Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Saint December 6 : Saint Nicholas : Patron of #Children, #Sailors, #Prostitutes, Thieves - Real #SantaClaus

December 6 Born:
270, Patara, LyciaDied:
6 December 343, Myra, Lycia
Major Shrine:
Basilica di San Nicola, Bari, Italy.
Patron of:
Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, prostitutes, repentant thieves, many cities.
Prayer: O blessed Saint, we honor you, 
 On this great festal day. Hail Nicholas the faithful say, Apostle of the Way. As you helped those who round you came; 
 May we your presence feel, As our commitment is the same Answering Love's appeal.
The father poor, the three young girls, 
Young men to life restored. Sailors can rest, the sea is blessed, Your miracles record.
In prison dark, your faith was strong; Help those who suffer wrong, We heed your words, the gospel call, To hail Christ, Lord of all.
As Bari's pilgrims make their way To sing of your great name, The wonder myrrh of Myra still Proclaims your loving fame.
Lead us dear saint, in joy and peace,
Your prayers we now implore, As we praise God, the Father, Son And Spirit blest adored. 
 Today, December 6, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (died 346), the inspiration for many of our current secular Christmas traditions. This great saint is the most frequently depicted saint in art (only Our Blessed Mother surpasses him), and the veneration and honor he is given throughout the world are testimonials to his holiness and of the glory which he enjoys with God.
Little is known about the life of Saint Nicholas. That which is most reliable comes from a monk, Saint Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who wrote a biography of Saint Nicholas approximately 500 years after his death. In his “life,” Saint Methodius tells us that that "Up to the present the life of this distinguished Shepard has been unknown to the majority of the faithful." He then describes the extraordinary events of the life of Saint Nicholas. The truth of many of these legends is unknown, but each speaks to a man of great faith.
From this and other works, we know with certainty that when the See of Myra lost it’s bishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy. There, he was recognized for his extraordinary piety, apostolic zeal, and became famous for working astonishing miracles.
Nicholas was born at Patara in Lycia (Asia Minor), and demonstrated great piety and faith from an early age. For example, we are told that he fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, taking only nourishment in the evenings. Per his biography, "He was exceedingly well brought up by his parents and trod piously in their footsteps. The child, watched over by the church enlightened his mind and encouraged his thirst for sincere and true religion".
Sadly, Nicholas’ parents died when he was still young, and taking his considerable inheritance, devoted himself to works of charity. One of his most “famous” charitable acts is thought to have inspired the giving of Christmas gifts: A citizen of Patara, where he lived, had lost all of his money. This honorable man had three daughters to support, and could not find suitable husbands because of their poverty. Upon hearing of this situation, Nicholas took a bag of gold, and in the night, threw the bag in the open window of the man’s house. (Some say that the gold—also sometimes referred to as gold balls, rather than bags, landed in the socks and shoes of the family, drying before the fire. This led to the tradition of hanging stockings to be filled.) The man, using the money as dowry, promptly found a suitable suitor for his eldest daughter, who was married. Nicholas repeated the act twice more, once for each remaining daughter. However, the man kept watch, and upon recognizing Nicholas, was overcome with gratitude and thanks. From this, we see Saint Nicholas as a holy man, charitable, and giving of himself to others.
Nicholas soon departed Patara, traveling to the city of Myra where his uncle was the Archbishop. There, he was ordained, and appointed the Superior of a monastery. Upon the death of his uncle, Nicholas was appointed the new bishop by the people, who were certain that he had been chosen by the Lord. Around that time, the Diocletian persecutions of Christians were beginning, and "As he was the chief priest of the Christians of this town and preached the truths of faith with a holy liberty, the divine Nicholas was seized by the magistrates, tortured, then chained and thrown into prison with many other Christians. But when the great and religious Constantine, chosen by God assumed the imperial diadem of the Romans, the prisoners were released from their bonds and with them the illustrious Nicholas, who when he was set at liberty returned to Myra." Saint Nicholas protected his flock against the heresies common in that time. He was likely present at the Council of Nicaea, where some legend tells of him striking Arius (the originator of the Arian heresy) and being imprisoned, only to be freed by visions of Jesus and Mary. Saint Nicholas also fought valiantly against paganism, destroying pagan temples throughout the region with “evil spirits fleeing, howling before him.” But Saint Nicholas did not limit himself to the spiritual affairs of his people. He served as protector and guardian, advocating for prisoners, and famously freeing three innocent men wrongly condemned to death by the governor, Eustathius. Upon freeing the men, Nicholas incessantly reproached the governor—in front of a large crowd—until he admitted his wrong-doing and became sincerely penitent. Saint Nicholas later miraculously freed three men from a distance, appearing to Emperor Constantine and demanding their release in a dream. The next morning, when the imprisoned men called upon the name of Saint Nicholas for intercession, the emperor freed them, sending them back to the great saint with a letter asking for no more threats, but for peace in the world. For this, Saint Nicholas is regarded as the patron of prisoners and captives. Additional miracles reported at the intercession of Saint Nicholas include the raising to life three young boys who were killed and hidden in pickling barrels to avoid detection (For this, he is the patron and protector of children), and the calming of stormy seas by his word upon voyages to the Holy Land. It is this latter miracle—during which he appeared to frightened sailors off the coast of Lycea, that led his patronage of sailors. Sailors in the Aegean and Ionian seas, following a common Eastern custom, had their "star of Saint Nicholas" and wished one another a good voyage in the phrase "May Saint Nicholas hold the tiller.”
Under the rule of Emperor Diocletian, Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith, but refused to recant, and was eventually freed upon the death of the Emperor. He is recorded as makinga "glorious confession" of the faith to his jailors, converting many.
Saint Nicholas died at Myra, and is buried there in the basilica named for him. At Myra "the venerable body of the bishop, embalmed as it was in the good ointments of virtue exuded a sweet smelling myrrh, which kept it from corruption and proved a health giving remedy against sickness to the glory of him who had glorified Jesus Christ, our true God." During the Saracen occupation, the relics of Saint Nicholas were translated to Bari, Italy. The translation of the relics did not interrupt this phenomenon, and the "manna of St. Nicholas" is said to flow to this day. This “manna”-- a unique relic which forms in his grave, is a liquid substance said to have healing powers. It was one of the great attractions which draws pilgrims to his tomb from all parts of Europe.
An anonymous Greek wrote in the tenth century that, "the West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, in the country and the town, in the villages, in the isles, in the furthest parts of the earth, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. Images of him are set up, panegyrics preached and festivals celebrated. All Christians, young and old, men and women, boys and girls, reverence his memory and call upon his protection. And his favors, which know no limit of time and continue from age to age, are poured out over all the earth; the Scythians know them, as do the Indians and the barbarians, the Africans as well as the Italians."
As a bishop, Saint Nicholas, was first and foremost a shepherd of the people, caring for their needs. His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need. Regardless of the accuracy of the legends and miracles reported in his name, the life and deeds of Saint Nicholas, and the attitude with which he praised the Lord, make him an inspiration to us today. As we move through Advent, toward Christmas, let us emulate Saint Nicholas in our care and concern for the welfare of others.
O God, Who didst adorn blessed Nicholas,
the bishop, with miracles unnumbered, grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayer we may be delivered from the fire of hell. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Text Shared from 365Rosaries Blog

Pope Francis "Jesus prayed intensely in public moments, sharing the liturgy of his people..." FULL TEXT + Video


St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Catechesis on the "Our Father": 1. Teach us how to pray

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a cycle of catechesis on the "Our Father".

The Gospels have given us very vivid portraits of Jesus as a man of prayer: Jesus prayed. Despite the urgency of his mission and the urgency of so many people who claim him, Jesus feels the need to seclude himself in solitude and to pray. The Gospel of Mark tells us this detail from the first page of the public ministry of Jesus (cf. 1: 35). The inaugural day of Jesus in Capernaum ended triumphantly. When the sun comes down, multitudes of sick people come to the door where Jesus dwells: the Messiah preaches and heals. The ancient prophecies and expectations of so many suffering people are realized: Jesus is the near God, the God who frees us. But that crowd is still small compared to many other crowds that will gather around the prophet of Nazareth; at times it is about oceanic assemblies, and Jesus is at the center of everything, the expected by the people, the outcome of the hope of Israel.

Yet He disengages himself; does not end up hostage to the expectations of those who have now elected him as a leader. That is a danger of the leaders: to get too attached to people, not to distance themselves. Jesus notices it and does not end people's hostage. Since the first night of Capernaum, he proves to be an original Messiah. In the latter part of the night, when dawn is announced, the disciples still seek him, but they can not find him. Where is it? Until Peter finally finds him in an isolated place, completely absorbed in prayer. And he says to him: "Everyone is looking for you!" (Mk 1:37). The exclamation seems to be the clause affixed to a plebiscite success, the proof of the success of a mission.

But Jesus tells his family that he must go elsewhere; that it is not people who seek Him, but He is first and foremost looking for others. So he must not take root, but remain a constant pilgrim on the roads of Galilee (verses 38-39). And also a pilgrim to the Father, that is: praying. On the way of prayer. Jesus prays.

And everything happens in a night of prayer.

In some pages of Scripture it seems above all to be the prayer of Jesus, his intimacy with the Father, to govern everything. It will be for example, above all on the night of Gethsemane. The last part of Jesus' journey (in absolute the most difficult of those that until then he did) seems to find his meaning in the continuous listening that Jesus gives to the Father. A prayer certainly not easy, indeed, a real "agony", in the sense of the athletes' agonism, and yet a prayer capable of supporting the path of the cross.

Here is the essential point: there, Jesus prayed.

Jesus prayed intensely in public moments, sharing the liturgy of his people, but he also sought places gathered, separated from the whirlwind of the world, places that allowed them to descend into the secret of his soul: he is the prophet who knows the stones of the desert and climbs into high on the mountains. The last words of Jesus, before blowing on the cross, are words of the psalms, that is of prayer, of the prayer of the Jews: he prayed with the prayers that his mother had taught him.

Jesus prayed as he prays as every man in the world. Yet, in his way of praying, there was also contained a mystery, something that certainly did not escape the eyes of his disciples, if we find in the gospels that simple and immediate supplication: "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11.1 ). They saw Jesus pray and they wanted to learn to pray: "Lord, teach us to pray". And Jesus does not refuse, he is not jealous of his intimacy with the Father, but he came precisely to introduce us into this relationship with the Father. And so he becomes a teacher of prayer for his disciples, as he certainly wants to be for all of us. We should also say, "Lord, teach me to pray. Teach me".

Even if we have been praying for so many years, we must always learn! The prayer of man, this yearning that is born so naturally from his soul, is perhaps one of the most dense mysteries of the universe. And we do not even know if the prayers we address to God are actually those that He wants to hear. The Bible also gives us testimony of inopportune prayers, which are eventually rejected by God: just remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Only the latter, the publican, returns home from the justified temple, because the Pharisee was proud and he liked that people saw him praying and pretended to pray: the heart was cold. And Jesus says: this is not justified "because whoever exalts himself will be humiliated, whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 18: 14). The first step to praying is to be humble, to go to the Father and say: "Look at me, I am a sinner, I am weak, I am bad", everyone knows what to say. But always we start with humility, and the Lord listens. Humble prayer is heard by the Lord.

Therefore, beginning this cycle of catechesis on the prayer of Jesus, the most beautiful and fair thing that we all have to do is to repeat the invocation of the disciples: "Teacher, teach us to pray!". In this time of Advent it will be beautiful to repeat it: "Lord, teach me to pray". We can all go a little further and pray better; but ask the Lord: "Lord, teach me to pray". We do this in this time of Advent, and He certainly will not let our invocation fall into emptiness.
Greetings in various languages:
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones, en particulier les jeunes du collège de Vertou. En ce temps de l’Avent, demandons à l’Esprit Saint de nous aider à répéter l’invocation des disciples : « Maître, apprends-nous à prier ». Et, soyons sûrs qu’il ne laissera pas tomber dans le vide notre demande. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. My greeting also goes to the many groups of students and teachers present. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!
Einen adventlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Wir gehen auf Weihnachten zu. Gott wurde Mensch. In Jesus ist er in die Welt gekommen, um unser Leben zu teilen. Durch das Gebet wollen wir diese Beziehung lebendig erhalten. Der Herr schenke euch dazu seinen Heiligen Geist.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Los animo a pedir a Dios como hicieron los discípulos: «Señor, enséñanos a rezar», para que nuestra oración no sea ni rutinaria ni egoísta, sino encarnada en nuestra vida y que sea agradable a nuestro Padre del cielo. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Amados peregrinos vindos do Brasil, de Portugal e doutros países de língua portuguesa, sede benvindos! Das inúmeras coisas – tantas vezes duras – da vida, aprendei a elevar o coração até ao Pai do Céu, repousando no seio da sua infinita bondade, e vereis que as dores e aflições da vida vos farão menos mal. Que nada vos impeça de viver nesta amizade com Deus e testemunhar a todos a sua misericórdia! Sobre vós e vossa família desça, generosa, a sua Bênção.
أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، لنربِّ أنفسنا على علاقة عميقة مع الرب وصلاة مستمرّة مُفعمة بالثقة، قادرة على إنارة حياتنا كما يعلّمنا يسوع؛ ولنطلب منه نعمة أن ننقل للأشخاص الذين نلتقي بهم على دربنا، فرح اللقاء مع الرب، نور حياتنا. ليبارككم الرب!
Witam polskich pielgrzymów. W sposób szczególny pozdrawiam redaktorów Sekcji Polskiej Radia Watykańskiego, która w tych dniach obchodzi 80.rocznicę istnienia. Dziękuję wam za waszą służbę dla papieża i dla Kościoła. W najbliższą niedzielę w Polsce obchodzony będzie XIX Dzień modlitwy i pomocy Kościołowi na Wschodzie. Z wdzięcznością myślę o wszystkich, którzy przez modlitwę i konkretne dzieła wspierają wspólnoty kościelne w krajach sąsiadujących. Wszystkim życzę spokojnego i pełnego łask czasu Adwentu. Z serca wam błogosławię.
S radošću pozdravljam i blagoslivljam hrvatske hodočasnike, a osobito bračne parove iz Dubrovačke biskupije, zajedno s njihovim pastirom msgr. Matom Uzinićem. Dragi supružnici, jučer ste u Bazilici Sv. Petra obnovili bračna obećanja, priznajući da vas je Gospodin pratio u radosnim i žalosnim prilikama života. Ohrabrujem vas da živite supružničku ljubav, znak ljubavi između Krista i Crkve, rasteći svakodnevno u uzajamnom sebedarju po malim gestama. U ovo vrijeme došašća, neka vam Blažena Djevica Marija bude uzor kako primiti Gospodina i povjeriti se Njemu. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!
* * *
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I am pleased to welcome the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the parish groups, in particular those of Sant'Elia a Pianisi, of Rome and of Pescara.

I greet the Nice Cavalry Regiment of Bellinzago Novarese; retired old age clubs in the province of Trento and the 70-year-old from Paterno di Lucania.

A particular thought I address to the young, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds.

Next Saturday we will celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V. Maria. Let us entrust ourselves to Our Lady! She, as a model of faith and obedience to the Lord, help us to prepare our hearts to welcome the Child Jesus on his Christmas. Thank you.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. December 5, 2018 - #Eucharist

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
Lectionary: 177

Reading 1IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
"Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!"
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial PsalmPS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
"My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way."
The disciples said to him,
"Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?"
Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?"
"Seven," they replied, "and a few fish."
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.