Wednesday, March 26, 2014

POPE FRANCIS "Today, let us pray for all the Church’s ministers..."

(Vatican Radio) Greeting thousands of people gathered for his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke about the sacrament of Holy Orders, praying that the Lord may provide holy, generous and merciful pastors for his Church. 

Speaking to pilgrims and visitors huddled under umbrellas in a grey, wet St Peter’s Square, the Pope continued his reflections on the different sacraments, turning his attention this week to Holy Orders. Building on the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist – Pope Francis said Matrimony and Holy Orders correspond to two specific vocations or ways of building up Christ’s Church.

Speaking of the three grades of bishop, priest and deacon, the Pope said those who are consecrated for this pastoral service continue the actions of the true Pastor and Teacher who is Christ himself. Reflecting on the necessary characteristics of those ordained to this ministry, the Pope said those called to lead a community must always be at the service of their people. A second distinguishing feature, he said, is that they must always be filled with a passion for the Church and love for their community, their family, without succumbing to the temptation of considering it as a personal possession. 

Pope Francis reminded all those in ordained ministry that they must always nurture themselves through prayer, daily celebration of the Eucharist and regular Confession. . Without this, he said, ministers end up by losing sight of the true meaning of their service and of the joy which comes from profound communion with the Lord. Finally the Pope urged his listeners to pray for all ministers of the Church, especially those who are in difficulty or seeking to rediscover the value and freshness of their priestly vocation.

Please find below the full text of the Pope’s words in English read by an assistant at the audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: in our catechesis on the sacraments, we now turn to the sacrament of Holy Orders. Building on the vocation received in the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony correspond to two specific vocations and are two ways of following Christ and building up his Church. Holy Orders, in its three grades of bishop, priest and deacon, is the sacrament of pastoral ministry. Jesus entrusted his Apostles with the care of his flock and in every age the ordained make present in the Christian community the one Shepherd who is Christ. Following the Lord’s own example, they lead the community as its servants. Theirs must be lives of passionate love for the Church for whose purification and holiness the Lord gave himself completely, and they must constantly renew the grace and joy of their ordination through prayer, penance, and daily celebration of the Eucharist. Today, let us pray for all the Church’s ministers, especially those most in need of our prayers, and ask the Lord always to grant his Church holy, generous and merciful pastors after his own heart.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from the United Kingdom, England, Australia, Denmark, Malta, China, Japan and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord.

Text from Vatican Radio website 


St. Margaret Clitherow
Feast: March 26

Feast Day:March 26
Born:1556 as Margaret Middleton at York, England
Died:25 March 1586 at York, England
Canonized:25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI
Major Shrine:The Shambles, York
Patron of:businesswomen, converts,  martyrs
Margaret Clitherow, born in Yorkshire, England, was the wife  of John Clitherow, whose family was Catholic, although he had taken on the state religion of England long before he married. Two or three years after her marriage, Margaret became a Catholic. Her home became a stopping-off place for  priests, and Mass was offered secretly there.
Her husband went along with her interests, even when she sent their oldest son to Douai, in France, to be educated. Not only was she devout, she was also a zealous promoter of the faith, converting others and bringing back backsliders to the practice of their religion. Meanwhile, the laws against the Catholic faith became more harsh, and the. government was determined that Catholicism should be stamped out in Yorkshire where it was especially strong.
Everyone loved St. Margaret Clitherow, and even her servants  knew that she hid fugitive priests, but no one betrayed her. She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church with him. Her husband was summoned by the authorities to explain why his oldest son had gone abroad, and the Clitherow house was searched. A Flemish boy, from fear, revealed the hiding place of the priests where chalices and vestments were kept. Margaret was arrested along with a neighboring housewife who had attended Mass at the Clitherow home. Margaret's only concern was that her family was safe.
She was brought to trial and would not plead, her only statement being, "Having made no offense, I need no trial." If she had been tried, her family would have been called as witnesses against her, and she was determined that this would not happen. Reluctantly, the judge sentenced her to be "pressed to death," a bizarre death sentence in which the condemned was placed under a door (or similar object) and rocks piled on the door until the person was crushed to death.
Margaret died on March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970.



Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Funeral Mass for Lauren Mary Langrell, St Martha’s Parish, Strathfield, Tuesday 25 March 2014
Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Funeral Mass for Lauren Mary Langrell, St Martha’s Parish, Strathfield, Tuesday 25 March 2014
Download an audio file of this Homily Download an audio file of this Homily
The whole of creation is hushed. The angel host and infernal demons, the celestial spheres and waters below the heavens, the birds of the air and fishes of the sea, the dry land with its plants and animals in their kinds, and all humanity awaiting a Saviour, all are silent. All strain to hear: what will the girl say?
“Let it be done unto me according to Thy word.” (Lk 1:38) All break out with shouts of joy and laughter. This is the conception day of God, when the Creator of the Universe became a creature within it, when the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity became a human embryo. The turning point of history: from now on, time will be measured as either before or after this moment, BC or AD.
I know the Langrell family agree that this is the most important thing to be announced in any Catholic church on 25 March. But I have something else to announce today: that in imitation of that young woman of Nazareth who heard the voice of angels, a young woman of Sydney lived, and in her own small way she too has affected our histories. She too said yes to God, aware, as we read in our pew sheets, that this gives no immunity to life’s crosses. Like her hero, St Thérèse of Lisieux, she suffered a terrible illness that took her too soon; but like that little flower she looked forward to an eternity in heaven.
Lauren Langrell was a woman of faith: tender, funny, holy and wise. Hers was a beautiful soul – what our first reading described as “the soul of the virtuous” (Wis 31:1-9) – and her last sickness could not take that away from her. Surrounded to the end by symbols of her deep Catholic faith, the Holy Rosary and Divine Mercy, her last earthly communication was to sms her Mum that she was praying for her grandmother who is also gravely ill. Hers was a beautiful soul, but she was ravaged by a terrible illness that ultimately overwhelmed her and took her life.
Homily of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP - Funeral Mass for Lauren Mary Langrell, St Martha’s Parish, Strathfield, Tuesday 25 March 2014
From all around Sydney and far beyond her death has unlocked a veritable flood of grief and gratitude and grace: grief that she was taken too soon from us; gratitude that she had touched so many lives in so short a time; and the grace of prayer poured out for Lauren, above all, but also for Mark and Mary, Patrick, Jessica and Tom. They have been sustained through this nightmare by your expressions of love and intercession. Many people were understandably disoriented, having not known Lauren was sick, let alone in hospital. Yet as cancers can appear suddenly, eat up people’s bodies and sap them of life, so Lauren’s depressive psychosis appeared out of the blue and ate up her beautiful heart and mind.
Such conditions, like cancers, can take young people very quickly and so Lauren says to us today: if anyone here is hurting, depressed, consumed by self-doubt, self-hatred, dark temptations, know you cannot conquer this alone. You must get help. Lean on God and His angels and saints in prayer. Talk to your parents, priest, religious sister. Call a helpline or CatholicCare. See your GP or uni counsellor. Lauren’s life and death calls upon each one of us here to redouble our gratitude for the gift of life and our commitment to use it well; to persevere in the spiritual struggles and never lose hope. And just as we don’t blame Lauren, so she tells us not to blame ourselves, not to engage in the endless “if only I had/we had/she had”. The fact is, as Lent reminds us, we are mortal beings and to dust we shall all return, sooner or later.›š
. . .
Lauren tells us today to be thankful. We are all given particular gifts and opportunities. Hers were gifts of faith and art. People loved being around Lauren, watching her hilarious faces and being seduced by her theatre into attending Theology on Tap or iWitness or some other worthy project.
I’m told that in an impromptu performance at school she jumped around so much she put a hole through the wall and had to cover it up with a fire notice. That was soon discovered but it took many years to settle whose leg it was that had gone through the ceiling of the classroom. Good as Patrick and Jessica were at MCing Theology on Tap, they were bit players compared to the Oscar-merits of Lauren. So too, in Fiddler on the Roof, she stole the show with her brilliant rendition of the Matchmaker. Always an actress but never a drama queen, Lauren used her considerable gifts to direct people toward the possibilities of a life of faith and virtue. Many of those she befriended and inspired are here today.
Her family have many grateful stories to tell and we heard some already today from Tom. At the start of Lent there used to be family discussions about improvements possible in each child. Patrick, for instance, might be invited for Lent to fast from having an untidy room and to give alms by washing up after dinner. And so they would work their way from child to child, until they got to Lauren. Then there would be a pregnant pause, as no one could think of anything Lauren could improve. Eventually Mark and Mary would give up, turning instead to the other children and saying: you should all try to be more like her!
Her brother Patrick told me, quite honestly, that he couldn’t imagine what she ever had to say in Confession. It brought to his mind Fulton Sheen’s comparison of hearing nuns’ confessions with being stoned to death by popcorn. She was truly a woman of the beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12) and even her own family – always the most perceptive of critics – could see it.
Now, when Catholics talk of the family as ‘the domestic Church’ it can make the family sound a bit pious and po-faced. Langrell HQ is not that sort of church: it is a lively, happy place, with all the sorrows and smiles of ordinary life, but with that extra something we call faith and hope and divine love. Mary and Mark with the grandparents, extended family and friends, created a home in which their four little ones and the many friends they brought into the family’s orbit flourished humanly and spiritually.
. . .
So why do bad things happen to good people like Lauren? Because in making us, God did not make robots, programmed to march in circles and do only what He wants. God’s great gamble was to make us free, intelligent, passionate beings in a world that is rich and dazzling and dangerous too. Sickness and death are part of the natural order. Objects collide, accidents occur, organisms prey upon each other and decay. Bugs attack the nerves, stomach, blood stream; other conditions assail the mind, emotions, will.
Even those with an excellent Tangara-University of Notre Dame Australia education wonder why God doesn’t more often intervene to make things nice. Part of the answer is surely this: God did not leave us alone in these struggles. The Annunciation celebrates God’s definitive intervention on the side of the innocent: the fight-back of the Light over the darkness, of Good over evil, of Immortality over corruption. What began on that Conception Day is still working itself out in history and will come to fulfilment when the Body of Christ is full-grown and Christ the Head returns.
But today the whole of creation is hushed as it strains to hear the Virgin’s answer. Not just the living but the dead. Our ancient parents, Adam and Eve, the patriarchs and prophets, and all who have died and wait in Limbo for some hope, strain with hands to ears, to hear: what will the girl say?
Can the dead hope and dare we hold out hope for them? Lauren’s life and death have released an extraordinary grace amongst her family, friends and admirers, a grace that will allow Mark and Mary to start a beautiful new home for us all to visit and share. It will enable Jess to return to New York to serve the sacred cause of human life, which was so important to Lauren. It will cast the Langrell boys back into surf and study and service. And it will inspire Lauren’s many friends to redouble their efforts to live lives of faith and fortitude.
Dare we hope for life beyond the grave? For St Paul’s trumpet calling the dead to rise up (1 Th 4:13-18)? For a new heaven and a new earth? Dare we hope for a Saviour who will be the Resurrection and the Life? “Fiat, yes, Let it be done unto me according to Thy word,” the Virgin said. And the angel left her. (Lk 1:38-39)

Readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14