Sunday, December 17, 2017

Saint December 18 : St. Winebald : Benedictine Abbot and Missionary

Wessex, England
18 December 761 at Heidenheim, Germany
Winebald is one of those amazing English missionaries who evangelized Europe, leaving behind a flourishing Catholicism and a number of monasteries and laying the beginnings of Christianity in what is now Germany, France, Holland, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
St. Winebald was the son of a West Saxon nobleman, St. Richard, and the brother of St. Willibald. With his father and brother he made a pilgrimage to Rome in 721. His father died in Italy, and Winebald remained in Rome for further study, like his countrymen before him, St. Wilfrid and St. Benedict Biscop. He returned to England and brought back to Rome some of his relatives to begin a monastic life in the holy city.
When St. Boniface came to Rome in 739, he recruited Winebald for the German missions, ordained him a priest, and put him in charge of churches in Germany and Bavaria. His brother, Willibald, who was now bishop of Eichstatt, asked Winebald to found a monastery for the training of priests and as a center of learning. Their sister, St. Walburga, came from England to found a convent, and both the monastery and the convent were founded at Heidenheim.
He established the rule of St. Benedict in his monastery, and Heidenheim became an important center of learning in the missionary territory. Because of illness, Winebald was not able to carry on the missionary work that he desired and yearned to end his days at Monte Cassino.
In 761, Winebald visited St. Boniface's shrine at Fulda and on the way home to  Heidenheim became very sick. When he reached Heidenheim, he became weaker and weaker and after giving his monks a few last words he died on December 18, 761. His tomb became a local shrine and the site of pilgrimages.

#Novena for #Christmas : Day 2 : #Official - #Plenary #Indulgence - #Prayers to SHARE

Opening Prayer:

V. O God, come to my assistance.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without


Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Day 2 Prayers

The Visitation.
O most sweet infant Jesus, who by means of your
Virgin Mother, visited St. Elizabeth, and filled your
servant, St. John the Baptist, with the Holy Spirit,
sanctifying him from his mother's womb.
Day 1:
Day 9: 
NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on  any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.

Pope Francis "The first attitude is constant joy: "Always be happy" , St Paul exhorts us." at #Angelus FULL TEXT + Video

Vatican News Release:
On the Third Sunday of Advent - called "Gaudete Sunday" in reference to the introit traditionally sung at the Mass of the day, which begins, "Gaudete in Domino semper", Pope Francis prayed the traditional Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace. We bring you the full text of the remarks the Holy Father prepared for the faithful, to be read ahead of the prayer.
FULL TEXT of Pope Francis at Angelus on Gaudete
Over the last Sundays, the liturgy has underlined what it means to be in a vigilant attitude and what concretely involves preparing the way of the Lord. On this third Sunday of Advent, called the "Sunday of Joy", the liturgy invites us to grasp the spirit with which all of this takes place, that is – joy.
Saint Paul invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes: constant joy, persevering prayer and continual thanksgiving.
The first attitude is constant joy: "Always be happy" (1 Thess 5:16), the St Paul exhorts us. That is to say always remain in joy, even when things do not go according to our desires. Anxieties, difficulties and sufferings permeate our lives, and so many times the reality around us seems to be inhospitable and arid, like the desert in which the voice of John the Baptist resounded, as the Gospel of today recalls (cf. , 23). But the words of the Baptist reveal that our joy rests on the certainty that this desert is inhabited: "Among you there is one whom you do not know".
This is Jesus, the envoy of the Father who comes, as Isaiah underlines, "to bring the good news to the poor, to bind the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim the freedom of slaves, the release of prisoners, to promulgate the year of grace of the Lord "(61,1-2). These words, which Jesus will make his own in the discourse of the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4: 16-19), clarify that His mission in the world consists in the liberation from the personal and social sin and slavery that it produces. He came to earth to give back to men the dignity and freedom of the children of God, which only He can communicate.
The joy that characterizes the expectation of the Messiah is based on persevering prayer: this is the second attitude. "Pray unceasingly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), says Paul. Through prayer we can enter into a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. The joy of the Christian comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness. The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we find inner serenity, even in the midst of everyday contradictions.
That is why the Christian, having met Jesus, cannot be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and a herald of joy. A joy to share with others; a contagious joy that makes life's journey less tiring.
The third attitude indicated by Paul is the continuous yield of graces, that is, the grateful love of God. He is indeed very generous with us, and we are invited to always recognize His gifts, His merciful love, His patience. and goodness, thus living in an endless state of thanksgiving.
Joy, prayer and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas in an authentic way. In this last part of Advent, we entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is "the cause of our joy", not only because she is the Mother of Jesus, but because she continually leads us to Him.

#BreakingNews 6 Catholic Religious Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus still Kidnapped in Nigeria

Vatican News Excerpt Dec. 17/17: Pope Francis prayed on Sunday for the release of six Nigerian religious sisters kidnapped just over a month ago, joining his appeal to the one issued earlier this week by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. “I heartily join myself to the appeal of the Bishops of Nigeria for the liberation of the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Christ, kidnapped roughly a month ago from their convent in Iguoriakhi,” Pope Francis said. “I pray with insistence for them and for all the other persons who find themselves in this painful condition,” the Holy Father continued, adding, “may they all, on the occasion of Christmas, finally return to their homes.” Gunmen seized the sisters – three professed women and three “aspirants” - women in formation – from their house in Iguoriakhi on November 13th. No one has taken responsibility for the crime. Kidnapping for ransom has become a frequent practice of criminal elements in the country
See Prayer Appeal by Bishops of Nigeria:
REPORT from Nigerian Priest of Kidnapping:
The seemingly peaceful village of Iguoriakhi in Edo State, Nigeria plays host to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus (EHJ) Sisters aspirants’ formation house. A formation house, which caters for the initial spiritual tutelage and gradual introduction into the life and charism of the EHJs. Aspiring young girls, who intend to join the EHJs consequently spend about a year in this formation house before moving on to the postulate and subsequently the novitiate. To achieve this aim, two professed sisters were assigned to guide these aspiring religious. While Sr. Roseline Isiocha was appointed the mistress, Sr. Aloysius Ajayi was made her assistant.
They have carried out this responsibility with delight, vigour, enthusiasm and conviction until the night of November 13, 2017 when unknown armed gunmen gained access into the formation house, took their time to search the house, rob the sisters of their belongings and abducted Sr. Roseline Isiocha, Sr. Aloysius Ajayi, Sr. Frances Udi, who was visiting the religious community and three other aspirants in the early hours of November 14 with the aid of speedboats positioned inside the Ovia River behind the sisters’ house.
Apparently lurking around the vicinity without the knowledge of the unsuspecting sisters, the kidnappers may have had a good survey of the area days before. In a report in The Guardian on November 15, 2017 titled “Crippled, Seven others Arrested for Alleged Kidnapping, Robbery” [], the newsprint reported a gun duel which took place by Ovia River bridge on November 13, 2017 between the Police Patrol Team and the suspected ex-militants (kidnappers), which left a policeman dead, three others injured and a vehicle burnt. The report concluded that “the gunmen fired at the policemen from their speedboats stationed inside the river.”
Reacting to the incidence, the Conference of Major Superiors in Nigeria despatched a letter to all the Religious in Nigeria. In the letter signed by Sr. Mary Agatha Osarenkhoe, EHJ, (who doubles as the Superior General of the EHJ) and Fr. George Okorie, SMMM, the Conference calls on all consecrated persons in Nigeria to specially dedicate Saturday, December 2, 2017 to fast and to offer special prayers between 14:00 and 15:00 for the release of those abducted. All Catholics, men and women of goodwill should therefore join in this prayerful effort to touch the minds of the abductors to ease the quick release of these handmaids of the Lord, who have been in the kidnappers’ den for over two weeks.
Sequel to the ever-increasing spate of kidnapping in Nigeria, all hands should be on deck to put an end to this traumatic and disheartening menace. The different tiers of government, relevant government and security agencies should rise to the challenge of ridding the country of such misdemeanour. The celebrated arrest of the alleged notorious kidnapper Evans, is obviously not enough to make the security apparatus of government rest on its oars. The spate of kidnapping is not perpetrated by one man, since it has become perceptible that there are various groups or gangs of kidnappers in the country. The economic empowerment of young Nigerians should be paramount to the Federal Government, State Governments and Local Governments in the country. The gainful employment of many young people will apparently curb such crimes in the country. No one appears to be save now. If there is no fear of the divine, even those in high places who should make a difference and have neglected to so should not be certain of their security no matter what they hope to rely on.
The disappearance of a confrère or a loved one in such a circumstance is traumatic and emotionally draining. A passionate appeal therefore goes to the abductors and their accomplices, not only to have respect for the dignity of the human person but also the fear of God and set the sisters free. These are not politicians who have rapped our commonwealth for their personal benefits, they do not collect tithes or own private jets but just simple women who seek to please God without accruing private property.
*Ambrose Olowo is a Catholic Priest, Catholic Diocese of Lokoja
Source: aaolowo

Sunday Mass Online : Sun. December 17, 2017 - #Gaudete (3rd #Advent) - Readings + Video - #Eucharist

Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 8

Reading 1IS 61:1-2A, 10-11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Responsorial PsalmLK 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

R. (Is 61:10b) My soul rejoices in my God.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
R. My soul rejoices in my God.
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
R. My soul rejoices in my God.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy.
R. My soul rejoices in my God.

Reading 21 THES 5:16-24

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

AlleluiaIS 61:1 (CITED IN LK 4:18)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, "I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
He said:
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'make straight the way of the Lord,'"

as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Saint December 17 : St. John of Matha : Founder

St. John of Matha

June 23, 1160, Faucon in Provence
December 17, 1213, Rome
John of Matha was born in the Year 1160 at Faucon in Provence on the Feast of St. John Baptist. His parents, who were considerable both for their virtue and rank in the world, took a particular care to give him a religious education. His childhood was full of manly virtues; his modesty, sweetness, prudence, and innocence engaged the affections of all that knew him. He made his first studies at Aix the Capital of Provence, and there learned fencing, riding, and other genteel exercises. But none of those gay amusements broke in upon his virtues. What money his parents allowed him for his pocket was distributed amongst the poor; and at an age which usually abounds with levity, and a false niceness proceeding from pride, and want of compassion, he visited the hospitals once a week, and took a singular pleasure in binding up and cleansing the wounds of the patients. Thus he spent his first years, in acquiring such learning as was suitable to his age, and practising those virtues which make the brightest part of the character of a Saint.
At his return from Aix he retired to a little hermitage near Faucon; but finding he could not enjoy the solitude he longed for so near his relations, to whose conversation he was exposed, he got leave of his parents to study Divinity at Paris. His capacity and application distinguished him in that learned University, where he passed all his degrees with applause. Here he was ordained Priest, and said his first Mass in the Bishop's Chapel, where he was honoured with the presence of the Maurice Bishop of Sully, the Abbots of St. Victor and St. Genevieve, and the Rector of the University. But this was an inconsiderable favour in comparison of another that he received at that time. For it was then that God opened to him his particular vocation, and while employed in offering the Price of our Redemption, gave him the first thoughts of employing his time and care for the relief of Christians oppressed with slavery. But he thought himself obliged to consult the will of God in silence, and prepared himself for the execution of so great and glorious a design by prayer, and penance.
While our saint was considering on a place proper for those pious employments, he remembered he had heard of Felix of Valois, that lived in a Wood near Gandelu in the Diocese of Meaux, and was famous for sanctity and penance. Persuaded that holy hermit would be a proper master for him, he begged to be received into his Hermitage, and favoured with his instructions. Felix entertained him, according to his desire, and looked upon him as one sent by Divine Providence for his benefit and improvement. Here they lived in the constant practice of such Virtues as are to be expected from those that live for heaven only. Fasting and other austerities were their whole business; prayer, and contemplation their ordinary employment; and their conversation always tended to excite one another to the love of God. After some time thus spent together, John communicated to Felix the pious design he had conceived at his first Mass; and enlarged upon the necessity and advantage of such an undertaking. He did this in so moving and strong a manner, that Felix was persuaded the proposal came from God; and offered to join him in the execution of it. They entered into the particulars of this great work, and finding it attended with many difficulties, prepared themselves for it by three days strict fast and continual prayer; and then set out for Rome in order to consult the Pope about the matter. They began their journey in the dead of winter 1197, and reached the City in January following. Innocent the III was then just raised to the Holy See. Upon reading their letters of recommendation from the Bishop of Paris, and the Abbot of St. Victors received them like two angels sent from heaven, and gave them an appartment in his own Palace. They had several audiences of his Holiness, in which they explained their whole design. The Pope called his Cardinals and some bishops together in St. John Lateran's, Church, laid the proposal before them, and desired the assistance of their advice in this important affair.
After this consultation, his Holiness ordered a fast, and some particular prayers to be offered up Feb. 8 upon this occasion; and having thus recommended the business to God, gave them leave to erect a New Order, which should be under the direction of the Saint, who was first favoured with the Design. The Bishop of Paris, and the Abbot of St. Victor were employed in drawing up the Rules, which the Pope approved of, with some few additions, by a Bull dated December 17, 1198. Those,that are admitted into this Order, are to wear a white habit, with a red and blue Cross on the breast; and devote a third part of their substance to the redemption of slaves. All their churches are to be dedicated to the Holy Trinity. This Order afterwards took the name of Mathurins, from an old Church dedicated to that Saint at Paris, and given to them about thirty Years afterward.
When things were thus settled, the two holy hermits returned to France, where Philip was then King. Upon their report of what had passed at Rome, his Majesty allowed them to set up their Order in his Kingdom; and contributed very largely toward the good work. After founding several houses in his own Country, he left the care of them to his companion in that pious undertaking, and went to Rome; where he obtained of the Pope a monastery for his Order on Mount Celius. His Holiness had wrote to Mirammolin, King of Morocco, the Year after this new Order was formed, desiring him to second the charitable designs of the Trinitarians, who would either pay the ransom of his Christian slaves, or give an equal number of his subjects that were detained in Italy, France, and Spain, in exchange for them. In Consequence of this application in the Year 1200, John sent two of his Religious in that Kingdom, on that errand. Their success was answerable to the purity of their intention, and they redeemed 186 Christians. The year following he went into Barbara and there purchased the Liberty of 110 Slaves. From thence he returned into his own Country, where he met with very considerable encouragement and assistance in his charitable designs. After that he went to Spain; where the large contributions of Princes and men of the first rank enabled him to build several Monasteries of his Order. About nine years after his first voyage to Barbary, he made a second to that country, and brought away 120 Captives.
The Fatigues of this last expedition, joined to his continual mortifications, quite disabled him and obliged him to spend the remainder of his days at Rome; while Felix employed all his concern and actions for advancing the Order in France. Our Saint being now incapable of pursuing his inclinations in his former way, found an employment proportioned to his strength, and spent the two last years of his life, in visiting the prisons, relieving the poor, assisting assisting the sick, and preaching. In these Exercises of charity he quite exhausted himself, and died on the 21st of December, in the Year 1213. He was buried in St. Thomas's Church at Rome and his festival fixed to this Day by Pope Innocent XI. in 1679. (The Lives of the Saints)