Thursday, September 12, 2019

Saint September 13 : St. John Chrysostom a Doctor of the Church and the Patron of Education, Epilepsy and Preachers -

(Chrysostomos, "golden-mouthed" so called on account of his eloquence).
Doctor of the Church, born at Antioch, c. 347; died at Commana in Pontus, 14 September, 407.
John — whose surname "Chrysostom" occurs for the first time in the "Constitution" of Pope Vigilius (cf. P.L., LX, 217) in the year 553 — is generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in a Christian pulpit. His natural gifts, as well as exterior circumstances, helped him to become what he was.
Life Boyhood
At the time of Chrysostom's birth, Antioch was the second city of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. During the whole of the fourth century religious struggles had troubled the empire and had found their echo at Antioch. Pagans, Manichaeans, Gnostics, Arians, Apollinarians, Jews, made their proselytes at Antioch, and the Catholics were themselves separated by the schism between the bishops Meletius and Paulinus. Thus Chrysostom's youth fell in troubled times. His father, Secundus, was an officer of high rank in the Syrian army. On his death soon after the birth of John, Anthusa, his wife, only twenty years of age, took the sole charge of her two children, John and an elder sister. Fortunately she was a woman of intelligence and character. She not only instructed her son in piety, but also sent him to the best schools of Antioch, though with regard to morals and religion many objections could be urged against them. Beside the lectures of Andragatius, a philosopher not otherwise known, Chrysostom followed also those of Libanius, at once the most famous orator of that period and the most tenacious adherent of the declining paganism of Rome. As we may see from the later writings of Chrysostom, he attained then considerable Greek scholarship and classical culture, which he by no means disowned in his later days. His alleged hostility to classical learning is in reality but a misunderstanding of certain passages in which he defends the philosophia of Christianity against the myths of the heathen gods, of which the chief defenders in his time were the representatives and teachers of the sophia ellenike (see A. Naegele in "Byzantin. Zeitschrift", XIII, 73-113; Idem, "Chrysostomus und Libanius" in Chrysostomika, I, Rome, 1908, 81-142). Chrysostom as lector and monk
It was a very decisive turning-point in the life of Chrysostom when he met one day (about 367) the bishop Meletius. The earnest, mild, and winning character of this man captivated Chrysostom in such a measure that he soon began to withdraw from classical and profane studies and to devote himself to an ascetic and religious life. He studied Holy Scripture and frequented the sermons of Meletius. About three years later he received Holy Baptism and was ordained lector. But the young cleric, seized by the desire of a more perfect life, soon afterwards entered one of the ascetic societies near Antioch, which was under the spiritual direction of Carterius and especially of the famous Diodorus, later Bishop of Tarsus (see Palladius, "Dialogus", v; Sozomenus, Church History VIII.2). Prayer, manual labour and the study of Holy Scripture were his chief occupations, and we may safely suppose that his first literary works date from this time, for nearly all his earlier writings deal with ascetic and monastic subjects [cf. below Chrysostom writings: (1) "Opuscuia"]. Four years later, Chrysostom resolved to live as an anchorite in one of the caves near Antioch. He remained there two years, but then as his health was quite ruined by indiscreet watchings and fastings in frost and cold, he prudently returned to Antioch to regain his health, and resumed his office as lector in the church.
Chrysostom as deacon and priest at Antioch
As the sources of the life of Chrysostom give an incomplete chronology, we can but approximately determine the dates for this Antiochene period. Very probably in the beginning of 381 Meletius made him deacon, just before his own departure to Constantinople, where he died as president of the Second Ecumenical Council. The successor of Meletius was Flavian (concerning whose succession see F. Cavallera, "Le Schime d'Antioche", Paris, 1905). Ties of sympathy and friendship connected Chrysostom with his new bishop. As deacon he had to assist at the liturgical functions, to look after the sick and poor, and was probably charged also in some degree with teaching catechumens. At the same time he continued his literary work, and we may suppose that he composed his most famous book, "On the Priesthood", towards the end of this period (c. 386, see Socrates, Church History VI.3), or at latest in the beginning of his priesthood (c. 387, as Nairn with good reasons puts it, in his edition of "De Sacerd.", xii-xv). There may be some doubt if it was occasioned by a real historical fact, viz., that Chrysostom and his friend Basil were requested to accept bishoprics (c. 372). All the earliest Greek biographers seem not to have taken it in that sense. In the year 386 Chrysostom was ordained priest by Flavian, and from that dates his real importance in ecclesiastical history. His chief task during the next twelve years was that of preaching, which he had to exercise either instead of or with Bishop Flavian. But no doubt the larger part of the popular religious instruction and education devolved upon him. The earliest notable occasion which showed his power of speaking and his great authority was the Lent of 387, when he delivered his sermons "On the Statues" (P.G., XLVIII, 15, xxx.). The people of Antioch, excited by the levy of new taxes, had thrown down the statues of Emperor Theodosius. In the panic and fear of punishment which followed, Chrysostom delivered a series of twenty or twenty-one (the nineteenth is probably not authentic) sermons, full of vigour, consolatory, exhortative, tranquilizing, until Flavian, the bishop, brought back from Constantinople the emperor's pardon. But the usual preaching of Chrysostom consisted in consecutive explanations of Holy Scripture. To that custom, unhappily no longer in use, we owe his famous and magnificent commentaries, which offer us such an inexhaustible treasure of dogmatic, moral, and historical knowledge of the transition from the fourth to the fifth century. These years, 386-98, were the period of the greatest theological productivity of Chrysostom, a period which alone would have assured him for ever a place among the first Doctors of the Church. A sign of this may be seen in the fact that in the year 392 St. Jerome already accorded to the preacher of Antioch a place among his Viri illustres ("De Viris ill.", 129, in P.L., XXIII, 754), referring expressly to the great and successful activity of Chrysostom as a theological writer. From this same fact we may infer that during this time his fame had spread far beyond the limits of Antioch, and that he was well known in the Byzantine Empire, especially in the capital. St. Chrysostom as bishop of Constantinople In the ordinary course of things Chrysostom might have become the successor of Flavian at Antioch. But on 27 September 397, Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople, died. There was a general rivalry in the capital, openly or in secret, for the vacant see. After some months it was known, to the great disappointment of the competitors, that Emperor Areadius, at the suggestion of his minister Eutropius, had sent to the Prefect of Antioch to call John Chrysostom out of the town without the knowledge of the people, and to send him straight to Constantinople. In this sudden way Chrysostom was hurried to the capital, and ordained Bishop of Constantinople on 26 February, 398, in the presence of a great assembly of bishops, by Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who had been obliged to renounce the idea of securing the appointment of Isidore, his own candidate. The change for Chrysostom was as great as it was unexpected. His new position was not an easy one, placed as he was in the midst of an upstart metropolis, half Western, half Oriental, in the neighbourhood of a court in which luxury and intrigue always played the most prominent parts, and at the head of the clergy composed of most heterogeneous elements, and even (if not canonically, at least practically) at the head of the whole Byzantine episcopate. The first act of the new bishop was to bring about a reconciliation between Flavian and Rome. Constantinople itself soon began to feel the impulse of a new ecclesiastical life.
The necessity for reform was undeniable. Chrysostom began "sweeping the stairs from the top" (Palladius, op. cit., v). He called his oeconomus, and ordered him to reduce the expenses of the episcopal household; he put an end to the frequent banquets, and lived little less strictly than he had formerly lived as a priest and monk. With regard to the clergy, Chrysostom had at first to forbid them to keep in their houses syneisactoe, i.e. women housekeepers who had vowed virginity. He also proceeded against others who, by avarice or luxury, had given scandal. He had even to exclude from the ranks of the clergy two deacons, the one for murder and the other for adultery. Of the monks, too, who were very numerous even at that time at Constantinople, some had preferred to roam about aimlessly and without discipline. Chrysostom confined them to their monasteries. Finally he took care of the ecclesiastical widows. Some of them were living in a worldly manner: he obliged them either to marry again, or to observe the rules of decorum demanded by their state. After the clergy, Chrysostom turned his attention to his flock. As he had done at Antioch, so at Constantinople and with more reason, he frequently preached against the unreasonable extravagances of the rich, and especially against the ridiculous finery in the matter of dress affected by women whose age should have put them beyond such vanities. Some of them, the widows Marsa, Castricia, Eugraphia, known for such preposterous tastes, belonged to the court circle. It seems that the upper classes of Constantinople had not previously been accustomed to such language. Doubtless some felt the rebuke to be intended for themselves, and the offence given was the greater in proportion as the rebuke was the more deserved. On the other hand, the people showed themselves delighted with the sermons of their new bishop, and frequently applauded him in the church (Socrates, Church History VI). They never forgot his care for the poor and miserable, and that in his first year he had built a great hospital with the money he had saved in his household. But Chrysostom had also very intimate friends among the rich and noble classes. The most famous of these was Olympias, widow and deaconess, a relation of Emperor Theodosius, while in the Court itself there was Brison, first usher of Eudoxia, who assisted Chrysostom in instructing his choirs, and always maintained a true friendship for him. The empress herself was at first most friendly towards the new bishop. She followed the religious processions, attended his sermons, and presented silver candlesticks for the use of the churches (Socrates, op. cit., VI, 8; Sozomenus, op. cit., VIII, 8).
Unfortunately, the feelings of amity did not last. At first Eutropius, the former slave, now minister and consul, abused his influence. He deprived some wealthy persons of their property, and prosecuted others whom he suspected of being adversaries of rivals. More than once Chrysostom went himself to the minister (see "Oratio ad Eutropium" in P.G., Chrys. Op., III, 392) to remonstrate with him, and to warn him of the results of his own acts, but without success. Then the above-named ladies, who immediately surrounded the empress, probably did not hide their resentment against the strict bishop. Finally, the empress herself committed an injustice in depriving a widow of her vineyard (Marcus Diac., "Vita Porphyrii", V, no. 37, in P.G., LXV, 1229). Chrysostom interceded for the latter. But Eudoxia showed herself offended. Henceforth there was a certain coolness between the imperial Court and the episcopal palace, which, growing little by little, led to a catastrophe. It is impossible to ascertain exactly at what period this alienation first began; very probably it dated from the beginning of the year 401. But before this state of things became known to the public there happened events of the highest political importance, and Chrysostom, without seeking it, was implicated in them. These were the fall of Eutropius and the revolt of Gainas.
In January, 399, Eutropius, for a reason not exactly known, fell into disgrace. Knowing the feelings of the people and of his personal enemies, he fled to the church. As he had himself attempted to abolish the immunity of the ecclesiastical asylums not long before, the people seemed little disposed to spare him. But Chrysostom interfered, delivering his famous sermon on Eutropius, and the fallen minister was saved for the moment. As, however, he tried to escape during the night, he was seized, exiled, and some time later put to death. Immediately another more exciting and more dangerous event followed. Gainas, one of the imperial generals, had been sent out to subdue Tribigild, who had revolted. In the summer of 399 Gainas united openly with Tribigild, and, to restore peace, Arcadius had to submit to the most humiliating conditions. Gainas was named commander-in-chief of the imperial army, and even had Aurelian and Saturninus, two men of the highest rank at Constantinople, delivered over to him. It seems that Chrysostom accepted a mission to Gainas, and that, owing to his intervention, Aurelian and Saturninus were spared by Gainas, and even set at liberty. Soon afterwards, Gainas, who was an Arian Goth, demanded one of the Catholic churches at Constantinople for himself and his soldiers. Again Chrysostom made so energetic an opposition that Gainas yielded. Meanwhile the people of Constantinople had become excited, and in one night several thousand Goths were slain. Gainas however escaped, was defeated, and slain by the Huns. Such was the end within a few years of three consuls of the Byzantine Empire. There is no doubt that Chrysostom's authority had been greatly strengthened by the magnanimity and firmness of character he had shown during all these troubles. It may have been this that augmented the jealousy of those who now governed the empire — a clique of courtiers, with the empress at their head. These were now joined by new allies issuing from the ecclesiastical ranks and including some provincial bishops — Severian of Gabala, Antiochus of Ptolemais, and, for some time, Acacius of Beroea — who preferred the attractions of the capital to residence in their own cities (Socrates, op. cit., VI, 11; Sozomenus, op. cit., VIII, 10). The most intriguing among them was Severian, who flattered himself that he was the rival of Chrysostom in eloquence. But so far nothing had transpired in public. A great change occurred during the absence of Chrysostom for several months from Constantinople. This absence was necessitated by an ecclesiastical affair in Asia Minor, in which he was involved. Following the express invitation of several bishops, Chrysostom, in the first months of 401, had come to Ephesus, where he appointed a new archbishop, and with the consent of the assembled bishops deposed six bishops for simony. After having passed the same sentence on Bishop Gerontius of Nicomedia, he returned to Constantinople.
 Meanwhile disagreeable things had happened there. Bishop Severian, to whom Chrysostom seems to have entrusted the performance of some ecclesiastical functions, had entered into open enmity with Serapion, the archdeacon and oeconomus of the cathedral and the episcopal palace. Whatever the real reason may have been, Chrysostom, found the case so serious that he invited Severian to return to his own see. It was solely owing to the personal interference of Eudoxia, whose confidence Serapion possessed, that he was allowed to come back from Chalcedon, whither he had retired. The reconciliation which followed was, at least on the part of Severian, not a sincere one, and the public scandal had excited much ill-feeling. The effects soon became visible. When in the spring of 402, Bishop Porphyrius of Gaza (see Marcus Diac., "Vita Porphyrii", V, ed. Nuth, Bonn, 1897, pp. 11-19) went to the Court at Constantinople to obtain a favour for his diocese, Chrysostom answered that he could do nothing for him, since he was himself in disgrace with the empress. Nevertheless, the party of malcontents were not really dangerous, unless they could find some prominent and unscrupulous leader. Such a person presented himself sooner than might have been expected. It was the well-known Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria. He appeared under rather curious circumstances, which in no way foreshadowed the final result. Theophilus, toward the end of the year 402, was summoned by the emperor to Constantinople to apologize before a synod, over which Chrysostom should preside, for several charges, which were brought against him by certain Egyptian monks, especially by the so-called four "tall brothers". The patriarch, their former friend, had suddenly turned against them, and had them persecuted as Origenists (Palladius, "Dialogus", xvi; Socrates, op. cit., VI, 7; Sozomenus, op. cit., VIII, 12). However, Theophilus was not easily frightened. He had always agents and friends at Constantinople, and knew the state of things and the feelings at the court. He now resolved to take advantage of them. He wrote at once to St. Epiphanius at Cyprus, requesting him to go to Constantinople and prevail upon Chrysostom at to condemn the Origenists. Epiphanius went. But when he found that Theophilus was merely using him for his own purposes, he left the capital, dying on his return in 403. At this time Chrysostom delivered a sermon against the vain luxury of women. It was reported to the empress as though she had been personally alluded to. In this way the ground was prepared. Theophilus at last appeared at Constantinople in June, 403, not alone, as he had been commanded, but with twenty-nine of his suffragan bishops, and, as Palladius (ch. viii) tells us, with a good deal of money and all sorts of gifts. He took his lodgings in one of the imperial palaces, and held conferences with all the adversaries of Chrysostom. Then he retired with his suffragans and seven other bishops to a villa near Constantinople, called epi dryn (see Ubaldi, "La Synodo ad Quercum", Turin, 1902). A long list of the most ridiculous accusations was drawn up against Chrysostom (see Photius, "Bibliotheca", 59, in P.G., CIII, 105-113), who, surrounded by forty-two archbishops and bishops assembled to judge Theophilus in accordance with the orders of the emperor, was now summoned to present himself and apologize. Chrysostom naturally refused to recognize the legality of a synod in which his open enemies were judges. After the third summons Chrysostom, with the consent of the emperor, was declared to be deposed. In order to avoid useless bloodshed, he surrendered himself on the third day to the soldiers who awaited him. But the threats of the excited people, and a sudden accident in the imperial palace, frightened the empress (Palladius, "Dialogus", ix). She feared some punishment from heaven for Chrysostom's exile, and immediately ordered his recall. After some hesitation Chrysostom re-entered the capital amid the great rejoicings of the people. Theophilus and his party saved themselves by flying from Constantinople. Chrysostom's return was in itself a defeat for Eudoxia. When her alarms had gone, her rancour revived. Two months afterwards a silver statue of the empress was unveiled in the square just before the cathedral. The public celebrations which attended this incident, and lasted several days, became so boisterous that the offices in the church were disturbed. Chrysostom complained of this to the prefect of the city, who reported to Eudoxia that the bishop had complained against her statue. This was enough to excite the empress beyond all bounds. She summoned Theophilus and the other bishops to come back and to depose Chrysostom again. The prudent patriarch, however, did not wish to run the same risk a second time. He only wrote to Constantinople that Chrysostom should be condemned for having re-entered his see in opposition to an article of the Synod of Antioch held in the year 341 (an Arian synod). The other bishops had neither the authority nor the courage to give a formal judgment. All they could do was to urge the emperor to sign a new decree of exile. A double attempt on Chrysostom's life failed. On Easter Eve, 404, when all the catechumens were to receive baptism, the adversaries of the bishop, with imperial soldiers, invaded the baptistery and dispersed the whole congregation. At last Arcadius signed the decree, and on 24 June, 404, the soldiers conducted Chrysostom a second time into exile.
Exile and death
They had scarcely left Constantinople when a huge conflagration destroyed the cathedral, the senate-house, and other buildings. The followers of the exiled bishop were accused of the crime and prosecuted. In haste Arsacius, an old man, was appointed successor of Chrysostom, but was soon succeeded by the cunning Atticus. Whoever refused to enter into communion with them was punished by confiscation of property and exile. Chrysostom himself was conducted to Cucusus, a secluded and rugged place on the east frontier of Armenia, continually exposed to the invasions of the Isaurians. In the following year he had even to fly for some time to the castle of Arabissus to protect himself from these barbarians. Meanwhile he always maintained a correspondence with his friends and never gave up the hope of return. When the circumstances of his deposition were known in the West, the pope and the Italian bishops declared themselves in his favour. Emperor Honorius and Pope Innocent I endeavoured to summon a new synod, but their legates were imprisoned and then sent home. The pope broke off all communion with the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch (where an enemy of Chrysostom had succeeded Flavian), and Constantinople, until (after the death of Chrysostom) they consented to admit his name into the diptychs of the Church. Finally all hopes for the exiled bishop had vanished. Apparently he was living too long for his adversaries. In the summer, 407, the order was given to carry him to Pithyus, a place at the extreme boundary of the empire, near the Caucasus. One of the two soldiers who had to lead him caused him all possible sufferings. He was forced to make long marches, was exposed to the rays of the sun, to the rains and the cold of the nights. His body, already weakened by several severe illnesses, finally broke down. On 14 September the party were at Comanan in Pontus. In the morning Chrysostom had asked to rest there on the account of his state of health. In vain; he was forced to continue his march. Very soon he felt so weak that they had to return to Comana. Some hours later Chrysostom died. His last words were: Doxa to theo panton eneken (Glory be to God for all things) (Palladius, xi, 38). He was buried at Comana. On 27 January, 438, his body was translated to Constantinople with great pomp, and entombed in the church of the Apostles where Eudoxia had been buried in the year 404 (see Socrates, VII, 45; Constantine Prophyrogen., "Cæremoniale Aul Byz.", II, 92, in P.G., CXII, 1204 B).
|Shortened from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Pope Francis tells new Bishops "We have to announce ...a love without measure.... the boundless horizon of God's mercy." Full Text


Sala Clementina
Thursday, 12 September 2019

Dear brothers, good morning.

I welcome you to this final meeting of your pilgrimage to Rome, organized by the Congregations for Bishops and for the Eastern Churches. I thank the Cardinals Ouellet and Sandri for their commitment in organizing these days.

Together, as new members of the Episcopal College, you came down a little while ago to the tomb of Peter, the "trophy" of the Church of Rome. There you confessed the same faith as the Apostle. It is not a theory or a compendium of doctrines, but a person, Jesus. His face makes us close to God's gaze. Our world seeks, even unknowingly, this divine closeness. He is the mediator. Without this proximity of love the foundation of reality wavers; the Church itself gets lost when it loses the vivifying tenderness of the Good Shepherd. Here you have entrusted your Churches, for them you have repeated with Jesus: "offered body and blood shed for you". We know of no other strength than this, the strength of the Good Shepherd, the strength to give life, to bring Love closer to love. Here is our mission: to be for the Church and for the world "sacraments" of the proximity of God. I would therefore like to tell you something about closeness, essential for every minister of God and above all for the Bishops. Proximity to God and closeness to his people.

Closeness to God is the source of the Bishop's ministry. God loves us, he got closer than we could imagine, he took our flesh to save us. This announcement is the heart of faith, it must precede and animate all our initiatives. We exist to make this closeness palpable. But one cannot communicate God's closeness without experiencing it, without experiencing it every day, without letting oneself be infected by his tenderness. Every day, without saving time, we must stand before Jesus, bring him people, situations, like channels that are always open between Him and our people. With prayer we give the Lord citizenship where we live. Let us feel, like Saint Paul, tent-makers (see Acts 18: 3): apostles who allow the Lord to live among his people (see Jn 1:14).

Without this personal confidence, without this intimacy cultivated every day in prayer, even and especially in the hours of desolation and aridity, the core of our episcopal mission is unfolding. Without the closeness to the Sower, it will seem to us a little rewarding the effort to throw the seed without knowing the harvest time. Without the Sower, it will be difficult to accompany the slow maturation with patient confidence. Without Jesus, there comes the distrust that He will not complete his work; without Him, sooner or later, one slips into the pessimistic melancholy of those who say: "everything is bad". It is bad to hear a bishop say this! Only by being with Jesus we are preserved from the Pelagian presumption that good derives from our skill. Only by staying with Jesus does the profound peace that our brothers and sisters seek from us reach our hearts.

And from closeness to God to closeness to his people. Being close to the God of proximity, we grow in the awareness that our identity consists in making ourselves close. It is not an external obligation, but it is an internal requirement of the logic of the gift. "This is my Body offered for you", we say at the highest moment of the Eucharistic offering for our people. Our life springs from here and leads us to become broken loaves for the life of the world. Then the proximity to the people entrusted to us is not an opportunist strategy, but our essential condition. Jesus loves to approach his brothers through us, through our open hands that caress and console; of our words, pronounced to anoint the world of the Gospel and not of ourselves; of our heart, when we are burdened with the anguishes and joys of our brothers. Even in our poverty, it is up to us that no one feels God as distant, that no one takes God as a pretext for raising walls, tearing down bridges and sowing hatred. It is ugly even when a bishop breaks down bridges, sows hatred or distrust, acts as a counter-bishop. We have to announce with life a measure of life different from that of the world: the measure of a love without measure, which does not look to its own profit and to its own advantages, but to the boundless horizon of God's mercy.
The Bishop's closeness is not rhetoric. It is not made up of self-referential proclamations, but of real availability. God surprises us and often loves to upset our agenda: be prepared for this without fear. Proximity knows concrete verbs, those of the good Samaritan: seeing, that is, not looking from the other side, not pretending nothing, not leaving people waiting and not hiding problems under the carpet. So get close to each other, stay in contact with people, dedicate time to them more than at the desk, don't fear contact with reality, to know and embrace. Then, bind up the wounds, take charge, take care, spend (see Lk 10.29-37). Each of these verbs of proximity is a milestone in the journey of a Bishop with his people. Everyone asks to get involved and get their hands dirty. To be close is to empathize with the people of God, to share their pains, not to disdain their hopes. To be close to the people is to trust that the grace that God faithfully pours into, and of which we are channels even through the crosses we carry, is greater than the mud of which we are afraid. Please do not let fear of the risks of the ministry prevail, by retracting and keeping your distance. Your Churches mark your identity, because God has combined their destinies, pronouncing your name together with theirs.

The thermometer of closeness is attention to the least, to the poor, which is already an announcement of the Kingdom. Your sobriety will also be so, in a time in which in many parts of the world everything is reduced to a means to satisfy secondary needs, which engulf and sclerotize the heart. Making a simple life is witnessing that Jesus is enough for us and that the treasure of which we want to surround ourselves is constituted rather by those who, in their poverty, remind us of and represent Him again: not abstract poor, data and social categories, but concrete persons, whose dignity it is entrusted to us as their fathers. Fathers of concrete people; that is paternity, ability to see, concreteness, ability to caress, ability to cry.

It seems that today there are stethoscopes that can hear a heart a meter away. We need Bishops capable of feeling the beat of their communities and their priests, even from a distance: feel the pulse. Pastors who are not satisfied with formal presences, table meetings or circumstantial dialogues. I am reminded of pastors so self-cared for that they look like distilled water, which knows nothing. Apostles of listening, who know how to listen even to what is not pleasant to hear. Please do not surround yourself with bagmen and yes men ... the "climbing" priests who are always looking for ... no, please. Do not crave to be confirmed by those of you who have to confirm. There are many forms of closeness to your Churches. In particular I would like to encourage regular pastoral visits: to visit frequently, to meet people and pastors; visit following the example of the Madonna, who wasted no time and got up to go quickly to her cousin. The Mother of God shows us that to visit is to bring near He who makes one jump with joy, is to bring the comfort of the Lord who does great things among the humble of his people (see Lk 1,39 ff).

Finally, I ask you again to reserve the greatest closeness to your priests: the priest is the closest neighbor of the bishop. Love the next neighbor. Please embrace them, thank them and encourage them on my behalf. They too are exposed to the elements of a world that, despite being tired of darkness, does not spare hostility to light. They need to be loved, followed, encouraged: God does not wish them half measures, but a total yes. In shallow waters it stagnates, but their life is made to take off. Like yours. Courage, therefore, dear brothers! I thank you and bless you. Please remember to pray every day for me too. Thank you.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation from Italian

Litany to the Holy Name of Mary and Special Prayers to Share honoring Mary with Indulgences

The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary was established by Pope Innocent XI upon the victory of Christian forces against the Moslems beseiging Vienna in 1683. This litany, reflecting the nature of the feast, is for private devotion.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.

Heavenly Father, of Whom Mary is the Daughter, have mercy on us.
Eternal Word, of Whom Mary is the Mother...
Holy Spirit, of Whom Mary is the Spouse...
Divine Trinity, of Whom Mary is the Handmaid...

Mary, Mother of the Living God, pray for us
Mary, Daughter of the Light Eternal...
Mary, our light...
Mary, our sister...
Mary, Flower of Jesse...
Mary, Issue of Kings...
Mary, Chief Work of God...
Mary, the Beloved of God...
Mary, Immaculate Virgin...
Mary, all fair...
Mary, Light in Darkness...
Mary, our sure rest...
Mary, House of God....
Mary, Sanctuary of the Lord...
Mary, Altar of the Divinity...
Mary, Virgin Mother...
Mary, embracing your Infant God...
Mary, reposing with Eternal Wisdom...
Mary, Ocean of Bitterness...
Mary, Star of the Sea...
Mary, suffering with your only Son...
Mary, pierced with a sword of sorrow...
Mary, torn with a cruel wound...
Mary, sorrowful even unto death...
Mary, bereft of all consolation...
Mary, submissive to the law of God...
Mary, standing by the Cross of Jesus...
Mary, Our Lady...
Mary, Our Queen...
Mary, Queen of Glory...
Mary, Glory of the Church Triumphant...
Mary, Blessed Queen...
Mary, Advocate of the Church Militant...
Mary, Queen of Mercy...
Mary, Consoler of the Church Suffering...
Mary, exalted above the angels,
Mary, crowned with twelve stars...
Mary, fair as the moon...
Mary, bright as the sun...
Mary, distinguished above all...
Mary, seated at the right hand of Jesus...
Mary, Our Hope...
Mary, Our Sweetness...
Mary, Glory of Jerusalem...
Mary, Joy of Israel...
Mary, Honor of Our People...
Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception...
Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption...
Mary, Our Lady of Loreto...
Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes...
Mary, Our Lady of Fatima...
Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa...
Mary, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal...
Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel...
Mary, Our Lady of the Angels...
Mary, Our Lady of Dolors...
Mary, Our Lady of Mercy...
Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary...
Mary, Our Lady of Victory...
Mary, Our Lady of La Trappe...
Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence...

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord Jesus.

Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.

I will declare your name unto my brethren.
I will praise you in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Us Pray (Oremus)
O Almighty God, Who beholds Thy servants earnestly desiring to place themselves under the shadow of the name and protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, grant, we beseech You, that by her charitable intercession, we may be delivered from all evil on earth, and may arrive at everlasting joys in Heaven, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Special Prayers to Mary
My queen! my mother! remember I am thine own.
Keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.
His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Aug 5, 1851, granted to all the faithful who, with fervor and at least contrite heart, shall say, morning and evening, one Hail Mary, together with this prayer and ejaculation, to implore of the blessed Virgin victory over temptations, especially over those against chastity: An Indulgence of One Hundred Days, once a day.
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we Thy faithful people, who rejoice in the name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary, may by her loving intercession be delivered from all evils here on earth, and be made worthy to reach eternal glory in the life to come. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Sweet Heart of Mary be my salvation.
An indulgence of 300 days. A plenary indulgence once a month under the usual conditions, if repeated daily (S. C. Ind., Sept. 30,1852).
The Magnificat (from the Gospel of Luke)
My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him. He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy: As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
(Indulgence 100 days)

Pope Francis tells Augustinians "Prayer and penance do not cease to be the cornerstones on which Christian witness is based..." Full Text


Sala Clementina
Thursday, 12 September 2019

Dear brothers and sisters,

Providence wanted me to meet you today, the Discalced Augustinians, and tomorrow your brothers from the Order of Saint Augustine - brothers, cousins, friends, enemies - you never know! We give praise to God for the charisms he has raised and aroused in the Church through the testimony of the great Pastor and Doctor of Hippo.

I thank the Prior General for the words with which he introduced this meeting, which concludes your conference on the occasion of what you call "Year of the Charism", beautiful!

I would like to tell you first of all that I appreciate in you the joy of being Augustinians: "Happy to serve the Most High in a spirit of humility" - it would seem a Franciscan motto, but in reality it is simply evangelical. Moreover, St. Augustine is one of those figures who make us feel the fascination of God, who attract to Jesus Christ, who attract to the Word of God. He is a giant of Christian thought, but the Lord has also given him the vocation and the mission of the fraternity. He did not close in the vast horizon of his mind, but remained open to the people of God and to the brothers who shared community life with him. Even as a priest and bishop he lived as a monk, despite pastoral commitments, and on his death he left many male and female monasteries.

In this long religious tradition begun by St. Augustine, you Discalced Augustinians have your roots, which the Prior General recalled a little while ago. I encourage you to love and deepen your roots again and again - to go to the roots -, trying to draw from them, in prayer and in community discernment, the lifeblood for your presence in the today of the Church and the world. To be modern, someone believes it is necessary to break away from the roots. And this is the ruin, because the roots, the tradition, are the guarantee of the future. It is not a museum, it is the true tradition, and the roots are the tradition that brings the sap to make the tree grow, flourish, bear fruit. Never break away from the roots to be modern, that's suicide. Prayer and penance do not cease to be the cornerstones on which Christian witness is based, a testimony which in certain contexts is completely counter-current, but which, accompanied by humility and charity, knows how to speak to the hearts of so many men and women too in our time. Moreover, the Popes have asked your "ancestors" to be available for evangelization, and in this way you have assumed that apostolic dimension which is very present in the Founding Father.

The qualification of "barefoot" expresses the need for poverty, detachment, trust in Divine Providence. There is a liturgical hymn, which is used on the feast of St. John the Baptist and says that the people went "with their bare feet" to be baptized: not only barefoot because they do not wear stockings - I see that you have shoes, at least one ... The barefoot soul, this is the charisma. This is a gospel need, which in certain moments of the Church's journey the Spirit makes us feel more strongly. And we must always be attentive and docile to the voice of the Spirit: He is the protagonist, it is He who makes the Church grow! Not us, Him. The Holy Spirit is the wind that blows and keeps the Church going, with that great strength of evangelization.

In particular, this year you wanted to emphasize the vow of humility, the fourth vow that characterizes you. I congratulate you on this choice and I agree with the discernment of which the Prior Prior became a spokesman: this vow of humility is a "key", a key that opens the heart of God and the hearts of men. And first of all open your own hearts to be faithful to the original charism, to always feel like disciples-missionaries, available to the calls of God.

Humility is something that cannot be taken in hand: there is or is not, it is a gift. You can't take it in hand. I remember a very vain religious, very vain - this is historical -, still alive. His superiors always said to him: "You must be more humble, more humble ...". And finally he said: "I will do thirty days of exercises for the Lord to give me the grace of humility". And when he came back he said: "Thank God. I was so vain, so vain, but after the exercises I won all my passions!" He had found humility. Humility is something that comes by itself. Thank God, but it comes, you can't measure it.
The Spirit blows the wind of the mission ad gentes in the sails of the Church, and you have been able to be ready to go. We are living in an age in which the mission ad gentes is being renewed, also through a crisis that we want to grow, to be faithful to the mandate of the Risen Lord, a mandate that retains all its strength and its relevance. I too join you with emotion in remembering the Augustinian missionaries who gave their lives for the Gospel in different parts of the world. And I am pleased to see that you take stock of these testimonies of the past to renew your availability for the mission today, in the forms that the Second Vatican Council and the current challenges ask of us.

Dear brothers, making a grateful remembrance of your journey, or better, of the journey that the Lord has made you do (see Dt 8: 2), the meaning of this "Year of the Charism" is fully understood. It is not something self-referential - no, it must not be this - but a living community that wants to walk with the living Christ, this is what you want; it is not a self-referentiality but the will to walk in Christ, the living Christ.

"Happy to serve the Most High in a spirit of humility". Go on like this! May the Lord bless you, Our Lady and Saint Augustine protect you. And please don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!
FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation from Italian

#BreakingNews Catholic Pastoral worker Killed - RIP Diana Juárez, age 35 - coordinator of Care of Creation of the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

AMERICA/GUATEMALA - Pastoral worker committed to defending creation killed
Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Suchitepéquez (Agenzia Fides) - Diana Isabel Hernández Juárez, a 35-year-old teacher and coordinator of the Pastoral of Creation of the parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Suchitepéquez (Guatemala) was murdered. The news sent to Fides through social media, comes along with the statement of the "Mujeres Madre Tierra" Association that condemned the fact.
According to information sent to Fides, the teacher, on Saturday 7 September, was participating in a Bible Day gathering at Monte Gloria community, when she was attacked by two individuals who shot her and then fled. Unfortunately she died because of serious injuries.
Diana Isabel Hernández Juárez was known in the area because she had led several projects such as "the family vegetable garden" and "municipal farms", and reforestation projects in more than 32 rural communities. The Mujeres Madre Tierra Association and the Catholic community of Suchitepéquez have asked the authorities to clarify the matter and find those responsible for this terrible event as soon as possible. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 10/09/2019)

Pope Francis promotes Educational Alliance and quotes African proverb “it takes a whole village to educate a child” - Full Official Text


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In my Encyclical Laudato Si’, I invited everyone to cooperate in caring for our common home and to confront together the challenges that we face. Now, a few years later, I renew my invitation to dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet and the need to employ the talents of all, since all change requires an educational process aimed at developing a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society.
To this end, I wish to endorse a global event, to take place on 14 May 2020 on the theme Reinventing the Global Educational Alliance. This meeting will rekindle our dedication for and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding. Never before has there been such need to unite our efforts in a broad educational alliance, to form mature individuals capable of overcoming division and antagonism, and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity.
Today’s world is constantly changing and faces a variety of crises. We are experiencing an era of change: a transformation that is not only cultural but also anthropological, creating a new semantics while indiscriminately discarding traditional paradigms. Education clashes with what has been called a process of “rapidification” that traps our existence in a whirlwind of high-speed technology and computerization, continually altering our points of reference. As a result, our very identity loses its solidity and our psychological structure dissolves in the face of constant change that “contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution” (Laudato Si’, 18).
Every change calls for an educational process that involves everyone. There is thus a need to create an “educational village”, in which all people, according to their respective roles, share the task of forming a network of open, human relationships. According to an African proverb, “it takes a whole village to educate a child”. We have to create such a village before we can educate. In the first place, the ground must be cleared of discrimination and fraternity must be allowed to flourish, as I stated in the Document that I signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar on 4 February this year in Abu Dhabi.
In this kind of village it is easier to find global agreement about an education that integrates and respects all aspects of the person, uniting studies and everyday life, teachers, students and their families, and civil society in its intellectual, scientific, artistic, athletic, political, business and charitable dimensions. An alliance, in other words, between the earth’s inhabitants and our “common home”, which we are bound to care for and respect. An alliance that generates peace, justice and hospitality among all peoples of the human family, as well as dialogue between religions.
To reach these global objectives, our shared journey as an “educating village” must take important steps forward. First, we must have the courage to place the human person at the centre. To do so, we must agree to promote formal and informal educational processes that cannot ignore the fact that the whole world is deeply interconnected, and that we need to find other ways, based on a sound anthropology, of envisioning economics, politics, growth and progress. In the development of a integral ecology, a central place must be given to the value proper to each creature in its relationship to the people and realities surrounding it, as well as a lifestyle that rejects the throw-away culture.
Another step is to find the courage to capitalize on our best energies, creatively and responsibly. To be proactive and confident in opening education to a long-term vision unfettered by the status quo. This will result in men and women who are open, responsible, prepared to listen, dialogue and reflect with others, and capable of weaving relationships with families, between generations, and with civil society, and thus to create a new humanism.
A further step is the courage to train individuals who are ready to offer themselves in service to the community. Service is a pillar of the culture of encounter: “It means bending over those in need and stretching out a hand to them, without calculation, without fear, but with tenderness and understanding, just as Jesus knelt to wash the Apostles’ feet. Serving means working beside the neediest of people, establishing with them first and foremost human relationships of closeness and bonds of solidarity”.[1] In serving others, we experience that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (cf. Acts 20:35). In this regard, all institutions must be open to examining the aims and methods that determine how they carry out their educational mission.
For this reason, I look forward to meeting in Rome all of you who, in various ways and on every level, work in the field of education and of research. I encourage you to work together to promote, through a shared educational alliance, those forward-looking initiatives that can give direction to history and change it for the better. I join you in appealing to authoritative public figures in our world who are concerned for the future of our young people, and I trust that they will respond to my invitation. I also call upon you, dear young people, to take part in the meeting and to sense your real responsibility for the building of a better world. Our meeting will take place on 14 May 2020 in the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican. A number of seminars on related topics will take place in various locations and help us prepare for this event.
Let us seek solutions together, boldly undertake processes of change and look to the future with hope. I invite everyone to work for this alliance and to be committed, individually and within our communities, to nurturing the dream of a humanism rooted in solidarity and responsive both to humanity’s aspirations and to God’s plan.
I look forward to seeing you. Until then, I send you my greetings and my blessing.
From the Vatican, 12 September 2019.


[1] Address during a visit to the “Astalli Centre”, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome, on 10 September 2013.

FULL TEXT + Source: - Vatican working Translation from Italian

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday, September 12, 2019 - #Eucharist

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 440

Reading 1COL 3:12-17

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Responsorial PsalmPS 150:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6

R.(6) Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the LORD in his sanctuary,
praise him in the firmament of his strength.
Praise him for his mighty deeds,
praise him for his sovereign majesty.
R. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise him with the blast of the trumpet,
praise him with lyre and harp,
Praise him with timbrel and dance,
praise him with strings and pipe.
R. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise him with sounding cymbals,
praise him with clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD! Alleluia.
R. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Alleluia1 JN 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If we love one another,
God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
"To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."