Saint John Bosco (Don Bosco)


On January 31, the Roman Catholic Church honors St. John Bosco (or “Don Bosco”), a 19th century Italian priest who reached out to young people to remedy their lack of education, opportunities, and faith.

Saint John Bosco

John Bosco was born in August of 1815 into a family of peasant farmers in Castelnuovo d'Asti – a place which would one day be renamed in the saint's honor as “Castelnuovo Don Bosco.” John's father died when he was two years old, but he drew strength from his mother Margherita's deep faith in God. Margherita also taught her son the importance of charity, using portions of her own modest means to support those in even greater need. John desired to pass on to his own young friends the example of Christian discipleship that he learned from his mother.

At age nine, he had a prophetic dream in which a number of unruly young boys were uttering words of blasphemy. Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary appeared to John in the dream, saying he would bring such youths to God through the virtues of humility and charity.

Later on, this dream would help John to discern his calling as a priest. But he also sought to follow the advice of Jesus and Mary while still a boy: he would entertain his peers with juggling, acrobatics, and magic tricks, before explaining a sermon he had heard, or leading them in praying the Rosary. John's older brother Anthony opposed his plan to be a priest, and antagonized him so much that he left home to become a farm worker at age 12. After moving back home three years later, John worked in various trades and finished school in order to attend seminary.

In 1841, John Bosco was ordained a priest. From that time, John was known as “Don” Bosco, a traditional Italian title of honor for priests. In the city of Turin, he began ministering to boys and young men who lived on the streets, many of whom were without work or education.

The industrial revolution had drawn large numbers of people into the city to look for work that was frequently grueling and sometimes scarce. Don Bosco was shocked to see how many boys ended up in prison before the age of 18, left to starve spiritually and sometimes physically.

The priest was determined to save as many young people as he could from a life of degradation. He established a group known as the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, and became a kindly spiritual father to boys in need. His aging mother helped support the project in its early years.

John's boyhood dream came to pass: he became a spiritual guide and provider along with his fellow Salesian priests and brothers, giving boys religious instruction, lodging, education, and work opportunities. He also helped Saint Mary Dominic Mazzarello form a similar group for girls.

This success did not come easily, as the priest struggled to find reliable accommodations and support for his ambitious apostolate. Italy's nationalist movement made life difficult for religious orders, and its anti-clerical attitudes even led to assassination attempts against Don Bosco.

But such hostility did not stop the Salesians from expanding in Europe and beyond. They were helping 130,000 children in 250 houses by the end of Don Bosco's life. “I have done nothing by myself,” he stated, saying it was “Our Lady who has done everything” through her intercession with God.

Saint John Bosco died in the early hours of Jan. 31, 1888, after conveying a message: “Tell the boys that I shall be waiting for them all in Paradise.” He was canonized on Easter Sunday of 1934, and is a patron saint of young people, apprentices, and Catholic publishers and editors.

Daily Gospel: Tuesday After the Sunday of the Priests, January 31, 2012

Saint of the day: St John Bosco, Confessor.

Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-13.
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. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.

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.

Daily Gospel: Monday After the Sunday of the Priests, January 30, 2012


Second Letter to Timothy 1:1-11.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 16:24-28.
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘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 will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? ‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message, January 29, 2012

In his Angelus reflections this week Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Sunday’s Gospel where we hear how the unclean spirit recognizes Jesus as the “Holy One of God”. He also marked World Leprosy Day, joined his prayers to the International Day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land and together with the young people of Catholic Action Italy, released two white doves as a sign of peace above the city of Rome. Below is the translation of the Holy Father’s Sunday Angelus reflections:

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel (Mk 1.21 to 28) presents us with Jesus, on the Sabbath day, as he preached at the synagogue at Capernaum, the small town where Peter and his brother Andrew lived on the lake of Galilee. In his teaching, which arouses the wonder of the people, following the liberation of "a man with an unclean spirit" (v. 23), who recognizes in Jesus as the "saint of God," that is, the Messiah. In a short time, his fame spread throughout the region, which he travels announcing the Kingdom of God and healing the sick of all kinds: word and deed. St. John Chrysostom observes how the Lord "alternates the speech for the benefit of those who listen, moving on from wonders to words and again passing from the teaching of his doctrine to miracles" (Hom. on Matthew 25, 1: PG 57, 328).

The word that Jesus speaks to men immediately opens access to the will of the Father and the truth about themselves. It was not so, however, for the scribes, who struggled to interpret the Holy Scriptures with countless reflections. Furthermore, to the efficacy of the word, Jesus united the signs of deliverance from evil. St. Athanasius observes that "commanding and driving out demons is not human but divine work ', in fact, the Lord "distanced men from all diseases and infirmities. Who, seeing his power ... still doubted that he was the Son, the Wisdom and Power of God? " (Oratio de Incarnatione Verbi 18:19: PG 25, 128 BC.129 B). Divine authority is not a force of nature. It is the power of the love of God who created the Universe and, in becoming incarnate in His only begotten Son, in coming down to our humanity, heals the world corrupted by sin. Romano Guardini writes: "The whole life of Jesus is a translation of power in humility ... Here is the sovereignty that lowers itself to the form of a servant" (Power, Brescia 1999, 141,142).

For man, authority often means possession, power, domination, success. For God, however, authority means service, humility, love; it means entering into the logic of Jesus who stoops to wash the disciples' feet (cf. Jn 13.5), who seeks the true good of man, who heals wounds, who is capable of a love so great as to give up his life, because he is Love. In one of her Letters, Saint Catherine of Siena writes: "We must see and know, in truth, with the light of faith, that God is the supreme and eternal Love, and desires nothing else but our good "(Ep. 13 in: The Letters, vol. 3, Bologna 1999, 206).

Dear friends, on Thursday, February 2, we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, the World Day for Consecrated Life. With confidence we invoke Mary Most Holy that she may guide our hearts to always draw from divine mercy, which frees and heals our humanity, filling it with every grace and benevolence, through the power of love.

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear how the unclean spirit recognizes Jesus as the “Holy One of God”. Let us pray that, despite the distractions of life and the apparent progress of evil, we may continue to put our faith in the Lord Jesus who is “the way, the truth and the life”. I wish all of you a good Sunday. May God bless you!


After the Angelus prayer and message, the Pope said:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, in Vienna, the beatification takes place of Hildegard Burjan, a lay woman and mother, who lived in the nineteenth and twentieth century and is founder of the Society of the Sisters of Caritas Socialis. We praise the Lord for this beautiful testimony of the Gospel!

This Sunday marks the World Day of Leprosy. In greeting the Italian Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau, I would like to extend my encouragement to all those affected by this disease, as well as their caregivers who, in many ways, are committed to eradicating poverty and marginalization, the real causes of the persistence of the infection.

I remember also the International Day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land. In profound communion with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custos of the Holy Land, we invoke the gift of peace for this land blessed by God

I greet with affection the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the faithful who came from Taranto, Bari and Civitavecchia, and the numerous children of Catholic Action of Rome, accompanied by the Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini, with their teachers and family. Dear children, this year you gave birth to the "Caravan of Peace". Thank you and I encourage you to take everywhere the peace of Jesus.

And now we release the doves, which the young people have brought as a sign of peace for the city of Rome and the whole world.

A blessed Sunday to all!

Daily Gospel: Sunday of the Priests, January 29, 2012



First Letter to Timothy 4:6-16.
If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe. These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 12:42-48.
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. But if that slave says to himself, "My master is delayed in coming", and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

Saint Thomas Aquinas


On Jan. 28, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates Saint Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century theologian who showed that the Catholic faith is in harmony with philosophy and all other branches of knowledge.



Blessed John Paul II, in his 1998 letter “Fides et Ratio,” said St. Thomas “had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason,” knowing that “both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God […] Hence there can be no contradiction between them.”

Thomas was born in the year 1225 in a noble family, having relatives among the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. His father Landulph was the Count of Aquino, and his mother Theodora, the Countess of Teano. At age five, Thomas was sent to study at Monte Cassino, the abbey founded by St. Benedict.

The boy's intellectual gifts and serious disposition impressed the monks, who urged his father to place him in a university by the time he was 10. At the University of Naples, he learned philosophy and rhetoric while taking care to preserve his morals against corruption by other students.

It is said that a hermit, before Thomas' birth, told Theodora that she would have a son who would enter the Dominican Order “and so great will be his learning and sanctity that in his day no one will be found to equal him.” In his adolescence, Thomas' friendship with a holy Dominican inspired him to join them.

His family, however, did not envision the brilliant young man as a penniless and celibate preacher. His brothers kidnapped him from the Dominicans, took him to the family's castle, and at one point even sent a woman to seduce him – whom Thomas drove out by brandishing a poker from the fireplace.

Under pressure from both the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, Thomas' brothers allowed him to escape from captivity. He traveled to Rome and received the Pope's blessing upon his vocation, which would soon take him to Paris to study with the theologian later canonized as Saint Albert the Great.

Thomas' silent demeanor caused other students to nickname him “the Dumb Ox.” Albert, however, discovered that the young man was a brilliant thinker, and proclaimed: “We call him the Dumb Ox, but he will give such a bellow in learning as will be heard all over the world.”

By the time he was 23, Thomas was teaching alongside his mentor at the university of Cologne. During 1248, he published his first commentaries on the pre-Christian Greek philosopher Aristote, whose insights on nature, logic, and metaphysics would inform Thomas' approach to Catholic theology.

Around the middle of the century Thomas was ordained to the priesthood, in which he showed great reverence for the liturgy and skill as a homilist. In keeping with the Dominican order's charism for preaching, he strove to bring his own family to a sincere practice of the faith, and largely succeeded.

St. Thomas' best-known achievements, however, are his works of theology. These include the Summa Contra Gentiles, the Compendium Theologiae, and the great Summa Theologica – which was placed on the altar along with the Bible at the 16th century Council of Trent for easy reference during discussions.

In December 1273, however, the scholar proclaimed that he could write no more, following a mystical experience in which he said he had “seen things that make my writings look like straw.” But he complied with a request to attend the Council of Lyon to help reunite the Latin and Greek churches.

On his way there, however, Thomas became ill and stopped at a Cistercian abbey. The monks treated him with reverence, and it was to them that he dictated a final work of theology: a commentary on the Old Testament's Song of Songs.

The saint did not live to finish this commentary, however. Nearing death, he made a final confession and asked for the Eucharist to be brought to him. In its presence, he declared: “I adore you, my God and my Redeemer … for whose honor I have studied, labored, preached, and taught.”

“I hope I have never advanced any tenet as your word, which I had not learned from you,” he told God, before making his last communion. “If through ignorance I have done otherwise, I revoke everything of that kind, and submit all my writings to the judgment of the holy Roman Church.”

His last words were addressed to one of the Cistercians who asked for a word of spiritual guidance. “Be assured that he who shall always walk faithfully in (God's) presence, always ready to give him an account of all his actions, shall never be separated from him by consenting to sin,” he declared.

St. Thomas Aquinas died on March 7, 1274. He was canonized in 1323, and made a Doctor of the Church in 1568. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council taught that seminarians should learn “under the guidance of St. Thomas,” in order to “illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible.”

Daily Gospel: Feast of Saint Ephrem the Syriani, Doctor of the Church, Confessor. Saturday, January 28, 2012


Letter to the Hebrews 13:7-17.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing for that would be harmful to you.

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.

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Third Week of Epiphany, January 27, 2012


Second Letter to the Corinthians 7:2-10.
Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way disputes without and fears within. But God, who consoles the downcast, consoled us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly). Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 7:40-52.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’ So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’ The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’ Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law they are accursed.’ Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, ‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.’

Message of the Virgin Mary to the World on the 25th of January 2012 From Medjugorje





“Dear children! With joy, also today I call you to open your hearts and to listen to my call. Anew, I desire to draw you closer to my Immaculate Heart, where you will find refuge and peace. Open yourselves to prayer, until it becomes a joy for you. Through prayer, the Most High will give you an abundance of grace and you will become my extended hands in this restless world which longs for peace. Little children, with your lives witness faith and pray that faith may grow day by day in your hearts. I am with you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Third Week of Epiphany, January 26, 2012


Second Letter to the Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1.
Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 9:26-41.
They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, "We see", your sin remains.

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday in the Paul VI Hall, reflecting on the desire for unity that Christ expressed in his priestly prayer at the Last Supper, as recounted in the 17th chapter of Saint John’s Gospel.

Following is the Pope's English text: "In our continuing catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the priestly prayer which Jesus offered at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 17:1-26). Against the backdrop of the Jewish feast of expiation Yom Kippur, Jesus, priest and victim, prays that the Father will glorify him in this, the hour of his sacrifice of reconciliation. He asks the Father to consecrate his disciples, setting them apart and sending them forth to continue his mission in the world. Christ also implores the gift of unity for all those who will believe in him through the preaching of the apostles. His priestly prayer can thus be seen as instituting the Church, the community of the disciples who, through faith in him, are made one and share in his saving mission. In meditating upon the Lord’s priestly prayer, let us ask the Father for the grace to grow in our baptismal consecration and to open our own prayers to the needs of our neighbours and the whole world. Let us also pray, as we have just done in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, for the gift of the visible unity of all Christ’s followers, so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him."

Following the main catechesis, the Holy Father had greetings for pilgrims in many languages, including English: "I offer a warm welcome to the students of the Bossey Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Switzerland, and I offer prayerful good wishes for their work. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!"

This Wednesday’s was the last General Audience of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and came ahead of an ecumenical Vespers service at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls.

Daily Gospel: Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle. Wednesday, January 25, 2012



Letter to the Galatians 1:11-17.
For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

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.’

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the Third Week of Epiphany, January 24, 2012


Saint of the day: St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the church, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 5:11-21.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 9:1-12.
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, "Go to Siloam and wash." Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ They said to him, ‘Where is he? ’ He said, ‘I do not know.’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Third Week of Epiphany, January 23, 2012


Saint of the day: St Sergius I, Pope of Rome, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:1-5, 10.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 5:1-16.
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.’ But he answered them, ‘The man who made me well said to me, "Take up your mat and walk." ’They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, "Take it up and walk"?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message, January 22, 2012

The profound spiritual connection between the desire for Christian unity and the desire for authentic liberty was the focus of Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks before the Angelus prayer with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square this Sunday.

Speaking ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father recalled the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which opened this past Wednesday: We will all be changed by the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, taken from the 1st Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

Material for the 2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been prepared by a working group composed of representatives of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, Old Catholic and Protestant Churches active in Poland. “In effect,” said Pope Benedict, “Poland has known a long history of courageous struggle against many different adversities, and has repeatedly given proof of great determination, animated by faith.” He went on to say, “Through the course of centuries, Polish Christians have spontaneously intuited a spiritual dimension in their desire for freedom, and they have understood that the true victory can be achieved only if it is accompanied by a profound interior transformation.”

It was a subject to which the Holy Father returned in his English language remarks: "I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. This week, Christians throughout the world mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We are confident that, as Saint Paul says, “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Cor 15: 51-58). Let us renew our prayer for the unity of all of Christ’s followers, and deepen our resolve to be one in him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s blessings of peace and joy."

Pope Benedict also had greetings for those who begin lunar New Year celebrations on Monday. “In the present world situation of economic and social crisis,” said Pope Benedict, “I express the hope that the new year be marked by justice and peace, that it bring relief to those who suffer, and that young people especially, with their enthusiasm and their idealistic drive, might offer new hope to the world.
 

Sunday of the Third Week of Epiphany, January 22, 2012



Saint of the day: St Timothy disciple of Saint Paul, Apostle.

Letter to the Galatians 3:23-29.
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 3:1-16.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above." The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?  ‘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.

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Second Week of Epiphany, January 21, 2012



Second Letter to the Corinthians 13:5-13.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong not that we may appear to have passed the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 10:1-6.
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.

Feast of Saint Agnes


On January 21, the Roman Catholic Church honors the virgin and martyr Saint Agnes, who suffered death for her consecration to Christ. Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition celebrate her feast day on January 14.

Saint Agnes


Although the details of Agnes' life are mostly unknown, the story of her martyrdom has been passed on with reverence since the fourth century. On the feast day of the young martyr – whose name means “lamb” in Latin – the Pope traditionally blesses lambs, whose wool will be used to make the white pallium worn by archbishops.

Born into a wealthy family during the last decade of the third century, Agnes lived in Rome during the last major persecution of the early Church under the Emperor Diocletian. Though he was lenient toward believers for much of his rule, Diocletian changed course in 302, resolving to wipe out the Church in the empire.

Agnes came of age as the Church was beginning to suffer under a set of new laws decreed by Diocletian, and his co-ruler Galerius, in 303. The emperor and his subordinate called for churches to be destroyed and their books burned. Subsequent orders led to the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons, for the sake of compelling them to worship the emperor instead of Christ.

Meanwhile, Agnes had become a young woman of great beauty and charm, drawing the attention of suitors from the first ranks of the Roman aristocracy. But in keeping with the words of Christ and Saint Paul, she had already decided on a life of celibacy for the sake of God's kingdom. To all interested men, she explained that she had already promised herself to a heavenly and unseen spouse.

These suitors both understood Agnes' meaning, and resented her resolution. Some of the men, possibly looking to change her mind, reported her to the state as a believer in Christ. Agnes was brought before a judge who tried first to persuade her, and then to threaten her, into renouncing her choice not to marry for the Lord's sake.

When the judge showed her the various punishments he could inflict – including fire, iron hooks, or the rack that destroyed the limbs by stretching – Agnes smiled and indicated she would suffer them willingly. But she was brought before a pagan altar instead, and asked to make an act of worship in accordance with the Roman state religion.

When Agnes refused, the judge ordered that she should be sent to a house of prostitution, where the virginity she had offered to God would be violated. Agnes predicted that God would not allow this to occur, and her statement proved true. The first man to approach her in the brothel was struck blind by a sudden flash of light, and others opted not to repeat his mistake.

But one of the men who had at first sought to make Agnes his own, now lobbied the judge for her execution. In this respect, the suitor obtained his desire, when the public official sentenced her to die by beheading. The executioner gave her one last chance to spare her life, by renouncing her consecration to Christ – but Agnes refused, made a short prayer, and courageously submitted to death.

Saint Agnes, who died in 304, was venerated as a holy martyr from the fourth century onward. She is mentioned in the Latin Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.


Daily Gospel: Friday of the Second Week of Epiphany, January 20, 2012

Saint of the day: St Euthtymius the Great, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 12:17-21, 13:1-4.
Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves with the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up. For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarrelling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practised. This is the third time I am coming to you. ‘Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses.’ I warned those who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not be lenient since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 9:35-38.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 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.’

Saint Anthony the Great, Patron of Monks



There is more knowledge about Saint Anthony of Egypt than of any other saint of the early Christian centuries, thanks to the biography written by his friend, St. Athanasius. Anthony was born in 251 at Coma, a village near Great Heracleopolis in Middle Egypt. His Christian parents wished to protect him from bad examples and kept him closely at home, so that he grew up in ignorance of pagan literature and read no language but his own. At their death, before he had reached the age of twenty, he found himself in possession of a large estate and responsible for the care of a younger sister. Soon afterward, while in church, he read the text from Matthew 19:21, in which Christ says to the rich young man, "Go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor." Anthony took this command as meant for himself. He went home and made over to his neighbors about one hundred and twenty acres of good land. He then sold the rest of the estate and gave the money to the needy, saving only what he thought necessary to maintain his sister and himself. Another drastic step was to follow. He heard in church those other words which Christ spoke in Matthew 6:34: "Do not be anxious about tomorrow." Anthony now distributed in alms all his movable property and placed his sister in a "house of virgins," the first reference we have to a Christian nunnery. In her later years this sister was entrusted with the direction of the women in that holy way of life. Anthony, now twenty-one and free of worldly care, became a hermit. He retired to a solitary place and occupied himself with manual labor, prayer, and religious reading. His only food was bread and a little salt, and he drank nothing but water. His bed was a rush mat. He soon became a model of humility, piety, and self-discipline.

However, the devil assailed him by various temptations. He pointed out the joys of family life, the good works Anthony might have done in the world with his money, and the futility of the hermit's existence. When repulsed by the young novice, the devil changed his mode of attack, and harassed him night and day with gross and obscene thoughts. Anthony resisted by a strict watchfulness over his senses and imagination, controlling them by austere fasts, acts of humility, and prayer. At last Satan himself appeared in visible form, first as a seductive woman, then as a black and terrifying man. Anthony remained unmoved, and the fiend confessed himself vanquished. 

In quest now of greater solitude, he hid himself in an old tomb in the desert, where a friend brought him a little bread from time to time. Here Satan again attacked him and deafened him with loud noises. Once, Athanasius says, he was so grievously beaten that when his friend arrived he lay almost dead. As Anthony came to himself, he called out to the devils, "See, here I am! Do your worst! Nothing shall separate me from Christ my Lord." At this, the demons reappeared and again filled the tomb with a terrible clamor and specters of ravening beasts in hideous shapes until a ray of heavenly light, breaking through, chased them away. "Where were You," Antony cried, "my Lord and my Master? Why were You not here from the beginning of my conflict to give me succor?" "Anthony," replied a voice, "I was here the whole time; I stood by you, and watched your conflict. And because you have manfully withstood your enemies, I will forever protect you, and will make your name famous throughout the earth." At this the saint rose up to pray and give thanks. 

It was a common practice at this time for fervent Christians to lead retired lives in penance and contemplation on the outskirts of towns, and in the desert, while others practiced their austerities without withdrawing from their fellow men. In even earlier times we hear of these ascetics.Origen, about 249, wrote that they abstained from flesh, as the disciples of Pythagoras did. Anthony lived in his tomb near Coma until about 285. Then, at the age of thirty-five, he set out into the empty desert, crossed the eastern branch of the Nile, and took up his abode in the ruins of an old castle on the top of a mountain. There he lived for almost twenty years, rarely seeing any man except the one who brought him food every six months. 

In his fifty-fifth year he came down from his mountain retreat and founded his first monastery, not far from Aphroditopolis. It consisted of scattered cells, each inhabited by a solitary monk; some of the later settlements may have been arranged on more of a community plan. Anthony did not stay with any of his foundations long, but visited them all from time to time. These interruptions to his solitude, involving as they did some management of the affairs of others, tended to disturb him. We are told of a temptation to despair, which he overcame by prayer and hard manual labor. Notwithstanding his stringent self-discipline, he always maintained that perfection consisted not in mortification of the flesh but in love of God. He taught his monks to have eternity always present to their minds and to perform every act with all the fervor of their souls, as if it were to be their last. 

Anthony's later years were spent on Mount Colzim, near the Red Sea. Here he lived on a bit of bread daily, with some dates; in extreme old age, a little oil was added to this meager diet. When he came to his meal, usually taken late in the day, he said he felt a sense of shame, remembering the state of the blessed spirits in Heaven, who praise God without ceasing. He always seemed vigorous and cheerful. Strangers were able to pick him out from among his disciples by the joy which shone in his face. They traveled great distances to talk with the celebrated holy man, and it was the duty of Macarius, Anthony's companion and disciple, to interview them. If they proved to be spiritual men, Anthony would come out and sit in converse. If they were worldly persons, Macarius would entertain them, and Anthony would appear only to give a short talk. 

In spite of his fame, this saint looked on himself as the least of mankind; he listened carefully to the counsel of others, and declared that he received benefit from speaking with the humblest person. He cultivated a small garden that he might have a few refreshing vegetables to offer his visitors, who were apt to be weary after traveling by camel caravan over long stretches of desert and climbing the mountain. Athanasius also writes of his weaving mats as a daily occupation. He could pray while working, although his practice was to alternate periods of prayer and contemplation with his weaving. 

In the year 311, during the persecutions under Maximian, Anthony hoped he might be one of those chosen for martyrdom. He went down to Alexandria and made himself conspicuous by encouraging the Christians already imprisoned, and also those who were standing before the judges and at the places of execution. He wore his white hermit's habit openly, within sight of the governor, yet he did nothing provocative and did not come forward and accuse himself, as some impetuous ones did. The next year, when the persecutions abated, he returned to his mountain. In his extreme old age he made another trip to Alexandria, expressly to refute the Arians, and went about preaching that Christ the Son was not a creature, but of the same eternal substance as the Father; and that the impious Arians, who called Him a creature, did not differ from the heathen, "who worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator." The people flocked to hear him, and even pagans, struck by the dignity of his bearing, gathered around him, saying, "We want to see the man of God." He made many converts and worked several miracles. The governor of Egypt invited him to stay longer in the city, but he declined, saying, "Fish die if they are taken from the water; so does a monk wither away if he forsakes his solitude." St. Jerome says that at Alexandria he met the famous blind Christian scholar Didymus, and told him not to regret overmuch the loss of his eyes, physical organs which men shared with the insects, but to rejoice in the treasure of the inner light which the Apostles knew, and by which we may have a vision of God, and kindle the fire of His love in our souls. 

Heathen philosophers who disputed with Anthony were amazed both at his modesty and at his wisdom. When asked how he could spend his life in solitude without the companionship of books, he replied that nature was his great book. When they criticized his ignorance, he simply asked which was the better, good sense or book learning, and which produced the other. They answered, "Good sense." "Then," said Anthony, "it is sufficient of itself." His pagan visitors usually wanted to know the reasons for his faith in Christ. He told them that they degraded their gods by ascribing to them the worst of human passions, whereas the ignominy of the cross, followed by Christ's triumphant Resurrection, was a supreme demonstration of His infinite goodness, to say nothing of His miracles of healing and raising the dead. The Christian's faith in his Almighty God and His works was a more satisfactory basis for religion than the empty sophistries of the Greeks. Anthony carried on his discussions with the Greeks through an interpreter. His biographer Athanasius tells us that in spite of his solitary life, "he did not seem to others morose or unapproachable, but met them with a most engaging and friendly air." He writes that no one in trouble ever visited Anthony without going away comforted. 

When Belacius, the military commander in Egypt, was savagely persecuting the Christians, Anthony wrote warning him to leave the servants of Christ in peace. Belacius tore up the letter, spat and trampled on it, and threatened to make Anthony his next victim. But five days later, as he was riding with Nestorius, governor of Egypt, the commander's horse began to curvet and prance and crashed against the other. Belacius was thrown and his horse then turned and bit his thigh. In three days he was dead. 

The Emperor Constantine and his two sons, Constantius and Constans, once sent Anthony a joint letter, recommending themselves to his prayers. Noting the astonishment of some of the monks present, Anthony said, "Do not wonder that the Emperor writes to us, even to a man such as I am; rather be astounded that God has communicated with us, and has spoken to us by His Son." Replying to the letter, he exhorted the Emperor and his sons to contempt of the world and to constant remembrance of the final judgment. 

St. Jerome mentions seven other letters from Anthony to various monasteries, written in the style of the Apostles, and filled with their teachings. As the devil fell by pride, so he assails us most often by temptations to that sin; knowledge of ourselves, Anthony said, is the indispensable step by which we go on to the knowledge and love of God. In discourses to his monks he would repeatedly emphasize the importance of rigorous self-examination every evening. Once, when he heard his disciples express amazement at the multitudes who were then embracing the religious life and undertaking austere practices of virtue, he told them tearfully that a time would come when monks would be fond of living in cities and in stately buildings and eating at dainty tables, and would be distinguished from the people of the world solely by the habits they wore. Only a few would then rise to the heights of perfection, though the crowns these few received would be so much the more resplendent since they had attained virtue amid the contagion of bad examples. 

A short time before his death Anthony made a round of visitations of his scattered communities of monks. This first great "Desert Father" died about the year 356, probably on January 17, the day on which most ancient martyrologies commemorate him, and which the Greek Church kept as a feast. He had lived to the remarkable age of 105, without sickness, his sight unimpaired, his teeth still sound. Two disciples interred Antony's remains according to his instructions) beside his cell. About 561, in the reign of Justinian, they are said to have been carried to Alexandria, and later, when the Saracens overran Egypt, to Constantinople. During the Crusades they were brought to Vienne, France, by Joscelin, a native of that region, to whom the Emperor at Constantinople had given them. The Bollandists report numerous miracles wrought by Antony's intercession, in particular, the cures of persons suffering from St. Antony's Fire, an epidemic which raged violently in France and other parts of Europe in the eleventh century. 

Several orders of Eastern monks may still preserve the general features of Antony's system of ascetic training. Certainly his instructions and his example have lived on as ideals of the monastic life through subsequent centuries.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Second Week of Epiphany, January 19, 2012


Saint of the day: St Macarius the Egyptian, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 2:12-17.
When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 9:9-13.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Speaking to the thousands of pilgrims present in the Paul VI Audience Hall on Wednesday for his weekly General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI said the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity invites all the Lord’s followers to implore the gift of unity. This year’s theme – We Will All Be Changed By The Victory Of Our Lord Jesus Christ – was chosen by representatives of the Catholic Church and the Polish Ecumenical Council.The Holy Father said, “Poland’s experience of oppression and persecution prompts a deeper reflection on the meaning of Christ’s victory over sin and death, a victory in which we share through faith.”

By his teaching, his example and his paschal mystery, the Lord has shown us the way to a victory obtained not by power, but by love and concern for those in need. Faith in Christ and interior conversion, both individual and communal, must constantly accompany our prayer for Christian unity.

Pope Benedict also focused on the need for all Christians to ask God for an increase of faith: During this Week of Prayer, let us ask the Lord in a particular way to strengthen the faith of all Christians, to change our hearts and to enable us to bear united witness to the Gospel. In this way we will contribute to the new evangelization and respond ever more fully to the spiritual hunger of the men and women of our time.

Pope Benedict had greetings, as well, for pilgrims in many languages, including English, in which he bade especial welcome to a pair of groups: one, an ecumenical delegation from Finland that traditionally makes the pilgrimage to Rome during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; the other, a group of men and women in the Naval Service and Marine Corps of the United States:

I offer a cordial welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience. My special greeting goes to the Lutheran pilgrims from Finland. I also greet the group of sailors and marines from the United States. Upon all of you and your families I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings!

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been celebrated for more than a century: each year from the 18th to the 25th of January. A Catholic convert, Paul Wattson, proposed the dates in 1908, because they coincide with the traditional feast of the Chair of St. Peter and feast of the conversion of St. Paul.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Second Week of Epiphany, January 18, 2012


Feast of the Church: Establishment of the chair of Saint Peter in Rome.
Saint of the day: St Athanasius of Alexandria, Doctor of the church, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 2:1-11.
So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. For I wrote to you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent not to exaggerate it to all of you. This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ. And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 4:18-25.
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Daily Gospel: Feast in Honor of Saint Peter in Chains. Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saint of the day: St Anthony the Great, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 1:3-7.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 16:24-28.
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘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 will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? ‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Second Week of Epiphany, January 16, 2012

Feast of the church: in honor of Saint Peter in chains.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 1:1-11.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted to us through the prayers of many.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 1:43-51.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message, January 15, 2012


Benedict XVI calls on everyone to pray to the Virgin Mary so that “all educators” favour “in youth, not only their development as humans, but also a response to God’s calling.”


In his reflexion before the Angelus prayer with pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square, the pope urged “priests and parents” to be conscious “of the importance of their spiritual role” as “mediators” who help “people called to recognise the voice of God and follow it.”

The pontiff referred to the Sunday readings (2nd of Ordinary Time, B), about the vocation of the Prophet Samuel and the calling of the first disciples (1 Sam, 3:3-10.19 and John, 1:35-42). “In light of these two texts,” he said, “I’d like to stress the decisive role played by the spiritual guide in the journey of faith, in particular in the response to the vocation of special consecration in the service of God and his people. The Christian faith, in and of itself, posits the proclamation and witness. In fact, it consists in participating in the Good News for which Jesus of Nazareth died and rose, namely that he is God. And thus, the calling to follow Jesus more closely, giving up one’s family to dedicate oneself to the great family of the Church, normally requires the witness and proposal of an ‘older brother’, usually a priest. This does not mean however forgetting the fundamental role played by parents, who, through their genuine and joyful faith and conjugal love show their children that building a life on God’s love is beautiful and possible.”

After the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI reminded everyone that today is World Day of Migrants and Refugees. “Millions of people,” he explained, “are involved in the phenomenon of migration, but they are not just numbers. They are men and women, children, young people and seniors who seek a place where to live in peace. In my message for this day, I focused on the issue of ‘migrations and new evangelisations,’ stressing that migrants are not the only recipients but also main players in the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.”

During his address, the Holy Father greeted the representatives of Rome’s migrant communities present in Saint Peter’s Square, along with tens of thousands of people.

He also noted that from 18 to 25 January, celebrations for the Week of prayer for Christian Unity would be held in churches. “I urge everyone, at a personal and communal level,” he said, “to join together spiritually, wherever possible and practical, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the disciples of Christ.”

The Maronite Patriarch's Homily on Sunday, January 15, 2012

"When the two disciples heard his words,
they followed him"
John 1:37

Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi celebrated the Sunday Mass at Bkerke and he gave a homily in which he discussed several liturgical points as well as political and common issues. He began saying that when the disciples of John the Baptist first heard the Word of Jesus they were attracted to it and it directly touched their hearts, they followed him immediately and they stayed with him. One of them, Andrew spoke to his brother Simon and told him that they have found the Messiah, Simon at his turn was also attracted to Jesus who Called him by his name even though he never knew him and he gave him a new name: the Rock or Peter in order for him to fulfill his mission.

His Beatitude Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi pronouncing his homily
at the cathedral of the Patriarchate


Jesus is the Word of God, he is the good news, he surpasses the past, the present and he is a constant discovery. He is the real light that enlightens every human being and he is the Word that speaks to every man, that is why Christianity is the religion of the Word of God, not like any word but the living Word that is Jesus Christ. John the Baptist first spoke about Jesus Christ and he saw in him "the lamb of God" who will take away the sins of the World.

The Patriarch continued saying that Christianity is the religion of testimony for Christ and the synod of bishops that was called for by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on October 2010 in Rome, has expressed the will for the preservation of the Christian identity especially in the Middle East. Christians in Lebanon and in the Middle East are responsible for this testimony with the help of their muslim neighbors and fellow citizens. A dialogue of life, culture and citizenship must be undertaken based on fairness in rights and duties, and the participation in governance. All together they can build a state founded on truth, freedom, justice, and love, away from violence, hatred and terrorism.

On the political side the Patriarch said that Arab leaders often said that "Lebanon is a need, if there was no Lebanon we must find one" and Lebanon is "the lungs of freedom and the region's peace comes from the peace in Lebanon". Such facts imply on the Lebanese people as well as on the international community not to let the country become a channel or a source of instability in the region. The Lebanese and international community should exert efforts in declaring Lebanon a neutral country in order for it to continue on serving its mission and acting as a factor of peace in the Middle East. He also said that Through its positive neutrality, Lebanon will be able to commit to joint Arab issues and the peace process. This requires the improvement of Lebanese defense capabilities and limiting the possession of arms to the official state institutions. Lebanon is not a unified state, but a number of statelets whose funds are being squandered by wealthy individuals at the expense of the people and their dignity.

The Patriarch concluded saying that the gospel is not only for Christians but for the whole world. Christians are responsible to spread it and live according to it in their societies. The gospel is the good news for all people. He finally said: God we ask you to attract us to you, to follow you and become witnesses for your gospel so that truth, freedom, justice and love may prevail in our country and we will enjoy tranquility and peace, for Yours is the Glory for ever, Amen.

Daily Gospel: Sunday of the Second Week of Epiphany, January 15, 2012




Saint of the day: St John the Calybites, Confessor.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:5-15.
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 1:35-42.
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God! ’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).