Friday, April 22, 2016

Saint April 23 : St. George - Patron of #Soldiers and #Equestrians

Patron of:
agricultural workers; Amersfoort, Netherlands; Aragon; archers; armourers; Beirut, Lebanon; Bulgaria; butchers; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Corinthians; Crusaders; England; equestrians; Ethiopia; farmers; Ferrara; field workers; Genoa; Georgia; Gozo; Greece; Haldern, Germany; Heide; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; knights; lepers and leprosy; Lithuania; Lod; Malta; Modica, Sicily; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; Piran; plague; Portugal; Portuguese Army; Portuguese Navy; Ptuj, Slovenia; Reggio Calabria; riders; saddle makers; Scouts; sheep; shepherds; skin diseases; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights
Born:between ca. AD 275 and 281, Nicomedia, Bithynia, modern-day northwestern Turkey
Died:April 23, 303, Lydda, Palestine
 St George is honoured in the Catholic Church as one of the most illustrious martyrs of Christ. The Greeks have long distinguished him by the title of The Great Martyr, and keep his festival a holiday of obligation. There stood formerly in Constantinople five or six churches dedicated in his honour, the oldest of which was always said to have been built by Constantine the Great, who seems also to have been the founder of the church of St. George, which stood over his tomb in Palestine. Both these churches were certainly built under the first Christian emperors. In the middle of the sixth age, the Emperor Justinian erected a new church in honour of this saint at Bizanes, in Lesser Armenia: the Emperor Mauritius founded one in Constantinople. It is related in the life of St. Theodorus of Siceon that he served God a long while in a chapel which bore the name of St. George, had a particular devotion to this glorious martyr, and strongly recommended the same to Mauritius when he foretold him the  empire. One of the churches of St. George in Constantinople, called Manganes, with a monastery adjoining, gave to the Hellespont the name of the Arm of St. George. To this day is St. George honoured as principal patron, or tutelar saint, by several Eastern nations, particularly the Georgians. The Byzantine historians relate several battles to have been gained, and other miracles wrought, through his intercession. From frequent pilgrimages to his church and tomb in Palestine, performed by those who visited the Holy Land, his veneration was much propagated over the West. St. Gregory of Tours mentions him as highly celebrated in France in the sixth century. St. Gregory the Great ordered an old church of St. George, which was fallen to decay, to be repaired. His office is found in the sacramentary of that pope and many others. St. Clotildis, wife of Clovis, the first Christian king of France, erected altars under his name; and the church of Chelles, built by her, was originally dedicated in his honour. The ancient life of Droctovaeus mentions, that certain relics of St. George were placed in the church of St. Vincent, now called St. Germaris, in Paris, when it was first consecrated. Fortunatus of Poitiers wrote an epigram on a church of St. George, in Mentz. The intercession of this saint was implored especially in battles and by warriors, as appears by several instances in the Byzantine history, and he is said to have been himself a great soldier. He is, at this day, the tutelar saint of the republic of Genoa; and was chosen by our ancestors in the same quality under our first Norman kings. The great national council, held at Oxford in 1222, commanded his feast to be kept a holiday of the lesser rank throughout all England. Under his name and ensign was instituted by our victorious king, Edward III, in 1330, the most noble Order of knighthood in Europe, consisting of twenty-five knights besides the sovereign. Its establishment is dated fifty years before the knights of St. Michael were instituted in France by Louis XI; eighty years before the Order of the Golden Fleece, established by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy; and one hundred and ninety years before the Order of St. Andrew was set up in Scotland by James V. The emperor Frederic IV instituted, in 1470, an Order of knights in honour of St. George; and an honourable military Order in Venice bears his name.

The extraordinary devotion of all Christendom to this saint is an authentic proof how glorious his triumph and name have always been in the church. All his acts relate that he suffered under Diocletian at Nicomedia. Joseph Assemani shows, from the unanimous consent of all churches, that he was crowned on the 23rd of April. According to the account given us by Metaphrastes, he was born in Cappadocia, of noble Christian parents. After the death of his father he went with his mother into Palestine, she being a native of that country, and having there a considerable estate, which fell to her son George. He was strong and robust in body, and having embraced the profession of a soldier, was made a tribune, or colonel, in the army. By his courage and conduct he was soon preferred to higher stations by the Emperor Diocletian. When that prince waged war against the Christian religion, St. George laid aside the marks of his dignity, threw up his commission and posts, and complained to the emperor himself of his severities and bloody edicts. He was immediately cast into prison, and tried, first by promises, and afterwards put to the question and tortured with great cruelty; but nothing could shake his constancy. The next day he was led through the city and beheaded. Some think him to have been the same illustrious young man who tore down the edicts when they were first fixed up at Nicomedia, as Lactantius relates in his book, On the Death of the Persecutors, and Eusebius in his history. The reason why St. George has been regarded as the patron of military men is partly upon the score of his profession, and partly upon the credit of a relation of his appearing to the Christian army in the holy war, before the battle of Antioch. The success of this battle proving fortunate to the Christians, under Godfrey of Bouillon, made the name of St. George more famous in Europe and disposed the military men to implore more particularly his intercession. This devotion was confirmed, as it is said, by an apparition of St. George to our king, Richard I, in his expedition against the Saracens; which vision being declared to the troops, was to them a great encouragement, and they soon after defeated the enemy. St. George is usually painted on horseback and tilting at a dragon under his feet; but this representation is no more than an emblematical figure, purporting that by his faith and Christian fortitude he conquered the devil, called the dragon in the Apocalypse.
Though many dishonour the profession of arms by a licentiousness of manners, yet, to show us that perfect sanctity is attainable in all states, we find the names of more soldiers recorded in the Martyrologies than almost of any other profession. Every true disciple of Christ must be a martyr in the disposition of his heart, as he must be ready to lose all, and to suffer anything, rather than to offend God. Every good Christian is also a martyr, by the patience and courage with which he bears all trials. There is no virtue more necessary, nor of which the exercise ought to be more frequent, than patience. In this mortal life we have continually something to suffer from disappointments in affairs, from the severity of the seasons, from the injustice, caprice, peevishness, jealousy, or antipathy of others; and from ourselves, in pains either of mind or body. Even our own weaknesses and faults are to us subjects of patience. And as we have continually many burdens, both of our own and others, to bear, it is only in patience that we are to possess our souls. This affords us comfort in all our sufferings and maintains our souls in unshaken tranquillity and peace. This is true greatness of mind and the virtue of heroic souls. But, alas! every accident ruffles and disturbs us; and we are insupportable even to ourselves. What comfort should we find, what peace should we enjoy, what treasures of virtue should we heap up, what an harvest of merits should we reap, if we had learned the true spirit of Christian patience! This is the martyrdom and the crown of every faithful disciple of Christ.

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Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday April 22, 2016

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 283

Reading 1ACTS 13:26-33

When Paul came to Antioch in Pisidia, he said in the synagogue:
“My brothers, children of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.
The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him,
and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets
that are read sabbath after sabbath.
For even though they found no grounds for a death sentence,
they asked Pilate to have him put to death,
and when they had accomplished all that was written about him,
they took him down from the tree and placed him in a tomb.
But God raised him from the dead,
and for many days he appeared to those
who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem.
These are now his witnesses before the people.
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11AB

R. (7bc) You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.
R. Alleluia.
“I myself have set up my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.”
R. You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.
R. Alleluia.
“Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
You shall rule them with an iron rod;
you shall shatter them like an earthen dish.”
R. You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.
R. Alleluia.
And now, O kings, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before him;
with trembling rejoice.
R. You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 14:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

#BreakingNews Beloved Florida Priest Killed - RIP Fr. Rene Robert - OFFICIAL Diocese Release

by Jean Gonzalez
Servant. Faithful. Teacher. Franciscan. Advocate. A unique gift.
That was how people who knew and loved Father Rene Robert described him. His murder struck a heavy blow to the St. Augustine community and the deaf community, which he faithfully and joyfully served for more than 35 years.
But even as they grieve, family and friends could not deny that Father Robert died as he lived – helping someone in need.
“Father Rene was a humble and generous servant of Our Lord and he shared his many gifts with the poor, the deaf community and with individuals whose lives have found themselves in jail or imprisoned. He put his faith into action through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy,” said Bishop Felipe Estévez of St. Augustine. “To those whom he ministered, Father Rene will be remembered for his kindness and endless love for them. He always saw the good in the people he served, reminding them that God created them for greatness with a good and noble purpose for others.”
St Augustine 450th-Woody-07147-min
Father Rene Robert at the procession for Mass during the 450th anniversary celebration of the City of St. Augustine on September 8, 2015. | Photo by Woody Huband
The 71-year-old priest, who had lived as a Franciscan brother, Franciscan priest and then an incardinated priest of St. Augustine, went missing April 10. A frequent Facebook poster, his last post was just after 1 p.m. from Orange Park Medical Center where he was visiting a friend. After that it was radio silence, which friends knew was not like him.
The St. Johns County Sherriff’s Office was notified and asked to make a well check at his apartment. Sheriff David Shoar, who had known Father Rene for three decades, said the well check found nothing unusual, but because the priest’s car was missing and he was not checking in online as he normally did, a bulletin was put out for his vehicle.
The sheriff, a Catholic, admitted he was worried about his friend, worry that intensified when Father Robert’s blue Toyota Corolla was spotted a half hour after the lookout was issued. Behind the wheel was Stephen Murray, a 28-year-old man recently released from jail. He gave chase on Interstate 95 in St. Johns County. When he crossed the county line into Duval, Jacksonville Sherriff’s officers continued the chase but lost him in a construction area off of I-95.
That was April 12 and the community came together in prayer hoping for Father Robert’s safe return.
Murray was captured in South Carolina April 13. After waiving extradition, he was transported back to St. Augustine. Shoar said he was questioned when he first arrived and there were plans to question him again the next morning. But Murray asked correctional officers if he could call the detectives on the case. He wanted to talk.
He told officials where to find Father Robert’s body. He was found April 18 in a rural area in Burke County, Ga. just outside of Waynesboro. It has been determined that Father Robert died April 10, the day he went missing. Shoar said Father Robert suffered a “terrible,” “violent” death, but added finding his body was a small miracle.
“The chance that we would have been able to find his body without the information the suspect gave would have been slim to none,” Shoar said of the painful discovery. “Maybe something that Father Rene said or did during their time compelled that man to talk. Maybe Father Rene’s kindness paid off in a small, but meaningful way.”
Father Robert’s kindness was something akin to his personality. Shoar said along with working with the deaf community, Father Robert had a “robust prison ministry program.” And while the sheriff, friends and even members of Father Robert’s family warned him about the high-risk nature of his ministry, there was no way to stop his passion.
“He was out there ministering to people everyone else gave up on: prostitutes, convicts, drug addicts,” Shoar said. “When I warned him, he told me, ‘I am doing what God is telling me to do,’ and I believed him. He died doing what he loved.”
It was that giving spirit that drew Shoar to Father Robert. Thanks to the prison ministry, the two would talk shop, and Father Robert encouraged the sheriff to regard his career not just as a job, but also a ministry. The priest told him just as he was called to serve others, so are law enforcement personnel.
“At his most fundamental base, Father Rene was a teacher of good things and the word of God. He provided us a better way to live our lives; that giving is a lot better than receiving,” said Shoar who hopes to begin a type of scholarship or grant to better people’s lives after release from prison in his friend’s memory. “I was blessed to know him. We cannot afford to forget Father Rene.”
The pain of the loss greatly fell on the shoulders of Father Robert’s family, including younger brother Bryan, and his younger sister Debbie Bedard. They arrived in St. Augustine April 15, and attended a prayer vigil held in their brother’s honor on April 16. To see the outpouring of love for their brother was “phenomenal,” Bedard said, adding there was “no way to thank them enough for what they have done for my brother.”
“So many people came to me and said, ‘You know he’s a saint, right?’ and he was,” Bedard said in a phone interview. “He always had a tender spirit. I had the blessing of him being my brother. I am so proud of him. I still am proud of him. He was just so remarkable. It is just so sad that we no longer have him on this earth.”
Born Sept. 2, 1944 in New York City, Richard Wayne Robert, he was adopted at the age of 3. Bedard recalled a story their mother told over and over about the first time she took young Richard to church. He started running up the aisle and pointed at the priest saying, “‘I want to go with him.”
A young Friar Rene Robert with the Order of the Friars Minor Conventual Franciscans | Special
As a young man, he took vows in 1962 with the Order of Friars Minor Conventual Franciscans and took the name Brother Rene Robert. Although he loved his community, he also kept close ties with his family. Along with being a loving brother and son, Bedard said when he would visit them, he always took the entire brood of nieces and nephews to the movies, paying for their tickets, popcorn and candy. For a man who took a vow of poverty seriously, that offer only made the act extra special, she said.
Although Bedard teased that they called their brother the “absent-minded professor” because he constantly left something behind during his visits, she added he had a ‘tender spirit” and never lost his temper. Even in times of heartbreak, like when their mother was dying of cancer, he offered solace.
“I gave up on the Lord for a short time because I was angry that my mother suffered with cancer. But he helped me realize it wasn’t God’s fault that she died; it was the darn sickness, it was cancer. He said, ‘You will see her again someday,’ and I know I will because he made me believe. And that is why I know I will see him again, too,” Bedard said. “He didn’t deserve to die. I don’t know how it happened, and I don’t think I want to know. It was not right, and it breaks my heart.”
Kate Quigley (left) signing with children and Father Rene Robert at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, circa 1980's | Special
Kate Quigley (left) signing with children and Father Rene Robert at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, circa 1980’s | Special
Kate Quigley Burns, a longtime friend, also recalled Father Robert’s even temperament and calm demeanor. They first met in the 1980s, both sharing a passion to serve the handicapped, including the deaf community. She described Father Robert as a true servant and a true Franciscan. What little money he had, he would share with those in need, even buying a plane ticket so a family member could visit relatives.
When they met, Father Robert was a consecrated religious brother. They both worked together at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, where, at the time, there were some 600 residential Catholic students. Father Robert taught religious education at the school, but found it increasingly difficult to find priests who would come to the school and hear confessions.
After much discernment, he believed he found an answer: He would go to seminary to study to be a priest. Burns thought his friend was crazy. Not only did he love being a brother, but being a priest for the deaf community was quite an endeavor. He would have the responsibility at the school and also with a parish.
“It’s a well-known fact to anyone who works for the deaf that finding a priest who knows the language and serves the community is like finding a needle in a haystack. And it is a huge undertaking. You feel like you can never sleep because you are ministering to two very different communities,” said Burns, who moved to work for people with disabilities on a diocesan level.
She knew that he entered the seminary but then discovered Brother Rene was now Father Rene.
“He reached his goal, which truly wasn’t surprising, but it was an extremely tough decision for him. But he did it for the people he served.”
Bishop John J. Snyder, then bishop of St. Augustine, ordained Father Robert a priest on August 19, 1989 at St. Mary Church in his hometown of Waterford, N.Y. At that time, there was not a Franciscan order within the St. Augustine area where Father Robert wished to continue to serve at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. So, Bishop Snyder offered San Sebastian Parish in St. Augustine to the order. They stayed there for 13 years, but decided to leave the parish in November 1993, which left Father Robert at a crossroads once more. If he were to stay with the Franciscans, he most likely would be moved away from his deaf ministry. If he became incardinated in the St. Augustine Diocese he could stay, but that would mean he would have to leave his beloved Franciscan order. And that’s what he did.
“He did it for the sake of the deaf community,” Burns recalled of her friend’s heartbreaking decision. “But he didn’t allow it to change him. He was a Franciscan through and through, and he had a vow of poverty and kept it for life, no matter what team he played for.”
Bishop Snyder agreed. “He was a unique gift to us,” the bishop said. “He reached out to touch lives and to be a healing presence. He gave of himself so extraordinarily, generously. As a priest, you are to serve people in the name of God and he exemplified that.”
Father Rene Robert with Sister of St. Joseph, Rita Baum in St. Augustine | Photo courtesy of Sister Rita Baum
Father Rene Robert with Sister of St. Joseph, Rita Baum in St. Augustine | Photo courtesy of Sister Rita Baum
It was Sister of St. Joseph Rita Baum, a longtime advocate for the deaf community, who hired then-Brother Robert to work at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in 1980. The two had met at national conferences for ministers for the deaf. Sister Baum described Father Robert as “faithful,” especially in keeping the community together and in touch with one another. That was probably the impetus for the priest’s love of Facebook, where he not only posted his whereabouts, but saint of the day postings and prayers. It was an easy way to keep connected with students and the deaf community, which spanned the entire state. But it also afforded him opportunities to minister to them in a way they could understand.
“He so loved the deaf community that he changed his own life for them. He was happy being a Franciscan brother, but he knew the deaf community needed priests,” she said. “Many times the deaf are neglected by the Church, and perhaps even lost to the Catholic Church. No matter how hard we both tried to share the faith with the deaf community, once they left (the school) and went elsewhere, they would go to whatever denomination spoke their language, and that wasn’t always the Catholic Church.”
It was that fact that fueled Father Robert because he began to witness it in his own community. Just this past year, he restarted a monthly Mass for the deaf at San Sebastian that included a dinner social afterward. With Father Robert’s passing, there are no immediate plans to continue the Mass or social afterwards.
“I would hope that someone else would be inspired by his witness to follow in his footsteps and serve the deaf community,” Sister Baum said. “That would be the best way to remember Father Rene.”
Diocese of St. Augustin Release

#PopeFrancis "Christ is alive! Christ is risen! Christ is among us..." #Homily

Pope Francis celebrating Mass on Friday in the Santa Marta residence - OSS_ROM
Pope Francis celebrating Mass on Friday in the Santa Marta residence - OSS_ROM
22/04/2016 13:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday urged Christians to have the courage to announce the good news about Jesus, just like the Apostles who testified to Christ’s resurrection even at the cost of their lives. The Pope’s words came during his morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence where he said announcing the Gospel, intercession and hope are the three interlinked dimensions of a Christian life. Friday (April 22nd) marked the 43rd anniversary of the religious profession of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
In his homily Pope Francis reflected on the three lynchpins that he said should mark the life of a believer: announcing the Gospel, intercession and hope. The heart of this announcement for a Christian, he explained, is that Jesus died and rose from the dead for our salvation. This, he continued, is what the Apostles did before the Jews and the pagans and their testimony was made even at the cost of their lives, their own blood. 
“When John and Peter were brought before the Sanhedrin after the healing of the crippled man and the priests forbade them to mention the name of Jesus, the Resurrection, they courageously and simply said: ‘We cannot stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard,’ - the announcement. And we Christians through our faith have the Holy Spirit inside us that makes us see and listen to the truth about Jesus who was put to death for our sins and who rose again. This is the announcement of our Christian life. Christ is alive! Christ is risen! Christ is among us in the community and accompanies us on our journey.”
Turning next to the question of intercession, Pope Francis reminded his listeners that just as Jesus told his Apostles at the last Supper, He is praying for us and preparing us a place in the house of the Lord.
“What does this mean?  How does Jesus prepare this place? By praying for each one of us. Jesus prays for us and this is his intercession.  At this moment, Jesus is working by praying for us. Just as he told Peter one time before the passion, ‘Peter, I prayed for you.’  In the same way, Jesus is now the intercessor between the Father and us.”
The Pope went on to explain how Jesus intercedes for us by showing his wounds to the Father after the Resurrection and names each one of us to Him.  This, he said, is Jesus’ prayer and his intercession on our behalf. 
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis touched on the third dimension of a Christian life: hope.  “A Christian,” he declared, “is a woman or a man of hope who hopes that the Lord will return.” All the Church is waiting for the coming of Jesus who will return and this is “Christian hope.”
“Each one of us, let’s ask ourselves: How is the announcement (of Jesus) in my life?  How is my relationship with Jesus who intercedes for me?  And how is my hope?  Do I truly believe that the Lord is risen? Do I believe that he prays to the Father on my behalf?  Each time that I call him, He is praying for me, He is interceding. Do I truly believe that He will return, that He will come?  It would do us good to ask ourselves these (questions) about our faith:  Do I believe in the announcement of Jesus’ good news?  Do I believe in his intercession?  Am I a man or a woman of hope?”