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Monday, February 5, 2018
Pope urges us to learn to do now what we will do in heaven: Adore!
At the Santa Marta Mass Pope Francis reflects on the way the people of Israel go up to the Temple with the Ark of the Covenant and adore God in silence
Report By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
In his daily homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis began by reflecting on the first reading of the day, taken from the first book of Kings. The passage recounts how all the tribes of Israel came to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the Ark of the LORD's Covenant to the temple. Pope Francis noted how they were making an uphill journey, carrying with them the two stone tablets that God had given to Moses on Mount Horeb.
Teach people to adore
Listen and pardon
Jesus in the Eucharist - A Divine Portal of Heaven - Adore the Blessed Sacrament and See into Heaven!
Divine Portal of Heaven
by: Dr. Gary D. Knight
Anyone venturing to write or speak about the blessed Sacrament is immediately daunted by the sheer majesty of the subject. It’s even maladroit to call God a subject or object of inquiry. Against any prefatory remark: “may we penetrate the mystery of Christ”, flies the fact of He who penetrates us. Even ‘penetrating us’ goes awry, for we have no heft or density for Him to solve. All things are in His knowledge, in Him have their being, ‘darkness comprehending it not'. Only the light of faith can begin to reflect something of the light of God shining in and through this wondrous portal, the sacred host.
The words ‘in and through’ echo the canon’s through Him with Him and in Him, to glorify the Father and Holy Spirit. For we’d be amiss right away if thinking of any physical membrane or impersonal diaphanous cloak draping a portal, through which we peer dimly into Heaven. Jesus himself is this portal: as He said while walking in our midst “I am the way”, “I am the gate”. It’s very personal.
The sacred host is the only place where our bodily eyes can peer into eternity, even the vat of mercy that Jesus bestows from his own heart. There was, to be sure, a historic moment when pagan and unbelieving swordsmen could glimpse into this luminous well. Longinus pierced the side of Christ from whose heart flowed blood and water. By the Holy Spirit one of them even stuttered “truly this was the Son of God”.
Here are three witnesses: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. Now we are blessed to encounter that living fountain in an unbloody manner, as Jesus offered it to his apostles at the last supper. The blood and water would come soon enough: that evening in His agony, but Jesus attested “I will not again drink of this cup till I drink it with you in my kingdom”. In the ‘now’ made everlasting in my memory, His presence is given us in the holy eucharist. Some brothers and sisters, petulant like Absalom against his faulted father David: David who retained authority to compose the Psalms, wonder that we worship and adore a ‘piece of bread’. Is bread not a symbol of spiritual feeding and our being pared and shared to our community?
The idea is pious, but it is temporal and horizontal. It is far short of the Divine real presence of Christ in the flesh hypostatically united with humanity, fed us to nurture our supernatural souls. O Christ, from the divine mind you created us; in our bodies you bonded yourself to us. Gazing on the Lord who allows Himself to be held gently in a monstrance, is to behold the great salvation of souls. ‘It is the Lord’ said John, with the eyes of faith. If ashore He cooked fish for labouring disciples at sea, so now He prepares for those in exile a place in heaven, a place to which we gaze in Him. That “I am closer to you than hands and feet” we feel all the more proven in this presence.
Frequent encounter makes us sound. For a time after the second world war, up to and through the Vatican council, catechists and others charged with pastoral care thought that adoration of the blessed sacrament presented in pyx or monstrance was ‘exterior’. There might have been too little interiority in people’s expression of faith (it may have been the case, but would that we had the numbers or zeal today) and their guess was that ‘arms length’ devotions like adoration were part of the problem. It was a terrible guess. We have, rather late in history, come to realize just how bad this guess was when it comes to adoration. The very pointedness of adoration is disconcerting; and with its own reward the effort to struggle past this engenders conscious prayer, like nothing else. Think of chaffing against the grain with an avoided acquaintance, knowing that a matter like neglect to attend a wedding or graduation needs attending to. With a halting effort made to broach the subject, it’s amazing how soon you both can move to a new level of friendship. A reason that prayer is so compelling in Jesus’ presence is that no-one can really be at arms length before Him. His appealing love is not some sort of debatable potentiality, but most potent reality. If preferring our mental category or image of Christ to being found by Him in the presence, we soon cool to its personal plenitude. That happens even if we have a practice of ‘protestative’ prayer: to recite or sing psalm 23 is not in itself to know the shepherd. What I’m calling protestative is what Shakespeare caricatured ‘methinks thou doest protest too loudly’. It may be a gong or cymbal clash rather than the sincerity and truth that the Lord calls for, and which we can hardly dress up when kneeling before Him. O Lord, let me hear your own protestations of love, not mine feigned.
Many have noted a loss in fervour or avocation in faith when they withdrew from prayer as real conversation. Some pressed on, with such as the breviary or litanies or rosaries; but found ownership of words authored by others a battle up hills of increasing slope. For some resignedly trudging on, faith or the recognition of grace as a received share in the divine life lost all meaning and interiority. It lost the heat of friendship with God in Christ, or a stirring of the heart by the Holy Spirit. But happily, not a few went back to find, almost despite themselves, that time in the presence of the blessed sacrament set for adoration, slowly and marvellously revived their souls. There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin-sick soul.
Father Bob Bedard was a soul pained to be in horrid dryness. Before and after trauma as teacher of a class shot up by an armed youth (in minutes a young lady, young man, and assailant were all dead), father Bedard’s prayer life was in limbo. A deepening dryness had long term effects including clinical depression and dysfunction, where others had to pray for him. But he came slowly into wellness and the fulness of his calling through quiet time before the Lord in the monstrance. Jesus heals ! Father Bob went on to found a still growing and thriving community of priests and seminarians, the Companions of the Cross. Their ministries have extended into the United States of America, and have much reclaimed the Catholic charismatic movement from being strictly pentecostal, thanks mostly to their adoration chapels.
Some 35 years ago, the archdiocese of Toronto invited a Baltimore priest, father Joe Lupo, to come and try to inject new life into a vocational slump. In the aftermath of scandalous behaviour of seminary dons, even priests with promising protégées were wary, and few solid vocations were forthcoming. As well, parishes were in disconnect from each other, with many pastors in the field long-past burnout, with great dryness of spirit. Father Lupo had attracted the youngest of Canadian members of parliament, Sean O’Sullivan of nearby Hamilton, to leave behind a promising political career, and young father Sean instigated his invitation to stir things up in Toronto. Father Joe, already 80, was remarkable, full of zeal and not shy of what anyone saw as anachronism. He had a profound devotion to the blessed sacrament, spending much time in quiet adoration. At a ‘come and see’ weekend - including lay associates - father Joe asked “what can you guys suggest as a program of activity worth our engagement, that might deepen and animate the formation of our priests in seminary and after?”. One of us proposed a monthly all-night adoration program to circulate from parish to parish. We called it Nightwatch, and father Lupo grabbed it with both hands. Father Joe preached holy hour reflections monthly for a year, and parishes began to be receptive to this strange invasion of their usually staid churches every first Friday. In a few months the crowds attending, to midnight at least, were significant; and singing eucharistic hymns they kept from nodding off. People would report that they felt their flagging faith and moral strengths rejuvenated. Feeling his own age, father Lupo was recalled home, but left in place a superbly committed continuation in Spiritan father Ted Colleton, no youngster either. For a further few years, father Ted led Nightwatch adoration vigils followed by first Saturday morning Mass at dawn. Like father Joe, he preached holy hours, often having a reflection or litany led by a devout layperson at the top of an hour. It took no time in ecclesial terms for two outcomes. After 15 months, parishes were eagerly seeking to host a Nightwatch, their priests celebrating or concelebrating Mass with parishioners and choirs taking full part in holy hours for the ensuing adoration of Christ. Second, the number of new vocations or expressions of interest in priestly and diaconate formation saw a steady upswing, while more young people prayed for them. A third fruit was grapevine news trickling in that pastors had seen spiritual renewal, emotional and other healings, and an increase in youth participating in parish life. Their confessionals started to be used again, even with requests for regular hours. Some parishes began plans to establish perpetual adoration in chapels. With a rise in vocations inside of two years, father Sean took on their directorship. By 1988 Nightwatch was a going concern, limited only by the continued wellness of tireless father Ted. The harvest of true and prayerful vocations was inestimable. God rest your servants Joe, Ted, and Sean ! Near the end of my own sojourn in Toronto, I made late-night visits to a new perpetual adoration chapel. A regular visitor was one of the city’s auxiliary bishops. His prayer was that more bishops might avail of the wonderful encounter with their Lord, where He waits all night long. In Ottawa what struck me personally, besides the devout cell of St. Philip Neri who made something beautiful of eucharistic processions, was the adoration chapel set up by those who’d been praying for father Bob Bedard. In years after, he and the Companions found that not only their confraternity but the diocese benefited from the prayer-life that Jesus personally nurtured in the many souls who’d come to ‘watch an hour’ with Him. The most fruitful step for this extent of renewal is adoration.
Once in awhile my wife and I will sit together across the room and quietly read. However taken we are with our texts, the prevailing atmosphere is of togetherness and openness for either to respond to a word from the other, even something simple like ‘fed the cat?’, or ‘shall I put the kettle on?’. It could be a line offered for comment, or expressed concern for a friend or family member. That loving concord is also what Jesus wants and awaits. A personalist philosopher (perhaps Norris Clarke) said “the essence of personhood is presence”. It is the radical essential of Christianity: the religion of the Person, starting with the adored persons of God. We are persons for one reason only: that God is Person (three times for emphasis, as a grade 3 teacher put it). If God is Person ever-present, our relationship with Him has to be personal always. What greater Presence to nurture this, than the living body of the divine Lord still and presently waiting for us? You may protest “living bodies must breathe.” Yes, and He does! Breathing on the apostles He said receive the Holy Spirit. Spirit means breath. This “you know not whence it comes or where it goes” is the Spirit of love between Father and Son - lacking in nothing: in no perfection, including and above all, Personhood. If we are alive then to His presence, the breath is already breathing. Many beautiful lines are penned on the experience of adoration - prayers very amenable to time in the Presence. One I found most memorable and true was, on being asked what he or she did for the great length of time sitting before the Lord, a saint said “I gaze on Him, and He gazes on me”. Elizabeth Browning, or Song of Songs could have said it no better. It is the concord of Love. Like the amicable time of spouses, where both may be musing, or one embroiders as the other writes, the soul can follow exquisite occupation with the Lord. David danced before Him, and if you’re alone together who says that wouldn’t please the Lord? You may find yourself unburdened and crying before Him; the gift of tears is not unusual. My own conversion was anointed by unbidden tears leaping from my eyes in the presence of the tabernacle, cradled in a dark church in Banff. My breath was taken away too, just to show that it is the Spirit who breathes. And oh yes, my knees buckled. Being on the knees is appropriate posture coming into His presence. Moses put his face to the ground, so you find yourself moved, or at the very least you recognize it as apt. Rising, your eyes meet and are greeted by the Lord. For He desires us to come and watch with Him, as much as he desired of the apostles after supper. Then He was in agony; now he compassionately heeds the torments of the world. In it but not of it , we need His presence to abide the constant sign of contradiction that he’s made us to be. God signifies wonderful ‘contradictions’ in making himself so available in the consumable host. The maker of all things has deigned to invest his Person in a piece of flatbread, making Himself so low as to lift us high. So low that we eat and grind this wheat, this crushed grain not raised by fermentation, to be communited ourselves in His exalted body and blood. The blood He bled dropped down, that we who drink are lifted up from gravity of sin. The grain for wheat of many hosts had been sewn and died in earth. But it rose, and how great the promise of our life in His flesh, when we ourselves will pass ! When you peer at the white gleaming in the lunette, what you are is full, not of reflected light (however aptly that connotes humility), but brightly of Him infused. The glow will hardly suntan others like Moses’ radiance: a pride of life, my unworthiness, will not let it; but God is the one to see a glow that pleases him. True humility is to be self-forgetting in rapt partaking of His presence: the praise or thank’s omission to be humbly phrased is its humility.
The Turkish president meets Francis: the situation in the Middle East and the need to "promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law". Beyond the cordial climate and the good relations existing on the diplomatic level, there no full religious freedom in Turkey.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Middle East, and in particular Jerusalem, but also refugees, human rights and the situation of Catholics in Turkey were at the heart of talks between Pope Francis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Pope received the Turkish leader this morning at the Vatican, before the President’s meeting with the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin accompanied by Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
A statement released by the Vatican states that “during the cordial discussions the bilateral relations between the Holy See and Turkey were evoked, and the parties spoke about the situation of the country, the condition of the Catholic community, efforts in the reception of the many refugees and the challenges linked to this. Attention then turned to the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law".
The meeting with the Pope lasted about 50 minutes, only the interpreters were present. "I thank you for your interest", said Erdogan to Francis, according to the journalists present. The Pope in turn thanked him for the visit.
Erdogan was accompanied by a delegation - a procession of about thirty cars and minivans - comprising twenty people. Among them also the president's wife and daughter and five ministers. There were six women in all (of whom four wore the veil).
At the time of the exchange of gifts, Francis gave Erdogan a medallion representing an angel and explained: "This is an angel of peace that strangles the demon of war. It is a symbol of a world based on peace and justice ". The Pope also offered Erdogan an etching with the design of St. Peter's Basilica as it was in 1600, a copy of the encyclical Laudato sì and the message for the World Day of Peace this year.
Erdogan gifted the Pope a large ceramic picture with the panorama of Istanbul and a box set of books by the Muslim theologian Mevlana Rumi.
Erdogan's visit to Pope Francis is the first visit of head of state from Ankara to the Vatican for 59 years. The last was Celal Bayar, received by John XXII, who had been nuncio to Turkey between 1934 and 1943.
Beyond the cordial climate and the good relations existing on the diplomatic level, it cannot be said that one can speak of full religious freedom in Turkey, despite the Constitution desired by Ataturk to affirming the secular state. Beyond the even violent episodes of intolerance – which culminated with the murder of Don Andrea Santoro in 2006 and Msgr. Luigi Padovese in 2010 - other incidents are not rare, even if fortunately not bloody.
In the country, the churches do not have legal personality, which prevents, among other things, it owning religious buildings. This obstacle is sometimes overcome with the creation of false foundations that however fall under ordinary civil law. Thus, even a few weeks ago, there were confiscations of religious properties, including historical and ancient ones.
Moreover, it is forbidden for Christian churches to have the crucifix visible from the street. This is why, usually, the facade is hidden inside a courtyard. This is the case even for the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the highest expression of orthodoxy. And the patriarch, to whom no supranational role is recognized, must be a Turkish citizen.
Text News Release: from Asia News IT
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Saint February 5 : St. Agatha : Patron of Breast Cancer; Bakers; Nurses; Rape victims; Single laywomen; Sterility
Born: Catania or Palermo
Died: 251, Catania
bellfounders; breast cancer; bakers; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses
One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, put to death for her steadfast profession of faith in Catania, Sicily. Although it is uncertain in which persecution this took place, we may accept, as probably based on ancient tradition, the evidence of her legendary life, composed at a later date, to the effect that her martyrdom occurred during the persecution of Decius (250-253). Historic certitude attaches merely to the fact of her martyrdom and the public veneration paid her in the Church since primitive times. In the so-called Martyrologium Hieronymianum (ed. De Rossi and Duchesne, in Acta SS., Nov. II, 17) and in the ancient Martyrologium Carthaginiense dating from the fifth or sixth century (Ruinart, Acta Sincera, Ratisbon, 1859, 634), the name of St. Agatha is recorded on 5 February. In the sixth century Venantius Fortunatus mentions her in his poem on virginity as one of the celebrated Christian virgins and martyrs (Carm., VIII, 4, De Virginitate: Illic Euphemia pariter quoque plaudit Agathe Et Justina simul consociante Thecla. etc.). Among the poems of Pope Damasus published by Merenda and others is a hymn to St. Agatha (P.L., XIII, 403 sqq.; Ihm, Damasi Epigrammata, 75, Leipzig, 1895). However, this poem is not the work of Damasus but the product of an unknown author at a later period, and was evidently meant for the liturgical celebration of the Saint's feast. Its content is drawn from the legend of St. Agatha, and the poem is marked by end-rhyme. From a letter of Pope Gelasius (492-496) to a certain Bishop Victor (Thiel. Epist. Roman. Pont., 495) we learn of a Basilica of St. Agatha in fundo Caclano, e.g., on the estate of that name. The letters of Gregory I make mention of St. Agatha at Rome, in the Subura, with which a diaconia or deaconry was connected (Epp., IV, 19; P.L., LXXVII, 688). It was in existence as early as the fifth century, for in the latter half of that century Rieimer enriched it with a mosaic. This same church was given the Arian Goths by Rieimer and was restored to Catholic worship by Pope Gregory I (590-604).
Although the martyrdom of St. Agatha is thus authenticated, and her veneration as a saint had even in antiquity spread beyond her native place, we still possess no reliable information concerning the details of her glorious death. It is true that we have the Acts of her martyrdom in two versions, Latin and Greek, the latter deviating from the former (Acta SS., I, Feb., 595 sqq.). Neither of these recensions, however, can lay any claim to historical credibility, and neither gives the necessary internal evidence that the information it contains rests, even in the more important details, upon genuine tradition. If there is a kernel of historical truth in the narrative, it has not as yet been possible to sift it out from the later embellishments. In their present form the Latin Acts are not older than the sixth century. According to them Agatha, daughter of a distinguished family and remarkable for her beauty of person, was persecuted by the Senator Quintianus with avowals of love. As his proposals were resolutely spurned by the pious Christian virgin, he committed her to the charge of an evil woman, whose seductive arts, however, were baffled by Agatha's unswerving firmness in the Christian faith. Quintianus then had her subjected to various cruel tortures. Especially inhuman seemed his order to have her breasts cut off, a detail which furnished to the Christian medieval iconography the peculiar characteristic of Agatha. But the holy virgin was consoled by a vision of St. Peter, who miraculously healed her. Eventually she succumbed to the repeated cruelties practised on her. As already stated, these details, in so far as they are based on the Acts, have no claim to historical credibility. Allard also characterizes the Acts as the work of a later author who was more concerned with writing an edifying narrative, abounding in miracles, than in transmitting historical traditions.
Both Catania and Palermo claim the honour of being Agatha's birthplace. Her feast is kept on 5 February; her office in the Roman Breviary is drawn in part from the Latin Acts. Catania honours St. Agatha as her patron saint, and throughout the region around Mt. Etna she is invoked against the eruptions of the volcano, as elsewhere against fire and lightning. In some places bread and water are blessed during Mass on her feast after the Consecration, and called Agatha bread. (Text- The Catholic Encyclopedia)