Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pope Francis "..because God has wrought this victory in us, we can sing the praises together." Ecumenical Vespers FULL TEXT + Video

January 25, 2018,  in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls. Pope Francis' celebration of the Second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle, at the end of the 51st Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, on the theme: Powerful is Your Hand, Lord (Cf. Exodus 15:1-21).
FULL TEXT Holy Father’s Homily
 The Reading is taken from the Book of Exodus, which speaks of Moses and Mary, brother and sister, who raise a hymn of praise to God on the shores of the Red Sea, together with the community that God has liberated from Egypt. They sing their joy because in those waters God has saved them from an enemy that was determined to destroy them. Previously, Moses himself was saved from the waters and his sister witnessed the event. In fact, Pharaoh had commanded: ”Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile” (Exodus 1:22).  Instead, having found the basket among the reeds of the Nile with the child inside, Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses, because she said: “I drew him out of the water!” (Exodus 2:10). The story of the rescue of Moses from the waters thus prefigures a greater rescue, that of the entire people, which God had made pass through the waters of the Red Sea, then pouring them over their enemies. Many ancient Fathers interpreted this liberating passage as an image of Baptism. It’s our sins that have been drowned by God in the living waters of Baptism. Much more than Egypt, sin threatened to make us always slaves, but the strength of divine love engulfed it. Saint Augustine (Sermon 223E) interprets the Red Sea, where Israel witnesses the salvation of God, as anticipatory sign of the Blood of Christ crucified, source of salvation. All of us Christians have passed through the waters of Baptism, and the grace of the Sacrament has destroyed our enemies, sin, and death. Coming out of the waters, we attained the freedom of children; we emerged as a people, as a community of saved brothers and sisters, as fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). We share the fundamental experience: the grace of God, His powerful mercy in saving us. And precisely because God has wrought this victory in us, we can sing the praises together.
In life, we then experience the tenderness of God, who in our daily life saves us lovingly from sin, from fear, and from anguish. These precious experiences are kept in the heart and in the memory. However, as it was for Moses, the individual experiences are linked to an even greater history, that of the salvation of the people of God. We see it in the song intoned by the Israelites. It begins with an individual story: The Lord is my strength and mysong, and He has become my salvation (Exodus 15:2). However, it becomes immediately the narrative of the salvation of all the people: “Thou hast led in thy steadfast love the people whom thou hast redeemed” (v. 13). He who raised this song realized he was not alone on the shore of the Red Sea, but was surrounded by brothers and sisters who received the same grace and proclaim the same praise.
Also, Saint Paul, whose conversion we celebrate today, had the powerful experience of grace, which called him to become from a persecutor to an Apostle of Christ. God’s grace also drove him immediately to seek communion with other Christians, first at Damascus and then at Jerusalem (Cf. Acts 9:19.26-27). This is our experience as believers. As we go growing in the spiritual life, we understand ever better that grace comes to us together with others and is to be shared with others. So, when I raise my thanksgiving to God for what He has done in me, I discover I don’t sing alone because other brothers and sisters have my same song of praise.
The various Christian Confessions have had this experience. In the last century, we finally realized we found ourselves together on the shores of the Red Sea. We were saved in Baptism and the pleasing song of praise, which other brothers and sisters intone, belongs to us because it’s also ours. When we say that we recognize the Baptism of Christians of other traditions, we confess that they also have received the Lord’s forgiveness and His grace, which operates in them. And we accept their worship as genuine expression of praise for what God accomplishes. So we wish to pray together, uniting our voices even more. And even when differences separate us, we acknowledge that we belong to the redeemed people, to the same family of brothers and sisters loved by the one Father.
After the liberation, the chosen people undertook a long and difficult journey through the desert, often vacillating, but drawing strength from the memory of the salvific work of God and of his ever close presence.  Christians of today also find many difficulties on the way, surrounded by so many spiritual deserts, which make hope and joy dry up. On the way there are also grave dangers, which put life in jeopardy: how many brothers today suffer persecutions in the name of Jesus! When their blood is shed, even if they belong to different Confessions, they become at the same time witnesses of the faith, martyrs, united in the bond of the baptismal grace. Together with friends of other religious traditions, Christians also face challenges today that demean human dignity: they flee from situations of conflict and poverty; are victims of the trafficking of human beings and of other modern slaveries; they suffer hardships and hunger, in a world ever richer in means and poor in love, where inequalities continue to increase. However, as the Israelites of Exodus, Christians are called to guard together the memory of all that God has accomplished in them. Reviving this memory, we can sustain one another and face — armed only with Jesus and the gentle force of His Gospel –, every challenge with courage and hope.
Brothers and sisters, with the heart full of joy for having sung today here together a hymn of praise to the Father, through Christ our Saviour and in the Spirit that gives life, I wish to express my affectionate greetings to you: to His Eminence the Metropolitan Gennadios, Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; to His Grace Bernard Ntahoturi, personal Representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the Representatives and Members of the various Christian Confessions gathered here.  I am happy to greet the Ecumenical Delegation of Finland, which I had the pleasure of meeting this morning. I also greet the students of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, on a visit to Rome to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic Church, and the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox young people who study here thanks to the generosity of the Committee of Cultural Collaboration with the Orthodox Churches, which operates in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. We thanked God together for what He has accomplished in our lives and in our communities. We now present to Him our needs and those of the world, trusting that He, in His faithful love, will continue to save and to accompany His people on the way.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [Blog Share of ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

#Novena to St. Paul for Conversion - #Prayers for #Conversion to SHARE

Blessed Apostle Paul, who labored so zealously for the conversion of the Gentiles in many lands, obtain for us a perpetual zeal for the salvation of souls and especially enkindle our interest in the conversion of our separated brethern. Ever mindful of the interest that our Divine Lord, the Good Shepherd, has for the other sheep not of His fold, I now beg your intercession and obtain for me the gift of the true faith for ............. (Pause here and name relatives and friends) May God grant this request so close to my heart and thus enable me to extend to another what I so richly enjoy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Father in Heaven through the mystical wounds of Your Son Jesus have mercy on the souls who visit my web pages. Whoever visits this site is automatically prayed for night and day as long as I live God knows who you are and He will apply your petitions. My motto is I will not let the devil have my family, or any family. My soul or any soul, if I can prevent it, through prayer, sacrifice and pain and despair. I will fight the devil tooth and nail, till I take my last breath and then fight him from heaven for souls here on earth Say for 9 days: say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory be each day in addition to above prayers.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday January 24, 2018 - #Eucharist

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 319

Reading 12 SM 7:4-17

That night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
"Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?
I have not dwelt in a house
from the day on which I led the children of Israel 319
out of Egypt to the present,
but I have been going about in a tent under cloth.
In all my wanderings everywhere among the children of Israel,
did I ever utter a word to any one of the judges
whom I charged to tend my people Israel, to ask:
Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'

"Now then, speak thus to my servant David,
'The LORD of hosts has this to say:
It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
And if he does wrong,
I will correct him with the rod of men
and with human chastisements;
but I will not withdraw my favor from him
as I withdrew it from your predecessor Saul,
whom I removed from my presence.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'"

Nathan reported all these words and this entire vision to David.

Responsorial PsalmPS 89:4-5, 27-28, 29-30

R. (29a) For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will make your dynasty stand forever
and establish your throne through all ages.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“He shall cry to me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock that brings me victory!’
I myself make him firstborn,
Most High over the kings of the earth.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“Forever I will maintain my love for him;
my covenant with him stands firm.
I will establish his dynasty forever,
his throne as the days of the heavens.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.


R.  Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live forever.
R.  Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction he said to them,
"Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
"The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that
they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven."

Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."