Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pope Francis "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians".

(Vatican Radio) The Christian who does not witness to the faith becomes sterile. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope drew inspiration from the martyrdom of St. Stephen, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. The Church, he said, is "not a university of religion", but the people who follow Jesus. Only in this way, he added , is the Church both “fruitful and mother".

In his homily Pope Francis traced the path that led to the death of the first martyr of the Church, a death that was the exact replica of Christ’s. He, too, like Jesus , he said, had encountered “the jealousy of the leaders who were trying" to eliminate him. He too had "false witnesses" , a "rushed judgment”. Stephen warns them that are resisting the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had said , but "these people - said the Pope – were uneasy, were not at peace in their hearts". These people , he added, had " hatred " in their heart . That is why, on hearing Stephen’s words, they were furious . "This hatred - said Pope Francis - was sown in their hearts by the devil", "this is the devil’s hatred of Christ”.

The devil "who did what he wanted with Jesus Christ in his Passion now does the same" with Stephen. This "struggle between God and the devil" is clearly seen in martyrdom. “On the other hand, Jesus had told his disciples that they had to rejoice to be persecuted in his name: "To be persecuted, to be a martyr, to gives ones’ life for Jesus is one of the Beatitudes". That is why, the Pope added , "the devil cannot stand seeing the sanctity of a church or the sanctity of a person, without trying to do something". This is what he does with Stephen, but "he died like Jesus forgiving".

"Martyrdom is the translation of a Greek word that also means witness. And so we can say that for a Christian the path follows in the footsteps of this witness, Christ’s footsteps, to bear witness to Him and, many times, this witness ends up in laying down one’s life . You cannot understand a Christian without witness. We are not a ' religion' of ideas, of pure theology, beautiful things, of commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness – who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ - and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives”. 
On Stephen’s death, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "a severe persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem". These people , the Pope observed , "felt strong and the devil provoked them to do this" and so "Christians scattered to the regions of Judea and Samaria". This persecution, the Pope noted, means that "the people spread far and wide" and wherever they went they explained the Gospel , gave testimony of Jesus , and so "mission of the Church" began. "So many - he recalled - converted, on hearing these people". One of the Fathers of the Church, explained this by saying : "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians". With "their witness, they preach the faith" :


"Witness, be it in everyday life, in difficulties, and even in persecution and death, always bears fruit. The Church is fruitful and a mother when she witnesses to Jesus Christ. Instead , when the church closes in on itself , when it thinks of itself as a - so to speak - 'school of religion', with so many great ideas, with many beautiful temples, with many fine museums, with many beautiful things, but does not give witness, it becomes sterile. The Christian is the same. The Christian who does not bear witness, is sterile, without giving the life he has received from Jesus Christ".

The Pope continued, "Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit", and "we cannot bear witness without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us". Pope Francis advised those present: “In difficult times, where we have to choose the right path, where we have to say 'no' to a lot of things that maybe try to seduce us, there is prayer to the Holy Spirit, and He makes us strong enough to take this path of witness":


"Today thinking about these two icons - Stephen, who dies, and the people, the Christians, fleeing, scattering far and wide because of the violent persecution - let us ask: How is my witness? Am I a Christian who witnesses to Jesus or are a simple numerary in this sect ? Am I fruitful because I bear witness, or sterile because unable to let the Holy Spirit lead me forward in my Christian vocation?" .


Text from  Vatican Radio website 

Pope Francis to Swiss Guards - Swearing in Ceremony - Give their Lives for Defense of the Church



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday received new members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and their families on the eve of their swearing in ceremony in the Vatican.

May 6th marks the commemoration of the Sack of Rome in which in the year 1527 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard gave their lives for the defense of the Church and the Pope. On the eve of that significant date in history, Pope Francis greeted the new recruits of the Swiss Guard and the families.


The Pope told them that serving in the Pontifical Swiss Guard means experiencing life in a very particular way.

The Holy Father stressed that although the city of Rome is filled with countless monuments and historical and artistic places that show the greatness of its culture and its history, the city is not only a great museum, but a crossroads for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world, people of different languages, traditions , religions and cultures.

He went on to say that they as new recruits were called to give a peaceful and joyful Christian witness to those who come to the Vatican to visit St. Peter's Basilica and see the Pope.


Pope Francis noted that the uniform of the Guard which is known throughout the world for its colours and shape, its reliability and dedication, this year celebrates its centenary.

But he underlined that behind every uniform is the wearer. With that in mind the Holy Father stressed a Swiss Guard should also be known for his spirit of hospitality, kindness, and an attitude of charity towards all.


The Pope also urged the new members to give importance to their life as part of a community of Guards, making time to share happy moments but also not ignoring fellow members in difficulty and in need of encouragement and friendship.

Pope Francis told those gathered that he sees the dedication and commitment of the Swiss Guard every day and very was very grateful for it.
Text from the Vatican Radio website 

Saint May 6 : St. Eadbert Bishop - Died 698


St. Eadbert
BISHOP
Feast: May 6


     Information:
Feast Day:May 6
Born:7th century England
Died:6 May 698
Venerable Bede assures us, that this holy man excelled both in the knowledge of the holy scriptures, and in the observance of the divine precepts. All his lifetime he was remarkable for his alms-deeds, and it was a law with him to lay aside yearly the tenth part of his goods for the poor. He was ordained successor to St. Cuthbert, in the see of Lindisfarne, in 687, and most worthily governed that church eleven years. It was his custom twice a year, in Lent, and during forty days before Christmas, to retire into a solitary place, encompassed by the waters of the sea, where St. Cuthbert had for some time served God in private before he went to the isle of Ferne. St. Eadbert spent this time remote from all company, in abstinence, prayers, and tears. St. Cuthbert had been buried about eleven years, when the brethren desired, with the approbation of Eadbert, to take up the bones of that eminent servant of God, whose life had been signalized by many illustrious miracles. Instead of dust, to which they expected they were reduced to their great surprise they found the body as entire, and the joints all as pliable as if it had been living—all the vestments and clothes in which it was laid were also sound, and wonderfully fresh and bright. The monks made haste to inform the holy bishop, who was then in his Lent retreat, and they brought him part of the garments which covered the holy body. These he devoutly kissed, and ordered that the blessed body should be laid in other garments, put into the new coffin which was made for the holy relics, and, for greater veneration, placed above the pavement in the sanctuary. He added, that the grave which had been sanctified by so great a miracle of heavenly grace, would not remain long empty. This was accordingly done, and presently after Eadbert, the bishop beloved of God, fell dangerously sick, and his distemper daily increasing, on the 6th of May following he departed to our Lord. His body was laid in St. Cuthbert's grave, and over the place was deposited the uncorrupted body of that glorious servant of God. "Miracles here wrought from time to time, in curing the sick, bear testimony to the merits of them both," says Bede. The same historian informs us, that St. Eadbert covered with lead the church of Lindisfarne, which was dedicated by the archbishop Theodorus, under the patronage of St. Peter. It had been formerly built by bishop Finan, after the Scottish fashion, of oak boards and thatched with reeds.


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/E/steadbert.asp#ixzz1u6cGJ9RD