Thursday, April 15, 2021

Happy Birthday Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who was Born in 1927

Happy Birthday Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger turned 78 when he was elected Pope. He turns 94 years old today.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born on 16 April, Holy Saturday, 1927, in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptised the same day. Pope Benedict XVI's brother, Georg Ratzinger, was a priest and they were ordained on the same day. His sister, Maria Ratzinger, who never married, managed Cardinal Ratzinger's household until her death in 1991. Benedict XVI is now Pope Emeritus of the Catholic Church. He was Pope from 2005 to 2013. Benedict XVI was elected on the 19th of April 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. He was ordained as a priest in 1951 in Bavaria, Germany. Benedict XVI currently lives in the Residence Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. His parents were Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. and Maria Ratzinger (born: Peintner)

Saint April 16 : St. Bernadette Soubirous the Visionary of Lourdes and Patron of Sick and Poor - whose Body is Incorrupt

St. Bernadette Soubirous
Feast: April 16
Information: 7 January 1844 at Lourdes, France
16 April 1879, Nevers, France
December 8, 1933, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Patron of:
Sick people, poverty, the family, Lourdes, shepherds
Bernadette's canonization in 1933 was the culmination of a process which had been started nearly three-quarters of a century earlier: she is, therefore, a saint of modern times, and the remarkable facts of her life are readily accessible to all. Her story even challenges the interest of those who do not share the Catholic faith. Christianity had its beginnings among humble people without influence or riches, such as Bernadette. Perhaps it is a natural human instinct to rejoice when the lowly are lifted up to the heights, and especially when a child, neglected and untaught, is chosen for special grace and favor, thus becoming an instrument for good.
Born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, Bernadette was the first child of Francois and Louise Soubirous. At the time of her birth, Francois was a miller, operating a mill which had belonged to his wife's people. He was a good-natured, easy-going man, with little ability for carrying on a business, and before many years the mill had been forfeited for debt. During most of Bernadette's childhood he was an odd job man, picking up a day's work as opportunity offered, and, from time to time, escaping from his problems and responsibilities by turning to the delusive comfort of alcohol. His wife and children, naturally, were the chief sufferers from his ineffectualness. Louise, whose family was of somewhat better economic status than her husband's, was a hard worker, a warm-hearted neighbor, and exemplary in her observance of Catholic rites. Within a short space of years many children were born to her, only five of whom survived infancy. After Bernadette, there was another girl, Toinette Marie, and three boys. To help feed and clothe them it was often necessary for their harassed mother to go out to work by the day, doing laundry and other rough tasks for the more prosperous citizens, and, on one occasion, at least, helping to harvest a crop of grain. A peasant woman of the region has told of seeing little Bernadette, then about twelve, carrying the youngest baby to Louise in the field, to be nursed during the noon-day rest period. As a child, Bernadette not only did more than might be expected in caring for the smaller children, but helped in their moral and religious training as well.
Bernadette was never strong, and from the age of six she showed symptoms of the respiratory ailment that later became a chronic affliction. It is not clear at this early stage whether she suffered from asthma or tuberculosis, but we know that her mother was anxious about her health and made an effort to provide special food for her. When Bernadette was thirteen she was sent to the neighboring mountain hamlet of Bartres, to the home of one Marie Arevant, her foster mother. It was here that Bernadette had been taken for a few months when she was still an infant, to be nursed by Madame Arevant, who had just lost a baby. The woman now had a large family and little Bernadette made herself useful in the house and in the fields. One of her duties was to tend a small flock of sheep that grazed on a hillside nearby; it is this brief phase of her girlhood that has inspired artists to picture her as a shepherdess. Her life was a lonely one, and we get the impression that she was overworked and homesick while she remained in this peasant home. At all events she sent word to her parents that she wished to leave Bartres. One thing seemed especially to disturb her at this time; although she was now fourteen, she had not made her First Communion. Her foster mother had tried half-heartedly to prepare her, but after one or two sessions had impatiently given it up, saying that Bernadette was too dull to learn.
When Bernadette went back to Lourdes, it made her very happy to be admitted to the day school conducted by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction. This was a teaching and nursing order whose mother-house is at Nevers, in central France. A hospice, a day school, and a boarding school were maintained at Lourdes by these devout nuns, who were, as a group, unusually well trained. Thus Bernadette at last began her secular education, and, under Abbe Pomian, continued to prepare for First Communion. She was also learning a little French, for up to this time she spoke only the local dialect. The nuns discovered that beneath a quiet, modest exterior, Bernadette had a winning personality and a lively sense of humor. This might have been a happy and constructive time for the little girl had it not been for the ever-increasing shadows of poverty at home.
After moving from one poor location to another, the Soubirous family was now living in a single room of a dilapidated structure in the rue des Petits Fosses; this damp, unwholesome place had once served as a jail and was known as Le Cachot, the Dungeon. Above loomed an ancient fortress, and the narrow cobbled street had once been a part of the moat. The town of Lourdes, itself very old, is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of France, lying in the extreme southwest, near the Spanish frontier, where the Pyrenees mountains rise sharply above the plains. From the craggy, wooded heights, several valleys descend to converge at this site, and the little river Gave rushes through the town, its turbulent current turning the wheels of many mills. There are escarpments of rock in and around Lourdes, the most famous being the Massabeille, a great mound jutting out from the base of a plateau. On the side facing the river it had an arch-shaped opening which led into a sizeable grotto-a grotto that was soon destined to become famous in every part of the world. At this time the Massabeille had, if not exactly an aura of evil, a touch of the sinister. According to legend, it had been sacred to the pagans of prehistoric times; now it served as a shelter for fishermen or herdsmen caught by sudden storms.
It was very cold on February 11, 1858, the day that was to mark the beginning of such an extraordinary series of events at the rock of Massabeille. When Bernadette returned from school her mother gave her permission to go down by the river to pick up driftwood and fallen branches. Toinette Marie, aged nine, and Marie Abadie, aged twelve, a neighbor's child, went with her. When the three girls reached the Massabeille, the two younger ones took off their wooden shoes to wade across an icy mill-stream which here joined the river. Bernadette, more sensitive, hung behind. Standing alone beside the river, she had started to remove her stockings when she heard a noise like a sudden rush of wind. Looking up towards the grotto she saw some movement among the branches, then there floated out of the opening a golden cloud, and in the midst of it was the figure of a beautiful young girl who placed herself in a small niche in the rock, at one side of the opening and slightly above it. In the crannies around this niche grew stunted vines and shrubs, and in particular a white eglantine. Bernadette, staring in fascination, saw that the luminous apparition was dressed in a soft white robe, with a broad girdle of blue, and a long white veil that partially covered her hair. Her eyes were blue and gentle. Golden roses gleamed on her bare feet. When the vision smiled and beckoned to Bernadette, the girl's fear vanished and she came a few steps nearer, then sank reverently to her knees. She drew her rosary from her pocket, for, in moments of stress, she habitually said her beads. The mysterious being also had a rosary, of large white beads, and to quote Bernadette's own account: "The Lady let me pray alone; she passed the beads of the rosary between her fingers, but said nothing; only at the end of each decade did she say the Gloria with me." When the recitation was finished, the Lady vanished into the cave and the golden mist  disappeared with her. This experience affected Bernadette so powerfully that, when the other girls turned back to look for her, she was still kneeling, a rapt, faraway look on her face. They chided her, thinking she had passed the time praying to escape the task of gathering fuel. Tying up their twigs and branches into faggots, they started for home. Too full of her vision to keep quiet about it, before they had gone far Bernadette burst out with the whole wondrous story; she asked the girls to say nothing at home. But Toinette told Madame Soubirous that same evening, and soon the news spread further. Bernadette wished to go back to the Massabeille the next day, but her mother, after talking the matter over with a sister, refused her permission.
Bernadette now showed the independence of spirit-some were to characterize it as obstinacy-that became one of her outstanding traits. When she told her confessor of the apparition, Abbe Pomian made light of it, thinking the girl suffered from hallucinations. Nevertheless, on the following Sunday Bernadette asked if she might go to the grotto and her father told her she might go if she took a flask of holy water with her, to exorcise the apparition should it prove to be a demon. Bernadette, advancing ahead of several little friends who accompanied her, knelt before the grotto and soon the vision appeared as before. On their return the excited girls, although they had seen nothing, naturally began to tell their versions of the affair, and soon the town buzzed with varying reports and rumors. On the next market day the peasants heard of these strange happenings. The story reached the Mother Superior of the convent, who took a firm stand: she announced to the class preparing for Communion, comprising Bernadette's friends and companions for the most part, that they must stop talking and thinking of this matter. Bernadette's teacher, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, was even hostile.
The apparition was manifest to Bernadette for the third time  on Thursday, February 18, when she went to the grotto accompanied by two women of Lourdes who thought the "damiezelo," as Bernadette called her, was the returning spirit of a young woman, one of their dear friends, who had died a few months before. On this occasion the same little figure appeared to Bernadette, smiled warmly, and spoke, asking Bernadette to come every day for fifteen days. Bernadette promised to come, provided she was given permission to do so. Since neither her god-mother, who was her mother's sister, nor the priest actually forbade it, Bernadette's parents offered no objection. On the following day her mother and aunt went with her, and on subsequent visits great crowds of people gathered on the Massabeille, or down by the river, hoping to see or hear something miraculous. During these two weeks the excitement increased to such a pitch that the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. The police were not content to threaten the Soubirous family; they must take Bernadette to the local police office for questioning and try to make her admit that it was all an elaborate hoax. Bernadette emerged from this and many another ordeal somewhat shaken but obdurate. The authorities continued to try to discredit her. They even gave currency to the report that the whole thing had been thought up by Bernadette's poverty-stricken parents, so that they might derive some profit from it. Francois and Louise Soubirous, from being puzzled, worried, and uncertain at the outset, had now come to believe in the supernatural character  of their daughter's experiences, and stood loyally by her. They did not dream of exploiting the affair in their own interest. As a matter of fact, pious, well-meaning people were bringing them gifts of money and food, sometimes asking for a token from Bernadette. These offerings were declined; even Bernadette's small brothers were cautioned to accept nothing. The girl herself was adamant in her determination to have no part in any kind of trafficking; the record of her complete honesty and disinterestedness is clear and unquestioned. However, she found the sudden notoriety unpleasant, and this sensitivity to being stared at and talked about and pointed out was to last throughout her life. People began to gather at the grotto in the middle of the night, awaiting her appearance. It was rumored that she had a miraculous, healing touch. Several cures were attributed to her.
On Sunday, February 21, a number of persons went with her to the grotto, including citizens who had been highly skeptical. On this occasion, Bernadette reported later, the apparition said to her: "You will pray to God for sinners." On February 26, while she was in the trance-like state which lasted as long as she saw the vision, Bernadette crawled inside the grotto, and, at the Lady's bidding, uncovered with her bare hands a little trickle of water from which she drank and with which she bathed her face, still at the Lady's direction. This tiny spring continued to well up and by the next day was flowing steadily down into the river: to this day it has never ceased to gush forth from the grotto. The people regarded its discovery by Bernadette as a miracle.
On March 2 Bernadette saw the apparition for the thirteenth  time. It was on this day that the Lady bade Bernadette to tell the priests that "a chapel should be built and a procession formed." Bernadette had no thought but to obey, in spite of the open hostility of the cure of Lourdes. Dean Peyramale, an imposing man of excellent family and background, received Bernadette and reprimanded her harshly, asking her to inquire the name of her visitant, and to tell her she must perform a real miracle, such as making the eglantine bloom out of season, to prove herself. During the preceding weeks he had ordered the priests to have nothing to do with the grotto, for it was the general practice of the clergy to discourage or ignore religious visionaries. Very often such persons were ill-balanced or suffering from delusions. As a matter of fact, Bernadette's experiences were proving contagious, and before long many others, young and old, were claiming to have had supernatural visions at the grotto and elsewhere. Dean Peyramale's stand of determined opposition was based on the necessity of restoring order in the parish.
On March 25, Lady Day, Bernadette started for the grotto at  dawn. When the vision appeared to her, Bernadette said: "Would you kindly tell me who you are?" When the girl had repeated the question twice more, the Lady replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception. I want a chapel here." This answer, when reported by Bernadette, caused the local excitement to rise to a still higher pitch and the feeling grew that Bernadette's visitor was the Blessed Virgin. Only four years before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated. The seventeenth apparition took place on April 7, and the final one, more than three months later, on July 16. By that time, the grotto, which the people were trying to make into a sanctuary and place of worship, had been barricaded by the town authorities to discourage worshipers and curiosity-seekers from congregating there. During the twenty-one years that she was to remain on earth, Bernadette never again saw the vision. The accounts of  what she had seen and heard, which she was obliged to repeat so often, never varied in any significant detail.
Meanwhile the news of the phenomenal happenings at Lourdes had reached the very highest ecclesiastical and government circles: the bishop, the prefect, even Emperor Napoleon III and his pious wife Eugenie, became actors in the drama. On October 5, the mayor of Lourdes, on orders from above, had the grotto reopened. It was thought that the empress herself had had a voice in this decision. At all events, it seemed to be the only appropriate response to the overwhelming demand of the people for a shrine Bernadette's visions, the new spring, and the cures that were being reported, all had taken a profound hold on the popular imagination.
Due to a lucky turn, Bernadette's family was now more comfortably situated, and, to escape visitors, Bernadette went to live at the convent. Even there, intrusions upon her privacy were allowed; these she bore as patiently as she could. While her fame not only continued but steadily grew, Bernadette herself withdrew more and more. At the age of twenty she decided to take the veil. Since the state of her health precluded the more ascetic orders, it was considered best for her to join the Sisters who had taught and sheltered her. At twenty-two, therefore, she traveled to the motherhouse of the convent. Her novitiate was full of trials and sorrows. Acting under the quite unfounded notion that Bernadette's visions and all the attendant publicity might have made the young woman vain or self-important, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, now novice-mistress at Nevers, was very severe with her former pupil. Although she made life difficult for Bernadette, the little novice met all tests with perfect humility. She cheerfully performed the menial tasks assigned to her, at first in the convent kitchen, although this work must have taxed her strength. Later, when it was noted that her sympathetic manner made her a favorite with sick people, she was appointed assistant infirmarian. Her step and touch were light, and her very presence brought comfort. But during these years, Bernadette was suffering from the chronic disease which was slowly draining her life away. She was finally given work in the sacristy, where cleverness with the needle made her work admired and cherished. She displayed a real gift for design and color in embroidering the sacred vestments. To all tasks she brought a pure grace of spirit and an utter willingness to serve.
In September, 1878, Bernadette made her perpetual and final  vows. Her strength was ebbing away, but even when she was confined to wheel chair or bed, she went on with the fine needlework. And now she had more time for prayer and meditation. There is little outward drama in the life of a nun, but in Bernadette's case there was steady activity, steady growth, in things of the spirit. She had been told by her vision that she would not attain happiness in this world. Her childhood had been sad, and maturity had brought no easing of the burden she must carry. During the last two years of life a tumor developed on one knee, which was followed by caries of the bone. She suffered excruciating pain. One day, when a Superior came to visit her and said, "What are you doing in bed, you lazy little thing?" Bernadette simply replied, "I am doing my stint. I must be a victim." She felt that such was the Divine plan for her.
The nuns, the novice mistress, and the Superior had all long since come to regard her as the vessel of Divine grace and to believe in the reality of those visitations of her youth. She still suffered from the curiosity of visiting strangers. Not only did nuns and priests come to Nevers but celebrities from Paris and other parts of France came to see for themselves the now famous Bernadette. Disliking publicity as she did, yet not wishing to remain isolated and aloof if a glimpse of her could help or inspire any other human soul, she met this test too-and sometimes with a native cleverness. Once a visitor stopped her as she was passing down a corridor and asked where she could get a glimpse of Sister Bernadette. The little nun said, "Just watch that doorway and presently you will see her go through." And she slipped away through the door. Such was the prestige her presence gave to the order that many young women now joined it.
On her death-bed, in a spasm of pain, Bernadette pressed the  crucifix closer to her, and cried, "All this is good for Heaven!" That afternoon, as the nuns of the convent knelt round her bed to repeat the prayers for the dying, they heard her say in a low voice, "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-" She could not finish. The date was April 16, 1879. As soon as the news spread, people came streaming towards the convent, chanting, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" Bernadette's body was placed in a casket which was sealed, then buried near the chapel of St. Joseph in the convent grounds. When it was exhumed in 1908 by the commission formed to forward the examination of Bernadette's life and character, it was found to be intact and uncorrupted. In August, 1913, Pope Pius X conferred the title of Venerable upon her, and in June, 1925, the ceremony of beatification took place. Since then, her body, reposing in a handsome glass reliquary, lies in the convent chapel, guarded above by a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and by the nuns who keep vigil. In Rome, on December 8, 1933, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, amidst a brilliant setting and the fanfare of silver trumpets, Bernadette Soubirous was admitted to the company of saints. This little nun, humble, unlettered, honest, and obedient, is venerated by the great host of Catholic worshipers throughout the world. Tens of thousands of them journey annually to the glorious shrine at Lourdes.
The story of Lourdes as a pilgrimage place forms a strange contrast to Bernadette's retired life of prayer and service. Its growth from a sleepy country town to its present status as the most popular pilgrimage place in Christendom has been phenomenal. A railroad line from Pau was built, facilitating the influx of visitors who, from the very first year, were drawn to Lourdes. Dean Peyramale and his superior, the bishop of Pau, who at first had scoffed, came to believe most ardently; it was the aged dean who found the money for raising the great basilica to Our Lady, which was completed in 1876. Participating in the ceremony were thirty-five prelates, a cardinal, and three thousand priests. Sister Bernadette had no share in these rites. Another church at the base of the basilica was erected and consecrated in 1901. The entire district has been enhanced by architecture and landscaping to make it an impressive sanctuary, with a background of great natural beauty.
Of the cures at Lourdes it can be said that even non-believers have observed something here that medical science cannot explain. The commission of physicians, known as the Bureau of Constatations, who examine evidence and report on their findings, operate with great caution and circumspection. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. Medical records prior to the trip are studied, as well as the patient's subsequent medical history. The patient may himself be a witness, and it is most moving to hear the words, "I was sick and now I am well," which give such comfort and hope to others who are ailing. Only a few cures each year stand up against these rigid tests, but those few are enough. The thousands-the lame, the halt, the blind -continue to come, to be washed in the waters of the spring, to share in the processions, the singing, the prayers, the impressive rites, and breathe the pure air of faith. The Canticle of Bernadette hovers in that air, and even those well persons who go to Lourdes simply searching for a renewal of faith find themselves amply rewarded, for the spirit of the child Bernadette is still a potent inspiration.

SOURCE: Encyclopedia com

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Friday, April 16, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church - Eastertide

Friday of the Second Week of Easter
Lectionary: 271
Reading I
Acts 5:34-42
A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
and all those who were loyal to him
were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.
Responsorial Psalm
27:1, 4, 13-14
R.    (see 4abc)  One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid?
R.    One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
One thing I ask of the LORD
    this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
    all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
    and contemplate his temple.
R.    One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
    be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R.    One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
Mt 4:4b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jn 6:1-15
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples. 
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” 
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. 
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” 
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Prayer to Make a Spiritual Communion-
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint April 16 : St. Benedict Joseph Labre who was a Beggar and the Patron of Mental Illness, Bachelors and Homeless

St. Bendict Joseph Labre

Feast Day:
April 16
25 March 1748 at Amettes, Boulogne, France
17 April 1783 at Rome
8 December 1883 by Pope Leo XIII
Major Shrine:
Tomb at Santa Maria ai Monti
Patron of:
Unmarried men, rejects, mental illness, mentally ill people, insanity, beggars, hobos, the homeless
Born 26 March, 1748 at Amettes in the Diocese of Boulogne, France; died in Rome 16 April, 1783.
He was the eldest of fifteen children. His parents, Jean-Baptiste Labre and Anne-Barba Grandsire, belonged to the middle class and so were able to give to their numerous offspring considerable opportunities in the way of education. His early training he received in his native village in a school conducted by the vicar of the parish. The account of this period furnished in the life written by his confessor, Marconi, and that contained in the one compiled from the official processes of his beatification are at one in emphasizing the fact that he exhibited a seriousness of thought and demeanor far beyond his years. Even at that tender age he had begun to show a marked predilection for the spirit of mortification, with an aversion for the ordinary childish amusements, and he seems from the very dawning of reason to have had the liveliest horror for even the smallest sin. All this we are told was coexistent with a frank and open demeanor and a fund of cheerfulness which remained unabated to the end of his life.
At the age of twelve his education was taken over by his paternal uncle, François-Joseph Labre, curé of Erin, with whom he then went to live. During the six following years which he spent under his uncle's roof, he made considerable progress in the study ofLatin, history, etc. but found himself  unable to conquer a constantly growing distaste for any form of knowledge which did not make directly for union with God. A love of solitude, a generous employment of austerities and devotedness to his religious exercises were discernible as distinguishing features of his life at this time and constitute an intelligible prelude to his subsequent career.
At the age of sixteen he resolved to embrace a religious life as a Trappist, but having on the advice of his uncle returned to Amettes to submit his design to his parents for their approval he was unable to win their consent. He therefore resumed his sojourn in the rectory at Erin, redoubling his penances and exercises of piety and in every way striving to make ready for the life of complete self-annihilation to which the voice within his soul seemed to be calling him.
After the heroic death of his uncle during an epidemic in September 1766, Benedict, who had dedicated himself during the scourge to the service of the sick and dying, returned to Amettes in November of the same year. His absorbing thought at this time was still to become a religious at La Trappe, and his parents fearing that further opposition would be resistance to the will of God fell in with his proposal to enter the cloister. It was suggested, how ever, by his maternal uncle, the Abbé Vincent, that application be made to the Carthusians at Val-Sainte-Aldegonde rather than to La Trappe. Benedict's petition at Val-Sainte-Aldegonde was unsuccessful but he was directed to another monastery of the same order at Neuville. There he was told that as he was not yet twenty there was no hurry, and that he must first learn plain-chant and logic. During the next two years he applied twice unsuccessfully to be received at La Trappe and was for six weeks as a postulant with the Carthusians at Neuville, he finally sought and obtained admission to the Cistercian Abbey of Sept-Fonts in November, 1769. After a short stay at Sept-Fonts during which his exactness in religious observance and humility endeared him to the whole community, his health gave way, and it was decided that his vocation lay elsewhere. In accordance with a resolve formed during his convalescence he then set out for Rome. From Chieri in Piedmont he wrote to his parents a letter which proved to be the last they would ever receive from him. In it he informed them of his design to enter some one of the many monasteries in Italy noted for their special rigor of life. A short time, however, after the letter was dispatched he seems to have had an internal illumination which set at rest forever any doubts he might have as to what his method of living was to be. He then understood "that it was God's will that like St. Alexis he should abandon his country, his parents, and whatever is flattering in the world to lead a new sort of life, a life most painful, most penitential, not in a wilderness nor in a cloister, but in the midst of the world, devoutly visiting as a pilgrim the famous places of Christian devotion". He repeatedly submitted this extraordinary inspiration to the judgment of experienced confessors and was told he might safely conform to it. Through the years that followed he never wavered in the conviction that this was the path appointed for him by God. He set forward on his life's journey clad in an old coat, a rosary about his neck, another between his fingers, his arms folded over a crucifix which lay upon his breast. In a small wallet he carried a Testament, a breviary, which it was his wont to recite daily, a copy of the "Imitation of Christ", and some other pious books. Clothing other than that which covered his person he had none. He slept on the ground and for the most part in the open air. For food he was satisfied with a piece of bread or some herbs, frequently taken but once a day, and either provided by charity or gotten from some refuse heap. He never asked for alms and was anxious to give away to the poor whatever he received in excess of his scanty wants. The first seven of the thirteen remaining years of his life were spent in pilgrimages to the more famous shrines of Europe. He visited in this way Loreto, Assisi, Naples, Bari, Fabriano in Italy; Einsiedeln in Switzerland; Compostella in Spain; Parav-le-Monial in France. The last six years he spent in Rome, leaving it only once a year to visit the Holy House of Loreto. His unremitting and ruthless self-denial, his unaffected humility, unhesitating obedience and perfect spirit of union with God in prayer disarmed suspicion not unnaturally aroused as to the genuineness of a Divine call to so extraordinary a way of existence. Literally worn out by his sufferings and austerities, on the 16th of April 1783, he sank down on the steps of the church of Santa Maria dei Monti in Rome and, utterly exhausted, was carried to a neighboring house where he died. His death was followed by a multitude of unequivocal miracles attributed to his intercession. The life written by his confessor, Marconi, an English version of which bears the date of 1785, witnesses to 136 miraculous cures as having been certified to up to 6 July, 1783. So remarkable, indeed, was the character of the evidence for some of the miracles that they are said to have had no inconsiderable part in finally determining the conversion of the celebrated American convert, Father John Thayer, of Boston who was in Rome at the time of the saint's death. Benedict has proclaimed Venerable by Pius IX in 1859 and canonized by Leo XIII 8 December, 1881. His feast is kept on the 16th of April, the day of his death.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)
(Can also be said as a Novena prayer every day for 9 consecutive days.)
 St. Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honor, money and home for love of Jesus. Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the things of this world. You lived in obscurity among the poor in the streets. Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and not judge by appearances. Make us realize that in helping them we are helping Jesus. Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by. St. Benedict Joseph Labre, you had a great love for prayer. Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer, especially adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. St. Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God, pray for us. Amen. [Mention your intention here...] Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be... Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Pray for us. Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Pray for us. Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Pray for us.

Pope Francis says "Prayer made Saint Teresa an exceptional woman, a creative and innovative woman." FULL TEXT

[Santa Teresa de Jesús de Ávila Catholic University, April 12-15, 2021] 
I greet the participants of the university congress with which the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Teresa of Jesus as Doctor of the Church is commemorated.

The expression "exceptional woman", which gives the title to your meeting, was used by Saint Paul VI [1] . We are before a person who stood out in many dimensions. However, it should not be forgotten that her recognized relevance in these dimensions is nothing more than the consequence of what was important to her: her encounter with the Lord, her "determined determination", as she says, to persevere in union with Him. through prayer [2] , her firm intention to carry out the mission that had been entrusted to her by the Lord, to whom she offers herself simply saying, with that simple language and even one would say, even as a peasant: «I am yours, for You I was born, / what do you have me do? » [3]Teresa of Jesus is exceptional, first of all, because she is holy. Her docility to the Spirit unites her to Christ and she remains "all fired up in the love of God" [4] . With beautiful words he expresses his experience saying: «I have already given myself and gave, / and in such a way I have exchanged, / who is my Beloved for me, / and I am for my Beloved» [5] . Jesus had taught that "out of what the heart overflows the mouth speaks" ( Lk 6:45). The audacity, creativity and excellence of Saint Teresa as a reformer are the fruit of the inner presence of the Lord.
We say that we are not living in a time of change, but rather a change of time [6] . And in this sense, our days have many similarities with those of the 16th century in which the Saint lived. As then, we Christians are now called to continue to renew the face of the earth through us, the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ps 104,30 Vlg ), in the certainty that in the last term they are the saints who allow the world to advance toward its ultimate goal.
It is good to remember the universal call to holiness of which the Second Vatican Council spoke (cf. LG 39-42). “All Christians, of whatever state or condition, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love. This sanctity favors, also in earthly society, a more humane lifestyle. To achieve this perfection, believers must use their strength, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, to give themselves totally to the glory and to the service of others "- thus number 40 of the Lumen Gentium -. Holiness is not only for some "specialists of the divine", but it is the vocation of all believers. The union with Christ, which mystics like Saint Teresa experience in a special way by pure grace, we receive through Baptism. The saints stimulate and motivate us, but they are not there for us to literally try to copy them, holiness is not copied, because even that could lead us away from the unique and different path that the Lord has for each one of us. What matters is that each believer discerns his own path [7] , each of us has his own path of holiness, of meeting the Lord.
In fact, Saint Teresa herself warns her nuns that prayer is not to experience extraordinary things, but to unite ourselves to Christ. And the sign that this union is real are the works of charity. "This is what prayer is for, my daughters," he says in Las Moradas -; this is what this spiritual marriage is for: that works, works are always born " [8]Already before, in that same book, he had warned: «when I see souls that are very diligent to understand the prayer they have and very hooded when they are in it, it seems that they do not dare to bubble or shake their thought because of taste and devotion that they have had, make me see how little they understand the path through which the union is reached, and they think that the whole business is there. No, sisters, no; works the Lord wants; and if you see a sick woman to whom you can give some relief, do not give yourself anything to lose that devotion and take pity on her ... this is the true union with her will » [9] . Also in Las Moradas he says this. In short, "what measures the perfection of people is their degree of charity, not the amount of data, accumulated knowledge" [10], other things like that.
Saint Teresa teaches us that the path that made her an exceptional woman and a person of reference throughout the centuries, the path of prayer, is open to all who humbly open themselves to the action of the Spirit in their lives, and that the sign that we are advancing on that path is to be ever more humble, more attentive to the needs of our brothers, better children of the holy People of God. Such a path is not opened to those who consider themselves to be pure and perfect, the Cathars of all centuries, but to those who, aware of their sins, discover the beauty of God's mercy, who welcomes all, redeems to all, and to all he calls his friendship. It is interesting how the conscience of one's own sinful being is what opens the door to the path of holiness. Saint Teresa, who considered herself very "mean and miserable," This is how he defines himself, recognizes that God's goodness "is greater than all the evils we can do, and he does not remember our ingratitude ... Remember his words and look at what he has done to me," she says, "that first I got tired of offend him, that His Majesty stopped forgiving me. We first get tired of offending God, of walking in strange ways, than God of forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving. We get tired of asking for forgiveness, and therein lies the danger. «The Lord never tires of giving, nor can his mercies be exhausted. Let us not tire of receiving » We first get tired of offending God, of walking in strange ways, than God of forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving. We get tired of asking for forgiveness, and therein lies the danger. «The Lord never tires of giving, nor can his mercies be exhausted. Let us not tire of receiving » We first get tired of offending God, of walking in strange ways, than God of forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving. We get tired of asking for forgiveness, and therein lies the danger. «The Lord never tires of giving, nor can his mercies be exhausted. Let us not tire of receiving »[11] opening the heart with humility. One of his favorite passages of Scripture was the first verse of Psalm 89 of which he made, in a sense, the motto of his life: "I will sing forever the mercies of the Lord." That "mercy" of God.
Prayer made Saint Teresa an exceptional woman, a creative and innovative woman. Through prayer, she discovered the ideal of fraternity that she wanted to make a reality in the convents founded by her: "here all must be friends, all must love each other, all must love each other, all must help each other" [12]And when I see the "fights" in a convent, within a convent, or the "fights" between convents, "that if I am from here", "that I am from there", "that if I interpret this way", " that if I accept this from the Church, that if I do not accept it ”. The poor nuns forgot about the founder, what she taught them. In prayer she knew that she was treated as a wife and friend by the risen Christ. Through prayer he opened himself to hope. And with this thought I want to end this greeting. We live, as the doctor of the Church, hard times, not easy times that need faithful friends of God, strong friends [13]The great temptation is to give in to disappointment, resignation, the dire and unfounded omen that everything is going to go wrong. That infertile pessimism, that pessimism of people incapable of giving life. Some people, frightened by these thoughts, tend to shut themselves up, to take refuge in small things. I remember the example of a convent, where all its nuns took refuge in little things. The convent was called Santa ... I will not say who, and it was in that city, but they called it the "Convent little thing, little thing, little thing", because they were all locked up in little things, as a refuge, in selfish projects that do not build the community, rather they destroy it. Instead, prayer opens us, allows us to taste that God is great, that he is beyond the horizon, that God is good, that he loves us and that history has not escaped his hands. We may pass through dark ravines (cf.Ps 23,4), do not be afraid of them if the Lord is with you, but He does not stop walking by our side and leading us to the goal that we all long for: eternal life. We can have the courage to do great things, because we know that we are favored by God [14] . And together with him, we are capable of reaching any challenge, because in reality only his company is what our heart desires and the one that gives us the fullness and joy of which we have been created. This was summarized by the Saint in a well-known prayer that I invite you to pray frequently:
Nothing disturbs you,
nothing frightens you;
everything passes,
God does not change.
reaches everything.
Whoever has God lacks
God alone is sufficient.
May Jesus bless you, and the Virgin and Saint Joseph accompany you. And please don't forget to pray for me. Thanks.
[1]  Homily on the Proclamation of Saint Teresa of Jesus as Doctor of the Church (September 27, 1970).
[2]  Cf. Way of Perfection (Valladolid Codex), 21,2.
[3]  Poesías , 5 (the numbering is cited according to the edition of Editorial de Espiritualidad, Madrid 1994 4 ).
[4]  Cf. Vida , 29,13.
[5]  Poetry , 2.
[6]  Cf. Address to the Roman curia on the occasion of the Christmas greetings (December 21, 2019).
[7]  Cf. Gaudete et exsultate , 11.
[8]  Abodes VII, 4.6.
[9]  Purple V, 3,11.
[10]  Gaudete et exsultate , 37.
[11]  Life , 19.15.
[12]  Path of perfection (Valladolid Codex), 4.7.
[13]  Cf. Vida , 15.5.
[14]  Cf. Vida , 10.6: "it is impossible, according to our nature - in my opinion - to have courage for great things who does not understand that they are favored by God."

Archbishop Gomez, the Head of US Bishops, says "Racism, as we all know, is a grave sin, a spiritual disease and a social injustice." FULL TEXT Address + Video

 On April 15, Archbishop José H. Gomez delivered the keynote address to Catholic advocates gathered by the Minnesota Catholic Conference at the state’s capitol. 

The text of the archbishop’s remarks, delivered via Zoom:

Thank you for your kind welcome, Archbishop Hebda. I am very sorry we cannot all be together today “in person.”

My friends, on behalf of the Catholic people of Los Angeles and the nation’s bishops, I want to say that we are praying for all of you and for the whole Church in Minnesota in this challenging moment.

We pray for peace and we pray for justice, and we pray for the families of all those involved in the latest violence.

Please know that the Church remains committed to providing long-term leadership in the struggle against racism throughout the United States. 

Racism, as we all know, is a grave sin, a spiritual disease and a social injustice. We need to stand together as one Church to eradicate this evil from our own hearts, from the hearts of our neighbors, and from the structures of our society. 

This “Catholics in the Capitol” program is an important witness to the Church’s vision for social justice and the common good. As you take part in this program, I thought it might be good for us to reflect together on Pope Francis’ latest social encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti,” and what it means for our mission in this moment.

“Fratelli Tutti” is the first papal encyclical to be written during a global plague. And the pope is setting out a vision for rebuilding the world after this pandemic — not just politically and economically, but also spiritually, culturally, and morally.

The pope recognizes, as we do, that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in our societies, and that in many ways the pandemic has made those inequalities even worse.

In the encyclical he also talks about the rise of racism and nationalism, the struggles of immigrants and refugees, and critical issues like the death penalty, war, and poverty. But he goes even deeper, offering a kind of “prophetic reading” of the signs of the times.

Pope Francis warns against forces in our societies that are deliberately distorting history in order to manipulate people.

He worries that the meanings of words like “freedom” and “justice” and “unity” are now being “bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action.”

He talks about polarization and extremism and the breakdown of politics, which he says is now all about power and control and not about improving people’s lives or advancing the common good.

The pope also sees a “radical individualism” and a “throwaway world” at the heart of some troubling trends in our societies — declining birth rates, the shameful treatment of the elderly, the destruction of the unborn. “Our individual concerns are the only thing that matters,” he says. 

He also warns of the concentration of power in communications companies and networks that are now able to manipulate people’s consciences and the democratic process, spreading “false information … prejudice and hate.”

These are just some of the many issues the pope addresses in this challenging document. As I said, it is prophetic. But I think it is also very practical because the pope also talks about the foundations of our Catholic commitments to building a better society and a better world.

At the heart of “Fratelli Tutti” is the simple and beautiful vision of the Gospel: that God our Father has created every human being with sanctity and dignity, with equal rights and duties, and that our Creator calls us to form a single human family in which we live as brothers and sisters. 

The pope wants the Church to be the vanguard in society, to help our neighbors to see that we are called to create a shared community in which every human person is cherished and respected.

Near the end of “Fratelli Tutti,” the Holy Father offers a beautiful reflection on how important it is for us to maintain our Christian identity as we work for the common good of society.

He writes: “Others drink from other sources. For us the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” 

Friends, this is so important. We are followers of Jesus Christ! We are not liberals or conservatives. The Church is not a political party and we are not activists. We are Catholics. Before everything else, this is our identity, this is who we are.

That means our vision and our approach to social justice must be different. As Catholics, we start with very distinct assumptions about the purpose of society, the meaning of life, and the happiness of the human person.

If we believe that God is our Father, then we must believe and act as if all men and women are our brothers and sisters. If we believe that Jesus died for the love of every person, then we know that “no one is beyond the scope of his universal love,” as the pope writes.

Nowadays, as we know, our politics and culture are aggressively secular. Sadly, some of our leaders seem to want to close our society off from Christian ideas and values. I am troubled by the growing censorship of Christian viewpoints on the internet and social media and the marginalization of believers in other areas of our public discourse.

These trends and directions in our society amount to a rejection of America’s founding principles, and the consequences are not healthy for our society.

America’s founders were wise; they understood the realities of human weakness and sin. The democracy they built depends on the virtue and morality of citizens. The founders presumed that our public morality would be grounded in individual religious beliefs and practice. And they knew that without solid religious and moral foundations, America’s commitments to human equality and freedom could not be sustained.

Pope Francis emphasizes this point, too, in talking about the spread of secularism in Western societies.

The point is this: When we lose the sense of God, when we lose the sense that human life is the gift of a loving Creator, then we lose sense of the true meaning of human life and the common good. Without God, our politics is reduced to a kind of power struggle among competing interests. And sadly, as we know, it is always the poor and vulnerable who are left to suffer at the hands of the powerful and privileged.  

To put it simply, unless we believe in a God who is our Father in heaven, then we have no necessary reason to treat one another as brothers and sisters on earth. That is a key teaching in “Fratelli Tutti.”

Now, what does this mean for you and me as Catholics? First of all, it means we need to insist — as Pope Francis insists — that religious freedom is a fundamental right.

But it also means that we need to insist that the Church has a vital contribution to make in promoting social justice and helping to shape the direction of American society. We cannot allow the Church to simply be treated as a charitable organization or a place where people pray. 

That takes courage and conviction on our part. We need to stand up for our rights and we need to live our faith in our daily lives with joy and confidence. 

My dear friends, in this moment especially, we need to reclaim our identity as faithful citizens and missionary disciples.

We need to proclaim Jesus Christ and we need to do our part to advance Our Lord’s vision of the human person, who is made in God’s image and likeness and endowed with equal dignity, rights, and a divine purpose. This beautiful vision is the gift that the Church has to offer to our society’s ongoing conversation about the kind of America we want.

And as I said, our vision for social justice is distinctive. It is distinctive because we believe that the human person is a child of God, and because we believe that God has a beautiful plan of love for every human life.

Pope Francis warns against the temptation of “reductive anthropological visions” — secular visions that diminish the great dignity of the human person. Sadly, we see such “reductive visions” in some of the critical theories and ideologies that are gaining ground in our public life.

Even though America has become very secular, the religious impulse has not died. In fact, among our cultural and political leaders and some of our neighbors, politics has become their new religion. That’s one reason our politics has become so cruel and uncompromising, and so lacking in mercy and hope.

But again, the problem is the loss of God. When we deny God, we lose the truth about what human life is for, we lose the truth of human transcendence. That means strictly secular visions of social justice, even when they are well-intentioned, cannot lead us to create policies and social conditions that truly serve human flourishing.

In the Catholic vision, social justice is not about personal identity, or group power, or getting more material goods. True social justice is about building a society where people can be good, a society where people can love one another and take care of one another, where they can find God and know that they are made for heaven. And true social justice can never be obtained without simple human kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

As Catholics, we are called to keep the truth alive about the human person: the truth that every person in our society has a soul that is destined for eternity and a meaning and purpose that transcends this world. As Catholics, we also believe that the most basic purpose of government and policy is to protect the sanctity and dignity of the person, from the moment they are conceived until the moment they draw their dying breath. 

Friends, our task in this moment is to bring this beautiful vision to our public discourse, to awaken this awareness of God’s love in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. 

We also have, in this moment, an important duty to be peacemakers and reconcilers. We need to help bring people together and help them realize our common humanity.

We can disagree with people; that’s part of democracy, and we need to have conversations and even arguments about what is best for our country. And we will disagree with ideas that deny God and threaten human dignity.

But we can never give in to hatred, to treating others as enemies or with contempt, even if others treat us unfairly or insult us. As Catholics, we need to let God be the judge. Our job is to proclaim Christ, to love our enemies, and to work with love to persuade people and to change hearts and minds.

Let us never forget that the Gospel message is delivered, not only by our words, but by the witness of our lives. 

By our example, we need to help our society understand that we are all brothers and sisters. And we need to do this — like everything in our lives — with humility and a joyful heart.

I want to urge you to keep praying and to keep going deeper into the sources of our faith — the Gospels, the writings and lives of the saints, the Eucharist and the sacraments. These are for us, as the pope says, the “wellspring of human dignity and fraternity.”

Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father” because every one of us is a child of the same Creator. We belong to one family. We are all sons and daughters of God, created out of his divine love, with the same dignity and sharing in a common destiny and a common hope.

This is the message that the Church has proclaimed to the world from the beginning. Now we need to bring this message to the people of our times.

This project is far greater than politics. But this is what we are here for. If we live our faith with generous and grateful hearts, we can renew the soul of our nation.

Thank you for listening. God bless all of you and your families!

FULL TEXT Release Archdiocese of LA - Angelus News