Daily Gospel: Friday of the Third Week of the Cross, September 30, 2011

Saints of the day: St Gregory the illuminator and his friends the martyrs.

Book of Revelation 5:1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 12:38-42
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!



Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Third Week of the Cross, September 29, 2011


Saint Cyriacus (St Rouhana) the Cantor, Confessor

Book of Revelation 4:1-11
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and cornelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’


Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to
Saint Matthew 12:33-37
‘Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’

The Pope's General Audience on Wednesday, September 28, 2011

“Faith in my native Germany has a young face, it is alive, it has a future”, said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he retraced the steps of his recent 4 day visit to his native land before 20 thousand pilgrims in St Peter’s Square for the General Audience.

 


They included groups from the Church in Indonesia, accompanying their bishops at the beginning of their Ad Limina pilgrimage, from the Samoa Islands, from Kenya and a children’s choir from a South Korean Catholic school - who won a warm smile from Pope Benedict and applause from the crowds as they preformed a hymn and the traditional dance of the fans resplendent in their local dress.

Young men embarking on their studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical Colleges, accompanied by their tutors were also present for whom the Holy Father had particular words of encouragement: “My affectionate greeting goes to the students of both the Venerable English College and the Pontifical Irish College as they take up their studies for the priesthood”.

Speaking in Italian Pope Benedict began: “As you know, from Thursday to Sunday last I made a pastoral visit to Germany, I am pleased, therefore, as usual, to take the opportunity of today's audience with you to go over the intense and wonderful days spent in my native country. I crossed Germany from north to south, from east to west: from the capital Berlin to Erfurt and Eichsfeld and then Freiburg, a city near the border with France and Switzerland. First I thank the Lord for the opportunity offered me to meet people and speak about God, to pray together and strengthen brothers and sisters in faith, according to the particular mandate that the Lord has entrusted to Peter and his successors. This visit, which took place under the motto "Where God is, there is the future", was truly a great celebration of faith: in the various meetings and discussions, in the celebrations, especially in the solemn Masses with the people of God. These moments were a precious gift that helped us perceive once more how God is gives the deepest meaning, true fullness to our life indeed, that only He gives us, gives us all, a future”.

“I remember with deep gratitude the warm and enthusiastic welcome as well as the attention and affection shown me in the various places I visited. I heartily thank the German bishops, especially those of the diocese which hosted me, for the invitation and for all they did, along with many collaborators, in preparing for this trip. A big thank you goes also to the Federal President and all civil and political authorities at federal and regional levels. I am deeply grateful to all who have contributed in various ways to the success of the visit, especially to the many volunteers. So it was a great gift for me and for all of us and has given rise to joy, hope and a new leap of faith and commitment to the future”.

“In the federal capital Berlin, the Federal President welcomed me to his residence and welcomed me in his name and on the part of my countrymen, expressing esteem and affection for a Pope who is a native of German soil. For my part, I was able to trace a brief thought on the reciprocal relationship between religion and freedom, remembering a phrase of the great Bishop and social reformer Wilhelm von Ketteler,: "Just as religion requires freedom, freedom also needs religion."

“I gladly accepted the invitation to go to the Bundestag, that was certainly one of the moments of major importance of my trip. For the first time a Pope gave a speech before members of the German Parliament. On this occasion I wanted to expose the foundation of law and free State of law, that is, the measure of all law, inscribed by the Creator in the very being of His creation. Therefore we must broaden our concept of nature, understanding it not only as a set of functions but beyond this as the language of the Creator to help us discern right from wrong. Then there was also a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community in Germany. Remembering our common roots in faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we highlighted the fruits achieved thus far in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism in Germany. I also had the opportunity to meet some members of the Muslim community, agreeing with them about the importance of religious freedom for the peaceful development of humanity”.

“The Holy Mass in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, at the conclusion of the first day of the visit, was one of the great liturgical celebrations which gave me the opportunity to pray with the faithful and encourage them in the faith. I was very gladdened by the participation of people in large numbers! At that moment, festive and impressive , we meditated on the Gospel image of the vine and its branches, that is, on the importance of being united with Christ for our personal lives as believers and for our being Church, His mystical body”.

“The second stage of my visit was to Thuringia. Germany, and Thuringia in particular, is the land of the Protestant Reformation. So, from the beginning I was eager to give particular emphasis to ecumenism in the context of this trip, and I strongly desired an ecumenical moment in Erfurt, because in that city Martin Luther entered the Augustinian community and there he was ordained priest. So I was very pleased with the meeting with members of the Council of the Reformed Protestant Churches in Germany in the former Convent of the Augustinians: a cordial meeting that, in dialogue and prayer, led us more profoundly to Christ. Once again we have seen the importance of our common witness of faith in Jesus Christ in today's world, which often ignores God or has no interest in Him. Our common efforts in the path towards full unity are necessary, but we are always well aware that neither the faith or unity so longed for are a product of our own. A faith created by ourselves is of no value, and true unity is rather a gift from God, who prayed and prayed for the unity of his disciples. Only Christ can give us this unity, and we will be ever more united than the extent to which we return to Him and allow ourselves to be transformed by Him”.

Pope Benedict described the celebration of vespers at the Marian shrine of Etzelsbach as “particularly moving”, a region that "always remained Catholic throughout the various vicissitudes of history" whose inhabitants "have courageously opposed the dictatorships of Nazism and communism."

In Erfurt, recalling the patrons saints of Thuringia and "the shining example of the faithful who witnessed to the Gospel during the totalitarian regimes, I invited the faithful to be the saints of today, good witnesses of Christ, and to help build our society . In fact, there have always been saints and people imbued with the love of Christ to really transform the world". During the visit to Erfurt, Pope Benedict also had occasion to "meet some victims of sexual abuse by clergymen, whom I wanted to assure of my sorrow and my closeness to their suffering."

Moving onto the Freiburg stage of his visit, the Pope recalled the "very festive reception" and the prayer vigil with thousands of young people. "I was happy to see that faith in my native German has a young face, it is alive and has a future”. "I transmitted flame of the Paschal candle, symbol of light that is Christ, to the young people exhorting them: You are the light of the world. I repeated to them that the Pope is confident in the active collaboration of the youth; with the grace of Christ, they are able to bring the fire of God’s love to the world. "

Also in Freiburg, Pope Benedict met with the seminarians, "I wanted to show them the beauty and grandeur of their calling from the Lord" and with representatives of the Orthodox Churches "to whom we Catholics feel very close. In fact, it is from this broad commonality that the common task to be leaven for the renewal of our society is derived."

And finally in the great Sunday Mass at the Freiburg airport his thanks to volunteers from the charitable initiatives of the German Church. "I recalled that their valuable service will always be fruitful when it is born of an authentic faith and lives in union with the bishops and the Pope, in union with the Church. Finally, before my return, I talked to a thousand Catholics involved in the Church and in society, suggesting some reflections on the action of the Church in a secularized society, on the invitation to be free from material and political burdens to reflect God more transparently".


As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Third Week of the Cross, September 28, 2011

Book of Revelation 3:14-22
‘And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: ‘I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, "I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing." You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 12:29-32
Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Quiet and Obedient

Father Charbel was a stranger to the ‘Jbeil’ neighborhood as he was the only monk from the area of ‘Al Jebbe’ in northern Lebanon. He showed an amazing obedience to everyone at the monastery, religious or not, some of them gave him orders with disdain, others gave him orders to ridiculize him, and he never disobeyed any order. Nobody defended him except the Superior, who had a deep respect for father Charbel and who was very angry against anyone who caused him any pain or despised him. As for Father Charbel, he was always working, praying and very obedient, he never showed any sign of grief in spite of being mistreated. He was similar in his behavior to Saint Theresa saying: I want to vanish from the world and to be the last in everything for you, Jesus.



According to the monastic rules, a monk should be silent. That is why father Charbel talked very little, just to answer the one who addressed him. His voice was heard only when he was reading the Gospel, or during the sacrament of the holy Eucharist. He never spoke to anyone whether men, women or monks and he was the incarnation of the monastic laws. He never talked at work and he never took any break or wasted any time with a visitor or a traveler. He was never involved in any gossip, never asked about anything or anyone, and he answered briefly and nicely when he was asked about anything. 

Charbel spent the little break before going to sleep in silence, not participating to the conversation with the other monks. Nevertheless, he spoke abundantly when he was asked about a spiritual or theological matter and he spoke with joy. Except for that, his whole life was about silence and his tongue was exclusively reserved to talk to God.

At church and in the hermitage he was like an angel. He was a monk of work, prayer, and silence and he was in a permanent meditation about heavenly matters. He was often caught in his meditations and spent hours in a standstill position talking to God without even blinking an eye. Everyone who saw him knew that he was living in another world, as he was not of this world. (John 17:16)

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the Third Week of the Cross, September 27, 2011

Saint of the day: St Vincent de Paul, confessor.

Book of Revelation 3:7-13
‘And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut,who shuts and no one opens: ‘I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but are lying I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 11:20-24
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Third Week of the Cross, September 26, 2011


Book of Revelation 3:1-6
‘And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works; you have a name for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 10:16-22
‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Message of the Virgin Mary for the World on September 25, 2011 From Medjugorje


“Dear children! I call you, for this time to be for all of you, a time of witnessing. You, who live in the love of God and have experienced His gifts, witness them with your words and life that they may be for the joy and encouragement to others in faith. I am with you and incessantly intercede before God for all of you that your faith may always be alive and joyful, and in the love of God. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

The Pope's Homily at Freiburg, Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI presided a big outdoor Mass at Freiburg's touristic airport just outside the south west German city. This is the final Mass of the Holy Father's four day visit to his homeland and comes on the last day of his trip. The following his the text of his Homily:
Pope B16 during the Holy Mass


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is moving for me to be here once again to celebrate this Eucharist, this Thanksgiving, with so many people from different parts of Germany and the neighbouring countries. We offer our thanks above all to God, in whom we live and move. But I would also like to thank all of you for your prayers that the Successor of Peter may continue to carry out his ministry with joy and faithful hope, and that he may strengthen his brothers in faith.

“Father, you show your almighty power in your mercy and forgiveness”, as we said in today’s Collect. In the first reading we heard how God manifested the power of his mercy in the history of Israel. The experience of the Babylonian Exile caused the people to fall into a crisis of faith: Why did this calamity happen? Perhaps God was not truly powerful?

There are theologians who, in the face of all the terrible things that happen in the world today, say that God cannot be all-powerful. In response to this we profess God, the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth. We are glad and thankful that God is all-powerful. At the same time, we have to be aware that he exercises his power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on his power, by recognizing the freedom of his creatures. We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom. However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened. Let us put our trust in God, whose power manifests itself above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let us be certain, dear faithful, that God desires the salvation of his people. He desires our salvation. He is always close to us, especially in times of danger and radical change, his heart aches for us and he reaches out to us. We need to open ourselves to him so that the power of his mercy can touch our hearts. We have to be ready to abandon evil, to raise ourselves from indifference and make room for his word. God respects our freedom. He does not constrain us.

In the Gospel Jesus takes up this fundamental theme of prophetic preaching. He recounts the parable of the two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son responded: “‘I will not go’, but afterward he repented and went.” Instead the other son said to the father: “‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.” When asked by Jesus which of the two sons did the father’s will, those listening respond: “the first” (Mt 21:29-31). The message of the parable is clear: it is not words that matter, but deeds, deeds of conversion and faith. Jesus directs this message to the chief priests and elders of the people, that is, to the experts of religion for the people of Israel. At first they say “yes” to God’s will, but their piety becomes routine and God no longer matters to them. For this reason they find the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus disturbing. The Lord concludes his parable with harsh words: “Truly, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him, and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him” (Mt 21:32). Translated into the language of our time, this statement might sound something like this: agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is “routine” and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith.

The words of Jesus should make us all pause, in fact they should disturb us. However, this is by no means to suggest that everyone who lives in the Church and works for her should be considered far from Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Absolutely not! On the contrary, this is a time to offer a word of profound gratitude to the many co-workers, employees and volunteers, without whom life in the parishes and in the entire Church would be hard to imagine. The Church in Germany has many social and charitable institutions through which the love of neighbour is practised in ways that bring social benefits and reach to the ends of the earth. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to all those working in Caritas Germany and in other church organizations who give their time and effort generously in voluntary service to the Church. In the first place, such service requires objective and professional expertise. But in the spirit of Jesus’ teaching something more is needed – an open heart that allows itself to be touched by the love of Christ, and thus gives to our neighbour, who needs us, something more than a technical service: it gives love, in which the other person is able to see Christ, the loving God. So let us ask ourselves, how is my personal relationship with God: in prayer, in participation at Sunday Mass, in exploring my faith through meditation on sacred Scripture and study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Dear friends, in the last analysis, the renewal of the Church will only come about through openness to conversion and through renewed faith.

The Gospel for this Sunday speaks of two sons, but behind them, in a mysterious way, there is a third son. The first son says “no,” but does the father’s will. The second son says “yes,” but does not do what he was asked. The third son both says “yes” and does what he was asked. This third son is the Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who has gathered us all here. Jesus, on entering the world, said: “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God” (Heb 10:7). He not only said “yes”, he acted on it. As the Christological hymn from the second reading says: “Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil. 2: 6-8). In humility and obedience, Jesus fulfilled the will of the Father and by dying on the Cross for his brothers and sisters, he saved us from our pride and obstinacy. Let us thank him for his sacrifice, let us bend our knees before his name and proclaim together with the disciples of the first generation: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).

The Christian life must continually measure itself by Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5), as Saint Paul says in the introduction to the Christological hymn. A few verses before, he exhorts his readers: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil 2:1-2). Just as Christ was totally united to the Father and obedient to him, so too the disciples must obey God and be of one mind among themselves. Dear friends, with Paul I dare to exhort you: complete my joy by being firmly united in Christ. The Church in Germany will overcome the great challenges of the present and future, and it will remain a leaven in society, if the priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful, in fidelity to their respective vocations, work together in unity, if the parishes, communities, and movements support and enrich each other, if the baptized and confirmed, in union with their bishop, lift high the torch of untarnished faith and allow it to enlighten their abundant knowledge and skills. The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world: if she remains faithfully united with the Successors of Saint Peter and the Apostles, if she fosters cooperation in various ways with mission countries and allows herself to be “infected” by the joy that marks the faith of these
young Churches.

To his exhortation to unity, Paul adds a call to humility: “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4). Christian life is a life for others: existing for others, humble service of neighbour and of the common good. Dear friends, humility is a virtue that does not enjoy great esteem today. But the Lord’s disciples know that this virtue is, so to speak, the oil that makes the process of dialogue fruitful, cooperation simple and unity sincere. The Latin word for humility, humilitas, is derived from humus and indicates closeness to the earth. Those who are humble stand with their two feet on the ground, but above all they listen to Christ, the Word of God, who ceaselessly renews the Church and each of her members.

Let us ask God for the courage and the humility to walk the path of faith, to draw from the riches of his mercy, and to fix our gaze on Christ, the Word, who makes all things new and is for us “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6): he is our future. Amen.


As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Third Sunday of the Cross, September 25, 2011


Destruction of the temple and the end of times.

First Letter to the Corinthians 15:19-34
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 24:1-14
As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Messiah!" and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.


Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Second Week of the Cross, September 24, 2011

Saint of the Day: Saint Thecla, First Woman Martyr.

Book of Revelation 2:18-29
‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze:  ‘I know your works your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practise fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call "the deep things of Satan", to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; only hold fast to what you have until I come. To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations; to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 20:1-16
‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, "You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right." So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, "Why are you standing here idle all day?" They said to him, "Because no one has hired us." He said to them, "You also go into the vineyard." When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, "Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first." When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, "These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat." But he replied to one of them, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?" So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’


The Pope's Homily in Berlin, September 22, 2011

Pope Benedict's final engagement on the first day of his state visit to Germany was the celebration of an open-air mass at the city's Olympic Stadium. Here is the English translation of the full text of his homily at the mass:

"Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As I look around the vast arena of the Olympic Stadium, where you have gathered today in such large numbers, my heart is filled with great joy and confidence. I greet all of you most warmly – the faithful from the Archdiocese of Berlin and the Dioceses of Germany as well as the many pilgrims from neighbouring countries. It was fifteen years ago that Berlin, the capital of Germany, was first visited by a Pope. We all remember vividly the visit of my venerable predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, and the beatification of the Berlin Cathedral Provost Bernhard Lichtenberg – together with Karl Leisner – here in this very place.


If we consider these beati and the great throng of those who have been canonized and beatified, we can understand what it means to live as branches of Christ, the true vine, and to bring forth rich fruit. Today’s Gospel puts before us once more the image of this climbing plant, that spreads so luxuriantly in the east, a symbol of vitality and a metaphor for the beauty and dynamism of Jesus’ fellowship with his disciples and friends.

In the parable of the vine, Jesus does not say: “You are the vine”, but: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5). In other words: “As the branches are joined to the vine, so you belong to me! But inasmuch as you belong to me, you also belong to one another.” This belonging to each other and to him is not some ideal, imaginary, symbolic relationship, but – I would almost want to say – a biological, life-transmitting state of belonging to Jesus Christ. Such is the Church, this communion of life with him and for the sake of one another, a communion that is rooted in baptism and is deepened and given more and more vitality in the Eucharist. “I am the true vine” actually means: “I am you and you are I” – an unprecedented identification of the Lord with us, his Church.

On the road to Damascus, Christ himself asked Saul, the persecutor of the Church: “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). With these words the Lord expresses the common destiny that arises from his Church’s inner communion of life with himself, the risen Christ. He continues to live in his Church in this world. He is present among us, and we are with him. “Why do you persecute me?” It is Jesus, then, who is on the receiving end of the persecutions of his Church. At the same time, when we are oppressed for the sake of our faith, we are not alone: Jesus is with us.

Jesus says in the parable: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (Jn 15:1), and he goes on to explain that the vinedresser reaches for his knife, cuts off the withered branches and prunes the fruit-bearing ones, so that they bring forth more fruit. Expressed in terms of the image from the prophet Ezekiel that we heard in the first reading, God wants to take the dead heart of stone out of our breast in order to give us a living heart of flesh (cf. Ez 36:26). He wants to bestow new life upon us, full of vitality. Christ came to call sinners. It is they who need the doctor, not the healthy (cf. Lk 5:31f.). Hence, as the Second Vatican Council expresses it, the Church is the “universal sacrament of salvation” (Lumen Gentium, 48), existing for sinners in order to open up to them the path of conversion, healing and life. That is the Church’s true and great mission, entrusted to her by Christ.

Many people see only the outward form of the Church. This makes the Church appear as merely one of the many organizations within a democratic society, whose criteria and laws are then applied to the task of evaluating and dealing with such a complex entity as the “Church”. If to this is added the sad experience that the Church contains both good and bad fish, wheat and darnel, and if only these negative aspects are taken into account, then the great and deep mystery of the Church is no longer seen.

It follows that belonging to this vine, the “Church”, is no longer a source of joy. Dissatisfaction and discontent begin to spread, when people’s superficial and mistaken notions of “Church”, their “dream Church”, fail to materialize! Then we no longer hear the glad song “Thanks be to God who in his grace has called me into his Church” that generations of Catholics have sung with conviction. The Lord’s discourse continues: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me ... for apart from me [i.e. separated from me, or outside me] you can do nothing” (Jn 15:4f.).

Every one of us is faced with this choice. The Lord reminds us how much is at stake as he continues his parable: “If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned” (Jn 15:6). In this regard, Saint Augustine says: “The branch is suitable only for one of two things, either the vine or the fire: if it is not in the vine, its place will be in the fire; and that it may escape the latter, may it have its place in the vine” (In Ioan. Ev. Tract. 81:3 [PL 35, 1842]).

The decision that is required of us here makes us keenly aware of the existential significance of our life choices. At the same time, the image of the vine is a sign of hope and confidence. Christ himself came into this world through his incarnation, to be our root. Whatever hardship or drought befall us, he is the source that offers us the water of life, that feeds and strengthens us. He takes upon himself all our sins, anxieties and sufferings and he purifies and transforms us, in a way that is ultimately mysterious, into good wine. In such times of hardship we can sometimes feel as if we ourselves were in the wine-press, like grapes being utterly crushed. But we know that if we are joined to Christ we become mature wine. God can transform into love even the burdensome and oppressive aspects of our lives. It is important that we “abide” in Christ, in the vine. The evangelist uses the word “abide” a dozen times in this brief passage. This “abiding in Christ” characterizes the whole of the parable. In our era of restlessness and lack of commitment, when so many people lose their way and their grounding, when loving fidelity in marriage and friendship has become so fragile and short-lived, when in our need we cry out like the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Lord, stay with us, for it is almost evening and darkness is all around us!” (cf. Lk 24:29), then the risen Lord gives us a place of refuge, a place of light, hope and confidence, a place of rest and security. When drought and death loom over the branches, then future, life and joy are to be found in Christ.

To abide in Christ means, as we saw earlier, to abide in the Church as well. The whole communion of the faithful has been firmly incorporated into the vine, into Christ. In Christ we belong together. Within this communion he supports us, and at the same time all the members support one another. They stand firm together against the storm and they offer one another protection. Those who believe are not alone. We do not believe alone, but we believe with the whole Church.

The Church, as the herald of God’s word and dispenser of the sacraments, joins us to Christ, the true vine. The Church as “fullness and completion of the Redeemer” (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, AAS 35 [1943] p. 230: “plenitudo et complementum Redemptoris”) is to us a pledge of divine life and mediator of those fruits of which the parable of the vine speaks. The Church is God’s most beautiful gift. Therefore Saint Augustine also says: “as much as any man loves the Church of Christ, so much has he the Holy Spirit” (In Ioan. Ev. Tract. 32:8 [PL 35:1646]). With and in the Church we may proclaim to all people that Christ is the source of life, that he exists, that he is the one for whom we long so much. He gives himself. Whoever believes in Christ has a future. For God has no desire for what is withered, dead, ersatz, and finally discarded: he wants what is fruitful and alive, he wants life in its fullness.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! My wish for all of you is that you may discover ever more deeply the joy of being joined to Christ in the Church, that you may find comfort and redemption in your time of need and that you may increasingly become the precious wine of Christ’s joy and love for this world. Amen."


As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Second Week of the Cross, September 23, 2011


Book of Revelation 2:12-17
‘And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword: ‘I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling-block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practise fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10:28-31
Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Second Week of the Cross, September 22, 2011

Book of Revelation 2:8-11
‘And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:  ‘I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10:17-27
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother."’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’

The Pope's General Audience on Wednesday September 21, 2011 is Canceled

General Audience canceled on wednesday September 21, 2011 as pope Benedict XVI is getting ready to take a trip to his native Germany. Some are describing the four day visit as one of the most intense trips of his pontificate. Wednesday there was no general audience as the pope takes some time to rest before leaving.

A huge poster of Pope B16 hanging on a large building
in Berlin

Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday arrives in Germany for his third visit to his homeland since becoming Pope. This week’s apostolic journey will be his first State Visit to the country, and will take him to the capital, Berlin.

“It makes me proud to be a host for Pope Benedict XVI,” said Archbishop Rainer-Maria Woelki of Berlin. “In the last weeks, I jumped on the bandwagon of preparations, and experienced so much cheerful anticipation in the communities and facilities, even by those who are really busy with them.”

Unlike his previous visits to Germany, which were to predominantly Catholic areas of the country, this trip takes him to the heartland of Protestant Germany. In the capital itself, even professed Christians are a minority. Archbishop Woelki noted protests have even been planned at the Pope’s arrival.

“I once again invite everyone to listen first to what the Pope has to say, and then to pass judgement,” the Archbishop said. “When Benedict XVI lands in Berlin on September 22, he will be welcomed as the Vatican’s head of state, as well as the highest priest of the Catholic Church. But he also visits Berlin as a great European, and universal intellectual and example of belief. I am convinced that it is worth it to listen to what he has to say, even as a critical mind, even when not everyone agrees with everything.”

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Second Week of the Cross, September 21, 2011


Book of Revelation 2:1-7
‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands: ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.


Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 9:38-50
John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the Second Week of the Cross, September 20, 2011


Book of Revelation 1:9-20
I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’ Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 9:33-37
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’


Video: Visite du Patriarche Maronite a Lourdes le 08 Septembre 2011

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Second Week of the Cross, September 19, 2011


Book of Revelation 1:1-8
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 8:34-38, 9:1
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’

The Pope's Angelus Message on Sunday, September 18, 2011

New evangelisation was at the heart of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Sunday before the recitation of the Angelus, his last before a visit to Germany. Speaking to the many people who had gathered in the courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence at Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father said that “Today we live in an epoch of new evangelisation. Vast horizons are opening to the Gospel, while traditionally Christian regions are called to rediscover once again the beauty of the faith”.
Pope B16 delivering his message

The Holy Father then went on to praise the men and women, families, and communities “who accept, as he put it, to work in the vineyard of the Lord, an image taken from Sunday’s Gospel.These people, the Pope added, are “Humble, generous workers who ask no other recompense but to participate in the mission of Jesus and his Church.”

“In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Jesus compare the Kingdom of Heaven to the actions of a landowner who is generous to all the workers in his vineyard. Perhaps at times we may feel envious of the success of others or feel that we have not been sufficiently thanked for our service. May we always strive to be humble servants of the Lord and rejoice when God bestows abundant graces on those around us. “

Continuing on this theme of evangelisation Pope Benedict turned to the great figure of St Paul, a man who embodied the “new evangelisation”. St Paul the Pope recalled said “Life to me is Christ”. He said this, continued the Pope, because he understood that Jesus is a man in whom God himself lives” and not just a religious leader or master of wisdom.

In concluding words on Sunday Pope Benedict asked the German people to pray for him during his upcoming visit to his homeland.


As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Second Sunday of the Cross, September 18, 2011

Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10
You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10:35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’



Daily Gospel: Saturday of the First Week of the Cross, September 17, 2011

Second Letter of Peter 3:1-9
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 12:31-36
Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’ After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Daily Gospel: Friday of the First Week of the Cross, September 16, 2011

Second Letter of Peter 1:12-21
Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 8:21-30
Again he said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ Then the Jews said, ‘Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, "Where I am going, you cannot come"?’ He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’ As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the First Week of the Cross, September 15, 2011

Second Letter of Peter 1:1-11
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 3:11-21
‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

The Pope's General Audience on Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Pope Benedict XVI flew by helicopter to the Vatican on Wednesday to hold his weekly general audience. Meeting thousands of pilgrims in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Pope continued his series of talks on prayer, with Psalm 22. It is one of the most familiar and begins:
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?
My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.

“Surrounded by enemies who are persecuting him, the psalmist cries out by day and by night for help, and yet God seems to remain silent,” Pope Benedict said. He then spoke about the significance of the psalm for Christians:“In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the opening line of this psalm is placed on the lips of Jesus as he calls upon the Father from the Cross,” said the Holy Father. “He too seems to have been abandoned to a cruel fate, while his enemies mock him, attacking him like ravenous and roaring lions, dividing his clothing among them as if he were already dead.”

The Pope then said despite all appearances, the Psalmist can not believe that the relationship with the Lord has stopped completely:“The psalmist recalls how, in the past, the people of Israel called trustingly upon the Lord in times of trial, and he answered their prayer. He remembers the tenderness with which the Lord cared for him personally in his earlier life, as a child in his mother’s womb, as an infant in his mother’s arms, and yet now God seems strangely distant. Despite such adverse circumstances, though, the psalmist’s faith and trust in the Lord remains. The psalm ends on a note of confidence, as God’s name is praised before all the nations. The shadow of the Cross gives way to the bright hope of the Resurrection. We too, when we call upon him in times of trial, must place our trust in the God who brings salvation, who conquers death with the gift of eternal life.”

After the audience, the Holy Father returned by helicopter to the Papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

As published by the Vatican.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday September 14, 2011: Exaltation of the Holy Cross


First Letter to the Corinthians 1:18-25
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.


Holy Gospel According to Saint John 12:20-32
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say "Father, save me from this hour"? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

The Unique Necessary


Saint Rafqa knew very well that Jesus deserved that she leaves everything to follow him and earn eternal life in his name, that is why she left everything that had to do with this life with her own will and spirit. She often said:”Lord, no one nor anything in this world can separate me from you”, her call was beyond any worldly influence.

A general view of the town of Bikfaya where Saint Rafqa spent
her first years of Novitiate.

According to her testimony in 1912, Saint Rafqa said:”When my father realized that I left home to join the monastery, he came along with his wife to ask for me back from my superior and to bring me back home. The novices’ mistress informed me of his arrival saying: your father and mother are here at the convent to bring you back home. I answered her: I would prefer that my mother takes me rather than leaving the convent. The mistress was surprised with my words and said: how is that? I told her: my mother has died and the woman with my father is his wife, and I urged her to relieve me from seeing them. She accepted and they left saddened. Since then, I never saw them again during my religious life.”

Rafqa’s heart was oriented towards the true life and the real treasure. Divine love has consumed all links that attached her to this world and which made her leave her paternal home. All her life she lived in this detachment.

This Divine election has made the ultimate joy and contentment for BoutrossiyƩ, and they were unalterable. She was developing a deep attachment to the Most High. Since her admission to the convent she was obsessed by the thought: He wanted me for Him.

She shared with Saint Bernard his saying:” I am dead with regards to everything; I only live for the matters of Jesus Christ and can only act according to them.” It was the final goodbye to her parents and to this world, her divine desire was filling her heart and soul. Rafqa knew that there was need of only one thing, she has chosen the better part, and it was never taken away from her.

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the First Week of the Cross, September 13, 2011


First Letter of John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.


Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Saint Luke 15:8-10
‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost." Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the First Week of the Cross, September 12, 2011

First Letter of John 3:23-24, 4:1-6
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Saint Luke 15:1-7
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost." Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

The Pope's Angelus Message on Sunday September 11, 2011

From the Adriatic port city of Ancona this Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI raised an appeal to world leaders to always reject violence as a solution to problems. The Pope had flown into the eastern Italian city to preside at the conclusion of the 25th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, but during the midday Angelus – for a second straight day – his thoughts went to the September 11th of ten years ago and to the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York’s Twin Towers, on Washington and Pennsylvania:
“Today, our thoughts also go to September 11 ten years ago. In entrusting the victims of the terrorist attacks on that day and their families to the Lord of Life, I invite the leaders of nations and men of good will to always refuse violence as the solution to problems, to resist the temptation toward hatred and to work in society, inspired by the principles of solidarity, justice and peace”.
Tens of thousands gathering around the Pope at Ancona

On Saturday in a letter to the President of the US bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the Holy Father had written about the brutality of the 9/11 attacks that killed almost 3, 000 people and said that nothing can justify terrorism and that what happened is further compounded by the perpetrators’ claim to be acting in the name of God.

His latest appeal resounded across the deep blue of the Adriatic sea, a perfect backdrop to the Sunday liturgy which saw Italy’s biggest shipyard transformed into an open air cathedral. An estimated 100 thousand people drawn from the nations 42 Metropolitan Archdiocese had gathered for the week long congress in Ancona on the theme “The Eucharist for every day life” inspired by the passage from the Gospel of John on Christ’s sermon on the Bread of Life.

In gifting Himself daily in the Eucharist – Pope Benedict said in his homily – God offers us " the path to avoid indifference to the fate of our brothers and sisters, to enter the same logic of love and gift of sacrifice of the Cross". He said : "Those who know how to kneel before the Eucharist, those who receive the body of Christ can not fail to be attentive, in the unfolding of the day, to situations unworthy of man and know firsthand how to bend over the needy, how to break bread with the hungry, how to share water with the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned".

Commenting on the phrase that begins today's Gospel "This is a hard saying," Pope Benedict said that "it is hard because often we confuse freedom with the absence of constraints, in the belief that we can make it alone, without God, seen as a limit to freedom. This is an illusion which soon turns into disappointment, generating fear and anxiety and leading us, paradoxically, to regret the chains of the past: "If only we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt ..." - said the Jews in the desert (Ex 16.3), as we heard. In fact, only in openness to God, in welcoming His gift, do we become truly free, free from the bondage of sin which disfigures the face of man and able to serve the true good of our brothers".

The Pope continued : "It is hard because man often falls into the illusion of being able to "turn stones into bread." After having put God aside, or having tolerated Him as a private choice that should not interfere with public life, certain ideologies have tried to organize society by the force of power and the economy. History dramatically shows us how the goal of ensuring development, material well-being and peace to all, excluding God and his revelation, resulted in people being given stone instead of bread. Bread, dear brothers and sisters, is the "fruit of human hands", and in this truth lies all the responsibilities entrusted to our hands and our ingenuity; but bread is also, and before that, "fruit of the earth ", which receives the sun and rain from above: it is a gift to be asked for, that takes away all of our pride and makes us cry out with the confidence of the humble:" Father (...), give us this day our daily bread "(Matt. 6:11)".

"Man is incapable of giving life by himself, he can only be understood starting from God: it is our relationship with Him, that gives consistency to our humanity and makes our lives good and right. In the Our Father we ask that His name be hallowed, that His kingdom come, that His will is done. Above all else, we must recover the primacy of God in our world and our lives, because it is this very primacy that allows us to recover the truth of who we are, and it is in knowing and following the will of God that we find our true good. Give time and space to God, so that he is the vital centre of our existence. Where to start, as if from the source, to recover and reassert the primacy of God? From the Eucharist: there God draws so close that He becomes food for us, here He becomes strength in the often difficult journey, here He becomes a friendly presence that transforms".

Pope Benedict concluded : "A Eucharistic spirituality, then, is the real antidote to the individualism and selfishness that often characterize daily life, it leads to the rediscovery of gratuity, of the centrality of relationships, starting from the family, with particular attention to healing the wounds of those that are broken. A Eucharistic spirituality is the soul of a church community that goes beyond divisions and conflicts and promotes the diversity of charisms and ministries by placing them in the service of the unity of the Church, its vitality and its mission. Eucharistic spirituality is a way to restore dignity to man’s everyday life and therefore to his work, in the search to reconcile it with times of celebration and family life and with a commitment to overcome the insecurity and uncertainty of the unemployment problem. A Eucharistic spirituality will also help us to draw close to the different forms of human frailty aware that they do not overshadow the value of the person, but require closeness, welcome and help. A renewed educational vitality can draw force from the Bread of life, attentive to witness the fundamental values ​​of existence, of knowledge, of our spiritual and cultural heritage, its vitality will help us live in the city of mankind with the willingness to spend ourselves for the horizon of the common good to build a more just and fraternal world ".


As published by the Vatican.