Monday, May 10, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church - Eastertide



Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 292
Reading I
Acts 16:22-34
The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas,
and the magistrates had them stripped
and ordered them to be beaten with rods.
 
 After inflicting many blows on them,
they threw them into prison
and instructed the jailer to guard them securely.
When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell
and secured their feet to a stake.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened,
there was suddenly such a severe earthquake
that the foundations of the jail shook;
all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. 
When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open,
he drew his sword and was about to kill himself,
thinking that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted out in a loud voice,“Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.”
He asked for a light and rushed in and,
trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas.
Then he brought them out and said,
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus
and you and your household will be saved.”
So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house.
He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds;
then he and all his family were baptized at once.
He brought them up into his house and provided a meal
and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.
Responsorial Psalm
138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8
R.    (7c)  Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
    for you have heard the words of my mouth;
    in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple,
    and give thanks to your name.
R.    Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Because of your kindness and your truth,
    you have made great above all things
    your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
    you built up strength within me.
R.    Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
    your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
    forsake not the work of your hands.
R.    Your right hand saves me, O Lord.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Alleluia
See Jn 16:7, 13
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord;
he will guide you to all truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel
Jn 16:5-11
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me; 
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
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 May 11 : St. Francis of Girolamo, a Priest who Walked the Streets with a Bell Inviting People to Holy Communion


St. Francis of Girolamo
PRIEST
 
Born:
17 December 1642 at Grottaglie, Apulia, near Taranto, Italy
Died:
11 May 1716 at Naples, Italy
Canonized:
26 May 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI
Patron of:
Grottaglie, Italy
In that part of the kingdom of Naples which is commonly called Terra d'Otranto, a small village near Taranto gave birth to St. Francis di Girolamo. This event, which was destined to exercise so important an influence over the world in these latter times, took place upon the 17th of December, 1642. His parents, John Leonard di Girolamo and Gentilesca Gravina, were distinguished less by the honorable station which they occupied in society, than by their virtues and the excellent education they gave to their children—eleven in number, of whom Francis was the eldest.

But not only was virtue thus the inheritance of our saint, and as it were the natural growth of his soul, but it sprung up therein with an energy that early developed the rich qualities of the soil it occupied. A judgment beyond his years, a sweet submission and obedience to his parents, a virginal modesty, and an ardent love of prayer and retirement, marked the childhood of the saint, and betokened his future greatness and sanctity. At a proper age the holy youth was admitted to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist; from which moment his hunger and thirst for this sacred banquet constantly increased, drew him to its participation as often as possible, and nourished in him that love for our Lord, which kept him ever in communion with the Spouse of souls. His pious parents were careful to cultivate the extraordinary talents with which God had blessed him, by procuring him early instruction. He was taught the rudiments of the Latin tongue, which he acquired with surprising facility; and so quickly did he learn, and so correctly retain, the truths of religion, that already, in his tender years, he commenced his apostolic career, by teaching the children of his own age their catechism. When he was sixteen years of age, his parents, ever watchful over his interests, sent him to Taranto, that he might study philosophy and theology in the schools of the Society of Jesus. Here his exemplary conduct won for him the esteem and affection of his venerable archbishop, who, more and more persuaded of his worthiness, advanced him successively to the minor orders, subdeaconship and deaconship. With the consent of his parents he went to Naples, in order to acquire the canon and civil law, at the same time that he prosecuted the study of theology. But what Francis had most at heart-to complete the dedication of himself to God-occupied his first thoughts on arriving at Naples. Wherefore, procuring dimissorial letters from his archbishop, and a dispensation from the pope, on account of his age, he received priest's orders from the hands of Don Sanchez de Herrera, bishop of Possuoli. Deeply penetrated with a sense of the awful responsibility he had assumed, and the exalted dignity with which he was invested, Francis, although pure and holy and studious before, became now more watchful, fervent, and assiduous, and dreaded lest the shadow of imperfection should obscure for a moment the virginal purity of his soul. And though he lived in the world as one not belonging to the world, still he was now anxious to quit it entirely, and to betake himself to some solitude far removed from its dissipations and the breath of its polluted atmosphere, where he might have full leisure to attend to his advancement in learning and sanctity. Heaven granted the wish of its favored servant. A prefect's post became vacant in the College of Nobles of the Society of Jesus. Francis applied for, and obtained it. The youths who were submitted to his care, were not slow to discover that a saint had been set over them. His countenance and demeanor, his amiable manners and sweet and pious conversation, the austerities and mortifications which all his efforts did not entirely conceal, soon manifested the exalted degree of perfection which he had attained.

After five years' residence there, in the situation of prefect, our saint, in his twenty-eighth year, felt a sudden and strong inclination to enter the Society. Indeed, he had all the qualifications requisite to become a member, and though the idea presented itself to him for the first time, his mind was prepared to receive it with avidity, from the sentiments which he had long cherished, and which his education among the Jesuits, and his long connection since with the order, had considerably strengthened. But now an obstacle arose, which it cost the saint no little pains to overcome. This was his father's opposition to the step. He wrote Francis a long and vehement letter, full of pathetic remonstrances, which the saint so affectionately and eloquently answered, as at least to subdue his reluctance, and induce him to acquiesce in the will of God. Thus all difficulties being removed, on the eve of the Visitation of Our Lady, in the year 1670, being then in his twenty-eighth year, he repaired to the house of probation to perform his novitiate.
No sooner did Francis find himself admitted among the novices, and bearing the sacred habit, than his soul burst into lively effusions of gratitude; and with such zeal did he apply himself to the duties now imposed upon him, that the master of the novices soon perceived what an acquisition the Society had made. A more fervent, mortified, and obedient novice than Francis, never was found. He scrupulously complied with the minutes" and most irksome ordinances. Being of a meek and affable disposition, he won the hearts of others by his amiable conduct; and, being appointed to preside over the lay-novices, his exalted virtues and profound spirituality speedily wrought a beneficial change in their dispositions. Armed at all points, and strengthened against every assailant, he issued from the first year of his novitiate, exulting like a giant, to run the career of apostolic virtue. He was sent to Leece, together with the celebrated Father Agnello Bruno, and during three years, these holy missionaries traversed every city and village in the two provinces of Terra d'Otranto, and in that of Apulia, preaching, and converting, wherever they went, an infinite number of sinners. It used to be said of them, "Father Bruno and Father Girolamo seem not mere mortals, but angels sent expressly to save souls." In 1674, our saint was recalled to Naples, in order to finish his course of scholastic theology, previous to his being solemnly professed. When his studies were completed, he was, in 1675, by a special disposition of Providence, appointed to the church called the Gesu Nuovo, where he commenced the labors of that apostolic career, which he continued for forty years, without intermission, unto the close of his earthly pilgrimage. For the first three years, indeed, his only fixed duty was to give the invitation to communion, as is the custom in that church, on the third Sunday of every month; which task, however, is arduous enough to discourage any but a most zealous laborer. Yet, oven this and the other incessant works of charity in which he spent these three years, could not satisfy the cravings of our saint's zeal. Wherefore, on the news reaching him that the mission of Japan was once more to be opened, he importuned the superiors, by letters dispatched to Rome, to let him have a part in this glorious enterprise, so that he might slake, in some degree, the burning thirst which devoured him. For his desire had ever been to die for the faith, yet was he content to linger out a painful life, amidst the thorns of martyrdom, even though it should be denied him to pluck the rose he so much coveted. The answer came, precise and peremptory. He was to consider Naples as his <India>, and to perfect the sacrifice he had made of himself to God, by the surrender of his inclinations. Thenceforward he looked upon Naples as that province in the vineyard of our Lord, which the divine husbandman wished him to exclusively cultivate. Such was the sovereign will of God, manifested in the command of his superiors, and in which our humble saint acquiesced without hesitation; nor was that Providence, which rules events, slow in carrying its purpose into effect.

The superiors, in 1678, confided the whole mission to Francis. Here it may be proper to describe the duties such a charge imposed. First, to watch over and maintain the fervor of a pious congregation, who assisted at all the processions, and were the right arm of the missionary: secondly, to preach every Sunday and festival-day during the year, in the squares or other frequented parts of the city; and this not only in Naples, but also in other towns and provinces of the kingdom. And thirdly, to give the monthly invitations to communion. Our saint undertook the first of these obligations with an ardor only surpassed by the success which attended his efforts. He reformed all abuses, and excluded every imperfection that could retard the spiritual advancement of his scholars. He introduced, or established among them, the custom of frequenting the sacraments every Sunday, and on all the festivals of our Lady, and the practice of mental as well as vocal prayer, and of public penance and humiliation. The law of the Gospel he was careful to instil into them by frequent exhortations, and he gave efficacy to his precepts by his example. But as the members of this confraternity were destined to be his partners and coadjutors in the apostolic ministry, he was, above all, assiduous in kindling and keeping alive the flames of zeal in their breasts; so that they became his zealous and indefatigable assistants. Besides this, he chose seventy-two of the most efficient and capable, with whom he held counsel twice a month, and sent them into the heart of the city, to spy out the evil that existed, and learn what souls stood most in need of ghostly and bodily succor. The vigilance he exercised over all, extended to each in particular. With marvellous dexterity he practiced what St. Basil calls the insinuating arts of grace. His charity also and forbearance were unbounded: in sickness he never abandoned them a moment, but continued his affectionate attentions to the last. Another practice, to which he had recourse, to promote piety, was the visit to the seven churches, in commemoration of our Redeemer's seven journeys. This was performed in the following manner: a procession, carrying the crucifix, chanted the litanies as they went, and at every church where they stopped, Francis delivered an impressive exhortation. The devotion terminated with a renewal of the oblation each one made of himself, to our Lord Jesus and our Lady, with vows of perpetual fidelity.

The second duty, of preaching in public, embraced a much more extensive range, and required a proportionately greater degree of toil. When the Sunday came, he first spent two hours in mental prayer, then said Mass, and afterwards recited the Canonical Hours, bareheaded and kneeling, either in his room, or in the church before the blessed Sacrament. His private devotions being satisfied, he spent the rest of the morning in the Confessional, or with his congregation. At the appointed hour the saint and his companions went into the streets in procession, and then, distributing themselves in divers parts, began to preach to the people. Francis usually mounted a stage, near or opposite to the dancers or mountebanks, who either slunk away at his approach, or vainly strove, through rage and spite, to distract the attention of the audience, who were fascinated by his eloquence. After the discourse, he would kneel at the foot of the cross, and scourge his shoulders with the discipline: then once more he betook himself to the Confessional, where he remained till the doors of the church were closed. Still his ardor longed for more extensive occupation; and, with the approbation of the superiors, and the concurrence of his companions, he repeated the missionary labors on holidays, during the week as well as Sundays.

The third duty annexed to his charge was the invitation to communion. For nine days preceding the third Sunday of every month he went about the principal streets, along with a few companions; by ringing a little bell, he gave notice of the approaching day of communion; and, to excite the attention of his hearers, recited, in a loud voice, some short, but sententious maxim or admonition from Holy Writ. Thus he continued all the morning until dinner-hour,  and after noon resumed his task with never-wearying zeal till nightfall.

In the suburbs, also, of Naples, he performed this laborious duty; nor is it easy to conceive the pains and privations it cost him; how, under the scorching sun, or pouring rain, he journeyed through marshes, over rocks, oft times to the peril of life and limb, and always on foot, until, in his latter days, he was constrained to ride. When the day arrived, and from fifteen to twenty thousand communicants appeared, Francis used his strenuous efforts to keep order among them. The troops of men and women who came from the adjoining towns and villages, he received at the door, and placed in their respective posts. The children, crowned with cowers, were welcomed by him with tears of joy; but it was in imparting to them the life-giving food, that his soul overflowed with tenderness, and the love of Jesus beamed from his countenance, and thrilled in the fervid expressions with which he excited their devotion. Such were the labors of our saint's mission, and such the manner he discharged them. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, in the year 1682, Francis made his solemn profession; on which occasion he manifested that humility which distinguished him, by falling on his knees in public, and kissing the feet of the superior, thanking him aloud for admitting so unworthy a member into the society.

Before we enter further into the detail of his apostolic career, it may not be improper to give some notions of that quality whereby he wrought so many wonders,—his extraordinary eloquence. His voice was loud and sonorous, and was heard distinctly at a great distance; and the style of his preaching was copious, simple, and impressive. No one ever knew the human passions better, or swayed them with more tact and delicacy. Sometimes he stole upon his hearers with an insinuating grace, that charmed them almost unconsciously into persuasion, at other times, he would pour out such a volley of arguments, sustained by suitable quotations from Scripture, or the fathers, and illustrated by all the images of a lively fancy, so as to overpower all opposition, and force conviction on the most stubborn. His descriptions were forcible and graphic; his pathetic appeals were sure to draw tears, and his energy astounded and terrified. Indeed, he was accustomed to speak with so much vehemence, as occasionally to bring blood to his lips: he often talked himself hoarse, and till his palate was parched; and once, in the midst of an animated invective against sins, he dropped down suddenly and swooned away. The method he ordinarily pursued in his discourses, was first to paint the enormous malice of sin and the terrors of the Divine judgments, in colors so striking as to raise self-indignation and alarm in sinners. Then, changing his tone with a master-skill, he dwelt upon the sweetness and mildness of Jesus Christ, so as to make despair give way to hope, and the most hardened melt into compunction. This moment he seized, to make an appeal so tender and so overpowering as to cause his hearers to bend their knees before the image of their crucified Lord, and implore, in tears, and sobs, and broken accents, forgiveness and reconciliation. It was usual for him to subjoin, at the conclusion, some striking example of God's chastisements or favors, whereby his audience might carry away a deeper and more lively impression of the truths he had just been inculcating. His eloquence, however, was less the result of any natural talent, than of his ardent love of God and zeal for his service. When he was to preach, he used to note down in few words his arguments, authorities, and examples; and at the foot of the crucifix, he prepared himself to treat on his affairs with men, by communing with God. Thence, like another Moses, he descended—all on fire from his colloquy with the Deity; and it seemed as if God himself often inspired him with expressions of supernatural efficacy.
It was matter of surprise to all who knew him, how he could possibly go through so many labors, which were more than sufficient to occupy five missionaries, and far beyond the natural strength of his weak constitution and emaciated frame; so that it was not unreasonably thought, that to prolong such exertions for the space of forty years, he must have been supported by a miracle. He was in constant attendance on the hospitals, prisons, and galleys, besides visiting the sick in their houses, and ministering to the spiritual necessities of monasteries, asylums, confraternities, and schools. The  consequence of these labors was the amendment of numberless sinners; the conversion of several Turkish infidels to the faith of Jesus Christ; and the introduction of a surprising regularity of manner in those habitual abodes of wretchedness and vice—the galleys and the prisons. His zeal also reclaimed the soldiery from a state of the greatest disorder to the most edifying piety. Still, however, his ardor, which knew no bounds, thirsted for more fruit; accordingly he used to go and preach, during the night, in the very hotbeds and receptacles of vice, that sinners might be awed into repentance by the novelty and solemnity of this warning, at the hour when they least apprehended interruption. Once our saint, being in prayer in his chamber, felt a sudden inspiration to go out and preach, which, by the advice of his superiors, he obeyed. For some time, he wandered in the dark—he knew not whither, till he came to the corner of a street, where he began to preach on the necessity of immediate correspondence with the divine grace; and having finished, returned home, satisfied with having complied with his duty, though ignorant to what purpose, or with what fruit. The next morning, however, a young woman came to him to confession; and, with signs of the bitterest compunction, told him that when in company, the evening before with her paramour, her attention was suddenly arrested by his voice in the street, denouncing God's vengeance against unrepenting and procrastinating sinners, which so terrified her that she began to exhort her partner in guilt to break off their unlawful intercourse. To this, however, he would by no means consent, and even laughed at and derided the holy man's threats: when, to her horror, she beheld their awful fulfilment. For the man suddenly ceasing to speak, she found him a breathless corpse; his soul having taken its flight to God's tribunal, while the words of blasphemy were yet upon his lips. Plunged into the greatest alarm by this catastrophe, she implored pardon of God, with sighs and tears, and now came to effect her reconciliation, and to expiate her past scandals by a life of penance.
Francis had to experience many mortifying contradictions. Yielding to certain representations, the cardinal archbishop forbade him to preach any more. The humble saint uttered no complaint or remonstrance, but consoled his zeal by a perpetual attendance in the confessional. Soon after, moved by the conduct of the saint, as well as by the entreaties of wiser and more virtuous advisers, who assured him that he was depriving Naples of its apostle, the cardinal gave Francis back his faculties. For the purpose of proving his virtue, the superior forbade him to quit the house without obtaining express permission—a command with which Francis for several months scrupulously complied; till she father, edified by his humility, and convinced of his virtue, removed the restraint. Even the lay-brother who was assigned him, being a man of morose temper, was a great cause of trouble to him. Where his zeal thought to effect most good, it often met with the harshest construction and reproof. He was abused as a meddling busybody-a disturber of the public quiet. He was often overwhelmed with outrages, and more than once turned out of doors. A certain cavalier had such an aversion for him, that he could not bear his presence. A large sum was entrusted to Francis for this person, with whom he more than once sought an interview, without being able to attain it. "Well!" said the cavalier, who admitted him at last, "what brings you here? the usual story! charity, I suppose—I've nothing for you." My lord duke," replied the saint, "I certainly have a small favor to ask, which is, that you would exercise your benevolence so far as to furnish a poor person with money to purchase a bed to sleep upon. And this cannot inconvenience you, for in the purse I here present, you will find two hundred ducats, which I have been the means of restoring to you." The cavalier exclaimed, in a rage: "That's not all." "Nay," replied the saint, "I know nothing, but that such a sum was given to me." "And by whom?" "I cannot inform you." Whereupon he snatched the purse out of his hands, and turning his back upon him, left him to depart. But not long after he had occasion to recall him: for falling dangerously ill, he was anxious to conciliate the man he had so grossly insulted; and though he was then forty miles distant from Naples, he sent for him. The saint assisted him at the hour of his death, to his great spiritual advantage and consolation.

His charity, indeed, towards those who injured him, was remarkable. Attempting one day to quell a strife among some soldiers, he received from one of them a blow upon the head that drew blood copiously: and when the captain, hearing of it, would have punished the man severely for the sacrilege, our saint did not desist from his entreaties until he obtained his pardon. Even in the tribunal of confession he was not secure from insults. Two poor women had come from a great distance to confession, and were anxious to get home early, as there was no one to take care of their houses in their absence. Whereupon the saint requested a man, who was also waiting, to allow them precedence. This he did, but with a very bad grace. He even threw out a slanderous insinuation against the saint, who, after he had dismissed the women, heard the confession of this very man, and treated him with so much sweetness and charity, that he sent him away with an altered temper and feelings of esteem and admiration.

One of the most frequent and effectual instruments which our saint employed for the sanctification of souls, were the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. It is impossible to conceive with what energy and fruit he delivered the meditations which compose this course of Christian philosophy. Often he was obliged to interrupt his discourses, that the sighs, tears, and, sobs which they occasioned, might subside. Private individuals, as well as communities-ignorant and learned-the aged and the young of both sexes, alike profited by his exhortations, and to such a pitch of enthusiasm did he excite tile compunction of sinners, that they openly declared their offences and inflicted severe chastisements upon themselves, so that sometimes it was necessary to restrain their ardor. Nor was this a transient effect, but a durable benefit; hence followed many conversions of sinners, who for ten, twenty, or thirty, or even fifty years, had thrown off the yoke of religion. Indeed, Francis possessed a wonderful tact in bringing back sinners to duty, as the following examples will show.

A certain man had not been to the sacraments for five-and-twenty years; at length, admonished more than once in a dream to have recourse to our saint, he obeyed, to his own great happiness and the glory of Our Lady, to whose mercy he was indebted for the admonition. Another, commencing his confession, was asked by the saint, how long it was since he had last made it; whereat he burst into  tears, and besought the holy mall not to dismiss him, for that he was a great sinner; but he, bidding him not be discouraged, asked him if it was ten, twenty, or fifty years? "Fifty," said he, "exactly, father, have I kept aloof from God." "Kept aloof from God?" repeated Francis, "why should you avoid so tender a parent-a Saviour, who has poured out the last drop of his blood for you? Nay, rather turn and meet Him who has been running after you so long." And the man confessed with sincerity and compunction all the crimes he had committed, and thenceforward led a virtuous life. An inveterate sinner was once dying, without giving any sign of hope, or manifesting a wish to repent. After Francis had urged him long in vain to confide in the mercies of God, suddenly changing his tone, he thus addressed him: "Do you think that God incurs any obligation, if you accept his offer of Paradise; or that he must needs mourn if you prefer hell? how many princes and nobles are lost, whom God suffers to perish; and do you suppose God cares more for you? If <you> will be damned, be so;" and he turned away from him. This sudden and impressive address wrought a wonderful change in the dying man, who in agony of grief and alarm, besought the saint not to abandon him. He then confessed his sins, with every demonstration of sincere contrition, and expired full of hope. Indeed, no heart, however hardened, could withstand the exhortations of the holy man. A young man once threw himself at the feet of the saint, exclaiming: "Father, behold here, not a human being, but a very demon: a soul abandoned to despair. Many years ago, a confessor denied me absolution; I have never since confessed, never heard mass, never entered a church, or even as much as recited a Hail Mary, or made the sign of the cross. Alas, I have even gone so far in wickedness as to league myself with Satan, and to have recourse to his aid, through those who are skilled in the black art. Can I, after such a life, presume to hope; dare I ask for mercy?" "Why not, my son?" replied Francis: "it is true thy crimes are great, yet cloth the mercy of God surpass their magnitude: was it not for sinners that Jesus Christ died? There is yet pardon for thee, if thou wilt seek it earnestly, and fervently, and set about reforming instantly thy life." These consoling words revived the sinner, long dead in iniquity, and gave to God a persevering penitent.

Still more remarkable is the following occurrence, which the saint was  accustomed to relate in his public sermons. One day a young man presented himself before him, with a grave and devout air: "Father," said he, "I am come to declare to you the wonders of God's mercy in my regard, and to beseech you both to return him thanks for his signal favors, and to counsel me how I may best profit by them. Many years have elapsed since I was addicted to a certain vice, which struck such deep root into my soul, that God permitted my reason to be clouded, and my heart to be changed, so that I fancied myself a beast. In this persuasion I stripped myself of clothing, and wandered through the fields, and crawled along the ground exposed to the sun and rain, the frost and the snow, in company with the irrational animals, partaking their food, and imitating their cries. After a year of this life it pleased God to take compassion on me, and to restore me to my reason. Words cannot describe the confusion and shame I felt. I clearly perceived that it had been a punishment of my sins. I made the best confession I was able, as soon as I could, and have lived ever since, by God's grace, up to his divine laws. What think you-hath he not used unparalleled mercy towards me?" Our saint, embracing him, said: "In very deed cloth the sinner become like the brute beast, that hath no understanding." He approved his present conduct, confirmed his sentiments, and comforted him by the assurance that God would never withdraw his grace from him, so long as he was faithful to his resolutions.
An assassin, who had been hired to murder some persons, passing a crowd to whom the saint was preaching, stopped on his road, saying within himself, "Perhaps he whom I seek is among this multitude." Whereupon he stood to observe, and could not help hearing the discourse of the preacher, and hearing, was, as it were, spell-bound to the spot. When suddenly these words caught his ear—"thousands bewail past sins, and cost thou, wretched sinner, meditate new crimes? Unhappy creature whom neither the arm of God outstretched to launch his thunderbolts, nor hell opening beneath Thy feet to swallow thee, can deter from thy wickedness!" His guilty conscience smote him, his heart turned away from evil, he confessed his enormities, and from a murderer became a saint. A youth of disordered life was so moved by another sermon of Francis, that overcoming every human respect, he cast himself in public at the foot of the crucifix, and exclaimed—" Father, I am lost: for nearly twenty years I have not been to a confessor," and so saving, wept bitterly, and lashed himself with the discipline. Then, accompanying the confraternity to the Gesu Nuovo, he sought Francis, who embraced him like a tender father, and exhorted him to have confidence in God, with whom he was instrumental in reconciling him. The young man not only forsook his former vicious habits, but exhibited a model of repentance, and persevered in an exemplary life. But if, on the one hand, the happiest results were experienced by all who attended to his counsels, on the other, grievous chastisements often befell those who neglected or despised his warnings. A youth of depraved conduct had the effrontery to laugh at and deride his remonstrances, and even dared to heap abuse upon him. Francis bore all meekly, in imitation of our Blessed Saviour, "who when he was reviled, did not revile;" but God would not suffer such a crime to go unpunished, for shortly after the young man perished miserably in a riot. But it is now time to take a rapid view of his labors out of Naples.
The fame of his great achievements in this city occasioned earnest solicitations to be made, that the fields of his exertions might be extended to the provinces. But Naples was by no means willing to surrender its apostle, even for a short time; and the intervention of several distinguished persons was requisite to effect the desired object. In upwards of a hundred missions which Francis undertook in consequence, he traversed all the provinces of the kingdom, with the exception of the Calabrias. Incredible were the hardships and privations he encountered,—the difficulties and obstacles he surmounted in the execution of this work of charity. Wherever he went, the clergy and most respectable inhabitants came out to meet him, and gave him an honorable reception. Without however losing a moment, the indefatigable servant of God commenced his career by an introductory discourse and an invocation of the tutelar saint and guardian angels of the place. At daybreak he celebrated mass, and spent the remainder of the morning in a manner somewhat similar to that already described, in speaking of his mist signs in Naples. It was an edifying and affecting sight, to witness the communion of the children, and the procession of penitents through the streets. But when at length he came to give the concluding discourse, and to repeat his farewell admonitions, then was it that the fruit of his exertions was perceptible. The seed of grace, which had struck deep root, gave signs of vigorous growth and duration; for when he exhorted the people to perseverance, with one voice they promised to preserve inviolably their engagements; and when he imparted his last blessing, with his customary "adieu, to meet again in Paradise," no words can describe, no imagination is able to conceive, the emotions of the multitude.

Not always, however, did Francis meet with such consoling encouragement to his zeal. The devil, raging to behold so many souls redeemed from his snares by the active charity of the holy man, spared no pains to molest and baffle him, by raising against him hosts of enemies, who threw discredit, upon his conduct, fomented suspicions and jealousies, and waged war against him by every possible art that bad passions or his own malignant spirit could suggest. Hence it not infrequently happened that he experienced insults instead of welcome, on his arrival at places where calumnies had beforehand been industriously spread. Sometimes he found no attention paid to his exhortations; yet, finally, his invincible forbearance and persevering charity, his saintly demeanor-itself a confutation of his calumniators-triumphed over all opposition. Few details respecting these memorable missions have been recorded, but some, preserved by the testimony of eye-witnesses, have been rescued from the oblivion of time.

When the holy man was on his way to Capua, the carriage stuck in a deep ditch, and resisted all the efforts of the driver to extricate it. Whereupon, after the manner of this class of persons, he began to curse and swear. "O my son," cried the saint, "blaspheme not, for God's sake." "Why, father," said the man, would not a saint swear in such an infernal hobble, with nobody near, nor a chance of any one's coming to assist us?" "Have patience," rejoined the holy man; and as he was yet speaking, two robust young men, turning the corner of the  road, volunteered their services and relieved the travellers from their difficulty; after which, without waiting to be thanked, they disappeared. Wherever he went he reconciled enemies, converted sinners, besides performing many prodigies.

He had to contend against obstacles of another description. He applied to Monsignor Capece, bishop of Cheti, a capital town of the Abruzzi, for leave to preach there. "Certainly," replied the bishop; "but, Father Francis, you must be forewarned ours is a sensible and cultivated city, accustomed and able to weigh well the force of reason; and therefore you will at once perceive that certain addresses to the senses, such as the exposition of the crucifix, or images of the Virgin and other saints,—things admirable in themselves, would here be quite out of place, and calculated to do more harm than good." "Your lordship's wishes shall assuredly be attended to," said the humble saint, "till such time at least as you yourself shall deem it proper to recall them."

Not long after this the prelate felt an acute pain, for which he could not account; but as his conscience troubled him, he sent word to the saint, that in regard to the subject of their conversation he might use his discretion. The bishop had himself more than one occasion of witnessing the fruit which the practices he was disposed to condemn invariably produced; and Francis knew so well how to employ them, that the mission of Cheti succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations. With the like fruit did Francis perform the missions in various other towns, working conversions and prodigies too numerous to he here mentioned.
It would be superfluous to enlarge upon the particular virtues of our saint; his public life being rather the subject of this history. Yet are we unwilling to pass over unnoticed, his great and fervent love of Jesus Christ. Especially he honored and worshipped him in his divine infancy, his sacred passion, and his adorable sacrament. When he meditated upon these mysteries, he was always absorbed and penetrated with love; and when he approached the sacrament of the altar, his countenance glowed, as though he stood before a fire. Nothing provoked his indignation, or drew down his severe rebuke, so much as disrespect towards the blessed Eucharist. He removed many abuses: he would not suffer any levity in the church; and once reproved a lady of quality who had remained seated during the consecration. In like manner he was tenderly devoted to our blessed Lady. For twenty-two years he preached a sermon in her praise and honor every week. To youth especially, it was his custom to recommend this devotion as the surest preservation of innocence, and the best remedy after sin: saying that one could hardly be saved who felt no devotion towards the Mother of God.

Mary was his counsellor in doubt, his comfort in toil, his strength in all his enterprises, his refuge in danger and distress. He experienced an inexpressible delight whenever he recited the rosary of our tender Mother. He was likewise particularly devoted to his angel guardian, to St. Francis Xavier, and St. Januarius. His charity, humility, purity, and obedience, were never surpassed; nor did God withhold from him those gifts with which he is pleased at times to favor his chosen servants.

Our saint was favored with the foreknowledge of his dissolution. On the death of his brother he observed, "A year hence we shall meet;" and while he was still in health, taking leave of the nuns of St. Mary del Divino Amore—" My dear daughters," said he, "this is the last time I shall ever address you. Do not forget me in your prayers; adieu till we meet in Paradise." When he was sick, the festival of St. Cyr drawing near, "I shall not live to see it," he exclaimed. And finally, when the physician that attended him paid him his last visit, he thanked him for his attentions, and said:—"We shall never see each other again on this side of the grave, for Monday will be the last day of my life."

During the month of March, 1715, at the beginning of Lent, he was, for the third time, giving the retreat to the students of the noble college, when suddenly he felt a racking fever assail his limbs, insomuch that he was obliged to be carried home. In a few days, however, it was somewhat subdued; and, though weak, he resumed his usual labors. Still his health declined, and towards December his constitution appeared quite broken down. Anxious to preserve so valuable a life, the superior sent him to take the mineral waters of Puzzuoli. But he experienced not the smallest benefit; and in March, 1716, on his return to Naples, he took up his abode in the infirmary. The agonies he suffered are not to be expressed; and yet a murmur never escaped him. "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who consoles us in all tribulation," was his constant exclamation. When some one approached to sympathize with him, the heroic man crossed his hands on his breast, saying: "Crescant in mille millia." He was told of the great good he had achieved. "Nothing, nothing," he cried, "the fault I have most to apprehend is my slothfulness."

Death now began to hasten on apace; wherefore, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, making a general confession, he received the viaticum; and six days later was anointed. All night long, he gave vent to the fulness of his heart in such expressions as the following-" Let us bless the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; let us praise and exalt Him forever. Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the city of our God, on his holy mountain." Then kissing the wounds of his crucified Saviour, he cried out, weeping, "Remember, dear Jesus, that this soul has cost the ransom of every drop of thy precious blood." And when the infirmarian entreated him to pray rather with his heart than his lips, by reason of the distress which speaking occasioned him: "Ah, my dear brother," said he, "whatsoever we think, or say of so great a God, his greatness is beyond all thought and expression." Then fixing his eyes upon an image of our Lady: "Ah, Mary," said he, "my dearest mother, thou last ever cherished me like a loving parent, though I have been thy too, too unworthy child. Complete now the measure of thy mercies in my regard, by obtaining for me the love of thy divine Son." Then, as though at the gate of Paradise, he exclaimed, "How great is the house of the Lord! Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house, O Lord; forever and ever shall they sing thy praise. Ye holy angels, why delay ye? Open the gates of Justice. Entering therein, I will praise the Lord."

His malady, however, continued for some days longer. Although he had repeatedly expressed a wish to be left alone, it was impossible to keep away numbers, who pressed to see him for the last time, to kiss his hand, and to receive his farewell blessing. With an amiable sweetness, he welcomed them all; and seeing their sorrow, said:-" Weep not; I go to heaven, where I shall remember you, and be better able to assist you." But what sunshine so serene is not occasionally clouded, what sea so calm as never to be ruffled by a storm? It pleased God to enhance our saint's virtue by submitting it to a dreadful trial. The frame of the holy man shook under the severity of the struggle. With a loud cry he called upon the Almighty, the eternal Son, our Lady, and all the saints, to save him. Being asked the cause of this fearful commotion, "I am fighting," he exclaimed, "fighting! pray for God's sake that I may not perish." Then, as if rebuking the evil spirit, he cried-"No, it shall never be. Begone! I have no part with you." His countenance at last brightening, he repeated softly, "'Tis well, 'tis well!" and so saying, chanted the <Magnificat> and <Te Deum>. He was anxious to receive the holy sacrament; but the superior did not judge it advisable, as he had lately been to communion; and the humble saint acquiesced. He now fell into his agony; the recommendation of a departing soul was recited; and, amidst the tears of his brethren, Francis di Girolamo expired, about mid-day, on Monday, the 11th of May, 1716, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and the forty-sixth of his religious life, having spent forty years in the labors of an apostolic career.

Although, from a motive of prudence, the superior had forbidden the bell to be tolled, to announce his death, there needed no sound to convey the intelligence through the city; it was read in every countenance, and spread so rapidly, that in a short time the Gesu Nuovo was filled with an immense concourse of people of all classes. The infirmarian being desirous of keeping some relic of so holy a man, before he laid him out in the sacerdotal habit, pared off a piece of the hard skin of the sole of his foot. But the pious theft soon became apparent, though he had used every effort to conceal it; for the blood began to flow so freely from the wound, as not merely to stem the knell, but to fill a vial holding three or four ounces: which portion being preserved, retained during three months its ruddiness and liquidity, and wrought many cures.

In the evening the body was carried into the church, that the office might be chanted, and a detachment of Swiss guards was hardly sufficient to protect it from the indiscreet devotion of the crowd. Indeed, three psalms had scarcely been sung, before they broke through all restraint, and pressed towards the body, eager to carry away some relic, especially to dip their handkerchiefs in the blood, which still streamed from the wound already mentioned. At length, the body was removed into a side-chapel, where it was secured against further violence by iron railing, through which, at the same time, it was visible to all. Still it was impossible to refuse the prayer of several devout persons, to be permitted to approach and kiss the hand or the saint, and at night some artists were admitted to take likenesses and effigies of him. A throng of suppliants crowded to the church next morning, and implored the saint to deliver them from their evils and distempers. Nor were they disappointed. Many cures took place on the spot, and the church again and again echoed with the cry of "A miracle, a miracle." Three days the body was left thus exposed, and the fourth was buried in a leaden coffin. On the 3d of July, 1736, leave being obtained, the coffin of our saint was disinterred, and the body was found mouldered into dust, which was carefully collected, deposited in another coffin of wood lined with brass, and translated from the common cemetery to the chapel of Saint Ignatius.

Numerous miracles quickly spread the fame of his holiness throughout Italy. He was scarcely dead, when the most prudent and virtuous individuals gave him the title of saint: and cardinal Orsini, afterwards Benedict XIII., who was singularly devoted to him, preached his panegyric in the cathedral of Benevento. Not long after his decease, the city of Naples, joined by Benevento, Nola, and several others, petitioned the Congregation of Rites to have him beatified; and the juridical process of his virtues and miracles was drawn up, and sent to Rome by Cardinal Pignatelli, in conjunction with other cardinals, nobles, and magistrates of the kingdom. After the requisite preliminaries, a decree declaring his heroic virtues was published by Benedict XIII., on the 2d of May, 1758. His miracles were approved by another, of Pius VII., dated the 9th of February, 1806, and finally the definitive decree of his beatification was issued by the same pontiff, on the feast of St. Joseph in the same year. He was subsequently canonized by Gregory XVI., on Trinity Sunday, 26th May, 1839.

The martyr sheds his blood but once, and is exalted forever; then what I reward will be prepared for the missionary, who, while he burns to die for I the faith, is yet content to live for the greater honor and glory of God, and the profit of his neighbor? He, therefore, who would imbibe the spirit of zeal, and learn the arts of wisdom necessary in directing souls, should study and contemplate the career of that extraordinary man whose virtues and achievements are the subject of the sketch we here present.


SOURCE: LIVES of the Saints - By Alban Butler

Wow 121 Children Receive 1st Holy Communion in Iraq at a Church where ISIS Expelled the Christians - PICTURES



These beautiful images are from St. John the Baptist Church, Qaraqosh-Nineveh plains, in Iraq, which was heavily attacked by Islamic State militants a few years ago. 121 Children received their first Holy Communion on May 2, 2021. In each picture, we can see the joy of being able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.




This is the video of the Mass (first holy communion).
On Aug. 6-7, 2014, ISIS militants stormed Qaraqosh, expelling the town’s 45,000 Christians, removing crosses, burning ancient manuscripts and desecrating its precious religious artifacts, including the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which was turned into a firing range. Since the invasion in 2003, the Christian population of Iraq had fallen from around 1.5 million to around 350,000-450,000 in 2014. Pope Francis' visit to Iraq brought a new springtime of hope to the community.  
Pictures sent to Catholic News World by : 
 ALVERA TOHI, 24 years old, from Tell Uskof - Nineveh - Iraq . I have been living in Lebanon since 2015, when my family and I fled death after ISIS occupied Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. In Lebanon, for four years, I have worked in the administration of the Angels of Peace School for Iraqi refugees, which is funded by CNEWA and MISEREOR, as well as I'm the  partner (volunteer) of the two organizations Help Iraq and Iraqi Christian relief council, they help Iraqi Christians refugee in Lebanon in the field of medicine, food, and serious illnesses. I also worked as a volunteer to teach the Syriac language to children. I'm a painter and I participate in many exhibitions and donate all imports for refugee children and poor families (limited income).. one of my goals is to make the voice of Iraqi Christian refugees reach the world. To hear their screams, and what do they want? They wait for many years for these people in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, waiting for countries to receive them (Canada - Australia - the United States)

Christian Pastor Arrested by Police in Alberta, Canada for "Inciting" People to Go to Church



A “armed SWAT police” team arrested and dragged off a Christian pastor in the middle of a highway after he had held his church service because he was “inciting” people to go to church, as reported by Rebel News. The video evidence of the arrest, shows that Artur Pawlowski is made to kneel on the road, with his hands behind his head, as he’s been handcuffed. Ezra Levant wrote on Twitter, "Police say he’s charged with “inciting” people to go to church. This is the second pastor jailed this year." The province of Alberta, in Canada, has very strict lock-down measures which prevent churches from gathering in large numbers.
 

Bishops of Nigeria Letter to Government "As religious people, we entrust Nigeria to the hands of God and pray that we may respond to the voice of God calling us out of this crisis." FULL TEXT



 To: THE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF Nigeria
URGENT CALL TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO BE OPEN TO CRITICISM IN ADDRESSING THE PERVADING INSECURITY IN NIGERIA
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, I greet all Nigerians. at home and in the diaspora.
Thank you all for your patience regarding the expectations of rapid development promised by various democratic governments.
Since we returned to democratic rule on 29 May 1999 after several failed military dictatorship, many Nigerians who experienced the brutality of the military are aware that a return to such days is not the prayer or desire of Nigerians.
The Catholic Church in Nigeria, through the leadership of the CBCN, has spoken several times about the need for us to ensure that our democracy works for every Nigerian and not for only a few privileged politicians or those connected to them. We have, like other Nigerians, seen broken promises made by political leaders.
The members of the CBCN, like other religious leaders, have spoken against what we -considered Government failure concerning the constitutional obligation to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians; to work for the welfare of everyone, to protect freedom of religious expression; to protect everyone against discrimination on ethnic or religious grounds or any other forms of discrimination.
All these are entrenched in the Nigerian Constitution. Every Nigerian is a stakeholder in the affairs of the country. Every Nigerian has the right to express themselves in a manner that does not incite people to violence or chaos whenever they perceive that the elected Government is failing.
A Nigerian does not need to be a registered political party card-carrying member before speaking about the failing economy, the daily killings and kidnappings of students, older men and women; babies and infants; people being killed in IDP camps and even in their homes by insurgents.
Every reasonable Nigerian is sick to the stomach to read or hear of a Governor running from insurgents who want to kill him in the State where he is constitutionally the chief security officer. Nigerians are tired of hearing of bandits taking youths in the University and executing some of them, while others are kept to be used to bargain for ransom.
The insecurity is leading to a daily loss of lives and properties in every part of the country. These facts are indisputable. A country where students are no longer safe in schools nor farmers safe in their farms does not have a future to look to. In the midst of all these, the Presidency recently stated that some religious leaders and some Nigerian politicians are plotting to destabilise the country.
The spokesperson for the Nigeria Army noted that there is no plan by the military to take over democratically elected persons.
While we reject any call for the destabilisation of Nigeria or military takeover, we nonetheless say to the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, there is no need to focus your energy, time and resources in any form of propaganda against religious leaders who disagree with your performance.
There is no need to spend so much of your time trying to blackmail anyone who criticises your Government.
We speak out because we do not want Nigeria to collapse. We are not speaking out for the APC Government to fail. We are speaking out so that Nigeria will not fail. APC is not the owner of Nigeria; Nigeria is owned by Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation.
APC Government must learn to listen to every Nigerian, both political actors in other parties and non-political actors in Nigeria and the diaspora. It is not out of place to call for a security summit in whatever form it may take as long as it leads to the unity, peace, justice, progress and protection of Nigerians.
The Federal Government must be transparent with every Nigerian in the struggle to revive our economy, industrialize the nation, objectively deal with corruption and significantly reduce the high level of insecurity and unemployment.
In every democracy, the welfare of the citizens is of great concern to the President. From time to time, Presidents address the people and give an account of the state of affairs in the country.
Presidents of countries grant interviews to the media who are the watchdogs of democracy. But in Nigeria, we hardly hear directly from our President. Most of the time, we hear from “the Presidency.” Nigerians did not elect presidential media spokespersons.
Nigerians do want to hear directly from their President and hear words that are matched with actions. To every religious leader, let us not use inflammatory words that distort the real message we are sending to this Government.
We must be united in the fight for our common destiny as a people. It must be clearly stated to the Federal Government that if they continue to ignore the constructive criticisms and recommendations of Nigerians from every sector, the country will collapse and become ungovernable.
We are speedily getting there. Police stations are being burnt, our gallant military men and women are being killed, barracks are attacked, ID P camps are attacked, farmlands are invaded, youth unemployment is at its highest, private sectors are not giving enabling environment to thrive, and appointments to offices are not reflective of our diversities; the complaints are almost endless – could the sounds signaling a collapsing nation be louder than this? In Nigeria, the Catholic Church wants the Federal Government to call for a meeting of all stakeholders to have a sincere discussion on the way forward. Such discussions must seek how to implement the much talked about restructuring and devolution of power down to the local government level. Let us continue to pray to God to grant the Federal Government and other State actors the wisdom and courage to bring peace and justice to every Nigerian.
No Government leader should watch the breakdown of law and order in Nigeria. It is our collective obligation to make Nigeria successful. As religious people, we entrust Nigeria to the hands of God and pray that we may respond to the voice of God calling us out of this crisis. May God bless Nigeria and keep her safe. Amen. Sincerely yours in Christ,
Signed
Augustine Akubeze
Archbishop of Benin City
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria
May 6, 2021

New Vatican Working Group Aims to Excommunicate Members of the Mafia



 Vatican News reports that a New Vatican working group aims to excommunicate mafia members
A new working group established by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has as its aim the excommunication of members of organized-crime groups.
By Vatican News staff writer
The Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has announced the creation of a working group with the aim of excommunicating members of the mafia.
Rosario Livatino
The formation of the group coincided with the 9 May Beatification ceremony in Agrigento, Sicily, of the Sicilian magistrate, Rosario Livatino, who was killed by the Mafia in 1990. Rosario Livatino is the first beatified judge in the history of the Church.
 
The initiative is a further step in the commitment on these issues of the Dicastery presided over by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who had already created an international global network against corruption, organized crime and mafias in August 2018.
Loneliness and fear "fertile ground for mafias"
In paragraph 28 of his encyclical Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis emphasizes how the "loneliness, fears and insecurity of so many people, who feel abandoned by the system, mean that a fertile ground for mafias is being created."
 In the text, the Holy Father recalls how organized-crime outfits impose themselves by presenting themselves as "protectors" of the forgotten "while pursuing their criminal interests". The statement is a hint to an underestimated risk also underlying the socio-economic crisis generated by the pandemic and develops the most recent papal magisterium on the issue of organized crime.
"Mafiosi are not in communion with God."
The past three popes have vehemently denounced organized crime. Pope Saint John Paul II made a vibrant historic appeal for the conversion of the mafiosi in the Valley of the Temples in southern Italy's Agrigento city in Sicily in May 1993.
Pope Benedict XVI defined the mafia as a "road of death" during his visit to Palermo in 2010. Pope Francis excommunicated the mafiosi in Sibari, in 2014. On that occasion, in a homily at Mass on 21 June, he described Calabria region's 'Ndrangheta" crime syndicate as "worship of evil and contempt for the common good".  He said the mafiosi "are not in communion with God: they are excommunicated."
An irreconcilable belonging
The Working Group on the "excommunication of the mafias" was created precisely to give pastoral substance to those words pronounced by Pope Francis, and to ensure that the universality of the Church can respond to the worldliness of the mafias by clarifying that belonging to them is irreconcilable with the Gospel. 
FULL TEXT release : VaticanNews.va

Bishops of Canada Release New System for Reporting Sexual Abuse or Cover-up to Protect Minors and Vulnerable - FULL TEXT



CCCB Release: New Canadian Reporting System for Sexual Abuse or Cover-up by a Catholic Bishop furthers the commitment of the Catholic Church in Canada to protect minors and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse 
Thursday, May 06 2021
Ottawa – Today, the Bishops of Canada launch a national, bilingual service for reporting situations of sexual abuse either committed or covered-up by a Bishop. This service furthers their commitment to responsibility, accountability and transparency in matters of clergy sexual abuse and their commitment to facilitate healing and justice for victims-survivors.

The Canadian Reporting System for Sexual Abuse or Cover-up by a Catholic Bishop is a direct response to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter entitled Vos estis lux mundi (You are the light of the world). In this Letter, the Pope calls on dioceses and eparchies throughout the world to establish “…one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports…”. With Vos estis lux mundi, the Pope indicates what procedures must be followed in the universal Church when allegations are made against a Bishop. In doing so, he updates, clarifies and standardizes practices around the world. The reporting system for Bishops introduces an additional level of accountability for Church leadership in Canada, alongside the existing diocesan/eparchial protocols for reporting and responding to sexual abuse or other sexual misconduct by priests, deacons, religious, and mandated lay pastoral personnel.

“Our society must aim to create a climate of safety where the abuse of children and vulnerable people is simply not tolerated, and where their support is paramount,” began Dr. Delphine Collin-Vézina, PhD, Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families, and Director of the Canadian Consortium on Child & Youth Trauma, as well as full Professor, School of Social Work & Associate Member, Department of Pediatrics at McGill University. “The newly established national, bilingual system for reporting sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, or cover-up by a Catholic Bishop in Canada is an important step forward in this direction. This system is rooted in a victim-first approach and aims to remove the multiple barriers that prevent disclosure. These abuses have been silenced and covered up for too long, leaving victims and survivors unheard. I applaud this initiative led by the Bishops of Canada, which will hopefully facilitate healing and recovery for those who were abused.”

ClearView Strategic Partners, a Canadian provider of an independent ethics reporting and whistleblowing platform, was engaged by the Bishops of Canada to develop the reporting system according to the instructions and procedures outlined in Vos estis lux mundi. This new reporting system is designed to receive and transmit to the proper Church authorities reports of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct (e.g., sexual harassment or possession of child pornography) or cover-up by a Catholic Bishop. ClearView’s technology benefits anyone wanting to make such a report by providing them with a secure and confidential platform, allowing them to remain anonymous if they so choose, and ensuring all communications are documented and preserved.

The Catholic Bishops of Canada condemn the sin and crime of sexual abuse in the strongest possible terms. No one should ever have to endure the pain, humiliation, and long-term suffering it causes, nor should anyone have to doubt that serious consequences await a perpetrator of sexual abuse or cover-up. With this reporting system, the Bishops make themselves accountable to live with integrity and to address reports of sexual abuse according to Church and civil law. At all times, they grieve with victims-survivors. They regret profoundly what offending Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity have inflicted on victims-survivors, as well as its effects. The Bishops of Canada wish to reach out and accompany victims-survivors along the path that restores justice and promotes healing.

About Canadian Reporting System for Sexual Abuse or Cover-up by a Catholic Bishop

The Canadian Reporting System for Sexual Abuse or Cover-up by a Catholic Bishop is provided and financed by the Bishops of Canada. It operates on a confidential, secure platform, ClearView ConnectsTM, developed by ClearView Strategic Partners. Individuals can access the reporting system online (BishopReportingSystem.ca) or via a toll-free number (1-866-892-3737) from anywhere in Canada, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year in English or French.

To learn more about the Canadian Reporting System for Sexual Abuse or Cover-up by a Catholic Bishop, please visit https://www.cccb.ca/about/responsible-ministry/reporting-and-resources-for-victims/.

FULL TEXT Release: www.cccb.ca

Pope Francis Writes Preface for New Book on the Spiritual Exercises “Seeking and finding the will of God"



Pope Francis writes preface to book on Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius “Seeking and finding the will of God" is a book written by Fr. Father Miguel Ángel Fiorito and prefaced by Pope Francis. Composed of spiritual flashcards, it is structured to be a practical guide to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. (Vatican News Excerpt)

VIDEO MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

TO MARK THE PRESENTATION OF THE VOLUME BY FATHER MIGUEL ÁNGEL FIORITO:
“SEEKING AND FINDING GOD'S WILL.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA”
 

"Help" is the key word in the short prologue with which Miguel Ángel Fiorito introduces us to his book Seeking and Finding God's Will. It is a veritable goldmine for entering into the soul of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. We, his disciples, used to call Fiorito 'the master'. The aids he gave us were simple but necessary. This book presents them in an open or, as we would say today, interactive way. I will dwell on a few things that were good for me, and which I hope they will do good for others.

Fiorito insists twice that his help goes “up to a point”. This awareness and acceptance of his own limits tells us of the depth of his respect for and trust in the freedom of others. His help reaches the point where the other person, in his or her freedom, sincerely wishes to let him- or herself be helped.

Spiritual help is help for freedom. It is therefore a support guided by discreet charity which, without abusing limits, knows how to find even those "desires of desires" on which grace acts. With this desire for desire, it is possible to help those practising the spiritual life to take a step forward with courage and boldness.

The book consists of spiritual reading cards. Fiorito writes: "We have transformed into a 'spiritual reading card' everything that has done us good in the authors we quote, to help, in some way, the practice of the 'month of exercises'".

What Fiorito calls a "spiritual reading card" is a literary genre all of its own, original. Fiorito often distributed cyclostyled pages printed with blue ink.

The subject matter of these pages had to fit on a horizontal sheet - sometimes almost without margins - so that the content could be read in a row. They were short, interesting and always practical writings. In them he adopted texts by other authors, using them freely, commenting on them, annotating them.

This 'conversion' of a rich and composite material into manageable reading sheets is the result of a long work of contemplation and discernment. What Ignatius calls "reflection in order to obtain fruit" from what has been contemplated and what has done us good, in Fiorito's hands is transformed into a fruit that has been ruminated on and distributed in rations, in view of what the reader can and must assimilate in each stage of his Exercises.

Therefore I warn the reader that this book should be read and used in the same dynamic and with the same spirit in which it was written. This is therefore of a "modular" book, an open book to “help" those who give and those who do the Exercises. Hence the importance of the indices and the text of the Exercises that enrich this edition by the publishing house Ancora, whom I thank, edited by the fathers of the magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.

The Master concludes his prologue by pointing out that his practical commentary will be of help to those who wish to practise the Exercises, not merely study them. The aim is to give oneself time to feel the promptings of the Spirit, and to seek God's will in practice through the "reform" of one's life.

In this regard, I think it is interesting to underline how the concept of "reform" - so much in vogue today - is being broadened and deepened. In the Exercises, reform is not only in tension with what was previously deformed. Reform is also about conforming to what is new, that is, to the life, style, criteria and choices of the Lord. Reform is not functional, nor is it self-perfecting, but rather mission-oriented. If we look at the example of Saint Peter, we see that every time he confesses he is a sinner, the Lord immediately calls him to follow him, perfecting him not in everything, but in what is needed to be a fisher of men and to guide his sheep. The Lord will not ask Peter to reform all the faults he carries with him from his past life, but will invite him to go out of himself to proclaim the Gospel, a mission in which the past will be reformed in some respects and not so much in others.

According to the model of the Gospel, the focus and inner form of the Exercises, as Fiorito says, consist in the inner action of knowing - through discernment - "the divine will on the relevant issues of our spiritual life".


Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office, 10 May 2021

Saint May 10 : St. Antonius of Florence who Begged Nothing of God but His Grace to Avoid Sin and Patron Against Fevers - Died 1459



ARCHBISHOP, CONFESSOR
Born: 1 March 1389 at Florence, Italy
Died:
2 May 1459 at Florence, Italy
Canonized:
31 May 1523 by Pope Adrian VI
Patron of:
against fever
St. Antoninus, or Little Antony, was born at Florence in 1389. His parents, named Nicholas Pierozzi and Thomassina, were noble citizens of that place, and he was the only fruit of their marriage. From the cradle he was modest, bashful, docile, and had no inclination but to piety, being even then an enemy both to sloth and to the amusements of children. It was his only pleasure to read the lives of saints and other good books, to converse with pious persons, or employ himself in prayer, to which he was much given from his infancy. Accordingly, if he was not at home or at school, he was always to be found at St. Michael's church before a crucifix, or in our Lady's chapel there. And whether he applied himself to that holy exercise in his closet or the church, he always kneeled or lay prostrate, with a perseverance that astonished everybody. By the means of a happy memory, a solid judgment, and quick penetration, assisted by an assiduous application, he became an able master at an age when others scarce begin to understand the first elements of the sciences. But his passion for learning was not equal to his ardor to perfect himself in the science of salvation. In prayer, he begged nothing of God but his grace to avoid sin, and to do his holy will in all things. F. Dominic, a learned and holy preacher of the order of St. Dominic, afterwards made cardinal, archbishop of Ragusa, and legate of the holy see, was then employed in building a convent at Fiesoli, two miles from Florence. Antoninus was wonderfully delighted with the unction of his sermons, and never went out of Florence but to converse with that apostolic man, to whom he applied at last for the Dominican habit. The father judging him as yet too young, and his constitution too tender for so strict a life of perpetual abstinence, frequent fasts, long watchings, and other rigors, advised him to wait yet some years, and bid him first study the canon law, adding, that when he should have learned Gratian's decree by heart, his request should be granted. So dry and difficult a task would have seemed to another equivalent to an absolute refusal. However, Antoninus set about it, and joining prayer and severe mortifications with his studies, made an essay of the ]life to which he aspired; and in less than a year presented himself again to the prior of Fiesoli; and by answering his examination upon the whole decree of Gratian, gave him a surprising proof of his capacity, memory, and fervor. The prior hesitated no longer, but gave him the habit, he being then sixteen years of age. The young novice was most exact in complying with every point of the rule, and appeared the most humble, the most obedient, most mortified, and most recollected of his brethren. Being advanced to the priesthood, he augmented his exercise of piety; he was never seen at the altar but bathed in tears. Whether sick or well, he day always on the hard boards; and so perfectly had he subjected the flesh to the spirit, that he seemed to feel no reluctance from his senses in the service of God. He was chosen very young to govern the great convent of the Minerva in Rome, and after that, was successively prior at Naples, Cajeta, Cortona, Sienna, Fiesoli, and Florence: in all which places he zealously enforced the practice of the rule of St. Dominic, and more by his actions than words. Besides his domestic employments he preached often, and with great fruit. The works which he published increased his reputation. He was consulted from Rome, and from all quarters, especially in intricate cases of the canon law. The learned cardinal de Lucca reckons him among the most distinguished auditors or judges of the Rota, though we do not find at what time he discharged that office. He was chosen vicar or general superior of a numerous reformed congregation in his order. He would not remit any thing in his austerities or labors when exhausted by a decay, of which however he recovered. Pope Eugenius IV called him to the general council of Florence; and he assisted in quality of divine at all its sessions, and at the disputations with the Greeks. During his stay at Florence he was made prior of the convent of St. Mark in that city, for which Cosmus of Medicis, called the father of his country, was then building a sumptuous church, which pope Eugenius IV. consecrated. After having established in this house the true spirit of his order, he visited his convents in Tuscany and Naples.

While employed in introducing the primitive discipline of his order in the province of Naples, the see of Florence became vacant by the death of its archbishop. The intrigues of several candidates protracted the election of a successor. But pope Eugenius IV. no sooner named F. Antoninus to the Florentines, as possessed of the qualities they had desired in their future bishop, namely, sanctity, learning, and experience, and his being a native of their own city, than they all acquiesced in his choice. Antoninus, who had then been two years absent from Florence, employed in the visitation of his monasteries, was equally surprised and afflicted that he should have been thought of for so eminent a dignity. And that he might escape it, he set out with the design of concealing himself in the isle of Sardinia; but being prevented in the execution, he was obliged to go to Sienna, whence he wrote to the pope, conjuring his holiness not to lay that formidable burden on his weak shoulders, alleging his being in the decline of life, worn out with fatigues and sickness; enlarging also upon his great unworthiness and want of capacity; and begging that he would not now treat him as an enemy whom he had honored with so many marks of friendship. He could not close his letter without watering it with his tears. The pope, however, was inflexible, and sent him an order to repair without delay to his convent at Fiesoli. He wrote at the same time to the city of Florence, to acquaint, them that he had sent them an archbishop to their gates. The principal, persons of the clergy and nobility, with Cosmus of Medicis at their head, went out to compliment him on that occasion; but found him so averse to the dignity, that all their entreaties to take it upon him were to no purpose, till the pope, being again applied to in the affair, sent him an order to obey, backing it with a threat of excommunication if he persisted in opposing the will of God. After many tears, Antoninus at last complied; he was consecrated and took possession of his bishopric in March, 1446. His regulation of his household and conduct was a true imitation of the primitive apostolic bishops. His table, dress, and furniture showed a perfect spirit of poverty, modesty, and simplicity. It was his usual saying, that all the riches. Of a successor of the apostles ought to be his virtue. He practiced all the observances of his rule as far as compatible with his functions. His whole family consisted of six persons, to whom he assigned such salaries as might hinder them from seeking accidental perquisites, which are usually iniquitous or dangerous. He at first appointed two grand vicars, but afterwards, to avoid all occasions of variance, kept only one; and remembering that a bishop is bound to personal service, did almost every thing himself, but always with mature advice. As to his temporalities, he relied entirely on a man of probity and capacity, to reserve himself totally for his spiritual functions. He gave audience every day to all that addressed themselves to him, but particularly declared himself the father and protector of the poor. His purse and his granaries were in a manner totally theirs; when these were exhausted, he gave them often part of his scanty furniture and clothes. He never was possessed of any plate, or any other precious moveables, and never kept either dogs or horses; one only mule served all the necessities of his family, and this he often sold for the relief of some poor person; on which occasion, some wealthy citizen would buy it, to restore it again as a present to the charitable archbishop. He founded the college of St. Martin, to assist persons of reduced circumstances, and ashamed to make known their necessities, which establishment now provides for above six hundred families. His mildness appeared not only in his patience in bearing the insolence and importunities of the poor, but in his sweetness and benevolence towards his enemies. One named Ciardi, whom he had cited before him to answer certain criminal accusations, made an attempt on his life; and the saint narrowly escaped the thrust of his poniard, which pierced the back of his chair. Yet he freely forgave the assassin, and praying for his conversion, had the comfort to see him become a sincere penitent in the order of St. Francis.

The saint wanted not courage whenever the honor of God required it. He suppressed games of hazard; reformed other abuses in all orders preached almost every Sunday and holiday, and visited his whole diocese every year, always on foot. His character for wisdom and integrity was such, that he was consulted from all parts, and by persons of the highest rank, both secular and ecclesiastical: and his decisions gave so general a satisfaction, that they acquired him the name of Antoninus the counsellor. Yet this multiplicity of business was no interruption of his attention to God. He allowed himself very little sleep. Over and above the church office, he recited daily the office of our Lady, and the seven penitential psalms; the office of the dead twice a week, and the whole psalter on every festival. In the midst of his exterior affairs he always preserved the same serenity of countenance, and the same peace of mind, and seemed always recollected in God. Francis Castillo, his secretary, once said to him, bishops were to be pitied if they were to be eternally besieged with hurry as he was. The saint made him this answer, which the author of his life wished to see written in letters of gold: "To enjoy interior peace, we must always reserve in our hearts amidst all affairs, as it were, a secret closet, where we are to keep retired within ourselves, and where no business of the world can ever enter." Pope Eugenius IV. falling sick, sent for Antoninus to Rome, made his confession to him, received the viaticum and extreme-unction from his hands, and expired in his arms on the 23d of February, 1447. Nicholas IV succeeded him. St. Antoninus having received his benediction, hastened to Florence, where a pestilence had begun to show itself, which raged the whole year following. The holy archbishop exposed himself first, and employed his clergy, both secular and regular, especially those of his own order, in assisting the infected; so that almost all the friars of St. Mark, St. Mary Novella, and Fiesoli were swept away by the contagion, and new recruits were sent from the province of Lombardy to inhabit those houses. The famine, as is usual, followed this first scourge. The holy archbishop stripped himself of almost every thing; and by the influence of his words and example, many rich persons were moved to do the like. He obtained from Rome, particularly from the pope, great succors for the relief of the distressed. Indeed, the pope never refused any thing that he requested; and ordered that no appeals should be received at Rome from any sentence passed by him. After the public calamity was over, the saint continued his liberalities to the poor; but being informed that two blind beggars had amassed, the one two hundred, and the other three hundred ducats, he tool; the money from them, and distributed it among the real objects of charity; charging himself, however, with the maintenance of those two for the rest of their lives. Humility made him conceal his heroic practices of penance and piety from others, and even from himself; for he saw nothing but imperfections even in what others admired in him, and never heard any thing tending to his own commendation without confusion and indignation. He formed many perfect imitators of his virtue. An accident discovered to him a hidden servant of God. A poor handicraftsman lived in obscurity, in the continual practice of penance, having no other object of his desires but heaven. He passed the Sundays and holidays in the churches, and distributed all he gained by his work, beyond his mean subsistence, among the poor, with the greatest privacy; and kept a poor leper, serving him and dressing his ulcers with his own hands, bearing the continual reproaches and complaints of the ungrateful beggar, not only with patience, but also with joy. The leper became the more morose and imperious, and carried complaints against his benefactor to the archbishop, who, discovering this hidden treasure of sanctity in the handicraftsman, secretly honored it, while he punished the insolence of the leper.

Florence was shook by frequent earthquakes during three years, from 1453, and a large tract of land was laid desolate by a violent storm. The saint maintained, lodged, and set up again the most distressed, and rebuilt their houses. But he labored most assiduously to render these public calamities instrumental to the reformation of his people's manners. Cosmus of Medicis used to say, that he did not question but the preservation of their republic, under its great dangers, was owing chiefly to the merits and prayers of its holy archbishop. Pope Pius II. has left us, in the second book of his Commentaries, a most edifying history of the eminent virtues of our saint, and the strongest testimonies of his sanctity. The love of his flock made him decline a secular embassy to the emperor Frederic ill. God called him to the reward of his labors on the 2d of May, 1459, in the seventieth year of his age, the thirteenth of his archiepiscopal dignity. He repeated on his death-bed these words, which he had often in his mouth during health, "To serve God is to reign." Pope Pius II. being then at Florence, assisted at his funeral. His hair-shirt and other relics were the instruments of many miracles. He was buried, according to his desire, in the church of St. Mark, among his religious brethren, and was canonized by Adrian VI. in 1523. His body was found entire in 1559, and translated with the greatest pomp and solemnity, into a chapel prepared to receive it in the same church of St. Mark, richly adorned by the two brothers Salviati, whose family looks upon it as their greatest honor that this illustrious saint belonged to it. Nor is it easy to imagine any thing that could surpass the rich embellishments of this chapel, particularly the shrine; nor the pomp and magnificence of the procession and translation, at which a area number of cardinals, bishops, and princes from several parts assisted, who all admired to see the body perfectly free from corruption, one hundred and thirty years after it had been buried.

The venerable Achard, bishop of Avranches, in his excellent treatise On Self-denial, reduces the means and practice of Christian perfection to seven degrees of self-renunciation, by which he is disposed for the reign of love in his soul. These degrees he otherwise calls seven deserts of the soul. The first is the desert of penance. The second of solitude, at least that of the heart. The third of mortification. The fourth of simplicity of faith. The fifth of obedience. The sixth of the pure love of God. The seventh of zeal for his honor in the salvation of our neighbor. For a man, first, is to renounce sin by sincere repentance. Secondly, the world by solitude. Thirdly, the flesh by the mortification of his senses. Fourthly, though reason is man's most noble excellency, yet this being obscured and often blinded by the passions, easily becomes the seat of pride, and leads into the most dangerous precipices and errors. Man is therefore bound to humble his reason by keeping it in due subordination, and in a certain degree to renounce it by simplicity of heart and sincere humility. And this is so far from being against reason, that it is the sovereign use of reason. Fifthly, a man is moreover obliged to renounce his own will by perfect obedience. Sixthly, he must moreover renounce all that he is by the pure love of God, which ought to have no bounds. Seventhly, none but one who has tasted the sweetness of heavenly contemplation, knows how incomparable an advantage he renounces who deprives himself of it. Yet zeal for our neighbor's salvation, and tender compassion for his spiritual miseries, move the saints sometimes to prefer toils and sufferings to its pure delights and charms. By these rules we see by what degrees or means pious pastors attain to the apostolic spirit of their state, and how heroic their sacrifice is. Source Lives of the Saints Butler- Image source: Google