Thursday, November 27, 2014

Saint November 28 : St. Catherine Labore : Nun : Incorrupt : Promoter of the Miraculous Medal

St. Catherine Laboure Feastday: November 28 - Also known as: Zoe Laboure; Catherine Labore
Zoe Laboure was born at Fain-lès-Moutiers, Burgundy, France to the farmer Pierre Labouré and Louise Laboure as the ninth of eleven children on May 2, 1806. From an early age felt a call to the religious life. When Catherine was nine years old, her saintly mother died on October 9, 1815. After the burial service, little Catherine retired to her room, stood on a chair, took our Lady's statue from the wall, kissed it, and said: "Now, dear Lady, you are to be my mother." On January 25, 1818, Catherine made her First Communion. One day she had a dream in which a priest said to her: "My daughter, you may flee me now, but one day you will to come to me. Do not forget that God has plans for you." Sometime later, while visiting a hospital of the Daughters of Charity at Chatillon-sur-Seine, she noticed a priest's picture on the wall. She asked a sister who he might be, and was told: "Our Holy Founder Saint Vincent de Paul." This was the same priest Catherine had seen in the dream. Catherine knew she was in the right place.
Later, on January 1830, Catherine began her postulancy at Chatillon. On Wednesday, April 21, 1830, Catherine Labouré entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity, located at their motherhouse, Rue du Bac 140, Paris.  taking the name Catherine. On the eve of the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, July 19, the Sister Superior spoke to the novices about the virtues of their Holy Founder and gave each of the novices a piece of cloth from the holy founder's surplice. Because of her extreme love, Catherine split her piece down the middle, swallowing half and placing the rest in her prayer book. She earnestly prayed to Saint Vincent that she might, with her own eyes, see the Mother of God. 
1st apparition of the Blessed Virgin: 19th July, 1830 Chapel Rue du Bac 140, Paris

It is 11.30 pm; Sister Catherine Laboure (24 years old) wakes up as she hears her name called three times. She opens the curtains of her cell and sees her Guardian Angel in de form of a 5 year old child. He says: "follow me to the chapel, where the Virgin Mary awaits you". Catherine Laboure hastily dresses herself and follows him to the chapel. The chapel is lit as for midnight-Mass, but she can't see the Blessed Virgin. She then kneels and prays. After half an hour her guardian angel says: "there is the Blessed Virgin Mary". Catherine Laboure hears a rustle like that of silk and to the left of St. Joseph she sees the Blessed Virgin Mary descend and sit herself on the chair of the Priest. Within a moment she is on her knees in front of the Blessed Virgin, with her hands confidently folded on Mary's knees. This is the beginning of a two hour long conversation. The Blessed Virgin Mary tells her that God will charge her with a mission. In the process she will experience many difficulties. The Blessed Virgin already speaks of bad times ahead. The whole world will be plunged into confusion through all sorts of incidents. The Cross will be treated with contempt; it will be cast to earth. The side of our Lord will be pierced again. The Blessed Virgin says this with a very sorrowful look on her face. Encouragingly though, she adds:
"but come to the foot of this altar and here graces will be bestowed upon all, 
who ask with confidence and fervour. they will be given to the rich and to the poor"

2nd apparition of the Blessed Virgin: 27th November, 1830 Chapel Rue du Bac 140, Paris
Catherine LabouréIt is 5.30pm, and the Sisters are in the chapel for the hour of Meditation. Suddenly Catherine Laboure hears, to her right, the same rustle as before; it is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She stops to the left near the painting of St. Joseph. This whole apparition is conducted in scenes and sign-language. The Blessed Virgin "standing in space". She was dressed in white, standing on a globe and holding a golden ball, with rings on her fingers flashing with light. An inner voice told her that the ball represented the whole world and that the rays coming from Mary's fingers represented graces for individuals. Then, a second phase: The golden ball then vanished as this apparition changed to represent Mary with her arms outstretched, inside an oval frame with golden lettering:"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." This was the front side of the medal that was to be made."

The reverse side of the Medal

Mary gave her this instruction: "have a medal struck on this model. All those who carry this will receive Grace in abundance, especially if they wear the medal around their neck and say this prayer confidently, they will receive special protection from the Mother of God and abundant graces". Then it is although the whole scene turns around and Catherine Laboure can see the back of the medal: in the centre is the letter M, from where a Cross ascends with at its base a cross-beam which passes through the letter M and below this the two hearts of Jesus and Mary, one crowned with thorns the other pierced by the sword of sorrow. The whole is surrounded with a crown of 12 stars recalling the vision of St. John in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation. Catherine Laboure hears: "the M with the Cross and the two hearts say enough".
During the next year this apparition occurred five times and each time with the same instructions: "have a medal struck on this model, and all those who wear it will receive great graces, especially when worn around the neck".Sister Catherine endured many humiliations, but she persevered. It took two years before her confessor, Father Aladel, a Vicentian priest, had the medal struck. The original name of the medal is that of  holy Mary’s Immaculate Conception; only after 7 years was the name changed to the “Miraculous Medal”. Because of the many answered prayers, the conversions and the cures, some 10 million medals were sold during the first 5 years. The short prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee", has since been prayed innumerable times by believers, so that the entire Christianity became familiar with Mary's "Immaculate Conception". It was Pope Pius IX who made it a rule of faith. This was received with great joy by the entire Church. Four years later, Mary came as though to confirm this, when She said to Bernadette at Lourdes:I am the Immaculate 

Catherine Laboure died on 31st December 1876.  When her body was exhumed, after fifty-seven years of burial, it was found to be completely incorrupt and supple. Her eyes were as blue as the day she died. On 28th May, 1933 she was beatified by Pope Pius XI. This occasion was witnessed by 50,000 people, of which there were 8,000 children of Mary, veiled in white, all wearing the Miraculous Medal. On 27th July, 1947 Catherine Laboure was canonized by Pope Pius XII. Here again many believers were present, including more than 10,000 children of Mary, veiled in white.
 INCORRUPT Body Catherine Laboure
Many healings, including those of people for whom there was totally no hope, were attributed to the "Miraculous Medal". Just in the American city of Philadelphia alone, between 1930 and 1950, more than 750.000 favours were granted and registered. Catherine Laboure is still lying in state at the right of the altar in the chapel Rue du Bac 140, in Paris and she still looks as though she only died yesterday!
Patroness of architects, miners, and prisoners.

"These apparitions of Mary and the Miraculous Medal by Catherine Laboure are fully approved by the Holy See: 1836"

Saint November 28 : St. James of the Marches : Franciscan Missionary

St. James of the Marches
Feast: November 28

Feast Day:November 28
Born:1391, Monteprandone, Marche of Ancona, Italy
Died:November 28, 1476
Canonized:10 December 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Major Shrine:Franciscan church of St. Maria la Nuova
Patron of:Patron of the city of Naples, Italy

Franciscan, b. of a poor family named Gangala, at Monteprandone, March of Ancona, Italy, 1391; d. at Naples, 28 Nov., 1476. He is generally represented holding in his right hand a chalice, out of which a snake is escaping --an allusion to some endeavours of heretics to poison him or, less likely, to the controversy about the Precious Blood.
He began his studies at Offida under the guidance of his uncle, a priest, who soon afterwards put him to school at Ascoli. At the University of Perugia he took the degree of Doctor in Civil Law. After a short stay at Florence as tutor in a noble family, and as judge of sorcerers, James was received into the Order of the Friars Minor, in the chapel of the Portiuncula, Assisi, 26 July, 1416. Having finished his novitiate at the hermitage of the Carceri, near Assisi, he studied theology at Fiesole, near Florence, under St. Bernardine of Siena. On 13 June, 1420, be was ordained priest, and soon began to preach in Tuscany, in the Marches, and Umbria; for half a century he carried on his spiritual labours, remarkable for the miracles he performed and the numerous conversions he wrought. From 1427 James preached penance, combated heretic, and was on legations in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Bosnia. In the last-mentioned country he was also commissary of the Friars Minor. At the time of the Council of Basle he promoted the union of the moderate Hussites with the Church, and that of the Greeks it the Council of Ferrara-Florence. Against the Turk, he preached several crusades, and at the death of St. John Capistran, in 1456, James was sent to Hungary as his successor. In Italy he fought the Fraticelli, instituted several montes pietatis, and preached in all the greater cities; Milan offered him the bishopric in 1460, which he declined. St. James belonged to the Observant branch of the Friars Minor, then rapidly spreading and exciting much envy. How much he suffered on this account is shown in a letter written by him to St. John Capistran, published by Nic. Dal-Gal, O.F.M., in "Archivum Franciscanum Historicum", I (1908), 94-97. Under Callistus III, in 1455, he was appointed an arbiter on the questions at issue between Conventuals and Observants. His decision was published 2 Feb., 1456, in a papal Bull, which pleased neither part . A few years later, on Easter Monday, 1462, St. James, preaching at Brescia, uttered the opinion of some theologians, that the Precious Blood shed during the Passion was not united with the Divinity of Christ during the three days of His burial. The Dominican James of Brescia, inquisitor, immediately cited him to his tribunal. James refused to appear, and after some troubles appealed to the Holy See. The question was discussed at Rome, Christmas, 1462 (not 1463, as some have it), before Pius II and the cardinals, but no decision was given. James spent the last three years of his life at Naples, and was buried there in the Franciscan church of S. Maria la Nuova, where his body is still to be seen. Beatified by Urban VIII, 1624, he was canonized by Benedict XIII, 1726. Naples venerates him as one of its patron saints (feast, 28 Nov.).
The works of St. James of the Marches have not as yet been collected. His library and autographs are preserved in part at the Municipio of Monteprandone (see Crivellucci, "I codici della libreria raccolta da S. Giacomo della Marca nel convento di S. Maria delle Grazie presso Monteprandone", Leghorn, 1889). He wrote "Dialogus contra Fraticellos" printed in Baluze-Mansi, "Miscellanea", II, Lucca, 1761, 595-610 (cf. Ehrle in "Archiv für Litt. u. Kirchengeschichte", IV, Freiburg im Br., 1888, 107-10). His numerous sermons are not edited. For some of them, and for his treatise on the "Miracles of the Name of Jesus", see Candido Mariotti, O.F.M., "Nome di Gesù ed i Francescani", Fano, 1909, 125-34. On his notebook, or "Itinerarium", See Luigi Tasso, O.F.M., in "Miscellanea Francescana", I (1886), 125-26: "Regula confitendi peccata" was several times edited in Latin and Italian during the fifteenth century. "De Sanguine Christi effuse" and some other treatises remained in manuscript.

Pope Francis “God lives in cities. We must go and look for him and..."

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged bishops and pastoral care workers to take up the challenge of bringing the Gospel into big cities with a profound change of attitude and renewed committment. In a message to participants of the International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities, held in Barcelona this week, the Pope issued an encouragement to reflect creatively on the way they face the task of evangelization in great urban centers that are in increasing expansion, and in which everyone needs to feel the closeness and mercy of God. Delivering his message to a group of Cardinals and bishops from big cities across the world whom he received in audience on Thursday morning, Pope Francis began with a reflection on his own personal experience as Archbishop of the “populous and multicultural city of Buenos Aires” with its dense population of 13 million. He said that together with the bishops of the 11 dioceses that make up that ecclesiastical region, he searched for new ways with which to open pathways into urban realities, taking stock of possible fears that sometimes “confuse” or even “paralyze” us.
The Pope recalled a chapter of his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” in which he drew attention to urban pastoral care and its many challenges: “challenges” – he said – “in places to which God is calling us”. Pope Francis focused on four of these challenges. He described them as “making a change in our pastoral mentality”; “dialogue with multiculturalism”; “religiousness of people”; and “the urban poor”. Regarding the first of these challenges he said that in big cities we need new maps to help us reposition our thoughts and our attitudes. “We must not be disorientated” – he said – “because that would lead us to take the wrong road” as well as confuse the people of God that is looking for Life, Truth and the Sense.
He pointed out that our pastoral practice is based and rooted in times gone by: “We are no longer in that era. We are not in Christianity. Today we are not the only ones that produce culture, we are not the first nor the most listened to”. Thus, he said, we need a change in pastoral mentality. But he pointed out that we do not need “relativistic pastoral care” which would leave man alone and “emancipated from God’s hands: “This would not be pastoral care!” He said it would leave man in danger of treading a road of solitude and death. And Pope Francis said we must have the courage to evangelize at a pastoral level with audacity and fearlessness, because that’s what men, women and families, as well as the various groups that live in cities expect from us. “We must work without shame or shyness as we announce Jesus Christ.
Regarding the dialogue with multiculturalism , Pope Francis pointed to a pastoral dialogue without relativisms, without compromising one’s Christian identity, but aiming to reach the heart of the other, of he who is different to us, and there “sow the seeds of the Gospel”. Within this realm the Pope said we need a contemplative attitude that makes use of the contribution of diverse sciences to be able to understand the urban phenomenon. This will help us – he said – to get to know “the invisible cities: the groups or the human territories who find identity in symbols, idioms, rites and forms to tell the stories of life”. In respect to the religiousness of people, Pope Francis said: “God lives in cities. We must go and look for him and remain where He is operating”. He said it is important to discover within the “religiosity of our people, the authentic religious under layer, which in many cases is Christian and Catholic”. He said we must not ignore or despise experiences of God that may be dispersed or mixed up: they ask to be “revealed and not constructed”.
Regarding the issue of religiosity Francis said it differs enormously in the five continents, and he pointed out that the Church in Latin America and in the Caribbean has recognized its strength that comes above all from poor majorities. God – he said – continues to talk to us today through the poor. And he said large cities today are inhabited by numerous migrants and poor people who come from rural areas, from other continents, with other cultures. “They are pilgrims of life in search of ‘salvation’, who often find the force to go forward and to struggle thanks to a simple and profound experience of faith in God” the Pope said. So, it is a double challenge: to be hospitable towards the poor and towards migrants; and to give value to their faith. And Pope Francis expressed his belief that within the faith of these men and women there is enormous potential for evangelization in urban areas. Finally, the Pope dedicated a passage to urban poor. He said that amongst its precious offers for life, in the folds of large cities there are many poor people, marginalized people, people who have been “thrown away”. The Church, he said: “cannot ignore their cry, nor can it be part of unjust systems” that try to render them invisible. And he spoke of cycles of new poverty that are excluding generations of families. Of economic, social, moral and spiritual poverty that exclude God’s children: “In cities, the future of the poor is even poorer” he said. Concluding, Pope Francis proposed two pastoral nuclei: “Go out and facilitate” and “The Samaritan Church.
To be there”. Calling it a real “ecclesial transformation” the Pope said it’s all about going out and meeting God who lives in cities with the poor. Meeting, listening to, blessing, walking with the people; facilitating the encounter with the Lord are his rule of thumb. He tells pastoral workers to render the Sacrament of Baptism accessible; to make sure churches are open and that administrative offices have opening hours that suit the needs of people who go to work; that the Catechesis be suitable in content and accessibility to the time limitations of people who live in big cities. And he asked for witness. With the right kind of witness – the Pope said – we can reach the deepest nuclei, we can go where culture is born and sow the mustard seed in the heart of new cultures generated by urban reality. It must be a concrete witness of mercy and tenderness and it must be present in the poorest and most peripheral existential realities. We must take care of the aged with significant actions and learn to work together with those who are already doing things in favour of the poor. The big city – Pope Francis said – is a propitious space for ecumenical charitable pastoral work, and we have the responsibility of committing to service for the poor together with our brothers of other Churches. Shared from Radio Vaticana(Linda Bordoni)

Free Catholic Movie : Miracle of Marcelino : Heartwarming story of an Abandoned Baby

Marcellino (1991) 92 min - Drama - 19 December 1991 (Spain) In the 15th century, in a poor Italian village, the monks of a modest convent take up an abandoned baby. Unfortunately, for all their efforts, they prove unable to trace his parents. Director: Luigi Comencini Writers: Luigi Comencini, Ennio De Concini, Stars: Didier Bénureau, Sergio Bini Bustric, Alberto Cracco |

Today's Mass Readings : Thursday November 27, 2014

Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 506

Reading 1RV 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9A

I, John, saw another angel coming down from heaven,
having great authority,
and the earth became illumined by his splendor.
He cried out in a mighty voice:

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.
She has become a haunt for demons.
She is a cage for every unclean spirit,
a cage for every unclean bird,
a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast.”

A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone
and threw it into the sea and said:

“With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down,
and will never be found again.
No melodies of harpists and musicians,
flutists and trumpeters,
will ever be heard in you again.
No craftsmen in any trade
will ever be found in you again.
No sound of the millstone
will ever be heard in you again.
No light from a lamp
will ever be seen in you again.
No voices of bride and groom
will ever be heard in you again.
Because your merchants were the great ones of the world,
all nations were led astray by your magic potion.”

After this I heard what sounded like
the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying:

Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God,
for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great harlot
who corrupted the earth with her harlotry.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

They said a second time:

“Alleluia! Smoke will rise from her forever and ever.”

Then the angel said to me, “Write this:
Blessed are those who have been called
to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (Rev. 19: 9a) Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
For he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Gospel LK 21:20-28

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
know that its desolation is at hand.
Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
Let those within the city escape from it,
and let those in the countryside not enter the city,
for these days are the time of punishment
when all the Scriptures are fulfilled.
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days,
for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth
and a wrathful judgment upon this people.
They will fall by the edge of the sword
and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles;
and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.”

Thanksgiving Day
Lectionary: 943

The following are a selection of the readings that may be used on this day.

Reading 1SIR 50:22-24

And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel
to deliver us in our days.

Responsorial Psalm PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
They discourse of the power of your terrible deeds
and declare your greatness.
They publish the fame of your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord

Reading 21 COR 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel LK 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”

Synod Reflection by Archbishop : Virginity, Marriage and the Nature of Life with God in Heaven

Conference on the Family—Dominican University College
Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr– November 22, 2014
[Texts: Revelation 11.4-12; Psalm 143 (144); Luke 20.27-38]\
 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: From time to time, studies are published which prove what we, as Catholics, already know to be true. For example, it has been demonstrated that religious practice has a positive impact on marriage fidelity. I recall one Globe and Mail article reporting data from Statistics Canada. It read: “for newly-weds worried about making their marriage vows stick, regular church-going could be just the glue they need” (September 16, 1998). That study was done more that fifteen years ago in our country, but there have been recent, similar conclusions in the United States. I might add that these studies are showing that people who take their faith seriously are also found to be happier and healthier. So, believe it or not, the science is supporting what we’re doing here! Today’s gospel contains aspects of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. But more than a mere catechesis on matrimony, it’s really all about the resurrection. Just to be clear, Jesus is not “down” on marriage. What is being said is that life here below—including marriage—is a preparation for the world to come. Christopher West (who was just visiting Ottawa in September) has been teaching the “Theology of the Body” recently in terms of our human desires. We-always- want-more! For example, within marriage, sex is such a wonderful gift, it’s truly sacred, and yet even he admits, it’s never enough. This desire for more is an innate yearning for something that nothing in this world can satisfy. Whether we realize it or not, we are all hungering for heaven! If you want to read more on that topic, a few priests in Ottawa have been strongly recommending Christopher West’s most recent book: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing.

In the Gospel Jesus is connecting marriage with eternal life.  First of all, it’s important to understand the Sadducees.  The Sadducees were so “sad” (one could argue) because they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, the immortality of the human soul, or in angels. 

Rather than belief in the afterlife, they held to a less developed notion that the Israelite people essentially lived on in their descendants.  So, if a man died without children, his brother was obliged to take his wife and have children by her; this also ensured the handing on of property within the immediate family.  Levir, the Latin word for brother-in-law, led to this practice being designated as levirate marriage (spelled out in Deuteronomy 25.5).

The Sadducees imagined relationships in heaven would continue as they had on earth.  Jesus quoted the Pentateuch to show that in heaven relationships change.  Biological families are no longer necessary in the family of God.  For the “children of the resurrection” no longer need to worry about continuing the family tree. 

Jesus' teaching about there being no marriage in heaven might seem liberating to those whose earthly marriages failed, were abusive, or simply unhappy.  But many might feel disappointed by this teaching if they have been blessed to experience lifelong marital intimacy and companionship.

One conclusion, then, is that Heaven—the world to come—will surprise all of us, even believers.  Regardless of the relationships we’ve experienced on earth, we know that in heaven our capacity to love and be loved will only increase!

 I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the Synod on the Family which began this past October and will continue until October 2015. Thank you for participating in this Conference on the Family. Your presence here and your prayers are a response to the call of the Universal Church to make the family
 The full title of the Synod was: “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” As a side note, we hear very few people making any reference to evangelization in and through the family. Most of the hype thus far has been on all of the challenges. 
Fr. Raymond de Souza, in an article made an astute observation saying that there have been two competing synods: the “synod of the media” and the actual “synod of bishops”. We are all certainly grateful for the gift of the media, but should not be too naïve and too quick to jump to conclusions based on third-part reports. We need to wait to read the official and final Church Archbishop Kurtz, president of the United States Bishops Conference argues that the Synod on the Family was never about changing the teaching of the Church on marriage, family life or sexual morality. Rather, Pope Francis gathered bishops from around the world to hear about the various challenges facing families, and to come up with a merciful and loving way of encouraging Catholic families to be faithful and fruitful. Pope Francis has told us that as Church we need “to receive the needy, the penitent and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect!” He has even gone further to state that we must not only welcome the lost, but go out and find them! This Synod was called in response to a crisis in our time: the crisis of the family. In Canada and in the West our crisis is caused by ideologies which oppose the sanctity of human life and the institution of marriage and the family. At the root of it is, as Pope Benedict called it, the Dictatorship of Relativism. We don’t get to make the rules. God makes the rules. Or rather, God has designed us beautifully, and written his plan for our happiness in our hearts and on our bodies.

 Another common error today is a false sensitivity or tolerance which suggests it’s good to allow people to continue down a dangerous path.  As if misleading people is somehow more loving. Pope Francis describes such an approach as “deceptive mercy,” a false mercy which bandages wounds but fails to heal them. 

The Holy Father ended this first portion of the Synod by beatifying Pope Paul VI – a heroic witness who wrote the brief but prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae.  He was encouraging Catholics to continue in the 2000 year history of celebrating the gift of sexual fruitfulness.  Rather than resorting to contraception, Blessed Paul VI challenged us to find natural means for couples to be generous and responsible parents.

Please understand that I’m not here to condemn anyone.  Together we make up a Church of humble sinners who must constantly strive towards sainthood, even if we stumble along the way.  For all of us, God offers the gift of mercy, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which we will have an opportunity to participate in later today.

***The first Christians required great courage to overcome and transform a vast, pagan world whose ideas about marriage and sexual morality were not unlike those which prevail in our own culture. We can look to great examples like Cecelia, our Saint of the Day for inspiration. She had made a vow to lifelong virginity, but was promised by her parents to Valerian in marriage. On their wedding night she confided, "There is a secret, Valerian, I wish to tell you. I have as a lover an angel of God who jealously guards my body." Valerian was moved to conversion and he, along with his brother, was baptized. When the pagan authorities heard of this they ordered their martyrdom. The men were killed first. When it was Cecilia’s turn they first tried to suffocate her in the baths, but she remained unharmed. Then they attempted to behead her. Even after 3 strikes, she was not killed, but lay their 3 days longer. Though she died in the third century, in 1599 her grave was opened and her body was found lying in the same position – incorrupt – as if she has just breathed forth her soul. Her example of purity and chastity was so powerful that her name is mentioned every time we use the first Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. I would like to leave you with one final thought for families.

I would like to leave you with one final thought for families.  Perhaps some of you have seen the popular TV show “Blue Bloods” starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Walhberg.  It’s a police drama set in New York City.  The show centres on an Irish Catholic family.  Tom Selleck is the police commissioner.  His father the retired commissioner.  His children all work in law enforcement as an assistant district attorney, a detective, and a beat cop.  It’s refreshing to hear of a show that actually depicts the Catholic Church in a positive light.  

One thing especially worthy of note is that in practically every episode, on Sunday evening, the four generations of this Catholic family gather around the dinner table without the distractions of TV, smartphones etc.  They pray grace, share a meal, and spend quality time together. 

There have been recent research studies showing that children who grow up in homes where the family sits around a table and shares a meal at least five times a week are significantly less likely to end up with chemical addictions and involved in crime.  In general, they end up being more successful and live happier lives. 

The experts call it “table fellowship”. And isn’t table-fellowship what Jesus practiced with his disciples, at times with his opponents, with sinners whom he was calling to conversion?  It’s so simple, yet there are so many pressures (busyness, activities) pulling us away from doing what we as Catholics have always known to be good…long before the research was published.

That is why during this conference, we take the time as family to gather around the table of the Lord.  Most certainly we come with reverence before the altar of sacrifice.  But this is also the family dinner table where Jesus Himself nourishes us.  We bring our joys, our sufferings, and our intentions.  We come to pray together intimately for our own families and for our Catholic family worldwide. 

One day may God invite us to join him around his heavenly banquet table.
by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast

Pope Francis "The Lord was knocking at her door..." Homily

Pope Francis preaches at Mass Thursday morning - OSS_ROM
27/11/2014 11:
(Vatican Radio) Reality can be ugly, but despite the suffering, corruption and indifference in today’s world as Christians we must hold our heads high in hope said Pope Francis at Mass Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta.Basing his reflections on the Readings of the Day, Pope Francis spoke of the fate of the two cities of Babylon and Jerusalem. The Pope pointed out that both the First Reading from Revelation and the Gospel from St Luke Chapter 21, draw our attention to the end of this world.
He noted that they speak of the fall of two cities that refused to welcome the Lord and that drifted away from Him.  These two cities fall for different reasons, he said.   Babylon is the "symbol of evil, of sin" and "falls because of its corruption," the city believed itself to be "the mistress of the world and of itself". When " sin accumulates - he warned - you lose the ability to react and you start to rot". This also happens with "corrupt people, who do not have the strength to react":
"Because corruption gives you some happiness, it gives you power and also makes you feel satisfied with yourself.  But it leaves no room for the Lord, for conversion. The city is corrupt ... this word 'corruption' says a lot to us today: not only economic corruption, but corruption with many different sins; the corruption of that pagan spirit, that worldly spirit. The worst [form of ] corruption is the spirit of worldliness!".
This "corrupt culture", he added, "makes you feel as if you were in Heaven, right here" but "within, the corrupt culture is a rotten culture". Babylon is a symbol for “every society, every culture, every person who has distanced themselves from God, who has distanced themselves from love of neighbor, which eventually leads to rot".
Jerusalem, however, Pope Francis said, "falls for another reason". Jerusalem is the bride of the Lord, but is not aware of her Bridegroom’s visit, "she made the Lord weep":
"Babylon falls because of its corruption; Jerusalem because of its distraction, its failing to welcome the Lord who comes to her rescue. She did not feel in need of salvation. She had the writings of the prophets, Moses, and this was enough. But sealed writings! She left no room for salvation: her door was closed to the Lord! The Lord was knocking at her door, but there was no willingness to receive Him, to listen, to be rescued by Him. And so she falls ... "
Pope Francis noted that these two examples, "make us ponder our own lives”: are we like  "corrupt and self- sufficient Babylon" or "distracted" Jerusalem?
The Pope went on to stress that "the message of the Church in these days does not end with destruction: in both texts, there is a promise of hope". Jesus urges us to lift up our heads, not to be "frightened by the pagans." These, "have their time and we have to bear it with patience, as the Lord endured his Passion":
"When we think of the end of time, with all of our sins, with our history, let us think of the banquet which will be freely offered us and let us lift up our heads. Do not give way to depression: Hope! Reality is ugly: there are many, many people, cities and people, so many people who are suffering; many wars, so much hatred, so much envy, so much spiritual worldliness and so much corruption. Yes, it's true! All of this will fall! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be prepared for the banquet that awaits us, always with our heads held high".(Emer McCarthy)