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      Pope Francis pens letter to the Families of the World...

      Dear families,

      With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.

      This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.  Read full letter here


       
         Pope Francis calls his first Encyclical
      "the work of four hands"
      (Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, John XXIII)
       
                                                       
      ENCYCLICAL LETTER
      LUMEN FIDEI
      OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
      FRANCIS 

      TO THE BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND DEACONS
      CONSECRATED PERSONS
      AND THE LAY FAITHFUL
      ON FAITH

       
      The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: "I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness" (Jn 12:46). Saint Paul uses the same image: "God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts" (2 Cor 4:6). The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, Sol Invictus, invoked each day at sunrise. Yet though the sun was born anew each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting its light on all of human existence. The sun does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to its light. "No one — Saint Justin Martyr writes — has ever been ready to die for his faith in the sun". Conscious of the immense horizon which their faith opened before them, Christians invoked Jesus as the true sun "whose rays bestow life". To Martha, weeping for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus said: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (Jn 11:40). Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets...Read full text of Lumen Fidei 
       

       
      An outstanding explanation of the challenge of balancing Church & State in a Secularized culture...
      Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville,

      It would be fair to say that over the last year and a half the Catholic Church in the United States and governmental authority on a federal and state level have had a contentious series of disagreements. If we look at the most publicized disagreements, the Health and Human Services rule for implementation of universal health-care coverage, and immigration laws passed in particular states, one could say they are unrelated, and destined to be resolved in divergent ways according to the political process. Or, and I think this is the more realistic way to think, we can view the controversies as related on a deep level, and indicative of a significant cultural and social shift affecting the context within which the Church operates in the United States.   Read entire text of lecture here...

       

      The Nicene Creed (AD 325)...fully grounded in Sacred Scripture
       

      From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formulae for all. But already early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of its faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:

      This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. Just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments. 

      Such syntheses are called “professions of faith” since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called “creeds” on account of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo (“I believe”). They are also called “symbols of faith.”


      The Nicene Creed

      I believe in one God (1 Cor. 8:4-6, Heb. 11:6, Romans 3:29-31), the Father (1 Cor. 8:6) Almighty (Rev. 1:8), maker of heaven and earth (Ex. 20:11, Gen. 1, Gen 2), of all things visible and invisible (Jer. 32:17, Col. 1:16).

      I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ (Acts. 10:36, Mt. 1:21, Jn. 4:25-26), the Only Begotten Son of God (Jn. 1:14), born of the Father before all ages (1 Jn. 4:9). God from God, Light from Light (Jn. 1:4), true God from true God (Jn. 5:18), begotten, not made (Jn. 8:58), consubstantial with the Father (Jn. 10:30); Through him all things were made (Jn. 1:3). For us men and for our salvation (Mt. 1:21) he came down from heaven (Jn. 3:31), and by the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35) was incarnate of the Virgin Mary (Lk. 2:6), and became man (Jn. 1:14, Phil. 2:5-8). For our sake he was crucified (Mk. 15:25) under Pontius Pilate (Mt. 27:22-26), he suffered death and was buried (Mt. 27:50-60), and rose again on the third day (Mt. 28:6) in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:4). He ascended into heaven (Lk. 24:51) and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Mk. 16:19). He will come again in glory (Mt. 25:31) to judge the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1) and his kingdom will have no end (Lk. 1:33).

      I believe in the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26), the Lord (2 Cor. 3:17-18), the giver of life (Rom. 8:2), who proceeds from the Father and the Son (Jn. 15:26, Rom. 8:9), who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified (Rev. 4:8), who has spoken through the prophets (2 Peter 1:21). 

      I believe in one (Jn. 10:16), holy (Eph. 5:26-27, 2 Peter 2:5, 9), catholic (Rom. 10:18 - universal), and apostolic Church (Eph. 2:20). I confess one baptism (Eph. 4:5) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:48) and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead (Rom. 6:5) and the life of the world to come (Mt. 25:34, Rev. 21:1-7). Amen.