THERE IS NO SAINT WITHOUT A PAST AND NO SINNER WITHOUT A FUTURE! – POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR APRIL 16 TRIP TO LESBOS, GREECE – ONE PHOTOGRAPHER’S STORY

PAPAL TWEET – April 13, 2016: The Lord’s presence dwells in families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes.

As you know, Pope Francis will travel to the Greek island of Lesbos this Saturday to assess the situation of the huge numbers of migrants and refugees who have arrived there and are taxing not only the local economy but the reserves of hospitality of the people. I will bring you more in coming days about that trip, including input from Caritas, which is present on the ground.

THERE IS NO SAINT WITHOUT A PAST AND NO SINNER WITHOUT A FUTURE!

Pope Francis told the tens of thousands of faithful at today’s general audience that, “in our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now consider the Gospel account of the calling of Saint Matthew.  Jesus not only invites a tax-collector, a public sinner, to be his disciple, but also sits at table with him, thus scandalizing the Pharisees.  The Lord then explains that he has come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

The Pope went on to say that, “the calling of Matthew reminds us that when Christ makes us his disciples, he does not look to our past but to the future.”

The Holy Father then interrupted his own catechesis by quoting what he said was “a wonderful saying I heard long ago: ‘There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future!’” In fact, he repeated these words several times, to great applause from the faithful.

“We need but respond to (Jesus’) call with a humble and sincere heart,” explained Francis. “Jesus invites us to sit with him at the table of the Eucharist, in which he purifies us by the power of his word and by the sacrament unites us ever more deeply to himself.  Citing the prophet Hosea, he tells us that what God desires is ‘mercy, not sacrifice’, true conversion of heart and not merely formal acts of religion.

“May all of us,” urged the Pope, “in acknowledging our sins, respond more generously to the Lord’s invitation to sit at table with him, and with one another, with immense gratitude for his infinite mercy and saving love.”

At the end of the catechesis, Pope Francis remarked that he was united with the Church in Poland in marking the 1050th anniversary of the “baptism of the nation” an he asked God to bless the Polish people both at home and abroad.

“Together with the pastors and faithful, I give thanks to God for this historic event, which over the centuries has formed the faith, the spirituality, and the culture of your country, in the community of peoples  whom Christ has invited to participate in the mystery of His death and resurrection,” he told Polish pilgrims, many of whom wore traditional dress.

“Give thanks to the Lord – according to the words of Saint John Paul II – for the gift of having been – over 1000 years ago – baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; to be baptized in the water which, through grace, perfect in us the image of the living God; the water which is a wave of eternity: a spring of water welling up to eternal life. I ask God that the present generation and future generations of Poles remain faithful to the grace of baptism, giving witness to the love of Christ and the Church.,”

According to a note by Vatican Radio, a joint session of both chambers of the Polish Parliament will meet in Poznań on Friday to mark the acceptance by Polish ruler Mieszko I of Christianity in 966, which is considered the foundational event of the nation.

POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR APRIL 16 TRIP TO LESBOS, GREECE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday issued an appeal for prayers for his upcoming trip to the Greek island of Lesbos, where he will meet with some of the tens of thousands of refugees who have passed through the island. (photo news.va)

LESBOS

“Next Saturday I will go to the island of Lesbos, where many refugees have passed in recent months,” the Pope said, speaking during his 13 April general audience at the Vatican. “I will go, together with my brothers, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and of all Greece, to express my closeness and solidarity to the refugees and citizens of Lesbos, and all the Greek people – who are very generous in their welcoming.”

“I ask you to please accompany me with prayer, invoking the light and strength of the Holy Spirit and the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.”

Pope Francis will travel to Lesbos Saturday, 16 April at the invitations of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and of Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the Vatican announced 7 April.

One million refugees have made their way to Greece over the past year. Lesbos is a major entry point for refugees, which has received tens of thousands of people, many of them fleeing the war in Syria.

ONE PHOTOGRAPHER’S STORY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ appeal to pray for his upcoming journey to Lesbos on Saturday shines a spotlight on the plight of hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants fleeing conflict and poverty.

Internationally acclaimed photojournalist Aris Messinis, the chief photographer for Agence France Presse in Athens, is currently on assignment in Lesbos. Messinis recently gained attention in the media not for a photo he captured, but rather for an image taken of him in which he set his camera aside to help a refugee child struggling to get out of the water. (photo: news.va)

LESBOS PHOTOGRAPHER

Messinis has been on assignment in Lesbos for over a year now. Vatican Radio’s Antonella Palermo speaks with him about the situation there and his thoughts on the upcoming papal visit.

“Lesbos is only one part of a difficult journey,” Messinis explains. There are many risks involved with travelling by ocean. Many refugees do not know how to swim. The dinghies they are using are designed for lakes and made to hold a maximum of 18 people, though they try to fit up to 80 in one. Because they are so overcrowded, the risk for drowning or going missing is much higher.

As a photojournalist, Messinis feels it is his job to show people the reason why there is a migrant crisis. “We need to understand that it is not the migrants’ fault,” he says. “Someone else created this war, and it is just a survival instinct for them to escape the danger.”

When asked about the now iconic photo of himself, he said it was a “natural instinct” to help the refugee. “When you see someone in danger asking for help, what will you do – take their picture? No way.”

Messinis is thrilled to be present for Pope Francis’ visit, calling it a “big step.” He hopes it will inspire people to take action in aiding the thousands of suffering migrants risking their lives for the pursuit of a better future.

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