Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pope Francis meets 50000 Altar Servers from Germany

Vatican Radio:  Pope Francis on Tuesday evening was scheduled to meet more than 50,000 German altar servers, ranging in age from 14 to 22 years, in St. Peter’s Square. The young people are on their annual pilgrimage to Rome, which this year has a motto taken from a verse from Matthew 12:12: "Freedom! Because it is lawful to do good." One of the bishops accompanying the pilgrimage is Bishop Michael Gerber, Auxiliary Bishop of Freiburg. “For many of [the pilgrims], this will be an opportunity to deepen their faith, and strengthen their decision to be in the Church, and to serve the Church,” he told Vatican Radio. He said their experience in Rome will help them understand how the Church is universal, and part of this is their encounter with Pope Francis. “I believe that Pope Francis will encourage the altar servers in their service for Christ, for the Church, for those who suffer, for young people and for small children,” said Bishop Gerber. He said altar servers today must have a “profound joy” for service to Christ and the Church, along with being personally involved with what happens at Mass. He also said in Germany, altar servers are often in service for more than a decade. “They have a sense of responsibility, which increases with age, as they do their service,” he said. He said this pilgrimage to Rome is a “small step” in the renewal process of the Church in Germany. “This gathering of so many altar servers coming together in Rome is also, for many of them, a step in deepening their own faith,” Bishop Gerber said. “My hope is that this pilgrimage is not simply a ‘great event,’ but also a ‘big event’ in the hearts of people.”

Today's Mass Readings : Tuesday August 5, 2014

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 408

Reading 1JER 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22

The following message came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:
Write all the words I have spoken to you in a book.

For thus says the LORD:
Incurable is your wound,
grievous your bruise;
There is none to plead your cause,
no remedy for your running sore,
no healing for you.
All your lovers have forgotten you,
they do not seek you.
I struck you as an enemy would strike,
punished you cruelly;
Why cry out over your wound?
your pain is without relief.
Because of your great guilt,
your numerous sins,
I have done this to you.

Thus says the LORD:
See! I will restore the tents of Jacob,
his dwellings I will pity;
City shall be rebuilt upon hill,
and palace restored as it was.
From them will resound songs of praise,
the laughter of happy men.
I will make them not few, but many;
they will not be tiny, for I will glorify them.
His sons shall be as of old,
his assembly before me shall stand firm;
I will punish all his oppressors.
His leader shall be one of his own,
and his rulers shall come from his kin.
When I summon him, he shall approach me;
how else should one take the deadly risk
of approaching me? says the LORD.
You shall be my people,
and I will be your God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 AND 22-23

R. (17) The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence,
That the name of the LORD may be declared on Zion;
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

Gospel MT 14:22-36

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.

Or MT 15:1-2, 10-14

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.”
He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand.
It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man;
but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”
Then his disciples approached and said to him,
“Do you know that the Pharisees took offense
when they heard what you said?”
He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted
will be uprooted.
Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.
If a blind man leads a blind man,
both will fall into a pit.

Please PRAY as Israel declares 72-hour Cease Fire - Palestine Death Toll 1800

Israel has withdrawn its ground forces for a 72-hour cease-fire. Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter : "Mission accomplished," . "We have dismantled the underground terror network built by Hamas to infiltrate and attack Israel." The military explained that 32 tunnels were destroyed in the four-week conflict.  Over 1,800 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during the conflict, from statistics of the Palestinian Health Ministry.  The United Nations has estimated that about 70% were civilians. 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel were killed.  Israel is now starting the Egyptian-proposed truce, which began Tuesday at 8 a.m. (1 a.m. ET) (Aug.5, 2014). The Gaza truce allows the 1.8 million residents to get supplies and check on abandoned homes.  During this conflict over 200,000 people were displaced in Palestine.  Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, "We hope they can take it and be committed to a cease-fire," he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "This operation will end only when quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel for a lengthy period,". The United States urged both sides to honor the cease-fire agreement. An Israeli missile hit close to another U.N. shelter on the weekend which was condemned by the U.S. State Department. The U.S. and French governments have also both condemned Hamas for its role in the conflict. (Image source: shahidblog)

Pope Francis lifts suspension of 81 year old Priest who held Political Office

Pope lifts priest’s suspension

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has granted his approval for lifting of the suspension of Fr Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann from Nicaragua. The 81 year old Maryknoll priest had been suspended “a divinis” in the 1980s for holding political office in the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Until now, he has accepted the suspension and not engaged in pastoral ministries, although he has remained a member of the missionary society.
Having stepped down from politics some years ago, Fr Brockmann wrote a letter to the Pope, expressing his desire to “celebrate the Holy Eucharist” “before he dies.” Pope Francis responded affirmatively to this request, and has left it to the superior general of the Institute to proceed with the process of reintegrating  Fr Brockmann into the priestly ministry. Shared from Radio Vaticana

Please PRAY for Christians in Iraq as ISIS take more towns - 1737 Death Toll

Asia News Report: Sinjar, Islamic State militia massacre Yazidis and impose tax on Christians 
by Joseph Mahmoud
 (Image source : Mato's Blog)
Dozens of Christian families fled the town north of Mosul, conquered over the weekend by ISIS. At least 70 members of the Muslim minority killed in the assault; Christians were forced to pay 80 dollars each, the cross removed from the church. The Islamists bombed the village of Telkef, killing a young Christian. Kurdish leaders order a counter-offensive, Baghdad offers air support. 

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Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Dozens of Christian families have fled from the town of Sinjar, recently conquered by the militias of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Local witnesses report that the situation is dramatic, people have found shelter in a mountainous area, but "are homeless, desperate and begging for help".

Meanwhile, the Islamists continue the offensive in northern Iraq. Yesterday evening they bombarded the village of Telkef, about 20 miles north of Mosul. During the attack a Christian named Lujaim Hikmat Franci was killed.  The church security was hit as he tried to take shelter together with other young people and the priest.

ISIS leaders have proclaimed all out war in the region and their intent to arrive in Lebanon. Internal sources speak of suicide bombers ready to blow themselves up in different areas of the country of the cedars, so far spared by Islamist violence. Beirut is also home to the Shiite movement Hezbollah, the most important enemy of the Sunni fighters in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has ordered the Peshmerga forces to inflict a "fatal blow" on the ISIS militias, who have conquered large parts of the country. The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) confirms the paramilitary offensive, called to fight "against the enemies of the Kurdish people." At the same time, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered air support for the Kurdish army, engaged in the offensive to recapture two major cities and many oil plants.

On the ground, the news spilling out from Sinjar (126 km north-west of Mosul) is dramatic; the city is inhabited mostly by Yazidis, Muslim, and a Christian minority formed by Syrian-Orthodox, Catholics and Armenians. There was only one priest in the area, a Syrian Orthodox, who cared for the whole Christian community. According to local sources, in the August 3 attack, ISIS militias have killed at least 70 Yazidis and seized some women; Some witnesses reported that the bodies of the victims were abandoned on the street and "no one dares to touch them."

The majority of the population, including Christians, have fled to the mountains or have sought refuge in neighboring Christian villages of Dayraboun and Vichabour. The Islamists have also imposed the jiza, the fee for the "infidels" on the remaining Christians - those few who wished to remain, to save their homes - which amounts to about $ 80 per person. Finally, local Catholic sources report that the Sunni militiamen have removed the cross from the church destroyed the building burning books and parish registers; now the place of worship has been turned into an office.

In a matter of hours over the weekend the Islamic State militias took possession of Zummar, Sinjar and Wana, located in the province of Nineveh, about forty kilometers north of Mosul. Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul was just the first to fall into Islamist hands, and a caliphate has been set up there with strict Sharia law, forcing 500 thousand Christians and Muslims to flee.

UN estimates report that July was a tragic month for Iraq, particularly for civilians 1,737 people have been killed in acts of terrorism and violence, while 1,978 others were injured and the central government - riven by internal feuds that have so far failed to see the controversial Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki steo down- seems unable to deal with the threat. Shared From ASIA NEWS IT (Image source : Mato's Blog)

Saint August 5 : St. Afra : Convert and Former Prostitute

Today, August 5, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Afra (died 304), Martyr of the Church. Saint Afra worked as a prostitute, but kindly hid her local bishop during the persecution of Christians. From his influence, she converted to the faith, dedicated herself to acts of charity, and was eventually persecuted and executed for her beliefs. The life of Saint Afra reminds us that true conversion and repentance for past sins is always possible, and that Our Loving Father calls us to Him regardless of the sins we have committed in the past!

Afra was originally a courtesan in the German town of Augsburg, having grown up in Cyprus, and moved to that area.
Upon moving to Ausburg, it is likely that Afra worked in a brothel, possibly close to the pagan Temple of Venus. At the onset of the persecution of Christians under the orders of Emperor Diocletian, Afra and her mother, Hilaria, hid the local bishop from harm. The holy man, Bishop Narcissus of Girona, did not know the profession of Afra and her mother, and through his witness, converted them to the faith. Afra and her mother, as well as her servants, were baptized, and began spending their time in charitable acts to the poor and suffering around them.
Despite the threat of death and persecution, Afra continued to hide the holy bishop until she herself was arrested and brought before the authorities. The judge, Gaius, knew of Afra and her profession, and ordered her to sacrifice to the pagan gods or be condemned to death.

Afra declared: “I was a great sinner before I knew God; but I will not add new crimes, nor do what you command me. My capitol is Jesus Christ, whom I have always before my eyes. I every day confess my sins; and, because I am unworthy to offer him any sacrifice, I desire to sacrifice myself for his name, that this body in which I have sinned may be purified and sacrificed to him by torments.” 

Gaius persisted, referencing her former profession, and urging her to recant her faith. “I am informed,” he said, “that you are a prostitute. Sacrifice, therefore, as you are a stranger to the God of the Christians, and cannot be accepted by him.”

But Afra replied, “Our Lord Jesus Christ hath said, that he came down from heaven to save sinners. The gospels testify that an abandoned woman washed his feet with her tears, and obtained pardon, and that he never rejected the publicans, but permitted them to eat with him.” 

Gaius said, “Jesus Christ will have nothing to do with you. It is in vain for you to acknowledge him for your God: a common prostitute can never he called a Christian.”

Afra replied, “It is true, I am unworthy to bear the name of a Christian; but Christ hath admitted me to be one.” 

Growing frustrated, the judge ordered her again: “Sacrifice to the gods, and they will save you.”

The martyr replied: “My Savior is Jesus Christ, who upon the cross promised paradise to the thief who confessed him. The only subject of my confusion and grief are my sins.”

Having run out of patience, Gaius declared, “I am ashamed that I have disputed so long with you. If you do not comply, you shall die.”

Afra replied: “That is what I desire, if I am not unworthy to find rest by this confession. Let that body which hath sinned undergo torments; but as to my soul, I will not taint it by sacrificing to demons.” 

Throwing up his hands, Gaius sentenced Afra to death. “We condemn Afra, a prostitute who hath declared herself a Christian, to be burnt alive, because she hath refused to offer sacrifice to the gods.”

Afra was immediately seized, stripped of her clothing, tied to a stake, and set ablaze. While she burned, she lifter her eyes to heaven and prayed:“O Lord Jesus Christ, Omnipotent God, who camest to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance, accept now the penance of my sufferings, and by this temporal fire deliver me from the everlasting fire, which torments both body and soul. I return thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, for the honor thou hast done me in receiving me a holocaust for thy name’s sake; thou who hast vouchsafed to offer thyself upon the altar of the cross a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, the just for the unjust, and for sinners. I offer myself a victim to thee, O my God, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost world without end. Amen.”

Having prayed and handed her life over to her creator, Saint Afra died. Her mother and her servants rescued her body and interred her relics in a selpuchre. In the process of this act they were caught, and refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods, were likely executed.

Inspired by Saint Afra, today we pray for the conversion of sinners throughout the world, and for our own personal conversion and repentance. Holy Saint Afra, pray for us!

Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of Your fold may in one days be converted to You, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.

Saint August 5 : Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome
Feast: August 5

Feast Day:August 5
THERE are in Rome three patriarchal churches, in which the Pope officiates on different festivals. These are the Basilics of St. John Lateran, St. Peter's on the Vatican Hill, and St. Mary Major. This last is so called because it is, both in antiquity and dignity, the first church in Rome among those that are dedicated to God in honor of the Virgin Mary. The name of the Liberian Basilic was given it because it was founded in the time of Pope Liberius, in the fourth century; it was consecrated, under the title of the Virgin Mary, by Sixtus III., about the year 435. It is also called St. Mary ad Nives, or at the snow, from a popular tradition that the Mother of God chose this place for a church under her invocation by a miraculous snow that fell upon this spot in summer, and by a vision in which she appeared to a patrician named John, who munificently founded and endowed this church in the pontificate of Liberius. The same Basilic has sometimes been known by the name of St. Mary ad Pr├Žsepe, from the holy crib or manger of Bethlehem, in which Christ was laid at His birth. It resembles an ordinary manger, is kept in a case of massive silver, and in it lies an image of a little child, also of silver. On Christmas Day the holy Manger is taken out of the case, and exposed. It is kept in a sumptuous subterraneous chapel in this church.

source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/D/dedicationofthebasilicaofstmarymajor.asp#ixzz1UARqPwRp