Monday, October 31, 2011

"Come, thou blessed of my Father!"

On this Feast of All Saints we come together as Church to honor not only the Saints that we know, but also all those known only to God, who no matter what their station or state in life, have lived manfully the gospel of Christ and now enjoy the blissful vision of God for ever in Heaven. It is certainly a day to rejoice and thank God for the many graces and crowns given to these holy men and women. To move ourselves to strive after the virtues that they expressed by their lives and to implore mercy from God through their powerful intercessions.
This solemn commemoration is an image of that eternal great feast which is continually celebrated in Heaven, where all the blessed praise and adore God's goodness and mercy. The perfection and greatness of these saints are entirely the work of His spirit within them.

We too, are called to this heavenly banquet, to one day, after a faithful life, be called blessed by God and given that name known only to Him alone.

We are reminded in the document Lumen Gentium, Chapter 5, the Universal Call to Holiness:

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.”

As we attend Mass on this great Feast, let us be thankful for the praise offered to God by the lives of His saints, and pray that we too may one day join them forever seeing God face to face.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

THE HOLY SEE AND LIBYA AFTER THE DEATH OF COLONEL GADAFFI

Considering the events of the past week regarding the death of Colonel Gadaffi and all of the secular publicity, I thought it would be helpful to post this message from the Vatican, in case you have not seen this.

Let us pray for all the people of Libya!

"VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) -  Given below is the text of an English-language note published yesterday  afternoon by the Holy See Press Office on the subject of the Holy See and  Libya following the death of Colonel Gadaffi.

  "The news of the death  of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of a much too long and tragic phase  of a brutal struggle to bring down a harsh and oppressive regime.

  "This dramatic event  obliges us yet again to reflect on the immense toll of human suffering which  accompanies the affirmation and collapse of any system which is not based on  the respect and dignity of the human person, but rather on the prevailing  affirmation of power.

  "It is hoped now that  the Libyan people might be spared further violence due to a spirit of  revenge, and that the new leaders can undertake as soon possible efforts  necessary for bringing peace and rebuilding in a spirit of solidarity, based  on justice and the rule of law. May the international community also be  committed to generously helping in the rebuilding of the nation.

  "For its own part, the  small Catholic community will continue to offer its own witness and service  to all people, especially in the charitable and health fields. The Holy See  will assist the Libyan people with the instruments available to it in the  field of international relations with a spirit of promoting justice and  peace.

  "In this regard, it is  necessary to keep in mind that it is a constant practice that when the Holy  See establishes diplomatic relations, it recognises States and not  governments. For this reason the Holy See has not proceeded in establishing a  formal recognition of the National Transitional Council (CNT) as the  government of Libya.  Given that the CNT is now acting effectively as the government in Tripoli, the Holy See  considers it the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, in  conformity with international law.

  "The Holy See has  already had contacts with the new Libyan authorities. Firstly, the  Secretariat of State, which has the responsibility for the diplomatic  relations of the Holy See, has been in contact with the Libyan Embassy to the  Holy See following the political changes in Tripoli. During his recent participation at  the General Assembly of the United Nations, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti,  secretary for Relations with States, had the opportunity to speak to  Abdurrahman M. Shalgham, permanent representative of Libya to the  United Nations. More recently, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, apostolic nuncio to  Libya, who is based in Malta, travelled to Tripoli for a three-day visit (from 2-4  October) in which he met Mahmoud Jibril, prime minister of the CNT. Archbishop  Caputo was also received by the minister for foreign affairs.

  "During these various  meetings the importance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Libya was  affirmed by both sides. The Holy See renewed its support for the Libyan  people and for the transition. The Holy See wished the new authorities every  success in their rebuilding the country. On their own behalf, the leaders of  the new Libya expressed their appreciation for the Holy Father's humanitarian  appeals and the efforts of the Church in Libya through its services in  hospitals and help centres run by thirteen religious communities (six in  Tripolitania and seven in Cirenaica)".

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Windows define St. Therese

Saint Therese of Lisieux is a model for us, that it is not necessary to achieve greater things in order to have a successful life, or to become a saint. She led a simple and obscure life in Carmel. She did not free her country from the enemy like St. Joan of Arc; neither did she convert people in droves, as did St. John Mary Vianney. It was enough for her to pour her love into the lowly and ordinary tasks given to her. “All is grace” she said, a few months before she died. Therese firmly believed, like St. Paul that that nothing can separate us from the boundless love God bestows on us. She allowed herself to be drawn towards the Fountain of Love. “My vocation is love,” she said, and “It is Love alone that attracts me.”
Pope Pius XI who had canonized Therese on May 17, 1925, referred to her as the Star of his pontificate. It was the pope's wish that the basilica in Lisieux be built “very large, very beautiful and as quickly as possible!” By July 11, 1937 the shrine to St. Therese was ready for Pope Pius XI's envoy, Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pius XII) to give his solemn blessing to the basilica.

Pierre Gaudin, the artist of the stained glass windows in the basilica, aimed to create a figurative work which would portray the essence of St. Therese's message. Her response to Divine Love was one of trust and love.

The north transept window, dominated by deep blues catches the atmosphere of trust in which Therese lived. Each verse of Psalm 22 is pictured by a theme from the Gospel: the Good Shepherd, the Samaritan woman at the well, the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus quieting the storm, the miracle of the loaves, the wedding feast of Cana, the visit of Jesus to Zacheus. In the rose-windows above, flowers and plants are depicted to symbolize Divine Providence in all living things. The lower windows have Scriptural references of the hen gathering her chickens, of which Therese was so fond, the eagle carrying and protecting her young, the pure water in which the stag comes to drink, and the pelican feeding its little ones with its own blood.

The south transept window, which rests above the reliquary of Therese, is a blaze of red. This color was chosen to reflect the way St. Therese responded with her own love to the gift of Divine Love. Therese is kneeling, and offering herself to the flames of love which pour forth from the pierced heart of Jesus. Consumed by this fire, she would have liked to do a thousand and one things to “capture” God's love. She felt called to be an apostle, priest, and martyr. However, she knew that it was enough to pour her love into her simple life in Carmel in order to be useful to the entire world. “Yes, I found my place in the Church, I shall be Love itself! And so I shall be everything!” she said.

On the left side another scene from the Bible depicts the disciples being sent off to teach the Gospel to all nations. This refers to her deep aspiration to become a missionary. On the right side the martyrdom of the holy innocents refers to her wish to be made a martyr. The lower panels of the window show Therese's favorite saints: the chaste St. Cecilia and St. Teresa of Avila, the soldier-saints Louis and Joan of Arc, the priests St. Vincent de Paul and St. John Vianney, the apostles Francis Xavier and Theophane Venard, the doctors John of the Cross and Francis de Sales, and the martyrs St. Stephen and Agnes. These are the saints whose particular vocation Therese would have liked to follow “whose lives and deaths proclaimed the name of Jesus on the highways and byways of the world.”

St. Therese has truly inspired both men and women, children and adults, rich and poor, religious and laity with her message of trust and love. “One day, my Beloved Eagle, you will come to take this little bird, and fly with it to the Source of where you will plunge it forever in the blazing gulf of love that is there.” (from the final page of her second manuscript)