Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Saint January 8 : St. Apollinaris of Hierapolis a Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia

St. Apollinaris of Hierapolis
CLAUDIUS APOLLINARIS, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was one of the most illustrious prelates of the second age. Notwithstanding the great encomiums bestowed on him by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Theodoret, and ethers, but little is known of his actions; and. his writings,which then were held in great esteem, seem now to be all lost. He wrote many able treatises against the heretics, and pointed out, as St. Jerome testifies, from what philosophical sect each heresy derived its errors. Nothing rendered his name so illustrious, however, as his noble apology for the Christian religion which he addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, about the year 175, soon after the miraculous victory that prince had obtained over the Quadi by the prayers of the Christians. St. Apollinaris reminded the emperor of the benefit he had received from God through the prayers of his Christian subjects, and implored protection for them against the persecution of the pagans. Marcus Aurelius published an edict in which he forbade any one, under pain of death, to accuse a Christian on account of his religion; by a strange inconsistency, he had not the courage to abolish the laws then in force against the Christians, and, as a consequence, many of them suffered martyrdom, though their accusers were also put to death. The date of St. Apollinaris' death is not known; the Roman Martyrology mentions him on the 8th of January.

(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)

Free Christian Movie : Jesus of #Nazareth - Stars Laurence Olivier

Jesus of Nazareth PG | 6h 22min | Biography, Drama, History | TV Mini-Series (1977) Beginning before the Nativity and extending through the Crucifixion and Ressurection, JESUS OF NAZARETH brings to life all the sweeping drama in the life of Jesus, as told by the Gospels. Stars: Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier

Christmas Message of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav "..the Saviour and Lord is born ...is an integral part of being for every believing Christian, a visible sign and fruit of God’s unceasing presence." Full Text

Most Reverend Archbishops and Metropolitans,
God-loving Bishops, Very Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics,
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
in Ukraine and throughout the world
Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy!
Lk 2:10
Christ is born!  Glorify Him!
Beloved in Christ!
Today the angels in heaven sing and celebrate, all creation is filled with joy, for the Saviour and Lord is born this day in Bethlehem of Judea. This joy, which we especially experience with today’s illustrious feast, is an integral part of being for every believing Christian, a visible sign and fruit of God’s unceasing presence. The joy of the Saviour’s coming on earth dissipates all the fears and uncertainties of human life, for “God is with us,” once and for all!
In the Gospel narrative the light of God’s presence initially causes fear, as a human being by nature is afraid of the unknown, the unexpected or the uncertain: “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear” (Lk 2:8-9). But the word spoken by the angel “Fear not!” and the good news about the birth of the Saviour takes away that fear: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (2:12). The shepherds readily go to the place indicated by the angel, there they bow before the newborn Saviour, and in turn, themselves become proclaimers of joy.
The Newborn Saviour is the incarnate Love of God, who as the only and eternal source of joy dispels fear. Authentic love is not a temporary or passing human emotion, but a life-giving power, the expanse of life, given and guaranteed by God Himself. Only in the space of Divine love and joy can human beings fully live, develop, and be themselves. God does not desire for His creation to be afraid, and thus in the Nativity, He comes to us as a vulnerable child. The Son of God allows Himself to be laid on hay in a manger, He allows Himself to be embraced by human hands, to be fed at the human breast of the Mother of God. The Almighty God, who needs nothing, makes Himself needy, helpless, and dependent on the warmth and tenderness of human love! Today He makes us capable of opening our embrace to God and neighbour without fear.
So, where does this fear come from? Above all, humans are fearful because, being separated from God through sin, they feel abandoned and lonely: confronting the unknown world alone and unprotected before its hostility. When people are closed to the love of their Creator, they are fearful of Him, erroneously perceiving God as a hostile and foreign power, which seemingly might threaten them, and so they seek to build their life without Him. They hide before their God and Lord, as once did Adam in paradise following his sinful fall. We read in the book of Genesis: But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid…’” (3:9-10). The life of a person without God’s love is transformed into “a space of anxiety and restlessness.” A human being, having distanced himself or herself from the face of God, falls into a place of constant fear for their life in the face of death. It is this fear that is the tool of evil, which inevitably takes over and paralyzes a person, takes away his or her freedom, deprives them of joy and hope. A person without God is also afraid of his or her neighbour, the foreigner, the emigrant, as subconsciously they see them as competitors for their illusory space of security and plenty. In the end, such persons fear themselves, their weaknesses and limitations. They are afraid of failing to fulfil the expectations of others, they are afraid of being a failure in learning and work in the context of increasingly aggressive competition in the world. And so today the voice of the heavenly angel resounds in our present night of fear and insecurity: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy!” (Lk 2:10).
The Son of God was born in a human body in order to overcome the very reason for a person’s alarm, fear, and uncertainty. This day, in His Nativity, with His liberating divine love He enters into the cold and dark cave of human existence, into our world, increasingly filled with anxiety, into our personal expanse of life. He is born in our midst in order to remove the paralyzing power of our contemporary fears and anxieties, and to say to the person of the XXI century, to say to each one of us: “Fear not!” We read of this in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (2:14-15).
Christmas is the source of victory over today’s fears: fear of the future and the unknown, fear of others, fear of death. In celebrating the birth of our Saviour, His joyful entrance into the horizons of humanity today, let us not allow anyone to frighten us. The word of angels spoken today “Fear not!” is also directed to the Ukrainian people in the midst of the challenges we face in this historical period of our nation’s existence. If “God is with us” then who can frighten us, take away or imprison our will to defend our country and people, our desire for true justice, dignity, and liberty? St. John writes: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:18-19).
Christmas in the unification of God with humankind: God Himself enters into human living space and begins living as a human being, accepting all discomforts, challenges, and threats. Let us rejoice, therefore, for we are the ones whom Christ in His Nativity has liberated from fear, granting us joy in love. He will also renew our capacity to love God and neighbour. In Him are the foundations of our national, state, and ecclesial existence.
Dear Brother and Sisters. With Christ’s birth, I sincerely greet you all: those in Ukraine and abroad, those who celebrate together with loved ones and those who are far from family, the young and the old, children and parents, the healthy and the infirm, the wealthy and the poor. Today we are all rich in the joy and love of the newborn Saviour. In thought and heart, I am with those who suffer bodily and spiritual wounds. Those who have doubts and are searching in the midst of the dangers and anxieties of today’s world, who thirst for true peace and joy – receive my Christmas greeting and my loving embrace. Today, in a special way I unite myself in prayer with those who fearlessly stand on the frontlines and defend our country. On the occasion of this feast, I express my gratitude and impart my blessings on our battle-worn veterans. May the words of our carol-koliadka speak to the heart of each of you:
Let us imitate the shepherds,
Let us bow to the One Born
That He deign to grant us peace
Transform sorrows into joy,
For those who believe, who believe in Him.
Vselennaya Veselysia
From the bottom of my heart, I wish all of you the authentic joy of the children of God, a tasty kutia, a cheerful celebration of Christ’s Nativity, and a happy, peaceful, and blessed New Year!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the day of the all-praiseworthy Apostle Andrew the First-called
the 13th of December (30th of November) in the 2019th Year of our Lord
Text Source: https://www.royaldoors.net/ - Image Source: http://news.ugcc.ua/

Christmas Message of Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch ".. experience and understanding of the meaning of Christian worship as well as its communal, Eucharistic and eschatological character." Full Text

Christmas Message of Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, Christmas is celebrated on January 7, 2020 in the Orthodox Church.

Full Text Message: By God’s Mercy

Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the plenitude of the Church

Grace, mercy and peace from the newborn Savior Christ in Bethlehem

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Having once again arrived at the great feast of the Lord’s Nativity, we glorify with hymn and spiritual song the One who emptied Himself for our sake and assumed our flesh so that He might redeem us from captivity to evil and open the gates of paradise to the human race. The Church of Christ rejoices as it liturgically experiences the whole mystery of Divine Economy and receives a foretaste of the glory of the eschatological kingdom, offering a good and godly witness to faith, hope and love in the world.

The character of the Church, while “not of this world,” does not isolate the Church from historical and social reality, but inspires and strengthens its witness. The Church, then, ever in reference to the eternal destiny of man, serves his existential needs, pouring out, like the Good Samaritan, “oil and wine” on his wounds, becoming a “neighbor” for everyone “who falls among thieves” (cf. Luke 10.25–37), healing contemporary “cultural illnesses” and illuminating people’s minds and hearts. As the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the faithful, spirituality means witnessing in word and deed to the hope that is in us and has nothing to do with barren introversion. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life, the source of goodness, the bestower of gifts, life and light. The Christian is a human being that is afire, loves God, humanity and beauty, active and creative.

The Gospel of the Nativity is again heard this year in a cultural environment where supreme value is attributed to “individual rights.” Self-centeredness and the deceit of self-realization diminish social integrity, weaken the spirit of fellowship and solidarity, and objectivize interpersonal relations. Unrestricted emphasis on economy and secularization deepen the existential vacuum and lead to the diminishment of man’s creative forces.

The Church cannot possibly ignore these developments, whose consequences are primarily endured by our youth through the enchanting mechanism of technology and the manifold promises of “false paradises.” The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (Crete, 2016) emphatically invited our youth “to become aware that they are bearers and at the same time the continuation of the ancient and blessed tradition of the Orthodox Church,” to actively participate in the life of the Church, “to courageously preserve and dynamically cultivate the eternal values of Orthodoxy in order to convey the life-giving witness of Christianity.” (Encyclical, § 8–9)

In this same spirit, adhering to the exhortation of the Holy and Great Council but also in light of the recent election and enthronement of the new Archbishops of America, Australia and Thyateira-Great Britain for three large Eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne in the Diaspora, we declare 2020 as the “year of spiritual renewal and due concern for the youth,” inviting all our clergy and faithful to participate in and support this inspiring effort.

We aspire to the advancement of a “dialogical pastoral ministry” with imagination and vision, with unshakable faith in the eternally flowing grace of God and confidence in the power of human freedom. This pastoral ministry is centered on human persons and must turn young people away from “seeking their own interests” and “pleasing themselves” to a love that “does not seek its own” and “is pleasing to God,” from “material goods” to “the only One who is good,” from “endless needs” to the “one thing that alone is needed,” thereby contributing to the promotion of everyone’s charismas. Our truly free self is born by offering our self.

The foundation of the Christian conscience’s awakening remains to this day the experience and understanding of the meaning of Christian worship as well as its communal, Eucharistic and eschatological character. Young people must recognize that the Church is not a “union of Christians” but the “Body of Christ.” We call the reverend clergy of the Holy Great Church of Christ throughout the world to a “kenotic” pastoral mobilization. We should not wait for our young men and women to come to us, but we should reach out to them ourselves, not as judges but as friends, in imitation of the “good shepherd,” who “gives his life for his sheep” (John 10.11). A shepherd is always vigilant and on guard, aware of the pastoral needs of the youth and their social environment in order to act accordingly. His pastoral intervention draws inspiration and direction from the tradition of the Church, offering young people not merely “support” but the “truth” of freedom “to which Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5.1)

With these thoughts, we devoutly worship the Holy Child of Bethlehem and wish all of you from the festive Phanar a blessed Holy Twelvetide as well as a fruitful new year of our Lord, invoking on you the life-giving grace and great mercy of our Savior Christ, who condescended to the human race, the “God with us.”
Christmas 2019
Your fervent supplicant before God
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Source: https://hellenicnews.com/christmas-message-from-bartholomew-of-constantinople/

Australian Bishops' Statement on Fire Crisis "..draw strength from prayer which inspires concrete and compassionate action." Full Text

New Media Release from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference:
Catholic Church plans national response to bushfire crisis
Australia is facing an unprecedented calamity as fire engulfs the land in many places. We
have all seen the apocalyptic images, even if we are not in the areas most affected. Lives
have been lost, homes and towns have been destroyed, smoke has shrouded large
swathes of our country.
And there is no end in sight to the horror which confronts us with our powerlessness
before the devastating force of nature.
The efforts of firefighters have been heroic. The resilience of the communities affected has
been extraordinary. This has been Australia at its best, and we all stand with those who
have been most stricken and with those who are putting their lives on the line to fight the
But we need more than words. Expressions of solidarity are important, but they are not
The bishops are aware of the huge amount being done around the nation, led by
governments and first responders. Many local faith communities, including Catholic
parishes and organisations, as well as ecumenical and inter-religious coalitions, are also
making a big contribution.
While the bishops typically respond to challenges at a parish or diocesan level, the scale of
this crisis requires a national response from the whole Church to complement and
coordinate what is happening locally.
From the Bishops Conference, that national response includes:
• The facilitation of a national network connecting people affected by the bushfires
with people who can help with tasks such as preparing meals, clearing properties,
rebuilding communities, as well as pastoral and counselling support.
• The distribution of special prayers and other resources for use in parishes, families
and other Catholic communities.
• Collaboration with key national agencies like Catholic Health Australia, Catholic
Social Services Australia, the National Catholic Education Commission and the St
Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) to ensure as effective a response as possible from
the wider Catholic community.
• Cooperating with Catholic Religious Australia and religious institutes and their
• Parishes across the country taking up a special collection at Masses on the
Australia Day weekend, with all funds to be donated to Vinnies’ bushfire appeal.
Vinnies is responding in all affected states and territories. Its network of local conferences
and support services has seen them rapidly respond throughout the nation as the fire crisis
has spread.
As well as donations at Masses on Australia Day weekend, people are encouraged to
support the immediate response and the ongoing work of Vinnies in your state or
throughout bushfire-affected communities by donating here.
Our experts on the ground – from agencies like Vinnies, CatholicCare and CentaCare, in
parishes and other Catholic communities, including Catholic hospitals and aged care
providers – know this will be a long-term process to help people and whole towns rebuild.
With broad and deep roots across the nation, the Church stands ready to walk alongside
people throughout their journey of recovery.
Facing this exceptional crisis, we renew our call for insistent prayer for those stricken by
drought and fire, for those who have lost their lives in the fires and their families, for rain
to quench the parched land and extinguish the fires, and for urgent action to care for our
common home in order to prevent such calamities in the future.
A genuinely Catholic response to a crisis of this magnitude must draw strength from prayer
which inspires concrete and compassionate action.
January 7, 2020
by: Archbishop Mark B Coleridge DD BA DSS Archbishop of Brisbane

Wow 1.3 Million People in Poland at one of the World's Largest Epiphany Parades with President and Cardinal

Polish Catholics celebrate Feast of Epiphany
An estimated 1.3 million people took to the streets of cities across Poland on Monday in colourful parades to mark the Roman Catholic Church’s Feast of the Epiphany.
Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during an Epiphany parade in Warsaw on Monday.
The processions featured people of all ages, singing carols and wearing paper crowns, as well as richly dressed actors portraying the three Magi from the Bible—Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.

Warsaw Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz stood with the actors portraying the Three Wise Men during a prayer before an Epiphany parade in the Polish capital on Monday.
In the largest such event, a record crowd of some 90,000 gathered in the capital Warsaw to take part in an annual march from the city’s landmark Castle Square to the central Piłsudski Square, state news agency PAP reported, citing a spokeswoman for the organisers.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who joined the Warsaw parade in the company of First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, told those gathered that the annual event offered an opportunity for people “to meet and be together … as well as to sing together in the streets of our cities and towns.”

The Polish president and first lady sang carols at Warsaw's Piłsudski Square, accompanied by Roman Catholic Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz (left).
Duda added that Epiphany processions enabled Poles to “rejoice and feel a sense of community,” both in religious terms and “as a community of people who share the same values and who simply want to be together.”

First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda (picture above shows in centre) celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany in Warsaw on Monday. Photo: Eliza Radzikowska-Białobrzewska/KPRP
The Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings' Day, is one of the oldest and most important holidays in the Roman Catholic Church, and a public holiday in Poland.

Celebrated every year on January 6, it commemorates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem to pay tribute to the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth.

The day has been a public holiday in Poland since 2011 when it was reinstated after a hiatus of more than five decades.

This year’s Epiphany feast saw processions taking to the streets of 872 cities and towns around the country, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

More than 20 such events were also scheduled to be held by Polish communities abroad.

(gs) Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info - Full Text edited from PolskieRadio.pl

Christmas Message by Russian Patriarch Kirill "May our hearts, filled with love of God and neighbour, become the abode for the All-Merciful Christ..." Full Text

Christmas Message by Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia - Orthodox celebrate Christmas on January 7, 2020.
FULL TEXT Message of Patriarch Kirill
5 January 2020 year 17:00
Christmas Message by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monks and Nuns and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable priests and deacons, God-beloved monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters,

From the depths of my heart I congratulate you all on the radiant feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The wondrous miracle of the incarnation of God, which was accomplished more than two thousand years ago, today fills our souls with ineffable joy. “Today God has come upon the earth and man ascends to the heavens” (Verse for Festal Vespers). The Maker and Provider of all things has appeared in the world, for by his grace he could not “behold mankind oppressed by the devil” (from the Office for Baptism); “overcome by love, he who has no beginning and who is beyond expression came to seek out his lost creation” (Kontakion for the Parable of the Lost Coin by St. Roman the Melodist).

The amazing prophecies of the great heralds of the Word of God have come true, and before humankind, which for thousands of years has awaited salvation and deliverance, exhausted by the burden of sin, suffering from a curse not only during its earthly life but also in the world beyond, the gates of heaven have now been opened. “From the ever-blossoming Virgin there received flesh” our Lord Jesus Christ (Canon for the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God), and the cherubim, guarding the entrance to paradise with a sword of fire, “withdraw from the tree of life” (Verse for Festal Vespers). The Divine Infant has been born for the salvation of the world, who was “born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (Gal 4:4-5).

Inconceivable is the Lord’s humility: in being the omnipotent Master, he appears to people as a helpless infant; in being God, he assumes corruptible flesh and endures the afflictions of earthly life; in being the Immortal One, he goes voluntarily to his tortuous and shameful death. And he does all of this not for the select few – the prophets, righteous and his faithful servants. Christ comes for each one of us, he desires salvation for all without exception – the sinners and the evildoers, the indifferent and the neglectful, the cowardly and the angry, even his murderers!

The Lord turns nobody away, never disdains anyone; on the contrary, he assumes our human flesh, renews it through his divine incarnation, his sufferings on the cross and his life-bearing resurrection; he raises it up into the bosom of the Holy Trinity and sanctifies it by his presence rightward the throne of God. And it is of the life-creating body of Christ, his most pure blood shed for each one of us that we partake in the sacrament of the Eucharist – and we become one with the same body and the same blood of not only with the Saviour but also with each other.

However, today we unfortunately see the waves of discord rocking the ship of the Church, the storm of arguments and contradictions undermining the unity of the Orthodox faithful, people, overpowered by the darkness of the enemy and tempter, discarding the Fount of living water in favour of the “the murky fount of ungodly heresies that is unfit to drink from” (Canon to the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council). At this difficult time, we must all recall that the Lord was born, crucified and rose from the dead for each one of us, that he founded on earth the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In belonging to the Church, we are called upon to overcome discord, confrontation and conflict, to heal divisions, to help those who endure the horrors of war and suffer from oppression and injustice.

The Lord was born not in a royal palace but in a lowly cave in “abject poverty”. What, it would seem, could be worse than a cavern and poorer than a manger for cattle? Yet such a place does exist – it is the desert of the human heart scorched by sin, alienated from God, neither cold nor hot, wasted and enslaved by the passions. It is, however, within our power to make our soul a dwelling-place for God, to remember that the Lord is near, at the very gates, and that he humbly waits for us to finally see him with the eyes of faith, admit him into our lives, hear his words and respond to his love and allow him to act within us.

The whole world rejoices in the most glorious nativity of the Saviour: the angels sing hymns of praise, the shepherds are exultant, the magi worship and bring gifts to him, and it is only the embittered heart of Herod, full of envy, that does not wish to accept the divine truth, does not rejoice, yet trembles not from the fear of God but from cowardice. Let us ponder whether we too are not like him in our deeds, whether we do not make our priority our own well-being and comfort, whether we are not afraid that someone may be better than us, more talented, kinder, whether we do not do evil to such a person in trying to hurt or humiliate him before others, cast him down from his pedestal so that we may raise ourselves up a step higher. Is it not the case that the source of truth for us is not the Lord and his sacred commandments, but our very own selves? Do we not tempt others in passing off as truth our own self-serving fantasies, do we not rend asunder Christ’s robe through our ambitious actions, do we not sow the seeds of discord and discontent among our brothers and sisters in the faith?

As we gaze now upon the Divine Infant Christ and stand face to face with the divine truth, let us cast aside the “weight” of passions and “sin that clings so closely” (Heb 12:1), let us send up our ardent prayers for the strengthening of the unity of Orthodoxy and the increase of love, recalling that “love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).

The liturgical texts for the feast glorify not only the Lord who has been born for our salvation, but also those thanks to whom his incarnation became possible – the Most Pure Virgin Mary, the righteous Joseph the Betrothed and the holy forefathers. Let us also remember on this solemn day those who are close to us: let us visit our parents and friends, devote our attention to them, find kind words, and thank them for all they do for us. May our hearts, filled with love of God and neighbour, become the abode for the All-Merciful Christ, who is “Pre-eternal and Inconceivable, and Co-eternal with the invisible Father” (Sessional Hymn for Festal Vespers). Amen.



Nativity of Christ
Source: https://mospat.ru/en/2020/01/06/news181719/

Thousands of University Students in Phoenix learn Evangelization from FOCUS with Nuncio, a Cardinal, Matt Maher and more! - Video

The Student Leadership Summit (SLS) took place at the Phoneix Convention Center in Arizona, USA.

Trent Horn, originally from the Diocese of Phoenix, led a workshop titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Defending Your Faith,” at the FOCUS-sponsored Student Leadership Summit Dec. 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“This is going to be the door to evangelize, to reach out to people in my parish and to say, ‘I know you’re broken, I know you’re not fine I know you’re a mess because I’m not fine, I’m broken and I’m a mess. I know where you’ve been because I’ve been where you’ve been,’” an attendee said , referencing a keynote address from Fr. Mike Schmitz the night before. “It allows a certain authenticity to evangelize.”

The summit is sponsored by FOCUS, or the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. This year, SLS offered a track for non-students called “Making Missionary Disciples.”

  Also, Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, set the tone for the first full day at SLS Dec. 31, stressing in his homily to the “army of soldiers” in the congregation that the light of Jesus overcomes darkness and we are called to spread Christ’s light.

“Go forth to testify the true light of the world,”
 Archbishop Pierre said.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller from Germany gave a talk on Jan. 1. speaking of the poison of relativizing the Faith. One of FOCUS’s first missionaries, John Zimmer, delivered a talk to students, about incarnational evangelization. He explained that evangelization is like watching a good movie that we can’t wait to tell people about.

“Nobody is going to coach you on how to share a good movie with your friends. It comes naturally, and what we have in the Gospel message is far better than any movie,” said Zimmer.

Thousands knelt in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament following a New Year’s Eve party at the FOCUS-sponsored Student Leadership Summit in the early morning of Jan. 1 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
A great talked entitled The Gaze That Beckons: Following Jesus Wholeheartedly was given by Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V.

In the afternoon, conference attendees had the choice of attending several talks, one of them being Emily Wilson’s, “When Will my Vocation Begin?” (see Video above 32:24)

Wilson, herself an ASU alumnus, offered practical tips that individuals can implement if the Lord hasn’t revealed their vocation to them yet. She encouraged attendees to look to Mary, who was always receiving love and graces from the Lord, for inspiration. Wilson stressed that a time without knowing your vocation is not a time of waiting. Catholic recording artist and Dove-Award winner Matt Maher, who began his music ministry at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, led a crowd of thousands in worship as balloons fall at the stroke of midnight at a New Year’s Eve party at the FOCUS-sponsored Student Leadership Summit Dec. 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Dr. Edward Sri, one of the co-founders of FOCUS, and Damon Owen, executive director of the JoyToB ministry, wrapped up the evening by delving into the topic of authentic friendship. Sri spoke to the hearts of this generation by encouraging everyone to go on a social media fast in order to be more rooted in face-to-face friendship.

Finally, attendees spent their last moments of 2019 with Catholic recording artist and Dove Award-winner Matt Maher — who began his music ministry at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, singing songs of praise to the Lord as they spent their first moments of 2020 with Jesus in Adoration.
Edited from the CatholicSUN

BREAKING Egyptian President Al Sisi joins Patriarch Tawadros at Coptic Christmas "If we love God, we must love each other"

AFRICA/EGYPT - Al Sisi at the vigil of Coptic Christmas: "If we love God, we must love each other"
Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - "Let us continue in an honorable way, in a time without honor, and we believe that God will make honorable people victorious". Thus Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi expressed himself in his speech before Patriarch Tawadros and bishops, priests, religious and the multitude of faithful gathered in the Cathedral dedicated to the Nativity, in the new administrative capital of Egypt, on the occasion of his participation at the Christmas vigil, celebrated by the Coptic Church on the evening of Monday 6 January.
For six years, the Egyptian President has been attending the Christmas vigil liturgy celebrated by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch. This circumstance, again this year, provided al Sisi with the opportunity to express considerations addressed not only to the Coptic community, but to the whole nation, with words of patriotic inspiration and calls on all Egyptians to overcome divisions and make common front against pitfalls from outside. "As long as we are united", said the Egyptian President, "we should not worry, and we should only take care of those around us". The political leader also stressed that "if we love God, we must love each other, and we must not allow anyone to sow discord among us". Referring to the tensions and conflicts in the Middle Eastern region, al Sisi also pointed out that Egypt could have been pulled into devastating crises, as has happened and is happening in other nations in the area. "But as long as we are united", added the Egyptian President - "no one can drag us into such situations".
After his speech, and before leaving the liturgical assembly, the Egyptian President offered Pope Tawadros II a bouquet of flowers on behalf of all Egyptians, greeting him before leaving mass.
The new Coptic cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus is located in the urban area 45 km from Cairo destined to become the new administrative capital of Egypt. Representatives of the Sunni University of al Azhar and numerous Egyptian government representatives also took part in the liturgy, including Premier Mostafa Madbouly.
The same cathedral, officially inaugurated last year (see Fides, 4/1/2019), also wants to represent a symbol of the political strategy with which al Sisi intends to ensure the solidarity of the Coptic Church to itself and to its political project. The current Egyptian Presidency contributed directly with 100 thousand Egyptian pounds to the first financing of the huge urban works. According to the Egyptian leader, the new place of worship represents "a message for Egypt and for the whole world". Egyptian media present the new Coptic cathedral as "the largest church in the Middle East". The architectural design of the cathedral, faithful to the Coptic tradition, wants to recall the profile of Noah's Ark, and thus re-propose the image of the Church as a "boat" of salvation that sails through the hardships of history, towards the heavenly destination of Paradise.
In the urban plan of the new administrative capital, al Sisi wanted to include the construction of the largest mosque in the Country, with the aim of presenting the cathedral and mosque as symbols of coexistence and national unity. (GV) (Full Text Source: Agenzia Fides, 7/1/2020)

At Mass, Pope Francis' advice - Ask yourself when "...something that comes into your mind" if it is "From the spirit of the world or the Spirit of God?

Pope at Santa Marta: No to the spirit of the world that leads us to corruption
Pope Francis resumes the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta and recalls, that the Holy Spirit "is the guarantee that God remains in us", and that we do not lend faith to the spirit of the world, which makes us unconscious, to the point of not distinguishing good from evil.
Alessandro Di Bussolo - Vatican City

The Christian life is to remain in God, following the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of the world, which leads to corruption, and does not distinguish good from evil. Pope Francis resumed the morning celebration of Holy Mass at the Casa Santa Marta and in his homily commented on the passage from the first letter of St. John the Apostle, the first reading in the liturgy of the day, in which the evangelist takes up the advice of Jesus to his disciples: "Remain in God".

For many Christians today the Holy Spirit is only a dove
One can "be in the most sinful cities, in the most atheistic societies, but if one's heart remains in God," stressed the Pope, this man and this woman bring salvation. He then recalled the episode narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, who arrive in a city and meet Christians baptized by John. They ask them: "Have you received the Holy Spirit?", but they didn't even know he was there. How many Christians, commented Pope Francis, even today identify the Holy Spirit only with a dove and do not know that "what makes you remain in the Lord is the guarantee, the strength to remain in the Lord".

The spirit of the world makes you unconscious
The Pontiff then spoke of the spirit of the world, which is contrary to the Holy Spirit. "Jesus, at the Last Supper," he recalled, "does not ask the Father to remove the disciples from the world," because Christian life is in the world, "but to protect them from the spirit of the world, which is the opposite. He emphasized, that it is, "even worse than committing a sin. It is an atmosphere that renders you unconscious, leads you to a point that you do not know how to recognize good from evil".

The Holy Spirit: the guarantee of remaining in God
Instead, to remain in God, "we must ask for this gift" of the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee. From this "we know that we remain in the Lord". But how can we know, Pope Francis asked, if we have the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the world? Saint Paul, he explained, gives us this advice: "Do not sadden the Holy Spirit. When we go towards the spirit of the world we upset the Holy Spirit and ignore him, we cast him aside and our life goes another way".

Those Christians who celebrate the New Year by wasting money
The spirit of the world, the Pope added, is forgetting, because "sin does not turn you away from God if you realize it and ask forgiveness, but the spirit of the world makes you forget what sin is" everything is permissible. Then he said, that in these days a priest showed him a film of Christians celebrating the New Year in a tourist city, in a Christian country.

They celebrated the New Year with a terrible worldliness, wasting money and many things. The spirit of the world. "Is this a sin?" - "No dear: this is corruption, worse than sin." The Holy Spirit leads you to God, and if you sin, the Holy Spirit protects you and helps you to rise up, but the spirit of the world leads you to corruption, to the point that you do not know what is good and what is evil: everything is the same.

Test the spirits, to see if they come from God
Pope Francis recalled an Argentinean song that says: "Go, go, go... everything is the same that down there in the oven we will meet". The spirit of the world, he commented, leads you to the unconsciousness "of not distinguishing sin". And how do I know, the Pontiff asked, if " I am on the road to worldliness, to the spirit of the world, or if am I following the Spirit of God?"

The Apostle John gives us this advice: "Dear friends, do not give faith to every spirit (i.e. to every feeling, every inspiration, every idea), but test the spirits, to test whether they really come from God (or from the world)". But what does it mean to test the Spirit? It is simply this: when you feel something, you feel like doing something, or you come up with an idea, a judgment of something, ask yourself: is this what I feel from the Spirit of God or from the spirit of the world?

Does what I hear come from the spirit of the world or from God?
And how do you do it? Pope Francis' advice is to ask yourself "once, twice a day, or when you feel something that comes into your mind": This thing that I feel, that I want to do, where does it come from? "From the spirit of the world or the Spirit of God? Will this make me good or will it throw me down the road of worldliness that is unconsciousness?".

So many Christians don't know what goes on in their hearts
Many Christians, the Pope lamented, "live without knowing what goes on in their hearts". That is why St. Paul and St. John say: "Do not lend faith to every spirit", to what you feel, but put it to the test. And so "we will know what happens in our hearts". Because, concluded Pope Francis: "For many Christians their hearts are like a road and they do not know who comes and goes, who comes and goes, because they do not know how to examine what happens inside".

For this reason I recommend that you take some time every day before going to bed or at noon - when you want to - [and ask yourself]: what has happened in my heart today? What did I want to do, to think? What is the spirit that has moved in my heart? The Spirit of God, the gift of God, the Holy Spirit who always brings me forward to the encounter with the Lord or the spirit of the world who gently, slowly moves me away from the Lord; it is a slow, slow, slow slide.

A Heart that is not a road, but a meeting point with God
In a final piece of advice, the Pope said, “we ask this grace, "to remain in the Lord and we pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may make us remain in the Lord and give us the grace to distinguish spirits, that is, what moves within us. May our heart not be a road", may it be the meeting point between us and God.
FULL TEXT Source: VaticanNews.va

New President of Croatia is Zoran Milanovic, the former Prime Minister - Elected on Sunday

Zoran Milanovic elected new Croatian president

CroatiaWeek.com report: ZAGREB, 5 January 2020 – Former prime minister Zoran Milanovic (53) has been elected the new president of Croatia on Sunday.

After all 2,053,292 votes were counted, Milanovic won 52.67%  in Sunday’s presidential election runoff against incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (47.33%) to become the fifth elected president of Croatia and the second president to have been officially nominated by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the largest centre-left political party in Croatia, after Ivo Josipovic.

“Thanks to everyone who supported me, who didn’t support me, thanks to the all candidates, and to Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. It was a long, tough campaign. Croatian citizens elected me as the president of Croatia for all citizens and I am happy about that,” Milanovic said on Sunday night.

“I’ll be a president with character that will always oppose violence, injustice and protect the weak. I consider myself mature and in good faith willing to do the job, but it is more than a job, it is a way of life. No one in Croatia in which I will be president will feel like a second-class citizen. Nobody. I will not divide Croatian citizens,” Milanovic stated earlier.

Born in Zagreb, Milanovic graduated from the Zagreb Faculty of Law and then started his career working in the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as an advisor at the Croatian Mission to the European Union and NATO in Brussels from 1996–99. That same year he joined the Social Democratic Party. In 1998 he earned his master’s degree in European Union law and was an assistant to the Foreign Minister of Croatia for political multilateral affairs in 2003.

In 2007, Milanovic was elected President of the SDP and served as Prime Minister of Croatia from December 2011 to January 2016. He was the leader of the SDP from 2007 to 2016. Milanovic is married with two kids and also speaks English, Russian and French.

Milanovic secured the most votes in the first round of voting on 22 December with 29.6%, whilst Grabar-Kitarovic received 26.4% of the votes to force today’s runoff vote.

Voter turnout on Sunday was 54.99%. Out of the total number of votes,  52,373 came in from abroad.

The function of Croatia’s presidency is largely ceremonial. The president formally commands the army and represents the country abroad.
Full Text Source: https://www.croatiaweek.com/

Stampede of Mourners Kills 50 People in Iran during Funeral Procession of Qasem Soleimani in Iran with 200 Injured

BBC News reports that fifty people have been killed in a stampede as Iranians flocked to the burial of a top commander killed in a US drone strike. The deaths in Qasem Soleimani's hometown of Kerman led to the postponement of his interment. A new time will be announced later. Millions are already estimated to have packed the streets for a series of funeral processions in Iran. Soleimani's death has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.  It is unclear what caused the stampede in Kerman, south-eastern Iran, but vast numbers of people had been in the streets on Tuesday morning ahead of the planned burial. A coroner quoted on Iran's ISNA put the death toll at 50, with those injured numbering more than 200.
Above Edited from BBC News
Please Pray for the Repose of the souls of those killed....

Quote to SHARE - St Edith Stein "Lay all your cares about the future trustingly in God's hands, and let yourself be guided by the Lord.."

"Lay all your cares about the future trustingly in God's hands, and let yourself be guided by the Lord just like a little Child." ~ Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) ~

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday January 7, 2020 - #Eucharist

Tuesday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 213
  Reading 11 JN 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Responsorial PsalmPS 72:1-2, 3-4, 7-8

R. (see 11)  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

AlleluiaLK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 6:34-44

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late.
Dismiss them so that they can go
to the surrounding farms and villages
and buy themselves something to eat.”
He said to them in reply,
“Give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food
and give it to them to eat?”
He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?  Go and see.”
And when they had found out they said,
“Five loaves and two fish.”
So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.
The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.
Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples
to set before the people;
he also divided the two fish among them all.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments
and what was left of the fish.
Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.