Thursday, March 31, 2016

Saint April 1 : St. Hugh of Grenoble



Information:
Feast Day:April 1
Born:1053 at Chateauneuf, Dauphiné, France
Died:1 April 1132
Canonized:1134 by Pope Innocent II
The first tincture of the mind is of the utmost importance to virtue; and it was the happiness of this saint to receive from his cradle the strongest impressions of piety by the example and care of his illustrious and holy parents. He was born at Chateau-neuf, in the territory of Valence, in Dauphine, in 1053. His father, Odilo, served his country in an honourable post in the army, in which he acquitted himself of his duty to his prince with so much the greater fidelity and velour, as he most ardently endeavoured to sanctify his profession, and all his actions, by a motive of religion. Being sensible that all authority which men receive over others is derived from God, with an obligation that they employ it, in the first place, for the advancement of the divine honour, he laboured, by all the means in his power, to make his soldiers faithful servants of their Creator, and by severe punishments to restrain vices, those especially of impurity and lying. By the advice of his son, St. Hugh, he afterwards became a Carthusian monk, when he was upwards of fourscore years old, and lived eighteen years in great humility and austerity  under St. Bruno and his successors, in the Great Chartreuse, where he died one hundred years old, having received extreme unction and the viaticum from the hands of his son. Our saint likewise assisted in her last moments his mother, who had for many years, under his direction, served God in her own house, by prayer, fasting, and plenteous alms-deeds. Hugh, from the cradle, appeared to be a child of benediction. He went through his studies with great applause, and his progress in piety always kept pace with his advancement in learning. Having chosen to serve God in an ecclesiastical state, that he might always dwell in his house and be occupied in his praises, he accepted a canonry in the cathedral of Valence. In this station, the sanctity of his life and his extraordinary talents rendered him the ornament of that church; and the gentleness and affability of his deportment won him the affection of all his colleagues. He was tall and very comely, but naturally exceeding bashful; and such was his modesty that for some time he found means to conceal his learning and eloquence; nevertheless, his humility served only to show afterwards those talents to more advantage and with greater lustre. For no virtue shines brighter with learning than modesty, as nothing renders scholars more odious or despicable than haughtiness and pride, which they discover by their obstinacy and clamours, by the contempt with which they treat those who dissent from them in opinion, and by their ostentatious pedantry in embracing every occasion of exhibiting their supposed superior wit and extraordinary parts.
Hugh, then Bishop of Die, but soon after Archbishop of Lyons, and also cardinal legate of the holy see, was so charmed at first sight of the saint when he happened to come to Valence that he would not be contented till he had taken the good man into his household. He employed him in extirpating simony, and in many other affairs of importance. In 1080, the Legate Hugh held a synod at Avignon, in which he took under consideration the desolate condition and the grievous disorders into which the church of Grenoble was sunk through the sloth and bad example of its late mercenary pastor. The eyes of the legate and of the whole council were fixed on St. Hugh as the person best qualified, by his virtue and prudence, to reform these abuses and restore the ancient glory of that church; and with them the voice of the whole city conspired. But his reluctance and fears were not to be overcome till he was compelled by the repeated commands of the legate and council. The legate took our newly appointed bishop with him to Rome, in order to his receiving the  episcopal consecration from the hands of Gregory VII, who then sat in the chair of St. Peter. The servant of God was glad of this opportunity of consulting the vicar of Christ concerning his own conscience; for during a great part of his life he had been extremely molested with troublesome temptations of importunate blasphemous thoughts against the divine providence. Pope Gregory, who was a man very well versed in the interior trial of souls, assured him that this angel of Satan was permitted by God, in his sweet mercy, to buffet him only for his trial and crown: which words exceedingly comforted the saint, and encouraged him to bear his cross with patience and joy. A devout soul. under this trial, which finds these suggestions always painful and disagreeable, ought not to lose courage; for by patience and perseverance she exceedingly multiplies her crowns, and glorifies God, who has laid it upon her shoulders, and who will, when he sees fit, scatter these mists, and on a sudden translate her from this state of bitterness and darkness into the region of light, Joy, and the sweetest peace. St. Hugh prayed earnestly to be freed from this enemy, but received for a long time the same answer with St. Paul.1 In the mean while, his patience and constancy were his victory and his crown: and assiduous meditation on the sufferings of our divine Redeemer, who was made for us a man of sorrows, was his comfort and support.
The pious Countess Maud would needs be at the whole charge of the ceremony of his consecration: she also gave him a crosier and other episcopal ornaments, with a small library of suitable books, earnestly desiring to be instructed by his good counsels and assisted by his prayers. St. Hugh, after his ordination, hastened to his flock; but being arrived at Grenoble, could not refrain his tears, and was exceedingly afflicted and terrified when he saw the diocese overrun with tares which the enemy had sown while the pastor slept. He found the people in general immersed in a profound ignorance of several essential duties of religion, and plunged in vice and immorality. Some sins seemed by custom to have lost their name, and men committed them without any scruple or sign of remorse. The negligence and backwardness of many in frequenting the sacraments indicated a total decay of piety, and could not fail introducing many spiritual disorders in their souls, especially a great lukewarmness in prayer and other religious duties. Simony and usury seemed, under specious disguises, to be accounted innocent, and to reign almost without control. Many lands belonging to the church were usurped by laymen; and the revenues of the bishopric were dissipated, so that the saint, upon his arrival, found nothing either to enable him to assist the poor, or to supply his own necessities, unless he would have had recourse to unlawful contracts, as had been the common practice of many others, but which he justly deemed iniquitous; nor would he by any means defile his soul with them. He set himself in earnest to reprove vice and reform abuses. To this purpose he endeavoured by rigorous fasts, watchings, tears, sighs, and prayer to draw down the divine mercy on his flock; and so plentiful was the benediction of heaven upon his labours that he had the comfort to see the face of his diocese in a short time exceedingly changed. After two years, imitating therein the humility of some other saints, he privately resigned his bishopric, presuming on the tacit consent of the holy see; and, putting on the habit of St. Bennet, he entered upon a noviciate in the austere abbey of Chaise-Dieu, or Casa-Dei, in Auvergne, of the reformation of Cluni. There he lived a year a perfect model of all virtues to that house of saints, till Pope Gregory VII commanded him, in virtue of holy obedience, to resume his pastoral charge. Coming out of his solitude, like another Moses descending from the conversation of God on the mountain, he announced the divine law with greater zeal and success than ever. The author of his life assures us that he was an excellent and assiduous preacher.
St. Bruno and his six companions addressed themselves to him for his advice in their pious design of forsaking the world, and he appointed them a desert which was in his diocese, whither he conducted them in 1084. It is a frightful solitude, called the Chartreuse, or Carthusian Mountains, in Dauphine, which place gave name to the famous order St. Bruno founded there. The meek and pious behaviour of these servants of God took deep root in the heart of our holy pastor; and it was his delight frequently to visit them in their solitude, to join them in their exercises and austerities, and perform the meanest offices amongst them, as an outcast and one unworthy to bear them company. Sometimes the charms of contemplation detained him so long in this hermitage that St. Bruno was obliged to order him to go to his flock, and acquit himself of the duties which he owed them. He being determined to sell his horses for the benefit of the poor, thinking himself able to perform the visitation of his diocese on foot, St. Bruno, to whose advice he paid an implicit deference, opposed his design, urging that he had not strength for such an undertaking. For the last forty years of his life he was afflicted with almost continual headaches, and pains in the stomach; he also suffered the most severe interior temptations. Yet God did not leave him entirely destitute of comfort; but frequently visited his soul with heavenly sweetness and sensible spiritual consolations, which filled his heart under his afflictions with interior joy. The remembrance of the divine love, or of his own and others' spiritual miseries, frequently produced a flood of tears from his eyes, which way soever he turned them; nor was he able sometimes to check them in company or at table, especially whilst he heard the holy scriptures read. In hearing confessions, he frequently mingled his tears with those of his penitents, or first excited theirs by his own. At his sermons it was not unusual to see the whole audience melt into tears together; and some were so strongly affected that they confessed their sins publicly on the spot. After sermons, he was detained very long in hearing confession. He often cast himself at the feet of others, to entreat them to pardon injuries, or to make some necessary satisfaction to their neighbours. His love of heavenly things made all temporal affairs seem to him burdensome and tedious. Women he would never look in the face, so that ho knew not the public news or reports, for fear of detraction, or at least of dissipation. His constant pensioners and occasional alms (in the latter of which he was extremely bountiful) were very expensive to him: insomuch, that though, in order to relieve the poor, he had long denied himself every thing that seemed to have the least appearance of superfluity, still, for the extending his beneficent inclination, he even sold, in the time of famine, a gold chalice, and part of his episcopal ornaments, as gold rings and precious stones. And the happy consequence of St. Hugh's example this way was, that the rich were moved by it to bestow of their treasures to the necessitous, whereby the wants of all the poor of his diocese were supplied.
He earnestly solicited Pope Innocent II for leave to resign his bishopric, that he might die in solitude; but was never able to obtain his request. God was pleased to purify his soul by a lingering illness before he called him to himself. Some time before his death he lost his memory for everything but his prayers; the psalter and the Lord's prayer he recited with great devotion, almost without intermission; and he was said to have repeated the last three hundred times in one night. Being told that so constant an attention would increase his distemper, he said, "It is quite otherwise; by prayer I always find myself stronger." In the time of sickness, a certain forwardness and peevishness of disposition is what the best of us are too apt to give way to, through weakness of nature and a temptation of the enemy, who seeks to deprive a dying person of the most favorable advantages of penance and patience, and to feed and strengthen self-love in the soul while upon the very cross itself; and in the crucible in. which she is thrown by a singular mercy, in order to her coming forth refined and pure. In this fiery trial, the virtue of the saints shows itself genuine, and endued with a fortitude which renders it worthy its crown. By the same test is pretended virtue discovered: self-love can no longer disguise itself: it cries out, murmurs, frets, and repines: the mask which the hypocrite wore is here pulled off: saints, on the contrary, under every degree of torture cruelty can invent, preserve a happy patience and serenity of soul. Hence the devil would not allow the virtue of Job to be sincere before it had been approved under sickness and bodily pain.2 St. Hugh left us by his invincible patience a proof of the fervour of kits charity. Under the sharpest pains, he never let fall one word of complaint nor mentioned what he suffered; his whole concern seemed only to be for others. When any assisted him, he expressed the greatest confusion and thankfulness: if he had given the least trouble to anyone, he would beg to receive the discipline, and because no one would give it to him, would confess his fault, as he called it, and implore the divine mercy with tears. The like sentiments we read in the relation of the deaths of many of the holy monks of La Trappe. Dom. Bennet, under the most racking pains, when turned in his bed, said, "You lay me too much at my ease." Dom. Charles would not cool his mouth with a little water in the raging heat of a violent fever. Such examples teach us at least to blush at and condemn our murmurs and impatience under sickness. The humility of St. Hugh was the more surprising, because everyone approached him with the greatest reverence and affection, and thought it a happiness if they were allowed in any thing to serve him. It was his constant prayer, in which he begged his dear Carthusians and all others to join him, that God would extinguish in his heart all attachment to creatures, that his pure love might reign in all his affections. One said to him, "Why do you weep so bitterly, who never offended God by any wilful crime?" He replied, "Vanity and inordinate affections suffice to damn a soul. It is only through the divine mercy that we can hope to be saved, and shall we ever cease to implore it?" If anyone spoke of news in his presence, he checked them, saying, "This life is all given us for weeping and penance, not for idle discourses." He closed his penitential course on the 1st of April, in 1132, wanting only two months of being eighty years old, of which he had been fifty-two years bishop. Miracles attested the sanctity of his happy death; and he was canonized by Innocent II in 1134.
There is no saint who was not a lover of retirement and penance. Shall we not learn from them to shun the tumult of the world, as much as our circumstances will allow, and give ourselves up to the exercises of holy solitude, prayer, and pious reading. Holy solitude is the school of heavenly doctrine, where fervent souls study a divine science, which is learned by experience, not by the discourses of others. Here they learn to know God and themselves; they disengage their affections from the world, and burn and reduce to ashes all that can fasten their hearts to it. Here they give earthly things for those of heaven, and goods of small value for those of inestimable price. In blessed solitude, a man repairs in his soul the image of his Creator, which was effaced by sin, and, by the victory which he gains over his passions, is in some degree freed from the corruption of his nature, and restored in some measure to the state of its integrity and innocence by the ruin of vice, and the establishment of all virtues in his affections; so that, by a wonderful change wrought in his soul, he becomes a new creature, and a terrestrial angel. His sweet repose and his employments are also angelical, being of the same nature with those of the blessed in heaven By the earnest occupation of the powers of his soul on God and in God, or in doing his will, he is continually employed in a manner infinitely more excellent and more noble than he could be in governing all the empires of the world; and in a manner which is far preferable to all the vain occupations of the greatest men of the world during the whole course of their lives. Moreover, in the interior exercises, of this state, a soul receives certain antepasts of eternal felicity, by which she intimately feels how sweet God is, and learns to have no relish for anything but for him alone. "Oh, my friends," cried out a certain pious contemplative, "I take leave of you with these words, and this feeling invitation of the Psalmist: '<Come, taste yourselves, and see by your own experience how sweet the Lord is.>'" But these, and other privileges and precious advantages, only belong to the true solitary, who joins interior to exterior solitude, is never warped by sloth or remissness, gives no moments to idleness, uses continual violence to himself in order perfectly to subdue his passions, watches constantly over his senses, is penetrated to the heart with the wholesome sadness of penance, has death always before his eyes, is always taken up in the exercises of compunction, the divine praises, love, adoration, and thanksgiving, and is raised above the earth and all created things by the ardor of his desires of being united to God the sovereign good.


SOURCE: Ewtn

#PopeFrancis Prayer Intentions for April "That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith..." SHARE


Universal: Small Farmers "That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor." Evangelization: African Christians "That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts."

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thurs. March 31, 2016


Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 264


Reading 1ACTS 3:11-26

As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John,
all the people hurried in amazement toward them
in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.”
When Peter saw this, he addressed the people,
“You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this,
and why do you look so intently at us
as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence,
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
And by faith in his name,
this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong,
and the faith that comes through it
has given him this perfect health,
in the presence of all of you.
Now I know, brothers and sisters,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,
and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment
and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus,
whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration
of which God spoke through the mouth
of his holy prophets from of old.
For Moses said:

A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kin;
to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you.
Everyone who does not listen to that prophet
will be cut off from the people. 


“Moreover, all the prophets who spoke,
from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days.
You are the children of the prophets
and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors
when he said to Abraham,
In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you
by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 8:2AB AND 5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (2ab) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, our Lord,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaPS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Saint March 31 : St. Guy of Pomposa : Abbot


St. Guy of Pomposa (1046) was born in Italy and gave everything to the poor. He spent three years, as a hermit, on the island of Po River. He become the abbot of St. Severus. He became a much sought after spiritual adviser. His feast day is March 31.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

#BreakingNews Nuns receive Easter #Miracle a new Home to Feed the Homeless from Tony Robbins

The Sisters of the order Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth had a Soup Kitchen but were  evicted from their former location on Turk Street, SanFrancisco. Multimillionaire business coach and Tony Robbins  bought the French nuns their own soup kitchen. Robbins paid over $750,000 in cash this week for the property’s purchase, Now Sister Mary Benedicte, and Sister Mary of the Angels can serve meals to hundreds of homeless people. “It feels like God’s providence,” they said.“This is God’s blessing. Wow.” Robbins is known internationally for for counseling former President Bill Clinton to actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “ Inspired by their story’ Robbins spent time homeless before he became famous. “I was so inspired by their story,” he said. “I was deeply touched that not only are they feeding people, but their entire lives are spent toward loving and taking care of people....I have a deep love for the nuns, and I want them to be able to put all their efforts into doing the wonderful things that they do.” The real estate agent said,  “I had just closed the office when I heard something outside, went to the door — and there were these nuns,” said Antonio Gamero, an agent with Re/Max Future on Valencia Street. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to talk about religion right now,’ but then they told me who they were and what they wanted. And, like, the next day we got working.” Mary Martha said, “Finding this building is really like a resurrection for us — it goes so well with the holy week of Easter. We were so concerned for the sisters in San Francisco, and we were praying so hard for them, and then God sent Tony to help us.” Robbins said, “Three days later it was my birthday, and while I was doing my program, this music came on and three people dressed like nuns came walking toward me,” Robbins said. “It was members of my team, and they gave me a check from my platinum partners (large donors) for what they called ‘the nun bailout.’ It was $400,000. It was the best birthday present I ever had.” As for the soup kitchen sisters, they won’t start planning any move until next week. After Easter. “For now, this is a time only for prayer,” said Mary Benedicte. “We are closed. But in our prayers, we thank God for this miracle.”
Edited from SFGate

#PopeFrancis “God is greater than all the sins we may commit!" #Audience FULL TEXT - Video

Speaking at the General Audience Wednesday, Pope Francis said God is greater than our sins and will pull us up when we fall - ANSA
Speaking at the General Audience Wednesday, Pope Francis said God is greater than our sins and will pull us up when we fall - ANSA
30/03/2016 11:04



(Vatican Radio)  “God is greater than all the sins we may commit! God is greater than our sin!”    That’s what Pope Francis reminded pilgrims at the General Audience Wednesday 30 March.  In his remarks in Italian, the Pope said God's infinite mercy wipes away our sins like the dry cleaner eliminates the stains from our clothes. 
Listen to Tracey McClure's report:
 
But “divine forgiveness is supremely effective,” noted the Pope.  Unlike the dry cleaner, however, “it doesn’t hide the sin; it destroys it and cancels it… God eliminates our sin from its very roots – all of it!”
In his catechesis, Pope Francis reflected on the penitential prayer Psalm 51 from the Old Testament.  In ancient Hebrew tradition, the Pope noted, the psalm refers to a penitent King David who, trusting in God’s mercy, humbly prays for forgiveness after he committed not simply “a small lie” but the great sins of adultery and murder.
Pope Francis invited those gathered in Saint Peter’s square to raise their hands if any among them had not sinned in his or her lifetime.  He remarked that no one present had raised a hand and observed that “we are all sinners” and some people find themselves sinning over and over again. 
Like a child who reaches up to his parents to lift him after a fall - noted the Pope, when we fall in sin, we can raise our hand to God who will pull us up.  “God created man and woman to stand upright,” said the Pope.  "It is beautiful to be forgiven," stressed Pope Francis, "but you too, if you want to be pardoned, you should also forgive.  Forgive!"
Pope Francis conveyed this message to English speaking pilgrims:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now conclude our treatment of the Old Testament with a consideration of Psalm 51, the Miserere.  This Psalm is traditionally seen as King David’s prayer for forgiveness following his sin with Bathsheba.  Its opening words: “Have mercy on me, O God in your kindness”, are a moving confession of sin, repentance and confident hope in God’s merciful pardon.  Together with a heartfelt plea to be cleansed and purified of his sin, the Psalmist sings the praise of God’s infinite justice and holiness.  He asks for the forgiveness of his great sin but also for the gift of a pure heart and a steadfast spirit, so that, thus renewed, he may draw other sinners back to the way of righteousness.  God’s forgiveness is the greatest sign of his infinite mercy.  Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may we become ever more convincing witnesses to that divine mercy which forgives our sins, creates in us a new heart, and enables us to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the world.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States.  In the joy of the Risen Lord, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father.  May the Lord bless you all!

Right to Die is not the right to kill yourself - #ProLife message by Fr. Hans Feichtinger


The right to die is not the right to kill yourself

In Canada and beyond, for public and political debates on euthanasia and suicide assistance, one of the crucial question is this: Is letting someone die the same as killing someone? Is dying the same thing as committing suicide? Some people arguing in favour of legalizing assisted suicide say it is. What does your experience tell you? Based on my work as pastor, who meets dying people and people who have lost loved ones on a regular basis, I say there is a huge difference. The difference is: in order for us to have the right to die non one needs a right to kill him/herself, or others, quite the opposite.
Is killing someone in a hit-and-run the same thing as letting someone die because you saw her lying in the street? Both times someone dies, and it is your fault; both are mortal sins and crimes, but they are not the same, and you are not “causal agents in death” in the same sense. Moreover, common sense, legal practice, and ethical reflection demonstrate: If a principle works in scenario A, it does not necessarily work (as well) in B. If two causes lead to, or contribute to the same outcome, that does not mean the two causes are of the same nature, gravity, or meaning. Extending arguments in this way appears more rational than it actually is. Whether something is morally and legally, allowed or desirable depends heavily on the kind of acts you are contemplating and on the circumstances in which the acts are situated.
Withholding medical treatment from people for whom it would be unreasonable and overly burdensome, is not the same thing as administering them a lethal injection. In any case, claiming that it is the same, is only one view, based on one school of thought, most often utilitarianism. If you have ever worked in a department of philosophy, you know that philosophers never agree, either on the conditions, or the method, or the outcome of their reflections. In Carter v Canada, the Supreme Court claimed that there is “no ethical distinction between physician-assisted death and other end-of-life practices whose outcome is highly likely to be death”. Such a claim is one-sided, and the Court should not have limited Parliament’s decision so severely. Not even Parliament could impose one of the many philosophical standpoints on all Canadians.
The parliament of France, arguably the one that invented secularism, has quite different views on suicide assistance. The same is true for Westminster’s Lords and Commons, and for the Bundestag in Berlin. It certainly does not seem plausible to claim that the laws of other profoundly secular and democratic societies are the product of an inability to think properly. Interesting, how thinkers opposing absolute distinctions can become absolutist.
Many people want to be able to end their lives. This is a fact, but not necessarily therefore a “right”, with all the consequences that the concept of a “right” entails, namely that others have an obligation to help me exercise it, and that the state must guarantee it. Legislation has to take into account other aspects and consequences, notably the protection of vulnerable people and the rights of those who have fundamental objections to suicide. Declaring that these thoughts are not rational is unacceptable in a liberal democracy. Citizens of liberal democracies have the right to resist laws based on exclusionary philosophies, even if a Supreme Court embraces them.
Unbearable suffering, tragic and traumatic situations in which people see no solution other than killing themselves, are facts that cannot be explained away. Therefore, not treating (attempted) suicide as a crime makes sense. But it doesn’t make suicide into something good, to which we have a right: that is the fundamental flaw in the debate. The law Canada needs cannot be something that includes so many aspects running contrary to convictions held by so many doctors and people, religious and not. On this issue, philosophical and legal debate will not result in consensus. Parliament, therefore, needs to find a way that does not impose the view of one group on everyone. Legislative power needs to be exercised judiciously, avoiding extreme and exclusionary solutions. If Parliament wants to decriminalize suicide assistance or formally allow it (under certain conditions), that is one thing. A right-to-assisted-suicide, however, is something different: it would force all (publically funded) medical professionals and institutions to offer it as a public service. Such a solution will be pernicious for how we look at people who need palliative (long term, and expensive) care. No person who respects fact-based decisions can deny that. It is not too late to avert such a situation for Canada. Instead, the debate is only just beginning. Special to Catholic News World by :
Msgr. Hans Feichtinger
Fr. Hans Feichtiner born in Germany, obtained a Doctorate in Patristic Theology from the Augustinianum in Rome and an M.A. in Classics from Dalhousie University, Halifax NS. He was an Official at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Beginning 2010, He did the qualifying exams and coursework for a doctorate in philosophy from the Jesuit Philosophy Faculty in Munich. Since coming to Canada at the beginning of 2013, I have been working on the thesis in the library of St Paul University.He is Pastor (Parish Administrator) of St George’s in Ottawa, Canada

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. March 30, 2016


Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 263


Reading 1ACTS 3:1-10

Peter and John were going up to the temple area
for the three o’clock hour of prayer.
And a man crippled from birth was carried
and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day
to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple,
he asked for alms.
But Peter looked intently at him, as did John,
and said, “Look at us.”
He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.
Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you:
in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”
Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up,
and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong.
He leaped up, stood, and walked around,
and went into the temple with them,
walking and jumping and praising God.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
they recognized him as the one
who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple,
and they were filled with amazement and astonishment
at what had happened to him.

Responsorial PsalmPS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (3b) Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaPS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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It plays in a fictitious small town, Glendevon, situated north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The narrator, Sean, suffers from psychological problems due to a traumatic experience in his younger years. He relates the story of the last years of Fr. Collins to the Father's sister. It involves the relationship between the three main persons, namely Fr. Collins, Caitlin Madigan, and Eddie Jacks, former mayor of Glendevon and involved in shady businesses. Caitlin comes from a broken home and gets involved with Eddie Jacks and serves as a prostitute for Eddie and others. When Caitlin falls pregnant and refuses an abortion she is violently kicked out of Eddie's pick-up truck in front of St. Michael's Church where Fr. Collins is pastor. When the child, Jacob Madigan, is born he is adopted by Caitlin's half-sister, Shauna. Fr. Collins grants Caitlin to room and board in the basement of the church and otherwise looks after her. When Eddie shows a renewed interest in Caitlin and her son, pretending that Jacob is his, the plot thickens and leads to a surprising result...
Barbara Kay, novelist and well known National Post columnist, has said the following about Israel Madigan: “It made me think about the intractably insoluble mystery of good vs evil” and “the explosive ending was an imaginative triumph.”

After reading the book, David Warren, former editor of The Idler, said that “Caitlan and all the other characters keep rising, to Dostoyevskian heights, and are enthralling in and of themselves." He also said that "The plot is gripping as a murder mystery...with all the dropped clues to what is developing, just as in Fyodor.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Saint March 31 : St. Benjamin : Martyr and #Deacon of #Persia


St. Benjamin
MARTYR, DEACON
Feast: March 31
Feast Day:
March 31
Died:
424 in Persia Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.

The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations,  no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."
Edited from Butler's Lives of the Saints

Saint March 30 : St. John Climacus : Abbott of Sinai



Information:
Feast Day:March 30
Born:525, Syria
Died:30 March 606, Mount Sinai
St John, generally distinguished by the appellation of Climacus, from his excellent book entitled Climax, or the Ladder to Perfection, was born about the year 525, probably in Palestine. By his extraordinary progress in the arts and sciences he obtained very young the surname of the Scholastic. But at sixteen years of age he renounced all the advantages which the world promised him to dedicate himself to God in a religious state, in 547. He retired to Mount Sinai, which, from the time of the disciples of St. Anthony and St. Hilarion, had been always peopled by holy men, who, in imitation of Moses, when he received the law on that mountain, lived in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. Our novice, fearing the danger of dissipation and relaxation to which numerous communities are generally more exposed than others, chose not to live in the great monastery on the summit, but in an hermitage on the descent of the mountain, under the discipline of Martyrius, an holy ancient anchoret. By silence he curbed the insolent itch of talking about everything, an ordinary vice in learned men, but usually a mark of pride and self-sufficiency. By perfect humility and obedience he banished the dangerous desire of self-complacency in his actions. He never contradicted, never disputed with anyone. So perfect was his submission that he seemed to have no self-will. He undertook to sail through the deep sea of this mortal life securely, under the direction of a prudent guide, and shunned those rocks which he could not have escaped, had he presumed to steer alone, as he tells us. From the visible mountain he raised his heart, without interruption, in all his actions, to God, who is invisible; and, attentive to all the motions of his grace, studied only to do his will. Four years he spent in the trial of his own strength, and in learning the obligations of his state, before he made his religious profession, which was in the twentieth year of his age. In his writings he severely condemns engagements made by persons too young, or before a sufficient probation. By fervent prayer and fasting he prepared himself for the solemn consecration of himself to God, that the most intense fervour might make his holocaust the more perfect; and from that moment he seemed to be renewed in spirit; and his master admired the strides with which, like a mighty giant, the young disciple advanced daily more and more towards God, by self-denial, obedience, humility, and the uninterrupted exercises of divine love and prayer.

In the year 560, and the thirty-fifth of his age, he lost Martyrius by death; having then spent nineteen years in that place in penance and holy contemplation. By the advice of a prudent director, he then embraced an eremitical life in a plain called Thole, near the foot of Mount Sinai. His cell was five miles from the church, probably the same which had been built a little before, by order of the Emperor Justinian, for the use of the monks at the bottom of this mountain, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, as Procopius mentions. Thither he went every Saturday and Sunday to assist, with all the other anchorets and monks of that desert, at the holy office and at the celebration of the divine mysteries, when they all communicated. His diet was very sparing, though, to shun ostentation and the danger of vainglory, he ate of everything that was allowed among the monks of Egypt, who universally abstained from flesh, fish, &c. Prayer was his principal employment; and he practiced what he earnestly recommends to all Christians, that in all their actions, thoughts, and words they should keep themselves with great fervour in the presence of God, and direct all they do to his holy will. By habitual contemplation he acquired an extraordinary purity of heart, and such a facility of lovingly beholding God in all his works that this practice seemed in him a second nature. Thus he accompanied his studies with perpetual prayer. He assiduously read the holy scriptures and fathers, and was one of the most learned doctors of the church. But, to preserve the treasure of humility, he concealed, as much as possible, both his natural and acquired talents, and the extraordinary graces with which the Holy Ghost enriched his soul. By this secrecy he fled from the danger of vainglory, which, like a leech, sticks to our best actions and, sucking from them its nourishment, robs us of their fruit. As if this cell had not been sufficiently remote from the eyes of men, St. John frequently retired into a neighbouring cavern which he had made in the rock, where no one could come to disturb his devotions or interrupt his tears. So ardent were his charity and compunction, that his eyes seemed two fountains, which scarce ever ceased to flow; and his continual sighs and groans to heaven, under the weight of the miseries inseparable from his moral pilgrimage, were not to be equaled by the vehemency of the cries of those who suffer from knives and fire. Overcome by importunities, he admitted a holy anchoret named Moyses to live with him as his disciple.
God bestowed on St. John an extraordinary grace of healing the spiritual disorders of souls. Among others, a monk called Isaac was brought almost to the brink of despair by most violent temptations of the flesh. He addressed himself to St. John, who perceived by his tears how much he underwent from that conflict and struggle which he felt within himself. The servant of God commended his faith, and said, "My son, let us have recourse to God by prayer." They accordingly prostrated themselves together on the ground in fervent supplication for a deliverance, and from that time the infernal serpent left Isaac in peace. Many others resorted to St. John for spiritual advice; but the devil excited some to jealousy, who censured him as one who, out of vanity, lost much time in unprofitable discourse. The saint took this accusation, which was a mere calumny, in good part, and as a charitable admonition; he therefore imposed on himself a rigorous silence for near a twelvemonth. This, his humility and modesty, so much astonished his calumniators that they joined the rest of the monks in beseeching him to reassume his former function of giving charitable advice to all that resorted to him for it, and not to bury that talent of science which he had received for the benefit of many. He who knew not what it was to contradict others, with the same humility and deference again opened his mouth to instruct his neighbour in the rules of perfect virtue, in which office, such was the reputation of his wisdom and experience, that he was regarded as another Moses in that holy place.
St. John was now seventy-five years old, and had spent forty of them in his hermitage, when, in the year 600, he was unanimously chosen Abbot of Mount Sinai, and superior-general of all the monks and hermits in that country. Soon after he was raised to this dignity, the people of Palestine and Arabia, in the time of a great drought and famine, made their application to him as to another Elias, begging him to intercede with God in their behalf. The saint failed not, with great earnestness, to recommend their distress to the Father of mercies, and his prayer was immediately recompensed with abundant rains. St. Gregory the Great, who then sat in St. Peter's chair, wrote to our holy abbot, recommending himself to his prayers, and sent him beds, with other furniture and money, for his hospital, for the use of pilgrims near Mount Sinai. John, who had used his utmost endeavours to decline the pastoral charge when he saw it laid upon him, neglected no means which might promote the sanctification of all those who were entrusted to his care. That posterity might receive some share in the benefit of his holy instructions, John, the learned and virtuous Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situate towards the Red Sea, entreated him by that obedience he had ever practiced, even with regard to his inferiors, that he would draw up the most necessary rules by which fervent souls might arrive at Christian perfection. The saint answered him that nothing but extreme humility could have moved him to write to so miserable a sinner, destitute of every sort of virtue; but that he received his commands with respect, though far above his strength, never considering his own insufficiency. Wherefore, apprehensive of falling into death by disobedience, he took up his pen in haste, with great eagerness mixed with fear, and set himself to draw some imperfect outlines, as an unskillful painter, leaving them to receive from him, as a great master, the finishing strokes. This produced the excellent work which he called "Climax; or, the Ladder of religious Perfection." This book, being written in sentences, almost in the manner of aphorisms, abounds more in sense than words. A certain majestic simplicity- an inexpressible unction and spirit of humility, joined with conciseness and perspicuity-very much enhance the value of this performance; but its chief merit consists in the sublime sentiments and perfect description of all Christian virtues which it contains. The author confirms his precepts by several edifying examples, as of obedience and penance. In  describing a monastery of three hundred and thirty monks which he had visited near Alexandria, in Egypt, he mentions one of the principal citizens of that city, named Isidore, who, petitioning to be admitted into the house, said to the abbot, "As iron is in the hands of the smith, so am I in your hands." The abbot ordered him to remain without the gate, and to prostrate himself at the feet of everyone that passed by, begging their prayers for his soul struck with a leprosy. Thus he passed seven years in profound humility and patience. He told St. John that, during the first year, he always considered himself as a slave condemned for his sins, and sustained violent conflicts; the second year he passed in tranquillity and confidence; and the third with relish and pleasure in his humiliations. So great was his virtue that the abbot determined to present him to the bishop in order to be promoted to the priesthood, but the humility of the holy penitent prevented the execution of that design; for, having begged at least a respite, he died within ten days. St. John could not help admiring the cook of this numerous community, who seemed always recollected, and generally bathed in tears amidst his continual occupation, and asked him by what means he nourished so perfect a spirit of compunction, in the midst of such a dissipating laborious employment. He said that serving the monks, he represented to himself that he was serving not men, but God in his servants; and that the fire he always had before his eyes reminded him of that fire which will burn souls for all eternity. The moving description which our author gives of the monastery of penitents called the Prison, above a mile from the former, hath been already abridged in our language. John the Sabaite told our saint, as of a third person, that seeing himself respected in his monastery, he considered that this was not the way to satisfy for his sins; wherefore, with the leave of his abbot, he repaired to a severe monastery in Pontus, and after three years saw in a dream a schedule of his debts, to the amount in appearance of one hundred pounds of gold, of which only ten were cancelled. He therefore repeated often to himself, "Poor Antiochus, thou hast still a great debt to satisfy." After passing other thirteen years in contempt and the most fervent practices of penance, he deserved to see in a vision his whole debt blotted out. Another monk, in a grievous fit of illness, fell into a trance, in which he lay as if he had been dead for the space of an hour; but, recovering, he shut himself up in a cell, and lived a recluse twelve years, almost continually weeping, in the perpetual meditation of death. When he was near death, his brethren could only extort from him these words of edification, "He who hath death always before his eyes will never sin." John, Abbot of Raithu, explained this book of our saint by judicious comments, which are also extant. We have likewise a letter of St. John Climacus to the same person concerning the duties of a pastor, in which he exhorts him in correcting others to temper severity with mildness, and encourages him zealously to fulfil the obligations of his charge; for nothing is greater or more acceptable to God than to offer him the sacrifice of rational souls sanctified by penance and charity.
St. John sighed continually under the weight of his dignity during the four years that he governed the monks of Mount Sinai; and as he had taken upon him that burden with fear and reluctance, he with joy found means to resign the same a little before his death. Heavenly contemplation, and the continual exercise of divine love and praise, were his delight and comfort in his earthly pilgrimage: and in this imitation of the functions of the blessed spirits in heaven he placeth the essence of the monastic state. In his excellent maxims concerning the gift of holy tears, the fruit of charity, we seem to behold a lively portraiture of his most pure soul. He died in his hermitage on the 30th day of March, in 605, being fourscore years old. His spiritual son, George, who had succeeded him in the abbacy, earnestly begged of God that he  might not be separated from his dear master and guide; and followed him by a happy death within a few days. On several Greek commentaries on St. John Climacus's ladder, see Montfaucon, Biblioth. Coisliana, pp. 305, 306.
St. John Climacus, speaking of the excellence and the effects of charity, does it with a feeling and energy worthy of such a subject: "A mother," says he, "feels less pleasure when she folds within her arms the dear infant whom she nourishes with her own milk than the true child of charity does when united as he incessantly is, to his God, and folded as it were in the arms of his heavenly Father.—Charity operates in some persons so as to carry them almost entirely out of themselves. It illuminates others, and fills them with such sentiments of joy, that they cannot help crying out: The Lord is my helper and my protector: in him hath my heart confided, and I have been helped And my flesh hath flourished again, and with my will I will give praise to him. This joy which they feel in their hearts, is reflected on their countenances; and when once God has united, or, as we may say, incorporated them with his charity, he displays in their exterior, as in the reflection of a mirror, the brightness and serenity of their souls: even as Moses, being honored with a sight of God, was encompassed round by his glory." St. John Climacus composed the following prayer to obtain the gift of charity: "My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly united to you by prayer that to be separated from you may be impossible; let others desire riches and glory; for my part, I desire but one thing, and that is, to be inseparably united to you, and to place in you alone all my hopes of happiness and repose."



source:EWTN