Saturday, January 25, 2014

TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 26 : ST. TIMOTHY


St. Timothy
FIRST BISHOP OF EPHESUS, MISSIONARY, COMPANION OF ST. PAUL, MARTYR
Feast: January 26


Information:
Feast Day:January 26
Born:
17
Died:80, Ephesus
Patron of:intestinal disorders, stomach diseases
A native of Lystra, he was the son of a Jewish woman named Eunice and a Greek Gentile. Converted to the faith by St. Paul, Timothy willingly received circumcision in order to assuage the Jews to whom he and Paul would be preaching, especially as it was known that his father was a Gentile. Paul found Timothy a very valuable assistant and companion, using him on several missions, such as those to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:17) and the Thessalonians (1 Thes 3:2-3). According to tradition, he was the first bishop of Ephesus, the basis for this being his journey to the city at the command of Paul to act as his representative (1 Tm 1:3). He is mentioned with St. Paul in the salutations of seven epistles in the New Testament and was teh addressee of two of three pastoral letters - 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. His martyrdom on January 22, 97 by a mob of angry pagans came about through his opposition to the celebration of the feast of Diana; it was recorded in the fourth-century Acta S. Timothei.

(Taken from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints)


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/T/sttimothy.asp#ixzz1kZaMtKtn

TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 26 : ST. TITUS


St. Titus
FIRST BISHOP OF CRETE, COMPANION OF ST. PAUL, MISSIONARY
Feast: January 26


Information:
Feast Day:January 26
Died:96 at Goryna, Crete
Patron of:Crete
Then, as regards the figure of Titus, whose name is of Latin origin, we know that he was Greek by birth, that is, a pagan (cf. Gal 2:3). Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem for the so-called Apostolic Council, where the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles that freed them from the constraints of Mosaic Law was solemnly accepted.
In the Letter addressed to Titus, the Apostle praised him and described him as his "true child in a common faith" (Ti 1:4). After Timothy's departure from Corinth, Paul sent Titus there with the task of bringing that unmanageable community to obedience.
Titus restored peace between the Church of Corinth and the Apostle, who wrote to this Church in these terms: "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me.... And besides our own comfort we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set at rest by you all" (II Cor 7:6-7, 13).
From Corinth, Titus was again sent out by Paul — who called him "my partner and fellow worker in your service" (II Cor 8:23) — to organize the final collections for the Christians of Jerusalem (cf. II Cor 8:6).
Further information from the Pastoral Letters describes him as Bishop of Crete (cf. Ti 1:5), from which, at Paul's invitation, he joined the Apostle at Nicopolis in Epirus (cf. Ti 3:12). Later, he also went to Dalmatia (cf. II Tm 4:10). We lack any further information on the subsequent movements of Titus or on his death.



SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/T/sttitus.asp#ixzz1kZaAH4AG

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY WITH POPE FRANCIS FULL TEXT - VIDEO

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, Pope Francis presided over evening Vespers at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls Basilica where he was joined by members of the many different Christian Churches present here in Rome. 

The celebration, which lands on the Feast of Saint Paul, marks the closing of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which has been exploring the theme, taken from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “Has Christ been divided?” 

Saturday’s celebrations coincide with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

Below please find the official text of Pope Francis’ homily for the event:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

“Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor 1:13). The urgent appeal which Saint Paul makes at the beginning of his First Letter to the Corinthians, and which has been proclaimed at this evening’s liturgy, was chosen by a group of our fellow Christians in Canada as the theme for our meditation during this year’s Week of Prayer. 

The Apostle was grieved to learn that the Christians of Corinth had split into different factions. Some claimed: “I belong to Paul”; while others claimed: “I belong to Apollos” or “I belong to Cephas”, and others yet claimed: “I belong to Christ” (cf. v. 12). Paul could not even praise those who claimed to belong to Christ, since they were using the name of the one Saviour to set themselves apart from their other brothers and sisters within the community. In other words, the particular experience of each individual, or an attachment to certain significant persons in the community, had become a yardstick for judging the faith of others. 

Amid this divisiveness, Paul appeals to the Christians of Corinth “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to be in agreement, so that divisions will not reign among them, but rather a perfect union of mind and purpose (cf. v. 10). The communion for which the Apostle pleads, however, cannot be the fruit of human strategies. Perfect union among brothers and sisters can only come from looking to the mind and heart of Christ Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5). This evening, as we gather here in prayer, may we realize that Christ, who cannot be divided, wants to draw us to himself, to the sentiments of his heart, to his complete and confident surrender into the hands of the Father, to his radical self-emptying for love of humanity. Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity. 

As we find ourselves in his presence, we realize all the more that we may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural, inevitable in any form of human association. Our divisions wound Christ’s body, they impair the witness which we are called to give to him before the world. The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, appealing to the text of Saint Paul which we have reflected on, significantly states: “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communities present themselves to people as the true inheritance of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but they differ in outlook and go their different ways, as if Christ were divided”. And the Council continues: “Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1). 

Christ, dear friends, cannot be divided! This conviction must sustain and encourage us to persevere with humility and trust on the way to the restoration of full visible unity among all believers in Christ. Tonight I think of the work of two great Popes: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. In the course of their own lives, both came to realize the urgency of the cause of unity and, once elected to the See of Peter, they guided the entire Catholic flock decisively on the paths of ecumenism. Pope John blazed new trails which earlier would have been almost unthinkable. Pope John Paul held up ecumenical dialogue as an ordinary and indispensable aspect of the life of each Particular Church. With them, I think too of Pope Paul VI, another great promoter of dialogue; in these very days we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his historic embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. 

The work of these, my predecessors, enabled ecumenical dialogue to become an essential dimension of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, so that today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future. As we look with gratitude to the progress which the Lord has enabled us to make, and without ignoring the difficulties which ecumenical dialogue is presently experiencing, let us all pray that we may put on the mind of Christ and thus progress towards the unity which he wills. 

In this climate of prayer for the gift of unity, I address a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here this evening. 

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord Jesus, who has made us living members of his body, to keep us deeply united to him, to help us overcome our conflicts, our divisions and our self-seeking, and to be united to one another by one force, by the power of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5). 

Amen.


Text from Vatican Radio website 

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE OF FRANCE MEETS WITH POPE FRANCIS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with French President Frannçois Hollande on Friday morning to discuss shared concerns and the good relations that exist between France and the Holy See. Following the papal audience, the President also held talks with Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin and with the Vatican’s ‘foreign minister’ or Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

A statement from the Vatican press office following the papal audience said the 'cordial 'talks focused on 'the contribution that religion makes to the common good', as well as the commitment of both France and the Holy See to maintain dialogue and constructive cooperation on questions of common interest. In the context of the defense and promotion of human dignity, the two men discussed contemporary concerns such as the family, bioethical issues, the respect for religious communities and the protection of places of worship.

According to the statement, the Pope and the President also discussed issues of international concern, including the problems of poverty and development, migration and protection of the environment. They spoke especially about conflict in the Middle East and certain regions of Africa, expressing the hope that in these different countries , peaceful coexistence can be restored through dialogue and the participation of all members of society, with full respect for the rights of all people, in particular the ethnic and religious minorities. 


Text from Vatican Radio website 

Pray for the Ukraine - CLERGY STAND BETWEEN PROTESTERS - WHAT ARE THE KIEV PROTESTS




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Since November protests have escalated in the Ukraine. 
Why?
Protesters are fighting against President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign a union pact with the EU. Yanukovych backed out last November. Russia has pressured Yanukovych to join them as a former Soviet Union member. Just last week, President Yanukovych enforced anti-legislation laws which ban many forms of protest in the country. Demonstrators can not wear masks or helmets and blocking public buildings involves a five-year jail term. Over 200,000 supporters of the opposition were in Kiev to protest against these new restrictions. 
The three opposition leaders are Oleksandr Turchynov, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party. Oleksandr Turchynov is quoted as saying "Ukraine will not be a dictatorship, it will be an independent, European country. Let us defend Ukraine!" Clergy have been peacefully standing between the police and protesters which has been captured on numerous media photos. (Images GOOGLE)
Here is a report from the Clergy: 
    
Yesterday morning, monks from the Kiev-Caves Lavra Fr. Gabriel, Fr. Melchisedek, and Fr. Ephraim stood on Grushevsky Street in Kiev with a cross and icons, between the demonstrators and the Ukrainian special police force “Berkut”, and stopped the conflict. They entered the arena as peace-makers, and not in support of one side or the other.
Although they were invited to join the “people”, the fathers only prayed and sang the Paschal troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life,” wrote the Ramensky deanery of Moscow on its facebook page. The conflict ceased.
As the website Pravoslavie v Ukraine (“Orthodoxy in the Ukraine”) learned, at around 9:00 a.m., clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church came to Grushevsky Street, placed themselves between the warring sides, and began to pray, calling both sides to stop their fighting and repent.
The monks have no intention of leaving until the situation has completely stabilized.
The clergymen are currently continuing their prayer on Grushevsky Street in shifts. Archimandrite Alipy (Svetlichny) wrote in his facebook page at 19:30 yesterday concerning the events:
“I just came home to change my clothes and warm myself. I am writing quickly. That is because at midnight I must return to the Maidan, which has turned all of its aggression to Grushevsky Street. From 14:00 I stood with the brothers of Desyatina Monastery at their prayer post. After 18:00 Fr. Victor, secretary of the diocese, and Fr. Giorgy, press secretary, arrived. They took my place. I am grateful to them for that, because my neck muscles stiffened.
You can’t even imagine how important it is for the clergy to stand there!
So many people came up to us (even people in masks!—secretly) and thanked us for standing there. They were surprised that we were from the Moscow Patriarchate [as opposed to the schismatic “Ukrainian Patriarchate”—ed.]. I will write quickly: my teeth are still chattering, but I have to go back.” Fr. Alipy planned to be there until 6:00 a.m. today.
The violence between the demonstrators and the special forces began on January 19, after the demonstrators made a failed attempt to break through the police cordon and enter the Supreme Rada building. Radical factions among the demonstrators began throwing Molotov cocktails at the police, who in turn took more violent measures against the demonstrators after hearing rumors that new Molotov cocktails contained liquid sodium.
(Source: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/67776.htm?fb_action_ids=10151783032650378&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B212263995644823%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.recommends%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/67776.htm?fb_action_ids=10151783032650378&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B212263995644823%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.recommends%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

TODAY'S SAINT : JAN. 25 : CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL


Conversion of St. Paul
Feast: January 25


Information:
Feast Day:January 25
This great apostle was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. At his circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, he received the name of Saul. His father was by sect a Pharisee, and a denizen of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia: which city had shown a particular regard for the cause of the Caesars; on which account Cassius deprived it of its privileges and lands; but Augustus when conqueror, made it ample amends by honoring it with many new privileges, and with the freedom of Rome, as we read in the two Dions and Appian. Hence St. Paul, being born at Tarsus, was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire. His parents sent him young to Jerusalem, where he was educated and instructed in the strictest observance of the law of Moses, by Gamaliel, a learned and noble Jew, and probably a member of the Sanhedrin; and was a most scrupulous observer of it in every point. He appeals even to his enemies to bear evidence how conformable to it his life had been in every respect. He embraced the sect of the Pharisees, which was of all others the most severe, though by its pride the most opposite to the humility of the gospel. It was a rule among the Jews that all their children were to learn some trade with their studies, were it but to avoid idleness, and to exercise the body, as well as the mind, in something serious. It is therefore probable that Saul learned in his youth the trade which  he exercised even after his apostleship, of making tents.

Saul, surpassing all his equals in zeal for the Jewish law and their traditions, which he thought the cause of God, became thereby a  blasphemer, a persecutor, and the most outrageous enemy of Christ. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and by keeping the garments of all who stoned that holy martyr, he is said by St. Austin to have stoned him by the hands of all the rest6 to whose prayers for his enemies he ascribes the conversion of St. Paul: "If Stephen," said he, "had not prayed, the church would never have had St. Paul."

After the martyrdom of the holy deacon, the priests and magistrates of the Jews raised a violent persecution against the church at Jerusalem, in which Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. He procured them  to be scourged in the synagogues, and endeavored by torments to compel them to blaspheme the name of Christ. And as our Saviour had always been represented by the leading men of the Jews as a n enemy to their law, it was no wonder that this rigorous Pharisee fully persuaded himself that <he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.> By the violences he committed, his name became everywhere a terror to the faithful. The persecutors not only raged against their persons, but also seized their estates and what they possessed in common, and left them in such extreme necessity, that the remotest churches afterwards thought it incumbent on them to join in charitable contributions to their relief. All this could not satisfy the fury of Saul; he breathed nothing but threats and the slaughter of the other disciples." Wherefore, in the fury of his zeal, he applied to the high priest and Sanhedrin for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as public examples for the terror of others. But God was pleased to show forth in him his patience and mercy: and, moved by the prayers of St. Stephen and his other persecuted servants. for their enemies, changed him,, in the very heat of his fury, into a vessel of election, and made him a greater mall in his church by the grace of the apostleship, than St. Stephen had ever been, and a more illustrious instrument of his glory. He was almost at the end of his journey to Damascus, when, about noon, he and his company were ml a sudden surrounded by a great light from heaven, brighter than the sun. They all saw the light, and being struck with amazement, fell to the ground.. Then Saul heard a voice, which to him was articulate and distinct; but not understood, though heard by the rest : < Saul, Saul, why cost thou persecute me>? Christ said not: Why cost thou persecute my disciples? but me: for it is he, their head, who is chiefly persecuted in his servants. Saul answered: <Who art thou, Lord>? Christ said: <Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutes. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad>:—" to contend with one so much mightier than thyself. By persecuting my church you make it flourish, and only prick and hurt yourself." This mild expostulation of our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, strongly affecting his soul, cured his pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out: <Lord, what wilt thou have me to do>? What to repair the past? What to promote your glory? I make a joyful oblation of myself to execute your will in every thing, and to suffer for your sake afflictions, disgraces, persecutions, torments, and every sort of death. The true convert expressed this, not in a bare form of words, nor with faint languid desires, nor with any exception lurking in the secret recesses of his heart; but with an entire sacrifice of himself, and au heroic victory over the world with its frowns and charms, over the devils with their snares and threats, and over himself and all inclinations of self-love; devoting himself totally to God. A perfect model of a true conversion, the greatest work of almighty grace! Christ ordered him to arise and proceed on his journey to the city, where he should be informed of what he expected from him. Christ would not instruct him immediately by himself, but St. Austin observes, sent him to the ministry which he had established in the church, to be directed in the way of salvation by those whom he had appointed for that purpose. He would not finish the conversion and instruction of this great apostle, whom he was pleased to call in so wonderful a manner, but by remitting him to the guidance of his ministers; showing us thereby that his holy providence has so ordered it, that all who desire to serve him, should seek his will by listening to those whom he has commanded us to hear, and whom he has sent in his own name and appointed to be our guides. So perfectly would he abolish in his servants all self-confidence and presumption, the source of error and illusion. The convert, rising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. Providence sent this corporal blindness to be an emblem of the spiritual blindness in which he had lived, and to signify to him that he was henceforward to die to the world, and learn to apply his mind totally to the contemplation of heavenly things.. He was led by the hand into Damascus, whither Christ seemed to conduct him in triumph. He was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas, where he remained three days blind, and without eating or drinking. He doubtless spent his time in great bitterness of soul, not yet knowing what God required of him. With what anguish he bewailed his past blindness and false zeal against the church, we may conjecture both from his taking no nourishment during those three days, and from the manner in which he ever after remembered and spoke of his having been a blasphemer and a persecutor. Though the entire reformation of his heart was not gradual, as in ordinary conversions, but miraculous in the order of grace, and perfect in a moment; yet a time of probation and a severe interior trial (for such we cannot doubt but he went through on this occasion) was necessary to crucify the old man and all other earthly sentiments in his heart, and to prepare it to receive the extraordinary graces which God designed him. There was a Christian of distinction in Damascus, much respected by the Jews for his irreproachable life and great virtue; his name was Ananias. Christ appeared to this holy disciple, and commanded him to go to Saul, who was then in the house of Judas at prayer: Ananias trembled at the name of Saul, being no stranger to the mischief he had done in Jerusalem, or to the errand on which he was set out to Damascus. But our Redeemer overruled his fears, and charged him a second time to go to him, saying: <Go, for he is a vessel of election to carry my name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel: and I will show him how much he has to suffer for my name.> For tribulation is the test and portion of all the true servants of Christ. Saul in the mean time saw in a vision a man entering, and  laying his hands upon him, to restore his sight. Ananias, obeying the divine order, arose, went to Saul, and laying his hands upon him, said: <Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.> Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he recovered his eyesight. Ananias added: <The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou shouldst know his will and see the just one, and shouldst hear the voice from his mouth: and thou shalt be his witness unto all men to publish what thou hast seen and heard. Arise, therefore, be baptized and washed from thy sins, invoking the name of the Lord.> Saul then arose, was baptized, and took some refreshment. He stayed some few days with the disci. pies at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues, that Jesus was the Son of God, to the great astonishment of all that heard him, who said: <Is not this he who persecuted at Jerusalem those who invoked the name of Jesus, and who is come hither to carry them away prisoners>? Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.

St. Paul never recalled to mind this his wonderful conversion, without raptures of gratitude and praise to the divine mercy. The church, in thanksgiving to God for such a miracle of his grace, from which it has de rived such great blessings, and to commemorate so miraculous an instance of his almighty power, and to propose to penitents a perfect model of a true conversion has instituted this festival, which we find mentioned in several calendars and missals of the eighth and ninth centuries, and which pope Innocent III. commanded to be observed with great solemnity. It was for some time kept a holy day of obligation in most churches in the West; and we read it mentioned as such in England in the council of Oxford in 1222 in the reign of king Henry III.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/conversionofstpaul.asp#ixzz1kUlhUVEN