Monday, March 2, 2015

Saint March 3 : St. Katharine Drexel : Patron of Philanthropists, Racial justice

Feast Day:March 3
November 26, 1858, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died:March 3, 1955, Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania
2000 by Pope John Paul II
Major Shrine:Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania
Patron of:philanthropists, racial justice
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. on 26 November 1858, Katharine was the second daughter of Francis Anthony Drexel, a wealthy banker, and his wife, Hannah Jane. The latter died a month after Katharine's birth, and two years later her father married Emma Bouvier, who was a devoted mother, not only to her own daughter Louisa (born 1862), but also to her two step-daughters. Both parents instilled into the children by word and example that their wealth was simply loaned to them and was to be shared with others.
Katharine was educated privately at home; she travelled widely in the United States and in Europe. Early in life she became aware of the plight of the Native Americans and the Blacks; when she inherited a vast fortune from her father and step-mother, she resolved to devote her wealth to helping these disadvantaged people. In 1885 she established a school for Native Americans at Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Later, during an audience with Pope Leo XIII, she asked him to recommend a religious congregation to staff the institutions which she was financing. The Pope suggested that she herself become a missionary, so in 1889 she began her training in religious life with the Sisters of Mercy at Pittsburgh.
In 1891, with a few companions, Mother Katharine founded the  Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. The title of the community summed up the two great driving forces in her life—devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and love for the most deprived people in her country.
Requests for help reached Mother Katharine from various parts of the United States. During her lifetime, approximately 60 schools were opened by her congregation. The most famous foundation was made in 1915; it was Xavier University, New Orleans, the first such institution for Black people in the United States.
In 1935 Mother Katharine suffered a heart attack, and in 1937 she relinquished the office of superior general. Though gradually becoming more infirm, she was able to devote her last years to Eucharistic adoration, and so fulfil her life’s desire. She died at the age of 96 at Cornwell Heights, Pennsylvania, on 3 March 1955. Her cause for beatification was introduced in 1966; she was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II on 26 January 1987, by whom she was also beatified on 20 November 1988.


Pope Francis Thanks Church in Libya for Courage and Peaceful presence

Pope Francis with Bishops of CERNA - OSS_ROM
02/03/2015 14:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has thanked the Church in Libya and the ecclesial communities in North Africa for their courage and for being a peaceful presence in an area where freedom of conscience is under threat.
The Pope was addressing members of the Episcopal Conference of North African Bishops, CERNA,   who are in the Vatican for their Ad Limina visit.
CERNA gathers prelates from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.
“You are one of the peripheries” of the world – Pope Francis said to the Prelates from North Africa - and you are the face and the heart with which God reaches out to the people of this periphery.
The courage of Catholics in Libya
Noting  that in the past years North Africa has become a land of conquest for more freedom of conscience and dignity as well as a battleground for those who impose change with weapons, the Pope thanked the Church in Libya for the “courage, loyalty and perseverance” shown by clergy, consecrated persons and laypeople who have stood their ground in the face of danger. They are true witnesses of the Gospel, said Francis, thanking them and encouraging them to continue in their efforts to contribute to peace and reconciliation throughout the region.
The need to accept diversity 
In his discourse the Pope insisted on the necessity of inter religious dialogue “in order to build where many destroy”.
Charity – he says – is able to open up countless paths that take the breath of the Gospel into diverse cultures and social contexts. And he said that the most effective antidote to violence is getting to know differences and accepting them as wealth and fecundity.
Thus, Pope Francis told the bishops, that it is essential that the religious in their dioceses be trained in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.
Charity reveals God
Pope Francis said that an infallible weapon in the hands of the “Church of encounter” is charity that must be offered to all without distinction. Thanking the North African bishops who, often with humble means, offer the love of Christ and of the Church to the poor, to the sick, to the elderly, to prison inmates and to the many African immigrants who find themselves in North African countries during their journeys of hope. In doing so he said: “you recognize their human dignity and work to raise awareness of such a huge human drama, you show the love that God has for each of them”. 
Look to the Saints
The Pope’s discourse also included many pastoral indications such as the need for attention for “permanent formation” of the clergy and spoke of his joy for the contribution offered by religious men and women in this Year of Consecrated Life. 
Inviting all consecrated people to make the beauty of their vocations “shine out”, the Pope pointed to Saints Cyprian and Augustin and to the Blessed Charles de Foucault as models to look up to. 
And pointing to those contemporary religious who sacrificed their lives in the name of the faith, Pope Francis expressed his happiness that in the past few years many Christian sanctuaries have been restored in Algeria.
The Pope concluded his discourse pointing out that welcoming “all” with “benevolence and without proselytism”, these communities express their will “to be a Church with open doors, always setting out and going forth”.
During the audience the bishops presented the Pope with a document entitled “Servants of Hope” that shines light on the reality of the Church’s presence in North Africa, and motivates its priests to be ministers of hope in an ever-changing situation, where parishes are being rejuvenated by new presences and where the Churches face the great challenge of ministering to migrants.(Linda Bordoni)

Pope Francis “The first step is to judge ourselves." Lent Homily

Pope Francis preaches at Mass Monday morning in Casa Santa Marta chapel - OSS_ROM
02/03/2015 11:

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that "we are all sinners" - not "in theory" but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is "a Christian virtue, indeed more than a virtue", it is the first step for those who want to be Christian:
“We are all masters, professors of self-justification: ‘No it wasn’t me, it’s not my fault, maybe yes, but not so much…that’s not the way it is…’. We all have an alibi to explain away our shortcomings, our sins, and we are often to put on a face that says "I do not know," a face that says ‘I didn’t do it, maybe someone else did’ an innocent face. This is no way to lead a Christian life”.
"It’s easier to blame others" - observed the Pope - but "something strange happens if we try to behave differently: "If we begin to look at the things we are capable of doing, at first we “feel bad, we feel disgust ", yet this in turn "gives us peace and makes us healthy”.
Pope Francis continued, “when I feel envy in my heart and I know that this envy is capable of speaking ill of others and morally assassinating them”, this is “the wisdom of judging oneself”. "If we do not learn this first step in life, we will never, never be able to take other steps on the road of our Christian life, of our spiritual life":
“The first step is to judge ourselves.  Without saying anything out loud. Between you and your conscience. Walking down the street, I pass by a prison and say: "Well, they deserve it" - "Yet do you know that if it weren’t for the grace of God you would be there? Did you ever think that you are capable of doing the things that they have done, even worse?” This is what judging yourself means, not hiding from the roots of sin that are in all of us, the many things we are capable of doing, even if we cannot seen them”.
The Pope stressed another virtue: Shame before God, in a kind of dialogue in which we recognize the shame of our sin and the greatness of God's mercy:

"To You, Lord, our God, mercy and forgiveness. Shame on me and to You mercy and forgiveness". This Lent, it would do us all good to have this dialogue with the Lord: self-accusation. Let us ask for mercy. In the Gospel Jesus is clear: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful". When one learns to accuse oneself first then we are merciful to others: "But, who am I to judge, if I am able to do things that are worse?".
The phrase: "Who am I to judge another?" obeys Jesus’ exhortation: "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven". Instead, it highlights - "how we like to judge others, to speak ill of them”.

"May the Lord, in this Lent - said the Pontiff - give us the grace to learn to judge ourselves" in the knowledge that we are capable "of the most evil things" and say, "Have mercy on me, Lord, help me to be ashamed and grant me mercy, so I may be merciful to others".

(Emer McCarthy)