Monday, March 31, 2014

Remembering Terri Schiavo - 9 years ago - RIP

Terri Schiavo died Thursday, March 31, 2005 around 10 a.m. EST. This was due to a court order to withhold  food and water. Schiavo died heading into her 14th day without nourishment. Wednesday night's decision came hours after a federal appeals court declined to hold another hearing on the issue. Her parents fought for her life but were turned down by the courts. Her family now helps those with similar issues...
http://www.facebook.com/lifeandhopenetwork

POPE FRANCIS “Think of the vast reality of unemployment, with all of the negative...

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday met with members of the 27th General Chapter of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The theme of the chapter is “Witnesses to the Radical Approach of the Gospel.” 

In his address, the Holy Father said the Holy Spirit would assist the religious institute to understand the expectations and challenges of our time, especially those of the young people whose formation is the basis of the congregation’s main apostolate.

Pope Francis told the Salesians the evangelization of young people is closely connected with education, and he encouraged them in their efforts to respond to the current educational crisis, while always remembering the “Preventive System” of St. John Bosco, which is based on kindness and friendship with pupils.

He also spoke of the life of exclusion many young people face.

“Think of the vast reality of unemployment, with all of the negative consequences,” said Pope Francis. “Think of the addictions, which sadly are manifold, but stem from a common root of an absence of true love. Reaching marginalized youth requires courage, maturity and much prayer.”

He urged the Salesians to use “careful discernment” when sending people to the peripheries inhabited by these excluded youth.

The Holy Father also encouraged the community life of the Salesians, which he said supports their entire apostolate.

“The humanizing power of the Gospel is demonstrated by the fraternity lived in community, comprised of welcome, respect, mutual help , understanding , kindness , forgiveness and joy,” said the Pope. “The familial spirit bequeathed by Don Bosco is a great help in this respect, encouraging perseverance and building an attraction to the consecrated life.”

During their General Chapter, the Salesians elected Don Angel Fernandez Artime as the 10th Rector Major, commonly referred to as the successor of Saint John Bosco. 


Text from Vatican Radio website 

RIP BISHOP MICHAEL PUTNEY of Australia - Age 67 - "Ecumenical Giant"

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Mar 2014
Bishop Putney at WYD2005
With great sadness the diocese of Townsville announced Bishop Michael Putney AM DD died peacefully in the early hours of Friday 28 March, aged 67 years old.
Hailed as "an ecumenical giant" Bishop Putney's work in Christian dialogue and ecumenical relations will be felt in Australia and internationally for many years to come. As tributes started pouring in on social media via the Diocese of Townsville's Facebook page, the National Council of Churches in Australia, for which Bishop Putney served as chairman posted:
"Bishop Michael was an ecumenical giant who contributed so much to his own church, the Australian churches and the wider ecumenical family. He inspired us to imagine what a healthy reconciled Church could be. May he rest in God's peace."
Sister Giovanni Farquer, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations, recognised the faith and commitment of Bishop Putney so evident in his ministry.
"He was a true ecumenist and an amazing chair of our committee" she said.
"He made us all feel that our work was making a significant contribution. Prayer was at the centre of every meeting he chaired and he was a man of great faith.  He provided great leadership and vision reaching out to people of all faiths, not just Catholics."
A native of Queensland, Michael Putney was born in Gladstone in 1946 and educated in Townsville and Brisbane. After seminary studies in Pius XII Seminary in Banyo, he was ordained a priest in 1969. He was ordained a bishop on 27 July 1995 and was announced as the 5th Bishop of Townsville in January 2001 and installed in March that year.
Most Rev. Michael Putney, Bishop of Tonwsville
Bishop Putney was diagnosed with terminal cancer in December 2012. Prior to his diagnosis he was a member of the Permanent Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Chair of Bishops' Commission for Mission and Faith Formation; Catholic Co-Chairman of International Methodist / Roman Catholic Dialogue; Member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Chairman of the National Council of Churches.  In 2013 Bishop Putney was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
According to the Vicar General of Townsville Diocese, Fr Michael Lowcock, Bishop Putney was admitted to the Mater Hospital on Friday 21 March for a procedure relating to cancers in his stomach, he remained in hospital until he passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning.
Bishop Putney's health had deteriorated in recent weeks but defying doctor's orders to slow down he still kept many appointments including welcoming the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher to his annual dinner with 170 guests and also publishing his book entitled "My Ecumenical Journey" which was launched by Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall.
Bishop Putney was grateful for the many prayers received during the past 15 months and believed it was these prayers which enabled him to continue his work until the very end.
Just last week in an interview with a local Townsville publication, an ailing Bishop Putney said he was at peace knowing his life was in the hands of God.
"I am very accepting of what happens to me and I am not in any way afraid.
"People's prayers are like the air I breathe and I am being carried along by the grace of God, so I have nothing to worry about'' he said.
As an auxiliary bishop of Brisbane and Vicar for Youth, Bishop Putney was a great supporter of young people says Malcolm Hart, Senior Youth Ministry Projects Officer for the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.
"He revitalised the Church and particularly youth ministry through local initiatives, support and ongoing involvement in World Youth Days. Bishop Michael Putney will be sorely missed by his diocese and the Church in Australia."
Malcolm also acknowledges the contribution Bishop Putney made to evangelisation. "He was central to the Hearts on Fire conference in 1999, one of Australia's first national conferences on evangelisation" he says.  "He explored evangelisation in an Australian context like no one before."
Bishop Putney visiting a local Townsville school
Shayne Bennett, Moderator of the Emmanuel Community is grateful for the long association their lay community has had with Bishop Putney. In the early days of the Community's establishment a young Fr Michael Putney was appointed by the then Archbishop of Brisbane, Francis Rush as his liaison priest to the fledgling community. Years later, Shayne and Bishop Michael remained friends.
"Bishop Michael was a scholar, a wise mentor, a man who was passionate in his love for Jesus Christ and His Church" says Shayne Bennett.
"I saw the love he had for his Diocese blossom into something very beautiful. He loved Townsville and was joyful in laying down his life for the people whom God had entrusted to his care. He lived this commitment of love to the very end. May he rest in peace."                        
                                                                                             
Throughout the day, the Facebook messages have continued to flood in. One member of the diocese wrote, "Bishop Michael was an inspiration to many and no one can deny what a truly beautiful person he was. He will be missed, and remembered by all those he touched. RIP"

Funeral arrangements are currently being finalised by the diocese and many parishes in the Townsville diocese will be holding special masses this week.
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POPE FRANCIS the Lord always gives us grace to turn back - Mass Homily

(Vatican Radio) Where are you on your spiritual journey? Are you wandering aimlessly like a tourist? Have you stopped or lost your way? Or are you heading straight for your destination? Those questions were at the heart of Pope Francis’ reflections during his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning.
Reflecting on the day’s readings from Isaiah and St John’s Gospel Pope Francis distinguished between three different types of Christians and how they live their spiritual lives. Before God asks anything of us, the Pope said, He always promises us a new life of joy, so the essence of our Christian life is always to journey in hope and trust towards those promises. 

But there are many Christians whose hope is weak and while they believe and follow the commandments, they have come to a standstill in their spiritual lives. Pope Francis said God cannot use them as a leaven among his people because they have stopped and they’re no longer moving forward.

Secondly, he said there are those among us who have taken the wrong turning and lost our way. Of course, the Pope continued, we all sometimes take the wrong road, but the real problem arises if we don’t turn back when we realize that we’ve made a mistake.

The model of a true believer who follows the promises of faith, Pope Francis said, is the royal official from today’s Gospel reading, who asks Jesus to heal his son and does not doubt for a second when the Master tells him the child has been cured. But unlike that man, the Pope said, there are many Christians who deceive themselves and wander aimlessly without moving forward. 

These people, Pope Francis said are perhaps the most dangerous group because they wander through life like existential tourists without a goal and without taking God’s promises seriously. But the Lord asks us not to stop, not to lose our way and not to wander through life. He asks us to journey on towards his promises like the official who believed what Jesus told him.

Despite our human condition as sinners who take the wrong turning, the Pope concluded, the Lord always gives us grace to turn back. Lent, he said, is a good time to consider whether we are journeying forward or whether we have come to a standstill. If we have chosen the wrong road, we should go to Confession and return to the right way. If we are a theological tourist wandering aimlessly through life, we must ask the Lord for grace to head off again on the journey towards the promises of our faith.


Text from  Vatican Radio website 

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 31 : ST. BENJAMIN


St. Benjamin
MARTYR, DEACON
Feast: March 31


     Information:
Feast Day:March 31
Died:424 in Persia
Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: "The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations,  no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels." We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c."


source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/B/stbenjamin.asp#ixzz1qeydP6LF

Sunday, March 30, 2014

POPE FRANCIS "our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opened to the light of God and His grace."

(Vatican Radio) A the heart of the Pope’s message during his Angelus address on Sunday was not to remain blind in one’s soul.
Pope Francis was referring to the day’s Gospel reading from John where it is written that Jesus gives sight to the blind man and thus sees the light of Christ.
The Holy Father compared the man blind from birth and whose sight is restored, to "those who supposedly have sight but continue to remain blind in their soul".
The Pope went on to say that "While the blind man gradually approaches the light, on the contrary the doctors of the law slip ever deeper into inner blindness. Locked in their arrogance, he continued, they believe they already have the light, and so do not open themselves to the truth of Jesus. They do everything to deny the evidence.”
The Holy Father noted that “our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opened to the light of God and His grace. But, sometimes, unfortunately, he said, it is also like that of the doctors of law, in that, there is judgment of others.
But Pope Francis stressed, we are invited to open ourselves to the light of Christ to bear fruit in our lives, to eliminate behaviour that is not Christian, to walk firmly on the path of holiness.
In off the cuff remarks the Pope invited the faithful to read this chapter of the Gospel of John “so,he said, “we can see if our heart is open or closed toward God and neighbour?”
Following the recitation of the Marian prayer, the Holy Father greeted Italian soldiers who have made ​​a pilgrimage on foot from Loreto to Rome praying for a peaceful and just resolution of conflicts". The Pope remarked, "This is very good. Jesus in the beatitudes says that “blessed are those who work for peace".
Text from Vatican Radio website 

Bishop from Germany Resigns after controversy over $40 million home - Vatican accepts

By  on Wednesday, 26 March 2014
The Vatican has accepted the bishop's resignation (CNS)
CATHOLIC HERALD REPORT:
The Vatican has accepted the resignation of a German bishop who was at the centre of controversy over expenditures for his residence and a diocesan center.
Following a diocesan investigation, the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops studied the audit’s findings and accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg. Auxiliary Bishop Manfred Grothe of Paderborn was appointed to serve as apostolic administrator of Limburg in the meantime, the Vatican announced March 26. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst would be assigned, “at a suitable moment,” another unspecified assignment, the Vatican statement said.
Pope Francis called on the German clergy and faithful in the diocese to accept the Vatican’s decision “with meekness and to try to dedicate themselves to rebuilding a climate of charity and reconciliation,” the statement said. The pope had authorized a leave of absence for the bishop in October after allegations of overspending and leading a lavish lifestyle.
“A situation has been created in which Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst currently cannot exercise his episcopal ministry,” the Vatican said last year in a written statement. The bishop has been at the center of controversy over the remodeling and building project in Limburg, which was estimated to have cost about $40 million.
Media dubbed Bishop Tebartz-van Elst the “luxury bishop” and “Bishop Bling”. In early September, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, sent retired Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo to visit the diocese to promote peace between the bishop and some of the diocese’s priests concerned about the diocesan center project.
After the cardinal’s visit, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst agreed to publish figures about the construction project and cooperate with a commission established by the bishops’ conference to audit the project and examine how decisions were made. In most cases, church law requires consultation with a diocesan finance council before large sums of diocesan money can be spent.
In a separate controversy, the bishop agreed in November to pay a court-ordered fine of 20,000 euros rather than contest charges that he perjured himself before the Hamburg District Court. Hamburg prosecutors had charged him with lying to the court in a case involving the magazine Der Spiegel. The bishop had sued over an article alleging that he had flown first class on a trip to India for charity work when he told a Der Spiegel reporter that he flew business class. Although the bishop denied that he said he flew business class, the reporter had a recording of his words.
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Teen Idol Famous Singer Sunye of Wonder Girls becomes Missionary with her husband of Korea

Asia News Report: 
For years, Sunye led the Wonder Girls, a musical group with legions of fans all over Korea. Now her life has changed after marrying a Christian missionary. "During a short week that I spent volunteering in Haiti [. . .], the direction of my life completely changed," she wrote in a post online, in which she also thanked her fans.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - One of South Korea's best-loved music idols has decided to quit the limelight for a new life as a Christian missionary in Haiti, a land devastated by a terrible earthquake in 2010 that is still reeling from its effects.
"During a short week that I spent volunteering in Haiti while living abroad, the direction of my life completely changed," said Sunye, leader and founder of the Wonder Girls, a South Korean pop group with hundreds of thousands of young fans.
"After much thought," she wrote on her group's official fan website, "I have decided to live a second life devoted to missionary work".
The earthquake that hit Haiti was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw event. Its epicentre was located some 25 kilometres west of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 13 km. The main tremor struck on Tuesday, 12 January 2010, killing some 222,000 people.
A final damage estimate has not been fully carried out. However, according to the International Red Cross and the United Nations, more than three million people have had their lives turned upside down. Even now, many are still coping with the aftermath of the quake, fighting diseases as well as hardships due to the pace of reconstruction.
In her announcement, Sunye said that she and her husband James Park, a Korean-Canadian missionary, plan to establish Global Whitestone, a non-governmental organisation, to raise money for Haitians.
In view of this, she plans to remain in Haiti for five years. Therefore, as her life takes such a completely different turn, "all of my activities as a celebrity will be an extension of this goal as well".  i

New Syro-Malabar Diocese established in Australia

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Mar 2014
At the Installation Mass in Melbourne
On 25 March 2014, the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Melbourne was formally established as an Australian diocese, and the first Eparch of the diocese, Bishop Bosco Puthur, was installed at a ceremony in St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.
Priests and bishops from the Latin and Syro-Malabar rites participated in the Mass and installation, including Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Archbishop Paul Gallagher (Apostolic Nuncio to Australia), Archdeacon Fr Francis Kolencherry (Vicar General, St Thomas the Apostle Eparchy), Archbishop Denis Hart (Archbishop of Melbourne and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference) and Mgr Greg Bennet (Vicar General, Archdiocese of Melbourne).
The homily was given by Cardinal Alencherry, the current Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who flew straight from Rome where he was attending meetings with Pope Francis in order to celebrate the Mass. The Cardinal stated that the installation of Bishop Puthur was a "great blessing" for the Church in Australia.
"Let us be thankful to God for this gift of the new eparchy and also for the first bishop of this eparchy, Mar Bosco Puthur. The enthusiasm of the Syro-Malabar communities in Melbourne and in Australia deserve special mention," Cardinal Alencherry said.
Cardinal Alencherry also passed on a message from the Holy Father Pope Francis, who "was happy to give this new diocese to Australia, because he knew there were so many Syro-Malabar faithful living in Australia, and it is important for them to have the support of their Church."
Bishop Bosco Puthur, Eparch of the St Thomas the Apostle Eparchy in Melbourne
The Mass ended with words of thanks from Bishop Puthur, especially for Pope Francis and Archbishop Gallagher.
The Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle is part of the Syro-Malabar Church, and this new Melbourne-based Eparchy is one of only two dioceses of the Syro-Malabar Church outside India, the other being based in Chicago.
Fr Francis Kolencherry, who was appointed by the Holy Father as the Vicar General of the new Eparchy in January 2014, said the 25 March installation Mass was "fabulous", and that is was very moving to see over 100 priests and 33 bishops from all over Australia, New Zealand, and India, participate in the Mass.
"The Catholic Church considers that the advent of new cultures, and new rites of liturgy can only add to the richness of the Church in Australia," Fr Kolencherry said, adding that installation of Bishop Bosco Puthur as the first Eparch in Australia is a "source of joy" among the Syro-Malabar faithful.
Bishop Puthur was born in 1946 in Parappur, in the state of Kerala, Southern India. After graduating from St Thomas' College, in Kerala he travelled to Rome where he studied at the Pontifical College, Propaganda Fide, gaining a Licentiate and Doctorate in philosophy. Multi-lingual, Bishop Puthur is fluent in English, Malayalam and Italian and has served as rector and lecturer at a number of Indian seminaries as well as directing a Liturgical Research Centre in Kakkanad.
The Most Rev Puthur has also had extensive parish and pastoral experience and has worked as Vicar General of the Archeparchy of Trichur. 
Ordained on 27 March 1971, he was consecrated Bishop on 13 February 2010. Prior to his appointment as Eparch of St Thomas the Apostle of Melbourne, which was first announced by Pope Francis on 11 January 2014, and since his consecration as Bishop, the new Eparch has served in the curial office of the Archdciocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly.
"I welcome Bishop Puthur as the first Bishop of the St Thomas Catholics in Australia, and look forward to working with him as a colleague in Melbourne while he has care of his brothers and sisters throughout the whole country," says Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).
The Archbishop adds that the establishment of the new Eparchy is "a clear indication of the care of the Holy See for the thousands of Syro-Malabar Catholics who have settled in Australia."
Bishop Bosco Puthur with Pope Francis earlier this year
The Syro-Malabar faithful now number about 40,000 across Australia and New Zealand, and more than 4 million around the world. Syro-Malabar Catholics, also called St Thomas Christians, trace their origins and faith to the missionary efforts of St Thomas the Apostle, who landed at Kodungallur in Kerala, India, in 52 AD. In 1992 Pope John Paul II elevated it to the status of a Major Archiepiscopal Church with the title of Ernakulam-Angamaly. It is one of the three Major Archiepiscopal Churches, the other two being the Syro-Malankara Church and the Ukrainian Church.
In Australia, there are currently five Eparchs that form part of the Catholic Church: the Melkite Church, the Maronite Church, the Ukrainian Church, the Chaldean Church, and now the Syro-Malabar church.
As Fr Francis Kolencherry explains, these Eparchs add to the richness of the Australian Church.
"I really feel that the need for pastoral care in one's own ritual traditions is very important. It is essential that migrants from the Syro-Malabar tradition feel welcome and receive pastoral care consonant with their ecclesial tradition, and it would seem that the Holy Father feels the same."
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Christian Church in Syria hit by a missle during Mass

IMG_8955.JPG
Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Armenian Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in Aleppo was hit by a missle while the faithful were attending mass. The attack damaged the dome and broke the windows, but caused no injuries. This was confirmed to Fides Agency by the Armenian Catholic priest Joseph Bazuzu, pastor of the church. 
"On Monday afternoon", says Father Joseph, "a number of missiles fell on the neighborhood of al-Meydan. One hit and damaged the dome of our church during the Eucharistic liturgy. Thank God no one was hurt. After so many years of violence, fear has become a sentiment that accompanies each day. People live with fear".
The missiles devastated some houses in the area surrounding the church, inhabited mostly by Armenians. "Before the start of the conflict" refers to Fides Fr Joseph, "the Armenian Catholic families of Aleppo were about 250. But the liturgy in the Armenian language was also attended by the Armenian Orthodox, for a total of eight hundred families. Now at least three hundred of them have had to leave their homes".
At dawn on Friday 21 March, the city of Kessab on the border with Turkey, was occupied by anti- Assad militias during the offensive launched by them to reach the coastal city of Latakia. Hundreds of Armenian families were forced to flee. According to Armenian sources, the three churches of Kessab were desecrated by Islamist militants of al-Nusra Front.
Meanwhile, in Armenia, the projects of the "New Aleppo", the residential area intended for Armenian refugees from Syria are about to be completed. In the initial phase, the residential complex should accommodate at least 500 families. According to data provided by the Armenian Ministry for the diaspora, about 11 thousand Armenian Syrian refugees have found refuge in Armenia. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 28/03/2014)

Attack on Christian Church in Egypt with 4 Killed by Extremists

354
Agenzia Frides  REPORT – An Islamist attack on the Coptic Church in the area of Ain Shams, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael, occurred on Friday, March 28 causing the death of four people, including a 25-year-old journalist, and a Coptic Christian. Demonstrations organized in various parts of the capital and other cities across the Country by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, represented a reaction against the official candidate in the upcoming presidential election of General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
In the suburb of Cairo in Ain Shams protesters carried out their violence against the church. With the intervention of the security forces, clashes spread in the neighborhood. 
According to sources of the Coptic Church, it seems the woman, Sameh Merry, was killed after Islamists noticed she had a cross dangling from the mirror of her car. According to other versions, Merry was killed because of a firearm. Bishop Raphael, secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox, expressed words of condolences for the death of the woman.(GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/03/2014)

SUNDAY MASS ONLINE : MARCH 30, 2014 - LAETARE - 4TH LENT

Fourth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 31


Reading 11 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A

The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R/ (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R/ The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R/ The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R/ The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R/ The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading 2 EPH 5:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

Gospel JN 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, ADo you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

Or JN 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

TODAY'S SAINT : MARCH 30 : ST. JOHN CLIMACUS


St. John Climacus
ABBOTT OF SINAI
Feast: March 30


Information:
Feast Day:March 30
Born:525, Syria
Died:30 March 606, Mount Sinai
St John, generally distinguished by the appellation of Climacus, from his excellent book entitled Climax, or the Ladder to Perfection, was born about the year 525, probably in Palestine. By his extraordinary progress in the arts and sciences he obtained very young the surname of the Scholastic. But at sixteen years of age he renounced all the advantages which the world promised him to dedicate himself to God in a religious state, in 547. He retired to Mount Sinai, which, from the time of the disciples of St. Anthony and St. Hilarion, had been always peopled by holy men, who, in imitation of Moses, when he received the law on that mountain, lived in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. Our novice, fearing the danger of dissipation and relaxation to which numerous communities are generally more exposed than others, chose not to live in the great monastery on the summit, but in an hermitage on the descent of the mountain, under the discipline of Martyrius, an holy ancient anchoret. By silence he curbed the insolent itch of talking about everything, an ordinary vice in learned men, but usually a mark of pride and self-sufficiency. By perfect humility and obedience he banished the dangerous desire of self-complacency in his actions. He never contradicted, never disputed with anyone. So perfect was his submission that he seemed to have no self-will. He undertook to sail through the deep sea of this mortal life securely, under the direction of a prudent guide, and shunned those rocks which he could not have escaped, had he presumed to steer alone, as he tells us. From the visible mountain he raised his heart, without interruption, in all his actions, to God, who is invisible; and, attentive to all the motions of his grace, studied only to do his will. Four years he spent in the trial of his own strength, and in learning the obligations of his state, before he made his religious profession, which was in the twentieth year of his age. In his writings he severely condemns engagements made by persons too young, or before a sufficient probation. By fervent prayer and fasting he prepared himself for the solemn consecration of himself to God, that the most intense fervour might make his holocaust the more perfect; and from that moment he seemed to be renewed in spirit; and his master admired the strides with which, like a mighty giant, the young disciple advanced daily more and more towards God, by self-denial, obedience, humility, and the uninterrupted exercises of divine love and prayer.

In the year 560, and the thirty-fifth of his age, he lost Martyrius by death; having then spent nineteen years in that place in penance and holy contemplation. By the advice of a prudent director, he then embraced an eremitical life in a plain called Thole, near the foot of Mount Sinai. His cell was five miles from the church, probably the same which had been built a little before, by order of the Emperor Justinian, for the use of the monks at the bottom of this mountain, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, as Procopius mentions. Thither he went every Saturday and Sunday to assist, with all the other anchorets and monks of that desert, at the holy office and at the celebration of the divine mysteries, when they all communicated. His diet was very sparing, though, to shun ostentation and the danger of vainglory, he ate of everything that was allowed among the monks of Egypt, who universally abstained from flesh, fish, &c. Prayer was his principal employment; and he practiced what he earnestly recommends to all Christians, that in all their actions, thoughts, and words they should keep themselves with great fervour in the presence of God, and direct all they do to his holy will. By habitual contemplation he acquired an extraordinary purity of heart, and such a facility of lovingly beholding God in all his works that this practice seemed in him a second nature. Thus he accompanied his studies with perpetual prayer. He assiduously read the holy scriptures and fathers, and was one of the most learned doctors of the church. But, to preserve the treasure of humility, he concealed, as much as possible, both his natural and acquired talents, and the extraordinary graces with which the Holy Ghost enriched his soul. By this secrecy he fled from the danger of vainglory, which, like a leech, sticks to our best actions and, sucking from them its nourishment, robs us of their fruit. As if this cell had not been sufficiently remote from the eyes of men, St. John frequently retired into a neighbouring cavern which he had made in the rock, where no one could come to disturb his devotions or interrupt his tears. So ardent were his charity and compunction, that his eyes seemed two fountains, which scarce ever ceased to flow; and his continual sighs and groans to heaven, under the weight of the miseries inseparable from his moral pilgrimage, were not to be equaled by the vehemency of the cries of those who suffer from knives and fire. Overcome by importunities, he admitted a holy anchoret named Moyses to live with him as his disciple.
God bestowed on St. John an extraordinary grace of healing the spiritual disorders of souls. Among others, a monk called Isaac was brought almost to the brink of despair by most violent temptations of the flesh. He addressed himself to St. John, who perceived by his tears how much he underwent from that conflict and struggle which he felt within himself. The servant of God commended his faith, and said, "My son, let us have recourse to God by prayer." They accordingly prostrated themselves together on the ground in fervent supplication for a deliverance, and from that time the infernal serpent left Isaac in peace. Many others resorted to St. John for spiritual advice; but the devil excited some to jealousy, who censured him as one who, out of vanity, lost much time in unprofitable discourse. The saint took this accusation, which was a mere calumny, in good part, and as a charitable admonition; he therefore imposed on himself a rigorous silence for near a twelvemonth. This, his humility and modesty, so much astonished his calumniators that they joined the rest of the monks in beseeching him to reassume his former function of giving charitable advice to all that resorted to him for it, and not to bury that talent of science which he had received for the benefit of many. He who knew not what it was to contradict others, with the same humility and deference again opened his mouth to instruct his neighbour in the rules of perfect virtue, in which office, such was the reputation of his wisdom and experience, that he was regarded as another Moses in that holy place.
St. John was now seventy-five years old, and had spent forty of them in his hermitage, when, in the year 600, he was unanimously chosen Abbot of Mount Sinai, and superior-general of all the monks and hermits in that country. Soon after he was raised to this dignity, the people of Palestine and Arabia, in the time of a great drought and famine, made their application to him as to another Elias, begging him to intercede with God in their behalf. The saint failed not, with great earnestness, to recommend their distress to the Father of mercies, and his prayer was immediately recompensed with abundant rains. St. Gregory the Great, who then sat in St. Peter's chair, wrote to our holy abbot, recommending himself to his prayers, and sent him beds, with other furniture and money, for his hospital, for the use of pilgrims near Mount Sinai. John, who had used his utmost endeavours to decline the pastoral charge when he saw it laid upon him, neglected no means which might promote the sanctification of all those who were entrusted to his care. That posterity might receive some share in the benefit of his holy instructions, John, the learned and virtuous Abbot of Raithu, a monastery situate towards the Red Sea, entreated him by that obedience he had ever practiced, even with regard to his inferiors, that he would draw up the most necessary rules by which fervent souls might arrive at Christian perfection. The saint answered him that nothing but extreme humility could have moved him to write to so miserable a sinner, destitute of every sort of virtue; but that he received his commands with respect, though far above his strength, never considering his own insufficiency. Wherefore, apprehensive of falling into death by disobedience, he took up his pen in haste, with great eagerness mixed with fear, and set himself to draw some imperfect outlines, as an unskillful painter, leaving them to receive from him, as a great master, the finishing strokes. This produced the excellent work which he called "Climax; or, the Ladder of religious Perfection." This book, being written in sentences, almost in the manner of aphorisms, abounds more in sense than words. A certain majestic simplicity- an inexpressible unction and spirit of humility, joined with conciseness and perspicuity-very much enhance the value of this performance; but its chief merit consists in the sublime sentiments and perfect description of all Christian virtues which it contains. The author confirms his precepts by several edifying examples, as of obedience and penance. In  describing a monastery of three hundred and thirty monks which he had visited near Alexandria, in Egypt, he mentions one of the principal citizens of that city, named Isidore, who, petitioning to be admitted into the house, said to the abbot, "As iron is in the hands of the smith, so am I in your hands." The abbot ordered him to remain without the gate, and to prostrate himself at the feet of everyone that passed by, begging their prayers for his soul struck with a leprosy. Thus he passed seven years in profound humility and patience. He told St. John that, during the first year, he always considered himself as a slave condemned for his sins, and sustained violent conflicts; the second year he passed in tranquillity and confidence; and the third with relish and pleasure in his humiliations. So great was his virtue that the abbot determined to present him to the bishop in order to be promoted to the priesthood, but the humility of the holy penitent prevented the execution of that design; for, having begged at least a respite, he died within ten days. St. John could not help admiring the cook of this numerous community, who seemed always recollected, and generally bathed in tears amidst his continual occupation, and asked him by what means he nourished so perfect a spirit of compunction, in the midst of such a dissipating laborious employment. He said that serving the monks, he represented to himself that he was serving not men, but God in his servants; and that the fire he always had before his eyes reminded him of that fire which will burn souls for all eternity. The moving description which our author gives of the monastery of penitents called the Prison, above a mile from the former, hath been already abridged in our language. John the Sabaite told our saint, as of a third person, that seeing himself respected in his monastery, he considered that this was not the way to satisfy for his sins; wherefore, with the leave of his abbot, he repaired to a severe monastery in Pontus, and after three years saw in a dream a schedule of his debts, to the amount in appearance of one hundred pounds of gold, of which only ten were cancelled. He therefore repeated often to himself, "Poor Antiochus, thou hast still a great debt to satisfy." After passing other thirteen years in contempt and the most fervent practices of penance, he deserved to see in a vision his whole debt blotted out. Another monk, in a grievous fit of illness, fell into a trance, in which he lay as if he had been dead for the space of an hour; but, recovering, he shut himself up in a cell, and lived a recluse twelve years, almost continually weeping, in the perpetual meditation of death. When he was near death, his brethren could only extort from him these words of edification, "He who hath death always before his eyes will never sin." John, Abbot of Raithu, explained this book of our saint by judicious comments, which are also extant. We have likewise a letter of St. John Climacus to the same person concerning the duties of a pastor, in which he exhorts him in correcting others to temper severity with mildness, and encourages him zealously to fulfil the obligations of his charge; for nothing is greater or more acceptable to God than to offer him the sacrifice of rational souls sanctified by penance and charity.
St. John sighed continually under the weight of his dignity during the four years that he governed the monks of Mount Sinai; and as he had taken upon him that burden with fear and reluctance, he with joy found means to resign the same a little before his death. Heavenly contemplation, and the continual exercise of divine love and praise, were his delight and comfort in his earthly pilgrimage: and in this imitation of the functions of the blessed spirits in heaven he placeth the essence of the monastic state. In his excellent maxims concerning the gift of holy tears, the fruit of charity, we seem to behold a lively portraiture of his most pure soul. He died in his hermitage on the 30th day of March, in 605, being fourscore years old. His spiritual son, George, who had succeeded him in the abbacy, earnestly begged of God that he  might not be separated from his dear master and guide; and followed him by a happy death within a few days. On several Greek commentaries on St. John Climacus's ladder, see Montfaucon, Biblioth. Coisliana, pp. 305, 306.
St. John Climacus, speaking of the excellence and the effects of charity, does it with a feeling and energy worthy of such a subject: "A mother," says he, "feels less pleasure when she folds within her arms the dear infant whom she nourishes with her own milk than the true child of charity does when united as he incessantly is, to his God, and folded as it were in the arms of his heavenly Father.—Charity operates in some persons so as to carry them almost entirely out of themselves. It illuminates others, and fills them with such sentiments of joy, that they cannot help crying out: The Lord is my helper and my protector: in him hath my heart confided, and I have been helped And my flesh hath flourished again, and with my will I will give praise to him. This joy which they feel in their hearts, is reflected on their countenances; and when once God has united, or, as we may say, incorporated them with his charity, he displays in their exterior, as in the reflection of a mirror, the brightness and serenity of their souls: even as Moses, being honored with a sight of God, was encompassed round by his glory." St. John Climacus composed the following prayer to obtain the gift of charity: "My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly united to you by prayer that to be separated from you may be impossible; let others desire riches and glory; for my part, I desire but one thing, and that is, to be inseparably united to you, and to place in you alone all my hopes of happiness and repose."



source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjohnclimacus.asp#ixzz1qbNhPhjg

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Seeing with God's Eyes - JESUS heals us of our blindness...

John 9:1-41 9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing...
We are all born with some form of blindness. Blindness can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or economical. Sin is a type of blindness. In this world the blindness of others is apparent every day. Our world is seemingly falling apart due to this type of carelessness for one another. The lack of love in the world portrays a nearsighted vision that is only concerned for oneself.
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Many of you know that we recently celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racism on March 21. That commemorated the killing of 69 people by police in Sharpeville, South Africa who were silently protesting Apartheid laws. Nelson Mandela’s recent passing reminds us of action in the face of political and social blindness. However, there is another little known story of racial blindness. Ruby Bridges was the first black child to enroll in an all-white school in New Orleans, in the United States. When she entered most of the white children were pulled out and a mob of people protested at the doors of the school. Even the teachers refused to teach this “black” child. The one person agreed to her was Barbara Henry from Boston, Massachusetts. This teacher was brought in to teach Ruby as no one else would.

Ruby was alone in her class for over 1 year. US marshals were sent to escort her to school since she was threatened with death and even presented with a black baby doll in a wooden coffin. Her mother told her "Remember, if you get afraid, say your prayers. You can pray to God anytime, anywhere. He will always hear you." So Ruby prayed on her way to school but she said, "I was praying for them." She prayed, “Please be with me, I'd asked God, and be with those people too. Forgive them because they don't know what they're doing.” The people of that community who protested were blind to the black community. Her father lost his job and even her grandparents lost their sharecrop farming land that they farmed for 25 years. It took the actions and prayers of Ruby and the government to open their eyes. In this way Ruby’s suffering was used to manifest God’s love. Ruby had God’s vision that helped her see through the blindness of her community.
Similarly, Jesus explains that the blindness of the man, in the Gospel, was used to “display the works of God”. Sin and suffering in our lives can also be used to show God’s grace. Jesus used the physical elements of mud and water to heal the man. This story alludes to the sacrament of Baptism that provides Divine grace to open our eyes to God’s truth. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39) In the sacraments God enters our souls in a spiritual way to heal our mortal blindness. Sacraments are visible signs of God’s grace. Jesus used mud, spit and water to heal the man born blind. These physical elements are necessary in the administering of the sacraments. Sin causes us to be interior blind to God and people. By partaking in the sacraments our souls are illumined by Christ.

In many countries the blindness of people can reach extremes. Becoming a Christian can mean a death sentence for you and your family. How little we suffer compared to so many others in the world.


Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia in 1910 she became a nun at the age of 18. Reaching out to those suffering was why this young nun chose to leave her teaching position and minister to the poor in India. Mother Teresa once told the story, “One day I picked up a man from the gutter. His body was covered with worms. I brought him to our house, and what did that man say? He did not curse. He did not blame anyone. He just said, “I’ve lived like an animal in the street, but I’m going to die like an angel, loved and cared for! It took us three hours to clean him. Finally, the man looked up at the sister and said, “Sister, I’m going home to God.” [they Baptized him] And then he died. I’ve never seen such a radiant smile on a human face. He went home to God. See what love can do!” How many of us have ever been blind to the needs of a homeless person, or even one covered with worms. Mother Teresa received God’s spiritual sight with the sacraments she participated in on a daily basis.
 Her daily prayer relates to this Gospel,
Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with Your Spirit and Life. Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our souls. Let them look up, and see no longer us, but only Jesus!
Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.  The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be ours.  It will be You, shining on others through us. Let us thus praise You in the way You love best, by shining on those around us.

Through prayer she was able to truly see the needs of God’s people and thus start her work in the slums of Calcutta. Her order now has 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries that minister to the poor, sick and dying but are grounded in faith, prayer and the sacraments. Mother Teresa had God’s vision.
There is a different blindness in North America now. There is selfishness, indifference, complaints, greed, pride, vanity, judgment, criticisms, ridicule, anger, hatred which consume our society. This is often the cause of much of the suffering in our world today. Like a ripple in the waters causing a wave our sins can affect the world. God allows sin this world as a part of our free will. However, the sufferings we endure here when united with him will bring us glory in heaven. Sufferings often help us see clearly the needs and sufferings of those around us. When sufferings come it may seem that God has abandoned us. However, how many of us look back and see how sufferings have opened our eyes to deeper truths about God, others and ourselves. In our sufferings we have the example of Jesus who suffered for us and suffers with us. God is not blind to your sufferings rather he uses them to bring about good as in this Gospel story.
We can be freed from our sinful blindness by our participation in prayer, the sacraments and by our efforts to be good to others. This Lent is a time for a metanoia or a turning away from sin and back to God. We need God’s strength to do good – this is why prayer is important too. But we can change our lives and others by our good works. Patience, humility, silence, kindness if practiced well on a daily basis can change the world. We must begin with ourselves by refraining from actions that cause suffering in others. This Lent is a challenge to refrain from evil and do good. We can smile at others. Remain silent in the face of adversity. Take time to listen to the needs of others. Do random acts of kindness. Refrain from excessive eating or spending. In these ways we gain Godly vision of the world, others and ourselves.
Dear God, help us see people and all your creation with loving eyes,
with a Godly vision that remembers that we are sinners,
with a Godly vision that forgives,
with a Godly vision that gives hope,
and with a heart that loves you and everyone forever...Amen
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by: Miriam Westen, M.Ed., M.A. Theology, is a speaker, writer, teacher and Choir director/organist.
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