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Vatican City, Mar 4, 2015 / 05:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Statutes for the Vatican's three finanical oversight bodies were released earlier this week, largely consolidating the influence of the Secretariat for the Economy and its prefect, Cardinal George Pell.

Signed by Pope Francis Feb. 22 and having come into effect March 1, the statutes of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and the Office for the General Auditor provided a legal framework to the three new Vatican offices.

The structure of Vatican finances are then shaped this way: the Holy Father is the supreme authority, and under him there is the Council for the Economy, which provides guidelines to the Secretariat for the Economy.

The Secretariat for the Economy will work as an oversight body to which all Vatican departments, as well as the Vatican City State administration, will submit their financial reports.

Aside them, there will be an office of the general auditor, which will be composed by three members and will audit all balance sheets.

As economic reform appears to continue the commitment to financial transparency started under Benedict XVI, a source in the Vatican financial branch explained to CNA March 4 that “what has changed is the benchmark.”

The source stressed that “before, there was not a Council for Economy meant to provide guidelines and policies.”

All the statutes came into force “ad experimentum,” and so it may be guessed that further modifications to the statutes will be made in the future.

The statutes of the Secretariat for the Economy stressed that the secretariat is “the dicastery of the Roman Curia with competence over the administrative and financial control and oversight over the Roman Curia dicasteries, the institutions connected or referred to the Holy See and the Vatican City State administration.”

In an unusual move for the Roman Curia, dominated as it is by the Italian language, the statutes confirm that English, too, will be a working language in the secretariat.

The statutes also underscore that the Secretariat for the Economy and Secretary of State join their efforts, but the Secretariat of State has “exclusive competence over the relations with States and other international subjects.”

According to the statute, the Secretariat for the Economy guarantees the autonomy of all Vatican entities and administrations.

This means that all the dicasteries will have their autonomy in managing their assets, but they will have to accurately report about their revenues and balance sheets to the Secretariat for the Economy, according to international standards.

The Secretariat for the Economy is composed of two sections, one “for control and oversight,” and the other an “administrative section”; and each of these sections will be headed by a prelate secretary.

The first sections controls and oversees all activities concerning financial planning, expenditures, preventive and final balance sheets, investments, management of human, financial and material resources of the entities under the control of the Secretariat.

The second section will provide “guidelines and procedures” to optimize resources, cut expenditures and rationalize expenses.

As the Secretariat for the Economy had enrolled the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See's ordinary section, it will not manage real estate, as was initially previewed.

According to the source “there had been a certain discussion whether managing real estate may bear a conflict of interest for the Secretariat, since it is responsible for oversight.”

In the end, this function will be returned to another Vatican department.

There are at the moment two options: the establishment a brand new department to manage APSA real estate, or the returning of the management to APSA itself.

More will be understood in May, when it is likely that new statutes of APSA will be provided by the Council for the Economy.

The statutes of this latter describe the Council as a “body with competences to oversee the structures and the financial activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of the Vatican City State administration.”

The functions of the Council will be those of controlling the preventive, final and consolidate annual balance sheet of the dicasteries and to forward them to the Pope for approval. The Council will meet four times a year and will not be able to make any legislative change on financial matters, though its opinion may be influential.

The statutes of the general auditor also came into force March 1. The Auditor will be sided by the “adjunct auditors,” so that they can be more independent.

As they provide a legal framework, the statutes do not mention the establishment of a Vatican Asset Management, that is, a central office to manage Vatican investments.

In fact, the VAM is “still an idea,” that has not been accomplished or completely designed. According to the source, the VAM will be entrusted by the Vatican bank to invest part of the money deposited in its accounts.

During May, the Council for Economy should draft the new statutes for APSA and outline a new shape of Vatican finances.

As the Secretariat for the Economy has already taken over most of the functions of the Prefecture for Economic affairs, it is likely that the Prefecture will be then suppressed.

Vatican City, Mar 4, 2015 / 03:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Last week it was informally announced to journalists that the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, will be canonized this year in the same month as the synod on the family.

“Thanks to God in October two spouses will be canonized: the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Angelo Amato Cardinal Amato said during a Feb. 27 encounter organized by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Entitled “What purpose do the Saints serve?” the event highlighted the importance of the holiness within the family.

Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, announced that Louis and Zelie Martin will be canonized in October of this year, the same month in which the Synod of Bishops on the family will take place in the Vatican.

“The saints are not only priests and religious, but also lay persons,” the cardinal said, referring to the French spouses.

The cardinal’s announcement comes a short time after Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger, who oversees the French diocese of Bayeuz-Lisieux, revealed his intention to open the cause of beatification for St. Therese’s older sister Leonia Martin.

Referred to by Bishop Boulanger as Therese’s “difficult” sister, Leonia was the third of Louis and Zelie’s nine children, and a member of the Order of the Visitation.

Louis and Zelie were beatified Oct. 19, 2008, by then-Pope Benedict XVI and their canonization will be the first of its kind in history, where a married couple are jointly proclaimed Saints together.

Their path to the altar has surpassed that of married couple Bl. Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, who were beatified together in October 2001.

Married in 1858 just 3 months after meeting each other, Louis and Zelie lived in celibacy for nearly a year, but eventually went on to have nine children. Four died in infancy, while the remaining five daughters entered religious life.

Both had previously attempted to enter the religious life themselves – Louis as a monk and Zelie a nun with the Order of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Zelie was turned away due to respiratory problems and frequent headaches, while Louis was denied entry because he couldn’t speak Latin, which at that time was a requirement for entering the seminary. Louis then became a watchmaker, and Zelie a lace maker.

Known for living an exemplary life of holiness, the couple’s daily practices included Mass at 5:30 a.m., praying the Angelus and Vespers, resting on Sundays and fasting during Lent and Advent.

The couple would also invite poor people to dine with them in their home, and they frequently visited the elderly, thus teaching their children to treat the disadvantaged as equals.

Zelie died from cancer at the age of 46, leaving Louis to care for their five young daughters: Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine and Therese, who was only four at the time. Louis died in 1894 after suffering two strokes in 1889, followed by five years of serious drawn-out illness.

Rome, Italy, Mar 4, 2015 / 05:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his general audience Pope Francis condemned modern society for silently disposing of the elderly, saying that a civilization which views them only as burdensome is ‘perverse’ and ill.

“It is a mortal sin to discard our elderly…The elderly are not aliens. We are them – in a short or in a long while we are inevitably them, even though we choose not to think about it,” the Pope told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his March 4 general audience address.

“A society where the elderly are discarded carries within it the virus of death,” he said, and warned that if we do not learn to care for and respect our elderly, “we will be treated in the same way.”

He recounted the story of how he visited a home for the elderly while still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, recalling how during the visit he stopped in front of one of the residents and asked her how her children were doing.

When the woman gave a vague response, Francis asked if they visited often. When she said “yes, always,” the Pope said he questioned further, asking when they last came to see her.

The woman, he recalled, replied that the last time her children came was “At Christmas. It was August…Eight months without a visit from her children – this is a mortal sin.”

Pope Francis’ reflection on the elderly was part of his continued catechesis on the family, which he began last fall as a preparation for this October’s Synod of Bishops on the family. This week he focused on the role of grandparents.

“The disposable culture considers the elderly as a burden, a weight, since not only do they not produce, but they also constitute a burden and, although not openly, they are discarded,” he told pilgrims.

Many elderly people “fearfully live this situation of helplessness and abandonment,” he said, adding that a society “without proximity is a perverse society.”

In contemporary times people tend to live longer thanks to advances in medicine, he observed, but cautioned that the human heart hasn’t necessarily extended to embrace the years added to life.

“Often our societies not only fail to make room for the elderly, but even consider them a burden,” he said, explaining that the quality of a society can easily be evaluated by the way it treats its older members as well as the place it gives them in community life.

The Pope said this challenge is one particularly difficult for Western societies, who not only have larger aging populations, but are also marked by “a cult of youth, efficiency and profit which tends to discard everything not considered productive or useful.”

Due to their increased vulnerability and unique needs, the elderly, especially those who are ill or alone, require greater attention and care, he said.

However, rather than being a burden, such persons are what the Bible refers to as “a storehouse of wisdom,” the Pope said, and pointed to how the Church’s tradition has always placed great value on the elderly and devoted special attention to the final stage of life.

“For this reason a distant, indifferent and even contemptuous mentality toward the elderly cannot be tolerated.”

Pope Francis encouraged attendees to remember well that “where the elderly are not respected, the youth have no future,” and called for greater solidarity between generations.

He then asked for those present to remember all the elderly who are alone, sick, in need and dependent on others, praying that they would “feel the tenderness of the Father through the kindness and gentleness of all.”

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