Thursday, November 21, 2013

POPE FRANCIS BLESSES MAN WITHOUT A FACE

Pope Francis has blessed another severely deformed man. During his Wednesday general audience on November 20, 2013 Pope Francis blessed a man without a face. This is 2 weeks after he made headlines for his kiss and blessing a Vinicio Riva who has a disease that causes tumors on his face. Pope Francis is showing that the love of God goes beyond all physical deformities and looks to the soul.  (Image shared from DailyMail UK)

2 UNDERGROUND PRIESTS IMPRISONED FOR CATECHISM CLASSES

ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Bernardo Cervellera
The two young priests gave catechism classes to adults in Qinyuan . Faithful who helped them are fined. Some Catholics hope that the concentration of power in the National Security Council will lessen patriotic association’s power and enhance religious freedom. Others fear the situation will worsen because reforms reaffirm the Communist Party monopoly of power.


Rome (AsiaNews) - Two priests from the underground Church are in prison since early October. They are "guilty" of having organized catechism classes for adults in the town of Qinyuan , near Baoding (Hebei ). The two men are Fr. Tian Dalong and another priest whose identity is unknown to AsiaNews, both in their 40s.  They were arrested and isolated in police barracks in Baoding, an area with one of the largest non-official communities. Four lay faithful, who helped the priests in their pastoral activities have been forced to pay a fine of 4 thousand yuan each (about 400 EUR ) , accounting for more than two months' salary of a skilled worker.
According to AsiaNews sources, there are at least 10 priests in similar conditions, some have even been sentenced to the laojiao (forced labor camps for "reform through labor") for years. What is important about these latest arrests is that they took place just weeks after the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party, a meeting which the leadership loudly proclaimed would produce "unprecedented" reforms.
The world media, coached by Xinhua's carefully controlled reports, have praised these possible reforms, focusing on the economic novelties: a gradual reduction of government influence in the economy; promotion of private investment and foreign tax reform, the elimination of mandatory residence visas ( hukou ) for migrants; reform of the one-child law, etc ...

AsiaNews has presented these aspects also showing the ambiguities (see here,here, here and here).

Chinese Catholics are wondering if the plenum will bring more hope of freedom for Catholics and for religious freedom in general. These questions focus on the future function of the new National Security Council launched by the Plenum as an example of the new reform .

According to Xinhua, the National Security Council ( NSC ) should "perfect the national security system and  strategy, guaranteeing the nations security". The few explanations on how the NSC would function were given by Xi Jinping, who stated that the new body should "strengthen the unity of the leadership in state security", making "national security and social stability preconditions for reform and development " (Xinhua , 15/11/2013 ) .

Several experts think that "the unity of the leadership in state security" means that the NSC will be a superior power to the army, the police, the intelligence services and the judiciary, which should ensure social stability and internal relations with foreign countries.

Some Catholics in the north and east of China believe this concentration of power in the hands of the central government , and perhaps the same Xi Jinping, will promote religious freedom. Very often, the imprisonments, the expropriation of church land, the arrests of priests and faithful depend on the decisions of local leaders, who have no qualms in ignoring national regulations on religion . In addition, strengthening central power could weaken the Ministry of Religious Affairs - currently among the most Stalinist government offices - and patriotic associations.

As proof of a certain relaxation of control in the peripheries, Catholics are quoted as saying that the police leave underground communities room to breathe, are concerned about the health of the bishops (for fear of having to face a more serious crises in the case of an appointment ), maintain dialogue (perhaps to control) with underground priests .

Instead other believers in Beijing and central China say that "nothing has changed" and that the situation is always the same: underground priests are imprisoned (such as the two mentioned above); meetings among the faithful are banned; the Patriotic Association's control is absolute. If you add to this the list of bishops that have disappeared in police custody over the years, the bishop of Shanghai still under house arrest, control over other bishops (even official ones), their conclusion is understandable: "So far, nothing has changed.  We'll see in a few months time if there is a change of policy. Anyway, this will depend on the idea of ​​reform that leadership has in mind : the concentration of all power in the hands of a few may even worsen the situation. "


According to the activist Hu Jia , the concentration of power "may be used against human rights defenders, those who support the universal values ​​and freedom of speech and religion - people who the Party can not tolerate because they see them as a threat to government. "

This is confirmed by the Xinhua reports on the final document of the third Plenum (The final official version of which has yet to be released) reiterates that all the reforms serve to reinforce the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly of power.

ASIA NEWS REPORT

POPE FRANCIS GOD "NEVER TIRES OF FORGIVING US"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday called on priests to be humble servants of the Sacrament of Forgiveness. Speaking during the weekly General Audience, the Pope also prayed for contemplative religious brothers and sisters who dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work.

Speaking to the faithful in a packed St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said the Church accompanies us on our journey of conversion for the whole of our lives, calling us to experience reconciliation in its communal and ecclesial dimension.

The instruments through which we receive forgiveness – he said – are priests who are called to be the servants of this sacrament. They must recognise - he added - that they too are in need of forgiveness and healing and thus they must exercise their ministry in humilty and mercy.

Speaking off the cuff, the Pope said that he too is a sinner and goes to confession every 15 days. Let us not forget – he said – that God “never tires of forgiving us, and through the ministry of a priest he offers us an embrace that regenerates us and allows us to continue in our journey”.

At the end of the audience the Pope recalled that Thursday, November 21st, which marks the liturgical feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Temple, is the day dedicated to those who belong to contemplative religious orders. And urging material and spiritual support for cloistered religious, he said “It's a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work".

Finally he commended the about-to-begin International Year of Family Farming saying that it highlights the countless benefits that family farming contributes to economic growth, to social solidarity, to respect for creation and to the moral fibre of the entire community.

Below, please find Pope Francis' remarks to English speaking pilgrims, read out in English by an assistant:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today I would like to speak again on the forgiveness of sins by reflecting on the power of the keys, which is a biblical symbol of the mission Jesus entrusted to the Apostles.

First and foremost, we recall that the source of the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit, whom the Risen Jesus bestowed upon the Apostles. Hence, he made the Church the guardian of the keys, of this power.

The Church, however, is not the master of forgiveness, but its servant. The Church accompanies us on our journey of conversion for the whole of our lives and calls us to experience reconciliation in its communal and ecclesial dimension. We receive forgiveness through the priest. Through his ministry,

God has given us a brother to bring us forgiveness in the name of the Church. Priests, who are the servants of this sacrament, must recognize that they also are in need of forgiveness and healing, and so they must exercise their ministry in humility and mercy. Let us then remember always that God never tires of forgiving us. Let us truly value this sacrament and rejoice in the gift of pardon and healing that comes to us through the ministry of priests.


SHARED FROM RADIO VATICANA

FREE CATHOLIC MOVIES MOTHER TERESA IN THE NAME OF GOD'S POOR - 1997 DRAMA - PART 8

 2013

JCE News is showing - Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor (1997)
 -  Biography | Drama  -  5 October 1997 (USA)
This is the true story of Mother Teresa, beginning in Calcutta, India, where she starts her order to help the poorest of Gods poor.

TODAY'S FEAST: NOV. 21: PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY


The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Feast: November 21
Information:
Feast Day:
November 21

Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to the divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some amongst the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the temple, to be lodged in apartments belonging to the temple, and brought up in attending the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry. It is an ancient tradition, that the Blessed Virgin Mary was thus solemnly offered to God in the temple in her infancy. This festival of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, or, as it is often called by the Greeks, the entrance of the Blessed Virgin into the Temple, is mentioned in the most ancient Greek Menologies extant.
By the consecration which the Blessed Virgin made of herself to God in the first use which she made of her reason, we are admonished of the most important and strict obligation which all persons lie under, of an early dedication of themselves to the divine love and service. It is agreed amongst all masters of Christian morality, that everyone is bound in the first moral instant of the use of reason to convert his heart to God by love; and if divine faith be then duly proposed to him (which is the case of Christian children) by a supernatural assent to it, he is bound then to make an act of faith; also an act of hope in God as a supernatural rewarder and helper, and an act of divine charity. Who can be secure that in the very moment in which he entered into his moral life and was capable of living to God, did not stain his innocence by a capital omission of this duty? How diligent and solicitous are parents bound to be in instructing their children in the first fundamental mysteries of faith, and in the duty of prayer, and in impressing upon their tender minds a sense of spiritual things in a manner in which their age may be capable of receiving it. These first fruits of the heart are a sacrifice of which God is infinitely jealous, an emblem of which were all the sacrifices of first fruits prescribed in the old law, in token that he is our beginning and last end. Such a heart, adorned with the baptismal grace of innocence, has particular charms. Grace recovered by penance is not like that of innocence which has never been defiled; nor is it the same happiness for a soul to return to God from the slavery of sin, as for one to give him her first affections, and to open her understanding and will to his love before the world has found any entrance there. The tender soul of Mary was then adorned with the most precious graces, an object of astonishment and praise to the angels, and of the highest complacence to the adorable Trinity, the Father looking upon her as his beloved daughter, the Son, as one chosen and prepared to become his mother, and the Holy Ghost as his darling spouse.
Her first presentation to God, made by the hands of her parents and by her own devotion, was then an offering most acceptable in his sight. Let our consecration of ourselves to God be made under her patronage, and assisted by her powerful intercession and the union of her merits. If we have reason to fear that we criminally neglected this duty at the first dawning of our reason, or, if we have since been unfaithful to our sacred baptismal engagements, such is the mercy and goodness of our gracious God, that he disdains not our late offerings. But that these may be accepted by him, we must first prepare the present he requires of us, that is, our hearts. They must be washed and cleansed in the sacred laver of Christ's adorable blood, by means of sincere compunction and penance; and all inordinate affections must be pared away by our perfectly renouncing in spirit, honours, riches, and pleasures, and being perfectly disengaged from creatures, and ready to do and suffer all for God, that we may be entirely his, and that neither the world nor pride, nor any irregular passion may have any place in us. What secret affections to this or that creature lurk in our souls, which hinder us from being altogether his, unless they are perfectly cut off or reformed! This Mary did by spending her youth in holy retirement, at a distance from the commerce and corruption of the world, and by the most assiduous application to all the duties and exercises of a religious and interior life. Mary was the first who set up the standard of virginity; and, by consecrating it by a perpetual vow to our Lord, she opened the way to all virgins who have since followed her example. They, in particular, ought to take her for their special patroness, and, as her life was the most perfect model of their state, they ought always to have her example before their eyes, and imitate her in prayer, humility, modesty, silence, and retirement.
Mary lived retired until she was introduced into the world and espoused to St. Joseph. Some think her espousals were at first only a promise or betrothing: but the ends assigned by the fathers, seem rather to show them to have been a marriage. These are summed up by St. Jerome as follows: that by the pedigree of Joseph, the descent of Mary from the tribe of Juda, might be demonstrated; that she might not be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress; that, fleeing into Egypt, she might have the comfort and protection of a spouse. A fourth reason, says St. Jerome, is added by the martyr Ignatius: that the birth of the Son of God might be concealed from the devil. The words of that apostolic father are: "Three mysteries wrought by God in silence were concealed from the prince of this world. the virginity of Mary, the bringing forth of her Son, and the death of the Lord." Not that God could fear any impediment to his designs from the devil; but he was pleased to effect these mysteries in silence and without worldly show and noise, that pride and hell might, by his all-wise and sweet providence, be more meetly triumphed over, whilst the devil himself hastened his own overthrow by concurring to the mystery of the cross. From the marriage of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, St. Austin shows that marriage requires no more than the mutual consent of the will between parties who lie under no impediment or inability to an indissoluble individual society of life. In this holy marriage we admire the incomparable chastity of Mary and Joseph; and the sanctity and honour, as well as the patronage and example, which that holy state receives from this mystery. In certain particular churches the espousals of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are honoured with an office on the 23rd of January.

AMAZING NEW MOVIE CHRISTMAS CANDLE FROM MAX LUCADO'S BOOK

Christmas Candle Release: From bestselling author, Max Lucado, comes THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE, a timeless holiday film for the entire family. IN THEATERS TODAY
Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every 25 years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end.

When David Richmond (Hans Matheson), a progressive young minister, arrives in Gladbury, the villagers discover a new formula for miracles: good deeds and acts of kindness. While David's quest to modernize Gladbury sets him at odds with the old world candlemaker, he finds an unlikely ally in the lovely skeptic, Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks). Now, the fiery candlemaker must fight to preserve the legacy of the Christmas Candle. But when the candle goes missing, the miraculous and human collide in the most astonishing Christmas the village of Gladbury has ever seen.
Starring Hans Matheson (Clash of the TitansSherlock Holmes), Samantha Barks (Les Miserables), Lesley Manville (Disney's A Christmas Carol), and Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit TrilogyDoctor Who). Also starring John Hannah (The Mummy,Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Barbara Flynn (Miss Potter) with James Cosmo (Game of ThronesBraveheart). And introducing singing phenomenon, Susan Boyle, in her feature film debut.

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : THURS. NOV. 21, 2013

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 500


Reading 1               1 MC 2:15-29

The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy
came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices.
Many of Israel joined them,
but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart.
Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias:
“You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city,
supported by sons and kin.
Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command,
as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah
and those who are left in Jerusalem have done.
Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends,
and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts.”
But Mattathias answered in a loud voice:
“Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him,
so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers
and consents to the king’s orders,
yet I and my sons and my kin
will keep to the covenant of our fathers.
God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments.
We will not obey the words of the king
nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”

As he finished saying these words,
a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all
to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein
according to the king’s order.
When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal;
his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused;
he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar.
At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king
who was forcing them to sacrifice,
and he tore down the altar.
Thus he showed his zeal for the law,
just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu.

Then Mattathias went through the city shouting,
“Let everyone who is zealous for the law
and who stands by the covenant follow after me!”
Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons,
leaving behind in the city all their possessions.
Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom
went out into the desert to settle there.

Responsorial Psalm                    PS 50:1B-2, 5-6, 14-15

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel                             LK 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace–
but now it is hidden from your eyes.
For the days are coming upon you
when your enemies will raise a palisade against you;
they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.
They will smash you to the ground and your children within you,
and they will not leave one stone upon another within you
because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”