St. Andrew Corsini, EC

Bishop of Fiesole
(1302-1373)

Saint Andrew was born in Florence in 1301 of the illustrious Corsini family. A short time before the birth of Saint Andrew, his mother experienced a strange dream, in which she had given birth to a wolf which became a lamb upon entering a Carmelite church. After a dissolute youthful life Andrew repented, when one day in 1318 his desolate mother told him of her dream. He rose and went to the altar in the church where his parents had offered to God the child they hoped to obtain from His mercy; there he prayed to the Blessed Virgin with tears, then went to beg his admission to the Carmelite Order.

He began a life of great mortification. Ordained a priest in 1328, he studied in Paris and Avignon, and on his return became the Apostle of Florence, and Prior of his convent there. In 1360 he was consecrated Bishop of Fiesole, near Florence, and gained a great reputation as a peacemaker between rival political factions and for his love of the poor. He was also named papal nuncio to Bologna, where he pacified dissenting factions and won the hearts of the nobility with whom he was associating. He wrought many miracles of healing and conversion during his lifetime.

At the age of 71, while he was celebrating the midnight Mass of Christmas, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he would leave this world on the feast of the Epiphany, to meet the beloved Master he had served so faithfully. In effect, he died on that day in 1373, in the thirteenth year of his episcopacy. Miracles were so multiplied thereafter that Pope Eugenius IV permitted a public cult immediately. The city of Florence has always invoked him with confidence and happy results. He was canonized in 1629.

He is often represented holding his crosier, with a wolf and a lamb at his feet, or hovering over a battlefield on a cloud or a white steed – this in memory of his miraculous intervention in a battle the Florentine people won by his assistance.

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Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The PRESENTATION of JESUS in the TEMPLE
the PURIFICATION, or CANDLEMAS

The law of God, given by Moses to the Jews, ordained that after childbirth a woman should continue for a certain time in a state which that law calls unclean, during which time she was not to appear in public. This term was of forty days following the birth of a son, and double that time for a daughter. When the term expired, the mother was to bring to the Temple a lamb and a young pigeon or turtle-dove, as an offering to God. These being sacrificed to Almighty God by the priest, she was cleansed of the legal impurity and reinstated in her former privileges. A dove was required of all as a sin-offering, whether rich or poor; but as the expense of a lamb might be too great for the poor, these were allowed to substitute for it a second dove. Such was the case, Scripture tells us, for the Holy Family. (Luke 2:24)

Our Saviour having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and His Blessed Mother remaining always a spotless virgin, it is evident that She was not subject to the law of purification, but devotion and zeal to honor God by every observance prescribed by His law, prompted Mary to perform this act of religion.

Besides the law which obliged the mother to purify herself, there was another which required that the first-born son be offered to God, and that after his presentation the child be ransomed with a certain sum of money, and specific sacrifices offered on the occasion. Mary complied exactly with all these ordinances. She obeyed not only in the essential points of the law, but had strict regard to all the circumstances. On the day of Her purification She walked several miles to Jerusalem, with the world’s Redeemer in Her arms. She waited for the priest at the gate of the Temple, made Her offerings of thanksgiving and expiation, and with the most profound humility, adoration and thanksgiving, presented Her divine Son, by the hands of the priest, to His Eternal Father. She then redeemed Him with five shekels, as the law appoints, and received Him back again as a sacred charge committed to Her special care, until the Father would again demand Him for the full accomplishment of man’s redemption.

The ceremony of this day closed in a third mystery – the meeting in the Temple of the holy prophets Simeon and Anne with the Divine Infant and His parents. Saint Simeon, on that occasion, received into his arms the object of all his desires and sighs, and praised God for the happiness of beholding the much-longed-for Messiah. He foretold to Mary Her martyrdom of sorrow, and that Jesus would bring redemption to those who would accept it on the terms it was offered, but a heavy judgment on all who would obstinately reject it. Mary, hearing this terrible prediction, courageously and sweetly committed all to God’s holy Will. Simeon, having beheld Our Saviour, exclaimed: “Now Thou canst dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace, according to Thy word, because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” The aged prophetess Anne, who had served God with great fervor during her long widowhood, also had the happiness of recognizing and adoring the Redeemer of the world. This feast is called Candlemas, because the Church blesses the candles to be borne in the procession of the day.

Reflection. Let us strive to imitate the humility of the ever-blessed Mother of God, remembering that humility is the path which leads to lasting peace and brings us closer to God, who gives His grace to the humble.

5 faith facts on Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch

By Kimberly Winston

(RNS) President Donald Trump has announced Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as his Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February.

Here are five faith facts about Gorsuch:

1. Gorsuch, 49, now attends an Episcopal church, but he attended Catholic schools.

He studied at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., while his mother, Anne Gorsuch, served as President Ronald Reagan’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. After college and law school at Columbia and Harvard respectively, Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is Catholic. Gorsuch, his wife and two daughters attend St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo.

2. Gorsuch has supported religious groups against the U.S. government.

Two major religious liberty cases wound up before Denver’s 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Gorsuch has served since 2006: The Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell and Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. In both cases, religious organizations — a Catholic order of nuns and the evangelical owners of a craft store chain — sought exemptions from providing birth control under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “All of us face the problem of complicity,” he wrote in support of Hobby Lobby. Government should not force those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to comply with “conduct their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.” The Supreme Court agreed in a 5-4 decision in 2014.  CONTINUE READING

Global Anglican Church Leaders wade in on US immigration row

By David Virtue

In an urgent message to Anglicans in North America, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach called for prayer for immigrants, refugees and for government leaders as they make decisions about how to deal with a global problem where answers are few and problems are many.

“As a province that spans Canada, the United States, and Mexico we face unique challenges on issues affecting refugees and immigration. I am thankful for our congregations that are a part of the Anglican Immigrant Initiative. They have taken the lead in caring for those in our communities who are refugees and immigrants, showing the love of Christ to the most vulnerable.”

The Archbishop called on Anglicans to make a special effort to reach out to refugees and immigrants in their local communities. “In these divisive times, we have the opportunity to demonstrate a compassion that builds bridges, and overcomes fear.

“In our province we also have lawmakers who face a different, but related set of challenging moral issues. As public servants, they are called to carefully discern how best to respond to the global humanitarian need while also maintaining the appropriate role of government in protecting its citizens. There are no easy answers to how our nations should balance these priorities, and our leaders need your prayers.” CONTINUE READING

Thousands of Priests Worldwide Call for Clarification of Amoris Laetitia

By Edward Pentin

Confraternities representing thousands of priests from around the world have said a clarification of Amoris Laetitia is “clearly needed” in the wake of “widespread” differing interpretations of the apostolic exhortation.

In a statement published Feb. 1, the International Confraternities of Catholic Clergy write that “an authoritative interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia, in line with the constant teaching and practice of the Church, would be of “great value” in light of “continuing widespread divergence of understanding and growing divisions in practice.”

They also thank the four cardinals who last year sent Pope Francis the dubia — five questions aimed at obtaining such clarification, arguing that such action “is clearly needed to correct the misuse of the Apostolic Exhortation to undermine sacred Tradition.”

Since it was published in April last year, the Pope’s summary document on the Synods on the Family has elicited widely varying interpretations, some of which have been criticized as erroneous and representing a rupture with Church teaching. The most contentious of these concerns whether some civilly remarried divorcees not living in continence can receive Holy Communion after a period of discernment. CONTINUE READING

St. Ignatius, M

SAINT IGNATIUS of ANTIOCH
Bishop and Martyr
(†107)

Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was the disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. Believing that the Church on earth should resemble that of the heavenly Jerusalem of which Saint John wrote in his Apocalypse, he established singing in choirs in his church at Antioch, after a vision of the celestial choirs who sang in that manner. When the emperor Domitian persecuted the Church, Saint Ignatius obtained peace for his own flock by fasting and prayer, although for his own part he desired to suffer with Christ, and to prove himself a perfect disciple.


The Roman emperors often visited Antioch, one of the cities of first importance of the empire. In 107, the eighth year of the reign of the emperor Trajan, he came to Antioch and forced the Christians to choose between apostasy and death. Saint Ignatius, who had already governed that church for forty years, continued to fortify it against apostasy, and did not flee. Arrested and brought before the emperor, the latter addressed him: “Who are you, poor devil, to set our commands at naught?” “Call not poor devil,” Ignatius answered, “one who bears God within him.” And when the emperor asked him what he meant by that, Ignatius explained that he bore in his heart Christ, crucified for his sake. “Change your ideas, and I will make you a priest of the great Jupiter, and you will be called ‘father’ by the Senate.” “What could such honors matter to me, a priest of Christ, who offer Him every day a sacrifice of praise, and am ready to offer myself to Him also?” “To whom? To that Jesus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate?” “Yes, and with whom sin was crucified, and the devil, its author, vanquished.”

The questions and the courageous replies continued for a time that day and also on the following one. Saint Ignatius said, “I will not sacrifice; I fear neither torments nor death, because I desire to go quickly to God.” Thereupon the emperor condemned him to be torn to pieces by wild beasts in Rome. Saint Ignatius blessed God, who had so honored him, “binding him in the same chains as Paul, His apostle.” When his people wept, he told them to place their hope in the sovereign Pastor, who never abandons His flock. On passing through the city of Smyrna, he exhorted the faithful, who were grieved at his fate, to remain true to Christ until death, and he gave some of them who were going to Rome a letter for the Christians of the capital of the Christian world. This letter is still extant. He writes: “I fear your charity, I fear you have an affection too human for me. You might prevent me from dying, but by so doing, you would oppose my happiness. Suffer me to be immolated while the altar is ready; give thanks to God… If when I arrive among you I should have the weakness to seem to have other sentiments, do not believe me; believe only what I am writing to you now.” This letter of Saint Ignatius has encouraged all generations of Christians in their combats.

He journeyed to Rome, guarded by soldiers, and with no fear but of losing the martyr’s crown. Three of his disciples, who accompanied him and were eyewitnesses of the spectacle, wrote the acts of his martyrdom: His face shining with joy, he reassured them as the lions were released, saying: “I am the wheat of Christ, I will be ground by the teeth of the beasts and made into flour to be a good bread for my Lord Jesus Christ!” He was devoured by lions in the Roman amphitheater. The wild beasts left nothing of his body except a few bones, which were reverently treasured at Antioch until their removal in the year 637 to the Church of Saint Clement in Rome. After the martyr’s death, several Christians saw him in vision, in prayer to Christ, and interceding for them.

Reflection. Ask Saint Ignatius to obtain for you the grace of profiting by all you have to suffer, and rejoicing in it as a means of likeness to your crucified Redeemer.

NYTimes: Trump creating Christian theocracy; Bishops: Trump against Christian faith

By Carl E. Olson, CWR

The New York Times and the U.S. bishops appear to have very different understandings of President Trump’s motivations, but do seem to arrive at an equally negative conclusion. First, here is Times’ editor David Leonhardt’s take, titled “Trump Flirts With Theocracy”:

Let’s not mince words. President Trump’s recent actions are an attempt to move the United States away from being the religiously free country that the founders created — and toward becoming an aggressively Christian country hostile to other religions. … On Friday afternoon, of course, Trump signed an executive order barring refugees and citizens of seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States. It was his way of making good on a campaign promise to ban Muslims from the country.

The order also said it would eventually give priority to religious minorities from these countries. And if anyone doubted who that meant, Trump gave an interview Friday to the Christian Broadcasting Network, explaining that its goal was indeed to help Christians. Fortunately, many Christian leaders are opposing the policy.

I expect that Trump’s attempts to undermine the First Amendment will ultimately fail. But they’re not guaranteed to fail. He is the president, and he has tremendous power.

The attempts will fail only if Americans work to defeat the White House’s flirtations with theocracy — as so many people began to do this weekend. This passionate, creative opposition may help explain Trump’s weakening of the ban on Sunday. Yet the struggle to defend American values is clearly going to be a long and difficult one.

The USCCB has now released a joint statement, signed by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, which states in part:

The bond between Christians and Muslims is founded on the unbreakable strength of charity and justice. The Second Vatican Council in Nostra Aetate urged us to sincerely work toward a mutual understanding that would “promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” The Church will not waiver in her defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.

The refugees fleeing from ISIS and other extremists are sacrificing all they have in the name of peace and freedom. Often, they could be spared if only they surrendered to the violent vision of their tormentors. They stand firm in their faith. Many are families, no different from yours or mine, seeking safety and security for their children. Our nation should welcome them as allies in a common fight against evil. We must screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm, but we must always be equally vigilant in our welcome of friends.

The Lord Jesus fled the tyranny of Herod, was falsely accused and then deserted by his friends. He had nowhere to lay His head (Lk. 9:58). Welcoming the stranger and those in flight is not one option among many in the Christian life. It is the very form of Christianity itself. Our actions must remind people of Jesus. The actions of our government must remind people of basic humanity. Where our brothers and sisters suffer rejection and abandonment we will lift our voice on their behalf. We will welcome them and receive them. They are Jesus and the Church will not turn away from Him. CONTINUE READING

Why St. Thomas Aquinas borders

by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

Every nation has the right to distinguish, by country of origin, who can migrate to it and apply appropriate immigration policies, according to the great medieval scholar and saint Thomas Aquinas.

In a surprisingly contemporary passage of his Summa Theologica, Aquinas noted that the Jewish people of Old Testament times did not admit visitors from all nations equally, since those peoples closer to them were more quickly integrated into the population than those who were not as close.

Some antagonistic peoples were not admitted at all into Israel due to their hostility toward the Jewish people.

The Law “prescribed in respect of certain nations that had close relations with the Jews,” the scholar noted, such as the Egyptians and the Idumeans, “that they should be admitted to the fellowship of the people after the third generation.”

Citizens of other nations “with whom their relations had been hostile,” such as the Ammonites and Moabites, “were never to be admitted to citizenship.” CONTINUE READING

St. John Bosco, C

SAINT JOHN BOSCO
Founder
(1815-1888)

Saint John Bosco accomplished what many people considered an impossibility; he walked through the streets of Turin, Italy, looking for the dirtiest, roughest urchins he could find, then made good men of them. His extraordinary success can be summed up in the words of his patron Saint, Francis de Sales: “The measure of his love was that he loved without measure.”

John’s knowledge of poverty was firsthand. He was born in 1815 in the village of Becchi in the Piedmont district of northern Italy, and reared on his parents’ small farm. When his father died, Margaret Bosco and her three sons found it harder than ever to support themselves, and while John was still a small boy he had to join his brothers in the farm work. Although his life was hard, he was a happy, imaginative child. Even as a boy, John found innocent fun compatible with religion. To amuse his friends he learned how to juggle and walk a tightrope; but he would entertain them only on condition that each performance begin and end with a prayer.

As he grew older, John began to think of becoming a priest, but poverty and lack of education made this seem impossible. A kindly priest recognized his intelligence, however, and gave him his first encouragement, teaching him to read and write. By taking odd jobs in the village, and through the help of his mother and some charitable neighbors, John managed to get through school and find admittance to the diocesan seminary of nearby Turin. As a seminarian he devoted his spare time to looking after the ragamuffins who roamed the slums of the city. Every Sunday he taught them catechism, supervised their games and entertained them with stories and tricks; before long his kindness had won their confidence, and his “Sunday School” became a ritual with them.

After his ordination in 1841, he became assistant to the chaplain of an orphanage at Valocco, on the outskirts of Turin. This position was short-lived, for when he insisted that his Sunday-school boys be allowed to play on the orphanage grounds, they were turned away, and he resigned. He began looking for a permanent home for them, but no “decent” neighborhood would accept the noisy crowd. At last, in a rather tumbledown section of the city, where no one was likely to protest, the first oratory was established and named for Saint Francis de Sales. At first the boys attended school elsewhere, but as more teachers volunteered their time, classes were held at the house. Enrollment increased so rapidly that by 1849 there were three oratories in various places in the city.

For a long time Don Bosco had considered founding an Order to carry on his work, and this idea was supported by a notoriously anticlerical cabinet minister named Rattazzi. Rattazzi had seen the results of his work, and although an Italian law forbade the founding of religious communities at that time, he promised government support. The founder-priest went to Rome in 1858 and, at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, drew up a Rule for his community, the Society of Saint Francis de Sales (Salesians). Four years later he founded an Order for women, theDaughters of Mary, Help of Christians, to care for abandoned girls. Finally, to supplement the work of both congregations, he organized an association of lay people interested in aiding their work.

Exhausted from touring Europe to raise funds for a new church in Rome, Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888. He was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI. The work of John Bosco continues today in over a thousand Salesian oratories throughout the world. No modern Saint has captured the heart of the world more rapidly than this smiling peasant-priest from Turin, who believed that to give complete trust and love is the most effective way to nourish virtue in others.

Why Koran readings in Anglican churches preoccupy the mighty

IS IT appropriate to read from the Koran during worship in a Christian church? This month, people close to America’s new head of state, and spiritual advisers to Britain’s long-standing one, have been forced to consider that question.
It started on January 6th at an Episcopal cathedral in Glasgow when a Muslim student was invited to read from her faith’s sacred text, and duly chanted verses from the Sura or chapter devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The chapter has certain similarities with the Christian narrative and also some striking differences: it asserts that Jesus cannot be the son of God because the idea of God having progeny makes no sense.

Critics argued that the reading was supremely inappropriate at an important service marking the feast of Epiphany, which celebrates the appearance of the son of God to the world. Not all critics were polite. The cathedral’s provost, Kelvin Holdsworth, reported receiving a torrent of abusive emails, accusing him of betraying the faith; police said they were investigating a possible hate crime.

The Scottish Episcopalians’ senior prelate cautiously defended Mr Holdsworth’s freedom of action. But the bishop added that the church was “deeply distressed” both by the offence caused and by the abuse which the provost, who is also a leading gay-rights activist, received in response.

The Koran reading was denounced by Michael Nazir Ali, a retired, Pakistani-born bishop of the Church of England, and prompted, at least indirectly, the resignation of one of Queen Elizabeth’s personal chaplains, Gavin Ashenden. He said he wanted to be freer to speak out against such blurring of the boundaries between faiths.  Soon after stepping down he declared that the Church of England (historically the mother church of all Anglican churches, including the Scottish one) was “dying” demographically and financially. CONTINUE READING