Saint of the week (Saint John Bosco)

SAINT OF THE WEEK (SAINT JOHN  BOSCO

SOD-0131-SaintJohnBosco-790x480                                                                 STATUE OF SAINT JOHN BOSCO

St John Bosco, considered one of the greatest saints of modern times, was born in a Piedmontese village in 1815. When he was 2 years old he lost his father, a humble peasant farmer, and he was brought up by his saintly Tertiary mother, Margaret. It was no doubt due to her example and influence that John too joined the Third Order of St. Francis.

Even as a youngster, John recognized that it was his vocation in life to help poor boys; and he began to teach catechism to the boys of his own village and bring them to church. Acrobatic stunts and conjuring tricks were the

At 16 he entered the seminary at Chieri. He was so poor at the time, that the mayor contributed a hat, the parish priest a cloak, one parishioner a cassock, and another a pair of shoes. After he was ordained a deacon he passed on to the seminary in Turin; and there, with the approbation of his superiors, he began to gather together on Sundays poor apprentices and waifs of the city. At the age of twenty, with the support of his spiritual director and friend, St Joseph Cafasso, John Bosco entered the seminary. He was noted for his piety, cheerfulness, and generous heart. He studied at the seminary for six years, and on June 5, 1841, John Bosco finally became a priest and was called by the Italian title, “Don”.

Fr. Bosco died on January 31, 1888. The call for his canonization was immediate. Pope Pius XI knew Fr. Bosco personally and agreed, declaring him blessed in 1929. St. John Bosco was canonized on Easter Sunday, 1934 and he was given the title, “Father and Teacher of Youth.”

In 2002, Pope John Paul II was petitioned to declare St. John Bosco the Patron of Stage Magicians. St. Bosco had pioneered the art of what is today called “Gospel Magic,” using magic and other feats to attract attention and engage the youth.

Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. His feast day is on January 31.

 

REFLECTION

John Bosco educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience. It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, because John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that come with talent and ability, he trained his students in the trade crafts, too.

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Thought for the week

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

“The Trinity in whose name we are baptized is with us all the days of our life. T he Father is always present, providentially watching day and night over his adopted children. The Word is always present, keeping them from all evil. The Holy Spirit is always present, guiding them through the cares and hardships of this life towards their eternal destiny. All three divine Persons of the Trinity unceasingly watch over us with their all-powerful protection.” Fr. M Philipon, OP.

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Saint Agnes of Rome (Saint of the day)

 

SAINT AGNES OF ROME (SAINT OF THE DAY)

 

SAINT AGNES OF ROME

We know little about martyrs like Cecilia, Nicholas, and Agnes of the early Church. All we know for sure about Agnes is that she died for her faith at the age of 12 or 13.

We are told that Agnes was a Roman Christian. She wanted to remain a virgin; she did not want to marry or give her body to another person. This young girl wanted to give her purity back to God. In fact, the name “Agnes” means “pure.”

According to legend, Agnes was quite beautiful and a member of the nobility in Rome. Many men wanted to marry her. But she refused to give up her virginity. This made one man angry. So, he told the Roman governor that Agnes was a Christian. (At that time, Rome persecuted Christians and put them to death.)

The governor asked Agnes to give up her belief in God. She refused. So he sent her to a house where men could take away her virginity. But Agnes was so good that no man hurt her.

Then the governor ordered his soldiers to put Agnes to death.
However she died, Agnes was heroic and took her virginity with her to God’s kingdom. Because a lamb’s wool is white and pure, the Church uses the symbol of a lamb for Agnes. She is the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, and engaged couples, among others.

Feast day 21 January

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The mystery of Lord’s baptism

From a sermon by Saint Maximus of Turin, bishop (Sermo 100, de sancta Epiphania 1, 3: CCL 23, 398-400)

THE MYSTERY OF LORD’S BAPTISM

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The Gospel tells us that the Lord went to the Jordan River to be baptized and that he wished to consecrate himself in the river by signs from heaven.

Reason demands that this feast of the Lord’s baptism, which I think could be called the feast of his birthday, should follow soon after the Lord’s birthday, during the same season, even though many years intervened between the two events.

At Christmas he was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from the Virgin; today he is born in mystery. When he was born a man, his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when he says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to him. The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves his Son by his loving testimony. The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore; the Father reveals that his Son is to be worshiped by all the nations.

That is why the Lord Jesus went to the river for baptism, that is why he wanted his holy body to be washed with Jordan’s water.

Someone might ask, “Why would a holy man desire baptism?” Listen to the answer: Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched. For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water.

For when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages. Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence.

I understand the mystery as this. The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so they could follow on their brave journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed. As the apostle Paul said, what was accomplished then was the mystery of baptism. Clearly it was baptism in a certain sense when the cloud was covering the people and bringing them through the water.

Bur Christ the Lord does all these things: in the column of fire he went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now, in the column of his body, he goes through baptism before the Christian people. At the time of the Exodus the column provided light for the people who followed; now it gives light to the hearts of believers. Then it made a firm pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism.

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From an addrwss by Saint Paul, Pope on Nazareth

FROM AN ADDRESS BY SAINT PAUL VI, POPE ON NAZARETH, JANUARY 5, 1964

                                                 NAZARETH, A MODEL

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value—demanding yet redeeming—and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well-being.

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The Holy Bible

THE HOLY BIBLE! WHEN AND WHO COMPILED THE BIBLE

HOLY BIBLE III

 

The Old Testament books were written well before Jesus’ Incarnation, and all of the New Testament books were written by roughly the end of the first century A.D. But the Bible as a whole, was not officially compiled until the late fourth century, illustrating that it was the Catholic Church who determined the canon—or list of books—of the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Bible is not a not a self-canonizing collection of books, as there is no table of contents included in any of the books.

Although the New Testament canon was not determined until the late 300s, books the Church deemed sacred were early on proclaimed at Mass, and read and preached about otherwise. Early Christian writings outnumbered the 27 books that would become the canon of the New Testament. The shepherds of the Church, by a process of spiritual discernment and investigation into the liturgical traditions of the Church spread throughout the world, had to draw clear lines of distinction between books that are truly inspired by God and originated in the apostolic period, and those which only claimed to have these qualities.

The process culminated in 382 as the Council of Rome, which was convened under the leadership of Pope Damasus, promulgated the 73-book scriptural canon. The biblical canon was reaffirmed by the regional councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397), and then definitively reaffirmed by the ecumenical Council of Florence in 1442).

HOLY BIBLE

Finally, the ecumenical Council of Trent solemnly defined this same canon in 1546, after it came under attack by the first Protestant leaders, including Martin Luther.

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Immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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THE STORY OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

A feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern Church in the seventh century. It came to the West in the eighth century. In the 11th century it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. In the 18th century it became a feast of the universal Church. It is now recognized as a solemnity.

In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

It took a long time for this doctrine to develop. While many Fathers and Doctors of the Church considered Mary the greatest and holiest of the saints, they often had difficulty in seeing Mary as sinless—either at her conception or throughout her life. This is one of the Church teachings that arose more from the piety of the faithful than from the insights of brilliant theologians. Even such champions of Mary as Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas could not see theological justification for this teaching.

Two Franciscans, William of Ware and Blessed John Duns Scotus, helped develop the theology. They pointed out that Mary’s Immaculate Conception enhances Jesus’ redemptive work. Other members of the human race are cleansed from original sin after birth. In Mary, Jesus’ work was so powerful as to prevent original sin at the outset.

REFLECTION

 

In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel, speaking on God’s behalf, addresses Mary as “full of grace” or “highly favoured”. In that context, this phrase means that Mary is receiving all the special divine help necessary for the task ahead. However, the Church grows in understanding with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led the Church, especially non-theologians, to the insight that Mary had to be the most perfect work of God next to the Incarnation. Or rather, Mary’s intimate association with the Incarnation called for the special involvement of God in Mary’s whole life.

The logic of piety helped God’s people to believe that Mary was full of grace and free of sin from the first moment of her existence. Moreover, this great privilege of Mary is the highlight of all that God has done in Jesus. Rightly understood, the incomparable holiness of Mary shows forth the incomparable goodness of God.


Mary as the Immaculate Conception is the Patron Saint of:

Brazil
United States

Feast day 9th December

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Story of Saint Francis Xavier

STORY OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER

SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER

Jesus asked, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:26a). The words were repeated to a young teacher of philosophy who had a highly promising career in academics, with success and a life of prestige and honour before him.

Francis Xavier, 24 at the time, and living and teaching in Paris, did not heed these words at once. They came from a good friend, Ignatius of Loyola, whose tireless persuasion finally won the young man to Christ. Francis then made the spiritual exercises under the direction of Ignatius, and in 1534, joined his little community, the infant Society of Jesus. Together at Montmartre they vowed poverty,

From Venice, where he was ordained a priest in 1537, Xavier went on to Lisbon and from there sailed to the East Indies, landing at Goa, on the west coast of India. For the next 10 years he labored to bring the faith to such widely scattered peoples as the Hindus, the Malayans, and the Japanese. He spent much of that time in India and served as provincial of the newly established Jesuit province of India.

Wherever he went, Xavier lived with the poorest people, sharing their food and rough accommodations. He spent countless hours ministering to the sick and the poor, particularly to lepers. Very often he had no time to sleep or even to say his breviary but, as we know from his letters, he was filled always with joy.

Xavier went through the islands of Malaysia, then up to Japan. He learned enough Japanese to preach to simple folk, to instruct, and to baptize, and to establish missions for those who were to follow him. From Japan he had dreams of going to China, but this plan was never realized. Before reaching the mainland, he died. His remains are enshrined in the Church of Good Jesus in Goa. He and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux were declared co-patrons of the missions in 1925.

REFLECTION

 

All of us are called to “go and preach to all nations—see Matthew 28:19. Our preaching is not necessarily on distant shores but to our families, our children, our husband or wife, our coworkers. And we are called to preach not with words, but by our everyday lives. Only by sacrifice, the giving up of all selfish gain, could Francis Xavier be free to bear the Good News to the world. Sacrifice is leaving yourself behind at times for a greater good, the good of prayer, the good of helping someone in need, the good of just listening to another. The greatest gift we have is our time. Francis Xavier gave his to others.


Saint Francis Xavier is the Patron Saint of:

Japan
Jewelers
Missions
Sailors      (Feast day 3rd December)

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Keep watch, he is to come

KEEP WATCH: HE IS TO COME BY SAINT EPHREM

SAINT EPHREM

Advent reminds us to be vigilant, awake and to keep watch since no one knows the hour of Christ’s coming.  We should be watchful, longing and yearning for the coming of Christ with vigilance says St. Ephrem the Syrian.

To prevent his disciples from asking the time of his coming, Christ said: About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments [Mat.24:36]

 

KEEP WATCH!

He has kept those things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savor: it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly.

 

SIGNS OF HIS COMING

Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of their fulfillment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still present. His final coming is like his first. As holy men and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day, because Christ has not made plain the day of his coming.

He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided, be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in their own day.

 

VIGILANCE

Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of us, and what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature. When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faint-heartedness or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not will. The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control.

When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both parts of man: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul, against lethargy and timidity. As Scripture says: Wake up, you just, and I have risen, and am still with you; and again, do not lose heart. Therefore, having this ministry, we do not lose heart [2 Cor 4:1].

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On the twofold coming of Christ

ON THE TWOFOLD COMING OF CHRIST

From a catechetical instruction by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop (Cat. 15, 1-3: PG 33, 870-874)

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first.  The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects.  There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time.  There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and a coming before all eyes, still in the future.

At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger.  At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment.  In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.  We look then beyond the first coming and await the second.  At the first coming we said:  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration:  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Savior will not come to be judged again, but to judge those by whom he was judged.  At his own judgment he was silent; then he will address those who committed the outrages against him when they crucified him and will remind them:  You did these things, and I was silent.

His first coming was to fulfill his plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion.  This time, whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of his kingdom by necessity.  Malachi the prophet speaks of the two comings.  And the Lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple:  that is one coming.

Again he says of another coming:  Look, the Lord almighty will come, and who will endure the day of his entry, or who will stand in his sight?  Because he comes like a refiner’s fire, a fuller’s herb, and he will sit refining and cleansing.

These two comings are also referred to by Paul in writing to Titus:  The grace of God the Savior has appeared to all men, instructing us to put aside impiety and worldly desires and live temperately, uprightly, and religiously in this present age, waiting for the joyful hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Notice how he speaks of a first coming for which he gives thanks, and a second, the one we still await.

That is why the faith we profess has been handed on to you in these words:  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Our Lord Jesus Christ will therefore come from heaven.  He will come at the end of the world, in glory, at the last day.  For there will be an end to this world, and the created world will be made new.

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