Thursday, December 15, 2016

Saint December 16 : St. Adelaide : Patroness of #Princesses

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection: 

St. Adelaide was a marvel of grace and beauty, according to St. Odilon of Cluny, who was her spiritual director and biographer. Daughter of Rudolph II, King of Burgundy, she was born in 931 and at age 15 married Lothaire II, King of Italy. Later their daughter became Queen of France.

The court of the Roman Emperor at the time of St. Adelaide. Above, her grandson Otto III
Adelaide was 18-years-old when she lost her husband, who was supposedly poisoned by his political competitor Berengarius of Ivrea. The latter soon proclaimed himself King of Italy and proposed to unite Adelaide in marriage with his son. The widow refused and Berengarius confiscated her estates and held her prisoner in the Castle of Garda. St. Adelaide managed to escape and fled to the Castle of Canossa, property of the Church. From that impregnable fortress she directed a plea to Otto I, King of Germany, to come to her aid.

Otto I hastened to her appeal with a powerful army. After defeating her oppressor, Otto became King of Italy and married St. Adelaide. One year later, in 952 he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome. The eldest son of this marriage, Otto II, succeeded his father as Emperor. At first, influenced by his jealous wife Theohano, Otto II revolted against his mother. Fearing for her life, she fled to Burgundy. There she came to know St. Odilon and became famous for her charities to many French monasteries.

Later, after her son repented, she returned to Germany where she continued her saintly life. She sent a splendid imperial mantle worn by her son to be placed in the grave of St. Martin. She wrote these instructions to the one charged with the mission:

“When you will reach the tomb of the glorious St. Martin, say these words: ‘Bishop of God, receive these humble gifts from Adelaide, servant of the servants of God, sinner by nature and Empress by the grace of God. Receive this mantle of Otto, her eldest son. You, who had the glory to cover Our Lord with your mantle in the person of a poor man, pray for him.’”

After Theophano died, Adelaide became the regent of her grandson, Otto III. She used her position to help the poor, evangelize, and build and restore monasteries and churches. When she felt her end was near, she asked to be taken to the Convent of Seltz in Alsace that she had built. She was laid to rest next to the tomb of Otto the Great, her second husband.

Comments of Prof. Plinio: 

The life of St. Adelaide is so extraordinary that it could be the subject for a medieval illumination. She was not the kind of saint who lives in a convent in the recollected life of a cloister. Rather, she is the heroine who has great adventures and passes through the most difficult dangers. She was not the kind of person whose ideal is to live in retirement. To the contrary, she saw in the risk, in the uncertainty, in the fight for the cause of her legitimate rights, the reason for her life. For her this was the salt of life that gave it flavor.

She was a Princess, daughter of the King of Burgundy, and married the King of Italy. Berengarius II supposedly poisoned her husband, proclaimed himself King of Italy and wanted her to marry his son, that is, the son of the murderer of her husband. If she had, she could have lived an easy life, without problems. She refused, was imprisoned and exposed to the worst offenses. She escaped.

I admire her escape very much. Normally one has a different picture of a holy woman in prison: a sad lady, a little overweight, seated next to a column, weeping, lacking the cunning to fool the guards. She was the opposite. We can imagine her vigilant, studying her chances to escape. And when the moment came, she had the agility of mind to act, to slip through a door, to jump over a fence, to seek provisory refuge and then continue the flight until she was out of danger. A saint is not like the caricature of the sad fat lady; a saint has to have the virtue of fortitude.

St. Adelaide also knew where to find safety. She went to Canossa, the impregnable fortress where St. Gregory VII stayed when he received Emperor Henry IV, who went there to make penance, kiss the feet of the Pope, and ask forgiveness. Canossa was a territory that belonged to another king – the Pope, who was also a temporal sovereign. Therefore, Adelaide knew where to seek refuge: she was a good politician. She had the innocence of the dove, but also the cunning of the serpent.

After that, what did she do? Something one would not expect from a saint. She arranged a marriage for herself, and a very good one. She wrote to the King of Germany, the heir of the Holy Roman Empire, and asked him to come to defend her. He did, and then they were married. For her this represented the beginning of a new life. You can imagine the great fortitude of this soul, her dedication and courage. The magnificent virtues of St. Adelaide are the very opposite of the caricatures often painted of the saints!

Otto became Emperor, they married, and had a son. The son of this marriage, however, at first was not so good, and a new tragedy started for St. Adelaide. He revolted and persecuted her. She fled to Burgundy, met St. Odilon and made many gifts to the monasteries there. It is probable that she also made a promise to St. Martin in return for her son’s conversion, because the incident that follows gives the impression that she was fulfilling a promise made for a favor granted.When she sent the Emperor’s mantle to honor St. Martin, she included a message, and the most beautiful part of it, in a certain sense, was the title she chose for herself:

“Adelaide, sinner by nature and Empress by the grace of God.”

There is a grandeur in this title that comes from the simplicity of the contrast of the two descriptions. She attained the highest position a woman can have on earth, but she recognized that everything was due to grace.

Let us ask St. Adelaide to give us the spirit of adventure that she had. To be fighters for the right, to love the risk to its furthest limits within wisdom. To be courageous soldiers of Our Lady so that in the future someone could say about each one of us, “Sinner by nature, but champion against the Revolution by the grace of God.”
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#PopeFrancis “A life without dreams is not worthy of God..." Visit to Children's #Hospital ‘Bambino Gesù’ - VIDEO

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday greeted young patients, their families and hospital staff of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ Children’s Hospitaland encouraged them to nurture hope and to say ‘thank you’ to God for having shown us the way to give meaning to our human existence.
Amongst the hundreds of children at the audience receiving care from the Vatican hospital, were young patients from across the world including 15 kids from the Central African Republic where the ‘Bambino Gesù’ has a special cooperation project like the ones in Jordan and in Palestine which reach out to give medical assistance to refugee children from Syria and Iraq.
The packed audience that took place in the Paul VI Hall was opened by ‘Bambino Gesù’ President Mariella Enoc who spoke about how the hospital has a system stretches well beyond regional and national boundaries with Centers in impoverished Italian regions and with numerous international missions in developing nations.
She explained that today the ‘Bambino Gesù’ is present in 12 countries, with the goal of providing care and passing on its experience in the poorest areas of the world. 
Pope Francis then listened to questions asked by Valentina, to an appeal made by Dino, to the words of Serena and to the doubts raised by Luca who is at the beginning of his professional and human experience as a pediatric nurse.
He told Valentina, who is also a nurse, that he has no answer to her question ‘why do children suffer?’: “I do not have the answer” he said.  Not even Jesus had an answer to this question.  But Jesus, he said, shows us the way to give meaning to our human experience; he himself suffered offering his own life for our salvation. All we can do, the Pope said, is to be close to the child who suffers, cry with him, pray with him, look to the crucified Jesus. 
He also urged Christians searching for a balm for those who are close to those who suffer never to neglect the value of gratitude and to always say ‘thank you’.
“To say thank you is a medicine against bouts of hopelessness, which is a contagious ailment” he said.
To say thank you is to nurture hope, the Pope continued, and hope is the ‘fuel’ of Christian life that allows us to go forward every day.
To Dino, a ‘Bambino Gesù’ staff member who was asking for greater spaces to offer the patients of the hospital, the Pope said: “It is essential to open one’s heart: Providence will find concrete spaces!” 
But he also took the occasion to warn against the temptation of transforming a hospital into a place in which to do business, a place where doctors and nurses become profiteers saying “one of the worst cancers in a hospital is corruption.
With strong words and strong tones against what he called a profit-driven health industry that deceives many, the Pope reiterated that we are all sinners, but we must learn from children and never be corrupt. 
And to Luca who is beginning his career as a pediatric nurse the Pope said: “follow your dreams”; never stop doing good and never give up your wish to give life to great projects.
“A life without dreams is not worthy of God, a life that is tired, resigned and lacking enthusiasm is not Christian” he said.
And finally, to Serena, a former oncological patient of the Children’s Hospital who is studying to become a doctor, the Pope spoke of the special strength and joy of those who dedicated their lives and their talents for others: “this is a gift” he said. 
He recalled an Italian nun whom he said saved his life when, as a young man in Buenos Aires he was struck by a severe case of pneumonia. The Pope spoke of her joyfulness and of the joy that derives of “sowing life, of helping young lives to grow, of giving to others”.
“This, he said, will be your best stipend!”

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thurs. December 15, 2016

Thursday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 190

Reading 1IS 54:1-10

Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear,
Break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor,
For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife
than the children of her who has a husband,
says the LORD.
Enlarge the space for your tent,
spread out your tent cloths unsparingly;
lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.
For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left;
your descendants shall dispossess the nations
and shall people the desolate cities.

Fear not, you shall not be put to shame;
you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.
The shame of your youth you shall forget,
the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
For he who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
A wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.

This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
So I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Responsorial PsalmPS 30:2 AND 4, 5-6, 11-12A AND 13B

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

AlleluiaLK 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 7:24-30

When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.
“What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine garments?
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces.
Then what did you go out to see?
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

#PopeFrancis "In every situation, this means rejecting violence as a method for resolving conflicts..." to #Ambassadors - FULL TEXT

English translation of the Pope's discourse to the Ambassadors
Your Excellencies,
I am pleased to receive you for presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See on the part of your respective countries: Burundi, Fiji, Mauritius, Moldova, Sweden and Tunisia.  I thank you for your kind words, which attest to your desire to maintain and develop the relations of esteem and cooperation which you enjoy with the Holy See, and I ask you to convey to the Heads of State whom you represent my gratitude and the assurance of my prayers for them and for their nations.
You have come from distant and very different areas of the world.  Here in Rome this is always a source of satisfaction, since the horizon of the Holy See is intrinsically universal.  This is due to the vocation and mission entrusted by God to the Successor of the Apostle Peter, a mission that is essentially religious, yet in the course of history has also involved relations with states and those who govern them.  The Catholic Church, whose centre of unity and direction is found, as it were, in the Holy See, is called to pass on and bear witness to those spiritual and moral values grounded in the very nature of human beings and society, and which, as such, can be shared by all those committed to the pursuit of the common good.
Preeminent among these values is that of peace, as seen in the fact that for fifty years now, the Popes have dedicated the first day of January to peace, addressing a special Message to the world’s civil and religious authorities, and to all men and women of goodwill.  The Message for the coming World Day of Peace, published just three days ago, has as its theme: Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.  The happy occasion of our meeting today allows me to share with you some brief reflections on that theme.
Nonviolence is a typical example of a universal value that finds fulfilment in the Gospel of Christ but is also a part of other noble and ancient spiritual traditions.  In a world like our own, sadly marked by wars and numerous conflicts, to say nothing of widespread violence evident in various ways in day-to-day life, the choice of nonviolence as a style of life is increasingly demanded in the exercise of responsibility at every level, from family education, to social and civil commitment, to political activity and international relations.  In every situation, this means rejecting violence as a method for resolving conflicts and dealing with them instead through dialogue and negotiation.
In a particular way, those who hold public office on the national and international levels are called to cultivate a nonviolent style in their consciences and in the exercise of their duties.  This is not the same as weakness or passivity; rather it presupposes firmness, courage and the ability to face issues and conflicts with intellectual honesty, truly seeking the common good over and above all partisan interest, be it ideological, economic or political.  In the course of the past century, marred by wars and genocides of unheard-of proportions, we have nonetheless seen outstanding examples of how nonviolence, embraced with conviction and practised consistently, can yield significant results, also on the social and political plane.  Some peoples, and indeed entire nations, thanks to the efforts of nonviolent leaders, peacefully achieved the goals of freedom and justice.  This is the path to pursue now and in the future.  This is the way of peace.  Not a peace proclaimed by words but in fact denied by pursuing strategies of domination, backed up by scandalous outlays for arms, while so many people lack the very necessities of life. Dear Ambassadors, it is my desire, and that of the Holy See, to advance, together with the governments of your countries, this process of promoting peace and those other values that contribute to the integral development of individuals and society.  With this in mind, I now offer you my heartfelt best wishes for the mission that you begin today, while assuring you of the ready cooperation of the Roman Curia.  Upon you and your families, and upon your respective countries, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.