Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Saint December 31 : St. Sylvester : #Pope

Feast Day:
December 31
31 December 335 at Rome, Italy
Patron of:
Feroleto Antico, Italy
Saint Sylvester I, also spelled Silvester (born , Rome [Italy]—died 335, Rome; Western feast day December 31, Eastern feast day January 2), pope from 314 to 335, whose long pontificate saw the beginnings of the Christian Roman Empire. A presbyter when elected to succeed Pope St. Miltiades (Melchiades), Sylvester was consecrated on Jan. 31, 314. The most important event of his reign was the Council of Nicaea (May 325), which condemned the Alexandrian Christian priest Arius, founder of Arianism, a heretical doctrine teaching that the Son was neither equal with God the Father nor eternal. While the Roman emperor Constantine I the Great favoured Christianity and was a major controller of its ecclesiastical affairs, neither he nor his immediate successors gave any official recognition to papal primacy over the church. Thus, it was a rare and significant exception when Sylvester was accorded a preeminent role in the Arian crisis. Although invited, he did not attend the Council of Nicaea personally but was represented by two legates, who were treated with great honour and respect yet did not preside at the debates. According to subsequent legend, Sylvester converted and baptized Constantine, who was the first Roman emperor to become a Christian, and miraculously cured him of leprosy, for which the emperor allegedly gave him the Donatio Constantini (Donation of Constantine), a grant of spiritual supremacy over the Eastern patriarchates and over all matters of faith and worship as well as temporal dominion over Rome and the entire Western world. The Donation is now universally admitted to be an 8th-century forgery, but it was important in the development of the medieval theory of church and state. Sylvester is believed to have built at the Cemetery of St. Priscilla on the Via Salaria a church, where he was buried. His relics were transferred in 762 by Pope St. Paul I to the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, now the national church of English Catholics in Rome. Text source Britannica

Latest #News of #VaticanInformation #Service and #PopeFrancis at #HolySee

30-12-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 233 

- General audience: we learn by observing the life of children
- Francis: pray for the victims of natural disasters
- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for January
- Participation of the faithful in encounters with Pope Francis during 2015
- Other Pontifical Acts
- Notice
General audience: we learn by observing the life of children
Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this year's final general audience to the widespread devotion to the Baby Jesus, which is keenly felt during these days. This tradition, he explained, can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi and “keeps alive in our hearts the mystery of God made man”. He also mentioned St. Therese of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took on the name of Therese of the Child Jesus and “knew how to live and bear witness to that 'spiritual infancy' that is assimilated by meditating, in the school of the Virgin Mary, on the humility of God Who made Himself small for us”.
“There was a time when in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have a special meaning for our faith. It is true that His death on the Cross and His resurrection are the greatest expression of His redeeming love, but let us not forget that all His earthly life is revelation and teaching. In the Christmas period we remember His infancy. To grow in faith we need to contemplate the Baby Jesus more often. … We know little of Jesus as a child, but we can learn much about Him if we look at the life of children”.
“We discover, first of all, that children want our attention”, continued the Holy Father. “Why do they wish to be at the centre of attention? Because they like to show off? No! Because they need to feel protected. We too need to place Jesus at the centre of our life and to know, although it may seem paradoxical, that we have the responsibility of protecting Him … and of making the Baby Jesus smile to show Him our love and our joy that He is in our midst. His smile is a sign of the love, that gives us the certainty of being loved”.
Francis also emphasised that children love to play, and commented that playing with a child means setting aside our logic as adults and entering into that of a child. “If we want the child to have fun, we must understand what he likes, without being selfish and making them do things that we like instead. This is a teaching for us. Before Jesus we are called upon to abandon our claims to autonomy, to instead welcome the true form of freedom, which consists in knowing Who is before us and serving Him. He, a child, is the Son of God, Who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father, full of love and mercy. Let us therefore hold the Baby Jesus in our arms and put ourselves in His service: He is the source of love and serenity”.
Francis: pray for the victims of natural disasters
Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – Following today's general audience, the Pope appealed for prayers for the victims of the natural disasters that have afflicted the United States, Great Britain and South America, especially Paraguay in recent days, causing fatalities, loss of homes and major material damage.
“May the Lord console these populations and may fraternal solidarity come to their aid”, he added.
Pope Francis' prayer intentions for January
Vatican City, 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for January 2016 is: “That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice”.
His intention for evangelisation is: “That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions”.
Participation of the faithful in encounters with Pope Francis during 2015
Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – The Prefecture of the Papal Household today published a communique reporting that during the year 2015 a total of 3,210,860 faithful attended the various encounters with Pope Francis: general audiences (704,100), special audiences (408,760), liturgical celebrations in the Vatican Basilica and in St. Peter's Square (513,000), and the Angelus and Regina Coeli prayers (1,585,000). These data refer only to events held in the Vatican and do not include others attended often by large numbers of faithful, for instance during the apostolic trips to Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Sarajevo, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, the United States of America, Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, or during trips within Italy and pastoral visits in the diocese of Rome.
These are approximate data calculated on the basis of requests to participate in encounters with the Pope and invitations distributed by the Prefecture, which also specifies that estimates are given for attendance at events such as the Angelus or Regina Coeli and for celebrations in St. Peter's Square.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Fr. Jose Fortunato Alvarez Valdez as bishop of Gomez Palacio (area 27,405, population 585,000, Catholics 468,000, priests 51, religious 76) Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Mexicali, Mexico in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a degree in theology and patristic sciences from the Agostinian Patristic Institute, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Mexicali, including diocesan coordinator of vocational pastoral ministry, vicar of the cathedral, chancellor, parish priest and dean. He is currently pastor of the Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro, defender of the bond of the diocesan tribunal, and member of the presbyteral college, the college of consultors and the economic board.
- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia presented by Bishop Brian Finnegan upon reaching the age limit.
- appointed Fr. Aparecido Donizete de Souza as auxiliary of Porto Alegre (area 13,530, population 3,395,000, Catholics 2,527,000, priests 362, permanent deacons 58, religious 1,487), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Primeiro de Maio, Brazil in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a licentiate in spirituality from the “Teresianum” Pontifical Institute of Spirituality and has served as parish in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Cornelio Procopio, Brazil, including parish vicar of the cathedral, parish priest, rector of the “Menino Deus” seminary and of the “Sao Jose” major seminary. He is currently pastor of the “Sao Francisco de Assis” parish, spiritual director of the seminary and diocesan assessor for liturgical pastoral ministry.
Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) - The Vatican Information Service wishes all its readers a Happy New Year. The next VIS bulletin will be transmitted on Monday 4 January 2016.
29-12-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 232 

- Rome welcomes the Pueri Cantores
- Other Pontifical Acts
Rome welcomes the Pueri Cantores
Vatican City, 29 December 2015 (VIS) – In the morning of Thursday 31 December the Holy Father will receive in audience the participants in the 40 th International Congress of the International Federation of Pueri Cantores, held in Rome from 28 December to 1 January.
“Cantate Spem vestram” is the motto of the congress, which opened yesterday afternoon with a procession along Via della Conciliazione to the Holy Door, which the participants then passed through, and the inauguration ceremony in the Paul VI Hall, led by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation.
During these five days “concerts of hope” will be held in various churches around the capital: at 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday 29 December in the Basilica of Sant'Andrea della Valle, the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles and the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastevere; on Wednesday 30 September in the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina and in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Christ the King. The same Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. there will be prayers for peace. Finally, the congress will conclude on Friday with a Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 29 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- erected the new diocese of Barisal (area 20,708, population 15,183,927, Catholics 29,685, priests 19, religious 33), Bangladesh, with territory from the diocese of Chittagong, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- appointed Bishop Subroto Lawrence Howlader, C.S.C., auxiliary of Chittagong, as first bishop of the diocese of Barisal, Bangladesh.

#Catholic Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach of the #Philippines visited a Convent to ask for Prayers before her Win...SHARE

Born Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach on September 24, 1989 (age 26) in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Pia grew up in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. She is an actress, model, host, TV personality, and chef. Pia won the Miss Universe 2015 for the Philippines. 
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Public Affairs Committee (CBCP-PAC), said that Filipinos should be proud of what Wurtzbach has achieved.

“Pia Wurtzbach’s feat is something that we should be proud of. As our countrymen suffer from the onslaught of typhoon 'Nona,' let her win be an inspiration and let her message be a rallying point for everyone that beauty is nothing without a heart!” he said.
Pia is a Marian Devotee and a Certified Baclaran church goer. Ms. Wurtzbach visited a group of cloistered Nuns before her win and asked them to pray for her (pictured below from Google/AsiaNet)
First of all, thank you Lord! My prayers have finally been answered. I’ve lost count on how many times I visited Baclaran & prayed for this. She stated on her Twitter account after winning: "Thank You, Lord. Everything makes sense now. In God's perfect timing. "

#PopeFrancis "This is a true mystery: God is humble – and it is a beautiful thing.” #Audience Text - Video

Pope Francis venerates a statue of the Christ-child - AFP
Pope Francis venerates a statue of the Christ-child - AFP
30/12/2015 13:49

(Vatican Radio) The figure of the Christ-child was the focus of Pope Francis’ catechesis on Wednesday at the weekly General Audience.
The humility of Our Divine Lord in the manger, and its stark contrast with our own often grandiose self-appraisal was a particular motif of the catechetical reflection the Holy Father offered to the pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the event.
“This is a great mystery,” said Pope Francis, departing from his prepared text in Italian, “God is humble.” He went on to say, “We, who are proud, full of vanity, and who think ourselves great stuff – we are nothing. He is the great one: He is humble, and He makes Himself a child.”
“This,” repeated Pope Francis, “is a true mystery: God is humble – and it is a beautiful thing.”
Below, please find the official English-language summary of the Holy Father’s catechesis, which was read following the main reflection at the audience on Wednesday
Dear Brothers and Sisters:  During this holy season it is customary in many places for each home to set up a Christmas crib, following a tradition begun by Saint Francis of Assisi.  The crib scene invites us to adore the Child Jesus and to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation as a revelation of God’s saving love.  Devotion to the Child Jesus can teach us much about our faith.  Although the Gospels tell us little about our Lord’s childhood, we know from experience the message which all newborn babies bring.  By contemplating the Infant Jesus, we come to understand more fully the meaning of his coming among us.  Like every baby, the Infant Jesus cries out for our attention; he asks us to care for and protect him.  Like every baby, he wants us to smile at him, as a sign of our delight in him and our sharing in the mystery of his love.  Finally, he wants us to play with him, to enter into his world and to become like a child ourselves, in order to please him.  In these days of Christmas, let us not only gaze upon the Child Jesus, but also take him into our arms and allow him to give us the joy and freedom born of the Father’s merciful love.
After the summary, Pope Francis greeted Anglophone pilgrims and visitors with the following words, through his interpreter
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including the pilgrimage groups from Norway, the Philippines and the United States of America.  I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song.  With prayerful good wishes that the the Church’s celebration of the Jubilee of Mercy will be a moment of grace and spiritual renewal for all, I invoke upon you and your families an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord.  Happy New Year!
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called for prayerful solidarity with victims of natural disasters that recently struck parts of the United States, Great Britain, and South America (in particular Paraguay). The Holy Father’s appeal came at the end of his catechetical reflection during the General Audience on Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.
“I invite everyone to pray for the victims of the calamities which in these days have befallen the United States, Great Britain, and South America – particularly Paraguay,” said Pope Francis.
Click below to hear our report
Paraguay is the country hardest hit by flooding in South America that has spread across Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay as well, causing several fatalities and inflicting massive damage, while driving at least 150 thousand people from their homes. Climatologists say the flooding is due to unusually heavy summer rains resulting from an intense “el Niño” weather phenomenon.
In the United States,  severe weather that included tornadoes and flooding killed dozens of people over the past weekend, and continues to advance across the United States, bringing heavy snow and freezing rain over a great stretch of the country from Texas to northern New England.
The United Kingdom was in the throes of another major north Atlantic storm on Wednesday, after several episodes of severe weather provoked flooding from western Scotland to Wales, and especially in Cumbria and Yorkshire. Storm Frank, as the latest disturbance has been called by meteorologists, was expected to produce more heavy rain and wind gusts in excess of 80 km/h throughout much of the UK through Wednesday.
“May the Lord give comfort to all these peoples,” prayed Pope Francis, “and may fraternal solidarity aid them in their need.”   

Powerful Performance of O Holy Night with Images of the Nativity by #JoshGroban goes #Viral - SHARE

An amazing performance of  O Holy Night - by Josh Groban - Set to scenes from The Nativity Story...SHARE this beautiful tribute to Christ's Birth!

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. December 30, 2015

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 PsalmPS 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.

GospelLK 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.

#BreakingNews over 150,000 People forced from Home due to Floods in #SouthAmerica - Please PRAY

150,000 people in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil have been forced to leave their homes with the worst flooding in 50 years. At least six people have been killed. Paraguay has been the worst affected region by the rains and 130,000 people have been evacuated. 90,000 people are now living in temporary shelters in parks, public spaces, schools and military buildings. The Paraguayan government has declared a state of emergency. Image share Google Images/