Saint Callistus, Pope, Martyr

Luke 11:29-32
As Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be a sign

The crowds got even bigger, and Jesus addressed them:
‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’


Romans 1:1-7
Our apostolic mission is to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.


Psalm 97(98):1-4
The Lord has made known his salvation.

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation.
The Lord has made known his salvation.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel.
The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord, all the earth,
ring out your joy.
The Lord has made known his salvation.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus And Israel’s Faith In The One God And Savior

587 If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities, his role in the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true stumbling-block for them.

588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.364 Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”365 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.

589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them. He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet. But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God’s equal, or is speaking the truth and his person really does make present and reveal God’s name.

590 Only the divine identity of Jesus’ person can justify so absolute a claim as “He who is not with me is against me”; and his saying that there was in him “something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon”, something “greater than the Temple”; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, and his affirmations, “Before Abraham was, I AM”, and even “I and the Father are one.”

591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father’s works which he accomplished. But such an act of faith must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new “birth from above” under the influence of divine grace. Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises allows one to understand the Sanhedrin’s tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer. The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of “ignorance” and the “hardness” of their “unbelief”.


Pope Callixtus I (died circa 223), also called Callistus I, was the Bishop of Rome (according to Sextus Julius Africanus) from c. 218 to his death c. 223.[3] He lived during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. Eusebius and the Liberian catalogue gave him five years of episcopate (217–222). He was martyred for his Christian faith and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church.

Life
His contemporaries and enemies, Tertullian and Hippolytus of Rome the author of Philosophumena, relate that Callixtus, as a young slave from Rome, was put in charge of collected funds by his master Carpophorus, funds which were given as alms by other Christians for the care of widows and orphans; Callixtus lost the funds and fled from the city, but was caught near Portus. According to the tale, Callixtus jumped overboard to avoid capture but was rescued and taken back to his master. He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow money or collect debts from some Jews.

Philosophumena claims that, denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released with other Christians at the request of Hyacinthus, a eunuch presbyter, who represented Marcia, the favourite mistress of Emperor Commodus. At this time his health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I.
In 199, Callixtus was ordained a deacon by Pope Zephyrinus and appointed superintendent of the Christian cemetery on the Appian Way. That place, which is to this day called the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, became the burial-ground of many popes and was the first land property owned by the Church. Emperor Julian the Apostate, writing to a pagan priest, said:

Christians have gained most popularity because of their charity to strangers and because of their care for the burial of their dead.
In the third century, nine Bishops of Rome were interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, in the part now called the Capella dei Papi. These catacombs were rediscovered by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849.

In 217, when Callixtus followed Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome, he started to admit into the church converts from sects or schisms who had not done penance. He fought with success the heretics, and established the practice of absolution of all sins, including adultery and murder. Hippolytus found Callixtus’s policy of extending forgiveness of sins to cover sexual transgressions shockingly lax and denounced him for allowing believers to regularize liaisons with their own slaves by recognizing them as valid marriages. As a consequence also of doctrinal differences, Hippolytus was elected as a rival bishop of Rome, the first antipope.

The Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere was a titulus of which Callixtus was the patron. In an apocryphal anecdote in the collection of imperial biographies called the Augustan History, the spot on which he had built an oratory was claimed by tavern keepers, but Alexander Severus decided that the worship of any god was better than a tavern, hence the structure’s name. The 4th-century basilica of Ss Callixti et Iuliani was rebuilt in the 12th century by Pope Innocent II and rededicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 8th-century Chiesa di San Callisto is close by, with its beginnings apparently as a shrine on the site of his martyrdom, which is attested in the 4th-century Depositio martyrum and so is likely to be historical.

Death
It is possible that Callixtus was martyred around 222 or 223, perhaps during a popular uprising, but the legend that he was thrown down a well has no historical foundation, though the church does contain an ancient well. According to the apocryphal Acts of Saint Callixtus, Asterius, a priest of Rome, recovered the body of Callixtus after it had been tossed into a well and buried Callixtus’ body at night. Asterius was arrested for this action by the prefect Alexander and then killed by being thrown off a bridge into the Tiber River.

He was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way and his anniversary is given by the 4th-century Depositio Martirum and by subsequent martyrologies on 14 October. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his optional memorial on 14 October. His relics were transferred in the 9th century to Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Source: Wikipedia

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Our Lady of the Rosary

Luke 1:26-38
‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.


Acts 1:12-14
The apostles all joined in continuous prayer

After Jesus was taken up into heaven the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.


Luke 1:46-55
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name!

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name!
He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name!
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name!
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.
The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name!

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Let it be done to me according to your word. . .”

494 At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing will be impossible”: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace:

As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.”


The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory and Feast of the Holy Rosary, is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrated on 7 October, the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto.

Our Lady of Victory
In 1571, Pope St. Pius V organized a coalition of forces from Spain and smaller Christian kingdoms, republics and military orders, to rescue Christian outposts in Cyprus, particularly the Venetian outpost at Famagusta which, however, surrendered after a long siege on August 1 before the Christian forces set sail. On October 7, 1571, the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, sailed from Messina, Sicily, and met a powerful Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Lepanto. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct materiel disadvantage, the holy pontiff, Pope Pius V, called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory, and led a rosary procession in Rome.

After about five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece, the combined navies of the Papal States, Venice and Spain managed to stop the Ottoman navy, slowing the Ottoman advance to the west and denying them access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas. If the Ottomans had won then there was a real possibility that an invasion of Italy could have followed so that the Ottoman sultan, already claiming to be emperor of the Romans, would have been in possession of both New and Old Rome. Combined with the unfolding events in Morocco where the Sa’adids successfully spurned the Ottoman advances, it confined Turkish naval power to the eastern Mediterranean. Although the Ottoman Empire was able to build more ships, it never fully recovered from the loss of trained sailors and marines, and was never again the Mediterranean naval power it had become the century before when Constantinople fell.

Feast day
Pius V instituted “Our Lady of Victory” as an annual feast to commemorate the victory at Lepanto, which he attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Dedications to Our Lady of Victory preceded this papal declaration. In particular, Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester built the first shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Victory in thanks for the Catholic victory over the Albigensians at the Battle of Muret on September 12, 1213.
In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the “Feast of Our Lady of Victory” to “Feast of the Holy Rosary”. Dominican friar Juan Lopez in his 1584 book on the rosary states that the feast of the rosary was offered “in memory and in perpetual gratitude of the miraculous victory that the Lord gave to his Christian people that day against the Turkish armada”.

In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI, after the victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene in the Battle of Petrovaradin on 6 August 1716 (the feast of Our Lady of the Snows), commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church, assigning it to the first Sunday in October.

A set of “proper” lessons in the second nocturn were conceded by Benedict XIII. Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class and added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary”. On this feast, in every church in which the Rosary confraternity has been duly erected, a plenary indulgence toties quoties is granted upon certain conditions to all who visit therein the Rosary chapel or statue of Our Lady. This has been called the “Portiuncula” of the Rosary.
Pius X in 1913 changed the date to 7 October, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays. In 1960 Pope John XXIII changed the title to “Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary”.

Source: Wikipedia

Saint Jerome, Priest, Doctor

+Luke 9:46-50
The least among you all is the greatest

An argument started between the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child and set him by his side and then said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.’
John spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘we saw a man casting out devils in your name, and because he is not with us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.’


Zechariah 8:1-8
The Lord will return to Zion

The word of the Lord of Hosts was addressed to me as follows:
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
I am burning with jealousy for Zion,
with great anger for her sake.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
I am coming back to Zion
and shall dwell in the middle of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem will be called Faithful City
and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the Holy Mountain.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
Old men and old women will again sit down
in the squares of Jerusalem;
every one of them staff in hand
because of their great age.
And the squares of the city will be full
of boys and girls
playing in the squares.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
If this seems a miracle
to the remnant of this people (in those days),
will it seem one to me?
It is the Lord of Hosts who speaks.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
Now I am going to save my people
from the countries of the East
and from the countries of the West.
I will bring them back
to live inside Jerusalem.
They shall be my people
and I will be their God
in faithfulness and integrity.


Psalm 101(102):16-21,29,22-23
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.

The nations shall fear the name of the Lord
and all the earth’s kings your glory,
when the Lord shall build up Zion again
and appear in all his glory.
Then he will turn to the prayers of the helpless;
he will not despise their prayers.
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for ages to come
that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord;
for the Lord leaned down from his sanctuary on high.
He looked down from heaven to the earth
that he might hear the groans of the prisoners
and free those condemned to die.
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.
The sons of your servants shall dwell untroubled
and their race shall endure before you
that the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion
and his praise in the heart of Jerusalem,
when peoples and kingdoms are gathered together
to pay their homage to the Lord.
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery
525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Jerome (/dʒəˈroʊm/; Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; c. 27 March 347 – 30 September 420) was a priest, confessor, theologian and historian. He was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia, then part of northeastern Italy. He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.

The protégé of Pope Damasus I, who died in December of 384, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention to the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families.

He is recognised as a Saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. His feast day is 30 September.

Life
Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus was born at Stridon around 347 A.D. He was of Illyrian ancestry and his native tongue was the Illyrian dialect. He was not baptized until about 360–366 A.D., when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus (who may or may not have been the same Bonosus whom Jerome identifies as his friend who went to live as a hermit on an island in the Adriatic) to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. He studied under the grammarian Aelius Donatus. There Jerome learned Latin and at least some Greek, though probably not the familiarity with Greek literature he would later claim to have acquired as a schoolboy.

As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial escapades and wanton behaviour of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but for which he suffered terrible bouts of guilt afterwards. To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the sepulchres of the martyrs and the Apostles in the catacombs. This experience would remind him of the terrors of hell:

“Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist’s words were fulfilled, Let them go down quick into Hell. Here and there the light, not entering in through windows, but filtering down from above through shafts, relieved the horror of the darkness. But again, as soon as you found yourself cautiously moving forward, the black night closed around and there came to my mind the line of Vergil, “Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent'”.

Jerome used a quote from Virgil—”On all sides round horror spread wide; the very silence breathed a terror on my soul”—to describe the horror of hell. Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty which was found in Rome. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted. After several years in Rome, he travelled with Bonosus to Gaul and settled in Trier where he seems to have first taken up theological studies, and where he copied, for his friend Tyrannius Rufinus, Hilary of Poitiers’ commentary on the Psalms and the treatise De synodis. Next came a stay of at least several months, or possibly years, with Rufinus at Aquileia, where he made many Christian friends.

Some of these accompanied him when he set out about 373 on a journey through Thrace and Asia Minor into northern Syria. At Antioch, where he stayed the longest, two of his companions died and he himself was seriously ill more than once. During one of these illnesses (about the winter of 373–374), he had a vision that led him to lay aside his secular studies and devote himself to God. He seems to have abstained for a considerable time from the study of the classics and to have plunged deeply into that of the Bible, under the impulse of Apollinaris of Laodicea, then teaching in Antioch and not yet suspected of heresy.

Seized with a desire for a life of ascetic penance, he went for a time to the desert of Chalcis, to the southeast of Antioch, known as the “Syrian Thebaid”, from the number of hermits inhabiting it. During this period, he seems to have found time for studying and writing. He made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and he seems to have been in correspondence with Jewish Christians in Antioch. Around this time he had copied for him a Hebrew Gospel, of which fragments are preserved in his notes, and is known today as the Gospel of the Hebrews, and which the Nazarenes considered to be the true Gospel of Matthew. Jerome translated parts of this Hebrew Gospel into Greek.

Returning to Antioch in 378 or 379, he was ordained by Bishop Paulinus, apparently unwillingly and on condition that he continue his ascetic life. Soon afterward, he went to Constantinople to pursue a study of Scripture under Gregory Nazianzen. He seems to have spent two years there, then left, and the next three (382–385) he was in Rome again, as secretary to Pope Damasus I and the leading Roman Christians. Invited originally for the synod of 382, held to end the schism of Antioch as there were rival claimants to be the proper patriarch in Antioch. Jerome had accompanied one of the claimants, Paulinus back to Rome in order to get more support for him, and distinguished himself to the pope, and took a prominent place in his councils.

He was given duties in Rome, and he undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, to be based on the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. He also updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms then at use in Rome based on the Septuagint. Though he did not realize it yet, translating much of what became the Latin Vulgate Bible would take many years and be his most important achievement

In Rome he was surrounded by a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patrician families, such as the widows Lea, Marcella and Paula, with their daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium. The resulting inclination of these women towards the monastic life, away from the indulgent lasciviousness in Rome, and his unsparing criticism of the secular clergy of Rome, brought a growing hostility against him among the Roman clergy and their supporters. Soon after the death of his patron Damasus (10 December 384), Jerome was forced by them to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry was brought up by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had an improper relationship with the widow Paula. Still, his writings were highly regarded by women who were attempting to maintain a vow of becoming a consecrated virgin. His letters were widely read and distributed throughout the Christian empire and it is clear through his writing that he knew these virgin women were not his only audience.
Additionally, his condemnation of Blaesilla’s hedonistic lifestyle in Rome had led her to adopt ascetic practices, but it affected her health and worsened her physical weakness to the point that she died just four months after starting to follow his instructions; much of the Roman populace were outraged at Jerome for causing the premature death of such a lively young woman, and his insistence to Paula that Blaesilla should not be mourned, and complaints that her grief was excessive, were seen as heartless, polarising Roman opinion against him.

In August 385, he left Rome for good and returned to Antioch, accompanied by his brother Paulinian and several friends, and followed a little later by Paula and Eustochium, who had resolved to end their days in the Holy Land. In the winter of 385, Jerome acted as their spiritual adviser. The pilgrims, joined by Bishop Paulinus of Antioch, visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the holy places of Galilee, and then went to Egypt, the home of the great heroes of the ascetic life.

At the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Jerome listened to the catechist Didymus the Blind expounding the prophet Hosea and telling his reminiscences of Anthony the Great, who had died 30 years before; he spent some time in Nitria, admiring the disciplined community life of the numerous inhabitants of that “city of the Lord”, but detecting even there “concealed serpents”, i.e., the influence of Origen of Alexandria. Late in the summer of 388 he was back in Palestine, and spent the remainder of his life working in a cave near Bethlehem, the very cave Jesus was born, surrounded by a few friends, both men and women (including Paula and Eustochium), to whom he acted as priestly guide and teacher.

Amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, he led a life of incessant activity in literary production. To these last 34 years of his career belong the most important of his works; his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, the best of his scriptural commentaries, his catalogue of Christian authors, and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized. To this period also belong most of his polemics, which distinguished him among the orthodox Fathers, including the treatises against the Origenism later declared anathema, of Bishop John II of Jerusalem and his early friend Rufinus. Later, as a result of his writings against Pelagianism, a body of excited partisans broke into the monastic buildings, set them on fire, attacked the inmates and killed a deacon, forcing Jerome to seek safety in a neighboring fortress .

It is recorded that Jerome died near Bethlehem on 30 September 420. The date of his death is given by the Chronicon of Prosper of Aquitaine. His remains, originally buried at Bethlehem, are said to have been later transferred to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, though other places in the West claim some relics—the cathedral at Nepi boasting possession of his head, which, according to another tradition, is in the Escorial.

Source: Wikipedia

Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

+Ezra 1:1-6
Cyrus king of Persia frees the Jews to return to Jerusalem

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfil the word of the Lord that was spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation and to have it publicly displayed throughout his kingdom: ‘Thus speaks Cyrus king of Persia, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; he has ordered me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah to build the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel – he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, wherever he lives, be helped by the people of that place with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, as well as voluntary offerings for the Temple of God which is in Jerusalem.”’

Then the heads of families of Judah and of Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, in fact all whose spirit had been roused by God, prepared to go and rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem; and all their neighbours gave them every assistance with silver, gold, goods, cattle, quantities of costly gifts and with voluntary offerings of every kind.


Psalm 125(126)
What marvels the Lord worked for us.

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
/ on our lips there were songs.
What marvels the Lord worked for us.
The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels
the Lord worked for them!’
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.
What marvels the Lord worked for us.
Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.
What marvels the Lord worked for us.
They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.
What marvels the Lord worked for us.


Luke 8:16-18
Anyone who has will be given more

Jesus said to the crowds:
‘No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or to put it under a bed. No, he puts it on a lamp-stand so that people may see the light when they come in. For nothing is hidden but it will be made clear, nothing secret but it will be known and brought to light. So take care how you hear; for anyone who has will be given more; from anyone who has not, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Gifts And Fruits Of The Holy Spirit

1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.”

Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Italian: Pio da Pietrelcina), O.F.M. Cap. (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968), was a friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic, now venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church. Born Francesco Forgione, he was given the name of Pius (Italian: Pio) when he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
Padre Pio became famous for exhibiting stigmata for most of his life, thereby generating much interest and controversy. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) by Pope John Paul II.

Early life
Francesco Forgione was born to Grazio Mario Forgione (1860–1946) and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio (1859–1929) on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, a town in the southern Italian region of Campania.His parents made a living as peasant farmers. He was baptized in the nearby Santa Anna Chapel, which stands upon the walls of a castle. He later served as an altar boy in this same chapel. His siblings were an older brother, Michele, and three younger sisters, Felicita, Pellegrina, and Grazia (who was later to become a Bridgettine nun). His parents had two other children who died in infancy. When he was baptized, he was given the name Francesco. He stated that by the time he was five years old, he had already made the decision to dedicate his entire life to God. He began taking on penances and was chided on one occasion by his mother for using a stone as a pillow and sleeping on the stone floor. He worked on the land up to the age of 10, looking after the small flock of sheep the family owned. This delayed his education to some extent.

Pietrelcina was a town where feast days of saints were celebrated throughout the year, and the Forgione family was deeply religious. They attended daily Mass, prayed the Rosary nightly, and abstained from meat three days a week in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Although Francesco’s parents and grandparents were illiterate, they memorized the scriptures and narrated Bible stories to their children. His mother said that Francesco was able to see and speak with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and his guardian angel, and that as a child he assumed that all people could do so.
According to the diary of Father Agostino da San Marco, who was his spiritual director in San Marco in Lamis, the young Francesco Forgione was afflicted with a number of illnesses. At six he suffered from a grave gastroenteritis which kept him bedridden for a long time. At ten he caught typhoid fever.

As a youth, Francesco reported that he had experienced heavenly visions and ecstasies. In 1897, after he had completed three years at the public school, Francesco was said to have been drawn to the life of a friar after listening to a young Capuchin friar who was in the countryside seeking donations. When Francesco expressed his desire to his parents, they made a trip to Morcone, a community 13 miles (21 km) north of Pietrelcina, to find out if their son was eligible to enter the Capuchin Order. The friars there informed them that they were interested in accepting Francesco into their community, but he needed first to become better educated.

Francesco’s father went to the United States in search of work to pay for private tutoring for his son, so that he might meet the academic requirements to enter the Capuchin Order. It was in this period that Francesco received the sacrament of Confirmation on September 27, 1899. He underwent private tutoring and passed the stipulated academic requirements. On January 6, 1903, at the age of 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. On January 22, he took the Franciscan habit and the name of Fra (Friar) Pio, in honor of Pope St. Pius I, whose relic is preserved in the Santa Anna Chapel in Pietrelcina. He took the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Priesthood
Commencing his seven-year study for the priesthood, Fra Pio traveled to the friary of Saint Francis of Assisi by oxcart. At 17, he suddenly fell ill, complaining of loss of appetite, insomnia, exhaustion, fainting spells, and terrible migraines. He vomited frequently and could digest only milk and cheese. Religious devotees and hagiographers point to this time, when he was suffering physical illness, that inexplicable phenomena allegedly began to occur. During prayers, Pio appeared to others to be in a stupor, as if he were absent. One of Pio’s fellow friars later claimed to have seen him in ecstasy, levitating above the ground.

In June 1905, Fra Pio’s health worsened to such an extent that his superiors decided to send him to a mountain convent, in the hope that the change of air would do him some good. This had little impact, however, and doctors advised that he return to his home town. Even there his health failed to improve. Despite this, On January 27, 1907, he still made his solemn profession.

In 1910, Pio was subsequently ordained a priest by Archbishop Paolo Schinosi at the Cathedral of Benevento. Four days later, he offered his first Mass at the parish church of Our Lady of the Angels. His health being precarious, he was permitted to remain with his family until 1916 while still retaining the Capuchin habit.
On September 4, 1916, however, Pio was ordered to return to his community life. He moved to an agricultural community, Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, located in the Gargano Mountains in San Giovanni Rotondo in the Province of Foggia. At that time the community numbered in total seven friars. He went on to remain at San Giovanni Rotondo until his death in 1968, except for a period of military service. Padre Pio celebrated the Mass in Latin, as was the widespread custom of the time.

Military service
When World War I started, four friars from this community were selected for military service. At that time, Padre Pio was a teacher at the seminary and a spiritual director. When one more friar was called into service, Padre Pio was put in charge of the community. On November 15, 1915, he was drafted into the Italian army and on December 6, assigned to the 10th Medical Corps in Naples. Due to poor health, he was continually discharged and recalled until on March 16, 1918, he was declared unfit for military service and discharged. In all, his military service lasted 182 days.

Stigmata
On September 20, 1918, while hearing confessions, Padre Pio had his first occurrence of the stigmata: bodily marks, pain, and bleeding in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This phenomenon continued for fifty years, until the end of his life. The blood flowing from the stigmata smelled of perfume or flowers, a phenomenon mentioned in stories of the lives of several saints and often referred to as the odour of sanctity. Though Padre Pio said he would have preferred to suffer in secret, by early 1919, news about the stigmatic friar began to spread in the secular world. Padre Pio’s wounds were examined by many people, including physicians.

People who had started rebuilding their lives after World War I, began to see in Padre Pio a symbol of hope. Those close to him attest that he began to manifest several spiritual gifts, including the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from both sleep and nourishment (one account states that Padre Agostino recorded one instance in which Padre Pio was able to subsist for at least 20 days at Verafeno on only the Eucharist without any other nourishment), the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and the fragrance from his wounds.

His stigmata, regarded as evidence of holiness, were studied by physicians whose independence from the Church is not known. The observations were unexplainable and the wounds never became infected. His wounds healed once but reappeared.They were examined by Luigi Romanelli, chief physician of the City Hospital of Barletta, for about one year. Dr. Giorgio Festa, a private practitioner, also examined them in 1920 and 1925. Professor Giuseppe Bastianelli, physician to Pope Benedict XV, agreed that the wounds existed but made no other comment. Pathologist Dr. Amico Bignami of the University of Rome also observed the wounds but could make no diagnosis. Both Bignami and Dr. Giuseppe Sala commented on the unusually smooth edges of the wounds and lack of edema. Dr. Alberto Caserta took x-rays of Padre Pio’s hands in 1954 and found no abnormality in the bone structure.

He was said to act embarrassed by this condition and most photographs show him wearing red mittens or black coverings on his hands and feet where the bleeding occurred. At the time of Padre Pio’s death, his body appeared unwounded, with no sign of scarring. There was a report that doctors who examined his body found it empty of all blood.

There were both religious and non-religious critics who accused Padre Pio of faking his stigmata, saying he used carbolic acid to make the wounds. In 2007, The Telegraph reported on the book, The Other Christ: Padre Pio and 19th Century Italy, by the historian Sergio Luzzatto. He recounted that in 1919, according to one document in the Vatican’s archive, Padre Pio requested carbolic acid from a pharmacist. She said it was for sterilization. The Catholic Anti-Defamation League said Luzzatto was spreading “anti-Catholic libels” and needed to learn more about religion. Luzzatto was awarded the Cundill Prize in History for the book.

The Church dismissed charges that he had faked the stigmata. “The boys had needed injections to fight the Spanish Flu which was raging at that time. Due to a shortage of doctors, Padres Paolino and Pio administered the shots, using carbolic acid as a sterilizing agent.”

Transverberation and visible stigmata
Based on Padre Pio’s correspondence, even early in his priesthood he experienced less obvious indications of the visible stigmata for which he would later become famous. In a 1911 letter, Padre Pio wrote to his spiritual advisor Padre Benedetto from San Marco in Lamis, describing something he had been experiencing for a year:
Then last night something happened which I can neither explain nor understand. In the middle of the palms of my hands a red mark appeared, about the size of a penny, accompanied by acute pain in the middle of the red marks. The pain was more pronounced in the middle of the left hand, so much so that I can still feel it. Also under my feet I can feel some pain.

His close friend Padre Agostino wrote to him in 1915, asking specific questions, such as when he first experienced visions, whether he had been granted the stigmata, and whether he felt the pains of the Passion of Christ, namely the crowning of thorns and the scourging. Padre Pio replied that he had been favoured with visions since his novitiate period (1903 to 1904). He wrote that although he had been granted the stigmata, he had been so terrified by the phenomenon he begged the Lord to withdraw them. He wrote that he did not wish the pain to be removed, only the visible wounds, since at the time he purportedly considered them to be an indescribable and almost unbearable humiliation. The visible wounds disappeared at that point, but reappeared in September 1918. He reported, however, that the pain remained and was more acute on specific days and under certain circumstances. He also said that he was suffering the pain of the crown of thorns and the scourging. He did not define the frequency of these occurrences but said that he had been suffering from them at least once weekly for some years.

These events are alleged to have caused his health to fail, for which reason he was permitted to stay at home. To maintain his religious life as a friar while away from the community, he celebrated The Holy Mass daily and taught at school.

St. John of the Cross describes the phenomenon of transverberation as follows:
The soul being inflamed with the love of God which is interiorly attacked by a Seraph, who pierces it through with a fiery dart. This leaves the soul wounded, which causes it to suffer from the overflowing of divine love.

A strong believer in Christian meditation, Padre Pio stated: “Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him.”

World War I continued and in July 1918, Pope Benedict XV, who had termed the World War “the suicide of Europe,” appealed to all Christians urging them to pray for an end to the World War. On July 27 of the same year, Padre Pio offered himself as a victim for the end of the war. Days passed and between August 5 and 7, Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ appeared and pierced his side. As a result, Padre Pio had a physical wound in his side. This occurrence is considered as a “transverberation” or piercing of the heart, indicating the union of love with God. (On 8 August, the Allies began the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the armistice with Germany and the end of the war.)

As a side-note, a first-class relic of Padre Pio, which consists of a large framed square of linen bearing a bloodstain from “the wound of the transverberation of the heart” in his side, is exposed for public veneration at the St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.
The occasion of transverberation coincided with a seven-week-long period of spiritual unrest for Padre Pio. One of his Capuchin brothers said this of his state during that period:
During this time his entire appearance looked altered as if he had died. He was constantly weeping and sighing, saying that God had forsaken him.
In a letter from Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, dated 21 August 1918, Padre Pio writes of his experiences during the transverberation:
While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [August] I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared. From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony.

On September 20, 1918, accounts state that the pains of the transverberation had ceased and Padre Pio was in “profound peace.” On that day, as Padre Pio was engaged in prayer in the choir loft in the Church of Our Lady of Grace, the same Being who had appeared to him and given him the transverberation, and who is believed to be the Wounded Christ, appeared again, and Padre Pio had another experience of religious ecstasy. When the ecstasy ended, Padre Pio had received the visible stigmata, the five wounds of Christ. This time, the stigmata were permanent. They stayed visible for the next fifty years of his life.

In a letter to Padre Benedetto, his superior and spiritual advisor from San Marco in Lamis, dated October 22, 1918, Padre Pio describes his experience of receiving the stigmata:

On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. […] I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation….the pain was so intense that I began to feel as if I were dying on the cross.

Poor health
In addition to his childhood illnesses, throughout his life Padre Pio suffered from “asthmatic bronchitis.” He also had a large kidney stone, with frequent abdominal pains. He suffered from a chronic gastritis, which later turned into an ulcer. He also suffered from inflammations of the eye, nose, ear, and throat, and eventually formed rhinitis and chronic otitis.

In 1925, Padre Pio was operated on for an inguinal hernia, and shortly after this a large cyst formed on his neck that was surgically removed. Another surgery was required to remove a malignant tumor on his ear. After this operation Padre Pio was subjected to radiological treatment, which was successful, it seems, after only two treatments.
In 1956, he came down with a serious case of “exudative pleuritis”. The diagnosis was certified by Cataldo Cassano, a professor who personally extracted the serous liquid from the body of Padre Pio.He remained bedridden for four consecutive months. In his old age Padre Pio was tormented by painful arthritis.

Controversies
Because of the unusual abilities Padre Pio was said to possess, the Holy See instituted investigations of the related accounts. The local bishop, P. Gagliardi, did not believe Padre Pio’s alleged miracles, suggesting that his Capuchin brothers were making a display out of the monk to gain financial advantage. When Pius XI became pope in 1922, the Vatican became extremely doubtful. Padre Pio was subject to numerous investigations.

The Vatican imposed severe sanctions on Padre Pio to reduce publicity about him: it forbade him from saying Mass in public, blessing people, answering letters, showing his stigmata publicly, and communicating with Padre Benedetto, his spiritual director. Padre Pio was to be relocated to another convent in northern Italy. The local people threatened to riot, and the Vatican left Padre Pio where he was.

Fearing these local riots, the Vatican dropped a plan to transfer Padre Pio to another friary, and a second plan for removal was also changed. From 1921 to 1922 he was prevented from publicly performing his priestly duties, such as hearing confessions and saying Mass. From 1924 to 1931, the Holy See made statements denying that the events in Padre Pio’s life were due to any divine cause.

The founder of Milan’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, friar, physician, and psychologist Agostino Gemelli, met Padre Pio once, for a few minutes, and was unable to examine his stigmata. According to Agostino Gemelli, Padre Pio was “an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people’s credulity.” Gemelli speculated that Padre Pio kept his wounds open with carbolic acid. As a result, Padre Pio was required to wrap the wounds in cloth. For many years, he wore fingerless gloves that concealed his wounds. According to believers, the bleeding continued for some 50 years until the wounds closed within hours of his death.

A pharmacist sold four grams of carbolic acid to Padre Pio in the year 1919. The archbishop of Manfredonia, Pasquale Gagliardi, reported this as evidence that Padre Pio could have effected the stigmata with acid. This suggestion was examined and dismissed by the Vatican.

By 1933, the tide began to turn, with Pope Pius XI ordering the Holy See to reverse its ban on Padre Pio’s public celebration of Mass. The pope said, “I have not been badly disposed toward Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed.” In 1934, the friar was again allowed to hear confessions. He was also given honorary permission to preach despite never having taken the exam for the preaching license. Pope Pius XII, who assumed the papacy in 1939, encouraged devotees to visit Padre Pio.

In 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza or “Home to Relieve Suffering.” The hospital opened in 1956. Barbara Ward, a British humanitarian and journalist on assignment in Italy, played a major role in obtaining for this project a grant of $325,000 from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). In order that Padre Pio might directly supervise this project, Pope Pius XII in 1957 granted him dispensation from his vow of poverty. Padre Pio’s detractors used this project as another weapon to attack him, charging him with misappropriation of funds.

Pope Paul VI (pope from 1963 to 1978), in the mid-1960s dismissed all accusations against Padre Pio.

In 1947, Father Karol Józef Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II), a young Polish priest who was studying in Rome at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, visited Padre Pio, who heard his confession. Austrian Cardinal Alfons Stickler reported that Wojtyła confided to him that during this meeting, Padre Pio told him he would one day ascend to “the highest post in the Church though further confirmation is needed.” Cardinal Stickler said that Wojtyła believed that the prophecy was fulfilled when he became a cardinal. (John Paul’s secretary, Stanisław Dziwisz, denies the prediction, while George Weigel’s biography Witness to Hope, which contains an account of the same visit, does not mention it.)

According to oral tradition, Bishop Wojtyła wrote to Padre Pio in 1962 to ask him to pray for Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a friend in Poland who was suffering from cancer. Later, Dr. Poltawska’s cancer was found to be in spontaneous remission. Medical professionals were unable to offer an explanation for the phenomenon. John Paul II, who was the Pope from 1978 to 2005, started the canonization process of Padre Pio and canonized him in 2002.

Padre Pio became a very well-known priest. Franciscan spirituality is characterized by a life of poverty, love of nature, and giving charity to those in need. Franciscan prayer recognizes God’s presence in the wonder of creation. This is seen clearly in St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun. Franciscan spirituality is focused on walking in Christ’s footsteps, understanding God by doing what Christ asked, experiencing and sharing God.
Later Padre Pio became a spiritual director. He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience.

Padre Pio was devoted to rosary meditations and said:
“The person who meditates and turns his mind to God, who is the mirror of his soul, seeks to know his faults, tries to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order.”

He compared weekly confession to dusting a room weekly, and recommended the performance of meditation and self-examination twice daily: once in the morning, as preparation to face the day, and once again in the evening, as retrospection. His advice on the practical application of theology he often summed up in his now famous quote, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”. He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.

The novelist Graham Greene had two photos of Padre Pio in his wallet after attending one of his Masses. He said that Padre Pio had “introduced a doubt in my disbelief.”
Many people who heard of him traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo in the south of Italy to meet him and confess to him, ask for help, or have their curiosity satisfied. Padre Pio’s mother died at the village around the convent in 1928. Later, in 1938, Padre Pio had his old father Grazio living with him in the village of San Giovanni Rotondo. His brother Michele also moved into the village with their father. Padre Pio’s father lived in a little house outside the convent, until his death in 1946.

Death
Padre Pio died in 1968 at the age of 81. His health deteriorated in the 1960s but he continued his spiritual works. On September 21, 1968, the day after the 50th anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, Padre Pio felt great fatigue. The next day, on September 22, 1968, he was supposed to offer a Solemn Mass, but feeling weak, he asked his superior if he might say a Low Mass instead, as he had done daily for years. Due to the large number of pilgrims present for the Mass, Padre Pio’s superior decided the Solemn Mass must proceed. Padre Pio carried out his duties but appeared extremely weak and fragile. His voice was weak and, after the Mass had concluded, he nearly collapsed while walking down the altar steps. He needed help from his Capuchin brothers. This was his last celebration of the Mass.

Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows. As was customary, he had his rosary in his hands, though he did not have the strength to say the Hail Marys aloud. Till the end, he repeated the words “Gesù, Maria” (Jesus, Mary). At around 2:30 a.m., he said, “I see two mothers” (taken to mean his mother and Mary).At 2:30 a.m. he died in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo with his last breath whispering, “Maria!”

His body was buried on September 26 in a crypt in the Church of Our Lady of Grace. His Requiem Mass was attended by over 100,000 people. He had often said, “After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.” The accounts of those who stayed with Padre Pio till the end state that the stigmata had completely disappeared without a scar. Only a red mark “as if drawn by a red pencil” remained on his side but it disappeared.

Reported supernatural phenomena
Padre Pio was said to have had the gift of reading souls, the ability to bilocate (according to eyewitness accounts), among other supernatural phenomena. He was said to communicate with angels and worked favors and healings before they were requested of him. The reports of supernatural phenomena surrounding Padre Pio attracted fame and legend. The Vatican was initially skeptical.

In the 1999 book, Padre Pio: The Wonder Worker, a segment by Irish priest Malachy Gerard Carroll describes the story of Gemma de Giorgi, a Sicilian girl whose blindness was believed to have been cured during a visit to Padre Pio. Gemma, who was brought to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1947 by her grandmother, was born without pupils. During her trip to see Padre Pio, the little girl began to see objects, including a steamboat and the sea. Gemma’s grandmother did not believe the child had been healed. After Gemma forgot to ask Padre Pio for grace during her confession, her grandmother implored the priest to ask God to restore her sight. Padre Pio told her, “The child must not weep and neither must you for the child sees and you know she sees.”

Padre Pio believed the love of God is inseparable from suffering, and that suffering all things for the sake of God is the way for the soul to reach God. He felt that his soul was lost in a chaotic maze, plunged into total desolation, as if he were in the deepest pit of hell.

Father Gabriele Amorth, senior exorcist of Vatican City, stated in an interview that Padre Pio was able to distinguish between real apparitions of Jesus, Mary and the saints and the illusions created by the devil, by carefully analysing the state of his mind and the feelings produced in him during the apparitions. In one of Padre Pio’s letters, he states that he remained patient in the midst of his trials because of his firm belief that Jesus, Mary, his guardian angel, St. Joseph, and St. Francis were always with him and helped him During his period of spiritual suffering, his followers believe that Padre Pio was attacked by the devil, both physically and spiritually. His followers also believe that the devil used diabolical tricks in order to increase Padre Pio’s torments. These included apparitions as an “angel of light” and the alteration or destruction of letters to and from his spiritual directors. Padre Augustine confirmed this when he said:
Now, twenty-two days have passed since Jesus allowed the devils to vent their anger on me. My Father, my whole body is bruised from the beatings that I have received to the present time by our enemies. Several times, they have even torn off my shirt so that they could strike my exposed flesh.

Padre Pio reported engaging in physical combat with Satan and his minions, similar to incidents described concerning St. John Vianney, from which he was said to have sustained extensive bruising. On the day of Padre Pio’s death, mystic and Servant of God Maria Esperanza de Bianchini from Venezuela reported that he appeared to her in a vision and said, “I have come to say good-bye. My time has come. It is your turn.” Her husband saw his wife’s face transfigured into that of Padre Pio. On the following day, they learned that Padre Pio had died. Witnesses say they later saw Esperanza levitating during Mass and engaging in bilocation. Padre Domenico da Cese, a fellow Capuchin stigmatist, reported that on Sunday, September 22, 1968, he saw Padre Pio kneeling in prayer before the Holy Face of Manoppello, although it was known that Padre Pio had not left his room.

Sainthood and later recognition
Padre Pio was considered holy even during his lifetime. In 1971 three years after his death, Pope Paul VI said to the superiors of the Capuchin Order about the monk:
“ Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following gathered around him! But why? Perhaps because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise? Because he had resources at his disposal? Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was–it is not easy to say it–one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering. ”

In 1982, the Holy See authorized the archbishop of Manfredonia to open an investigation to determine whether Padre Pio should be considered a saint. The investigation continued for seven years. In 1990 Padre Pio was declared a Servant of God, the first step in the process of canonization. The investigation however did not lead to any public factual clearance by the Church on his previous ‘excommunication’ or on the allegations that his stigmata were not of a supernatural kind. Moreover, Pio’s stigmata were remarkably left out of the obligatory investigations for the canonization process, in order to avoid obstacles prohibiting a successful closure.

Beginning in 1990, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints debated how Padre Pio had lived his life, and in 1997 Pope John Paul II declared him venerable. A discussion of the effects of his life on others followed. Cases were studied such as a reported cure of an Italian woman, Consiglia de Martino, associated with Padre Pio’s intercession. In 1999, on the advice of the Congregation, John Paul II declared Padre Pio blessed. A media offensive by the Capuchins was able to realise a broad acceptation of the contested saint in spe in society.

After further consideration of Padre Pio’s virtues and ability to do good even after his death, including discussion of another healing attributed to his intercession, the pope declared Padre Pio a saint on June 16, 2002. An estimated 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony.

On July 1, 2004, Pope John Paul II dedicated the Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (sometimes referred as Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church), built in the village of San Giovanni Rotondo to the memory of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. A statue of Saint Pio in Messina, Sicily attracted attention in 2002 when it wept tears of blood.

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is known as the patron saint of civil defense volunteers, after a group of 160 petitioned the Italian Bishops’ conference for this designation. The bishops forwarded the request to the Vatican, which gave its approval to the designation. He is also “less officially” known as the patron saint of stress relief and the “January blues,” after the Catholic Enquiry Office in London proclaimed him as such. They designated the most depressing day of the year, identified as January 22, as Don’t Worry Be Happy Day, in honor of Padre Pio’s famous advice: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

Padre Pio has become one of the world’s most popular saints. There are more than 3,000 “Padre Pio Prayer Groups” worldwide, with three million members. There are parishes in Vineland and Lavallette, New Jersey, and Sydney, Australia, and shrines in Buena, New Jersey, and Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, dedicated to Padre Pio. A 2006 survey by the magazine Famiglia Cristiana found that more Italian Catholics pray to Padre Pio for intercession than to any other figure. (This prayer, more properly understood as a request that the saint intercede to God, is not to be confused with worship, which the Catholic Church teaches is due only to God.)

It was announced in 2009 that a renewable energy statue of Padre Pio was to be built on a hill near the town of San Giovanni Rotondo in the south-eastern province of Apulia, Italy, the town where he is commemorated. The project would cost several million pounds, with the money to be raised from the saint’s devotees around the world. The statue would be coated in a special photovoltaic paint, enabling it to trap the sun’s heat and produce solar energy, making it an “ecological” religious icon.

On March 3, 2008, the body of St. Pio was exhumed from his crypt, forty years after his death, so that his remains could be prepared for display. A church statement described the body as being in “fair condition”. Archbishop Domenico Umberto D’Ambrosio, Papal legate to the shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, stated “the top part of the skull is partly skeletal but the chin is perfect and the rest of the body is well preserved”. Archbishop D’Ambrosio also confirmed in a communiqué that “the stigmata are not visible.”[63] He said that St. Pio’s hands “looked like they had just undergone a manicure”. It was hoped that morticians would be able to restore the face so that it will be recognizable. However, because of its deterioration, his face was covered with a lifelike silicone mask.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, celebrated Mass for 15,000 devotees on April 24 at the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace, San Giovanni Rotondo, before the body went on display in a crystal, marble, and silver sepulcher in the crypt of the monastery. Padre Pio is wearing his brown Capuchin habit with a white silk stole embroidered with crystals and gold thread. His hands hold a large wooden cross. 800,000 pilgrims worldwide, mostly from Italy, made reservations to view the body up to December 2008, but only 7,200 people a day were able to file past the crystal coffin. Officials extended the display through September, 2009.

Saint Pio’s remains were placed in the church of Saint Pio, which is beside San Giovanni Rotondo. In April 2010 they were moved to a special golden “Cripta”.
The remains of Saint Pio were brought to the Vatican for veneration during the 2015-2016 Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Saint Pio and Saint Leopold Mandic were designated as saint-confessors to inspire people to become reconciled to the Church and to God, by the confession of their sins.

Source: Wikipedia

Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs

+Luke 7:1-10
Give the word, and my servant will be healed

When Jesus had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum. A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death. Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him. ‘He deserves this of you’ they said ‘because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.’ So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends: ‘Sir,’ he said ‘do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this.’ And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.


1 Timothy 2:1-8
Pray for everyone to God, who wants everyone to be saved

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.


Psalm 27(28):2,7-9
Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my cry.

Hear the voice of my pleading
as I call for help,
as I lift up my hands in prayer
to your holy place.
Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my cry.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts.
I was helped, my heart rejoices
and I praise him with my song.
Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my cry.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress where his anointed find salvation.
Save your people; bless Israel your heritage.
Be their shepherd and carry them for ever.
Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my cry.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Prayer Of Intercession

2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. He is “able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

2635 Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.

2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely. Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel but also intercedes for them.The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: “for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions,” for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.


Pope Cornelius (16 January 180 – 25 June 253) was the Bishop of Rome from 6 or 13 March 251 to his martyrdom in 253.

Christian persecution
Emperor Decius, who ruled from 249 to 251 AD, persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire rather sporadically and locally, but starting January in the year 250, he ordered all citizens to perform a religious sacrifice in the presence of commissioners, or else face death. Many Christians refused and were martyred (possibly including the pope, St Fabian, on 20 January), while others partook in the sacrifices in order to save their own lives. Two schools of thought arose after the persecution. One side, led by Novatian, who was a priest in the diocese of Rome, believed that those who had stopped practising Christianity during the persecution could not be accepted back into the church even if they repented. Under this philosophy, the only way to re-enter the church would be re-baptism. The opposing side, including Cornelius and Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage, did not believe in the need for re-baptism. Instead they thought that the sinners should only need to show contrition and true repentance to be welcomed back into the church. In hopes that Christianity would fade away, Decius prevented the election of a new pope. However, soon afterwards Decius was forced to leave the area to fight the invading Goths and while he was away the elections for pope were held. In the 14 months without a pope, the leading candidate, Moses, had died under the persecution. Novatian believed that he would be elected, however Cornelius was unwillingly elected the twenty-first pope in March 251.

Papacy
Novatian was very angry not only that he was not elected pope, but that someone who did not believe in rebaptism was. He thus proclaimed himself the antipope to Cornelius, driving a schism through the church. After Cornelius’s appointment to the papacy, Novatian became more rigorous in his philosophy, convinced that bishops could not pardon the worst of sins, and that such sins could only be reconciled at the Last Judgment. Cornelius had the support of St. Cyprian, St. Dionysius, and most African and Eastern bishops while Novatian had the support of a minority of clergy and laymen in Rome who did not acknowledge Cornelius as pope. Cornelius’s next action was to convene a synod of 60 bishops to restate himself as the rightful pope and the council excommunicated Novatian as well as all Novatianists. Also addressed in the synod was that Christians who stopped practising during Emperor Decius’s persecution could receive communion only after doing penance.

The verdict of the synod was sent to the Christian bishops, most notably the bishop of Antioch, a fierce Novatian supporter, in order to convince him to accept Cornelius’s power. The letters that Cornelius sent to surrounding bishops provide knowledge of the size of the church during the period. Cornelius mentions that at the time, the Roman Church had, “forty six priests, seven deacons, seven sub-deacons, forty two acolytes, fifty two ostiarii, and over one thousand five hundred widows and persons in distress.”[6] His letters also inform that Cornelius had a staff of over 150 clergy members and the church fed over 1,500 people daily.[7][8] From these numbers, it has been estimated that there were at least 50,000 Christians in Rome during the papacy of Pope Cornelius.

Death and Letters
In June 251, Decius was killed in battle with the Goths; immediately following this Trebonianus Gallus became Emperor. Persecution began again in June 252, and Pope Cornelius was exiled to Centumcellae, Italy, where he died in June 253. The Liberian catalogue lists his death as being from the hardships of banishment; however, later sources claim he was beheaded. Cornelius is not buried in the chapel of the popes, but in a nearby catacomb, and the inscription on his tomb is in Latin, instead of the Greek of his predecessor Pope Fabian and successor Lucius I. It reads, “Cornelius Martyr.” The letters Cornelius sent while in exile are all written in the colloquial Latin of the period instead of the classical style used by the educated such as Cyprian, a theologian as well as a bishop, and Novatian, who was also a philosopher. This suggests that Cornelius did not come from an extremely wealthy family and thus was not given a sophisticated education as a child. A letter from Cornelius while in exile mentions an office of “exorcist” in the church for the first time.[9] Canon law has since then required each diocese to have an exorcist.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday of week 23 in Ordinary Time

Luke 6:6-11
Is it against the law on the sabbath to save life?

On the sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him. But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up! Come out into the middle.’ And he came out and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I put it to you: is it against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?’ Then he looked round at them all and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was better. But they were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.


+Colossians 1:24-2:3
God’s message was a mystery hidden for generations

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ. It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face. It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.


Psalm 61(62):6-7,9
In God is my safety and glory.
In God alone be at rest, my soul;
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress: I stand firm.
In God is my safety and glory.
Take refuge in God, all you people.
Trust him at all times.
Pour out your hearts before him
for God is our refuge.
In God is my safety and glory.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Jesus and the Law

577 At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus issued a solemn warning in which he presented God’s law, given on Sinai during the first covenant, in light of the grace of the New Covenant:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets: I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law, until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

578 Jesus, Israel’s Messiah and therefore the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, was to fulfill the Law by keeping it in its all embracing detail – according to his own words, down to “the least of these commandments”. He is in fact the only one who could keep it perfectly. On their own admission the Jews were never able to observe the Law in its entirety without violating the least of its precepts. This is why every year on the Day of Atonement the children of Israel ask God’s forgiveness for their transgressions of the Law. The Law indeed makes up one inseparable whole, and St. James recalls, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”

579 This principle of integral observance of the Law not only in letter but in spirit was dear to the Pharisees. By giving Israel this principle they had led many Jews of Jesus’ time to an extreme religious zeal. This zeal, were it not to lapse into “hypocritical” casuistry, could only prepare the People for the unprecedented intervention of God through the perfect fulfillment of the Law by the only Righteous One in place of all sinners.

580 The perfect fulfillment of the Law could be the work of none but the divine legislator, born subject to the Law in the person of the Son. In Jesus, the Law no longer appears engraved on tables of stone but “upon the heart” of the Servant who becomes “a covenant to the people”, because he will “faithfully bring forth justice”. Jesus fulfills the Law to the point of taking upon himself “the curse of the Law” incurred by those who do not “abide by the things written in the book of the Law, and do them”, for his death took place to redeem them “from the transgressions under the first covenant”.

581 The Jewish people and their spiritual leaders viewed Jesus as a rabbi. He often argued within the framework of rabbinical interpretation of the Law. Yet Jesus could not help but offend the teachers of the Law, for he was not content to propose his interpretation alongside theirs but taught the people “as one who had authority, and not as their scribes”. In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes. Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old. . . But I say to you. . .” With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God”.

582 Going even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation: “Whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him. . . (Thus he declared all foods clean.). . . What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts. . .” In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who did not accept his interpretation of the Law, guaranteed though it was by the divine signs that accompanied it. This was the case especially with the sabbath laws, for he recalls, often with rabbinical arguments, that the sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighbor, which his own healings did.

Monday of week 22 in Ordinary Time

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Do not grieve about those who have died in Jesus
We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus: God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died. At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them; to meet the Lord in the air. So we shall stay with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.


Psalm 95(96):1,3-5,11-13
The Lord comes to rule the earth.
O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
Tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.
The Lord comes to rule the earth.
The Lord is great and worthy of praise,
to be feared above all gods;
the gods of the heathens are naught.
It was the Lord who made the heavens,
The Lord comes to rule the earth.
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad,
let the sea and all within it thunder praise,
let the land and all it bears rejoice,
all the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the Lord for he comes,
he comes to rule the earth.
The Lord comes to rule the earth.
With justice he will rule the world,
he will judge the peoples with his truth.
The Lord comes to rule the earth.


Luke 4:16-30
‘This text is being fulfilled today, even as you listen’

Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’
But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’

And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Christ

436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets. This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively. It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet. Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb. God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.

438 Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.'” His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”, “that he might be revealed to Israel” as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as “the Holy One of God”.

439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel. Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.

440 Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man. He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross. Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Monday of week 21 in Ordinary Time

Matthew 23:13-22 211
Alas for you, blind guides!

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to.
‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when you have him you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.
‘Alas for you, blind guides! You who say, “If a man swears by the Temple, it has no force; but if a man swears by the gold of the Temple, he is bound.” Fools and blind! For which is of greater worth, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? Or else, “If a man swears by the altar it has no force; but if a man swears by the offering that is on the altar, he is bound.” You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred? Therefore, when a man swears by the altar he is swearing by that and by everything on it. And when a man swears by the Temple he is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it. And when a man swears by heaven he is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.’


1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10
You broke with idolatry when you were converted to God

From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction. And you observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.


Psalm 149:1-6,9
The Lord takes delight in his people.

Sing a new song to the Lord,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in its Maker,
let Zion’s sons exult in their king.
The Lord takes delight in his people.

Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people.
He crowns the poor with salvation.
The Lord takes delight in his people.
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory,
shout for joy and take their rest.
Let the praise of God be on their lips:
this honour is for all his faithful.
The Lord takes delight in his people.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

“You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me”

2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

Superstition
2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.

Idolatry
2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of “idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.” These empty idols make their worshippers empty: “Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.” God, however, is the “living God” who gives life and intervenes in history.

2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

2114 Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who “transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God.”
Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

Irreligion
2118 God’s first commandment condemns the main sins of irreligion: tempting God, in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony.

2119 Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act. Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.” The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.

2120 Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.

2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things. To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!” Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.” It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

2122 The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.” The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”
Atheism

2123 “Many . . . of our contemporaries either do not at all perceive, or explicitly reject, this intimate and vital bond of man to God. Atheism must therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our time.”

2124 The name “atheism” covers many very different phenomena. One common form is the practical materialism which restricts its needs and aspirations to space and time. Atheistic humanism falsely considers man to be “an end to himself, and the sole maker, with supreme control, of his own history.” Another form of contemporary atheism looks for the liberation of man through economic and social liberation. “It holds that religion, of its very nature, thwarts such emancipation by raising man’s hopes in a future life, thus both deceiving him and discouraging him from working for a better form of life on earth.”

2125 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion.The imputability of this offense can be significantly diminished in virtue of the intentions and the circumstances. “Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.”

2126 Atheism is often based on a false conception of human autonomy, exaggerated to the point of refusing any dependence on God. Yet, “to acknowledge God is in no way to oppose the dignity of man, since such dignity is grounded and brought to perfection in God. . . . ” “For the Church knows full well that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart.”
Agnosticism

2127 Agnosticism assumes a number of forms. In certain cases the agnostic refrains from denying God; instead he postulates the existence of a transcendent being which is incapable of revealing itself, and about which nothing can be said. In other cases, the agnostic makes no judgment about God’s existence, declaring it impossible to prove, or even to affirm or deny.

2128 Agnosticism can sometimes include a certain search for God, but it can equally express indifferentism, a flight from the ultimate question of existence, and a sluggish moral conscience. Agnosticism is all too often equivalent to practical atheism.

St John Eudes, P

Matthew 19:16-22
If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own

There was a man who came to Jesus and asked, ‘Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one alone who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said, ‘Which?’ ‘These:’ Jesus replied ‘You must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not bring false witness. Honour your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?’ Jesus said, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.


Judges 2:11-19
The Lord appoints judges to rescue the men of Israel

The sons of Israel did what displeases the Lord, and served the Baals. They deserted the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from the gods of the peoples round them. They bowed down to these; they provoked the Lord; they deserted the Lord to serve Baal and Astarte. Then the Lord’s anger flamed out against Israel. He handed them over to pillagers who plundered them; he delivered them to the enemies surrounding them, and they were not able to resist them. In every warlike venture, the hand of the Lord was there to foil them, as the Lord had warned, as the Lord had sworn to them. Thus he reduced them to dire distress.
Then the Lord appointed judges for them, and rescued the men of Israel from the hands of their plunderers. But they would not listen to their judges. They prostituted themselves to other gods, and bowed down before these. Very quickly they left the path their ancestors had trodden in obedience to the orders of the Lord; they did not follow their example. When the Lord appointed judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and rescued them from the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived, for the Lord felt pity for them as they groaned under the iron grip of their oppressors. But once the judge was dead, they relapsed and behaved even worse than their ancestors. They followed other gods; they served them and bowed before them, and would not give up the practices and stubborn ways of their ancestors at all.


Psalm 105(106):34-37,39-40,43-44
O Lord, remember me out of the love you have for your people.
They failed to destroy the peoples
as the Lord had given command,
but instead they mingled with the nations
and learned to act as they did.
O Lord, remember me out of the love you have for your people.
They worshipped the idols of the nations
and these became a snare to entrap them.
They even offered their own sons
and their daughters in sacrifice to demons.
O Lord, remember me out of the love you have for your people.
So they defiled themselves by their deeds
and broke their marriage bond with the Lord
till his anger blazed against his people;
he was filled with horror at his chosen ones.
O Lord, remember me out of the love you have for your people.
Time after time he rescued them,
but in their malice they dared to defy him.
In spite of this he paid heed to their distress,
so often as he heard their cry.
O Lord, remember me out of the love you have for your people.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Teacher, what must I do . . .?”

2052 “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by invoking the necessity to recognize God as the “One there is who is good,” as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then Jesus tells him: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” And he cites for his questioner the precepts that concern love of neighbor: “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.” Finally Jesus sums up these commandments positively: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

2053 To this first reply Jesus adds a second: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. The Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.

2054 Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments, but he also showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter. He preached a “righteousness [which] exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” as well as that of the Gentiles. He unfolded all the demands of the Commandments. “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill.’ . . . But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”

2055 When someone asks him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?”Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:
The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.


St. John Eudes, C.J.M. (French: Jean Eudes) (14 November 1601 – 19 August 1680) was a French missionary and priest, who founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary and the Order of Our Lady of Charity, and was the author of the propers for the Mass and Divine Office of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Life
Eudes was born in 1601 on a farm near the village of Ri, in Normandy, the son of Isaac and Martha Eudes. After studying with the Jesuits at Caen, Eudes joined the Oratorians on 25 March 1623. His masters and models in the spiritual life were Pierre de Bérulle and the mystic Charles de Condren. As a student of de Bérulle, Eudes is a member of the French School of Spirituality. The French School was not a system or philosophy, but a highly Christocentric approach to spirituality, characterized by a sense of adoration, a personal relationship with Jesus, and a rediscovery of the Holy Spirit.
Eudes was ordained a priest on 20 December 1625. Immediately after his ordination, he came down with an illness that kept him bedridden for a year. During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, he volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese. He went about Normandy committing himself to the sick, administering the sacraments, and burying the dead. To avoid infecting his colleagues, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.

At age 32, Eudes became a parish missionary, preached over 100 parish missions, throughout Normandy, Ile-de-France, Burgundy and Brittany. He was called by Jean-Jacques Olier “the prodigy of his age”.

Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge
In his parish mission work, Eudes was disturbed by the situation of prostitutes who sought to escape their life. Temporary shelters were found but arrangements were not satisfactory. A certain Madeleine Lamy, who had cared for several of the women, one day challenged him to address the problem. In 1641 he founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge in Caen, Normandy to provide a refuge for prostitutes who wished to do penance. Three Visitation nuns came to his aid temporarily, and in 1644, a house was opened at Caen under the title of Our Lady of Charity. Other ladies joined them, and in 1651, the Bishop of Bayeux gave the institute his approbation. The congregation was approved by Pope Alexander VII on 2 January 1666. It later also included a convent from which, in 1829, Sister Mary Euphrasia Pelletier established the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, better known as the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Congregation of Jesus and Mary
With the support of Cardinal Richelieu and a number of individual bishops, Eudes severed his connection with the Oratory to establish the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) solely for the education of priests and for parish missions. This congregation was founded at Caen on 25 March 1643. Normandy was the principal theatre of his apostolic labours.

For the laity, Eudes founded the Society of the Most Admirable Mother, a sort of Third Order, which would eventually count among its members, Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Amelie Fristel, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary at Parame, in France.
The “Eudist family,” is composed of the Eudists, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Associates.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Influenced by the teaching of the French school and St. Francis de Sales, especially as set out in the Treatise on the Love of God, and also by the revelations of St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde, he was the theoretician, so to speak, of devotion to the Sacred Heart and explained the expressions of his predecessors. Won over to devotion to the Heart of Jesus by Bérulle’s devotion to the Incarnate Word, he combined with it the gentleness and devotional warmth of St. Francis de Sales. He changed the somewhat individual and private character of the devotion into a devotion for the whole Church by writing for the benefit of his communities an Office and a Mass, which were later approved by several bishops before spreading throughout the Church. For this reason, Pope Leo XIII, in proclaiming his virtues heroic in 1903, gave him the title of “Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary”.

Eudes dedicated the seminary chapels of Caen and Coutances to the Sacred Heart. The feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was celebrated for the first time in 1648, and that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1672, each as a double of the first class with an octave.
He composed various prayers and rosaries to the Sacred Hearts. His book “Le Cœur Admirable de la Très Sainte Mère de Dieu” is the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Hearts.

Eudes taught the mystical unity of the hearts of Jesus and Mary and wrote:
You must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus, loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary.

The most striking characteristic of the teaching of St. John Eudes on Devotion to the Sacred Heart—as indeed of his whole teaching on the spiritual life—is that Christ is always its centre.

Works
Father Eudes wrote a number of books. His principal works are:
La Vie et le Royaume de Jésus (The Life and Kingdom of Jesus, 1637)
Le contrat de l’homme avec Dieu par le Saint Baptême, (Contract of Man with God Through Holy Baptism, 1654)
Le Bon Confesseur, (The Good Confessor, 1666)
Le Mémorial de la vie Ecclésiastique”;
Le Prédicateur Apostolique
Le Cœur Admirable de la Très Sainte Mère de Dieu (the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Hearts)
He died at Caen on 19 August 1680.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday of week 19 in Ordinary Time

Matthew 17:22-27
‘They will put the Son of Man to death’

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’


Deuteronomy 10:12-22
The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords

Moses said to the people:
‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today.

‘To the Lord your God belong indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all it contains; yet it was on your fathers that the Lord set his heart for love of them, and after them of all the nations chose their descendants, you yourselves, up to the present day. Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, never partial, never to be bribed. It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. It is the Lord your God you must fear and serve; you must cling to him; in his name take your oaths. He it is you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things you have seen with your own eyes; and though your fathers numbered only seventy when they went down to Egypt, the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars of heaven.’


Psalm 147:12-15,19-20
O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!
He has strengthened the bars of your gates
he has blessed the children within you.
O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
He established peace on your borders,
he feeds you with finest wheat.
He sends out his word to the earth
and swiftly runs his command.
O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
He makes his word known to Jacob,
to Israel his laws and decrees.
He has not dealt thus with other nations;
he has not taught them his decrees.
O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

Perseverance in faith
162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.” To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.
Faith – the beginning of eternal life

163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”. So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:
When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.

164 Now, however, “we walk by faith, not by sight”;we perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part”. Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. the world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.

165 It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who “in hope… believed against hope”; to the Virgin Mary, who, in “her pilgrimage of faith”, walked into the “night of faith” in sharing the darkness of her son’s suffering and death; and to so many others: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”