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.

St. Augustine Zhao Rong and companions, Martyrs

By | News, Saints

St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest (†1815) and companions, Martyrs

Augustine Zhao Rong was one of the Chinese soldiers who escorted Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse to his execution. Moved by his patience, he asked to be baptized, and in due course was sent to the seminary and ordained a priest. He was arrested and savagely tortured. He died in 1815.

With him are celebrated 119 of his companions in martyrdom in China between 1648 and 1930 (including Bishop Dufresse).

Official persecution of Christians by the Emperors ceased in 1842, but violent anti-religious sentiments persisted, and in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, Christians were particularly attacked and many thousands were killed.

St. Maria Goretti, Martyr

By | News, Saints

St. Maria Goretti, Martyr (1890 - 1902)

Maria Goretti was the third of seven children of a poor peasant family living near Corinaldo in the province of Ancona in Italy; owing to extreme poverty the family later migrated to a village near Anzio.

In order to make ends meet, Maria’s father entered into partnership with a man called Serenelli, and shared a house with him and his two sons, one of whom was called Alessandro. Her father died in 1900, when Maria was ten.

Maria impressed everyone with her radiant purity. She was naturally pious, kind, and helpful. She was also outstandingly beautiful – and Alessandro Serenelli was an outstandingly passionate and undisciplined man. She resisted his attentions, which only made her the more desirable, and narrowly managed to escape a serious sexual assault, which he made her keep secret by means of threats of murder.

A month later Alessandro arranged things so that he would be alone in the house with Maria; and he had a dagger. She tried to resist, begging him to have care for his immortal soul, but he thrust a handkerchief into her mouth to prevent her from crying out, tied her up, and threatened her with the dagger. She could, the theologians say, have consented then, with no danger to her soul; but her love of purity was too great. Alessandro, enraged, stabbed her fourteen times.

She did not die, though her entrails were hanging out from one of her abdominal wounds. She was taken to hospital, seven miles of bad road in a horse-drawn ambulance, and was operated on for more than two hours. She lived for twenty hours more, became a Child of Mary, received the Last Sacrament, and specifically forgave her murderer. She died in the afternoon of 6 July 1902, at the age of eleven years, eight months, and twenty days.

Alessandro narrowly escaped being lynched, and was tried and sentenced to thirty years’ penal servitude with hard labour. For the first seven years or so he maintained a cynical and defiant attitude, but he repented, and dreams of Maria herself figured largely in his repentance. He remained in prison for another twenty years where he continued to repent.

Maria was beatified in 1927. Alessandro was released in 1928; and he and Maria’s mother received Communion side by side on Christmas Day 1937, and they spent Christmas together.

Maria was canonized in 1950. Her mother was present at the ceremony, the first time this has ever happened. Some people say that Alessandro was there too, others not; but it is certain that he spent his last years in a Capuchin monastery: he died in 1970.

Nowadays, being pure, being a virgin is often ridiculed, not valued.  In a world increasingly sexualised, both in lifestyles and through the media, where the ponorpgraphy has become a multi-billion pound industry, the Church shines out as a light saying: this is not how God intended things to be! There is another way; the way of purity, the way of true inner peace, the way of love!

St. Elizabeth of Portugal

By | News, Saints

St. Elizabeth of Portugal (1271 - 1336)

She was the daughter of King Pedro III of Aragón and was named after her great-aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary. She was married to King Dinis of Portugal, by whom she had two children. She set up hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions, patiently endured her husband’s infidelities and provided for the education of his illegitimate children, and acted as peacemaker in the quarrelsome and complicated politics of the time.

On her husband’s death in 1325 she retired from public affairs and devoted herself to prayer and the service of the poor. Throughout her life she was faithful and regular in prayer, and daily recited the Liturgy of the Hours.

In 1336 her son, by now King Afonso IV of Portugal, went to war against King Alfónso XI of Castile. Elizabeth followed the Portuguese army on the field in an effort to bring about peace. She succeeded, but the effort killed her.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

By | News, Pastoral Groups

For many, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre appear to be annual cape wearing participants of the Corpus Christi procession. For others, the Knights are an ancient, irrelevant remnant of a past age of the Catholic Church. Some see the local members turn up at some masses to help out in collecting money for the Holy sites in Palestine and Israel. However, the less known story is that these cape wearing Catholics form part of a vital lay order of the Church tasked with great responsibility.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ) can trace its origins, through tradition, to the First Crusade (1099). However, documented evidence suggests that the first investiture of Knights at the Holy Sepulchre dates back to 1336. Since then, successive Popes have promoted, guided and helped form the EOHSJ into what it is today. That is, an international Roman Catholic lay order of men and women (thirty-thousand strong), recognised in Canon Law, under the protection of the Holy Father led by a Council of lay and ordained persons under the leadership of Edwin Cardinal O’Brien (the Grand Master).

There are many cultural and social activities within which the EOHSJ is involved. Unfortunately, most of these charitable works do not make it into our local news feeds. For instance, did you know that the Good Friday Collection, carried out locally in Gibraltar by our Knights and Dames (Confrères and Consoeurs) is a worldwide event? 65% of the total collected in this one collection goes to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land for the upkeep of the Holy Places. The remaining 35% goes to the Congregation for Oriental Church Projects to aid Christians from Ukraine to Iraq (Eastern Europe to Mesopotamia). The EOHSJ also fund education, cultural and social works in Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. Hospitals, Universities, and Schools, under our patronage and direction, are ecumenical and open to persons of all faiths. (For more information on the projects, please see: http://project.lpj.org)

Nevertheless, the EOHSJ is not just a collector of funds to help the upkeep of buildings (even though these buildings are of immense importance to followers of Jesus Christ). The EOHSJ is directly involved in the promotion of charitable works (humanitarian support), the building of bridges between diverse communities and the help of people, Christians and other persons of other faiths, in the Holy Land and beyond. The members of worldwide Lieutenancies and delegations that are guided by the Grand Master and the Council, also follow a devout Christian spiritual life. Each member is charged with following in the footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As such, Confrères and Consoeurs are expected to dedicate time to prayer and the Sacraments, thus becoming active members of their respective diocese and parish Communities.

For more information about who we are and what we do please visit: http://www.oessh.va

Know Your Saints – June

By | News, Saints, Teaching

St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568 - 1591)

St Aloysius was the eldest son of a Mantuan nobleman, and was intended by his father to be a soldier. Aloysius, on the other hand, had determined to be a missionary, and even to die for his faith.

He renounced his birthright in favour of his brother and at the age of 16 became a Jesuit novice in Rome, living the same life of severe austerity and penance that he had followed even when serving in the courts of dukes and princes. In 1591 an epidemic of plague broke out in Rome, and the Jesuits opened a hospital to care for the sick. Aloysius, still a novice, worked hard in the hospital until he himself caught the plague. He did not recover; but, his determination to die for the faith having been fulfilled, died at midnight on the 20th of June with the name of Jesus on his lips.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, Martyrs

St. John Fisher (1469 – 1535)

He was born in Beverley, in Yorkshire, in 1469. He studied theology at the University of Cambridge, and had a successful career there, finally becoming chancellor of the University and bishop of Rochester: unusually for the time, he paid a great deal of attention to the welfare of his diocese.

He wrote much against the errors and corruption into which the Church had fallen, and was a friend and supporter of great humanists such as Erasmus of Rotterdam; but he was greatly opposed to Lutheranism, both in its doctrine and in its ideas of reform.

He supported the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and for this he was briefly imprisoned. When the King had divorced Catherine, married Anne Boleyn, and constituted himself the supreme Head of the Church in England, John Fisher refused to assent. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of treason, and on 22 June 1535, a month after having been made a Cardinal by the Pope, he was executed. He was so ill and weak that he had to be carried in a chair to the place of execution.

He was the only bishop to oppose Henry VIII’s actions, on the grounds that they were a repudiation of papal authority, but even so he avoided direct confrontation with the other bishops, not holding himself up as a hero or boasting of his coming martyrdom: I condemn no other man’s conscience: their conscience may save them, and mine must save me. We should remember, in all the controversies in which we engage, to treat our opponents as if they were acting in good faith, even if they seem to us to be acting out of spite or self-interest.

__

St Thomas More (1477 – 1535)

He was born in London, the son of a judge, and himself became an eminent lawyer. He married twice, and had four children. He was a humanist and a reformer, and his book, Utopia, depicting a society regulated by the natural virtues, is still read today.

Thomas More was a close friend of King Henry VIII. As a judge, he was famous for his incorruptibility and impartiality, and he was made Lord Chancellor – the highest legal position in England – in 1529.

When Henry VIII demanded a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Thomas More opposed him. He resigned the chancellorship in 1532 and retired from public life; but he could not retire from his reputation, and so it was demanded that he take an oath to support the Act of Succession, which effectively repudiated papal religious authority. He refused, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. After the execution of John Fisher, he was tried on the charge of high treason for denying the King’s supreme headship of the Church, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He went to his execution, on 6 July 1535, with a clear conscience and a light heart; he told the spectators that he was still “the king’s good servant – but God’s first,” and carefully adjusted his beard before he was beheaded.

He wrote a number of devotional works, some of the best of them while in prison awaiting trial. He fought his fight without acrimony, telling his judges that he wished that “we may yet hereafter in Heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation.”

Birthday of St. john the Baptist

Apart from Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist is the only saint in the calendar who has two feasts to himself. One, in August, celebrates his death, and one, in June, celebrates his birth. And this is as it should be, for as Christ himself said, John was the greatest of the sons of men.

The greatest, but also the most tragic. A prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce the coming of the incarnate God, his task was to proclaim the fulfilment of all prophecies – and thus his own obsolescence. And he did it: with unequalled courage he spread the news that he, the greatest of all men, was the least in the kingdom of heaven. His disciples, and the devil, would have preferred him to fight, to build his sect, to defeat this upstart whom he himself had baptized, to seize his place in history. But he did not – and so, rightly, he has his place, and he has glory in heaven.

We envy the great and the talented, and sometimes we think that they themselves are beyond envy. But when they come across someone with greater gifts, as one day most of them will, they will see for the first time what it means to feel like us. Let us pray that they, like John the Baptist, may pass that test.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (370 - 444)

Alexandria was the largest city in the ancient world. Rather like Los Angeles, it was a sprawling mixture of races and creeds; and it was a byword for the violence of its sectarian politics, whether of Greeks against Jews or of orthodox Christians against heretics. Cyril began his career as a worthy follower of this tradition. He succeeded his uncle as bishop of Alexandria in 412, and promptly solved a number of outstanding problems by closing the churches of the Novatian heretics and expelling the Jews from the city. This caused trouble and led to an ongoing quarrel with the Imperial governor of the city and to murderous riots. It is not for this part of his life that St Cyril is celebrated.

In 428, Nestorius, the new Patriarch of Constantinople (and hence one of the most important bishops in the world) made statements that could be interpreted as denying the divinity of Christ. The dual nature – human and divine – has always been hard for us to accept or understand, and if it seems easy it is only because we have not thought about it properly. Those who dislike problems have had two responses: to deny the human nature of Christ or to deny his divinity: and either leads to disaster, since both deny the Incarnation and hence the divinisation of human nature.

Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

Irenaeus was born in Smyrna, in Asia Minor (now Izmir in Turkey) and emigrated to Lyons, in France, where he eventually became the bishop. It is not known for certain whether he was martyred or died a natural death.

Whenever we take up a Bible we touch Irenaeus’s work, for he played a decisive role in fixing the canon of the New Testament. It is easy for us, now, to think of Scripture – and the New Testament in particular – as the basis of the Church, and harder to remember that it was the Church that had to decide, early on, what was scriptural and what was not.

Before Irenaeus, there was vague general agreement on what scripture was, but a system based on this kind of common consent was too weak. As people meditated on the intolerable event of the Redemption, dissensions and heresies inevitably arose, and reference to scripture was the obvious way of trying to settle what the truth really was. But in the absence of an agreed canon of scripture it was all too easy to attack one’s opponent’s arguments by saying that his texts were corrupt or unscriptural; and easy, too, to do a little fine-tuning of texts on one’s own behalf.

So Irenaeus went through all the books of the New Testament, and all the candidates (such as the magical pseudo-Gospels, and the entertaining and uplifting novel the Shepherd of Hermas). He did not simply accept or reject each book, because his enemies could have said that he was doing it to bolster his own arguments: he gave reasons for and against the canonicity of each book. Irenaeus’s canon of scripture is very nearly the modern one (he does not quote from three of the short universal epistles), but more important is the fact that he started the tradition of biblical scholarship.

Irenaeus had to fight against the Gnostics, who believed that the world was irredeemably wicked, and against the Valentinians, who claimed to be possessors of a secret tradition that had never been written down but passed from master to disciple through the ages. This pessimism and this arcane élitism remain with us even today, and each generation must renew the fight against them. Let us pray for the inspiration of St Irenaeus in our battle.

Ss. Peter and Paul

St Peter (died 64 A.D.).

He was appointed by Jesus Christ as the first Pope (Matthew 16: 13-20):

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,

‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’  

And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’  

He said to them, ’But who do you say that I am?’  

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah] the Son of the living God.’  

And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock  I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

________

St. Paul (died c. 62-64 A.D.)

Saul in Hebrew or Paul in Latin (since he was also a Roman Citizen) was born in Tarsus (now in Turkey). He was a leading pharisee who persecuted the early Christians until his conversion. We read an account of this in Acts 9:3-9:

“Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,

‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’

And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting;  but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’

 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank’.

After his dramatic conversion, he became a tireless missionary who through his writings, gave shape to the Church’s doctrine in an unparalleled way. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 13 are attributed to Paul (7 were actually dictated by him), and approximately half of another, Acts of the Apostles, deals with Paul’s life and works. Thus, about half of the New Testament stems from Paul and the people whom he influenced.

First Martyrs of the See of Rome

The First Martyrs of the See of Rome

When the city of Rome had been devastated by fire in the year 64, the Emperor Nero launched a persecution against the Christians, who were thrown to the wild beasts in the arena or soaked in tar and used as living torches. Their deaths are documented in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus and in Pope St Clement’s letter to the Corinthians. Their feast was celebrated the day after the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

Do not be lost in a ‘virtual world’

By | News, Vatican

“Do not be lost in a 'virtual world', but live reality”

Pope Francis

At a recent General Audience, Pope Francis said he was worried that youth are too enmeshed in a virtual world of cell phones and other technology, separated, in particular, from the real human contact experienced by performing works of mercy.

Answering a question about youth during a visit with the people of the Diocese of Rome, the Pope said that the works of mercy “help young people so much,” because they them to be grounded in “concreteness” and to “enter into a social relationship.”

“It worries me that they communicate and live in the virtual world,” he said, noting that on a recent visit with youth, instead of extending their hands when they saw him, they “greeted” him with their phones held up, taking photos and selfies.

“Their reality is that… not human contact. This is serious,” he continued. “We have to make young people ‘land’ in the real world. Touch reality. Without destroying the good things the virtual world can have,” because some things are needed, he acknowledged.

The Pope said that young “had courage to speak” and “really wanted to speak seriously”. They need to find their voice in our society, not one that is virtual -an illusion-, but human, active and real.