Thursday, October 2, 2014

Saint October 3 : St. Mother Theodore Guérin : Founder of the Sisters of Providence

American Catholic Report: 
Mother Theodore Guérin: Indiana's Very Own Saint By John F. Fink
The founder of the Sisters of Providence survived rough seas, poor health and one bad-tempered bishop. Last month she was canonized.
SIX NUNS AND A PRIEST—Father Stanislaus Buteux—were traveling on a stagecoach through thick forests on a nonexistent road on October 22, 1840. The coach had already overturned once in a deep mud hole, throwing the passengers out. At another point, they had crossed the Wabash River, which was so deep the horses were swimming.
“Suddenly,” one of the nuns later recorded, “Father Buteux stopped the carriage and said, ‘Come down, sisters, we have arrived.’ What was our astonishment to find ourselves still in the midst of the forest, no village, not even a house in sight.”
Father Buteux led them down into a ravine from which they could see a frame house and some sheds on the other side. This was to be their home, deep in the woods of western Indiana. The sisters wondered how it would ever be possible to establish a novitiate and a school in this remote forest. That, though, was their plan.
The nun who recorded their arrival was Mother Theodore Guérin, who was canonized on October 15 of this year as St. Theodora. She and the other five Sisters of Providence had already experienced a harrowing trip from France. The journey had taken more than three months. Their ship was almost destroyed several times by a hurricane and other severe storms.
Mother Theodore’s diary described the feeling of “passing the night in the bottom of a vessel, hearing continually the dreadful creaking which makes one fear that it will split open.” After another storm, she wrote, “Nothing was heard on board but screams and lamentations.”
Finally reaching New York on September 4, 1840, she wrote, “We threw ourselves on our knees with hearts full of gratitude.” But their problems weren’t over yet. The sisters had expected a representative of Bishop Celestine de la Hailandière of Vincennes, Indiana, to meet the ship when it docked, but there was no one.
None of the sisters could speak English and they had no idea how to get to Indiana. A doctor who boarded the ship with customs officials took pity on them and contacted the bishop of New York about their plight.
The next day they were taken to Brooklyn where they stayed with a woman accustomed to caring for missionaries. A man who spoke French accompanied them to Philadelphia, where they stayed with the Sisters of Charity. There they accompanied a French priest who was going to Vincennes.
They traveled by train, stagecoach and steamboat and finally reached Madison, Indiana. There they met Bishop Celestine de la Hailandière, who told them that they were to be settled on land northwest of Terre Haute.
Another steamboat took them to Evansville, Indiana, and then a stagecoach to Vincennes. That’s where they met Father Buteux, assigned as their chaplain, who accompanied them the rest of the way.
Four postulants (candidates) were waiting for the sisters when they arrived. The sisters began studying English, and Mother Theodore started to instruct the postulants in the way of religious life.
Thus began the community of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Mother Theodore was born Anne-Thérèse Guérin in the village of Etables in Brittany, France, on October 2, 1798, as the French Revolution was drawing to a close. She was the second child and first daughter of Laurent and Isabelle Lefevre Guérin.
Two more children would be born to the family but two of them—the firstborn son and the fourth child, also a son—died very young. Anne-Thérèse and her younger sister, Marie-Jeanne, survived.
Laurent was an officer in the French Navy and was away from home most of the time, leaving Isabelle to care for the children. Since it was dangerous in those days to practice their religion openly, Isabelle taught her daughters reading and catechism at home. Anne-Thérèse, however, attended a small school in Etables for a short time and was taught by a former seminarian who lived with the Guérin family for several months.
She became a devout young girl and her spiritual development was so sufficient that she was permitted to receive her First Communion when she was 10—two years earlier than normal in those days.
When Anne-Thérèse was 15, her father was murdered. This was more than Isabelle could take. The intensity of her grief incapacitated her so much that her eldest daughter had to assume the responsibility of caring for herself and for Marie-Jeanne. In time, Anne-Thérèse worked as a seamstress to support the family.
When she was 20, Anne-Thérèse asked her mother for permission to join a religious order. Isabelle refused. She could not lose her daughter, too! It was another five years before Isabelle recovered from her grief enough to give her daughter permission to follow her vocation.
Anne-Thérèse chose the Sisters of Providence, a new order in France founded by Father Jacques-Francois Dujarié. The French Revolution was over, but few priests remained in France and the people were suffering from the effects of the revolution. His religious order would be devoted to teaching and working among the poor.
Anne-Thérèse entered the Sisters of Providence novitiate at Ruille on August 18, 1823, professed her first vows on September 8, 1825, and her perpetual vows on September 5, 1831.
In 1825, while Anne-Thérèse was still a novice, Mother Mary Lecor, the order’s superior, sent her to teach at Preuilly-sur-Claise. While she was there, she contracted a serious illness. In curing the sickness, the doctors damaged her digestive system to such an extent that afterward she could eat only a simple, bland diet.
After she professed first vows, Sister Theodore was named superior of the sisters’ establishment in the parish of St. Aubin in a town called Rennes. She was there for eight years during which she honed her skills at teaching young girls.
In 1834, Sister Theodore was transferred to Soulanis in the Diocese of Angers, where she was again superior of the sisters.
In 1838, Father Hailandière arrived in Rennes in search of a congregation of women willing to establish a mission in Indiana. Father Hailandière was a native of Rennes who had been persuaded by Bishop Simon Gabriel Bruté of Vincennes, Indiana, to become his vicar general in 1835.
The Diocese of Vincennes included the state of Indiana and the eastern part of Illinois—330 miles long and just as wide—with about 50,000 Catholics amid a population of about 600,000.
When Bishop Bruté was looking for priests, Father Hailandière was one of 20 who answered the call. He returned to France in search of sisters in 1838.
Bishop Bruté died in 1839 and Father Hailandière was consecrated bishop of Vincennes in Paris on August 18 of that year. When Bishop Hailandière spoke of the need for sisters in the United States, Mother Mary agreed to ask for volunteers to go to Indiana. Although Mother Theodore seemed to be the logical person to lead the group, she did not volunteer. But Mother Mary encouraged her to think about it.
Mother Theodore had never had any dreams of being a missionary. She feared that her fragile health might hinder the mission, and she didn’t feel capable of leading it.
After long hours of prayer and reflection, Mother Theodore agreed to go. She had, after all, taken a vow of obedience, and the rule of the congregation stated that “sisters will be disposed to go to whatsoever part of the world obedience calls them.”
After the sisters’ miserable trip to the forests of Indiana, Mother Theodore began the task of instructing her postulants. On Christmas night in 1840, though, she became critically ill, suffering from fever, severe headaches and periods of unconsciousness. The illness continued for almost two months.
After she recovered to some extent, Mother Theodore began to plan her academy for girls that would eventually become Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. By July of 1841, 10 young women were studying there. The following March the sisters opened a school in Jasper, Indiana, and in October 1842 two sisters were sent to St. Francisville, Illinois.
During the years that followed, the sisters faced numerous trials. They suffered from hunger, sometimes going without food for days. They experienced the heat, humidity and mosquitoes of Indiana summers and the heavy snows of winters. They planted crops and raised hogs and other animals on their farm. Once they suffered a fire that destroyed their barn and harvest.
The sisters were also short of money, and Bishop Hailandière refused to support them. He suggested that Mother Theodore go back to France to raise money for the community. In 1843, she returned to France and was gone for 11 months. She was successful in raising money and in solidifying the relationship between the sisters in the United States and those in France.
Mother Theodore’s return trip to Indiana was nearly as difficult as her first journey there. Her ship again experienced bad weather and she was ill when she reached New Orleans. Her health continued to be frail.
Mother Theodore’s greatest problem from 1843 to 1847, however, concerned her relationship with Bishop Hailandière. Even before she left for France, it was clear that the bishop believed he possessed total control over the Sisters of Providence, despite what the community’s Rule stated. Mother Theodore often had to oppose his decisions as they affected her community.
While she was in France, Bishop Hailandière took over the community. He admitted novices to vows, closed the school at St. Francisville, received three nuns from another community, opened a new establishment and called for the election of a new superior—all without input from the sisters and contrary to the community’s Rule. He hoped that the sisters would elect a different superior, but they reelected Mother Theodore.
After her return, Mother Theodore’s meetings with Bishop Hailandière grew more and more contentious, often lasting for hours. Sometimes the bishop berated her for her leadership of the community and other times he insisted that he did not want to be involved in their affairs.
The diocese still owned the property at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. At times the bishop would promise to give it to the sisters and other times he would refuse to do so. He insisted on an “Act of Reparation” from the sisters because he believed they had spoken out against him to his superiors.
The matter reached a crisis in 1847. Bishop Hailandière declared that Mother Theodore was no longer the superior. Furthermore, she was no longer a Sister of Providence. He released her from her vows and demanded that she leave his diocese.
It was at this point that the Vatican came to the rescue of Mother Theodore, who wasn’t the only one having difficulties with Bishop Hailandière. So were many of the diocesan and religious order priests. Holy Cross Father Edward Sorin, for example, also had been recruited from France. After a year of living in Vincennes, he wrote to his superior in France that he was determined to put as much distance as possible between Bishop Hailandière and himself. He located land at an unmanned old Indian mission near South Bend and there established the University of Notre Dame.
Amid the turmoil in the diocese, Bishop Hailandière submitted his resignation to the Vatican. The Vatican accepted his resignation in 1847 and appointed John Stephen Bazin the bishop of Vincennes. Bishop Hailandière returned to France, where he lived another 35 years before his death in 1882.
Bishop Bazin was consecrated bishop of the diocese on October 24, and one of his first acts was to deliver a valid deed to the property at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to Mother Theodore.
Bishop Bazin was able to restore peace and harmony to the Diocese of Vincennes. But he died only six months after his consecration. Seven months later, Jacques M. Maurice Landes d’Aussac de Saint-Palais was named bishop of Vincennes and he, too, supported the sisters without interfering in their work.
After discovering the pitiful condition of the building used as the motherhouse, he promised financial assistance so the sisters could erect a new building. A three-story brick structure with a basement was built, and the sisters occupied it in 1853.
Mother Theodore was finally able to devote all her energies to building and nurturing her congregation and establishing schools. She made annual visits by steamship and stagecoach to all the community’s foundations, which included parish schools in 10 cities in Indiana and one in Illinois.
In 1855, the community that began with six sisters 15 years earlier had increased to 60. The sisters were teaching 1,200 children and operating two orphanages. Between visits to each house, she kept up a large correspondence with the sisters there.
But Mother Theodore’s health continued to worsen. She died during the early morning hours of May 14, 1856, at the age of 57.
Since 1840, 5,239 women have entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Today there are 465 sisters.
The sisters still sponsor Saint Mary-of- the-Woods College, the country’s oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College boasts an enrollment of approximately 1,700 students in campus-based, undergraduate distance-learning and graduate programs, according to its Web site,
The Sisters of Providence also have touched tens of thousands of lives through their various ministries in 20 states, the District of Columbia, Taiwan and China.
A statue of Mother Theodore is currently being sculpted. When it is completed, it will be placed in the garden outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

MOTHER THEODORE GUÉRIN, recently canonized as St. Theodora, became the United States’ eighth saint on October 15. The others are: Jesuit Fathers Isaac Jogues and René Goupil (the six other North American Martyrs died in Canada), Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Neumann, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Frances Xavier Cabrini and Katharine Drexel.
Mother Theodore was declared blessed on October 25, 1998, after Pope John Paul II accepted the healing of Providence Sister Mary Theodosia Mug—through the intercession of Mother Theodore—as a miracle. In April of this year, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the healing of Philip McCord as the second miracle required before canonization.
Sister Theodosia Mug’s healing occurred in 1908. When she was 46, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy that damaged nerves and muscles on her left side, leaving her arm rigid. The cancer then spread to her abdomen. She could no longer kneel, had to eat standing and walked with difficulty.
One night Sister Theodosia prayed at the vault where Mother Theodore’s remains reposed. When she awoke the next morning, her left arm was well again and the large abdominal tumor had disappeared. No trace of malignancy was ever again found. Sister Theodosia died in 1943 at age 82.
Philip McCord, a Protestant, has been director of facilities management for the Sisters of Providence since 1997. In 2001, an eye specialist recommended that he have cornea transplant surgery on his right eye since he could not see out of it. While considering whether or not to have the surgery, he said a prayer to Mother Theodore.
The following day, McCord realized that the heaviness he had felt around his eye had disappeared. The next time he had his eye examined, the specialist told him that he no longer needed the cornea transplant surgery. Today McCord has 20/20 vision in both eyes.
Medical and theological commissions of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints determined that there was no natural explanation for either healing and that they happened after the two prayed to Mother Theodore. This opened the way for the congregation to recommend Mother Theodore’s canonization.
Last July, in an announcement to an assembly of sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Sister Margaret O’Hara, the congregation’s general superior, stressed the universality of Mother Theodore’s significance. “This is a momentous time in our Congregation’s history, but it also is a time that is to be shared with people throughout Indiana, throughout the United States and throughout the world,” she said.
“This is the highest honor the Catholic Church can bestow on a person, but it is not just for Catholics. The canonization is something people of all faiths can share by recognizing the way Mother Theodore lived her life.”
At the gathering, Philip McCord expressed hope that his healing will help spread the word of America’s newest saint.
“I hope people will take a look at this healing and use it as a reason to look at Mother Theodore’s life, what she accomplished and what she continues to accomplish, and to look at what the sisters stand for and what they do,” he said.
Sister Ann Margaret, present at the assembly, praised the saint for a legacy that lives today. “Mother Theodore was available to and caring about all people regardless of their faith or their beliefs. By serving others, she was serving the Jesus to whom she had given her life.”

Author and journalist John F. Fink is editor emeritus of The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. One of his books, American Saints (Alba House), includes a chapter about St. Mother Theodore Guérin. (Shared from American Catholic)

Saint October 3 : St. Gerard of Brogne

St. Gerard of Brogne
Feast: October 3
Feast Day:
October 3
895 at Staves, Namur, Belgium
3 October 959 at Brogne, Belgium
Major Shrine:
Saint-Gérard, Namur
Patron of:
Saint-Gérard, Namur

Born at Staves in the county of Namur, towards the end of the ninth century; died at Brogne or St-Gérard, 3 Oct. 959. The son of Stance, of the family of dukes of Lower Austrasia, and of Plectrude, sister of Stephen, Bishop of Liège, the young Gérard, like most omen of his rank, followed at first the career of arms. His piety, however, was admirable amid the distractions of camp. He transformed into a large church a modest chapel situated on the estate of Brogne which belonged to his family. About 917, the Count of Namur charged him with a mission to Robert, younger brother of Eudes, King of France. He permitted his followers to reside at Paris, but himself went to live at the Abbey of St-Denis, where he was so struck by the deifying lives of the monks that, at the conclusion of his embassy, with the consent of the Count of Namur and Bishop Stephen, his maternal uncle, he returned to St-Denis, took the religious habit, and after eleven years was ordained priest. He then requested to be allowed to return to Brogne, where he replaced the lax clerics with monks animated by a true religious spirit. Thereupon he himself retired to a cell near the monastery for more austere mortification. From this retreat he was summoned by the Archbishop of Cambrai who confided to him the direction of the community of St-Ghislain in Hainault. Here also he established monks instead of the canons, whose conduct had ceased to be exemplary, and he enforced the strictest monastic discipline. Gradually he became superior of eighteen other abbeys situated in the region between the Meuse, the Somme, and the sea, and through his efforts the Order of St. Benedict was soon completely restored throughout this region. Weighed down by age and infirmities, he placed vicars or abbots in his stead, in the various abbeys with which he was charged, and retired to that of Brogne. He still had courage to take a journey to Rome in order to obtain a Bull confirming the privileges of that abbey. On his return he paid a final visit to all the communities which he had reorganized, and then awaited death at Brogne. His body is still preserved at Brogne, now commonly calledSt-Gérard.

Latest from Vatican Information Service News - Pope Francis

02-10-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 169 

The Pope to the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East: there is no religious, political or economic justification for the condition of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria
- To the prelates of Chad: the behaviour of the Church is a model for all society
- Pope Francis receives in audience the survivors of the Lampedusa shipwreck that claimed 368 lives
- Papal representatives in the Middle East gather in the Vatican to discuss the situation of Christians in the region

The Pope to the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East: there is no religious, political or economic justification for the condition of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – “Our meeting is marked by the suffering we share on account of the wars that beset various regions of the Middle East and in particular for the violence suffered by Christians and members of other religious minorities, especially in Iraq and Syria”, said Pope Francis this morning, as he received in audience His Holiness Mar Dinka IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. “When we think of their suffering, it is natural to overcome the distinctions of rite or confession; in them there is the body of Christ that, still today, is injured, beaten and humiliated. There are no religious, political or economic factors that can justify what is happening to hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. We are deeply united in our prayers for intercession and in charity towards these suffering members of the body of Christ”.
“Your visit is another step along the path of an increasing closeness and spiritual communion between us, after the bitter misunderstandings of previous centuries”, continued the bishop of Rome. Twenty years ago, the joint Christological declaration you signed along with my predecessor, the Pope St. John Paul II, was a milestone in our path to full communion. In this declaration we acknowledged that we confess the sole faith of the apostles, faith in the divinity and humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, united in a single person, without confusion or alteration, without division or separation.
Finally, the Pope referred to the work of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, which he accompanies with prayer “so that the blessed day may come in which we are able to celebrate at the same altar the sacrifice of praise, that will make us one in Christ. … What unites us is far greater than what divides, and for this reason we feel urged by the Spirit to share from now the spiritual treasures of our ecclesial traditions, to live, like true brothers, sharing the gifts that the Lord does not cease to give to our Churches, as a sign of His goodness and mercy”.
To the prelates of Chad: the behaviour of the Church is a model for all society
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The implementation of catechetical methods for inculturation, the defence of the family and the role of women, and the need for dialogue with other religions in a country where Catholics are a minority are the main themes of the discourse Pope Francis handed to the bishops of Chad this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. The Holy Father writes that the Catholic communities in this country “are growing, not only numerically, but also in terms of quality and the strength of their efforts”, and expressed his satisfaction for the work carried out in the spheres of education, health and development.
“The civil authorities are very grateful to the Catholic Church for her contribution to society as a whole in Chad. I encourage you to persevere along this path, as there is a strong bond between evangelisation and human development, a bond that must be expressed and developed in all the work of evangelisation. Service to the poor and the most disadvantaged constitutes a true testimony of Christ, Who made Himself poor in order to be close to us and to save us. Both the religious congregations and lay associations who work with them play an important role in this respect, and they are to be thanked for this”.
“However”, he observes, “it is certain that this commitment to social service does not constitute the entirety of evangelizing activity; the deepening and strengthening of faith in the hearts of the faithful, that translates into an authentic spiritual and sacramental life, are essential to enable them to withstand the many trials of contemporary life, and to ensure that the behaviour of the faithful is more coherent with the requirements of the Gospel. … This is especially necessary in a country where certain cultural traditions bear considerable weight, where less morally demanding religious possibilities are present everywhere, and where secularism begins to make headway”.
Therefore, “it is necessary for the faithful to receive a solid doctrinal and spiritual formation. And the first locus of formation is certainly catechesis. I invite you, with a renewed missionary spirit, to implement the catechetical methods used in your dioceses. First, the good aspects of their traditions must be considered and accorded their due value – because Christ did not come to destroy cultures, but rather to lead them to fulfilment – while that which is not Christian must be clearly denounced. At the same time, it is essential to ensure the accuracy and integrity of doctrinal content”.
The Pope goes on to refer to families, who are “the vital cell of society and the Church, and who are currently very vulnerable. … And within the family, it is important that the role and the dignity of the woman are recognised, to bear eloquent witness to the Gospel. Therefore, in this respect, “behaviour within the Church must be a model for the whole of society”.
After reiterating the need for the permanent formation of the clergy and the closeness of bishops and priests, Pope Francis observes that the Church in Chad, “despite her vitality and development, is a minority in a population in which there is a Muslim majority and which is still partly bound to its traditional religions”, and encouraged the prelates to ensure “that the Church, which is respected and listened to, occupies the space justly accorded to her in society in Chad, in which a significant element has converted, even though this remains a minority”. He continues, “in this context, I must urge you to foster interreligious dialogue, which was fortunately initiated by the late Archbishop of N'Djamena, Mathias M'Garteri Mayadi, who did much to promote the co-existence of different religious communities. I believe that it is necessary to continue with this type of initiative to prevent the violence to which Christians have fallen victim in neighbouring countries”.
The Holy Father concluded by reiterating the importance of maintaining the good relations established with the civil authorities, and highlighted the recent signing of a Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Chad that, once ratified, will greatly help the mission of the Church.

Pope Francis receives in audience the survivors of the Lampedusa shipwreck that claimed 368 lives
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father received a delegation of Eritrean survivors and relatives of the victims of the shipwreck that occurred a year ago in the waters of Lampedusa, Sicily, in which 368 migrants lost their lives. The delegation was composed of 37 people – more than 20 survivors and some relatives – from the various European countries where they have settled, often with family members who were already present there. These countries include Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. Other survivors are due to arrive tomorrow, to join the delegation to participate in the commemoration of the tragedy in Lampedusa tomorrow. A few days ago a proposal was put forward to the Italian parliament that 3 October be declared a “Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Sea”.
The delegation was organised by the “3 October Committee”, chaired by Tareke Brhane, and was accompanied by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, almoner of His Holiness, and Fr. Giovanni Lamanna, former president of the Astalli Centre, the Italian home of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an international Catholic organisation active in more than forty countries, whose mission is to accompany and assist refugees and asylum-seekers, and to defend their rights.
During the meeting, which took place in a room adjacent to the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, one of the refugees addressed the Pope, asking for his help and support in work that remains to be done, for instance in identifying the bodies, that in some cases has not yet been possible. Another young person thanked the Pope for his support for and interest in the welfare of migrants and refugees.
The Pope, moved by these testimonies, said, “I cannot find the words to say what I feel. What you have suffered is to be contemplated in silence; one weeps, and seeks a way of being close to you. At times, when you seem to have arrived in the port, we encounter very difficult situations. You find closed doors and do not know where to go. But there are many people whose hearts are open to you. The door of the heart is the most important in these moments. I implore all men and women in Europe to open the doors of their hearts! I want to say that I am close to you, I pray for you, I pray that the closed doors open up”.
The delegation presented the Holy Father with a sculpture in iron, depicting a bottle in the sea, containing a family. At the end of the encounter, the Pope personally greeted all those present.
Papal representatives in the Middle East gather in the Vatican to discuss the situation of Christians in the region
Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The papal representatives in the Middle East are meeting in the Vatican from 2 to 4 October, at the Holy Father's behest, to discuss the presence of Christians in the region, due to the grave situation that has prevailed in recent months. The meeting began this morning at the Secretariat of State and was attended by the Superiors of the Secretariat of State and the Roman Curia directly linked with the issue, as well as the Holy See Permanent Observers at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and the apostolic nuncio to the European Union.
The meeting demonstrates the Holy Father's closeness and interest in this important question. He opened the meeting, thanking the participants convened to pray and reflect together on what to do to approach the dramatic situation experienced by Christians in the Middle East, along with other religious and ethnic minorities who suffer as a result of the violence that continues to rage throughout the region. With heartfelt words the Holy Father demonstrated his concern regarding the situations of conflict currently in progress in many areas, and for the phenomenon of terrorism, which holds human lives to have no value. The Pontiff also mentioned the problem of arms trafficking that is the basis of many problems, as well as the humanitarian drama experienced by many people forced to leave their countries. In emphasising the importance of prayer, the Holy Father expressed his hope that multi-level initiatives and actions may be identified in order to manifest the solidarity of all the Church towards the Christians of the Middle East and also to involve the international community and all men and women of good will, to respond to the needs of the very many people who suffer in the region.
Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin illustrated the importance and aim of the meeting. Cardinal Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, offered a complete report on the situation experienced by Christians in the Middle East, presenting different aspects of the question and opening up dialogue with the participants. The papal representatives in Syria and Iraq then went on to provide information on the conditions of Christians in their respective countries, and finally, Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, spoke on the role of the Church in facing the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.
This afternoon, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will speak on religious dialogue with Islam, and the challenges faced by Christians in the Middle East. This will be followed by a presentation by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, on his recent visit to Iraq as the Holy Father's special envoy. After the debate, the session will close with Vespers.

Pope Francis ""According to the tradition of the Church, we all have an angel with us, who protects us, helps us hear things." Homily

(Vatican Radio) Guardian angels exist, they are not [the fruit of] imaginative doctrine, but companions that God has placed beside us on our life’s journey said Pope Francis Thursday morning at Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the day when the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. Pope Francis said that the readings of the day present us with  two images: the angel and the baby. God placed an angel by our side to watch over us: "If anyone believes that they can walk on their own, they would be greatly mistaken”, they would fall “into that terrible trap of arrogance: Believing we are great", self-sufficient. Jesus taught the apostles to be like children. "The disciples argued about who was the greatest among them, there was an internal dispute ... eh, careerism, eh?
These who were the first bishops, were tempted by careerism. 'Eh, I want to be greater than you ... The first bishops did not set a good example in this, but it is reality. Jesus teaches them the true attitude to have, that "of a child”: docility, the need for advice, the need for help, because the child is the very symbol of the need for help, of docility to keep going ... This is the path. Noty the one of who is greater". Those who are closest to the attitude of a child, are "closer to the contemplation of the Father". They listen to their guardian angel with an open and docile heart:
"According to the tradition of the Church, we all have an angel with us, who protects us, helps us hear things. How often have we heard: 'I should do this, I should not do this, that’s not right, be careful ...': so often! It is the voice of our traveling companion. Be sure that he will guide us to the end of our lives with advice, and so listen to his voice, don’t rebel against it…because rebellion, the desire to be independent, is something that we all have; this is arrogance, the same arrogance of our father Adam in paradise: the very same.
Do not rebel: follow his advice”.
"No one journeys alone and no one should think that they are alone" - continued the Pope - because “this companion” is always there:
"And when we do not want to listen to his advice, to listen to his voice, it's like saying, ‘Go away!'. It is dangerous to chase away our travelling companion, because no man no woman can advise themselves. I can give advice to others, but not to myself. The Holy Spirit advises me, the angel advises me.  This is why we need him. This is not an imaginative doctrine on the angels: no, it is reality. It is what Jesus said, God said: 'I send an angel before you to guard you, to accompany you on your journey, so you will not go wrong’".
Pope Francis concluded his homily:
“Ask yourself this question today: How is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I say good morning to him in the morning? Do I ask him: Watch over me when I sleep?'. Do I speak with him? Do I ask his advice? He is by my side. We can answer this question today, each of us: how is our relationship with this angel that the Lord has sent to watch over me and accompany me on my journey, and who always sees the face of the Father who is in heaven. "

(Emer McCarthy)

Novena to Guardian Angels - Litany, Chaplet and Special Prayers - SHARE

Guardian Angel Prayers

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this night/day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.
Litany to the Guardian Angels 
Angel, my counselor, inspire me.
Angel, my defender, protect me;
Angel, my faithful friend, intercede for me;
Angel, my consoler, fortify me;
Angel, my brother, defend me;
Angel, my teacher, instruct me;
Angel, witness of all my actions, purify me;
Angel, my helper, support me;
Angel, my intercessor, speak for me;
Angel, my guide, direct me;
Angel, my light, enlighten me;
Angel, whom God has assigned to lead me, govern me.

Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Raphael, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who unceasingly behold the Face
of the heavenly Father, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who never part from us, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who are devoted to us in heavenly friendship,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our faithful admonishers, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who preserve us from many evils of body and soul,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our mighty defenders against the attacks
of the evil enemy, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, our support in the time of temptations, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who help us when we stumble and fall, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who comfort us in troubles and sufferings,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who uphold our prayers and carry them before the
Throne of God, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who through your inspirations and encouragement help us to progress in the good, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who despite our faults never leave us, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who rejoice over our improvement and advancement inperfection, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who watch over us and pray for us even when we rest, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who do not abandon us in our agony of death,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who console the souls in Purgatory, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, who lead the righteous into Heaven, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels, with whom one day we hope to eternally praise and
behold God, pray for us.
Noble Princes of Heaven, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord!

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
    Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Our Father...

Bless the Lord, all His Angels, you mighty ones who do His Will.
He has sent His Angels before you, to guard you on all your ways.
My God, in the presence of the Angels, I will bless You.
    I want to adore You and praise Your holy Name.
Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto You.

Almighty, Eternal God, in Your ineffable goodness You have assigned a special Angel to all men, from the womb onwards, as a protection for body and soul. Graciously grant that I may follow my holy Angel so faithfully and love him so dearly, that through Your grace and under his protection I may one day reach the heavenly Father's House and may merit to behold Your Divine Countenance together with him and all the holy Angels.  Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

A Mother's Prayer to the Guardian Angels of her children
I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly Friends of my children! I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them. Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me, for my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed company. Amen

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel
When Unable to Assist at Mass for Spiritual Communion
Go, my Angel Guardian dear, To Church for me, the Mass to hear. Go, kneel devoutly at my place and treasure for me every grace. At the Offertory time Please offer me to God Divine. All I have and all I am, present it with the Precious Lamb. Adore for me the great Oblation. Pray for all I hold most dear, be they far or be they near. Remember too, my own dear dead for whom Christ's Precious Blood was shed. And at Communion bring to me Christ's Flesh and Blood, my Food to be. To give me strength and holy grace , a pledge to see Him face to Face. And when the Holy Mass is done, then with His blessing, come back home. Amen.

Chaplet to the Guardian Angel
Heavenly Father, the moment You created my soul, You gave me to the care of an angel to enlighten, guard, rule, and govern me. I thank You for Your infinite goodness to me. I thank you also, my guardian angel, for accompanying me every day on my journey back to heaven. It is a great comfort for me to know that you give me holy inspirations, that you defend me from dangers to soul and body, and that you pray to the Father for me.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
My guardian angel, you always contemplate the Lord and you want me to be your fellow citizen in heaven. I beg you to obtain for me pardon from the Lord for being very often deaf to your counsels, and for sinning, unmindful of your presence.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
My guardian angel, faithful and strong in virtue, you are among the angels in heaven who, led by St. Michael, conquered Satan and his followers. That fight of old continues on earth today: the powers of evil are against Jesus Christ to ensnare souls. Pray to the Immaculate Queen of Apostles for the Church, the city of God that fights against the city of Satan. O Archangel St. Michael, with all your followers, defend us in the war; be our strength against the malice and snare of the demon. O that the Lord would subdue him! And you, the prince of the heavenly court, drive away into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who seek to ruin our salvation.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
O angels of paradise, take care of writers, technicians, and distributors of all media and all who use them. Guard them from spreading evil, guide them in truth and obtain for them true charity. Ask the Lord for necessary vocations to combat evil and accompany them in their delicate mission. Inspire all people to contribute with deeds, prayers, and offerings for the conversion of hearts and the salvation of souls. Pray that we serve to raise the standard of human life and direct the human race towards eternal good.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
All you angels of the Lord, you have been called to form a noble court, to praise and bless continuously the Holy Trinity, to make up for our forgetfulness. You are true lovers of God and of souls, and you continue to sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will."
We pray that all may know the true and only God, the Son sent by Him, and the Church, the pillar of truth. Pray that the Name of God may be held holy, that the kingdom of Jesus Christ may come, and His will may be done on earth as it is heaven. Protect and guide the civil authorities, the workers, and the suffering; obtain blessings and salvation for all those who search for truth, justice, and peace.
O angel of God, to whose guardianship I have been committed by the divine mercy,
enlighten and guard, rule, and govern me. Amen.
(Prayers Shared from 2HeartsPrayerNetwork)


[Say the novena for nine consecutive days.] 

O holy angels, whom God, 
by the effect of His goodness and His tender regard for my welfare, 
has charged with the care of my conduct, 
and who assists me in all my wants 
and comforts me in all my afflictions, 
who supports me when I am discouraged 
and continually obtains for me new favors, 
I return thee profound thanks, 
and I earnestly beseech thee, 
O most amiable protector, 
to continue thy charitable care and defense of me 
against the malignant attacks of all my enemies. 
Keep me away from all occasions of sin. 
Obtain for me the grace of listening attentively 
to thy holy inspirations 
and of faithfully putting them into practice. 
In particular, I implore thee to obtain for me 
the favor which I ask for by this novena. 

[Here mention your need(s).] 

Protect me in all the temptations and trials of this life, 
but more especially at the hour of my death, 
and do not leave me until thou hast conducted me 
into the presence of my Creator 
in the mansions of everlasting happiness.


Today's Mass Readings : Thursday October 2, 2014

Memorial of the Guardian Angels
Lectionary: 458/650

Reading 1JB 19:21-27

Job said:

Pity me, pity me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you hound me as though you were divine,
and insatiably prey upon me?

Oh, would that my words were written down!
Would that they were inscribed in a record:
That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:7-8A, 8B-9ABC, 13-14

R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Gospel MT 18:1-5, 10

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”