Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Saint April 11 : St. Gemma Galgani - Patron of Students, Pharmacists, Tuberculosis patients, love and hope

St. Gemma Galgani

Feast Day:
April 11
12 March 1878 at Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
Holy Saturday, 11 April 1903 at Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, Lucca, Italy
2 May 1940 by Pope Pius XII
Major Shrine:
Passionist Monastery in Lucca, Italy
Patron of:
Students, pharmacists, tuberculosis patients, love and hope

There is little to be said about her life. Born at Camigliano in Tuscany, she suffered from 'tuberculosis of the spine with aggravated curvature', and, though she considered herself cured by a vision of the young Saint Gabriel Possenti, she could not obtain a certificate of health enabling her to enter a convent, as she wished. She had many 'abnormal' experiences from June 1899 onwards, including the 'stigmata' in hands and feet, carefully examined by her confessor and biographer, the Passionist Fr Germano. These began to appear about 8 p.m. on a Thursday and lasted till 3 p.m. on the Friday. No pain preceded their apparition, but only a deep recollection. There was seen first a discoloration on the back and palm of each hand; then a 'rent in the flesh' under the skin which then split, and a deep laceration was observed, at least usually: the holes above and below corresponded and the perforations seemed complete, but it was hard to judge of this because they kept firing up with blood, partly flowing, partly congealing. Fr Germano measured the diameters and shapes of the wounds carefully, and noted that 'a few times' a sort of fleshy swelling, like a nail-head, about an inch across, covered the wounds in the hands (though not those in the feet): 'The deep wounds were the more usual state of Gemma's stigmata—I say, the more usual state'. He also says that directly the Friday ecstasy was over, 'the flow of blood from all < five> wounds ceased immediately; the raw flesh healed; the lacerated tissues healed too': at least by Sunday not a vestige remained of the deep 'cavities'; the new skin was smooth, though 'whitish marks' remained on it. Much more could be said about this saint, but this account suffices as occasion for explaining the principles governing the Church's approach to these and allied phenomena.
First, the Congregation of Rites, declaring that Gemma practiced the Christian virtues to a heroic degree, explicitly refrained from passing judgment on the preternatural character of the recorded phenomena; a matter (it adds) 'upon which no decision is ever made' (see <Acta Apostolicae Sedis> vol. xxiv [1932], p. 57, and Thurston: <Physical Phenomena of Mysticism>, ed. J. H. Crehan, chapter 11, especially pp. 52-54).
We must first register the alleged <facts> presented to us for observation, and then consider the evidence. Only then may we tentatively embark on <interpretation>. So we notice that before the time of St. Francis of Assisi there can be quoted only two or three instances of stigmatization of doubtful character: but since St. Francis, instances become almost innumerable up to the present day. We start by excluding those where self-inflicted wounds can even be suspected; for there have been instances of downright imposture, of misguided asceticism-conscious or possibly unconscious. This cannot apply to Gemma Galgani, since the gradual appearance and disappearance of her wounds was scrupulously <watched>. Again, all instances of complete stigmatization (save probably two) are found in women, and usually (though by no means always) in women who lead an enclosed and constantly meditative life; this suggests that the mind can influence the body-as it obviously can: a <thought> can make one blush, or turn pale. Further, an ecstatica's stigmata (or visions) not seldom correspond with some picture or effigy that she habitually sees: the marks of the scourging on Gemma are said to reproduce those on a crucifix she contemplated; Catherine Emmerich and others 'see' our Lord on a Y-shaped cross like one they were accustomed to; some will see Him crucified with three, others with four, nails; the wound of the lance may be on the right, or again on the left. We may therefore grant that <even if> a supernatural grace be granted to the soul, the mind, helped by the imagination, may proceed to interpret it to itself by means of such ideas or images as it possesses or prefers. But how far can the 'mind' influence the body? 'Dermatography'—marks on the skin, usually disappearing soon—can undoubtedly be induced by suggestion, whether it be self-suggestion or administered by another; but can suggestion cause lesions of the tissues, persisting and not becoming gangrenous? The word 'hysteria' should now be left aside—the ugly word 'pithiatism' may be replacing it—it merely means 'suggestibility'. Now there is no fault in being 'suggestible'; one person may lie abnormally open to the stimulus of anger, fear, sex or pity. If then we seek the nature of the stimulus lying behind the bodily manifestations observed in one who, on other grounds, is judged to be of exceptional holiness, we can prudently suppose that it is love for God, for Christ incarnate, or crucified, which so moves the entire 'subject'—body-mind—as to produce the exterior phenomena. The miracle would then lie in the intensity of the love for God granted to a human soul; the physical consequences of so super-human a love might be quite incalculable, by no means necessarily the stigmata, though possibly including them: indeed, disconcerting symptoms might well co-exist with those that might be expected, and should by no means be at once ascribed to diabolic influences. The description of all abnormal symptoms of the sort under discussion should be purely clinical, not rhetorical or pietistic.

St. Gemma Galgani was beatified in 1933, and canonized in 1940.

Pope Francis at Mass "... your always being called to be reborn “from above,” by God’s love." to Missionaries of Mercy - Homily FULL TEXT + Video



Vatican Basilica, Altar of the Cathedra 
Tuesday of the 2nd week of Easter, 10 April 2018
We have heard in the Book of Acts: "With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4:33).

Everything starts from the Resurrection of Jesus: from it comes the testimony of the Apostles and, through this, the faith and the new life of the members of the community are generated, with its frank evangelical style.

The readings of today's Mass bring out these two inseparable aspects well: personal rebirth and community life. So, turning to you, dear brothers, I think of your ministry that you carry out starting from the Jubilee of Mercy. A ministry that moves in both these directions: at the service of the people, because they "reborn from above", and at the service of the communities, so that they may live the commandment of love with joy and coherence.

Today the Word of God offers two indications that I would like to grasp for you, thinking precisely of your mission.
The Gospel recalls that those who are called to bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ must himself, in the first person, "be born from above" (cf. Jn 3: 7). Otherwise you end up becoming like Nicodemus who, despite being a teacher in Israel, did not understand the words of Jesus when he said that to "see the kingdom of God" we must "be born from above", be born "of water and the Spirit" (cf. 3-5). Nicodemus did not understand the logic of God, which is the logic of grace, of mercy, so that those who become small are great, those who become ultimate are first, those who recognize themselves ill are healed. This means truly leaving the primacy to the Father, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit in our life. Attention: it is not a question of becoming "invaded" priests, as if they were depositaries of some extraordinary charisma. No. Ordinary priests, simple, gentle, balanced, but able to let themselves be constantly regenerated by the Spirit, docile to his strength, interiorly free - above all by themselves - because moved by the "wind" of the Spirit who blows where he wants (cf. Jn 3, 8).

The second indication concerns community service: to be priests capable of "raising" in the "desert" of the world the sign of salvation, that is, the Cross of Christ, as a source of conversion and renewal for the whole community and for the world itself ( see Jn 3: 14-15). In particular, I would like to stress that the Lord who died and rose again is the force that creates communion in the Church and, through the Church, in the whole of humanity. Jesus said it before the Passion: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12: 32). This strength of communion was manifested from the beginning in the community of Jerusalem where - as the Book of Acts attests - "the multitude of those who had become believers had one heart and one soul" (4,32). It was a communion that made concrete sharing of goods, so that "everything was common among them" (v. Ibid.) And "none of them was needy" (verse 34). But this lifestyle of the community was also "contagious" to the outside: the living presence of the Risen Lord produces a force of attraction which, through the witness of the Church and through the various forms of proclamation of the Good News, tends to reach all , nobody excluded. Dear brothers, put your specific ministry of Missionaries of Mercy at the service of this dynamism. In fact, both the Church and the world today have a particular need of Mercy because the unity desired by God in Christ prevails over the negative action of the evil one who takes advantage of many current means, in themselves good, but which, misused, instead to unite divide. We are convinced that "unity is superior to conflict" (Evangelii gaudium, 228), but we also know that without mercy this principle does not have the strength to be implemented in the concrete of life and history.

Dear brothers, leave this meeting with the joy of being confirmed in the ministry of Mercy. First of all confirmed in the grateful confidence of being you first called to be reborn always "from above", from the love of God. And at the same time confirmed in the mission of offering everyone the sign of Jesus "lifted up" from the ground, because the community is a sign and instrument of unity in the midst of the world.[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation from Vatican.va]

#BreakingNews Students in over 200 Schools plan #ProLife Walk-Out on April 11th at 10am

LIFENEWS reports that High school students across the country have organized walk outs to draw attention to horrible shootings that have taken place at schools nationwide. Now, inspired by pro-life students in Sacramento California who are organizing a walk out to draw attention to another horrific form of violence, abortions that kill unborn babies, students at over 200 schools are participating.

More than 200 different high school and college or university campuses are preparing to participate in the #ProLifeWalkout — according to information Students for Life provided to LifeNews. Students for Life officials indicate pro-life students are finding less administrative support in general than those students organizing walkouts over gun control.
Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins announced that resources, legal help and training will be available for all who want to take a stand for life, to remember those lost to abortion.
The pro-life group Family Research Council is urging pro-life students to participate in the events.
This event is a nationwide Pro-Life Walkout Day on April 11th at 10 a.m. local time when students will be walking out of class for 17 minutes to raise awareness about the over 60,000,000 unborn children who have been aborted since 1973 by groups like Planned Parenthood
Students for Life of America is offering 10 Free Pro-Life Generation signs to everyone who signs up. Learn more at prolifewalkout.org where students will be connected to experienced team members standing by to support the student-lead efforts with sample promotional flyers, press releases to send to local media outlets, and legal advice about first amendment rights. (Shortened from LIFENEWS)
Here is their Explanation:

Inspired by courageous pro-life students in Sacramento, CA, it's time for the #ProLifeGen to stand up and say "Enough is Enough!" We will no longer tolerate legal abortion in our nation, which has killed more than a fourth of our generation. We will no longer watch as our leaders in Washington continue to fund our nation’s largest abortion vendor, Planned Parenthood, with more than $500 million of our taxpayer dollars. We will no longer permit Planned Parenthood and their allies in the abortion industry to target our peers for their predatory business cycle.

On Wednesday, April 11th, we will walk out of our classes for 17 minutes of silence and prayer. We will stand silently outside outside honoring the 10 children who will violently die during that time at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. We will rally and demand the end of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funded empire. We will kneel and pray for the end of legal abortion in our nation.

Together, we will take a courageous stand. Because our pro-life generation will stop the violence and end legal abortion!

Tell us who you are and what college or high school you attend. After signing-up, our team at Students for Life will be in touch with tips, including sample promo material and legal advice, for how to make your #ProLifeWalkout on Wednesday, April 11th, a success! 

What Can We Do For You

Students for Life of America is the nation's largest pro-life organization, serving more than 1,200 Students for Life groups in all 50 states. We want to help you make your #ProLifeWalkout a huge success! So sign up now so your voice will be counted! We’ll be sending you sample promotional material to help you recruit more students, connecting you with lawyers who will advise you on your First Amendment rights, and helping you get local media attention for your #ProLifeWalkout.

For media questions, please contact Kristi Hamrick at khamrick@studentsforlife.org.

Simple Guide to Pope Francis' New Apostolic Exhortation "Rejoice and be glad" - a Call to Holiness for Everyone! SHARE

Apostolic Exhortation (Adhortatio apostolica) – An apostolic exhortation is a formal instruction issued by a pope to a community, urging some specific activity. Lower in import than an encyclical or apostolic letter, an exhortation does not define doctrine. (Source: Law.edu)
The title, “Rejoice and be glad,” from the Latin “Gaudete et Exultate.” This document explains the call to holiness in the world today for everyone. 
Pope Francis explains that he wants “to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities.”
 Pope Francis combines the tradition of new institutions that emerged in the 20th century and were recognized by the Second Vatican Council. It goes one step further by explaining how to live out the Christian proposal in the current world. 
He reminds us of the importance of the Laity:
“to be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, where we find ourselves.”
Holiness Around Us
Pope Francis suggests looking at examples of saints around us, “those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.”

Where to find Holiness
Pope Francis emphasizes  holiness through the Beatitudes. According to St. Matthew, “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.”
He warns of the danger of separating faith from good activity. We must maintain a relationship with God and promote this relationship through our good works. 

5 Ways to Be Catholic Today
The Pontiff gives 5 ways to express of love for God and neighbor:
Perseverance, patience and meekness.
Joy and a sense of humor.
Boldness and passion.
(To encounter others) in community.
Constant prayer.
Warning of the Power of Evil and the Devil 
“Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable. The devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice. When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families and our communities. 'Like a roaring lion, he prowls around, looking for someone to devour.'”
He concludes by remembering that holiness “has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father, who knows and loves me, with the real purpose of my life, that nobody knows better than He.”

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday April 10, 2018 - #Eucharist

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Lectionary: 268

Reading 1ACTS 4:32-37

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas
(which is translated Ason of encouragement"),
a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
sold a piece of property that he owned,
then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.

Responsorial PsalmPS 93:1AB, 1CD-2, 5

R. (1a) The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.
And he has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O LORD.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.
Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed:
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, for length of days.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 3:14-15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man must be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him
may have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 3:7B-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
'How can this happen?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

Humility .. its Personalist connection with Justice - Scholarly Insights by Dr. Gary Knight

Humility .. its personalist connection with justice

“Are my ways unjust, says the Lord; are not rather your ways unjust!” [Ezechiel 18:29]. This poignant line was occasioned by a carping against God’s gratuitous mercy. Vaunted pride is what God casts down in declaring how unjust is the way of expecting or demanding what one claims is due, since no-one can earn the goods that last.

We are dust, and unto dust we return. Isaiah’s [45:9] image of potshards complaining against their potter, clay against its molder and firing glazier, is a clear signifier that we have made the most egregious category mistake.

The mind, clouded already, is darkened by the toxin of sophisticate pride, making natural justice unrecognizable. Instrumentalist ethics now suppose a deformed child is dispensable to make way for a better one. Cleverly as the argument may go (it almost works for standing in proxy), what morally could be more stupefied?

Walking humbly before a cosmic demiurge would not be personalist. It’s easy to feign humility before powers that dwarf human stature: hands are often wrung over our infinitesimal footprint in the universe. But Gaia as concept substitutes for God as real when I wax laudatory over mother Earth but lack concern for pre-born persons.

Humility is to prefer others to me, recognizing the value of those who as yet have hardly started or are radically vulnerable. Humility before God is to accede to his preferences in all things; but deference to preference is a charade if God be not personal. A preference for persons is rendered (by persons’ God) the ultimate in personalism.

If I am not sincerely differential to others I cannot in justice expect them to treat me better; and if relations devolve to ‘each to his own’ or survival of the fittest then disregarded is God’s preference to exalt the lowly. If lacking humility I balk at divine reward for lowliness, I’m neither just nor in personal relation with God.

Well then, where is the evidence that God is personal? A huge number of religionists including monotheists, do not concede a personal God. Some Jews and even Christians over-focus on Elohist texts to the loss of the personal in Yahwist ones, and of course Moslems think personhood is beneath God. One beauty of the personal God is that his declamation for pure religion implicitly allows room for less, as a starting point.

What is personhood:  Anselm’s Proslogion

For humility take St. Anselm’s fine example. He’d been in prayer, humiliated in a fruitless striving for a way to express God, or devise a nomenclature (nomen) that captivates the essence of what God is to us. Having dropped the quest as beyond his ken, Anselm in uncomplaining contemplation of God was granted a light. He grasped that God is he “than which no greater can be conceived”; and thus he inked the Proslogion.  

On studying Augustine’s abortive attempt to describe the blessed Trinity (or what in us comprises an image of it), Anselm realized that uniqueness, eternity, the ground of being, oneness in plurality (communion of love) and every perfection must be included in what is such, than nothing greater can be conceived. He saw that the One, more than a concept, is greater by actually existing.

What may not be quite obvious from the Proslogion is that God reveals himself as essentially Person. The agent conceiving the greatest thing is mind, and this conceiving is critiqued by mind. Minds belong to persons, and God is (just) knowable through what a mind does most essentially: conceive. Far past being a concept (I use concepts to behold many non-concepts), to be ultimate it must be so full of existing as to be and define existence.

No thought about reality can make rational sense if there is not a believed supremum or ground of reality; and Anselm found that it is logically unsound to deny the existence of that “than which no greater is conceivable”. No meaningful argument can proceed, even with oneself, if being real doesn’t emerge from a ground of real being. The soundness of Anselm’s demonstration was modally proven by Alan Turing (corrected lately for a minor gloss).

One who uniquely is “than which nothing greater can be conceived” tells the mind to look to its own possessor’s essence as a good that the One cannot lack in perfection. He cannot lack personhood and its nature of conceiving if He speaks with authority about the conceiving. To comprehend what is shown, if from God, is to correspond: to have something of His likeness which He knows corresponds. That, at the very least, is Personhood.

An aside is in order, to consider misgivings that Aquinas had with Anselm, for Anselm did maintain that no sane mind can deny the existence of what is at least as great as anything rationally conceivable, since not-existing would make that conceptum less. Not all accept the nomen as premised, even if Anselm argued it is required of sanity.

It is fair to say that a sound mind in pursuit of truth is able in principle to touch the essence of God unaided - if man can retain clear rationality without aid, as may be debated. But it is now accepted as shown, for instance, in the late Anthony Flew. Yet Aquinas found it suspect, since not all about God follows from grasping Anselm’s nomen.

Anselm however did not say that (a) all, without help of grace or hearing, ought to find God; nor (b) all that’s true about God is found in this amulet. Anthony Flew didn’t get to a personal God before God took him home. That the mind’s light can just touch His that is uncreated does not mean our darkness can at all ‘comprehend’ God. This has its mundane parallel: you can find me human, but not till I said it would you guess I’m an Anselmian-Augustinian.

God’s totality wasn’t something Anselm saw nestling there in the nomen. Certainly no necessity that God be loving and merciful or ready to die for men: greatness beyond conceivable greatness had to be revealed. But to a mind able rationally to conceive, these truths when revealed are digestible - if not without mystery and awe.

Still, as Ambrose had advised Augustine to let him be found by God - not the other way round - much about the Trinity is amenable when open to Personhood as perfectly God’s. One might guess that while incommunicable simplicity is a divine perfection, it is not without also the good of communion. God alone combines all perfections. As cardinal Dieudonnee Nzapalainga recently put it: “in a family [including God’s selfsame] singularity does not exclude communion and collaboration.”

Communion in plurality is an incontrovertible good: conceived-of it is seen to be unifying and not multiplying and dividing, unlike vying demiurges or anti-Gods (as in heresies like Manes’) which failed to embrace the crown or Sh’ma of oneness.

Yet through insights like the nomen one glimpses that God in oneness will encompass plurality, no divine Person being less holy and perfect than the other. Genesis speaks of God and the Spirit (and implicitly His Word), calling the One in plural form: Elohim, so ‘apt or fitting’ in Anselm’s phrasing. One finds then the Trinity most fitting because a Two will be in perfect Love, which itself cannot lack any divine perfection, including Personhood (pace Augustine).

Rediscovery of God’s personhood

Wisdom gives herself personally to those who desire her, enabling them to walk humbly before God. “Before God” is reminiscent of the dancing of Wisdom before Him [Proverbs 8:30]: and it means ‘in His sight’ like ‘the apple of His eye’ - as David did dance.

This personhood of God was well known in religion, by Abraham or Noah long before Micah; for which the increasingly academized mind swimming in a tide of skepticism must belabour a tortuous rediscovery. That has delayed a full recognition of God’s personhood, where our personhood and mutual-love personalism are rooted.

In a real sense the ‘mentalist’ enlightenment began with the magi, men of science in their day. The magi, if Zorastrian, believed in a Wisdom (Mazda, in the end victorious over evil) that budded humans as leaves from a plant. Man having not form nor breath from impersonal Mazda was hardly grounded in personalism, depriving him of deep reasons for the sanctity of human life.

Still, the saviour Soshans was to be incarnate through a virgin; so through reverence of signs far above earth, the seers followed the rising of a unique luminary. Finding the son of Mary, they “returned a different way”: an understatement of what’s far more than a ‘new trail’.

[ Legend has the sages remaining in India as proto-Christians, catechized later by Saint Thomas, who made them bishops. Their relics are interred at the basilica of Koln, Germany. ]

They were saved from any part in Herod’s pogrom against the Christ, so fresh was their epiphanic reverence for Life. Seven months earlier the Spirit baptized John prenatally, who was not yet seeking Christ; how readily would God not fill these, going leagues after Soshans, to find Hosanna ?

What made the change from a deistic outlook to the personalist and theist wouldn’t have been speech. It had to be Jesus’ presence (Norris-Clark calls that the essence of personhood) and the inimitable sanctity of His mother, conceived without the corruption that Zorastrians thought inescapable: both in the care of ‘just a man’, Joseph.

Awaiting all who encounter Christ with open heart, is confirmation in faith and truth. Wisdom, that ‘thinking in the heart’ Augustine called for, is guaranteed: “how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?”

Rediscovery of what was long since known in the heart and in personal encounter, with angels ‘like men’, is impeded when the mind sets forth its own sceptical criteria as ruling its capacity to receive truth. Dictating terms of truth or perceived consistency is a self-protecting but limiting aspect of predicate logic, for any level of consistent systematics must engender true concepts that cannot be demonstrated within its confines.

The mind is not limited to to the stratified, enumerable levels of arithmetical formalism (which were used by Godel to prove his theorem); but while it thinks it is, the important worry about consistency will hamper it in addressing matter that it grasps as ‘meta’ or mysterious: any of the true mysteries it might conjecture. But a trust in true and proven, ‘pure’ and testified religion enables mind either to ascend to a more encompassing “new register”, or to receive as true what it could not have proven in the layer where it mired itself like the wheels of Pharaoh.