Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saint March 14 : St. Matilda : Patron of #Death of children, #Queens, #Widows

Feast Day:
March 14
895 at Engern, Westphalia, Germany
14 March 968 at Quedlinburg, Germany
Patron of:
death of children, disappointing children, falsely accused people, large families, people ridiculed for their piety, queens, second marriages, widows

Queen of Germany, wife of King Henry I (The Fowler), born at the Villa of Engern in Westphalia, about 895; died at Quedlinburg, 14 March, 968. She was brought up at the monastery of Erfurt. Henry, whose marriage to a young widow, named Hathburg, had been declared invalid, asked for Matilda's hand, and married her in 909 at Walhausen, which he presented to her as a dowry. Matilda became the mother of: Otto I, Emperor of Germany; Henry, Duke of Bavaria; St. Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne; Gerberga, who married Louis IV of France; Hedwig, the mother of Hugh Capet. In 912 Matilda's husband succeeded his father as Duke of Saxony, and in 918 he was chosen to succeed King Conrad of Germany. As queen, Matilda was humble, pious, and generous, and was always ready to help the oppressed and unfortunate. She wielded a wholesome influence over the king. After a reign of seventeen years, he died in 936. He bequeathed to her all his possessions in Quedlinburg, Poehlden, Nordhausen, Grona, and Duderstadt.
It was the king's wish that his eldest son, Otto, should succeed him. Matilda wanted her favourite son Henry on the royal throne. On the plea that he was the first-born son after his father became king, she induced a few nobles to cast their vote for him, but Otto was elected and crowned king on 8 August, 936. Three years later Henry revolted against his brother Otto, but, being unable to wrest the royal crown from him, submitted, and upon the intercession of Matilda was made Duke of Bavaria. Soon, however, the two brothers joined in persecuting their mother, whom they accused of having impoverished the crown by her lavish almsgiving. To satisfy them, she renounced the possessions the deceased king had bequeathed to her, and retired to her villa at Engern in Westphalia. But afterwards, when misfortune overtook her sons, Matilda was called back to the palace, and both Otto and Henry implored her pardon.
Matilda built many churches, and founded or supported numerous monasteries. Her chief foundations were the monasteries at Quedlinburg, Nordhausen, Engern, and Poehlden. She spent many days at these monasteries and was especially fond of Nordhausen. She died at the convents of Sts. Servatius and Dionysius at Quedlinburg, and was buried there by the side of her husband. She was venerated as a saint immediately after her death. Her feast is celebrated on 14 March.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

#BreakingNews at least 14 Killed in Ivory Coast at Beach Shooting - Please PRAY

At least 14 people were shot dead on Sunday, March 13, 2016. There was an attack on a beach in a resort town in Ivory Coast, with at least six gunmen. The President Alassane Ouattara said 14 civilians and two soldiers were killed in the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand-Bassam on Sunday. 

The town is about 40 kilometres east of Ivory Coast's economic centre, Abidjan.
Please Pray....

Former ISIS prisoner says "...I made the sign of the cross in front of them..." Testimony

To her abductors who wanted to convert her, “I made the sign of the cross,” says ex IS prisoner

AsiaNews spoke to Josephine, one of hundreds of Christians from Al-Hasakah, who spent a year in the hands of the Islamic State group. She talked about psychological suffering, conversion attempts, and separation from her male relatives. She survived thanks to her faith. Her mother Caroline, a Caritas official, is the only one in her family to have been spared the ordeal. She also negotiated their release with IS, and gave a Jihadi copies of the Bible. Now she hopes “to meet the pope” with her entire family.
Damascus (AsiaNews) – Josephine Martin Tamras is a young Assyrian woman. For a year, she was in the hands of the Islamic State (IS). Hers is a powerful story.
"It was a very difficult time, and not only because we lost our freedom,” Josephine told AsiaNews. “We were at risk all the time, victims of their evil thoughts, captive, ready to be killed. They tried to impose on us their strange beliefs. But what was worse was the fact that we were forced to live in an environment where we did not belong. Praying was the only thing that gave us strength to keep our beliefs.”
Josephine was one of more than 230 Christians, including women, children and seniors, who were abducted by IS from Khabur River, near Tal Tamr, in Al-Hasakah governorate, north-eastern Syria.
After the mass kidnapping, the terrorists freed a first group of 19 Christians after a ransom of about US$ 1,700 was paid for each. Later, as a result of mediation, a deal was struck for the release of all the prisoners. However, an ambush against the IS convoy carrying the prisoners – probably by Kurdish fighters –aborted the whole thing.
The abduction of at least 230 Christians, including entire families, occurred when IS carried out an offensive against predominantly Assyrian villages in north-eastern Syria. Although the total number of hostages is unknown, at least three were summarily executed.
The area is of great strategic importance because it is a linchpin between the Caliphate’s Syrian and Iraqi territories and is close to Turkey for weapons, supplies and fighters.
The kidnapped victims included the husband, three children, father-in-law and other family members of Caroline Hazkour, Caritas chief in Al-Hasakah. For months, she lived in anguish and terror, but was supported by her colleagues with the Catholic charity, and her faith.
A few weeks ago, on 22 February, exactly one year after her nightmare began, she was able to hug her loved ones again. Her daughter Josephine spoke to AsiaNews about her experience in the hands of Daesh (Arabic acronym for the Islamic State).
"They did not use physical violence towards me but the psychological suffering they inflicted upon us was far worse. For example, one of the leaders came one day and picked one of the young Assyrian girls, who was under 16, as his slave. The man was 25 years older. Even today, we do not know what happened to her. This is just one example of what we saw" in Jihadi captivity. 
Their goal, Josephine explained, "was to convert us" and to do so they used "weapons and tried to weaken us" physically and psychologically. "For them, it was a shock when I said I would never leave my faith and I made the sign of the cross in front of them, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit because to sustain me and give me strength to the end."
For Jihadis, her reaction was "an act of blasphemy" that "deserved execution" but Josephine was not intimidated because "I always felt that God was protecting me."
"It was impossible to know when they would free me,” she added. “When we asked them something, they answered us with more lies. Even on the bus that took us home, we knew nothing of our fate."
However, "this experience has taught me a lot. It taught me to be patient, keep a steady faith in the heart, especially when one is alone. In fact, they separated me from my brothers and father right away because in their view men and women should be separated."
The separation from her family (pictured, after the release) “taught me to be independent in everything, and to ask God for the wisdom to come out unscathed from this storm." This experience "taught me even more the value of unconditional love that I had already experienced through my work with Caritas without distinctions of sex, race, sect or religion."
Despite the terrible experience, “I do not hate anybody. I do not want revenge and I pray that I may always find the path that leads to the Lord."
The experience of the kidnapping has also deeply marked Josephine’s mother, Caroline Hazkour, who heads the Caritas centre in Al-Hasakah, who avoided being kidnapped on the night of 22 February 2015 by sheer luck.
Instead of returning to the village of Tel Jazireh, she accepted her colleagues’ advice to stay in Al-Hasakah. Still, she went through the gut-wrenching experience of knowing that her family was in the hands of the Islamic State whilst having to continue her work with Caritas with a smile on her face and the same enthusiasm as before.
"This experience,” she told AsiaNews, “has made me realise the power of the Gospel" When Jesus is in the stormy sea with his disciples, and they call upon him to save them, Jesus rebukes them for their little faith. "I drew strength from these words and decided to be patient, doing my job with love, sure that God was with me."
"Praying and living the Gospel was the only way to overcome this torment,” she explained. “In spite of the fear and pain, I always felt a deep peace in my heart; I knew I did not have to be afraid, because Jesus was with me."
With the Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis in mind, the Caritas official noted, "Mercy is of enormous value for us, because what is happening in Syria is the result of corrupt politics that generated wars and death."
For her, Syria desperately needs mercy “from God, or men. Many asked me if I have feelings of revenge for those who hurt my family,” she said. “They took from me all the childhood memories [her house, like the village church, was destroyed). But I can say that if I met one of them, my goal would not be revenge, because these people know neither God’s law nor the rules of a civil society . . .”
Now that her family is back home, and all the relatives are doing fine, her goal is to ensure a future for her children, starting with education, school, and university.
"I rented an apartment to accommodate all my family,” she said,” because we are now in effect displaced people, like many others in the country who lost their homes."
What matters now is to help the family overcome the trauma they went through, especially her husband "who was among those who wore the orange jumpsuit (which IS reserves for those set to be executed) and saw first-hand the execution of three of his friends."
Remembering that in the past Syria "was an example of coexistence and fraternity between religions," she hopes it can return "as before".
Finally, Caroline is grateful to the pope for his concern and attention for her country and its people. "I hope to meet him,” she said. “This is my dream and my family’s."
"When my family was imprisoned, I personally negotiated their release with one of the terrorists. I struck up a conversation with him about religion, including the Christian faith, and tried to explain what Christianity is. I sent him five copies of the Bible, with explanations, to introduce him to the Christian faith and make him understand our approach based on peace."
For her, what is happening in Syria is a "conspiracy from the outside, to spread chaos, to drive out Christians and eradicate their presence in the region and the role of the Church in the history of this nation."
Until March 2011, when the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad broke out, Syria was home to 40,000 Assyrian Christians, plus 1.2 million other Christians.
Since then, a bloody war has taken hold with 270,000 deaths and more than 11 million people displaced. Like in neighbouring Iraq, half of the country’s Christians have left. (DS)
Shared From AsiaNewsIT

RIP Fr. Frank Martin - Longest-Serving Priest of #Australia

Father Frank Martin, Australia's Longest-Serving Priest, Passes Away

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Mar 2016
Father Frank Martin was Sydney's longest serving priest
Priests and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Sydney were saddened to hear of the passing of Father Frank Martin, Australia's longest serving priest who passed away on Monday 7 March, aged 99 years old.
Father Frank was ordained to the priesthood on 25 July, 1940 by Cardinal Gilroy, and served in various parishes including Daceyville, Camperdown, Penshurst, Enfield and Concord.  Although Father Frank retired in 1981, he continued to serve and minister to people, even during his time at Stella Maris Nursing Home, Cronulla.
He was a priest for more than 75 years.
Last year, Father Frank was awarded with a papal honour, the Croce pro Ecclesia et Pontiface (Cross of Honour for the Church and Pope), for his "outstanding and very long and lasting devotion to the priesthood and to the Archdiocese of Sydney".
Bishop Terry Brady, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, presented the honour to him on 1 October last year, in the presence of family and friends.
He was nominated for the papal award by the Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev. Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
A Vigil Mass will be held for Fr Frank at Stella Maris Nursing Home at 7pm on Monday 14 March.
The Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Tuesday 15 March at St Aloysius Church, Cronulla commencing at 11:00am.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Father Frank Martin with family and friends

#PopeFrancis "God does not nail us to our sin...He wants to free us, and wants that we want to be together with Him. FULL TEXT - Video

Pope Francis gave a gift to those at St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer on the 5th Sunday of Lent. They received a pocket-sized copy of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke. This was in honor of Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.Volunteers from the Saint Martha Pediatric Dispensary distributed the copies of the special edition (not available for sale) to those present, 
FULL TEXT of Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Lent (cf. Jn 8.1 to 11) is so beautiful, I really like to read it and re-read it. It presents the story of the adulterous woman, highlighting the theme of the mercy of God, Who never wants death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. The scene takes place in the area of the temple. Imagine [as if it were] there, in the Square [of St. Peter’s] Basilica. Jesus is teaching the people, and here comes some of the scribes and Pharisees, dragging before Him a woman caught in adultery. That woman is in the middle, between Jesus and the crowd (cf. v. 3), between the mercy of the Son of God and violence, the rage of her accusers. In fact, they have not come to the Master to ask for His opinion – for they were bad people – but to try to trap Him. In fact, if Jesus will follow the severity of the law, approving the stoning of the woman, He will lose His reputation for gentleness and kindness that so fascinates the people; if He wants to be merciful, He will have to go against the law, that He Himself said He did not want to destroy, but to make (cf. Mt 5:17). And Jesus is put in this situation.
Their bad intention is hiding under the question put to Jesus, “So what do you say?” (V. 5). Jesus does not answer, He is silent and makes a mysterious gesture: “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.” (v. 7). Maybe He was making a drawing, some say He was writing the sins of the Pharisees … anyway, he wrote, as if He were somewhere else. In this manner, He invites everyone to be calm, not to act out of impulsiveness, and to seek God’s justice. But those, who were bad, insist and expect an answer from Him. It seemed they had a thirst for blood. Then, Jesus looks up and says, ““Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (v. 7). This response displaces the accusers, disarming them all, in the true sense of the word: all of them laid down their “weapons,” that is, the stones ready to be hurled, both those visibly against the woman, and those hiding that they were against Jesus. And as the Lord continues to draw on the earth, doing drawings, I do not know …, the accusers leave one after the other, with heads down, beginning with the oldest, more aware of not being without sin. How well it does to make us aware that we are sinners! When we speak badly of others – all things that we know well – do we have the courage to drop the stones on the ground that we have ready to throw at others, and think a bit about our sins!
Only the woman and Jesus remained there: misery and mercy, facing each other. And this, as often happens to us when we stop in front of the confessional, with shame, to make seen our misery and ask forgiveness! “Woman, where are they?” (V. 10), Jesus says to her. And just this fact, and His eyes full of mercy, full of love, to make that person feel – perhaps for the first time – that she has a dignity, that she is not her sin, but has the dignity of a person; that she can change her life, can exit from her bondage and walk in a new way.
Dear brothers and sisters, this woman represents all of us, that we are sinners, adulterers before God, traitors of His loyalty. And her experience is God’s will for each of us: not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus. He is the grace that saves us from sin and death. He wrote in the ground, in the dust of which every human being is made (cf. Gen 2.7), God’s judgment: “I do not want you to die, but that you live.” God does not nail us to our sin, does not identify us with the wrongs we have committed. We have a name, and God does not identify this name with the sin we have committed. He wants to free us, and wants that we want to be together with Him. He wants that our freedom is converted from evil to good, and this is possible – you can! – with His grace.
May the Virgin Mary help us to entrust ourselves fully to God’s mercy, to become new creatures.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet all of you who have come from Rome, Italy and other countries, in particular the pilgrims from Seville, Freiburg (Germany), Innsbruck and Ontario (Canada).
I greet the volunteers of the “Mater Dei” house of Vittorio Veneto. I greet the numerous parish groups, including the faithful of Boiano, Power, Calenzano, Zevio and Agropoli. As well as young people from many parts of Italy: I cannot name them all, but I remember those of Compiobbi and Mozzanica, those of Catholic Action of the Diocese of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno, and the candidates of Scandicci and Milano-Lambrate.
And now I would like to renew the gesture of giving you a pocket-sized Gospel. It is the Gospel of Luke, that we read on the Sundays of the liturgical year. The booklet was entitled as follows: “The Gospel of the Mercy of St. Luke”; In fact, the Evangelist reports the words of Jesus: “Be merciful, as your Father” (6.36 is merciful), that inspired the theme of this Jubilee Year. They will be distributed, free of charge by volunteers of the “Santa Marta” pediatric dispensary in the Vatican, along with some elderly and grandparents of Rome. How deserving are the grandfathers and grandmothers who transmit the faith to their grandchildren! I invite you to take this Gospel and read it, a song every day; in order that the mercy of the Father will dwell in your heart and you will bring it to everyone you meet. And finally, on page 123, there are the seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual works of mercy. It would be nice if you learn them by heart, so it is easier to do them! I invite you to take this Gospel, in order that the mercy of the Father is done and works in you. And you, volunteers, grandfathers and grandmothers, who distribute the Gospel, think of the people who are in Piazza Pio XII – you see that could not enter – in order that they also receive this Gospel.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

#PopeFrancis special Audience for Jubilee of Mercy - Text - FULL VIDEO

Pope Francis waves to the faithful at his special General Audience on Saturday. - AFP
Pope Francis waves to the faithful at his special General Audience on Saturday. - AFP
12/03/2016 10:

(Vatican Radio) As part of ongoing celebrations of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis held a special General Audience on Saturday morning.
The special Saturday Audiences are being held once each month throughout the Jubilee Year.
During his Audience, Pope Francis focused on the topic of Mercy and Service, basing his reflections on the words of Jesus after He washed the feet of His disciples (John 3:12-14).
Below, please find the official English-language summary of the Pope’s message at the General Audience on Saturday, 12 March 2016:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we draw near to Easter in this Holy Year of Divine Mercy, we reflect today on the Lord’s gesture of washing the feet of His disciples. In this striking act of humility, Jesus tells them, and us, to do the same for one another. He gave us a clear example of His new commandment of love. As Saint John says, just as He laid down His life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for one another (cf. 1 Jn 3:16). Jesus shows us that love is service – lowly, quiet and hidden – of our brothers and sisters, especially those in greatest need. By bending low to wash His disciples’ feet, Jesus also invites us to acknowledge our failings, to pray for one another and to forgive each other from the heart. He shows us that to be “merciful like the Father” means to follow Jesus daily along the path of humble service.

Sunday Mass Online : Sun. March 13, 2016 - 5th of #Lent - C

Fifth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 36

Reading 1IS 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD,
who opens a way in the sea
and a path in the mighty waters,
who leads out chariots and horsemen,
a powerful army,
till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
snuffed out and quenched like a wick.
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
Wild beasts honor me,
jackals and ostriches,
for I put water in the desert
and rivers in the wasteland
for my chosen people to drink,
the people whom I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.

Responsorial PsalmPS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading 2PHIL 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law
but that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God,
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity,
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

Verse Before The GospelJL 2:12-13

Even now, says the Lord,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.

GospelJN 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Saint March 13 : St. Euphrasia : Virgin

Feast: March 13

Feast Day:March 13
Virgin, b. in 380; d. after 410. She was the daughter of Antigonus, a senator of
Constantinople, and a relation of Emperor Theodosius. Her father died shortly after her birth, and her mother, also Euphrasia, devoted her life thenceforth exclusively to the service of God.

To carry out this ideal she abandoned the capital, and, with her seven-year-old daughter, repaired to Egypt, where she dwelt on one of her estates, near a convent, and adopted the nuns' austere mode of life. This example aroused in her daughter the desire to enter the convent, and her mother gave her into the care of the superior, that she might be trained in the ascetic life.

After her mother's death she declined an offer of marriage made, by the Emperor
Theodosius, on behalf of a senator's son, transferred to the emperor her entire fortune, to be used for charitable purposes, and took up, with a holy ardour, the rigorous practices of Christian perfection. She was about thirty when she died. Her feast is celebrated in the Greek Church on 25 July, and in the Latin Church on 13 March. She is mentioned by St. John Damascene, in his third "Oratio de imaginibus".

Image - Google Images


Saint March 13 : St. Roderic and St. Salomon : Martyrs in #Spain - #EspaƱa

Sts. Roderic and Salomon
Feast: March 13

Feast Day:March 13
9th century southern Spain
Roderic, also called Rudericus and Rodrigo, was a priest at Cabra who was assaulted by his two brothers, one a Muslim and the other a lapsed Catholic. He was denounced by the Muslim brother and imprisoned for falling away from the Islamic faith. Roderic proclaimed that he had always been a Christian but was charged with apostasy. In prison, he met Salomon, a man under the same charge. They were beheaded at Cordoba after a long period of imprisonment.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia