Wednesday, 7 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the Apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.

Saul meanwhile was trying to destroy the Church; he entered house after house and dragged off men and women and had them put in jail. At the same time those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.

All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled were healed. So there was great joy in that town.

Monday, 5 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to keep the truth, stand by that truth and stay faithful to that truth. And what is this truth? It is the truth proclaimed by Christ Himself when He taught the people and His disciples, about His mission, His nature, and the nature of God’s salvation. It is also the truth proclaimed by Stephen the first deacon of the Church in today’s first reading against those who refused to believe in the truth.

As we all should know, this world is not for Christ and His truth, and indeed the world which is filled with the evil one’s influences and darkness, opposed Christ at every turn and at every possible opportunities. This is why, there will be many hurdles and obstacles in the way of those who speak for the truth, and in the way of those who work and pledge themselves to the truth of Christ, which is what we are all, brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed to do.

What is this truth? This truth is plain and simple, which lay open and available in the entirety of the teachings of the Church. That God is one and indivisible, and loving in of His aspects. But He exists in three separate and yet equal divine persons, that is Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father creates, the Son who is Word, blesses and carries out the work of the Father, and the Holy Spirit empowers and strengthens all. All three united in one, that is the essence of our faith in God who is the Trinity.

But that is not all, for God so loved the world and all of us His beloved creations who had fallen into sin and darkness, that He willingly laid aside His power and divinity in the person of the Son, who became incarnate into Man, to be one of us, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and were born as Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, fully divine and fully man.

Why? So that through the Son and His perfect obedience, He as the new Adam and the beginning of new life and new era, may cast away the veil and the darkness of mankind’s sins and rebellions, which began with the disobedience of the first Adam. That He became the perfect offering and sacrifice through whom the sins of mankind may be erased in its entirety and completeness, ridding them of the obstacle that barred them from returning to their loving Father.

Jesus spoke of Himself when He referred to the living bread of eternal life. That those who eat that bread will never die, not in a sense of literal death that we know of, that is the death of the physical body, which we all have to face at one point, at the very ends of our lives. What He referred to was the eternal death of the spirit, the total separation of our souls from the love of God, which is called hell, the state of hopelessness and eternal damnation.

This is what those who believe in Christ and His truth, will avoid in the end. They will not face this fate of eternal suffering. Although death may claim their bodies and their physical flesh, but it will not claim their souls, for their souls are pure and worthy of the Lord, and the Lord who loves us and gave Jesus for our sake will not let us to be claimed by death and sin. And in the end, even together with our bodies we will rise with Christ when He comes again at the end of time. Death has no power over any of us, as long as we believe sincerely and fully in God and His plan which He had revealed through Jesus.

It was the very same truth that Stephen the deacon had proclaimed to the people of God and to his prosecutors, the chief priests, the elders and the Pharisees and the Sadducees who themselves had been opposed to Christ since the very beginning. The same truth that they also refused to believe in, even after hearing them from Christ Himself, and then His Apostles and disciples, which includes Stephen.

Those people hardened their hearts against the Lord and participated actively in the resistance and hindrance of the good works of God in this world, deceiving many and preventing the salvation of many souls who remained lost to the darkness. And these are exactly who we should not become. We cannot refuse to accept the truth in God, and therefore, we must, without exception, receive the faith we received through the Church in its fullness.

And we have to be like Stephen too, who did not fear to state the truth, and preach the Good News, even against tough opposition and persistent rejection, for the sake of salvation of souls. Remember that the Lord loves all, even those who hated and rejected Him. He would not want them to be lost, unless if they continue to refuse to believe until it is far too late.

May God therefore guide us in our works, and encourage us with His strength, that we may carry out our duties, just as Stephen had done, in the footsteps of Christ, to preach His salvation to all the peoples of all nations with courage, for the sake of our salvation, all of us. May God guide us always as we walk in this path. Amen.

Sunday, 12 May 2013 : 7th Sunday of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 7 : 55-60

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared, “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Acts 11 : 19-26

Those who had been scattered because of the persecution over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message, but only to the Jews. But there were some natives of Cyprus and Cyrene among them who, on coming into Antioch, spoke also to the Greeks, giving them the Good News of the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them so that a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favour, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he himself was a good man filled with Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord.

Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 8 : 1b-8

All the disciples, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul meanwhile was trying to destroy the Church; he entered house after house and dragged off men and women and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him and saw the miraculous signs that he did.

For in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled were healed. So there was great joy in that town.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the angels but did not fulfill it.

When they heard this reproach, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against Stephen. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died.

Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria.

Monday, 15 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speak against Moses and against God.”

So they stirred up the people, the elders, and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council. Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.”

And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.

Saturday, 13 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables.”

“So, friends, choose from among yourselves, seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus, and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

List of possible regnal names for the new Pope, from Benedict to Peter

These are the list of all the possible regnal names (may not be entirely complete, since I may miss some in the way), that the new Pope can and may take as his own regnal name. In parentheses are how the name will look like if the Pope takes the name.

The ones listed below are the names that Popes had been taking since 1775 till today (2013) :

1. Benedict (Benedict XVII) last Benedict still living as Pope Emeritus

2. John Paul (John Paul III) last John Paul died in 2005

3. Paul (Paul VII) last Paul died in 1978

4. John (John XXIV) last John died in 1963, no John before that since 1334

5. Pius (Pius XIII) last Pius died in 1958

6. Leo (Leo XIV) last Leo died in 1903

7. Gregory (Gregory XVII) last Gregory died in 1846

 

Below are the names that the Popes had taken before 1775, but this does not rule them out from being picked by the new Pope, but chances are remote, with the above 7 names in use for the past 238 years.

8. Clement (Clement XV) last Clement died in1775

9. Innocent (Innocent XIV) last Innocent died in 1724

10. Alexander (Alexander IX) last Alexander died in 1691

11. Urban (Urban IX) last Urban died in 1644

12. Sixtus (Sixtus VI) last Sixtus died in 1590

13. Marcellus (Marcellus III) last Marcellus died in 1555

14. Julius (Julius IV) last Julius died in 1555

15. Adrian (Adrian VII) last Adrian died in 1523, last non-Italian Pope before 1978

16. Callixtus (Callixtus IV) last Callixtus died in 1458

17. Nicholas (Nicholas VI) last Nicholas died in 1455

18. Eugene (Eugene V) last Eugene died in 1447

19. Martin (Martin VI) last Martin died in 1431

20. Boniface (Boniface X) last Boniface died in 1404

21. Celestine (Celestine VI) last Celestine died in 1294, also a Saint, the famous Pope who resigned

22. Honorius (Honorius V) last Honorius died in 1287

23. Lucius (Lucius IV) last Lucius died in 1185

24. Anastasius (Anastasius V) last Anastasius died in 1154

25. Eugene (Eugene IV) last Eugene died in 1153

26. Gelasius (Gelasius III) last Gelasius died in 1119

27. Paschal (Paschal III) last Paschal died in 1118

28. Victor (Victor IV) last Victor died in 1087

29. Stephen (Stephen X) last Stephen died in 1058

30. Damasus (Damasus III) last Damasus died in 1048

31. Sylvester (Sylvester IV) last Sylvester died in 1045

32. Sergius (Sergius V) last Sergius died in 1012

33. Agapetus (Agapetus III) last Agapetus died in 955

34. Marinus (Marinus III) last Marinus died in 946

35. Lando/Landus (Landus II) only used once, died in 914, last Pope whose name is only used once

36. Theodore (Theodore III) last Theodore died in 897

37. Romanus (Romanus II) only used once, died in 897

38. Formosus (Formosus II) only used once, died in 896

39. Valentine (Valentine II) only used once, died in 827

40. Zachary (Zachary II) only used once, died in 752

41. Constantine (Constantine II) only used once, died in 715

42. Sisinnius (Sisinnius II) only used once, died in 708

43. Conon (Conon II) only used once, died in 687

44. Agatho (Agatho II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 681

45. Donus (Donus II) only used once, last one died in 678

46. Adeodatus (Adeodatus III) last Adeodatus died in 676

47. Vitalian (Vitalian II) only used once, died in 672

48. Severinus (Severinus II) only used once, died in 640

49. Sabinian (Sabinian II) only used once, died in 606

50. Pelagius (Pelagius III) last Pelagius died in 590

51. Vigilius (Vigilius II) only used once, died in 555

52. Silverius (Silverius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 537

53. Felix (Felix V) last Felix died in 530

 

All the names below have been used only once, ever. Most of them are the early Church Fathers and Saints, and therefore, it is rather extremely unlikely any of these names would be picked.

54. Hormisdas (Hormisdas II) only used once, died in 523

55. Symmachus (Symmachus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 514

56. Simplicius (Simplicius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 483

57. Hilarius (Hilarius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 468

58. Zosimus (Zosimus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 418

59. Siricius (Siricius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 399

60. Liberius (Liberius II) only used once, died in 366

61. Mark (Mark II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 336

62. Miltiades (Miltiades II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 314, First Pope after Edict of Milan

63. Eusebius (Eusebius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 310

64. Marcellinus (Marcellinus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 304

65. Caius (Caius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 296

66. Eutychian (Eutychian II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 283

67. Dionysius (Dionysius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 268

68. Cornelius (Cornelius II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 253

69. Fabian (Fabian II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 250

70. Anterus (Anterus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 236

71. Pontian (Pontian II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 235

72. Zephyrinus (Zephyrinus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 217

73. Eleuterus (Eleuterus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 189

74. Soter (Soter II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 174 or 175

75. Anicetus (Anicetus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 166

76. Hyginus (Hyginus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 140 or 142

77. Telesphorus (Telesphorus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 136 or 138

78. Evaristus (Evaristus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 105 or 107

79. Anacletus (Anacletus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 88 or 92

80. Linus (Linus II) only used once, last one is Saint, died in 76 or 79

81. Peter (Peter II) only used once, and he is the founder of the Church, Apostle of Jesus Christ, and it is extremely unlikely any future Pope, or any Pope will ever adopt the name of the Prince of the Apostles.