5 keys to understanding the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

BY LILIANA MONTES | ACI Prensa 14.08.2019 4.29PM

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Every August 15 we celebrate the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to the Heavens. Here are five keys that will help us to better understand this truth about the Catholic faith.

1. You must know what a dogma means

A dogma is a truth of absolute, definitive, infallible, irrevocable and unquestionable faith revealed by God through the Bible or the Sacred Tradition. After being proclaimed, it cannot be repealed or denied, either by the Pope or by conciliar decision.

For a truth to become dogma, it is necessary that it be proposed directly by the Catholic Church to the faithful as part of their faith and doctrine, through a solemn and infallible definition by the Supreme Magisterium of the Church.

2. “Assumption” does not mean the same as “Ascension”

According to the tradition and theology of the Catholic Church, the Assumption is the celebration of when the body and soul of the Virgin Mary were glorified and taken to Heaven at the end of her earthly life. It should not be confused with Ascension, which refers to Jesus Christ.

It is said that the resurrection of the bodies will occur at the end of time, but in the case of the Virgin Mary this fact was anticipated by a unique and singular privilege.

This dogma is also celebrated by the Orthodox Church.

3. Dogma was proclaimed 170 years ago by Pius XII

From 1849 various requests began to arrive at the Holy See so that the Assumption of the Virgin could be declared a dogma of faith. It was Pope Pius XII who, on November 1, 1950, published the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus (MD) that proclaimed the dogma with these words:

“For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honour of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” (MD, 44).

4. The Assumption of Mary is anticipation of our own resurrection

This celebration has a double objective: The happy departure of Mary from this life and the Assumption of her body to heaven. The answer as to why it is important for Catholics is found in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says in number 966: “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.”

The importance of the Assumption of the Virgin for all of us is given in the relationship it has between the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and our resurrection. That Mary is found in body and soul already glorified in Heaven, is the anticipation of our own resurrection, since she is a human being like us.

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5. The Virgin did not experience corruption in the body at the end of her earthly life

Scripture does not give details about the last years of Mary on earth from Pentecost to the Assumption, we only know that the Virgin was entrusted by Jesus to Saint John. In declaring the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, Pius XII did not want to decide whether the Virgin died and rose again immediately, or if she went straight to heaven. Many theologians think that the Virgin died to be more like Jesus, but others argue that the “Transit of Mary” or Dormition occurred, which has been celebrated in the East since the first centuries.

However, what both positions coincide is that the Virgin Mary, by a special privilege of God, did not experience the corruption of her body and went to heaven, where she reigns alive and glorious, next to Jesus.

@ Translated and edited from its original Spanish version by Valentine Umoh 15.08.2019

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT…

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This is a new month. Every day is a new beginning. Try to be positive about life. Speak to someone about your fears. Don’t die in silence. Never be afraid to face life as it comes. Good or bad; we are in it together. As it ever crossed your mind that since the days of old, the world is filled with the rich and the poor; the good and the bad; the righteous and the wicked;  the contented and the greedy; the wise and the fool; the happy and the sad. These are the stark realities of our everyday life. While we continuously work for an egalitarian society bear in mind that even humanity is unequal; we have male and female; the strong and the weak; the healthy and the sick. While some are born others are dying; while some are in the prime of their days, others are singing the nunc dimittis…

It’s a new month try to encourage your friends; speak comforting words; give away the smile it could brighten someone’s day; make excuses for others attitude; never crucify before you listen. Many people are burning deep within they only need to be listened to. Unfortunately, we are all in a rush and seem to have no time to listen to those who just want to share some moments with us. Listen to your friends old and new. Listen to the young and the old. Listening to them can reinvigorate them and give them some reasons to smile. Don’t be too far away from those that care. After a hard day’s labour, we always go back home. Make peace at home. Do not make your home a war zone: if there is no peace at home then there may be none elsewhere in this present life…

Above all radiate joy! Take pictures of you: you won’t take them again when you are gone. Go to places: it is part of education and self-development. Take a walk: it helps burn out some calories and makes you smart. Visit friends: it makes them feel loved. Don’t mind those who snob you. Appreciate those who have time for you. Care is reciprocal. There are things money cannot buy. A terminally sick patient who has been told when he will die can relate this… Eat healthy food: if you don’t eat your food as medicine you will soon eat medicine as food. Dress decently. There are enough pornographic images already scattered everywhere don’t make yourself one of such collections. There is a difference between wealth and riches. Be conscious of the source of your income: Never eat fat on someone´s else sorrows. Integrity is earned. Respect the difference in opinion of others. Think before you speak. Speak words that build and unite not destroy or divide.  

You are a champion already. Nobody can be you. You are unique. Stop comparisons. Work on your potentials. Envy kills faster than malaria. It corrupts self-perception. We are all gifted differently. We are precious in God’s eyes. Because you have it all today doesn’t mean you look down on others. Tomorrow is pregnant with a million possibilities. No one stays on top or in power forever. Ambition devoid of morality is catastrophic. Hard work pays but grace is real as well.

Let me conclude with the Pauline words of admonition: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble (honourable), whatever is right (just), whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious (admirable), if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4: 8-9). 

Stay safe…

Valentine Umoh
Universidad de Navarra
02.06.2019

THE BOOK OF THE PSALMS TEACHES MAN TRUE WORSHIP

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The Book of Psalms is an inspired collection of Hebrew poems intended for use in worship. Inspired compilers put them in their present order for several reasons, including authorship and affinity of ideas. The compilers did not organize them in the order in which the psalmists (hagiographers) wrote them. Each psalm is the expression of an inspired writer who responded to God in the light of his circumstances when he wrote. Consequently, there is no argument or logical progression of thought as the reader makes his or her way through the book. There are connecting or contrasting ideas, and words and phrases that sometimes link two or more psalms together, however.

The subject of the Book of Psalms is WORSHIP. Worship is the act of offering to God what is due to Him because of who He is. The Hebrew word translated “worship” (shachah) means to bow oneself down, or to do obeisance. The psalmists used it to describe prostration before God, or some angel, or another human being. It pictures an attitude of submission to a superior person. This word occurs only 15 times in Psalms with God as the object, but the idea of worshipping God is present in every psalm.

In Psalms, the object of worship is God. Its practitioners are people. Its center is Jerusalem: the place of God’s manifest presence. Its primary method is song. The psalmists referred to God as Yahweh, Elohim, or Adonai primarily, though many other titles appear in the book. Those worshipping Him are individuals, kings, nations, and all the earth. His temple (Israel’s central sanctuary) and His holy hill (Mt. Zion) were the central places of worship. Fear, awe, and joy are the primary attitudes prominent in this worship.

God’s people throughout history have loved the Psalter (The Book of Psalms). There are several reasons for its popularity. First, it is a collection of songs that arise out of experiences with which we can all identify. It is very difficult to find any circumstance in life that does not find expression in some psalm or another. Some arose out of prosperity, others out of adversity. Some psalms deal with holiness, and others with sinfulness. Some are laments that bewail the worst of situations, whereas others are triumphant hymns of joy and thanksgiving. Some look back to the past while others look forward to the future.

The psalms are great because their writers composed them out of their most profound experiences. Great poetry arises out of great living. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). They are also great because the writers brought these profound experiences into God’s presence. They show how people behave when they are conscious of God—the only truly realistic way to live. Therefore, the permanent value of the psalms lies in their revelation of worship.

There are three great revelations regarding worship in the Book of Psalms: the object of worship, the attitudes of worship, and the activities of worship.

First, the Psalter reveals the person of God, who is the object of worship. The primary revelation of God’s character in the psalms is His names. The writers employed dozens of titles and figures of speech to describe God, but the three names of God that they used most are Yahweh, Elohim, and Adonai. Simply from understanding these names, we will want to worship God.

 The name “Yahweh” captures the essential being of God. He is who He is (Exod. 3:14). This name occurs more often than any other in the psalms. Essentially it means that God is the eternally self-existent Person who becomes all that His people need. God’s being is never the subject of debate in the psalms; the writers assumed His existence. As Yahweh, God is always an adequate resource for whatever His people need, whenever they have needs. That is because the Name Yahweh describes God in covenant relationship with His people. Translators normally render it LORD in English translations. Psalm 139 is perhaps the greatest exposition of the essential being of God, and Psalm 23 the chief revelation of His becoming all that His people need.

The second great name of God in the Psalter is “Elohim.” Normally this Hebrew word translates as “God” in our English Bibles. It is a plural word in the Hebrew, which does not necessarily signify plurality of number but immensity. God, as He reveals Himself, is so infinite that no singular word can express Him adequately. “Elohim” suggests God’s essential might and the fact that He is extremely powerful. God’s strength is not just potential, but kinetic (i.e., in motion). It is latent, but also active. Such power elicited the awe of the psalmists. Psalm 68 is perhaps the greatest revelation of God’s essential might in the Psalter, and Psalm 46 sets forth His great power at work most impressively.

The title “Adonai” (Lord in the sense of Master) does not occur frequently in the psalms, but the idea it expresses is constantly present. This title expresses the sovereignty of God, the fact that there is no one higher in authority than He. He is the King over the whole universe and the ultimate ruler over Israel. Perhaps Psalm 86 sets forth the sovereignty of God more magnificently than any other psalm. Whenever a person, king, nation, or race conceives of God as Yahweh, Elohim, or Adonai, the result is worship. We can do nothing else but prostrate ourselves before such a One. That is what the writers of these psalms did as they reflected on their experiences in the light of who God is.

The second great revelation of the Psalter is people’s attitudes in worship. Briefly, we see people responding to the revelation of God joyfully, trustfully, and submissively (but occasionally angrily, disappointedly, or quizzically). When we understand that God Himself is an adequate resource for us, regardless of our needs, we should worship by rejoicing. When we appreciate God’s mighty power, we should worship Him by trusting Him. When we learn that God is sovereign, we should respond in worship by submitting to Him. When we appreciate God’s grace in providing all we need, we should rejoice.

In the psalms, we see joy manifesting itself in love and gratitude. Love and gratitude manifest joy in the following way. We have God’s promises of forgiveness if we confess when we sin. Forgiveness for sin is one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind. It is not something that we can earn or deserve. It is a gift of God based ultimately on a work that God has done for us through His Son. The penitential root attitude blossoms into adoration for God’s grace. The sweetest music comes out of hearts broken by sin, hearts aware of their total bankruptcy before God. The most glorious praises spring from the lips of those who most sense the great gifts God has given to them. This is the reason some of the most radiant Christians are those who suffer the most.

Trust in God’s almighty power expresses itself in honesty and courage in the psalms. Fear is the internal response to power, and courage should be its external manifestation. The person who really fears God’s power will be open and honest because he or she believes God will exercise His power to defend him. He will be willing to take risks because he is relying on God’s supernatural power to sustain and uphold him. The psalmists expressed themselves, and behaved honestly before God and people, because they believed in His sovereignty. They also faced danger courageously because they believed God could and would provide adequate help for them.

Submission to the sovereignty of God expresses itself in reverence and obedience in the psalms. Reverence is the external evidence of submission to God, and obedience is the core proof of it. The person who really believes that God is the ultimate authority will respect Him. He or she will also yield to God’s superior authority submissively. We see the psalmists expressing their reverence for God and bowing humbly to His will throughout the Psalter. Their commitment to trust often followed their frustration.

The third major revelation concerning worship in the psalms is the activities of worship. As we have observed, one’s conception of God leads to worship, and one’s attitudes shape worship. One’s activities also demonstrate worship.

The psalms reveal that worship grows out of something God has done for man. Man does not worship because there is something intrinsic within him that must come out. Worship is always a response to something that God has done. God elicits worship. Man does not initiate it on his own. Throughout the psalms, the psalmists responded to God’s dealings with them. God is always the initiator and man the responder. This fact helps us see that God is worthy of worship.

Human response in worship involves opening the soul to God. David’s confession in Psalm 32 is a good example of this (cf. 51). He rejoiced in his open relationship with God, especially when he acknowledged his sin. He also received God’s gift of pardon. Then he offered praise to God. These are the essential human activities of worship: confession, praise, and thanksgiving.

After God initiates worship, and man responds by worshipping, God becomes to the worshipper all that he or she needs. God is true and faithful in His dealings with worshippers. He becomes for us everything we need when we worship Him. Thus, the activities of worship begin and end with God. They begin with His initiating situations in life. They end with His drawing us to Himself. In between we bare our souls, receive His gifts, and offer our praise.

The message of the Psalter then is, “Worship God!” Turn every situation into an occasion for worship. If we are sad, we should worship. If we are glad, we should worship. If we are in the dark, we should worship. If we are in the light, we should worship. The Apostle Paul expressed it this way in Philippians 4:4 and 7: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice… And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The Book of Psalms closes with this word of exhortation: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” (Ps. 150:6).

VU
June 1, 2019

My diocese, my pride. My faith, my heritage

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ST ANNE CATHEDRAL

Yes, my diocese is my pride; my faith, my heritage! So, which is my Diocese and what is my Faith? Well, my Diocese is Ikot Ekpene and my Faith is the Christian and Catholic Faith. So, what makes these my pride and heritage? To answer this, dear friends, I welcome you to this historical tour and expository journey to the diocese called IKOT EKPENE.

Ikot Ekpene Diocese, located in the South Southern part of Nigeria, Africa, was created in 1963 by Pope John XXIII. Precisely, located in Akwa Ibom State, the diocese is one of the suffragan dioceses of the Ecclesiastical Province of Calabar since 1993. The diocese covers an area of 2, 263 square kilometres with a population of about 1,030,896 inhabitants (as at the 2006 census) of which about 80% are Christians and about 10% are Catholics, that is, about 117,609. The Cathedral Church named Saint Anne Cathedral is located along Cardinal Ekandem Avenue in Ikot Ekpene metropolis. The current Bishop, its third, Most Rev. Camillus Raymond Umoh was consecrated and took possession on October 9, 2010.

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A CROSS SECTION OF PRIESTS ON ANNUAL RETREAT

The earliest date for the foundation of any mission Church in Ikot Ekpene was in 1914 by the missionary fathers at Anua, St Anne Station, Ifuho, which is now the Cathedral. It was established in 1918 with Rev. Fathers Paul Biéchy, CSSP, and James Moynagh, SPS, as the first resident priests in 1920 and 1930, respectively, under Bishop Joseph Shanahan – the pioneer Holy Ghost Bishop of Southern Nigeria with his headquarters at Onitsha.

Ikot Ekpene has always been associated with Calabar Mission, which was established when Fr. James Moynagh, SPS, was appointed the Prefect Apostolic on July 9, 1934. When the Prefecture was raised to the status of Vicariate Apostolic on June 13, 1947, the Pastoral Care of the entire territory was entrusted to Bishop James Moynagh who became the Bishop of Calabar Diocese on April 18, 1950.

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BISHOP CAMILLUS RAYMOND UMOH

With the appointment of Bishop Moynagh, SPS, the Holy Ghost Fathers were replaced by the St. Patrick Fathers, who thenceforth have been indeed the Founding Fathers of Evangelization in Calabar, Ogoja, Ikot Ekpene, Port Harcourt and Uyo Dioceses.

The first indigenous Bishop of Ikot Ekpene was the Most Rev. Bishop Dominic I. Ekandem. He was ordained a priest on December 7, 1947, in Ifuho. He was consecrated an Auxiliary Bishop on February 7, 1954, by Bishop Moynagh as the consecrating prelate and Bishops Peter Rogan MHM of Buéa and Paul Biéchy of Brazzaville as co-consecrators. On March 1, 1963, following the creation of the diocese, the Most Rev. Bishop Dominic I. Ekandem was appointed the first resident Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese with the then Civil Provinces of Abak and Ikot Ekpene and all of the Annang ethnic extraction under it.

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A CROSS SECTION OF THE LAITY AT EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION

Bishop Dominic Ekandem was the Bishop from 1963 to 1989. On October 31, 1971, Most Rev. Bishop Ephraim S. Obot, who later became the Bishop of Idah Diocese in Kogi State (1971-2010), was appointed Auxiliary to Bishop Dominic Ekandem. Under Bishop Dominic Ekandem, Ikot Ekpene Diocese witnessed a tremendous growth in the ordination of indigenous priests. Creation of parishes, establishment of schools and hospitals. He was a Cardinal on April 27, 1976, and his creation in the Consistory as the first Cardinal in Nigeria on May 24, 1976, by Pope Paul VI.

On the appointment of His Eminence Dominic Cardinal Ekandem to the See of Abuja Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria (FCT) in 1989, Most Bishop Camillus A. Etokudoh who was consecrated the Auxiliary Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese on May 14, 1988 became its second Bishop. He was appointed to the See on September 1, 1989 and installed as its second Bishop on February 3, 1990. Following the appointment of Most Rev. Camillus A. Etokudoh as the Catholic Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese on May 4, 2009, Msgr. Camillus Raymond Umoh was appointed as the Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene on July 16, 2010, to replace Most Rev. Bishop C. A. Etokudoh. He was ordained on October 9, 2010, as the third Bishop of the diocese.

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A CROSS SECTION OF RELIGIOUS AND SEMINARIANS

Over the years, the clergy and lay faithful of the diocese work together for the evangelization of the people of the area. As such there has been a widespread of lay apostolates and evangelism that have seen many converted to the Catholic Faith. In Ikot Ekpene, there is a true, gradual and fruitful inculturation of the Christian Faith into the culture of the people. A diocese created almost along the line of geographic-ethno-politics of the state is predominantly made up of the Annang. The Annang culture is generally a culture of respect, hospitality and creativity. Its people are lively and happy people who are contented with the good gifts nature and God has bestowed on them. They love and appreciate arts, dance, music and foreigners. The Annang is a home for good African delicacies, the palm wine and locally made gin.

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REGINA PACIS AUDITORIUM

Vocation to the catholic priesthood and the religious life has increased over the years. With her catholic schools and the seminaries, there is a well-thought-out formation plan to embrace vocation even from an early age. Still a young diocese with only 56 years of existence she has so much prospects for the future.  The collaboration that exists between its clergy and its laity is a beauty to behold and has facilitated its missionary growth over the years.

As a Spiritual hub of the area, Ikot Ekpene Diocese has a Pastoral Centre named Cardinal Ekandem Pastoral Centre where visitors can find solace and comfort. The Diocese is currently embarking on a Retreat Centre Project which promises to be a Pilgrimage Centre open for all in need of a Spiritual tourism, Spiritual refreshment and rekindling. You can as well be a part of that project by contacting the Project coordinators through the Diocesan Website.

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PRIESTLY ORDINATION

Ikot Ekpene Metropolis is not only home to the Cathedral Church of Saint Anne but there are up to four other Catholic Churches (parishes) within the city to include: St. Vincent de Paul Church (Located along Umuahia Road), St Anne Catholic Church (Located along Essien Road), St Dominic Catholic Church, (Located along Cardinal Ekandem Avenue) and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (Located Off Uyo Road). These Faith communities are always very welcoming and will be delighted to have you join them in worship and prayers. The Diocesan Secretariat complex is located within the Cathedral Church premises.   

Growing up within the local Church and faith community, attending the various catechism classes and subsequently receiving my baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation as well as working in various capacities in the Diocese as a Seminarian, Deacon and now as a Priest, I have come to appreciate my diocese as my pride, my Catholic Faith as my heritage. In Ikot Ekpene Diocese Faith not only becomes action but faith comes alive. For more information please visit the Diocesan Website @ www.ikotekpenediocese.org

Ikot Ekpene Diocese is a community of Faith and LIFE

Valentine Umoh
Priest of the Diocese
Ordained 2014.

 

A Day with Saint Valentine of Rome: Patron of young couples

 

Introduction: Who is Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest in the Roman Empire who ministered to Christians, who were persecuted there. He was martyred and buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome, on February 14, which has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine (Saint Valentine’s Day) since 496 AD. The relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church and Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St. Valentine were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV. The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome; other relics were brought to Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland where they remain to this day; this church continues to be a popular place of pilgrimage, especially on Saint Valentine’s Day, for those seeking love.

In 1969 the Roman Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar given the paucity of information about him. The Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize him as a saint, listing him as such in the February 14 entry in the Roman Martyrology, and authorizing liturgical veneration of him on February 14 in any place where that day is not devoted to some other obligatory celebration in accordance with the rule that on such a day the Mass may be that of any saint listed in the Martyrology for that day.

Saint Valentine (Italian: San Valentino, Latin: Valentinus), officially Saint Valentine of Rome, was a widely recognized 3rd-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and since the High Middle Ages is associated with a tradition of courtly love.

The apparent confusion

The Catholic Encyclopaedia and other hagiographical sources speak of three Saint Valentines that appear in connection with February 14. One was a Roman priest, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy) both buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different distances from the city. The third was said to be a saint who suffered on the same day with several companions in the Roman province of Africa, of whom nothing else is known.

According to Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas, abstracts of the acts of the first two saints (that is Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Terni) were in nearly every church and monastery of Europe. Although, the extant accounts of the martyrdoms of these saints are of a late date and contain legendary elements, a common nucleus of fact may underlie the two accounts and they may refer to a single person. This is because according to the official biography of the Diocese of Terni, Bishop Valentine was born and lived in Interamna and while on a temporary stay in Rome he was imprisoned, tortured, and martyred there on February 14, 269. His body was hastily buried at a nearby cemetery and a few nights later his disciples retrieved his body and returned him home.

Moreover, the Roman Martyrology, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, for February 14 gives only one Saint Valentine: a martyr who died on the Via Flaminia.

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Some stories associated with Saint Valentine: His faith, brilliance, zeal, love for young couples and martyrdom.

A common hagiography describes Saint Valentine as a priest of Rome or as the former Bishop of Terni, an important town of Umbria, in central Italy. The first legend holds that while he was under house arrest of Judge Asterius for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods, he shared his faith with the judge in which Valentinus was discussing the validity of Jesus and of Christianity. He was very brilliant, and his intelligence was widespread in the empire. However, the judge put Valentinus to the test and brought to him the judge’s adopted blind daughter. If Valentinus succeeded in restoring the girl’s sight, Asterius would do whatever he asked. Valentinus, praying to God, laid his hands on her eyes and the child’s vision was restored. Immediately humbled, the judge asked Valentinus what he should do. Valentinus replied that all the idols around the judge’s house should be broken, and that the judge should fast for three days and then undergo the Christian sacrament of baptism. The judge obeyed and, as a result, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family, and his forty-four members household (family members and servants) were baptized. Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to evangelize and was sent to the prefect of Rome, and later to the emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II) himself. Claudius took a liking to him until Valentinus tried to convince Claudius to embrace Christianity, whereupon Claudius refused and condemned Valentinus to death, commanding that Valentinus either renounce his faith or he would be beaten with clubs, and beheaded. Valentinus refused and Claudius’ command was executed outside the Flaminian Gate February 14, 269. An embellishment to this account states that before his execution, Saint Valentine wrote a note to Asterius’s daughter whom he had healed of blindness and signed “from your Valentine”, which is said to have “inspired today’s romantic missives”.

Another legend is that in the 3rd century AD, it is said that Valentine, who was a priest, defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly performed Christian weddings for young couples who were in love. Such marriage would thus exempt their husbands from going to war. This legend claims that soldiers were sparse at this time, so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. The account mentions that in order to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians. This is a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day.

One thing that is clear from all these legends is that Saint Valentine is known to have ministered to the faithful amidst the Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire in the time of Claudius II. Preaching the gospel using every available means and space, healing the sick and celebrating the Christian sacraments especially of marriage. This earned him the obvious crown of martyrdom.

You might notice that there is a bit of romance missing from these stories. This is because the source of the courtship and love that has been linked into Valentine’s feast day does not come from the saint at all. The proposition that the association of Valentine with romantic rites is due to largely futile efforts of early religious Christian leaders to do away with pagan festivals by substituting a Christian observance is a modern interpolation. According to this theory, February 14 was traditionally the Roman festival of Lupercalia, an important day to honour Juno, the Queen of Heaven and protector of women. The wife of Jupiter, Juno was said to bestow her blessing on courtship rituals or marriages celebrated that day. According to proponents of this theory, Valentine’s Day is more accurately a continuation of Lupercalia shrouded in Catholic appropriation. More so, that Valentine’s February saint day coincides with the slow dawn of spring when birds are said to select mates seems to support this propaganda.

The place of Saint Valentine in the Liturgical Calendar

Saint Valentine remains in the Roman Catholic Church’s official list of saints, the Roman Martyrology, but, in view of the scarcity of information about him, his commemoration was removed from the General Roman Calendar, when this was revised in 1969. It is included in local calendars of places such as Balzan in Malta. Some Traditionalist Catholics observe earlier calendars of the Roman Rite, in which Saint Valentine was celebrated as a Simple Feast until 1955, when Pope Pius XII reduced the mention of him to a commemoration in the Mass of the day, a position it kept in the General Roman Calendar of 1960 incorporated in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, use of which, as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, is still authorized in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Valentine is recognized on July 6, in which Saint Valentine, the Roman presbyter, is honoured; in addition, the Eastern Orthodox Church observes the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, on July 30. Members of the Greek Orthodox Church named Valentinos (male) or Valentina (female) may observe their name day on the Western ecclesiastical calendar date of February 14. He is also the Patron Saint of Bee Keepers, Plague and Epilepsy.

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Summary

While there is some apparent confusion as to which of three possible martyrs named Valentine is the saint that is celebrated on that day, it is now clear that he was either a priest or a bishop in Terni, Italy, and that his love for God and his faithfulness was all-encompassing. Following Jesus’ teachings closely, he also had a great love for mankind. It is believed that he committed the crimes of marrying Christians and helping Christians who were being persecuted by Claudius II, the emperor of Rome. Because he would not renounce his faith and because he tried to convert the emperor, he was sentenced to and suffered a brutal death. Over the years and among other things, he has come to be known as the patron saint of love, young people, engaged couples and happy marriages. Although people can pray to Saint Valentine at any stage in their relationship, he seems to be an ideal saint to turn to for young people in love and engaged couples.

Today we celebrate another feast day of this great Saint. Amidst the confusion in today´s world, this Saint´s life encourages us to love God and love humanity. If we love God, then we will not be shy or afraid to profess this faith publicly and even helping others to understand this faith as well (evangelization); if we love humanity, we will not need to be reminded to reach out to one another especially to those who suffer want, hunger, sickness, depression and persecutions of all sorts and we will be committed to express our love publicly to our soul mate by seeking God´s blessings in Holy Matrimony. “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God” says the author of the First Letter of John Chapter 4 verse 16. “Love is patient and kind” says the Apostle Paul (Cf. 1Cor 13: 4 –8).

Prayer to Saint Valentine

Dear Saint and glorious martyr teach us to love unselfishly and to find great joy in giving. Enable all true lovers to bring out the best in each other. Let them love each other in God and in God in each other.

Love
Love is patient and kind

it does not envy or boast

and it´s never proud,

love is not rude or selfish,

it does not get angry easily,

or keep track of wrongs.

Love does not delight in bad

things but it rejoices in the truth.

Love always protects,

trusts, hopes and perseveres

Love never fails.

Saint Valentine – Pray for us

Valentine Day Message 2019

Valentine Umoh
14.02.2019
vatexs4christ@yahoo.com

…WHAT MY GRANDPARENTS TAUGHT ME!

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Sometimes I doubt if I do have as much Faith as half the portion of my grandparents now gone before us marked with the indelible sign of faith. I may not be alone in this thinking. Theirs was not a sophisticated age as ours; there was little or no electricity, there were no mobile phones nor internet connections; there were little or no grand church edifices, no magnificent rectories and parish halls, there were no sophisticated sound systems or musical instruments, yet they had a strong and indelible Faith. I mean they had FAITH.

They were faithful in their pious practice of the Catholic Faith, they did not miss their daily morning prayers at the station Church, they did not miss their daily rosary, nor their divine mercy 3´O clock prayer, they never ate their food without the grace before meal and they never failed to give thanks afterwards. Staying away from Sunday Mass or Service as the case may be, was unthinkable. They took up leadership roles in the various Church levels; station and parochial as well as in their various Church organizations and pious societies. Theirs was a spirituality based on service. I mean total service and dedication and not what they will stand to gain from the Church. They sacrifice their resources to aid the Church and they treated everyone with equal respect and dignity. After a life well-lived they died at their appointed time in peace and now enjoying perfect rest with God.

Faith is a very important ingredient that many Christians are gradually missing in their life. Without faith, life becomes emptiness and nothingness. By Faith I do not mean those who flock around prayer houses seeking a miracle; I do not mean those who come to Church for the sake of economic and financial breakthrough; Faith is deeper than that. Today the prayer houses are filled to the brim and those who run them make a lot of money; this is due to just one reason – the failure of government and the economic system. Should there be a social security system that covers both health insurance and job security many prayer houses today will be empty. Should the hospitals be optimal in their services, the prayer houses will not be the last hope of the poor and the vulnerable. The Faith I am talking about is not that which seeks miracles, but it is Faith that lives in the ordinary circumstances of life in fidelity to God and the Church. It is a Faith that reaches out to others. It is a Faith that is convinced. It is a Faith that is the result of the freewill and human option.

My grandparents had such a strong and unique Faith and they were serious in handing on that same Faith to their children and the succeeding generations. Faith must be transmitted. A Faith that is not transmitted on to others was never a solid faith. Now we are beneficiaries of the ardent and strong Faith of our grandparents, how prepared are we to hand this Faith over to the next generation?

I am not against building sophisticated Cathedrals, Parish houses, Parish halls etc. However, experience shows that when Faith is not well-founded, built and made to grow and flourish sooner or later the Faith will perish and the Cathedrals, Parish houses and Parish halls will become mere monuments and converted to tourist attractions. The experience of Europe should teach us. It is becoming a thing of concern when every priest or pastor who is sent to a parish or any other place of apostolate feels that his first and important task is to build, and erect magnificent edifices or infrastructures and he is viewed as a failure if he never succeeds in building any. No one asks him, how faithful he was to his pastoral to the sick, to the aged, to the catechumens, to the youths, to the stranded, to broken marriages and families. No one ask him how he was able to grow the young Christian communities, the pious societies but everyone wants to see him build a grand edifice and so write his name in the signs of times. This is dangerous to the Faith.

If sincere Faith does not build the cathedrals and the parish structures, these structures will outlive Faith, but if Faith builds structures, Faith will stand even when these structures collapse. There is need to go back to the drawing board, to the teaching of the Faith, to the practice of the Faith, to the living of the Faith. My grandparents taught me so many things, but the most important was that they taught me the value and irreplaceable role of Faith in the Christian life. From faith comes hope and love. A love that does not grow from faith is a mere cosmetic but a love that is the result of faith will stand firm. Little wonder the Holy Scripture says: “without FAITH one cannot please God.” (Cf. Heb 11: 6). 

For all they taught me in words and deeds, I remain grateful and in this month in which we remember the dead, I pray that their souls continue to find rest in God. I ask for the grace to live by this same Faith and to pass it on to others.

CONTINUE TO REST ON MY HEROES IN THE FAITH!

Raymond Umoidem Etor – died 1995

Grace Norbert Okon – died 2010

Agnes Raymond Umoh – died 2012

Norbert Etim Okon – died 2013

May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

 

Valentine UMOH

16.11.2018

YOU TOO CAN BE A SAINT … WE ARE ALL CALLED TO HOLINESS!

All saints day

The first day of November every year, the universal Church celebrates the feast day of all the Saints both known and unknown. The Book of Revelation describes these people in a figurative language thus: “After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7: 9 – 14)

The invitation and the call to holiness is a universal call and invitation. Every human being is called to holiness. It is not the reserve of priests, monks, religious men or women. No matter your status, gender or colour. All are called to holiness. From the North to the South, from the East to the West. From every nation, race, people, and tongue the invitation is to all. Through your work, your studies, your daily activities, your sacrifices and your sufferings you are all purified to be saints. This is the meaning of Christ´s words in Matthew 5:48 “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It is unfortunate to witness how so many are so preoccupied with today, and tomorrow yet not aiming at holiness. Everyone is preaching Divine Manifestation, Success and Prosperity but not many people aim at holiness.

A call to sainthood does not mean you should fly from the world, but it means that you should sanctify the world by your life of authentic Christian witnessing. By living a good life, one responds to the call to holiness. The call to holiness does not mean you should live in the Church doing many days of prayers and dry fasting, it means that you should love your brothers and sisters and wish everybody well. A call to holiness can never be minimized nor truncated by the signs of times. We live in society where Satanism and Sexism is gradually becoming the world´s most patronized religion. The call to sainthood thus becomes a call to be the catalyst of positive change in the society. It is a call to reject evil and embrace good. A call to promote everything that is good and worthwhile. A call to stand on the side of justice, the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted and the marginalized of the society. A call to say No to the culture of nudism and the culture of death and violence. A call to work with all men and women of good will to sanitize and collapse all forms of oppressive and inhumane socio-political structures.

The Church´s list or Litany of Saints can never be exhaustive because there are many unknown Saints from every nation, race, people, and tongue. What the Church intends to communicate by her litany is to give us some examples of people whose lives are worth emulating in order that their lives can serve as a guide and compass for us. About the Saints the author of the Book of Revelation says: “Therefore are they before the throne of God and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7: 15-17 RSV). The Saints are at peace and happiness with God. They have received life´s highest reward that is, Eternal Life with God. Let us not forget the warning of Christ: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36 KJV).

Saint Paul gives us the easiest way to respond to this call of love and sainthood, he says: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things… and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8,9 NAB)

When the Saints will be matching on, wont you like to be in the number? If the thief crucified with Jesus could be a Saint, you too are not exempted. When I was in the high school, one of the morning assembly songs that still strikes me went thus: “If you do good, kingdom is waiting for you, if you do bad, there is no more kingdom waiting for you.”

Together with the Church we rejoice with all our brothers and sisters who through sufferings and persecutions of all types have kept themselves holy and spotless and so are now at peace with God. Where they are today, we too will like to be as well. Or wouldn’t you? The choice is yours and the time is now!

May the Saints continually intercede for us in our daily lives and struggles!

Saint Thomas Aquinas – Pray for us!

Saint Anthony of Padua – Pray for us!

Saint Valentine – Pray for us!

All the Saints of God – Pray and intercede for us!

HAPPY ALL SAINTS DAY!

 

Valentine Umoh

01.11.2018