Archbishop of Hyderabad The Church celebrates the feast of the Archangels Michael. Gabriel and Raphael on the 29th September. In the liturgy of this day, the Church gratefully professes her faith in the providence of our heavenly Father through the ministry of His Angels for our present covenantal life with Him in Christ and prays: ‘God our Father, in your loving providence you send your holy angels to watch over us. Hear our prayers, defend us always by their protection and let us share your life with them forever.’ St. John tells us in his gospel account of Jesus, that Jesus told Nathaniel that the Angels of God would be serving His reign as the glorious Son of man over the people of His new and everlasting covenant: “I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of man, the Angels of God ascending and descending.” In his book of the Revelation, St. John narrates how it was shown to him in the portent (chapter 12) that the Archangel Michael heads the messianic war waged by Jesus our Lord as the glorious son of man over the Devil and his angels to eschatalogically dethrone and bring to naught their nefarious reign over the human race and the rest of the created world that began with the Devil’s victory over Adam as ‘the ancient serpent’. By virtue of our likeness to the angelic spirits and con-naturality with them as created persons in our ‘inner nature,’ St. Michael and the other Archangels and our Guardian Angels and all the other holy Angels who are ‘continuously in the presence of the heavenly Father,’ direct our personal lives in this world towards God by imparting good thoughts and holy suggestions to us through their personal interactions with our individual spiritual inner natures in order to make us true and loving to the Blessed Trinity. Accordingly, the Church firmly declares that ‘the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.’ Indeed, ‘from infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession,’ for ‘He has commanded His Angels to keep you in all your ways (Ps.90:4b).’ In this manner, already here on earth, the faithful Christian through his or her covenantal obedience of faith to the Blessed Trinity ‘shares in the blessed company of angels and men united to God.’

The Church teaches us to foster public devotion to all the blessed angels and in particular to Archangel Michael in her prayer to him: ‘Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle and be our safeguard against the wickedness and all the snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou O prince of the heavenly host, thrust down into hell, Satan and all the wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.’ Let us foster true and salutary devotion to Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael and to all the holy Angels by duly honoring them and by adoring the Blessed Trinity with them and thanking the Blessed Trinity for granting us their holy friendship and protection.

‘Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.’

NATIVITY OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The Catholic Church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on its traditional fixed date of September 8, nine months after the December 8 celebration of her Immaculate Conception as the child of Saints Joachim and Anne. The circumstances of the Virgin Mary’s infancy and early life are not directly recorded in the Bible, but other documents and traditions describing the circumstances of her birth are cited by some of the earliest Christian writers from the first centuries of the Church. These accounts, although not considered authoritative in the same manner as the Bible, outline some of the Church’s traditional beliefs about the birth of Mary. The “Protoevangelium of James,” which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary’s father Joachim as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Joachim was deeply grieved, along with his wife Anne, by their childlessness. “He called to mind Abraham,” the early Christian writing says, “that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac.” Joachim and Anne began to devote themselves extensively and rigorously to prayer and fasting, initially wondering whether their inability to conceive a child might signify God’s displeasure with them. As it turned out, however, the couple were to be blessed even more abundantly than Abraham and Sarah, as an angel revealed to Anne when he appeared to her and prophesied that all generations would honor their future child: “The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.” After Mary’s birth, according to the Protoevangelium of James, Anne “made a sanctuary” in the infant girl’s room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean” on account of the special holiness of the child. The same writing records that when she was one year old, her father “made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel.” “And Joachim brought the child to the priests,” the account continues, “and they blessed her, saying: ‘O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations’ . . . And he brought her to the chief priests, and they blessed her, saying: ‘O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever.’” The protoevangelium goes on to describe how Mary’s parents, along with the temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life, and enter a chaste marriage with the carpenter Joseph. Saint Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an event of cosmic and historic significance, and an appropriate prelude to the birth of Jesus Christ. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley,” he said. The fourth-century bishop, whose theology profoundly shaped the Western Church’s understanding of sin and human nature, affirmed that “through her birth, the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” - Source: CNA Catholic News Agency, Free Spanish News Service, catholicna@catholicna.com

THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

Early in the fourth century, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on that spot. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

To this day, the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.(Source: Franciscan media, a Nonprofit Ministry of the Franciscan Friars)

ST. MATTHEW

Matthew was a tax collector, the disciple of Jesus Christ, the patron saint of bankers. The Church established St. Matthew’s feast day as September 21.

Little is known about St. Matthew, except that he was the son of Alpheus, and he was likely born in Galilee. He worked as a tax collector, which was a hated profession during the time of Christ.

According to the Gospel, Matthew was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Christ came to him and asked, “Follow me.” With this simple call, Matthew became a disciple of Christ.

From Matthew we know of the many doings of Christ and the message Christ spread of salvation for all people who come to God through Him. The Gospel account of Matthew tells the same story as that found in the other three Gospels, so scholars are certain of its authenticity. His book is the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament.

Many years following the death of Christ, around 41 and 50 AD, Matthew wrote his gospel account. He wrote the book in Aramaic in the hope that his account would convince his fellow people that Jesus was the Messiah and that His kingdom had been fulfilled in a spiritual way. It was an important message at a time when almost everyone was expecting the return of a militant messiah brandishing a sword.

It is thought he departed for other lands to escape persecution sometime after 42 AD. According to various legends he fled to Parthia and Persia, or Ethiopia. Nothing is recorded of Matthew’s passing. We do not know how he died, if his death was natural or if he was martyred.

Saint Matthew is often depicted with one of the four living creatures of Revelation 4:7, which reads, “The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third living creature had a human face, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.”(-Author and Publisher - Catholic Online)

ST. MOTHER THERESA

The remarkable woman who would be known as Mother Theresa began life named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, she was the youngest child born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, Receiving her First Communion at the age of five, she was confirmed in November 1916. Her father died while she was only eight years old leaving her family in financial straits.

Gonxha’s religious formation was assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was very involved as a youth.

Subsequently moved to pursue missionary work, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 at the age of 18 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. She received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. In December of 1929, she departed for her first trip to India, arriving in Calcutta. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls.

Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, On May 24, 1937, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was called Mother Teresa.

She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal. Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.

It was on September 10, 1946 during a train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat,Mother Teresa received her “inspiration, her call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life.

By means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,’”He begged her. “I cannot go alone.”

Jesus revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor.

Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On December 21, she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and tuberculosis. She started each day with communion then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him amongst “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.

On October 7, 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresaopened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.

In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.

Mother Theresa’s inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co- Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with who she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love.

This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charisma and spirit.

During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honored her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention ‘for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”

There was a heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, the darkness. The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresato an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.

In spite of increasingly severe health problems towards the end of her life, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters.

On September 5, Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She was given the honor of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike.

Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God. As a testament to her most remarkable life, Pope John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonization. On December 20, 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and miracles.

Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 2003.

On the occasion of her beatification, the Missionaries of Charity issued the following statement:

“We, the Missionaries of Charity, give thanks and praise to God that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has officially recognized the holiness of our mother, Mother Teresa, and approved the miracle obtained through her intercession. We are filled with joy in anticipation of the Beatification that will take place in Rome on Mission Sunday, 19 October 2003, the closest Sunday to the 25th anniversary of the Holy Father’s Pontificate and the end of the Year of the Rosary.

“Today, after three and a half years of investigation and study, the Church confirms that Mother heroically lived the Christian life and that God has lifted her up as both a model of holiness and an intercessor for all.

“Mother is a symbol of love and compassion. When Mother was with us, we were witnesses to her shining example of all the Christian virtues. Her life of loving service to the poor has inspired many to follow the same path. Her witness and message are cherished by those of every religion as a sign that “God still loves the world today.” For the past five years since Mother’s death, people have sought her help and have experienced God’s love for them through her prayers. Every day, pilgrims from India and around the world come to pray at her tomb and many more follow her example of humble service of love to the most needy, beginning in their own families.

“Mother often said, ‘Holiness is not the luxury of the few, it is a simple duty for each one of us. May her example help us to strive for holiness: to love God, to respect and love every human person created by God in His own image and in whom He dwells, and to care for our poor and suffering brethren. May all the sick, the suffering, and those who seek God’s help find a friend and intercessor in Mother.”

Following her beatification, a long wait for a second miracle then followed. On December 17, 2015 Pope Francis announced a second miracle had been attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa. The miracle involved a Brazilian man who was afflicted with tumors who was miraculously cured. This cleared the way for Mother Teresa’s canonization. Mother Teresa was canonized on September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis.(Author and Publisher - Catholic Online)