Thursday, February 18, 2021

Saint February 19 : St. Conrad of Piacenza a Franciscan Confessor, Hermit and Patron of Cure for Hernias

Born: 1290, Piacenza, Province of Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
February 19, 1351, Noto, Province of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Patron of:
cure of hernias


Hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, date of birth uncertain; died at Noto in Sicily, 19 February, 1351. He belonged to one of the noblest families of Piacenza, and having married when he was quite young, led a virtuous and God-fearing life. On one occasion, when he was engaged in his usual pastime of hunting, he ordered his attendants to fire some brushwood in which game had taken refuge. The prevailing wind caused the flames to spread rapidly, and the surrounding fields and forest were soon in a state of conflagration. A mendicant, who happened to be found near the place where the fire had originated, was accused of being the author. He was imprisoned, tried, and condemned to death. As the poor man was being led to execution, Conrad, stricken with remorse, made open confession of his guilt; and in order to repair the damage of which he had been the cause, was obliged to sell all his possessions. Thus reduced to poverty, Conrad retired to a lonely hermitage some distance from Piacenza, while his wife entered the Order of Poor Clares. Later he went to Rome, and thence to Sicily, where for thirty years he lived a most austere and penitential life and worked numerous miracles. He is especially invoked for the cure of hernia. In 1515 Leo X permitted the town of Noto to celebrate his feast, which permission was later extended by Urban VIII to the whole Order of St. Francis. Though bearing the title of saint, Conrad was never formally canonized. His feast is kept in the Franciscan Order on 19 February.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)
Prayer to St. Conrad: 
Almighty God,
You attracted Saint Conrad through his zeal for justice to serve You faithfully in the desert.
Through his prayers may we live justly and piously, and happily succeed in coming to You.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that as Thou wert pacified by the penance of Blessed Conrad, so we may imitate his example and blot out the stains of our sins by crucifying our flesh. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Pope Francis says in Lent "The Lord Jesus, who invites us to walk with Him through the desert towards the Easter victory over sin and death..." FULL TEXT to Campaign


 Dear brothers and sisters of Brazil:

With the beginning of Lent, we are invited to a time of intense reflection and review of our lives. The Lord Jesus, who invites us to walk with Him through the desert towards the Easter victory over sin and death, becomes a pilgrim with us also in these times of pandemic. It summons and invites us to pray for those who have died, to give thanks for the selfless service of so many health professionals and to foster solidarity among people of good will. He calls us to take care of ourselves, of our health, and to care for one another, as the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us (cf.  Lk 10.25-37). We have to overcome the pandemic and we will do so to the extent that we are able to overcome divisions and unite around life. As I have indicated in the recent encyclical  Fratelli tutti ,  "after the health crisis, the worst reaction would be to fall further into a consumer fever and new forms of selfish self-preservation" (n. 35). So that this is not the case, Lent is of great help to us, since it calls us to conversion through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

As has been a tradition for several decades, the Church in Brazil promotes the Fraternity Campaign as a concrete help to live this time of preparation for Easter. In this year 2021, with the theme "Fraternity and dialogue: commitment to love", the faithful are invited to "sit and listen to the other" and thus overcome the obstacles of a world that is often "a deaf world." In fact, when we get ready to dialogue, we establish "a paradigm of a receptive attitude, of one who overcomes narcissism and receives the other" ( ibid . , N. 48). And at the base of this renewed culture of dialogue is Jesus who, as the motto of this year's Campaign teaches: "It is our peace: he who made one of the two peoples"  (Eph  2:14).

On the other hand, by promoting dialogue as a commitment of love, the Fraternity Campaign reminds us that Christians are the first to set an example, beginning with the practice of ecumenical dialogue. With the certainty that "we must always remember that we are pilgrims, and we are on pilgrimage together", in ecumenical dialogue we can truly "entrust our hearts to the companion on the journey without suspicion, without mistrust, and look first to what we seek: peace in the face of the only God ”(Apostolic Exhortation  Evangelii Gaudium ,  n. 244). It is, therefore, a reason for hope that this year, for the fifth time, the Fraternity Campaign will be carried out with the Churches that are part of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC).

In this way, Brazilian Christians, in fidelity to the one Lord Jesus, who left us the command to love one another as he loved us (cf.  Jn  13:34) and from "the appreciation of each human person as a creature called to be the son or daughter of God, they offer a valuable contribution for the construction of fraternity and for the defense of justice in society ”(Encyclical Letter  Fratelli tutti ,  n. 271). The fruitfulness of our testimony will also depend on our ability to dialogue, to find points of union and to translate them into actions in favor of life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable.

Wishing you the grace of a fruitful Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign, I send to each and every one of you my Apostolic Blessing, asking you not to stop praying for me.

Rome, St. John Lateran, February 17, 2021 .




Bulletin of the Press Office of the Holy See , February 17, 2021.

Lent Message of Archbishop Fisher - "3 ancient remedies for ills of spirit are proposed to us in today’s Gospel and every Lent: prayer, fasting and charity." from Sydney, Australia

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
St. Mary’s Basilica, Sydney, Australia

Drought, then fires, moths, storms and floods, then plague: what a strange year or two we’ve had! Especially with this continuing pandemic hanging round our necks, it can feel like the end of the world is coming. And that’s exactly how the ancients would have read these signs…

Not literally the end of the world of course: the ancients knew full-well that that had been predicted many times before by the prophets of doom and had come to nought. But they also had a keen sense that the end could come for us any moment, that everything is contingent and transitory, and that nothing is more certain than death.

Nowadays we expect to live to a good age, and boys your age probably don’t ponder death much. Fair enough: it might be morbid if you did. But COVID-19 has underlined just how vulnerable and mortal we are. Your generation appreciates better than mine just how fragile and endangered our natural world is also. In an age of climate change and global pandemic, we might well join those ancients proclaiming the end of the world – at least, as we know it. Much of what was ‘normal’ may never return and much of ordinary life is now lived through a new lens.

One common response is to curl up in a self-protective ball, if not physically, at least emotionally and spiritually. Public health requirements of quarantine and isolation, social distancing and mask wearing have been prudent to protect our physical health; but they’ve come at a cost to our emotional health, leaving many people feeling lonely, anxious, grieving. Many are investing their hopes in the roll-out of the vaccine but, even if it keeps us healthy and allows the economy to tick along, it will not address the deeper spiritual malaise.

Deep down, with Joel today, we all cry out: “Spare your people, Lord, spare us! Don’t let your heritage be disgraced.” (Joel 2:12-18) This simple prayer is the human spirit reaching out to the divine, the human heart speaking to the Sacred Heart, the human mind inspired by God’s mind. For, like God, we are spiritual beings, even if like Jesus we are bodily beings also. There’s more to us than flesh and bone, viruses and vaccines, important as these are. Our souls inform our bodies, making them live bodies, human bodies, our bodies. They ground our consciousness, rationality, freedom and life after death. Without souls, we couldn’t focus on health and economy, the twin obsessions of the day.

If vaccines, ventilators, social distancing and the rest can address the physical dangers, what are we to do about the spiritual ones? Well, three ancient remedies for ills of spirit are proposed to us in today’s Gospel and every Lent: prayer, fasting and charity (cf Mt 6:1-18).

Prayer seeks reconciliation with God, as we face up to our sinful neglect of Him, our unwillingness to share our time and will with Him, and seek by better communication to cultivate a better relationship with Him. The best Lenten prayer is surely the Sacrament of Reconciliation – available during morning break every Friday in the College library.

Fasting seeks reconciliation with ourselves, facing up to our sinful obsessions with comfort and self. By a little self-denial we gain greater self-mastery and cooperate with God in healing our hearts. Catholics know they can also pray and fast for various intentions, such as that the hungry may have food, the lonely have love, the grieving comfort, those at-risk good health, the dead new life.

If Lenten prayer reconciles us with God and Lenten fasting reconciles us with ourselves, Lenten charity is about reconciling with our neighbours. We face up to our sinful unwillingness to share our comfort and selves with others. By a little generosity we cooperate with God in healing our relationships. Project Compassion allows us to treat each needy person as if they were God or another self, or both, that is as if they were Jesus (cf. Mt ch25), feeding Him in the hungry, responding as we would in a bushfire.

But if we only pray a little – only irregularly scratching a few moments from our busy schedules of school, sport, friends, family, Facebook and the rest; if we only fast a little – between mouthfuls or between midnight and dawn; if we only donate a few odd coins we’d have trouble using anyway or some old clothes we weren’t going to wear again: we’re not doing enough. If we only go through the motions when we pray but never with our whole hearts, if we only give from a safe distance never encountering the poor, if we only fast from things we won’t much miss, then whatever of the quantity there’s very little quality.  

Not to say we should become Lent fanatics, starving ourselves, giving away the clothes on our backs, praying so intensely we forget to go to class. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are supposed to be good for us, not self-destructive.

Today palms leftover from last Holy Week have been rendered to ash. For the first time for most of you, you’ll get them on the crown of your head rather than the forehead – it’s a safety measure in time of COVID. Many cultures do this every year anyway. In the years I’ve been overseas for Ash Wednesday, I’ve often had a lump on ash dumped on my head! It’s also the way the ancient Jews did it, wearing sackcloth and throwing dust or ashes over themselves. Indigenous Australians, also, throw dust and ash over themselves to mark grief.

So, you see, receiving the ashes isn’t primarily about wearing a temporary tattoo on your forehead by which you ‘come out’ to the world for a day with your dirty little secret that you’re a Christian. (That’s a secret you should be sharing with as many people as possible, every day.) No, Jesus says today to do good deeds not for people’s admiration or gratitude but secretly so no-one thinks you’re a holy Joe. If the usual Ash Wednesday cross on the forehead has some witness value that’s great, but the ashes are intended primarily to sharpen our focus on our own spiritual life, on the vulnerability of a material world that eventually returns to dust, and on our need for God and each other.

In that poignant psalm the Miserere, set to glorious music by great composers down the centuries and sung by boys from your College down the years, we pray for God’s mercy, for our own cleansing, for a new heart, pure and steadfast, for a joyful spirit to sustain us and lips to declare the divine praises (Ps 50). As you receive the ashes today, resolve in the private room of your heart to seek and receive God’s cleansing mercy, to invite Him to renew your soul with purity, courage and fidelity, to allow Him to fill your spirit with a deep Christian joy.

Lent Message from Archbishop Martin of Ireland "...over the next 40 days, our spiritual conversion can be nourished by daily actions, thoughts, prayers and words." FULL TEXT

Faith, Hope and Love – Lent in a time of pandemic: Archbishop Eamon Martin  

Archbishop Eamon Martin has said that while Ash Wednesday 2021 will be mostly without ashes, he is encouraging families to pray together, fast and be generous this Lent.  Archbishop Martin was speaking ahead of Ash Wednesday, tomorrow, as he launched the #LivingLent initiative on Twitter and Instagram for Lent 2021.  #LivingLent invites the faithful to use social media to grow closer to God during this sacred season. 

Archbishop Eamon said, “The season of Lent is a forty day penitential period leading up to Holy Week and Easter when Christians mark the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For Catholics the beginning of  Lent is traditionally marked by a day of fasting and by the distribution of ashes on the foreheads of church-goers.  Believers are encouraged to make a commitment to prayer, charity and fasting or self-denial.  Many Catholics make Lenten promises or resolutions to mark the importance of this holy season.

“This year, with the strong ‘Stay at Home’ message from public health authorities, north and south, it will not be possible for Catholics to gather in Church buildings to receive the ashes, which are normally applied to the forehead in the shape of the Sign of the Cross.  The words used in the blessing are ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’, or ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’.  At this time when gathering for public worship is suspended, parishes will continue to mark Ash Wednesday using online services over webcam, and also by encouraging family prayer services in the home.  Instead of the usual ashes, families are being encouraged to keep the fast, to make their normal Lenten promises.

“Some parishes are making small envelopes of blessed ashes available for those who will be visiting their parish churches in the early days of Lent for individual prayer.  People will also be able to collect their ‘Trócaire Box’ from parishes in the same way.  In some parts of the world, where there are less restrictions on gathering for worship, the Vatican has asked that ashes would not be applied to the forehead in the usual manner, but would be sprinkled on the top of people’s heads

Archbishop Eamon said, “As we prepare for Easter over the next 40 days, our spiritual conversion can be nourished by daily actions, thoughts, prayers and words.  During Lent we also offer a particular sacrifice in our personal lives to help strengthen our relationship with the all-merciful Lord.  In his message for Lent 2021, Pope Francis is inviting the faithful to ‘renew our faith, draw from the living waters of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God.’

“I invite everyone to read the Holy Father’s short Lenten message and to avail of our #LivingLent initiative on Twitter and Instagram, and online resources on which offer suggestions for fasting, prayer and charity – the three pillars of the Lenten season – and support to observe Lent at home.  Our Lenten digital initiative seeks to assist our spiritual preparation for the joy and hope of the Easter season.”

Notes to Editors 

  • The #LivingLent initiative offers short daily suggestions on Twitter and Instagram.  These include prayer and Scripture reading suggestions; opportunities for penance and fasting in our daily lives, such as to refrain  from gossip; fast from negativity online; give up certain foods; availing of the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession; suggestions for charitable acts like donating to Trócaire and other charities; and donating your time by helping your own family, school, parish.  Hashtag #LivingLent can be used and shared to help put themes of prayer, fasting and charity into practice during this Lenten season.
  • Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Dromore and chair of the Communications Council of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
  • See for the text of the message of Pope Francis for Lent 2021; for Lenten resources; and, for links to the #LivingLent initiative on social media.
  • The liturgical season of Lent

Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence for Christians.  For the believer Lent is the time of preparation for Easter and it commemorates the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning His public ministry where He endured temptation.  In Lent – through prayer, penance (including participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession), acts of charity and self-denial – we are called to renewal of our Christian life in preparation for Easter:


The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of His execution, are often observed.  As well as giving something up it is becoming more common to take something up as well and this may include taking time to volunteer, or spending more time in prayer.

Fasting and Penance

Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful.  It arises from the Lord’s call to conversation and repentance. Christians undertake penance: in memory of the Passion and death of Jesus; as a sharing in Christ’s suffering; as an expression of inner conversion; as a form of reparation for sin. 


Traditionally during Lent many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence, the money saved from this can be donated to charity, for example, contributing to their Trócaire box.        

FULL TEXT Release:    

Top 10 Quotes for the Season of Lent to SHARE "Lent is a season of intense prayer, fasting and concern..."

1. "True fasting lies is rejecting evil, holding one's tongue, suppressing one's hatred, and banishing one's lust, evil words, lying, and betrayal of vows." St. Basil

2. "Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life..." -- Pope Benedict XVI

3.  ”Fasting and almsgiving are ‘the two wings of prayer’ which enable it to gain momentum and more easily reach even to God.” St Augustine

4. “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

5. "Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ; discipline your body; do not pamper yourself, but love fasting.” -- Saint Benedict

6. "Lent is like a long 'retreat' during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism." -- Pope Benedict XVI

7. “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.” -- St. Peter Chrysologus

8. "As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent?  Our indifference, our hardness of heart.  What are we to believe?  Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you."  -- St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

9. "Lent is a season of intense prayer, fasting and concern for those in need. It offers all Christians an opportunity to prepare for Easter by serious discernment about their lives, with particular attention to the word of God which enlightens the daily journey of all who believe.” -- St. Pope John Paul II

10. "Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving." Pope Francis

Saint February 18 : St. Simeon of Jerusalem, a Relative of Jesus and Bishop and Martyr of Jerusalem

St. Simon of JerusalemBISHOP, MARTYR
106 or 107 AD, Jerusalem
ST. SIMEON was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus, brother to St. Joseph, and of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. He was therefore nephew both to St. Joseph and to the Blessed Virgin, and cousin to Our Saviour. We cannot doubt but that he was ail early follower of Christ, and that he received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, with the Blessed Virgin and the apostles. When the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser,his brother Simeon reproached them for their atrocious cruelty. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, being put to death in the year 62, twenty-nine years after Our Saviour's Resurrection, the apostles and disciples met at Jerusalem to appoint him a successor. They unanimously chose St. Simeon, who had probably before assisted his brother in the government of that Church.
In the year 66, in which Sts. Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at Rome, the civil war began in Judea, by the seditions of the Jews against the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned by God of the impending destruction of that city. They therefore departed out of it the same year,—before Vespasian, Nero's general, and afterwards emperor, entered Judea,—and retired beyond Jordan to a small city called Pella, having St. Simeon at their head. After the taking and burning of Jerusalem they returned thither again, and settled themselves amidst its ruins, till Adrian afterwards entirely razed it. The Church here flourished, and multitudes of Jews were converted by the great number of prodigies and miracles wrought in it.
Vespasian and Domitian had commanded all to be put to death who were of the race of David. St. Simeon had escaped their searches; but, Trajan having given the same order, certain heretics and Jews accused the Saint, as being both of the race of David and a Christian, to Atticus, the Roman governor in Palestine. The holy bishop was condemned to be crucified. After having undergone the usual tortures during several days, which, though one hundred and twenty years old, he suffered with so much patience that he drew on him a universal admiration, and that of Atticus in particular, he died in 107. He must have governed the Church of Jerusalem about forty-three years.
(Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)