New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Elizabeth of Hungary - Teaching by Pope Benedict XVI

In the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope dedicated his attention to St. Elizabeth of Hungary who, he remarked, "is also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia".

The Holy Father explained how St. Elizabeth was born in the year 1207. She lived the first four years of her life in the Hungarian royal court before being promised in marriage to Ludwig of Thuringia. "Although their match was decided for political reasons", said the Holy Father, "a sincere love arose between the two young people, animated by faith and by their desire to do the will of God".
Elizabeth, who "behaved before God as she behaved towards her subjects", is "a true example for everyone who holds positions of leadership", said Pope Benedict. "The exercise of authority at all levels must be practiced as a service to justice and charity, in the constant search for the common good".

Having highlighted the fact that the saint "assiduously practiced works of mercy", Benedict XVI spoke of the "profound happiness" of her marriage. "Elizabeth helped her spouse to elevate his human qualities to a supernatural level while he, for his part, protected his wife in her generosity towards the poor and in her religious observances. ... This is clear testimony of how faith and love for God and for others strengthen family life and make the marriage bond even more profound".

Elizabeth found support in the Friars Minor, something which helped her "become even more resolute in following the poor and crucified Christ, Who is present in the poor".

Following her husband's death in 1227, Elizabeth "had to face another trial: her brother-in-law usurped the government of Thuringia, declaring himself Ludwig's heir and accusing Elizabeth of being a pious woman, incompetent to rule. The young widow with her three children was driven from the castle of Wartburg and had to look for refuge elsewhere. ... During this ordeal, which she bore with great faith, patience and dedication to God, some relatives who had remained faithful and considered her brother-in-law's government illegitimate, re-established her good name. Thus, at the beginning of 1228, Elizabeth was given a pension and retired to the family castle at Marburg".
The Holy Father indicated that "Elizabeth spent her last three years in the hospital she founded, serving the sick and attending the dying. She always sought the most humble and repugnant tasks. She became what we could call a consecrated woman living in the world ('soror in saeculo') and formed a religious community with a number of grey-clad companions. It is no coincidence that she is patron of the Third Regular Order of St. Francis and of the Secular Franciscan Order".

In November 1231 she fell into a high fever and died a few days later. "The testimonies of her sanctity were so many that just four years later Pope Gregory IX proclaimed her a saint. In the same year a beautiful church was built in her honour at Marburg".

"In the figure of St. Elizabeth", Pope Benedict concluded his catechesis, "we see how faith and friendship with Christ, create a sense of justice, of universal equality, of the rights of others, and foment love and charity. From this charity comes hope, the certainty that we are loved by Christ, that the love of Christ awaits us, thus making us capable of imitating Christ and of seeing Him in others".

The priest and his ministry - Pope John Paul II

The priest and his ministry

First and foremost, the priest must be seen as the 'man of faith', since by virtue of his mission he has to convey the Faith by proclaiming the word. He cannot preach the Gospel convincingly if he has not deeply assimilated its message. He bears witness to the Faith by his actions and his whole life. Through his pastoral contacts he does his best to sustain his brothers and sisters in the Faith, to respond to their doubts and to strengthen them in their convictions.

Every priest should be prepared for his role as teacher of the Faith within the Christian community. Hence, in our seminaries, revealed doctrine needs to be taught in such a way that young men may understand what the object of their faith is, and may respond to the call from the Lord with a free, interiorized adherence to the Gospel message, assimilated in prayer.

As well as being the man of faith, the priest is also the 'man of the sacred', the witness to the Invisible, the spokesman of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The priest must be known as a man of God, a man of prayer, who is seen to pray, who is felt to pray. When he celebrates the Eucharist, when he hears confessions, when he anoints the sick or when he conducts funerals, gives blessings or holds prayer meetings, let him do this in a dignified way, taking the proper time
and wearing the appropriate vestments. hence the priest must nourish within himself a spiritual life of high quality, inspired by the gift of his own ministerial priesthood. One may indeed speak of a 'spirituality of the diocesan priest'. His prayer life, his sharing, his efforts in life, are inspired by his apostolic activity, which is nourished by a life lived wholly with God. It has been observed that a time of intense pastoral activity often coincides with a period which is strong in spiritual life. The Second Vatican Council has reminded us, moreover, of 'that love of God and man, which is the soul of the apostolate' (Lumen gentium 33).

The priest is the man of faith, man of the sacred, and also the 'man of communion'. He it is who
assembles the People of God and strengthens their unity by means of the Eucharist; he is the leading spirit of brotherly love among all. The priest cannot venture on his own on the labour
awaiting him in the Lord's vineyard. He operates with his brothers in the priesthood. He collaborates with his own bishop. He does his best to forge brotherly links between members of the priestly college; in the presbyteral group especially, spiritual friendship is a great stimulus to ministry. The priest, furthermore, unites the members of the People of God who are entrusted to his pastoral care.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Visting the relics of St Don Bosco in Toronto

On the 5th October 2010 the relics of St. Don Bosco were on display at St. Benedict’s Church in Etobicoke. The relics; which included the bones and tissues of the right hand and arm were placed within a wax replica of St. John Bosco’s body; were on display from 7:30am till 11:30pm.
At 9:30pm after waiting in line for about 15 minutes I was let into the church to view the relics. Walking into the church was quite an experience. The Church was packed with barely a few seats at the back. On the left of the altar was the wax replica of St. John Bosco’s body containing the relics. Around the 3 walls of the church (excluding the altar wall) people were lined up to touch the relics. I sat down at the back of the church, while 2 youth cantors sang hymns of praise. A few moments later we were all asked to kneel down and the cantors sang ‘O Salutaris Hostia’ as youth of the Don Bosco Youth movement came in with candles to light the altar candles. The whole church, all of us, of different races, we were in one voice singing in the language of the Holy Roman church. It was as if for that moment the Tower of Babel never happened.
When all the candles on the altar were lit, a priest came in with the Monstrance containing the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Monstrance was placed on the altar and everyone silently venerated the Blessed Sacrament. A youth dressed up as St. Don Bosco, wearing black vestments and biretta, went to the microphone and read out one of the dreams of St. Don Bosco. The dream was the vision of the two pillars, where the battle ships are attacking a stately ship. The stately ship is commanded by the Holy Father and is surrounded by the flotilla of ships that protect it from the attacks of the warship. The Holy Father eventually gets wounded and dies and the enemy is rejoicing, but a new Holy Father is elected and he guides the ship safely and moors the ship to the two pillars, on top of one pillar is the Host and atop the other is the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was awestruck because in front of my eyes on the left was the relic of St. Don Bosco and on the right was the Blessed Sacrament. The a guide led St. Don Bosco down the broad road to hell, it was a sloping road with many traps. But in between the traps providence had placed knives to break the traps, the knives were the Holy Eucharist, the rosary, devotions to the saints, holy confession etc. Can you imagine, here was Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and the relics of St. Don Bosco, all ways provided by providence to avoid the snares of the evil one. While adoration of the Blessed Sacrament continued, various priests were available for the sacrament of Holy Confession.
Towards the end of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, we sung ‘Tantum Ergo’ and the divine praises as the Blessed Sacrament was reposed. People were invited to come up to the altar and light their candles as the lights in the church were turned down. Oh how symbolic this was, ‘You are the light of the world, no one puts a light under a basket, you are a city built on a hill.’ We had received the light, from all the lives and teachings saints (St Don Bosco), and from Christ himself. It was a dark rainy night in the city and in St. Benedict’s church we were the light: a light to carry out to the dark world, a light bolstered by the two pillars of the Holy Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady. After the final hymns of praise, I lined up to touch my rosary to the relic of St. Don Bosco. So that each time I say the holy rosary, I am reminded of the beautiful grace filled evening and that i never forget the two pillars.