Friday, February 21, 2020

Saint February 22 : Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle - 1st Pope of the Church chosen by Christ

From the earliest times the Church at Rome celebrated on 18 January the memory of the day when the Apostle held his first service with the faithful of the Eternal City. According to Duchesne and de Rossi, the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (Weissenburg manuscript) reads as follows: "XV KL. FEBO. Dedicatio cathedræ sci petri apostoli qua primo Rome petrus apostolus sedit" (fifteenth day before the calends of February, the dedication of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle in which Peter the Apostle first sat at Rome). The Epternach manuscript (Codex Epternacensis) of the same work, says briefly: "cath. petri in roma" (the Chair of Peter in Rome).
In its present (ninth-century) form the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" gives a second feast of the Chair of St. Peter for 22 February, but all the manuscripts assign it to Antioch, not to Rome. Thus the oldest manuscript, that of Berne, says: "VIII kal. mar. cathedræ sci petri apostoli qua sedit apud antiochiam". The Weissenburg manuscript says: "Natl [natale] sci petri apostoli cathedræ qua sedit apud antiocia." However, the words qua sedit apud antiochiam are seen at once to be a later addition. Both feasts are Roman; indeed, that of 22 February was originally the more important. This is clear from the Calendar of Philocalus drawn up in the year 354, and going back to the year 311; it makes no mention of the January feast but speaks thus of 22 February: "VIII Kl. Martias: natale Petri de cathedra" (eighth day before the Calends of March, the birthday [i.e. feast] of the Chair of Peter). It was not until after the insertion of Antioch in the copies of the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" that the feast of February gave way in importance to that of January. The Roman Church, therefore, at an early date celebrated a first and a second assumption of the episcopal office in Rome by St. Peter. This double celebration was also held in two places, in the Vatican Basilica and in a cemetery (coemeterium) on the Via Salaria. At both places a chair (cathedra) was venerated which the Apostle had used as presiding officer of the assembly of the faithful. The first of these chairs stood in the Vatican Basilica, in the baptismal chapel built by Pope Damasus; the neophytes in albis (white baptismal robes) were led from the baptistery to the pope seated on this ancient cathedra, and received from him the consignatio, i.e. the Sacrament of Confirmation. Reference is made to this custom in an inscription of Damasus which contains the line: "una Petri sedes, unum verumque lavacrum" (one Chair of Peter, one true font of baptism). St. Ennodius of Pavia (d. 521) speaks of it thus ("Libellus pro Synodo", near the end): "Ecce nunc ad gestatoriam sellam apostolicæ confessionis uda mittunt limina candidatos; et uberibus gaudio exactore fletibus collata Dei beneficio dona geminantur" (Behold now the neophytes go from the dripping threshold to the portable chair of the Apostolic confession; amid abundant tears called forth by joy the gifts of Divine grace are doubled). While therefore in the apse of the Vatican Basilica there stood a cathedra on which the pope sat amid the Roman clergy during the pontifical Mass, there was also in the same building a second cathedra from which the pope administered to the newly baptized the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Chair of St. Peter in the apse was made of marble and was built into the wall, that of the baptistery was movable and could be carried. Ennodius calls the latter a gestatoria sedes; throughout the Middle Ages it was always brought on 22 February from the above-mentioned consignatorium or place of confirmation to the high altar. That day the pope did not use the marble cathedra at the back of the apse but sat on this movable cathedra, which was, consequently, made of wood. The importance of this feast was heightened by the fact that 22 February was considered the anniversary of the day when Peter bore witness, by the Sea of Tiberias, to the Divinity of Christ and was again appointed by Christ to be the Rock of His Church. According to very ancient Western liturgies, 22 February was the day "quo electus est 1. Petrus papa" (on which Peter was first chosen pope). The Mass of this feast calls it at the beginning: "solemnitatis prædicandæ dies præcipue nobilis in quo . . . . beatus Bar-Jona voce Redemptoris fide devotâ prælatus est et per hanc Petri petram basis ecclesiæ fixus est", i.e. this day is called especially praiseworthy because on it the blessed Bar-Jona, by reason of his devout faith, was raised to pre-eminence by the words of the Redeemer, and through this rock of Peter was established the foundation of the Church. And the Oratio (collect) says: "Deus, qui hodiernâ die beatum Petrum post te dedisti caput ecclesiæ, cum te ille vere confessus sit" (O God, who didst this day give us as head of the Church, after Thyself, the Blessed Peter, etc.).
The second of the aforementioned chairs is referred to about 600 by an Abbot Johannes. He had been commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to collect in special little phials oil from the lamps which burned at the graves of the Roman martyrs (see CATACOMBS; MARTYR) for the Lombard queen, Theodolinda. According to the manuscript list of these oils preserved in the cathedral treasury of Monza, Italy, one of these vessels had on it the statement: "oleo de sede ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus" (oils from the chair where St. Peter first sat). Other ancient authorities describe the site as "ubi Petrus baptizabat" (where Peter baptized), or "ad fontes sancti Petri; ad Nymphas sancti Petri" (at the fountain of Saint Peter). Formerly this site was pointed out in the coemeterium majus (principal cemetery) on the Via Nomentana; it is now certain that it was on the Via Salaria, and was connected with the coemeterium, or cemetery, of Priscilla and the villa of the Acilii (Acilii Glabriones), situated above this catacomb. The foundation of this villa, showing masonry of a very early date (opus reticulatum), still exists. Both villa and cemetery, in one of whose burial chambers are several epitaphs of members of the family, or gens, of the Acilii, belong to the Apostolic Period. It is most probable that Priscilla, who gave her name as foundress to the catacomb, was the wife of Acilius Glabrio, executed under Domitian. There is hardly any doubt that the site, "ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus, ubi Petrus baptizabat" (where Saint Peter first sat, where Peter baptized), should be sought, not in an underground cubiculum (chamber) in the catacombs, but in an oratory above ground. At least nothing has been found in the oldest part of the cemetery of Priscilla now fully excavated, referring to a cathedra, or chair.
The feast of the Cathedra Petri was therefore celebrated on the Via Salaria on 18 January; in the Vatican Basilica it was observed on 22 February. It is easy to believe that after the triumph of Christianity the festival could be celebrated with greater pomp in the magnificent basilica erected by Constantine the Great over the confessio, or grave of Peter, than in a chapel far distant from the city on the Via Salaria. Yet the latter could rightly boast in its favour that it was there Saint Peter first exercised at Rome the episcopal office ("ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus", as Abbot Johannes wrote, or "qua primo Rome petrus apostolus sedit", as we read in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" at 18 January). This double festival of the Chair of St. Peter is generally attributed to a long absence of the Apostle from Rome. As, how ever, the spot, "ubi s. Petrus baptizabat, ubi prius sedit" was distant from the city, it is natural to think that the second feast of the cathedra is connected with the opening of a chapel for Christian worship in the city itself. Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia - Image Source: Google Images - Chair of St. Peter

Cause for Sainthood opens for Eileen O’Connor of Australia with Special Mass in Sydney with 1000 at Cathedral

St. Mary’s Basilica, Sydney - Mass for the opening of the Cause for Eileen O'Connor - Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP presiding -
Full Text Homily below:

In the lead up to Mary MacKillop’s canonisation journalists and faithful asked: what is a saint, who decides and how? Is MacKillop someone we all can be proud of, or only Catholics or Josephites? What does her story say to us? Such questions resound today as we pray that the ‘Little Mother’, Eileen O’Connor, might be raised to the altars as Australia’s second saint.

Many think saints are who are especially nice people, patient and charitable; in fact some were not. Others think the title is like a knighthood granted the noteworthy or to further some agenda; but many saints were the most unlikely candidates, with rather strange personalities, and very hard to press to service for some ideology. So, saints are something else…

Saints are people who are transparent with God’s grace: people who help us to see and be like God by giving us examples of the triumph of His grace in their lives; people who, at least by the end of their lives, are ready for eternity with Him. This means that only God makes saints, not the Church. He makes many of them, in every generation, far more than are ever recognised. The Church is graced to identify a few, not because the others don’t matter, but because we want to be very careful about saying who is in heaven – having not been there ourselves to check!

So only God gives saints to the Church, then, as with the rest of Catholic truth, the Church’s task is simply to recognise and treasure His work, holding it up for all to see. Instead of sitting in committee to pick worthy candidates, the Church kneels before her Master, humbly accepting those He lovingly gives her.

So if most saints are never ‘canonised’ – included in the canon of the Mass – why does the Pope apply his Petrine keys with respect to a few? As with everything else God reveals, it’s not for His entertainment but for our salvation. Like the patriarchs and prophets of old, the saints of the new covenant lead and accompany us on the path of redemption. They embody that ageless wisdom described so poetically in our first reading (Prov 8:22-31). They open us to supernatural realities and new horizons of human behaviour. They make living God’s plan seem that bit more doable and encourage us to heroic virtue. They testify to Catholic truths worth living and dying for. Having lived their lives in accordance with God’s will, they now serve for our edification and imitation.

But the saints are more than waxwork dummies in a museum of ecclesiastical superheroes. Their most important work comes after their deaths. For by God’s grace they are still hard at it, interceding for us, for our protection and welfare. As God’s best friends their prayers are powerful indeed. So much does God love them that He willingly grants graces they request for our benefit. As Eileen’s said at the last: “All is over; I can do no more for you [here. But] I will always be with you [and] I will bless you.”

Edification and imitation, then, but intercession and protection also. These are the great works of the saints.

How do we know who’s who? Well, Christians know holiness when they see it and are attracted to it. This is an example of that sensus fidelium described by the Second Vatican Council: “the supernatural appreciation of the faith on the part of the whole People of God when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals” (LG 12; CCC 92). So the Church recognizes fama sanctitatis or ‘reputation for holiness’ as a first sign that we may have a saint on our hands. And for a century now the Catholic faithful have kept alive the memory of the Little Mother, cherishing the woman, her character and wisdom, her foundation and apostolates.

The People of God are quite practical. Having spotted a possible saint, they ask their help interceding before God. If they get what seems to be an answer, the news spreads. Graces received are evidence of a powerful intercessor in heaven and of God confirming the instincts of the faithful. And for a century now believers have received many answers to prayers to and through Eileen. Popular devotion to her even in her life-time has not diminished since her death, even in a culture increasingly deaf to the supernatural and disrespectful to the handicapped. And the Church counts fama signorum or ‘reputation for signs and wonders’ from God as a second indication of sanctity.

Eileen O’Connor takes next step towards sainthood
Of course, as in other matters of faith and morals, confirmation is required by those who guard our faith and guide our Church, the Pope and Bishops, our pastors. And so here we are today for the Opening Session of what is only the second cause for canonization in Australia’s history. Today we begin the work of gathering and examining all that’s known of this Servant of God, so her holiness may be assessed and, please God, she might be numbered among the great heroes of our Faith.

That will require of us ‘the patience of saints’. Though we cannot yet celebrate Eileen as a saint in the heart of the Mass, we hope that day will come, please God in our lifetime. For now we search her life and pray God indicate His favour. We hope to find virtue lived in an heroic degree and have that confirmed by miracles. She certainly seems to have done ordinary things in an extraordinary way and extraordinary things ordinarily, like so many saints. Frail, crippled and in pain, she reached out to others and was tireless in their service. She gave her all to God, her sisters, the sick poor. Amidst all her troubles, she was united to Christ and Mary, drawing strength and inspiration from them. As Pope Francis said last All Saints’ Day: “The Saints… are not simply symbols, distant and unreachable… They are people who lived with their feet on the ground, who experienced the daily toil of existence with its successes and failures, who found in the Lord the strength to rise again and continue on their journey. From this we can understand that holiness is a goal that cannot be achieved by one’s own strength, but only as the fruit of God’s grace and our free response… Holiness is a gift and a calling.”

So far, Australia has only one recognised saint. So, can Australia produce saints? Has our dry continent suffered a holiness drought also? Or might it be that we have been slow to recognize the saints and signs God has already given us? “Why should I be honoured by a visit from the mother of my Lord?” Elizabeth asks today (Lk 1:39-47). “Why should we be honoured by a visit from the Little Mother?” we echo. “Because you need the saints,” God answers, “you need the example and intercession of the ones who say ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what has been said be done, let God’s kingdom come and His will be done – in me, and in you.’” Pray for us, Eileen, as we pray that God give us signs of His favour.

St. Mary’s Basilica, Sydney

My thanks to my brother bishops and priests, to the Brown Nurses, Fr Robbie, and to all those who have assisted in offering this Mass. Immediately after Mass we will return to the foot of the sanctuary to conduct the Opening Session of the Cause. I invite you to remain behind for a few minutes if you can, to witness those acts.

St. Mary’s Basilica, Sydney

Welcome to St Mary’s Cathedral for this Votive Mass of Our Lady at which we formally launch the cause for the canonisation of Eileen O’Connor – faithful lay-woman, mystic and foundress, renowned for works of mercy, whom we hope one day to call Australia’s second saint!

Celebrating their foundress with particular joy here this evening are several members of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor: Srs Gabriel Bast, Margaret Mary Birgan, Pauline Fogarty, Greta Gabb, Kerry Macdermott, Patricia Malone and Anne O’Shaughnessy. I also recognise Sr Margaret Beirne RSC, the Congregational Vicar of the Sisters of Charity, who are providing for their governance, and many staff and friends;

I acknowledge the presence of several of the Bishops of Australia: His Excellency, the Melkite Eparch of Australia and New Zealand, Most Rev. Robert Rabat; their Lordships, the Bishop of Broken Bay, Most Rev. Anthony Randazzo; the Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, Most Rev. Columba MacBeth-Greene; the Auxiliary Bishops of Sydney, Most Rev. Terry Brady and Richard Umbers; the Bishop Emeritus of Lismore, Most Rev. Geoffrey Jarrett; the Bishop Emeritus of Wollongong, Most Rev. Peter Ingham; with the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross, Rt Rev. Monsignor Carl Reid;

Other clergy include: the Vicar-General, Episcopal Vicars, Consultors, Deans and Seminary Rectors of the Archdiocese; several clergy of Sydney and beyond; the Promoter of the Cause, Rev. Fr Anthony Robbie, and those assisting with the case;

Also from the Archdiocese: the Executive Director Administration and Finance, Mr Michael Digges; the Chancellor, Mr Chris Meney; the members of the Finance Council; and the directors, board members and staff of the various Church agencies;

From religious life: the Vicar for Consecrated Life, Sr Elizabeth Delaney SGS; and representatives of many religious congregations;

From education: the principal and staff of Eileen O’Connor Catholic College, our most special school; the Executive Directors of Sydney Catholic Schools and the National Catholic Education Commission; and executives and faculty of the Australian Catholic University, the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame Australia;

From civil society: the NSW Finance Minister, Hon. Damien Tudehope MLC, with other political leaders; the General Manager of PAYCE, Mr Dominic Sullivan, with other business leaders;

From the faithful of Sydney and beyond: many of Eileen’s particular friends, the poor and the sick, who give thanks for her life; and many of her devotees who pray she will be recognized as one of the saints: a very warm welcome to you all!

Born this week in 1892, a childhood injury left Eileen O’Connor with severe curvature of the spine and transverse myelitis. So she was, at best, only 3’9” tall (115cm), in constant pain, and often unable to stand or walk. An unwavering devotee of the Blessed Virgin, she experienced a visitation from her and agreed to offer up her suffering for Our Lady’s work. She and Fr Edward McGrath MSC founded Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor to serve the sick poor, which they and their associates continue to this day. Known affectionately as ‘the Little Mother’, her beautiful spirit inspired many to seek her prayers and counsel. She died aged 28. When her body was exhumed and transferred to the convent in Coogee 16 years later, it was found to be incorrupt. To this day, many pilgrims visit her tomb. She’s revered as a holy woman throughout Australia, the Pacific and even the U.S.

In 1962 my predecessor Cardinal Gilroy approved a prayer for Eileen’s beatification. In 1990 Cardinal Clancy gave permission for a preliminary investigation of her merits. Two years ago I sought the opinion of the Bishops of the Province, who voted unanimously in favour of initiating the cause. The Holy See, in confirmation of the work done so far, gave Eileen the title ‘Servant of God’. The time is now ripe for a more thorough examination of her cause, to pray that there may be many miracles to credit to that cause, and to hope that the Church may eventually raise her to the altars. Thank you all for joining in that prayer this evening.

Pope Francis says "Another typical aspect of education is that of being a peace-making movement....a peaceful movement, a bringer of peace."

Audience with the participants in the Plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions), 20.02.2020

Today, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the participants in the Plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions), to whom he addressed the following words:

Address of the Holy Father
Gentlemen Cardinals,
Dear brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!
I thank Cardinal Versaldi for his kind words of introduction, and I cordially greet you all. Your meeting in the Plenary Assembly has given you the opportunity, in these days, to review the dense work carried out over the past three years, and to outline future commitments with an open heart and with hope. The field of competence of the Dicastery engages you in the fascinating world of education, which is never a repetitive action, but the art of growth, of maturation, and for this reason it never stays the same.
Education is a dynamic reality, it is a movement that brings people to the light. It is a peculiar kind of movement, with characteristics that make it a dynamism of growth, intent on the full development of the person in his individual and social dimension. I would like to dwell on some of its typical traits.
One aspect of education is that it is an ecological movement. It is one of its driving forces towards the aim of complete formation. Education that has at its centre the person as a whole has the purpose of bringing him to the knowledge of himself, of the common house in which he is placed to live, and above all to the discovery of fraternity as a relationship that produces the multicultural composition of humanity, a source of mutual enrichment.
This educational movement, as I wrote in the Encyclical Laudato si’, contributes to restoring “the various levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God”. This naturally requires educators who are “capable of developing an ethics of ecology, and helping people, through effective pedagogy, to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care” (210).
With regard to method, education is an inclusive movement. An inclusion that reaches out to all the excluded: those who are excluded by poverty, by vulnerability due to war, famine and natural disasters, by social selectivity, and by family and existential difficulties. An inclusion that is made tangible in educational action in favour of refugees, victims of human trafficking, and migrants, without distinction on the basis of sex, religion or ethnicity. Inclusion is not a modern invention, but it is an integral part of the Christian salvific message. Nowadays it is necessary to accelerate this inclusive movement of education to counter the throwaway culture, which originates from the denial of fraternity as a constitutive element of humanity.
Another typical aspect of education is that of being a peace-making movement. It is harmonious – I will speak about this, but they are connected – a peaceful movement, a bringer of peace. Young people themselves are witnesses to this; with their commitment and their thirst for truth they constantly remind us that “hope is not utopian and that peace is always a good that can be attained” (Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2020). The peace-building educational movement is a force to be nurtured against the “egolatry” that generates non-peace, rifts between generations, between peoples, between cultures, between rich and poor populations, between men and women, between economy and ethics, between humanity and the environment (cf. Congregation for Catholic Education, Global Educational Pact. Instrumentum laboris, 2020). These fractures and oppositions, which ail relationships, conceal a fear of diversity and difference. For this reason, education is required, with its pacifying force, to form people capable of understanding that diversity does not hinder unity; on the contrary, it is indispensable to the richness of one’s own identity and that of all people.
Another typical element of education is that of being a team movement. It is never the action of a single person or institution. The Conciliar Declaration Gravissimum educationis affirms that school “establishes as it were a centre whose work and progress must be shared together by families, teachers, associations of various types that foster cultural, civic, and religious life, as well as by civil society and the entire human community” (5). For its part, the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, the thirtieth anniversary of whose promulgation falls this year, affirms that “A Catholic University pursues its objectives through its formation of an authentic human community animated by the spirit of Christ” (21). But every university is called to be a “community of study, research and formation” (Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium, art. 11 § 1).
This team movement has long been in crisis for several reasons. Therefore, I felt the need to promote the Global Educational Pact Day this coming 14 May, entrusting the organization to the Congregation for Catholic Education. It is an appeal to all those who have political, administrative, religious and educational responsibilities to rebuild the “village of education”. The aim of being together is not to develop programs, but to find the common step "to revive the commitment for and with the younger generations, renewing the passion for a more open and inclusive education, capable of patient listening, constructive dialogue and mutual understanding. The educational pact must not be a simple order, it must not be a “reconstitution” of the positivisms we have received from an Enlightenment education. It must be revolutionary.
Never before has there been such a need to unite efforts in a broad educational alliance to form mature people, capable of overcoming fragmentation and opposition and rebuild the fabric of relationships for a more fraternal humanity. To achieve these goals takes courage: “The courage to place the human person at the centre [...]. The courage to capitalize on our best energies [...]. The courage to train individuals who are ready to offer themselves in service to the community” (Message for the launch of the Educational Pact, 12 September 2019). The courage to pay educators well.
I also see in the making of a global educational pact the facilitation of the growth of an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary alliance, which the recent Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium indicated for ecclesiastical studies, as the “vital intellectual principle of the unity in difference of knowledge and respect for its multiple, correlated and convergent expressions, [...] also in relation to the fragmented and often disintegrated panorama of contemporary university studies and to the pluralism – uncertain, conflicting and relativistic – of cultural beliefs and cultural options” (Foreword, 4 c).
In this broad perspective of education I hope you will continue fruitfully in the implementation of the programme for the coming years, in particular in the drafting of a Directory, in the establishment of a World Observatory, and in the qualification and updating of ecclesiastical studies and in a greater concern for university pastoral care as an instrument of the new evangelization. These are all commitments which can contribute effectively to consolidating the pact, in the sense taught to us by the Word of God: “the covenant between God and men, the covenant between generations, the covenant between peoples and cultures, the covenant – in school – between teachers and learners – and also parents – the covenant between man, animals, plants and even the inanimate realities which make our common home beautiful and colourful. Everything is related to everything else, everything is created to be a living icon of God Who is the Trinity of Love!” (Address to the Academic Community of the Sophia University Institute of Loppiano, 14 November 2019).
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for the work you do with dedication every day. I invoke upon you the gifts of the Holy Spirit to give you strength in your delicate ministry of education. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you.

Pope Francis quotes Benedict XVI "Learn also to understand...- to love canon law...a society without rights would be a society without rights. Law is a condition of love "


Hall of the Consistory
Friday, February 21, 2020

dear Brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood,
dear brothers and sisters!

I am delighted to welcome you today for the first time, at the end of your plenary session. I thank the President for recalling the spirit in which your work took place, which had as its subject the outline of the revision of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, De sanctionibus in Ecclesia. This meeting offers me the opportunity to thank you for your service which, in the name and with the authority of the Successor of Peter, you carry out for the benefit of the Churches and Pastors (cf. Christus Dominus, 9). The specific collaboration of your Dicastery is defined in the Pastor bonus Constitution (see articles 154-158), which summarizes it in aid to the legislative function of the Supreme Pontiff, Universal Legislator, in the correct interpretation of the laws issued by him, in helping other Departments in the field of canon law, as well as in supervising the legitimacy of normative texts issued by legislators under the supreme authority.

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, through various initiatives, also undertakes to offer its help to the Pastors of the particular Churches and to the Episcopal Conferences for the correct interpretation and application of the law; more generally, in spreading knowledge and attention towards it. It is necessary to reacquire and deepen the true sense of law in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, where the pre-eminence is of the Word of God and of the Sacraments, while the juridical norm has a necessary but subordinate role and in the service of communion. In this line, the Dicastery should help to make us reflect on a genuine juridical formation in the Church, which will make us understand the pastorality of canon law, its instrumentality in order to the salus animarum (can. 1752), its need out of respect for virtue of justice, which must always be affirmed and guaranteed.

In this perspective, Benedict XVI's invitation in the Letter to the Seminarians is very timely, but valid for all the faithful: "Learn also to understand and - I dare say - to love canon law in its intrinsic necessity and in the forms of its practical application: a society without rights would be a society without rights. Law is a condition of love "(n. 5). Making known and applying the laws of the Church is not a hindrance to the presumed pastoral "efficacy" of those who want to solve problems without the law, but a guarantee of the search for solutions that are not arbitrary, but truly just and, therefore, truly pastoral. By avoiding arbitrary solutions, the law becomes a valid bulwark in defense of the least and the poor, the protective shield of those who risk falling victim to the powerful in turn. We see today in this context of chopped world war, we see as always there is the lack of law, always. Dictatorships are born and grow without rights. In the Church this cannot happen.

The theme being studied by your Plenary also goes in this direction, to emphasize that criminal law is also a pastoral tool and as such must be considered and accepted. The Bishop must be increasingly aware that in his Church, of which he is made pastor and head, he is therefore himself also a judge among the faithful entrusted to him. But the role of judge always has a pastoral imprint in that it is aimed at communion among the members of the people of God. This is what is prescribed in the current Code: when the Ordinary found that other ways dictated by pastoral concern were not It is possible to sufficiently obtain the reparation of the scandal, the re-establishment of justice, the amendment of the offender, only then must he initiate the judicial or administrative procedure to inflict or declare the appropriate penalties to achieve the purpose (see can. 1341). From this it can be deduced that the penal sanction is always the extreme ratio, the extreme remedy to resort to, when all the other possible ways to obtain regulatory compliance have proved ineffective.

Contrary to that provided for by the state legislator, the canonical penalty always has a pastoral meaning and pursues not only a function of respect for the order, but also the reparation and above all the good of the guilty person himself. The reparative aim is aimed at restoring, as far as possible, the conditions preceding the violation that disturbed the communion. In fact, every crime affects the whole Church, whose communion was violated by those who deliberately attacked it with their own behavior. The aim of the recovery of the individual emphasizes that the canonical penalty is not a merely coercive tool, but has a distinctly medicinal character. Ultimately, it represents a positive means for the realization of the Kingdom, for rebuilding justice in the community of the faithful, called to personal and common sanctification.

The work of revising Book VI of the Latin Code, which has involved you for some years and with this Plenary comes to an end, is in the right direction: updating the penal legislation to make it more organic and in line with the new situations and problems of the current socio-cultural context, and together offer suitable tools to facilitate their application. I urge you to continue tenaciously in this task. I pray for this and I bless you all and your work. And please don't forget to pray for me, because I also have to be a judge. Thank you.
Full Text + Image - Unofficial Translation

#BreakingNews 24 Killed at Prayer meeting in Burkina Faso - 3 Churches close due to Terrorism - Please Pray

AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - A catechist killed in the north of the Country. Out of 6 parishes in the diocese of Dori, 3 are closed due to terrorism

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) – The victims of the jihadist attack committed on Sunday, February 16 in the village of Pansi, not far from Sebba, in the province of Yahgha, in northern Burkina Faso were not protestant faithful gathered to pray, as reported at first, but a group of villagers of different faiths (see Fides, 17/2/2020).
This is what Church sources in Burkina Faso point out to Agenzia Fides, according to which, among the 24 people killed, one was a Catholic catechist. The catechist "was one of the first catechists sent on a mission when the diocese of Dori was founded, which roughly corresponds to the Sahel part of Burkina Faso", say Fides sources, who asked for anonymity for security reasons.
Following the attack, the decision was to also close the parish in Sebba. The diocese of Dori has a huge territory, Catholics are about 2% of the population. There are 6 parishes, 3 of which have been closed due to the attacks committed by jihadists. The clergy was brought together in Dori as well as the titular catechists together with their families. In the case of Sebba we are talking about a hundred people, with the family members of the catechists, who are housed in the structures of the Cathedral, which are added to those displaced in recent months by the other two parishes which were previously closed. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/2/2020)

Pope Francis says "..Churches that have sealed the faith in Christ and which continue to be seeds of faith and hope even in regions often marked... by violence and war."

Hall of Popes
Friday, 21 February 2020

Dear Brothers,
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 1:2). With these words of the Apostle Paul, I would like to offer you a warm welcome and to share with you the joy your visit brings me. I cordially greet Archbishop Barsamian and Bishop El-Soryani, who are accompanying you. Through you, I wish also to send a special greeting to my venerable and dear brothers, the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Every visit brings a sharing of gifts. When the Mother of God visited Elizabeth, she shared her joy at having receiving God’s gift. Elizabeth, who at Mary’s greeting felt the child leap in her womb, was herself filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit and blessed her cousin (cf. Lk 1:39-42). Like Mary and Elizabeth, the Churches carry with them a variety of gifts of the Spirit, to be shared for their mutual joy and benefit. When we Christians visit one another, and encounter one another in the love of the Lord, we are blessed to be able to exchange these gifts. We can receive what the Holy Spirit has sown in others as a gift for ourselves. Your visit, then, is not only an opportunity for you to grow in knowledge of the Catholic Church, but also a chance for us Catholics to receive the gift of the Spirit that you bring. Your presence makes possible this sharing of gifts and is a source of joy.
The Apostle Paul also says: “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:4). Today I too give thanks for the same reason, for the grace of God bestowed upon you. Everything begins there, with our acknowledgment of grace, with our recognition of God’s gracious work, with our belief that he is the source of the goodness within us. This is the beauty of the Christian vision of life. And it is also the proper way for us to welcome our brothers, as the Apostle teaches. I am grateful, then, for you, for the grace that you have received in your lives and your traditions, for your saying “yes” to your priesthood and your monastic life, and for the witness given by your Oriental Orthodox Churches. For yours are Churches that have sealed their faith in Christ in blood and that continue to sow seeds of faith and hope, even in areas often, tragically, scarred by violence and war.
I hope that each of you has had a positive experience of the Catholic Church and the city of Rome, and that you have felt not so much as guests, but as brothers. The Lord is pleased with this brotherly affection between us. May your visit and those that, with God’s help will follow in the future, be a source of joy and give glory to the Lord! May your presence become a small but fruitful seed that will bear fruit in visible communion between us, in that full unity that Jesus ardently desires (cf. Jn 17:21).
Dear brothers, I thank you once more for your visit and I assure you of a remembrance in my prayers. I also trust in your own prayer for myself and my ministry. May the Lord bless you and the Mother of God protect you. And now, if you would like, we can pray together, each in his own language, the Our Father.

[Our Father]
Full Text + Image - official Translation

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday, February 21, 2020 - #Eucharist

Lectionary: 339

Reading 1JAS 2:14-24, 26

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works? 
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say, 
“You have faith and I have works.”
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one.
You do well.
Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus,
that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
Abraham believed God,
and it was credited to him as righteousness,

and he was called the friend of God.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
For just as a body without a spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.

Responsorial Psalm112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R.    (see 1b)  Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R.    Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R.    Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R.    Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.

AlleluiaJN 15:15B

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 8:34–9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”