Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog: Martyr, Psalms 16, Acts 2:22-28, Luke 24:13-35, Pope Francis's Daily Catechesis, Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, Regnans in Excelsis, Religius History of the United Kingdom, Catholic Catechism Part Three: Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: Sixth Commandment Article 6:3 The Love of Husband and Wife

Sunday,  May 4, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog:

Martyr, Psalms 16, Acts 2:22-28, Luke 24:13-35, Pope Francis's Daily Catechesis, Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, Regnans in Excelsis, Religius History of the United Kingdom, Catholic Catechism Part Three:  Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: Sixth Commandment Article 6:3 The Love of Husband and Wife

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience, tranquility and of course, resolution. God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  Every living being experiences birth, life and death. We are human amassed with flaws but we also have the gifts of knowledge, reason and free will.  Make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone, the path to our eternal home in Heaven. Choose your earthly path wisely. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today:   Sunday in Easter

Rosary - Glorious Mysteries


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis Daily Catechesis:


(2014-05-02 Vatican Radio) 
In his homily at Holy Mass on Friday, 2 May, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Readings from the Acts of the Apostles (5:34-42) and the Gospel of John (6:1-15). His reflection focused on three icons which the Readings depict: the joy of Christian martyrs, Jesus' love for the people, and the hypocrisy of the religious leaders with all their political manoeuvring.

Reflecting on the presence of Christian martyrs in the world today, Pope Francis said: “Today there are many [martyrs]: consider that in several countries you are sent to prison only for carrying the Gospel! You cannot wear a cross, they will make you pay a fine! But their hearts are joyful”. The Pope noted that the icon of “the joy of testimony” unites the Apostles with the martyrs of today. Indeed, he said, we read in the Scriptures that when the Apostles were arrested and beaten, they were nonetheless full of joy at having borne witness to the Lord.

In the Gospel the Evangelist John recounts that “a great crowd” followed Jesus “because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased, who were possessed”. However, they also followed him in order to listen to him, “because the people said of him: this man speaks with authority! Not like the others, the doctors of the law, the Sadducees, all of these people who speak but without authority”. The latter “did not speak powerfully like Jesus … powerfully, not because Jesus cried out: he was strong in his meekness, in his love, he was strong in the gaze” with which he “looked upon the people with great love”. For strength is love: this is Jesus' authority and that is why “the people followed him”. 

The Pope noted that the day's Gospel passage shows “how Jesus loves the people” and “thinks about the people's hunger: 'The people who are here are hungry, how are we going to feed them?” Jesus “speaks, preaches, loves, accompanies, moves along with the people”, the Pontiff said. He is “meek and humble”. In fact, “when the people, caught up in the enthusiasm of seeing a person so good, who speaks with authority and loves them so much, they wanted to make him king, he stops them. And he tells them: no, not this! And he goes away”. In this way, Jesus truly helped the people.

Pope Francis then moved to day's first Reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, which portrays the disciples in the throes of “problems with the Sanhedrin, when the Sadducees take them into custody after the healing of a sick person”. After the healing, “the high priest with his supporters, i.e. the sect of the Sadducees, who were full of jealousy, captured the Apostles and threw them into the public prison”. However, the Pope added, “we know that the Angel enabled the Apostles to escape from prison”; and immediately they went to teach in the temple. The reaction of the high priest and his party at this point is to bring the Apostles before the Sanhedrin.

The Pope then said: “I would like to reflect a little on this phrase: full of jealousy. The were full of jealousy because “they could not tolerate the people following Jesus. They could not abide it” and that is why “they were jealous”. It is an ugly attitude, the Pope said: for jone passes from jealously to envy.

And yet, he continued, “these people knew well who Jesus was, they knew” because “they were the same people that had paid the guards to say that the Apostles had stolen the body of Jesus. They paid to silence the truth”. And “when we pay to hide the truth, we are involved in great evil”. The people also knew who these people were and they did not follow them. Rather, “they tolerated them because they had authority: authority over worship, authority over the ecclesiastical discipline at the time, authority over the people”. 

“The people followed Jesus”, who said clearly to those in power that they were “laying oppressive burdens on the faithful”. The powerful do not tolerate Jesus' meekness, they do not tolerate the meekness of the Gospel, they do not tolerate love and they ultimately pay [to silence the truth] out of envy, out of hate.

We ought to compare these two icons, the Pope remarked. The icon of Jesus who felt compassion for the people; for as the Gospel says he looked upon the people “as sheep without a shepherd”; and the icon of “these others with their political manoeuvring, with their ecclesiastical manoeuvring to dominate the people”. 

We see this attitude repeated in the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope explained. “When they had called in the Apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak the name of Jesus, and let them go”. In short, the Pope noted, “they had to do something” and so they decided “we will give them a good beating and then send them home!”.

They committed an injustice because they considered themselves “masters of consciences” and “they felt they had the power to do so”. Pope Francis added: “today, too, there are many people like this in the world”.

The Pope then confided that he wept at the news of “Christians who have been crucified in a certain non-Christian country”. He stated that “even today there are people who murder and persecute others in the name of God”. However, “today there are also people” who, with the same attitude as the Apostles, “leave the presence of the council, rejoicing that they are counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name of Jesus”.
This, he said, is today's “third icon”: “the joy of bearing witness”. It is the icon of Christians who say: “We have borne witness to Jesus, we rejoice that we have been counted worthy to suffer dishonour at the name of Jesus”.

These three icons ought to be considered closely, the Pope said, since they pertain to the central question of the “history of salvation”. Pope Francis concluded his homily once again setting forth these three icons: “Jesus with the people”; “the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the people who imprisoned the people with so many commandments, with cold, hard legality; and who also paid to hide the truth”; and the “joy of Christian martyrs, the joy of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout history who have felt this joy, this gladness at being counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name of Jesus”.

Reference: Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 05/02/2014


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope:  2105

Vatican City, spring 2014 (VIS)

The following is the English text of the intentions – both universal and for evangelization – that, as is customary, the Pope entrusted to the Apostleship of Prayer for 2015. 

Universal: That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will work together for peace.
Evangelization: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.

Universal: That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.

Universal: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.

Universal: That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.
Evangelization: That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church.

Universal: That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary’s intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.

Universal: That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.

Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.

Universal: That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.
Evangelization: That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.

Universal: That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.
Evangelization: That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.

Universal: That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.

Universal: That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.
Evangelization: That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.

Universal: That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving.
Evangelization: That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.

  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 05/4/2014.


November 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children; Anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you to love; to continually pray for the gift of love; to love the Heavenly Father above everything. When you love Him you will love yourself and your neighbor. This cannot be separated. The Heavenly Father is in each person. He loves each person and calls each person by his name. Therefore, my children, through prayer hearken to the will of the Heavenly Father. Converse with Him. Have a personal relationship with the Father which will deepen even more your relationship as a community of my children – of my apostles. As a mother I desire that, through the love for the Heavenly Father, you may be raised above earthly vanities and may help others to gradually come to know and come closer to the Heavenly Father. My children, pray, pray, pray for the gift of love because 'love' is my Son. Pray for your shepherds that they may always have love for you as my Son had and showed by giving His life for your salvation. Thank you."

October 25, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:  “Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Prayer works miracles in you and through you. Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for Satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches. Little children, decide for God anew and seek only His will – and then you will find joy and peace in Him. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

October 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children, I love you with a motherly love and with a motherly patience I wait for your love and unity. I pray that you may be a community of God’s children, of my children. I pray that as a community you may joyfully come back to life in the faith and in the love of my Son. My children, I am gathering you as my apostles and am teaching you how to bring others to come to know the love of my Son; how to bring to them the Good News, which is my Son. Give me your open, purified hearts and I will fill them with the love for my Son. His love will give meaning to your life and I will walk with you. I will be with you until the meeting with the Heavenly Father. My children, it is those who walk towards the Heavenly Father with love and faith who will be saved. Do not be afraid, I am with you. Put your trust in your shepherds as my Son trusted when he chose them, and pray that they may have the strength and the love to lead you. Thank you." - See more at:

Today's Word:  martyr  mar·tyr  [mahr-ter]  

Origin:  before 900;  (noun) Middle English marter, Old English martyr  < Late Latin  < Late Greek mártyr,  variant of Greek mártys, mártyros  witness; (v.) Middle English martiren, Old English martyrian,  derivative of noun

1. a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
2. a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: a martyr to the cause of social justice.
3. a person who undergoes severe or constant suffering: a martyr to severe headaches.
4. a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.
verb (used with object)
5. to make a martyr of, especially by putting to death.
6. to torment or torture.


Today's Old Testament Reading -    Psalms 16:1-11

1 [In a quiet voice Of David] Protect me, O God, in you is my refuge.
2 To Yahweh I say, 'You are my Lord, my happiness is in none
5 My birthright, my cup is Yahweh; you, you alone, hold my lot secure.
7 I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor, even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep Yahweh before me always, for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me.
9 So my heart rejoices, my soul delights, my body too will rest secure,
10 for you will not abandon me to Sheol, you cannot allow your faithful servant to see the abyss.
11 You will teach me the path of life, unbounded joy in your presence, at your right hand delight for ever.


Today's Epistle -   Acts 2:14, 22-28

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed them in a loud voice: 'Men of Judaea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, make no mistake about this, but listen carefully to what I say.
22 'Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you know.
23 This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified and killed by men outside the Law.
24 But God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since,
25 as David says of him: I kept the Lord before my sight always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
26 So my heart rejoiced my tongue delighted; my body, too, will rest secure,
27 for you will not abandon me to Hades or allow your holy one to see corruption.
28 You have taught me the way of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence.


Today's Gospel Reading -  Luke 24:13-35

On the Road to Emmaus
Looking for the key to an understanding of the Scriptures
Luke 24, 13-35

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to guide the reading:

Let us read the text where Luke presents Jesus as interpreting the Scriptures. As we read, let us seek to discover the various steps taken by Jesus in the process of this interpretation, from the moment he meets the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, to the time the disciples meet with the community in Jerusalem.

b) A division of the text to assist a careful reading:

Lk 24,13-24: Jesus tries to find out what it is that is making the two disciples distressed.
Lk 24,25-27: Jesus sheds the light of Scripture on the situation of the two disciples.
Lk 24,28-32: Jesus shares the bread and celebrates with the disciples.
Lk 24,33-35: The two disciples go to Jerusalem and share their experience of the resurrection with the community.

c) The text:

13-24: Now that very same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. And it happened that as they were talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but their eyes were prevented from recognising him. He said to them, 'What are all these things that you are discussing as you walk along?' They stopped, their faces downcast. Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, 'You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.' He asked, 'What things?' They answered, 'All about Jesus of Nazareth, who showed himself a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have now gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they could not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.'

25-27: Then he said to them, 'You foolish men! So slow to believe all that the prophets have said! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into his glory?' Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

28-32: When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them saying, 'It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over.' So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?'

33-35: They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, 34 who said to them, 'The Lord has indeed risen and has appeared to Simon.' 35 Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life. 


4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What part did you like best in this text? Why?
b) What steps did Jesus take in interpreting the Scriptures from the time he met the two friends on the road up to the time the disciples went to the community in Jerusalem?
c) In what manner of situation does Jesus meet the two disciples?
d) What are the similarities and the differences between our present situation and that of the two disciples? What factors create a crisis of faith in our day and are the cause of sadness?
e) What was the effect of Jesus’ reading of the Bible on the life of the two disciples?
f) Which points in the interpretation made by Jesus are a critique of our way of reading the Bible, and which are a confirmation?

5. A key to the reading for those who wish to go deeper into the text.

a) The context in which Luke is writing:
* Luke is writing in about the year 85 for the Greek community of Asia Minor, who were living in difficult circumstances, due to factors both external and internal. Internally, there were divergent tendencies that made life together difficult: ex-Pharisees who wanted to impose the law of Moses (Acts 15,1); those who followed John the Baptist more and who had not even heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19,1-6); Jews who used the name of Jesus to drive out demons (Acts 19,13); and those who said they were followers of Peter, others of Paul, others of Apollo, and others of Christ (1Cor 1,12). Externally, persecution by the Roma Empire was growing (Ap 1,9-10; 2,3.10.13; 6,9-10; 12,16) plus the insidious infiltration of the dominant ideology of the Empire and of the official religion, much the same way communism today infiltrates all aspects of our life (Ap 2,14.20; 13,14-16).

* Luke is writing to these communities that he may give them a sure direction in the midst of their difficulties and so that they may find the strength and light in living out their faith in Jesus. Luke writes a two volume work: the Gospel and the Acts, and he has the same general aim, "to learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received" (Lk 1,4). One of his specific aims is to show, through the beautiful story of the two disciples from Emmaus, how the community ought to read and interpret the Bible. In reality, those walking the streets of Emmaus were the communities (and all of us). Each of us is and all of us together are companions of Cleophas (Lk 24,18). With him we walk the streets of life, seeking a word of support and of guidance in the Word of God.

* The way Luke narrates the meeting of Jesus with the disciples from Emmaus, tells us how the communities of his time used the Bible and practised what we today call the Lectio Divina or Prayerful Reading of the Bible. They used three aspects or steps in interpreting the Bible:

b) The steps or aspects used in the process of interpreting the Scriptures:
First step: Start from facts (Lk 24,13-24):
Jesus meets the two friends who are experiencing feelings of fear and dispersion, of lack of trust and dismay. They were fleeing. The force of death, the cross, had killed in them all hope. Jesus approaches them and walks with them. He listens to their conversation and says: "What matters are you discussing as you walk along?" The prevailing ideology prevents them from understanding and having a critical conscience. "Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free, but…" (Lk 24,21). What do those who suffer talk about today? What matters today put our faith in a state of crisis?

The first step is this: to approach people, listen to reality, problems; be capable of asking questions that help to look at reality more critically.

Second step: Make use of the Bible (Lk 24,25-27)
Jesus uses the Bible, not in order to give lessons on the Bible, but to shed light on the problem worrying the two friends, and thus shed light on the situation they were experiencing. With the help of the Bible, Jesus leads the two disciples into God’s plan and shows them that God has not allowed history to go astray. Jesus does not use the Bible as an expert who knows everything, but as a companion who wishes to help his friends to remember things they had forgotten, namely, Moses and the Prophets. Jesus does not give his friends the feeling of being ignorant, but seeks to create an ambient within which they can remember and thus arouse their memory.

The second step is this: with the help of the Bible, to shed light on the situation and transform the cross, symbol of death, into a symbol of life and of hope. In this manner, that which prevents us from seeing, becomes light and strength along our way.

Third step: Celebrating and sharing in community (Lk 24,28-32)
The Bible alone does not open their eyes but makes their hearts burn! (Lk 24,32). That which opens the eyes of the friends and allows them to discover the presence of Jesus is the sharing of the bread, the communitarian gesture, the celebration. As soon as they recognise Jesus, he disappears. And they then experience the resurrection, they are reborn and walk on their own. Jesus does not take over his friends’ journey. He is not paternalistic. Now that they are risen, the disciples can walk on their own two feet.

The third step is this: we must know how to create a prayerful and fraternal atmosphere where the Spirit is free to act. It is the Spirit who allows us to discover and experience the Word of God in our lives and leads us to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words (Jn 14,26; 16,13). It is especially at this point of the celebration that the practice of basic ecclesial communities, sustained by the margins of the world, help us religious once more to come across and drink from the ancient well of Tradition.

Aim: To rise and go towards Jerusalem (Lk 24,33-35)
Everything has changed in the two disciples. They themselves rise, regain courage and go back to Jerusalem, where the forces of death that killed Jesus are still at work, but where also there are the forces of life in the sharing of the experience of the resurrection. Courage in place of fear. Return in place of flight. Faith in place of its absence. Hope in place of despair. A critical conscience in place of fatalism before power. Freedom in place of oppression. In a word, life in place of death! And in place of the news of the death of Jesus, the Good News of his Resurrection!

This is the aim of reading the Bible: to experience the presence of Jesus and of his Spirit in our midst. It is the Spirit who opens our eyes to the Bible and to reality and draws us to share the experience of the Resurrection, as it is true even to this day, in community meetings.

c) The new way of Jesus: a prayerful reading of the Bible:
* Often, it is not possible to understand whether the use of the OT in the Gospels comes from Jesus or an explanation given by early Christians who sought to express their faith in Jesus in this way. However, what cannot be denied is the frequent and constant use of the Bible by Jesus. A simple reading of the Gospels shows us that Jesus found his bearings in the Scriptures in the performance of his mission and in instructing his disciples and the crowd.

* At the root of Jesus’ reading of the Bible is his experience of God as Father. His intimate relationship with the Father gives Jesus a new criterion, which places him in direct contact with the author of the Bible. Jesus looks for meaning at the very source. He does not go from the writings to their root, but from the root to the writings. The comparison of the photo, as described in the Lectio Divina of Easter Sunday, helps us to shed light on this topic. As by a miracle, the photo of the harsh face was lit up and acquired traits of great tenderness. The words, born of the lived experience of the son, transformed everything, without changing anything (see Lectio Divina for Easter Sunday).

* Thus, looking through the photos of the Old Testament, people in the time of Jesus, formed an idea of a very distant God, harsh, difficult to contact, whose name could not even be mouthed. But Jesus’ words and actions, born of his experience as Son, without changing even one word (Mt 5,18-19), transformed the whole meaning of the Old Testament. The God who seemed to be so distant and harsh acquires the features of a Father full of tenderness, always present, ready to welcome and liberate! This Good News of God, communicated by Jesus, is the new key to a re-reading of the whole of the Old Testament. The New Testament is a re-reading of the Old Testament done in the light of the new experience of God, revealed by Jesus. This different way of shedding light on life in the light of the Word of God, creates for him many conflicts, because it renders the small of this world critical, while it makes the great uncomfortable.

* When interpreting the Bible to the people, Jesus revealed the traits of God’s face, the experience that he experienced of God as Father. To reveal God as Father was the source and aim of the Good News of Jesus. By his attitude, Jesus manifests God’s love for his disciples. He reveals the Father and incarnates his love! Jesus was able to say, "To have seen me is to have seen the Father" (Jn 14,9). Hence, the Father’s Spirit was also with Jesus (Lk 4,18) and went with him everywhere, from the incarnation (Lk 1,35) to the beginning of his mission (Lk 4,14), even to the end, his death and resurrection (Acts 1,8).

* Jesus, interpreter, educator and master, was a meaningful person in the life of his disciples. He influenced their lives forever. To interpret the Bible does not mean just to teach truth for the other to live by. The content that Jesus wished to convey was not limited to words, but included actions and his way of relating to people. The content is never separate from the person who communicates it. The goodness and love that emerge from his words are part of the content. They are his nature. Good content without goodness is like spilt milk.

6. Psalm 23 (22)

God is our inheritance forever
I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou prepares a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  40 Martyrs of England and Wales 

The Forty Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation are men and women who died for the Roman Catholic faith in the years of persecution between 1534 and 1680. Certain of them have officially been recognised as martyrs by the Catholic Church.

Catholics in England and Wales were executed under treason laws. In 25 February 1570 the "Regnans in Excelsis" papal bull excommunicated both the English Queen Elizabeth I and any who obeyed her. This papal bull also required all Roman Catholics to rebel against the Crown. In response in 1571 legislation was enacted making it treasonable to be under the authority of the Pope, including being Jesuit, being Roman Catholic or harbouring a Catholic priest. The standard penalty for all those convicted of treason at the time was execution by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

As early as the reign of Pope Gregory XIII (1572–85), authorisation was given for 63 recognised martyrs to have their relics honoured and pictures painted for devotion. These martyrs were formally beatified by Pope Leo XIII, 54 in 1886 and the remaining nine in 1895.  Forty are considered by the Catholic Church to be Christian martyrs and were canonized on 25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Decrees of Elizabeth I

During the reign of Mary I, the Papal authority was officially reinstated and many Protestants were martyred. After Elizabeth I's accession to the throne, the Act of Supremacy 1558 was enacted denying Papal authority but it was not until more than a decade later in February 1570 that Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth and any who obeyed her and called on all Roman Catholics to rebel. The additional threat of invasion by a Catholic country assisted by English subjects led the Crown to try to stamp out Catholicism with repressive measures.. Elizabeth I's government passed anti-Catholic decrees in 1571: forbidding anyone from maintaining the jurisdiction of the pope by word, deed or act; requiring use of the Book of Common Prayer in all cathedrals, churches and chapels, and forbidding criticism of it; forbidding the publication of any bull, writing or instrument of the Holy See (the death penalty was assigned to this); and, prohibiting the importing of Agnus Dei images, crosses, pictures, beads or other things from the Bishop of Rome.

Later laws made the following activities illegal: to draw anyone away from the state religion; non-attendance at a Church of England church; raising children with teachers that were not licensed by an Anglican diocesan bishop; and, attending or celebrating the Catholic Mass.

In 1585 a new decree was issued that made it a crime punishable by death to go overseas to receive the sacrament of Ordination to the Catholic priesthood. Nicholas Devereux (who went by the alias of Nicholas Woodfen) and Edward Barber (see below Edward Stransham) were both put to death in 1586 under this law. William Thompson and Richard Lea (see below Richard Sergeant) were hanged, disembowelled and quartered under the same law. In 1588, eight priests and six laymen at Newgate were condemned and executed under this law.

Canonization process

Following beatifications between 1886 and 1929, there were already numerous martyrs from England and Wales recognised with the rank of Blessed. The bishops of the province identified a list of 40 further names; reasons given for the choice of those particular names include a spread of social status, religious rank, geographical spread and the pre-existence of popular devotion. The list of names was submitted to Rome in December 1960, and Catholics began to pray specifically to this group of martyrs to obtain favours from God. Out of 20 candidate cases for recognition as answered prayers, the cure of a young mother from a malignant tumour was selected as the clearest case. Pope Paul VI granted permission for the whole group of 40 names to be recognised as saints on the strength of this one miracle. The canonization ceremony took place in Rome on 25 October 1970.[1]

The martyrs

  • Saint John Almond
  • Saint Edmund Arrowsmith
  • Saint Ambrose Barlow
  • Saint John Boste
  • Saint Alexander Briant
  • Saint Edmund Campion
  • Saint Margaret Clitherow
  • Saint Philip Evans
  • Saint Thomas Garnet
  • Saint Edmund Gennings
  • Saint Richard Gwyn
  • Saint John Houghton
  • Saint Philip Howard
  • Saint John Jones
  • Saint John Kemble
  • Saint Luke Kirby
  • Saint Robert Lawrence
  • Saint David Lewis
  • Saint Anne Line
  • Saint John Lloyd
  • Saint Cuthbert Mayne
  • Saint Henry Morse
  • Saint Nicholas Owen
  • Saint John Payne
  • Saint Polydore Plasden
  • Saint John Plessington
  • Saint Richard Reynolds
  • Saint John Rigby
  • Saint John Roberts
  • Saint Alban Roe
  • Saint Ralph Sherwin
  • Saint John Southworth
  • Saint Robert Southwell
  • Saint John Stone
  • Saint John Wall
  • Saint Henry Walpole
  • Saint Margaret Ward
  • Saint Augustine Webster
  • Saint Swithun Wells
  • Saint Eustace White

Liturgical feast day

In England, these martyrs were formerly commemorated within the Catholic Church by a feast day on 25 October, which is also the feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, but they are now celebrated together with all the 242 recognised beatified martyrs on 4 May.[2]

In Wales, the Catholic Church keeps 25 October as the feast of the 'Six Welsh Martyrs and their companions'. The Welsh Martyrs are the priests Philip Evans and John Lloyd, John Jones, David Lewis, John Roberts, and the teacher Richard Gwyn.[3] The 'companions' are the 34 English Martyrs listed above. Wales continues to keep 4 May as a separate feast for the Beatified martyrs of England and Wales.[4]


  1. ^ Malcolm Pullan (30 April 2008). The Lives and Times of Forty Martyrs of England and Wales 1535 - 1680. Athena Press. pp. xvii–xxii. ISBN 978-1-84748-258-7. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  2. ^ National Calendar for England, Liturgy Office for England and Wales, accessed 31 July 2011
  3. ^ National Calendar for Wales, Liturgy Office for England and Wales, accessed 31 July 2011
  4. ^ Ordo for Wales, Diocese of Menevia, accessed 11 August 2011



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Today's Snippet I: Regnans in Excelsis

Pope Pius V
Queen Elizabeth I
Regnans in Excelsis ("reigning on high") was a papal bull issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime" to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her, even when they had "sworn oaths to her", and excommunicating any that obeyed her orders.[1]

"We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication."

The bull, written in Latin, is named from its incipit, the first three words of its text, which mean "ruling from on high" (a reference to God).[2] Among the queen's offences, "She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics."

The Papacy had previously reconciled with Mary I, who returned the Church of England to Catholicism. After Mary's death in November 1558, Elizabeth's Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy of 1559, which re-established the Church of England’s independence from papal authority. This bull can be seen as an act of retaliation for the religious settlement, but as it was delayed by eleven years it was most likely instigated by pressure from Philip II of Spain, the Duke of Norfolk or Mary, Queen of Scots, all of whom had a vested interest in overthrowing Elizabeth. The delay was caused in part by a number of royal Catholic suitors who hoped to marry Elizabeth, and because she had tolerated Catholic worship in private. The Bull was issued in support of, but following, the 1569 "Northern Rebellion" in England, and the first Desmond Rebellion in Ireland, with foreign Catholic support, and hardened her opinion against her landowning Catholic subjects.

Aftermath of the bull

The bull provoked the English government into taking more repressive actions against the Jesuits, whom they feared to be acting in the interests of Spain and the papacy. This reaction soon seemed justified: it was the publication in England of Pius's exhortation that gave the impetus to the Ridolfi plot, in which the Duke of Norfolk was to kidnap or murder Queen Elizabeth, install Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne and then become de facto king by marrying her.[3]

Suspension 1580–84

At the request of the Jesuits and to relieve the pressures on Catholics in England, Pope Gregory XIII issued a clarification or suspension in 1580, explaining that Catholics should obey the queen outwardly in all civil matters, until such time as a suitable opportunity presented itself for her overthrow.[4] Soon after the start of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) an English Act "against Jesuits, seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons" was passed into law.

Renewal in 1588

In 1588 Pope Sixtus V, in support of the Spanish Armada, renewed the solemn bull of excommunication against Queen Elizabeth I, for the regicide of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587 as well as the previously catalogued offences against the Catholic Church.[5] During the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada, it transpired that most of the Catholic residents in England remained loyal, and that those who were a real threat to the throne, like William Cardinal Allen and Robert Parsons, were already exiles.

While the Bull had little impact in England, it caused a rift in Elizabeth's Kingdom of Ireland where most of the population remained Roman Catholic; Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond had used the Bull as justification for the second Desmond Rebellion.[6] While divisions had existed before 1570, after the Bull the official world based in Dublin conformed to Anglicanism while the majority of the Parliament of Ireland were Catholics until 1613.[7]


  1. McGrath, Patrick (1967). Papists and Puritans under Elizabeth I. Poole, England: Blandford Press. p. 69.
  2. Text of Regnans in excelsis, 1570.
  3. Haynes, Alan (2004). Walsingham: Elizabethan Spymaster and Statesman. Stroud, England: Sutton Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 0-7509-3122-1.
  4. P. J. Corish, "The origins of Catholic nationalism", part 8, vol. III, pp 15-18, in "The History of Irish Catholicism" (Dublin, 1967)
  5. Text of Sixtus V's 1588 Bull against Queen Elizabeth in support of the Armada
  6. Canny, Nicholas P. (2001). Making Ireland British, 1580-1650. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-19-925905-4.
  7. MacCurtain M., Tudor and Stuart Ireland Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 1972



Today's Snippet II:  Religious History the United Kingdom

Fourth century Chi-Rho fresco from Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent, which contains the only known Christian paintings from the Roman era in Britain.[1]
The religious history of  the United Kingdom and in the countries that preceded it has been dominated, for over 1,400 years, by various forms of Christianity. According to the national census, a majority of citizens identify with Christianity, although regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the twentieth century, and immigration and demographic change have contributed to the growth of other faiths.

Religious affiliations of United Kingdom citizens are recorded by regular surveys, the four major ones being the UK Census, the Labour Force Survey, the British Social Attitudes survey and the European Social Survey. According to the 2011 UK census, Christianity is the major religion, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in terms of number of adherents. This, and the relatively large number of individuals with nominal or no religious affiliations, has led commentators to variously describe the United Kingdom as a multi-faith, secularised, or post-Christian society.

The United Kingdom was formed by the union of previously independent countries from 1707, and consequently most of the largest religious groups do not have UK-wide organisational structures. While some groups have separate structures for the individual countries of the United Kingdom, others may have a single structure covering England and Wales or Great Britain. Similarly, due to the relatively recent creation of Northern Ireland in 1921, most major religious groups in Northern Ireland are organised on an all-Ireland basis.


Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, England
Pre-Roman forms of religion in Britain included various forms of ancestor worship and paganism.[2] Little is known about the details of such religions. Forms of Christianity have dominated religious life in what is now the United Kingdom for over 1,400 years. It was introduced by the Romans to what is now England, Wales, and Southern Scotland. The doctrine of Pelagianism, declared heretical in the Council of Carthage of 418, originated with a British-born ascetic, Pelagius.

The Anglo-Saxon invasions briefly re-introduced paganism in the 5th and 6th centuries; Christianity was again brought to Great Britain by Roman Catholic and Iro-Scottish missionaries in the course of the 7th century (see Anglo-Saxon Christianity).[3] Insular Christianity as it stood between the 6th and 8th centuries retained some idiosyncrasies in terms of liturgy and calendar, but it had been nominally united with Roman Christianity since at least the Synod of Whitby of 664. Still in the Anglo-Saxon period, the archbishops of Canterbury established a tradition of receiving their pallium from Rome to symbolize the authority of the Pope.

Roman Catholicism remained the dominant form of Christianity throughout the Middle Ages, but the (Anglican) Church of England became the independent established church in England and Wales from 1534 as part of the Protestant English Reformation.[4] It retains a representation in the UK Parliament and the British monarch is its Supreme Governor.[5]

In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, established in a separate Scottish Reformation in the sixteenth century, is recognised as the national church. It is not subject to state control, and the British monarch is an ordinary member, required to swear an oath to "maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government" upon his or her accession.[6][7]

The adherence to Roman Catholicism continued at various levels in different parts of Britain and most strongly in Ireland and would expand in Great Britain, partly due to Irish immigration in the nineteenth century.[8]

Particularly from the mid-seventeenth century, forms of Protestant nonconformity, including Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, and, later, Methodists, grew outside of the established church.[9] The (Anglican) Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920 and, as the (Anglican) Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1870 before the partition of Ireland, there is no established church in Northern Ireland.[10]
The Jews in England were expulsed in 1290 and only emancipated in the 19th century. British Jews had numbered fewer than 10,000 in 1800, but after 1881, around 120,000 Russian Jews settled permanently in Britain.[11]

The substantial Immigration to the United Kingdom since the 1920s has contributed to the growth of foreign faiths, especially of Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism,[12] in the case of Islam causing the societal problems familiar from western Europe in general, including lack of integration, extremism and terrorism, and an anti-Islamic backlash on the part of the non-Muslim majority population. Buddhism in the United Kingdom experienced growth partly due to immigration and partly due to conversion (especially when including Secular Buddhism).[13]

As elsewhere in the western world, religious demographics have become part of the discourse on multiculturalism, with Britain variously described as a post-Christian society,[14] as "multi-faith",[15] or as secularised.[16

Main religious leaders

  • The Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York below her.
  • The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland presides over the annual Assembly, but does not lead, the Church of Scotland
  • The Primus of Scotland is the presiding bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
  • The Orthodox Church coordinates its activities and life across several jurisdictions through the Assembly of Bishops of the British Isles; the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain presiding.
  • The Archbishop of Westminster is the leader of the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales
  • The de facto head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is the most senior archbishop of Archbishop and Metropolitan of St Andrews and Edinburg.
  • The Primate of All Ireland exercises his ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland
  • The Archbishop of Wales is one of the six diocesan bishops of the Church in Wales, chosen by his colleagues to hold the higher designation in addition to his own diocese
  • The Chief Rabbi is the title of the leader of Orthodox Judaism in the Commonwealth.
  • The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland presides over, but does not lead, the Church.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by the Europe Area Presidency.


  1. "From Paganism to Christianity," Lullinstone Roman Villa, English Heritage, accessed 15 June 2012.
  2. Sacred Nation, BBC Radio 4 documentary
  3. Cannon, John, ed. (2nd edn., 2009). A Dictionary of British History. Oxford University Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-19-955037-9.
  4. The History of the Church of England. The Church of England. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  5. "Queen and Church of England". British Monarchy Media Centre. Archived from the original on 8 October 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
  6. "Queen and the Church". The British Monarchy (Official Website). Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
  7. "How we are organised". Church of Scotland. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
  8. G. Parsons, Religion in Victorian Britain: Traditions (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), ISBN 0-7190-2511-7, p. 156.
  9. G. Parsons, Religion in Victorian Britain: Traditions (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), ISBN 0-7190-2511-7, p. 71.
  10. Weller, Paul (2005). Time for a Change: Reconfiguring Religion, State, and Society. London: Continuum. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-567-08487-6.
  11. The Jews, A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1: Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, The Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes to 1870, Private Education from Sixteenth Century (1969), pp. 149–51 Date accessed: 16 January 2007
  12. Yilmaz, Ihsan (2005). Muslim Laws, Politics and Society in Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms in England, Turkey, and Pakistan. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 55–6. ISBN 0-7546-4389-1.
  13. in the 2011 UK census, 178,453 people in England and Wales identified as Buddhist, of whom 59,040 identified as ethnically white, 34,354 Chinese, and 13,919 Asian.
  14. Fergusson, David (2004). Church, State and Civil Society. Cambridge University Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-521-52959-X.
  15. Brown, Callum G. (2006). Religion and Society in Twentieth-Century Britain. Harlow: Pearson Education. p. 291. ISBN 0-582-47289-X.
  16. Norris, Pippa; Inglehart, Ronald (2004). Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0-521-83984-X.


Catholic Catechism 

Part Three:  Life in Christ 

Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter Two:  Sixth Commandment 

 Article 6:3 The Love of Husband and Wife



Jesus said to his disciples: "Love one another as I have loved you."1 Jn 13:34
2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' the second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."2 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28
The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."3 Rom 13:8-10

Article 6
You shall not commit adultery.EX 20:14; Deut 5:18.
You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery."
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Mt 5:27-28

III. The Love of Husband and Wife
2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

2361 "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."142

Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, "Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety." So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying, "Blessed are you, O God of our fathers.... You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve as a helper and support. From the two of them the race of mankind has sprung. You said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.' I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together." and they both said, "Amen, Amen." Then they went to sleep for the night.143

2362 "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude."144 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.145

2363 The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

Conjugal fidelity
2364 The married couple forms "the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent."146 Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. the covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble.147 "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."148

2365 Fidelity expresses constancy in keeping one's given word. God is faithful. the Sacrament of Matrimony enables man and woman to enter into Christ's fidelity for his Church. Through conjugal chastity, they bear witness to this mystery before the world.

St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say to their wives: I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.... I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.149

The fecundity of marriage
2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which "is on the side of life"150 teaches that "each and every marriage act must remain open 'per se' to the transmission of life."151 "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."152

2367 Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God.153 "Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility."154

2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.155

2369 "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood."156

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.157 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:158

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.... the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.159

2371 "Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of transmitting it are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full significance can be understood only in reference to man's eternal destiny."160

2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens' well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. the state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children.161 It is not authorized to intervene in this area with means contrary to the moral law.

The gift of a child
2373 Sacred Scripture and the Church's traditional practice see in large families a sign of God's blessing and the parents' generosity.162

2374 Couples who discover that they are sterile suffer greatly. "What will you give me," asks Abraham of God, "for I continue childless?"163 and Rachel cries to her husband Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!"164

2375 Research aimed at reducing human sterility is to be encouraged, on condition that it is placed "at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God."165

2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other."166

2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. the act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."167 "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union .... Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."168

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. the "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception."169

2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord's Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.

142 FC 11.
143 Tob 8:4-9.
144 GS 49 # 2.
145 Pius XII, Discourse, October 29,1951.
146 GS 48 # 1.
147 Cf. CIC, can. 1056.
148 Mk 109; cf. Mt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7: 10-11.
149 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Eph. 20, 8: PG 62, 146-147.
150 FC 30.
151 HV 11.
152 HV 12; cf. Pius XI, encyclical, Casti connubii.
153 Cf. Eph 3:14; Mt 23:9.
154 GS 50 # 2.
155 GS 51 # 3.
156 Cf. HV 12.
157 HV 16.
158 HV 14.
159 FC 32.
160 GS 51 # 4.
161 Cf. HV 23; PP 37.
162 Cf. GS 50 # 2.
163 Gen 15:2.
164 Gen 30:1.
165 CDF, Donum vitae intro., 2.
166 CDF, Donum vitae II, 1.
167 CDF, Donum vitae II, 5.
168 CDF, Donum vitae II, 4.
169 CDF, Donum vitae II, 8.