Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Saint August 18 : St. Helena : Patron of #Converts, #Divorced : Mother of #Constantine

Born: 248, Drepanum, Bithynia, Asia Minor 
Died: 328, Constantinople, Roman 
Major Shrine: The shrine to Saint Helena in St. Peter's Basilica Patron of: archeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people, empresses, Helena, the capital of Montana.
The mother of Constantine the Great, born about the middle of the third century, possibly in Drepanum (later known as Helenopolis) on the Nicomedian Gulf; died about 330. She was of humble parentage; St. Ambrose, in his "Oratio de obitu Theodosii", referred to her as a stabularia, or inn-keeper. Nevertheless, she became the lawful wife of Constantius Chlorus. Her first and only son, Constantine, was born in Naissus in Upper Moesia, in the year 274. The statement made by English chroniclers of the Middle Ages, according to which Helena was supposed to have been the daughter of a British prince, is entirely without historical foundation. It may arise from the misinterpretation of a term used in the fourth chapter of the panegyric on Constantine's marriage with Fausta, that Constantine, oriendo (i.e., "by his beginnings," "from the outset") had honoured Britain, which was taken as an allusion to his birth, whereas the reference was really to the beginning of his reign.
In the year 292 Constantius, having become co-Regent of the West, gave himself up to considerations of a political nature and forsook Helena in order to marry Theodora, the step-daughter of Emperor Maximinianus Herculius, his patron, and well-wisher. But her son remained faithful and loyal to her. On the death of Constantius Chlorus, in 308, Constantine, who succeeded him, summoned his mother to the imperial court, conferred on her the title of Augusta, ordered that all honour should be paid her as the mother of the sovereign, and had coins struck bearing her effigy. Her son's influence caused her to embrace Christianity after his victory over Maxentius. This is directly attested by Eusebius (Vita Constantini, III, xlvii): "She (his mother) became under his (Constantine's) influence such a devout servant of God, that one might believe her to have been from her very childhood a disciple of the Redeemer of mankind". It is also clear from the declaration of the contemporary historian of the Church that Helena, from the time of her conversion had an earnestly Christian life and by her influence and liberality favoured the wider spread of Christianity. Tradition links her name with the building of Christian churches in the cities of the West, where the imperial court resided, notably at Rome and Trier, and there is no reason for rejecting this tradition, for we know positively through Eusebius that Helena erected churches on the hallowed spots of Palestine. Despite her advanced age she undertook a journey to Palestine when Constantine, through his victory over Licinius, had become sole master of the Roman Empire, subsequently, therefore, to the year 324. It was in Palestine, as we learn from Eusebius (loc. cit., xlii), that she had resolved to bring to God, the King of kings, the homage and tribute of her devotion. She lavished on that land her bounties and good deeds, she "explored it with remarkable discernment", and "visited it with the care and solicitude of the emperor himself". Then, when she "had shown due veneration to the footsteps of the Saviour", she had two churches erected for the worship of God: one was raised in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem. She also embellished the sacred grotto with rich ornaments. This sojourn in Jerusalem proved the starting-point of the legend first recorded by Rufinus as to the discovery of the Cross of Christ.
Her princely munificence was such that, according to Eusebius, she assisted not only individuals but entire communities. The poor and destitute were the special objects of her charity. She visited the churches everywhere with pious zeal and made them rich donations. It was thus that, in fulfilment of the Saviour's precept, she brought forth abundant fruit in word and deed. If Helena conducted herself in this manner while in the Holy Land, which is indeed testified to by Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, we should not doubt that she manifested the same piety and benevolence in those other cities of the empire in which she resided after her conversion. Her memory in Rome is chiefly identified with the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme. On the present location of this church formerly stood the Palatium Sessorianum, and near by were the Thermae Helenianae, which baths derived their name from the empress. Here two inscriptions were found composed in honour of Helena. The Sessorium, which was near the site of the Lateran, probably served as Helena's residence when she stayed in Rome; so that it is quite possible for a Christian basilica to have been erected on this spot by Constantine, at her suggestion and in honour of the true Cross. Helena was still living in the year 326, when Constantine ordered the execution of his son Crispus. When, according to Socrates' account (Church History I.17), the emperor in 327 improved Drepanum, his mother's native town, and decreed that it should be called Helenopolis, it is probable that the latter returned from Palestine to her son who was then residing in the Orient. Constantine was with her when she died, at the advanced age of eighty years or thereabouts (Eusebius, Life of Constantine III.46). This must have been about the year 330, for the last coins which are known to have been stamped with her name bore this date. Her body was brought to Constantinople and laid to rest in the imperial vault of the church of the Apostles. It is presumed that her remains were transferred in 849 to the Abbey of Hautvillers, in the French Archdiocese of Reims, as recorded by the monk Altmann in his "Translatio". She was revered as a saint, and the veneration spread, early in the ninth century, even to Western countries. Her feast falls on 18 August.
Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia

#PopeFrancis has Private meeting with President Hollande of France at #Vatican

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on Wednesday with France’s President Francois Hollande. Their meeting came three weeks after the brutal murder of the elderly French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed by two young French terrorists claiming allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group whilst he was celebrating Mass in his church near the city of Rouen.
Following the murder of Father Hamel, President Hollande telephoned Pope Francis to express his closeness and told him that “when a priest is attacked all of France is wounded.”  Speaking on his flight to Poland, the Pope thanked the French President “in a special way” for having contacted him like “a brother.” 
President Hollande was accompanied on his visit to the Vatican by the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and the French ambassador to the Holy See, Philippe Zeller. 
Wednesday’s encounter marked the second time that Pope Francis and President Hollande have met in the Vatican.  Their first meeting, which was an official one, took place on 24th January 2014.  

Proof by Person - Scholarly examination of Augustine's Choice by Dr. Gary Knight

Charles Natoli speculates in his essay Augustine's Choice: The Lord of Light or the Light of the Lord, (Philosophy Now 71 Jan/Feb 2009: ight_or_the_Light_of_the_Lord ) on whether Augustine's ratiocination for substituting Manicheanism with Christianity is compelling in one direction only. Could a post-Christian Augustine use similar polemics to disabuse himself of rational faith in favour of Mani’s dualist gnosticism? The question is relevant for inductees to Yogic ideologies that are dualist, or at least immanentist in so far as claiming to lead the unenlightened to all Godhead in themselves. Could an illuminated Gus of the Vedas persuade souls to leave Christ for spas and shamanistic retreats? Natoli is rightly convinced that in bestirring Augustine's reasons of the heart, what had to operate is more than meets the eye in Confessions. Something palpable had to be present in that illumination calling to tolle, lege: something so bracing and convicting that Augustine could more easily doubt his breath. It had to equal at least the ataraxia of the brahman in union with himself, for Gus left all behind: he surrendered fame in the well- honed skills of rhetoric, and the high social status these begat. Natoli, no expert at Christianity, stops short of compassing what the great enticement could comprise, but does probe an analogy of conviction for Nietzsche - of whom he is an expert - namely "proof by power". What gives the mind restive conviction is the raw power of an idea to dispel doubt and confusion (or perhaps one's cares about doubt and confusion). However, clear imperatives alone cannot insure against the invincible error of self-delusion: a dangerous thing if we but take Nietzsche as an example. Natoli makes his stand on the skeptic’s creed that, at all costs, avoids the delusion to be feared lurking in every move to sureness. Something surer than proofs of power would need to be in play for a mind to pass the bar to assurance raised by conscientious skepticism. Did Augustine have that? Natoli supposes that Augustine's conscience - skeptical though it was for a period before conversion - was not equal to desires, cravings and longings – imagining some unspecified needs outside of fame, society, power and women. By this metric the conversion of a C.S. Lewis would reduce to a weakness of sentiment, where a stoical Cathar or Yogi would fare better. But setting aside the counterfactual that Manichee adeptness had long nerved Augustine for disciplines, we must allow that Augustine had heart, or perhaps elan which he - like Pascal later - knew capable of imagination and aspiration. A power of affection Natoli attaches to Augustine's need to worship, averting him from Mani. A man of zeal would hardly die for a 'Lord of Lights' usurped by Darkness, whose harsh Lord made the crushing world; rather, "passionate worship Augustine longed to give, [wanting a] guarantor for the kind of certainty he craved". The 'criterion' adduced by Augustine on recollecting his skepticism: "I wished to be made as sure of the things I could not see as I was certain that seven and three make ten", is as round a criterion as any skeptic has written. But Natoli sees it as longing that found fulfillment in the garden, with the book. I don’t deny it as a longing; but here's a skeptic who admits longing as a criterion for dispassionate satisfaction! In this I think Natoli is being inchoately honest, on behalf of all skeptics. Fulfillment in the garden was actually not with the book, nor with some 'proof by power', but with proof far superior for the seeker: a distinctive and enlightening presence (effulgent as Natoli inadvertently puts it). A presence who bestows light as one reads His word. It has been well said of personhood that it is in the end the mystery of presence; and as Augustine could later demonstrate, this is because persons were made in God’s image. There is no greater mystery of presence than God’s. Augustine in the garden was imbibing his first draught of the religion not so much of the 'book', but of the Person. The Person of the book: its very author, present beside and even taken into the reader (or he into Him). For only personal presence, indeed the presence of a Lord by any definition of the word (to a Lord can you say you owe your peace of mind, which is tantamount to your whole being) could have so dispelled all doubt, including the wholesome doubt of conscience (Augustine was very conscious of his sins when he heard the child’s voice calling him to read). Only a Lord could have given ineluctable personal confederacy and the peace that comes with it, lifting all darkness. From the rapidly evolving fruit, we know this is what happened to Augustine that day. Very soon after, Augustine addressed his Lord as "You". To answer Natoli, this is what established the one direction of heart’s conversion (opening even the mind) - a reverse analogue of the law of entropy setting time's arrow. In the spirit lies a gradient or hill in order ephemeral: once the Personal encounter occurs, an uphill walk together is all-desirable, for on the way confusion retreats - not without tasking mortifications. And none of its ordeal is found clear or possible but for the walk with the Lord. As Augustine would say it, order is the first rule of heaven. Even so, its enjoyment is delight only because it is the pleasure of heaven's Lord. Augustine called the order "Beauty", singing "O beauty ever ancient, ever new; how late have I loved thee!" When he realized that not only he, but others – especially his champion, St. Paul - were sharers in the love of their Creator, he was moved to call this beauty what God calls it: Church. In grasping the scroll, Gus later realized he had encountered the Church who gave him the text; and with the Church he embraced the Person Who filled it, the Person Whom he would call Lord. Paul too, about to cease forever persecuting the Church, had said, “who are You, Lord?”. The shocking, even blinding (often with tears, as also happened for Augustine in the garden) peace of embrace is what characterizes the one- way door to the Truth, and is the reason that Augustine's ever increasing luminance was not to diminish. As the Lord said himself, "the Truth will set you free". Longing skeptics, take heed; for in the end darkness is a choice. By: Dr. Gary Knight

#PopeFrancis "Jesus fills our heart and our life with His love, with His Forgiveness.." FULL TEXT - Audience - Video

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! Today, we wish to reflect on the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. At the beginning of Matthew’s account (cf. 14:13-21), Jesus has just received the news of John the Baptist’s death, and He crosses the lake in a boat, seeking “a deserted place by himself” (v. 13). The people, however, caught on and went ahead of Him on foot, so that “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” (v. 14). Jesus was like this: always with compassion, always thinking of others. The determination of the people who feared to be left alone, as though abandoned, is impressive. John the Baptist, the charismatic prophet, being dead, they entrust themselves to Jesus, of whom John himself had said: “The one who is coming after me is mightier than I.” (Matthew 3:11). So, the crowds follow Him everywhere, to hear Him and to bring the sick to Him. And, seeing this, Jesus is moved. Jesus is not cold; He does not have a cold heart. Jesus can be moved. On one hand, He feels bound to this crowd and does not want them to go away; on the other, He is in need of moments of solitude, of prayer, with the Father. He spends many nights praying with His Father.
So, that day also, the Master dedicated Himself to the people. His compassion is not a vague sentiment; instead, it shows all the strength of His will to be close to us and to save us. Jesus loves us so much and wants to be close to us.
When it was evening, Jesus was concerned to feed all those tired and hungry people, and He takes care of all those who follow Him. And He wants to involve His disciples in this. In fact, He says to them: “you give them something to eat” (v. 16). And He showed them that the few loaves and fish they had — with the strength of faith and prayer –, could be shared by all those people. Jesus wrought a miracle, but it is the miracle of faith, of prayer, aroused by compassion and love. So Jesus “broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (v. 19). The Lord goes to meet men’s needs, but He wants to make each one of us concretely participant of His compassion.
Now, we pause on Jesus’ gesture of blessing: He took “the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them” (v. 19). As can be seen, these are the same signs that Jesus carried out in the Last Supper; and they are also the same that every priest carries out when he celebrates the Holy Eucharist. The Christian community is born and reborn continually of this Eucharistic Communion. To live communion with Christ, therefore, is altogether other than remaining passive and estranged from daily life; on the contrary, it inserts us increasingly in our relation with the men and women of our time, to offer them a concrete sign of mercy and of Christ’s care. While nourishing us with Christ, little by little the Eucharist we celebrate also transforms us into the Body of Christ and spiritual food for brothers. Jesus wants to reach everyone, to bring to all the love of God. Therefore, He renders every believer a servant of mercy. Jesus saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them and He multiplied the loaves; He does the same with the Eucharist. And we believers, who receive this Eucharistic bread, are driven by Jesus to bring this service to others, with His same compassion. This is the way.
The account of the multiplication of loaves and fish ends with the verification that all were satisfied and with the gathering of the left over pieces (cf. v. 20). When, with His compassion and His love, Jesus gives us a grace, He forgives us our sins, He embraces us, He loves us, He does not do things by half, but completely. As happened here, all are satisfied. Jesus fills our heart and our life with His love, with His forgiveness, with His compassion. Hence Jesus allowed His disciples to carry out His order. Thus they know the way to follow: to feed the people and keep them united; to be, that is, at the service of life and of communion. Therefore, we invoke the Lord, may He always render His Church capable of this holy service, so that every one of us is able to be an instrument of communion in our own family, at work, in the parish and in groups of memberships, a visible sign of the mercy of God, who does not want to leave anyone in solitude and in need, so that communion and peace and men’s communion with God descend among men, because this communion is life for all.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Greeting in Italian
I greet affectionately the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular the Sisters of Saint Anne, the faithful of the Holy Mary of Carmel parish in Manfredonia, the group of the oratories of Borgomanero and Rivolta d’Adda.
Finally, I turn to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. The Solemnity of the Assumption, which we celebrated a few days ago, invited us to live with commitment the journey of this world constantly turned to eternal goods.
Dear young people, in building your future always put Christ’s call in the first place. You, dear sick, have in your suffering the comfort of Mary’s maternal presence, sign of hope. I wish for you, dear newlyweds, that your love is a mirror of the infinite and eternal of God.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

#PopeFrancis establishes New Dicastery on "Laity, Family and Life" with Bishop Farrell as Prefect

On Wednesday, the Vatican released a motu proprio by Pope Francis which officially establishes the new dicastery on the Laity, Family, and Life.
“For many centuries, the Church, a caring mother, has had care and respect for the laity, the family, and life, manifesting the love of the merciful Savior for humanity,” reads the new document, which was signed August 15.
“Our thoughts turn to the laity, the family, and life, to whom we wish to offer support and help, because they are active witness to the Gospel in our time and an expression of the goodness of the Redeemer.”
The new Vatican department will take on the duties of the current Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family.
The Laity, Family, and Life dicastery will take effect on Sept. 1. At that point, the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and the Family will cease.
Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, who until now has served as the bishop of Dallas, Texas, has been appointed as the first prefect of the new dicastery.
He is the brother of Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
In his Apostolic Letter the Pope wrote that the new Dicastery will be "governed by special Statues" and all the responsibilities and functions held by the current Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for the Family will be transferred to the new Dicastery from September 1st. After that date the two Councils in question will cease to exist. 
As a loving Mother, the Pope wrote, the Church has always throughout the centuries shown her concern for the laity, the family and life, by witnessing our Lord’s merciful love for humanity and we want to ensure that “the riches of Jesus Christ are poured out appropriately and with profusion among the faithful.”

For this reason, we are taking prompt moves so that that "the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia can respond to the situation of our times and adapt to the needs of the universal Church. In particular, our thoughts are turned towards the laity, the family and life to whom we wish to offer our support and help so that they are active witnesses of the Gospel in our times and as a sign of the goodness of the Lord." (Combined Reports from Vatican Radio)

Today's #HolyMass Readings and Video : Wed. August 17, 2016

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 421

Reading 1EZ 34:1-11

The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their milk, worn their wool,
and slaughtered the fatlings,
but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.
You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd,
and became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered
and wandered over all the mountains and high hills;
my sheep were scattered over the whole earth,
with no one to look after them or to search for them.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
As I live, says the Lord GOD,
because my sheep have been given over to pillage,
and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast,
for lack of a shepherd;
because my shepherds did not look after my sheep,
but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Responsorial PsalmPS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness will follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

AlleluiaHEB 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”