Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Saint March 7 : St. Perpetua and St. Felicity : Patron of #Mothers, #Expectant Mothers

Feast Day:March 7
Died:7 March 202 or 203, Carthage, Roman Province of Africa
Patron of:Mothers, Expectant Mothers
Martyrs, suffered at Carthage, 7 March 203, together with three companions, Revocatus, Saturus, and Saturninus. The details of the martyrdom of these five confessors in the North African Church have reached us through a genuine, contemporary description, one of the most affecting accounts of the glorious warfare of Christian martyrdom in ancient times. By a rescript of Septimus Severus (193-211) all imperial subjects were forbidden under severe penalties to become Christians. In consequence of this decree, five catechumens at Carthage were seized and cast into prison, viz. Vibia Perpetua, a young married lady of noble birth; the slave Felicitas, and her fellow-slave Revocatus, also Saturninus and Secundulus. Soon one Saturus, who deliberately declared himself a Christian before the judge, was also incarcerated. Perpetua's father was a pagan; her mother, however, and two brothers were Christians, one being still a catechumen; a third brother, the child Dinocrates, had died a pagan.
After their arrest, and before they were led away to prison, the five catechumens were baptized. The sufferings of the prison life, the attempts of Perpetua's father to induce her to apostatize, the vicissitudes of the martyrs before their execution, the visions of Saturus and Perpetua in their dungeons, were all faithfully committed to writing by the last two. Shortly after the death of the martyrs a zealous Christian added to this document an account of their execution. The darkness of their prison and the oppressive atmosphere seemed frightful to Perpetua, whose terror was increased by anxiety for her young child. Two deacons succeeded, by sufficiently bribing the jailer, in gaining admittance to the imprisoned Christians and alleviated somewhat their sufferings. Perpetua's mother also, and her brother, yet a catechumen, visited them. Her mother brought in her arms to Perpetua her little son, whom she was permitted to nurse and retain in prison with her. A vision, in which she saw herself ascending a ladder leading to green meadows, where a flock of sheep was browsing, assured her of her approaching martyrdom.
A few days later Perpetua's father, hearing a rumour that the trial of the imprisoned Christians would soon take place, again visited their dungeon and besought her by everything dear to her not to put this disgrace on her name; but Perpetua remained steadfast to her Faith. The next day the trial of the six confessors took place, before the Procurator Hilarianus. All six resolutely confessed their Christian Faith. Perpetua's father, carrying her child in his arms, approached her again and attempted, for the last time, to induce her to apostatize; the procurator also remonstrated with her but in vain. She refused to sacrifice to the gods for the safety of the emperor. The procurator thereupon had the father removed by force, on which occasion he was struck with a whip. The Christians were then condemned to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, for which they gave thanks to God. In a vision Perpetua saw her brother Dinocrates, who had did at the early age of seven, at first seeming to be sorrowful and in pain, but shortly thereafter happy and healthy. Another apparition, in which she saw herself fighting with a savage Ethiopian, whom she conquered, made it clear to her that she would not have to do battle with wild beasts but with the Devil. Saturus, who also wrote down his visions, saw himself and Perpetua transported by four angels, towards the East to a beautiful garden, where they met four other North African Christians who had suffered martyrdom during the same persecution, viz. Jocundus, Saturninus, Artaius, and Quintus. He also saw in this vision Bishop Optatus of Carthage and the priest Aspasius, who prayed the martyrs to arrange a reconciliation between them. In the meanwhile the birthday festival of the Emperor Geta approached, on which occasion the condemned Christians were to fight with wild beasts in the military games; they were therefore transferred to the prison in the camp. The jailer Pudens had learnt to respect the confessors, and he permitted other Christians to visit them. Perpetua's father was also admitted and made another fruitless attempt to pervert her.
Secundulus, one of the confessors, died in prison. Felicitas, who at the time of her incarceration was with child (in the eighth month), was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom at the same time as the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women. Happily, two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On 7 March, the five confessors were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the pagan mob they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set at the men, and a wild cow at the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword. Their bodies were interred at Carthage. Their feast day was solemnly commemorated even outside Africa. Thus under 7 March the names of Felicitas and Perpetua are entered in the Philocalian calendar, i.e. the calendar of martyrs venerated publicly in the fourth century at Rome. A magnificent basilica was afterwards erected over their tomb, the Basilica Majorum; that the tomb was indeed in this basilica has lately been proved by Pere Delattre, who discovered there an ancient inscription bearing the names of the martyrs.
The feast of these saints is still celebrated on 7 March. The Latin description of their martyrdom was discovered by Holstenius and published by Poussines. Chapters iii-x contain the narrative and the visions of Perpetua; chapters xi-ciii the vision of Saturus; chapters i, ii and xiv-xxi were written by an eyewitness soon after the death of the martyrs. In 1890 Rendel Harris discovered a similar narrative written in Greek, which he published in collaboration with Seth K. Gifford (London, 1890). Several historians maintain that this Greek text is the original, others that both the Greek and the Latin texts are contemporary; but there is no doubt that the Latin text is the original and that the Greek is merely a translation. That Tertullian is the author of these Acts is an unproved assertion. The statement that these martyrs were all or in part Montanists also lacks proof; at least there is no intimations of it in the Acts.

Pope Francis warns of Self-Justification in Confession "the accusation of ourselves is the first step towards forgiveness:" Lent Homily



Forgive to be forgiven

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

(from: L'Osservatore Romano, daily ed., Year CLVIII, n.054, 07/03/2018)

"Unfortunately" and "on condition that": with these two expressions Pope Francis explained what it is and how one really lives and to the end the forgiveness. In the Mass celebrated Tuesday morning, March 6th in Santa Marta, the Pope suggested that he was not ashamed to accuse himself of being "unfortunately" a sinner. And he reminded us that the Lord is always ready to forgive us "provided we" forgive others.

"Also in this journey of conversion, which is Lent, today the Church makes us reflect on forgiveness," the Pope pointed out immediately, asking himself: "What is forgiveness? Where does forgiveness come from? " To answer these questions, Francis started from the "two readings of today" which, he said, "can be explained in two simple words: unfortunately and on condition that". These are precisely "the two words of today's message: unfortunately and on condition that".

In the first reading, taken from the book of Daniel (3, 25.34-43) «Azaria, in the furnace of fire, prays to the Lord and asks:" Do not abandon us to the end, Lord, look at us "». Azaria "was in the furnace because he had not wanted to worship the idol: he only loved God". And in fact «he does not reproach God, he does not say:« But look, I have exposed myself for you, I have put the face for you and you so you pay me? »». Therefore Azaria "does not say this; goes to the root »and asks:« Why does this happen to me and our people? Because we have sinned. You are great Lord, you are great. You have always saved us, but unfortunately we have sinned. We wanted to serve you, but unfortunately we are sinners ".

Precisely "at that moment - the Pope has relaunched - Azaria confesses his own sin: the sin of the people. He accuses himself ». And in fact "the accusation of ourselves is the first step towards forgiveness:" Lord, do not withdraw your mercy from us. We have become small, we have sins. We could be welcomed with a contrite heart, with a humbled spirit! "». Here is the accusation to themselves: "We have sinned, you are great, unfortunately I have sinned".

"To accuse oneself is part of Christian wisdom," the Pope insisted. Certainly it is not Christian wisdom to "accuse others". We must instead accuse "oneself" and affirm: "I have sinned". And "when we approach the sacrament of penance," Francis suggested, we must "have this in mind: great God who has given us so many things and unfortunately I have sinned, I have offended the Lord and ask for salvation". But "if I go to the sacrament of confession, of penance, and I begin to talk about the sins of others, I do not know what I am looking for" the Pope said: surely "I am not seeking forgiveness". Rather "I try to justify myself and no one can justify himself, only God justifies us".

"I am reminded - Francis confided - that historical anecdote of a lady who approached the confessional and began to talk about her mother-in-law: what her mother-in-law did, how she made her suffer." And "after fifteen minutes the confessor told her:" Madam, she is well, you have confessed the sins of your mother-in-law, now confess your own "».

"So many times we go to ask the Lord for forgiveness by justifying ourselves, seeing what the others have done badly," the Pope said. But the right attitude is to recognize that, "unfortunately, I have sinned". In short, "to accuse himself". And "this pleases the Lord, because the Lord receives the contrite heart". In this regard, the words of Azaria are clear: "There is no disappointment for those who trust in you". Because "the contrite heart tells the truth to the Lord:" I have done this, Lord, I have sinned against you "». But "the Lord stops his mouth, like his father to the prodigal son, does not let him speak: his love covers him, forgives everything".

"To accuse ourselves", therefore. "When I go to confess, what do I do? Do you justify myself or accuse myself? "Is the question asked by Francesco. With the suggestion of "not being ashamed, he justifies us:" Lord, you are great, you have given me so many things, unfortunately, I have sinned "».

«The Lord forgives us, always and not once» re-minds the Pontiff. «To us - he added - he says to forgive seventy times seven, always, because he always forgives:" I forgive you, but as long as you forgive others "». And referring to the Gospel passage of Matthew (18, 21-35), the Pope pointed out that "if you go to ask the Lord for forgiveness as this clerk, the Lord forgives him! But then if the clerk does not forgive his colleague ... ». And so, he added, "the forgiveness of God is strong in us, provided we forgive others". But, Francis warned, "this is not easy because the rancor puts the nest in our heart and there is always that bitterness".In fact "many times we bring with us the list of things that they have done to me: this has made me that, he has done that to me, he has done this to me". Without forgiving.

"A confessor - the Pope continued, sharing another confidence - told me, once, that he found himself in trouble when he went to give the sacraments to an old woman who was about to die. The old woman of her sins was confessed well and also told family stories. And he said: "But madam, do you forgive these family members?" - "No, I do not forgive" ». The woman, the Pope said, was "attached to hatred, the devil had chained her to that hatred". And so "that old woman - old woman! - who was to die said: "I do not lose" ». The confessor, Francesco said, tried to talk to her about Jesus, which was good and she said yes, it was good and so she turned, she turned, she turned and said: "But do you think Jesus is good?" - "Yes, yes"". And the confessor "gave absolution, but hatred enslaved it".

«I forgive you, as long as you forgive others: these are the two things that will help us to understand the path of forgiveness» concluded the Pontiff. And then we must "give glory to God:" You are great, Lord, you have done me so many good things, unfortunately I have sinned. Forgive me "-" Yes, I forgive you, seventy times seven, as long as you forgive others "». That "the Lord - he added - makes us understand these things".

Quote to SHARE by St. #MotherTeresa : "People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; Forgive them anyway...."

"People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway."
by Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Pope Francis writes Preface to New Book and Recalls how Nun held him as a Baby - "The Cheek to Cheek Gospel"

Pope recalls nuns’ witness to charity in preface to new book - Vatican News Release
Pope Francis has recalled childhood memories of the care given by the “silent angels” of the Little Sisters of the Assumption in a forward to a biography of the order’s founder By Richard Marsden
Pope Francis has recounted a childhood story in which his father’s anti-clerical work colleague “met the maternal face of the Church” when being cared for by a mother superior, which led him to become a defender of her religious order.
Writing a preface of a new book in the Italian language, the Pope explains how the man “punched” a friend who dared to criticise two nuns after the worker was healed from a serious infection thanks to the help of a Little Sister of the Assumption.
A novice held the infant pope in her arms
The striking story forms part of Pope Francis’s forward to a biography of the order’s founder, Father Stefano Pernet, by Italian journalist Paola Bergamini. In it, the pontiff also describes how he was held in the arms of a young novice from the Congregation who came to visit the family in Buenos Aires hours after his birth. Pope Francis has been in contact with the nun throughout his life, up “until she went to heaven a few years ago.”
In his opening remarks to the book entitled “Il Vangelo guancia a guancia" (The Cheek to Cheek Gospel), the Pope writes: “I have many memories tied to these religious women who, as silent angels enter the homes of those in need, work patiently, look after, help, and then silently return to their convent. They follow their rule, pray and then go out to reach the homes of those in difficulty, becoming nurses and governesses, they accompany children to school and prepare meals for them.”
The humble care to an atheist
Describing the dramatic story of his father’s atheistic workmate, Pope Francis says the man was one of several workers who had come into Argentina after the Spanish Civil War and was a “rabid anticlerical”. When he became ill after an infection, his body covered with wounds, the mother superior looked after the man for more than a month, despite his animosity towards the Church. The Little Sister “was quiet, she did her job, looked after the wounds, brought the children to school, prepared lunch, cleaned the house.” Days after the man returned to work, he and three or four companions saw some of the nuns in the street. The Pope recounts: “One of the friends said some bad words against them. So, my dad's working companion first punched him and then told him, ‘You can say whatever you want against the priests and God, but nothing against Our Lady and against the sisters!’ Can you imagine? He was an atheist, a priest-eater, yet he defended the nuns.” The man’s change of attitude, the Pope explained, came because he “had seen Our Lady's smile in the face of that superior, that patient nun who went to heal him despite his imprecations.”
 Fr Pernet’s witness
Pope Francis also writes about the charism of Fr Pernet, a French priest who dedicated his life to supporting the poorest families in Paris and who was declared venerable in 1983. The Pope praises the founder’s “deeds of charity” which remind us that evangelisation “leads us to place our cheek onto the cheek of those who suffer, in body and spirit.” The Pope continues: “By serving with patience and trusting only in the Lord, it can happen that even the hearts of the most distant people are touched. As Our Mother Mary teaches us, the only power capable of conquering the hearts of men and women is the tenderness of God.” The Little Sisters of the Assumption, established in France by Fr Pernet in 1865, have communities in more than 25 countries across the world. Bergamini’s 192 page book will hit bookshops from March 6 and will receive an official launch in Milan on March 8.
Text Share from Vatican News

Wow Elderly Mother of Priest Killed by Sacristan visits Killer's Family and Forgives

Kerala, the elderly mother of murdered priest, forgives her son's killer

ASIA NEWS: Yesterday Thressia Thelakat visited the family of the former sacristan. The images of the woman who embraces the crying wife of the murderer shared on social media.
Kochi (AsiaNews) - The elderly mother of 52 year old Fr. Xavier Thelekkat, killed in Kerala after by his former sacristan, has forgiven his son's killer. Two days ago, Thressia Thelekkat visited the family of Johny Vattaparampil, who was captured on 2 March while hiding in the forest near the church of Kuruishmala, where the murder took place.
The images of the old woman who embraces and comforts Annie, the crying wife of the murderer, trended on social media. Annie, mother of two daughters, burst into tears, unable to speak. She could only hold out her hands begging for forgiveness. Later she had to be taken to the hospital: after the visitors had left, she collapsed with emotion.
Thressia told the media present during the meeting: "I forgive him". According to News Vision, a local television channel, "the Vattaparampil family had been isolated and lived in misery and discouragement. The visit gave them great comfort ".
Fr. Thelakkat belonged to the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, of the Syro-Malabar rite, and was the rector of the sanctuary of St. Thomas in Malayattoor, a famous pilgrimage destination. Here the sacristan had worked for 37 years, before being fired by the priest about three months ago. The reason for the dismissal was the perennial state of drunkenness in which the man presented himself at work. The attacker had asked to be reinstated in his duties, but the priest had refused. In revenge, Johny stabbed him in the leg and then escaped. Xavier bled to death before he arrived at the hospital.
John Theckanath, pastor of the Malayattoor church, organized the meeting between the two families. Thressia was accompanied by her daughter of the same name, Sebastian (younger brother of the priest) and Pappachan (cousin of the deceased).
The killer is now in police custody. Saji Markose, head of the Kalady police station conducting the investigation, reported that the man "admitted responsibility for his act as revenge for being suspended for alcohol abuse. He had asked to be taken back on at the beginning of the pilgrimage season, but the priest had not consented ". At the time of his arrest, Vattaparampil was in precarious physical condition and asked for water and food. He reported to the police that he had attempted suicide, without success.
(Nirmala Carvalho Collaborated)
Text Source: Asia News IT
Original Story of Slain Priest: 

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday March 6, 2018 - #Eucharist

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 238

Reading 1DN 3:25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

“For your name’s sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 25:4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9

R. (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Verse Before The GospelJL 2:12-13

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.

GospelMT 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

Saint March 6 : Our Lady of Nazareth - #Nazaré #OurLady

by: Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Biographical selection: 

The chronicles of the old Portugal report this episode that took place in the year 1182, on the day of the exaltation of the Holy Cross. Dom Fuas Roupinho, a knight and vassal of King Afonso Henriques, was out hunting on a foggy day. He was pursuing a deer when it came to an unexpected precipice and fell to its death into the sea below.

The horse, which was in close pursuit, reared on the very edge of the cliff, and it seemed certain that Dom Fuas would follow the deer to his death. Knowing that a little distance to his left was a cave with the statue of the Virgin of Nazareth, Dom Fuas immediately invoked her protection. He was saved, and in thanksgiving he built a small “chapel of memory” (Ermida da Memória) over the cave in her honor.

According to a document found with it, the little statue of the Virgin had been venerated in Nazareth in the times of early Christianity. When the iconoclast heresy started in Constantinople and the heretics were destroying all the statues, a monk called Ciriaco took it to a monastery in Spain in the proximity of Merida.

In 714, when the Saracens invaded the Iberian Peninsula, King Rodrigo fled with Friar Germano to the Atlantic coast, bearing the statue with them. They hid the statue in a small cave off the coast of the site that was later to become Nazaré, where it remained until it was found by a shepherd in 1179.

After Our Lady miraculously saved the life of Dom Fuas, the devotion to Our Lady of Nazareth spread broadly through the country and was the source of countless graces for the people. In 1377 King Fernando ordered a Church to be built near the little chapel, and the statue is venerated there now.

Comments of Prof. Plinio: 

The fact is full of grandiose memories from History. Dom Fuas Roupinho was one of the great heroes in the battles that marked the birth of Portugal and its independence from Spain.

The scene is superb: a noble hunting on a foggy day near the ocean. The deer he is chasing falls to a sudden death from a precipice. His horse rears at the edge of the cliff, and it seems certain he will die. He prays to Our Lady in a nearby cave, and she intervenes. The horse recovers and the noble is saved.

The statue of Our Lady is one that was venerated in Nazareth at the beginning of Christianity. How many crooked lines Divine Providence used to make this statue be there to save a Portuguese noble, right at the very time when Portugal was being founded. The episode is very poetic. It also shows the diverse ways Our Lady uses to foster a devotion.

The statue was venerated in Nazareth. Then, in flight during a persecution, it went to Spain. There it made a profound impression on the King, who took it with him when he was also obliged to flee. He and his companion, a friar, placed the image in a cave. Later it was found by a shepherd, and the devotion continued, although it was barely surviving. It would, however, grow enormously after Our Lady saved Dom Fuas Roupinho.

When devotion began to diminish in the Middle East, Our Lady made her statue go to Spain. When the devotion began to cool in Spain, she inspired a King to bring her to a place that would be part of a new country, Portugal. From there, the devotion would spread throughout that land and to other countries for the good of many people. Two hundreds years ago, the same devotion came from Portugal to Brazil, to the city of Belém do Pará. At the sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazareth, there is a center of pilgrimage year round. On the day of her feast, more than one million people go to venerate her.

The story reveals the way Our Lady often works her wonders. It reminds me of that principle of the theology of History – residuum revertetur [the remnant will return]. When everything seems to be near an end, when only a remnant remains faithful, then everything is reborn from it. A series of failures followed by rebirths - this is often found in the ways of Our Lady.

Our Lady of Nazaré, Brazil
Her ways are the royal ways of a Queen. She permits everything to almost disappear, and then she proves that she can re-establish everything. She restores what was there before and even more from only a remnant.

This is the rhythm History follows: we had the apogee of the Catholic spirit in the Middle Ages. Now we have its complete failure and the apogee of the revolutionary spirit. A remnant remains faithful fighting to destroy the Revolution and make the Reign of Mary, which will be built and reach an apex still higher than the Middle Ages.

The decadence of the Reign of Mary will bring, in its turn, another epoch that will represent the victory of the Antichrist. Then also, a remnant will remain faithful to fight the evil. The fidelity of that remnant will be rewarded with the second coming of Our Lord and His final triumph, along with the triumph of Our Lady.

This grandiose historical law also applies to our individual spiritual lives. When we experience an apparent failure, we should confide and pray to Our Lady because often it will be the re-starting of a new step in our devotion to her.
Source: Tradition in Action