"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Pope Francis (credit: InterMirifica.net)
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) - The Pope presided at the first vespers of the second Sunday of Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday - in St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m... . April 11. The celebration included the consignment and reading of the official Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, to begin on December 8, 2015 and to close on November 16, 2016.
The Holy Father, accompanied by the cardinals, transferred to the entrance of the Vatican Basilica, and by the side of the Holy Door, he presented the Bull of Indiction to the four cardinal archpriests of the papal basilicas of Rome: St. Peter in the Vatican, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, and St. Mary Major. As an expression of his desire that the Jubilee be celebrated both in Rome and throughout the world, the Pope also handed a copy of the Bull to the prefects of the Congregations for Bishops, for Evangelization of Peoples, and for the Oriental Churches, and thus symbolically to bishops worldwide. A copy of the document was received by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai on behalf of all the East , and by Archbishop Bartolome Adoukounou for the African continent. Msgr. Khaled Ayad Bishay of the Patriarchal Church of Alexandria of the Copts received the copy destined for the Oriental Churches.
The Regent of the Papal Household, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, apostolic protonotary, read a number of extracts from the official document convoking the extraordinary Holy Year, in the presence of the Pope. The Holy Father then went on to preside at first vespers in the Vatican Basilica, and pronounced the following homily.
"The greeting of the Risen Christ to His disciples on the evening of Easter, 'Peace be with you!,' continues to resound in us all. Peace, especially during this Easter season, remains the desire of so many people who suffer unprecedented violence of discrimination and death simply because they bear the name 'Christian.' Our prayer is all the more intense and becomes a cry for help to the Father, Who is rich in mercy, that He may sustain the faith of our many brothers and sisters who are in pain. At the same time, we ask for the grace of the conversion of our own hearts so as to move from indifference to compassion.
"St. Paul reminds us that we have been saved through the mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He is the Reconciler, Who is alive in our midst offering the way to reconciliation with God and with each other. The Apostle recalls that, notwithstanding the difficulties and the sufferings of life, the hope of salvation which Christ has sown in our hearts nonetheless continues to grow. The mercy of God is poured out upon us, making us just and giving us peace.
"Many question in their hearts: why a Jubilee of Mercy today? Simply because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God's presence and closeness. This is not the time to be distracted; on the contrary, we need to be vigilant and to reawaken in ourselves the capacity to see what is essential. This is a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father's mercy.
"For this reason, the Holy Year must keep alive the desire to know how to welcome the numerous signs of the tenderness which God offers to the whole world and, above all, to those who suffer, who are alone and abandoned, without hope of being pardoned or feeling the Father's love. A Holy Year to experience strongly within ourselves the joy of having been found by Jesus, the Good Shepherd Who has come in search of us because we were lost. A Jubilee to receive the warmth of His love when He bears us upon his shoulders and brings us back to the Father's house. A year in which to be touched by the Lord Jesus and to be transformed by His mercy, so that we may become witnesses to mercy. Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.
"May the Mother of God open our eyes, so that we may comprehend the task to which we have been called; and may she obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ."
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) - The following is a summary of the Papal Bull "Misericordiae Vultus", by which Pope Francis convoked the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is composed of 25 numbered sections. Pope Francis has described the most salient features of mercy, focusing primarily on the theme of the light of Christ's face. Mercy is not an abstract word, but rather a face to recognize, contemplate, and serve. The Bull is developed in a Trinitary fashion (Nos. 6-9) and extends to a description of the Church as a credible sign of mercy: "Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life" (No.10).
Pope Francis indicates the salient phases of the Jubilee. The opening coincides with the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council: "The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way" (No. 4). The conclusion will take place "with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all, with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace. We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking Him to pour out His mercy upon us like the morning dew, so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future" (no.5).
A special feature of this Holy Year is the fact that it will be celebrated not only in Rome, but also in all the other dioceses of the world. The Holy Door will be opened by the Pope at St. Peter's on December 8, and on the following Sunday in all the Churches of the world. Another novelty is that the Pope will grant the possibility of opening the Holy Door also in Sanctuaries, where many pilgrims will go in order to pray.
Pope Francis resumes the teaching of St. John XXIII, who spoke of the "medicine of Mercy," and of Paul VI who identified the spirituality of Vatican II with that of the Samaritan. The Bull explains, furthermore, various salient aspects of the Jubilee: firstly, the motto, "Merciful like the Father," then the meaning of pilgrimage and above all the need for forgiveness. The theme that is particularly close to the Pope's heart is found in section No. 15: the works of corporal and spiritual mercy are to be resumed in order to "reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God's mercy." A further indication is offered by Lent, with the sending out of the "Missionaries of Mercy" (No. 18), a new and original initiative by which the Pope intends to emphasize his pastoral care in a more concrete way. In paragraphs 20 and 21 the Pope considers the theme of the relationship between justice and mercy, showing that he does not stop at a legalistic view, but rather aims at a path that leads to merciful love.
Paragraph 19 is a powerful appeal against organized violence and against those who are "advocates and accomplices" of corruption. The Pope uses strong words to denounce this "festering wound," and insists that during this Holy Year there must be true conversion: "This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched! When confronted with evil deeds, even in the face of serious crimes, it is the time to listen to the cry of innocent people who are deprived of their property, their dignity, their feelings, and even their very lives. To stick to the way of evil will only leave one deluded and sad. True life is something entirely different. God never tires of reaching out to us. He is always ready to listen, as I am too, along with my brother bishops and priests. All one needs to do is to accept the invitation to conversion and submit oneself to justice during this special time of mercy offered by the Church" (No. 19).
The granting of indulgences as a traditional theme of the Jubilee year is expressed in section No. 22. A final original aspect is offered by Pope Francis with regard to mercy as a theme shared also by Jews and Muslims: "I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination" (No. 23).
The Pope's wish is that this Year, experienced also in the sharing of divine mercy, may be "dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of throwing open the doors of his heart and repeats that he loves us and wants to share His love with us. É In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love. May she never tire of extending mercy, and be ever patient in offering compassion and comfort. May the Church become the voice of every man and woman, and repeat confidently without end: 'Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.' "
"Divine charity is the most precious gift of the Heart of Christ and of His Spirit: It is this which imparted to the Apostles and martyrs that fortitude, by the strength of which they fought their battles like heroes till death in order to preach the truth of the Gospel and bear witness to it by the shedding of their blood." - Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas
A review of Fit For Eternal Life, by Kevin Vost, PSY. D., explains some very useful fitness facts, especially for the Christian.
The book states that a little bit of something does more than a whole lot of nothing! Also, there is a time for work and a time for rest. The minimum attendance of Mass each week is once. What is the minimum frequency for strength training? Also, once a week. More could benefit in both cases but as each Mass has different readings, psalms, prayers for specific feasts, etc., so should workouts be varied in content and alternated to prevent overtraining. But remember the good news: all we really need for productive strength training is one weekly session!
As for aerobics, billions of human beings kept themselves lean and fit for ages before the discovery of the aerobics revolution. You can lead a healthy life and be fit by eating sensibly and burning calories through an active lifestyle by: washing and drying dishes, doing laundry, sweeping, grocery shopping, putting away groceries, dusting, window washing, lawn mowing, washing your car, stair climbing, gardening, ironing, dancing. etc.
As for the foods we eat, our bodies have become overstock supply warehouses. What do we do? We buy diet books. then we make unbalanced and unappetizing food choices that can't be sustained for long. Cabbage soup for breakfast? As for nutritional supplements, Vost believes they do more for their manufacturers' and advertisers' wealth than they'll ever do for your health. Faith helps us rejoice in the fact that we wondrously made by God and wondrously gifted with the capacity to transform and perfect ourselves.
Charity then sets the goals and standards for the virtue of fitness. The principal act of charity, according to St. Thomas, is to love and out of the love of charity with which we love God, we ought to love our bodies also. As we grow in physical prowess, we must train our bodies as instruments of charitable works. We must display the fortitude to persevere in our training and diet.
Brian O'Neel's book, 150 North American Martyrs You Should Know, is both informative and entertaining. The canonized North American martyrs, Isaac Jogues and companions Kateri Tekakitha and chaplain Fr. Emil Kapaun are somewhat known. The rest may not be so familiar, but their lives certainly are relevant today.
Fr. Sˇbastian Rale was inspired by the earlier North American martyrs and had more success. He converted the Wabanaki of Maine and defended their rights to practice their religion and to property, making them all enemies to the English. He stayed with those who did not flee to New France. When the English attacked in 1724 he and his twenty companions died for the Faith. Neel nicknames him "the Mama Bear Father."
Fr. Josˇ Antonio Diaz de Leon also fought for the rights of the Karankawa and Coahuiltec Indians' rights in Texas. Although a Franciscan, he was made pastor of Nacogdoches when the missions were confiscated. Fr. de Leon was shot in 1834, as O'Neel puts it, "He was not only the last Franciscan in Texas, he was the last priest in the state for several years." The church was burned and he was not replaced until 1847.
Neel's chapter on the martyrs of Georgia is subtitled "The Sanctity of Marriage Was Their 'Old Sweet Song.' " Fr. Pedor de Corpa and his companions were martyred by the son of the chief of the Guales in Georgia in 1597. Juanillo had been baptized, but hated Fr. de Corpa for rebuking him for marrying a second wife.
He then led twenty-four others to kill the other Georgian missionaries, first Fr. Blas Rodriguez de Montes. Fr. Miguel de Aunon and Br. Antonio de Badajoz were warned and so Fr. de Aunon was able to say Mass before the war party arrived. The Gospel for the day included, "Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Mt 16:25) A few days later they caught up with the rest, Fr. Francisco de Berascola and Fr. Francisco de Avila.
Melchor Jayme took the name Luis as a Franciscan. He was sent to San Diego. When 600 Indians led by two apostate converts attacked the mission in 1775, he was killed as he greeted them. St. Junipero Serra thanked God saying, "Now that the terrain has been watered by blood, the conversion of the San Diego Indians will take place."
Fr. Luis Cancer de Barbastro said much the same thing. He returned to where Dominican Fr. Diego Tolosa and Br. Fuentes were martyred near Tampa Bay, Florida, in 1549. He died just as them.
Fr. Juan de Padilla's chapter is called "Don Quixote Comes to Kansas." He was a Franciscan accompanying Coronado's quest for El Dorado. He chose to stay behind and minister to the Native Americans. He was martyred in 1542 by Quivira Indians who did not go along with his outreach to their mortal enemies and neighbors, the Guas.
Neel calls Ann "Goody" Glover "The Witch Who Wasn't." Her husband had been killed for being "a Roman Catholic and obstinate in idolatry." She was tried for witchcraft just four months after William of Orange had defeated Catholic James II in 1680. Like Joan of Arc she weakened after three months imprisonment and confessed and then repented of her lapse of faith. At the end, like Jesus, she prayed for her accusers. Her last words before she was hung, holding a crucifix to her chest, were, "I die a Catholic."
Neel also includes information you should know about the history of persecution of Catholics in America. He tells about such little known things as the Quˇbec Act that threatened Protestants and fueled the Revolutionary War, the Know-Nothings and the Klu Klux Klan.
For example, Fr. James Coyle was shot by Rev. Edwin Stephenson in 1921 after the priest had blessed the marriage of the Methodist Klansman's daughter to a dark-skinned Puerto Rican. He was defended by future Supreme Court justice and fellow Klansman Hugo Black and acquitted.
Robert J. "Sandy" Cairns was born in Scotland, but his parents settled in Massachusetts. He choose to become a missionary to China. When the invading Japanese threatened in 1941 he spent more than an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. Then he wrote, "It is my duty to stay at [Shangehaun] with the people and administer the Sacraments."
Bishop Patrick J. Byrne was captured when the Korean War began in 1959. March Till They Die by Fr. Phillip Crosbie says, "Byrne never claimed his fair share of anything except work; and of that he always claimed more than was his due." The day before he was martyred he told Bishop Thomas Quinlan, "Tom, don't be sad. I have always wanted to lay down for our Faith and the good Lord has given me this privilege."
Besides many other saints the book includes two appendices. The first is a calendar of the North American martyrs with the place and year of their deaths. The second answers the question, "Did George Washington die a Catholic?"
Although Neel concentrates on martyrs from or martyred in the United States and Canada, he explains North American begins at Greenland and ends as Panama. It even includes islands in the Caribbean. The last chapter briefly mentions many more Mexican martyrs, so there may be a sequel.
(Editor's note: Mr. Smith writes from California. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
A person cannot fully live in the present if they are stuck in their past ... They cannot look forward to the future, to any future that will last.
The past is a place one never forgets, but one must be willing to leave it alone. If you continue to go back to it, your future is forever lost and dark.
The future belongs to those who remember the past but are willing to leave it alone. If they do not, they are sure to relive their past with nothing ahead of them to find.
So don't waste your time caught in the past, for your past is full of memories. (Good and bad; happy and sad.) Things that cannot be changed!
Don't be stuck in a cycle of failure thinking of yourself not worthy of having a good and happy life. Try instead to enjoy what's going on today and you will always have "a better future!"
The 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocation was held on April 26. Pope Francis' Message for the Day, dated March 25, follows:
"... The Fourth Sunday of Easter offers us the figure of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep: he calls them, he feeds them, and he guides them. For over fifty years the universal Church has celebrated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this way she reminds us of our need to pray, as Jesus Himself told His disciples, so that "the Lord of the harvest may send out laborers into His harvest" (Lk 10:2). Jesus command came in the context of His sending out missionaries. He called not only the twelve Apostles, but another seventy-two disciples whom He then sent out, two by two, for the mission (cf. Lk 10:1-6). Since the Church 'is by her very nature missionary' (Ad Gentes, 2), the Christian vocation is necessarily born of the experience of mission. Hearing and following the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd, means letting ourselves be attracted and guided by Him, in consecration to Him; it means allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us into this missionary dynamism, awakening within us the desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God.
"To offer one's life in mission is possible only if we are able to leave ourselves behind. On this 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like reflect on that particular 'exodus' which is the heart of vocation, or better yet, of our response to the vocation God gives us. When we hear the word 'exodus,' we immediately think of the origins of the amazing love story between God and His people, a history which passes through the dramatic period of slavery in Egypt, the calling of Moses, the experience of liberation, and the journey toward the Promised Land. The Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, which recounts these events is a parable of the entire history of salvation, but also of the inner workings of Christian faith. Passing from the slavery of the old Adam to new life in Christ is a event of redemption which takes place through faith (Eph 4:22-24). This passover is a genuine 'exodus;' it is the journey of each Christian soul and the entire Church, the decisive turning of our lives towards the Father.
"At the root of every Christian vocation we find this basic movement, which is part of the experience of faith. Belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to center our life in Jesus Christ. It means leaving, like Abraham, our native place and going forward with trust, knowing that God will show us the way to a new land. This 'going forward' is not to be viewed as a sign of contempt for one's life, one's feelings, one's own humanity. On the contrary, those who set out to follow Christ find life in abundance by putting themselves completely at the service of God and his kingdom. Jesus says: 'Everyone who has left home or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life' (Mt 19:29). All of this is profoundly rooted in love. The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, 'decentring' us and triggering 'an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God' (Deus Caritas Est, 6).
"The exodus experience is paradigmatic of the Christian life, particularly in the case of those who have embraced a vocation of special dedication to the Gospel. This calls for a constantly renewed attitude of conversion and transformation, an incessant moving forward, a passage from death to life like that celebrated in every liturgy, an experience of passover. From the call of Abraham to that of Moses, from Israel's pilgrim journey through the desert to the conversion preached by the prophets, up to the missionary journey of Jesus which culminates in his death and resurrection, vocation is always a work of God. He leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters. Responding to God's call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.
"This exodus process does not regard individuals alone, but the missionary and evangelizing activity of the whole Church. The Church is faithful to her Master to the extent that she is a Church which 'goes forth,' a Church which is less concerned about herself, her structures, and successes, and more about her ability to go out and meet God's children wherever they are, to feel compassion (com-passio) for their hurt and pain. God goes forth from Himself in a Trinitarian dynamic of love: He hears the cry of His people and He intervenes to set them free (Ex 3:7). The Church is called to follow this way of being and acting. She is meant to be a Church which evangelizes, goes out to encounter humanity, proclaims the liberating word of the Gospel, heals people's spiritual and physical wounds with the grace of God, and offers relief to the poor and the suffering.
"Dear brothers and sisters, this liberating exodus towards Christ and our brothers and sisters also represents the way for us to fully understand our common humanity and to foster the historical development of individuals and societies. To hear and answer the Lord's call is not a private and completely personal matter fraught with momentary emotion. Rather, it is a specific, real, and total commitment which embraces the whole of our existence and sets it at the service of the growth of God's Kingdom on earth. The Christian vocation, rooted in the contemplation of the Father's heart, thus inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest. A disciple of Jesus has a heart open to His unlimited horizons, and friendship with the Lord never means flight from this life or from the world. On the contrary, it involves a profound interplay between communion and mission (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 23).
"This exodus towards God and others fills our lives with joy and meaning. I wish to state this clearly to the young, whose youth and openness to the future makes them open-hearted and generous. At times uncertainty, worries about the future and the problems they daily encounter can risk paralyzing their youthful enthusiasm and shattering their dreams, to the point where they can think that it is not worth the effort to get involved, that the God of the Christian faith is somehow a limit on their freedom. Dear young friends, never be afraid to go out from yourselves and begin the journey! The Gospel is the message which brings freedom to our lives; it transforms them and makes them all the more beautiful. How wonderful it is to be surprised by God's call, to embrace His word, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in adoration of the divine mystery and in generous service to our neighbors! Your life will become richer and more joyful each day!
"The Virgin Mary, model of every vocation, did not fear to utter her 'fiat' in response to the Lord's call. She is at our side and she guides us. With the generous courage born of faith, Mary sang of the joy of leaving herself behind and entrusting to God the plans she had for her life. Let us turn to her, so that we may be completely open to what God has planned for each one of us, so that we can grow in the desire to go out with tender concern towards others (cf. Lk 1:39). May the Virgin Mary protect and intercede for us all."
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com