Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 7:14-23

It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean

Jesus called the people to him and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’

When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’


Genesis 2:4-9,15-17

The Lord God fashioned man out of dust

At the time when the Lord God made earth and heaven there was as yet no wild bush on the earth nor had any wild plant yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth, nor was there any man to till the soil. However, a flood was rising from the earth and watering all the surface of the soil. The Lord God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned. The Lord God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. The Lord God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it. Then the Lord God gave the man this admonition, ‘You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden. Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die.’


Psalm 103(104):1-2,27-30

Bless the Lord, my soul!

Bless the Lord, my soul!

Lord God, how great you are,

clothed in majesty and glory,

wrapped in light as in a robe!

Bless the Lord, my soul!

All of these look to you

to give them their food in due season.

You give it, they gather it up:

you open your hand, they have their fill.

Bless the Lord, my soul!

You take back your spirit, they die,

returning to the dust from which they came.

You send forth your spirit, they are created;

and you renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, my soul!

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Body And Soul But Truly One”

362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.

363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

364 The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:

Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly”, with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul.”Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.

368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.

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Paul Miki and Companions

+Mark 6:1-6

‘A prophet is only despised in his own country’

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Hebrews 12:4-7,11-15

God is training you as his sons

In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.

Always be wanting peace with all people, and the holiness without which no one can ever see the Lord. Be careful that no one is deprived of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness should begin to grow and make trouble; this can poison a whole community.


Psalm 102(103):1-2,13-14,17-18

The love of the Lord is everlasting upon those who hold him in fear.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord

all my being, bless his holy name.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord

and never forget all his blessings.

The love of the Lord is everlasting upon those who hold him in fear.

As a father has compassion on his sons,

the Lord has pity on those who fear him;

for he knows of what we are made,

he remembers that we are dust.

The love of the Lord is everlasting upon those who hold him in fear.

But the love of the Lord is everlasting

upon those who hold him in fear;

his justice reaches out to children’s children

when they keep his covenant in truth.

The love of the Lord is everlasting upon those who hold him in fear.

The New American Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus teaches us how to pray

2607 When Jesus prays he is already teaching us how to pray. His prayer to his Father is the theological path (the path of faith, hope, and charity) of our prayer to God. But the Gospel also gives us Jesus’ explicit teaching on prayer. Like a wise teacher he takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively toward the Father. Addressing the crowds following him, Jesus builds on what they already know of prayer from the Old Covenant and opens to them the newness of the coming Kingdom. Then he reveals this newness to them in parables. Finally, he will speak openly of the Father and the Holy Spirit to his disciples who will be the teachers of prayer in his Church.

2608 From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one’s brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else.64 This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.

2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to “seek” and to “knock,” since he himself is the door and the way.

2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.” Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes.” Jesus is as saddened by the “lack of faith” of his own neighbors and the “little faith” of his own disciples as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.

2611 The prayer of faith consists not only in saying “Lord, Lord,” but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father. Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.

2612 In Jesus “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He calls his hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness. In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes, in memory of his first coming in the lowliness of the flesh, and in the hope of his second coming in glory. In communion with their Master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation.

2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:

– The first, “the importunate friend,” invites us to urgent prayer: “Knock, and it will be opened to you.” To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will “give whatever he needs,” and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.

– The second, “the importunate widow,” is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

– The third parable, “the Pharisee and the tax collector,” concerns the humility of the heart that prays. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!

2614 When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to “ask in his name.” Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.

2615 Even more, what the Father gives us when our prayer is united with that of Jesus is “another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.” This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse. In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him: “Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

Jesus hears our prayer

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”

The prayer of the Virgin Mary

2617 Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body. In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made “full of grace” responds by offering her whole being: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” “Fiat”: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours.

2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana, the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast – that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross, that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true “Mother of all the living.”

2619 That is why the Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (Byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the “poor” whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, “to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”


Paulo Miki was born into a wealthy Japanese family. He was educated by the Jesuits in Azuchi and Takatsuki. He joined the Society of Jesus and became a well known and successful preacher – gaining numerous converts to Catholicism. The local daimyō, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, began persecuting Catholics for fear of the Jesuits’ influence and intentions, and possibly that of European visitors.

Miki was arrested and jailed with his fellow Catholics, who were later forced to march 966 kilometers (600 miles) from Kyoto to Nagasaki; all the while singing the Te Deum. On arriving in Nagasaki—which today has the largest Catholic population in Japan—Miki had his chest pierced with a lance while tied to a cross on 5 February 1597.

He preached his last sermon from the cross, and it is maintained that he forgave his executioners, stating that he himself was Japanese. Crucified alongside him were Joan Soan (de Gotó) and Santiago Kisai, also of the Society of Jesus; along with twenty-three other clergy and laity, all of whom were canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1862.

Source: Wikipedia

Prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Fruit of Faithfulness

 

Wednesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 4:1-20
The parable of the sower
Jesus began to teach by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there. The people were all along the shore, at the water’s edge. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil and, growing tall and strong, produced crop; and yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’
When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God is given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again, but not understand; otherwise they might be converted and be forgiven.’
He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan comes and carries away the word that was sown in them. Similarly, those who receive the seed on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root in them, they do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, they fall away at once. Then there are others who receive the seed in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of this world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing. And there are those who have received the seed in rich soil: they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’


Hebrews 10:11-18
Jesus achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying
All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. The Holy Spirit assures us of this; for he says, first:
This is the covenant I will make with them
when those days arrive;
and the Lord then goes on to say:
I will put my laws into their hearts
and write them on their minds.
I will never call their sins to mind,
or their offences.
When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.


Psalm 109(110):1-4 
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

The Lord’s revelation to my Master:
‘Sit on my right:
your foes I will put beneath your feet.’
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
The Lord will wield from Zion
your sceptre of power:
rule in the midst of all your foes.
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
A prince from the day of your birth
on the holy mountains;
from the womb before the dawn I begot you.
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.
‘You are a priest for ever,
a priest like Melchizedek of old.’
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

Meditation
2705 Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the “today” of God is written.
2706 To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
2707 There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower. But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

Marianne Cope, V

+Mark 3:1-6

Is it against the law on the sabbath day to save life?

Jesus went into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up out in the middle!’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?’ But they said nothing. Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was better. The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.


Hebrews 7:1-3,15-17

You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, for ever

You remember that Melchizedek, king of Salem, a priest of God Most High, went to meet Abraham who was on his way back after defeating the kings, and blessed him; and also that it was to him that Abraham gave a tenth of all that he had. By the interpretation of his name, he is, first, ‘king of righteousness’ and also king of Salem, that is, ‘king of peace’; he has no father, mother or ancestry, and his life has no beginning or ending; he is like the Son of God. He remains a priest for ever.

This becomes even more clearly evident when there appears a second Melchizedek, who is a priest not by virtue of a law about physical descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it was about him that the prophecy was made: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.


Psalm 109(110):1-4

You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

The Lord’s revelation to my Master:

‘Sit on my right:

your foes I will put beneath your feet.’

You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

The Lord will wield from Zion

your sceptre of power:

rule in the midst of all your foes.

You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

A prince from the day of your birth

on the holy mountains;

from the womb before the dawn I begot you.

You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.

‘You are a priest for ever,

a priest like Melchizedek of old.’

You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Covenant with Noah

56 After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the “nations”, in other words, towards men grouped “in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their families, in their nations”.

57 This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel. But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism.

58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel.13 The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek – a figure of Christ – and the upright “Noah, Daniel, and Job”. Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”.


Marianne Cope OSF, also known as Saint Marianne of Molokaʻi, (January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918) was a German-born American nun who was a member of the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York, and administrator of its St. Joseph’s Hospital in the city. Known also for her charitable works, in 1883 she relocated with six other Sisters to Hawaiʻi to care for persons suffering Hansen’s Disease on the island of Molokaʻi and aid in developing the medical infrastructure in Hawaiʻi. Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope did not contract the disease.

In 2005, Cope was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Cope was declared a saint by the same pope on October 21, 2012, along with Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th-century Native American. Cope is the 11th person in what is now the United States to be canonized by the Catholic Church.

Life

Birth and vocation

Cope was baptized Maria Anna Barbara Koob, later anglicizing her last name to “Cope”. She was born January 23, 1838, in Heppenheim in the Grand Duchy of Hesse to Peter Koob (1787–1862) and Barbara Witzenbacher (1803–1872). The following year her family emigrated to the United States, settling in the industrial city of Utica, New York. They became members of the Parish of St Joseph, where Cope attended parish school. By the time she was in eighth grade, her father had become an invalid. As the oldest child, Cope left school to work in a textile factory to help support her family. Her father became naturalized as an American citizen, which at the time meant the entire family received automatic citizenship status.

By the time their father Peter Cope died in 1862, the younger children in the family were of age to support themselves, so Maria pursued her long-felt religious calling. She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After a year of formation, Cope received the religious habit of the Franciscan Sisters along with the new name Marianne. She became first a teacher and then a principal in newly established schools for the region’s German-speaking immigrants. Following the revolutions of 1848, numerous German immigrants entered the United States.

By 1870, Cope had become a member of the governing council of her religious congregation. She helped found the first two Catholic hospitals in Central New York, with charters stipulating that medical care was to be provided to all, regardless of race or creed. She was appointed by the Superior General to govern St. Joseph’s Hospital, the first public hospital in Syracuse, serving from 1870-77.

As hospital administrator, Cope became involved with the move of Geneva Medical College of Hobart College from Geneva, New York, to Syracuse, where it became the College of Medicine at Syracuse University. She contracted with the college to accept their students for treating patients in her hospital, to further their medical education. Her stipulation in the contract—again unique for the period—was the right of the patients to refuse care by the students. These experiences helped prepare her for the special ministry she next pursued.

Call to Hawaii

In 1883, Cope, by then Superior General of the congregation, received a plea for help from King Kalākaua of Hawaii to care for leprosy sufferers. More than 50 religious congregations had already declined his request for Sisters to do this, because leprosy was considered to be highly contagious. She responded enthusiastically to the letter:

I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen Ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders… I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’

Cope departed from Syracuse with six other Sisters to travel to Honolulu to answer this call, arriving on November 8, 1883. They traveled on the SS Mariposa. With Mother Marianne as supervisor, the Sisters’ task was to manage Kakaʻako Branch Hospital on Oʻahu, which served as a receiving station for Hansen’s disease patients gathered from all over the islands. The more severe cases were processed and shipped to the island of Molokaʻi for confinement in the settlement at Kalawao, and then later at Kalaupapa.

The following year, at the request of the government, Cope set up Malulani Hospital, the first general hospital on the island of Maui. Soon, she was called back to the hospital in Oahu. She had to deal with a government-appointed administrator’s abuse of the leprosy patients at the Branch Hospital at Kakaako, an area adjoining Honolulu. She told the government that either the administrator had to be dismissed or the Sisters would return to Syracuse. She was given charge of the overcrowded hospital. Her return to Syracuse to re-assume governance of the congregation was delayed, as both the government and church authorities thought she was essential to the success of the mission.

Two years later, the king awarded Mother Marianne with the Cross of a Companion of the Royal Order of Kapiolani for her care of his people. The work continued to increase. In November 1885, Cope opened the Kapiolani Home with the support of the government, to provide shelter to homeless female children of leprosy patients. The home was located on the grounds of a leprosy hospital because only the Sisters were willing to care for children so closely associated to people suffering from leprosy.

In 1887, a new government came into office. It ended the forced exile of leprosy patients to Molokai and closed the specialty hospital in Oahu. A year later, the authorities pleaded with Cope to establish a new home for women and girls on the Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai. She accepted the call, knowing that it might mean she would never return to New York. “We will cheerfully accept the work…” was her response.

Molokai

In November 1888, Cope moved to Kalaupapa. She cared for the dying Father Damien, SS.CC., who was already known internationally for his work in the leper colony, and began to take over his burdens. She had met him shortly after her arrival in Hawaii.

When Father Damien died on April 15, 1889, the government officially gave Cope charge for the care of the boys of Kalaupapa, in addition to her existing role in caring for the female residents of the colony. A prominent local businessman, Henry Perrine Baldwin, donated money for the new home. Mother Marianne and two assistants, Sister Leopoldina Burns and Sister Vincentia McCormick, opened and ran a new girls’ school, which she named in Baldwin’s honor. A community of Religious Brothers was sought to come and care for the boys. After the arrival of four Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1895, Cope withdrew the Sisters to the Bishop Home for leprous women and girls. Joseph Dutton was given charge of Baldwin House by the government.

Death

Cope died on August 9, 1918, due to natural causes. She was buried on the grounds of the Bishop Home. In 2005, her remains were returned to Syracuse for reinterment at her mother house. In 2014, her remains were returned to Honolulu and are enshrined at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.

Legacy and honors

1927 — Saint Francis Hospital was founded in Honolulu in her memory as a community hospital and to train nurses to work with Hansen’s disease patients.

1957 — St. Francis opened the Child Development Center at the Honolulu Community Church.

1962 — St. Francis Home Care Services was established, the first in Hawaii to specialize in home health care for Hawaiian people.

2005, Induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

2006 — The Sisters of St. Francis chose to focus on long-term care, transferring the two facilities of St. Francis Hospital to a private board. The facilities are now known as the Hawaii Medical Center East in Liliha, and Hawaii Medical Center West in Ewa. Both hospitals were closed at the end of 2011. In August 2012, The Queen’s Health Systems agreed to acquire the former Hawaii Medical Center West and reopen the hospital in the fall of 2013.

The Saint Francis School was founded in Mother Marianne’s honor in 1924, operating as a girls-only school for grades 6-9.

The community which Cope founded on Molokai continues to minister to the few patients afflicted with Hansen Disease. The Franciscan Sisters work at several schools and minister to parishioners throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Source: Wikipedia

Prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Fruit of Joy

 

Wednesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 1:29-39

He cast out devils and cured many who were suffering from disease

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.


Hebrews 2:14-18

He took to himself descent from Abraham

Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus freely embraced the Father’s redeeming love

609 By embracing in his human heart the Father’s love for men, Jesus “loved them to the end”, for “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men. Indeed, out of love for his Father and for men, whom the Father wants to save, Jesus freely accepted his Passion and death: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” Hence the sovereign freedom of God’s Son as he went out to his death.


Psalm 104(105):1-4,6-9

Give thanks to the Lord, tell his name,

make known his deeds among the peoples.

O sing to him, sing his praise;

tell all his wonderful works!

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Be proud of his holy name,

let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice.

Consider the Lord and his strength;

constantly seek his face.

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

O children of Abraham, his servant,

O sons of the Jacob he chose.

He, the Lord, is our God:

his judgements prevail in all the earth.

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

He remembers his covenant for ever,

his promise for a thousand generations,

the covenant he made with Abraham,

the oath he swore to Isaac.

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

 

Wednesday after Epiphany

+Mark 6:45-52

His disciples saw him walking on the lake

After the five thousand had eaten and were filled, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. He could see they were worn out with rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the lake. He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But he at once spoke to them, and said, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind dropped. They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.


1 John 4:11-18

As long as we love one another God’s love will be complete in us

My dear people,

since God has loved us so much,

we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God;

but as long as we love one another

God will live in us

and his love will be complete in us.

We can know that we are living in him

and he is living in us

because he lets us share his Spirit.

We ourselves saw and we testify

that the Father sent his Son

as saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,

God lives in him, and he in God.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in

God’s love towards ourselves.

God is love

and anyone who lives in love lives in God,

and God lives in him.

Love will come to its perfection in us

when we can face the day of Judgement without fear;

because even in this world

we have become as he is.

In love there can be no fear,

but fear is driven out by perfect love:

because to fear is to expect punishment,

and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus prays

2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the “great things” done by the Almighty. He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: “I must be in my Father’s house. “Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ’s ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion. He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted. Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

2601 “He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.”‘ In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.

2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night. He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that “his brethren” experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them. It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.

2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes. His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.

2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John. Thanksgiving precedes the event: “Father, I thank you for having heard me,” which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: “I know that you always hear me,” which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the “treasure”; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given “as well.”

The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation. A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.

2605 When the hour had come for him to fulfill the Father’s plan of love, Jesus allows a glimpse of the boundless depth of his filial prayer, not only before he freely delivered himself up (“Abba . . . not my will, but yours.”), but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”, “Woman, behold your son” – “Behold your mother”; “I thirst.”; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”; “It is finished”; “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”until the “loud cry” as he expires, giving up his spirit.

2606 All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. The Psalter gives us the key to prayer in Christ. In the “today” of the Resurrection the Father says: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

The Letter to the Hebrews expresses in dramatic terms how the prayer of Jesus accomplished the victory of salvation: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”


Psalm 71(72):1-2,10-13

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

O God, give your judgement to the king,

to a king’s son your justice,

that he may judge your people in justice

and your poor in right judgement.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts

shall pay him tribute.

The kings of Sheba and Seba

shall bring him gifts.

Before him all kings shall fall prostrate,

all nations shall serve him.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

For he shall save the poor when they cry

and the needy who are helpless.

He will have pity on the weak

and save the lives of the poor.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bb & Dd

+John 1:19-28

‘One is coming after me who existed before me’

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.


+1 John 2:22-28

The anointing he gave you teaches you everything

The man who denies that Jesus is the Christ –

he is the liar,

he is Antichrist;

and he is denying the Father as well as the Son,

because no one who has the Father can deny the Son,

and to acknowledge the Son is to have the Father as well.

Keep alive in yourselves what you were taught in the beginning:

as long as what you were taught in the beginning is alive in you,

you will live in the Son

and in the Father;

and what is promised to you by his own promise

is eternal life.

This is all that I am writing to you about the people who are trying to lead you astray.

But you have not lost the anointing that he gave you,

and you do not need anyone to teach you;

the anointing he gave teaches you everything;

you are anointed with truth, not with a lie,

and as it has taught you, so you must stay in him.

Live in Christ, then, my children,

so that if he appears, we may have full confidence,

and not turn from him in shame

at his coming.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

John, precursor, prophet, and baptist

717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.

718 John is “Elijah [who] must come.” The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of “[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

719 John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God.”

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of “the divine likeness,” prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John’s baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.


Psalm 97(98):1-4

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Sing a new song to the Lord

for he has worked wonders.

His right hand and his holy arm

have brought salvation.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

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.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation of our God.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth,

ring out your joy.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.


Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great (Greek: Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ Μέγας, Ágios Basíleios o Mégas, Coptic: Ⲡⲓⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲃⲁⲥⲓⲗⲓⲟⲥ; 329 or 330[8] – January 1 or 2, 379), was the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church, fighting against both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate for the Nicene position.

In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labour. Together with Pachomius, he is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity. He is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity.

Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa are collectively referred to as the Cappadocian Fathers. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches have given him, together with Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, the title of Great Hierarch. He is recognised as a Doctor of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church. He is sometimes referred to by the epithet Ouranophantor (Greek: Οὐρανοφάντωρ), “revealer of heavenly mysteries”.


Gregory of Nazianzus (Greek: Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνός Grēgorios ho Nazianzēnos; c. 329 – 25 January 390), also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople, and theologian. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained orator and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.

Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek- and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the “Trinitarian Theologian”. Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity. Along with the brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers.

Gregory is a saint in both Eastern and Western Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church he is numbered among the Doctors of the Church; in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches he is revered as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs, along with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom.

He is also one of only three men in the life of the Orthodox Church who have been officially designated “Theologian” by epithet, the other two being St. John the Theologian (the Evangelist), and St. Symeon the New Theologian.

Source: Wikipedia

Stephen, M

+Matthew 10:17-22

The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.

‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.’


Acts 6:8-10,7:54-59

The martyrdom of Stephen

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ Jesus

727 The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father’s Spirit since his Incarnation – Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.

Everything in the second chapter of the Creed is to be read in this light. Christ’s whole work is in fact a joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here, we shall mention only what has to do with Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the gift of him by the glorified Lord.

728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world. He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman, and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles. To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer and with the witness they will have to bear.

729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers. The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus’ prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name; and Jesus will send him from the Father’s side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us for ever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives: he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands

at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,” he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples. From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”


Psalm 30(31):3-4,6,8,16-17

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Be a rock of refuge for me,

a mighty stronghold to save me,

for you are my rock, my stronghold.

For your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

It is you who will redeem me, Lord.

As for me, I trust in the Lord:

let me be glad and rejoice in your love.

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

My life is in your hands, deliver me

from the hands of those who hate me.

Let your face shine on your servant.

Save me in your love.

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

+Luke 1:5-25

‘Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son’

In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.

Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.

Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’

Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.’ Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.

When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. ‘The Lord has done this for me’ she said ‘now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.’


+Judges 13:2-7,24-25

‘You will conceive and bear a son’

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child. But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’ Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me. But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”’

The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

A cloud of witnesses

2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were “put in charge of many things.” Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.

2684 In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God’s love for men has been handed on, like “the spirit” of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit. A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.


Psalm 70(71):3-6,16-17

My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.

Be a rock where I can take refuge,

a mighty stronghold to save me;

for you are my rock, my stronghold.

Free me from the hand of the wicked.

My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.

It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,

my trust, O Lord, since my youth.

On you I have leaned from my birth,

from my mother’s womb you have been my help.

My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.

I will declare the Lord’s mighty deeds

proclaiming your justice, yours alone.

O God, you have taught me from my youth

and I proclaim your wonders still.

My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Our Lady of Guadalupe

+Matthew 11:28-30

My yoke is easy and my burden light

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’


Isaiah 40:25-31

The Lord strengthens the powerless

‘To whom could you liken me

and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look.

Who made these stars

if not he who drills them like an army,

calling each one by name?

So mighty is his power, so great his strength,

that not one fails to answer.

How can you say, Jacob,

how can you insist, Israel,

‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord,

my rights are ignored by my God’?

Did you not know?

Had you not heard?

The Lord is an everlasting God,

he created the boundaries of the earth.

He does not grow tired or weary,

his understanding is beyond fathoming.

He gives strength to the wearied,

he strengthens the powerless.

Young men may grow tired and weary,

youths may stumble,

but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength,

they put out wings like eagles.

They run and do not grow weary,

walk and never tire.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Domestic Church

1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.” When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved. These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”

1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.” Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.'”


Psalm 102

The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the LORD.

LORD, hear my prayer; let my cry come to you.

Do not hide your face from me now that I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn away as in a furnace.

I am withered, dried up like grass, too wasted to eat my food.

From my loud groaning I become just skin and bones.

I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.

I lie awake and moan, like a lone sparrow on the roof.

All day long my enemies taunt me; in their rage, they make my name a curse.

I eat ashes like bread, mingle my drink with tears.

Because of your furious wrath, you lifted me up just to cast me down.

My days are like a lengthening shadow; I wither like the grass.

But you, LORD, are enthroned forever; your renown is for all generations.

You will again show mercy to Zion; now is the time for pity; the appointed time has come.

Its stones are dear to your servants; its dust moves them to pity.

The nations shall revere your name, LORD, all the kings of the earth, your glory,

Once the LORD has rebuilt Zion and appeared in glory,

Heeding the plea of the lowly, not scorning their prayer.

Let this be written for the next generation, for a people not yet born, that they may praise the LORD:

“The LORD looked down from the holy heights, viewed the earth from heaven,

To attend to the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.”

Then the LORD’S name will be declared on Zion, the praise of God in Jerusalem,

When all peoples and kingdoms gather to worship the LORD.

God has shattered my strength in mid-course, has cut short my days.

I plead, O my God, do not take me in the midst of my days. Your years last through all generations.

Of old you laid the earth’s foundations; the heavens are the work of your hands.

They perish, but you remain; they all wear out like a garment; Like clothing you change them and they are changed,

but you are the same, your years have no end.

May the children of your servants live on; may their descendants live in your presence.

Source: The New American Bible


Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe), is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The basilica is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, and the world’s third most-visited sacred site. Pope Leo XIII granted the venerated image a Canonical Coronation on 12 October 1895.

Official Catholic accounts state that the Virgin Mary appeared four times before Juan Diego and one more before Juan Diego’s uncle. According to these accounts the first apparition occurred on the morning of December 9, 1531, when a native Mexican peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of a maiden at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which would become part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City. Speaking to Juan Diego in his native Nahuatl language (the language of the Aztec empire), the maiden identified herself as the Virgin Mary, “mother of the very true deity” and asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor.

Based on her words, Juan Diego then sought out the archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, to tell him what had happened. As the bishop did not believe Diego, on the same day, Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary for a second time (the second apparition); she asked him to keep insisting.

On Sunday, December 10, Juan Diego talked to the archbishop for a second time. The latter instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. That same day, the third apparition occurred when Diego returned to Tepeyac and encountering the Virgin Mary, reported the bishop’s request for a sign; she consented to provide one on the following day (December 11).

By Monday, December 11, however, Juan Diego’s uncle Juan Bernardino had fallen sick and Juan Diego was obliged to attend to him. In the very early hours of Tuesday, December 12, Juan Bernardino’s condition having deteriorated overnight, Juan Diego set out to Tlatelolco to fetch a priest to hear Juan Bernardino’s confession and minister to him on his death-bed.

In order to avoid being delayed by the Virgin and ashamed at having failed to meet her on the Monday as agreed, Juan Diego chose another route around the hill, but the Virgin intercepted him and asked where he was going (fourth apparition); Juan Diego explained what had happened and the Virgin gently chided him for not having had recourse to her. In the words which have become the most famous phrase of the Guadalupe event and are inscribed over the main entrance to the Basilica of Guadalupe, she asked, “¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?” (Am I not here, I who am your mother?). She assured him that Juan Bernardino had now recovered and she told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill, which was normally barren, especially in December. Juan followed her instructions and he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming there. The Virgin arranged the flowers in Juan’s tilma, or cloak, and when Juan Diego opened his cloak before archbishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The next day, on December 13, Juan Diego found his uncle fully recovered, as the Virgin had assured him, and Juan Bernardino recounted that he too had seen her, at his bed-side (fifth apparition); that she had instructed him to inform the bishop of this apparition and of his miraculous cure; and that she had told him she desired to be known under the title of Guadalupe.

The bishop kept Juan Diego’s mantle first in his private chapel and then in the church on public display where it attracted great attention. On December 26, 1531 a procession formed for taking the miraculous image back to Tepeyac where it was installed in a small hastily erected chapel. In course of this procession, the first miracle was allegedly performed when an Indian was mortally wounded in the neck by an arrow shot by accident during some stylized martial displays executed in honour of the Virgin. In great distress, the Indians carried him before the Virgin’s image and pleaded for his life. Upon the arrow being withdrawn, the victim made a full and immediate recovery.

Juan Diego’s tilma has become Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural symbol, and has received widespread ecclesiastical and popular support. In the 19th century it became the rallying call of American-born Spaniards in New Spain, who saw the story of the apparition as legitimizing their own Mexican origin and infusing it with an almost messianic sense of mission and identity – thus also legitimizing their armed rebellion against Spain.

Source: Wikipedia