Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
Saint October 15 : St. Teresa of Avila - a Carmelite and the Patron of loss of Parents, Religious, Sickness and Spain
DISCALCED CARMELITE MYSTIC, FOUNDRESS, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
28 March 1515, Ávila, Old Castile, Spain
October 15, 1582, Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Spain
12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV
Shrine of St. Teresa of Ávila, Ávila, Spain
bodily ills; headaches; lacemakers; laceworkers; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety; sick people; sickness; Spain
#Prayers to #StTeresa of Avila - Special Prayer for #Headaches, Litany and #Novena written by St. Alphonsus to Share!In the Autobiography which she completed towards the end of her life, Saint Teresa of Avila gives us a description of her parents, along with a disparaging estimate of her own character. "The possession of virtuous parents who lived in the fear of God, together with those favors which I received from his Divine Majesty, might have made me good, if I had not been so very wicked." A heavy consciousness of sin was prevalent in sixteenth-century Spain, and we can readily discount this avowal of guilt. What we are told of Teresa's early life does not sound in the least wicked, but it is plain that she was an unusually active, imaginative, and sensitive child. Her parents, Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda and Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, his second wife, were people of position in Avila, a city of Old Castile, where Teresa was born on March 28, 1515. There were nine children of this marriage, of whom Teresa was the third, and three children of her father's first marriage.
Piously reared as she was, Teresa became completely fascinated by stories of the saints and martyrs, as was her brother Roderigo, who was near her own age and her partner in youthful adventures. Once, when Teresa was seven, they made a plan to run away to Africa, where they might be beheaded by the infidel Moors and so achieve martyrdom. They set out secretly, expecting to beg their way like the poor friars, but had gone only a short distance from home when they were met by an uncle and brought back to their anxious mother, who had sent servants into the streets to search for them. She and her brother now thought they would like to become hermits, and tried to build themselves little cells from stones they found in the garden. Thus we see that religious thoughts and influences dominated the mind of the future saint in childhood.
Teresa was only fourteen when her mother died, and she later wrote of her sorrow in these words: "As soon as I began to understand how great a loss I had sustained by losing her, I was very much afflicted; and so I went before an image of our Blessed Lady and besought her with many tears that she would vouchsafe to be my mother." Visits from a girl cousin were most welcome at this time, but they had the effect of stimulating her interest in superficial things. Reading tales of chivalry was one of their diversions, and Teresa even tried to write romantic stories. "These tales," she says in her Autobiography, "did not fail to cool my good desires, and were the cause of my falling insensibly into other defects. I was so enchanted that I could not be happy without some new tale in my hands. I began to imitate the fashions, to enjoy being well dressed, to take great care of my hands, to use perfumes, and wear all the vain ornaments which my position in the world allowed." Noting this sudden change in his daughter's personality, Teresa's father decided to place her in a convent of Augustinian nuns in Avila, where other young women of her class were being educated. This action made Teresa aware that her danger had been greater than she knew. After a year and a half in the convent she fell ill with what seems to have been a malignant type of malaria, and Don Alfonso brought her home. After recovering, she went to stay with her eldest sister, who had married and gone to live in the country. Then she visited an uncle, Peter Sanchez de Capeda, a very sober and pious man. At home once more, and fearing that an uncongenial marriage would be forced upon her, she began to deliberate whether or not she should undertake the religious life. Reading the
This reaction caused a new conflict, for Teresa loved her father devotedly. Feeling that delay might weaken her resolve, she went secretly to the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation outside the town of Avila, where her dear friend Sister Jane Suarez was living, and applied for admission. Of this painful step, she wrote: "I remember . . . while I was going out of my father's house—the sharpness of sense will not be greater, I believe, in the very instant of agony of my death, than it was then. It seemed as if all the bones in my body were wrenched asunder.... There was no such love of God in me then as was able to quench the love I felt for my father and my friends." A year later Teresa made her profession, but when there was a recurrence of her illness, Don Alfonso had her removed from the convent, as the rule of enclosure was not then in effect. After a period of intense suffering, during which, on one occasion, at least, her life was despaired of, she gradually began to improve. She was helped by certain prayers she had begun to use. Her devout Uncle Peter had given her a little book called the
After three years Teresa went back to the convent. Her intelligence, warmth, and charm made her a favorite, and she found pleasure in being with people. It was the custom in Spain in those days for the young nuns to receive their acquaintances in the convent parlor, and Teresa spent much time there, chatting with friends. She was attracted to one of the visitors whose company was disturbing to her, although she told herself that there could be no question of sin, since she was only doing what so many others, better than she, were doing. During this relaxed period, she gave up her habit of mental prayer, using as a pretext the poor state of her health. "This excuse of bodily weakness," she wrote afterwards, "was not a sufficient reason why I should abandon so good a thing, which required no physical strength, but only love and habit. In the midst of sickness the best prayer may be offered, and it is a mistake to think it can only be offered in solitude." She returned to the practice of mental prayer and never again abandoned it, although she had not yet the courage to follow God completely, or to stop wasting her time and talents. But during these years of apparent wavering, her spirit was being forged. When depressed by her own unworthiness, she turned to those two great penitents, St. Mary Magdalen and St. Augustine, and through them came experiences that helped to steady her will. One was the reading of St. Augustine's
When finally Teresa withdrew from the pleasures of social intercourse, she found herself able once more to pray the "prayer of quiet," and also the "prayer of union." She began to have intellectual visions of divine things and to hear inner voices. Though she was persuaded these manifestations came from God, she was at times fearful and troubled. She consulted many persons, binding all to secrecy, but her perplexities nevertheless were spread abroad, to her great mortification. Among those she talked to was Father Gaspar Daza, a learned priest, who, after listening, reported that she was deluded, for such divine favors were not consistent with a life as full of imperfections as hers was, as she herself admitted. A friend, Don Francis de Salsedo, suggested that she talk to a priest of the newly formed Society of Jesus. To one of them, accordingly, she made a general Confession, recounting her manner of prayer and extraordinary visions. He assured her that she experienced divine graces, but warned her that she had failed to lay the foundations of a true spiritual life by practices of mortification. He advised her to try to resist the visions and voices for two months; resistance proved useless. Francis Borgia, commissary-general of the Society in Spain, then advised her not to resist further, but also not to seek such experiences.
Another Jesuit, Father Balthasar Alvarez, who now became her director, pointed out certain traits that were incompatible with perfect grace. He told her that she would do well to beg God to direct her to what was most pleasing to Him, and to recite daily the hymn of St. Gregory the Great, "
In 1557 Peter of Alcantara, a Franciscan of the Observance, came to Avila. Few saints have been more experienced in the inner life, and he found in Teresa unmistakable evidence of the Holy Spirit. He openly expressed compassion for what she endured from slander and predicted that she was not at the end of her tribulations. However, as her mystical experiences continued, the greatness and goodness of God, the sweetness of His service, became more and more manifest to her. She was sometimes lifted from the ground, an experience other saints have known. "God," she says, "seems not content with drawing the soul to Himself, but he must needs draw up the very body too, even while it is mortal and compounded of so unclean a clay as we have made it by our sins."
It was at this time, she tells us, that her most singular experience took place, her mystical marriage to Christ, and the piercing of her heart. Of the latter she writes: "I saw an angel very near me, towards my left side, in bodily form, which is not usual with me; for though angels are often represented to me, it is only in my mental vision. This angel appeared rather small than large, and very beautiful. His face was so shining that he seemed to be one of those highest angels called seraphs, who look as if all on fire with divine love. He had in his hands a long golden dart; at the end of the point methought there was a little fire. And I felt him thrust it several times through my heart in such a way that it passed through my very bowels. And when he drew it out, methought it pulled them out with it and left me wholly on fire with a great love of God." The pain in her soul spread to her body, but it was accompanied by great delight too; she was like one transported, caring neither to see nor to speak but only to be consumed with the mingled pain and happiness.
Teresa's longing to die that she might be united with God was tempered by her desire to suffer for Him on earth. The account which the
Teresa's other literary works came later, during the fifteen years when she was actively engaged in founding new convents of reformed Carmelite nuns. They are proof of her industry and her power of memory, as well as of a real talent for expression.
We have seen how undisciplined the Carmelite nuns had become, how the convent parlor at Avila was a social gathering place, and how easily nuns might leave their enclosure. Any woman, in fact, who wanted a sheltered life without much responsibility could find it in a convent in sixteenth-century Spain. The religious themselves, for the most part, were not even aware of how far they fell short of what their profession demanded. So when one of the nuns at the House of the Incarnation began talking of the possibility of founding a new and stricter community, the idea struck Teresa as an inspiration from Heaven. She determined to undertake its establishment herself and received a promise of help from a wealthy widow, Dona Guiomar de Ulloa. The project was approved by Peter of Alcantara and Father Angelo de Salazar, provincial of the Carmelite Order. The latter was soon compelled to withdraw his permission, for Teresa's fellow nuns, the local nobility, the magistrates, and others united to thwart the project. Father Ibanez, a Dominican, secretly encouraged Teresa and urged Dona Guiomar to continue to lend her support. One of Teresa's married sisters began with her husband to erect a small convent at Avila in 1561 to shelter the new establishment; outsiders took it for a house intended for the use of her family.
An episode famous in Teresa's life occurred at this time. Her little nephew was crushed by a wall of the new structure which fell on him as he was playing, and he was carried, apparently lifeless, to Teresa. She held the child in her arms and prayed. After some minutes she restored him alive and sound to his mother. The miracle was presented at the process for Teresa's canonization. Another seemingly solid wall of the convent collapsed during the night. Teresa's brother-in-law was going to refuse to pay the masons, but Teresa assured him that it was all the work of evil spirits and insisted that the men be paid.
A wealthy woman of Toledo, Countess Louise de la Cerda, happened at the time to be mourning the recent death of her husband, and asked the Carmelite provincial to order Teresa, whose goodness she had heard praised, to come to her. Teresa was accordingly sent to the woman, and stayed with her for six months, using a part of the time, at the request of Father Ibanez, to write, and to develop further her ideas for the convent. While at Toledo she met Maria of Jesus, of the Carmelite convent at Granada, who had had revelations concerning a reform of the order, and this meeting strengthened Teresa's own desires. Back in Avila, on the very evening of her arrival, the Pope's letter authorizing the new reformed convent was brought to her. Teresa's adherents now persuaded the bishop of Avila to concur, and the convent, dedicated to St. Joseph, was quietly opened. On St. Bartholomew's day, 1562 the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the little chapel, and four novices took the habit.
The news soon spread in the town and opposition flared into the open. The prioress of the Incarnation convent sent for Teresa, who was required to explain her conduct. Detained almost as a prisoner, Teresa did not lose her poise. The prioress was joined in her disapproval by the mayor and magistrates, always fearful that an unendowed convent would be a burden on the townspeople. Some were for demolishing the building forthwith. Meanwhile Don Francis sent a priest to Madrid, to plead for the new establishment before the King's Council. Teresa was allowed to go back to her convent and shortly afterward the bishop officially appointed her prioress. The hubbub now quickly subsided. Teresa was hence. forth known simply as Teresa of Jesus, mother of the reform of Carmel. The nuns were strictly cloistered, under a rule of poverty and almost complete silence; the constant chatter of women's voices was one of the things that Teresa had most deplored at the Incarnation. They were poor, without regular revenues; they wore habits of coarse serge and sandals instead of shoes, and for this reason were called the "discalced" or shoeless Carmelites. Although the prioress was now in her late forties, and frail, her great achievement still lay in the future.
Convinced that too many women under one roof made for relaxation of discipline, Teresa limited the number of nuns to thirteen; later, when houses were being founded with endowments and hence were not wholly dependent on alms, the number was increased to twenty-one. The prior general of the Carmelites, John Baptist Rubeo of Ravenna, visiting Avila in 1567, carried away a fine impression of Teresa's sincerity and prudent rule. He gave her full authority to found other convents on the same plan, in spite of the fact that St. Joseph's had been established without his knowledge.
Five peaceful years were spent with the thirteen nuns in the little convent of St. Joseph. Teresa trained the sisters in every kind of useful work and in all religious observances, but whether at spinning or at prayer, she herself was always first and most diligent. In August, 1567, she founded a second convent at Medina del Campo. The Countess de la Cerda was anxious to found a similar house in her native town of Malagon, and Teresa went to advise her about it. When this third community had been launched, the intrepid nun moved on to Valladolid, and there founded a fourth; then a fifth at Toledo. On beginning this work, she had no more than four or five ducats (approximately ten dollars), but she said, "Teresa and this money are nothing; but God, Teresa, and these ducats suffice." At Medina del Campo she encountered two friars who had heard of her reform and wished to adopt it: Antony de Heredia, prior of the Carmelite monastery there, and John of the Cross. With their aid, in 1568, and the authority given her by the prior general, she established a reformed house for men at Durelo, and in 1569 a second one at Pastrana, both on a pattern of extreme poverty and austerity. She left to John of the Cross, who at this time was in his late twenties, the direction of these and other reformed communities that might be started for men. Refusing to obey the order of his provincial to return to Medina, he was imprisoned at Toledo for nine months. After his escape he became vicar-general of Andalusia, and strove for papal recognition of the order. John, later to attain fame as a poet, mystic confessor, and finally saint, became Teresa's friend; a close spiritual bond developed between the young friar and the aging prioress, and he was made director and confessor in the mother house at Avila.
The hardships and dangers involved in Teresa's labors are indicated by a little episode of the founding of a new convent at Salamanca. She and another nun took over a house which had been occupied by students. It was a large, dirty, desolate place, without furnishings, and when night came the two nuns lay down on their piles of straw, for, Teresa tells us, "the first furniture I provided wherever I founded convents was straw, for, having that, I reckoned I had beds." On this occasion, the other nun seemed very nervous, and Teresa asked her the reason. "I was wondering," was the reply, "what you would do alone with a corpse if I were to die here now." Teresa was startled, but only said, "I shall think of that when it happens, Sister. For the present, let us go to sleep."
At about this time Pope Pius V appointed a number of apostolic visitors to inquire into the relaxations of discipline in religious orders everywhere. The visitor to the Carmelites of Castile found great fault with the Incarnation convent and sent for Teresa, bidding her to assume its direction and remedy the abuses there. It was hard to be separated from her own daughters, and even more distasteful to be brought in as head of the old house which had long opposed her with bitterness and jealousy. The nuns at first refused to obey her; some of them fell into hysterics at the very idea. She told them that she came not to coerce or instruct but to serve and to learn from the least among them. By gentleness and tact she won the affection of the community, and was able to reestablish discipline. Frequent callers were forbidden, the finances of the house were set in order, and a more truly religious spirit reigned. At the end of three years, although the nuns wished to keep her longer, she was directed to return to her own convent.
Teresa organized a nunnery at Veas and while there met Father Jerome Gratian, a reformed Carmelite, and was persuaded by him to extend her work to Seville. With the exception of her first convent, none proved so hard to establish as this. Among her problems there was a disgruntled novice, who reported the nuns to the Inquisition, charging them with being Illuminati.
The Italian Carmelite friars had meanwhile been growing alarmed at the progress of the reform in Spain, lest, as one of their number said, they might one day be compelled to set about reforming themselves, a fear shared by their still unreformed Spanish brothers. At a general chapter at Piacenza several decrees were passed restricting the reform. The new apostolic nuncio dismissed Father Gratian from his office as visitor to the reformed Carmelites. Teresa was told to choose one of her convents and retire to it, and abstain from founding others. At this point she turned to her friends in the world, who were able to interest King Philip II in her behalf, and he personally espoused her cause. He summoned the nuncio to rebuke him for his severity towards the discalced friars and nuns. In 1580 came an order from Rome exempting the reformed from the jurisdiction of the unreformed Carmelites, and giving each party its own provincial. Father Gratian was elected provincial of the reformed branch. The separation, although painful to many, brought an end to dissension.
Teresa was a person of great natural gifts. Her ardor and lively wit was balanced by her sound judgment and psychological insight. It was no mere flight of fancy when the English Catholic poet, Richard Crashaw, called her "the eagle" and "the dove." She could stand up boldly and bravely for what she thought was right; she could also be severe with a prioress who by excessive austerity had made herself unfit for her duties. Yet she could be gentle as a dove, as when she writes to an erring, irresponsible nephew, "God's mercy is great in that you have been enabled to make so good a choice and marry so soon, for you began to be dissipated when you were so young that we might have had much sorrow on your account." Love, with Teresa, meant constructive action, and she had the young man's daughter, born out of wedlock, brought to the convent, and took charge of her upbringing and that of his young sister.
One of Teresa's charms was a sense of humor. In the early years, when an indiscreet male visitor to the convent once praised the beauty of her bare feet, she laughed and told him to take a good look at them for he would never see them again-implying that in the future he would not be admitted. Her method of selecting novices was characteristic. The first requirement, even before piety, was intelligence. A woman could attain to piety, but scarcely to intelligence, by which she meant common sense as well as brains. "An intelligent mind," she wrote, "is simple and teachable; it sees its faults and allows itself to be guided. A mind that is dull and narrow never sees its faults even when shown them. It is always pleased with itself and never learns to do right." Pretentiousness and pride annoyed her. Once a young woman of high reputation for virtue asked to be admitted to a convent in Teresa's charge, and added, as if to emphasize her intellect, "I shall bring my Bible with me." "What," exclaimed Teresa, "your Bible? Do not come to us. We are only poor women who know nothing but how to spin and do as we are told."
In spite of a naturally sturdy constitution, Teresa continued throughout her life to suffer from ailments which physicians found baffling. It would seem that sheer will power kept her alive. At the time of the definitive division of the Carmelite Order she had reached the age of sixty-five and was broken in health. Yet during the last two years of her life she somehow found strength to establish three more convents. They were at Granada, in the far south, at Burgos, in the north, and at Soria, in Portugal. The total was now sixteen. What an astounding achievement this was for one small, enfeebled woman may be better appreciated if we recall the hardships of travel. Most of this extensive journeying was done in a curtained carriage or cart drawn by mules over the extremely poor roads; her trips took her from the northern provinces down to the Mediterranean, and west into Portugal, across mountains, rivers, and arid plateaus. She and the nun who accompanied her endured all the rigors of a harsh climate as well as the steady discomfort of rude lodgings and scanty food.
In the autumn of 1582, Teresa, although ill, set out for Alva de Tormez, where an old friend was expecting a visit from her. Her companion of later years, Anne-of-St. Bartholomew, describes the journey. Teresa grew worse on the road, along which there were few habitations. They could get no food save figs, and when they arrived at the convent, Teresa went to bed in a state of exhaustion. She never recovered, and three days later, she remarked to Anne, "At last, my daughter, I have reached the house of death," a reference to her book,
Teresa was canonized in 1662. Shortly after her death, Philip II, keenly aware of the Carmelite nun's contribution to Catholicism, had her manuscripts collected and brought to his great palace of the Escorial, and there placed in a rich case, the key of which he carried on his person. These writings were edited for publication by two Dominican scholars and brought out in 1587. Subsequently her works have appeared in uncounted Spanish editions, and have been translated into many languages. An ever-spreading circle of readers through the centuries have found understanding and courage in the life and works of this nun of Castile, who is one of the glories of Spain and of the Church. Teresa's emblems are a heart, an arrow, and a book.
Quote to SHARE by St Pope John XXIII "The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world."
"The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world."
Over 12000 Doctors and Scientists from Around the World - Sign Anti-Lockdown Petition being Considered by US Government - The Great Barrington Declaration - FULL TEXT + Video
President of Asian Bishops - Cardinal Bo Writes Letter in Support of Pope Francis' Encyclical "Fratelli Tutti" - "Let us pray for the whole world..." FULL TEXT
The President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences
addressed to the Bishops and Churches of Asia
12 – October 2020
Dear Brother Bishops of Asia,
and Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Churches of Asia.
With respect, joy and love I wish you peace. With this letter I wish to encourage you in your reading, reflection and prayer on the most recent Encyclical of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti on fraternity and social friendship. In the very first moments of his pontificate, Francis bowed his head in front of the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and invited them: “Let us always pray for each other. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great fraternity.”
The Church is alive, it must always surprise
This year of 2020 is and has been for many of you, and for your people, a time of chaos, fear and loss. It is heavy for you, it is claustrophobic to be forced to stay at home and to keep your churches closed. Calendars are empty. Donations are drying up. There is increased hunger among our poor. Naturally we fear for the future. Yet Francis urges us not to make superficial responses to this time of crisis. We never stop being on mission. Now is a time to build respect for one another, to live as we wish the world to be in the future. “If the Church is alive, it must always surprise.”
Do not let the joy of the Gospel diminish in your hearts. Do not give way to the culture of indifference. Despite all the pain surrounding us, be aware, he urges us in this encyclical, of the overwhelming, immense, surprising and unmerited gift that we have in “fraternity”. Fraternity, which means care and respect for our sisters and brothers, is the foundation and pathway to peace. Fraternity is solidarity and dialogue; it is true religion. Without fraternity, liberty and equality do not make sense.
More than one pandemic
There is more than one pandemic in the world now, Francis is telling us. COVID-19 only exposes these underlying systemic ailments. Racism, inequity, hate speech, disregard for the poor, the elderly and the unborn, trafficking of women and children - all are with us in pandemic proportions. You are each painfully aware of where the culture of death is present in your dioceses, your local Churches, in your societies. We know that for at least eighteen countries of Asia the death penalty is still legal. We have commerce in weapons in Asia and some of the longest running wars in the world. Millions have no choice but to leave their families and go abroad to find work. These are matters already on our agenda that confront the Gospel message and call for a response from us. Against these we must develop the vaccines of compassion, solidarity and justice.
The Good Samaritan
In Fratelli Tutti Francis leads us in an extended Ignatian meditation on the well known Gospel parable of the Samaritan who was moved with compassion. There is an ancient Jewish understanding that parables are intended to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Christ’s words to the scholar of the law are addressed to us. Francis asks us to put ourselves into this story and imagine ourselves alternatively as one of the religious passers-by, as the victim, even as one of the robbers, perhaps as the scholar of the law, or as the inn keeper who is amazed at the generosity of the rescuer, and finally as the Samaritan. Then we are faced again with the question, ‘who is my neighbour?’ and the inescapable question to our hearts: are we moved by compassion? Love builds bridges. We are moved to affirm that we were made for love.
Inspired by the meditation on the parable, Francis charts a common course for humanity through commitment to peace, the rejection of war and capital punishment, encouragement of forgiveness and reconciliation within societies and care for our common home. When we look with eyes sharpened by this Gospel, we will recognise Christ in every excluded person. Whatever excludes the poorest persons is exposed. We are called to critique the culture of waste and to defend the human rights of people made vulnerable by society: women, children, racial minorities, refugees, the unborn, the aged and many others. Respect for persons and for the common good only grow from true fraternity. In the hunger that our people face daily, we also see inspiring examples of compassion in the sharing of food and the Good Samaritans who volunteer their service to care for others.
Fraternal relationships among religions
It is clear that Francis originally planned to focus this encyclical on the fraternal relationships between religions, exemplified in the spirit of fraternity with which he signed the statement in Abu Dhabi with Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. Yet as he was writing, the world was engulfed in the pandemic. We can be truly grateful that he decided to expand the encyclical’s scope to reflect on the COVID-19 crisis and on the dangers and opportunities it creates. In Asia both of these realities touch our lives and communities intimately and urgently: relationships among religions and the response to the immediate COVID-19 crisis. The Holy Father urges us to look courageously and creatively for opportunities to build, here and now, the world that God desires. He urges us to face up to past mistakes, to heal wounds and to seek and offer forgiveness, recognising that truth is the “inseparable companion of justice and mercy.” The society that will rise again from COVID-19 is a society where fraternity is valued.
Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato sì, Fratelli Tutti – a tryptich:
The three great encyclicals of Pope Francis complement one another. Evangelii Gaudium prays for reconciliation with God. Laudato sì is a cry from the heart that calls for reconciliation with creation. Fratelli Tutti pleads for reconciliation, dialogue and solidarity among all humanity as sisters and brothers. Pope Francis wants us to be aware that God’s presence permeates the world, inspiring persons of all cultures and religions to promote reconciliation and peace. As servants of Christ’s mission today we are invited to assist him as he sets right our relationships with God, with creation and with other human beings.
An open world - an open heart
Where the lack of fraternity creates selfishness, hostility and a closed world, the Gospel calls for an open world and open hearts. There are no ‘others’, no ‘them,’ there is only ‘us’. We want, with God and in God, an open world, a world without walls, without borders, without people rejected, without strangers. To achieve an open world, we must have open hearts. To achieve universal fraternity, our social ethic will be a call to solidarity, encounter, and gratuitousness. Only a better kind of politics will create an open world with an open heart: politics for the common and universal good; politics for and with the people; politics that seeks human dignity; politics of women and men who practice political love; politics that integrates the economy and the social and cultural fabric into a consistent, life-giving human project.
Asian realities are echoed in Fratelli Tutti
Our Asian realities are echoed in the urgent message of Fratelli Tutti. Asia is at the crossroads. The path we take will decide the inheritance we leave to our next generation. Will it be wasted or saved? Will Asia choose individual greed or commit to the common good? Much depends on how we rebuild society after coronavirus. Many governments in Asia are attempting to return to tried and failed economic and social models, so urgency is appropriate.
As Catholics we may be but a minority in all countries except Philippines and Timor Leste, but the frank tone of Francis encourages us to speak strongly to all as brothers and sisters. The death penalty is still applied in eighteen of the countries of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences. The suffering of the Rohingya people is a scar on the soul of my own country, Myanmar. We feel deeply the tensions among peoples and we seek opportunities to respond to the ongoing conflicts in parts of Asia. Our hearts burn for millions who must migrate simply for their survival. We weep at the destruction of our beautiful rain forests which regenerate our sick planet and give life to our indigenous peoples.
The spirit of St Francis of Assisi
The spirit of St Francis of Assisi is alive in Fratelli Tutti. The saint was contemplative, radical in his poverty and his association with people who were poor. He was a standing reproach to the greed and violence of his own society, and he had an influence out of proportion to his social standing. St Francis of Assisi is brought alive for our times and for our contexts by this encyclical.
My brother Bishops and sisters and brothers of the Churches of Asia, thank you for the witness of your lives. May the call of our Holy Father to solidarity, encounter, and gratuitousness find an echo in your lives and communities. May you take up the insistent invitation of Pope Francis for dialogue, respect and generosity towards every human being. God is universal love. Our Mother Mary will guide us on God’s way, the way of universal fraternity.
With much personal affection and assurance of my prayers,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo SDB
President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences
Archbishop of Yangon
Pope Francis Says "Take courage, persevere in prayer. Jesus is always by our side." at Audience in Vatican - FULL TEXT + Video
Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 14 October 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
As we read the Bible, we continually come across prayers of various types. But we also find a book made up solely of prayers, a book that has become the native land, gymnasium and home of countless men and women of prayer. It is the Book of Psalms. There are 150 Psalms to pray.
It forms part of the books of wisdom, because it communicates “knowing how to pray” through the experience of dialogue with God. In the Psalms we find all human sentiments: the joys, the sorrows, the doubts, the hopes, the bitterness that colour our lives. The Catechism affirms that every Psalm “possesses such direct simplicity that it can be prayed in truth by men of all times and conditions” (CCC, 2588). As we read and reread the Psalms, we learn the language of prayer. God the Father, indeed, with His Spirit, inspired them in the heart of King David and others who prayed, in order to teach every man and woman how to praise Him, how to thank Him and to supplicate; how to invoke Him in joy and in suffering, and how to recount the wonders of His works and of His Law. In short, the Psalms are the word of God that we human beings use to speak with Him.
In this book we do not encounter ethereal people, abstract people, those who confuse prayer with an aesthetic or alienating experience. The Psalms are not texts created on paper; they are invocations, often dramatic, that spring from lived existence. To pray them it is enough for us to be what we are. We must not forget that to pray well we must pray as we are, without embellishment. One must not embellish the soul to pray. “Lord, I am like this”, and go in front of the Lord as we are, with the good things and also with the bad things that no-one knows about, but that we inwardly know. In the Psalms we hear the voices of men and women of prayer in flesh and blood, whose life, like that of us all, is fraught with problems, hardships and uncertainties. The Psalmist does not radically contest this suffering: he knows that it is part of living. In the Psalms, however, suffering is transformed into a question. From suffering to questioning.
And among the many questions, there is one that remains suspended, like an incessant cry that runs throughout the entire book from beginning to end. A question that we repeat many times: “Until when, Lord? Until when?” Every suffering calls for liberation, every tear calls for consolation, every wound awaits healing, every slander a sentence of absolution. “Until when, Lord, must I suffer this? Listen to me, Lord!” How many times we have prayed like this, with “Until when?”, enough now, Lord!
By constantly asking such questions, the Psalms teach us not to get used to pain, and remind us that life is not saved unless it is healed. The existence of each human being is but a breath, his or her story is fleeting, but the prayerful know that they are precious in the eyes of God, and so it makes sense to cry out. And this is important. When we pray, we do so because we know we are precious in God’s eyes. It is the grace of the Holy Spirit that, from within, inspires in us this awareness: of being precious in the eyes of God. And this is why we are moved to pray.
The prayer of the Psalms is the testimony of this cry: a multiple cry, because in life pain takes a thousand forms, and takes the name of sickness, hatred, war, persecution, distrust... Until the supreme “scandal”, that of death. Death appears in the Psalter as man’s most unreasonable enemy: what crime deserves such cruel punishment, which involves annihilation and the end? The prayer of the Psalms asks God to intervene where all human efforts are in vain. That is why prayer, in and of itself, is the way of salvation and the beginning of salvation.
Everyone suffers in this world: whether they believe in God or reject Him. But in the Psalter, pain becomes a relationship, rapport: a cry for help waiting to intercept a listening ear. It cannot remain meaningless, without purpose. Even the pains we suffer cannot be merely specific cases of a universal law: they are always “my” tears,. Think about this: tears are not universal, they are “my” tears. Everyone has their own. “My” tears and “my” pain drive me to go ahead in prayer. They are “my” tears, that no one has ever shed before me. Yes, they have wept, many. But “my” tears are mine, “My” pain is my own, “my” suffering is my own.
Before entering the Hall, I met the parents of that priest of the diocese of Como who was killed: he was killed precisely in his service to others. The tears of those parents are their own tears, and each one of them knows how much he or she has suffered in seeing this son who gave his life in service to the poor. When we want to console somebody, we cannot find the words. Why? Because we cannot arrive at his or her pain, because her sorrows are her own, his tears are his own. The same is true of us: the tears, the sorrow, the tears are mine, and with these tears, with this sorrow I turn to the Lord.
All human pains for God are sacred. So prays the prayer of Psalm 56: “Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put thou my tears in thy bottle! Are they not in thy book?” (v. 9). Before God we are not strangers, or numbers. We are faces and hearts, known one by one, by name.
In the Psalms, the believer finds an answer. He knows that even if all human doors were barred, God’s door is open. Even if the whole world had issued a verdict of condemnation, there is salvation in God.
“The Lord listens”: sometimes in prayer it is enough to know this. Problems are not always solved. Those who pray are not deluded: they know that many questions of life down here remain unresolved, with no way out; suffering will accompany us and, after one battle, others will await us. But if we are listened to, everything becomes more bearable.
The worst thing that can happen is to suffer in abandonment, without being remembered. From this prayer saves us. Because it can happen, and even often, that we do not understand God’s plans. But our cries do not stagnate down here: they rise up to Him, He who has the heart of a Father, and who cries Himself for every son and daughter who suffers and dies. I will tell you something: it is good for me, in difficult moments, to think of Jesus weeping; when He wept looking at Jerusalem, when He wept before Lazarus’ tomb. God has wept for me, God weeps, He weeps for our sorrows. Because God wanted to make Himself man - a spiritual writer used to say - in order to be able to weep. To think that Jesus weeps with me in sorrow is a consolation: it helps us keep going. If we maintain our relationship with Him, life does not spare us suffering, but we open up to a great horizon of goodness and set out towards its fulfilment. Take courage, persevere in prayer. Jesus is always by our side.
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors who join us for today’s Audience. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Source: FULL TEXT Release from Vatican.va -
ASIA/BANGLADESH - Catholic nun dedicated to the sick dies of coronavirus
Tuesday, 13 October 2020c
Natore (Agenzia Fides) - Catholic sister Mary Arpita of the female institute "Associates of Mary Queen of the Apostles" (SMRA) died of Covid-19. Sister Arpita was responsible for the “St. Mary's” Dispensary and Maternity center, in the parish of Bonpara in Natore, in the Diocese of Rajshahi. She also ran the Women Community Development Center, a vocational training center for women that supports hundreds of seamstresses. The 68-year-old nun was infected with dengue fever on August 17th and then died of pneumonia as a result of Covid-19 disease. Although she was hospitalized in Dhaka, she did not survive due to the previous illness.
Fr. Bikash H. Reberio, parish priest of Bonpara who worked closely with Sister Mary Arpita, told Fides: "Sister Mary Arpita was a dedicated religious. She was very kind and humble. Although she suffered from various diseases, she was hardworking and spared no effort. Sister Mary Arpita paid special attention to her patients. Often times she forgot to have her meals just to stay with them. She has always looked after the sick with love".
As a pious person, the parish priest stressed, she was "a woman of prayer" who drew her strength from Holy Mass".
Sister Mary Arpita was an experienced nurse who managed many Catholic structures and maternity centers. She worked in the Nursing Institute contributing to the training of many students who are now nurses. Under the jurisdiction of the parish of Bonpara there is a school, a dispensary, the St. Mary Maternity Center, a cutting and sewing center for women. Approximately 90% of the patients at the St. Mary's dispensary and maternity center are Muslim.
A Muslim patient named Nurjahan Begum, 55, tells Fides: "Every time I got sick, I went to St. Mary's Dispensary and Maternity Center. Sister Arpita took care of me with love. I was saddened by her death. May the Lord bless her". (FB-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/10/2020)
New Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts Named by Pope Francis - Fr. William Byrne of the Archdiocese of Washington
Pope Francis Names Father William Byrne of Archdiocese of Washington as Bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts
OCTOBER 14, 2020
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Rev. William Draper Byrne, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, as the Bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on October 14, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts has been a vacant see since June 2020.
Bishop-elect Byrne was born on September 26, 1964 in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1994 for the Archdiocese of Washington. Father Byrne attended Georgetown Preparatory School in Rockville, Maryland and received a bachelor’s degree in English from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and received a Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1992 and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in 1994, both from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
After ordination, Father Byrne was assigned to the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland as parochial vicar where he served until 1995 when he was assigned as parochial vicar at the Shrine of Saint Jude in Rockville, Maryland. From 1999 until 2007, he served as the chaplain for the University of Maryland’s Catholic Student Center in College Park, Maryland. He was named pastor of St. Peter’s parish in Washington, D.C. in 2007 where he served until 2015. From 2009 until 2015, while serving as pastor of St. Peter’s, Father Byrne was also Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington. In 2015, Father Byrne was named pastor of Our Lady of Mercy parish in Potomac, Maryland where he currently serves.
Bishop-elect Byrne’s ministry also includes service on the Archdiocese of Washington’s Vocations Team (1998), Formation Board (2002-present), Priest Council (2003-2006), Priest Personnel Board (2006-2009), and Archdiocesan Administrative Board (2009-2015), as well as membership on the board of directors of St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home, Catholic Youth Organization, and Redemptoris Mater Seminary, as well as the advisory board of the Lay Leadership Institute.
The Diocese of Springfield is comprised of 2,822 square miles in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has a total population of 828,667 of which 199,289 are Catholic.
FULL TEXT Release: USCCB