Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Saint December 31 : St. Sylvester : Pope

Feast Day:December 31
Died:31 December 335 at Rome, Italy
Patron of:Feroleto Antico, Italy

St Sylvester, whom God appointed to govern his holy church in the first years of her temporal prosperity and triumph over her persecuting enemies, was a native of Rome and son to Rufinus and Justa. According to the general rule with those who are saints from their cradle, he received early and in his infancy the strongest sentiments of Christian piety from the example, instructions, and care of a virtuous mother, who for his education in the sound maxims and practice of religion, and in sacred literature, put him young into the hands of Charitius, or Carinus, a priest of an unexceptionable character and great abilities. Being formed under an excellent master, he entered among the clergy of Rome and was ordained priest by Pope Marcellinus, before the peace of the church was disturbed by Diocletian and his associate in the empire. His behaviour in those turbulent and dangerous times recommended him to the public esteem, and he saw the triumph of the cross by the victory which Constantine gained over Maxentius within sight of the city of Rome, on the 28th of October 312. Pope Melchiades dying in January 314, St. Sylvester was exalted to the pontificate, and the same year commissioned four legates, two priests, and two deacons to represent him at the great council of the Western church, held at Arles in August, in which the schism of the Donatists, which had then subsisted seven years, and the heresy of the Quartodecimans were condemned, and many important points of discipline regulated in twenty-two canons. These decisions were sent by the council before it broke up, with an honourable letter, to Pope Sylvester, and were confirmed by him and published to the whole church. The general council of Nice was assembled against Arianism in 325. Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret say that Pope Sylvester was not able to come to it in person on account of his great age, but that he sent his legates. Gelasius of Cyzicus mentions that in it "Osius held the place of the Bishop of Rome, together with the Roman priests Vito and Vincentius." These three are named the first in subscriptions of the bishops in the editions of the acts of that council and in Socrates, who expressly places them before Alexander, patriarch of Alexandria, and Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch. St. Sylvester greatly advanced religion by a punctual discharge of all the duties of his exalted station during the space of twenty-one years and eleven months; and died on the 31st of December 335. He was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla. Pope Sergius II translated his body and deposited it under the altar in a church dedicated to God in his memory. Mention is made of an altar consecrated to God in his honour at Verona, about the year 500; and his name occurs in the ancient Martyrology called St. Jerome's, published by Florentinius, and in those of Bede, Ado, Usuard, &c. Pope Gregory IX, in 1227, made his festival general in the Latin church; the Greeks keep it on the 10th January.

After a prodigious effusion of Christian blood almost all the world over, during the space of three hundred years, the persecuting kingdoms at length laid down their arms and submitted to the faith and worship of God crucified for us. This ought to be to us a subject of thanksgiving. But do our lives express this faith? Does it triumph in our hearts? It is one of its first precepts that in all our actions we make God our beginning and end, and have only his divine honour and his holy law in view. We ought, therefore, so to live that the days, hours, and moments of the year may form a crown made up of good works, which we may offer to God. Our forgetfulness of him who is our last end, in almost all that we -do, calls for a sacrifice of compunction at the close of the year; but this cannot be perfect or acceptable to God unless we sincerely devote our whole hearts and lives to his holy love for the time to come. Let us therefore examine into the sources of former omissions, failures, and transgressions, and take effectual measures for our amendment and for the perfect regulation of all our affections and actions for the future, or that part of our life which may remain.

SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/S/stsylvester.asp#ixzz1iF2KhU00

Latest News from Vatican Information and Pope Francis

30-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 229 

- Wisdom of the heart to recognise the image of God in the sick
- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for January
- Other Pontifical Acts
Wisdom of the heart to recognise the image of God in the sick
Vatican City, 30 December 2014 (VIS) – The Pope's message for the 23rd World Day of the Sick 2015 begins with a phrase from the Book of Job: “I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame”, explained from the perspective of “sapientia cordis”, the wisdom of the heart that “is not theoretical, abstract knowledge, the product of reasoning”, Pope Francis remarked, but rather “a way of seeing things infused by the Holy Spirit in the minds and hearts of those who are sensitive to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters and who can see in them the image of God”.
World Day of the Sick, instituted by St. John Paul II in 1992, is held on 11 February, feast day of the Virgin of Lourdes. The full text of the Message is published below:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this, the twenty-third World Day of the Sick, begun by Saint John Paul II, I turn to all of you who are burdened by illness and are united in various ways to the flesh of the suffering Christ, as well as to you, professionals and volunteers in the field of health care.
This year’s theme invites us to reflect on a phrase from the Book of Job: 'I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame'. I would like to consider this phrase from the perspective of 'sapientia cordis' – the wisdom of the heart.
1. This 'wisdom' is not theoretical, abstract knowledge, the product of reasoning. Rather, it is, as Saint James describes it in his Letter, 'pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity'. It is a way of seeing things infused by the Holy Spirit in the minds and the hearts of those who are sensitive to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters and who can see in them the image of God. So let us take up the prayer of the Psalmist: 'Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom'. This 'sapientia cordis', which is a gift of God, is a compendium of the fruits of the World Day of the Sick.
2. Wisdom of the heart means serving our brothers and sisters. Job’s words: 'I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame', point to the service which this just man, who enjoyed a certain authority and a position of importance amongst the elders of his city, offered to those in need. His moral grandeur found expression in the help he gave to the poor who sought his help and in his care for orphans and widows.
Today too, how many Christians show, not by their words but by lives rooted in a genuine faith, that they are 'eyes to the blind' and 'feet to the lame'! They are close to the sick in need of constant care and help in washing, dressing and eating. This service, especially when it is protracted, can become tiring and burdensome. It is relatively easy to help someone for a few days but it is difficult to look after a person for months or even years, in some cases when he or she is no longer capable of expressing gratitude. And yet, what a great path of sanctification this is! In those difficult moments we can rely in a special way on the closeness of the Lord, and we become a special means of support for the Church’s mission.
3. Wisdom of the heart means being with our brothers and sisters. Time spent with the sick is holy time. It is a way of praising God who conforms us to the image of his Son, who 'came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'. Jesus himself said: 'I am among you as one who serves'.
With lively faith let us ask the Holy Spirit to grant us the grace to appreciate the value of our often unspoken willingness to spend time with these sisters and brothers who, thanks to our closeness and affection, feel more loved and comforted. How great a lie, on the other hand, lurks behind certain phrases which so insist on the importance of 'quality of life' that they make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!
4. Wisdom of the heart means going forth from ourselves towards our brothers and sisters. Occasionally our world forgets the special value of time spent at the bedside of the sick, since we are in such a rush; caught up as we are in a frenzy of doing, of producing, we forget about giving ourselves freely, taking care of others, being responsible for others. Behind this attitude there is often a lukewarm faith which has forgotten the Lord’s words: 'You did it unto me’.
For this reason, I would like once again to stress 'the absolute priority of “going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters” as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift'. The missionary nature of the Church is the wellspring of an 'effective charity and a compassion which understands, assists and promotes'.
5. Wisdom of the heart means showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters while not judging them. Charity takes time. Time to care for the sick and time to visit them. Time to be at their side like Job’s friends: 'And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great'. Yet Job’s friends harboured a judgement against him: they thought that Job’s misfortune was a punishment from God for his sins. True charity is a sharing which does not judge, which does not demand the conversion of others; it is free of that false humility which, deep down, seeks praise and is self-satisfied about whatever good it does.
Job’s experience of suffering finds its genuine response only in the cross of Jesus, the supreme act of God’s solidarity with us, completely free and abounding in mercy. This response of love to the drama of human pain, especially innocent suffering, remains for ever impressed on the body of the risen Christ; his glorious wounds are a scandal for faith but also the proof of faith.
Even when illness, loneliness and inability make it hard for us to reach out to others, the experience of suffering can become a privileged means of transmitting grace and a source for gaining and growing in “sapientia cordis”. We come to understand how Job, at the end of his experience, could say to God: 'I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you'. People immersed in the mystery of suffering and pain, when they accept these in faith, can themselves become living witnesses of a faith capable of embracing suffering, even without being able to understand its full meaning.
6. I entrust this World Day of the Sick to the maternal protection of Mary, who conceived and gave birth to Wisdom incarnate: Jesus Christ, our Lord.
O Mary, Seat of Wisdom, intercede as our Mother for all the sick and for those who care for them! Grant that, through our service of our suffering neighbours, and through the experience of suffering itself, we may receive and cultivate true wisdom of heart!
With this prayer for all of you, I impart my Apostolic Blessing”.
Pope Francis' prayer intentions for January
Vatican City, 30 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for January 2015 is: “That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace”.
His intention for evangelisation is: “That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal”.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 30 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. John Saw Yaw Han as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Yangon (area 47,192, population 14,620,000, Catholics 69,120, priests 102, religious 438), Myanmar. The bishop-elect was born in Homalim, Myanmar in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He studied philosophy and theology at the St. Joseph national major seminary, and has served in a number of roles, including missionary “fidei donum” in the diocese of Kentung, lecturer in philosophy at the national major seminary in Mandalay; assistant at the St. Lazarus Church in Insein and St. Mary's Cathedral in Yangon; lecturer in theology at the national major seminary in Yangon; and rector at the minor seminary of Bago. He is currently rector of the national major seminary in Yangon.

200 Volunteers Feed Homeless on Christmas Day in Australia - 250000 Free meals per year....

Vinnies Brings Christmas Cheer to City's Homeless

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Dec 2014

Giving to Vinnies will help turn despair into hope this Christmas
The balloons, holly, streamers and Christmas lights are about to go up while the cold room at St Vincent de Paul Society's Matthew Talbot Hostel at Woolloomooloo is filled to overflowing with hams, turkeys, Christmas puddings, cakes, bags of potatoes, pumpkin and 24 kilos of peas.
On Christmas morning, 200 volunteers will arrive and the rest of the day will be devoted to giving Sydney's homeless and families doing it tough a Christmas to remember.
At the Matthew Talbot Hostel, staff and volunteers will serve up more than 600 meals throughout the day, while at Vincentian House in Surry Hills, 44 families living in temporary crisis accommodation will also be given an extra special Christmas. Each child will receive a special Santa pack of toys and treats.

Volunteers help Vinnies serve 250000 meals each year to Sydney's homeless
With typical sensitivity and tact, each toy-filled Santa pack will be quietly passed to each parent so it is the parent rather than the charity who gives their child his or her Christmas presents.
"It is what each of the parents would be do if they weren't going through hard times, and had the wherewithal to buy their children gifts," says Jay Gleeson, Services Administrator at Matthew Talbot.
Each day, at its Matthew Talbot kitchen in Woolloomooloo, Vinnies staff and volunteers prepare and serve between 400 and 450 meals to the city's homeless.
"Matthew Talbot Homeless Services is so large that just to stay open we rely on 200 volunteers each week day and weekend. They are absolutely vital and an essential part of the support and help we are able to give men, women and families not just at Christmas but throughout the year," Jay says.

Each year Vinnies puts on a slap up Christmas dinner for the homeless
On any given night of the year across Australia at least 105,000 have no shelter and no where safe to bed down. Instead they sleep rough in parks, on the streets or in a car.
Of this number more than 33,000 are children.
The popular image of a homeless person is of an aged man in rags befuddled by years of drink and drugs. But this is far from the reality.
Disturbingly not only is 30 - 35 the average age of those experiencing homelessness, but many are victims of today's fast changing world where traditional jobs are being replaced by the rapid advances in technology, and where companies are downsizing with thousands given reduced shifts or laid off completely.
The impact of today's technological revolution is as far reaching and life changing as the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century.
CEO of Vinnies NSW, Michael Perusco says it is not unemployment so much as under employment that is causing deep concern across the country. Thousands want to work and are keen to work but they cannot get enough shifts to make a living wage, let alone support their families, he says.

Michael Perusco CEO of Vinnies NSW
This is further exacerbated by Sydney's skyrocketing real estate, high rents and lack of affordable housing. 
As always on Christmas Day, Vinnies NSW and the team of staff and volunteers at Matthew Talbot Homeless Services are making sure that they provide an all day feast.
The day will start with a cooked breakfast of fruit juice, fried eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes, toast and jam.  Then after a 9 am Mass celebrated by Bishop Terry Brady who began volunteering at Matthew Talbot more than 50 years ago as a teenager, there will be morning tea with festive biscuits and Christmas cake.

Lunchtime is the main Christmas dinner which features roast turkey, baked ham, homemade gravy, roast potatoes, minted and buttered peas and honeyed pumpkin. After which, those at Matthew Talbot and families at Vincentian House will enjoy Christmas pudding with custard and ice cream.
Afternoon tea is served later and includes more special treats and Christmas cake and in the evening a supper of roast beef and salad will be served.

No shortage of volunteers at Christmas but more needed during the year
As with all meals served in the Matthew Talbot Hostel kitchen, much of the food has been generously donated by corporations such as Manildra who supplied the 40 hams and 25 turkeys for this year's Christmas dinner. But much of the food throughout the year is also the result of the generosity of individuals, families or groups of friends.
Although at Christmas there is never a shortage of volunteers, Jay says throughout the year volunteers are also needed. So too are donations of food and he suggests a great way of contributing is to get together with a group of friends or extended family and pitch in and sponsor meals for the homeless at different times throughout the year.
"All they have to do is ring us up and ask what we'd like to cook. Then once the meal is sponsored we can go ahead and organise the 45 kg of lamb or beef or 70 chickens for the guys and other bits and pieces for one of the main meals of the week," he says.
Another way to help those in need and the vital work of Vinnies' staff and hundreds of volunteers across NSW is to donate to Vinnies' annual Christmas Appeal.

The Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo cares for more than 400 homeless men each day
Vinnies NSW is gearing up to assist 40,000 people providing around $3.7 in support. This will include as much as $2 million in food and $1 million to help people cover energy bills and utilities.
Support will also include gift hampers and toys as well as the hand of friendship and much needed emotional support for families and individuals doing it tough.
"Christmas can be extremely stressful and a difficult time for families who are struggling on the margins and I urge Australians to dig deep and donate to help them and to help us reach our 2014 Christmas Appeal target of $1.1 million," says Yolanda Saiz, spokeswoman for Vinnies NSW.
To find out more about Vinnies and to donate to the Christmas Appeal log on to www.vinnies.org.au

Death Toll from ISIS nears 2000 - Please PRAY for Peace

AsiaNews report: Islamic State blamed for almost 2,000 executions in less than six months
Of those killed, 1,175 were civilians, including women and children. Almost half of the victims are members of the Sunni Shaitat tribe, which rebelled against the Islamic State domination. The group also executed 120 of its own members, who wanted to return to their home countries.

London (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group has murdered nearly 2,000 people in Syria - half of them from an important Sunni tribe - since announcing its "caliphate" on 28 June, a monitoring group said yesterday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said that it has documented the execution by the Islamic State of 1,878 people in Syria.
Victims were shot dead, beheaded or stoned to death in the provinces of Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Hama, Homs, Hasakeh and Raqa.
Of those killed, 1,175 were civilians, including four children and eight women.
The dead include 930 members of the Shaitat tribe which rose up against IS in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor in the summer.
IS also executed 502 Syrian soldiers and pro-regime militiamen, and 80 members of the rival al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria.
The Observatory said that the jihadist group also killed around 120 of its own members, mostly for trying to flee to their home countries.
It warns that the number of people killed is almost certainly higher since many more people are still missing or unaccounted for.

IS often videotapes its killings and posts footage on the Internet to sow fear among civilians and rival groups, as well as attract new recruits. Shared from Asia News IT

How to Recognize and Counteract Anti-Religious Indoctrination

Special to JCE CatholicNewsWorld by Scott Ventureya:
 On Anti-Religious Indoctrination
How to know Recognize Anti-Religious Indoctrination
First, whenever an educator is adamant of pushing an ideology on their students as if it were commonsensical and widely established (despite it obviously not being so, such as the inexistence of God).  Students should be alarmed when an educator makes such claims without substantiating it with good arguments and evidence.
Second, whenever an educator denies truth, as was previously discussed, this should suggest an anti-religious agenda may be at work. This includes denial of well-established laws of logic which are necessary for any scientific endeavour let alone communication.  The laws of logic cannot be proved but must be presupposed, without this communication would be literally impossible. 
Third, the expounding of moral relativism, related to the second reason, it is a form of truth denial, namely, moral truth. An important distinction between subjective and objective truths must be made. Subjective truth is based on internal preferences whereas objective truths are based on the outside world and cannot be altered based on our desires, regardless of how much we wish.[1]  Moral relativists deny objective truths and reduce everything to the subjective level of internal preferences then proceed by rationalizing them. For obvious reasons such a view put into practice will have devastating consequences.
Fourth, the advocating of scientism – a belief that science can account for all types of knowledge. It is commonplace particularly in the university setting for professors to pin science against religious belief and even sometimes philosophical reflection, as if it were a scientific claim.  Scientists who do this unwittingly are expounding philosophical or even a-theological positions of their own. As the philosopher Peter van Inwagen explicates: “When it comes to classifying arguments, philosophy trumps science: if an argument has a single “philosophical” premise (a single premise that requires a philosophical defense), it is a philosophical argument.”[2] 
Fifth, the relentless exposition of naturalistic (the view that all that exists are natural phenomena; no God(s), souls or spiritual beings) ideologies while mocking religious and supernatural concepts. 
Sixth, the presentation and defense of liberal ethical ideas such as abortion, homosexual marriage and euthanasia.  If your child is being exposed to this at a young age, approach the educators and the school administration. 
How to Counteract Such Indoctrination
There exists a wealth of resources to counteract each of these methods of anti-religious indoctrination.[3]  It is important to read as widely as possible from differing viewpoints on issues pertaining to truth, relativism, the existence of God, religion, evolution, creation, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and science in general in order to gain a nuanced and balanced perspective.  It is vital to understand what you stand for and what you stand against.  This is a proper first step in countering attacks against what you believe.
Students can challenge indoctrination by asking their professors simple but logical questions. Greg Koukl refers to this as the Colombo tactic: “[going] on the offensive in an inoffensive way by using carefully selected questions to productively advance the conversation. Simply put, never make a statement, at least at first, when a question will do the job.”[4]  By doing this one can gather more information from them, reveal inconsistencies and leaps in logic through solely asking appropriate questions.  However, just one or two questions might suffice to get the instructor and the students thinking.  For example, if educators are speaking about evolution, ask them to define what they mean by such a term since it has several different meanings which are more often than not conflated with one another.
Parents and older students should be vigilant of educators who deny truth (alongside other forms of anti-religious indoctrination) if consistent, they will not be able to discern the difference between the grade of A and F. I believe it is absolutely important for students to question educators (in a respectful manner) when they present unwarranted conclusions.  The implications are great if such conclusions remain unchallenged. Why should a democratic society remain silent about the anti-religious indoctrination of students in the schools we fund through our tax dollars? Equipping young minds to ask the right questions is essential.  The retired law professor Phillip Johnson pointedly stated in his book The Right Questions: Truth Meaning & Public Debate: “the questions I am asking are the ones they should be asking, and that their education to this point has prepared them to ask the wrong questions [instead of] the right ones.”[5]
Typically, any dissent from these ideas are stifled and met with vitriol.  There have been attempts to silence dissenters with fear tactics. This does not create greater understanding and is poor pedagogy. Parents and older students should be vigilant of educators who push such ideologies on their students. It is the first step forward to overcome anti-religious indoctrination.
This is Part 2 - for part 1 see
Scott Ventureyra
by: Scott Ventureyra is a doctoral candidate in theology at Dominican University College in Ottawa, Canada.


[1] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), p. 28.
[2] Peter van Inwagen, “Can Science Disprove the Existence of God?” Philosophic Exchange 34 (2004): p. 41.
[3] For literature on philosophical arguments for God`s existence I would recommend authors such as W.L. Craig, Norman Geisler, J.P. Moreland, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga and Stuart Hackett. For literature on Intelligent Design I would suggest looking at the writings of William A. Dembski, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Denton and Michael Behe.  In the camp of theistic evolution one could read Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller and Simon Conway Morris.  In order to understand Neo-Darwinism, one should look at books by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse.  An interesting appraisal of competing theories over evolution is that of Thomas Folower and Daniel Kuebler’s “The Evolution Controversy.”  For apologetic type books have a look at Phillip E. Johnson, Michael L. Brown and Gregory Koukl.
[4] Gregory Koukl, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2009), p. 47.
[5] Phillip E. Johnson, The Right Questions: Truth Meaning & Public Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 28.

Today's Mass Readings : Tuesday December 30, 2014

The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 203

Reading 11 JN 2:12-17

I am writing to you, children,
because your sins have been forgiven for his name’s sake.

I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

I am writing to you, young men,
because you have conquered the Evil One.

I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.

I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,
because you are strong and the word of God remains in you,
and you have conquered the Evil One.

Do not love the world or the things of the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life,
is not from the Father but is from the world.
Yet the world and its enticement are passing away.
But whoever does the will of God remains forever.

Responsorial Psalm PS 96:7-8A, 8B-9, 10

R. (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Bring gifts, and enter his courts;
worship the LORD in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A holy day has dawned upon us.
Come, you nations, and adore the Lord.
Today a great light has come upon the earth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 2:36-40

There was a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Saint December 30 : Bl. Eugenia Ravasco : Foundress

Eugenia Ravasco¬†(1845-1900) 
Bl. Eugenia Ravasco
Feast: December 30

Feast Day:December 30
Born:4 January 1845 in Milan, Italy
Died:30 December 1900 in Genoa, Italy

Eugenia Ravasco was born on 4 January 1845 in Milan, Italy, the third of Francesco Matteo and Carolina Mozzoni Frosconi's six children. When she was three years old her mother died and her father moved to Genoa where his two brothers lived, taking with him his eldest son, Ambrose, and the youngest daughter, Elisa. Eugenia remained in Milan with her Aunt Marietta Anselmi, who became a second mother to her and carefully educated her in the faith.
In 1852, the family was reunited in Genoa and following her father's death in March 1855, Eugenia went to live for some time with her uncle Luigi Ravasco and her aunt Elisa and their 10 children. Luigi Ravasco was careful to give his nephews and nieces a Christian upbringing. He was well aware of the anticlericalism on the rise in Italy at the time and of the efforts of the Freemasons, and was especially worried about Eugenia's brother, Ambrose, who had come under the influence of this spreading problem.
From early adolescence, Eugenia was deeply influenced by her uncle's responsible Christian example and his generosity towards the poor. Unlike her shy younger sister, Elisa, Eugenia was expansive and energetic and loved to serve others. Eucharistic worship, together with devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, became an essential part of her spirituality.
On 21 June 1855, Eugenia made her First Communion and Confirmation in St Ambrose's Church and from that day on, whenever she passed a church she would enter it to pray. God was preparing her for greater things.
In December 1862, her Uncle died, leaving Eugenia with the responsibility of caring for the family. With the help of God and the advice of Canon Salvatore Magnasco, she valiantly faced the problems caused by her brother. Aunt Marietta joined Eugenia to help the family. Both made every effort to rescue Ambrose, but without success.
Although her aunt wanted her to marry, Eugenia prayed that the Lord would show her the path to take, since she felt a growing inner call to religious life. On 31 May 1863 she received an answer as she entered the Church of St Sabina to pray. Fr Giacinto Bianchi, an ardent missionary of the Sacred Heart, was celebrating Mass. When she heard him say to the faithful, "Is there no one out there who feels called to dedicate themselves to doing good for love of the Heart of Jesus?", Eugenia understood that God was speaking to her, calling her to him through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Eugenia found a spiritual director to help her discern what she was feeling, and shortly thereafter she began to teach catechism in the parish church to the disadvantaged young girls of the city. Her aunt and those close to her were against this, especially because these girls were unmannered and street-wise. But Eugenia persevered, accepting with patience the humiliations that she received from all sides. Little by little, she won the young girls over, organizing day trips and games for them and gaining their trust. She reached out to the most uneducated, neglected girls who, left to themselves, were in danger of going down the same errant path as her brother Ambrose.
As time went on, Eugenia felt that God was calling her to found a religious order that would form "honest citizens in society and saints in Heaven". Other young women had also joined her in this effort. On 6 December 1868, when she was 23 years old, she founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Canon (later Archbishop) Magnasco had prepared her carefully and she continued, together with the sisters, to teach catechism and to open schools.
Despite open hostility towards the Church and the activity of the Freemasons, Mother Eugenia opened in 1878 a school for girls to give them Christian instruction and to prepare "Christian teachers" for the future. She proved courageous in the face of the persecution and ridicule she received from the local press. She also gave particular attention to the dying, the imprisoned and those away from the Church.

Notwithstanding her poor health, she travelled around Italy and to France and Switzerland, opening new communities and attracting religious vocations.
In 1882 the Congregation received diocesan approval and in 1884, together with her sisters, Mother Eugenia made her perpetual profession. She guided the foundations and her sisters with love and prudence, giving them as model the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Her apostolic ideal in life was "to burn with the desire to do good to others, especially to youth", and to "live in abbandonment to God and in the hands of Mary Immaculate". Mother Eugenia Ravasco died on 30 December 1900 in Genoa, consumed by illness. And in 1909 the Congregation she founded received Pontifical approval.
Today the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (also known as the "Ravasco Institute") are present in Albania, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela, Africa and the Philippines. They continue their work in schools, parishes and missions and are especially dedicated to serving youth and the needy and to promoting the dignity of women.

(Taken from Vatican website)

Shared from EWTN