Friday, March 4, 2016

Saint March 5 : St. John Joseph of the Cross : #Confessor

St. John Joseph of the Cross
Feast: March 5

Feast Day:March 5
August 15, 1654, Ischia
Died:March 5, 1739
1839, Rome by Pope Gregory XVI
Patron of:Ischiaa
Born on the Island of Ischia, Southern Italy, 1654; d. 5 March, 1739. From his earliest years he was given to prayer and virtue. So great was his love of poverty that he would always wear the dress of the poor, though he was of noble birth. At the age of sixteen years he entered the Order of St. Francis at naples, amongst the Friars of the Alcantarine Reform, being the first Italian to join this reform which had been instituted in Spain by St. Peter of Alcantara. Throughout his life he was given to the greatest austerity: he fasted constantly, never drank wine, and slept but three hours each night. In 1674 he was sent to found a friary at Afila, in Piedmont; and he assisted with his own hands in the building. Much against his will, he was raised to the priesthood. As superior, he always insisted upon performing the lowliest offices in the community. In 1702 he was appointed Vicar Provincial of the Alcantarine Reform in Italy. He was favoured in a high degree with the gift of miracles, people of every condition being brought to him in sickness. His zeal for souls was such that even in sickness he would not spare any labour for them. His great devotion was to our Blessed Lady, and he was urgent with his penitents that they also should cultivate this. He was beatified in 1789, and canonized in 1839.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)

What is Confession - 6 Amazing Reasons to Go and SHARE #Reconciliation

Confession or the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation was instituted by Christ 
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).
It is not a priest, simply as an individual man, who has power to forgive sins. 
This power belongs to God alone; but He can and does exercise it through the ministration of men. 

Three things are needed in order to receive the sacrament properly:

  1. The person must be contrite—or sorry for his sins.
  1. The person must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number.
  2. He must be willing to do penance and make amends for his sins.
  3. How Often Should You Go to Confession?

    Catholics are required to go to Confession 1 time per year and required to go to Confession when they know that they have committed a mortal sin, the Church urges the faithful to take advantage of the sacrament often. Often people go once per week, every 2 weeks or once per month. 
  While this sacrament as a dispensation of Divine mercy facilitates the pardoning of sin, it by no means renders sin less hateful or its consequences less dreadful to the Christian mind; much less does it imply permission to commit sin in the future. In paying ordinary debts, as e.g., by monthly settlements, theintention of contracting new debts with the same creditor is perfectly legitimate; a similar intention on the part of him who confesses his sins would not only be wrong in itself but would nullify the sacrament and prevent the forgiveness of sins then and there confessed.

An ordained priest with requisite jurisdiction and with the "power of the keys", i.e., the power to forgive sins which Christ granted to His Church. Edited from the Catholic Encyclopedia

In the administration of the Sacrament of Pardon and of Reconciliation, the priest — as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls — acts as "the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner" (n. 1465). What takes place in this Sacrament, therefore, is especially a mystery of love, a work of the merciful love of the Lord. Pope Benedict XVI
CBCP by: Fr. Francis Ongkingco 
#1: A Direct line to God. We often hear the casual saying, ‘Surely, couldn’t I confess directly to God who truly knows my sinful heart?’
Reply: Every prayer to God in some way is a form of confession, but don’t we often want our prayers to be heard and above all answered? In the Old Testament, God already showed the need for intermediaries like the prophet Nathan who revealed to David his sin and this led him to repent before God.
#2: The sinner priest. As in #1, many would make the additional defensive remark, “Why should I confess to someone who is also a sinner?
Reply: As explained in #1, God chooses who His ‘grace-heralds’ are. Some are worthy and others—sadly—are not. But this only goes to show two important lessons: (1) God is still the source of forgiveness, and channels it through whomever He sees fit; (2) the quality of the instrument further demonstrates that God is really behind the person, and this fact even invites the penitent to greater faith in God and sorrow for his sins.
#3: Self medicating. A more stubborn stance can occur when one chooses
not to seek any help at all but one’s personal resources.
Reply: Spiritual self-medication has some advantages. For a spiritually healthy individual, choosing to outdo himself and seeking new ways to grow in his spiritual life is edifying. But in the case of the spiritually less-healthy, the maxim ‘if symptoms persist, consult your Doctor (God)’ applies. Any attempt for such individuals to ‘self-medicate’ would be tantamount to their lack of sincerity to find a real and effective cure to their defects and resulting vices.
#4: Till I’m ready! Others delay confession, stating they are not yet ready, that is, they still lack the adequate sorrow for sins they want to confess. A similar stance is expressed in saying, “I’ll go when I’m truly sorry.”
Reply: In reality, no one is really ready in the sense that readiness of a person’s conscience is not weighed by how he feels (the danger of falling into sentimentality) about his faults. Nothing else can give one spiritual readiness, since only God can forgive sins, other than Confession when the required sorrow is demonstrated by promptly turning to the sacrament, with due preparation, and the resolution to amend for one’s sins.
#5. When I don’t sin anymore or I may fall again. These sound like sincere expressions of one’s remorse and may indeed present good grounds to delay going to the sacrament.
Reply: They, however, reveal an unrealistic knowledge of our human condition: man’s nature is one wounded by sin. Thus, as long as we live we will be sinners. God is not one who wants us sinless, but sorrowful children and walking heaven-bound with their eyes set upon occasions of grace and an ever-growing trust in their Father’s mercy.
#6. Anyway, there’s confession… I’m going anyway… so I can sin now and more.
Reply: These reveal a distorted idea of confession and reduce it to a spiritual washing machine. Moreover, such a mentality belittles God’s mercy and maliciously contrives not to really cut oneself from his sinfulness.
One way to overcome this vicious obstacle to God’s forgiving grace is to sincerely pray to God for one’s sins, cut off the occasions of sin, carry out some penance, go to confession and sincerely express these devious ideas to the confessor. Such a sincere approach will gradually soften a callous conscience and make it more receptive to grace.

#PopeFrancis celebrates 24 hour #Confession "24 hours for the Lord" - Video

Pope Francis goes to confession in St Peter's Basilica. The 24 Hours for the Lord is place emphasis on the sacrament of reconciliation - EPA
Pope Francis goes to confession in St Peter's Basilica. The 24 Hours for the Lord is place emphasis on the sacrament of reconciliation - EPA
04/03/2016 10:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday afternoon began the "24 hours for the Lord" with a penitential celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica. The initiative now in its third year will place emphasis once again on the importance of prayer, Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation.
The intention for this year, the Jubilee of Mercy, is to draw people around the world to the mercy of God.
The “24 Hours for the Lord” is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
The English language official at the Council, Fr Eugene Silva told Lydia O’Kane that it is an opportunity once again in this Jubilee Year to place the sacrament of penance and reconciliation back at the centre of ordinary pastoral life.
Listen to this interview with Fr Eugene Silva
He adds, that despite the fact that people can be at times apprehensive about going to confession, “there’s no reason for people to be anxious.”
Putting the 24 hours for the Lord in the context of the Extraordinary Year, Fr Eugene thinks that because the grace of mercy is being talked about more, people will be that much more receptive to immersing themselves in God’s mercy.
Although Rome is a pilgrimage hub, dioceses across the world will be opening their doors to this 24 hour event. But if you happen to be in the Eternal City, there are plenty of opportunities to be part of the initiative.
Pope Francis, on Friday, March 4 in St. Peter's Basilica, will preside over the Penitential Celebration of the 24 Hours for the Lord.
Later at 9pm people will be able to receive the sacrament of confession and Eucharistic adoration in the churches of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Piazza Navona), Santa Maria in Trastevere (Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere) and the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis (Largo Argentina).
The next day, Saturday, March 5, the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart will remain open with the presence of priests for confessions until 4pm.
To conclude the third edition of the "24 hours for the Lord", a celebration of thanksgiving will take place in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, near the Vatican which is the Sanctuary dedicated to the Divine Mercy. It will be presided over by Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

#BreakingNews 4 Sisters of Mother Teresa's #Missionaries Killed in Yemen for religious reasons - Please PRAY

Card. Gracias: Sisters of Mother Teresa killed in Yemen, witnesses to the love of Christ

card. Oswald Gracias

The Archbishop of Mumbai’s moving testament to the for four religious killed today along with 10 civilians in a raid "for religious reasons" by armed men from Aden. Until the end, they carried out the task the Missionaries of Charity: quench the thirst for Christ through service to the needy. In the evening, Eucharistic adoration and prayer for Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, Salesian priest kidnapped in the attack.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The gruesome murder of the 4 Missionaries of Charity has plunged the Church of India and Asia into deep sadness. We are grieving beacause of this tragedy, it is a personal loss for the Church in India, as Sr. Anselm was one of our very own, who sacrificed everything to serve Jesus in Aden.  Despite of precarious situations, these brave and selfless Missionaries of Charity refused to leave even as fighting intensified.  The Missionaries of Charity continued to quench the thirst of Jesus in Aden, through  love, kindness, compassion, and selflessly .served without any consideration of their own safety, the most disadvantaged victims, through their work on humanitarian activities in hospitals, centers for the aged and the infirm and homes for poor and disadvantaged youth, they sought to risk their lives for the local people.
“How can I satiate that thirst of God?”  was the daily prayer of these Missionaries of Charity in Yemen, the current fighting particularly  within Aden, has made it more difficult than ever, yet like Bl Mother Teresa of Kilkatta the only desire of the 4 Missionaries of Charity was to quench that thirst for souls was done out of personal love for Jesus," kept quenching the Thirst of Christ through their service for the people of Yemen. While we grieve and mourn the  snuffing off of their precious lives, we are consoled, that now as they behold the Beauty of Christ, their Blood will bring fruits of Peace for the people they served. God bless them with eternal happiness in His presence.
The Church in India and Asia also prays for the safe return of another of our children, Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala and studied theology at the College Kristu Jyoti Bangalore, Fr. Tom sdb is a Salesian from Province of Bangalore but has worked in Yemen for several years. The Salesians of India (the province of Bangalore) have communities in Yemen.
Only four years ago, the Church celebrated the silver jubilee of the Salesian presence in Yemen, on September 7 2012 in Sana'a, Yemen's capital. This country is under the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia in the new constitution. The Salesians of Don Bosco, belonging to the Province of Bangalore, went to Yemen on the request of Msgr. Bernardo Gremoli, the then Vicar Apostolic of Arabia.
The Missionaries of Charity (MC) were formally invited by the government of Yemen to take care of lepers and the elderly. Blessed Mother Teresa accepted the invitation, provided that it also allowed for priests to enter the country to offer spiritual help to the Missionaries. And so today, five Salesians work in Taiz, Hodeidah, Sana'a and Aden. These brothers are taking care of the spiritual needs of the sisters and also a parish community in those places. The Catholic population is made up exclusively of foreign workers from India, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc...
The Church in India prays for the safe return of our Fr. Tom, and tonight will offer Eucharistic Adoration for his wellbeing.
(Nirmala Carvalho, collaborated) Text Shared from Asia News IT

#PopeFrancis addresses #ProLife Academy " of the virtues in the ethics of life..."

Pope adresses Pontifical Academy for Life at start of Virtue Ethics Workshop Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Lifeyesterday in preparation for the "Virtues in the Ethics of LifeWorkshop" which begins today in the Vatican. According to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the requisite nature such a workshop stems from “...a central need, for those who work each day in health care and research, to have certain criteria, not only regarding fundamental principles, but also the core of the act, which is the process of deliberation.” In other words, in order to make ethical decisions on life issues, one must properly inform their conscience and have a heart and mind in sync with God's will.
The pope expounds on this notion of “fundamental principles” in light of a proper “process of deliberation”. He begins his statements will a bold assertion about the limitations of science and technology. Pope Francis unequivocally stresses that the Academy's work will be dedicated to a work much needed in the current culture:
These days will be dedicated to the study of the virtues in the ethics of life, a subject of academic interest, which addresses an important message to contemporary culture: the good that man does is not the result of calculations or strategies, nor is it the product of the genetic order or of social conditionings, but it is the fruit of a well disposed heart, of the free choice that tends to true good. Science and technology are not enough: to do good, wisdom of the heart is necessary.
Good stems not from conditioning, genetic make up or calculating; rather, virtue is at the heart of how one tends naturally toward good as an end, in keeping with the basic teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the matter:
The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions (CCC 1803).
Pope Francis employs the phrase “free choice” as opposed to “free will”, perhaps recognizing it as more welcome and understood to the modern ear. This idea of reaching out and teaching to the culture using its terms and idioms seems ever present in his remarks – on occasion leading to misunderstanding and confusion.
In presenting the mission for the workshop, the Pontifical Academy speaks of ethics as “the perfect assistant, both on the level of conscience and on the level of act” to moral virtue. It is interesting, however that a workshop is necessary to bring this point forward. Obviously, this points to a culture that has moved so far away from virtue ethics that it requires remediation. Pope Francis made the point by saying:
 In our time, some cultural orientations do not recognize the mark of divine wisdom in the created realities and not even in man. Thus human nature remains reduced only to matter, to be shaped according to any design.
It is this return to recognizing the “mark of divine wisdom” that calls the Pontifical Academy to its current task. An approach to life from a virtue ethics perspectiverecognizes that man has both dignity and worth based on a greater good to which he naturally tends – and because of he is made in both image and likeness to God, he is able to cultivate and improve his intellect and will to be better conformed to his spiritual and natural tendencies. This is the benefit and the beauty of virtue ethics: it encompasses the whole of man.
In his remarks, the pope clearly urges forward this effort toward implementation of virtue ethics when dealing matters concerning respect for life, especially in higher education and healthcare. His words remind those institutions of their duty to help nurture the student in this regard:
I encourage the Universities to consider all this in their programs of formation, so that the students can mature those dispositions of the heart and mind, which are indispensable to receive and take care of human life, according to the dignity that belongs to it in any circumstance. I also invite the directors of health structures and of research to have their dependents consider human treatment also as an integral part of their qualified service.
In the end, the workshop will help to reassert the Catholic teachings on life and value of moral virtue in its “being the habitus for mankind to choose the concrete good”. It will also help to perfect the one who acts and help to develop the ability to wisely discern with prudence the consequences of an action before it is undertaken “bringing to term the natural law on a practical level”.
The Pontifical Academy for Life has a formidable task at hand – attempting to turn the eyes of a misguided culture from darkness of isolating situational ethics to bright light of virtue ethics regarding life issues. It may take some time for their sight to adjust – to bring the eyes of the heart and the mind together and into focus on God's will – but if done with compassion and patience, all will be able to see the light soon enough. Report by Prof. Kathy Vestermark of CDU

#PopeFrancis "....Reconciliation is therefore the privileged place to experience the mercy of God.”

Pope Francis addressed new priests and seminarians who participated in a course on the Sacrament of Reconciliation organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary - REUTERS
Pope Francis addressed new priests and seminarians who participated in a course on the Sacrament of Reconciliation organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary - REUTERS
04/03/2016 12:30

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday addressed the participants of a course on the internal forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, calling them to become ‘channels of mercy’. 
The yearly week-long course prepares new priests and seminarians for the correct administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and traditionally concludes in an audience with the Holy Father.
Listen to Devin Watkins' report:
In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis reminded the priests and seminarians of the importance of “an adequate and updated preparation” for confessors, “so that all who come to confess their sins may ‘touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands, the source of true inner peace’ (Bull, Misericordiae Vultus, 17)”.
“Mercy”, the Holy Father said, “before being an attitude or human virtue, is a unfailing choice by God in favor of every human being for their eternal salvation, a choice sealed with the blood of the Son of God.”
Pope Francis went on to remind the young priests and seminarians that the door of divine mercy are always wide open. “The mercy of the Father can reach every person in many ways: through the openness of a sincere conscience; by reading the Word of God which converts hearts; through an encounter with a merciful sister or brother; in the experiences of a life lived with wounds, sins, forgiveness, and mercy.”
Of these ways which God’s mercy can reach us, the Pope said the most certain of all is Jesus himself, “who has the power on earth to forgive sins (Luke 5,24) and has entrusted this mission to the Church (John 20,21-23). The Sacrament of Reconciliation is therefore the privileged place to experience the mercy of God.”
For this reason, the Holy Father said, “it is important that the confessor also be a ‘channel of joy’ and that the penitent faithful, after having received absolution, not feel the weight of his or her sins. They need to taste the work of God which freed them, live in thanksgiving, and be ready to repair the damage of their sins, going out to their brothers and sisters with an open and welcoming heart.”
Pope Francis concluded his speech by mentioning two confessors who expressed the love and mercy of God with zeal in the confessional: Sts. Leopold Mandic and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
St. Leopold, he said, “often told those who were suffering: ‘We have in heaven the heart of a Mother. The Virgin, our Mother, who at the foot of the Cross experienced all suffering possible for a human being, she understands our difficulties and she consoles us’. May Mary, Refuge of sinners and Mother of Mercy, always guide and sustain the important ministry of Reconciliation.”

Today's Mass Readings and Video : #1stFriday March 4, 2016

Friday of the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 241

Reading 1HOS 14:2-10

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”–
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

Responsorial PsalmPS 81:6C-8A, 8BC-9, 10-11AB, 14 AND 17

R. (see 11 and 9a) I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
An unfamiliar speech I hear:
“I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“Unseen, I answered you in thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, my people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, will you not hear me?”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

Verse Before The GospelMT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

GospelMK 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself

is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.