Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What are the 12 Days of Christmas - Hidden Meaning Revealed...SHARE

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS are 12 days from December 25 till January 5 that are spent celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind.
There are several feast days that are traditionally celebrated on the 12 days including:
Dec. 26 - St. Stephen, 1st Martyr of the Church
27 - St. John the Evangelist, Apostle
28 - Holy Innocents, Martyred children by Herod in search of Jesus
28 - The feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph (2014)
29 - St. Thomas Becket, Martyred Bishop of England under Henry II
31 - St. Sylvester I, Pope 314-335 AD
Jan. 1 - Feast of Holy Mary Mother of God
2 - St. Basil and St. Gregory
3 - Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus - commemorating the Circumcision 8 days after Christ's birth
3 - St. Genevieve - Patroness of Paris
4 - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton of USA established Catholic schools
5 - St. John Neumann - Bishop and also established the Catholic school system in the US
6 - Epiphany - 3 Kings visit baby Jesus - Melchior, Gaspar, Balthasar

The playwright Shakespeare wrote his play "Twelfth Night, or what you will" circa 1601 in honor of these days. 
The lyrics of the song "The 12 Days of Christmas", written circa 1645, hold a special meaning. This was written during the persecution of Catholics in England. They serve as a hidden catechesis 
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me…
A Partridge in a Pear Tree  
The partridge is representative of Jesus Christ and the pear tree is the cross. Jesus is symbolically rendered as a mother bird protecting her young. This recalls Christ's words: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . .” (Luke 13:34) 
Two Turtle Doves 
The 2 doves symbolize the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the Old and New Testaments.
Three French Hens
The 3 hens are the Three Persons in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; but can also refer to the three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.
Four Calling Birds
The birds represent the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They tell of the Good News throughout the world.
Five Gold Rings
The 5 rings represent the five books of the Old Testament also known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy.
Six Geese A-laying
The geese symbolize the six days of Creation;  or the 6 Precepts of the Church:
  • to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work;
  • to keep the days of fasting and abstinence appointed by the Church;
  • to go to confession at least once a year;
  • to receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts;
  • to contribute to the support of our pastors;
  • not to marry within a certain degree of kindred nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times.

Seven Swans A-swimming
These are the 7 Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Eight Maids A-milking
Represent the 8 Beatitudes 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)
Nine Ladies Dancing
The 9 choirs of angels;  or the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
Ten Lords A-Leaping
The 10 Commandments: 1) I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me; 2) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; 3) Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day; 4) Honour your father and mother; 5) You shall not kill; 6) You shall not commit adultery; 7) You shall not steal; 8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour; 9) You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife; 10) You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods. 
Eleven Pipers Piping

The 11 Apostles: 1) Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James the Greater, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8 ) Thomas, 9) James the Less, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Jude Thaddaeus. This does not include Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.
Twelve Drummers Drumming
These are the 12 main beliefs of the Catholic Church as dictated in the Apostles Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; 2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; 3) Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, 4) Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. 5) He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; 6) He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; 7) From thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. 8 ) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 9) the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

Wow IKEA Ad Shows what Kids really want for Christmas from you! SHARE

Kids Were Asked To Write Two Letters: One To Santa, The Other To Their Parents. What They Reveal Will Make You Cry.... "All I want for Christmas is...?" The clip documenting the experiment was created by advertising agency McCann Spain under the original title "La Otra Carta," or, "The Other Letter." It features children age four to nine and, according to the producers, is entirely "real and unscripted."
SHARE this to show your friends the truth in Childrens' hearts...   

Free Christmas Movie : The Christmas Shoes : Stars Rob Lowe

The Christmas Shoes (2002) TV Movie - 100 min - Drama - 1 December 2002 (USA) A young boy tries to get a pair of Christmas shoes for his dying mother, while a lawyer tries to deal with the break-up of his marriage. Director: Andy Wolk Writers: Donna Van Liere (book), Wesley Bishop (teleplay) Stars: Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Max Morrow |

Pope Francis writes Christmas Letter to Persecuted "I ask God to grant that all this suffering united to the Lord’s cross..."

23-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 229 

- Francis: must the Middle East suffer the lack of peace?
Francis: must the Middle East suffer the lack of peace?
Vatican City, 23 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a letter to Christians in the Middle East to mark the occasion of Christmas, aware that for many of them “the music of [their] Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs”. The Holy Father comments on the conflicts that continue to afflict a part of the world that has long experienced trials and tribulations, and that is now further tormented by terrorism on an unprecedented scale “which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts”, compelling other ethnic and religious groups to abandon their homelands where they have “the duty and the right to take full part in the life and progress” of their nations. He also underlines the central role of Christians in the East in the life of the Church, which needs the support and prayer of all the ecclesial community, and he launches a renewed appeal to the international community to promote a global solution to the problems of the region. “How much longer”, he asks, “must the Middle East suffer from the lack of peace?”.
The full text of the letter is published here below:
“Dear brothers and sisters: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction, with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God'.
When I thought of writing to you, our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, these words of Saint Paul immediately came to mind. I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs. Nonetheless, the birth of the Son of God in our human flesh is an indescribable mystery of consolation: 'For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people'.
Sadly, afflictions and tribulations have not been lacking, even more recently, in the Middle East. They have been aggravated in the past months because of the continuing hostilities in the region, but especially because of the work of a newer and disturbing terrorist organisation, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts. It has particularly affected a number of you, who have been brutally driven out of your native lands, where Christians have been present since apostolic times.
Nor, in writing to you, can I remain silent about the members of other religious and ethnic groups who are also experiencing persecution and the effects of these conflicts. Every day I follow the new reports of the enormous suffering endured by many people in the Middle East. I think in particular of the children, the young mothers, the elderly, the homeless and all refugees, the starving and those facing the prospect of a hard winter without an adequate shelter. This suffering cries out to God and it calls for our commitment to prayer and concrete efforts to help in any way possible. I want to express to all of you my personal closeness and solidarity, as well as that of the whole Church, and to offer you a word of consolation and hope.
Dear brothers and sisters who courageously bear witness to Jesus in the land blessed by the Lord, our consolation and our hope is Christ himself. I encourage you, then, to remain close to him, like branches on the vine, in the certainty that no tribulation, distress or persecution can separate us from him. May the trials which you are presently enduring strengthen the faith and the fidelity of each and all of you.
I pray that you will be able to experience a fraternal communion modelled on that of the first community of Jerusalem. The unity willed by our Lord is more necessary than ever at these difficult times; it is a gift from God, who appeals to our freedom and awaits our response. May the word of God, the sacraments, prayer and fellowship nourish and continually renew your communities.
The situation in which are you living is a powerful summons to holiness of life, as saints and martyrs of every Christian community have attested. I think with affection and veneration of the pastors and faithful who have lately been killed, often merely for the fact that they were Christians. I think also of those who have been kidnapped, including several Orthodox bishops and priests of various rites. May they soon return, safe and sound, to their homes and communities! I ask God to grant that all this suffering united to the Lord’s cross will bring about much good for the Church and for all the peoples in the Middle East.
In the midst of hostility and conflicts, the communion which you experience in fraternity and simplicity is a sign of God’s Kingdom. I am gratified by the good relations and cooperation which exist between the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches and those of the Orthodox Churches, and also between the faithful of the different Churches. The sufferings which Christians endure contribute immensely to the cause of unity. It is the ecumenism of blood, which demands a trusting abandonment to the working of the Holy Spirit.
May you always bear witness to Jesus amid your difficulties! Your very presence is precious for the Middle East. You are a small flock, but one with a great responsibility in the land where Christianity was born and first spread. You are like leaven in the dough. Even more than the many contributions which the Church makes in the areas of education, healthcare and social services, which are esteemed by all, the greatest source of enrichment in the region is the presence of Christians themselves, your presence. Thank you for your perseverance!
Your efforts to cooperate with people of other religions, with Jews and Muslims, is another sign of the Kingdom of God. The more difficult the situation, the more interreligious dialogue becomes necessary. There is no other way. Dialogue, grounded in an attitude of openness, in truth and love, is also the best antidote to the temptation to religious fundamentalism, which is a threat for followers of every religion. At the same time, dialogue is a service to justice and a necessary condition for the peace which all so ardently desire.
The majority of you live in environments which are predominantly Muslim. You can help your Muslim fellow citizens to present with discernment a more authentic image of Islam, as so many of them desire, reiterating that Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and favours peaceful coexistence on the part of all. This will prove beneficial for them and for all society. The tragic situation faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, as well as by the Yazidi and members of other religious and ethnic communities, demands that all religious leaders clearly speak out to condemn these crimes unanimously and unambiguously, and to denounce the practice of invoking religion in order to justify them.
Dear brothers and sisters, almost all of you are native citizens of your respective countries, and as such you have the duty and the right to take full part in the life and progress of your nations. Within the region you are called to be artisans of peace, reconciliation and development, to promote dialogue, to build bridges in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and to proclaim the Gospel of peace, in a spirit of ready cooperation with all national and international authorities.
In a special way I would like to express my esteem and gratitude to you, dear brother patriarchs, bishops, priests, and men and women religious, who accompany the journey of your communities with loving concern. How valuable is the presence and work of those completely consecrated to the Lord, serving him in their brothers and sisters, especially those in greatest need, and thus witnessing to his grandeur and his infinite love! How important is the presence of pastors in the midst of their flocks, especially in times of trouble!
To the young I send a paternal embrace. I pray for your faithfulness, your human and Christian development, and the attainment of your hopes and dreams. I repeat to you: 'Do not be afraid or ashamed to be Christian. Your relationship with Jesus will help you to cooperate generously with your fellow citizens, whatever their religious affiliation'.
To the elderly I express my respect and esteem. You are the memory of your peoples. I pray that this memory will become a seed which can grow and benefit generations yet to come.
I wish to encourage all of you who work in the very important fields of charity and education. I admire the work you do, especially through Caritas and other Catholic charitable organisations in the different countries, in providing help to anyone who asks, without discrimination. Through this witness of charity you help support the life of society and you contribute to the peace for which the region hungers as if for bread. Education too is critical for the future of society. How important it is for promoting the culture of encounter, respect for the dignity of each person and the absolute value of every human being!
Dear brothers and sisters, even though you may not be numerous, you play a significant role in the Church and in the countries where you live. The entire Church is close to you and supports you, with immense respect and affection for your communities and your mission. We will continue to assist you with our prayers and with every other means at our disposal.
At the same time I continue to urge the international community to address your needs and those of other suffering minorities, above all by promoting peace through negotiation and diplomacy, for the sake of stemming and stopping as soon as possible the violence which has already caused so much harm. I once more condemn in the strongest possible terms the traffic of arms. Instead, what are needed are plans and initiatives for peace, so as to further a global solution to the region’s problems. How much longer must the Middle East suffer from the lack of peace? We must not resign ourselves to conflicts as if change were not possible! In the spirit of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the subsequent prayer meeting in the Vatican with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents, I encourage you to continue to pray for peace in the Middle East. May those forced to leave their lands be able to return and to live in dignity and security. May humanitarian aid increase and always have as its central concern the good of each individual and each country, respecting their identity and without any other agendas. May the entire Church and the international community become ever more conscious of the importance of your presence in the region.
Dear Christian brothers and sisters of the Middle East, you have an enormous responsibility and in meeting it you are not alone. That is why I wanted to write to you, to encourage you and to let you know how precious your presence and your mission are in the land which the Lord has blessed. Your witness means much to me! Thank you! I pray for you and your intentions every day. I thank you because I know that, amid your sufferings, you also pray for me and for my service to the Church. I do hope to have the chance to come to you in person and to visit and to comfort you. May the Virgin Mary, the All-Holy Mother of God and our Mother, accompany you and protect you always with her tender love. To all of you and your families I impart my Apostolic Blessing, and I pray that your celebration of Christmas will be filled with the love and peace of Christ our Saviour”.

Breaking News New President of Tunisia - Beji Caid Essebsi wins 1st Democratic Election in North Africa

AsiaNews IT report: Despite suspected ties to the old regime, Essebsi is the new president of Tunisia
Beji Caid Essebsi wins more than 55 per cent of the vote. More than 3.1 million voters cast their ballots with a turnout of around 60 per cent. The new president dedicates the victory to "the martyrs of Tunisia," stating that he "will be president for all Tunisians". His challenger admits defeat and pledges cooperation for the sake of "national unity". The economy and Islamism are the main challenges.

Tunis (AsiaNews) - Beji Caid Essebsi, a veteran political leader and presidential candidate for the anti-Islamist party's Nidaa Tounes, is the official winner in the first democratic presidential election in the history of Tunisia.
Final results confirm what exit polls had indicated yesterday, namely a large Essebsi victory over his challenger in the runoff, Moncef Marzouki, who initially accused the new president of "undemocratic" moves and only later conceded defeat.
Essebsi, 88, won 55.68 per cent of the vote. More than 3.1 million voters cast their ballots for a turnout of 60 per cent.
Sunday's presidential election was first democratic presidential poll since independence (1956). It follows the revolution of 2011 that ousted dictator Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali and kicked off the Arab Spring in the rest of the Middle East.
"I will be president for all Tunisians," Essebsi said in an address to the nation on Sunday, adding, "I dedicate my victory to the martyrs of Tunisia".
He then thanked "the former president [and challenger] Moncef Marzouki, who called me a little while ago and expressed his congratulations. I told him," he noted, "that the Tunisian people still needs me and him, and his advice."
Whilst not denying the deep divisions, Marzouki called on his supporters, in particular in southern Tunisia, to accept the results and "go home" for the sake of "national unity" and in the greater good of the country. "These are the rules of democracy," he said.
Still he did complain about alleged vote irregularities, but said he would not challenge the results in court for the sake of the country's stability and the quick establishment of a new government.
Critics view the leader of the Nidaa Tounes, which has largest share of seats in the new parliament, as a representative of the old regime, but with an injection of Botox.
Under a constitution passed earlier this year, the new president will have restricted powers.
He will be commander-in-chief of the armed forces but can appoint or sack senior officers only in consultation with the prime minister. He will also set foreign policy in consultation with the prime minister, represent the state and ratify treaties.
After receiving greetings and congratulations from world leaders, Essebsi now faces a delicate situation in the country.
In particular, Tunisia's economy remains a major challenge given widespread poverty among Tunisians and weak growth, a situation compounded by security issues related to growing Islamist and jihadist movements.

A few days before the election, the militant group Islamic state had in fact threatened attacks and bombings. Shared from AsiaNews IT

Latest News from Vatican Information Service and Pope Francis

22-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 228 

Summary (Image share Radio Vaticana)
- Francis: a Curia that is outdated, sclerotic or indifferent to others is an ailing body
- To employees of the Holy See: “Transform this Holy Nativity into an opportunity to heal”
- Angelus: at Christmas, Jesus calls out again to the heart of every Christian
- The Pope receives the Community of Pope John XXIII and praises its generosity in helping people rise above material and moral degradation
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Francis: a Curia that is outdated, sclerotic or indifferent to others is an ailing body
Vatican City, 22 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.
“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments:
The first is “the sickness of considering oneself 'immortal', 'immune' or 'indispensable', neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.
The second is “'Martha-ism', or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting 'the better part' of sitting at Jesus' feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that 'there is a time for everything'”.
Then there is “the sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ”.
“The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation”.
The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.
“Spiritual Alzheimer's disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the 'first love': this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one's own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”.
“The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the colour of one's robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life. … It is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false 'mysticism' and a false 'quietism'”.
Then there is “existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.
The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.
“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.
“The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.
“The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress”.
“The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself. This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a 'cancer' that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brothers”.
Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.
After listing these ailments, Pope Francis continued, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live 'speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love'”.
“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”.
To employees of the Holy See: “Transform this Holy Nativity into an opportunity to heal”
Vatican City, 22 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis met with employees of the Holy See, whom he thanked fervently for their work during the last year. He dedicated some special words to the Italians present, as “during all the history of the Church and the Roman Curia they have worked regularly with a generous and faithful spirit, placing at the service of the Holy See and Peter's Successor their unique laboriousness and filial devotion, offering the Church great Saints, Popes, martyrs, missionaries and artists that no passing cloud in history will be able to obscure”. He also thanked workers from other countries, “who generously work in the Curia, far from their homelands and their families, representing for the Curia the face of the Church's 'Catholicity'”.
The Pope encouraged those present to consider a text that he had mentioned in his discourse to the Roman Curia shortly beforehand, treating it as a “starting point for a fruitful examination of conscience in preparation for the Holy Nativity and the New Year. He exhorted them to receive the Sacrament of Confession “with a docile heart, to receive the mercy of the Lord, who knocks on the door of our heart, in the joy of the family”.
Francis emphasised the word “care” and explained that “caring means manifesting diligent and thoughtful interest, that directs our heart and our activities towards someone or something; it means looking with attention to those who are in need of care without thinking of anything else; it means accepting to give or receive care”. To “transform this Holy Nativity into a true opportunity to heal every wound and every lack”, he urged those present to take care of their spiritual life, their relationship with God, and to look after their family life and relationships with others. This means caring about one's way of speaking, purifying language of offensive words; healing the wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness; caring for one's work, performing it with enthusiasm, humility and passion; curing oneself of envy, lust, hatred and the negative feelings that devour our inner peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people; curing oneself of the rancour that leads us to revenge and the idleness that leads to existential euthanasia. Caring for the poorest, the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and foreigners, and making sure that the Holy Nativity never becomes a celebration of commercial consumerism, appearances and pointless gifts, or superfluous waste, but rather of the joy of welcoming the Lord into the creche of the heart”.
“Imagine how our world would change if each one of us began straight away”, he remarked. “This is the true Nativity: the feast of the poverty of the God Who annihilated Himself, assuming the nature of a slave; of God Who served at the table; of God Who hid Himself from the intelligent and the wise and instead revealed Himself to the smallest, the simple and the poor. It is above all the feast of Peace brought to earth by the baby Jesus, … the peace the Angels sang”. He continued, “Peace needs our enthusiasm, our care, to warm our frozen hearts, to encourage distrusting souls and to brighten jaded eyes with the light of Jesus' face”.
The Pope concluded by asking forgiveness for his shortcomings, and those of his colleagues, and also for the various scandals “that do a great deal of damage”, he commented. “Forgive me and, please, pray for me”.
Angelus: at Christmas, Jesus calls out again to the heart of every Christian
Vatican City, 21 December 2014 (VIS) – On the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, with Christmas just around the corner, the Gospel narrates the Angel's annunciation to Mary and the Virgin's “yes” that made possible the Incarnation, the revelation of a mystery “enveloped in silence for eternity”. Before this morning's Angelus prayer, Pope Francis addressed the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, focusing on two essential aspects of Mary's attitude as a model to prepare for Christmas.
The first is her faith, which consists of listening to the Word of God in order to surrender herself entirely to it, with full willingness of both mind and heart. “In her 'yes', full of faith, Mary does not know which road she will have to embark upon, how much pain she will have to suffer, what risks she will run. But she is aware that it is the Lord Who asks her to entrust herself entirely to Him, and she surrenders herself to His love. This is Mary's faith”.
“Another aspect is the capacity of the Mother of Christ to recognise the time of God. Mary teaches us to seize the favourable moment in which Jesus passes into our life and asks for a prompt and generous response”.
“And Jesus passes”, added the Pope, “because the mystery of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, which historically took place more than two thousand years ago, occurs as a spiritual event on the 'today' of the Liturgy. The Word, that finds a home in the virginal womb of Mary, during the celebration of the Nativity calls out to the heart of every Christian; it passes, and knocks on the door. Each one of us is called to answer, like Mary, with a personal and sincere 'yes', placing ourselves entirely at the disposal of God and His mercy, His love”.
“How many times does Jesus pass into our lives!”, he exclaimed. “And how many times he sends us an angel, and how often we do not realise, because we are too preoccupied, immersed in our thoughts, in our affairs and even, these days, in our preparations for Christmas, to realise that He passes and knocks at the door of our heart, asking for welcome, asking for a 'yes', like that of Mary”.
“A saint once said, 'I am afraid that the Lord will pass'. Do you know why he was afraid? He was afraid he would not welcome Him, that he would let Him pass by. When we feel in our heart, 'I would like to be a better person', “I feel remorse for doing that”, it is the Lord Who is calling. He makes you feel this: the wish to be better, the wish to stay closer to others and to God. If you feel this, then stop. It is the Lord Who is there! And pray, perhaps go to Confession, to clean up a little … this does you good. But keep in mind: if you feel this desire to improve, it is He Who is calling: do not let Him pass by”.
Francis also recalled, in the mystery of the Nativity, the silent presence of Joseph and emphasised the example that he and Mary offer as an invitation to receive with total openness the Lord Jesus, “who for love made Himself into our brother, and came to bring light to the world”, as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds: 'on earth peace, good will toward men'”.
“The precious gift of Christmas is peace”, he concluded. “Christ, Who is our true peace, calls to our hearts to give us peace, the peace of the soul. Let us open the doors to Christ”.
The Pope receives the Community of Pope John XXIII and praises its generosity in helping people rise above material and moral degradation
Vatican City, 20 December 2014 (VIS) – Today in the Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received 7,500 members of the Community of John Paul XXIII, founded by the Italian priest Oreste Benzi in 1968. The association, currently present in 34 countries, is concerned with situations of marginalisation and poverty and promotes the non-violent removal of the root causes. It follows the principle of sharing of life in a number of contexts: minors and young people in difficult conditions, the disabled, detainees, itinerant communities, drug users, alcoholics, those without fixed abode, the elderly, the sick, mothers with problems and women forced into prostitution.
During the audience, various members of the Community narrated to the Pope their experiences, which as Francis said, spoke of “slavery and liberation, of the selfishness of those who imagine they can build up their lives by exploiting others and taking advantage of the generosity of those who help others to rise up from material and moral degradation. They are experiences that shed light on the many forms of poverty that unfortunately afflict our world, and they reveal the most dangerous misery of all, the cause of all others: distance from God, the presumption of being able to do without Him. This is the blind misery of those who believe that the aim of their existence is material wealth, the pursuit of power and pleasure, and the enslavement of the lives of others to these objectives”.
“Yes, my friends, it is the presence of the Lord that makes the difference between the freedom of good and the slavery of evil … it broadens horizons … and gives us the strength necessary to overcome difficulties and obstacles. … Faith, indeed, moves the mountains of indifference and apathy, of disinterest and sterile self-centredness. … Faith opens the doors of charity … giving us the courage to act according to the example of the Good Samaritan. Fr. Oresti Benzi, the founder of your association, understood this well. His love for the least and for the poor, for the excluded and the abandoned, was rooted in his love for Jesus crucified, Who made Himself poor for us. … From the mission of involving adolescents and encouraging their interest in the figure of Jesus, there was born the idea of organising for them a vital and radical encounter with Him as a hero and friend, through testimonies of life, fully demonstrating the Christian message, but in a joyful or even joking fashion”.
“In this way your community was born, now present in 34 countries with its family-houses, its social and educational cooperatives, its houses of prayer, services for accompanying difficult motherhood and other initiatives”, continued the Pope. “Providence has enabled you to grow, demonstrating the vitality of the charism of your Founder, who liked to say that “to get onto your feet, you need to kneel first”.
Pope Francis concluded by inviting those present to be attentive to their spiritual formation, and to partake frequently of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, as “it fills the heart with the love for God that is the wellspring of charity towards our brothers and sisters”.
On Saturday, 20 December, the Holy Father received in audience:
- His Royal Highness Jaime Bernardo, Prince of Bourbon de Parme, ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence;
- Clelio Galassi, ambassador of the Republic of San Marino to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence;
- Eduardo Felix Valdes, ambassador of the Republic of Argentina to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 22 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has
- appointed Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Indianapolis, U.S.A., as bishop of Burlington (area 23,651, population 651,000, Catholics 123,700, priests 133, permanent deacons 43, religious 149), U.S.A.
- appointed Bishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Kaolack, Senegal, as archbishop of Dakar (area 4,803, population 3,677,000, Catholics 455,000, priests 168, religious 645), Senegal. He succeeds Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Basel, Switzerland, presented by Bishop Martin Gachter upon reaching the age limit.
- erected the new diocese of Kuzhithurai (area 915, population 855,485, Catholics 264,222, priests 131, religious 269) India, with territory taken from the diocese of Kottar, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Madurai. He appointed Fr. Jerome Dhas Varuvel, S.D.B., as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Paduvoor, India in 1951, gave his perpetual vows in 1981, and was ordained a priest in 1985. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics and theology, and a licentiate in education from the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome, and has served in a number of roles, including vice rector of the novitiate in Vellakinar, rector of the pre-novitiate in Tirupattur and Maiyam, dean of the Salesian student body in Trichy, parish priest and rector of the con-Cathedral of Madras-Mylapore, provincial counsellor, director of Kalvi Solai in Tirupattur and in Ennore, and director of Mount Don Bosco in Thalavadi. He is currently master of novices in Yeallagiri Hills, Vellore.
On Saturday, 20 December, the Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos of Gomez Palacio, Mexico, as bishop of Ciudad Juarez (area 29,639, population 2,727,000, Catholics 2,318,000, priests 116, permanent deacons 19, religious 206), Mexico. He succeeds Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue as camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church;
- Archbishop Giampiero Gloder, apostolic nuncio and president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, as vice camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.

Today's Mass Readings : Tuesday December 23, 2014

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Lectionary: 199

Reading 1MAL 3:1-4, 23-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Lo, I will send you
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.

Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5AB, 8-9, 10 AND 14

R. (see Luke 21:28) Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church;
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 1:57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

Christmas Novena : Day 7 : Official Plenary Indulgence

Opening Prayer:

V. O God, come to my assistance.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Day 7 Prayers

The Presentation
O most sweet infant Jesus, presented in the temple
by the Virgin Mary, embraced by Simeon, and revealed
to the Jews by Anna the prophetess. 

Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
Hail Mary...

Day 1: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/official-novena-for-christmas-day-1.html
Day 2: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/novena-for-christmas-day-2-plenary.html
Day 3: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-novena-day-3-plenary.html
Day 4: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-novena-day-4-plenary.html
Day 5: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-novena-day-5-plenary.html
Day 6: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-novena-day-6-plenary.html
Day 7: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-novena-day-7-plenary.html
Day 8: http://jceworld.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-novena-day-8-plenary.html
Day 9: 

NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.