Holy Gospel, Feast of the Twelve Apostles.

Letter to the Romans 10:12-21. 
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But how are they to call on  one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’ Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.’ Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’ But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’ 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 9:36-38. 
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In a world in which so many “masters” want to direct and guide us, we need a scale of values that gives primacy to God, and to realise that Jesus Christ is the only Lord of our lives. This was the message at the heart of Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday audience. The Holy Father’s appointment with pilgrims from across the world was moved indoors to the Paul VI audience hall, as summer temperatures continue to climb in the Eternal City. 

In his catechesis Pope Benedict continued his series on Christian prayer in the letters of Saint Paul, focusing on the Christological hymn in the Letter to the Philippians. He spoke of how prayer is silence and speech, but also of how prayer involves the heart and body in gestures of adoration of the Lord; “as Jesus’ exaltation took place through his abasement, so in our lives and in our prayer we discover that, by lowering ourselves in humility and love, we are lifted up to God.” 

He continued: “Human logic, however, often seeks self-realization in power, dominion, in powerful means. Man still wants to build the tower of Babel on his own to reach the heights of God, to be like God. The Incarnation and the Cross remind us that full realisation is found in conforming our human will to the Father, in the emptying of one's selfishness, to be filled with love, God’s charity and thus truly be able to love others”. 

Following his catechesis in Italian he greeted English speaking pilgrims present at the audience : “I offer a warm welcome to the ecumenical delegation of Christian leaders from Korea. I greet the pilgrimage groups from Nigeria, South Africa and Swaziland. My greeting also goes to the many student groups present. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, including those from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Norway, Australia, the Bahamas and the United States of America, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace! 

Below is a translation of the general audience catechesis:

Dear brothers and sisters,
Our prayer is made, as we have seen in past Wednesdays, of silence and speech, of singing and gestures that involve the whole person: from the mouth to the mind, from the heart to the whole body. It is a characteristic that we find in Jewish prayer, especially in the Psalms. Today I would like to talk about one of the oldest songs or hymns of the Christian tradition, which St. Paul presents to us in what is, in a sense, his spiritual testament: The Letter to the Philippians. It is, in fact, a letter that the Apostle dictated while in prison, perhaps in Rome. He feels close to death, because he says that his life will be poured out as a libation (cf. Philippians 2.17). 

Despite this situation of grave danger to his physical safety, St. Paul, throughout the text, expresses the joy of being a disciple of Christ, of being able to reach out to Him, to the point of no longer seeing his death as a loss but as gain . In the last chapter of the Letter there is a strong invitation to joy, a fundamental characteristic of our being Christians and of our prayer. St. Paul writes: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!" (Phil. 4.4). But how can one rejoice in the face of an imminent death sentence? From where, or rather, from whom does St. Paul draw the serenity, strength, courage to go to meet his martyrdom, and the shedding of his blood? 

We find the answer at the centre of the Letter to the Philippians, in what the Christian tradition calls carmen Christo, the hymn for Christ, more commonly known as the "Christological hymn ', a hymn in which all attention is centred on the Christ’s “sentiments”, that is, on his thinking and his lived and concrete experience. This prayer begins with an exhortation: " Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2.5). These feelings are presented in the following verses: love, generosity, humility, obedience to God, the gift of oneself. It is not simply a case of following the example of Jesus, as a moral thing, but to involve all of our existence in our way of thinking and acting. Prayer should lead to an ever deeper knowledge and union of love with the Lord, to be able to think, act and love like Him, in Him and for Him. Exercising this learning the sentiments of Jesus is the path of Christian life. 

Now I will briefly touch on some elements of this dense hymn that sums up the whole human and the divine journey of the Son of God, which encompasses all of human history: from being in the form of God, to incarnation, death on a cross and exaltation in the glory of the Father and also partly the behaviour of Adam, of man from the beginning. This hymn to Christ comes from his being "en morphe tou Theou," says the Greek text, that is, from being "in the form of God," or better in the condition of God. Jesus, true God and true man, does not live his "being like God" to triumph or to impose his supremacy, he does not consider it a possession, a privilege, a precious treasure. Indeed, he "divested," emptied himself, taking on, as the Greek text says, the "morphe doulos ', the' form of a slave," human reality marked by suffering, poverty, death; he fully assimilated to mankind, except in sin, so as to behave as a servant dedicated to the service of others. In this regard, Eusebius of Caesarea (IV century) said: "He took upon himself the labours of the members who are suffering. He made his our humble diseases. He suffered and toiled for our sakes: all this in accordance with his great love for humanity "(Proof of the Gospel, 10, 1, 22). St. Paul continues by outlining the "historical" framework in which this abasement of Jesus took place. He writes: "he humbled himself and became obedient unto death" (Phil. 2.8). The Son of God truly became man and took on a journey in complete obedience and loyalty to the will of the Father, even to the supreme sacrifice of his life. Moreover, the Apostle specifies "unto death, even death on a cross." On the cross Jesus Christ reached the highest degree of humiliation, because crucifixion was the punishment reserved for slaves, " mors turpissima crucis," writes Cicero (cf. In Verrem, V, 64, 165). 

In the Cross of Christ man is redeemed and the experience of Adam is overturned: Adam, created in the image and likeness of God, claimed to be like God on his own strengths, to replace God, and so lost the original dignity that had been bestowed on him. Jesus, however, was in that condition but he lowered himself, he immersed himself in the human condition, with unswerving fidelity to the Father, to redeem Adam who is in us and restore the dignity he had lost. The Fathers emphasize that He became obedient, restoring to human nature, through his humanity and obedience, what had been lost through the disobedience of Adam. 

In prayer, in relationship with God, we open our mind and heart, to the will of the Holy Spirit to enter this same dynamic of life, as St. Cyril of Alexandria, whose feast we celebrate today, affirms: "The work of the Spirit seeks to transform us through grace into a perfect copy of his humiliation "( Festal Letter 10, 4). Human logic, however, often seeks self-realization in power, dominion, in powerful means. Man still wants to build the tower of Babel on his own to reach the heights of God himself to be like God. The Incarnation and the Cross remind us that full realisation is found in conforming our human will to the Father, in the emptying of one's selfishness, to be filled with love, God’s charity and thus truly become able to love others. Man will not find himself by remaining closed in on himself, by affirming himself, man will only find himself by coming out of himself, only if we come out of ourselves will we find each other and if Adam wanted to imitate God, in itself it was not a bad thing, however he had the wrong idea of ​​God. God does not want only greatness, God is love that gives, already in the Trinity and then in Creation. Imitating God means coming out of ourselves and gifting ourselves in love. 

In the second part of this "Christological hymn" of the Letter to the Philippians, the subject changes: it is no longer Christ, but God the Father. St. Paul emphasizes that it is by obedience to the will of the Father, that "God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name" (Phil. 2.9). He who lowered himself completely, by taking on the condition of a slave, is lifted up, exalted above all things by the Father, who gives him the name of "Kyrios," "Lord," the supreme dignity and sovereignty. Faced with this new name, in fact, that is the name of God in the Old Testament, "every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father "(vv. 10-11). The Jesus who is exalted is that of the Last Supper, who lays aside his garments, girds himself with a towel, and bows down to wash the feet of the Apostles and asks them: " Do you realize what I have done for you? 

You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do "(Jn 13.12-14). This is important to always remember in our prayers and in our lives: "the ascent to God takes place through the descent of humble service in the descent of love for love is essence and is thus the power that truly purifies man and enables him to perceive God and to see God "(Jesus of Nazareth, Milano 2007, p. 120). 

The hymn of the Letter to the Philippians gives us two important clues here for our prayer. The first is the invocation, "Lord" directed to Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father: He is the only Lord of our lives, in the midst of so many "masters" who want to direct and guide. For this reason it is important to have a scale of values ​​in which primacy belongs to God, to affirm together with St. Paul: " I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3.8) . The encounter with the Risen Lord made him understand that He is the only treasure worth spending one's own existence for. 

The second indication is prostration, the "bending of every knee," as St. Paul says together with the prophet Isaiah, on earth and in heaven, recalling an expression of the Prophet Isaiah, which indicates that all creatures should worship God (cf. 45:23). Genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament or kneeling in prayer expresses an attitude of adoration before God, even with the body. Hence the importance of making this gesture not out of habit and not in a hurry, but with deep awareness. When we kneel before the Lord, we confess our faith in Him, we recognize that He is the only Lord of our lives. 

Dear brothers and sisters in our prayers, let us fix our gaze on the Cross, let us pause more often in adoration before the Eucharist, to allow God into our lives, God who humbled himself to raise us up to Him At the beginning of catechesis we wondered how St. Paul could rejoice in the face of the imminent risk of his martyrdom and bloodshed. This is only possible because the Apostle never removed his gaze from Christ to the point of conforming to Him in death, " if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:11). Like St. Francis before the Crucifix, may we also say: Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command.. Amen (cf. Prayer before the Crucifix: FF [276]).

Message of the Virgin Mary to the World on June 25, 2012 From Medjugorje

“Dear children! With great hope in the heart, also today I call you to prayer. If you pray, little children, you are with me and you are seeking the will of my Son and are living it. Be open and live prayer and, at every moment, may it be for you the savor and joy of your soul. I am with you and I intercede for all of you before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Daily Gospel: Feast of Blessed Father Yaacoub Haddad the Capuchin, June 26, 2012

Letter of James 2:14-23.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 10:25-37.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, "Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend." Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message, June 24, 2012

On a sunny June Sunday in Rome, Pope Benedict greeted the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus. June 24th is the feast of Saint John the Baptist and it was on this figure of the Church that the Pope spoke of before the recitation of the Marian Prayer. 

"This Sunday, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, the great saint who prepared the way for our Lord. John was a voice, crying in the wilderness, calling God’s people to repentance. Let us heed his voice today, and make room for the Lord in our hearts."

The Holy Father explained that John’s conception to Mary’s elderly cousin Elizabeth is a sign that “nothing is impossible to God”. 

Pope Benedict described John the Baptist as “the forerunner of Jesus, a messenger who prepares the way for the Son of God.

Thirty years later continued the Pope, John begins baptizing people in the Jordan river, hence the name “the Baptist”. He wanted people to repent in preparation for the imminent coming of the Messiah.

God, underlined the Holy Father, had a mission for this great Saint. He was the one to Baptize Jesus and in his own violent death bore witness to the Son of God and was the first to make Jesus known publicly.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict, speaking in Italian, told those gathered he was making a visit on Tuesday to the areas in Northern Italy hit by a recent earthquake. He expressed the solidarity of the whole church with those affected and he invited the faithful to pray for all those in need.

Holy Gospel, Fifth Sunday of Pentecost: Call of the Apostles

Letter to the Philippians 3:7-14. 
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 10:1-7. 
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, "The kingdom of heaven has come near."

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, June 21, 2012

This morning the Holy Father received participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO). In his remarks to the group Benedict XVI mentioned the social and economic crisis which, "due to the global dimension it has taken on, does not spare the more economically developed parts of the world and, even more worryingly, also affects the most disadvantaged areas". Above all in the East, "homeland to ancient Christian traditions", this process "generates insecurity and instability also at the ecclesial level, and in the ecumenical and inter-religious fields. These factors nourish endemic wounds of history and make dialogue, peace, coexistence among peoples and authentic respect for human rights even more fragile, especially the right to religious freedom for individuals and communities".

In this year's meeting, representatives form the Holy Land were joined by prelates from the Syro-Malabar Church in India, the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, the apostolic nuncio to Syria and the president of Caritas in Syria.

"This", the Holy Father said, "is an occasion to reaffirm my closeness to the great suffering of our brothers and sister in Syria, in particular the young innocents and those most defenceless. May our prayers, our commitment and our concrete fraternity in Christ ... help them not to lose the light of hope at this moment of darkness; and may God give wisdom of heart to those in positions of responsibility, that all violence and bloodshed may cease".

In closing Benedict XVI called on the members of ROACO to be "eloquent signs of the charity that pours from Christ’s heart" and to "present the Church to the world in her most authentic identity and mission". He concluded by expressing the hope that the Virgin would give them hope and watch over his own forthcoming trip to Lebanon.

Full text of Pope Benedict XVI's speech to ROACO
Dear Cardinals, Your Beatitudes,
Venerable Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Members and friends of ROACO,

I am very happy to welcome and greet you in this regular gathering. I extend greetings to the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and President of ROACO and I thank him for the kind words that he addressed to me. I also thank the Archbishop Secretary, the Under-Secretary, the other officials and all those present. I renew my gratitude to the institutions represented here, to the Churches from Europe and America that support them and to the many benefactors. I assure you of my prayers to the Lord, in the consoling certainty that he “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).

Above all it is my hope that you will persevere in “that movement of charity which, by Papal mandate, the Congregation oversees, so that the Holy Land and other Eastern regions may receive material and spiritual support in an ordered and just way so as to meet the demands of their ordinary ecclesial life and other special needs” (Address to the Congregation for Eastern Churches, 9 June 2007). In these words I expressed myself five years ago while visiting the Dicastery for Eastern Churches and I now wish to reiterate firmly that same exhortation so as to underline the urgent needs of the present moment.

The present economic and social situation, all the more sensitive on account of its global dimensions, continues to create problems in economically developed areas of the world, and, more seriously, spills over into less affluent regions, seriously compromising their present and their future. The East, the motherland of ancient Christian traditions, is especially affected by this process, which engenders uncertainty and instability that also has an impact on the Church and in the ecumenical and interreligious fields. These factors tend to reopen the endemic wounds of history and they have a damaging effect on dialogue and peaceful cohabitation among peoples. They also weaken authentic respect for human rights, especially the right to personal and community religious freedom. This right should be guaranteed in its public profession, not only in terms of worship, but also in relation to the pastoral, educational, charitable and social activities that are indispensable for its effective exercise.

The representatives of the Holy Land, including the Apostolic Delegate Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Father Custodian, all regular participants in ROACO, are joined this year by the two Major Archbishops, His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry of the SyroMalabar Church of India and His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine. Also present are the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, and the Bishop President of Caritas Syria. This gives me the opportunity to open up the gaze of the Church of Rome to the universal dimension that is so deeply rooted and constitutes one of the essential marks of the mystery of the Church. It also gives me the opportunity to reaffirm my closeness to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Syria, especially innocent children and the defenceless. May our prayer, our commitment and our active brotherhood in Christ, as an oil of consolation, help them not to lose sight of the light of hope in this moment of darkness, and obtain from God wisdom of heart for all in positions of responsibility so that bloodshed and violence, that only bring pain and death, may cease and give way to reconciliation, harmony and peace. Every effort should be made, including by the international community, to bring Syria out of the present situation of violence and crisis, which has already lasted a long time and risks becoming a wider conflict that would have highly negative consequences for the country and the whole region. I also issue an urgent and heartfelt appeal, in view of the extreme need of the population, that the necessary humanitarian assistance be guaranteed, and extended to the many persons who have been forced to leave their homes, some of them becoming refugees in neighbouring countries. The precious gift of human life must always be defended.

Dear friends of ROACO, the Year of Faith, which I have instituted to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, will offer fruitful suggestions to Aid to the Eastern Churches, that are a providential witness to what we read in the Word of God: that faith without works withers and dies (cf. Jas 2:17). May you always be eloquent signs of the charity that flows from the heart of Christ and presents the Church to the world in her true mission and identity by placing her at the service of God who is Love. Today in the Latin Rite we celebrate Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom I ask to sustain our thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit and to pray with us so that the Lord may also raise up in our days exemplary agents of charity towards others. May the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God always accompany the Eastern Churches in their homeland and in the diaspora, bringing them encouragement and hope for a renewed service to the Gospel. May she also watch over the coming journey which – God willing – I will make to Lebanon for the solemn closing of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I look forward to offering the Lebanese Church and Nation my paternal and fraternal embrace. In the meantime I am pleased to impart to your Organizations, to all present, to your dear ones, and to the communities entrusted to your care, my affectionate Apostolic Blessing.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Fourth Week of Pentecost, June 21, 2012

Saint of the day: St Louis Gonzaga, Confessor.

Acts of the Apostles 8:9, 13b-25.
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practised magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place. Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.’ Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.’ Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 18:15-20.
‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Fourth Week of Pentecost, June 18, 2012

Saint of the day: St Leontius of Tripoli, Martyr.

Acts of the Apostles 7:44-50.
‘Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, who found favour with God and asked that he might find a dwelling-place for the house of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?"

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 18:1-5.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message, June 17, 2012

During the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict spoke about the parables of Christ in the day’s Gospel. The parable of the seed that grows while the farmer sleeps “refers to the mystery of creation and redemption, the fruitful work of God in history.” In the parable, the Pope said, the final harvest reminds us of the full realization of God’s Kingdom at the end of time. “The present time is the time of sowing, and the Lord ensures the growth of the seed. Every Christian, then, knows that he must do all he can, but that the final results depend on God. This knowledge will sustain his daily labours, especially in difficult situations.”

In his remarks to English speaking pilgrims, the Holy Father highlighted the Lord’s parable of the mustard seed: “In today’s Gospel,” he said, “the Lord teaches us that God’s kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed which becomes the largest of shrubs. Let us fervently pray that God may take our weak but sincere desires and transform them into great works of love for him and our neighbour.”

After leading the crowds in the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict noted the upcoming, UN-sponsored World Refugee Day, taking place Wednesday June 20. The day is dedicated to calling attention to “the conditions of many people, especially families, forced to flee their lands, because of threats of armed conflicts and serious forms of violence.” The Holy Father assured refugees of his prayers and of his constant concern for them, and expressed the hope that their rights would be respected and that they would be quickly reunited with their families.

The Pope also spoke about the International Eucharistic Congress, concluding today in Dublin, Ireland. Reflecting on the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the altar, he said “In the mystery of the Eucharist Jesus wanted to stay with us, for us to enter into communion with Him and among ourselves.”

Finally, Pope Benedict joyfully called to mind the beatification of Eusepi Cecilia, taking place Sunday afternoon. Eusepi, who died at the age of 18, “lived with unwavering faith, displaying great ability to offer sacrifices for the salvation of souls.” The Holy Father recalled that “in the last days of her life, in profound union with Christ Crucified, she repeated ‘It is good to give oneself for Christ, who has given everything for us’.”

Finally, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims and visitors from around the world in various languages, wishing them a happy Sunday, and leaving them with his “abundant blessing.”

Holy Gospel, Fourth Sunday of Pentecost: Jesus Rejoice in the Holy Spirit

First Letter to the Corinthians 2:11-16.
For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.  ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 10:21-24.
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.’

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Third Week of Pentecost, June 16, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 7:30-38. 
‘Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: "I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, "Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt."  ‘It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, "Who made you a ruler and a judge?" and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, "God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up." He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to
Saint John 16:29-33.
His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Third Week of Pentecost, June 15, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 7:17-29.
‘But as the time drew near for the fulfilment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house; and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.  ‘When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. The next day he came to some of them as they were quarrelling and tried to reconcile them, saying, "Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?" But the man who was wronging his neighbour pushed Moses aside, saying, "Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?" When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 16:25-28.
‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday June 13, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, during which he saluted the participants in the International Eucharistic Congress. “At this time,” said Pope Benedict, “our thoughts and prayers are with all those taking part in the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Ireland.”

I invite all of you to join me in praying that the Congress will bear rich spiritual fruit in a greater appreciation of our Lord’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist and a deeper love of the mystery of the Church, which draws us into ever fuller communion with him and with one another through the daily celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The Holy Father’s salute to the Congress and those participating in it came at the end of his weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechetical series on prayer in the writings of St Paul the Apostle.

The principal focus of the Pope’s remarks this Wednesday was the Apostle’s testimony to his own experience of contemplative prayer. Defending the legitimacy of his apostolate, Paul appeals above all to his profound closeness to the Lord in prayer, marked by moments of ecstasy, visions and revelations (cf. 2 Cor 12:1ff.). Yet he speaks too of a trial which the Lord sent him lest he become conceited: a mysterious thorn in the flesh (v. 7). Paul therefore willingly boasts of his weakness, in order that the power of Christ might dwell in him (v. 10).

Pope Benedict went on to say that, through this experience of mystical prayer, Paul realized that God’s Kingdom comes about not by our own efforts but by the power of God’s grace shining through our poor earthen vessels (cf. 2 Cor 4:7).

We see that contemplative prayer is both exalting and troubling, since we experience both the beauty of God’s love and the sense of our own weakness. Paul teaches us the need for daily perseverance in prayer, even at times of dryness and difficulty, for it is there that we experience the life-changing power of God’s love.

Following the catechesis, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English, in which he welcomed pilgrims and visitors who are taking part in various international gatherings underway in Rome this week: I am pleased to greet the participants in the Twenty-first Intercoiffure World Congress. I also welcome the visitors from the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. My cordial greeting goes to the pilgrims from the Catholic Society of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I thank the Cantores Minores from Finland and the other choirs for their praise of God in song.

Pope Benedict concluded his English remarks with a blessing: Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, New Zealand, Samoa and the United States I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

The Holy Father’s blessing followed his appeal for the International Eucharistic Congress, underway in Dublin, Ireland this week. The Congress opened on Sunday, June 10th, and runs through Sunday, June 17th.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Third Week of Pentecost, June 13, 2012

Saints of the day: St Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the church, Confessor- St Aquilina of Jbeil, Martyr.

Acts of the Apostles 7:1-8.
Then the high priest asked him, ‘Are these things so?’ And Stephen replied: ‘Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, "Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you." Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and maltreat them for four hundred years. "But I will judge the nation that they serve," said God, "and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place." Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 16:16-19.
‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me"; and "Because I am going to the Father"?’ They said, ‘What does he mean by this "a little while"? We do not know what he is talking about.’ Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me"?

Daily Gospel: Feast of St Aquilina of Jbeil, Martyr. Tuesday June 12, 2012

First Letter to the Corinthians 4:9-16.
For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day. I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 12:35-44.
‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.  ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’ Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone? ’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.

Daily Gospel: Feast of St Bartholomew of the Twelve, Apostle. Monday, June 11, 2012

First Letter to the Corinthians 12:28-31, 13:1-7.
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 6:12-19.
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message, June 10, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called attention to World Blood Donor Day, celebrated on this coming Thursday, June 14th, under the sposorship of the World Health Organization. The Holy Father thanked everyone who gives blood, expressing his great appreciation for that form of solidarity, which, he said, is “indispensible to so many sick people.”

The Pope’s remarks came after the Angelus prayer with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square.

Speaking ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father recalled the great Eucharistic feast day marked in many places around the world on Sunday: the Solemnity of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ – the feast of Corpus Domini or Corpus Christi. The Pope discussed the importance of the Corpus Christi feast as a great public act of Eucharistic worship – evidenced especially in the many Eucharistic processions held in parishes and dioceses around the world. He also noted the emphasis the feast places on Eucharistic adoration as a central and integral part of the life of individual Christians, of faith communities and of the whole Church.

The Pope returned to discuss the importance of Corpus Christi in his words to the English-speaking pilgrims gathered in the Square:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present for this Angelus prayer. Today’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ celebrates the Lord’s saving presence in the Most Holy Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night before his death on the Cross, Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant between God and man. May this sacrifice of forgiveness and reconciliation strengthen the Church in faith, unity and holiness. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace!

Holy Gospel, Third Sunday of Pentecost: Holy Spirit Teaches.

First Letter to the Corinthians 2:1-10.
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’ these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 14:21-27.
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Second Week of Pentecost, June 09, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 5:21b-33. 
When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching. When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, ‘We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.’ Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. Then someone arrived and announced, ‘Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!’ Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’ When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Saint John 16:1-4. 
‘I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. ‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Second Week of Pentecost, June 08, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 5:12-21a.
Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured. Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said,  ‘Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.’ When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching. When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 15:22-27.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written in their law, "They hated me without a cause." ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Second Week of Pentecost, June 07, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 5:1-11.
But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  ‘Ananias,’ Peter asked, ‘why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!’ Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 15:18-21.
‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, "Servants are not greater than their master." If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Second Week of Pentecost

Acts of the Apostles 4:23-31.
After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: "Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered togetheragainst the Lord and against his Messiah." For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 15:15-17.
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Monthly Communiqué of the Maronite Bishops on May 30, 2012

On May 30, 2012, their Excellencies the Maronite Bishops held at Bkerkeh their monthly meeting which was presided over by His Beatitude Bechara Peter Rai and with the participation of His Eminence Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir. They studied church and national matters. At the end of the meeting, they issued the following communiqué:

1. The Fathers congratulated His Beatitude for his return from his pastoral visit to the Maronite eparchies in Mexico, Canada and the USA. They appraised the effort His Beatitude is exerting to consolidate the Maronites, living abroad, in the faith, to prompt them to be attached to Lebanon and their homelands, sharing in the making of their future, and to register their marriage birth certificates in the personal statute offices, work of recovering their citizenship, link their children to their roots, exercise their right in the decision making and invest in it.

2. The Fathers express their total refusal of the attempts to drive Lebanon to a new war through the moving violence, political and confessional feuds. They confirm again that Lebanon needs all its citizens who together make it on the basis of unity, justice and the sharing in the one destiny without making one group prevail over the other. This is not truly achieved except by holding really, not only by words, to the common life and to the state institutions as the only option and sole reference to settle differences.

3. The Fathers look with anxiety at the economic and social situation which warns against a catastrophy with the rise of the public debit index, and the incapacity of the government to exert a sufficient intervention for the benefit of the citizen and public good. This deprives the citizen from many basic services and makes of him a prey for the lack of social justice. Before this fact, the fathers call for a national economic policy built upon bases more humane, more just and transparenty.

4. The Fathers warn against any division about the activity of the military institution and the security agencies. Meddling with their unity and role is a risk which presages a great danger upon its goal and the unity of defense and security of the State. They call upon politicians to keep them apart from the political game and not push them in the political struggle, or giving them a confessional color. This impairs their role and distorts their credibility before the citizens.

5. In this atmosphere, the Fathers appeal to the authorities and to all those who have an influencial role in the Lebanese situation, to respond to the national and humane voice of the conscience. Let them put the interest of the one Lebanon above all interests, preserve its honor and the dignity of its People before any other enticement and respond to the invitation of His Excellency the President of the Republic to the table of dialogue without conditions.

6. At the start of the Pentecost season and the end of the Marian month, the Fathers ask for the protection of the Virgin Mary, Lady of Lebanon, and call the Holy Spirit to support them in shepherding the Church, specially during their yearly retreat and holy synod (11-16 June 2012), asking all their sons and daughters to accompany them with prayer for the good of their Church and homeland.

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the Second Week of Pentecost, June 05, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 4:13-22. 
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, ‘What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to
Saint John 15:9-14. 
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Second Week of Pentecost, June 04, 2012

Acts of the Apostles 4:5-12.
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is "the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone." There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 15:1-8.
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily in Milan on Sunday June 03, 2012

Up to a million people packed into Milan’s Park di Bresso for a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, marking a fitting final day to the Holy Father’s visit for the World Meeting of Families.

The theme of this meeting was The Family: Work and Celebration and it was on this topic that the Pope addressed those who listened intently at the open air mass.

The Pope said it was important to strike the right balance between all these areas of life because it was essential “for building up a society with a human face".

During his Homily the Holy Father turned his attention to the sacrament of Marriage saying that a marriage between a man and a woman had “fruitful consequences for families.

Addressing married couples directly the Pope said that this sacred union was fruitful first and foremost for them, because he explained “you desire and accomplish one another's good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving." "It is also fruitful," he said, "in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation."

Pope Benedict also underlined the fact that being a family also meant "maintaining a constant relationship with God and participating in the life of the Church.

In his Homily, the Holy Father point to the consequences that modern economic theories can have on the family saying it `'creates ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment'' and reduces family relationships `'to fragile convergences of individual interests'' that undermine the social fabric. 

Below is the full English Translation of the Pope's Homily.

Dear Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is a time of great joy and communion that we are experiencing this morning, as we celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice: a great gathering, in union with the Successor of Peter, consisting of faithful who have come from many different nations. It is an eloquent image of the Church, one and universal, founded by Christ and fruit of the mission entrusted by Jesus to his Apostles, as we heard in today’s Gospel: to go and make disciples of all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:18-19). With affection and gratitude I greet Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the principal architects of this VII World Meeting of Families, together with their staff, the Auxiliary Bishops of Milan and the other bishops. I am pleased to greet all the Authorities who are present today. And I extend a warm welcome especially to you, dear families! Thank you for your participation!

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that in Baptism we received the Holy Spirit, who unites us to Christ as brothers and sisters and makes us children of the Father, so that we can cry out: “Abba, Father!” (cf. Rom 8:15,17). At that moment we were given a spark of new, divine life, which is destined to grow until it comes to its definitive fulfilment in the glory of heaven; we became members of the Church, God’s family, “sacrarium Trinitatis” as Saint Ambrose calls it, “a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, as the Second Vatican Council teaches (Lumen Gentium, 4). The liturgical Solemnity of the Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today invites us to contemplate this mystery, but it also urges us to commit ourselves to live our communion with God and with one another according to the model of Trinitarian communion. We are called to receive and to pass on the truths of faith in a spirit of harmony, to live our love for each other and for everyone, sharing joys and sufferings, learning to seek and to grant forgiveness, valuing the different charisms under the leadership of the bishops. In a word, we have been given the task of building church communities that are more and more like families, able to reflect the beauty of the Trinity and to evangelize not only by word, but I would say by “radiation”, in the strength of living love.

It is not only the Church that is called to be the image of One God in Three Persons, but also the family, based on marriage between man and woman. In the beginning, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life. It is love that makes the human person the authentic image of God. Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation. Dear married couples, watch over your children and, in a world dominated by technology, transmit to them, with serenity and trust, reasons for living, the strength of faith, pointing them towards high goals and supporting them in their fragility. And let me add a word to the children here: be sure that you always maintain a relationship of deep affection and attentive care for your parents, and see that your relationships with your brothers and sisters are opportunities to grow in love.

God’s plan for the human couple finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, who raised marriage to the level of a sacrament. Dear married couples, by means of a special gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ gives you a share in his spousal love, making you a sign of his faithful and all-embracing love for the Church. If you can receive this gift, renewing your “yes” each day by faith, with the strength that comes from the grace of the sacrament, then your family will grow in God’s love according to the model of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Dear families, pray often for the help of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, that they may teach you to receive God’s love as they did. Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the world. You have before you the witness of so many families who point out the paths for growing in love: by maintaining a constant relationship with God and participating in the life of the Church, by cultivating dialogue, respecting the other’s point of view, by being ready for service and patient with the failings of others, by being able to forgive and to seek forgiveness, by overcoming with intelligence and humility any conflicts that may arise, by agreeing on principles of upbringing, and by being open to other families, attentive towards the poor, and responsible within civil society. These are all elements that build up the family. Live them with courage, and be sure that, insofar as you live your love for each other and for all with the help of God’s grace, you become a living Gospel, a true domestic Church (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 49). I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you.

In the Book of Genesis, God entrusts his creation to the human couple for them to guard it, cultivate it, and direct it according to his plan (cf. 1:27-28; 2:15). In this commission we may recognize the task of man and woman to collaborate with God in the process of transforming the world through work, science and technology. Man and woman are also the image of God in this important work, which they are to carry out with the Creator’s own love. In modern economic theories, there is often a utilitarian concept of work, production and the market. Yet God’s plan, as well as experience, show that the one-sided logic of sheer utility and maximum profit are not conducive to harmonious development, to the good of the family or to building a more just society, because it brings in its wake ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment, the race for consumer goods, family tensions. Indeed, the utilitarian mentality tends to take its toll on personal and family relationships, reducing them to a fragile convergence of individual interests and undermining the solidity of the social fabric.

One final point: man, as the image of God, is also called to rest and to celebrate. The account of creation concludes with these words: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it” (Gen 2:2-3). For us Christians, the feast day is Sunday, the Lord’s day, the weekly Easter. It is the day of the Church, the assembly convened by the Lord around the table of the word and of the eucharistic Sacrifice, just as we are doing today, in order to feed on him, to enter into his love and to live by his love. It is the day of man and his values: conviviality, friendship, solidarity, culture, closeness to nature, play, sport. It is the day of the family, on which to experience together a sense of celebration, encounter, sharing, not least through taking part in Mass. Dear families, despite the relentless rhythms of the modern world, do not lose a sense of the Lord’s Day! It is like an oasis in which to pause, so as to taste the joy of encounter and to quench our thirst for God.

Family, work, celebration: three of God’s gifts, three dimensions of our lives that must be brought into a harmonious balance. Harmonizing work schedules with family demands, professional life with motherhood, work with celebration, is important for building up a society with a human face. In this regard, always give priority to the logic of being over that of having: the first builds up, the second ends up destroying. We must learn to believe first of all in the family, in authentic love, the kind that comes from God and unites us to him, the kind that therefore “makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28)” (Deus Caritas Est, 18). Amen.

Holy Gospel: Second Sunday of Pentecost; Most Holy Trinity.

Letter to the Romans 11:25-36.
So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, ‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.’  ‘And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!  ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?’  ‘Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 28:16-20.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’