Saturday, September 7, 2019

Saint September 8 : Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of Jesus - Happy Birthday #MotherMary!

Feast: September 8
Information: Feast Day: September 8
Her parents
Though few commentators adhere to this view of St. Luke's genealogy, the name of Mary's father, Heli, agrees with the name given to Our Lady's father in a tradition founded upon the report of the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel which dates from the end of the second century. According to this document the parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna. Now, the name Joachim is only a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim). The tradition as to the parents of Mary, found in the Gospel of James, is reproduced by St. John Damascene [24], St. Gregory of Nyssa [25], St. Germanus of Constantinople [26], pseudo-Epiphanius [27], pseudo-Hilarius [28], and St. Fulbert of Chartres [29]. Some of these writers add that the birth of Mary was obtained by the fervent prayers of Joachim and Anna in their advanced age. As Joachim belonged to the royal family of David, so Anna is supposed to have been a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family [30].
The hometown of Mary's parents
According to Luke 1:26, Mary lived in Nazareth, a city in Galilee, at the time of the Annunciation. A certain tradition maintains that she was conceived and born in the same house in which the Word became flesh [31]. Another tradition based on the Gospel of James regards Sephoris as the earliest home of Joachim and Anna, though they are said to have lived later on in Jerusalem, in a house called by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem [32] Probatica. Probatica, a name probably derived from the sanctuary's nearness to the pond called Probatica or Bethsaida in John 5:2. It was here that Mary was born. About a century later, about A.D. 750, St. John Damascene [33] repeats the statement that Mary was born in the Probatica.
It is said that, as early as in the fifth century the empress Eudoxia built a church over the place where Mary was born, and where her parents lived in their old age. The present Church of St. Anna stands at a distance of only about 100 Feet from the pool Probatica. In 1889, 18 March, was discovered the crypt which encloses the supposed burying-place of St. Anna. Probably this place was originally a garden in which both Joachim and Anna were laid to rest. At their time it was still outside of the city walls, about 400 feet north of the Temple. Another crypt near St. Anna's tomb is the supposed birthplace of the Blessed Virgin; hence it is that in early times the church was called St. Mary of the Nativity [34]. In the Cedron Valley, near the road leading to the Church of the Assumption, is a little sanctuary containing two altars which are said to stand over the burying-places of Sts. Joachim and Anna; but these graves belong to the time of the Crusades [35]. In Sephoris too the Crusaders replaced by a large church an ancient sanctuary which stood over the legendary house of Sts. Joachim and Anna. After 1788 part of this church was restored by the Franciscan Fathers.
Her Immaculate Conception
The birth of Mary
As to the place of the birth of Our Blessed Lady, there are three different traditions to be considered.
First, the event has been placed in Bethlehem. This opinion rests on the authority of the following witnesses: it is expressed in a writing entitled "De nativ. S. Mariae" [36] inserted after the works of St. Jerome; it is more or less vaguely supposed by the Pilgrim of Piacenza, erroneously called Antoninus Martyr, who wrote about A.D. 580 [37]; finally the popes Paul II (1471), Julius II (1507), Leo X (1519), Paul III (1535), Pius IV (1565), Sixtus V (1586), and Innocent XII (1698) in their Bulls concerning the Holy House of Loreto say that the Blessed Virgin was born, educated, and greeted by the angel in the Holy House. But these pontiffs hardly wish to decide an historical question; they merely express the opinion of their respective times.
A second tradition placed the birth of Our Blessed Lady in Sephoris, about three miles north of Bethlehem, the Roman Diocaesarea, and the residence of Herod Antipas till late in the life of Our Lord. The antiquity of this opinion may be inferred from the fact that under Constantine a church was erected in Sephoris to commemorate the residence of Joachim and Anna in that place [38]. St. Epiphanius speaks of this sanctuary [39]. But this merely shows that Our Blessed Lady may have lived in Sephoris for a time with her parents, without forcing us to believe that she had been born there.
The third tradition, that Mary was born in Jerusalem, is the most probable one. We have seen that it rests upon the testimony of St. Sophronius, St. John Damascene, and upon the evidence of the recent finds in the Probatica. The Feast of Our Lady's Nativity was not celebrated in Rome till toward the end of the seventh century; but two sermons found among the writings of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 680) suppose the existence of this feast, and lead one to suspect that it was introduced at an earlier date into some other churches [40]. In 799 the 10th canon of the Synod of Salzburg prescribes four feasts in honour of the Mother of God: the Purification, 2 February; the Annunciation, 25 March; the Assumption, 15 August; the Nativity, 8 September.
The Presentation of Mary
According to Exodus 13:2 and 13:12, all the Hebrew first-born male children had to be presented in the Temple. Such a law would lead pious Jewish parents to observe the same religious rite with regard to other favourite children. This inclines one to believe that Joachim and Anna presented in the Temple their child, which they had obtained by their long, fervent prayers.
As to Mary, St. Luke (1:34) tells us that she answered the angel announcing the birth of Jesus Christ: "how shall this be done, because I know not man". These words can hardly be understood, unless we assume that Mary had made a vow of virginity; for, when she spoke them, she was betrothed to St. Joseph. [41] The most opportune occasion for such a vow was her presentation in the Temple. As some of the Fathers admit that the faculties of St. John the Baptist were prematurely developed by a special intervention of God's power, we may admit a similar grace for the child of Joachim and Anna. [42]
But what has been said does not exceed the certainty of antecedently probable pious conjectures. The consideration that Our Lord could not have refused His Blessed Mother any favours which depended merely on His munificence does not exceed the value of an a priori argument. Certainty in this question must depend on external testimony and the teaching of the Church.
Now, the Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), [43] state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa [44] and St. Germanus of Constantinople [45] adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens". [46] Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation, though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple, when she made her vow of virginity, and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church, where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church. Shortened from Text source the Catholic Encyclopedia

SEE ALSO - Novena for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Pope Francis tells Youth " We are invited to discover the face of Jesus in the faces of others" in Madagascar - Full Text + Video

(4 - 10 September 2019)



Diocesan Field of Soamandrakizay (Antananarivo)
Saturday, 7 September 2019

I thank you, Monsignor, for your words of welcome. Thank you, dear young people who have come from every part of this beautiful island, despite the efforts and difficulties that this entails for many of you. However, you are here! It gives me great joy to be able to live with you this vigil to which the Lord Jesus invites us. Thank you for the traditional songs and dances you performed with great enthusiasm - those who told me you have extraordinary joy and enthusiasm were not wrong!
Thank you, Rova Sitraka and Vavy Elyssa, for sharing your quest for aspirations and challenges with us all. How nice it is to meet two young people with a living faith, on the move! Jesus leaves our hearts always in search, puts us on the road and on the move. The disciple of Jesus, if he wants to grow in his friendship, must not remain still, to complain and look at himself. He must move, act, commit himself, sure that the Lord supports him and accompanies him.

This is why I like to see every young person as one who seeks. Do you remember the first question that Jesus asks the disciples on the bank of the Jordan? The first question was: "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38). The Lord knows that we are looking for that "happiness for which we were created" and "that the world will not be able to take away from us" (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 1; 177). Everyone expresses it in different ways, but in the end you are always looking for that happiness that no one can take away from you.

As you told us, Rova. In your heart, you had long wanted to visit prisoners. You started helping a priest in his mission and, little by little, you worked harder and harder until this became your personal mission. You have discovered that your life was missionary. This search for faith helps to make the world we live in better, more evangelical. And what you did for others transformed you, changed the way you see and judge people. It made you more just and more human. You have understood and discovered how the Lord has engaged with you, giving you a happiness that the world will not be able to take away from you (see ibid., 177).

Rova, in your mission, you have learned to give up adjectives and call people by their name, as the Lord does with us. He does not call us with our sin, our mistakes, our mistakes, our limitations, but he does it with our name; each of us is precious in his eyes. The devil, on the other hand, although knowing our names, prefers to call us and continually call us back with our sins and our mistakes; and in this way it makes us feel that, whatever we do, nothing can change, everything will remain the same. The Lord does not act this way. The Lord always reminds us of how precious we are in his eyes, and entrusts us with a mission.

Rova, you have learned to know not only the qualities, but also the stories that are hidden behind every face. You have put aside the quick and easy criticism, which always paralyzes, to learn something that so many people can take years to discover. You realized that, in many people who are in prison, there was no evil, but bad choices. They have gone the wrong way, and they know it, but now they want to start over.

This reminds us of one of the most beautiful gifts that friendship with Jesus can offer us. «He is in you, He is with you and never goes away. As far as you can get away, next to you is the Risen One, who calls you and waits for you to start over "(Esort. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 2) and to entrust you with a mission. It is the gift that he invites all of us to discover and celebrate today.
We all know, even from personal experience, that we can get lost and run after illusions that make us promises and enchant us with a flashy joy, a quick, easy and immediate joy, but that eventually leave the heart, the look and soul halfway. Watch out for those who promise you easy roads and then leave you halfway! Those illusions that, when we are young, seduce us with promises that numb us, take away our vitality, our joy, make us dependent and close us in a seemingly dead-endless circle.

A bitterness, I don't know if it is true ... but there is a risk for you to think: "It is so ... nothing can change and nobody can do anything about it". Especially when you don't have the minimum necessary to fight day by day; when the actual opportunities to study are not enough; or for those who realize that their future is blocked due to lack of work, precariousness, social injustices ..., and are therefore tempted to surrender. Be careful in front of this bitterness! Be careful!

The Lord is the first to say: no, this is not the way. He is alive and wants you to be alive too, sharing all your gifts and charisms, your research and your skills (see ibid., 1). The Lord calls us by name and tells us: "Follow me!" Not to make us run after illusions, but to transform each of us into missionary disciples here and now. He is the first to refute all the voices that try to fall asleep, to tame you, to anesthetize you or to keep quiet because you are not looking for new horizons. With Jesus, there are always new horizons. It wants to transform us all and make our life a mission. But he asks us one thing: he asks us not to be afraid of getting our hands dirty, not being afraid of getting our hands dirty.

Through you, the future enters Madagascar and the Church. The Lord is the first to trust you and also invites you to trust yourself, to trust your skills and abilities, which are many. He invites you to be courageous, united to Him to write the most beautiful page of your life, to overcome apathy and offer, like Rova, a Christian response to the many problems you face. It is the Lord who invites you to be the builders of the future (see ibid., 174). You will be the builders of the future! Invites you to bring the contribution that only you can give, with the joy and freshness of your faith. To each of you - to you, to you, to you, to you ... - I ask, and I ask you to ask yourself: can the Lord count on you? Can your Malagasy people rely on you? Can your homeland, Madagascar, count on you?

But the Lord does not want solitary adventurers. He entrusts us with a mission, yes, but he does not send us alone to the forefront.

As Vavy Elyssa said well, it is impossible to be a missionary disciple alone: ​​we need others to live and share the love and trust that the Lord gives us. The personal encounter with Jesus is irreplaceable, not in a solitary way but in community. Surely, each of us can do great things, yes; but together we can dream and commit ourselves to unimaginable things! Vavy said it clearly. We are invited to discover the face of Jesus in the faces of others: celebrating the faith in a familiar way, creating bonds of fraternity, participating in the life of a group or a movement and encouraging us to draw a common path lived in solidarity. Thus we can learn to discover and discern the paths that the Lord invites you to follow, the horizons that He prepares for you. Never isolate yourself or want to do it yourself! It's one of the worst temptations we can have.
In community, that is, together, we can learn to recognize the small daily miracles, as well as the testimonies of how beautiful it is to follow and love Jesus. And this often indirectly, as in the case of your parents, Vavy, who, although belonging to two different tribes, each with its own customs and customs, thanks to their mutual love have been able to overcome all the trials and differences, and show you a beautiful way to walk. A path that is confirmed every time they give you the fruits of the earth to be offered to the altar. How much these testimonies are needed! Or like your aunt and the catechists and the priests who have accompanied and supported them in the process of faith. Everything has helped to generate and encourage your "yes". We are all important, everyone, we are all necessary and no one can say: "I don't need you". No one can say: "I do not need you", or "you are not part of this project of love that the Father dreamed of creating us".

Now I launch you a challenge: I would like all of us to say: nobody can say: "I don't need you". Three times ... [they repeat it three times] You were good!

We are a great family - I am about to end, calmly, because it is cold ... [they laugh] - and we can discover, dear young people, that we have a Mother: the patroness of Madagascar, the Virgin Mary. I have always been struck by the strength of Mary's "yes" when she was young - she was young like you. The strength of that "happens to me according to your word" that she tells the angel. It was not a "yes" just to say, "well, let's see what happens". No. Maria did not know the expression: "Let's see what happens". You said "yes", without words. It is the "yes" of those who want to commit themselves and who are willing to take risks, who want to bet everything, without any other security than the certainty of knowing that they are bearers of a promise. That girl of Nazareth today is the Mother who watches over her children who walk in life often tired, needy, but who desire that the light of hope does not go out. This is what we want for Madagascar, for each of you and for your friends: let the light of hope not go out. Our Mother looks at this people of young people whom she loves, who also seek her by making silence in their hearts although there is much noise, conversations and distractions along the way; and they beg her that hope may not be extinguished (see Christus vivit, 44-48).

To her I want to entrust the lives of each and every one of you, your families and your friends, so that you never miss the light of hope and Madagascar may be ever more the land that the Lord has dreamed of. May she accompany you and always protect you.

And please don't forget to pray for me.

Pope Francis tells Bishops "The true shepherd instead is among the people, immersed among the people..." Full Text + Video

(4 - 10 September 2019)



Andohalo Cathedral (Antananarivo)
Saturday, 7 September 2019
Dear Brother Bishops, 
Thank you, Your Grace, for your words of welcome in the name of all your confreres. I appreciate your desire to show how the mission that we have undertaken is carried out amid contradictions: a rich land with widespread poverty; an ancestral culture and wisdom that respect the life and dignity of the human person, but also the presence of inequality and corruption. The task of a shepherd in such circumstances is not easy. 
“Sower of peace and hope”. The theme chosen for my Visit can serve as an echo of the mission with which we have been entrusted. In effect, we are sowers, and those who sow do so in hope; they do it counting on their own efforts and personal commitment, but also knowing that many other factors combine to make the seed take root, grow and finally give abundant grain. The sower may be weary and concerned, but he does not give up and stop sowing, much less burn his field when things do not turn out well... He knows how to wait, he trusts, he realizes the limitations of his sowing. But he never stops loving the field entrusted to his care. Even if he is tempted, he does not abandon it or leave it to another. 
The sower knows his land, he “touches” it, “feels” it and prepares it to produce its best. We bishops, like the sower, are called to spread seeds of faith and hope on this earth. To do so, we need to develop that “sense of smell” that can enable us to recognize more clearly whatever compromises, hinders or damages the sowing. For this reason, “the Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being. It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven. We know that God wants his children to be happy in this world too, even though they are called to fulfilment in eternity, for he has created all things ‘for our enjoyment’ (1 Tim 6:17), the enjoyment of everyone. It follows that Christian conversion demands reviewing especially those areas and aspects of life ‘related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good’. Consequently, no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society” (Evangelii Gaudium, 182-183). 

I know that you have many reasons for concern and that among these you are conscious of your responsibility to protect the dignity of your brothers and sisters who strive to build a nation of greater solidarity and prosperity, endowed with solid and stable institutions. Can a pastor worthy of that name remain indifferent before the challenges facing his fellow citizens of all social categories, regardless of their religious affiliation? Can a pastor with the heart of Jesus be indifferent to lives entrusted to his care? 
The prophetic dimension of the Church’s mission calls, always and everywhere, for a discernment that, in general, is not easy. In this regard, a prudent and independent cooperation between the Church and the state remains a constant challenge, for there is always a danger of collusion, especially if we end up losing the “zest of the Gospel”. By attentive listening to what the Spirit continues to say to the Churches (cf. Rev 2:7), we can escape pitfalls and release the ferment of the Gospel for the sake of a fruitful cooperation with civil society in the pursuit of the common good. The mark of such discernment will be that the proclamation of the Gospel demonstrates concern for all forms of poverty, not only “ensuring nourishment or a ‘dignified sustenance’ for all people, but also their ‘general temporal welfare and prosperity’. This means education, access to healthcare, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use” (Evangelii Gaudium, 192). 
The defence of the human person is yet another aspect of our pastoral responsibility. To be pastors according to God’s heart, we must be the first to choose to preach the Gospel to the poor. “There can be no room for doubt or for explanations which weaken so clear a message. Today and always, ‘the poor are the privileged recipients of the Gospel’, and the fact that it is freely preached to them is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. We have to state, without mincing words, that there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them” (ibid., 48). In other words, we have a particular duty to protect and remain close to the poor, the marginalized and the little ones, to children and those most vulnerable, to the victims of exploitation and abuse. 
This vast field is not only cleared and ploughed by the prophetic Spirit; it also awaits the seed sown with Christian patience, in the knowledge that we are neither in control of, or responsible for, the entire process. A pastor who is a sower will not try to control every detail. He will leave plenty of room for new initiatives, let things mature in their own good time, and not fit everything into one mould. He will not demand more than what is reasonable, or disregard apparently meagre results. This kind of fidelity to the Gospel also makes us pastors close to God’s people, starting with our brother priests – our closest brothers – who should be the object of our particular care. 
Not long ago, I shared with the Italian bishops my concern that our priests should see in their bishop an elder brother and a father who encourages them and supports them on their journey (cf. Address to the Italian Episcopal Conference, 20 May 2019). That is what spiritual fatherhood is; it inspires a bishop not to leave his priests orphans, but to remain close to them, not only by being always ready to receive them, but also by seeking them out and supporting them in times of difficulty. Amid the joys and challenges of their ministry, priests should see you as fathers who are always there for them, ready to offer them encouragement and support, able to appreciate their work and guide their growth. The Second Vatican Council made specific mention of this point: “Bishops should show particular affection for their priests, who take up part of their duties and concerns and devote themselves daily to them with great zeal. They should treat them as sons and friends. They should always be ready to listen to them, in an atmosphere of mutual trust, thus facilitating the pastoral work of the entire diocese” (Christus Dominus, 16). 
Caring for the earth also entails patiently awaiting the outcome of processes; at harvest time, the farmer also assesses the quality of his workers. As pastors, you have an urgent task of accompaniment and discernment, especially with regard to vocations to the consecrated life and the priesthood, one that is fundamental for ensuring the authenticity of those vocations. The harvest is plentiful and the Lord – who desires only real workers – is not limited in the ways he calls young people to make a generous gift of their lives. The training of candidates for the priesthood and the consecrated life rightly aims to ensure their growth in maturity and the purification of their intentions. In this regard, and in the spirit of the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, I would emphasize that the fundamental call, without which the others have no reason to exist, is the call to holiness and that this “holiness is the most attractive face of the Church” (No. 9). I appreciate your efforts to ensure the formation of authentic and holy workers for the abundant harvest that awaits us in the field of the Lord. 
This effort must also extend to the vast world of the lay faithful. They too are sent out to the harvest, called to cast their nets and devote their time to their own apostolate, which “in all its many aspects, is exercised both in the Church and in the world” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 9). In all its breadth, its problems and its varied situations, the world is the specific area of the apostolate where they are called, with generosity and a sense of responsibility, to bring the leaven of the Gospel. For this reason, I express my appreciation for all those initiatives that you have undertaken as pastors to provide training for lay men and women, and not to leave them alone in their mission to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In this way they will be able to contribute to the transformation of society and the life of the Church in Madagascar. 
Dear brothers, this great responsibility for the Lord’s field should challenge us to open our hearts and minds, and to banish the fear that tempts us to withdraw into ourselves and to cut ourselves off from others. Fraternal dialogue among yourselves, the sharing of gifts and cooperation between the Particular Churches of the Indian Ocean represent a path of hope. The similarity of the pastoral challenges you face, such as the protection of the environment in a Christian spirit, or the problem of immigration, calls for shared reflection and coordinated action on a large scale in devising effective approaches. 
In conclusion, I would like in a special way to greet, through you, all those priests and men and women religious who are elderly or ill. I ask you to convey to them my affection and the assurance of my prayers, and to care for them with gentle love and to confirm them in their fine mission of intercessory prayer. 
Two women protect this Cathedral. The chapel nearby holds the remains of Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo, who was able to do much good and to defend and spread the faith in difficult times. There is also the statue of the Virgin Mary, whose arms, outstretched to the valley and the hills, seem to embrace everything. Let us ask these two women always to enlarge our hearts, to teach us the maternal compassion that women, like God himself, feel for the forgotten of the earth and to help us to sow seeds of hope. 
As a sign of my constant heartfelt encouragement, I now impart to you my blessing, which I extend to all your dioceses. 
Please, do not forget to pray for me, and to ask others to do the same!
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Crowd of Nuns Full of Joy to meet Pope Francis who says with these little acts of love that “God saves the world” in Madagascar

Pope to nuns in Madagascar: Little acts of love save the world
Pope Francis departs from his prepared text and speaks from the heart during his visit on Saturday with a group of contemplative sisters in Madagascar at the Monastery of Discalced Carmelites in Antananarivo.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Pope Francis visited the Discalced Carmelite Monastery dedicated to St Joseph in Antananarivo on Saturday morning. After praying Midday Prayer with a group of 100 sisters from all over Madagascar, Pope Francis decided to leave his prepared text with them in order to speak to them from his heart.

Exquisite love
Pope Francis began by recounting a story from the life of St Therese the Little Flower that many religious and contemplatives can relate to. While St Therese helps an elderly sister to get from one place in the convent to the other, helps to feed her, etc., the older sister repays her with continual complaints. The Pope repeated several times that, notwithstanding how St Therese was being treated by the older sister, “she kept smiling”.

“This is a story that reflects a small part of what happens in community life”, the Pope said. St Therese is a model because “with the strength of obedience she carried out this task with exquisite love” to the point that St Therese was able to say to Jesus that all the parties in the world could never make her happier than even one act of love for this older sister.

It's little acts of love
The Pope then turned to a temptation commonly faced by many contemplatives who truly feel called to help their brothers and sisters, but who almost never know how their lives of prayer and sacrifice actually help them. Pope Francis said it is through these “small acts of love” and the “courage to believe” that God is pleased with these little acts of love that “God saves the world”. Dreams of changing the world, or changing religious life for the better, begins “with these little acts of love”, the Pope said. And what is more, they make God present in our midst, he said.

Love and prayer
Pope Francis then focused on another aspect of contemplative life: the daily struggle against temptation. His recommendation to the sisters is to make known to another sister, or to a superior, what is going on inside. “This is the help; this is the defense that you have in community: one helps another in order to form a united front”, he said. Convent walls or grills are helpless in keeping spiritual worldliness from entering in. “Love and prayer” are enough, Pope Francis said. St. Therese herself, the Pope reminded the sisters, was tempted even on her deathbed to the point that she thought she had lost her faith. Her experience shows us that there is no end to the daily struggle to love, to the fight against temptation, and the pursuit of holiness.

Speaking from experience
In conclusion, Pope Francis revealed that St Therese herself “accompanies an old man”, referring to himself. “She has taught me a lot of things”. Then, the Pope admitted, “at times I am a bit neurotic and I send her away”, like her older sister did. The Pope then ended, saying:

“At times I listen to her, at times…I do not listen to her well enough. But she is a faithful friend. Because of this…I wanted to share my experience of a Saint and to tell you what a saint is capable of doing and the way to become a saint.”
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#BreakingNews Hong Kong Protests continue asking for Freedom as Police use Violence - Watch Video

Hong Kong police violence on protesters (video)
by Paul Wang
A crowd of young people and parents at the Prince Edward subway station ask MTR to release footage of the evening of August 31, when police indiscriminately hit out at demonstrators and passengers, even children.  MTR refuses and decides to keep the video for three years.  Another video shows three policemen beating a defenseless and bleeding young man.  But the police say they don't see any violence.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Bullets at point blank range,  batons used on defenseless people, pepper spray on unsuspecting passengers, accusations of torture during arrests and even rumors of killings of people during demonstrations.

Hong Kong's social networks are full of videos and photographs that point the finger at the local police, once famed for their fair play.  With the rise of anti-extradition demonstrations, the police have raised the level of violence, partly justified by the clashes with the most radical fringes of the movement, partly to exercise fear especially on young people, who form the majority of protesters.

For this reason, one of the essential demands expressed by the movement is that there be an independent inquiry into the excessive use of force exerted by the police.  The request was first formulated last June even by Christian leaders and remains an unmovable point even after Chief executive Carrie Lam's refusal.Two days ago she definitively canceled the extradition law, but did not  accept the other demands put forward by the population, despite saying she was open to dialogue

Still, two episodes of police violence have particularly shaken public opinion: the unjustified attack by law enforcement officers at the Prince Edward subway station last August 31, and the bloody beating of a young protester near Causeway Bay  last 11 August.

On August 31, dozens of policemen in riot gear descended on the Prince Edward subway platform and started beating young people with sticks and threatening them with weapons;  they entered the carriages and indiscriminately beat the people inside, including children, to the point they were bleeding and sprayed pepper spray (see video 1).

The government defends itself by saying that the demonstrators were vandalizing the station, attacking passengers and employees and that the police came in to "stop all violent acts and arrest the guilty".  Late in the evening the metro company (MTR Corporation) closed the station for two days.

But today, a crowd of young people and parents gathered at Prince Edward station (photo 2) asking the MTR to release the videos of the evening in question.  Many young people knelt in front of the manager's office, but the authorities refused to make the videos public and said they wanted to keep them undisclosed for three years.  Videos can usually be released after 28 days.

The other episode happened on 11 August (photo 1): around 10 pm, there were some clashes between demonstrators and other men who were later identified as policemen disguised as protesters, in what is called a "decoy operation" to arrest the most active young people.  Three policemen - two dressed as demonstrators, another in riot gear - blocked a young man on the ground.  Standing with his knees on his body, one of them hit him in the head with his club.  On the video (see video 2) we see a small puddle of blood, with the young man apologizing for being released and the police chasing away reporters and bystanders.  Later it became known that the young man is called Chow Ka-lok.  He was arrested and only after three hours he was taken to the North District Hospital, where he was treated for injuries to his right eyebrow and nose.  He was later accused of assaulting a policeman, but was released on bail.

Two days ago, Steve Li, police superintendent for the Crime and Mafia Office, chased by journalists on this case, said that "the truncheon did not hit the boy's head" and that when you watch the video "everyone sees things  differently".

Video credit: HKFP - FULL TEXT Source: AsiaNews.IT

Bishops in the Philippines Applauded the court's decision to reject legalization of same-sex Marriage

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "With the decision not to legalize same-sex marriage, our judges affirmed what is right, reaffirming the natural and ethical form of marriage. The dismissal of same-sex marriage strengthens the sanctity and stability of marriage in the Philippines": said to Agenzia Fides Bishop Ruperto Santos, at the head of the diocese of Balanga, who applauded the court's decision to reject a controversial petition that sought to legalize same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court, in its ruling on 3 September, dismissed what it described was a "premature" petition seeking to legalize same-sex marriage. Several Filipino bishops intervened after the sentence, reiterating that same-sex relationships cannot be legalized with a marriage, neither religious nor civil. Bishop Arturo Bastes, of the diocese of Sorsogon, described the attempt as "immoral", praising the Supreme Court for defending the "true nature of marriage". Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo called the court decision a "good development for the country". The fight against same-sex marriage will be in the legislature. "I hope lawmakers will give weight to strengthening families rather than weakening them". A Catholic secular leader, Mary Jane Castillo, told Fides: "The Supreme Court sentence is laudable. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman, according to natural law. And the legislation of the Philippines follows that provision". (SD) (Full Text Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2019)

Pope Francis in Madagascar tells Civil Leaders "... foster the development of each person and of the whole person” FULL TEXT + Video

Pope addresses Madagascar’s civil authorities: Full text
Pope Francis greets Madagascar’s civil authorities, diplomatic corps, and representatives of civil society, inviting them to promote the integral human development of everyone in the country. The full text of the Pope’s prepared remarks is below:
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with Authorities, the Diplomatic Corps, and Representatives of Civil Society
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Thursday, 5 September 2019

Mr President,
Mr Prime Minister,
Members of the Government and the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Authorities,
Representatives of the different Religious Confessions and of Civil Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I offer a cordial greeting to the President of the Republic of Madagascar.  I thank you, Mr President, for your kind invitation to visit this beautiful country, and for your words of welcome.  I likewise greet His Excellency the Prime Minister, the members of the Government and the Diplomatic Corps and the representatives of civil society.  I also address a fraternal greeting to the Bishops and members of the Catholic Church, and to the representatives of other Christian confessions and of the different religions.  I express my gratitude to all those persons and institutions who have made this visit possible, and in particular to the Madagascan people, who have welcomed us with impressive hospitality.

In the Preamble of the Constitution of your Republic, you wished to enshrine one of the fundamental values of Madagascan culture: fihavanana, a word that evokes the spirit of sharing, mutual help and solidarity. It also evokes the importance of family, friendship and goodwill between people and with nature.  It reveals the “soul” of your people, its distinctive identity that has enabled it to face with courage and self-sacrifice the various problems and hardships it faces daily.  If we must recognize, esteem and appreciate this blessed land for its beauty and its priceless natural resources, we must do the same for this “soul”, which, as Father Antoine de Padoue Rahajarizafy, SJ, has rightly observed, has given you the strength to keep embracing “aina”, life.

Ever since your nation recovered its independence, it has aspired to stability and peace, through a fruitful democratic alternation that shows respect for the complementarity of styles and visions.  This demonstrates that “politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions” (Message for the 2019 World Day of Peace, 1 January 2019), when it is practised as a means of serving society as a whole.  Clearly, political office and political responsibility represent a constant challenge for those entrusted with the mission of serving and protecting their fellow citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, and of favouring conditions for a dignified and just development involving all the actors of civil society.  As Saint Paul VI noted, the development of a nation “cannot be restricted to economic growth alone.  To be authentic, it must be integral; it must foster the development of each person and of the whole person” (Populorum Progressio, 14).

In this regard, I would encourage you to fight with strength and determination against all endemic forms of corruption and speculation that increase social disparity, and to confront the situations of great instability and exclusion that always create conditions of inhumane poverty.  Here we see the need to establish the various structural mediations that can assure a better division of income and an integral development of all, particularly those most poor.  That development cannot be limited to organized structures of social assistance, but also demands the recognition of subjects of law called to share fully in building their future (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 204-205).

We have also come to realize that we cannot speak of integral development without showing consideration and care for our common home.  This calls not only for finding ways to preserve natural resources, but also for seeking “comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems.  We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (Laudato Si’, 139).

Your lovely island of Madagascar is rich in plant and animal biodiversity, yet this treasure is especially threatened by excessive deforestation, from which some profit.  The deterioration of that biodiversity compromises the future of the country and of the earth, our common home.  As you know, the last forests are menaced by forest fires, poaching, the unrestricted cutting down of valuable woodlands.  Plant and animal biodiversity is endangered by contraband and illegal exportation.  It is also true, however, that, for the peoples concerned, a number of activities harmful to the environment at present ensure their survival.  So it is important to create jobs and activities that generate income, while protecting the environment and helping people to emerge from poverty.  In a word, there can be no true ecological approach or effective efforts to safeguard the environment without the attainment of a social justice capable of respecting the right to the common destination of earth’s goods, not only of present generations, but also of those yet to come.

In this regard, it is incumbent on all to be involved, including the international community, many of whose members are present here today.  It must be admitted that the aid provided by international organizations for the development of the country is great, and shows Madagascar’s openness to the larger world.  Yet that openness can risk turning into a presumptive “universal culture” that scorns, submerges and suppresses the cultural patrimony of individual peoples.  An economic globalization, whose limitations are increasingly evident, should not lead to cultural uniformity.  If we participate in a process respectful of local values and ways of life and of the expectations of citizens, we will ensure that the aid furnished by the international community will not be the sole guarantee of a country’s development.  The people itself will progressively take charge and become the artisan of its own future.

That is why we should show particular attention and respect for local civil society.  In supporting its initiatives and its actions, the voice of those who have no voice will come to be heard, together with the diverse and even dissonant harmonies of the national community in its efforts to achieve unity.  I invite you to imagine this path, on which no one is swept aside, or left alone or becomes lost.

As a Church, we wish to imitate the attitude of dialogue of your fellow citizen, Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo, whom Saint John Paul II beatified during his visit here thirty years ago.  Her witness of love for this land and its traditions, her service to the poor as a sign of her faith in Jesus Christ, show us the path that we too are called to pursue.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to reaffirm the desire and the readiness of the Catholic Church in Madagascar, in ongoing dialogue with Christians of other confessions, the followers of the various religions and all the elements of civil society, to contribute to the dawn of a true fraternity that will always value fihavanana.  In this way an integral human development can be fostered, so that no one will be excluded.

With this hope, I ask God to bless Madagascar and those who live here, to keep your lovely island peaceful and welcoming, and to make it prosperous and happy!

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Today's Mass Readings and Video : #1stSaturday, September 7, 2019 - #Eucharist

Saturday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 436

Reading 1COL1:21-23

Brothers and sisters:
You once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds;
God has now reconciled you
in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death,
to present you holy, without blemish,
and irreproachable before him,
provided that you persevere in the faith,
firmly grounded, stable,
and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard,
which has been preached to every creature under heaven,
of which I, Paul, am a minister.

Responsorial PsalmPS 54:3-4, 6 AND 8

R.(6) God himself is my help.
O God, by your name save me,
and by your might defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer;
hearken to the words of my mouth.
R. God himself is my help.
Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord sustains my life.
Freely will I offer you sacrifice;
I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness.
R. God himself is my help.

AlleluiaJN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 6:1-5

While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath,
his disciples were picking the heads of grain,
rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.
Some Pharisees said,
“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you not read what David did
when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering,
which only the priests could lawfully eat,
ate of it, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”