Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Saint February 14 : St. Valentine : Patron of Love and Marriage

In the early martyrologies, three different St. Valentines are mentioned, all sharing Feb. 14 for a feast day. 
The 1st -
A Roman Priest during the reign  of Emperor Claudias II who persecuted the church at that particular time," an edict prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died." Valentine was caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius II.  "One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter, Julia, was blind.  Valentine gave Julia lessons because she needed someone to read material for her to learn it. Valentine then became friends with Julia through his work with her when she came to visit him in jail.
Emperor Claudius came to like Valentine, too, so he offered to pardon Valentine and set him free if Valentine would renounce his Christian faith and agree to worship the Roman gods. Not only did Valentine refuse to leave his faith, he also encouraged Emperor Claudius to place his trust in Christ. Valentine’s faithful choices cost him his life. Emperor Claudius was so enraged at Valentine’s response that he sentenced Valentine to die. Valentine prayed with and healedJulia,and Asterius himself became Christian as a result.

Valentine used his time in jail to continue to reach out to people with the love that he said Jesus Christ gave him for others.
Before he was killed, Valentine wrote a last note to encourage Julia to stay close to Jesus and to thank her for being his friend. He signed the note: “From your Valentine.” That note inspired people to begin writing their own loving messages to people on Valentine’s Feast Day.

Easy Novena to St. Valentine - Patron of Love, Marriage and Fiancees - Prayers to SHARE
In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius' daughter. He inspired today's romantic missives by signing it, "from your Valentine." Eventually, St. Valentine was also arrested, condemned to death for his faith, beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded on Feb. 14, AD 270. He was buried on the Flaminian Way. Later, Pope Julius I (333-356) built a basilica at the site which preserved St. Valentine's tomb. Archeological digs in the 1500s and 1800s have found evidence of the tomb of St. Valentine. However, in the thirteenth century, his relics were transferred to the Church of Saint Praxedes near the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where they remain today. Also, a small church was built near the Flaminian Gate of Rome which is now known as the Porta del Popolo but was called in the 12th century "the Gate of St. Valentine," as noted by the early British historian William Somerset (also known as William of Malmesbury, d. 1143), who ranks after St. Bede in authority.

The second St. Valentine was the Bishop of Interamna (now Terni, located about 60 miles from Rome). Under the orders of Prefect Placidus, he too was arrested, scourged, and decapitated, again suffering persecution during the time of Emperor Claudius II.
The third St. Valentine suffered martyrdom in Africa with several companions. However, nothing further is known about this saint. In all, these men, each named St. Valentine, showed heroic love for the Lord and His Church.
The popular customs of showing love and affection on St. Valentine's Day is almost a coincidence with the feast day of the saint: During the Medieval Age, a common belief in England and France was that birds began to pair on Feb.14, "half-way through the second month of the year." Chaucer wrote in his "Parliament of Foules" (in Old English): "For this was on Seynt Valentyne's day, When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate." For this reason, the day was dedicated to "lovers" and prompted the sending of letters, gifts, or other signs of affection.
Another literary example of St. Valentine's Day remembrances is found in Dame Elizabeth Brews "Paston Letters" (1477), where she writes to the suitor, John Paston, of her daughter, Margery: "And, cousin mine, upon Monday is St. Valentine's day and every bird chooseth himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion." In turn, Margery wrote to John: "Unto my right well beloved Valentine John Paston, Squyer, be this bill delivered. Right reverend and worshipful and my right well beloved Valentine, I recommend me unto you, full heartily desiring to hear of your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve until His pleasure and your heart's desire." While speaking of the amorous flavour of Valentine's Day, no mention is made of the saint. The love of our Lord, depicted beautifully in the image of His most Sacred Heart, is a sacrificial, self-less, and unconditional love. Such is the love that each Christian is called to express in his own life, for God and neighbour. Clearly, St. Valentine-no matter which one-showed such a love, bearing witness to the faith in his dedication as a priest and in the offering of his own life in martyrdom. On this Valentine's day, looking to the example of this great saint, each person should offer again his love to the Lord, for only by doing so can he properly love those who are entrusted to his care and any other neighbour. Each person should again pledge his love to those loved ones, praying for their intentions, promising fidelity to them, and thanking them for their love in return. Never forget Jesus said, "This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:12-13). St. Valentine fulfilled this command, and may we do the same. 

SOURCE: Edited with info from Catholic Enclopedia - Updated Feb 14

Pope Francis Approves Miracles and Brings 8 Closer to Canonization including John Henry Newman

Card. Newman and Indian Sr. Mariam Thresia cleared for sainthood
Pope Francis on 12 Feb. authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate 8 decrees including those of Card. Newman and Sr. Mariam Thresia.
By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Tuesday cleared the way for the sainthood of renowned English Cardinal John Henry Newman and an Indian nun, and brought 6 others a step closer to canonization.

The Pope received in audience Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints and authorized him to promulgated two decrees on miracles for sainthood, a decree on martyrdom and 5 on heroic virtues.

Cardinal Newman
A miracle attributed to the intercession of Cardinal Newman has been recognized, clearing him for canonization. 

Born in London on 21 February 1801 and died in Edgbaston on 11 August 1890, the noted theologian and poet was first an Anglican priest and later a Catholic priest and cardinal, who was an important figure in the religious history of England of his time.

He was one of the leading figures of the Oxford Movement that originated at Oxford University in 1833, that sought to link the Anglican Church more closely to the Roman Catholic Church.

He is revered by both the Catholic as well as the Anglican Churches.

As a Catholic priest, he founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Edgbaston, England.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal Newman on 19 September 2010, in Birmingham, England.

Perhaps the hymn and poem that Card. Newman is best known for is, “Lead kindly light.”

Sr. Mariam Thresia
Pope Francis also recognized another miracle, clearing the way for the canonization of Indian nun, Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, the foundress of the Congregation of the Holy Family (CHF).

The nun belonging to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church was born in Puthenchira on 26 April 1876 and died in Kuzhikkattussery on 8 June 1926.

She is known for her extraordinary charity, especially a preferential love for the poorest of the poor.

She was declared venerable on 28 June 1999 and was beatified on 9 April 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II in Rome.

The other decrees on the causes of saints are as follows:

- the martyrdom of the Ecuadoran Servant of God, Victor Emilio Moscoso Cárdenas, a Jesuit priest.  He was born in Cuenca (Ecuador) on 21 April 1846 and killed, in hatred of the Faith, in Riobamba (Ecuador) on May 4, 1897.

- the heroic virtues of the Hungarian Servant of God Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty, Archbishop of Esztergom and primate of Hungary.  Born in Csehimindszent (Hungary) on 29 March 1892, he died in Vienna (Austria) on 6 May 1975.

- the heroic virtues of the Italian Servant of God John Baptist Zuaboni, a diocesan priest, founder of the Secular Institute Society of the Holy Family.  He was born in Vestone on 24 January 1880 and died in Brescia (Italy) on 12 December 1939.

- the heroic virtues of Spanish Servant of God Emanuele García Nieto, a Jesuit priest.  He was born in Macotera (Spain) on April 5, 1894 and died in Comillas (Spain) on 13 April 1974.

- the heroic virtues of Italian Servant of God Serafina Formai (born: Letizia), founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Good News.  She was born in Casola Lunigiana (Italy) on 28 August 1876 and died in Pontremoli (Italy) on 1 June 1954.

- the heroic virtues of Colombian Servant of God Maria Berenice Duque Hencker (born: Ana Julia), foundress of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation.  She was born in Salamis (Colombia) on 14 August 1898 and died in Medellín (Colombia) on July 25, 1993.
FULL TEXT Release from Vatican News va

#BreakingNews Investigation Report Finds Catholic Students of Covington Did Not instigate Confrontation at March for Life - FULL TEXT

During the March for Life in Washington, DC, USA a confrontation occurred between some young teens and some Native Indians. Social media was quick to condemn a group of teens from a Catholic high school. However, an independent investigation has revealed that the boys did not instigate the confrontation.
FULL TEXT Investigative Report:
The videos also show that the Native group approached the teens.
To see the Videos and previous controversy see:
The Bishop of the Diocese and the Covington High School have released a joint statement (Full Text):
My dear Covington Catholic High School Parents,

I am pleased to inform you that my hope and expectation expressed in my letter to you of 25 January that the results of our inquiry into the events of 18 January at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. would “exonerate our students so that they can move forward with their lives” has been realized. Our inquiry, conducted by a third party firm that has no connection with Covington Catholic High School or the Diocese of Covington, has demonstrated that our students did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.

In these past several weeks since the original video went viral two well-worn and oft-used adages have come to mind: Seeing is believing and Perception is reality. The immediate world-wide reaction to the initial video led almost everyone to believe that our students had initiated the incident and the perception of those few minutes of video became reality.

In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening. Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory. These students had come to Washington, D.C. to support life. They marched peacefully with hundreds of thousands of others – young and old and in-between – to further the cause of life. These young high school students could never have expected what they experienced on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while waiting for the busses to take them home. Their stance there was surely a pro-life stance. I commend them.

I thank our students and their parents for their patience while the inquiry we ordered was completed. The final investigative report is available at Once again I affirm my complete trust and confidence in our Principal of Covington Catholic, Mr. Robert Rowe. Under his guidance these past 11 years great strides have been made at CovCath in every area from curriculum to Catholic identity. He joins me in the sentiments expressed in this letter. I also affirm my confidence in our CovCath students. As for the future, we trust in God and in the spirit of CovCath, a spirit that will not die!

Yours devotedly in the Lord,
Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, D.D.
Bishop of Covington

#BreakingNews President of Microsoft visits Pope Francis at Vatican to Discuss Artificial Intelligence - Video

According to reports, the president of Microsoft visited the Pope Francis at the Vatican. During the private 30-minute Brad Smith explained some possible uses of artificial intelligence for the common good. President of Microsoft, Brad Smith said: “We appreciate your voice. We do feel this is really a critical moment in time. People, including our company, are creating technology, machines." The Vatican is concerned about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. The Vatican plans to hold two major meetings on this issue in the following months. Brad Smith, plans to participate in one of meetings in 2020. Also, Microsoft has announced that it will give an annual award for the best doctoral thesis on artificial intelligence at the service of life.

Pope Francis "Touch my heart, O Lord". It is a beautiful prayer: "Lord, soften my heart, so that I can understand..all the problems, all the pains of others" FULL TEXT + Video


Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, February 13th 2019

Catechesis on the "Our Father": 6. Father of us all

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We continue our journey to learn more and more how to pray as Jesus taught us. We must pray as He taught us to do it.

He said: when you pray, go into the silence of your room, withdraw from the world and turn to God calling him "Father!". Jesus wants his disciples not to be like the hypocrites who pray standing upright in the streets to be admired by the people (cf. Mt 6: 5). Jesus does not want hypocrisy. True prayer is that which takes place in the secret of conscience, of the heart: inscrutable, visible only to God. I and God. It shuns falsehood: with God it is impossible to pretend. It is impossible, before God there is no trick that has power, God knows us so, naked in the conscience, and pretend we can not. At the root of dialogue with God there is a silent dialogue, like the crossing of glances between two people who love each other: man and God meet the eyes, and this is prayer. To look at God and to allow oneself to be looked at from God: this is to pray. "But, father, I do not say words ...". Look at God and let yourself be watched by Him: it is a prayer, a beautiful prayer!

Yet, although the disciple's prayer is all confidential, it never expires in intimism. In the secret of conscience, the Christian does not leave the world outside the door of his room, but he carries in his heart people and situations, problems, so many things, all of them carry in prayer.

There is an impressive absence in the text of "Our Father". If I ask you what is the awesome absence in the text of "Our Father"? It will not be easy to answer. A word is missing. Think of all: what is missing in "our Father"? Think, what is missing? A word. A word that in our time - but perhaps always - all hold in high esteem. What is the word that is missing in the "Our Father" that we pray every day? To save time I will say it: the word "I" is missing. Never says "I". Jesus teaches us to pray, having the "You" on our lips, because Christian prayer is dialogue: "may your name be sanctified, your kingdom come, your will be done". Not my name, my kingdom, my will. Not me, it's not right. And then it goes to "us". The whole second part of the "Our Father" is declined to the first plural person: "Give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, do not abandon us to temptation, deliver us from evil". Even the most basic human questions - such as having food to quench hunger - are all plural. In Christian prayer, no one asks for bread for himself: give me the bread of today, no, give us, begs him for all, for all the poor of the world. We must not forget this, the word "I" is missing. Please with the you and with us. It is a good teaching of Jesus, do not forget it.

Why? Because there is no room for individualism in dialogue with God. There is no ostentation of one's problems as if we were the only ones in the world to suffer. There is no high prayer to God that is not the prayer of a community of brothers and sisters, we: we are in community, we are brothers and sisters, we are a people that prays, "we". Once the prison chaplain asked me a question: "Tell me, father, what is the word contrary to 'I'?". And I, naive, I said: "You". "This is the beginning of the war. The word opposite to 'I' is 'us', where there is peace, all together ". It is a beautiful teaching I received from that priest.
In prayer, a Christian brings all the difficulties of the people who live next to him: when he comes down in the evening, he tells God about the pains he has encountered on that day; he puts before him many faces, friends and even hostiles; he does not drive them away as dangerous distractions. If one does not realize that there are so many people around him that are suffering, if he does not pity the tears of the poor, if he is addicted to everything, then it means that his heart ... how is it? Wilted? No, worse: it is made of stone. In this case it is good to beg the Lord to touch us with his Spirit and soften our heart: "Touch my heart, O Lord". It is a beautiful prayer: "Lord, soften my heart, so that I can understand and take charge of all the problems, all the pains of others". Christ did not pass unharmed by the miseries of the world: whenever he perceived a loneliness, a pain of the body or the spirit, he felt a strong sense of compassion, like a mother's womb. This "feeling compassion" - let us not forget this very Christian word: feeling compassion - is one of the key verbs of the Gospel: it is what drives the good Samaritan to approach the wounded man on the roadside, unlike others who have the hard heart.

We can ask ourselves: when I pray, I open myself to the cry of many people near and far? Or do I think of prayer as a kind of anesthesia, in order to be calmer? I put the question there, everyone answers. In this case I would be the victim of a terrible misunderstanding. Of course, mine would no longer be a Christian prayer. Because that "us" that Jesus taught us prevents me from being alone, and makes me feel responsible for my brothers and sisters.

There are men who apparently do not seek God, but Jesus makes us pray for them too, because God seeks these people above all. Jesus did not come for the healthy, but for the sick, for sinners (cf. Lk 5:31) - that is, for everyone, because those who think they are healthy, in reality it is not. If we work for justice, let us not feel better than others: the Father makes his sun rise above the good and above the wicked (cf. Mt 5:45). Love all the Father! We learn from God that he is always good with everyone, unlike us who can only be good with someone, with someone I like.

Brothers and sisters, saints and sinners, we are all brothers loved by the same Father. And, in the evening of life, we will be judged on love, on how we have loved. Not just sentimental love, but compassionate and concrete, according to the Gospel rule - do not forget it! -: "All you have done to one of these my younger brothers, you have done it to me" (Mt 25.40). Thus says the Lord. Thank you.
GREETINGS in Various Languages:
Je salue les pèlerins venus de France et de Belgique, en particulier les séminaristes de Lorraine avec leur évêque, Monseigneur Jean-Christophe Lagleize, et tous les jeunes présents. Je vous invite à prendre chaque jour un moment pour prier afin d’ouvrir votre cœur à Dieu et aux autres. Que Jésus soit votre guide sur le chemin de la prière ! Bon pèlerinage à tous.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Wer glaubt, ist nie allein! Das gilt ganz besonders auch im Gebet. Machen wir uns bewusst, dass wir immer in Gemeinschaft mit unseren Brüdern und Schwestern vor dem Vater stehen. Gott behüte euch und alle Menschen, mit denen ihr im Gebet verbunden seid!
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Hay banderas panameñas ahí. Saludo al grupo Valdocco, que está presente y trabaja en zonas marginales por la cultura, por el bienestar de los pueblos. Los animo a pensar cómo es el diálogo que tienen con el Señor y a seguir el ejemplo de Jesús para rezar de forma concreta, recordando a aquellos que tienen a su lado y aman, como también a aquellos que no quieren tanto. Necesitamos aprender de Dios que es bueno con todos. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os grupos vindos de Portugal e do Brasil. Queridos amigos, faço votos de que a vossa peregrinação a Roma fortaleça em todos a esperança e consolide, no amor divino, o compromisso pessoal de se sentir sempre mais responsável pelos irmãos e irmãs mais necessitados. Que Nossa Senhora vos acompanhe e proteja!
أرحب بالحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من سوريا ولبنان والشرق الأوسط. إن الله أب للجميع وجعل منا إخوة في البشرية الواحدة. هناك اليوم الكثير من إخوتنا في العالم الذين يعانون، وهم بحاجة لأن نعمل من أجلهم وأن نحملهم في صلاتنا. لنكن إذا خميرة محبة في العالم، لأننا لن نحمل معنا في اليوم الأخير إلا المحبة التي قدمناها في حياتنا. ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير!
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I am pleased to welcome the participants in the Course for the Responsible for the ongoing formation of the Clergy in Latin America, promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy and the Apostle Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I greet the parishes, in particular those of Lanciano and San Giorgio in Sannio; the Askanews Journalist group, who are going through a difficult time; the National Cancer Institute; the juvenile penal institution of Airola; the School children, especially the Impastato Institute in Rome and the Polla-Vallo di Diano Football School.

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

Tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, evangelizers of the Slavic peoples and co-patrons of Europe. Their example helps us all to become in every environment of life, disciples and missionaries, for the conversion of the distant, as well as the closest. Their love for the Lord gives us the strength to sustain every sacrifice, so that the Gospel becomes the fundamental rule of our life. Thank you.

To give the blessing I would like to wear this stole brought to me by the valdocco group yesterday and made by women of the Wichis people, a people from a great culture.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wednesday February 13, 2019 - #Eucharist

Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 331

Reading 1GN 2:4B-9, 15-17

At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens --
while as yet there was no field shrub on earth
and no grass of the field had sprouted,
for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth
and there was no man to till the soil,
but a stream was welling up out of the earth
and was watering all the surface of the ground --
the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The LORD God then took the man
and settled him in the garden of Eden,
to cultivate and care for it.
The LORD God gave man this order:
"You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
From that tree you shall not eat;
the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die."

Responsorial PsalmPS 104:1-2A, 27-28, 29BC-30

R. (1a) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
All creatures look to you
to give them food in due time.
When you give it to them, they gather it;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

AlleluiaSEE JN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth:
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 7:14-23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”