Friday, April 20, 2018

Saint April 21 : St. Anselm : #Doctor of the #Church and #Archbishop

St. Anselm

Feast Day:
April 21
1033 at Aosta, Piedmont, Italy
21 April 1109 at Canterbury, England
1492 by Pope Alexander IV
Major Shrine:
Canterbury Cathedral
Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church; born at Aosta a Burgundian town on the confines of Lombardy, died 21 April, 1109. His father, Gundulf, was a Lombard who had become a citizen of Aosta, and his mother, Ermenberga, came of an old Burgundian family. Like many other saints, Anselm learnt the first lessons of piety from his mother, and at a very early age he was fired with the love of learning. In after life he still cherished the memories of childhood, and his biographer, Eadmer, has preserved some incidents which he had learnt from the saint's own lips. The child had heard his mother speak of God, Who dwelt on high ruling all things. Living in the mountains, he thought that Heaven must be on their lofty summits. "And while he often revolved these matters in his mind, it chanced that one night he saw in a vision that he must go up to the summit of the mountain and hasten to the court of God, the great King. But before he began to ascend the mountain, he saw in the plain through which he had passed to its foot, women, who were the King's handmaidens, reaping the corn; but they were doing this very negligently and slothfully. Then, grieving for their sloth, and rebuking them, he bethought him that he would accuse them before their Lord and King. Thereafter, having climbed the mountain he entered the royal court. There he found the King with only his cupbearer. For it seemed that, as it was now Autumn, the King had sent his household to gather the harvest. As the boy entered he was called by the Master, and drawing nigh he sat at his feet. Then with cheery kindliness he was asked who and whence he was and what he was seeking. To these questions he made answer as well as he knew. Then at the Master's command some moist white bread was brought him by the cupbearer and he feasted thereon in his presence, wherefore when morning came and he brought to mind the things he had seen, as a simpler and innocent child he believed that he had truly been fed in heaven with the bread of the Lord, and this he publicly affirmed in the presence of others". (Eadmer, Life of St. Anselm, I, i.) Eadmer adds that the boy was beloved by all and made rapid progress in learning. Before he was fifteen he sought admission to a monastery. But the abbot, fearing the father's displeasure, refused him. The boy then made a strange prayer. He asked for an illness, thinking this would move the monks to yield to his wishes. The illness came but his admission to the monastery was still denied him. None the less he determined to gain his end at some future date. But ere long he was drawn away by the pleasures of youth and lost his first ardour and his love of learning. His love for his mother in some measure restrained him. But on her death it seemed that his anchor was lost, and he was at the mercy of the waves.

At this time his father treated him with great harshness; so much so that he resolved to leave his home. Taking a single companion, he set out on foot to cross Mont Cenis. At one time he was fainting with hunger and was fain to refresh his strength with snow, when the servant found that some bread was still left in the baggage, and Anselm regained strength and continued the journey. After passing nearly three years in Burgundy and France, he came into Normandy and tarried for a while at Avranches before finding his home at the Abbey of Bec, then made illustrious by Lanfranc's learning. Anselm profited so well by the lessons of this master that he became his most familiar disciple and shared in the work of teaching. After spending some time in this labour, he began to think that his toil would have more merit if he took the monastic habit. But at first he felt some reluctance to enter the Abbey of Bec, where he would be overshadowed by Lanfranc. After a time, however, he saw that it would profit him to remain where he would be surpassed by others. His father was now dead, having ended his days in the monastic habit, and Anselm had some thought of living on his patrimony and relieving the needy. The life of a hermit also presented itself to him as a third alternative. Anxious to act with prudence he first asked the advice of Lanfranc, who referred the matter to the Archbishop of Rouen. This prelate decided in favour of the monastic life, and Anselm became a monk in the Abbey of Bec. This was in 1060. His life as a simple monk lasted for three years, for in 1063 Lanfranc was appointed Abbot of Caen, and Anselm was elected to succeed him as Prior. There is some doubt as to the date of this appointment. But Canon Poree points out that Anselm, writing at the time of his election as Archbishop (1093), says that he had then lived thirty three years in the monastic habit, three years as a monk without preferment, fifteen as prior, and fifteen as abbot (Letters of Anselm, III, vii). This is confirmed by an entry in the chronicle of the Abbey of Bec, which was compiled not later than 1136. Here it is recorded that Anselm died in 1109, in the forty-ninth year of his monastic life and the seventy-sixth of his age, having been three years a simple monk; fifteen, prior; fifteen, abbot; and sixteen archbishop (Poree, Histoire de l'abbaye de Bec, III, 173). At first his promotion to the office vacated by Lanfranc gave offence to some of the other monks who considered they had a better claim than the young stranger. But Anselm overcame their opposition by gentleness, and ere long had won their affection and obedience. To the duties of prior he added those of teacher. It was likewise during this period that he composed some of his philosophical and theological works, notably, the "Monologium" and the "Proslogium". Besides giving good counsel to the monks under his care, he found time to comfort others by his letters. Remembering his attraction for the solitude of a hermitage we can hardly wonder that he felt oppressed by this busy life and longed to lay aside his office and give himself up to the delights of contemplation. But the Archbishop of Rouen bade him retain his office and prepare for yet greater burdens. This advice was prophetic, for in 1078, on the death of Herluin, founder and first Abbot of Bec Anselm was elected to succeed him. It was with difficulty that the monks overcame his reluctance to accept the office. His biographer, Eadmer, gives us a picture of a strange scene. The Abbot-elect fell prostrate before the brethren and with tears besought them not to lay this burden on him, while they prostrated themselves and earnestly begged him to accept the office. His election at once brought Anselm into relations with England, where the Norman abbey had several possessions. In the first year of his office, he visited Canterbury where he was welcomed by Lanfranc. "The converse of Lanfranc and Anselm", says Professor Freeman, "sets before us a remarkable and memorable pair. The lawyer, the secular scholar, met the divine and the philosopher; the ecclesiastical statesman stood face to face with the saint. The wisdom, conscientious no doubt but still hard and worldly, which could guide churches and kingdoms in troublous times was met by the boundless love which took in all God's creatures of whatever race or species" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 442). It is interesting to note that one of the matters discussed on this occasion related to a Saxon archbishop, Elphage (Ælfheah), who had been put to death by the Danes for refusing to pay a ransom which would impoverish his people. Lanfranc doubted his claim to the honours of a martyr since he did not die for the Faith. But Anselm solved the difficulty by saying that he who died for this lesser reason would much more be ready to die for the Faith. Moreover, Christ is truth and justice and he who dies for truth and justice dies for Christ. It was on this occasion that Anselm first met Eadmer, then a young monk of Canterbury. At the same time the saint, who in his childhood was loved by all who knew him, and who, as Prior of Bec, had won the affection of those who resisted his authority, was already gaining the hearts of Englishmen. His fame had spread far and wide, and many of the great men of the age prized his friendship and sought his counsel. Among these was William the Conqueror, who desired that Anselm might come to give him consolation on his death-bed. When Lanfranc died, William Rufus kept the See of Canterbury vacant for four years, seized its revenues, and kept the Church in England in a state of anarchy. To many the Abbot of Bec seemed to be the man best fitted for the archbishopric. The general desire was so evident that Anselm felt a reluctance to visit England lest it should appear that he was seeking the office. At length, however, he yielded to the entreaty of Hugh, Earl of Chester and came to England in 1092. Arriving in Canterbury on the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, he was hailed by the people as their future archbishop; but he hastened away and would in no wise consent to remain for the festival. At a private interview with the King, who received him kindly, he spoke freely on the evils by which the land was made desolate. Anselm's own affairs kept him in England for some months, but when he wished to return to Bec the King objected. Meanwhile the people made no secret of their desires. With the King's permission prayers were offered in all the churches that God would move the King to deliver the Church of Canterbury by the appointment of a pastor, and at the request of the bishops Anselm drew up the form of prayer. The King fell ill early in the new year (1093), and on his sick-bed he was moved to repentance. The prelates and barons urged on him the necessity of electing an archbishop. Yielding to the manifest desire of all he named Anselm, and all joyfully concurred in the election. Anselm, however, firmly refused the honour, whereupon another scene took place still more strange than that which occurred when he was elected abbot. He was dragged by force to the King's bedside, and a pastoral staff was thrust into his closed hand; he was borne thence to the altar where the "Te Deum" was sung. There is no reason to suspect the sincerity of this resistance. Naturally drawn to contemplation, Anselm could have little liking for such an office even in a period of peace; still less could he desire it in those stormy days. He knew full well what awaited him. The King's repentance passed away with his sickness and Anselm soon saw signs of trouble. His first offence was his refusal to consent to the alienation of Church lands which the King had granted to his followers. Another difficulty arose from the King's need of money. Although his see was impoverished by the royal rapacity, the Archbishop was expected to make his majesty a free gift; and when he offered five hundred marks they were scornfully refused as insufficient. As if these trials were not enough Anselm had to bear the reproaches of some of the monks of Bec who were loath to lose him; in his letters he is at pains to show that he did not desire the office. He finally was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury 4 December, 1093. It now remained for him to go to Rome to obtain the pallium. But here was a fresh occasion of trouble. The Antipope Clement was disputing the authority of Urban II, who had been recognized by France and Normandy. It does not appear that the English King was a partisan of the Antipope, but he wished to strengthen his own position by asserting his right to decide between the rival claimants. Hence, when Anselm asked leave to go to the Pope, the King said that no one in England should acknowledge either Pope till he, the King, had decided the matter. The Archbishop insisted on going to Pope Urban, whose authority he had already acknowledged, and, as he had told the King, this was one of the conditions on which alone he would accept the archbishopric. This grave question was referred to a council of the realm held at Rockingham in March, 1095. Here Anselm boldly asserted the authority of Urban. His speech is a memorable testimony to the doctrine of papal supremacy. It is significant that not one of the bishops could call it in question (Eadmer, Historia Novorum, lib. I). Regarding Anselm's belief on this point we may cite the frank words of Dean Hook: "Anselm was simply a papist — He believed that St. Peter was the Prince of the Apostles — that as such he was the source of all ecclesiastical authority and power; that the pope was his successor; and that consequently, to the pope was due, from the bishops and metropolitans as well as from the rest of mankind, the obedience which a spiritual suzerain has the right to expect from his vassals" [Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury (London, 18(i0-75), II, 183]. William now sent envoys to Rome to get the pallium. They found Urban in possession and recognized him. Walter, Bishop of Albano, came back with them as legate bearing the pallium. The King publicly acknowledged the authority of Urban, and at first endeavoured to get Anselm deposed by the legate. Eventually a reconciliation was occasioned by the royal difficulties in Wales and in the north. The King and the Archbishop met in peace. Anselm would not take the pallium from the King's hand; but in a solemn service at Canterbury on 10 June, 1095 it was laid on the altar by the legate, whence Anselm took it. Fresh trouble arose in 1097. On returning from his ineffectual Welsh campaign William brought a charge against the Archbishop in regard to the contingent he had furnished and required him to meet this charge in the King's court. Anselm declined and asked leave to go to Rome. This was refused, but after a meeting at Winchester Anselm was told to be ready to sail in ten days. On parting with the King, the Archbishop gave him his blessing, which William received with bowed head. At St. Omer's Anselm confirmed a multitude of persons. Christmas was spent at Cluny, and the rest of the winter at Lyons. In the spring he resumed his journey and crossed Mont Cenis with two companions all travelling as simple monks. At the monasteries on their way they were frequently asked for news of Anselm. On his arrival in Rome he was treated with great honour by the Pope. His case was considered and laid before the council, but nothing could be done beyond sending a letter of remonstrance to William. During his stay in Italy Anselm enjoyed the hospitality of the Abbot of Telese, and passed the summer in a mountain village belonging to this monastery. Here he finished his work, "Cur Deus Homo", which he had begun in England. In October, 1098, Urban held a council at Bari to deal with the difficulties raised by the Greeks in regard to the procession of the Holy Ghost. Here Anselm was called by the Pope to a place of honour and bidden to take the chief part in the discussion. His arguments were afterwards committed to writing in his treatise on this subject. His own case was also brought before this council, which would have excommunicated William but for Anselm's intercession. Both he and his companions now desired to return to Lyons, but were bidden to await the action of another council to be held in the Lateran at Easter. Here Anselm heard the canons passed against Investitures, and the decree of excommunication against the offenders. This incident had a deep influence on his career in England. While still staying in the neighbourhood of Lyons, Anselm heard of the tragic death of William. Soon messages from the new king and chief men of the land summoned him to England. Landing at Dover, he hastened to King Henry at Salisbury. He was kindly received, but the question of Investitures was at once raised in an acute form. Henry required the Archbishop himself to receive a fresh investiture. Anselm alleged the decrees of the recent Roman council and declared that he had no choice in the matter. The difficulty was postponed, as the King decided to send to Rome to ask for a special exemption. Meanwhile, Anselm was able to render the King two signal services. He helped to remove the obstacle in the way of his marriage with Edith, the heiress of the Saxon kings. The daughter of St. Margaret had sought shelter in a convent, where she had worn the veil, but had taken no vows. It was thought by some that this was a bar to marriage, but Anselm had the case considered in a council at Lambeth where the royal maiden's liberty was fully established, and the Archbishop himself gave his blessing to the marriage. Moreover, when Robert landed at Portsmouth and many of the Norman nobles were wavering in their allegiance, it was Anselm who turned the tide in favour of Henry. In the meantime Pope Paschal had refused the King's request for an exemption from the Lateran decrees, yet Henry persisted in his resolution to compel Anselm to accept investiture at his hands. The revolt of Robert de Bellesme put off the threatened rupture. To gain time the King sent another embassy to Rome. On its return, Anselm was once more required to receive investiture. The Pope's letter was not made public, but it was reported to be of the same tenor as his previous reply. The envoys now gave out that the Pope had orally consented to the King's request, but could not say so in writing for fear of offending other sovereigns. Friends of Anselm who had been at Rome, disputed this assertion. In this crisis it was agreed to send to Rome again; meanwhile the King would continue to invest bishops and abbots, but Anselm should not be required to consecrate them. During this interval Anselm held a council at Westminster. Here stringent canons were passed against the evils of the age. In spite of the compromise about investiture, Anselm was required to consecrate bishops invested by the King, but he firmly refused, and it soon became evident that his firmness was taking effect. Bishops gave back the staff they had received at the royal hands, or refused to be consecrated by another in defiance of Anselm. When the Pope's answer arrived, repudiating the story of the envoys, the King asked Anselm to go to Rome himself. Though he could not support the royal request he was willing to lay the facts before the Pope. With this understanding he once more betook himself to Rome. The request was again refused, but Henry was not excommunicated. Understanding that Henry did not wish to receive him in England, Anselm interrupted his homeward journey at Lyons. In this city he received a letter from the Pope informing him of the excommunication of the counsellors who had advised the King to insist on investitures, but not decreeing anything about the King. Anselm resumed his journey, and on the way he heard of the illness of Henry's sister, Adela of Blois. He turned aside to visit her and on her recovery informed her that he was returning to England to excommunicate her brother. She at once exerted herself to bring about a meeting between Anselm and Henry, in July, 1105. But though a reconciliation was effected, and Anselm was urged to return to England, the claim to invest was not relinquished, and recourse had again to be made to Rome. A papal letter authorizing Anselm to absolve from censures incurred by breaking the laws against investitures healed past offences but made no provision for the future. At length, in a council held in London in 1107, the question found a solution. The King relinquished the claim to invest bishops and abbots, while the Church allowed the prelates to do homage for their temporal possessions. Lingard and other writers consider this a triumph for the King, saying that he had the substance and abandoned a mere form. But it was for no mere form that this long war had been waged. The rite used in the investiture was the symbol of a real power claimed by the English kings, and now at last abandoned. The victory rested with the Archbishop, and as Schwane says (Kirchenlexicon, s.v.) it prepared the way for the later solution of the same controversy in Germany. Anselm was allowed to end his days in peace. In the two years that remained he continued his pastoral labours and composed the last of his writings. Eadmer, the faithful chronicler of these contentions, gives a pleasing picture of his peaceful death. The dream of his childhood was come true; he was to climb the mountain and taste the bread of Heaven.
His active work as a pastor and stalwart champion of the Church makes Anselm one of the chief figures in religious history. The sweet influence of his spiritual teaching was felt far and wide, and its fruits were seen in many lands. His stand for the freedom of the Church in a crisis of medieval history had far-reaching effects long after his own time. As a writer and a thinker he may claim yet higher rank, and his influence on the course of philosophy and Catholic theology was even deeper and more enduring if he stands on the one hand with Gregory VII, and Innocent III, and Thomas Becket; on the other he may claim a place beside Athanasius, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. His merits in the field of theology have received official recognition; he has been declared a Doctor of the Church by Clement XI, 1720, and in the office read on his feast day (21 April) it is said that his works are a pattern for all theologians. Yet it may be doubted whether his position is generally appreciated by students of divinity. In some degree his work has been hidden by the fabric reared on his foundations. His books were not adopted, like those of Peter Lombard and St. Thomas, as the usual text of commentators and lecturers in theology, nor was he constantly cited as an authority, like St. Augustine. This was natural enough, since in the next century new methods came in with the rise of the Arabic and Aristotelean philosophy; the "Books of Sentences" were in some ways more fit for regular theological reading; Anselm was yet too near to have the venerable authority of the early Fathers. For these reasons it may be said that his writings were not properly appreciated till time had brought in other changes in the schools, and men were led to study the history of theology. But though his works are not cast in the systematic form of the "Summa" of St. Thomas, they cover the whole field of Catholic doctrine. There are few pages of our theology that have not been illustrated by the labours of Anselm. His treatise on the procession of the Holy Spirit has helped to guide scholastic speculations on the Trinity, his "Cur Deus Homo" throws a flood of light on the theology of the Atonement, and one of his works anticipates much of the later controversies on Free Will and Predestination. In the seventeenth century, a Spanish Benedictine, Cardinal d'Aguirre made the writings of Anselm the groundwork of a course of theology, "S. Anselmi Theologia" (Salamanca, 1678-81). Unfortunately the work never got beyond the first three folio volumes, containing the commentaries on the "Monologium". In recent years Dom Anselm Öcsényi, O.S.B. has accomplished the task on a more modest scale in a little Latin volume on the theology of St. Anselm, "De Theologia S. Anselmi" (Brünn, 1884).
Besides being one of the fathers of scholastic theology, Anselm fills an important place in the history of philosophic speculation. Coming in the first phase of the controversy on Universals, he had to meet the extreme Nominalism of Roscelin; partly from this fact, partly from his native Platonism his Realism took what may be considered a somewhat extreme form. It was too soon to find the golden mean of moderate Realism, accepted by later philosophers. His position was a stage in the process and it is significant that one of his biographers, John of Salisbury, was among the first to find the true solution.
Anselm's chief achievement in philosophy was the ontological argument for the existence of God put forth in his "Proslogium". Starting from the notion that God is "that than which nothing greater can be thought", he argues that what exists in reality is greater than that which is only in the mind; wherefore, since "God is that than which nothing greater can be thought", He exists in reality. The validity of the argument was disputed at the outset by a monk named Gaunilo, who wrote a criticism on it to which Anselm replied. Eadmer tells a curious story about St. Anselm's anxiety while he was trying to work out this argument. He could think of nothing else for days together. And when at last he saw it clearly, he was filled with joy, and made haste to commit it to writing. The waxen tablets were given in charge to one of the monks but when they were wanted they were missing. Anselm managed to recall the argument, it was written on fresh tablets and given into safer keeping. But when it was wanted it was found that the wax was broken to Pieces. Anselm with some difficulty put the fragments together and had the whole copied on parchment for greater security. The story sounds like an allegory of the fate which awaited this famous argument, which was lost and found again, pulled to pieces and restored in the course of controversy. Rejected by St. Thomas and his followers, it was revived in another form by Descartes. After being assailed by Kant, it was defended by Hegel, for whom it had a peculiar fascination — he recurs to it in many parts of his writings. In one place he says that it is generally used by later philosophers, "yet always along with the other proofs, although it alone is the true one" (German Works, XII, 547). Assailants of this argument should remember that all minds are not cast in one mould, and it is easy to understand how some can feel the force of arguments that are not felt by others. But if this proof were indeed, as some consider it, an absurd fallacy, how could it appeal to such minds as those of Anselm, Descartes, and Hegel? It may be well to add that the argument was not rejected by all the great Schoolmen. It was accepted by Alexander of Hales (Summa, Pt. I, Q. iii, memb. 1, 2), and supported by Scotus. (In I, Dist. ii, Q. ii.) In modern times it is accepted by Möhler, who quotes Hegel's defence with approval.
It is not often that a Catholic saint wins the admiration of German philosophers and English historians. But Anselm has this singular distinction Hegel's appreciation of his mental powers may be matched by Freeman's warm words of praise for the great Archbishop of Canterbury. "Stranger as he was, he has won his place among the noblest worthies of our island. It was something to be the model of all ecclesiastical perfection; it was something to be the creator of the theology of Christendom — but it was something higher still to be the very embodiment of righteousness and mercy, to be handed down in the annals of humanity as the man who saved the hunted hare and stood up for the holiness of Ælfheah" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 444).
Collections of the works of St. Anselm were issued soon after the invention of printing. Ocsenyi mentions nine earlier than the sixteenth century. The first attempt at a critical edition was that of Th. Raynaud, S.J.* (Lyons, 1630), which rejects many spurious works, e.g. the Commentaries on St. Paul. The best editions are those of Dom Gerberon, O.S.B. (Paris, 1675, 1721; Venice 1744, Migne, 1845). Most of the more important works have also been issued separately — thus the "Monologium" is included in Hurter's "Opuscula SS. Patrum" and published with the "Proslogium" by Haas (Tübingen). There are numerous separate editions of the "Cur Deus Homo" and of Anselm's "Prayers and Meditations"; these last were done into English by Archbishop Laud (1638), and there are French and German versions of the "meditationes" and the "Monologium". "Cur Deus Homo" has also been translated into English and German — see also the translations by Deane (Chicago, 1903). For Anselm's views on education, see ABBEY OF BEC. Catholic Encyclopedia

Patriarchates and Evangelical Synod Condemn Bombing by US as "brutal aggression destroys... peaceful..." FULL TEXT Statements

The Patriarchates of the East and the Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon have both issued statements condemning bombing of Syria by the USA and allied forces of Britain and France. This bombing was in response to a chemical weapons attack. A statement signed by John X, the Greek Orthodox Patriach of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriach of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melike-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem explains that they 'condemn and denounce the brutal aggression'. A similar statement has been issued by the National Evangelical Synod in Syria and Lebanon. It says the strike was the result of 'the fabrication of charges, without legal justification' and was 'in contradiction to the desire of the Syrian people'.
Please Read Below the FULL TEXT Statements by these Christian Leaders

  • A Statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic Damascus, 14 April 2018

  • A Statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic

  • Damascus, 14 April 2018
    God is with us; Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves!
    We, the Patriarchs: John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the USA, France and the UK, under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. We raise our voices to affirm the following:
    1. This brutal aggression is a clear violation of the international laws and the UN Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the UN.
    2. It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way.
    3. The allegations of the USA and other countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence.
    4. The timing of this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.
    5. This brutal aggression destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications.
    6. This unjust aggression encourages the terrorist organizations and gives them momentum to continue in their terrorism.
    7. We call upon the Security Council of the United Nations to play its natural role in bringing peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars.
    8. We call upon all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression, to fulfill their Christian duties, according to the teachings of the Gospel, and condemn this aggression and to call their governments to commit to the protection of international peace.
    9. We salute the courage, heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrs and the recovery of the wounded. We are confident that the army will not bow before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries which are friendly to the Syria and its people.
    We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians.
    FULL TEXT Official Statement by the National Evangelical Synod:

    Pope Francis "...who share this Bread of unity and peace, are called to love every face, builders of peace." FULL Official TEXT Homily + Video

    Pastoral visit of the Holy Father to Alessano (Lecce) in the diocese of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca, and to Molfetta (Bari) in the diocese of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi, on the 25th anniversary of the death of H.E. Msgr. Tonino Bello (II), 20.04.2018
    FULL TEXT from (Official Translation)

    At 11.05 this morning, the helicopter carrying the Holy Father Francis, which had departed from Alessano, landed in the square of Cala Sant’Andrea, next to the Cathedral of Molfetta.
    Upon arrival the Pope was received by the bishop of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi, H.E. Msgr. Domenico Cornacchia, and the mayor Tommaso Minervini.
    The Pope transferred by car to the port of Molfetta, where he greeted the faithful at the docks, arriving at the stage set up for the Eucharistic celebration.
    At 11.20, in the port of Molfetta, the Holy Father presided at Holy Mass.
    At the end, after the greetings from H.E. Msgr. Domenico Cornacchia, the Pope greeted a representation of faithful.
    At 13.40, the Holy Father departed by helicopter from the port of Molfetta, for his return journey to Rome.
    The following is the homily that the Holy Father pronounced during Holy Mass:

    Homily of the Holy Father
    The readings we have heard present two elements central to the Christian life: the Bread and the Word.
    The bread. Bread is the essential food for living and Jesus in the Gospel offers Himself to us as the Bread of life, as if to tell us: “You can not do without me”. And he uses strong expressions: “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood” (cf. Jn 6: 53). What does it mean? That for our life it is essential to enter into a vital, personal relationship with Him. Meat and blood. The Eucharist is this: not a beautiful rite, but the most intimate, most concrete, most surprising communion that can be imagined with God: a communion of love so real that it takes the form of eating. Christian life starts every time from here, from this table, where God satisfies us with love. Without Him, Bread of life, every effort in the Church is in vain, as Don Tonino Bello recalled: “Works of charity are not enough, if the charity of works is lacking. If the love from which the works leave is lacking, if the source is lacking, if the starting point that is the Eucharist is lacking, any pastoral commitment is only a stirring of things” [1].
    Jesus in the Gospel adds: “He who eats me will live for me” (v. 57). As if to say: who feeds on the Eucharist assimilates the same mentality of the Lord. He is Bread broken for us, and who receives it becomes in turn broken bread, which does not rise with pride, but gives himself to others: he stops living for himself, for his own success, to have something or to become someone, but he lives for Jesus and like Jesus, that is for others. Living for is the mark of those who eat this Bread, the “trademark” of the Christian. Living for. It could be displayed as a warning outside any church: “After Mass we no longer live for ourselves but for others”. It would be good if, in this diocese of Don Tonino Bello, there were this notice on the door of the Churches, to be read by everyone: “After Mass we no longer live for ourselves but for others”. Don Tonino lived like this: among you was a Bishop-servant, a Pastor who became a people, who in front of the Tabernacle learned to let himself be consumed by the people. He dreamed of a Church hungry for Jesus and intolerant of all worldliness, a Church that “knows how to perceive the body of Christ in the uncomfortable tabernacles of misery, suffering, loneliness” [2]. Because, he said, “the Eucharist does not tolerate sedentariness” and without leaving the table remains “an unfinished sacrament” [3]. We can ask ourselves: is this Sacrament realized in me? More concretely: Do I just like being served at the table by the Lord, or do I get up to serve like the Lord? Do I give in life what I receive at Mass? And as a Church we could ask ourselves: after so many Communions, have we become people of communion?
    The Bread of life, the broken Bread is indeed also Bread of peace. Don Tonino claimed that “peace does not come when one takes only his bread and goes to eat it on his own. [...] Peace is something more: it is conviviality”. It is “eating bread together with others, without separating, sitting at the table among different people”, where “the other is a face to discover, to contemplate, to caress” [4]. Because conflicts and all wars “find their roots in the fading of faces” [5]. And we, who share this Bread of unity and peace, are called to love every face, to mend every tear; to be, always and everywhere, builders of peace.
    Together with Bread, the Word. The Gospel reports sharp discussions on Jesus’ words: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (V. 52). There is an air of defeatism in these words. So many words resemble these: how can the Gospel solve the problems of the world? What is the use of doing good in the midst of so much evil? And so we fall into the error of those people, paralyzed by discussing the words of Jesus, rather than ready to welcome the change of life asked for by Him. They did not understand that the Word of Jesus is to walk in life, not to sit and talk about what is good and what is not. Don Tonino, precisely at Easter, wished to welcome this new life, finally passing from words to deeds. Therefore he gave a heartfelt exhortation to those who did not have the courage to change: “The specialists of perplexity. The accounting pedants of the pros and cons. Calculators, who exercise the maximum caution before moving” [6]. Jesus is not answered according to the calculations and conveniences of the moment; He is answered with the “yes” of all our life. He does not seek our reflections, but our conversion. He points at the heart.
    It is the same Word of God to suggest it. In the first reading, the resurrected Jesus turns to Saul and does not offer him subtle reasoning, but asks him to put his life at stake. He says to him: “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9,6). First of all: “Get up”. The first thing to avoid is to stay on the ground, to suffer life, be gripped by fear. How many times did Don Tonino repeat: “Stand up!”, because “it is not lawful to stay before the Risen One other than on your feet” [7]. Always stand up, look up, because the apostle of Jesus can not get by on small satisfactions.
    The Lord then tells Saul: “Enter the city”. Also to each of us he says: “Go, do not stay closed in your reassuring spaces, take a risk!”. “Risk!” Christian life must be invested for Jesus and spent for others. After having met the Risen One we can not wait, we can not postpone it; we must go, go out, despite all the problems and uncertainties. For example, we see Saul who, after having spoken with Jesus, though blind, gets up and goes to the city. We see Ananias who, though fearful and hesitant, says: “Here I am, Lord!” (v. 10) and immediately goes to Saul. We are all called, in any situation we find ourselves, to be bearers of Easter hope, “Cyrenians of joy”, as Don Tonino said; servants of the world, but resurrected, not employed. Without ever bothering us, without ever resigning ourselves. It is nice to be “couriers of hope”, simple and joyful distributors of the Paschal alleluia.
    Finally Jesus says to Saul: “You will be told what you must do”. Saul, a determined and affirmed man, is silent and goes, docile to the Word of Jesus. He accepts to obey, he becomes patient, he understands that his life no longer depends on him. He learns humility. Because humble does not mean shy or discharged, but docile to God and empty of himself. Then, even the humiliations, such as those experienced by Saul on the ground on the road to Damascus, become providential, because they strip away presumption and allow God to get up again. And the Word of God does this: it frees, raises, and keeps us going, humble and courageous at the same time. It does not make us established protagonists and champions of our own skill, no, but genuine witnesses of Jesus, Who died and rose again, in the world.
    Dear brothers and sisters, at every Mass we feed on the Bread of life and the Word that saves: let us live what we celebrate! In this way, like Don Tonino, we will be sources of hope, joy and peace.

    [1] «Configurati a Cristo capo e sacerdote»,Cirenei della gioia, (“Configured to Christ, head and priest”, Cyrenians of Joy) 2004, 54-55.
    [2] «Sono credibili le nostre Eucarestie?», Articoli, corrispondenze, lettere (“Are our  Eucharists credible?”, Articles, corrispondence, letters) 2003, 236.
    [3] «Servi nella Chiesa per il mondo» (“Servants in the Church for the World”) ivi, 103-104.
    [4] «La non violenza in una società violenta», Scritti di pace, (“Non-violence in a violent society”, Writings of peace) 1997, 66-67.
    [5] «La pace come ricerca del volto», Omelie e scritti quaresimali, (“Peace as the search for the face”, Lenten Homilies and Writings), 1994, 317.
    [6] «Lievito vecchio e pasta nuova», Vegliare nella notte (“Old leaven and new dough”, Keeping watch at night), 1995, 91.
    [7] Final greeting at the end of the Chrism Mass, 8 April 1993.

    Pope Francis "Saint Benedict asks you in his Rule to "put absolutely nothing before Christ" FULL TEXT + Video


    Clementine Hall
    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Reverend Abbot Primate,
    Dear Fathers Abbots,
    Dear brothers and sisters,

    I welcome you on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation and I thank the Abbot Primate for his kind words. I would like to express my whole consideration and gratitude for the important contribution that the Benedictines have made to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years. In this celebration of the Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation we want to remember, in a special way, the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 wanted to unite all the Benedictines by founding a common house of study and prayer, here in Rome. We thank God for this inspiration, because this has led the Benedictines of the whole world to live a deeper spirit of communion with the See of Peter and among them.

    Benedictine spirituality is renowned for its motto: Ora et labora et lege. Prayer, work, study. In the contemplative life, God often announces his presence in an unexpected way. With the meditation of the Word of God in the lectio divina, we are called to remain in religious listening to his voice in order to live in constant and joyful obedience. Prayer generates in our hearts, willing to receive the amazing gifts that God is always ready to give us, a spirit of renewed fervor that leads us, through our daily work, to seek the sharing of the gifts of God's wisdom with others: with the community, with those who come to the monastery for their search for God ("quaerere Deum"), and with those who study in your schools, colleges and universities. Thus an always renewed and invigorated spiritual life is generated.

    Some characteristic aspects of the Easter liturgical season, which we are living, such as the announcement and the surprise, the prompt response, and the heart willing to receive the gifts of God, are actually part of the Benedictine life of every day. Saint Benedict asks you in his Rule to "put absolutely nothing before Christ" (No. 72), so that you will always be vigilant, today, ready to listen to him and follow him docilely (see here, Prologue). Your love for the liturgy, as a fundamental work of God in monastic life, is essential above all for yourselves, allowing you to be in the living presence of the Lord; and it is precious for the whole Church, which over the centuries has benefited as a spring water that irrigates and fecundates, nourishing the capacity to live, personally and in community, the encounter with the risen Lord.

    If St. Benedict was a luminous star - as St. Gregory the Great calls it - in his time marked by a profound crisis of values ​​and institutions, this happened because he was able to discern between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, placing the center firmly in the center. Lord. May you, his children in our time, practice discernment to recognize what comes from the Holy Spirit and what comes from the spirit of the world or the spirit of the devil. Discernment that "does not require only a good capacity for reasoning and common sense, [but] is also a gift that must be asked of the Holy Spirit. Without the wisdom of discernment we can easily transform ourselves into puppets at the mercy of the tendencies of the moment "(Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 166-167).

    In this age, when people are so busy that they do not have enough time to listen to God's voice, your monasteries and convents become like oases, where men and women of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and religions can discover the beauty of silence and rediscover oneself, in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore a proper order in their lives. The Benedictine charism of welcome is very precious for the new evangelization, because it gives you the opportunity to welcome Christ in every person who arrives, helping those who seek God to receive the spiritual gifts He has in store for each of us.

    Moreover, the Benedictines have always recognized the commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. I encourage you to continue in this important work for the Church and for the world, placing your traditional hospitality at the service of it. Indeed, there is no opposition between the contemplative life and the service of others. The Benedictine monasteries - both in cities and far from them - are places of prayer and hospitality. Your stability is also important for people who come to look for you. Christ is present in this meeting: he is present in the monk, in the pilgrim, in the needy.

    I am grateful for your service in education and training, here in Rome and in many parts of the world. The Benedictines are known to be "a school of the service of the Lord". I urge you to giving the students, together with the necessary knowledge and knowledge, the tools so that they can grow in the wisdom that drives them to continually seek God in their lives; that same wisdom that will lead them to practice mutual understanding, because we are all children of God, brothers and sisters, in this world that has so much thirst for peace. In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, I hope that the celebration of the Jubilee for the anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation is a fruitful opportunity to reflect on the search for God and his wisdom, and on how to transmit his perennial wealth more effectively to future generations. Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, in communion with the heavenly Church and with the saints Benedict and Scholastica, I invoke the Apostolic Blessing on each one. And I ask you, please, to continue to pray for me. Thank you.

    #BreakingNews Parents of Alfie Evan's Lose High Court Case as Pope Francis makes Request for Vatican Hospital to Take him

    The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom today decided that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital can remove Alfie Evan’s life support without their consent.
    Alfie’s parents had tried to get the court to withdraw Alfie from the hospital since they are his parents and legal guardians. However the British High Court refused today after a court hearing.
    Alfie suffers from a rare neurological condition that is destroying his body and the hospital wants to remove Life Support. 
    Tom Evans and Kate James, from Liverpool, lost their case over their 23-month-old son at the Court of Appeal. 
    Judges have also approved a plan for withdrawing treatment and bringing Alfie’s life to an end.  Alfie Evans’ father met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and was told that the Vatican hospital is “ready to take Alfie immediately” and provide the care and treatment. Tom Evans met the Pope and the president of the Bambino Gesú hospital.
    “The president of Bambino Gesú called me in for a meeting. She wants to take Alfie as soon as tomorrow and will do everything for him,” Evans explained. 
    Mr. Evans said: “ I spoke to the director of Vatican News, then was alerted the Pope had sent an urgent request to Bambino to take Alfie as soon as possible.”
    Evans added: “Our child is sick, but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed. We have been trying our best to find out his condition to treat or manage it.”
    Please Pray for Alfie and his family.

    #BreakingNews Catholic Priest Kidnapped - Fr. Edwin Omorogbe of St. Paul's Church - Please Pray

    However, men of the Edo State police command have begun combing forest in Uhunmwode Local Council in search of Omorogbe. The state Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo, who confirmed the development, said all efforts were being made to secure the release of Fr. Omorogbe.
    Kokumo assured that the kidnapped priest would be released as soon as possible. As at the time of this report, no contact had been made by the abductors.It would be recalled that in January, three Catholic reverend sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent and three other females, who were kidnapped by gunmen in Edo State, were released after spending 53 days in the kidnappers' den. Also, the Parish Priest of St. Benedict Church, Iddo 2, Okpella of Auchi Diocese, Fr. Lawrence Adorolo was abducted last September and released days later.
    (FULL TEXT Release The Guardian- All Africa

    #BreakingNews Catholic Missionary Sister Arrested and now Facing Deportation in Philippines

    (Note: Philly Star now reports that Sister Fox was released but faces deportation)  The arrest of an elderly missionary nun, a shameful and anti-democratic act
    ASIA NEWS Report: A 71-year-old Australian nun and well-known human rights activist, who has been in the country for 27 years, has been accused of joining anti-government demonstrations. The Catholic Church and activists are now concerned about a government campaign against dissent.

    Manila (AsiaNews) – "It is a shameful act, a very undemocratic gesture by the government. They should be ashamed because speaking in favour of the poor cannot be a crime," said Fr Edwin A. Gariguez, head of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and Caritas Philippines, the humanitarian agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

    The clergyman spoke to AsiaNews about Sister Patricia Anne Fox (picture), the 71-year-old Australian nun and human rights activist, who was briefly detained.
    In his address to the Armed Forces of the Philippines change of command ceremony yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte took "full responsibility" for the arrest of Sister Patricia, who is the superior of the Our Lady of Sion congregation in the Philippines.
    The president said he had ordered that the missionary be investigated for "disorderly conduct", on the grounds that she was “undesirable alien” who has no right “to criticise us”.
    Sister Patricia has been in the country for 27 years and has worked with farmers and indigenous peoples.
    She recently joined an international fact-finding and solidarity mission that investigated alleged rights abuses against farmers and lumad in Mindanao.
    The authorities accuse Fox of joining anti-government demonstrations in the cities of Davao and Tagum, both in Mindanao.
    Three days ago, six officials from the Bureau of Immigration removed Sister Patricia from the mission house in Quezon City and took her to the Bureau’s intelligence division in Intramuros, Manila.
    The nun was released Tuesday afternoon after 22 hours after it was established that she holds a valid missionary visa making her a “properly documented alien”.
    The Bureau of Immigration said that Fox is not covered by inquest proceedings as the latter will only apply to aliens arrested after being caught in flagrante violating immigration laws.
    Nevertheless, the missionary will still be under investigation to determine if deportation charges should be filed against her.
    Under the immigration law, foreigners are barred from joining mass actions or political activity as the act amounts to violating the conditions of their stay in the country.
    Fox admitted joining demonstrations in solidarity with peasant groups but “not anti-government rallies”.
    “I would call it religious because we are called to stand beside the poor,” she said. “I haven’t joined partisan political rallies but I have been active in human rights issues.”
    The Catholic Church and human rights activists are concerned that a campaign against dissent lies behind Sister Patricia’s Patricia.
    Mgr Broderick Pabilllo, auxiliary bishop of Manila, visited the nun at the Bureau of Immigration Monday evening.
    Speaking about the incident, he said, “There’s no martial law yet but they are already going after people who oppose them.”
    Fr Edwin A. Gariguez however is “convinced that what happened will not affect the missionary work of the Church in the Philippines.”
    He explained that "By virtue of her prophetic ministry, the Church is called to be courageous, bold in expressing herself in the name of truth, as well as the rights of the last and the oppressed”.
    Hence, “we cannot be intimidated by the government. We will carry on our mission and the government can do nothing to stop us ".
    What is more, "Sister Patricia's arrest goes against the cultural values ​​of the Filipino people. We are a very charitable people towards others and seeing a 71-year-old nun in prison has struck a chord with people.
    "Sister Patricia's detention is also unacceptable to Duterte's supporters because piety and respect for the elderly are an integral part of our tradition. On social media there have been very harsh reactions, I have read many comments from outraged people.

    FULL TEXT Release from Asia News IT

    Pope Francis "God favours, one by one, our fragile lives; the echo of His voice of love that speaks to us every day..." FULL Official TEXT + Video

    Pastoral visit of the Holy Father to Alessano (Lecce) in the diocese of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca, and to Molfetta (Bari) in the diocese of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi, on the 25th anniversary of the death of H.E. Msgr. Tonino Bello – (I), 20.04.2018
    SOURCE: Official Translation of

    At 7.35 this morning, the Holy Father Francis departed from Ciampino airport destined for Alessano (Lecce), in the diocese of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca, and Molfetta (Bari) in the diocese of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi on the 25th anniversary of the death of H.E. Msgr. Tonino Bello.
    At around 8.20 he arrived at the “Fortunato Cesari” Military Airport of Galatina, from where the Pope departed immediately by helicopter for Alessano.
    Upon arrival, expected at 8.30, in the car park next to the cemetery of Alessano, the Pope was received by H.E. Msgr. Vito Angiuli, bishop of Ugento-Santa Maria di Leuca, and by the mayor of Alessano, Francesca Torsello.
    The Holy Father proceeded to the tomb of Msgr. Tonino Bello for a moment of prayer, and then greeted family members of the Servant of God.
    The Pope subsequently transferred to the square next to the cemetery for the meeting with the faithful.
    After greetings from H.E. Msgr. Angiuli, the Holy Father gave an address. At the end, he greeted a representation of faithful.
    At 9.30, the helicopter carrying the Holy Father departed for Molfetta.

    Address of the Holy Father
    Dear brothers and sisters,
    I have come as a pilgrim to this land where the Servant of God Tonino Bello was born. I have just prayed at his tomb, which does not rise monumentally upwards, but is flat on the ground: Don Tonino, sowed in his land – he, like a seed sown – seems to want to tell us how much he loved this territory. On this I would like to reflect, evoking above all some of his words of gratitude: “Thank you, my land, small and poor, which allowed me to be born poor as you but which, precisely for this reason, gave me the incomparable wealth of understanding the poor and of being able today to place myself at their service” [1]
    Understanding the poor was for him the true wealth, it was also understanding his mother, understanding the poor was his wealth. He was right, because the poor are truly the wealth of the Church. Remind us of this again, Don Tonino, when faced with the recurrent temptation to line up behind whoever is in power, to seek privileges, to get used to a comfortable life. The Gospel – you used to remind us of this at Christmas and at Easter – often calls us to an uncomfortable life, because those who follow Jesus love the poor and the humble. As the Master did, so His Mother proclaimed, praising God who “has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Lk 1: 52). A Church that has the poor at heart is always in harmony with the channel of God, never loses the frequency of the Gospel and feels she has to return to the essential to profess consistently that the Lord is the only true good.
    Don Tonino reminds us not to theorize closeness to the poor, but to stay close to them, as Jesus did, Who for us, rich as He was, made Himself poor (cf. 2 Cor 8, 9). Don Tonino felt the need to imitate Him, getting involved firsthand, to the point of dispossessing himself. Requests did not disturb him, but it was indifference that hurt him. He was not afraid of a lack of money, but worried about the uncertainty of work, a problem that is still very current today. He never missed an opportunity to say that in the first place there must be the worker with his dignity, not profit with his greed. He did not stay with his hands in his pockets: he acted locally to sow peace globally, in the belief that the best way to prevent violence and all kinds of wars is to take care of the needy and to promote justice. Indeed, if the war generates poverty, poverty too generates war [2]. Peace, therefore, is built by starting from houses, from streets, from workshops, where communion is shaped in an artisanal way. Don Tonino said, hopefully: “From the workshop, like the day from the workshop of Nazareth, the word of peace will come out that will set humanity, thirsty for justice, on the path of new destinies” [3].
    Dear brothers and sisters, this vocation of peace belongs to your land, to this wonderful frontier land - finis-terrae - that Don Tonino called “terra-finestra”, “window land”, because from the South of Italy one opens up to the many Souths of the world, where “The poorest are ever more numerous while the rich are getting richer and ever fewer” [4]. You are an “open window, from which you can observe all the poverty that impends on history” [5], but above all you are a window of hope because the Mediterranean, the historical basin of civilization, is never a stretched longbow, but rather an ark of welcoming peace [6].
    Don Tonino was a man of his land, because his priesthood matured in this land. Here there unfolded his vocation, which he loved to call his evocation: evocation of how madly God favours, one by one, our fragile lives; echo of His voice of love that speaks to us every day; the call always to go ahead, to dream boldly, to decentralize our own existence to place it in service; the invitation always to trust in God, the only One capable of transforming life into a feast. So, this is vocation according to Don Tonino: a call to become not only devoted faithful, but to be genuinely in love with the Lord, with the ardour of the dream, the seal of the gift, the boldness of never stopping at half measures. Because when the Lord inflames the heart, hope cannot be extinguished. When the Lord asks for a “yes”, one cannot answer “perhaps”. It will do good, not only to the young but to all of us, to all those who seek meaning in life, to listen and re-listen to the words of Don Tonino.
    In this land, Antonio was born as Tonino and become Don Tonino. This name, simple and familiar, which we read on his tombstone, speaks to us still. It tells of his wish to make himself small to be close, to shorten distances, to offer an outstretched hand. It invites us to the simple and genuine openness of the Gospel. Don Tonino had greatly recommended this, leaving it as a legacy to his priests. He said: “Let us love the world. Let us love it well. Let us take it under our wing. Let us use mercy. Let is not always oppose it to the rigours of the law if we have not tempered them first with doses of tenderness. [7] They are words that reveal the desire for a Church for the world: not worldly, but for the world. May the Lord give us this grace: a Church that is not worldly, in the service of the world. A Church that is devoid of self-centredness and “extroverted, outreaching, not wrapped up in itself” [8]; not waiting to receive, but to provide urgent care; never drowsing in the nostalgia of the past, but illuminated with love for today, following the example of God, Who “so loved the world” (Jn 3: 16).
    The name of “Don Tonino” also tells us of his healthy allergy towards titles and honours, his desire to deprive himself of something for Jesus who had divested Himself of everything, his courage to free himself of what could recall the signs of powerso as to give space to the power of signs [9]. Don Tonino certainly did not do it for convenience or to seek consensus, but because he was moved by the example of the Lord. In love for Him we find the strength to dispose of the garments that hinder the passage to put us in service, to be a “Church of the tunic, the only priestly vestment recorded in the Gospel” [10].
    From this beloved land, what could Don Tonino still say to us? This believer with his feet on the ground and his eyes in Heaven, and above all with a heart that connected Heaven and earth, coined, among many others, an original word, which gives each of us a great mission. He liked to say that we Christians “must be contempl-active, with a “c”, that is, people who start from contemplation and then let their dynamism, their commitment to action, flow” [11], people who never separate prayer and action. Dear Don Tonino, you warned us against immersing ourselves in the whirlwind of affairs without planting ourselves in front of the tabernacle, so as not to deceive ourselves of working in vain for the Kingdom [12]. And we can ask ourselves if we start from the tabernacle or from ourselves. You could also ask us if, once we set out, we walk; if, like Mary, the Woman of the path, if we arise to reach and serve man, every man. If you asked, we would have to feel ashamed of our immobility and our constant justifications. Give us again, then, our high vocation; help us to be increasingly a contemplactive Church, in love with God and impassioned about humanity.
    Dear brothers and sisters, in every age the Lord places on the path of the Church witnesses who incarnate the good news of Easter, prophets of hope for the future of all. From your land, God made one of them emerge, as a gift and prophecy for our times. And God wishes for His gift to be received, for his prophecy to come true. Let us not be content to note down good memories, let us not be harnessed by past nostalgia or even idle chatter of the present or fears for the future. Let us imitate Don Tonino, let us be carried away by his young Christian ardour, let us feel his urgent invitation to live the Gospel without half-measures. It is a powerful invitation to each of us, and to us as a Church. Truly it will help us spread the fragrant joy of the Gospel today.
    Now, all together, let us pray to Our Lady and afterwards I will give you my blessing, all right?
    [Hail Mary and blessing]

    [1] «Grazie, Chiesa di Alessano», La terra dei miei sogni. Bagliori di luce dagli scritti ugentini, 2014, 477.
    [2] Cfr Saint John Paul II, «If you want peace, reach out to the poor», Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 1993.
    [3] La terra dei miei sogni, 32.
    [4] «Il pentalogo della speranza», Scritti vari, interviste aggiunte, 2007, 252.
    [5] «La speranza a caro prezzo», Scritti di pace, 1997, 348.
    [6] Cfr «La profezia oltre la mafia», ivi, 280.
    [7] «Torchio e spirito. Omelia per la Messa crismale 1993», Lenten homilies and writings, 2015, 97.
    [8] «Sacerdoti per il mondo», Cirenei della gioia, 2004, 26.
    [9] «Dai poveri verso tutti», ivi, 122 ss.
    [10] «Configurati a Cristo capo e sacerdote», ivi, 61.
    [11] Ivi, 55.
    [12] Cfr «Contempl-attivi nella ferialità quotidiana», Non c’è fedeltà senza rischio, 2000, 124; «Soffrire le cose di Dio e soffrire le cose dell’uomo», Cirenei della gioia, 81-82.

    Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday April 20, 2018 - #Eucharist

    Friday of the Third Week of Easter
    Lectionary: 277

    Reading 1ACTS 9:1-20

    Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
    went to the high priest and asked him
    for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
    if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
    he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
    On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
    a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
    He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
    "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
    He said, "Who are you, sir?"
    The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
    Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
    The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
    for they heard the voice but could see no one.
    Saul got up from the ground,
    but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
    so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
    For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

    There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
    and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias."
    He answered, "Here I am, Lord."
    The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight
    and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
    He is there praying,
    and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
    come in and lay his hands on him,
    that he may regain his sight."
    But Ananias replied,
    "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
    what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
    And here he has authority from the chief priests
    to imprison all who call upon your name."
    But the Lord said to him,
    "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
    to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
    and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name."
    So Ananias went and entered the house;
    laying his hands on him, he said,
    "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
    Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
    that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
    Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
    and he regained his sight.
    He got up and was baptized,
    and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

    He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
    and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
    that he is the Son of God.

    Responsorial PsalmPS 117:1BC, 2

    R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
    R. Alleluia.
    Praise the LORD, all you nations;
    glorify him, all you peoples!
    R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
    R. Alleluia.
    For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
    and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
    R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
    R. Alleluia.

    AlleluiaJN 6:56

    R. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood,
    remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

    GospelJN 6:52-59

    The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
    "How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?"
    Jesus said to them,
    "Amen, amen, I say to you,
    unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
    you do not have life within you.
    Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
    has eternal life,
    and I will raise him on the last day.
    For my Flesh is true food,
    and my Blood is true drink.
    Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
    remains in me and I in him.
    Just as the living Father sent me
    and I have life because of the Father,
    so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
    This is the bread that came down from heaven.
    Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
    whoever eats this bread will live forever."
    These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.