Monday, November 25, 2019

Saint November 26 : St. John Berchmans the Patron of Altar Servers and Young People

Canonized: 1888 by Pope Leo XIII
Major Shrine: Sant'Ignazio
Patron of: altar boys, Oblate novices, young people
Born at Diest in Brabant, 13 March, 1599; died at Rome, 13 August, 1621. His parents watched with the greatest solicitude over the formation of his character. He was naturally kind, gentle, and affectionate towards them, a favourite with his playmates, brave and open, attractive in manner, and with a bright, joyful disposition. Yet he was also, by natural disposition, impetuous and fickle. Still, when John was but seven years of age, M. Emmerick, his parish priest, already remarked with pleasure that the Lord would work wonders in the soul of the child. Many are the details that reveal him to us as he was in the Society of Jesus. He was but nine years of old when his mother was stricken with a long and serious illness. John would pass several hours each day by her bedside, and console her with his affectionate though serious, words. Later, when he lived with some other boys at M. Emmerick's house, he would undertake more than his share of the domestic work, selecting by preference the more difficult occupations. If he was loved by his comrades, he repaid their affection by his kindness, without, however, deviating from the dictates of his conscience. It was noticed even that he availed himself discreetly of his influence over them to correct their negligences and to restrain their frivolous conversation. Eager to learn, and naturally endowed with a bright intellect and a retentive memory, he enhanced the effect of these gifts by devoting to study whatever time he could legitimately take from his ordinary recreation.  What, however, distinguished him most from his companions was his piety. When he was hardly seven years old, he was accustomed to rise early and serve two or three Masses with the greatest fervour. He attended religious instructions and listened to Sunday sermons with the deepest recollection, and made pilgrimages to the sanctuary of Montaigu, a few miles from Diest, reciting the rosary as he went, or absorbed in meditation. As soon as he entered the Jesuit college at Mechlin, he was enrolled in the Society of the Blessed Virgin, and made a resolution to recite her Office daily. He would, moreover, ask the director of the sodality every month to prescribe for him some special acts of devotion to Mary. On Fridays, at nightfall, he would go out barefooted and make the Stations of the Cross in the town. Such fervent, filial piety won for him the grace of a religious vocation. Towards the end of his rhetoric course, he felt a distinct call to the Society of Jesus. His family was decidedly opposed to this, and on 24 September, 1616, he was received into the novitiate at Mechlin. After two years passed in Mechlin he made his simple vows, and was sent to Antwerp to begin the study of philosophy. Remaining there only a few weeks, he set out for Rome, where he was to continue the same study. After the journeying three hundred leagues on foot, carrying a wallet on his back, he arrived at the Roman College, he studied for two years and passed on to the third year class in philosophy in the year 1621. One day early in August of that same year he was selected by the prefect of studies to take part in a philosophical disputation at the Greek College, at that time under the charge of the Dominicans. He opened the discussion with great perspicuity and erudition, but, on returning to his own college, he was seized with a violent fever of which he died, on 13 August, at the age of twenty-two years and five months.
During the second part of his life, John offered the type of the saint who performs ordinary actions with extraordinary perfection. In his purity, obedience, and admirable charity he resembled many religious, but he surpassed them all by his intense love for the rules of his order. The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus lead those who observe them exactly to the highest degree of sanctity, as has been declared by Pope Julius III and his successors. The attainment of that ideal was what John proposed to himself. "If I do not become a saint when I am young", he used to say "I shall never become one". That is why he displayed such wisdom in conforming his will to that of his superiors and to the rules. He would have preferred death to the violation of the least of the rules of his order. "My penance", he would say, "is to live the common life... I will pay the greatest attention to the least inspiration of God." He observed this fidelity in the performance of all his duties till the last day of his life, as is attested by Fathers Bauters, Cepari, Ceccoti, Massucci, and Piccolomini, his spiritual directors. When he died, a large multitude crowded for several days to see him and to invoke his intercession. The same year, Phillip, Duke of Aerschot, had a petition presented to Pope Gregory XV for the taking of information with a view to his beatification. John Berchmans was declared Blessed in 1865, and was canonized in 1888. His statues represent him with hands clasped, holding his crucifix, his book of rules, and his rosary.
Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Novena to St. Catherine of Alexandria - a Special Prayer to the Patron of #Philosophers, Nurses, Librarians, Unmarried

Recite for 9 Days:
Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be, each day of the Novena
(1 of the 14 Holy Helpers)
Patron of:
Aalsum, apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners, etc.), archivists, dying people, educators, girls, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, librarians, libraries, maidens, mechanics, millers, nurses, philosophers, preachers, scholars, schoolchildren, scribes, secretaries, spinsters, stenographers, students, tanners, teachers, theologians, University of Paris, unmarried girls, haberdashers, wheelwrights
Preparatory Prayer

ALMIGHTY and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy Heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy Divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the Saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.
Prayer in Honor of St. Catherine
O GOD, Who didst distinguish Thy holy Virgin and Martyr Catherine by the gift of great wisdom and virtue, and a victorious combat with the enemies of the Faith; grant us, we beseech Thee, through her intercession, constancy in the Faith and the wisdom of the Saints, that we may devote all the powers of our mind and heart to Thy service. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invocation of St. Catherine
ST. CATHERINE, glorious Virgin and Martyr, resplendent in the luster of wisdom and purity; thy wisdom refuted the adversaries of Divine truth and covered them with confusion; thy immaculate purity made thee a spouse of Christ, so that after thy glorious Martyrdom Angels carried thy body to Mount Sinai. Implore for me progress in the science of the Saints and the virtue of holy purity, that vanquishing the enemies of my soul, I may be victorious in my last combat and after death be conducted by the angels into the eternal beatitude of Heaven. Amen.
My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena. Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen. SOURCE:
THE FOURTEEN HOLY HELPERS, Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, O.F.M. TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, 1995; with Imprimatur, Imprimi Potest and Nihil Obstat.

RIP Fr. George Clements - Death of the 1st Catholic Priest to Adopt 4 Children and who Marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fr. George Clements, a Catholic priest from Chicago, USA, has died on Monday, November 25, 2019 at a hospital in Northwest Indiana. He was 87 years old.

Clements’ death was confirmed by his son Joey Clements, the first of the famous pastor’s four adopted children.

Clements suffered a stroke in November, according to a family spokesperson. And within the last month, Clements also suffered a heart attack, said fellow South Side priest Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church.

Active in the civil rights movement, Clements marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi and was arrested.

In 1980, Clements became the first Catholic priest to adopt a child. He would adopt three more. His career inspired a made-for-TV movie in 1987, “The Father Clements Story,” starring Louis Gossett Jr.

Clements “was one of the first voices advocating for civil rights for African-Americans within the Catholic Church,” Pfleger said.

In August, Clements was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1974 as pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Bronzeville.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago asked Clements “to step aside from ministry” pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegation.

Clements told the Chicago Sun-Times the allegation was “totally unfounded.”

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services told the Sun-Times earlier this month that the allegation had been classified “unfounded” after an investigation found “there was nothing” to support it.

In 1945, Clements became the archdiocese’s first African-American graduate of Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary. He was ordained as a priest in 1957 and went on to become the first black pastor at Holy Angels in 1969.

Clements spearheaded the “One Church-One Child” program in 1980, which aimed to spur Catholic churches to find adoptive parents for orphaned black children. Clements started a similar program for people living with drug addiction in 1994 and another for incarcerated people and their families in 1999.

“The priesthood is a vocation. But then along the way, one gets avocations, and mine were three: homelessness, addicts and prisoners,” Clements told the Sun-Times in 2017.

Clements is one of six children born to Samuel and Aldonia Clements. His father worked at the stockyards and his mother was a homemaker.

After adopting Joey from Uhlich Children’s Home in 1981, he adopted his second son, Friday, a year later from an orphanage in Nigeria.

Two more sons followed: Stewart, adopted after they met on an Oprah Winfrey show about adoptions; and Saint Anthony, in 1985, after the principal of Phillips High School called Rev. Clements seeking help for a troubled, neglected teen.

“I’m really, really proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Clements said of his sons in 2017. “They haven’t become world leaders, but they haven’t been to jail, or on drugs, or anything like that. God is good.”

Pfleger said St. Sabina will hold a memorial service for Clements on January 26.
Edited from - Image Source: Google Images Chicago Times 

Pope Francis at Mass with 50,000 in Japan says "..we are invited as a Christian community to protect all life and testify with wisdom and courage to a way of living.." Video

(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
Tokyo Dome
Monday, 25 November 2019

The Gospel we have heard is part of Jesus’ first great sermon. We know it as the Sermon on the Mount, and it describes for us the beauty of the path we are called to take. In the Bible, the mountain is the place where God reveals himself and makes himself known. “Come up to me”, God says to Moses (cf. Ex 24:1). A mountain whose summit is not reached by willpower or social climbing, but only by attentive, patient and sensitive listening to the Master at every crossroads of life’s journey. The summit presents us with an ever new perspective on all around us, centered on the compassion of the Father. In Jesus, we encounter the summit of what it means to be human; he shows us the way that leads to a fulfillment exceeding all our hopes and expectations. In him, we encounter a new life, where we come to know the freedom of knowing that we are God’s beloved children.
Yet all of us know that along the way, the freedom of being God’s children can be repressed and weakened if we are enclosed in a vicious circle of anxiety and competition. Or if we focus all our attention and energy on the frenetic pursuit of productivity and consumerism as the sole criterion for measuring and validating our choices, or defining who we are or what we are worth. This way of measuring things slowly makes us grow impervious or insensible to the really important things, making us instead pant after things that are superfluous or ephemeral. How greatly does the eagerness to believe that everything can be produced, acquired or controlled oppress and shackle the soul!
Here in Japan, in a society with a highly developed economy, the young people I met this morning spoke to me about the many people who are socially isolated. They remain on the margins, unable to grasp the meaning of life and their own existence. Increasingly, the home, school and community, which are meant to be places where we support and help one another, are being eroded by excessive competition in the pursuit of profit and efficiency. Many people feel confused and anxious; they are overwhelmed by so many demands and worries that take away their peace and stability.
The Lord’s words act as a refreshing balm, when he tells us not to be troubled but to trust. Three times he insists: “Do not be anxious about your life… about tomorrow” (cf. Mt 6:25.31.34). This is not an encouragement to ignore what happens around us or to be irresponsible about our daily duties and responsibilities. Instead, it is an invitation to set our priorities against a broader horizon of meaning and thus find the freedom to see things his way: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:33).
The Lord is not telling us that basic necessities like food and clothing are unimportant. Rather, he invites us to re-evaluate our daily decisions and not to become trapped or isolated in the pursuit of success at any cost, including the cost of our very lives. Worldly attitudes that look only to one’s own profit or gain in this world, and a selfishness that pursues only individual happiness, in reality leave us profoundly unhappy and enslaved, and hinder the authentic development of a truly harmonious and humane society.
The opposite of an isolated, enclosed and even asphyxiated “I” can only be a “we” that is shared, celebrated and communicated (cf. General Audience, 13 February 2019). The Lord’s call reminds us that “we need to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 55). In today’s first reading, the Bible tells us how our world, teeming with life and beauty, is above all a precious gift of the Creator: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). God offers us this beauty and goodness so that we can share it and offer it to others, not as masters or owners, but as sharers in God’s same creative dream. “Genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (Laudato Si’, 70).
Given this reality, we are invited as a Christian community to protect all life and testify with wisdom and courage to a way of living marked by gratitude and compassion, generosity and simple listening. One capable of embracing and accepting life as it is, “with all its fragility, its simplicity, and often enough too, with its conflicts and annoyances” (Address at the Vigil of World Youth Day, Panama, 26 January 2019). We are called to be a community that can learn and teach the importance of accepting “things that are not perfect, pure or ‘distilled’, yet no less worthy of love. Is a disabled or frail person not worthy of love? Someone who happens to be a foreigner, someone who made a mistake, someone ill or in prison: is that person not worthy of love? We know what Jesus did: he embraced the leper, the blind man, the paralytic, the Pharisee and the sinner. He embraced the thief on the cross and even embraced and forgave those who crucified him” (ibid.).
The proclamation of the Gospel of Life urgently requires that we as a community become a field hospital, ready to heal wounds and to offer always a path of reconciliation and forgiveness. For the Christian, the only possible measure by which we can judge each person and situation is that of the Father’s compassion for all his children.
United to the Lord, in constant cooperation and dialogue with men and women of good will, including those of other religious convictions, we can become the prophetic leaven of a society that increasingly protects and cares for all life.

Full Text + Image Source: - Official Translation

Wow Polish Priest offers Confession from Mini-Van at Public places - a True Story of the "Mobile Confessional" to Share!

A priest in Poland brings the Sacrament of Confession right to you! Father Rafal has taken Confession to the streets. In Poland, Father RafaƂ Jarosiewicz has a different car. It is a "mobile confessional". He goes to the people who call him and parks in public places to help them confess. A woman saw him on TV, on the national news, and a few days later found him casually. A great grace: She confessed after more than 50 years.
(Confession is a sacrament of the Church instituted by Christ for the forgiveness of sins)

Pope Francis meets Victims of Triple Disaster and says "May that compassion be the path that enables all to find hope..." Full Official Text

(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
“Bellesalle Hanzomon” (Tokyo)
Monday, 25 November 2019

Dear Friends,
This meeting with you today is an important part of my visit to Japan. I thank all of you for welcoming me with music from Argentina. In a special way, I thank Toshiko, Tokuun and Matsuki, who shared their stories with us. They, and all of you, represent everyone who suffered so greatly as a result of the triple disaster – the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear accident – that affected not only the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima but the whole of Japan and its inhabitants. Thank you for expressing in your words and by your presence the sorrow and pain, but also the hope of a better future, experienced by so many. At the end of his testimony, Matsuki invited me to join you in prayer. Let us spend a moment in silence, so that our first word will be one of prayer for the more than eighteen thousand people who lost their lives, for their families and for those who are still missing. Let us pray that we be united and given the courage to look forward with hope.
Let us also give thanks for the efforts of the local governments, organizations and individuals working for the reconstruction of the areas where the disasters struck, and for the relief of the over fifty thousand persons who have been evacuated and are living in temporary housing, still unable to return to their homes.
I especially appreciate, as Toshiko pointed out, the speed with which many people, not only from Japan, but from all over the world, mobilized immediately after the disasters to support the victims with an outpouring of prayers and material and financial aid. We should not let this action be lost with the passage of time or disappear after the initial shock; rather, we should continue and sustain it. As Matsuki told us, some of those who lived in the affected areas now feel forgotten by others, and many must face ongoing problems: contaminated land and forests and the long-term effects of radiation.
May this meeting help us to appeal together to all persons of good will, so that the victims of these tragedies will continue to receive much needed assistance.
Without basic resources such as food, clothing and shelter, it is not possible to live a worthy life and have the bare minimum needed to succeed in rebuilding. This, in turn, calls for experiencing the solidarity and support of a community. No one “rebuilds” by himself or herself; nobody can start over alone. We have to find a friendly and fraternal hand, capable of helping to raise not just a city, but also our horizon and our hope. Toshiko told us that although she lost her home in the tsunami, she is still thankful for being able to appreciate the gift of life, and for the experience of hope that came from seeing people come together to help one another. Eight years after the triple disaster, Japan has shown how a people can unite in solidarity, patience, perseverance and resilience. The path to a full recovery may still be long, but it can always be undertaken if it counts on the spirit of people capable of mobilizing in order to help one another. As Toshiko said, if we do nothing, the result will be zero. But whenever you take one step, you move one step forward. I invite you, then, to move forward each day, little by little, to build a future based on solidarity and commitment to one another, for yourselves, your children and grandchildren, and for the generations to come.
Tokuun asked how we can respond to other major issues we face: wars, refugees, food, economic disparities and environmental challenges. These, as you well know, cannot be understood or treated separately. It is a serious mistake to think that nowadays these issues can be dealt with in isolation, without viewing them as part of a much larger network. He rightly pointed out that we are part of this earth, part of the environment, inasmuch as everything is, in the end, interconnected. Important decisions will have to be made about the use of natural resources, and future energy sources in particular. But the most important thing, I believe, is to progress in building a culture capable of combating indifference. One of our greatest ills has to do with a culture of indifference. We need to work together to foster awareness that if one member of our family suffers, we all suffer. Real interconnectedness will not come about unless we cultivate the wisdom of togetherness, the only wisdom capable of facing problems (and solutions) in a global way. We are part of one another.
Here, I would like to mention, in a particular way, the accident at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima and its aftermath. In addition to scientific or medical concerns, there is also the immense challenge of restoring the fabric of society. Until social bonds in local communities are re-established, and people can once more enjoy safe and stable lives, the Fukushima accident will not be fully resolved. In turn, this involves, as my brother bishops in Japan have emphasized, concern about the continuing use of nuclear power; for this reason, they have called for the abolition of nuclear power plants.
Our age is tempted to make technological progress the measure of human progress. This “technocratic paradigm” of progress and development shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society, and often leads to a reductionism that affects every aspect of human and social life (cf. Laudato Si’, 101-114). So it is important at times like this, to pause and reflect upon who we are and, perhaps more critically, who we want to be. What kind of world, what kind of legacy, will we leave to those who will come after us? The wisdom and experience of elders, united to the zeal and enthusiasm of young people, can help to forge a different vision, one that fosters reverence for the gift of life and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the one multiethnic and multicultural human family.
As we think about the future of our common home, we need to realize that we cannot make purely selfish decisions, and that we have a great responsibility to future generations. Consequently, we must choose a humble and sober way of life that recognizes the urgent realities we are called to face. Toshiko, Tokuun and Matsuki have each reminded us of the need to find a new path for the future, a path rooted in respect for each person and in respect for the natural world. Along this path, “all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents” (ibid., 14).
Dear friends, in the ongoing work of recovery and rebuilding after the triple disaster, many hands must join together and many hearts unite as one. In this way, those who are suffering will be supported and know that they have not been forgotten. They will realize that many people actively and effectively share their sorrow and continue to extend a fraternal helping hand. Once again, I thank all those who, in ways large and small, have tried to ease the burdens of the victims. May that compassion be the path that enables all to find hope, stability and security for the future.
Thank you again for being here. Please pray for me. And may God grant to all of you, and to your loved ones, his blessings of wisdom, strength and peace. Thank you.

Full Text + Image Source: - Official Translation

#BreakingNews District Elections in Hong Kong with Pro-Democracy Candidates winning 90% of Seats a Victory for Protestors

Asia News reports that in the Hong Kong district elections the pro-democracy candidates won 90 percent of seats
by Paul Wang
71.2% turnout: in 2015 it was 47%. The Democrats have won nearly 400 of the 452 seats available. Young candidates, linked to the anti-extradition movement, in the running for the first time, have trounced seasoned pro-Beijing candidates. Junius Ho defeated. Carrie Lam promises that the government will hear the voice of the people. Unity restored between pro-democracy parties and young people. March of the elected to the PolyU, where the police siege continues.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Democratic candidates, opposed to the government, won 90% of the seats in the district council elections held yesterday in Hong Kong. With the count not yet officially concluded, the Democrats have won 390 of the 452 seats available; 17 of the 18 Councils are in their hands. The pro-Beijing groups took only 58 seats, losing more than 240 compared to the 2015 elections.

The participation was also impressive: out of 4.1 million registered voters, 2.94 million went to the polls: 71.2% (in 2015 they were 47%). By itself, the district councils do not have a great importance: they manage the problems of the neighborhood (bus routes, garbage, ...). In any case, the victory of the Democrats will allow them to gain more space also in the Electoral Committee that votes for the head of the executive, acquiring 117 seats (out of 1200).

The most important value of these elections is that they are a "referendum" against government policy in these six months of anti-extradition and pro-democracy demonstrations and criticism of police violence.

Most of the democratic candidates who have won the elections are close to the anti-extradition movement and while not sharing the radicals' vandalistic extremism, they support the "five demands" that characterize the movement, including the launching of an independent inquiry into the excessive use of force by the police and a clear path to universal suffrage.

Jimmy Sham, the activist in charge of the Civil Front for Human Rights - a group that has organized the most numerous marches in recent months - has won despite being in the running for the first time. Jimmy Sham had also been attacked by anti-democratic groups leaving him bleeding on the ground. Even Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, who was bitten in the ear by a pro-China supporter, won.

The government and pro-Beijing parties had hoped that the elections would bring out a "silent majority" that was the enemy of the demonstrations and the demands of the movement. Instead, in many districts, young demonstrators running for the first time in the elections defeated seasoned members of the establishment.

One of the most bitter defeats is that of Junius Ho, pro-Beijing parliamentarian, accused of supporting the beating of young demonstrators by mafia groups in Yuen Long last July.

Activist Joshua Wong had been banned from competing as a candidate, accused of supporting Hong Kong's independence (which he denied). The pro-democracy candidate who replaced him won hands down.

Executive chief Carrie Lam acknowledged that the results show voters' disappointment with current social conditions and long-standing problems. She has promised that the government will hear the message of the people.

Looking at the results of this "referendum" against her policy, many people advise her to resign.

These elections show a regained unity between the pro-democracy parties and the young, which faltered in the last legislative elections, when the young people accused the parties of being "ineffective". A sign of this unity is the decision of some of the winners to march this afternoon to the Polytechnic where there are still dozens of young people besieged by the police. The president of the democratic party Wu Chi-wai said that ending the police siege of the PolyU is the first of their tasks.
Full Text Source: Asia News IT - Image Source: Google Images AP

Pope Francis meets Emperor and Diplomats in Japan and says "Good relations between the different religions are not only essential for a future of peace..." Full Official Text

(19-26 NOVEMBER 2019)
Tokyo - Monday, 25 November 2019

Mr Prime Minister,
Honorable Members of the Government,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the Prime Minister for his kind words of introduction and I offer respectful greetings to you, distinguished authorities and members of the diplomatic corps. Each of you, in his or her own way, is devoted to working for peace and prosperity for the people of this noble nation and the nations that you represent. I am grateful in a special way to Emperor Naruhito for having received me this morning. I offer him my good wishes and I invoke God’s blessings on the Imperial Family and all the Japanese people at the beginning of the new era inaugurated by his reign.
The friendly relations existing between the Holy See and Japan are long-standing and rooted in the appreciation and admiration felt by the first missionaries for these lands. We have only to recall the words of the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, who in 1579 wrote: “Whoever wishes to see what our Lord has bestowed upon man need only come to Japan to see it”. Historically, many contacts and cultural and diplomatic missions have fostered this relationship and helped to surmount moments of tension and trouble. These contacts have gradually taken on institutional form, for the benefit of both parties.
I have come to confirm Japanese Catholics in their faith, their charitable outreach to those in need and their service to the country of which they are proud citizens. As a nation, Japan is particularly sensitive to the suffering of those less fortunate, the handicapped and the disabled. The theme of my visit is “Protect All Life”, in the recognition of its inviolable dignity and the importance of showing solidarity and support to our brothers and sisters in any kind of need. I have had a powerful experience of this in listening to the stories of those affected by the triple disaster, and was touched by the hardships that they have endured.
In the footsteps of my precedecessors, I have also come to implore God and to invite all persons of good will to encourage and promote every necessary means of dissuasion so that the destruction generated by atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never take place again in human history. History teaches us that conflicts and misunderstandings between peoples and nations can find valid solutions only through dialogue, the only weapon worthy of man and capable of ensuring lasting peace. I am convinced of the need to deal with the nuclear question on the multilateral plane, promoting a political and institutional process capable of creating a broader international consensus and action.
A culture of encounter and dialogue, marked by wisdom, insight and breadth of vision, is essential for building a more just and fraternal world. Japan has recognized the importance of promoting personal contacts in the fields of education, culture, sport and tourism, knowing that these can contribute in no small measure to the harmony, justice, solidarity and reconciliation that are the mortar of the edifice of peace. We see an outstanding example of this in the Olympic spirit, which unites athletes from throughout the world in a competition based not necessarily on rivalry but rather on the pursuit of excellence. I am confident that the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to be held in Japan this coming year, can serve as an impetus for a spirit of solidarity that transcends national and regional borders and seeks the good of our entire human family.
In these days, I have experienced and have come to esteem once more the precious cultural heritage that Japan throughout many centuries of its history has been able to develop and preserve, and the profound religious and moral values that characterize this ancient culture. Good relations between the different religions are not only essential for a future of peace, but for training present and future generations to cherish the ethical principles that serve as the foundation for a truly just and humane society. In the words of the Document on Human Fraternity that I signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar last February, our shared concern for the future of the human family impels us to the “adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard”.
No visitor to Japan can fail to be moved by the sheer natural beauty of this country, long celebrated by its poets and artists, and symbolized above all by the image of the cherry blossom. Yet the very delicacy of the cherry blossom reminds us of the fragility of our common home, subjected not only to natural disasters but also to greed, exploitation and devastation at the hands of human beings. As the international community struggles to honor its commitments to protecting creation, it is the young who are increasingly speaking up and demanding courageous decisions. They challenge us to see that the world is not a possession to be squandered, but a precious legacy to be handed down. For our part, “we owe them real answers, not empty words; actions not illusions”(Message for the 2019 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation).
In this regard, an integral approach to the protection of our common home must also consider its human ecology. A commitment to protection means confronting the growing gap between rich and poor in a global economic system that enables a select few to dwell in opulence while the majority of the world’s population lives in poverty. I am aware of the concern of the Japanese government for the promotion of different programs in this regard, and I encourage it to persevere in shaping a growing awareness of co-responsibility among the world’s nations.
Human dignity needs to be at the center of all social, economic and political activity; intergenerational solidarity must be fostered, and at every level of community life concern must be shown for those who are forgotten and excluded. I think particularly of the young, who so often feel overwhelmed in facing the challenges of growing up, the elderly and the lonely who suffer from isolation. We know that, in the end, the civility of every nation or people is measured not by its economic strength, but by the attention it devotes to those in need and its capacity to be fruitful and promote life.
Now, as my visit to Japan draws to a close, I once again express my gratitude for the invitation I received, the gracious hospitality with which I have been met, and the generosity of all those who contributed to its happy outcome. In presenting these thoughts for your consideration, I wish to encourage you in your efforts to shape a social order ever more protective of life, ever more respectful of the dignity and rights of each member of our human family. Upon you and your families, and all those whom you serve, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings. Thank you very much.

Full Text + Image Source: - official Translation

Are You Traveling? Prayer to St. Christopher for Safe Travels and Motorists - SHARE #StChristopher 's Prayer!

Saint Christopher Prayer"Motorist's Prayer:" Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye, that no one shall be hurt as I pass by. Thou gavest life, I pray no act of mine may take away or mar that gift of Thine. Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company from the evils of fire and all calamity.Teach me to use my car for others need; Nor miss through love of undue speed. The beauty of the world; that thus I may with joy and courtesy go on my way. St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me, and lead me safely to my destiny.
Saint Christopher's Protection Prayer
 Dear Saint Christopher, protect me today in all my travels along the road's way. Give your warning sign if danger is near so that I may stop while the path is clear. Be at my window and direct me through when the vision blurs From out of the blue. Carry me safely to my destined place, like you carried Christ in your close embrace. Amen.

 St. Christopher's Prayer
O Glorious St. Christopher you have inherited a beautiful name, Christbearer, as a result of the wonderful legend that while carrying people across a raging stream you also carried the Child Jesus. Teach us to be true Christbearers to those who do not know Him. Protect all of us that travel both near and far and petition Jesus to be with us always. Amen. Join us on

Pope Francis tells Youth "...dedicate time to your family...and also to God... And if praying is difficult for you, don't give up." Full Text

(19 - 26 November 2019)



St. Mary's Cathedral (Tokyo)
Monday, 25 November 2019

Dear young people,

thanks for coming, thanks for being here! Seeing and listening to your energy and your enthusiasm gives me joy and gives me hope. I am grateful for this. I also thank Leonardo, Miki and Masako for their words of testimony. It takes great courage to share what you carry in your heart as you did. I'm sure your voices echoed many of your companions here. Thanks! I know that among you there are young people of other nationalities, some of them seek refuge. We learn to build together the society we want for tomorrow.

When I look at you, I can see the cultural and religious diversity of the young people living in Japan today, and also something of the beauty that your generation offers to the future. The friendship between you and your presence here reminds everyone that the future is not "monochromatic", but that, if we have the courage, it is possible to look at it in the variety and diversity of the contributions that each one can give. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace without having to all be the same! They didn't do it to us, all in series. Everyone comes from the love of his parents and his family, that's why we are all different, everyone has a story to share. We need to grow in fraternity, in attention to others and in respect of different experiences and points of view. This meeting is a celebration because we are saying that the culture of encounter is possible, that it is not a utopia, and that you young people have the special sensitivity to carry it forward.

I was struck by the questions you asked, because they reflect your concrete experiences, and also your hopes and dreams for the future.

Thank you, Leonardo, for sharing the experience of bullying and discrimination you suffered. More and more young people find the courage to talk about experiences like yours. In my day, when I was young, we never talked about things like those Leonardo told us. The most cruel thing about school bullying is that it hurts our spirit and our self-esteem when we need more strength to accept ourselves and face new challenges in life. Sometimes, bullying victims even accuse themselves of being "easy" targets. They might feel bankrupt, weak and worthless, and arrive at very dramatic situations: "If only I were different ...". Paradoxically, however, it is the molesters, those who bully us who are really weak, because they think they can affirm their identity by harming others. Sometimes they attack anyone they consider different and they see it as a threat. After all, the molesters, those who bully, are afraid, are fearful who cover themselves with force. And in this - be careful - when you hear, you see that someone feels the need to hurt another, to bully another, to harass him, that is the weak. The harassed is not the weak; he is the one who harasses the weak, because he needs to make himself big, strong, to feel like someone. I told Leonardo a little while ago: when they tell you that you are obese, tell him: "It is worse to be thin like you". We must all unite against this culture of bullying, all together against this culture of bullying, and learn to say: enough! It is an epidemic for which the best medicine can be found yourself. It is not enough that educational institutions or adults use all the resources at their disposal to prevent this tragedy, but it is necessary that among you, among friends, between companions, you get together to say: No! No to bullying, no to aggression towards others. This is bad! There is no bigger weapon to defend oneself from these actions than to "get up" between companions and friends and say: "What you are doing, bullying, is serious".
Who is bullying is a scary person, and fear is always the enemy of good, which is why it is the enemy of love and peace. The great religions - all the religions that each of us practices - teach tolerance, teach harmony, teach mercy; religions do not teach fear, division and conflict. For us Christians: let us listen to Jesus who always told his followers not to be afraid. Because? Because if we stay with God and love our brothers with God, love dispels fear (see 1 Jn 4:18). For many of us - as you reminded us, Leonardo - looking at the life of Jesus allows us to find comfort, because Jesus himself knew what it means to be despised and rejected, even to the point of being crucified. He also knew what it means to be a foreigner, a migrant, a "different". In a sense - and here I address Christians, and those who are not Christians see it as a religious model - Jesus was the most "marginalized", an outcast full of Life to give. Leonardo, we can always look at everything we lack, but we can also discover the life that we are able to give and to give. The world needs you, never forget it; the Lord needs you so that you can give courage to many who are asking for help today, to help them get up again.

I would like to tell everyone something that can be useful in life. To look at a person with contempt, to look down on him, is to say: "I am superior and you are inferior". But there is only one right and right way to look at a person from the top down: to help her stand up. If one of us - including myself - looks down on a person with contempt, it is worth little. But if one of us looks at a person from the top down to extend his hand and help her stand up, this man or this woman is big. So when you look at a person from the top down, ask yourself, "Where is my hand? Is it hidden or is it helping it to stand up? " And you will be happy. Agree?

And this involves learning to develop a very important but undervalued quality: the ability to give time for others, to listen to them, to share with them, understand them. And only in this way will we open our stories and our wounds to a love that can transform us and begin to change the world around us. If we do not donate, if we do not waste time and "save time" with people, we will lose it in many things that, at the end of the day, will leave us empty and dazed. In my native land they would say: they fill us with things as long as we do indigestion. So, please, dedicate time to your family, dedicate time to your friends, and also to God, praying and meditating, each according to his own belief. And if praying is difficult for you, don't give up. A wise spiritual guide once said: prayer consists mainly of staying there. Stand still, make room to let God in, let yourself be looked at by Him and He will fill you with his peace.

And this is exactly what Miki told us: he asked how young people can make room for God in a frenetic society focused on being only competitive and productive. It is usual to see that a person, a community or even an entire society can be highly developed externally, but with a poor and reduced inner life, with the soul and vitality turned off; they look like already made dolls that have nothing inside. Everything is boring to them. There are young people who no longer dream. It is terrible a young man who does not dream, a young man who does not make room for the dream, to let God in, to make desires enter and be fruitful in life. There are men and women who can no longer laugh, who do not play, who do not know the sense of wonder and surprise. Men and women who live like zombies, their hearts have stopped beating. Because? Because of the inability to celebrate life with others. Listen to this: you will be happy, you will be fruitful if you preserve the ability to celebrate life with others. How many people in the world are materially rich, but live as a slave of an unparalleled solitude! I think of the loneliness that many people, young and adults, experience in our prosperous, but often so anonymous, societies. Mother Teresa, who worked among the poorest of the poor, once said something that is prophetic, a precious thing: "Loneliness and the feeling of not being loved is the most terrible poverty".

Perhaps it is good for us to ask ourselves: For me, what is the most terrible poverty? What would be the greatest degree of poverty for me? And if we are honest we realize that the greatest poverty we can have is loneliness and the feeling of not being loved. Do you understand? Is the speech too boring or can I go on? ... Is it boring? [Young people: "No!"]
Fighting this spiritual poverty is a task to which we are all called, and you young people have a special role to play, because it requires a great change in our priorities, in our choices. It implies recognizing that the most important thing is not everything I own or can buy, but with whom I can share it. It is not so important to concentrate and wonder why I live, but for whom I live. Learn to ask yourself this question: not for what I live, but for whom I live, with whom I share my life. Things are important, but people are indispensable; without them we dehumanize ourselves, we lose the face, we lose the name and we become one more object, perhaps the best of all, but always an object; and we are not objects, we are people. The book of Sirach says: "A faithful friend is a safe refuge: whoever finds it has found a treasure" (6.14). This is why it is always important to ask oneself: "Who am I for?" You are for God, no doubt. But he wanted you to be also for others, and he placed in you many qualities, inclinations, gifts and charisms that are not for you, but for others "(Exh. Ap. Postsin. Christus vivit, 286), from share with others. Not just living life, but sharing life. Share life.

And this is something beautiful that you can offer to the world. Young people can give something to the world. Testify that social friendship, friendship between you is possible! Hope in a future based on a culture of encounter, acceptance, fraternity and respect for the dignity of each person, especially towards those most in need of love and understanding. Without having to attack or despise, but learning to recognize the wealth of others.

A reflection that can help us: to keep ourselves physically alive, we must breathe, it is an action that we perform without realizing it, we all breathe automatically. To remain alive in the full and broad sense of the word, we must also learn to breathe spiritually, through prayer, meditation, in an internal movement, through which we can listen to God, who speaks to us deep in our hearts. And we also need an external movement, with which we approach others with acts of love, with acts of service. This double movement allows us to grow and to recognize not only that God loved us, but that he entrusted to each of us a mission, a unique vocation and that we will discover to the extent that we give ourselves to others, to concrete persons.
Masako told us about these things starting from his experience as a student and as a teacher. He asked how young people can be helped to realize their goodness and value. Once again, I would like to say that, in order to grow, to discover our identity, our goodness and our inner beauty, we cannot look in the mirror. They invented so many things, but thanks to God there are no soul selfies yet. To be happy, we need to ask others for help, let another take the picture, that is, go out of ourselves and go to others, especially the most needy (see ibid., 171). I want to tell you one thing: don't look too much at yourself, don't look too much in the mirror of yourself, because you run the risk that by looking at you the mirror will break!

And here I finish: it was time! In particular, I ask you to extend the arms of friendship and to welcome those who come, often after great suffering, to seek refuge in your country. With us here is a small group of refugees; your welcome will testify that for many they may be strangers, but for you they can be considered brothers and sisters.

A wise teacher once said that the key to growing in wisdom lies not so much in finding the right answers, but in discovering the right questions. Do you all think: do I know how to respond to things? Can I respond well to things? Do I have the correct answers? If someone says yes, I'm happy for you. But ask another question: Can I ask the right questions? Do I have a restless heart that leads me to continually question myself about life, about myself, about others, about God? With the correct answers, pass the exam, but without the right questions, don't spend your life! Not all of you are teachers like Masako, but I hope you can ask good questions, question yourself and help others ask good and provocative questions about the meaning of life and how we can build a better future for those who come after us .

Dear young people, thank you for your friendly attention, and thank you for your patience, for all this time you have given me and for sharing some of your life. Don't cover dreams! Do not stun your dreams, give space to dreams and dare to look at great horizons, dare to look at what awaits you if you have the courage to build them together. Japan needs you, the world needs you, awake, not asleep. He needs you, generous, joyful and enthusiastic, able to build a home for everyone. I promise you that I will pray for you, so that you grow in spiritual wisdom, so that you may know how to ask the right questions, so that you forget about the mirror and know how to look at the eyes of others.

To all of you, to your families and friends, I send my best wishes and my blessing. And I ask you also to remember to send me good wishes and blessings. Thanks!
Full Text + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday, November 25, 2019 - #Eucharist

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 503
 Reading 1DN 1:1-6, 8-20
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came
and laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and some of the vessels of the temple of God;
he carried them off to the land of Shinar,
and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.

The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain,
to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood
and of the nobility, young men without any defect,
handsome, intelligent and wise,
quick to learn, and prudent in judgment,
such as could take their place in the king's palace;
they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans;
after three years' training they were to enter the king's service.
The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine
from the royal table.
Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah.

But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself
with the king's food or wine;
so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement.
Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy
of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel,
"I am afraid of my lord the king;
it is he who allotted your food and drink.
If he sees that you look wretched
by comparison with the other young men of your age,
you will endanger my life with the king."
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain
had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
"Please test your servants for ten days.
Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men
who eat from the royal table,
and treat your servants according to what you see."
He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days;
after ten days they looked healthier and better fed
than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.
So the steward continued to take away
the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.

To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency
in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.
At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation,
the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king had spoken with all of them,
none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah;
and so they entered the king's service.
In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Responsorial PsalmDANIEL 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R.(52b) Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!

AlleluiaMT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, "I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."