent Ferrer, France had probably not seen a greater. He was called by Olier "the prodigy of his age". In 1641 he founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, to provide a refuge for women of ill-fame who wished to do penance. The society was approved by Alexander VII, 2 Jan., 1666. With the approbation of Cardinal de Richelieu and a great number of others, Father Eudes severed his connection with the Oratory to establish the Society of Jesus and Mary for the education of priests and for missionary work. This congregation was founded at Caen, 25 March, 1643, and was considered a most important and urgent work.
Father Eudes, during his long life, preached not less than one hundred and ten missions, three at Paris, one at Versailles, one at St-Germaine-en-Laye, and the others in different parts of France. Normandy was the principal theatre of his apostolic labours. In 1674 he obtained from Clement X six Bulls of indulgences for the Confraternities of the Sacred Heart already erected or to be erected in the seminaries. He also established the Society of the Heart of the Mother Most Admirable -- which resembles the Third Orders of St. Francis and St. Dominic. This society now numbers from 20,000 to 25,000 members. Father Eudes dedicated the seminary chapels of Caen and Coutances to the Sacred Hearts. The feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was celebrated for the first time in 1648, and that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1672, each as a double of the first class with an octave. The Mass and Office proper to these were composed by Father Eudes, who thus had the honour of preceding the Blessed Margaret Mary in establishing the devotion to the Sacred Hearts. For this reason, Pope Leo XIII, in proclaiming his virtues heroic in 1903, gave him the title of "Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary". Father Eudes wrote a number of books remarkable for elevation of doctrine and simplicity of style. His principal works are:--"Le Royaume de Jésus"; "Le contrat de l'homme avec Dieu par le Saint Baptême"; "Le Mémorial de la vie Ecclésiastique"; "Le Bon Confesseur"; "Le Prédicateur Apostolique"; "Le Cœur Admirable de la Très Sainte Mère de Dieu". This last is the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Hearts. His virtues were declared heroic by Leo XIII, 6 Jan., 1903. The miracles proposed for his beatification were approved by Pius X, 3 May, 1908, and he was beatified 25 April, 1909.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday reiterated his call for peace in the ongoing crisis in Egypt saying” “we continue to pray for peace in Egypt together, Mary Queen of Peace pray for us” The Holy Father also remembered those who were killed in a ferry disaster in the Philippines this week and prayed for the families in their grief.
The Pope was speaking following the recitation of the Angelus prayer from the Papal Apartments above St Peter’s Square.

During his Angelus address Pope Francis took his cue from Sunday’s Gospel liturgy.

He explained that the phrase contained in the Letter to the Hebrews: "Let us run with perseverance the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus”, is an expression that we must emphasize especially in this Year of Faith. 

The Pope said that Jesus is the key to a loving relationship with God.
He is the only mediator of this relationship between us and our Father in heaven. 

The Holy Father then turned his attention to another phrase in Sunday’s liturgy, which he said needed to be explained so as not to lead to confusion or misunderstanding.

Pope Francis was referring to the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division "(Luke 12:51). 
“But what does this mean?” the Pope asked.

He explained that “it means that faith is not something decorative, or ornamental, it is not there to decorate your life with a little 'of religion.” No, faith, said Pope Francis, involves choosing God as the centre of one’s life, adding that God is not empty, he is not neutral, God is love.
Jesus, continued Pope Francis does not want to divide people from each other, on the contrary, Jesus is our peace.
But he lays down the criterion: live for oneself, or live for God.

So, said the Pope, “the word of the Gospel does not authorize the use of force to spread the faith. It is 'just the opposite: the true strength of the Christian is the power of truth and love, which leads to the renunciation of all violence." Faith and violence are incompatible".

At the end of his address, the Holy Father again stressed that faith is not something decorative but a force of the soul, before wishing those in St Peter’s Square a lovely Sunday and a good lunch.
Shared from Radio Vaticana