Friday, January 24, 2020

Saint January 25 : Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles

In the Acts of the Apostles there are three accounts of the conversion of St. Paul (9:1-19; 22:3-21; 26:9-23) presenting some slight differences. Jesus spoke to Paul : “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with the group of people Saul had been killing like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all.
Acts 9: 1-19 1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought [him] into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. Ananias Baptizes Saul 10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I [am here], Lord. 11And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting [his] hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 
Paul's faith in Christ which engendered the vision, whereas according to the concordant testimony of the Acts and the Epistles it was the actual vision of Christ which engendered faith. After his conversion, his baptism, and his miraculous cure Paul set about preaching to the Jews (Acts 9:19-20). He afterwards withdrew to Arabia — probably to the region south of Damascus (Galatians 1:17), doubtless less to preach than to meditate on the Scriptures. On his return to Damascus the intrigues of the Jews forced him to flee by night (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; Acts 9:23-25). He went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Galatians 1:18), but remained only fifteen days, for the snares of the Greeks threatened his life. He then left for Tarsus and is lost to sight for five or six years (Acts 9:29-30; Galatians 1:21). Barnabas went in search of him and brought him to Antioch where for a year they worked together and their apostolate was most fruitful (Acts 11:25-26). Together also they were sent to Jerusalem to carry alms to the brethren on the occasion of the famine predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:27-30). They do not seem to have found the Apostles there; these had been scattered by the persecution of Herod. Apostolic career of Paul This period of twelve years (45-57) was the most active and fruitful of his life. It comprises three great Apostolic expeditions of which Antioch was in each instance the starting-point and which invariably ended in a visit to Jerusalem.

Novena to St. Paul for Conversion - Powerful Prayers to SHARE -

#BreakingNews Hundreds of Thousands at MARCH FOR LIFE in Washington - USA with President Trump - Video

Hundreds of THOUSANDS attended the MARCH FOR LIFE in Washington, DC on January 24, 2020.The great crowds marked the 47th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade the decision in 1973 that permitted abortion. President Trump gave a speech. - (See Time-Lapse Video at bottom of this post)
 Even POPE FRANCIS sent a message with the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, at the Vigil Mass: “The Holy Father is close to you, and believes in you, and with his spirit he marches with you." 
(The video below is from the US Bishops' CNS of the 2020 March for Life)

61,000,000 Abortions have occurred in America Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973.  The United States remembers 47 years of legalized abortion in all fifty states at any time for any reason throughout pregnancy on January 22nd, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.  This massive crowd gathered to honor life from conception to natural death with the support and speech by the President of the United States. Members of 50 Catholic Dioceses took part as well as several Universities. It is hoped that the legislation will soon be changed to end abortion in the US. (IMAGE SOURCE : GOOGLE)
 The First Lady of Louisiana Donna Hutto Edwards and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) spoke at the March for Life Rally. First Lady of Louisiana Donna Hutto Edwards has been a strong supporter of the pro-life movement and, despite being advised to abort, chose life for her daughter after she was diagnosed with spina bifida in the womb. Rep. Scalise has been a staunch advocate for the sanctity of life in Congress, especially through his work on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The theme for this year’s March for Life was Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.
Additional speakers at the March for Life Rally included:    
  • Jim Daly – President, Focus on the Family
  • Marjorie Dannenfelser – President, Susan B. Anthony List
  • Elisa Martinez – Founder, New Mexico Alliance for Life
  • David Platt – Pastor, McLean Bible Church
  • His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia
  • State Senator Katrina Jackson (D-LA)
  • Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)
  • Melissa Ohden, survivor of a failed saline infusion abortion
  • Claire Culwell, survivor of a failed surgical abortion

 There was an overnight prayer vigil in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with thousands in attendance. Cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, and seminarians were present at the Mass in the Basilica. This annual March has become a large event spanning many days and involving talks, demonstrations, prayer, videos and other activities. Many politicians, clergy, religious, youth and leaders partake every year. This year the President Donald Trump gave a speech at the March, with Martin Luther King's niece Dr. Alveda King beside him. Two years ago over 800,000 attended. This year noted a particularly strong youth presence. 

President Trump - 

"Every person is worth protecting." Full Text + Video

March for Life Speech

1st US President to Attend March for Life - Donald Trump's Speech "Every person is worth protecting." Full Text + Video

Remarks by President Trump at the 47th Annual March for Life
Issued on: January 24, 2020

The National Mall
Washington, D.C.

12:28 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much and thank you, Jeanne.  It is my profound honor to be the first President in history to attend the March for Life.  (Applause.)  We’re here for a very simple reason: to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential.  (Applause.)

For 47 years, Americans of all backgrounds have traveled from across the country to stand for life.  And today, as President of the United States, I am truly proud to stand with you.  (Applause.)

I want to welcome tens of thousands — this is a tremendous turnout — tens of thousands of high school and college students who took long bus rides — (applause) — to be here in our nation’s capital.  And to make you feel even better, there are tens of thousands of people outside that we passed on the way in.  If anyone would like to give up their spot, we can work that out.  (Laughter.)  You have a tremendous group of people outside.  Thousands and thousands wanted to get in.  This is some great success.  (Applause.)  Young people are the heart of the March for Life, and it’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation.  (Applause.)

The life movement is led by strong women, amazing faith leaders, and brave students who carry on the legacy of pioneers before us who fought to raise the conscience of our nation and uphold the rights of our citizens.  You embrace mothers with care and compassion.  You are powered by prayer, and motivated by pure, unselfish love.

You’re grateful — and we are so grateful — these are incredible people — to be joined by Secretary Alex Azar and Kellyanne Conway.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

And thanks also to Senators Mike Lee and James Lankford, who are here.  James, Mike — thank you, fellas.  And Representatives Steve Scalise — (applause); Chris Smith — (applause); Ralph Abraham — (applause); Warren Davidson — (applause); Bob Latta — (applause); John Joyce — (applause); Lloyd Smucker — (applause);  Brian Fitzpatrick — (applause); and Brad Wenstrup.  (Applause.)  Thank you, all.  (Applause.)

And I have to say — and I look at it — I see it exactly — we have many, many more politicians in the audience.  But, if you don’t mind, I won’t introduce them all.  (Laughter.)

All of us here today understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God.  (Applause.)  Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.  (Applause.)

When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation.  (Applause.)  When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family.  When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul.  One life changes the world.  From my family — and I can tell you, I send love and I send great, great love.

And from the first day in office, I’ve taken a historic action to support America’s families and to protect the unborn.  (Applause.)  And during my first week in office, I reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, and we issued a landmark pro-life rule to govern the use of Title X taxpayer funding.  (Applause.)

I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policies or that encourages the destruction of human life.  (Applause.)

At the United Nations, I made clear that global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that protect innocent life.  (Applause.)

Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.  (Applause.)  And as the Bible tells us, each person is “wonderfully made.”  (Applause.)

We have taken decisive action to protect the religious liberty –- so important.  Religious liberty has been under attack all over the world, and, frankly, very strongly attacked in our nation.  You see it better than anyone.  But we are stopping it, and we’re taking care of doctors, nurses, teachers, and groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.  (Applause.)  We are preserving faith-based adoption.  (Applause.)

And to uphold our founding documents, we have confirmed 187 federal judges — (applause) — who apply the Constitution as written, including two phenomenal Supreme Court Justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.  (Applause.)

We are protecting pro-life students’ right to free speech on college campuses.  (Applause.)  And if universities want federal taxpayer dollars, then they must uphold your First Amendment right to speak your mind.  And if they don’t, they pay a very big financial penalty, which they will not be willing to pay.  (Applause.)

Sadly, the far-left is actively working to erase our God-given rights, shut down faith-based charities, ban religious believers from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life.  They are coming after me because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice.  And we will win because we know how to win.  (Applause.)  We all know how to win.  We all know how to win.  You’ve been winning for a long time.  You’ve been winning for a long time.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Together, we are the voice for the voiceless.  When it comes to abortion, Democrats is a — and you know this, you’ve seen what’s happened — Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken and seen in this country for years, and decades — and you can even say “for centuries.”


THE PRESIDENT:  Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion, all the way up until the moment of birth.


THE PRESIDENT:  Last year, lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb right up until delivery.


THE PRESIDENT:  Then, we had the case of the Democrat governor in the state of Virginia — the Commonwealth of Virginia.


THE PRESIDENT:  And we love the Commonwealth of Virginia, but what is going on in Virginia?  What is going on?  The Governor stated that he would execute a baby after birth.  You remember that.

Senate Democrats even blocked legislation that would give medical care to babies who survive attempted abortions.  That’s why I’ve called on Congress — two of our great senators here, so many of our congressmen here — and called upon them to defend the dignity of life and to pass legislation prohibiting  late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in their mother’s womb.  (Applause.)

This year, the March for Life is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which forever enshrined women’s rights to vote in the United States — (applause) — and given by the United States Constitution.  Such a big event.  (Applause.)

Today, millions of extraordinary women across America are using the power of their votes to fight for the right, and all of their rights, as given in the Declaration of Independence –- it’s the right to life. To all the women here today: Your devotion and your leadership uplifts our entire nation, and we thank you for that.

The tens of thousands of Americans gathered today not only stand for life — it’s really that they stand for it so proudly together, and I want to thank everybody for that.

You stand for life each and every day.  You provide housing, education, jobs, and medical care to the women that you serve.  You find loving families for children in need of a forever home.  You host baby showers for expecting moms.  You make –- you just make it your life’s mission to help spread God’s grace.

And to all of the moms here today: We celebrate you, and we declare that mothers are heroes.  (Applause.)  That’s true.  Your strength, devotion, and drive is what powers our nation. And, because of you, our country has been blessed with amazing souls who have changed the course of human history.

We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve, the dreams they will imagine, the masterpieces they will create, the discoveries they will make.  But we know this: Every life brings love into this world.  Every child brings joy to a family.  Every person is worth protecting.  (Applause.)  And above all, we know that every human soul is divine, and every human life –- born and unborn –- is made in the holy image of Almighty God. (Applause.)

Together, we will defend this truth all across our magnificent land.  We will set free the dreams of our people. And with determined hope, we look forward to all of the blessings that will come from the beauty, talent, purpose, nobility, and grace of every American child.

I want to thank you.  This is a very special moment.  It’s so great to represent you.  I love you all and –- (applause) — and I say with true passion:  Thank you. God bless you.  And God bless America.  Thank you all.  Thank you.  (Applause.)


12:41 P.M. EST

Pope Francis' World Day of Social Communication Message says "We need stories that reveal...untold heroism of everyday life." Full Text

Pope's Message for World Day of Social Communication: Full Text
Pope Francis releases his annual message for the Word Day of Social Communication, a reflection on the Biblical text Exodus 10:2: "That you may tell your children and grandchildren".
“That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2)
Life becomes history
I would like to devote this year’s Message to the theme of storytelling, because I believe that, so as not to lose our bearings, we need to make our own the truth contained in good stories.  Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together.  Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us.  A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze.  A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.

1. Weaving stories
Human beings are storytellers.  From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food.  Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we do not always realize it.  Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own.  Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behaviour.  They can help us understand and communicate who we are.

We are not just the only beings who need clothing to cover our vulnerability (cf. Gen 3: 21); we are also the only ones who need to be “clothed” with stories to protect our lives.  We weave not only clothing, but also stories: indeed, the human capacity to “weave” (Latin texere) gives us not only the word textile but also text.  The stories of different ages all have a common “loom”: the thread of their narrative involves “heroes”, including everyday heroes, who in following a dream confront difficult situations and combat evil, driven by a force that makes them courageous, the force of love.  By immersing ourselves in stories, we can find reasons to heroically face the challenges of life.

Human beings are storytellers because we are engaged in a process of constant growth, discovering ourselves and becoming enriched in the tapestry of the days of our life.  Yet since the very beginning, our story has been threatened: evil snakes its way through history.

2. Not all stories are good stories
“When you eat of it … you will be like God” (cf. Gen 3:4): the temptation of the serpent introduces into the fabric of history a knot difficult to undo.  “If you possess, you will become, you will achieve…”  This is the message whispered by those who even today use storytelling for purposes of exploitation.  How many stories serve to lull us, convincing us that to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume.  We may not even realize how greedy we have become for chatter and gossip, or how much violence and falsehood we are consuming.  Often on communication platforms, instead of constructive stories which serve to strengthen social ties and the cultural fabric, we find destructive and provocative stories that wear down and break the fragile threads binding us together as a society.  By patching together bits of unverified information, repeating banal and deceptively persuasive arguments, sending strident and hateful messages, we do not help to weave human history, but instead strip others of their dignity.

But whereas the stories employed for exploitation and power have a short lifespan, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time.  Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life.

In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories.  We need courage to reject false and evil stories.  We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles.  We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.

3. The Story of stories
Sacred Scripture is a Story of stories.  How many events, peoples and individuals it sets before us!  It shows us from the very beginning a God who is both creator and narrator.  Indeed, God speaks his word and things come into existence (cf. Gen 1).  As narrator, God calls things into life, culminating in the creation of man and woman as his free dialogue partners, who make history alongside him.  In one of the Psalms, the creature tells the creator: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (139:13-15).  We are not born complete, but need to be constantly “woven”, “knitted together”.  Life is given to us as an invitation to continue to weave the “wonderful” mystery that we are.

The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity.  At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God.  Henceforth, in every generation, men and women are called to recount and commit to memory the most significant episodes of this Story of stories, those that best communicate its meaning.

The title of this year’s Message is drawn from the Book of Exodus, a primordial biblical story in which God intervenes in the history of his people.  When the enslaved children of Israel cry out to Him, God listens and remembers: “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.  God saw the people of Israel – and God knew” (Ex 2: 24-25).  God’s memory brings liberation from oppression through a series of signs and wonders.  The Lord then reveals to Moses the meaning of all these signs: “that you may tell in the hearing of your children and grandchildren… what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord” (Ex 10:2).  The Exodus experience teaches us that knowledge of the Lord is handed down from generation to generation mainly by telling the story of how he continues to make himself present.  The God of life communicates with us through the story of life.

Jesus spoke of God not with abstract concepts, but with parables, brief stories taken from everyday life.  At this point life becomes story and then, for the listener, story becomes life: the story becomes part of the life of those who listen to it, and it changes them.

The Gospels are also stories, and not by chance.  While they tell us about Jesus, they are “performative”[1]; they conform us to Jesus.   The Gospel asks the reader to share in the same faith in order to share in the same life.  The Gospel of John tells us that the quintessential storyteller – the Word – himself becomes the story: “God’s only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (Jn 1: 18).  The original verb, exegĂ©sato, can be translated both as “revealed” and “recounted”.  God has become personally woven into our humanity, and so has given us a new way of weaving our stories.

4. An ever renewed story
The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely.  It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh and history.  It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry.  Since God became story, every human story is, in a certain sense, a divine story.  In the history of every person, the Father sees again the story of his Son who came down to earth.  Every human story has an irrepressible dignity.  Consequently, humanity deserves stories that are worthy of it, worthy of that dizzying and fascinating height to which Jesus elevated it.

“You” – Saint Paul wrote – “are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3).  The Holy Spirit, the love of God, writes within us.  And as he writes within us, he establishes goodness in us and constantly reminds us of it.  Indeed, to “re-mind” means to bring to mind, to “write” on the heart.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, every story, even the most forgotten one, even the one that seems to be written with the most crooked lines, can become inspired, can be reborn as a masterpiece, and become an appendix to the Gospel.  Like the Confessions of Augustine.  Like A Pilgrim’s Journey of Ignatius.  Like The Story of a Soul of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.  Like The Betrothed, like The Brothers Karamazov.  Like countless other stories, which have admirably scripted the encounter between God’s freedom and that of man.  Each of us knows different stories that have the fragrance of the Gospel, that have borne witness to the Love that transforms life. These stories cry out to be shared, recounted and brought to life in every age, in every language, in every medium.

5. A story that renews us
Our own story becomes part of every great story.  As we read the Scriptures, the stories of the saints, and also those texts that have shed light on the human heart and its beauty, the Holy Spirit is free to write in our hearts, reviving our memory of what we are in God’s eyes.  When we remember the love that created and saved us, when we make love a part of our daily stories, when we weave the tapestry of our days with mercy, we are turning another page.  We no longer remain tied to regrets and sadness, bound to an unhealthy memory that burdens our hearts; rather, by opening ourselves to others, we open ourselves to the same vision of the great storyteller.  Telling God our story is never useless: even if the record of events remains the same, the meaning and perspective are always changing.  To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others.  We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives.  With him we can re-weave the fabric of life, darning its rips and tears.  How much we, all of us, need to do exactly this!

With the gaze of the great storyteller – the only one who has the ultimate point of view – we can then approach the other characters, our brothers and sisters, who are with us as actors in today’s story.  For no one is an extra on the world stage, and everyone’s story is open to possible change.  Even when we tell of evil, we can learn to leave room for redemption; in the midst of evil, we can also recognize the working of goodness and give it space.

So it is not a matter of simply telling stories as such, or of advertising ourselves, but rather of remembering who and what we are in God’s eyes, bearing witness to what the Spirit writes in our hearts and revealing to everyone that his or her story contains marvellous things.  In order to do this, let us entrust ourselves to a woman who knit together in her womb the humanity of God and, the Gospel tells us, wove together the events of her life.  For the Virgin Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2: 19).  Let us ask for help from her, who knew how to untie the knots of life with the gentle strength of love:

O Mary, woman and mother, you wove the divine Word in your womb, you recounted by your life the magnificent works of God.  Listen to our stories, hold them in your heart and make your own the stories that no one wants to hear.  Teach us to recognize the good thread that runs through history.  Look at the tangled knots in our life that paralyze our memory.  By your gentle hands, every knot can be untied.  Woman of the Spirit, mother of trust, inspire us too.  Help us build stories of peace, stories that point to the future.  And show us the way to live them together.

Rome, at Saint John Lateran, 24 January 2020, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales

[1] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 2: “The Christian message was not only ‘informative’ but ‘performative’.  That means: the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known–it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing”.
Full Text Source: - Image Source: Google Images

Wow Franciscan Brother Andrew Wins as Contestant of “The Great American Baking Show" and Witnessed his Faith in God

Capuchin Franciscan Brother Andrew Corriente, a 31-year-old third-year seminarian was the winner of the fifth season of ABC’s “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition,” where he was recognized as one of the nation’s best amateur bakers.
It is in the Capuchin College in Washington that Brother Andrew creates treats for the men who call the friary home.

Brother Andrew knows his way around a kitchen. In fact, he was crowned this year’s baking champion on ABC’s “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition.” The program, which aired during the month of December and concluded Jan. 2, is an adaptation of the wildly popular “Great British Bake Off.”

The show is in its fifth season, features 10 amateur bakers who compete in a series of challenges in which they must produce outstanding baked goods. Contestants are eliminated one by one until a champion is selected.

He earned the crown with chocolate cookies with lime cream and blackberry jam, sponge cakes with fresh cream and fruits, and a puff pastry.

“In 2018, they (producers of the show) called me, but I said no because I was taking my final vows,” he told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington. “They called me again this year, and I did it.”

Brother Andrew chose to wear his distinctive brown Capuchin robes as he baked.

“I love my life so much, and I wanted people to see that,” he said. “My ability to bake is so tied to my way of life. Everything I have is from God, and I wanted people to see how all of that is integrated.”

The friary where Brother Andrew regularly creates his bakery masterpieces is part of the St. Augustine Province of the Order of Friars Minor. The 30 men who live at Capuchin College are either studying nearby at The Catholic University of America, preparing for the priesthood, serving in various ministries throughout the Archdiocese of Washington or are retired.

Capuchin Franciscan Father Paul Dressler, the province’s guardian and director of formation at Capuchin College, said, “Brother Andrew wanted to be on the show as a witness. He went to evangelize and put before the world the Gospel and our order.” 

Brother Andrew is a third-year seminarian. After studying filmmaking in college, the now 31-year-old native of California, “had a desk job in the entertainment industry,” working for a talent agent.

“I was searching for other jobs, but never thought about religious life,” he said. “A friend of mine from college became a nun, and when I went to see her profess her vows, I met a Capuchin.” That spurred Brother Andrew to give the order a try. “I met the guys, and the rest is history,” he said.

Baking, he said, “is in a way eucharistic.”

“Jesus gave us himself in the bread and wine,” Brother Andrew said.


Brother Andrew said he finds time for prayer as he cooks. For example, in preparing meringue — a confection made of whipped egg whites and sugar — he discovered “the best way to time my stirring is by praying the Hail Mary.”

The residents of the friary would gather each week to watch the show together, cheering their brother on. Father Dressler said it was akin to watching the Super Bowl.

In addition to his baking, Brother Andrew uses his culinary skills to help the less fortunate and the working poor. He and a group of brothers and lay volunteers cook and serve dinner every Sunday for the day labourers who congregate at a local Home Depot looking for work.

Edited from a Story by Richard Szczepanowski for CNS

Pope Francis warns against Jealousy and Prays that we may have a friendly heart, that “seeks only justice” and peace.

Pope at Mass: Jealousy leads to war
During his daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warns us of the “worm of jealousy” that leads to misjudgement and competition.
By Francesca Merlo

We must be careful of the jealousy and envy that lead us to “misjudge” others. Pope Francis began his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta by explaining that these two words are the “seed of war”. His message comes from the Gospel reading, which describes how King Saul’s jealousy of David fades.

Jealousy and envy, he said, lead to an internal conversation with oneself that kills others. In reality, said the Pope, if we think about it, “there is no consistency” to them.

The restlessness of jealousy
Referring to the reading, the Pope recalls that the king’s jealousy comes from the fact that although he had killed ten thousand enemies, and David ‘only’ one thousand, the young women sang songs about David’s victories. This, said the Pope, is where “the restlessness of jealousy” begins. As a result, the king sets off with his army to kill David.

“Jealousies are criminals”, said Pope Francis, they are “always trying to kill”. And to those who say "yes, I'm jealous…but I'm not a murderer", the Pope replies, not yet. “But if you continue it can end badly". Because, he recalls, it is easy to kill, even "with your tongue, with slander".

Those who are jealous, said the Pope, are “incapable of seeing reality", and only "a very strong fact" can open their eyes. So in Saul's mind, "jealousy led him to believe that David was a murderer, an enemy".

A grace from God
When someone who is jealous finally encounters this “fact”, this reality, said the Pope, “it is a grace from God”. When this happens, “jealousy bursts like a soap bubble”, because jealousy and envy have “no consistency”.

He explained that jealousy is born of a conversation with oneself, misinterpreting things in a way that prevents us from “seeing reality”.

When God gives us the grace to see the reality of the situation, He invites us to look at ourselves, said the Pope. We must “protect our hearts from this illness, from this conversation with oneself”.

To seek justice and peace
We must “be careful” of this “worm” that enters each one of us, he said, adding that “when we feel this distaste for someone, we must ask ourselves why”.

Finally Pope Francis prayed to the Lord that we may have the grace of having a transparent heart - a friendly one, he added, that “seeks only justice” and peace.

Full Text Source:

Novena to St. Francis de Sales with Litany and Powerful Prayers to the Patron of Writers, Deaf, Journalists, Educators

NOVENA TO SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES O Blessed Francis de Sales, who in your mortal life did excel in all virtues, especially in love of God and of neighbor, I earnestly entreat you to take me under your immediate protection, to obtain from God my perfect conversion, and that of all sinners, especially of (the names of persons for whom you wish to pray should be mentioned here). Teach me, O Father, to fix my eyes on heaven, that I may generously trample under foot every obstacle that presents itself in my way, and attain that degree of glory which You in Your mercy hold out to me. Obtain also that particular favor for which I now pray. (mention intention) Assist us, O Lord, we beseech You, through the merits of St. Francis de Sales.
 That what our endeavors cannot obtain may be given us by his intercession. Let us pray: O God, who for the salvation of souls, did will that St. Francis de Sales, Your confessor and bishop, should become all things to all men and women, mercifully grant that we, infused with the gentleness of his charity, guided by his teachings, and sharing in his merits, may obtain eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 Litany of St. Francis de Sales
  Lord, have mercy on us.  
Christ, have mercy on us.
 Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
 O God, the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us. O God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us. 
O God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us O Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us. 
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us. *
 St. Francis de Sales, *
 St. Francis, miracle of the most august Trinity, * 
St. Francis, faithful imitator of Jesus Christ, * 
St. Francis, attached to the the service of the Blessed Virgin, * 
St. Francis, practicing the virtues of the Saints, * 
St. Francis, most devote to Jesus crucified, * 
St. Francis, august tabernacle of true religion, * 
St. Francis, most humble in prosperity, *
 St. Francis, most patient in adversity, * 
St. Francis, true portrait of the meekness of Christ, *
 St. Francis, simple as the dove, * 
St. Francis, example of angelic modesty, * 
St. Francis, exact observer of evangelic poverty, * 
St. Francis, excellent example of the purity of angels, * 
St. Francis, ever obedient to the Apostolic See, * 
St. Francis, generously despising the world, * 
St. Francis, powerful vanquisher of demons, *
 St. Francis, invincible triumpher over the flesh, * 
St. Francis, inflamed with the love of God, * 
St. Francis, abounding in virtues, *
 St. Francis, all to all for the salvation of souls, * 
St. Francis, most dear to God, and beloved by men, * 
St. Francis, unwearied apostle of Geneva and its territory, * which thou didst so laboriously reunite to the one true Church of God, * 
St. Francis, most fervent pastor, ever careful to lead thy flock to the fold of Jesus the Good Shepherd, *
 St. Francis, most renowned for thy miracles, * 
St. Francis, greatest of all thy miracles, * 
St. Francis, patriarch of the Visitation, * 
St. Francis, continual martyr to thy love of God, * 
St. Francis, father of many Saints, by the holy rules which thou hast left for every state, * 
St. Francis, powerful protector to obtain of God that mildness which preserves the peace of the heart, * 
St. Francis, amiable patron of those who invoke thee, * 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,  Spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,  Hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,  Have mercy on us, O Lord. 
O Blessed Francis, like the fruitful olive-tree in the house of God, radiant in miracles, make us partakers of thy sanctity and of the light which thou enjoyest. V. Pray for us, Blessed Francis of Sales. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray:

O God, by whose gracious will the Blessed Francis, thy confessor and bishop, became all things unto all men, for the saving of their souls, mercifully grant that, being filled with the sweetness of thy love, we may, through the guidance of his counsels, and by the aid of his merits, attain unto the joys of life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Prayer in Special Need to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Say not, merciful Virgin, that you cannot help me; for your beloved Son has given you all power in heaven and on earth. Say not that you ought not assist me, for you are the mother of all the poor children of Adam, and mine in particular. Since then, merciful Virgin, you are my mother and you are all-powerful, what excuse can you offer if you do not lend your assistance? See. my mother, see, you are obliged to grant me what I ask, and to yield to my entreaties. 
(St. Francis De Sales)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday, January 24, 2020 - #Eucharist

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 315

Reading 11 SM 24:3-21

Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel
and went in search of David and his men
in the direction of the wild goat crags.
When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave,
which he entered to relieve himself.
David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave.
David’s servants said to him,
“This is the day of which the LORD said to you,
‘I will deliver your enemy into your grasp;
do with him as you see fit.’”
So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s mantle.
Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off
an end of Saul’s mantle.
He said to his men,
“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master,
the LORD’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him,
for he is the LORD’s anointed.”
With these words David restrained his men
and would not permit them to attack Saul.
Saul then left the cave and went on his way.
David also stepped out of the cave, calling to Saul,
“My lord the king!”
When Saul looked back, David bowed to the ground in homage and asked Saul:
“Why do you listen to those who say,
‘David is trying to harm you’?
You see for yourself today that the LORD just now delivered you
into my grasp in the cave.
I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead.
I decided, ‘I will not raise a hand against my lord,
for he is the LORD’s anointed and a father to me.’
Look here at this end of your mantle which I hold.
Since I cut off an end of your mantle and did not kill you,
see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion.
I have done you no wrong,
though you are hunting me down to take my life.
The LORD will judge between me and you,
and the LORD will exact justice from you in my case.
I shall not touch you.
The old proverb says, ‘From the wicked comes forth wickedness.’
So I will take no action against you.
Against whom are you on campaign, O king of Israel?
Whom are you pursuing?  A dead dog, or a single flea!
The LORD will be the judge; he will decide between me and you.
May he see this, and take my part,
and grant me justice beyond your reach!”
When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered,
“Is that your voice, my son David?”
And Saul wept aloud.
Saul then said to David: “You are in the right rather than I;
you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm.
Great is the generosity you showed me today,
when the LORD delivered me into your grasp
and you did not kill me.
For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed?
May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day.
And now, I know that you shall surely be king
and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession.”

Responsorial Psalm57:2, 3-4, 6 AND 11

R.    (2a)  Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge,
till harm pass by.
R.    Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
I call to God the Most High,
to God, my benefactor.
May he send from heaven and save me;
may he make those a reproach who trample upon me;
may God send his mercy and his faithfulness.
R.    Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
R.    Have mercy on me, God, have mercy.

Alleluia2 COR 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.