Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Novena : Day 4 : Official Plenary Indulgence


Opening Prayer:
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without
end.Amen. 
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Day 3 Prayers


The Holy Nativity.
O most sweet infant Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary in
Bethlehem, wrapped in poor swaddling clothes, laid
in the manger, glorified by angels, and visited by
shepherds. 
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
O Jesus born of Virgin bright,
Immortal glory be to thee;
Praise to the Father infinite,
And Holy Ghost eternally.
Christ is at hand. O come, let us worship him.
Hail Mary...
Amen.
FROM THE RACCOLTA OFFICIAL
NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on  any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.

Saint December 20 : St. Dominic of Silos : Patron of against rabies; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds

St. Dominic of Silos
BENEDICTINE AND MYSTIC WRITER
Feast: December 20


Information:
Feast Day:December 20
Born:1000, Cañas (modern Rioja), Spain
Died:December 10, 1073, Silos
Patron of:against rabies; against rabid dogs; against insects; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds
St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, was named after this Benedictine abbot, who lived a century before him. According to Dominican tradition, St. Dominic of Silos appeared to Blessed Joan of Aza (the mother of the later St. Dominic), who made a pilgrimage to his shrine before the birth of her son, and named him after the abbot of Silos.
Dominic of Silos was born in Navarre, Spain, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, and was a shepherd boy, looking after his father's flocks. He acquired a love of solitude and as a young man became a monk at the monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla. He eventually became prior of the monastery and came into conflict with the king of Navarre over possessions of the monastery claimed by the king. The king drove Dominic out of the monastery, and Dominic went with other monks to Castille, where the king of Castille appointed Dominic abbot of the monastery of St. Sebastian at Silos.
The monastery was in terrible shape, spiritually and materially, and Dominic set about to restore the monastery and to reform the lives of the monks. He preserved the Mozarbic Rite (one of the variants of the Latin Rite) at his monastery, and his monastery became one of the centers of the Mozarbic liturgy. His monastery also preserved the Visigothic script of ancient Spain and was a center of learning and liturgy in that part of Spain.
Dominic of Silos died on December 20,1073, about a century before the birth of his namesake, St. Dominic of Calaruega. Before the Spanish Revolution of 1931, it was customary for the abbot of Silos to bring the staff of Dominic of Silos to the Spanish royal palace whenever the queen was in labor and to leave it at her bedside until the birth of her child had taken place.
In recent times, great interest in Dominic of Silos has arisen since the literary treasures of the library of Silos have become known. The abbey had a profound influence on spirituality and learning in Spain. Today the monastery is an abbey of the Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes housing a library of ancient and rare manuscripts. SOURCE EWTN.COM

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pope Francis "The Church is a mother and only becomes a mother when she opens to the newness of God..." Advent Homily

Pope at Mass - OSS_ROM
19/12/2014 12:42


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis said on Friday that there is much sterility within the Church and the people of God, a sterility that comes from power and egoism.  The Church, he stressed, is a mother and not an entrepreneur. His remarks came during his homily at morning Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.  The Pope’s reflections on the themes of sterility and motherhood were taken from the biblical account of two miraculous births, those of Samson and John the Baptist, both born to women who were formerly sterile. He said this symbol of sterility as recounted in the Bible is seen as the sign of a human person incapable of moving forward. Therefore the Church, he said, wants to make us reflect on the issue of human sterility. 
 Sterility and new Creation
“From sterility, the Lord is able to restart a new lineage, a new life.  And that is the message of today.  When humanity is exhausted and can no longer go forward, grace comes, the Son comes and Salvation comes. And that exhausted Creation gives way to a new creation.”
Today’s message, the Pope continued, is this second Creation that comes when the earth is exhausted.  We are awaiting the newness of God and that’s what Christmas is about. He pointed out that the mothers of Samson and John the Baptist were able to give birth thanks to the action of the Spirit of the Lord and asked what is the message of these biblical accounts?  The reply, he said, is that we must open ourselves to the Spirit of God because we cannot do it by ourselves. 
Openess to the newness of God
“This too makes me think of our mother Church and of so much sterility within our Mother Church: when because of the weight of the hope in the Commandments, that pelagianism that all of us carry within our bones, she becomes sterile.  She believes she is capable of giving birth… no, she can’t!  The Church is a mother and only becomes a mother when she opens to the newness of God, to the strength of the Spirit.  When she says to herself: “I do everything, but I’ve finished, I can’t go forward!”, the Spirit comes.” A mother and not an entrepreneur
Pope Francis then went on to reflect on the sterility within the Church and her openness to becoming a mother through her faith.
“And today is also a day to pray for our Mother Church, because of so much sterility within the people of God.  A sterility arising from egoism, from power … when the Church believes she can do everything, that she can take charge of the consciences of the people, walk along the road of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, along the road of hypocrisy, yes, the Church is sterile. Let’s pray. That this Christmas our Church may be open to the gift of God, that she may allow herself to be surprised by the Holy Spirit and be a Church that gives birth, a mother Church. Many times I think that in some places the Church is more like an entrepreneur than a mother.”
The Pope concluded his homily by imploring the Lord for the grace of fertility and motherhood within our Church so that above all the Church is a mother, just like Mary.  

Christmas Novena : Day 3 : Official Plenary Indulgence



Opening Prayer:
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without
end.
Amen. 
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Day 3 Prayers


The Expectation of Birth.
O most sweet infant Jesus, who waited for nine months
enclosed in the womb, and inflamed the heart of the
Virgin Mary and St. Joseph with the most powerful love
and expectation, all for the salvation of the world. 
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
Hail Mary...
Amen.
FROM THE RACCOLTA OFFICIAL
NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on  any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.




Latest News from Vatican Information Service and Pope Francis - Olympic Committee - Christmas Tree - More


19-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 227 

Summary
- The Nativity and the Christmas Tree are signs of light and hope
- Francis: sport to promote friendship between peoples
- Audiences
- POPE TO NEW AMBASSADORS: TASK OF AMBASSADOR, THROUGH SMALL STEPS, IS TO BRING PEACE
- POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES DELEGATION FROM EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, EMPHASIZES THAT LUTHERANS AND CATHOLICS WILL CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
- POPE FRANCIS TO THE YOUTH OF CATHOLIC ACTION ITALY. ?YOU ONLY NEED A FEW WORDS TO BE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: 'HERE I AM.'?
- POPE EXPRESSES JOY FOR HISTORIC DECISION OF UNITED STATES AND CUBA TO ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
- AUDIENCES
The Nativity and the Christmas Tree are signs of light and hope
Vatican City, 19 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Pope received delegations from the Italian provinces of Verona and Catanzaro, which provided the Nativity scene with its terracotta figures and the Christmas tree that are decorating St. Peter's Square during the festive season this year, and which will be illuminated before the public this evening.
“Christian values have enriched the culture, literature, music and art of your lands, and today such values continue to constitute a valuable heritage to be preserved and transmitted to future generations”, he said. “The Nativity and the Christmas tree are evocative festive symbols very dear to our Christian families: they recall the mystery of the Incarnation, the only begotten Son of God, made flesh in order to save us, and the light that Jesus has brought to the world through His birth. But the creche and the tree touch the hearts of all, as they speak of fraternity, intimacy and friendship, calling to people of our time to rediscover the beauty of simplicity, sharing and solidarity. They are an invitation to unity, harmony and peace; an invitation to make room, in our personal and social life, for God, Who does not come with arrogance, imposing His power, but instead offers His omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a Child. The creche and the tree therefore bring a message of light, hope, and love”.
“The Messiah made Himself man and came among us, to dispel the shadows of error and sin, bringing His divine light to humanity. Jesus Himself says of Himself: 'I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life'. Let us follow Him, the true light, so as not to lose our way and in turn to reflect light and warmth on those who go through moments of difficulty and inner darkness”.
Francis: sport to promote friendship between peoples
Vatican City, 19 December 2014 (VIS) – The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) celebrates its centenary this year. This morning around five thousand managers and athletes from the Committee attended a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, after which Pope Francis addressed a brief discourse to them. “In our times sport is the home of the Church, and this meeting is the proof of this: we celebrate together your centenary, an important anniversary for Italian sport”, he said.
The Holy Father commented that for one hundred years the CONI has promoted and organised sport in Italy not only in relation to the great global event that is the Modern Olympics, but also focusing on the popular, social, educational and cultural dimensions. “It does this taking inspiration from the principles of the Olympic Charter, that places among its main aims the centrality of the person, the harmonious development of humanity, the defence of human dignity, and, moreover, the contribution to a better world, without wars or tension, educating the young through sport practised without discrimination of any type, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.
“Sport has always promoted universalism characterised by fraternity and friendship among peoples, accord and peace between nations; respect, tolerance, and harmony in diversity”, he added. “Every sporting event, especially Olympic ones, in which representatives of nations with different histories, cultures, traditions, faiths and values compete, can be come a channel for an ideal strength able to open up new paths, at times unexpected, in overcoming conflicts caused by the violation of human rights”.
The Olympic motto, “Citius, altius, fortius”, “is not an incitement to the supremacy of one nation over another, of one people over another people, nor of the exclusion of the weakest and least protected, but rather represents the challenge posed to all of us, not just athletes: that of making the effort and the sacrifice to reach the important goals in life, accepting one's own limits without allowing oneself to be obstructed by them, but seeking instead to overcome them”.
The Holy Father encouraged the members of CONI to continue their work in schools, in the world of work and in solidarity “to promote a sport that is accessible to all, mindful of the weakest and of the most precarious sectors of society; an inclusive sport for the differently-abled, foreigners, those who live in peripheries and are in need of meeting places, sociality, sharing and play; a sport that aims not at being 'useful', but at the development of the human person, in a gratuitous fashion”.
Finally, Francis remarked that CONI was the first national Olympic committee – whose example was later followed by others – to include an Olympic chaplain in its organisation. “It is a friendly presence to demonstrate the closeness of the Church and to stimulate in sports people a strong sense of spiritual training. Indeed, there are certain words typical of sport that can be used to refer to spiritual life. The saints understood this, and knew how to interpret passion, enthusiasm, constancy, determination, challenge and limits, looking beyond themselves, towards the horizon of God”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 19 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseilles, France, president of the Conference of Bishops of France, accompanied by Bishop Pascal Delannoy of Saint-Denis, vice president, and Msgr. Olivier Ribadeau, general secretary.
18-12-2014 - Year XXIV - Num. 226 

POPE TO NEW AMBASSADORS: TASK OF AMBASSADOR, THROUGH SMALL STEPS, IS TO BRING PEACE
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) -This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the ambassadors of the following nations, presenting their Credential Letters:
- Mr. Vaanchig Purevdorj of Mongolia,
- Mr. Sean Mcweeney, Q.C., of The Bahamas,
- Mr. Edward D.A. Lambert of Dominica,
- Mr. Philip Sang?ka Marmo of Tanzania,
- Mrs. Louise Bang Jespersen of Denmark,
- Mr. Dato? Mohd Zulkephli Bin Mohd Noor of Malaysia,
- Dr. Francois Xavier Ngarambe of Rwanda,
- Mr. Jari Petteri Luoto of Finland,
- Mrs. Janet Lowe of New Zealand,
- Sheikh Mouclary Diarra of Mali,
- Mr. Kokou Nayo Atsumikoa M?Beou of Togo,
- Mr. Shameem Ahsan of Bangladesh, and,
- Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser bin Ahmad Ali Al-Thani of Qatar.
The Holy Father welcomed the new ambassadors with the following words: ?I warmly welcome you and hope that every time you enter this house that you feel at home. I extend our welcome and respect for you and for your peoples and the heads of your governments. I greet you and wish your work to be fruitful, to be fertile. The work of an ambassador lies in small steps, small things, but they always end up making peace, bringing closer the hearts of people, sowing brotherhood among peoples. This is your job, but with little things, tiny things. Today we are all happy because we have seen how two peoples, distanced for so many years, made a step nearer one another yesterday. That was brought about by ambassadors, by diplomacy. Your job is noble work, very noble. I wish it to be fruitful, fertile, and may God bless you. Thank you.?
POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES DELEGATION FROM EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, EMPHASIZES THAT LUTHERANS AND CATHOLICS WILL CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS)  Official dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics has been in place for almost 50 years and the progress made in this half century constitutes a solid foundation for sincere friendship lived in faith and spirituality, Pope Francis said this morning on receiving a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany on an ecumenical visit to Rome.
Despite theological differences that persist in various issues of the faith, collaboration and fraternal coexistence characterize the life of our churches and ecclesial communities, which are committed to a common ecumenical journey and joint documents. One such text was the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which was officially signed fifteen years ago in Augsburg. These are,Pope Francis said, important milestones that allow us to confidently continue along the path undertaken.
Although the common goal of full and visible unity of Christians sometimes seems to become more difficult to achieve because of different interpretations regarding the church and its unity, we must not give in to resignation but concentrate on the next possible step. ?Do not forget,? the Pope stressed, ?that we are walking together the path of friendship, mutual respect, and theological research. It is a path that makes us look with hope to the future. That is why, this past 21 November, bells of all the cathedrals in Germany rang to invite all Christian brothers and sisters to a common liturgical service for the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism.?
The Holy Father expressed his satisfaction that the Commission on Bilateral Dialogue between the German Bishops' Conference and the German Evangelical Lutheran Church is about to finish its work dedicated to ?God and the Dignity of Man?. He emphasized the relevance of ?issues related to the dignity of the human person at the beginning and end of life, as well as those related to family, marriage, and sexuality, which cannot be excluded or left to the side just because one doesn't want to endanger the ecumenical consensus reached thus far. It would be a shame if new confessional differences arose in such important topics related to human existence.
?Ecumenical dialogue today can no longer be separated from the reality and the life of our churches. In 2017, Lutheran and Catholic Christians will jointly commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On that occasion, Lutherans and Catholics around the world will, for the first time, have the opportunity to share the same ecumenical commemoration, not in the form of a triumphalistic celebration, but as the profession of our common faith in the Triune God. At the center of this event, therefore, there will be common prayer and the plea that our Lord Jesus Christ pardon for our mutual faults, along with the joy of journeying together on a shared ecumenical path. This meaningfully references the document produced by the Lutheran-Catholic Commission for Unity published last year entitled ?From Conflict to Communion: The Joint Lutheran-Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017?. May this commemoration of the Reformation encourage us all to carry out, with God's help and the support of his Spirit, further steps towards unity and to not just limit ourselves to what we have already achieved!
POPE FRANCIS TO THE YOUTH OF CATHOLIC ACTION ITALY. ?YOU ONLY NEED A FEW WORDS TO BE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: 'HERE I AM.'
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) - I have heard that this year you are working on a theme with the slogan 'Everything to Discover'. It's a beautiful journey, one which requires courage and the hard work of exploring to then rejoice when the plan that Jesus has for each of us is discovered This is what Pope Frances told the youth of Catholic Action Italy this morning when he met with them in the Vatican. Regarding their theme, especially the word everything, the Holy Father offered some advice for walking well in Catholic Action, in your family, and in your communities.
Never give up, he said, because what Jesus thought for your path is something to be built together: together with your parents, your brothers and sisters, and your friends from school, from catechism, from your parishes, and from Catholic Action. Concern yourselves with the needs of the poorest, those suffering the most, and those who are most lonely because whoever has chosen to love Jesus cannot not love their neighbor. Your journey in Catholic Action, therefore, will become total love.
The Pope asked them not to forget the Church and her priests, and to put themselves at the service of their community, because the Church is not just priests and bishops, but the entire community. So put yourselves at the service of the community. Give of your time, energy, personal qualities and skills in your parishes and thus bear witness that the wealth of each is a gift from God that should be fully shared. He also encouraged them to be apostles of peace and serenity starting with their families. Remind your parents, siblings, and peers that it is beautiful to love one another and that misunderstandings can be overcome because, united to Jesus, everything is possible. To that end, Pope Francis encouraged them to talk to Jesus in prayer. He is your best friend who will never abandon you. Entrust your joys and sorrows to Him. Turn to Him any time you make a mistake or do something wrong. You can be sure that He will forgive you. And speak to all of Jesus, of his love, his mercy, his tenderness, because friendship with Jesus?who gave himself for usis an event that must be told.
Finally, he emphasized that with the grace of his birth, Jesus wants to help us take a stronger, safer, and happier step toward being his disciples? and that it only takes a few words, which our Mother, the Virgin, teaches us; the words of her response to the Lord's call; Here I am.?
POPE EXPRESSES JOY FOR HISTORIC DECISION OF UNITED STATES AND CUBA TO ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) - The following is the full text of a communique published yesterday afternoon by the Governorate of Vatican City State.
The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history.?
In recent months, Pope Francis wrote letters to the President of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Mr Raul Castro, and the President of the United States, The Honorable Barack Obama, and invited them to resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners, in order to initiate a new phase in relations between the two parties.
The Holy See received delegations of the two countries in the Vatican last October and provided its good offices to facilitate a constructive dialogue on delicate matters, resulting in solutions acceptable to both parties.
The Holy See will continue to assure its support for initiatives which both nations will undertake to strengthen their bilateral relations and promote the well-being of their respective citizens.
AUDIENCES
Vatican City, 18 December 2014 (VIS) This morning the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and
- Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Singapore, non-residential pontifical representative for Vietnam, and apostolic nuncio to the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

Today's Mass Readings : Friday December 19, 2014

Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 195


Reading 1JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.’”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17

R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Root of Jesse's stem,
sign of God's love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Saint December 19 : Blessed Urban V : Pope

Bl. Urban V
POPE
Feast: December 19


Information:
Feast Day:December 19
Born:1310 Grizac, Languedoc, France
Died:December 19, 1370 Avignon, France
Guillaume de Grimoard, born at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310; died at Avignon, 19 December, 1370. Born of a knightly family, he was educated at Montpellier and Toulouse, and became a Benedictine monk at the little priory of Chirac near his home. A Bull of 1363 informs us that he was professed at the great Abbey of St. Victor at Marseilles, where he imbibed his characteristic love for the Order of St. Benedict; even as pope he wore its habit. He was ordained at Chirac, and after a further course of theology and canon law at the universities of Toulouse, Montpellier, Paris, and Avignon, he received the doctorate in 1342. He was one of the greatest canonists of his day; was professor of canon law at Montpellier, and also taught at Toulouse, Paris, and Avignon; he acted successively as vicar-general of the Dioceses of Clermont and Uzès, was at an unknown date (before 1342) affiliated to Cluny, became prior of Notre-Dame du Pré (a priory dependent on St. Germain d'Auxerre), and in 1352 was named abbot of that famous house by Clement VI. With this date begins his diplomatic career. His first mission was to Giovanni Visconti, Archbishop and despot of Milan, and this he carried out successfully; in 1354 and 1360 he was employed on the affairs of the Holy See in Italy; in 1361 he was appointed by Innocent VI to the Abbacy of St. Victor at Marseilles, but in 1362 was once more dispatched to Italy, this time on an embassy to Joanna of Naples. It was while engaged on this business that the abbot heard of his election to the papacy. Innocent VI had died on 12 Sept. The choice of one who was not a cardinal was due to jealousies within the Sacred College, which made the election of any one of its members almost impossible. Guillaume de Grimoard was chosen for his virtue and learning, and for his skill in practical affairs of government and diplomacy. He arrived at Marseilles on 28 Oct., entered Avignon three days later, and was consecrated on 6 November, taking the name of Urban because, as he said, "all the popes who had borne the name had been saints". The general satisfaction which this election aroused was voiced by Petrarch, who wrote to the pope, "It is God alone who has chosen you".
On 20 November King John of France visited Avignon; his main purpose was to obtain the hand of Joanna of Naples, ward of the Holy See, for his son Philip, Duke of Touraine. In a letter of 7 November Urban had already approved her project of marriage with King James of Majorca, a king without a kingdom; by so doing the pope safeguarded his own independence at Avignon, which would have been gravely imperilled had the marriage of Joanna, who was also Countess of Provence, united to the Crown of France the country surrounding the little papal principality. The letter written by Urban to Joanna on 29 Nov., urging the marriage with Philip, was probably meant rather to appease the French king than to persuade the recipient. The betrothal of the Queen of Naples to James of Majorca was signed on 14 Dec. The enormous ransom of 3,000,000 gold crowns, due to Edward III of England from John of France by the treaty of Bretigny, was still in great part unpaid, and John now sought permission to levy a tithe on the revenues of the French clergy. Urban refused this request as well as another for the nomination of four cardinals chosen by the king. John also desired to intervene between the pope and Barnabò Visconti, tyrant of Milan. He was again refused, and when Barnabò failed to appear within the three months allowed by his citation, the pope excommunicated him (3 March, 1363). In April of the same year Visconti was defeated before Bologna. Peace was concluded in March, 1364; Barnabò restored the castles seized by him, while Urban withdrew the excommunication and undertook to pay half a million gold florins.
The Benedictine pope was a lover of peace, and much of his diplomacy was directed to the pacification of Italy and France. Both countries were overrun by mercenary bands known as the "Free Companies", and the pope made many efforts to secure their dispersal or departure. His excommunication was disregarded and the companies refused to join the distant King of Hungary in his battles with the Turks although the Emperor Charles IV, who came to Avignon in May, 1365, guaranteed the expenses of their journey and offered them the revenues of his kingdom of Bohemia for three years. War now broke out between Pedro the Cruel of Navarre and his brother Henry of Trastamare. Pedro was excommunicated for his  cruelties and persecutions of the clergy, and Bertrand Duguesclin, the victor of Cocherel, led the companies into Navarre; yet they visited Avignon on their way and wrung blackmail from the pope. The Spanish war was quickly ended, and Urban returned to his fomer plan of employing the companies against the Turk. The Count of Savoy was to have led them to the assistance of the King of Cyprus and the Eastern Empire, but this scheme too was a failure. Urban's efforts were equally fruitless in Italy, where the whole land was overrun with bands led by such famous condottieri as the German Count of Landau and the Englishman Sir John Hawkwood. In 1365, after the failure of a scheme to unite Florence, Pisa, and the Italian communes against them, the pope commissioned Albornoz to persuade these companies to join the King of Hungary. In 1366 he solemnly excommunicated them, forbade their employment, and called on the emperor and all the powers of Christendom to unite for their extirpation. All was in vain, for though a league of Italian cities was formed in September of that year, it was disolved about fifteen months later owing to Florentine jealousy of the emperor.
Rome had suffered terribly through the absence of her pontiffs, and it became apparent to Urban that if he remained at Avignon the work of the warlike Cardinal Albornoz in restoring to the papacy the States of the Church would be undone. On 14 September, 1366, he informed the emperor of his determination to return to Rome. All men rejoiced at the announcement except the French; the king understood that the departure from Avignon would mean a diminution of French influence at the Curia. The French cardinals were in despair at the prospect of leaving France, and even threatened to desert the pope. On 30 April, 1367, Urban left Avignon; on 19 May he sailed from Marseilles, and after a long coasting voyage he reached Corneto, where he was met by Albornoz. On 4 June the Romans brought the keys of Sant' Angelo in sign of welcome, and the Gesuati carrying their branches in their hands and headed by their founder, Blessed John Colombini, preceded the pope. Five days later he entered Viterbo, where he dwelt in the citadel. The disturbed state of Italy made it impossible for Urban to set out to Rome until he had gathered a considerable army, so it was not till 16 Oct. that he entered the city at the head of an imposing cavalcade, under the escort of the Count of Savoy, the Marquess of Ferrara, and other princes.
The return of the pope to Rome appeared to the contemporary world both as a great event and as a religious action. The pope now set to work to improve the material and moral condition of his capital. The basilicas and papal palaces were restored and decorated, and the Papal treasure, which had been preserved at Assisi since the days of Boniface VIII, was distributed to the city churches. The unemployed were put to work in the neglected gardens of the Vatican, and corn was distributed in seasons of scarcity; at the same time the discipline of the clergy was restored, and the frequentation of the sacraments encouraged. One of Urban's first acts was to change the Roman constitution, but it may be questioned whether "the sacrifice offered to the Pontiff as the reward of his return was the liberty of the people" (Gregorovius).
On 17 October, 1368, the emperor joined the pope at Viterbo. Before leaving Germany he had confirmed all the rights of the Church, and Urban hoped for his help against the Visconti, but Charles allowed himself to be bribed. On 21 Oct. the pope and emperor entered Rome together, the latter humbly leading the pontiff's mule. On 1 Nov. Charles acted as deacon at the Mass at which Urban crowned the empress. For more than a century pope and emperor had not appeared thus in amity. A year later the Emperor of the East, John V Palaeologus, came to Rome seeking assistance against the infidel; he abjured the schism and was received by Urban on the steps of St. Peter's. These emperors both of West and East were but shadows of their great predecessors, and their visits, triumphs as they might appear, were but little gain to Urban V. He felt that his position in Italy was insecure. The death of Albornoz (24 Aug., 1367), who had made his return to Italy possible, had been a great loss. The restlessness of the towns was exemplified by the revolt of Perugia, which had to be crushed by force; any chance storm might undo the work of the great legate. At heart, too, the pope had all a Frenchman's love for his country, and his French entourage urged his return to Avignon. In vain were the remonstrances of the envoys of Rome, which had gained "greater quiet and order, an influx of wealth, a revival of importance" from his sojourn; in vain were the admonitions of St. Bridget, who came from Rome to Montefiascone to warn him that if he returned to Avignon he would shortly die. War had broken out again between France and England, and the desire to bring about peace strengthened the pope's determination. On 5 Sept., 1370, "sad, suffering and deeply moved", Urban embarked at Corneto. In a Bull of 26 June he had told the Romans that his departure was motived by his desire to be useful to the Universal Church and to the country to which he was going. It may be, too, that the pope saw that the next conclave would be free at Avignon but not in Italy. Charles V joyfully sent a fleet of richly adorned galleys to Corneto; the pope did not long survive his return (24 Sept.) to Avignon. His body was buried in Notre-Dame des Doms at Avignon but was removed two years later, in accordance with his own wish, to the Abbey Church of St. Victor at Marseilles. Miracles multiplied around his tomb. His canonization was demanded by King Waldemar of Denmark and promised by Gregory XI as early as 1375, but did not take place owing to the disorders of the time. His cultus was approved by Pius IX in 1870.
Urban V was a man whose motives cannot be called in question: his policy aimed at Eurpoean peace; shortly before his death he had given orders that preparations should be made to enable him personally to visit and reconcile Edward III and Charles V. He had shown great zeal for the Crusade. On 29 March, 1363, Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus and titular King of Jerusalem, appeared at Avignon to appeal for assistance against the Turks, and on 31 March (Good Friday) Urban preached the Crusade and gave the cross to the Kings of France, Denmark, and Cyprus; the chivalrous King John, who was to have been chief commander, died a quasi-prisoner at London in 1364, and though the King of Cyprus captured Alexandria (11 Oct., 1365), he was unable to hold the city. The crusading spirit  was dead in Europe. In an age of corruption and simony Urban stood for purity and disinterestedness in church life: he did much for ecclesiastical discipline and caused many provincial councils to be held; he refused to bestow place or money on his relatives, and even caused his own father to refund a pension bestowed on him by the French king. His brother, whom he prompted to the cardinalate, was acknowledged by all to be a man most worthy of the dignity. The pope's private life was that of a monk, and he was always accessible to those who sought his aid.
But Urban was a patriotic Frenchman, a defect in the universal father of Christendom. He estranged the English king by the help given to his rival, and aroused hostility in Italy by the favour shown to men of his own race whom he made his representatives in the States of the Church. He was a great patron of learning, founded universities at Cracow (by a Bull of 1364) and at Vienna (by a Bull of 1365), and caused the emperor to create the University of Orange; he revised the statutes of the University of Orléans; and gave great assistance to the universities of Avignon and Toulouse. At Bologna he supported the great college founded by Albornoz and paid the expenses of many poor students whom he sent thither. He also founded a studium at Trets (later removed to Manosque), but his greatest foundations were at Montpellier. His buildings and restorations were considerable, especially at Avignon, Rome, and Montpellier. He approved the orders of Brigittines and Gesuati, and canonized his godfather, St. Elzéar of Sabran.

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