Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Saint February 25 : St. Tarasius : #Pariarch of #Constantinople

Patriarch of Constantinople, date of birth unknown; died 25 February, 806.
He was the son of the Patrician and Prefect of Constantinople, George, and his wife Eukratia, and entered the service of the State. In 784 when Paul IV Patriarch of Constantinople died Tarasius was an imperial secretary, and a champion of the veneration of images. It may be that before his death the patriarch had recommended Tarasius as his successor in the patriarchate to the Empress Irene who was regent for her son Constantine VI (780-797). After the burial of Paul IV a great popular assembly was held before the Magnaura Palace to discuss the filling of the vacant see. The empress delivered an oration on the new appointment to the patriarchate and the people proclaimed Tarasius as the most worthy candidate. The empress agreed but said that Tarasius refused to accept the position. Tarasius now made a speech himself in which he declared he felt himself unworthy of the office, further that the elevation of a layman was very hazardous, and that the position of the Church of Constantinople had become a very difficult one, as it was separated from the Catholics of Western Europe and isolated from the other Oriental patriarchates; consequently he would only be willing to accept the position of patriarch on condition that Church unity be restored and that, in connection with the pope, an oecumenical council be called. The majority of the populace approved of these views and the imperial Court agreed to it. So on 25 December, 784, Tarasius was consecrated patriarch. In 785 he sent the priest George as his legate to Hadrian I with a letter in which he announced his appointment. In his reply the pope expressed his disapproval of the elevation of Tarasius directly from the laity to the dignity of a bishop contrary to canonical regulation, but allowed clemency to rule in view of the orthodoxy of the new patriarch's views, and recognized him as patriarch. After this by joint action with the pope and the imperial Court Tarasius called the Second Council of Nicaea, the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which rejected Iconoclasm. Union with the Roman Church was restored.
After the synod the patriarch had a number of struggles not only with the Iconoclastic party of the capital but also with a party of Orthodox monks. First, the latter upbraided him for restoring to office the bishops who had formerly maintained Iconoclasm, but who had submitted to the decrees of the Council of 787. As, however, this was in accordance with the decrees of the council the accusation was allowed to drop. Another accusation was much more serious, namely, that Tarasius tolerated and encouraged simony, because those bishops who had given money to obtain their positions were only commanded by him to do a year's penance and were permitted to retain their offices. The patriarch defended himself in writing against this accusation which he denied in toto; moreover, he issued a severe synodal letter against Simonists. The monks, however, were not satisfied; they maintained their accusations and also attacked the Council of 787. At a later date Theodore of Studium, who took part in these disputes, changed his opinion of Tarasius, and also of the Second Council of Nicaea, the oecumenical character of which he acknowledged. Many serious difficulties still existed in regard to Western Europe. There were also fresh disputes in Constantinople when the Emperor Constantine VI put aside his lawful wife and wished to marry Theodata, a relative of Abbot Theodore of Studium. Tarasius positively refused to perform the second marriage and expressed his displeasure at the conduct of the priest Joseph who had married the emperor. The zealous monks, whose leaders were the Abbots Plato of Saccudium and Theodore of Studium, accused the patriarch of weakness, because he took no further steps against the emperor. They refused to have Church fellowship any longer with Tarasius, and were, consequently, violently persecuted by the emperor who, however, also treated the patriarch harshly. After Irene had dethroned Constantine in 797, Tarasius deposed the priest Joseph and peace was once more restored between the patriarch and the monks. (See THEODORE OF STUDIUM). In 802 Tarasius crowned as emperor Nicephorus, who had overthrown Irene, an act that greatly dissatisfied the populace. The patriarch had nothing to do with the intrigues of the court. His life was ascetic and simple, he checked the luxury of the clergy, preached with great zeal, and was very benevolent to the poor. After his death he was venerated as a saint. His name is also placed in the Roman Martyrology under the date of 25 February. Catholic Enclopedia

#PopeFrancis "Jesus Christ leads sinners into the area of grace and forgiveness" #Audience FULL TEXT - Video

Pope Francis arrives to lead the weekly general audience in Saint Peters Square, Vatican City, 24 February 2016. - ANSA
Pope Francis arrives to lead the weekly general audience in Saint Peters Square, Vatican City, 24 February 2016. - ANSA
24/02/2016 10:10

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a General Audience on Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. In remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered for the occasion, the Holy Father continued his series of catecheses on Divine Mercy, focusing specifically on the proper disposition expected by Christian faith toward the goods of the world. Below, please find the English-language summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis, which was delivered in Italian
Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Continuing our weekly catecheses inspired by this Holy Year of Divine Mercy, we now consider the Bible’s teaching on the right use of wealth and power.  The Scriptures show that these serve the common good if used in accordance with the demands of justice, charity and mercy.  Used selfishly and arrogantly, they become a source of corruption and death, as we see in the story of Naboth, unjustly put to death so that King Ahab might take possession of his property.  Jesus tells us that we show our greatness not by domineering but by humbly serving one another.  Just as the Lord sent the prophet Elijah to call Ahab to repentance, he sent his Son to show the power of his mercy which triumphs over sin and injustice.  Jesus is the true King, whose saving power is shown in the cross.  During this Holy Year let us ask him to draw near to sinners, to show us his mercy, and to redeem the many situations of injustice in our world by the power of his grace and forgiveness.
Following the summary, the Holy Father greeted English-speaking pilgrims and visitors
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Gabon, Mozambique and the United States of America.  With prayerful good wishes that the present Jubilee of Mercy will be a moment of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.  God bless you all!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Zenit - Translation Follows:
We continue with the catecheses on mercy in Holy Scripture. In several passages there is talk of the powerful, of kings, of men who are “up there,” and also of their arrogance and their abuse of power. Wealth and power are realities that can be good and useful to the common good, if put at the service of the poor and of all, with justice and charity. However, as too often happens, if they are lived as privilege, with egoism and arrogance, they are transformed into instruments of corruption and death. It is what happened in Naboth’s vineyard, described in the First Book of Kings, chapter 21, on which we reflect today.
Recounted in this text is that Ahab, the King of Israel, wanted to buy the vineyard of a man named Naboth, because his vineyard was adjacent to the royal palace. The proposal seems legitimate, even generous but, in Israel, landed properties were considered inalienable. In fact, the Book of Leviticus prescribes: The land shall not be sold irrevocably; for the land is mine, and you are but resident aliens and under my authority. “The land shall not be sold irrevocably; for the land is mine, and you are but resident aliens and under my authority” (Leviticus 25:23). The land is sacred, because it is a gift of the Lord, which, as such, is protected and conserved, in as much as sign of divine blessing, which passes from generation to generation and is a guarantee of dignity for all. Therefore, one understands Naboth’s negative answer to the King: “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral heritage.” (1 Kings 21:3).
King Ahab reacts to this refusal with bitterness and contempt. He feels offended, he, the King, is powerful! He feels diminished in his authority as sovereign, and frustrated in the possibility of satisfying his desire for possession. Seeing him so vexed, his wife Jezebel, a pagan queen who had enhanced idolatrous worship and had the Lord’s prophets killed (Cf. 1 Kings 18:4), — she wasn’t mean, she was evil! — decides to intervene. The words with which she addresses the King are very significant. Hear the evil that is behind this woman: “Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (v. 7). She puts the accent on the King’s prestige and power that, according to her way of seeing it, is questioned by Naboth’s refusal. A power that, instead, she considers absolute, and which makes every desire of the powerful King become an order. The great Saint Ambrose wrote a small book on this episode. It is called “Naboth.” It would do us good to read it in this Season of Lent. It is very beautiful; it is very concrete.
Recalling these things, Jesus says to us ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.’ (Matthew 20:25-27). If the dimension of service is lost, power is transformed into arrogance and becomes domination and oppression. It is precisely this that happens in the episode of Naboth’s vineyard. Jezebel, unscrupulously, decides to eliminate Naboth and puts her plan into action. She makes use of the deceitful appearances of a perverse legality: she sends letters in the name of the King to the elders and nobles of the city ordering that false witnesses accuse Naboth publicly of having cursed God and the King, a crime to be punished with death. The story ends thus, with Naboth dead the King can take possession of his vineyard. And this is not a story of other times, it is a story of today, of the powerful who, to have more money, exploit the poor, exploit the people. It is the story of the trafficking of persons, of slave labor, of the poor people that moonlight and with a minimum salary to enrich the powerful. It is the story of corrupt politicians who always want more and more and more! Therefore, I was saying that it would do us good to read Saint Ambrose’s book on Naboth, because it is a timely book.
See where the exercise of authority leads without respect for life, without justice, without mercy. And see to what the thirst for power leads: it becomes cupidity that wishes to possess everything. In this regard, a text of the prophet Isaiah is particularly illuminating. In it, the Lord puts one on guard against the avidity of rich landowners that always want to possess more houses and lands. The prophet Isaiah says:
‘Ah! Those who join house to house,
who connect field with field,
Until no space remains,
and you alone dwell in the midst of the land’ (Isaiah 5:8).
And the prophet Isaiah was not a Communist! God, however, is greater than the iniquity and dirty games played by human beings. In his mercy, He sent the prophet Elijah to help Ahab to convert. Now we turn the page, and how does the story continue? God sees the crime and knocks on Ahab’s heart and, faced with his sin, the King understands, humbles himself and asks for pardon. How good it would be if the exploiting powerful of today did the same! The Lord accepts his repentance; however, an innocent man was killed, and the offense committed will have inevitable consequences. The evil done, in fact, leaves its painful traces, and the history of men bears the wounds.
In this case also, mercy shows the masterful way that must be followed. Mercy can heal the wounds and change history. But open your heart to mercy! Divine mercy is stronger than men’s sin. Ahab is the example of it! We know its power, when we recall the coming of the Innocent Son of God who became man to destroy evil with His forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the true King, but His power is completely different. His throne is the cross. He is not a King that kills but, on the contrary, He gives life. His coming to all, especially the weakest, overcomes solitude and the destiny of death to which sin leads. With his closeness and tenderness, Jesus Christ leads sinners into the area of grace and forgiveness. And this is God’s mercy.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

#BreakingNews Pregnant receptionist of Pope Francis found dead in #Vatican - RIP Miriam Wuolou

Miriam Wuolou, a 34-year-old of Eritrean origin, was seven-months pregnant when her body was found.   Pope Francis' pregnant receptionist has been found dead This receptionist of  Pope Francis was been found dead in her apartment on the outskirts of the city. Miriam Wuolou, a 34-year-old of Eritrean origin, was seven-months pregnant when her body was found. She was a worker at Pope Francis' home and the priests' guesthouse called Santa Marta for years. The Italian press further reports she worked as a kind of gatekeeper for the Pontiff, as well as for the bishops and cardinals. The Pope chose to live at the Santa Marta guesthouse after his appointment in 2013, refusing the grand papal apartments because he found them too elaborate.
Further Report from EastAfro:
Expect the autopsy results to shed light on the death of 35-year old woman, part of Santa Marta House , residence of Pope Francis, found dead in his home not far from Via della Pisana in Rome on 19 February . The woman, born in Italy to Eritrean parents, who was pregnant and suffered from diabetes , was found by police around 20.30 the fron station, who entered the apartment along with the fire brigade intervened to open the locked door from 'internal.
The Carabinieri investigators of the Investigative Unit Via In Selci investigating at the time to 360 degrees, excluding no possible scenarios . Important to reconstruct what happened will be the cause of death. On the body they were not found obvious signs of violence . Analysis will also be performed on the fetus.

Investigators have heard several witnesses, including family, friends and acquaintances. A circumstance that suspicious investigators is the fact that the woman had been dead for several days but, despite being pregnant and suffering from a disease, no one was aware of the incident . To determine the exact day of death will be an autopsy.

'The Messenger' reports that the woman's name was Miriam Wualou and was seven months pregnant. Pope Francis , according to a report in the Rome daily, personally knew the clerk and seems to have been very sad by her death. Miriam Wualou, you always read about 'The Messenger', she was married but it seems that she did not live with her ​​husband. Husband questioned, he stated he knew nothing of his wife's death.

#BreakingNews New President Elected in Central African Republic - #CAR #Elects - Faustin-Archange Touadera

(CISA) – Central African Republic’s newly elected president plans to focus on peace and disarmament following years of war in the country, his campaign director has said.
“The priority will be peace, social cohesion and security,” President-elect Faustin-Archange Touadera’s campaign director Simplice Sarandji told Reuters on February 23.
“The emphasis will be put on the DDRR (disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation) program, then on the restructuring of the armed forces,” he added.
Former Prime Minister Touadera won a presidential run-off on February 20 according to preliminary results, setting the stage for the first elected government in three years.
According to the National Elections Authority, Touadéra received nearly 63 percent of the votes in an election that is expected to be a step towards reconciliation after years of violent.
Touadéra, 58 is a former mathematics professor and a former rector of the University of Bangui. He was prime minister under former President François Bozizé from 2008 until 2013, and quit just before Mr. Bozizé was overthrown by mainly Muslim rebels known as the Seleka.
Soon after CAR descended into turmoil a mostly Christian militia known as the anti-Balaka launched counterattacks against the Seleka thousands of people were killed, and nearly a quarter of the population was displaced according to the UN.
The president will focus on disarming the Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters with help from the international community, Sarandji said.
Elsewhere voting in Niger’s presidential and legislative elections extended for second day on Monday February 22 in areas where logistical problems prevented polling the previous day, delaying the preliminary election results.
President Mahamadou Issoufou is running against 14 other candidates, including Seyni Oumaru, leader of an opposition coalition. Shared from CISA News

#Breaking #PopeFrancis helps write Childrens' Book "Dear Pope Francis" answering Letters

The cover of the new book "Dear Pope Francis" which is published by Loyola Press. - AP
The cover of the new book "Dear Pope Francis" which is published by Loyola Press. - AP
24/02/2016 12:44

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has answered 30 questions presented to him from children from around the world. Loyola Press is publishing the responses in a book due to be published on 1 March called Dear Pope Francis.
The United States-based Jesuit publishing house approached Pope Francis about the idea last year, and received a positive response. They then asked Jesuits from around the world to collect questions from children aged 6-13, including Catholics and non-Catholics. They also asked the children to send drawings, which are included in the book.
They received 259 questions from 26 countries in 14 languages. The book’s editor, Fr. Paul Campbell, SJ, then sat down with a committee and chose the questions to send the Pope.
 “One of the lines we use to describe this book is: Little children have big questions,” Fr. Campbell told Vatican Radio.
Listen to the interview by Alessandro Gisotti with Father Paul Campbell, SJ:
“Yes they are questions from little children, but they are very, very profound questions,” – Fr. Campbell said – “The Holy Father was very clear that it was terribly difficult to answer these questions.”
The Jesuit priest said one thing that comes out of reading the book is the Holy Father’s profound sensitivity to the suffering of children around the world.
“I believe it was William from the United States who asked the question if you could cause one miracle…what would it be? And the Holy Father said ‘to stop the suffering of children’,” – Father Campbell explained – “and it is very clear to me that the Holy Father’s heart is full of compassion for those who suffer.”
This book is only a small way of giving suffering people hope.
“The  Holy Father wants to reach out to children and adults to everyone who experiences suffering – which means all of us – to tell us that he does not understand suffering, that he cannot explain it, but that he does believe that Jesus did suffer for us, and that is the only thing that gives him hope and comfort,” Father Campbell said.

#BreakingNews ISIS Frees group of 42 Assyrian Christians - Keep Praying!

Islamic State frees last group of Assyrian Christians of Hassaké

Confirmation in an official note of Acero, the Assyrian association that oversaw the negotiations for the release. Freed, for a fee, also the last 43 community members. To date there are more hostages in the hands of jihadists. In recent months three people had been executed.
Damascus (AsiaNews) - The militias of the Islamic State (IS) have released the last group of Christians (pictured), still in their hands, part of a community of at least 200 worshipers seized last year in the northeast of Syria . 42 people were released yesterday morning, thanks to the mediation of leaders of the Assyrian Church, which has worked for the release of all prisoners.
In a statement the members of Acero (Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization, which focused first on the release of the Assyrian Christians) "confirm" the liberation "of the last group of hostages kidnapped in February 2015," still in the hands of IS.
The group was met by the Assyrian bishop Mar Afram Athneil, who negotiated the terms of the release. To date, the statement continued, "there are no longer hostage" in the hands of militias and "any word contrary is without foundation."
Thanking those who "worked in these 12 months" for the release of hundreds of faithful and "rejoicing" for the happy outcome of the case, the organization's " we mourn the tremendous losses, both human and material, suffered by the indigenous Assyrians of Syria".
Some sources close to the Assyrian community, say that their release came after  18 million dollars was paid in ransom; others speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the payment of a large sum of money, "but not 18 million. less than half "was paid. One community member reports that, to date, the fate of five Assyrians, also seized last year by jihadists remains unknown and they are still untraceable.
A year ago, 23 February 2015, hundreds of Assyrian Christians of the villages along the Khabur River, near Tal Tamr, in the governorate of Al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria, were abducted by the Islamic State (IS). These included women, children and elderly. In the days following the collective seizure, the terrorists freed a first group of 19 Christians, following the payment of a ransom of about 1,700 US dollars each.
Later, through contacts with negotiators  and spokesmen, an agreement had been reached for the delivery of all prisoners.  However, an ambush – probably carried out by Kurdish fighters - of the jihadist convoy that was about to release all prisoners,scuttled the operation.
The kidnapping of Christian families - at least 250 people, but the exact numbers have always been uncertain, three of whomwere summarily executed - happened during the offensive launched by jihadists against majority Assyrian villages in the northeast . This is an area of strategic importance, because it represents a kind of bridge between the lands of the Caliphate in Syria and Iraq and allows the opening of a corridor with Turkey for weapons, supplies and fighters.
Local witnesses reported that, following the offensive of Daesh militias [Arabic acronym of the Islamic state, IS], more than 5 thousand Assyrians - of 30 thousand that made up one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East - decided to leave the country, choosing exodus in search of a safety and shelter.
Until March 2011 up to 40 thousand Assyrian Christians lived in Syria, when the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began, before being transformed over time into a bloody war that has caused 260 thousand deaths and over 11 million displaced people. There were at least 1.2 million Christians of varying denominations. Today the number, as in neighboring Iraq, has been halved. Shared from Asia News IT

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. February 24, 2016

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 232

Reading 1JER 18:18-20

The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
“Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.”

Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.

Responsorial PsalmPS 31:5-6, 14, 15-16

R. (17b) Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Verse Before The GospelJN 8:12

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

GospelMT 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”