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Posted on 12/9/2017 09:37 AM (News.va)
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini is an Italian-born saint who dedicated her life to helping thousands of Italian immigrants living in the United States during the late 19th century. She died in Chicago exactly one hundred years ago.
On Saturday morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis met members of the religious congregation she founded, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The congregation is present today on 6 continents and in 15 countries around the world.
Click below to hear the report by Seàn-Patrick Lovett
During his discourse in Italian, the Pope recalled the holiness of their Foundress and praised her tireless work with migrants and the poor. He held her up as an example for today, adding that the reality of migrants has evolved and is now “more current than ever”. Migrants, said the Pope, “need good laws, programs of development and organization but, above all, they always need love, friendship, human closeness; they need to be heard, looked in the eye, accompanied”. They need God, he said, “encountered in love that is freely given”. We must do as Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini does, concluded Pope Francis: “be capable of responding to the signs of our time, reading them in the light of the Word of God and living them in such a way as to provide an answer that can reach the heart of every person”.
Here is our English translation of the Pope’s address
It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you, representatives of the Cabrini Family, who wish in this way to conclude the celebrations for the centenary of the birth of St Frances Xavier Cabrini. On December 17, 1917, this holy woman, who had crossed the ocean twenty-four times to assist migrants in the Americas, and who, untiringly, had gone as far as the Andes and Argentina, died suddenly in Chicago, and departed on her final journey.
Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini the Missionary
St Cabrini was a true missionary. She had grown up keeping before her the example of St. Francis Xavier, the pioneer of evangelization in the East. In his heart he had China and in that distant land he hoped to bring the proclamation of the Gospel. He did not think of the thousands and thousands of emigrants who, because of hunger, lack of work and the absence of a future, embarked with their scant belongings to reach America, driven by the dream of a better life. As we know - and as she said - it was the vision of Pope Leo XIII who, jokingly, made her change course: "Not to the east, Cabrini, but to the West!". The young Mother Cabrini, who had just founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, needed to see where God was sending her on mission. Not to where she wanted to go, but to where He had prepared the way for her, the path of service and holiness. Here is the example of a true vocation: to forget oneself in order to surrender oneself fully to the love of God.
Migrants then and now
After so many years, the reality of migrants, to whom St Frances Xavier Cabrini dedicated her entire life, has evolved and is more current than ever. New faces of men, women and children, marked by so many forms of poverty and violence, appear before our eyes, hoping to find outstretched hands and welcoming hearts, like those of Mother Cabrini, along their way. In particular, you are offered the responsibility of being faithful to the mission of your Holy Foundress. Her charisma is of extraordinary actuality, because migrants certainly need good laws, programs of development and organization but, above all, they always need love, friendship, human closeness; they need to be heard, looked in the eye, accompanied; they need God, encountered in the freely given love of a woman who, with her consecrated heart, is your sister and mother.
“I can do all things in Him who gives me strength”
May the Lord renew always in you the attentive and merciful gaze towards the poor who live in our cities and our countries. Mother Cabrini had the courage to look into the eyes of the orphaned children entrusted to her, the unemployed youth who were tempted to commit crimes, the men and women exploited for the humblest jobs; and therefore today we are here to thank God for her holiness. In each of those brothers and sisters, she recognized the face of Christ and was able to put to good use the talents that the Lord had entrusted to her. She had a strong sense of apostolic action; and if she had such great energy to accomplish extraordinary work in a few years, it was only because of her union with Christ, following the model of St. Paul, from whom she took her motto: "I can do all things in Him who gives me strength".
Grasping the moment of grace
Mother Cabrini lived the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Step by step, hers was an existence wholly intended to console and make the Sacred Heart known and loved. And this made her able to look at the hearts of those who approached her and to assist them in a coherent way. This important anniversary is a powerful reminder to us all of the need for a faith that knows how to grasp the moment of grace that is lived. As difficult as it may seem, she tells us that we must do as she does: be capable of responding to the signs of our time, reading them in the light of the Word of God and living them in such a way as to provide an answer that can reach the heart of every person.(from Vatican Radio)
Posted on 12/8/2017 10:23 AM (News.va)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis left the Vatican on Friday afternoon, headed for Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna in order to pay homage to the statue of the Immaculate Conception there.
Listen to Seán-Patrick Lovett's report:
Surrounded by crowds of pilgrims, tourists and local Roman residents, the Pope recited a specially-composed Prayer to Our Lady in which he asked her, among other things, to help us “rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance and to recognize ourselves for what we really are: small and poor sinners” – but always Mary’s children.
The Pope’s visit to the memorial column dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, included the traditional blessing of a garland of flowers which Roman firemen placed on the statue of Our Lady which dominates the summit of the ancient marble column.
Visit to Basilica of Mary Major
On his way to Piazza di Spagna this year, Pope Francis also stopped to visit the Basilica of St Mary Major where he laid a floral wreath below the icon of Salus Populi Romani, depicting Our Lady and the Christ Child. This is the same image the Pope always prays at both before and after his apostolic journeys abroad.
Before returning to the Vatican later in the afternoon, Pope Francis paid a private visit to the Rome Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.
It was here, 175 years ago, that a French Jew by the name of Alphonse Ratisbonne, experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary. At that moment, in the words of the Pope, “from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, he became a Christian”.
Even more so, following his conversion, Alphonse became a Jesuit priest and missionary and ended up cofounding his own religious Congregation dedicated to Our Lady of Sion.(from Vatican Radio)
Posted on 12/8/2017 10:09 AM (News.va)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made his annual visit to Rome's Spanish Square on Friday to pray at the foot of the column and statue of the Immaculate Conception.
A litany of present-day viruses and their corresponding antibodies: this was at the heart of Pope Francis’ prayer, offered to Our Lady on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when he visited Rome’s Piazza di Spagna on Friday afternoon.
Dogma of the Immaculate Conception
The Pope recited the prayer before the column and statue of Mary, dedicated in 1857 to mark the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which had been defined by Pope Pius IX three years earlier. The dogma teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the moment of her conception, by a special grace of God, was preserved from all stain of original sin.
Mary accompanies us on our journey
The text of the prayer begins by thanking Our Lady for accompanying different categories of humanity of their respective journeys: families, religious, workers, the sick, the elderly, the poor, and those who have immigrated to Rome “from places where there is war and hunger”.
Viruses of our time
The Pope then goes on to identify a series of what he calls “viruses of our times”, which range from indifference to fear of the foreigner, from hypocrisy to the exploitation of others. These must be combatted, said Pope Francis, with the “antibodies that come from the Gospel”.
Here is the full translated text of the prayer:
For the fifth time I come to your feet as Bishop of Rome,
to pay you homage on behalf of all the inhabitants of this city.
We want to thank you for the constant care
with which you accompany us on our journey,
the journey of families, parishes, religious communities;
the journey of those who daily, and sometimes with difficulty,
pass through Rome on their way to work;
the journey of the sick, the elderly, the poor,
the journey of so many people who immigrated here from places where there is war and hunger.
Thank you, because as soon as we turn our thoughts,
or a fleeting glance, towards you,
or recite a quick Hail Mary,
we feel your maternal presence, tender and strong.
O Mother, help this city develop the "antibodies" it needs
to combat some of the viruses of our times:
the indifference that says: "It’s not my business";
the unsociable behavior that despises the common good;
the fear of the foreigner and those who are different from us;
the conformism that disguises itself as transgression;
the hypocrisy that accuses others while doing the same things;
the resignation to environmental and ethical degradation;
the exploitation of so many men and women.
Help us to reject these and other viruses
with the antibodies that come from the Gospel.
Let us make it a good habit
to read a passage from the Gospel every day
and, following your example, to keep the Word of God in our hearts,
so that, like a good seed, it may fruit in our lives.
175 years ago, not far from here,
in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte,
you touched the heart of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who at that moment,
from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, became a Christian.
You revealed yourself to him as a Mother of grace and mercy.
Grant that we too, especially in times of trial and temptation,
may fix our gaze on your open hands,
hands that allow the Lord's graces to fall upon the earth.
Help us to rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance,
and to recognize ourselves for what we really are:
small and poor sinners, but always your children.
So, let us place our hand in yours
And allow ourselves to be led back to Jesus, our Brother and Savior,
and to our Heavenly Father, who never tires of waiting for us
and forgiving us when we return to Him.
Thank you, Mother, for always listening to us!
Bless the Church that is in Rome.
Bless this City and the whole world.
Amen.(from Vatican Radio)
Posted on 12/8/2017 07:32 AM (News.va)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception at his Angelus address on Friday, December 8th, as the Church celebrates the Marian Solemnity.
Listen to Devin Watkins' report:
Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis said the words of the angel Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke contain the key to understanding the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
The Pope said Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace”, even before pronouncing her name.
In this way, he said, God “reveals the new name, which God has given her and which befits her more than the one given by her parents.”
The Holy Father said “full of grace” means that “Mary is full of the presence of God”.
“And if she is entirely pervaded by God, there is no place in her for sin. This is extraordinary,” he said, “because unfortunately the whole world is contaminated by evil.”
Mary alone, he continued, is the “ever-green oasis” of humanity. She is “the only uncontaminated person, immaculately created to welcome fully – with her ‘yes’ – God who came into the world”.
Pope Francis went on to say that, when we call Mary “full of grace”, we are paying her “the greatest compliment, which is the same offered her by God.”
Because Mary is without sin, he said, she is immune to ageing, since “sin makes one old, not age”, and worthy of the name tota pulchra, or “all fair” or “completely beautiful”.
“Since her youth depends not on age, her beauty consists not on external appearances. Mary, as the day’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance. She is from a simple family; she lived humbly in Nazareth, an almost unknown place.”
Finally, Pope Francis reflected on the secret of the “beautiful life” lived by Mary, “full of grace”.
“In many paintings [of the Annunciation] Mary is depicted as seated before an angel with a little book. This book is the Scriptures. So Mary often listened to God and reflected with Him. The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, He took on flesh in her womb.”
The Holy Father invited all to ask for the grace “to remain young by saying ‘no’ to sin and to live a beautiful life by saying ‘yes’ to God.(from Vatican Radio)
Posted on 12/7/2017 08:29 AM (News.va)
“The Nativity Scene is the suggestive place where we contemplate Jesus, who having assumed our wretchedness, invites us to do likewise through our acts of mercy.” Pope Francis made the reflection on Thursday while thanking all those who donated this year’s Nativity Scene on the theme of works of mercy and the 28 meter tall Christmas tree set up in the centre of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope wished that the birth of the Lord be an occasion for all to be attentive to the needs of the poor and all those who like Jesus don't’ find anyone to welcome them.
Listen to our report:
The Pope met some 4000 people of various donor delegations at the Vatican’s audience hall. They represented the southern Italian Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine that donated the Nativity Scene, Poland’s Warmia Archdiocese and Elk Diocese that donated the red fir tree and children undergoing cancer treatment in various Italian hospitals who made the various decorations.
Commenting on the Christmas tree, the Pope said it is a sign of the faith of the Polish people and the expression of their fidelity to the see of Peter. Thanking the children he said they have conveyed to Jesus their dreams and desires through their decorations which, he said, will be admired by pilgrims from all over the world.
Message of Crib, Christmas tree
The Pope said that each year the Christmas Crib and the Christmas tree become a symbol of the compassion of the heavenly Father, and his participation and closeness with humanity that feels it is not abandoned in the night of the times but is visited and accompanied amidst its difficulties.
The tree pointing up, he said, urges us to stretch out "towards the highest gifts", and rise above the mist that clouds, to feel how beautiful and joyous it is to be immersed in the light of Christ. In the simplicity of the crib we meet and contemplate the tenderness of God, manifested in that of the Child Jesus.
St. Peter's Christmas Crib and Christmas tree were to be inaugurated later on Thursday.(from Vatican Radio)
Posted on 12/7/2017 08:19 AM (News.va)
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with the new president of the Lutheran World Federation, Nigerian Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus, focusing on common prayer as the key to Christian unity.
Recalling his own visit to the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo last year for the shared commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the pope said praying together purifies, strengthens and lights our way forward. Prayer, he insisted, is the fuel for our ecumenical journey.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:
Through prayer, the pope continued, we are able to see the painful divisions of past ceneturies in a new light, abandoning our prejudices, purifying our memories and looking to the future with confidence. Through prayer, he said, we are called to recognize the gifts of our different traditions and receive them as our shared Christian heritage.
Reformation anniversary 'a turning point'
In his words to Pope Francis, Archbishop Musa also gave thanks for the past 50 years of progress ‘from conflict to communion’, acknowledging in a special way the importance of praying together to commemorate the Reformation anniversary.
“Your presence and participation in the Joint Commemoration of the Reformation in Lund was a precious gift for us. It marked the significant turning point at which Catholics and Lutherans are today”.
Concrete steps to unity
Before praying the Our Father together, Pope Francis urged the Lutheran delegation, including the seven regional vice-presidents, to continue on the road to full unity, never giving in to the temptations to become tired, lazy or fearful. Good ideas are not enough, he said, but instead we must take concrete steps and hold out hour hands, working together to support the poorest and most needy as we witness together to the presence of God in our world.(from Vatican Radio)
Posted on 12/24/2014 16:12 PM (Diocesan Blog - Diocese of Springfield in Illinois)
A few days I read an e-mail from the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Roman Pontiff to the rector of Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary, where the college seminarians study. Several of the seminarians, as I mentioned earlier, are in Rome for Christmas.
The rector had requested that the nine seminarians "attend the Mass." This morning my suspicions after the response to his request were confirmed: they are serving this evening for His Holiness Pope Francis when he celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass.
They are still a bit shell-shocked, but happy and excited, as well.
One might say that's not a bad Christmas present.
Posted on 08/26/2014 05:00 AM (Diocesan Blog - Diocese of Springfield in Illinois)
I'm sure you've heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge. It's a great way to raise awareness of ALS and raise money for ALS research. The challenge involves recording yourself accepting the challenge, dumping a bucket of ice water on your head, and challenging others by name to do it as well. Typically, those who accept the challenge donate $10 to the ALS Association; those who decline donate $100.
Certainly, individuals suffering with ALS as well as their family and friends deserve our support and prayers for healing. We encourage all to continue supporting everyone who is suffering or in spiritual, physical, or financial need. The Church supports all morally licit efforts towards a better understanding of and treatment for ALS.
There is concern, however, that the money being donated to the ALS Association may be used for embryonic stem cell research. In a July 2, 2014 email from ALS Association to the American Life League, ALS stated that while it primarily funds studies utilizing adult stem cells, it is funding one study using embryonic stem cells and that it may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future.
Embryonic stem cell research is always morally objectionable because a human person must be destroyed to harvest his or her stem cells. As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated: "The use of embryonic stem cells or differentiated cells derived from them - even when these are provided by other researchers through destruction of embryos or when such cells are commercially available - presents serious problems from the standpoint of cooperation in evil and scandal." (Dignitas personae, no. 32).
How do you know your donation will be used for ETHICAL research? There is nothing unethical about raising awareness for diseases and ethical research towards curing diseases; there is no reason Catholics can't participate. The key, however, is to ensure that donations from participation are being utilized to support morally licit research.
As an alternative to the ALS Association, Catholics may wish to donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. The Institute is a secular, non-profit organization and chooses to engage in medical research that honors and respects the dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death. More information on the John Paul II Institute is available here.
Donations can be by clicking here or checks can be sent to:
John Paul II Medical Research Institute
540 E. Jefferson St., Suite 202
Iowa City, IA 52245
Posted on 02/24/2014 08:06 AM (Diocesan Blog - Diocese of Springfield in Illinois)
When Saint Paul wrote to the early Christians in Corinth, he exhorted them with a brief and profound statement: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). So closely did the Apostle to the Gentiles imitate the Lord Jesus that he could rightly say, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). When see in these two sentences that who seeks to imitate the life of Saint Paul will, through imitation, come to imitate Jesus Christ and to become united with him.
This is the theological principle at work whenever Holy Mother Church presents certain lives of the saints to us, whether by means of the liturgical calendar or through another means. We know that Saint Paul is not only follower of the Lord who imitated him to the point of conformity and so others can make his words their own. In this way, we can also imitate Christ by imitating them.
In most every area of life we need guides or models to follow to learn the ropes, as it were. We have teachers and tutors to help us with our academics; we have colleagues who train us in a new position at work; we are friends who teach us new hobbies. The Christian life is no exception.
His Holiness Benedict XVI explained this aspect of life simply and well in his encyclical Spe salvi (Saved by Hope):
Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way (49).
Each of these lights reflects the light of Jesus Christ, but each one does so with its own subtlety, a point Benedict XVI highlighted in his many catecheses on the saints by concluding them with several things (usually three in number) we can learn to do from each one of their lives.
For this reason, while continually turning our attention to the saints of old, the Church presents new such lights to us and is constantly on the lookout for new lights, as in the person of the Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton.
|A picture on my wall in Rome|
I mention all of this simply because I read a short ago a little article by Dr. C. Vanessa White in U.S. Catholic that serves as a brief introduction to the life of Father Gus in which she mentions she has learned from him:
His sense of hope in the midst of overwhelming challenges has guided me to “keep on keepin’ on” when despair appears to be knocking at my door.
I know very well what she means. Because he was also raised in Quincy, studied in Rome, and served in (what is now) the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois - three things I have in common with him - I find myself frequently calling upon his intercession. I see in Father Tolton what Benedict XVI said about the saints: "The saints were able to make the great journey of human existence in the way that Christ had done before them, because they were brimming with great hope" (Spe salvi, 39).
If you haven't yet found such heavenly light, intercessor, and companion the coming season of Lent would be a perfect time to pick up a book on the lives of the saints. Spend a few minutes each day reading about one or two of their lives and seeing what you might learn from them better imitate Jesus Christ and so become a light for others.
Posted on 02/20/2014 14:08 PM (Diocesan Blog - Diocese of Springfield in Illinois)
Dear People of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois,
As you already know by now, Pope Francis has appointed me as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. I learned of this appointment on February 11th, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. After recovering from the shock of this news, I was able to express to Archbishop Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States my acceptance of this appointment, relying solely on God’s grace to help me fulfill the responsibilities that will be entrusted to me upon my ordination to the episcopacy.
Today, on the day of the public announcement, I will be in Wichita to greet the people of my new diocese. Naturally, this will be an exciting moment, but one that is also touched by a sense of personal loss. The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has been my home for 53 years. For twenty-eight of those years I have had the extraordinary blessing to be a priest. I have loved each and every moment, especially in those ministries where I was in direct pastoral service to our people. The people of the parishes I have served as a priest and pastor have taught me so much and helped me to become the priest and human being I am today. I am also very grateful for the work I have been called to do in diocesan administration, in collaboration first with Bishop Lucas and now with Bishop Paprocki. I wish to commend and thank the priests, deacons, religious and seminarians of the diocese who have been a special object of my service. I will truly miss my place in our presbyterate. I have been blessed to work with the fine staff of the Diocesan Pastoral Center, with whom we have persevered through some challenging times, but also rejoiced together in some great times. All of this has taught me many valuable lessons in ministry and leadership that will assist me in my new duties. I go forward a bit apprehensive, but also at peace knowing that God more often than not chooses the weak and sinful to accomplish his mission in the world.
My ordination date is set for May 1, 2014, the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. I hope many will consider attending if possible, but at the least to be present in prayerful spirit.
I simply wanted to take this opportunity on such a momentous day in my life to thank you and to promise you my prayers. I would humbly ask the same of you in return.
God bless you and keep you all.
Bishop Elect Carl Kemme
Diocese of Wichita