Wednesday, March 6, 2019

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

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

Pope Francis at Ash Wednesday Mass "Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust." Full Text Homily + Video

Basilica of Santa Sabina
Ash Wednesday, 6 March 2019

“Blow the trumpet […] sanctify a fast” (Joel 2:15), says the prophet in the first reading. Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast. It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless. It is a summons to stop – a “halt!” –, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us. It is a wake-up call for the soul.
This wake-up call is accompanied by the message that the Lord proclaims through the lips of the prophet, a short and heartfelt message: “Return to me” (12). To return. If we have to return, it means that we have wandered off. Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life. Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal. If what interests us as we travel, however, is looking at the scenery or stopping to eat, we will not get far. We should ask ourselves: On the journey of life, do I seek the way forward? Or am I satisfied with living in the moment and thinking only of feeling good, solving some problems and having fun? What is the path? Is it the search for health, which many today say comes first but which eventually passes? Could it be possessions and wellbeing? But we are not in the world for this. Return to me, says the Lord. To me. The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.
Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction: the head marked by ash. It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind. Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go. The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain. No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind. Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes. The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception. It is like a blaze: once ended, only ash remains. Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?
On this Lenten journey, back to what is essential, the Gospel proposes three steps which the Lord invites us to undertake without hypocrisy and pretence: almsgiving, prayer, fasting. What are they for? Almsgiving, prayer and fasting bring us back to the three realities that do not fade away. Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves. God, my neighbour, my life: these are the realities that do not fade away and in which we must invest. Lent, therefore, invites us to focus, first of all on the Almighty, in prayer, which frees us from that horizontal and mundane life where we find time for self but forget God. It then invites us to focus on others, with the charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me. Finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart. Prayer, charity, fasting: three investments for a treasure that endures.
Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). Our heart always points in some direction: it is like a compass seeking its bearings. We can also compare it to a magnet: it needs to attach itself to something. But if it only attaches itself to earthly things, sooner or later it becomes a slave to them: things to be used become things we serve. Outward appearance, money, a career or hobby: if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift. Whereas if our heart is attached to what does not pass away, we rediscover ourselves and are set free. Lent is the time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity. It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us. It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides.
Where can we fix our gaze, then, throughout this Lenten journey? It is simple: upon the Crucified one. Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven. The poverty of the wood, the silence of the Lord, his loving self-emptying show us the necessity of a simpler life, free from anxiety about things. From the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation. We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down. We need to free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor. Jesus on the wood of the cross burns with love, and calls us to a life that is passionate for him, which is not lost amid the ashes of the world; to a life that burns with charity and is not extinguished in mediocrity. Is it difficult to live as he asks? Yes, it is difficult, but it leads us to our goal. Lent shows us this. It begins with the ashes, but eventually leads us to the fire of Easter night; to the discovery that, in the tomb, the body of Jesus does not turn to ashes, but rises gloriously. This is true also for us, who are dust. If we, with our weaknesses, return to the Lord, if we take the path of love, then we will embrace the life that never ends. And surely we will be full of joy.

FULL TEXT and Image Source: - Official Translation

Pope Francis "God, the Father, loves us, is near us and teaches us to walk on the path of holiness..." Full Text at Audience + Video


St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Catechesis on "Our Father": 9. Your kingdom come

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

When we pray "Our Father", the second invocation with which we turn to God is "come your kingdom" (Mt 6:10). After praying for his name to be sanctified, the believer expresses the desire that the coming of his Kingdom be hastened. This desire has flowed, so to speak, from the very heart of Christ, who began his preaching in Galilee proclaiming: "Time is complete and the kingdom of God is near; be converted and believe in the Gospel "(Mk 1,15). These words are not a threat at all, on the contrary, they are a happy announcement, a message of joy. Jesus does not want to push people to convert by sowing the fear of God's looming judgment or the sense of guilt for the evil committed. Jesus does not proselytize: he announces, simply. On the contrary, what He brings is the Good News of salvation, and starting from it he calls to be converted. Everyone is invited to believe in the "gospel": the lordship of God has become close to his children. This is the Gospel: the lordship of God has become close to his children. And Jesus proclaims this marvelous thing, this grace: God, the Father, loves us, is near us and teaches us to walk on the path of holiness.

The signs of the coming of this Kingdom are many and all positive. Jesus begins his ministry taking care of the sick, both in the body and in the spirit, of those who lived a social exclusion - for example the lepers - of sinners looked with contempt by everyone, even by those who were more sinners than they did pretend to be fair. And Jesus, how do you call them? "Hypocrites". Jesus himself indicates these signs, the signs of the Kingdom of God: "The blind regain sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the Gospel is proclaimed to the poor" (Mt 11: 5) .
"Let your Kingdom come!", The Christian repeats insistently when he prays to "our Father". Jesus came; But the world is still marked by sin, populated by so many people who suffer, by people who are not reconciled and do not forgive, by wars and by so many forms of exploitation, we think of the trafficking of children, for example. All these facts are proof that the victory of Christ has not yet been fully implemented: many men and women still live with a closed heart. It is above all in these situations that the second invocation of the "Our Father" emerges on the Christian's lips: "Let your kingdom come!". Which is like saying: "Father, we need you! Jesus, we need you, we need you to be everywhere and forever You are Lord in our midst! ". "Let your kingdom come, be you among us".
Sometimes we ask ourselves: why is this Kingdom happening so slowly? Jesus loves to speak of his victory with the language of the parables. For example, he says that the Kingdom of God is like a field where good wheat and weeds grow together: the worst mistake would be to want to intervene immediately eradicating from the world those that seem to us weeds. God is not like us, God has patience. It is not with violence that the Kingdom is established in the world: its style of propagation is meekness (cf. Mt 13: 24-30).

The Kingdom of God is certainly a great force, the greatest that there is, but not according to the criteria of the world; this is why it never seems to have an absolute majority. It is like the leaven that is kneaded in the flour: apparently it disappears, yet it is precisely it that ferments the mass (cf. Mt 13:33). Or it is like a grain of mustard, so small, almost invisible, but it carries within it the explosive force of nature, and once grown it becomes the greatest of all the trees of the garden (cf. Mt 13: 31-32).

In this "destiny" of the Kingdom of God we can guess the plot of the life of Jesus: he too was a thin sign for his contemporaries, an event almost unknown to the official historians of the time. A "grain of wheat" has been defined as Himself, who dies in the earth but only in this way can he "bear much fruit" (cf. Jn 12,24). The symbol of the seed is eloquent: one day the peasant sinks it into the earth (a gesture that looks like a burial), and then, "sleep or wake up, by night or by day, the seed sprouts and grows. As he himself does not know "(Mk 4:27). A seed that sprouts is more the work of God than the man who sowed it (cf. Mk 4:27). God always precedes us, God always surprises. Thanks to him after the night of Good Friday there is a dawn of Resurrection capable of illuminating the whole world with hope.
"Come your kingdom!". We sow this word in the midst of our sins and failures. Give it to people who are defeated and bent by life, to those who have savored more hate than love, to those who have lived useless days without ever understanding why. Let us give it to those who have fought for justice, to all the martyrs of history, to those who have concluded that they have fought for nothing and that evil always dominates in this world. Then we will hear the prayer of the "Our Father" respond. He will repeat for the umpteenth time those words of hope, the same ones that the Spirit has placed in the seal of all the Holy Scriptures: "Yes, I come soon!": This is the Lord's answer. "I'm coming soon". Amen. And the Church of the Lord replies: "Come, Lord Jesus" (see Rev 2:20). "Let your kingdom come" is like saying "Come, Lord Jesus". And Jesus says: "I come soon". And Jesus comes, in his way, but every day. We trust this. And when we pray the "Our Father" we always say: "Let your kingdom come", to feel in the heart: "Yes, yes, I come, and I come soon". Thank you!

Greetings in Various Languages:
Je salue cordialement les pèlerins des pays francophones, en particulier les jeunes venus de France, de Suisse et de Belgique ! Au cours de ce temps du Carême, qui commence aujourd’hui, je vous invite à prier et à œuvrer pour que le Règne de Dieu s’établisse dans notre monde et pour que nous sachions en discerner les signes. Bon carême à tous et que Dieu vous bénisse.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Wales, India, the Philippines and the United States of America. May the Lenten journey we begin today bring us to Easter with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Upon you, and your families, I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Redeemer!
[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’Udienza odierna, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Galles, India, Filippine e Stati Uniti d’America. A tutti auguro che il cammino quaresimale che oggi iniziamo ci porti alla gioia della Pasqua con cuori purificati e rinnovati dalla grazia dello Spirito Santo. Su di voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace in Cristo nostro Redentore!]
Von Herzen grüße ich die Pilger aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Besonders heiße ich den Franziskus-Chor aus Limburg und den Minichor der Ministranten aus Bruneck willkommen. Öffnen wir uns immer dem Wirken des Heiligen Geistes. Als seine Werkzeuge wollen wir am Kommen des Reiches Gottes mitarbeiten und die Hoffnung des Evangeliums zu unseren Mitmenschen bringen. Eine gesegnete Fastenzeit euch allen!
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española  provenientes de España y América Latina. En particular saludo a los participantes en el “Encuentro Mundial de Transportistas y Empresarios, sobre Cambio climático, Tráfico humano, Tecnología y Transporte”, organizado por la Academia Pontificia de las Ciencias sociales. Que el estudio de Laudato si’ los ayude a dar pasos significativos de justicia y solidaridad. Y a todos les deseo un feliz comienzo de Cuaresma, tiempo de conversión y de misericordia: que la oración, la limosna y el ayuno nos ayuden a renovar nuestra vida cristiana, participando en la Pascua del Señor. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Saúdo cordialmente os grupos escolares de Bragança, Cabeceiras de Basto, Lourinhã, Oeiras e Viseu e também os fiéis das paróquias de Moreira e Pouso Alegre. A vós e a todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, desejo um frutuoso caminho quaresmal que vos permita encontrar e seguir mais de perto Jesus, até poder dizer, com São Paulo, «já não sou eu que vivo, mas é Cristo que vive em mim». Sobre vós e vossas famílias, desça a Bênção de Deus.
أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، "ليأتِ ملكوتك!" لنزرع هذه الكلمة وسط خطايانا وإخفاقاتنا. ولنهدها للأشخاص الذين غلبتهم وأخضعتهم الحياة، وسنشعر عندها أنَّ "صلاة الأبانا" تجيبنا. ليبارككم الرب!
Pozdrawiam serdecznie obecnych tu Polaków. Rozpoczynamy Wielki Post. Liturgia Środy popielcowej, zwłaszcza obrzęd posypania głów popiołem, uświadamia nam naszą przemijalność, potrzebę pokuty, postu i wyrzeczenia. Otwórzmy nasze serca i umysły, by właściwie odczytać sens naszego życia w świetle tajemnic męki, śmierci i zmartwychwstania Chrystusa. Z serca błogosławię wam i waszym bliskim.
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I am pleased to welcome the Marist Brothers of the Schools; the Daughters of the Church and the youth of the Christian initiation of the Parish of Arquà Petrarca.

I welcome the faithful from Bisignano, on the occasion of the blessing of the effigy of St. Emile who is venerated in the local shrine.

I greet the Association "Welcome without Borders" of Matera; and the school institutes, in particular that of Legnano and Corbetta.

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

Today, Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten journey. I wish each of you to live this time in an authentic penitential spirit and conversion, as a return to the Father, who awaits all with open arms to admit us to the most intimate communion with him.

FULL TEXT and Image Source: - Unofficial Translation

Ash Wednesday Mass Online : Readings + Video : Wed. March 6, 2019 - #Eucharist for #AshWednesday

Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219

Reading 1JL 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Responsorial PsalmPS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (see 3a)  Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 22 COR 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before The GospelSEE PS 95:8

If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

GospelMT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."