Thursday, March 24, 2016

Saint March 25 : The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary


The fact of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is related in Luke 1:26-38. The Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of St. John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused (i.e. married) to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother's house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. (Bardenhewer, Maria Verk., 69). And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: "Hail, full of grace (to whom is given grace, favoured one), the Lord is with thee." Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation. And the angel continued and said: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (St. Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word of God like Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"
The angel to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of St. John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word."
Since 1889 Holzmann and many Protestant writers have tried to show that the verses Luke 1:34-35, containing the message of conception through the Holy Ghost are interpolated. Usener derives the origin of the "myth" from the heathen hero worship; but Harnack tries to prove that it is of Judaic origin (Isaiah 7:14, Behold a Virgin shall conceive, etc.). Bardenhewer, however, has fully established the authenticity of the text (p. 13). St. Luke may have taken his knowledge of the event from an older account, written in Aramaic or Hebrew. The words: "Blessed art thou among women" (v. 28), are spurious and taken from verse 42, the account of the Visitation. Cardinal Cajetan wanted to understand the words: "because I know not man", not of the future, but only of the past: up to this hour I do not know man. This manifest error, which contradicts the words of the text, has been universally rejected by all Catholic authors. The opinion that Joseph at the time of the Annunciation was an aged widower and Mary twelve or fifteen years of age, is founded only upon apocryphal documents. The local tradition of Nazareth pretends that the angel met Mary and greeted her at the fountain, and when she fled from him in fear, he followed her into the house and there continued his message. (Buhl, Geogr. v. Palaest., 1896.) The year and day of the Annunciation cannot be determined as long as new material does not throw more light on the subject. The present date of the feast (25 March) depends upon the date of the older feast of Christmas.
The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother He is a member of the human race. If the virginity of Mary before, during, and after the conception of her Divine Son was always considered part of the deposit of faith, this was done only on account of the historical facts and testimonials. The Incarnation of the Son of God did not in itself necessitate this exception from the laws of nature. Only reasons of expediency are given for it, chiefly, the end of the Incarnation. About to found a new generation of the children of God, The Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Sts. Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the redemption. It was the will of God, St. Thomas says (Summa III:30), that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.
Text shared from the Catholic Encyclopedia

What is Holy Thursday - #HolyThursday begins the #Triduum - #Maundy Thursday a mandate to Love


Holy Thursday is also called "Maundy Thursday"?
"Maundy" comes from the Latin mandatum.
John 13:34: "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos."
English translation:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." 

"Chrism Mass"?


35. The Chrism Mass which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium and at which the holy chrism is consecrated and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ.
The priests who concelebrate with the bishop should come to this Mass from different parts of the diocese, thus showing in the consecration of the chrism to be his witnesses and cooperators, just as in their daily ministry they are his helpers and counselors.
The faithful are also to be encouraged to participate in this Mass, and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.
The chrism and the oil is to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation on Easter night.
The bishop celebrates a "Chrism Mass" and most of the priests of the diocese attend. 

Music for Holy Thursday


50. During the singing of the hymn "Gloria in excelsis" in accordance with local custom, the bells may be rung, and should thereafter remain silent until the "Gloria in excelsis" of the Easter Vigil, unless the Conference of Bishops' or the local Ordinary, for a suitable reason, has decided otherwise.[56] During this same period the organ and other musical instruments may be used only for the purpose of supporting the singing.[57]

Chants accompany the procession traditionally "Ubi caritas est vera." with the gifts on Holy Thursday in the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, and hymns to accompany the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the place of repose; Traditionally "Pange lingua" or some other eucharistic song is used to accompany the Eucharist to the Altar of Repose.


Foot washing is an Option:


51. The washing of the feet of chosen men which, according to tradition, is performed on this day, represents the service and charity of Christ, who came "not to be served, but to serve. This tradition should be maintained, and its proper significance explained.
(Pope Francis has indicated that this may now include women)

After Mass of the Lord's Supper

According to Paschales Solemnitatis:
54. After the post-Communion prayer, the procession forms, with the crossbar at its head. The Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by lighted candles and incense, is carried through the church to the place of reservation, to the singing of the hymn "Pange lingua" or some other eucharistic song.
This rite of transfer of the Blessed Sacrament may not be carried out if the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion will not be celebrated in that same church on the following day.
55. The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a closed tabernacle or pyx. Under no circumstances may it be exposed in a monstrance.
The chapel of repose is not prepared so as to represent the "Lord's burial" but for the custody of the eucharistic bread that will be distributed in Communion on Good Friday.

 Eucharistic adoration 

Paschales Solemnitatis:
 After the Mass of the Lord's Supper the faithful should be encouraged to spend a suitable period of time during the night in the church in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which has been solemnly reserved.
Where appropriate, this prolonged eucharistic adoration may be accompanied by the reading of some part of the Gospel of St. John (chs. 13-17).
From midnight onwards, however, the adoration should be made without external solemnity, because the day of the Lord's passion has begun.

Ornaments in the Church -  Paschales Solemnitatis:

 After Mass the altar should be stripped.
It is fitting that any crosses in the church be covered with a red or purple veil, unless they have already been veiled on the Saturday before the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
Lamps should not be lit before the images of saints.

#BREAKING Little Sisters' of the Poor at SCOTUS to argue for #ProLife beliefs and Religious Freedom - Please PRAY


The Little Sisters’ case was heard before the Supreme Court this morning. #LetThemServe is the hashtag used to support the Sister. The  Little Sisters of the Poor,  is a Catholic order of women religious who help the elderly poor. Their lawyers are the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  Other orders and organization were present at the Supreme court to support the Sister including the Sisters for Life, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist,  the Heritage Foundation. It was Chief Justice John Roberts who presided the arguments at Zubik v. Burwell. Here faith-based employers argue that contraceptive-coverage mandate imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services violate the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing religious nonprofits to act against sincerely held religious beliefs.
FULL TEXT Statement by Cardinal Wuerl of Washington: 
On Wednesday next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the legal challenge to the HHS Mandate brought by the Archdiocese of Washington, its affiliated entities, and many other religious employers from around the country, including most prominently the Little Sisters of the Poor. Because next week is Holy Week, I would like now to discuss with you some of our major concerns – space does not permit a more extensive discussion – about what is at stake in these cases.
The archdiocese, the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops and other faith communities have voiced their strong objections to the unprecedented violation of fundamental religious liberties and rights of conscience that is presented by the mandate ever since it was first proposed and then issued as a final rule by the Department of Health and Human Services in February 2012.
In May 2012, the archdiocese and other institutions filed the first federal lawsuits challenging this effort to compel religious employers to act against their faith in violation of their inalienable rights, as protected under the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. At that time, I also produced a video where I discussed the issues involved, and gave an extensive media interview as well, both of which I invite you to view now.
In summary, the HHS Mandate is an administrative regulation which requires employers to provide coverage in their employee health plans for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, or face severe fines and penalties for noncompliance. The mandate applies to Catholic and other religious institutions as well, even though these products and services are contrary to our faith and moral teachings on the inviolability of human life and dignity.
Although there is a very narrow religious exemption in the regulation, the government has consistently refused to extend it beyond houses of worship – nearly all Catholic charities, schools, universities, hospitals, and other faith-based institutions are not exempt because they serve and/or employ people of other faiths. For these non-exempt religious organizations, if they are unwilling to provide the morally-offensive coverage directly like any other employer, then a special alternative mechanism under the regulations, called an “accommodation,” would require them to take actions which nevertheless facilitate the provision of that same offensive coverage in connection with their own health plans.
This places many of our Catholic ministries in the untenable position of choosing between violating the mandate or abandoning our religious beliefs by being involved in one fashion or another in practices that we believe are immoral. And the fines and penalties for noncompliance would be devastating to their ability to continue serving the Church and our sisters and brothers in the community – $100 a day per covered individual if they continue to offer a health plan.
For the archdiocese alone, with about 4,000 people currently covered, we would face penalties of as high as nearly $145 million per year for practicing our faith. For a ministry like Catholic Charities, the penalties would be $20 million per year, which is more than the unrestricted funds available in their budget.
The only other alternatives would be for the archdiocese to drop employee health benefits altogether and face potential fines of more than $4 million per year, or for our ministries to simply abandon their Gospel mission of serving those in need and close. Both of these alternatives would themselves violate our Catholic faith and are totally unacceptable.
Ultimately, this dispute is not about people being able to obtain these products and services that are contrary to Catholic teaching – these are readily available in many stores and clinics. What this is about is the government needlessly intruding in the internal governance of religious institutions. It is about religious liberty and our being able to freely practice our faith and not be obliged to participate in things that are morally wrong.
Of the many legal and moral objections to the mandate, a particular concern is the government’s assertion that it can define for us what constitutes our faith in practice. We object to the way that the government has sought to divide the Church by limiting the exercise of religion to worship and by deeming that only those faith institutions that primarily serve and employ people of their own faith are “religious enough” to be exempt.
In fact, the Church’s deepest nature is expressed in the three-fold responsibility of celebrating the sacraments, proclaiming the Gospel to the world, and charitable service to all. “These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being” (Deus Caritas Est, 25). Catholic schools, social service organizations, hospitals and universities are no less Catholic than our churches, and it is not the government’s business to say otherwise.
In a similar objectionable way in these lawsuits, some courts have taken it upon themselves to essentially judge which actions amount to moral complicity with wrong or are otherwise contrary to the moral teachings of our faith and which are not. However, as the Supreme Court affirmed in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, it is not for the judiciary to decide questions of religion and moral philosophy, much less tell religious organizations that their beliefs and own moral calculus are wrong.
The Church did not choose this fight. Every step of the way we have been resolute in defending our first freedom so that we might practice our Catholic faith fully and freely. We will remain committed to acting according to our faith and conscience as a minister of charity and voice of truth and conscience. That is what the Church has done for 2,000 years.
Please pray for a successful resolution to this matter.
Statement-Shared from: http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/

#PopeFrancis "Jesus washes feet, Judas sold Jesus for money" #HolyThursday Mass - FULL TEXT - Video

atican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Missa in coena Domini on Holy Thursday evening, at the CARA Welcome and Hospitality Centre operated by the Auxilium cooperative. Located a short distance outside the Rome city limits, in Castelnuovo di Porto, the Centre provides temporary lodging and services to nearly 900 asylum seekers from 25 different countries.
In his homily, Pope Francis renewed his condemnation of those who – like Judas Iscariot – sow  discord for gain and trade in arms, selling the tools of bloodshed for profit. The Holy Father also spoke of the communicative power of concrete actions, saying that gestures of fraternity, concord and peace among people of different religion and cultural tradition who truly desire peace and resolve to live as brothers and sisters is a powerful witness to a world sorely in need of such signs.
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s English translation of the Holy Father’s remarks
******************************************
Gestures speak louder than pictures and words. There are, in the Word of God we read, two gestures: Jesus serving, washing the feet ... He, who was the “head man”, washing the feet of others, of His own, even of the least; one gesture. The second gesture: Judas who goes to the enemies of Jesus, those who do not want peace with Jesus, to take the money that bought His betrayal; the 30 pieces of silver.
Two gestures.
Even today, here, there are two gestures: this, of all of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated. One gesture. Three days ago, an act of war, of destruction in a European city, by people who do not want to live in peace. Though behind that gesture, as there were behid that of Judas, there were others. Behind Judas there were those who offered money, that Jesus be delivered up to them. Behind that [other] gesture [on Tuesday in Belgium], there are manufacturers, arms dealers who want blood, not peace; they want the war, not fraternity.
Two gestures, just the same: Jesus washes feet, Judas sold Jesus for money. You, we, all of us together, of different religions, different cultures, but children of the same Father, brothers – and there, those poor people, who buy weapons to wreck fraternity. Today, at this time, when I do the same act of Jesus washing the feet of twelve of you, let us all make an gesture of brotherhood, and let us all say: “We are different, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.”
This, then, is the gesture that I make with you. Each of us has a story, each of you has a story you carry with you. Many crosses, many sorrows: but also an open heart that wants brotherhood. Let each, in his religious language, pray the Lord that this brotherhood be contagious in the world, that there be no 30 pieces of silver to purchase a brother’s murder, that there be always brotherhood and goodness. So be it.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : #HolyThursday Mass of the Lord's Supper - March 24, 2016


Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Lectionary: 39


Reading 1EX 12:1-8, 11-14

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

“This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18

R. (cf. 1 Cor 10:16) Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

Reading 21 COR 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Verse Before The GospelJN 13:34

I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.

GospelJN 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

#PopeFrancis "Mercy restores everything" #Chrism Mass on #HolyThursday - FULL TEXT Homily - Video



Pope Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass for Holy Thursday at St Peter's basilica  - AFP
Pope Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass for Holy Thursday at St Peter's basilica - AFP
24/03/2016 08:20


(Vatican Radio) On the morning of Holy Thursday, Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of Chrism at St Peter’s Basilica.
During the Holy Mass, the Holy Father blessed the sacred oils (Chrism, the oil of catechumens, and the oil of the sick), which will be used during the Easter Vigil, and in liturgical celebrations throughout the year.
In his homily during the Mass, Pope Francis once again on the theme of mercy, speaking especially of two areas in which the Lord shows “an excess of mercy”: in encounter, and in forgiveness.
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared homily for the Chrism Mass:
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass of the Chrism
24 March 2016
          After hearing Jesus read from the Prophet Isaiah and say: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21), the congregation in the synagogue of Nazareth might well have burst into applause. They might have then wept for joy, as did the people when Nehemiah and Ezra the priest read from the book of the Law found while they were rebuilding the walls. But the Gospels tell us that Jesus’ townspeople did the opposite; they closed their hearts to him and sent him off. At first, “all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words that came from his mouth” (4:22). But then an insidious question began to make the rounds: “Is this not the son of Joseph, the carpenter?” (4:22). And then, “they were filled with rage” (4:28). They wanted to throw him off the cliff. This was in fulfilment of the elderly Simeon’s prophecy to the Virgin Mary that he would be “a sign of contradiction” (2:34). By his words and actions, Jesus lays bare the secrets of the heart of every man and woman.
          Where the Lord proclaims the Gospel of the Father’s unconditional mercy to the poor, the outcast and the oppressed, is the very place we are called to take a stand, to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim 6:12). His battle is not against men and women, but against the devil (cf. Eph 6:12), the enemy of humanity. But the Lord “passes through the midst” of all those who would stop him and “continues on his way” (Lk 4:30). Jesus does not fight to build power. If he breaks down walls and challenges our sense of security, he does this to open the flood gates of that mercy which, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, he wants to pour out upon our world. A mercy which expands; it proclaims and brings newness; it heals, liberates and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour.
          The mercy of our God is infinite and indescribable. We express the power of this mystery as an “ever greater” mercy, a mercy in motion, a mercy that each day seeks to make progress, taking small steps forward and advancing in that wasteland where indifference and violence have predominated.
          This was the way of the Good Samaritan, who “showed mercy” (cf. Lk10:37): he was moved, he drew near to the unconscious man, he bandaged his wounds, took him to the inn, stayed there that evening and promised to return and cover any further cost. This is the way of mercy, which gathers together small gestures. Without demeaning, it grows with each helpful sign and act of love. Every one of us, looking at our own lives as God does, can try to remember the ways in which the Lord has been merciful towards us, how he has been much more merciful than we imagined. In this we can find the courage to ask him to take a step further and to reveal yet more of his mercy in the future: “Show us, Lord, your mercy” (Ps 85:8). This paradoxical way of praying to an ever more merciful God, helps us to tear down those walls with which we try to contain the abundant greatness of his heart. It is good for us to break out of our set ways, because it is proper to the Heart of God to overflow with tenderness, with ever more to give. For the Lord prefers something to be wasted rather than one drop of mercy be held back. He would rather have many seeds be carried off by the birds of the air than have one seed be missing, since each of those seeds has the capacity to bear abundant fruit, thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even a hundredfold.
          As priests, we are witnesses to and ministers of the ever-increasing abundance of the Father’s mercy; we have the rewarding and consoling task of incarnating mercy, as Jesus did, who “went about doing good and healing” (Acts 10:38) in a thousand ways so that it could touch everyone. We can help to inculturate mercy, so that each person can embrace it and experience it personally. This will help all people truly understand and practise mercy with creativity, in ways that respect their local cultures and families.
          Today, during this Holy Thursday of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I would like to speak of two areas in which the Lord shows excess in mercy. Based on his example, we also should not hesitate in showing excess. The first area I am referring to is encounter; the second is God’s forgiveness, which shames us while also giving us dignity.
          The first area where we see God showing excess in his ever-increasing mercy is that of encounter. He gives himself completely and in such a way that every encounter leads to rejoicing. In the parable of the Merciful Father we are astounded by the man who runs, deeply moved, to his son, and throws his arms around him; we see how he embraces his son, kisses him, puts a ring on his finger, and then gives him his sandals, thus showing that he is a son and not a servant. Finally, he gives orders to everyone and organizes a party. In contemplating with awe this superabundance of the Father’s joy that is freely and boundlessly expressed when his son returns, we should not be fearful of exaggerating our gratitude. Our attitude should be that of the poor leper who, seeing himself healed, leaves his nine friends who go off to do what Jesus ordered, and goes back to kneel at the feet of the Lord, glorifying and thanking God aloud.
          Mercy restores everything; it restores dignity to each person. This is why effusive gratitude is the proper response: we have to go the party, to put on our best clothes, to cast off the rancour of the elder brother, to rejoice and give thanks… Only in this way, participating fully in such rejoicing, is it possible to think straight, to ask for forgiveness, and see more clearly how to make up for the evil we have committed. It would be good for us to ask ourselves: after going to confession, do I rejoice? Or do I move on immediately to the next thing, as we would after going to the doctor, when we hear that the test results are not so bad and put them back in their envelope? And when I give alms, do I give time to the person who receives them to express their gratitude, do I celebrate the smile and the blessings that the poor offer, or do I continue on in haste with my own affairs after tossing in a coin?
          The second area in which we see how God exceeds in his ever greater mercy is forgiveness itself.  God does not only forgive incalculable debts, as he does to that servant who begs for mercy but is then miserly to his own debtor; he also enables us to move directly from the most shameful disgrace to the highest dignity without any intermediary stages. The Lords allows the forgiven woman to wash his feet with her tears. As soon as Simon confesses his sin and begs Jesus to send him away, the Lord raises him to be a fisher of men. We, however, tend to separate these two attitudes: when we are ashamed of our sins, we hide ourselves and walk around with our heads down, like Adam and Eve; and when we are raised up to some dignity, we try to cover up our sins and take pleasure in being seen, almost showing off.
          Our response to God’s superabundant forgiveness should be always to preserve that healthy tension between a dignified shame and a shamed dignity. It is the attitude of one who seeks a humble and lowly place, but who can also allow the Lord to raise him up for the good of the mission, without complacency. The model that the Gospel consecrates, and which can help us when we confess our sins, is Peter, who allowed himself to be questioned about his love for the Lord, but who also renewed his acceptance of the ministry of shepherding the flock which the Lord had entrusted to him.
          To grow in this “dignity which is capable of humbling itself”, and which delivers us from thinking that we are more or are less than what we are by grace, can help us understand the words of the prophet Isaiah that immediately follow the passage our Lord read in the synagogue at Nazareth: “You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God” (Is 61:6). It is people who are poor, hungry, prisoners of war, without a future, cast to one side and rejected, that the Lord transforms into a priestly people.
          As priests, we identify with people who are excluded, people the Lord saves. We remind ourselves that there are countless masses of people who are poor, uneducated, prisoners, who find themselves in such situations because others oppress them. But we too remember that each of us knows the extent to which we too are often blind, lacking the radiant light of faith, not because we do not have the Gospel close at hand, but because of an excess of complicated theology. We feel that our soul thirsts for spirituality, not for a lack of Living Water which we only sip from, but because of an excessive “bubbly” spirituality, a “light” spirituality. We feel ourselves also trapped, not so much by insurmountable stone walls or steel enclosures that affect many peoples, but rather by a digital, virtual worldliness that is opened and closed by a simple click. We are oppressed, not by threats and pressures, like so many poor people, but by the allure of a thousand commercial advertisements which we cannot shrug off to walk ahead, freely, along paths that lead us to love of our brothers and sisters, to the Lord’s flock, to the sheep who wait for the voice of their shepherds.
          Jesus comes to redeem us, to send us out, to transform us from being poor and blind, imprisoned and oppressed, to become ministers of mercy and consolation. He says to us, using the words the prophet Ezekiel spoke to the people who sold themselves and betrayed the Lord: “I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth… Then you will remember your ways, and be ashamed when I take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God” (Ezek 16:60-63).
          In this Jubilee Year we celebrate our Father with hearts full of gratitude, and we pray to him that “he remember his mercy forever”; let us receive, with a dignity that is able to humble itself, the mercy revealed in the wounded flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us ask him to cleanse us of all sin and free us from every evil. And with the grace of the Holy Spirit let us commit ourselves anew to bringing God’s mercy to all men and women, and performing those works which the Spirit inspires in each of us for the common good of the entire People of God.

Saint March 24 : St. Catherine of Sweden : #ProLife Patron Against #Abortion, #Miscarriages



St. Catherine of Sweden
CO-FOUNDRESS OF THE BRIGITTINES, DAUGHTER OF ST. BRIGID OF SWEDEN
Feast: March 24


Information:
Feast Day:March 24
Born:1331 at Sweden
Died:24 March 1381
Canonized:1484 (cultus confirmed) by Pope Innocent VIII
Patron of:against abortion, against miscarriages
The fourth child of St. Bridget and her husband, Ulf Gudmarsson, born 1331 or 1332; died 24 March, 1381. At the time of her death St. Catherine was head of the convent of Wadstena, founded by her mother; hence the name, Catherine Vastanensis, by which she is occasionally called. At the age of  seven she was sent to the abbess of the convent of Riseberg to be educated and soon showed, like her mother, a desire for a life of self-mortification and devotion to spiritual things. At the command of her father, when about thirteen or fourteen years, she married a noble of German descent, Eggart von Kürnen. She at once persuaded her husband, who was a very religious man, to join her in a vow of chastity. Both lived in a state of virginity and devoted themselves to the exercise of Christian perfection and active charity. In spite of her deep love for her husband, Catherine accompanied her mother to Rome, where St. Bridget went in 1349. Soon after her arrival in that city Catherine received news of the death of her husband in Sweden. She now lived constantly with her mother, took an active part in St. Bridget's fruitful labours, and zealously imitated her mother's ascetic life. Although the distinguished and beautiful young widow was surrounded by suitors, she steadily refused all offers of marriage. In 1372 St. Catherine and her brother, Birger, accompanied their mother on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; after their return to Rome St. Catherine was with her mother in the latter's last illness and death.
In 1374, in obedience to St. Bridget's wish, Catherine brought back her mother's body to Sweden for burial at Wadstena, of which foundation she now became the head. It was the motherhouse of the Brigittine Order, also called the Order of St. Saviour. Catherine managed the convent with great skill and made the life there one in harmony with the principles laid down by its founder. The following hear she went again to Rome in order to promote the canonization of St. Bridget, and to obtain a new papal confirmation of the order. She secured another confirmation both from Gregory XI (1377) and from Urban VI (1379) but was unable to gain at the time the canonization of her mother, as the confusion caused by the Schism delayed the process. When this sorrowful division appeared she showed herself, like St. Catherine of Siena, a steadfast adherent of the part of the Roman Pope, Urban VI, in whose favour she testified before a judicial commission. Catherine stayed five years in Italy and then returned home, bearing a special letter of commendation from the pope. Not long after her arrival in Sweden she was taken ill and died. In 1484 Innocent VIII gave permission for her veneration as a saint and her feast was assigned to 22 March in the Roman martyrology. Catherine wrote a devotional work entitled "Consolation of the Soul" (Sielinna Troëst), largely composed of citations from the Scriptures and from early religious books; no copy is known to exist. Generally she is represented with a hind at her side, which is said to have come to her aid when unchaste youths sought to ensnare her.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)