Pope: ‘politics is a commitment to humanity and holiness’

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Pope Francis on Friday pointed to the figure of the Venerable Giorgio La Pira as a model for Italian and international statesmen in their duty to work for the common good.

By Linda Bordoni

“At a time when the complexity of Italian and international political life requires statesmen of substantial human and Christian” value in the service of common good, Pope Francis held up the figure of the Venerable Giorgio La Pira saying he is an exemplary model for the Church and for the contemporary world.

The Pope was addressing some 200 members of the “Giorgio La Pira Foundation” whom he received in the Vatican.

The Venerable Giorgio La Pira

Giorgio La Pira, whose cause for beatification was approved by Pope Francis this year, was a committed Catholic MP in the years after World War II and then mayor of Florence until 1966. He was known well beyond the Florentine borders for his evangelical inspired social battles and for promoting peace events.

St. Pope John Paul II recalled La Pira several times pointing out his “extraordinary experience as a politician and a believer, capable of uniting contemplation and prayer to social and administrative activity, with a preference for the poor and the suffering”.

In his speech, Pope Francis described La Pira as “an enthusiastic witness to the Gospel and a prophet of modern times” saying that his attitudes were always inspired by a Christian perspective, while his action was often ahead of his time.

He mentioned his long career in the public space, of how he gave life to charitable works, and of how, when persecuted by the fascist regime he took refuge in the Vatican before being able to join the Constituent Assembly and to contribute to the drafting of the Italian Constitution.

“But his mission in the service of the common good found its summit in the period when he was mayor of Florence, in the fifties” the Pope said, when “La Pira took a political line open to the needs of social Catholicism and always on the side of the last and most fragile sections of the population.”

He also upheld La Pira’s work to promote social and international peace, with diplomatic activity, international conferences, a strong stance against nuclear war and the war in Vietnam.

Prophets of peace and workers for the common good

He encouraged those present to “keep alive and to spread the patrimony of ecclesial and social action of Venerable Giorgio La Pira; in particular his integral witness of faith, his love for the poor and marginalized, his work for peace, the implementation of the social message of the Church and his great fidelity to Catholic guidelines”.

“These are all elements which constitute a valid message for the Church and society today” he said.

Example for those who work in public sector

Pope Francis noted that La Pira’s example “is especially valuable for those who work in the public sector” and are called to be vigilant towards those negative situations that undermine the common good and the dignity of the person.

Quoting Giorgio La Pira who said ‘Politics is a commitment to humanity and holiness’, the Pope underscored this concept saying politics is “therefore a demanding way of service and responsibility for the lay faithful, called to animate temporal realities in a Christian way, as the Second Vatican Council teaches”.

He urged those present to treasure the legacy of La Pira and to “be peacemakers, architects of justice, witnesses of solidarity and charity”.

Speaking off-the-cuff the Pope concluded his discourse with an encouragement to be bringers of a “new spring” by being prophets of hope and of holiness, and by never being afraid to soil one’s hands to work and go forward.

“Swallows, he said, are needed today: you are swallows!”

Diocese begins to tweet!

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Title

Today we celebrate the Presentation of Mary.

Today the #DioceseofGibraltar tweets for the first time! 

You can find us at :

We commend this new project to our Blessed Mother and ask her to help us spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all.

Sub tuum praesidium

confugimus,

Sancta Dei Genetrix.

Nostras deprecationes ne despicias

in necessitatibus nostris,

sed a periculis cunctis

libera nos semper,

Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Ameni

(3rd Century prayer, recommended to us by Pope Francis)

November: All Souls

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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!