Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Saint March 11 : St. Eulogius a Priest and Martyr from Spain who Died in 859

prior to 819, Córdoba, Spain
March 11, 859
Major Shrine:
Cathedral of Oviedo

Spanish martyr and writer who flourished during the reigns of the Cordovan Caliphs, Abd-er-Rahman II and Mohammed I (822-886). It is not certain on what date or in what year of the ninth century he was born; it must have been previous to 819, because in 848 he was a priest highly esteemed among the Christians of Catalonia and Navarre, and priesthood was then conferred only on men thirty years of age. The family of the saint was of the nobility and held land in Cordova from Roman times. The Mussulman rulers of Spain, at the beginning of the eighth century, tolerated the creed of the Christians and left them, with some restrictions, their civil rule, ecclesiastical hierarchy, monasteries, and property, but made them feel the burden of subjection in the shape of pecuniary exactions and military service. In the large cities like Toledo and Cordova, the civil rule of the Christians did not differ from that of the Visigothic epoch. The government was exercised by the comes (count), president of the council of senators, among whom we meet a similarly named ancestor of Eulogius. The saint, like his five brothers, received an excellent education in accord with his good birth and under the guardianship of his mother Isabel. The youngest of the brothers, Joseph, held a high office in the palace of Abd-er-Rahman II; two other brothers, Alvarus and Isidore, were merchants and traded on a large scale as far as Central Europe. Of his sisters, Niola and Anulona, the first remained with her mother; the second was educated from infancy in a monastery where she later became a nun.
After completing his studies in the monastery of St. Zoilus, Eulogius continued to live with his family the better to care for his mother; also, perhaps, to study with famous masters, one of whom was Abbot Speraindeo, an illustrious writer of that time. In the meantime he found a friend in the celebrated Alvarus Paulus, a fellow-student, and they cultivated together all branches of science, sacred and profane, within their reach. Their correspondence in prose and verse filled volumes; later they agreed to destroy it as too exuberant and lacking in polish. Alvarus married, but Eulogius preferred the ecclesiastical career, and was finally ordained a priest by Bishop Recared of Cordova. Alvarus has left us a portrait of his friend: "Devoted", he says, "from his infancy to the Scriptures, and growing daily in the practice of virtue, he quickly reached perfection, surpassed in knowledge all his contemporaries, and became the teacher even of his masters. Mature in intelligence, though in body a child, he excelled them all in science even more than they surpassed him in years. Fair in feature [clarus vultu], honest and honourable, he shone by his eloquence, and yet more by his works. What books escaped his avidity for reading? What works of Catholic writers, of heretics and Gentiles, chiefly philosophers? Poets, historians, rare writings, all kinds of books, especially sacred hymns, in the composition of which he was a master, were read and digested by him; his humility was none the less remarkable and he readily yielded to the judgment of others less learned than himself." This humility shone particularly on two occasions. In his youth he had decided to make a foot pilgrimage to Rome; notwithstanding his great fervour and his devotion to the sepulchre of the Prince of the Apostles (a notable proof of the union of the Mozarabic Church with the Holy See), he gave up his project,  yielding to the advice of prudent friends. Again, during the Saracenic persecution, in 850, after reading a passage of the works of St. Epiphanius he decided to refrain for a time from saying Mass that he might better defend the cause of the martyrs; however, at the request of his bishop, Saul of Cordova, he put aside his scruples. His extant writings are proof that Alvarus did not exaggerate. They give an account of what is most important from 848 to 859 in Spanish Christianity, both without and within the Mussulman dominions, especially of the lives of the martyrs who suffered during the Saracenic persecution, quorum para ipse magna fuit. He was elected Archbishop of Toledo shortly before he was beheaded (11 March, 859). He left a perfect account of the orthodox doctrine which he defended, the intellectual culture which he propagated, the imprisonment and sufferings which he endured; in a word, his writings show that he followed to the letter the exhortation of St. Paul: Imitatores mei estote sicut et ego Christi. He is buried in the cathedral of Oviedo.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

At Mass, Pope Francis encourages Priests to “have the courage to visit the sick,” to bring them the Eucharist, in Homily - LIVE Video Broadcast

Pope at Mass: The Lord changes red to white
On Tuesday morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Casa Santa Marta, praying for the sick and encourages priests to “have the courage to visit the sick”. Live Broadcast included.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis introduced Tuesday’s morning liturgy by asking that we pray for “all those who are sick, medical personal, all those suffering from the epidemic”. He asked that we pray particularly for priests so that they might have the courage to visit those who are sick, bringing them “the strength of the Word of God and the Eucharist, to accompany” all those who are assisting those who are afflicted with the coronavirus.

“Yesterday the word of God taught us to recognize our sins and to confess them.” Thus Pope Francis began his homily on Tuesday. “Today,” he continued, “the Lord asks all of us sinners to dialogue with Him”. He then continued his reflection focusing on passage from the Book of Isaiah: “Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow”.

Sin makes us hide, God wants to talk
Like Adam and Eve, we tend to hide ourselves because of the shame we feel because of the things we have done. Sin makes us close in ourselves. God calls to us to talk about it with Him instead.

“And the Lord calls us, ‘ Come on let's talk this over’, the Lord says. Let's talk about your sin. Let's talk about your situation. Don't be afraid.  No…. Come here. I'm able to change everything, the Lord says.  “Don't be afraid to come and speak about it. Be courageous even before your misery.”

The Lord wants us to give Him our sins
Pope Francis then told the story about a saint who was discouraged. No matter what he did, he always felt that the Lord wasn’t satisfied. So, he asked the Lord what was missing. “Give me your sins. That's what's missing”, the Lord responded, the Pope said.

Listen to our report
The Lord changes red to white
We deceive ourselves by not speaking with the Lord, Pope Francis continued. We pretend we are not sinners. This is what the Lord reproves the Doctors of the Law for. They did everything for appearance, he said, referring to the Gospel of Matthew 23.

“Appearance…  Vanity…  Covering the truth of our heart with vanity… Vanity never heals… Rather, it's poisonous. It increases our hardness of heart. [Vanity] says, ‘don't go to the Lord. Remain alone. Vanity is a place where we close ourselves to the Lord’s call. But the invitation of the Lord is that of a father, a brother. ‘Come on. Come here. Let's talk. In the end, I'm the one who can change your life from red to white.”

Prayer can be real
The Pope concluded his homily, saying that the Word of the Lord shows us that our prayer can be real. We can even pray about the reality of our sins.

“The Lord knows who we are…but vanity invites us to cover that up. May the Lord help us.”

Until further notice, Pope Francis’ morning Mass will be broadcast live. You can view it in real time at 7:00am Central Eastern Time on www.vaticannews.va or via the Vatican News App, or through other Catholic televisions stations who are transmitting it. It is posted for later viewing on the Vatican News English YouTube channel, the Vatican News Facebook account, and on the Vatican News portal in the article summarizing the Pope’s homily.

Full Text Source: VaticanNews.va

Quote to SHARE by St. Thomas Aquinas for Lent - “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit....quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.”

“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.” 
St. Thomas Aquinas

Pope Francis writes letter to people in Northern Italy saying "...the Coronavirus is for me a reason for prayer and human closeness”

Covid-19: Pope writes letter to people in Northern Italy
Pope Francis has written an open letter, published in Padua’s daily newspaper, expressing his prayer and closeness to all those suffering as result of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis begins his letter with an apology for what he calls “the informality of the gesture”.

He says that, through Padua’s daily newspaper, his intention is to reach out to the whole city, “to all the Christian communities with their priests and Bishop”. By writing to them, the Pope says he is symbolically writing “to everyone”.

God speaks to us in times of suffering
“The suffering and death that, as in other parts of Italy, you are experiencing because of the coronavirus is for me a reason for prayer and human closeness”, writes Pope Francis.

“It is also the reason for Christian hope”, he continues, because “even in these moments, God is speaking to us”.

Good will, responsibility and cooperation
The Pope describes “this dangerous situation”, as “an opportunity to see what men and women of good will are capable of”. Pope Francis says he is thinking “of those who, in these days, are doing more than they should: the medical and paramedical personnel first and foremost”.

Good will, “combined with a strong sense of responsibility and cooperation with the appropriate authorities, becomes an added value that the world sorely needs”, he writes.

Padua European Capital of Volunteering 2020
This year, the northern Italian city of Padua was named “European Capital of Volunteering". In his letter, the Pope calls this “a wonderful opportunity for your city to tell the world about your DNA”, which includes generous use of time and sharing of talents.

Pope Francis invites the people of Italy’s Veneto Region to be proud of their history and to take responsibility “for all the good sown by those who have gone before you”.

"Stitching Italy together"
In his letter, the Pope references the motto Padua has chosen as the guiding thread for the year of volunteering: "Stitching Italy together". The verb “to stitch”, he writes, recalls sewing and mending: “operations that are most necessary after a tear, a wound”.

Today we are tempted to throw away rather than to mend, writes Pope Francis: “It is a fate we reserve not only for objects, but also for people, especially the most helpless”. No one, he says, “should be refused a loving look of attention and a gesture of goodness”.

A symbolic caress
Pope Francis concludes by explaining how he chose to place the ad in the pages of Padua’s “Il Mattino” newspaper because he wants it to be “a caress” to those who are suffering at this time. He extends this symbolic caress “to all the other cities that share this moment and, at the same time, are giving testimony of good will to the world”.

His last word and blessing goes to all those who have lost a loved one, to the elderly, the sick and those who are imprisoned: anyone who, because of the Covid-19 Coronavirus emergency, is unable to receive even the simple comfort of a visit.

Full Text Source : VaticanNews.va

Locusts in East Africa threaten to become a Plague and Cause Food Shortages - Millions of People at Risk

AFRICA/SOMALIA - Bishop Bertin: "Locusts and other calamities bring down Somalia"
Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Mogadishu (Agenzia Fides) – First the drought, then the floods, now the locusts. There is no peace for Somalia. In six months, the country has been hit by three calamities that have brought down local and, mainly, southern regions’ economy. The population is exhausted: the alert has been issued to Agenzia Fides by Mgr. Giorgio Bertin, Bishop of Djibouti and Apostolic Administrator of Somalia.
Last Autumn, locusts were born and reproduced very quickly in Yemen. Thanks to the lack of a state authority able to put in place actions causing their destruction, the larvae developed and created vast swarms. From the Arabic peninsula, the swarms, thanks to the favourable climatic conditions, moved to Eastern Africa.
“From what I have seen and heard about our four missions – Mgr. Bertin explains – locusts have transited in Djibouti. They stopped there ‘to take a breath’. They provoked some damages but, in the end, not serious ones. The problem is that they moved south. They ran over the South of Ethiopia and Somalia and the North of Kenya”. “The spread of locusts is a serious fact”, the Bishop highlights. “All the nations in the Horn of Africa have put in place measures to counter their expansion. In Somalia, however, the situation is more complicated. Here, state and regional institutions exist only on paper. Authorities do not take decisions or are unable to do that because of the instability produced by the constant fighting. Who loses out are the poorest populations who can do nothing to face droughts, floods and locusts”.
The FAO, the United Nations agency "Food and Agriculture Organization", estimates that insects are about 200 billion now and that their number can increase up to 500 billion within June. “It is the worst invasion in the last 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia, while for Kenya the last similar episode dates back to 70 years ago”, the FAO experts explain. “The severity of the locusts’ plague – continues the organisation – is amplified by the fact that it is affecting crops and pastoral lands in areas that have already been suffering from drought, flood events and also political instability”.
In 2018, in Somalia, low rainfall has caused a very strong drought that destroyed crop yields and livestock. Local communities were forced to sell their goods and borrow food and money in order to survive. More than 6 million people had to come to terms with famine and acute hunger. Moreover, during last year autumn, rainfall from monsoon reached an unprecedented violence.
Heavy rains at the end of October caused serious floods provoking casualties, more than 270 thousand displaced persons and damages to livestock. The most affected region is the Hiiraan region, where many people had to leave their houses to look for a shelter in the higher areas.
Dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries have been registered. Now, locusts have arrived. According to FAO, in Somalia at least a million people are already under strong food insecurity and at least 2.8 million are at risk.
(EC) (Agenzia Fides 10/3/2020)

US Troops Withdraw from Afghanistan in Accord with Peace Agreement

US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan begins
The return of American soldiers is foreseen in the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban. President Ghani defines the milestones for the release of the 5,000 militants. Summit stalled by double oath ceremony. The rival Abdullah takes office with a parallel government.

Kabul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan has begun, as required by the peace agreement signed between Washington and the Taliban on February 29 in Doha, Qatar. An anonymous US official confirmed this to the Associated Press yesterday. Meanwhile, today, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will announce the stages of the release of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners, an essential condition for the withdrawal of the coalition soldiers and the start of "intra-Afghan" talks.

The American initiative, however, is likely to run aground due to the continuing conflicts at the Kabul summit. Yesterday Ghani swore in as president during a ceremony interrupted by the firing of rockets at the compound of the presidential palace. The attack had no consequences in terms of victims or injuries and was claimed by the Islamic State. For his part, challenger Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of the state, still challenges the outcome of the recent election. Therefore yesterday he organized a parallel intallation ceremony.

The Doha agreement should restore peace to the Afghan people after 19 years of war. It provides for the withdrawal of 13 thousand US and NATO soldiers by 2021. Specifically, in the first 3-4 months the soldiers will be reduced to 8,600, up to a total return in the following 14 months. NATO should instead decrease its contingent to 12 thousand soldiers, from a total of 16 thousand.

At first, the agreement appeared to waver on the issue of the release of prisoners of war, half of the total, which was opposed by the government of Kabul (excluded from the negotiations). In addition, a serious attack carried out by the Islamic State on 7 March in the capital killed 30 people and injured over 80. Abdullah, present at the time of the attack, escaped the massacre. Yesterday, while the rockets were launched live on television, Ghani from the stage invited those present to remain calm and proudly showed he was not wearing a bulletproof vest. Then he added: "I am ready to sacrifice."
Full Text Source : AsiaNews IT

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - #Eucharist

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 231

Reading 1IS 1:10, 16-20

Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Responsorial Psalm50:8-9, 16BC-17, 21 AND 23

R.    (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R.    To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R.    To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
     Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R.    To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Verse Before The GospelEZ 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

GospelMT 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Saint March 10 : Forty Martyrs of Sebaste - Persecuted the Christians of the East - Martyrs who Died in 320 AD

Feast Day:
March 10
320 AD, Sebaste
A party of soldiers who suffered a cruel death for their faith, near Sebaste, in Lesser Armenia, victims of the persecutions of Licinius, who, after the year 316, persecuted the Christians of the East. The earliest account of their martyrdom is given by St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (370-379), in a homily delivered on the feast of the Forty Martyrs (Hom. xix in P.G., XXXI, 507 sqq.). The feast is consequently more ancient than the episcopate of Basil, whose eulogy on them was pronounced only fifty or sixty years after martyrdom, which is thus historic beyond a doubt. According to St. Basil, forty soldiers who had openly confessed themselves Christians were condemned by the prefect to be exposed naked upon a frozen pond near Sebaste on a bitterly cold night, that they might freeze to death. Among the confessors, one yielded and, leaving his companions, sought the warm baths near the lake which had been prepared for any who might prove inconstant. One of the guards set to keep watch over the martyrs beheld at this moment a supernatural brilliancy overshadowing them and at once proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and placed himself beside the thirty-nine soldiers of Christ. Thus the number of forty remained complete. At daybreak, the stiffened bodies of the confessors, which still showed signs of life, were burned and the ashes cast into a river. The Christians, however, collected the precious remains, and the relics were distributed throughout many cities; in this way the veneration paid to the Forty Martyrs became widespread, and numerous churches were erected in their honour.
One of them was built at Caesarea, in Cappadocia, and it was in this church that St. Basil publicly delivered his homily. St. Gregory of Nyssa was a special client of these holy martyrs. Two discourses in praise of them, preached by him in the church dedicated to them, are still preserved (P. G., XLVI, 749 sqq., 773 sqq.) and upon the death of his parents, he laid them to rest beside the relics of the confessors. St. Ephraem, the Syrian, has also eulogized the forty Martyrs (Hymni in SS. 40 martyres). Sozomen, who was an eye-witness, has left us (Hist. Eccl., IX, 2) an interesting account of the finding of the relics in Constantinople through the instrumentality of the Empress Pulcheria. Special devotion to the forty martyrs of Sebaste was introduced at an early date into the West. St. Gaudentius, Bishop of Brescia in the beginning of the fifth century (d. about 410 or 427), received particles of the ashes of martyrs during a voyage in the East, and placed them with other relics in the altar of the basilica which he had erected, at the consecration of which he delivered a discourse, still extant (P. L., XX, 959 sqq.) Near the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua, in the Roman Forum, built in the fifth century, a chapel was found, built, like the church itself, on an ancient site, and consecrated to the Forty Martyrs. A picture, still preserved there, dating from the sixth or seventh century, depicts the scene of the martyrdom. The names of the confessors, as we find them also in later sources, were formerly inscribed on this fresco. Acts of these martyrs, written subsequently, in Greek, Syriac and Latin, are yet extant, also a "Testament" of the Forty Martyrs. Their feast is celebrated in the Greek, as well as in the Latin Church, on 9 March.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)