Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Saint January 22 : St. Vincent Pallotti a Priest Devoted to Our Lady and the Poor who Founded the Pallottines





St. Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850, Rome, Italy) founded the Societas Apostolatus Catholici (S.A.C.) in 1835. He was canonized in 1963 by Pope John XXIII.
St. Vincent Pallotti was born in Rome, April 21, 1795, the third child of ten. His parents were Peter-Paul Pallotti and his wife Maddalena. From his earliest years his devout parents took him to daily Mass and religious devotions in the many neighborhood churches of Rome. For a time Vincent had trouble with his studies until his mother sought the advice of a close friend, Father Fazzini. He advised her to make a novena to the Holy Spirit with Vincent. The Novena completed, something clicked in the boy's head. He became the brightest student in his class. Vincent had an innate desire to do what he could to help the poor. Before he would give them a coin he would wash it in the nearby fountain. "When I give to the poor," he would say, "I give the coin to Christ. I want it to look nice." He felt called to do penance. He ate little. When his parents informed Father Fazzini of the penances, he replied, "Let us leave Vincent undisturbed. It appears to be a higher call than we have been given. It seems to come from God."
Vincent's first registration in a religious youth group was at his grade school of San Pantaleone, staffed by the Piarist Fathers. The school had been hallowed by the presence of its holy founder, St. Joseph Calasanz who formed a youth apostolate in Counter-reformation Rome. Our Lady had appeared to Joseph Calasanz when he was a teacher in the classroom where Vincent now attended. Joseph had been instrumental in restoring both eye and eyesight to a pupil whose eye had been jabbed out by a pencil thrust into it by an angry classmate. Vincent's Marian development was thus well nurtured in this school with the solemn observances of our Lady's feasts and the devout use of a small rosary of twelve Hail Mary's called the "Crown of Twelve Stars," which St. Calasanz had much promoted among the students of his schools. Vincent was quite religious and of a serious nature. Yet, he loved to play ball with his friends in front of his father's grocery store. Early every morning he walked to Santa Maria in Vallicella. There he put on his cassock and surplice as an altar boy. Under the altar of this church there was reposed the remains of the great youth worker, St. Philip Neri.
In the days before St. John Bosco, the name of St. Philip Neri would first come to mind whenever any program was being instituted for youth. Pallotti was often referred to in later life as the "Second St. Philip Neri."
St. Vincent became a member of a more advanced youth group at the Church of Santa Maria del Pianto. It met every Sunday and Holy Day for catechetical instruction, Marian devotions and recreation. It was under the direction of diocesan priests and among them was St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Vincent as a major seminarian and young priest succeeded St. Gaspar in the directorship of the group. Once when he was on a summer vacation, Father Pallotti wrote to his youth group reminding them that St. Philip Neri had said: "The most insane thing in the whole world was not to want to be a saint. Sanity is to take every means to achieve sanctity and be pleasing to God. When we think of the infinite reward God will give us for that - it is sheer insanity to do the opposite!"
Vincent's high school studies were accomplished at the world-famed Collegio Romanowhich had been established by St. Ignatius Loyola. Among its graduates were the paragons of youthful holiness, St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. John Berchmans. In Vincent's time the Jesuits had been suppressed for several years and replaced by other clergy. The profound tradition of the Jesuits who had taught there, and the magnificent altar tomb of St. Gonzaga, could not be ignored and was very much kept alive. Pallotti chose St. John Berchmans, a Jesuit seminarian, as his role model to imitate on the path to holiness, particularly in his love for Mary in her Immaculate Conception.
Collegio Romano, as all Jesuit schools once did, had a distinctive youth organization known as the "Sodality of the Blessed Virgin." Because the school's unit was the first Sodality, it bore the distinguished title: "Prima Priaria." Vincent cherished his membership in it and the group heightened his Marian devotion all the more as he practiced it in union with his peers who took their devotion to Mary very seriously. After his entrance into theSapienza University as a theology student, he decided upon a very bold and daring move. Despite the very negative reaction of many toward the clergy, now that he was a seminarian, he chose to wear his cassock and collar in public. He was clearly visible as a man of the Church when most diocesan and non-monastic orders wore a garb that resembled very much what comes to our minds when we think of Benjamin Franklin. For him it was a sign and defiance of the secularized world and its anti-clericalism.
One day Pallotti was leading his youth group at Santa Maria del Pianto to some function elsewhere in Rome. An irate diocesan priest, himself dressed in the "Benjamin Franklin" style garb, sharply upbraided the seminarian as a hypocrite and phony for his use of the cassock. Vincent let the priest rant and rave on. In a few minutes he slipped away from the group and was found in a corner of the sacristy of Santa Maria del Pianto on his knees reciting the Te Deum in thanksgiving for this mistreatment for what he believed was right.
As Vincent neared ordination he was introduced into apostolic work among the farmers who brought their products to Rome from the surrounding towns and villages to sell at the markets. Vincent was assigned to the hay sellers. He organized the young farmers and their children into classes in the evening and helped them to learn how to read and write. He also prepared many of them for the sacraments. From this experience of being a volunteer, he would later encourage others to volunteer to spread the kingdom of God.
Vincent Pallotti was ordained in May, 1818, at the Lateran Basilica. He said his first Mass on the following day in the Jesuit Church in Frascati. He was not assigned to a specific church or rectory. Instead, he lived at home with his family and continued as a teacher at the Sapienza University. In the world of college students he was very well liked. He offered tutoring to those who had found their studies difficult. He began a very successful apostolate of street preaching on the steps of local churches and was able to attract large numbers of people into church afterwards for confession.
In his travels Vincent became aware of a number of young workers whose work hours prevented them from attending daytime classes. He soon gathered these workers at a nearby parish hall and recruited volunteer teachers to give them a basic education. He and several others gave the religious instruction. In a matter of a few years the project mushroomed into many other "night schools" and was relocated to more spacious quarters. By now, 500 young workers were enrolled. At this point Pallotti turned over his project to the supervision of the Christian Brothers to ensure that it would be properly managed.
After ten years at the Sapienza University, the diocesan authorities turned to Father Pallotti for assistance with a very pressing youth problem in Trastevere. This section of Rome was a difficult one. While it had produced saints as lovely as St. Cecilia and St. Frances of Rome, it had also produced many rogues and toughened people. It has been ever the spot where urchins and ragamuffins run rampant.
There was now a great need for a kind, patient and sincere priest who could see beyond brokenness and be capable of drawing the best out of these disorderly youth. They needed to be given the most elemental religious instruction. They needed to be prepared for First Holy Communion. In those days First Communion was received when a child was about twelve years old.
This new assignment would mean relinquishing his teaching position at the University and saying goodbye to his favorite youth group at Santa Maria del Pianto. Father Vincent knew that the assignment would bring many souls to God and strengthen the faith of these Trastevere urchins and so he accepted it willingly.
He was given space in the Ponterotto retreat house which had formerly been the family home of St. Frances of Rome. The rough Trastevere teens, who could have matched any scugnizzi that Charles Dickens could describe with his pen, now got the attention they deserved in order to set them in the right direction. They responded with extraordinary cooperation. Pallotti did not neglect the nobility nor the upper class and he provided retreats for them at another retreat house nearby. His purpose was to inculcate into these men who would be the leaders of the future, a love of virtue, a sense of honor and integrity coupled with a sense of responsibility for those who had less than they.
His knack for getting volunteers involved in his many projects, expanded beyond his concern for youth when he began his broad vision of the Union Of The Catholic Apostolate which strove to accomplish a revival of the Catholic Faith among Catholics and a rekindling of charity toward achieving the salvation of one's neighbor. In his desired UNION, men and women of every social strata, church folks of every rank and religious order would work in harmonious collaboration for the missionary endeavors of the Church. Moreover, the poor, the aged and ailing, the sick and bedridden could offer their prayers and sufferings for the success of the venture. Pope Gregory XVI heartily approved the new movement and it soon had hundreds and hundreds of members.
Not long after its foundation and its first experience of the Epiphany festival as the visible exemplification of its spiritual ideals, philosophy and objectives, the UNION was confronted not by ceremony but by calamity. Deadly cholera struck in 1837 and decimated the population of the Eternal City. Not even Vincent's father was spared. His director, Father Fazzini and his friend, St. Gaspare del Buffalo died. In its wake hundreds were left homeless and hungry.
Orphaned girls roamed the streets. It was their pitiable plight that wounded the heart of Vincent Pallotti who was himself strenuously working day and night and round the clock to care for the destitute and abandoned. What grieved him most was that these orphan girls were being taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. He and a trusted friend, Mr. James Salvati, got the use of a small, former seminarians' residence and fixed it up to receive the orphan girls. A corps of carefully chosen volunteers looked after the girls and taught them the domestic skills they would later need in life. This home became known as the Pious House of St. Agatha. It is still in operation today behind what is now the St. Thomas Aquinas University in Rome. In its chapel Vincent placed the large painting of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Pious House of St. Agatha occupied much of the Saint's attention and his visits there were a delight for the young girls who loved him dearly. His lay volunteers later became the nucleus of the Pallottine Sisters who would devote much time to the education and Christian formation of young people. He began another orphanage near the Vatican. Later on it was taken over by another religious order, and a third, at Velletri, was already in the planning stage just before Vincent died.
Not the least of St. Vincent's contributions to the apostolate among the young was the magnificent care he gave to the students preparing for the priesthood at the Roman Seminary, Propaganda Fide (where the students from foreign lands came to study), the national colleges of England, Scotland and those of the various Eastern Churches whose students studied in Rome. His was a welcome presence and many looked back at the guidance St. Vincent had given them from as far away as Persia and Baltimore, Maryland, whose Archbishop Martin J. Spalding was able to write forty years later of his spiritual mentor that all Rome regarded him as a saint and a man of profound faith in the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. "No cross or aggravation could ruffle him and the memory of his holiness clusters as a halo around my heart!"
John Henry Newman, much admired by the young students of Oxford, had resigned his Anglican ministry and entered the Catholic Church. He and several others were sent to Rome to complete studies for ordination to the Catholic priesthood. Newman believed Pallotti to be a very holy man and said the same to the then Archdeacon of the Anglican Diocese of Chichester. Manning had come on visit to Rome to examine its claims "on location."
Manning went to visit Pallotti and came away with the same conviction. Manning spoke of hearing a group of young men singing a Marian hymn as they passed through the street and was told that it was one of the groups from Pallotti's Night Schools on their way home. Both Newman and Manning later were made Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church.
Youth work was not the only part of Pallotti's apostolate though there is more than enough of it to merit a consideration of its own. He continued his duties as a diocesan priest and led his Union of the Catholic Apostolate in its generous outreach to provide for the local needs of the Church and for those of the foreign missions. He was a great retreat master and preacher. Long lines waited their turn outside his confessional. Yet Pallotti made time for daily visits to the city hospitals and to the jails and prisons where his smile and compassion brought a ray of sunshine to those incarcerated there. He badgered the prison officials incessantly until he had obtained the separation of the youthful offenders from the adults in prison. "If you want to rehabilitate youth and keep them out of jail in the future, then give them the chance to do without a thorough training in criminality they are sure to receive from their elders here!" And he was listened to with respect by the prison authorities, and with thankfulness from those who would now have a new lease on life.
Vincent is still remembered for his unstinting generosity to the prisoners condemned to death. He would spend the entire night with them. He was their last friendly presence at the scaffold. Amid the hubbub and hurry burly of such gruesome scenes, it was he who calmly held the crucifix before their eyes as the headsman's axe swiftly descended. Popes sought his advice and knelt for their own confession before him. Soldiers in their military barracks responded to their beloved priest with extraordinary respect. For those at death's door he was an angel of mercy as he brought the sacraments of the Church and encouragement to trust in God's goodness until the very end.
Only once is it recorded that his contact with youth was a failure. A group of loud, boisterous wise guys were standing before a picture of Our Lady and their language was not of the type one would expect to hear in a convent sacristy! Vincent went up to them and asked them to stop out of respect for the Blessed Mother's picture. The haughty braggarts who feared neither God, man nor beast, stood up to the young priest in the mistaken hope of besting him. The ringleader jeered: "Yeah, Father! What's she going to do about it, kill us?" Suddenly a look of horror came over Vincent's face as he saw into the near future. "Young man you are a fool to continue like this. You will be dead in less than a few minutes. Repent while there is time. At that the teenager let out a stream of profanity that would have twisted the tail of a stone lion. Suddenly he collapsed unconscious to the ground. His astonished following of juvenile delinquents rushed to revive him. They were shocked out of their wits. "He's dead, Father! My God, he's dead!" By use of a clever disguise Vincent was able to get near a young man who was a revolutionist and had promised to kill any priest who came near him. When the man fell asleep with rifle in hand and pistol beneath the pillow, Pallotti removed them and put the cross in his hand. Later the man awoke, astonished and made his confession to Father Vincent and died about a week later reconciled to the Lord.
St. Vincent Pallotti died in 1850 surrounded by a handful of followers which now numbers thousands of priests, brothers and sisters and an even more vast number of lay people committed to the apostolate. He was canonized in 1963 by Pope John XXIII as a model for all active priests and for encouraging the lay people to become more active in the mission of the Church. Also, he was hailed by Popes Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII as the precursor of Catholic Action and of the Second Vatican Council.
Shared from the Pallottines.org

Pope Francis explains “Being Christian, being baptized...is pure gratuitousness. You can't buy the Lord's gifts,” in Homily


Pope at Mass: ‘You can’t buy the Lord’s gifts’
Pope Francis celebrates morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta reminding believers that the Lord’s gifts are free and it is not Christian to seek favours in order to grow in ecclesiastical careers.
By Linda Bordoni

To be a Christian, a priest or a bishop is a free gift from the Lord, Pope Francis said during his homily, and holiness consists in “guarding” this gift which we received gratuitously, and not thanks to our own merits.

The Pope was reflecting on the Responsorial Psalm and from the First Reading of today’s liturgy.

He explained that the Psalm recalls the election of David as king of Israel, after the Lord had rejected Saul for not obeying.

In the Reading, the Lord sends Samuel to anoint as king one of the sons of Jesse of  Bethlehem. The anointment, he said, indicates God's choice, and today it is used today to consecrate priests and bishops.

Noting that we Christians are anointed with oil during Baptism, the Pope explained that God urges Samuel to look beyond appearances because, “it does not matter what man sees: in fact, man sees the appearance but the Lord sees the heart.”

The Pope recalled how David's brothers fought against the Philistines to defend the kingdom of Israel saying "they had merits", but he noted, God chose the last of them.

He described him as “a restless boy,” who grazed the flock and said the Scriptures tell us he was called David and was a handsome youth “making a splendid appearance.”  After the anointment, he continued,  “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”

The Lord’s gifts are free
Pope Francis said it is a story that prompts one to reflect and wonder why the Lord chose a “normal” boy, who perhaps sometimes behaved in a silly way as many youngsters do. He was not even a pious boy, “who prayed every day”, he said, and he had seven good brothers “who had more merits than him.”

And yet, the Pope pointed out, the smallest, "the most limited, the one who had no titles”, who had not fought the war, was the one to be chosen. This, he said, shows us "the gratuitousness of God's choice.”

He invited those present to reflect on their own presence at Mass saying “why did the Lord choose us?” Not because, he come from a Christian family or a Christian culture,” in fact, he said, many such people end up rejecting the Lord.

And highlighting the gratuitousness of God’s choice, the Pope spoke also of how  priests and bishops have received their anointment for free.

“There are, yes, those who want to go ahead in the so-called ecclesiastical careers, who behave in a simonical way, seeking influences, becoming climbers,” he said, but he pointed out that that is not the Christian way.

“Being Christian, being baptized, being ordained priests and bishops is pure gratuitousness. You can't buy the Lord's gifts,” he said.

Preserving the gift
The Pope went on to speak about what we can do "to be holy" and said that Christian holiness is “to preserve the Lord’s gift, nothing more”, behaving in such a way that the Lord always remains with us.

He decried that attitude of some that aim to climb the ladder of a career in the Church and said that to be anointed a bishop is a gift.

He urged Christians to live with humility, thus guarding God’s gift of having chosen us. And he spoke of the great gift of the Holy Spirit saying: “When the Lord elected us, He gave us the Holy Spirit. And that's pure grace.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily warning Christians never to forget the people of God.

“If we priests forget our flock, if we bishops forget this and feel more important than others, we deny God's gift, he said.

“It’s like telling the Holy Spirit we can manage on our own, (…) and that's not Christian. That's not guarding the gift.”

Let us ask the Lord today, he prayed, to give us the grace to give thanks for the great and beautiful gift He has given us, and to preserve it with faithfulness.

Full Text Source: VaticanNews.va

Quote to SHARE by St. Josemaria Escriva “My Lord and my God. I firmly believe that you are here; that you see me and hear me. I adore you with profound reverence. I ask your pardon of my sins..."


“My Lord and my God. I firmly believe that you are here; that you see me and hear me. I adore you with profound reverence. I ask your pardon of my sins and the grace to make this time of prayer fruitful. My Immaculate Mother, St. Joseph my father and lord. My Guardian Angel, intercede for me.” 
St. Josemaría Escrivá

Pope Francis says "..Let us not forget that to trample upon the dignity of another person is in fact to weaken one’s own worth." to Economic Forum


MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO PROFESSOR KLAUS SCHWAB
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

As the World Economic Forum celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, I send greetings and prayerful good wishes to all taking part in this year’s gathering. I thank you for your invitation to participate and have asked Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, to attend as the Holy See’s representative.
In these years, the World Economic Forum has offered an opportunity for the engagement of diverse stakeholders to explore innovative and effective ways of building a better world. It has also provided an arena where political will and mutual cooperation
can be guided and strengthened in overcoming the isolationism, individualism and ideological colonization that sadly characterizes too much contemporary debate.
In light of the ever growing and interrelated challenges affecting our world (cf. Laudato Si’, 138 ff.), the theme you have chosen to consider this year – Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World – points to the need for a greater engagement at all levels in order to address more effectively the diverse issues facing humanity. Throughout the past five decades, we have witnessed geopolitical transformations and significant changes, from the economy and labour markets to digital technology and the environment. Many of these developments have benefitted humanity, while others have had adverse effects and created significant development lacunae. While today’s challenges are not the same as those of half a century ago, a number of features remain relevant as we begin a new decade.
The overriding consideration, never to be forgotten, is that we are all members of the one human family. The moral obligation to care for one another flows from this fact, as does the correlative principle of placing the human person, rather than the mere pursuit of power or profit, at the very centre of public policy. This duty, moreover, is incumbent upon business sectors and governments alike, and is indispensable in the search for equitable solutions to the challenges we face. As a result it is necessary to move beyond short-term technological or economic approaches and to give full consideration to the ethical dimension in seeking resolutions to present problems or proposing initiatives for the future.
All too often materialistic or utilitarian visions, sometimes hidden, sometimes celebrated, lead to practices and structures motivated largely, or even solely, by self-interest. This typically views others as a means to an end and entails a lack of solidarity and charity, which in turn gives rise to real injustice, whereas a truly integral human development can only flourish when all members of the human family are included in, and contribute to, pursuing the common good. In seeking genuine progress, let us not forget that to trample upon the dignity of another person is in fact to weaken one’s own worth.
In my Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, I drew attention to the importance of an “integral ecology” that takes into account the full implications of the complexity and interconnectedness of our common home. Such a renewed and integrated ethical approach calls for “a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision” (ibid., 141).
In acknowledging the achievements of the past fifty years, it is my hope that the participants in today’s Forum, and those to be held in the future, will keep in mind the high moral responsibility each of us has to seek the integral development of all our brothers and sisters, including those of future generations. May your deliberations lead to a growth in solidarity, especially with those most in need, who experience social and economic injustice and whose very existence is even threatened.
To those taking part in the Forum I renew my prayerful good wishes for a fruitful meeting and I invoke upon all of you God’s blessings of wisdom.
From the Vatican, 15 January 2020

FRANCIS
Full Text Source: Vatican.va - Official Translation

Spanish Cardinal says country faces a Critical Situation and Calls for Prayers in the face of Government Secularization


Spanish Archbishop prays to Mary to ‘save Spain’ in face of secularisation Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
Spanish Church leaders have voiced concern for their country’s future after the government pledged to legalise euthanasia, secularise education and strip the Church of “improper assets”.

“Spain faces a critical situation, a true emergency for our future,” Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Valencia told Catholics in a pastoral letter. He asked that special prayers and Masses be help in Spain “as long as this uncertain future remains unclarified”.

The letter was circulated just before Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez formally took office on January 8 at the head of a coalition government, the first since Spain’s 1978 restoration of democracy. Sanchez had been caretaker prime minister since early 2019.

Cardinal Canizares said his warnings were not “rhetoric or sterile drama”, but a call for the Church to “testify to Christ in words and deeds” and help “build a new mentality and a new Spain”.

Archbishop Jesus Sanz Montes of Oviedo said in a January 8 tweet: “Uncertainty is drawn on the horizon, but we know the sun will rise behind the clouds and storms…The sun will bring back colour after all the clumsiness, lies and vanity which beset us.”

The coalition parties’ agreement, described by some media as “fragile”, proposes legislation to allow “a dignified death and euthanasia” at public expense and a range of “feminist policies”. It also will “facilitate recovery of assets improperly registered to the Church” and guarantee “state secularity and neutrality toward all religious denominations”, removing religious teaching from school curricula and enhancing comprehensive sexuality education.
Text Edited from IrishCatholic.com Image Source: Google Image - Pixabay

Novena to St. Agnes and Prayers to the Patron of Engaged #Couples and Chastity


Novena to St. Agnes for unmarried couples. St. Agnes, although you were only a child, you believed that Jesus was always with you; help us to remember that he is also with us and to remain true to his presence. St Agnes, you refused to give up your faith, help us to be proud of our faith to love it, to be strong in it, and to give witness to it daily. St. Agnes, patron saint of unmarried couples, watch over ________ and _______ keep them strong in their faith, committed to chastity and virginity until marriage. Be with them and always pray for them. Amen Say 1 Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be for 9 days
Other Novena Prayer to St. Agnes
O singular example of virtue, glorious Saint Agnes, by the living faith which animated thee from thy tenderest years, and rendered thee so pleasing to God that thou didst merit the martyr's crown: obtain for us the grace to keep our holy faith inviolate within us, and to profess ourselves Christians sincerely in word and work; may our open confession of Jesus before men cause Him to bear a favorable witness to us before His eternal Father. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
O invincible Martyr, Saint Agnes most renowned, by thy confidence in God's help, when, being condemned by the impious Roman prefect to see the lily of thy purity stained and trampled in the mire, thou didst not despair, still trusting firmly in the God who giveth His angels charge over them that trust in Him: we beseech thee by thine intercession to obtain for us from Almighty God the forgiveness of all our sins and the sure confidence that He will bestow upon us life everlasting and the means necessary to merit it. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
O courageous maiden, Saint Agnes most pure, by the burning love with which thy heart was on fire, and which preserved thee from harm in the midst of the flames of passion and of the stake, where the enemies of Jesus Christ sought to destroy thee: obtain for us from Almighty God that every unclean flame may be extinguished in us and only that fire, which Jesus Christ came to enkindle upon the earth, may burn within us; so that, after spending a blameless life in the practice of this fair virtue, we shall be worthy to have a share in the glory thou didst merit by the purity of thy heart and by thy martyrdom.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

(Indulgence of 300 days) 

Prayer in Honor of St. Agnes

O Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ, source of all virtues, lover of virgins, most powerful conqueror of demons, most severe extirpator of vice! deign to cast Thine eyes upon my weakness, and through the intercession of Mary most blessed, Mother and Virgin, and of Thy beloved spouse St. Agnes, glorious virgin and martyr, grant me the aid of Thy heavenly grace, in order that I may learn to despise all earthly things, and to love what is heavenly; to oppose vice and to be proof against temptation; to walk firmly in the path of virtue, not to seek honors, to shun pleasures, to bewail my past offenses, to keep far from the occasions of evil, to keep free from bad habits, to seek the company of the good, and persevere in righteousness, so that, by the assistance of Thy grace, I may deserve the crown of eternal life, together with St. Agnes and all the saints, forever and ever, in Thy kingdom. Amen.
(Indulgence 100 days, Pius IX, 1854)  

Synodal Path of the German Catholic Church Explained as Synodal Assemblies to start on January 30


The synodal assembly is one part of the synodal path, which the German bishops agreed to stage at their annual meeting last March. The synodal assembly will include 230 members. It is the highest decision-making body of the synodal path, an effort by the bishops’ conference and lay Central Committee of German Catholics to restore trust following a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades. More than 940 suggestions and questions had been submitted by early January in advance of the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 assembly in Frankfurt. Comments will continue to be accepted through Jan. 23 at the website of the German bishops’ conference. The bishops’ conference and the committee each will send 69 members to the assembly. Decisions of the assembly must be passed by a double two-thirds majority: two-thirds of all participants as well as two-thirds of all members present from the bishops’ conference. (Above excerpt edited from CNS)

The Synodal Path – The history - (Released by Bishops' Conference of Germ.)
The Spring Plenary Assembly of the German Bishops’ Conference from 11 to 14 March 2019 in Lingen was influenced by the so-called MHG study (Research Project “Sexual abuse of minors by catholic priests, deacons and male members of orders in the domain of the German Bishops’ Conference”) on the survey of cases of sexual abuse in the domain of the Catholic Church, which had already shaped the Autumn Plenary Assembly in September 2018.

In the period up to spring 2019, the German bishops in the meetings of the Permanent Council had repeatedly dealt with the question of the consequences of the MHG study. Already in September 2018, the Plenary Assembly declared: “The challenges specific to the Catholic Church, such as the questions of the celibate way of life of priests and various aspects of Catholic sexual morality, will be discussed in a transparent process of dialogue with experts from various disciplines.”

A study day during the Plenary Assembly in Lingen took up questions from the MHG study. Its theme was: “Die Frage nach der Zäsur – Studientag zu übergreifenden Fragen, die sich gegenwärtig stellen” (“The question of the turning-point-study day on overarching questions that currently arise”). The lectures given there were published on dbk.de.
In Lingen it became obvious: shock waves require special procedures. The MHG-study and, as a result, the demand of many for reforms show: the Church in Germany is experiencing a turning point. Faith can only grow and deepen if one becomes free from thinking blockades, if one faces up to the free and open debate and develops the ability to take new positions and to go new ways.
The decision concerning the Synodal Path
For this reason, in Lingen the decision was taken to follow a Synodal Path. The conviction was expressed: the Church needs synodal progress. Pope Francis recommends it. Even the Church in Germany does not start from the beginning. The “Joint Synod of the Dioceses of the Federal Republic of Germany” (“Würzburg Synod”, 1971 to 1975), the “Pastoral Synod of the Catholic Church in the GDR” (1973 – 1975) and also the discussion process of the past years have prepared the ground, also for many challenges of today. Cardinal Reinhard Marx declared in the closing press conference of the Lingen Plenary Assembly that it had been decided “to follow a binding Synodal Path as the Church in Germany, which makes possible a structured debate and takes place in an agreed period of time, together with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK). We will create formats for open debates and commit ourselves to procedures that enable the responsible participation of women and men from our dioceses. We want to be a listening Church. We need the advice of people outside the Church”.

The deliberations of the Central Committee of German Catholics
During its Plenary Assembly on 10 – 11 May 2019 in Mainz, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) dealt with the issue of the Synodal Path of the Church in Germany. With a clear majority, the Assembly voted to help shape this path constructively. The Committee and the Main Committee were instructed by the Plenary Assembly to continue the planning with the German Bishops' Conference in binding cooperation and under common leadership, to provide the necessary personnel and financial means for this and to ensure the networking of the representatives of the ZdK.

Pope Francis’ letter of 29 June 2019
Pope Francis wrote – for the first time in contemporary history – a letter “To the Pilgrim People of God in Germany”. This letter also takes up the concerns of the Synodal Path. The President of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, and the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Prof. Dr Thomas Sternberg, jointly commented on this letter.
What happens next?
The Synodal Assemblies will take place from 30 January to 1 February 2020 and from 3 to 5 September 2020 in Frankfurt/Main.

Source: https://www.synodalerweg.de/ - Image Source: Google Images - DW.com

Bishops of Mexico Message of Hope for 2020 to be "a year in which peace, reconciliation and dialogue reign"


AMERICA/MEXICO - The Bishops' message for 2020: Migrants, protection of minors, violence, religious freedom
Wednesday, 15 January 2020
Mexico City (Agenzia Fides) - "There are several challenges that we faced in 2019 and that, as a Catholic Church, we faced with due urgency and responsibility. We continue to pray for the special situations we are experiencing and we commit ourselves with our best efforts to continue taking care of the people that the Lord has entrusted to us". This is what the Bishops of Mexico write in a message for the new year, published on the 14th January, signed by Mgr. Rogelio Cabrera López, Archbishop of Monterrey and President of the Mexican Episcopal Conference (CEM), and by Mgr. Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola, Auxiliary Bishop of Monterrey and Secretary General of CEM.
"The migratory emergency - they write in the message sent to Fides - which began with the large caravans of 2018 and continued in 2019 was the occasion to make the charity of our Church in Mexico concrete, in the person of our migrant brothers. Thousands of them have entered our country in recent months and the flow has not stopped".
The $ 500,000 contribution offered by Pope Francis to assist migrants in Mexico was used to carry out 32 projects aimed at responding to emerging food, health and clothing issues. In some cases, areas of reception centers, now packed with migrants, have been renovated, and in others, furniture has been purchased. For the safety of volunteers and migrants, a perimeter fence of some reception centers was completed. "We hope to conclude all the projects by February - they write - and to be able to continue to count on the generosity of the People of God to continue this support for our migrant brothers".
The second issue concerns the protection of minors: the Bishops recall the progress made in the establishment of diocesan commissions, of which 14 already exist. The National Council for the Protection of Minors has integrated the members of the Conference of Major Superiors of the Religious of Mexico (CIRM) to walk together with religious congregations to eradicate sexual abuse of minors in the ecclesial environment. "In total, 426 priests have been investigated in the past 10 years. 173 trials are still underway, 253 have been completed and 217 priests have been dismissed from the clerical state".
"The year 2019 was one of the most violent years we have experienced in our country, events that have deeply damaged the whole society, as well as priests and churches", continues the text, citing the 272 centers where, among many other services, the Church assists victims of violence, works for the recovery from addictions, assistance to women, attention to prisoners, victims, street children and missing families.
"The social work carried out by the Catholic Church in the country is vast - underlines the text of CEM -. To continue collaborating in favor of society, we must update the legal framework that governs one of the fundamental rights for every modern democratic society, which is religious freedom, update the secondary law on religious freedom, uphold the historical principle of separation between Church and state, according to the most advanced international criteria".
The Bishops stress that they do not ask for privileges for any religious association, but they want "churches and their ministers to work properly, that religious freedom is protected by effective legal protection and that the supreme rights and duties of men are respected in order to freely develop religious life in society. We profess the authentic separation between Church and State and the full autonomy of both in their specific fields".
The message ends with the invitation of the Mexican Bishops to look to 2020 with faith and hope, so that it may be "a year in which peace, reconciliation and dialogue reign", turning one’s gaze and heart to Christ the Savior. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 15/1/2020)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday January 21, 2020 - #Eucharist


Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr
Lectionary: 312
Reading 11 SM 16:1-13
The LORD said to Samuel:
“How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
But Samuel replied:
“How can I go?
Saul will hear of it and kill me.”
To this the LORD answered:
“Take a heifer along and say,
‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do;
you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.”
Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him.
When he entered Bethlehem,
the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired,
“Is your visit peaceful, O seer?”
He replied:
“Yes!  I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.
So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.”
He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves
and invited them to the sacrifice.
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, “The LORD has not chosen him.”
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
“The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There–anoint him, for this is he!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm89:20, 21-22, 27-28

R.    (21a)  I  have found David, my servant.
Once you spoke in a vision,
and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
over the people I have set a youth.”
R.    I  have found David, my servant.
“I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong.”
R.    I  have found David, my servant.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
And I will make him the first-born,
highest of the kings of the earth.”
R.    I  have found David, my servant.

Alleluia EphEPH 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”