Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015 - Litany Lane Blog: Stewardship, Deuteronomy 4:1-8, Psalms 15, Mark 7:1-23, Pope Francis's Encyclical for First World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Hymn of the Week - In The Midst of Angels, Our Lady of Medjugorje's Monthly Message, Feast of Saint Monica, Audio Book on Life of Saint Monica , Mystical City of God Book 4 Chapter 5 & 6 Adoration of the Magi, Catholic Catechism - The Profession of Faith Chapter 3 Article 9, Paragraph 3 - I Believe In Holy Catholic Church, RECHARGE: Heaven Speaks to Young Adults

Sunday,  August 30, 2015 - Litany Lane Blog:

Stewardship, Deuteronomy 4:1-8, Psalms 15, Mark 7:1-23, Pope Francis's Encyclical for First World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Hymn of the Week - In The Midst of Angels, Our Lady of Medjugorje's Monthly Message, Feast of Saint Monica, Audio Book on Life of Saint Monica , Mystical City of God Book 4 Chapter 5 & 6 Adoration of the Magi, Catholic Catechism - The Profession of Faith Chapter 3 Article 9, Paragraph 3 - I Believe In Holy Catholic Church,  RECHARGE: Heaven Speaks to Young Adults

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). A remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience, tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7. ~ Zarya Parx 2015

"Where there is a Will, With God, There is a Way", "There is always a ray of sunshine amongst the darkest Clouds, the name of that ray is Jesus" ~ Zarya Parx 2014

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge, reason and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. 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:  22th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Hymn of the Week

In The Midst of Angels
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Our Lady of Medjugorje Monthly Messages

August 25, 2015 message form our Lady of Medjugorje: 

“Dear children! Also today I am calling you to be prayer. May prayer be for you the wings for an encounter with God. The world is in a moment of trial, because it forgot and abandoned God. Therefore you, little children, be those who seek and love God above all. I am with you and I am leading you to my Son, but you must say your ‘yes’ in the freedom of children of God. I intercede for you and I love you, little children, with an endless love. Thank you for having responded to my call.” ~ Blessed Mother Mary

August 2, 2015 message form our Lady of Medjugorje:
Dear children, I, as a mother who loves her children, see how difficult the time in which you live is. I see your suffering, but you need to know that you are not alone. My Son is with you. He is everywhere. He is invisible, but you can see Him if you live Him. He is the light which illuminates your soul and gives you peace. He is the Church which you need to love and to always pray and fight for - but not only with words, instead with acts of love. My children, bring it about for everyone to come to know my Son, bring it about that He may be loved, because the truth is in my Son born of God - the Son of God. Do not waste time deliberating too much; you will distance yourselves from the truth. With a simple heart accept His word and live it. If you live His word, you will pray. If you live His word, you will love with a merciful love; you will love each other. The more that you will love, the farther away you will be from death. For those who will live the word of my Son and who will love, death will be life. Thank you.  Pray to be able to see my Son in your shepherds. Pray to be able to embrace Him in them. ~ Blessed Mother Mary


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis Encyclical:

August 30, 2015

For First World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

(2015-08-31 Vatican Radio) 
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has published a proposal to encourage the faithful to organize in their particular Churches an hour of Eucharistic Adoration on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on 1 September. The proposal, which opens with a 5-minute audio-visual welcome, is offered on the Dicastery’s website,, in Italian, English, French, and Spanish under the special section dedicated to the Laudato Si’ .

The proposed program for the hour of Eucharistic Adoration offers an introductory Collect from the Orthodox tradition, to be followed by selected passages of the Word of God. First and foremost are passages from Genesis (1:26-2:3 and 2:15), which provide the narrative of Creation and of God’s will to take man “and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it”. This reading is followed by Psalm 148, in which all creatures are called to give praise for the wonders created on the earth: “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights!”. Also proposed is a passage from the Gospel according to Matthew (6:25-33), in which Jesus says that our life is worth more than food, and our body more than clothing: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”.

Three passages from the Laudato Si’ then follow: in the first (nn. 8-9), the Pope recalls that Patriarch Bartholomew “has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, ... ‘inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage’”. In the second (n. 236), the Pontiff highlights that in the Eucharist “all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation”. In the third (nn. 241-242), the Pope refers to Mary and Joseph, pointing out of the Virgin in particular, that: “Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power”.

The Intercessions call for prayer that Christians seek first God’s kingdom, strive to grow in spirit, to bear much fruit, to work for the good of the Church, and that all generations may share in the goods of creation. The proposed programme concludes with the recitation of the Our Father, the concluding blessing, and a passage from the Pope’s letter of 6 August to Cardinal Turkson and Cardinal Koch for the establishment of the World Day.

This is the 5 minute opening video of the Encyclical letter of our  Holy Father Pope Francis
 on care for our common home (Earth) for Tuesday September 1st one hour adoration
commemorating the First World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

Here is the pdf download url of the Proposed Program for the September 1st one hour adoration in English:


  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2015 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed - 08/30/2015


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope:  2015

Vatican City, Spring 2015 (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 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 2015 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 08/30/2015.


Today's Word:   Stewardship  (stu erd sip)

Origin: before 900; Middle English; Old English stīweard, stigweard, equivalent to stig- (sense uncertain; probably “house, hall”; see sty1) + weard ward 2

1.the position and duties of a steward, a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate, etc.
the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving:
New regulatory changes will result in better stewardship of lands that are crucial for open space and wildlife habitat.


Today's Old Testament Reading - Psalms 15:2-5

2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who speaks the truth from the heart,
3 who keeps the tongue under control, who does not wrong a comrade, who casts no discredit on a neighbour,
4 who looks with scorn on the vile, but honours those who fear Yahweh, who stands by an oath at any cost,
5 who asks no interest on loans, who takes no bribe to harm the innocent. No one who so acts can ever be shaken.


Today's Epistle -   Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8

1 'And now, Israel, listen to the laws and customs which I am teaching you today, so that, by observing them, you may survive to enter and take possession of the country which Yahweh, God of your ancestors, is giving you.
2 You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of Yahweh your God just as I lay them down for you.
6 Keep them, put them into practice, and other peoples will admire your wisdom and prudence. Once they know what all these laws are, they will exclaim, "No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation!"
7 And indeed, what great nation has its gods as near as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him?
8 And what great nation has laws and customs as upright as the entirety of this Law which I am laying down for you today?


Today's Gospel Reading -   Mark 7:1-23

What is pure and what is impure
Jesus fulfills peoples’ desires: to live in peace with God
Mark 7:1-23

 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 the reading:
The Gospel of the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time describes the religious customs of Jesus’ time, speaks of the Pharisees who taught the people these practices and customs and of Jesus’ teaching concerning this matter. Many of these practices and customs had lost their meaning and made peoples’ lives difficult. The Pharisees saw sin in everything and threatened with punishment in hell! For instance, to eat without washing one’s hands was considered a sin. But these practices and customs continued to be passed down and taught from fear or from superstition. Do you know of any present religious practice that has lost its meaning but which is still being taught? In our reading of the text we shall try to look at Jesus’ attitude concerning what he says about the Pharisees and what he teaches concerning the religious practices taught by the Pharisees.
The text of this Sunday’s liturgy presents some verses and leaves out other verses to shorten the text and make it more understandable. For the sake of completeness, we use the whole text and offer comments also on the verses omitted from the liturgy. The parts omitted in the liturgy are in italics.

b) A division of the text to help with the reading:
Mark 7:1-2: The attack of the Pharisees and the freedom of the disciples
Mark 7:3-4: Mark’s explanation of the Tradition of the Elders
Mark 7:5: The Scribes and Pharisees criticise the behaviour of the disciples of Jesus
Mark 7:6-8: Jesus’ strong reply concerning the incoherence of the Pharisees
Mark 7:9-13: A concrete example of how the Pharisees empty God’s commandment of any meaning
Mark 7:14-16: Jesus’ explanation to the people: a new way to God
Mark 7:17-23: Jesus’ explanation to his disciples

3. The Gospel:
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round him, 2 and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, keep the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; 4 and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them to keep, concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. 5 So the Pharisees and scribes asked him, 'Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?' 6 He answered, 'How rightly Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites in the passage of scripture: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. 7 Their reverence of me is worthless; the lessons they teach are nothing but human commandments. 8 You put aside the commandment of God to observe human traditions.'  9 And he said to them, 'How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honour your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say, "If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Korban (that is, dedicated to God)," 12 then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother. 13 In this way you make God's word ineffective for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.'  14 He called the people to him again and said, 'Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15 Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean. 16 Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!' 17 When he had gone into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. 18 He said to them, 'Even you -- don't you understand? Can't you see that nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean, 19 because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer?' (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) 20 And he went on, 'It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean 21 For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.'

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

4. Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What pleased or touched you most in this text? Why?
b) According to the text, what were the practices that the Pharisees taught the people? In what does Jesus criticise the Pharisees?
c) In this text, what is the new way that Jesus shows the people to reach God?
d) In the name of the “tradition of the elders” they do not observe the Commandment of God. Does this happen today? Where? When?
e) The Pharisees were practising Jews, but their faith was divorced from the lives of the people. Jesus criticises them for this. Would Jesus criticise us today? Why?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme
a) The context of then and of today:
i) In this lectio let us take a close look at Jesus’ attitude concerning the question of purity. Mark had already mentioned this matter. In Mk 1:23-28, Jesus drives an impure devil away. In Mk 1:40-45, he heals a leper. In Mk 5:25-34, he heals a woman considered impure. On many other occasions, Jesus touches those physically sick without fear of becoming impure. Here, in chapter 7, Jesus helps people and his disciples to deepen the idea of purity and the laws on purity.
ii) For centuries, for the Jews not to contract impurity, contact with pagans and eating with them was forbidden. In the 70’s, when Mark was writing his Gospel, some converted Jews said: “Now that we are Christians we must leave behind old practices that keep us apart from converted pagans!” But other converted Jews thought they had to continue to observe the laws concerning purity. Jesus’ attitude, as described in today’s Gospel, helps to overcome this problem.

b) A commentary on the text:
Mark 7:1-2: The control of the Pharisees and the freedom of the disciples
The Pharisees and some Scribes who were in Jerusalem, watch Jesus’ disciples eating bread with impure hands. There are three points worth noting: (i) The Scribes are from Jerusalem, the capital! This means that they had come to observe and control Jesus’ steps. (ii) The disciples do not wash their hands before eating! This means that their living with Jesus gives them the courage to transgress the norms imposed by tradition and that they had a feeling for life. (iii) The practice of washing hands, which to this day is an important hygienic matter, had acquired a religious meaning that served to control and discriminate against persons.
Mark 7:3-4: Mark’s explanation concerning the tradition of the elders
“The tradition of the elders” passed on the norms to be observed by people so as to achieve the purity required by law. The observance of purity was considered a very serious matter. They thought that an impure person could not receive the blessing promised by God to Abraham. The norms concerning purity were taught in such a way that when people observed them, they could follow the road to God, source of peace. However, rather than being a source of peace, these norms were chains, a form of slavery. It was practically impossible for the poor to observe these norms and laws. Thus, the poor were despised and considered ignorant and cursed people who did not know the law (Jn 7:49).

Mark 7:5: The Scribes and Pharisees criticise the behaviour of Jesus’ disciples
The Scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus: Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands? They pretend to be interested in knowing the reason for the behaviour of the disciples. In fact, they are criticising Jesus for allowing his disciples to transgress the norms concerning purity. The scribes and doctors of the law were the guardians of doctrine. They dedicated their lives to the study of the Law of God and taught people how to observe completely the Law of God, especially the norms concerning purity. The Pharisees were a kind of fraternity, whose main preoccupation was to observe all the laws concerning purity. The word Pharisee means set apart. They endeavoured so that, by the perfect observance of the laws concerning purity, people would become pure, set apart and holy as the Laws of the Tradition required! Because of the exemplary witness of their lives in following the laws of the times, they wielded great authority in the villages of Galilee.

Mark 7:6-8: Jesus’ strong reply concerning the Pharisees’ lack of coherence
Jesus replies quoting Isaiah: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. Their reverence of me is worthless; the lessons they teach are nothing but human commandments. You put aside the commandment of God to observe human traditions (Is 29:13). Because, by insisting on the norms concerning purity, the Pharisees had emptied the commandments of the law of God of all coherence. Jesus immediately gives a concrete example of how they render the commandment of God insignificant.

Mark 7:9-13: A concrete example of how the Pharisees render the commandment of God incoherent
The “tradition of the elders” taught: a son who dedicates his possessions to the Temple, may not use these possessions to help his parents in need. Thus, in the name of tradition, they rendered incoherent the fourth commandment to love father and mother. There still are such people today. They seem to be observant, but only externally. Internally, their heart is far from God! As one of our hymns says: “His name is Jesus Christ and he is hungry, he lives by the side of the road. And when people see him, they move on to get to church quickly!” In Jesus’ days, people, in their wisdom, did not agree with all that they were taught. They hoped that one day the Messiah would come to show them some other way to be pure. This hope comes to pass in Jesus.

Mark 7:14-16: Jesus explains to the people: a new way to reach God
Jesus says to the crowd: “Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean!” (Mk 7:15). Jesus reverses things: that which is impure does not come from the outside to the inside, as the doctors of the law taught, but from the inside to the outside. Thus, no one need ask any more whether this food or this drink is pure or not. Jesus places the question of purity and impurity on a higher level, on the level of ethical behaviour. He shows a way to God and, thus, fulfils the deepest desire of the crowd. Jesus ends his explanation with an expression that he likes to use: Anyone who has ears for listening should listen! Or: “That’s it! You have heard me! Now try to understand!” In other words, use your heads and common sense and look at things through your experience of life.

Mark 7:17-23: Jesus’ explanation to his disciples
The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant. When they went home they asked him for an explanation. Jesus was astounded. He thought that they had understood. In his explanation he goes deep into the question concerning purity. He declares all food pure! No food that goes into a human being from the outside can make him impure, because it does not enter the heart but only the stomach and then goes into the sewer. That which makes a person impure, says Jesus, is what comes from the inside, from the heart, and that poisons human relationships. Then he mentions: “fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly”. Thus, in many ways, by means of word, action or living together, Jesus helped people to be pure. By means of the word, he healed lepers (Mk 1:40-44), drove out impure spirits (Mk 1:26.39; 3:15.22 etc) and overcame death, source of all impurity. By means of action, the woman excluded and considered impure is healed (Mk 5:25-34). By means of living with Jesus, the disciples have the courage to imitate Jesus who, without any fear of contamination, ate with people who were considered impure (Mk 2:15-17).

c) Further information:
The laws concerning purity and impurity in Jesus’ days
The people then were greatly concerned with purity. The norms concerning purity pointed to the necessary conditions for coming into the presence of God and for feeling right before him. One could not go before God in any old way. Because God is Holy! The Law said: “Be holy, for I, Yahweh your God, am holy!” (Lv 19:2). Anyone who was not pure could not appear before God to receive the blessing promised to Abraham.

For us to understand the seriousness of these laws concerning purity, we may remember what used to happen in our Church fifty years ago. Before the Second Vatican Council, to go to communion in the morning, people had to fast from midnight. Anyone who went to communion without fasting committed a mortal sin called sacrilege. We thought that a little food or drink made us impure to receive the consecrated host.

In Jesus’ times too there were many matters and activities that made a person impure and therefore not possible to come before God: touching a leper, eating with a publican, eating without washing one’s hands, touching blood or a dead body and many other things. All these things made a person impure, and any contact with that person contaminated others. That is why “impure” people had to be avoided. People lived apart, always threatened by so many impure things that threatened their lives. All were afraid of everyone and everything.

Now, with the coming of Jesus, suddenly everything changes! By believing in Jesus, it was possible to achieve purity and feel good before God without having to observe all the laws and norms of the “tradition of the elders”. It was a real and personal liberation! The Good News proclaimed by Jesus released people from a defensive attitude and restored to them the taste for life, the joy of being children of God, without fear of being happy!

6. Praying Psalm 24 (23)
Who can climb the mountain of God!
To Yahweh belong the earth and all it contains,
the world and all who live there;
it is he who laid its foundations on the seas,
on the flowing waters fixed it firm.
Who shall go up to the mountain of Yahweh?
Who shall take a stand in his holy place?
The clean of hands and pure of heart,
whose heart is not set on vanities,
who does not swear an oath in order to deceive.
Such a one will receive blessing from Yahweh,
saving justice from the God of his salvation.
Such is the people that seeks him,
that seeks your presence, God of Jacob.
Gates, lift high your heads,
raise high the ancient gateways,
and the king of glory shall enter!
Who is he, this king of glory?
It is Yahweh, strong and valiant,
Yahweh valiant in battle.
Gates, lift high your heads,
raise high the ancient gateways,
and the king of glory shall enter!
Who is he, this king of glory?
Yahweh Sabaoth, he is the king of glory.

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 practice 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,


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Saint of the Day:  Saint Monica

Died:  387
Patron Saint of :  Mothers, Difficult marriages, difficult children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, and conversion of relatives.

St Monica
Saint Monica  (331– 387) is a Christian saint and the mother of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions.

Because of her name and place of birth, Monica is assumed to have been of Berber origin. She was married early in life to Patritius (or Patricius), who held an official position in Tagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria). Patritius was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was, of course, a gulf between husband and wife; her alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a good example amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.

Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. In her distress she asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy's recovery withdrew his consent.

All Monica's anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. He was sent to school at Madaurus.

Her husband Patritius subsequently became a Christian. Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to prosecute his studies, and here he lived dissolutely. Patritius died very shortly after converting to Christianity and Monica decided not to marry again.

At Carthage Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he shared his views regarding Manichaeism Monica drove him away from her table. However, she is said to have experienced a strange vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son.

It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, "the child of those tears shall never perish." Monica followed her wayward son to Rome, where he had gone secretly; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance.
In his book Confessions, Augustine wrote of a peculiar practice of his mother in which she "brought to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine."[4] When she moved to Milan, the bishop Ambrose forbade her to use the offering of wine, since "it might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink". So, Augustine wrote of her:
In place of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of purer petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor - so that the communion of the Lord's body might be rightly celebrated in those places where, after the example of his passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned.
Confessions 6.2.2
Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Rus Cassiciacum (present-day Cassago Brianza) after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. Africa claimed them, however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Civitavecchia and at Ostia. Her death overtook Monica and the finest pages of Augustine's Confessions were penned as the result of the emotion he then experienced.


Saint Monica was buried at Ostia, and at first seems to have been almost forgotten, though her body was removed during the 6th century to a hidden crypt in the church of Santa Aurea in Osta. Monica was buried near the tomb of St. Aurea of Ostia.[5]

Anicius Bassus wrote Monica's funerary epitaph, which survived in ancient manuscripts.[5] The actual stone on which it was written was rediscovered in the summer of 1945 in the church of Santa Aurea. The fragment was discovered after two boys were digging a hole to plant a football post in the courtyard beside Santa Aurea.[6]

A translation from the Latin, by Douglas Boin, reads as:
Here the most virtuous mother of a young man set her ashes, a second light to your merits, Augustine. As a priest, serving the heavenly laws of peace, you taught [or, you teach] the people entrusted to you with your character. A glory greater than the praise of your accomplishments crowns you both - Mother of the Virtues, more fortunate because of her offspring.[5]
About the 13th century, however, the cult of St. Monica began to spread and a feast in her honour was kept on 4 May. In 1430 Pope Martin V ordered the relics to be brought to Rome. Many miracles occurred on the way, and the cultus of St. Monica was definitely established. Later the Archbishop of Rouen, Cardinal d'Estouteville, built a church at Rome in honour of St. Augustine, the Basilica di Sant'Agostino, and deposited the relics of St. Monica in a chapel to the left of the high altar. The Office of St. Monica, however, does not seem to have found a place in the Roman Breviary before the 16th century.

The city of Santa Monica, California, is named after Monica. A legend states that in the 18th century Father Juan Crespí named a local dripping spring Las Lagrimas de Santa Monica ("Saint Monica’s Tears") (today known as the Serra Springs) that was reminiscent of the tears that Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety.[7] As recorded in his diary, however, Crespí actually named the place San Gregorio.[7] What is known for certain is that by the 1820s, the name Santa Monica was in use and its first official mention occurred in 1827 in the form of a grazing permit.[7] There is a statue of this saint in Santa Monica's Palisades Park by sculptor Eugene Morahan; it was completed in 1934.[8]


  1. ^ "...Augustine's mother's name, Monica, is Berber ... the names Monnica and Nonnica are found on tombstones in the Libyan language - as such Monnica is the only Berber name commonly used in English", Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers, Wiley-Blackwell, 1997, p.71, 293
  2. ^ The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV. Proper of Saints, August 27.
  3. ^ Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers, Wiley-Blackwell, 1997, p.71.
  4. ^ Confessions 6.2.2
  5. ^ a b c "Church of Sant'Aurea". Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  6. ^ Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, Revised Edition with a New Epilogue (University of California Press, 2000), 124.
  7. ^ a b c Paula A. Scott, Santa Monica: a history on the edge. Making of America series (Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 17-18.
  8. ^ "Santa Monica Sculpture". You Are ?. Retrieved March 14, 2011.


  • Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. New edition with an epilogue, Berkeley, University of California Press, c2000
  • Everett Ferguson, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Taylor & Francis, 1998, p. 776
  • John J. O'Meara, The Young Augustine:the growth of St. Augustine's mind up to his conversion, London, Longmans, Green and Co, 1954


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            Mystical City of God, the miracle of His omnipotence and the abyss of His grace the divine history and life of the Virgin Mother of God our Queen and our Lady, most holy Mary expiatrix of the fault of eve and mediatrix of grace. Manifested to Sister Mary of Jesus, Prioress of the convent of the Immaculate Conception in Agreda, Spain. For new enlightenment of the world, for rejoicing of the Catholic Church, and encouragement of men. Completed in 1665.

            Venerable Mary of Agreda
            Translated from the Spanish by  Reverend George J. Blatter
            1914, So. Chicago, Ill., The Theopolitan; Hammond, Ind., W.B. Conkey Co., US..
            IMPRIMATUR:  +H.J. Alerding Bishop of Fort Wayne
            Translation from the Original Authorized Spanish Edition by Fiscar Marison (George J. Blatter). Begun on the Feast of the Assumption 1902, completed 1912.
            This work is published for the greater Glory of Jesus Christ through His most Holy Mother Mary and for the sanctification of the Church and her members.

            Book 4, Chapter 5


            After the courtiers of heaven had thus celebrated the birth of God made man near the portals of Bethlehem, some of them were immediately dispatched to different places, in order to announce the happy news to those, who according to the divine will were properly disposed to hear it. The holy prince Michael betook himself to the holy Patriarchs in limbo and announced to them, how the Onlybegotten of the eternal Father was already born into the world and was resting, humble and meek, as they had prophesied, in a manger between two beasts. He addressed also in a special manner holy Joachim and Anne in the name of the blessed Mother, who had enjoined this upon him; he congratulated them, that their Daughter now held in her arms the Desired of nations and Him, who had been foretold by all the Patriarchs and Prophets (Is. 7, 14; 9, 7, etc.). It was the most consoling and joyful day, which this great gathering of the just and the saints had yet had during their long banishment. All of them acknowledged this new Godman as the true Author of eternal salvation, and they composed and sang new songs of adoration and worship in his praise.

            Another of the holy angels that attended and guarded the heavenly Mother was sent to saint Elisabeth and her son John. On hearing this news of the birth of the Redeemer, the prudent matron and her son, although he was yet of so tender an age, prostrated themselves upon the earth and adored their God made man in spirit and in truth (John 4, 23). The child which had been consecrated as his Precursor, was renewed interiorly with a spirit more inflamed than that of Elias, causing new admiration and jubilation in the angels themselves. Saint John and his mother requested our Queen through the angels, that She in the name of them both, adore her most holy Son and offer Him their services; all of which the heavenly Queen immediately fulfilled.

            Amongst all these, the shepherds of that region. who were watching their flocks at the time of the birth of Christ, were especially blessed (Luke 2, 8); not only because they accepted the labor and inconvenience of their calling with resignation from the hand of God; but also because, being poor and humble, and despised by the world, they belonged in sincerity and uprightness of heart to those Israelites, who fervently hoped and longed for the coming of the Messias, speaking and discoursing of Him among themselves many times. They resembled the Author of life, as they were removed from the riches, vanity and ostentation of the world and far from its diabolical cunning (John 10, 14). They exhibited in the circumstances of their calling the office, which the good Shepherd had come to fulfill in knowing his Sheep and being known to them. Hence they merited to be called and invited, as the first fruits of the saints by the Savior himself, to be the very first ones, to whom the eternal and incarnate Word manifested Himself and by whom He wished to be praised, served and adored. Hence the archangel Gabriel was sent to them as they watched on the field, appearing to them in human form and with great splendor.

            The shepherds found themselves suddenly enveloped and bathed in the celestial radiance of the angel, and at his sight, being little versed in such visions, they were filled with great fear. The holy prince reassured them and said: “Ye upright men, be not afraid: for I announce to you tidings of great joy, which is, that for you is born today the Redeemer Christ, our Lord, in the city of David. And as a sign of this truth, I announce to you, that you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling–clothes and placed in a manger” (Luke 2, 10, 12). At these words of the angel, suddenly appeared a great multitude of the celestial army, who in voices of sweet harmony sang to the Most High these words: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.” Rehearsing this divine canticle, so new to the world, the holy angels disappeared. All this happened in the fourth watch of the night. By this angelic vision the humble and fortunate shepherds were filled with divine enlightenment and were unanimously impelled by a fervent longing to make certain of this blessing and to witness with their own eyes the most high mystery of which they had been informed.

            The signs which the holy angels had indicated to them did not seem appropriate or proportioned for attesting the greatness of the Newborn to eyes of the flesh. For to lie in a manger and to be wrapped in swaddling–clothes, would not have been convincing proof of the majesty of a king, if these shepherds had not been illumined by divine light and been enabled to penetrate the mystery. As they were free from the arrogant wisdom of the world, they were easily made proficient in the divine wisdom. Conferring among themselves the thoughts excited by this message, they resolved to hasten in all speed to Bethlehem and see the wonder made known to them by the Lord. They departed without delay and entering the cave or portal, they found, as saint Luke tells us, Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in a manger. Seeing all this they recognized the truth of what they had heard of the Child. Upon this followed an interior enlightenment consequent upon seeing the Word made flesh; for when the shepherds looked upon Him. He also glanced at them, emitting from his countenance a great effulgence, which wounded with love the sincere heart of each of these poor yet fortunate men; with divine efficiency it changed them and renewed them, constituting them in a new state of grace and holiness and filling them with an exalted knowledge of the divine mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption of the human race.

            Prostrating themselves on the earth they adored the Word made flesh. Not any more as ignorant rustics, but as wise and prudent men they adored Him, acknowledged and magnified him as true God and man, as Restorer and Redeemer of the human race. The heavenly Lady and Mother of the Child took notice of all that they did interiorly and exteriorly; for She saw into their inmost hearts. In highest wisdom and prudence She preserved the memory of all these happenings and pondered them in her soul, (Luke 2, 19), comparing them with the other mysteries therein contained and with the holy prophecies and sayings of the Scriptures. As She was then the organ of the holy Spirit and the representative of the Infant, She spoke to the shepherds, instructing and exhorting them to persevere in divine love and in the service of the Most High. They also conversed with Her on their part and showed by their answers that they understood many of the mysteries. They remained in the cave from the beginning of dawn until mid–day, when, having given them something to eat, our great Queen sent them off full of heavenly grace and consolation.

            When for the first time She placed the infant God in his arms, the most holy Mary said to him: “My husband and my helper, receive in thy arms the Creator of heaven and earth and enjoy his amiable and sweet company, in order that my Lord and my God may be delighted and recompensed by thy faithful services (Prov. 8, 31). Take to thyself the Treasure of the eternal Father and participate in this blessing of the human race.” And speaking interiorly to the divine Infant, She said: “Sweetest Love of my soul and Light of my eyes, rest in the arms of Joseph, my friend and spouse: do thou hold sweet companionship with him and pardon me my shortcomings. Much do I feel the loss of Thee even for one instant, but I wish to communicate without envy the good I have received, to all that are worthy” (Wis. 7, 13). Her most faithful husband, acknowledging this new blessing, humbled himself to the earth and answered: “Lady and Sovereign of the world, my Spouse, how can I, being so unworthy, presume to hold in my arms God himself, in whose presence tremble the pillars of heaven? (Job 26, 11). How can this vile wormlet have courage to accept such an exalted favor? I am but dust and ashes, but do Thou, Lady, assist me in my lowliness and ask his Majesty to look upon me with clemency and make me worthy through his grace.”

            His desire of holding the infant God and his reverential fear of Him caused in saint Joseph heroic acts of love, of faith, of humility and profoundest reverence. Trembling with discreet fear He fell on his knees to receive Him from the hands of his most holy Mother, while sweetest tears of joy and delight copiously flowed from his eyes at a happiness so extraordinary. The divine Infant looked at him caressingly and at the same time renewed his inmost soul with such divine efficacy as no words will suffice to explain. He broke out in new canticles of praise at seeing himself thus enriched with such magnificent blessings and favors. After having for some time enjoyed in spirit the sweetest effects of holding in his arms the Lord, who contains heaven and earth (Is. 40, 12), He replaced him into the arms of his fortunate Mother, both of them being on their knees in receiving and giving Him. Similar reverence the most prudent Mother observed every time She took Him up or relinquished Him, in which also Joseph imitated Her, as often as it was his happy lot to hold the incarnate Word. When they approached his Majesty, they also made three genuflections, kissing the earth and exciting heroic acts of humility, worship and reverence. Thus both the great Queen and the blessed Joseph observed all propriety in receiving or giving the Child from and to one another.

            From the moment the most prudent Virgin found Herself chosen as the Mother of the divine Word, She began to ponder upon the labors and sufferings in store for her sweetest Son. As her knowledge of Scripture was profound, She understood all the mysteries contained therein and She began to foresee and prepare with incomparable compassion for all that He was to suffer for the Redemption of Man. This sorrow, foreseen and expected with such a full knowledge of details, was a prolonged martyrdom for the most meek Mother of the sacrificial Lamb of God (Jer. 11, 19). But in regard to the Circumcision, which was to take place after the birth of the Child, the heavenly Lady had received no command or intimation of the will of the eternal Father. This uncertainty excited the loving solicitude and sweet plaints of the tender and affectionate Mother. Her prudent foresight enabled Her to conjecture, that, as her most holy Son had come to honor and confirm his law by fulfilling it and as He had moreover come in order to suffer for men, He would be constrained by his burning love and by other motives to undergo the pains of circumcision.

            On the other hand her maternal love and compassion longed to exempt her sweet Child if possible, from this suffering; moreover She knew, that circumcision was a rite instituted for cleansing the newborn children from original sin, whereas the divine Infant was entirely free from this guilt, not having contracted it in Adam. In this hesitation between love of her divine Son and obedience to the eternal Father, the most prudent Virgin practiced many heroic acts of virtue, unspeakably pleasing to his Majesty. Although She could have easily escaped this uncertainty by directly asking the Lord what was to be done; yet, being as humble as She was prudent, She refrained. Neither would She ask her angels; for with admirable wisdom, She awaited the opportune time and occasion, assigned by divine Providence for all things, and She would not presume curiously to search or pry into his decrees by consulting supernatural sources of information, especially in order to rid Herself of any suffering. When any grave and doubtful affair arose, in which there was danger of offending God, or some urgent undertaking for the good of creatures, in which it would be necessary to know the divine will, She first asked permission to submit her petition for enlightenment regarding the divine pleasure.

            Most holy Mary issued from her prayer and requested saint Joseph to take the necessary steps for the Circumcision of the divine Infant. With rarest prudence She avoided telling Him anything of what She had been told in answer to her prayer. She spoke as if She wished to consult Him or ask his opinion in regard to the Circumcision, saying that the time appointed by law for the Circumcision of the Child had arrived and since they had not received any orders to the contrary, it seemed necessary to comply with it. They themselves, She said, were more bound to please the Most High, to obey more punctually his precepts, and to be more zealous in the love and care of his most holy Son than all the rest of creatures, seeking to fulfill in all things the divine pleasure in return for his incomparable favors. To these words saint Joseph answered with the greatest modesty and discretion, saying, that, as no command to the contrary had been given concerning the Child he wished in all things to conform himself to the divine will manifested in the common law; that, although as God the incarnate Word was not subject to the law, yet He was now clothed with our humanity, and, as a most perfect Teacher and Savior, no doubt wished to conform with other men in its fulfillment. Then he asked his heavenly Spouse how the Circumcision was to take place.

            The most holy Mary answered, that the Circumcision should be performed substantially in the same way as it was performed on other children but that She need not hand him over or consign Him to any other person, but that She would herself hold Him in her arms. And the delicacy and tenderness of the Infant would make this ceremony more painful to him than to other children, they should have at hand the soothing medicine, which was ordinarily applied at circumcision. Moreover, She requested saint Joseph to procure a crystal or glass vessel for preserving the sacred relic of the Circumcision of the divine Infant. In the meanwhile the cautious Mother prepared some linen cloths to catch the sacred blood, which was now for the first time to be shed for our rescue, so that not one drop of it might be lost or fall upon the ground. After these preparations the heavenly Lady asked saint Joseph to inform the priest and request him to come to the cave where, without the necessity of bringing the Child to any other place, he might, as a fit and worthy minister of so hidden and great a sacrament, with his priestly hands perform the rite of the Circumcision.

            Then most holy Mary and Joseph took counsel concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in the Circumcision, and the holy spouse said: “My Lady, when the holy angel of the Most High informed me of this great sacrament, he also told me that thy most sacred Son should be called JESUS.” The Virgin Mother answered: “This same name was revealed to me when He assumed flesh in my womb; and thus receiving this name from the Most High through the mouth of his holy angels, his ministers, it is befitting that we conform in humble reverence with the hidden and inscrutable judgments of his infinite wisdom in conferring it on my Son and Lord, and that we call Him JESUS. This name we will propose to the priest, for inscription in the register of the other circumcised children.”

            While the great Mistress of heaven and saint Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed in shining white garments, on which were woven red embroideries of wonderful beauty. They had palms in their hands and crowns upon their heads and emitted a greater splendor than many suns. In comparison with the beauty of these holy princes all the loveliness seen in this world appeared repulsive. But pre–eminent in splendor were the devices or escutcheons on their breasts, at each of which the sweet name of Jesus was engraved or embossed. The effulgence which each of these escutcheons exceeded that of all the angels together, and the variety of the beauty thus exhibited in this great multitude was so rare and exquisite as neither human tongue can express nor human imagination ever compass. The holy angels divided into two choirs in the cave, keeping their gaze fixed upon the King and Lord in the arms of his virginal Mother. The chiefs of these heavenly cohorts were the two princes, saint Michael and saint Gabriel, shining in greater splendor than the rest and bearing in their hands, as a special distinction, the most holy name of JESUS, written in larger letters on something like cards of incomparable beauty and splendor.

            The two princes presented themselves apart from the rest before their Queen and said: “Lady, this is the name of thy Son (Matth. 1, 21), which was written in the mind of God from all eternity and which the blessed Trinity has given to thy Onlybegotten Son and our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human race; establishing Him at the same time on the throne David. He shall reign upon it, chastise his enemies and triumph over them, making them his footstool and passing judgment upon them; He shall raise his friends to the glory of his right hand. But all this is to happen at the cost of suffering and blood; and even now He is to shed it in receiving this name, since it is that of the Savior and Redeemer; it shall be the beginning of his sufferings in obedience to the will of his eternal Father. We all are come as ministering spirits of the Most High, appointed and sent by the holy Trinity in order to serve the Onlybegotten of the Father and thy own in all the mysteries and sacraments of the law of grace. We are to accompany Him and minister to Him until He shall ascend triumphantly to the celestial Jerusalem and open the portals of heaven; afterwards we shall enjoy an especial accidental glory beyond that of the other blessed, to whom no such commission has been given.” All this was witnessed by the most fortunate spouse Joseph conjointly with the Queen of heaven; but his understanding of these happenings was not so deep as hers, for the Mother of wisdom understood and comprehended the highest mysteries of the Redemption. Although saint Joseph understood many more mysteries than other mortals, yet he did not penetrate them in the same way as his heavenly Spouse. Both of them, however, were full of heavenly joy and admiration, and extolled the Lord in new canticles of glory. All that they experienced in these various and wonderful events surpasses human language, and certainly my own powers, and I cannot find adequate words for expressing my conceptions.

            The priest came to the gates or cave of the Nativity, where the incarnate Word, resting in the arms of his Virgin Mother, awaited him. With the priest came also two other officials, who were to render such assistance as was customary at the performance of the rite. The rudeness of the dwelling at first astonished and somewhat disconcerted the priest. But the most prudent Queen spoke to him and welcomed him with such modesty and grace that his constraint soon changed into devotion and into admiration at the composure and noblest majesty of the Mother; and without knowing the cause he was moved to reverence and esteem for such an unusual personage. When the priest looked upon the face of Mary and of the Child in her arms he was filled with great devotion and tenderness, wondering at the contrast exhibited amid such poverty and in a place so lowly and despised. The priest thereupon proceeded to his duty and circumcised the Child, the true God and man. At the same time the Son of God, with immeasurable love, offered up to the eternal Father three sacrifices of so great value that each one would have been sufficient for the Redemption of a thousand worlds. The first was that He, being innocent and the Son of the true God, assumed the condition of a sinner (Phil. 2, 7) by subjecting Himself to a rite instituted as a remedy for original sin, and to a law not binding on Him (II Cor. 5, 21). The second was his willingness to suffer the pains of circumcision, which He felt as a true and perfect man. The third was the most ardent love with which He began shed his blood for the human race, giving thanks to eternal Father for having given Him a human nature capable of suffering for his exaltation and glory.

            This prayerful sacrifice of JESUS our Savior the Father accepted, and, according to our way of speaking, He began to declare Himself satisfied and paid for the indebtedness of humanity. The incarnate Word offered these first fruits of his blood as pledges that He would give it all in order to consummate the Redemption and extinguish the debt of the sons of Adam. All these interior acts and movements of the Onlybegotten his most holy Mother perceived, and in her heavenly wisdom She penetrated the mystery of this sacrament, acting as his Mother and in concert with Her Son and Lord in all He was doing and suffering. True to his human nature, the divine Infant shed tears as other children. Although the pains caused by the wounding were most severe, as well on account of the delicacy of his body as on account of the coarseness of the knife, which was made of flint, yet his tears were caused not so much by the sensible pain as by the supernatural sorrow caused by his knowledge of the hard–heartedness of mortals. For this was more rude and unyielding than the flint, resisting his sweetest love and the divine fire He had come to enkindle in the world and in the hearts of the faithful (Luke 12, 49). Also the tender and affectionate Mother wept, like the guileless sheep, which raises its voice in unison with the innocent lamb. In reciprocal love and compassion the Child clung to his Mother, while She sweetly caressed Him at her virginal breast and caught the sacred relics and the falling blood in the towel.

            In the meanwhile the priest asked the parents what name they wished to give to the Child in Circumcision; the great Lady, always attentive to honor her spouse, asked saint Joseph to mention the name. Saint Joseph turned toward Her in like reverence and gave Her to understand that He thought it proper this sweet name should first flow from her mouth. Therefore, by divine interference, both Mary and Joseph said at the same time; “JESUS is his name.” The priest answered: “The parents are unanimously agreed, and great is the name which they give to the Child”; and thereupon he inscribed it in the tablet or register of names of the rest of the children. While writing it the priest felt great interior movements, so that he shed copious tears; and wondering at what he felt yet not being able to account for, he said: “I am convinced that this Child is to be a great Prophet of the Lord. Have great care in raising Him, and tell me in what I can relieve your needs.” Most holy Mary and Joseph answered the priest with humble gratitude and dismissed him after offering him the gift of some candles and other articles.

            Being again left alone with the Child, most holy Mary and Joseph celebrated anew the mystery of the Circumcision, commenting on the holy name of JESUS amid sweet canticles and tears of joy, the fuller knowledge of which (as also of other mysteries which I have mentioned) is reserved as an additional accidental glory to the saints in heaven. The most prudent Mother applied to the wound caused by the knife such medicines as were wont to be used on such occasions for other children, and during the time while the pain and the healing lasted She would not for a moment part with holding Him in her arms day and night. The tender love of the heavenly Mother is beyond all comprehension or understanding of man; for her natural love was greater than any other mother was capable of, and her supernatural love exceeded that of all the angels and saints together. Her reverence and worship cannot be compared with that of any other created being. These were the delights of the incarnate Word (Prov. 8, 31), which He desired and longed for among the children of men; and this was the recompense, which his loving heart drew from the exceeding sanctity of the Virgin Mother for the sorrows occasioned Him by their behavior.

            WORDS OF THE QUEEN

            The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

            My daughter, I wish thee to consider attentively the blessed favor conferred upon thee by being informed of the solicitous care and attention which I lavished upon my most holy and sweetest Son in the mysteries just now described. The Most High does not give thee this special light in order only to be regaled by the knowledge of these mysteries; but in order to imitate me in all these things as a faithful handmaid and in order to distinguish thyself in rendering thanks for his works in the same measure as thou art distinguished in knowing them more fully. Ponder, then, dearest, upon the small return given for the love of my Son and Lord by mortals, and how forgetful of thanks even his faithful continue to be. Assume it as thy task, as far as thy weak powers allow, to render satisfaction for this grievous offense: loving Him, thanking Him and serving Him with all thy powers, for all the other men who fail to do so. Therefore thou must be an angel in promptitude, most fervent and punctual on all occasions; thou must die to all earthly things, eliminating and crushing all human inclinations and rising upon the wings of love to the heights of love designed for thee by the Lord.

            Thou art not ignorant of the sweet efficacy contained in the memory of the works performed by my most holy Son: and although thou canst so copiously avail thyself of the light given thee to be thankful: yet, in order that thou mayest fear so much the more the danger of forgetfulness, I particularly inform thee that the saints in heaven, comprehending by the divine light these mysteries, are astonished at themselves for not having paid more attention to them during their life. And if they were capable of pain, they would be deeply grieved for their tardiness and carelessness in not having set proper value upon the works for the Redemption, and for failing in the imitation of Christ. All the angels and saints, by an insight hidden to mortals, wonder at the cruelty of human hearts against themselves and against Christ their Redeemer. Men have compassion neither for the sufferings of the Lord, nor for the sufferings they themselves stand in danger of incurring. When the foreknown, in unending bitterness shall recognize their dreadful forgetfulness and their indifference to the works of Christ their Savior, their confusion and despair will be an intolerable punishment, and it alone will be a chastisement beyond all imagination; for they will then see the copiousness of the Redemption, which they have despised (Ps. 44, 11). Hear me, my daughter, and bend thy ears to these counsels and doctrines of eternal life. Cast out from thy faculties every image and affection toward human creatures and turn all the powers of thy heart and soul toward the mysteries and blessings of the Redemption. Occupy thyself wholly with them, ponder and weigh them, give thanks for them as if thou alone wert in existence, as if they had been wrought solely for thee, and singly for each human being in particular (Gal. 2, 20). Thus thou wilt find life and the way of life, proceeding thus thou canst not err; but thou shalt find therein the light of thy eyes and true peace.

            Book 4, Chapter 6


            The three Magi Kings, who came to find the divine Infant after his birth, were natives of Persia, Arabia and Sabba (Ps. 71, 10), countries to the east of Palestine. Their coming was prophesied especially by David, and before him, by Balaam, who, having been hired by Balaac, king of the Moabites, to curse the Israelites, blessed them instead (Numb. 24, 17). In this blessing Balaam said, that he would see the King Christ, although not at once, and that he would behold Him, although not present; for he did not see Him with his own eyes, but through the Magi, his descendants many centuries after. He said, also, that a star would arise unto Jacob, which was Christ, who arose to reign forever in the house of Jacob (Luke 1, 32).

            At the same time the holy angel, who had brought the news from Bethlehem to the kings, formed of the material air a most resplendent star, although not so large as those of the firmament; for it was not to ascend higher than was necessary for the purpose of its formation. It took its course through the atmospheric regions in order to guide and direct the holy Kings to the cave, where the Child awaited them. Its splendor was of a different kind from that of the sun and the other stars; with its most beautiful light it illumined the night like a brilliant torch, and it mingled its own most active brilliancy with that of the sun by day. On coming out of their palaces each one of the kings saw this new star (Matth. 2, 2) although each from a different standpoint, because it was only one star and it was placed in such distance and height that it could be seen by each one at the same time. As the three of them followed the guidance of this miraculous star, they soon met. Thereupon it immediately approached them much more closely, descending through many shifts of the aerial space and rejoicing them by shedding its refulgence over them at closer range. They began to confer among themselves about the revelation they had received and about their plans, finding that they were identical. They were more and more inflamed with devotion and with the pious desire of adoring the newborn God, and broke out in praise and admiration at the inscrutable works and mysteries of the Almighty.

            The heavenly Mother awaited the pious and devout kings, standing with the Child in her arms. Amid the humble and poor surroundings of the cave, in incomparable modesty and beauty, She exhibited at same time a majesty more than human, the light of heaven shining in her countenance. Still more visible was this light in the Child, shedding through the cavern effulgent splendor, which made it like a heaven. The three kings of the East entered and at the first sight of the Son and Mother they were for a considerable space of time overwhelmed with wonder. They prostrated themselves upon the earth, and in this position they worshiped and adored the Infant, acknowledging Him as the true God and man, and as the Savior of the human race. By the divine power, which the sight of Him and his presence exerted in their souls, they were filled with new enlightenment. They perceived the multitude of angelic spirits, who as servants and ministers of the King of kings and Lord of lords attended upon him in reverential fear (Heb. 1, 4). Arising, they congratulated their and our Queen as Mother of the Son of the eternal Father; and they approached to reverence Her on their knees. They sought her hand in order to kiss it, as they were accustomed to do to their queens in their countries. But the most prudent Lady withdrew her hand, and offered instead that of the Redeemer of the world, saying: “My spirit rejoices in the Lord and my soul blesses and extols Him; because among all the nations He has called and selected you to look upon and behold that which many kings and prophets have in vain desired to see, namely, Him who is the eternal Word incarnate (Luke 10, 24). Let us extol and praise his name on account of the sacraments and mysteries wrought among his people; let us kiss the earth which He sanctifies by his real presence.”

            At these words of most holy Mary the three kings humiliated themselves anew, adoring the infant Jesus; they acknowledged the great blessings of living in the time when the Sun of justice was arising in order to illumine the darkness (Malachy 4, 2). Thereupon they spoke to saint Joseph, congratulating him and extolling his good fortune in being chosen as the spouse of the Mother of God; and they expressed wonder and compassion at the great poverty, beneath which were hidden the greatest mysteries of heaven and earth. Thereupon the three kings consumed three hours, and then the kings asked permission of most holy Mary to go to the city in order to seek a lodging, as they could find no room for themselves in the cave. Some people had accompanied them; but the Magi alone participated in the light and the grace of this visit. The others took notice merely of what passed exteriorly, and witnessed only the destitute and neglected condition of the Mother and her husband. Though wondering at the strange event, they perceived nothing of its mystery. The Magi took leave and departed, while most holy Mary and Joseph, being again alone with their Child, glorified his Majesty with new songs of praise, because his name was beginning to be known and adored among the Gentiles (Ps. 85, 9). What else the three wise men did will be related in the following chapter.

            From the grotto of the Nativity, into which the three Kings had entered directly on their way to Jerusalem, they betook themselves to a lodging inside of the town of Bethlehem. They retired to a room where, in an abundance of affectionate tears and aspirations, they spent the greater part of the night, speaking of what they had seen, of the feelings and affections aroused in each, and of what each had noticed for himself in the divine Child and his Mother. During this conference they were more and more inflamed with divine love, amazed at the majesty and divine effulgence of the Infant Jesus at the prudence, modesty and reserve of his Mother; at the holiness of her spouse Joseph, and the poverty of all three; at the humbleness of the place, where the Lord of heaven and earth had wished to be born. The devout kings felt a divine fire, which flamed up in their hearts, and, not being able to restrain themselves, they broke out into exclamations of sweet affection and acts of great reverence and love. “What is this that we feel?” they said. “What influence of this great King is it that moves us to such desires and affections? After this, how shall we converse with men? What can we do, who have been instructed in such new, hidden and supernatural mysteries? O greatness of his Omnipotence unknown to men and concealed beneath so much poverty! O humility unimaginable for mortals! Would that all be drawn to it, in order that they may not be deprived of such happiness!”

            During these divine colloquies the Magi remembered the dire destitution of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in their cave, and they resolved immediately to send them some gifts in order to show their affection and to satisfy their desire of serving them, since they could not do anything else for them. They sent through their servants many of the presents, which they had already set aside for them, and others which they could procure. Most holy Mary and Joseph received these gifts with humble acknowledgment and they made a return not of emptyworded thanks, as other men are apt to make, but many efficacious blessings for the spiritual consolation of the three Kings. These gifts enabled our great Queen to prepare for her ordinary guests, the poor, an abundant repast; for the needy ones were accustomed to receive alms from Her, and, attracted still more by her sweet words, were wont to come and visit Her. The Kings went to rest full of incomparable joy in the Lord; and in their sleep the angels advised them as to their journey homeward.

            On the following day at dawn they returned to the cave of the Nativity in order to offer to the heavenly King the special gifts which they had provided. Arriving they prostrated themselves anew in profound humility; and opening their treasures, as Scripture relates, they offered Him gold, incense and myrrh (Matth. 2, 11). They consulted the heavenly Mother in regard to many mysteries and practices of faith, and concerning matters pertaining to their consciences and to the government of their countries; for they wished to return well instructed and capable of directing themselves to holiness and perfection in their daily life. The great Lady heard them with exceeding pleasure and She conferred interiorly with the divine Infant concerning all that they had asked, in order to answer and properly to instruct these sons of the new Law. As a Teacher and an instrument of divine wisdom She answered all their questions, giving them such high precepts of sanctity that they could scarcely part from her on account of the sweetness and attraction of her words. However, an angel of the Lord appeared to them, reminding them of the necessity and of the will of the Lord that they should return to their country. No wonder that her words should so deeply affect these Kings; for all her words were inspired by the holy Spirit and full of infused science regarding all that they had inquired and many other matters.

            The heavenly Mother received the gifts of the Kings and in their name offered them to the Infant Jesus. His Majesty showed by signs of highest pleasure, that He accepted their gifts: they themselves became aware of the exalted and heavenly blessings with which He repaid them more than a hundredfold (Matth. 19, 29). According to the custom of their country they also offered to the heavenly Princess some gems of great value; but because these gifts had no mysterious signification and referred not to Jesus, She returned them to the Kings, reserving only the gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. In order to send them away more rejoiced, She gave them some of the clothes in which She had wrapped the infant God; for She neither had nor could have had any greater visible pledges of esteem with which to enrich them at their departure. The three Kings received these relics with such reverence and esteem that they encased them in gold and precious stones in order to keep them ever after. As a proof of their value these relics spread about such a copious fragrance that they revealed their presence a league in circumference. However, only those who believed in the coming of God into the world were able to perceive it; while the incredulous perceived none of the fragrance emitted by the relics. In their own countries the Magi performed great miracles with these relics.

            The holy Kings also offered their property and possession to the Mother of the sweetest Jesus, or, if She did not wish to accept of them and preferred to live in this place, where her most holy Son had been born, they would build Her a house, wherein She could live more comfortably. The most prudent Mother thanked them for their offers without accepting them. On taking leave of Her, the three Kings besought Her from their inmost hearts not to forget them, which She promised and fulfilled in the same way they asked of saint Joseph. With the blessing of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, they departed, so moved by tenderest affection that it seemed to them they had left their hearts all melted into sighs and tears in that place. They chose another way for their return journey, in order not to meet Herod in Jerusalem; for thus they had been instructed by the angel on the preceding night. On their departure from Bethlehem the same or a similar star appeared in order to guide them home, conducting them on their new route to the place where they had first met, whence each one separated to reach his own country.

            WORDS OF THE QUEEN

            The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

            My daughter, great were the gifts which the Kings offered to my most holy Son; but greater still was the affection with which they offered them and the mystery concealed beneath them. On account of all this they were most acceptable to his Majesty. I wish that thou also offer up similar gifts, thanking him for having made thee poor in condition and profession. For I assure thee, my dearest, there is no more acceptable gift to the Most High than voluntary poverty. There are very few in the world in our days who use well the temporal riches and offer them to their God and Lord with the generosity and love of these holy Kings. The poor of the Lord, so numerous in our day, experience and give witness how cruel and avaricious human nature has become; since in their great necessities thley are so little succored by the rich. This gross uncharitableness of men offends the holy angels and grieves the Holy Ghost, since they are bound to witness the nobility of the souls so degraded and abased in the service of vile greed of gold with all its evil powers (Eccles. 10, 20). As if all things had been created for the individual use of the rich, they appropriate them to themselves and deprive the poor, their brothers springing from the same nature and flesh; and denying them even to God, who created and preserves all things, and who can give or take at will. It is most lamentable that while the rich might purchase eternal life with their possessions, they abuse them to draw upon themselves damnation as senseless and foolish creatures (Luke 14, 9).

            This evil is common among the children of Adam and therefore voluntary poverty is so excellent and safe a remedy. By it, making man willing to part joyfully with his possessions for the sake of the poor, a great sacrifice is offered to the Lord. Thou also canst make such an offering of the things necessary for sustenance, giving a part of it to the poor and desiring, if it were possible by thy labor and sweat, to help all of them. Thy ceaseless offer, however, must be love, which is the gold; continual prayer, which is the incense; and the patient acceptance of labors and true mortifications, which is the myrrh. All that thou dost for the Lord, thou should offer up to Him with fervent affection and promptitude, without negligence or fear; for negligent works, and those not enlivened by love, are not an acceptable sacrifice in the eyes of his Majesty. In order to make those incessant offerings, it is necessary that divine faith and light continually inflame thy heart, having before thy eyes the great object of thy praise and exaltation, and the stimulus of love, by which thou art bound to the right hand of the Most High. Thus shouldst thou continue incessantly in this sweet exercise of love, so proper to the spouses of his Majesty; for their name implies such a continual payment of the debt of love and affection.


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            Catholic Catechism 






            Paragraph 3. The Church Is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic 

            811 "This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic."256 These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other,257 indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.

            812 Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the "Church herself, with her marvelous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission."258

            I. THE CHURCH IS ONE
            "The sacred mystery of the Church's unity" (UR 2) 
            813 The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit."259 The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body."260 The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity."261 Unity is of the essence of the Church:
            What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church."262
            814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church's members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. "Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions."263 The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."264
            815 What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect harmony."265 But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:

            - profession of one faith received from the Apostles;
            -common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;
            - apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God's family.266

            816 "The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."267

            The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."268

            Wounds to unity
            817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without human sin:

            Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271
             818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272
            819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

            Toward unity
            820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time."277 Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me."278 The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.279

            821 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:

            - a permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity;280

            - conversion of heart as the faithful "try to live holier lives according to the Gospel";281 for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ's gift which causes divisions;

            - prayer in common, because "change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism;"'282

            - fraternal knowledge of each other;283

            - ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;284

            - dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities;285

            - collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind.286 "Human service" is the idiomatic phrase.

            822 Concern for achieving unity "involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike."287 But we must realize "that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts." That is why we place all our hope "in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit."288

            II. THE CHURCH IS HOLY
            823 "The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as 'alone holy,' loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God."289 The Church, then, is "the holy People of God,"290 and her members are called "saints."291
            824 United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. "All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God."292 It is in the Church that "the fullness of the means of salvation"293 has been deposited. It is in her that "by the grace of God we acquire holiness."294
            825 "The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect."295 In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect."296
            826 Charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it "governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification."297

            If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE - IT'S ETERNAL! 298
             827 "Christ, 'holy, innocent, and undefined,' knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."299 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.300 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.301 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but still on the way to holiness:
            The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.302
            828 By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.303 "The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's history."304 Indeed, "holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal."305

            829 "But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary":306 in her, the Church is already the "all-holy."

            What does "catholic" mean?
            830 The word "catholic" means "universal," in the sense of "according to the totality" or "in keeping with the whole." The Church is catholic in a double sense:

            First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. "Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church."307 In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him "the fullness of the means of salvation"308 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost309 and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.

            831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:310
            All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God's will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one. . . . The character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.311
            Each particular Church is "catholic"
            832 "The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament. . . . In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord's Supper is celebrated. . . . In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted."312
            833 The phrase "particular Church," which is first of all the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic succession.313 These particular Churches "are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists."314
            834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome "which presides in charity."315 "For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord."316 Indeed, "from the incarnate Word's descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior's promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her."317
            835 "Let us be very careful not to conceive of the universal Church as the simple sum, or . . . the more or less anomalous federation of essentially different particular churches. In the mind of the Lord the Church is universal by vocation and mission, but when she put down her roots in a variety of cultural, social, and human terrains, she takes on different external expressions and appearances in each part of the world."318 The rich variety of ecclesiastical disciplines, liturgical rites, and theological and spiritual heritages proper to the local churches "unified in a common effort, shows all the more resplendently the catholicity of the undivided Church."319

            Who belongs to the Catholic Church?
            836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God's grace to salvation."320
            837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'"321
            838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324

            The Church and non-Christians
            839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325
            The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ",328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329
            840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.
            841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."330
            842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

            All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331
             843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332
            844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:

            Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333
            845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.334

            "Outside the Church there is no salvation"
            846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

            Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

            847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

            Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337
             848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

            Mission - a requirement of the Church's catholicity
            849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men":339 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."340
            850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit."341 The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.342
            851 Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on."343 Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth";344 that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.

            852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission."345 It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection."346 So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."347

            853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the "discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted."348 Only by taking the "way of penance and renewal," the "narrow way of the cross," can the People of God extend Christ's reign.349 For "just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men."350

            854 By her very mission, "the Church . . . travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God."351 Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,352 continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are "a sign of God's presence in the world,"353 and leads to the foundation of local churches.354 It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people's culture.355 There will be times of defeat. "With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic."356

            855 The Church's mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity.357 Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."358

            856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.359 Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God."360 They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."361

            857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
            - she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles,"362 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;363
            - with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365
            - she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":366
            You are the eternal Shepherd who never leaves his flock untended. Through the apostles you watch over us and protect us always. You made them shepherds of the flock to share in the work of your Son. . . .367
            The Apostles' mission
            858 Jesus is the Father's Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he "called to him those whom he desired; . . . . And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach."368 From then on, they would also be his "emissaries" (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."369 The apostles' ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: "he who receives you receives me."370
            859 Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As "the Son can do nothing of his own accord," but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can do nothing apart from him,371 from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. Christ's apostles knew that they were called by God as "ministers of a new covenant," "servants of God," "ambassadors for Christ," "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."372
            860 In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them "will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, . . . the apostles took care to appoint successors."373

            The bishops - successors of the apostles
            861 "In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry."374

            862 "Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops."375 Hence the Church teaches that "the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ."376

            The apostolate
            863 The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth."377
            864 "Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate"; thus the fruitfulness of apostolate for ordained ministers as well as for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with Christ.378 In keeping with their vocations, the demands of the times and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostolate assumes the most varied forms. But charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all, is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate."379
            865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that "the Kingdom of heaven," the "Reign of God,"380 already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made "holy and blameless before him in love,"381 will be gathered together as the one People of God, the "Bride of the Lamb,"382 "the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God."383 For "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."384

            IN BRIEF
            866 The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.

            867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

            868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature" (AG 2).

            869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.

            870 "The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines"(LG 8).

            256 LG 8.
            257 Cf. DS 2888.
            258 Vatican Council I, De Filius 3:DS 3013.
            259 UR 2 § 5.
            260 GS 78 § 3.
            261 UR 2 § 2.
            262 St. Clement Of Alexandria, Pæd. 1,6,42:PG 8,300.
            263 LG 13 § 2.
            264 Eph 4:3.
            265 Col 3:14.
            266 Cf. UR 2; LG 14; CIC, can. 205.
            267 LG 8 § 2.
            268 UR 3 § 5.
            269 UR 3 § 1.
            270 Cf. CIC, can. 751.
            271 Origen, Hom. in Ezech. 9,1:PG 13,732.
            272 UR 3 § 1.
            273 LG 8 § 2.
            274 UR 3 § 2; cf. LG 15.
            275 Cf. UR 3.
            276 Cf. LG 8.
            277 UR 4 § 3.
            278 Jn 17:21; cf. Heb 7:25.
            279 Cf. UR 1.
            280 Cf. UR 6.
            281 UR 7 § 3.
            282 UR 8 § 1.
            283 Cf. UR 9.
            284 Cf. UR 10.
            285 Cf. UR 4; 9; 11.
            286 Cf. UR 12.
            287 UR 5.
            288 UR 24 § 2.
            289 LG 39; Cf. Eph 5:25-26.
            290 LG 12.
            291 Acts 9:13; 1 Cor 6:1; 16:1.
            292 SC 10.
            293 UR 3 § 5.
            294 LG 48.
            295 LG 48 § 3.
            296 LG 11 § 3.
            297 LG 42.
            298 St. Thérèse Of Lisieux, Autobiography of a Saint, tr. Ronald Knox (London: Harvill, 1958) 235.
            299 LG 8 § 3; Cf. UR 3; 6; Heb 2:17; 726; 2 Cor 5:21.
            300 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.
            301 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.
            302 Paul VI, CPG § 19.
            303 Cf. LG 40; 48-51.
            304 John Paul II, CL 16,3.
            305 CL 17, 3.
            306 LG 65; cf. Eph 5:26-27.
            307 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,311.
            308 UR 3; AG 6; Eph 1:22-23.
            309 Cf. AG 4.
            310 Cf. Mt 28:19.
            311 LG 13 §§ 1-2; cf. Jn 11:52.
            312 LG 26.
            313 Cf. CD 11; CIC, cann. 368-369; CCEO, cann. 171,1; 178; 311,1; 312.
            314 LG 23.
            315 St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Ad Rom. 1,1:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,192; cf. LG 13.
            316 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,3,2:PG 7/1,849; Cf. Vatican Council I:DS 3057.
            317 St. Maximus the Confessor, Opuscula theo.:PG 91:137-140.
            318 Paul VI, EN 62.
            319 LG 23.
            320 LG 13.
            321 LG 14.
            322 LG 15.
            323 UR 3.
            324 Paul VI, Discourse, December 14, 1975; cf. UR 13-18.
            325 LG 16.
            326 Cf. NA 4.
            327 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.
            328 Rom 9:4-5.
            329 Rom 11:29.
            330 LG 16; cf. NA 3.
            331 NA 1.
            332 LG 16; cf. NA 2; EN 53.
            333 LG 16; cf. Rom 1:21, 25.
            334 St. Augustine, Serm. 96,7,9:PL 38,588; St. Ambrose, De virg. 18 118:PL 16,297B; cf. already 1 Pet 3:20-21.
            335 Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21:PL 3,1169; De unit.:PL 4,509-536.
            336 LG 14; cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5.
            337 LG 16; cf. DS 3866-3872.
            338 AG 7; cf. Heb 11:6; 1 Cor 9:16.
            339 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.
            340 Mt 28:19-20.
            341 AG 2.
            342 Cf. John Paul II, RMiss 23.
            343 2 Cor 5:14; cf. AA 6; RMiss 11.
            344 1 Tim 2:4.
            345 John Paul II, RMiss 21.
            346 AG 5.
            347 Tertullian, Apol. 50,13:PL 1,603.
            348 GS 43 § 6.
            349 LG 8 § 3; 15; AG 1 § 3; cf. RMiss 12-20.
            350 LG 8 § 3.
            351 GS 40 § 2.
            352 Cf. RMiss 42 47.
            353 AG 15 § 1.
            354 Cf. RMiss 48-49.
            355 Cf. RMiss 52-54.
            356 AG 6 § 2.
            357 Cf. RMiss 50.
            358 UR 4 § 8.
            359 Cf. RMiss 55.
            360 AG 9.
            361 AG 9.
            362 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.
            363 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.
            364 Cf. Acts 2:42.
            365 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.
            366 AG 5.
            367 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.
            368 Mk 3:13-14.
            369 Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18.
            370 Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.
            371 Jn 5:19, 30; cf. Jn 15:5.
            372 2 Cor 3:6; 6:4; 5:20; 1 Cor 4:1.
            373 LG 20; cf. Mt 28:20.
            374 LG 20; cf. Acts 20:28; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42,44:PG 1,291-300.
            375 LG 20 § 2.
            376 LG 20 § 2.
            377 AA 2.
            378 AA 4; cf. Jn 15:5.
            379 AA 3.
            380 Rev 19:6.
            381 Eph 1:4.
            382 Rev 21:9.
            383 Rev 21:10-11.
            384 Rev 21:14.


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