Following the Commemoration of All Souls on the 2nd November, this month is traditionally dedicated to remembering our loved ones who have died. This year in particular, we remember those fallen in battle, as we mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Welcome to the Diocese of Gibraltar!

Pope Francis marks World War I centenary with MESSAGE OF PEACE

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pope Francis’ message recalls that 11:00 a.m., 11th November 2018, Armistice Day (following the treaty of surrender signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France), “marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, which my predecessor, Benedict XV, defined as the ‘useless slaughter’”. Bells throughout the world would ring at 1:30 p.m. Italian time to honour the date, he said.

He emphasised that World War I is a “strong warning” to reject the “culture of war” and to “seek every legitimate means to put an end to those conflicts that are still making blood flow in many regions of the world”.

He proposed St. Martin of Tours, whose Feast is celebrated today, as a symbol of investing in peace.  “He cut his cloak in two to share it with a poor man. May this gesture of human solidarity indicate to everyone the way toward constructing peace”, Pope Francis said.

 “While we pray for all the victims of that terrible tragedy, let us say forcefully: invest in peace, not in war!” said the Holy Father at the end of his Angelus address on Nov. 11.

Peace be with you!

+Carmel Zammit
Bishop of Gibraltar

Carmel Zammit, Bishop of Gibraltar

PRAY WITH US

Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Sion;
and a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem:
hear my prayer;
all flesh shall come to Thee.

Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Prayer in November for all the Faithful Departed.

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November: All Souls

By | News

NOVEMBER is traditionally the month when Catholics everywhere remember those who have gone to God.

NOVEMBER is traditionally the month when Catholics everywhere remember those who have gone to God.

Our Faith teaches that through their lifetime journey, every person has a moral freedom to choose, with three possible ultimate outcomes:

we attain beatitude, which expresses the joy and peace of being eternally with God in Heaven;

that journey had not completely resulted, at the time of their departure from this life, in the total conversion and renewal of the person and so, by an act of sheer Divine compassion, they are held in God’s love and ‘purified’ of their defects, so as to enter eventually into Heaven, where no imperfection can coexist;

  • or, they freely and willingly, as witnessed by their moral actions on earth, reject God and are therefore destined for Hell. God accepts that this is their sovereign decision and so, Hell is where those who wish to have no relationship, nothing to do with God, will go. For the damned, there is no possible alternative afterwards. It is an eternal state.

 

We all choose one of these outcome through our way of life. You can read more in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, particularly paragraphs 1020-1060.

 

Holy Souls in Purgatory

The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone to eternity. Even in the late Old Testament book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:38-46), prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought “well and religiously concerning the resurrection.” It was believed that “they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them” and that “it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into Heaven. We are all in need of grace to come into the perfection of charity. We cannot enter Heaven if we have not been completely cleansed of sin and all punishment due to sin, c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1031 and 1472.

 

Purgatory is not eternal. Its duration depends upon the particular judgment each have received from Christ. By Divine Mercy, they have not merited hell, because in their lives, they honoured God and developed their relationship with him, despite any limitations and failures. It is difficult to speak in terms of earthly time, since Purgatory is a temporary state, not a place as such. It is therefore not bound by space and time in the same way we are, but it is connected; and certainly it is connected with the definitive Second Coming of the Son of Man at the end of time, when Purgatory will also cease to exist.

 

 

The Church has always taught that we can pray for the dead and assist them in their purification. We can shorten therefore their time in Purgatory, because our prayers of love supplicate for them before the Mercy of God. The most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is THE WAY to help the dead in Purgatory, because it is the Altar of hope and consolation for us all. That is why it is a most honourable act of charity to have a Priest offer a Mass for the Dead, or as an intention for a given Mass offered for a dearly departed person. Please be aware that sometimes people confuse offering a Mass themselves in person, as in going specially to one for someone or having in mind some intention of our own, and the actual application of the Mass by the Priest for the specific intention requested as he does so in persona Christi.

The ancient practice of Indulgences is also to be recommended for the Faithful Departed. You can read more on this in the Catechism, paragraphs 1471 to 1479.

 

 

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and

let perpetual light shine upon them.

May the souls of the faithful departed,

through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Amen.

VENERABLE CARLO ACUTIS

By | News

“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan”.

“I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God”.

Carlo Acutis was born in London on 3rd May 1991. He died on the 12th October 2006 in Milan at the age of 15 due to fulminant leukaemia, leaving in the memory of all those who knew him a great void and a deep admiration for what was his a brief but intense testimony of an authentic Christian life.

Since he received his First Communion at 7 years old, he never missed his daily Mass. He always tried before in Church, or stayed there after the Mass, to pray in front of the tabernacle to worship the Lord, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lady was his great confidant and never failed to honour her daily by reciting the Rosary. He was a popular person, whose character, enthusiasm and warmth attracted many to Jesus. In everything he seemed a normal boy of his age. His love for God in the Holy Eucharist, was natural to him, as a faithful disciple of the Lord which he strove to be.

To quote Carlo’s words: “Our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven.” To move towards this destination and not “die as photocopies” Carlo said that our compass has to be the Word of God, that we have to face constantly. But extreme means are required to reach such a lofty destination: the sacraments and prayer. In particular Carlo put the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the centre of his life. He used to say, the Eucharist is “my highway to heaven”.

Carlo was gifted at anything related to computers. His friends, especially those with computer engineering degrees, considered him a genius. Everyone was amazed by his ability to understand the computer secrets that are normally accessible only to those who have completed university. Carlo’s interests included computer programming, film editing, website creation, editing and layout of comics, and volunteering for those most in need, the children and the elderly. Before his untimely death, Venerable Carlo completed a project dear to his heart: he wanted people to know about the Eucharistic Miracles that have taken place throughout the centuries. He constructed a webpage where you can learn more about these special graces the lord bestowed upon those who wanted to come closer to the Lord in the Eucharist: http://www.miracolieucaristici.org/en/Liste/list.html

It was a mystery to the young faithful of the diocese of Milan, that before his death he could offer his sufferings for the Pope and for the Church.

Venerable Carlo, pray for our youth in Gibraltar!

 As his cause is in process, please contact the postulator to communicate any favours or miracles received through his intercession: http://www.carloacutis.com/en/association/contatta_postulatore

Guardian Angels

By | News, Saints

“For He has given His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” – Psalm 90:11

On the 2nd October, we will celebrate the Memorial of our Guardian Angels.

The truth that each and every human soul has a Guardian Angel who protects us from both spiritual and physical evil has been shown throughout the Old Testament, and is made very clear in the New.

It is written that the Lord Jesus was strengthened by an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46); and that an angel delivered St. Peter from prison in the Acts of the Apostles (12:3-19).

Jesus makes the existence and function of Guardian Angels explicit when He says:

“See that you despise not one of these little ones:
for I say to you,
that their angels in heaven
always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 18:10).

In saying this, Jesus points out that all people, even little children, have a Guardian Angel. They are always in Heaven, always looking at the face of God, throughout their mission on earth, which is to guide and protect us throughout our pilgrimage to the House of our Father. As St. Paul says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?”  (Hebrews 1:14).

However, they guide us to Heaven only if we desire it. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that angels cannot act directly upon our will or intellect, although they can do so on our senses and imaginations – thus encouraging us to make the right decisions. In Heaven our Guardian Angels, though no longer needing to guide us to salvation, will continually enlighten us.

Prayer to the Guardian Angels is encouraged, and the habit of remembering their presence and support leads to friendship with them. The prayer to the guardian angels has been present in the Church since at least the beginning of the 12th century:

O Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom God’s love
commits me here,
ever this day
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Amen.

“Let us affectionately love His angels as counsellors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them, and in the protection of the God of heaven let us abide.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

FEAST OF THE ARCHANGELS: 29th September

By | News, Saints

On the 29th September we will celebrate the Feast of the Archangels. The Church’s tradition says that there are 7 Archangels. The names of only 3 have been revealed in Sacred Scriptures:

Saint Michael is the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” the leader of all the angels. His name is Hebrew for “Who is like God?” and was the battle cry of the good angels against Lucifer and his followers when they rebelled against God. He is mentioned four times in the Bible, in Daniel 10 and 12, in the letter of Jude, and in Revelation.

Michael, whose forces cast down Lucifer and the evil spirits into Hell, is invoked for protection against Satan and all evil. Pope Leo XIII, in 1899, having had a prophetic vision of the evil that would be inflicted upon the Church and the world in the 20th century, instituted a prayer (see the end of the article) asking for Saint Michael’s protection to be said at the end of every Mass.

Christian tradition recognizes four offices of Saint Michael: (i) to fight against Satan (ii) to rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death. (iii) to be the champion of God’s people, (iv) to call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment.

“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.” (Luke 1, 19)

Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” is mentioned four times in the Bible. Most significant are Gabriel’s two mentions in the New Testament: to announce the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias, and the at Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary.

Christian tradition suggests that it is he who appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tob 12:15)

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit.  Tobit is the only book in which he is mentioned. His office is generally accepted by tradition to be that of healing and acts of mercy.

Raphael is also identified with the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering

PRAYER COMPOSED BY POPE LEO XIII

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defence against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

Humanae Vitae Summary

By | News, Teaching, Vatican

When the Encyclical was published on 25th July 1968, it caused an impressive -some would say possibly catastrophic- stir among Catholics throughout the world, which Cardinal Heenan, the then Archbishop of Westminster, described as “the greatest shock since the Reformation”. Today, it is also seen as prophetic. A cartoon circulating in the media this week, gives some food for thought!

The Encyclical aimed at reiterating the Church’s teaching in modern-day language and facing up to the recent developments especially in the area of artificial and medical contraceptives. The overwhelming conclusion of those consulted was that the Pope should slacken the traditional prohibitions. Despite this, Paul VI felt compelled by virtue of the Petrine ministry which he had received directly from Christ as successor of St. Peter, to enunciate with clarity “the mind of Christ” on this matter.

There can be no doubt that since the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ of the 60’s, there has been a seismic change in what society previously considered wrong, to becoming very much the universally accepted fashion. Lamentably, those who disparage Humanae Vitae often have not read the actual document themselves and conclude that if everyone is doing it, it cannot therefore be wrong. However, as the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said:

“Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote.

Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong.

Right is right even if nobody is right”.

In a nutshell, that was the dilemma facing Pope Paul VI.

The final text of the Encyclical shows an awareness that what was being taught would not be easy to accept within that burgeoning permissive social environment of the day. At the same time, it was not blind or deaf to the need for compassion and an awareness of weaknesses and sins in people’s lives. The tone of the Encyclical’s language showed that Paul VI had kept in mind many of the objections that had been raised in the stage of gathering opinions from around the world as he prepared to write the encyclical. Given the nature of an encyclical, understandably the Pope could not argue each and every one of those objections in detail. Instead, he focused on the perennial moral principles at stake. He readily acknowledged the difficult cultural and social conditions in which many married couples live and showed a realistic recognition of the impact of weakness and sin. The Pope was speaking not only to Catholics, but to all Christian consciences that strive daily to take seriously the gift of Grace and the call to conversion. This is what ultimately concerns the moral teaching of the Church: the salvation of all.

The choice of language therefore places at the centre a fundamental element of the moral life of every Christian: even if human freedom always adheres imperfectly to the salvation offered in the Gospel, the Church must always propose it with fidelity and completeness. She cannot fall into the temptation of the sort of popular ethical relativisms that can easily drive a mistaken sense of social progress, which drifts us ever further away from God’s perspective of what is good, authentic, true development for all.

The Encyclical’s pastoral concern is also very significant. Three fundamental elements are highlighted:

  • an indispensable, constant need to have recourse to the support of divine Grace in the daily struggles we face in our moral life and human action;
  • the call not to isolate the practice of regulating births from the broader context of a married life embraced in all its constitutive dimensions;
  • Christ’s Gospel call to a “mastery of oneself” and of “conjugal chastity” which no true disciple of Christ can ignore.
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Aid to the church in need

THE BISHOP’S CHARITY

Aid to the Church in Need

Is a charity helping Christians in persecution and suffering in various parts of the world, especially where there is conflict. This year the bishop has chosen ACN (Gibraltar) as the charity of choice for the Diocese.

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“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”

Matthew 12.10.

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