Sunday, March 31, 2019

Saint April 1 : St. Hugh of Grenoble - Carthusian

Feast Day:
April 1
1053 at Chateauneuf, Dauphiné, France
1 April 1132
1134 by Pope Innocent II
St. Hugh was born in 1053 in southeastern France at Châteauneuf-sur-Isère, near Grenoble in the western foothills of the Alps. Such was his reputation for piety and theological knowledge that, although only in his mid-twenties, Hugh was elected bishop of Grenoble even though he had not yet been ordained. He was selected to carry out reforms of abuses within the Church which had been instituted under Pope Gregory VII, who ordained Hugh in Rome after his election as bishop. After two years of successfully battling abuses in Grenoble such as simony (the selling of church positions) and enforcing rules about clerical celibacy, Hugh wanted to retire to the great Benedictine monastery at Cluny. However, Pope Gregory ordered him to remain in his position as bishop. He was well-known for his inspired preaching and his generosity to the poor.

In 1084, Hugh helped St. Bruno of Cologne and six of his companions found the great Carthusian monastery "La Grande Chartreuse" high in the Alps. They devoted their monastic life to prayer and study and were visited by Hugh often. It was reported that, as much as he could in his role as bishop, Hugh adopted the monastic way of life practiced by the monks at Chartreuse. The 2005 film, Into Great Silence, documented the daily life at La Grande Chartreuse. After many years of illness which he endured in patient silence, St. Hugh died on April 1, 1132 and was canonized only two years later by Pope Innocent II. Text:

Quote to SHARE by St. Mother Teresa "If you judge people, you have no time to love them"

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them" 
 St. Mother Teresa

Holy Mass - Pope Francis says "...make each of your communities an oasis of mercy. I encourage you to continue to let the culture of mercy grow..." FULL TEXT Homily + Video

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex, Morocco with 10,000 people:
 Please find below the full Official text of the Pope’s homily:

            “While he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20).

            Here the Gospel takes us to the heart of the parable, showing the father’s response at seeing the return of his son.  Deeply moved, he runs out to meet him before he can even reach home.  A son long awaited.  A father rejoicing to see him return.

That was not the only time the father ran.  His joy would not be complete without the presence of his other son.  He then sets out to find him and invites him to join in the festivities (cf. v. 28).  But the older son appeared upset by the homecoming celebration.  He found his father’s joy hard to take; he did not acknowledge the return of his brother: “that son of yours”, he calls him (v. 30).  For him, his brother was still lost, because he had already lost him in his heart.

            By his unwillingness to take part in the celebration, the older son fails not only to recognize his brother, but his father as well.  He would rather be an orphan than a brother.  He prefers isolation to encounter, bitterness to rejoicing.  Not only is he unable to understand or forgive his brother, he cannot accept a father capable of forgiving, willing to wait patiently, to trust and to keep looking, lest anyone be left out.  In a word, a father capable of compassion.

            At the threshold of that home, something of the mystery of our humanity appears.  On the one hand, celebration for the son who was lost and is found; on the other, a feeling of betrayal and indignation at the celebrations marking his return.  On the one hand, the welcome given to the son who had experienced misery and pain, even to the point of yearning to eat the husks thrown to the swine; on the other, irritation and anger at the embrace given to one who had proved himself so unworthy.

            What we see here yet again is the tension we experience in our societies and in our communities, and even in our own hearts.  A tension deep within us ever since the time of Cain and Abel.  We are called to confront it and see it for what it is.  For we too ask: “Who has the right to stay among us, to take a place at our tables and in our meetings, in our activities and concerns, in our squares and our cities?”  The murderous question seems constantly to return: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9).

            At the threshold of that home, we can see our own divisions and strife, the aggressiveness and conflicts that always lurk at the door of our high ideals, our efforts to build a society of fraternity, where each person can experience even now the dignity of being a son or daughter.

            Yet at the threshold of that home, we will also see in all its radiant clarity, with no ifs and buts, the father’s desire that all his sons and daughters should share in his joy.  That no one should have to live in inhuman conditions, as his younger son did, or as orphaned, aloof and bitter like the older son.  His heart wants all men and women to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).

            It is true that many situations can foment division and strife, while others can bring us to confrontation and antagonism.   It cannot be denied.  Often we are tempted to believe that hatred and revenge are legitimate ways of ensuring quick and effective justice.  Yet experience tells us that hatred, division and revenge succeed only in killing our peoples’ soul, poisoning our children’s hopes, and destroying and sweeping away everything we cherish.

            Jesus invites us, then, to stop and contemplate the heart of our Father.  Only from that perspective can we acknowledge once more that we are brothers and sisters.  Only against that vast horizon can we transcend our shortsighted and divisive ways of thinking, and see things in a way that does not downplay our differences in the name of a forced unity or a quiet marginalization.  Only if we can raise our eyes to heaven each day and say “Our Father”, will we be able to be part of a process that can make us see things clearly and risk living no longer as enemies but as brothers and sisters.

            “All that is mine is yours” (Lk 15:31), says the father to his older son.  He is not speaking so much about material wealth, as about sharing in his own love and compassion.  This is the greatest legacy and wealth of a Christian.  Instead of measuring ourselves or classifying ourselves according to different moral, social, ethnic or religious criteria, we should be able to recognize that another criterion exists, one that no one can take away or destroy because it is pure gift.  It is the realization that we are beloved sons and daughters, whom the Father awaits and celebrates.

            “All that is mine is yours”, says the Father, including my capacity for compassion.  Let us not fall into the temptation of reducing the fact that we are his children to a question of rules and regulations, duties and observances.   Our identity and our mission will not arise from forms of voluntarism, legalism, relativism or fundamentalism, but rather from being believers who daily beg with humility and perseverance: “May your Kingdom come!”

            The Gospel parable leaves us with an open ending.  We see the father asking the older son to come in and share in the celebration of mercy.  The Gospel writer says nothing about what the son decided.  Did he join the party?  We can imagine that this open ending is meant to be written by each individual and every community.  We can complete it by the way we live, the way we regard others, and how we treat our neighbour.  The Christian knows that in the Father’s house there are many rooms: the only ones who remain outside are those who choose not to share in his joy.

            Dear brothers and sisters, I want to thank you for the way in which you bear witness to the Gospel of mercy in this land.  Thank you for your efforts to make each of your communities an oasis of mercy.  I encourage you to continue to let the culture of mercy grow, a culture in which no one looks at others with indifference, or averts his eyes in the face of their suffering (cf. Misericordia et Misera, 20).  Keep close to the little ones and the poor, and to all those who are rejected, abandoned and ignored.  Continue to be a sign of the Father’s loving embrace.

            May the Merciful and Compassionate One – as our Muslim brothers and sisters frequently invoke him – strengthen you and make your works of love ever more fruitful.
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Pope Francis says "As disciples of Jesus Christ, from the very day of our baptism we have been called to be a part of this dialogue of salvation..." to Religious in Morocco - FULL TEXT + Video

[30-31 MARCH 2019]

Cathedral of of Saint Peter (Rabat)
Sunday, 31 March 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters, bonjour à tous!
I am very happy to have this opportunity to be with you. I especially thank Father Germain and Sister Mary for their testimonies. I would also like to greet the members of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, a clear sign of the communion experienced here in Morocco between Christians of different confessions along the path to unity. Christians are a small minority in this country. Yet, to my mind, this is not a problem, even though I realize that at times it can be difficult for some of you. Your situation reminds me of the question asked by Jesus: “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? … It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened” (Lk 13:18.21). Paraphrasing the Lord’s words, we can ask ourselves: What are Christians like, in these lands? To what can we compare them? They are like a little yeast that Mother Church wants to mix in with a great quantity of flour until all of it is leavened. For Jesus did not choose us and send us forth to become more numerous! He called us to a mission. He put us in the midst of society like a handful of yeast: the yeast of the Beatitudes and the fraternal love by which, as Christians, we can all join in making present his kingdom. In this context I recall the counsel of Saint Francis to his brothers as he sent them out: “Go out and preach the Gospel: and if necessary, also with words”.
This means, dear friends, that our mission as baptized persons, priests and consecrated men and women, is not really determined by the number or size of spaces that we occupy, but rather by our capacity to generate change and to awaken wonder and compassion. We do this by the way we live as disciples of Jesus, in the midst of those with whom we share our daily lives, joys and sorrows, suffering and hopes (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 1). In other words, the paths of mission are not those of proselytism. Please, these paths are not those of proselytism! Let us recall Benedict XVI: “the Church grows not through proselytism, but through attraction, through witness”. The paths of mission are not those of proselytism, which leads always to a cul-de-sac, but of our way of being with Jesus and with others. The problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant, salt that has lost the flavour of the Gospel – this is the problem – or lamps that no longer shed light (cf. Mt 5:13-15).
I believe we should worry whenever we Christians are troubled by the thought we are only significant if we are the flour, if we occupy all the spaces. You know very well that our lives are meant to be “yeast”, wherever and with whomever we find ourselves, even if this appears to bring no tangible or immediate benefits (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 210). For being a Christian is not about adhering to a doctrine, or a temple or an ethnic group. Being Christian is about an encounter, an encounter with Jesus Christ. We are Christians because we have been loved and encountered, and not as the result of proselytism. Being Christian is about knowing that we have been forgiven and knowing that we are asked to treat others in the same way that God treated us. For “by this everyone shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
Dear brothers and sisters, in thinking of this setting in which you are called to live your baptismal vocation, your ministry and your consecration, I recall the words of Pope Saint Paul VI in his encyclical Ecclesiam Suam: “The Church must enter into dialogue with the world in which she lives. She has something to say, a message to give, a communication to make” (No. 65). To say that the Church has to enter into dialogue is not to follow a fashion – dialogue is in vogue today but that is not the reason for dialogue – or much less a strategy for increasing her membership, no, it is not a strategy. The Church has to enter into dialogue out of fidelity to her Lord and Master, who from the beginning, moved by love, wished to enter into dialogue as a friend and asks us to enter into friendship with him (cf. Dei Verbum, 2). As disciples of Jesus Christ, from the very day of our baptism we have been called to be a part of this dialogue of salvation and friendship, from which we are the first to benefit.
Christians, here in these lands, learn to be a living sacrament of the dialogue that God wants to initiate with each man and woman, wherever they are. A dialogue that we are nonetheless called to take up following the example of Jesus himself, who is meek and humble of heart (cf. Mt 11:29), with fervent and disinterested love, without calculations and limitations, and with respect for the freedom of others. In this spirit, we can find elder brothers and sisters who show us the way, for by their lives they testify that this dialogue is possible; they point to a “high standard” that challenges us and spurs us on. How can we fail to think of Saint Francis of Assisi, who at the height of the Crusades went to encounter Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil? Or Blessed Charles de Foucault, so deeply impressed by the humble and hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth, whom he silently adored, that he wished to be a “brother to all”? Or again, those of our fellow Christians who chose to live in solidarity with another people, even to the point of giving their lives? When the Church, in fidelity to the mission she has received from the Lord, enters into dialogue with the world and gives her message, she takes part in the advent of that fraternity whose deepest source is not in ourselves but in the fatherhood of God.
As consecrated persons, we are invited to experience this dialogue of salvation above all as intercession for the people entrusted to us. I remember once speaking with a priest who, like yourselves, lived in a land where Christians were a minority. He told me that “Our Father” had taken on a particular meaning for him because, praying in the midst of people of other religions, he felt the power of the words, “Give us this day our daily bread”. His intercessory prayer, as a missionary, expanded to that people which was in some way entrusted to him, not to govern but to love, and this led him to pray this prayer with special feeling. Consecrated persons and priests bring to the altar and to their prayer the lives of all those around them; they keep alive, as if through a small window, the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. How beautiful it is to know that, in different parts of this land, through your voices, all creation can constantly pray: “Our Father”.
Dialogue, then, becomes prayer. We can carry it out daily in the name “of the human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal. In the name of this fraternity, torn apart by the policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies, that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women (Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019). A prayer that does not distinguish, separate or marginalize, but embraces the life of our neighbour. A prayer of intercession that says to the Father, “Thy kingdom come”. Not by violence, not by hatred, not by ethnic, religious or economic supremacy, and so forth, but by the power of the compassion poured out on the cross for all mankind. This is the experience of the majority of you.
I thank God for all that you are doing as followers of Jesus Christ here in Morocco, daily discovering through dialogue, cooperation and friendship the way to sow a future of hope. In this way, you will unmask and lay bare every attempt to exploit differences and ignorance in order to sow fear, hatred and conflict. For we know that fear and hatred, nurtured and manipulated, destabilize our communities and leave them spiritually defenceless.
I encourage you, then, with no other desire than to make visible the presence and love of Christ, who for our sake became poor in order to enrich us by his poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8:9): continue to be neighbours to those who are often left behind, the little ones and the poor, prisoners and migrants. May your charity be ever active and thus a path of communion between Christians of every confession present in Morocco: the ecumenism of charity. May it be also a path of dialogue and cooperation with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and with all men and women of good will. Charity, especially towards the vulnerable, is the best opportunity we have to keep working to build of a culture of encounter. May it also be a way for those who experience pain, struggles and exclusion to realize that they are members of the one human family, under the banner of fraternity. As disciples of Jesus Christ, may you, in that same spirit of dialogue and cooperation, be ever concerned to serve the advancement of justice and peace, the education of children and young people, and the protection and accompaniment of the elderly, the vulnerable, the disabled and the oppressed.
Once again, I thank all of you, brothers and sisters, for your presence and your mission here in Morocco. Thank you for your humble and discreet service, following the example of our forebears in consecrated life, among whom I want to greet your dean, Sister Ersilia. Through you, dear Sister, I offer a cordial greeting to the elderly sisters and brothers who, for reasons of health, are not physically present here, but are united to us in prayer.
All of you are witnesses of a glorious history. A history of sacrifices, hopes, daily struggles, lives spent in service, perseverance and hard work, for all work is hard, done “by the sweat of our brow”. But let me also tell you that “you have a glorious history to remember and recount, but also a great history to be accomplished! Look to the future – envisage the future – where the Holy Spirit is sending you” (Vita Consecrata, 110). In this way, you will continue to be living signs of that fraternity to which the Father has called us, without intransigence or passivity, but as believers who know that the Lord always goes before us and opens spaces of hope wherever something or someone appeared hopeless.
May the Lord bless each of you and, through you, the members of all your communities. May his Spirit help you to bear abundant fruit: the fruit of dialogue, justice, peace, truth, and love, so that here in this land which God loves, human fraternity may grow ever stronger. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!
[Four children go up beside the Pope. He says: “Voici le futur! Le maintenant et le future!

And now, let us place ourselves under the protection of the Virgin Mary by reciting the Angelus.

#BreakingNews Catholic Underground Bishop Msgr. Cui Tai - Arrested in China - Please Pray

Xuanhua underground bishop Msgr. Cui Tai arrested
The police also detained the episcopal vicar, Fr. Zhang Jianlin. A priest banned from ministry accused him of "not following the Vatican's instructions" and urged the police to arrest him. The faithful and the priests of the diocese are asking Christians worldwide for prayers for a "safe return as soon as possible". From 2007 onwards, Msgr. Cui Tai has been subjected to continuous detention or house arrest.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The underground bishop of Xuanhua (Hebei) Agostino Cui Tai, was taken away by police yesterday, faithful of the diocese report adding that the episcopal vicar, Fr. Zhang Jianlin was arrested with him.

At the moment the official reason for his arrest or the length of his detention are unknown. Msgr. Cui Tai had to struggle to assert his authority as a bishop (recognized by the Holy See) against a priest, Fr. Zhang Li, who accused him of not following the Vatican's directions.

According to Fr. Zhang Li the agreement signed between China and the Holy See establishes the end of the underground Church and from now on all the faithful and bishops must flow back into the official Church.

Strengthened by the support of the local government, Fr. Zhang Li also pushed the police to arrest the bishop.

After appealing to the "competent Holy See authority ", the episcopal vicar and then the bishop intervened by banning the priest from ministry.

After a few days, Msgr. Cui Tai was taken by police for 15 days, prompting him to lift the ban. The ban on Fr. Zhang Li from ministry is also motivated by the fact that he is the promoter of a "Pentecostal" group in ambiguous collaboration with a Protestant pastor, in which miraculous effects [of prayer] are exaggerated, and miracles invented.

According to some priests, the reason for the new arrest is precisely the fact that Msgr. Cui Tai "exposed" publicly revealing his episcopal identity: this is considered illegal, because he is recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government. The faithful and priests of the diocese ask Christians throughout the world to pray for them, hoping that they "return safely as soon as possible".

Since 2007, the authorities have illegally detained or placed Msgr. Cui Tai under house arrest almost continuously, without any reason and without any legal process.

During these years, the bishop was often locked up in various secret detention centers, or in hotels, or taken away for forced "trips" under the escort of government officials.

In these years, only during the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival (of the moon) Msgr. Cui Tai could occasionally return home for a brief visit to his elderly sister. For the rest of the time he has always remained under the guard and control of the government.

The Diocese of Xuanhua was founded by the Holy See since 1946, but in 1980 the government formed the official diocese of Zhangjiakou, joining it with that of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi. The diocese of Zhangjiakou is not recognized by the Holy See.
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Saint March 31 : St. Guy of Pomposa : Abbot

St. Guy of Pomposa (1046) was born in Italy and gave everything to the poor. He spent three years, as a hermit, on the island of Po River. He become the abbot of St. Severus. He became a much sought after spiritual adviser. His feast day is March 31.

Saint March 31 : St. Benjamin : Martyr and Deacon of Persia

St. Benjamin
Feast: March 31
Feast Day:
March 31
424 in Persia Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.

The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations,  no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."
Edited from Butler's Lives of the Saints