Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Saint February 5 : St. Agatha : Patron of Breast Cancer; Bakers; Nurses; Rape victims; Single laywomen; Sterility;

Feast Day:February 5
Catania or Palermo
Died:251, Catania
Patron of:bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses
We have her panegyrics, by St. Aldhelm, in the seventh, and St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth centuries; also a hymn in her honour among the poems of Pope Damasus, and another by St. Isidore of Seville, in Bollandus, p. 596. The Greeks have interpolated her acts; but those in Latin are very ancient. They are abridged by Tillemont, t. 3, p. 409. See also Rocci Pyrrho, in Sicilia Sacra, on Palermo, Catana, and Malta.

The cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity. Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha's person and estate by means of the emperor's edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil." She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went. On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? "He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her. But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul." After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay. St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics, which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus. The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her inter. cession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.
The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is  the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer—sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is  evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest entrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, "Possess alone all that I am."


Wow #PopeFrancis Invites the World to 24-Hour #Confession for #Lent - Share!

24 Hours For The Lord - Pope Francis Encourages Global Participation

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
3 Feb 2015

Pope Francis hearing confession
For the second year the Holy Father has welcomed the 24 Hours For The Lord initiative to be celebrated during this year's Lent.
This year the special time for prayer and confessions will take place on Friday, 13 March and Saturday, 14 March.
The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation has said the theme this year that will guide the reflection is God rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4)
Churches around the world, including the Archdiocese of Sydney, have been asked where possible to dedicate a full 24 hours to the Sacrament of Reconciliation ensuring the initiative coincides with Eucharistic Adoration.
Prior to the initiative last year Pope Francis had often repeated that going to Confession is not like a torture chamber.

Pope is encouraging confession with 24 Hours For The Lord
He said at an audience - "you turn red once, you're absolved of your sins, and you move on".
The Pontifical Council of the New Evangelisation wanted to reinforce that statement and when the first 24 Hours For The Lord was introduced it was received with great enthusiasm with many people taking advantage of churches being open around-the-clock for Reconciliation and Adoration.
Once again in Rome Pope Francis will preside at a penitential celebration- "a celebration of forgiveness" -  in St Peter's Basilica in order to place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre of the Church's mission of the new evangelisation.

Pope Francis himself at confession
This year Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 18 February and goes through to Thursday, 2 April.
24 Hours For The Lord on March 13-14 falls in the fourth week.
Parishes throughout the Archdiocese will have further news closer to the date.

Below is a video announcing the first 24 Hours For The Lord 2014
Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney

#PopeFrancis God waits patiently for his children to return home, and with mercy and forgiveness...

Pope Francis greets crowds at General Audience - AFP
04/02/2015 13:16

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has encouraged fathers to be a daily example of love and integrity for their children.
Addressing the pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued his catechesis on the family, reflecting in particular on the dignity and role of fathers. 
Referring to the Book of Proverbs which speaks of the joy and pride which fathers feel as they see their children mature in wisdom and rectitude , the Pope said these words sum up the demanding but indispensable role of fathers in the family and in society as a whole.  
Pointing out that a good father must discipline his own heart in order to deal patiently with his children in their growth to maturity, he said fathers teach their children by giving a daily example of love and integrity.   
And lamenting the fact that in our society father figures are often absent, Pope Francis said it is essential for fathers to be present and fully engaged in the life of the family.  
The Pope said that Jesus points to God our Father as the model of all fatherhood, and that like the father of the prodigal son, God waits patiently for his children to return home, and with mercy and forgiveness he is always there to welcome them back whenever they stray.  
Expressing gratitude and support  to all Christian fathers, he encouraged them to strive, like Saint Joseph, to protect their children and to teach them wisdom, faith and integrity.

(Linda Bordoni)

RIP Maaz al-Kassasbeh pilot of #Jordan burnt alive by terrorists in Iraq - Please PRAY

Asia News report: Jordan executes two jihadists. The Islamic State posts video of air force pilot burned alive
Sajida al-Rishawi was convicted for involvement in a 2005 attack that left 60 dead. Ziad al-Karboli, a member of al Qaeda, had been convicted in 2007 for killing a Jordanian national. The cruelty of the video of the killing of the young air force pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh. Criticism of King Abdullah for his participation in the US-led coalition. 

Amman (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Jordanian government carried two dawn executions this morning of two jihadists, in response to the video released yesterday that confirmed the killing of one of its pilot, burned alive by the Islamic State (IS).
The two prisoners who were on death row are Iraqis: Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman of 44 in prison for her (failed) attempt to blow herself up in a multiple attack that killed 60 people in 2005; Ziad al-Karboli, a member of al Qaeda, was convicted in 2007 for killing a Jordanian.
The executions seem to be part of the plans for vengeance that will "shake the earth", as promised a government spokesman, after the release of the video of the murder of 26 year old pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, captured by the Islamic State after his F-16 aircraft crashed in Syria last December.
In recent days, the IS had tried to exchange the release of Sajida al-Rishawi with the Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, who was later beheaded. Jordan had proposed the release of Rishawi in exchange for the release of the Japanese and the Jordanian pilot, demanding proof he was still alive.

Yesterday state media reported that Kassasbeh was killed in early January.

The video released by the IS is one of the cruelest ever posted by the Islamic terrorist organization. It shows Kassasbeh dressed in orange jumpsuit locked in a metal cage. A masked man, claiming to be "the emir of a region bombed by the coalition of crusaders", takes a torch, setting alight a line of fuel which leads into the cage where the prisoner clothes - soaked with gasoline, caught fire, turning the young man into a human torch. At the end a bulldozer then flattens the cage, with the body still inside.

Kassasbeh was a second lieutenant, who had graduated from the aviation school dedicated to King Hussein and had recently married.

Jordan is one of five Arab countries to have joined the coalition led by the United States to fight the IS in Syria and Iraq.

King Abdullah of Jordan, who was visiting the United States, hastened his return to his homeland. He praised Kassasbeh describing him as a "martyr" and urged Jordanians to "be united" in the face of adversity.

Among Jordanians there are many critics of the Kingdom's taking part in the anti-IS coalition. In addition, the exaltation of "Islamic" caliphate puts Jordanians - and the Arab world - in front of the dilemma between loyalty to a violent and anti-Western Islam and a struggle against terrorism.

King Abdullah has defended the campaign from domestic criticism, saying that moderate Muslims need to combat a group whose ideology and brutality have insulted Islam.

Today's Mass Readings : Wednesday February 4, 2015

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 325

Reading 1HEB 12:4-7, 11-15

Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.

Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as his sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Strive for peace with everyone,
and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God,
that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble,
through which many may become defiled.

Responsorial PsalmPS 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18A

R. (see 17) The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,
For he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.
R. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity
to eternity toward those who fear him,
And his justice toward children’s children
among those who keep his covenant.
R. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.

AlleluiaJN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

#PopeFrancis "... Ukrainian brothers and sisters, this is a war between Christians”

Pope Francis at General Audience in Paul VI Hall - AFP
04/02/2015 11:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has decried the 'fratricide' conflict in Ukraine and  issued an urgent appeal for dialogue, “the only possible path to peace”. 
Speaking at the end of the weekly General Audience, the Pope said his thoughts go to the beloved Ukrainian people.
“Unfortunately the situation is worsening” as is the clash between the parties he said.
And asking for prayers for the victims, many of whom are civilians, and for the families, the Pope said “let us pray the Lord so that this horrible fratricide violence may cease as soon as possible”.
And Pope Francis renewed his heartfelt appeal “so that every possible effort – even at an international level – may be made for the resumption of dialogue, the only possible path for peace and harmony in that tormented land”.
And speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis said that when he hears the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ he feels great pain, great sadness in his heart: “they are not the right words. The only right word is peace. This is the only right word” he said.
“I think of you, Ukrainian brothers and sisters, this is a war between Christians” he said.
And calling the conflict a scandal, he pointed out that all those involved in the conflict have the same baptism.
Pope Francis concluded his appeal urging all to pray, because – he said – “prayer is our protest before God in times of war”.
(Linda Bordoni)

Saint February 4 : St. Joseph of Leonessa : Capuchin Priest

Feast Day:February 4
8 January 1556 at Leonissa, Umbria, Italy
Died:Saturday 4 February 1612 at Umbria, Italy
Canonized:29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV

In the world named Eufranio Desiderio, born in 1556 at Leonessa in Umbria; died 4 February, 1612. From his infancy he showed a remarkably religious bent of mind; he used to erect little altars and spend much time in prayer before them, and often he would gather his companions and induce them to pray with him. Whilst yet a boy he used to take the discipline on Fridays in company with the confraternity of St. Saviour. He was educated by his uncle, who had planned a suitable marriage for him, but in his sixteenth year he fell sick of a fever, and on his recovery, without consulting his relative, he joined the Capuchin reform of the Franciscan Order. He made his novitiate in the convent of the Carcerelle near Assisi. As a religious he was remarkable for his great abstinence. "Brother Ass", he would say to his body, "there is no need to feed thee as a noble horse would be fed: thou must be content to be a poor ass." In 1599, the year before his Jubilee year, he fasted the whole year by way of preparation for gaining the indulgence. In 1587 he was sent by the Superior General of his order to Constantinople to minister to the Christians held captive there. Arrived there he and his companions lodged in a derelict house of Benedictine monks. The poverty in which the friars lived attracted the attention of the Turks, who went in numbers to see the new missionaries. He was very solicitous in ministering to the captive Christians in the galleys. Every day he went into the city to preach, and he was at length thrown into prison and only released at the intervention of the Venetian agent. Urged on by zeal he at last sought to enter the palace to preach before the Sultan, but he was seized and condemned to death. For three days he hung on the gallows, held up by two hooks driven through his right hand and foot; then he was miraculously released by an angel. Returning to Italy, he took with him a Greek archbishop who had apostatized, and who was reconciled to the Church on their arrival in Rome. Joseph now took up the work of home missions in his native province, sometimes preaching six or seven times a day. In the Jubilee year of 1600 he preached the Lent at Orticoli, a town through which crowds of pilgrims passed on their way to Rome. Many of them being very poor, Joseph supplied them with food; he also washed their clothes and cut their hair. At Todi he cultivated with his own hands a garden, the produce of which was for the poor. His feast is kept on 4 February throughout the Franciscan Order. He was canonized by Benedict XIV.