Monday, October 13, 2014

The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917

Damien F. Mackey



Taken from my book (1994),

The Five First Saturdays



After the Lady had identified who she was, Lucia again asked her if she would cure the sick, and convert the sinners who had been recommended to her. Our Lady replied:


“I will cure or convert some of them. Others I will not.

They must repent and beg pardon for their sins”.


Then, with a look of grief and in a suppliant tone of voice, she added:


“Men must not offend God any more for He is already very much offended”.


And opening her hands Our Lady, as She was rising to go away, projected beams of light onto the sun. Lucia cried: “Look at the sun!” And suddenly, as the crowd looked upwards, the clouds opened and exposed the blue sky with the sun at its zenith. But this sun did not dazzle. The people could look directly at it. It was like a shining silver plate. Then the sun trembled. It made some abrupt movements. It began to spin like a wheel of fire. Great shafts of coloured light flared out from its centre in all directions, colouring in a most fantastic manner the clouds, trees, rocks, earth, and even the clothes and faces of the people gathered there, in alternating splashes of red, yellow, green, blue and violet – the full spectrum of rainbow colours.


After about five minutes the sun stopped revolving in this fashion. A moment later, it resumed a second time its incredible motion, throwing out its light and colour like a huge display of fireworks. And once more, after a few minutes, the sun stopped its prodigious dance.


After a short time, and for the third time, it resumed its spinning and fantastic colours. The crowd gazed spellbound. Then came the awful climax. The sun seemed to be falling from the sky. Zig-zagging from side to side, it plunged down towards the crowd below, sending out a heat increasingly intense, and causing the spectators to believe that this was indeed the end of the world.


People stood wild-eyed, or sank to their knees in the mud, as the sun rushed towards them. A desperate cry went up from the crowd, begging God, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, for mercy, asking pardon for their sins. The sun halted, stopping short in its precipitous fall, and then it climbed back to its place in the sky, where it regained its normal brilliance.


Then the dazed people, who had just experienced the wonder of the age – or what Cardinal Laraana would later call “the greatest Divine intervention since the time of Our Lord” (Soul, Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6) – found that another miracle had occurred. This apocalyptic scene, full of majesty and terror, had ended with a delicate gift, which showed the motherly tenderness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her children. Their sodden clothes were dry and comfortable, without a trace of mud and rain.


But there was another aspect to Our Lady’s Miracle that only the three children witnessed. Corresponding to the three distinct movements of the sun, separated by the moments of pause, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco

saw three distinct tableaux representing, successively, the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.


In the first tableau they saw the three members of the Holy Family; with Our Lady of the Rosary to the right of the sun and more brilliant than the sun, wearing a white dress and a blue mantle. To the left, dressed in red, was St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus blessing the world. Next, Our Divine Lord appeared as a grown man, lovingly blessing the world. To the left was Our Lady of Sorrows, clad in purple. Finally, Our Lady of Sorrows was replaced by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Scapular in her hand. The Miracle of the sun at Fatima, therefore, was absolutely a Rosary miracle. It seemed even to move to the pulse and rhythm of a Rosary being recited. Its approximately fifteen minutes’ duration might also have been intended to represent one of the conditions of the Five First Saturday devotion: fifteen minutes of meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, while keeping Our Lady company.


Full of Scriptural Imagery

All in one, the great Miracle of the 13th of October, 1917, incorporated some of the most spectacular elements of renowned Old Testament miracles. Fr. Smolenski (op. cit., pp. 11-12) has compared Noah’s time for instance, when it rained for forty days and forty nights, with Fatima on that day, when everything was drenched with rain. The dove with the branch indicated that the storm had subsided; Our Lady’s presence over the holm-oak tree was Heaven’s peace. The Ark landed on solid earth; Fatima was dry because of the miracle. God re-established the covenant of peace by means of Noah; Our Lady asked that Consecration be made to her Immaculate Heart. The rainbow became the sign of peace; the whole area of the Fatima miracle reflected all the colours of the rainbow during the sun’s dance. “As Noah’s sons inherited the covenant of peace, brought to mind by the presence of the rainbow, so Mary, Image of the Church as the servant of God, would have her children be the bearers of her peace to a re-energized and re-evangelized creation”.
Other comparisons with Old Testament miracles appear in Soul magazine (Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6). For instance, the sun’s leaving the entire area dry at the Cova da Iria reminds one of the dry path through the Red Sea. Or of Joshua’s own solar miracle, when, at his command, the sun gave its light two hours after sunset. Again, reminiscent of the sun’s fall, was Elijah’s calling down of fire from the sky as a challenge to the pagan priests. (Elijah is of course already linked to the Carmelites, and the Scapular, due to his association with Mount Carmel, and his miraculous mantle). Finally, we could add to these the miraculous alteration affected on the sundial, as cause by the prophet Isaiah for the benefit of king Hezekiah.
Pope Pius XII, when instituting the feast of The Queenship of Mary with his encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam, in 1954, likened Our Lady to the rainbow in the Genesis account of Noah and in Ecclesiasticus:

“Is She not a rainbow in the clouds, reaching towards God, a promise of peace? (Cf. Genesis 9:13). ‘Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; it is very beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it’ (Ecclesiasticus 43:11-12)”.

But undoubtedly, more than anything else, it was the stupendous character of the Miracle of the Sun – coupled with the fact that it had been predicted to the very hour, months in advance – that sets Fatima apart from all of the Old Testament manifestations of God, and even from the preceding Marian apparitions. Pope Paul VI referred to it simply as ‘Signum Magnum’, ‘The Great Sign’.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nobel Prize to Malala Yousafzai, advocate of girls’ right to education

(Reuters) – Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, and Indian campaigner against child trafficking and labor Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Yousafzai, aged 17, becomes the youngest Nobel Prize winner and 60-year-old Satyarthi the first Indian-born winner of the accolade.
They were picked for their struggle against the oppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
The sharing of the award between an Indian and a Pakistani came after a week of hostilities along the border of the disputed, mainly Muslim region of Kashmir – the worst fighting between the nuclear-armed rivals in more than a decade.
“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” said Thorbjoern Jagland, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, described the joint award “an innovative prize that brings attention to the problems of the young”.
Satyarthi said he hoped to work with Yousafzai for peace.
“I will invite her to join hands to establish peace for our subcontinent, which is a must for children, which is a must for every Indian, for every Pakistani, for every citizen of the world,” he said at the New Delhi office of his organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement.
Yousafzai later told reporters in the English city of Birmingham where she now lives that she had spoken by telephone with Satyarthi on Friday and they had agreed to invite the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to the ceremony in December.
“The tension that is going on is really disappointing and I’m really sad because I want both countries to have dialogue to have talks about peace,” she said.
Yousafzai said she had found out about winning the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday from a teacher during a chemistry lesson, adding that the news had come as a big surprise.
“This is not the end of this campaign which I have started. I think this is really the beginning. I want to see every child going to school,” she said, adding she felt “really honored”.
Yousafzai was attacked in 2012 on a school bus in the Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan by masked gunmen as a punishment for a blog that she wrote for the BBC’s Urdu service as an 11-year-old to campaign against the Taliban’s efforts to deny women an education.
Unable to return to Pakistan after her recovery, Yousafzai moved to England, setting up the Malala Fund and supporting local education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.
Her former teacher, Ahmed Shah, said the peace prize was wonderful news for Pakistan.
“This is a breath of fresh air, a gift for Pakistan, at a time when we are embroiled in terrorism and violence and wars,” Shah told Reuters by telephone from the Swat Valley.
“Those who oppose her, extremist elements or whoever else, they have been rendered irrelevant. They are a weak minority.”
Yousafzai addressed the U.N. Youth Assembly last year at an event Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “Malala Day”. This year she traveled to Nigeria to demand the release of 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram.
“To the girls of Nigeria and across Africa, and all over the world, I want to say: don’t let anyone tell you that you are weaker than or less than anything,” she said in a speech.
“You are not less than a boy,” Yousafzai said. “You are not less than a child from a richer or more powerful country. You are the future of your country. You are going to build it strong. It is you who can lead the charge.”
Satyarthi, who gave up a career as an electrical engineer in 1980 to campaign against child labor, has headed various forms of peaceful protests and demonstrations, focusing on the exploitation of children for financial gain.
“It is a disgrace for every human being if any child is working as a child slave in any part of the world,” Satyarthi said. “I feel very proud to be an Indian that in India I was able to keep this fight on for the last 30 years or so. This is a great recognition and honor for all my fellow Indians.”
In a recent editorial, Satyarthi said that data from non-government organizations indicated that child laborers could number 60 million in India – 6 percent of the total population.
“Children are employed not just because of parental poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, failure of development and education programs, but quite essentially due to the fact that employers benefit immensely from child labor as children come across as the cheapest option, sometimes working even for free,” he wrote.
Last month, based on a complaint filed by his organization in a Delhi court, the Indian government was forced to put in place regulations to protect domestic workers who are often physically and sexually abused and exploited.
Satyarthi joins a handful of Nobel Peace Prize winners with ties to India – even though the most famous peace activist of them all and father of independent India, Mahatma Gandhi, never received the honor.
Mother Theresa, an Albanian-born nun, was recognized in 1979 for her work with the poor in the Indian port city of Calcutta. The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who won the prize in 1989, resides in India.
Many commentators say that the omission of Gandhi from the list of laureates is the biggest error in the history of the Prize, first awarded in 1901.
“Maybe there is a little nod to Gandhi there,” Harpviken said of the award to India’s Satyarthi.
The United Nations’ Childrens’ Fund in South Asia said the joint award recognized “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people” in a region where nearly 17.5 million girls aged between 5 and 13 are out of school and over 12 percent of children between 5 and 14 are engaged in labor.
The prize, worth about $1.1 million, will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the award in his 1895 will.
The previous youngest winner was Australian-born British scientist Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 when he shared the Physics Prize with his father in 1915.
(Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik, by Krista Mahr, Douglas Busvine and Nita Bhalla in NEW DELHI and by Maria Golovnina and Mehreen Zahra-Malik in ISLAMABAD; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones)


Taken from:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma".

Pope Francis distances himself from ‘very conservative’ bishops

John-Henry WestenandHilary White

ROME – In an interview released on the opening of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis distanced himself from “very conservative” bishops, adding however that he enjoys "debating" them as long as they are "intellectually well-formed."
In an interview with the pope, published October 5, reporter Joaquín Morales Solá at Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper asked if he was “worried” about the recent book by five cardinals opposing Kasper’s proposal, titled Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. Morales Solá said to the pope that the book is “critical of your positions.”
Francis “doesn’t answer” the question directly, according to Morales Solá, but says, “Everyone has something to contribute. I even enjoy debating with the very conservative, but intellectually well-formed bishops.”
(See excerpts below of the La Nacion interview, translated by LifeSiteNews.)
At Wednesday’s press briefing, LifeSiteNews asked Vatican officials for a clarification on the pope’s remarks apparently separating himself from the “very conservative” outlook on the faith of prelates like Cardinal Raymond Burke, a co-author of the book, and Cardinal George Pell, who wrote the foreword to another book criticizing Kasper’s proposal and who has warned it would result in a sociological disaster.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, replied, “I have no knowledge of this interview; I know absolutely nothing about it. We didn’t publish it, therefore I have nothing to clarify, because, it is hardly known to me.” Father Thomas Rosica, English-language spokesman for the Synod, repeated that prior to LifeSiteNews’ question, the Vatican’s press office had no knowledge of the interview or its contents.
In the interview the pope said that in addition to problem of divorced Catholics, which has been the prominent discussion, he is equally concerned with “the new habits of today’s youth.”
“Young people who are not getting married at all. It is a culture feature of our times,” he said. “So many young people prefer to live together without marrying. What should the Church do? Expel them from its breast? Or, instead, approach them, embrace them and try to bring them the word of God? I'm with the latter position.”
"The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma,” he continued. “We have to approach social conflicts, new and old, and try to give a hand of comfort, not to stigmatize and not to just impugn.”
Vatican press spokesmen Father Federico Lombardi and Father Thomas Rosica at a press conference Wednesday. John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

Morales Solá’s interview with the pope was interspersed with his own commentary on Pope Francis’ papacy. According to the reporter, Pope Francis has “changed the agenda of the Church” and “very quickly radically changed [its] focus.” The pope’s new agenda, he said, has at times “pitted conservatives against reformers.”
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“Cardinals and bishops know that behind the friendly and warm smile is the iron will of the old Jesuit. The power of the Vatican bureaucracy is not discussed in his presence,” he wrote.
The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which runs from October 5-19, became a flashpoint of controversy in the months leading up to it as self-styled “reformers” agitated for change in Church practice, and in some cases, outright revision of doctrine. Critics of these “reformers” have met the challenge with vigorous defenses of Catholic teaching on marriage and family.
On Tuesday, the Holy See Press Office told reporters that some Synod participants proposed moving away from strong language in moral discourse, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s description of homosexual behaviour as “intrinsically disordered,” or the common description of cohabitation as “living in sin.”
LifeSiteNews' Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen is in Rome for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. For more LifeSiteNews coverage, visit our feature page.
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ interview with La Nacion, published October 5
Translated by LifeSiteNews
What does the Pope expect of synod which is currently opening? It should be noted at the outset, that the Synod is a gathering of bishops from around the world that has an advisory character and that its main purpose is to advise the pope on a given topic.
There are now in Rome about 200 cardinals and bishops from around the world who will be addressing the issue of the family. "Do not expect any final positions next week," says the Pope, ironically. "This will be a long synod, which will probably last a year. I am only giving it the initial push," he adds.
Are you worried about the book co-authored by five cardinals, one of whom is very prominent, which is critical of your positions? He doesn’t answer. “Everyone has something to contribute. I even enjoy debating with the very conservative, but intellectually well formed bishops,” he says.
The pope has let go of the reins of the synod. "I was the rapporteur of the 2001 synod and there was a cardinal who told us what should be discussed and what should not. That will not happen now. I even gave the bishops my power to elect committee chairmen. They will elect them, just like they will elect the secretaries and rapporteurs."
“Of course - he stresses - that's the synodal practice that I like. All should speak their mind freely. Freedom is always very important. Another thing is the government of the Church. That is in my hands, after I receive the necessary advice,” he emphasizes. Francis is a good pope, but not a pope that will be governed by others. This is very clear in his style of political and religious management.
This style is also seen in its relationship with Argentinian Church. He gave them full freedom to fix their positions on public issues. However, he unequivocally reserves his right to the appointment of bishops. The Conference of Bishops and the Nunciature often send the lists of candidates for the appointment of new bishops. Then the Pope must choose one of these candidates. Francis has already returned some of these lists because he did not like any of the candidates.
What conclusions would he like to draw from the synod?
“The family is such an important issues, so costly for society and for the Church," he says, adding, "There has been much emphasis on the issue of divorced people, and this is an aspect that undoubtedly will be debated. But, for me, an equally important problem is the new current, the new habits of today’s youth. Young people who are not getting married at all. It is a culture feature of our times. So many young people prefer to live together without marrying. What should the Church do? Expel them from its breast? Or, instead, approach them, embrace them and try to bring them the word of God? I'm with the latter position," he says.
"The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma. We have to approach social conflicts, new and old, and try to give a hand of comfort, not to stigmatize and not to just impugn," he says.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pope Francis launches review of marriage, divorce

  • by:
  • From: AFP
  • October 05, 2014 12:48PM
Pope Francis will launch a review of Catholic family teaching that could have implications for the church.
  • Pope Francis leads a vigil prayer in preparation for the synod on the family. Source: AFP
POPE Francis is launching a major review of Catholic teaching on the family that could have far-reaching implications for the Church’s attitude to marriage, cohabitation and divorce.
An extraordinary synod, or meeting, of nearly 200 bishops from around the world and a sprinkling of lay Catholics will, for the next two weeks, address the huge gulf between what the Church says on these issues and what tens of millions of believers actually do.
Addressing tens of thousands of believers in St Peter’s square on the eve of the synod overnight, Francis said the synod could open the door to a “renewal of the Church and society.”
Since becoming pontiff just over 18 months ago, Francis has repeatedly highlighted the “wounds” caused by family breakdown in modern society, while suggesting the Church needs to adapt to this new reality.
“The wounds have to be treated with mercy. The Church is a mother, not a customs office, coldly checking who is within the rules,” he has said, in an allusion to the many divorced people, cohabiting couples and single mothers within the ranks of the Church.
Pope Francis underlined where he stands last month by personally marrying 20 Roman couples, some of whom had been “living in sin” prior to their weddings.
In his 18 months in the Vatican, the 77-year-old Pope has already taken steps to overhaul the way the Vatican bank and administration are run and has sent out strong signals about the determination of the Church to deal with the issue of clerical sex abuse.
But a reform agenda on social issues could prove much harder to implement because of deep divisions within the Church, Vatican experts say.
Conservatives in the Church hierarchy have already made it clear they will fight any dilution of traditional doctrine.
The Church’s view of marriage has come to be seen as increasingly outdated by many in a world where, in some developed countries, nearly one in two marriages ends in divorce and where the notion of the institution itself has been challenged by the global trend towards the legalisation of same-sex weddings.
The bishops gathered in Rome are certainly not about to embrace gay marriage and few Vatican observers expect much, if any, change on questions such as contraception, another area where Catholic teaching contrasts with the daily practice of millions.
But with Francis on the side of reform, the feeling is that the synod process could lead to some highly symbolic changes when it finally reaches conclusions, which is not expected to happen before 2016 at the earliest.
The most notable of these could be a change in the rules to make it possible for Catholics who divorce and then remarry to receive communion.
That has been banned for centuries but critics say the Church’s stance is ludicrous given that individuals who have declared their repentance from more serious breaches of the Christian code, including murder or involvement in organised crime, can take communion.
While the Church may not yet be ready to take a step that would amount to a de facto acceptance of divorce in certain circumstances, the discussions could result in steps to make it easier for failed marriages to be annulled.
Another area in which the Church could send out a signal of compassion is by making it clear that priests should be ready to baptise the children of same sex couples, regardless of the doctrinal disapproval of their parents’ union.
The synod will also discuss how priests and parishioners can practically help to shore up marriages within their community. Among questions to be addressed on that score is whether the easy availability of pornography in modern society is a factor in family breakdown.



Taken from:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vatican: UN Committee “A Sword Against Freedom of Religion”

NEW YORK, October 3 (C-Fam) The Vatican accused a UN committee of intolerance against Christians and interfering with the free exercise of religion in a scathing reply to a UN committee released to the press last Friday.
The Vatican’s official response to explosive comments made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child earlier this year, which told the Catholic Church to change its teaching on abortion and same-sex attraction, departs sharply from UN etiquette by confronting the committee bluntly and without mincing words.
The Vatican is especially harsh on the committee for meddling with religious freedom, as well as sowing confusion and disregard of international law. It chastised the UN committee for abusing its position to disparage the Catholic Church during the reporting process under Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The committee’s recommendation to change Church teaching on abortion was “completely unacceptable,” the Vatican said. The treaty states that children must be protected “before and after birth.” With regards to Church teaching about marriage, the Vatican said same sex couples, sexual orientation, and diverse forms of the family are “controversial” and “subjective lifestyle choices” never contemplated by human rights treaties.
According to the Vatican the UN experts are guilty of “negative stereotyping” and “intolerance against members of the Catholic religion.” The committee “launched” into interpretations of scripture, as well as observations on faith, morals, and canon law.
The Vatican said the committee applied the principle of non-discrimination in an “unprincipled way, namely as a sword against freedom of religion” when it claimed Church teaching on the complementarity and equal dignity of man and woman are examples of sexism.
Sexual education is outside the purview of the treaty, noted the Vatican “Education about authentic human love, human sexuality, married love and related matters are primarily and fundamentally the right, duty, and responsibility of parents.”
Aside from the substance of the recommendations, the committee failed to comprehend the “specific nature and mission” of the Holy See. The committee told the Vatican it was responsible for the actions of clerics and Catholic institutions operating in the territory and under the laws of other countries.
“The Holy See’s religious and moral mission, which transcends geographical boundaries, cannot be transformed into a sort of universal legal jurisdiction, which somehow becomes a matter under the mandate of a treaty body,” the Vatican explained. That would require the Church to “control the daily activities of clerics, religious and laypersons, living in the territories of sovereign States.”
Vatican Press spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi had promised a detailed response following the committee’s observations earlier this year. He explained that outside the borders of the Vatican City all the Church could do was support the treaty with its moral and spiritual clout. The Vatican became the fourth party to the treaty in 1990 under John Paul II and the treaty enjoys near universal ratification by UN member states.
Other UN state parties to the treaty will follow the Holy See with interest. It remains to be seen if the committee includes the Holy See’s reply in the official record of the reporting process that is reviewed annually by the UN General Assembly. The committee may try to limit the exposure of the Vatican’s response within the UN system.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pope Francis summons Mideast envoys to Rome over ISIS progress

The holy leader is holding the rare three-day meeting that will begin Thursday to discuss a response to the progress made by the Islamic extremist group. The pope has expressed concern over the large number of Christians killed or driven away from ISIS conquered regions.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 1:31 PM

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis, who has expressed alarm over the rise of Islamic State militants and the plight of Christians in the Middle East, has summoned his envoys in the region to a rare meeting to discuss a response to the crisis, the Vatican said on Tuesday.The gathering will take place between Thursday and Saturday and include Vatican ambassadors to Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinians as well as representatives to the United Nations and the European Union.They will hold talks with more than a dozen top Vatican officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who addressed the United Nations on the Middle East crisis on Monday.

Earlier this month during a visit to predominantly Muslim Albania, Francis issued a strong criticism of Islamist militants, saying no religious group which used violence and oppression could claim to be “the armor of God”.
Islamic State has declared a “caliphate” in the territories it controls in Syria and Iraq and has killed or driven out large numbers of Christians, Shi’ite Muslims and others who do not subscribe to its hardline version of Sunni Islam.
Asked about Islamic State last month when returning from a trip to South Korea, Francis endorsed action by the international community to stop “unjust aggression.”
Parolin, the Vatican’s top diplomat, told the the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday that it was “both licit and urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force”.
Islamic State is battling Shi’ite-backed governments in both Iraq and Syria, as well as other Sunni groups in Syria and Kurdish groups in both countries, part of complex, multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

Pope Francis: Satan seduces by disguising evil as good

by Elise Harris


.- On Monday’s feast of the archangels Pope Francis spoke of the ongoing battle between the devil and mankind, encouraging attendees to pray to the angels, who have been charged to defend us.

“He presents things as if they were good, but his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us,” the Roman Pontiff told those gathered for his Sept. 29 Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence chapel.

The Bishop of Rome began by pointing to the day’s readings taken from Daniel 7 in which the prophet has a vision of God the Father on a throne of fire giving Christ dominion over the world, and Revelation 12, which recounts the battle in which Satan, as a large dragon, is cast out of heaven by St. Michael.

Noting how these are strong images portraying “the great dragon, the ancient serpent” who “seduces all of inhabited earth,” the Pope also drew attention to Christ's words to Nathanael in the day’s Gospel from John when he tells him “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

All of these readings, he said, speak of “the struggle between God and the devil” which “takes place after Satan tries to destroy the woman who is about to give birth to a son.”

“Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathaniel would come in glory,” the Roman Pontiff observed, explaining that “from the beginning the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan's (use of) seduction to destroy.”

Envy could be the devil’s motive, he said, pointing to how Psalm 8 tells us ‘You have made man superior to the angels.’ And that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation; that a lower creature was made superior to him; and he tries to destroy it.”

Pope Francis then noted how “So many projects, except for one's own sins, but many, many projects for mankind's dehumanization, are his work, simply because he hates mankind.”

He continued by explaining that although the Bible tells us that the devil is astute and cunning in his attacks, we have the angels to defend us.

“They defend mankind and defend the God-man, the superior man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect."

“This is why the Church honors the angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God – namely, that the Word was made flesh.”

It is therefore the responsibility of the People of God “to safeguard man, the man Jesus,” the Pope went on, because “he is the man who gives life to all men.”

However this is not easy because Satan has invented “humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God” in order to destroy us.

“This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches,” the Pope went on, adding that “if we do not struggle, we will be defeated.”

“But the Lord gave this task primarily to the angels: to do battle and win,” he said, drawing attention to the final song of Revelation which reads "now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by encouraging those present to pray to the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and to recite the prayer to Saint Michael often.

We should do this “so he may continue to do battle and defend the greatest mystery of mankind: that the Word was made Man, died and rose again. This is our treasure. That he may battle on to safeguard it.”