THE LENTEN STATION CHURCHS OF ROME: ASH WEDNESDAY, SANTA SABINA – POPE MEETS ITALIAN COAST GUARD AFTER MASSIVE RESCUE OF MIGRANTS – BROTHER, SISTER: TWO WORDS CHRISTIANITY LOVES, ALL CULTURES AND AGES UNDERSTAND – PAPAL APPEALS FOR PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, UKRAINE

THE LENTEN STATION CHURCHS OF ROME: ASH WEDNESDAY, SANTA SABINA

There is a centuries-old Roman tradition of celebrating Mass at what are known as Lenten station or stational churches. The practice of station churches had its origins in the first centuries of Christianity when most of the early Popes celebrated the liturgy on special days at special churches in the Eternal City. This eventually became principally a Lenten devotion. In his liturgical reform, Pope St. Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604, established a station church for each day of Lent, thus making the whole season a pilgrimage on the path to conversion while preparing for Easter. The first Station Church every year is always St. Sabina where the Pope celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass.

The word ‘station’ is associated with two Latin words: stare, meaning “to stand” and statio, meaning “standing still,” or a “stationary place.”

I will try to bring you on each day of Lent some information and photos about the station church of the day and a link to the church’s official website or another website about the church.

Pope Francis processed this afternoon, Ash Wednesday, from Sant’Anselmo on Rome’s Aventine Hill to nearby Santa Sabina, the first stational church. Joining the Pope in the procession are cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the Benedictine monks of San Anselmo, the Dominican Fathers of Santa Sabina and the lay faithful.
Click here to visit Santa Sabina: http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/rome/aventine/basilica-santa-sabina.htm

POPE MEETS ITALIAN COAST GUARD AFTER MASSIVE RESCUE OF MIGRANTS

Pope Francis welcomed a delegation from the Italian Coast Guard to the Santa Marta residence on Tuesday evening, two days after a massive operation in which they rescued a record 2,000 migrants and refugees from the sea between Italy and Libya.

The Pope met with the group of nine people for forty-five minutes. Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said that during the meeting the members of the Coast Guard told the Pope about their concrete experiences in a dialogue which Fr. Lombardi described as ‘moving and inspiring.’ (Photos:news.va)

POPE FRANCIS - COAST GUARD

Pope Francis in turn expressed his heartfelt appreciation and thanks to the men and women for their courageous service and dedication in favor of people in dire need. Francis said, ““I truly admire you, and I feel small before the work that you do, risking your lives, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to you for this. But I support you in the best way I can: with prayer, praise and affection.”

Just two days before the meeting with the Holy Father, the Italian coastguard rescued more than 2,000 migrants in difficulty between the Italian island of Lampedusa and the Libyan coast. The worsening security situation in the North African nation has led to a new wave of men, women and children seeking to get to Europe, despite the dangers of placing themselves at the mercy of traffickers.

In fact, during the rescue operation the Italian transport ministry reported that the Coast Guards was threatened at gunpoint by four men who approached them by speedboat from the Libyan coast.

Only a week earlier, an estimated 300 people were feared to have died when four dinghies, each carrying about 100 people, overturned during stormy weather as they attempted to make the crossing from the Libyan coast.  The youngest victim was just 12 years of age. (Vatican Radio: VIS)

BROTHER, SISTER: TWO WORDS CHRISTIANITY LOVES, ALL CULTURES AND AGES UNDERSTAND

In this period he is focusing on the family in the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis today told the pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square that, “after considering the role of mother, father, children, today it is the turn of brothers and sisters. ‘Brother’ and ‘sister’ are words that Christianity loves very much. And, thanks to the family experience, they are words that all cultures and all ages understand.” And, he said, it is “in families that we learn how to be good brothers and sisters; what we learn at home then becomes a source of enrichment for society as a whole.”

POPE FRANCIS - ASH WEDNESDAY AUDIENCE

Quoting the psalmist who said, “How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!” the Pope said, “This is true; being brothers and sisters is beautiful.”

However, he said, speaking off-the-cuff, “When the bond between brothers is broken, it leads to something that is truly ugly, that is bad for humanity.  Even in families, how many brothers and sisters have fought even over little things…over an inheritance… then they stop speaking to each other, they no longer greet each other…this is an awful thing.  Brotherhood is such a great thing. Just think, brothers and sisters, they all dwelt in the womb of the same mother for nine months, they come from their mother’s flesh.  We cannot break the bonds of brotherhood.

Continuing extemporaneously, Francis said, “We all know families where brothers and sisters are divided; where they have fallen out, maybe in our own families we have cases like these.  Let’s ask the Lord to help us to reunite these families, to rebuild these families. The bonds of brotherhood should not be broken, because when they are broken, things happen like with Cain and Abel, when the Lord asks Cain, he responds I am not my brother’s keeper, this is awful, really terrible to hear.”

The Pope explained that, while we may not always be aware of it, “it is the family that introduces brotherhood into the world! From this first experience of brotherhood, nourished by affection and by family education, style of fraternity radiates like a promise throughout society and relations between peoples.”

The Holy Father exclaimed, “Just think of what this bond between men, even very different from each other, becomes when they can say to another: “He is like a brother to me, she is like a sister to me”! This is beautiful! History has shown enough, moreover, that freedom and equality, without brotherhood, become full of individualism and conformity and personal interest too.”

He pointed out that, “brotherhood in the family is particularly illuminating when we see the care, patience and affection with which the weaker, sick, or disabled brother or sister are surrounded. World over there are many brothers and sisters who do this, and maybe we do not appreciate their generosity enough. And when there are many brothers and sisters in a family…today I greeted a family here who has nine children…the oldest helps the mother and father to take care of the younger ones, this work of helping each other as brothers and sisters, this is beautiful!”

“Having a brother, a sister who loves you is a powerful, priceless, irreplaceable experience,” said Francis. He noted that, “the little ones, the weak, the poor … are our brothers and sisters and we love them and treat them as such. When this happens, when the poor are like a part of our family, our own Christian brotherhood comes back to life.”

Pope Francis then suggested a moment of silent prayer,  “thinking of our brothers and sisters; in the silence of our hearts let us pray for them.” And the square was audibly silent for several minutes.

PAPAL APPEALS FOR PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, UKRAINE

After the audience catechesis, Pope Francis urged the international community to find peaceful solutions to the difficult situation in Libya. He asked for prayers for “our Egyptian brothers who were killed in Libya three days ago for the mere fact of being Christians.” He prayed that the Lord may receive them in heaven and give comfort to their families and communities.

POPE FRANCIS - ASH WEDNESDAY - PEACE APPEALS

Remembering “all those who have died, those who have been wounded and all the refugees,” the Holy Father prayed for peace in the Middle East and in North Africa, urging the intervention of the international community to work to find peaceful solutions to the crisis in Libya.

He also had special words for the situation in Ukraine, noting that the bishops of that troubled country are in Rome on their “ad limina” visit. He began by saying, “Слава Ісусу Христу! Praise be to Jesus Christ!” in Ukrainian. “I know that among the many intentions you bring to the Tombs of the Apostles there is the plea for peace in Ukraine. I carry the same wish in my heart and join in your prayer that lasting peace may come soon to your homeland.”