Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Saint June 9 : St. Ephrem of Syria : Doctor : Patron of #Spiritual Directors

St. Ephrem of Syria DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: June 9

Feast Day:
June 9
306 at Nisibis, Mesopotamia (in modern Syria)
9 June 373 at Edessa (in modern Iraq)
Patron of:
Spiritual directors and spiritual leaders
Born at Nisibis, then under Roman rule, early in the fourth century; died June, 373. The name of his father is unknown, but he was a pagan and a priest of the goddess Abnil or Abizal. His mother was a native of Amid. Ephraem was instructed in the Christian mysteries by St. James, the famous Bishop of Nisibis, and was baptized at the age of eighteen (or twenty-eight). Thenceforth he became more intimate with the holy bishop, who availed himself of the services of Ephraem to renew the moral life of the citizens of Nisibis, especially during the sieges of 338, 346, and 350. One of his biographers relates that on a certain occasion he cursed from the city walls the Persian hosts, whereupon a cloud of flies and mosquitoes settled on the army of Sapor II  and compelled it to withdraw. The adventurous campaign of Julian the Apostate, which for a time menaced Persia, ended, as is well known, in disaster, and his successor, Jovianus, was only too happy to rescue from annihilation some remnant of the great army which his predecessor had led across the Euphrates. To accomplish even so much the emperor had to sign a disadvantageous treaty, by the terms of which Rome lost the Eastern provinces conquered at the end of the third century; among the cities retroceded to Persia was Nisibis (363). To escape the cruel persecution that was then raging in Persia, most of the Christian population abandoned Nisibis en masse. Ephraem went with his people, and settled first at Beit-Garbaya, then at Amid, finally at Edessa, the capital of Osrhoene, where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, a hermit remarkable for his  severe asceticism. Nevertheless he took an interest in all matters that closely concerned the population of Edessa. Several ancient writers say that he was a deacon; as such he could well have been authorized to preach in public. At this time some ten heretical sects were active in Edessa; Ephraem contended vigorously with all of them, notably with the disciples of the illustrious philosopher Bardesanes. To this period belongs nearly all his literary work; apart from some poems composed at Nisibis, the rest of his writings-sermons, hymns, exegetical treatises-date from his sojourn at Edessa. It is not improbable that he is one of the chief founders of the theological "School of the Persians", so called because its first students and original masters were Persian Christian refugees of 363. At his death St. Ephraem was borne without pomp to the cemetery "of the foreigners". The Armenian monks of the monastery of St. Sergius at Edessa claim to possess his body.

The aforesaid facts represent all that is historically certain concerning the career of Ephraem. All details added later by Syrian biographers are at best of doubtful value. To this class belong not only the legendary and occasionally puerile traits so dear to Oriental writers, but also others seemingly reliable, e.g. an alleged journey to Egypt with a sojourn of eight years, during which he is said to have confuted publicly certain spokesmen of the Arian heretics. The relations of St. Ephraem and St. Basil are narrated by very reliable authors, e.g. St. Gregory of Nyssa (the Pseudo?) and Sozomen, according to whom the hermit of Edessa, attracted by the great reputation of St. Basil, resolved to visit him at Caesarea. He was warmly received and was ordained deacon by St. Basil; four years later he refused both the priesthood and the episcopate that St. Basil offered him through delegates sent for that purpose to Edessa. Though Ephraem seems to have been quite ignorant of Greek, this meeting with St. Basil is not improbable; some good critics, however, hold the evidence insufficient, and therefore reject it, or at least withhold their adhesion. The life of St. Ephraem, therefore, offers not a few obscure problems; only the general outline of his career is known to us. It is certain, however, that while he lived he was very influential among the Syrian Christians of Edessa, and that his memory was revered by all, Orthodox, Monophysites, and Nestorians. They call him the "sun of the Syrians," the "column of the Church", the "harp of the Holy Spirit". More extraordinary still is the homage paid by the Greeks who rarely mention Syrian writers. Among the works of St. Gregory of Nyssa (P.G., XLVI, 819) is a sermon (though not acknowledged by some) which is a real panegyric of St. Ephraem. Twenty years after the latter's death St. Jerome mentions him as follows in his catalogue of illustrious Christians: "Ephraem, deacon of the Church of Edessa, wrote many works [opuscula] in Syriac, and became so famous that his writings are publicly read in some churches after the Sacred Scriptures. I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man" (De viris illustr., c. cxv). Theodoret of Cyrus also praised his poetic genius and theological knowledge (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxvi). Sozomen pretends that Ephraem wrote 3,000,000 verses, and gives the names of some of his disciples, some of whom remained orthodox, while others fell into heresy (Hist. Eccl., III, xvi). From the Syrian and Byzantine Churches the fame of Ephraem spread among all Christians. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on 1 February. In their menologies and synaxaria Greeks and Russians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Armenians honour the holy deacon of Edessa.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. June 8, 2016 - #HolyMass

Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 361

Reading 11 KGS 18:20-39

Ahab sent to all the children of Israel
and had the prophets assemble on Mount Carmel.

Elijah appealed to all the people and said,
“How long will you straddle the issue?
If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.”
The people, however, did not answer him.
So Elijah said to the people,
“I am the only surviving prophet of the LORD,
and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.
Give us two young bulls.
Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood,
but start no fire.
I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood,
but shall start no fire.
You shall call on your gods, and I will call on the LORD.
The God who answers with fire is God.”
All the people answered, “Agreed!”

Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal,
“Choose one young bull and prepare it first,
for there are more of you.
Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire.”
Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it
and called on Baal from morning to noon, saying,
“Answer us, Baal!”
But there was no sound, and no one answering.
And they hopped around the altar they had prepared.
When it was noon, Elijah taunted them:
“Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating,
or may have retired, or may be on a journey.
Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears,
as was their custom, until blood gushed over them.
Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state
until the time for offering sacrifice.
But there was not a sound;
no one answered, and no one was listening.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.”
When the people had done so, he repaired the altar of the LORD
that had been destroyed.
He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob,
to whom the LORD had said, “Your name shall be Israel.”
He built an altar in honor of the LORD with the stones,
and made a trench around the altar
large enough for two measures of grain.
When he had arranged the wood,
he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood.
“Fill four jars with water,” he said,
“and pour it over the burnt offering and over the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he said,
and they did it a third time.
The water flowed around the altar,
and the trench was filled with the water.

At the time for offering sacrifice,
the prophet Elijah came forward and said,
“LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
let it be known this day that you are God in Israel
and that I am your servant
and have done all these things by your command.
Answer me, LORD!
Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God
and that you have brought them back to their senses.”
The LORD’s fire came down
and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust,
and it lapped up the water in the trench.
Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said,
“The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”

Responsorial PsalmPS 16:1B-2AB, 4, 5AB AND 8, 11

R. (1b) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
They multiply their sorrows
who court other gods.
Blood libations to them I will not pour out,
nor will I take their names upon my lips.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
O LORD, my allotted portion and cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

AlleluiaPS 25:4B, 5A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
and guide me in your truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

#PopeFrancis "... pray with special intensity to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary so that they teach us to love God" FULL TEXT - Video Audience

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Before beginning the catechesis, I would like to greet a group of couples, celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. This truly is “the good wine” of the family! Yours is a testimony that the newlyweds – that I will greet later – and that young people must learn. It is a beautiful testimony. Thank you for your testimony.
After having commented on some parables of mercy, today we reflect on Jesus’ first miracle, which the evangelist John calls “signs,” because Jesus did not do them to arouse wonder but to reveal the Father’s love. John (2:1-11), in fact, narrates the first of these prodigious signs, and it is carried out at Cana of Galilee. It is a sort of “entrance door” on which words and expressions are carved, which illumine the entire mystery of Christ and open the disciples ‘heart to faith. Let us look at some of them.
In the introduction, we find the expression “Jesus with His disciples” (v. 2). Those that Jesus has called to follow Him He has united to Himself in a community and now, as one family, they are all invited to the wedding. Beginning His public ministry at the wedding of Cana, Jesus manifests Himself as the Spouse of the People of God, announced by the prophets, and He reveals to us the profundity of the relationship that unites us to Him: it is a new Covenant of love. What is at the foundation of our faith? — An act of mercy with which Jesus has united us to Himself. And the Christian life is the answer to this love, it is like the story of two who are in love. God and man meet one another, seek one another, find one another, celebrate and love one another: precisely like the loved and beloved in theCanticle of Canticles. All the rest comes as consequence of this relationship. The Church is Jesus’ family in which His love is poured out; it is this love that the Church cherishes and wishes to give to all.
Understood also in the context of the Covenant, is Our Lady’s observation: “They have no wine” (v. 3). How is it possible to celebrate the wedding and to feast if what the prophets indicated, as an element typical of the Messianic banquet, is lacking? (cf. Amos 9:13-14; Joel2:24; Isaiah 25:6). Water is necessary to live, but wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the celebration. It is a nuptial feast in which wine is lacking and the newlyweds are embarrassed by this. But can you imagine ending a wedding feast drinking tea? It would be an embarrassment. Wine is necessary for a celebration. In transforming the water into wine in the jars used “for the rites of purification of the Jews” (v. 6), Jesus carries out an eloquent sign: He transforms the Law of Moses in Gospel, bearer of joy. As John himself says elsewhere: “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17).
Mary’s words to the servants crown the nuptial picture: “Do whatever He tells you” (v. 5). It’s curious: they are her last words reported by the Gospels.: they are her legacy that she gives to all of us. Today also Our Lady says to us all: “Whatever He says to you – Jesus says to you –, do it.” It is the legacy she has left us: it’s beautiful! It is an expression that recalls the formula of faith used by the people of Israel at Sinai in answer to the promises of the Covenant: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 19:8). And indeed at Cana the servants obey. “Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. Again He said to them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the steward of the feast.’ So they took it” (vv. 7-8). In these nuptials the New Covenant is truly stipulated and to the Lord’s servants, namely to the whole Church is entrusted the new mission: “Do whatever He tells you!” To serve the Lord means to listen and to put His Word into practice. It is the simple but essential recommendation of Jesus’ Mother and it is the Christian’s program of life. To draw from the jar is equivalent for each one of us to entrust ourselves to the Word of God to experience its efficacy in life. Then, together with the steward of the banquet who tasted the water that became wine, we too can exclaim: “You have kept the good wine until now” (v. 10). Yes, the Lord continues to keep that good wine for our salvation, just as it continues to gush from the pierced side of the Lord.
The conclusion of the account sounds like a sentence: “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (v. 11). The wedding of Cana is much more than the simple account of Jesus’ first miracle. As a casket, He keeps the secret of His person and the purpose of His coming: the awaited Spouse begins the nuptials that are fulfilled in the Paschal Mystery. In these nuptials, Jesus unites His disciples to Himself with a new and definitive Covenant. At Cana Jesus’ disciples become His family and at Cana the faith of the Church was born. We are all invited to those nuptials, because the new wine is no longer lacking!
* * *
Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims: welcome!
I am happy to receive the pilgrimage of the diocese of Asti, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Ravinale; the young athletes of the Macerata-Loreto Pilgrimage with the “torch of peace,” accompanied by Monsignor Marconi and Monsignor Vecerrica; the “Saint Francis Migrants” Association of the diocese of Siena; the S.O.S. Childrens’ Villages group of Ostuni and UNITALSI of Tuscany. I hope that for all of you this meeting with the Successor of Peter awakens a renewed commitment in favor of peace and of solidarity towards the neediest.
With particular affection, I greet the International Association of the Lasalle Universities; the Delegates of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, gathered in General Assembly, as well as the White Fathers, during their Chapter General. I exhort you to live with joy the mission in fidelity to the Gospel and to your respective charisms.
A special greeting goes to Italian Catholic Action, which re-launches today the prayer experience “A Minute for Peace,” culminating in the Eucharistic Celebration in the Basilica of the Holy Spirit in Sassia.
I exhort young people, the sick and newlyweds to pray with special intensity to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary so that they teach us to love God and our neighbor with full dedication. Text by translated by Zenit