You will see heaven laid open, and the Son of Man
After Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, he met Philip and said, ‘Follow me.’ Philip came from the same town, Bethsaida, as Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael. ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’
1 John 3:11-21
Our love is to be something real and active
This is the message
as you heard it from the beginning:
that we are to love one another;
not to be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One
and cut his brother’s throat;
cut his brother’s throat simply for this reason,
that his own life was evil and his brother lived a good life.
You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you;
we have passed out of death and into life,
and of this we can be sure
because we love our brothers.
If you refuse to love, you must remain dead;
to hate your brother is to be a murderer,
and murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life in them.
This has taught us love –
that he gave up his life for us;
and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers.
If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods
saw that one of his brothers was in need,
but closed his heart to him,
how could the love of God be living in him?
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The living God
205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.
“I Am who I Am”
Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’. . . this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”
206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH (“I AM HE WHO IS”, “I AM WHO AM” or “I AM WHO I AM”), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is – infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the “hidden God”, his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.
207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (“I am the God of your father”), as for the future (“I will be with you”). God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.
208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
209 Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title “LORD” (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: “Jesus is LORD.”
The LORD is king, the peoples tremble; God is enthroned on the cherubim, the earth quakes.
The LORD is great on Zion, exalted above all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name: Holy is God!
O mighty king, lover of justice, you alone have established fairness; you have created just rule in Jacob.
Exalt the LORD, our God; bow down before his footstool; holy is God!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel among those who called on God’s name; they called on the LORD, who answered them.
From the pillar of cloud God spoke to them; they kept the decrees, the law they received.
O LORD, our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God, though you punished their offenses.
Exalt the LORD, our God; bow down before his holy mountain; holy is the LORD, our God.
Source: The New American Bible
John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R. (Czech: Jan Nepomucký Neumann, German: Johann Nepomuk Neumann; March 28, 1811 – January 5, 1860), was a Catholic priest from Bohemia. He immigrated to the United States in 1836, where he joined the Redemptorist order and became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–60). He is the first United States bishop (and to date the only male citizen) to be canonized. While Bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States. He is a Roman Catholic saint, canonized in 1977.
John was born on March 28, 1811, in Prachatice, in the Kingdom of Bohemia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic) to Johann Philipp Neumann, a stocking knitter from Obernburg am Main, and Agnes Lebisch from Prachatice.
Neumann attended a school in České Budějovice which was operated by the Piarist Fathers before entering the seminary there in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the Charles University in Prague, where he studied theology, though he was also interested in astronomy and botany. By the time he was twenty-four, he had learned six languages. His goal was to be ordained to the priesthood, and he applied for this after completing his studies in 1835. His bishop, however, had decided that there would be no more ordinations at that time, as Bohemia had numerous priests and difficulty finding positions for them all. In 1836 Neumann traveled to the United States in the hope of being ordained.
Neumann arrived in New York with one suit of clothes and one dollar in his pocket. Three weeks later, Bishop John Dubois, Society of Saint-Sulpice, ordained him in June 1836 at what is now the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
The Diocese of New York at that time encompassed all of the State of New York and half of New Jersey. After his ordination, Bishop Dubois assigned Neumann to work with recent German immigrants in the Niagara Falls area, where there were no established parish churches. His first assignment was the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Williamsville, New York. His parish in western New York stretched from Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania.
People laughed at the clumsy way Father Neumann rode a horse; because he was short, his feet did not reach the stirrups. He traveled the countryside—visited the sick, taught catechism, and trained teachers to take over when he left. Neumann took up full-time residence in North Bush (now part of Tonawanda) as the first pastor of St. John the Baptist Church (1836–1840). He made this the base for his missionary work.
Because of the work and the isolation of his parish, Father John longed for community. In 1840, with Dubois’ permission, Neumann applied to join the Redemptorist Fathers, was accepted, and entered their novitiate at St. Philomena’s Church in Pittsburgh. He was their first candidate in the New World and took his religious vows as a member of the congregation in Baltimore, in January 1842. While a novitiate for the Redemptorists, he served at St. Alphonsus Church in Peru Township, Huron County, Ohio for five months before returning to New York. He served as the pastor of St. Augustine Church in Elkridge, Maryland, from 1849 to 1851. After six years of difficult but fruitful work in Maryland, Neumann became the Provincial Superior for the United States. He was naturalized as a United States citizen in Baltimore on February 10, 1848. He also served as parish priest at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore.
Bishop of Philadelphia
On February 5, 1852, the Holy See appointed Neumann Bishop of Philadelphia. His predecessor in that office, Francis Kenrick (who had become Archbishop of Baltimore), presided over the consecration on March 28, and Bishop Bernard O’Reilly assisted. Philadelphia had a large and expanding Catholic immigrant population; Germans who fled the Napoleonic and other Continental wars had been followed by Irish fleeing the Great Famine caused by the potato blight and wars. Soon Italians and other southern and eastern European Catholics would arrive. Some settled in the rural parts of the diocese, similar to the rural areas of New York state where Neumann had begun his ministry.
But many stayed in the city, one of the largest in the new country, as it was an industrializing mercantile hub, with many jobs for people with little command of the English language. The waves of immigration resulted in tensions in the city with native-born residents, who had to compete for work in difficult economic times. Anti-Catholic riots took place in the 1830s and 1844, in the Philadelphia Nativist Riots, occurring as Irish Catholics began to arrive in great number in the city. Soon more riots occurred, particularly since the city was a stronghold of the Know-Nothing political party, known for its anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic prejudices.
During Neumann’s administration, new parish churches were completed at the rate of nearly one per month. As many immigrants settled in close communities from their hometowns and with speakers of the same language, churches became associated with immigrants from particular regions, and were known as national parishes. Their parishioners often did not speak English or know how to obtain needed social services.
Neumann became the first bishop in the country to organize a diocesan school system, as the Catholic parents wanted their children taught in the Catholic tradition. They feared Protestant influence and discrimination in the public schools. Under his administration, the number of parochial schools in his diocese increased from one to 200. Neumann’s fluency in several languages endeared him to the many new immigrant communities in Philadelphia. As well as ministering to newcomers in his native German, Neumann also spoke Italian fluently. A growing congregation of Italian-speakers received pastoral care in his private chapel, and Neumann eventually established in Philadelphia the first Italian national parishes in the country.
Neumann actively invited religious institutes to establish new houses within the diocese to provide necessary social services. In 1855, Neumann supported the foundation of a congregation of religious sisters in the city, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. He brought the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Germany to assist in religious instruction and staff an orphanage. He also intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence from dissolution; this congregation of African-American women was founded by Haitian refugees in Baltimore.
The large diocese was not wealthy, and Neumann became known for his personal frugality. He kept and wore only one pair of boots throughout his residence in the United States. When given a new set of vestments as a gift, he would often use them to outfit the newest ordained priest in the diocese. Discouraged by constant conflict with religiously and racially prejudiced people, as well as the anti-Catholic riots and arson of religious buildings, Neumann wrote to Rome asking to be replaced as bishop, but Pope Pius IX insisted that he continue. In 1854, Neumann traveled to Rome and was present at St. Peter’s Basilica on December 8, along with 53 cardinals, 139 other bishops, and thousands of priests and laity, when Pius solemnly defined, ex cathedra, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
While doing errands on January 5, 1860, Neumann collapsed and died on a Philadelphia street. He was 48 years old. Bishop James Frederick Wood, a Philadelphia native who converted to Catholicism in Cincinnati in 1836 and who had been appointed Neumann’s coadjutor with right of succession in 1857, succeeded Neumann as Bishop of Philadelphia.
Bishop John Neumann was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on October 13, 1963, and was canonized by that same pope on June 19, 1977. His feast days are January 5, the date of his death, on the Roman calendar for the Church in the United States of America, and March 5 in the Czech Republic.
After his canonization, the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann was constructed at the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle, at 5th Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia. The remains of St. John Neumann rest under the altar of the shrine within a glass-walled reliquary.
In 1980, Our Lady of the Angels College, founded by the congregation of Franciscan Sisters he had founded and located within the archdiocese, was renamed Neumann College. It was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2009.