FRANCIS INVITES KIDS FOR A RIDE IN PAPAL JEEP, GREETS 50TH ANNIVERSARY COUPLES – A PAPAL AUDIENCE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL – JUNE 8: THE WORLD PRAYS FOR PEACE

Blog is updated with photo of Pope Francis blessing little boy with Downs Syndrome.

FRANCIS INVITES KIDS FOR A RIDE IN PAPAL JEEP, GREETS 50TH ANNIVERSARY COUPLES

Some great video from today’s general audience when Pope Francis invited some youngsters to board the Popemobile for a ride around the square. Pope Francis also had special greetings for a number of couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary: “Before I begin the catechesis I would like to greet a group of couples celebrating the fiftieth wedding anniversary. How’s that for good wine! Thank you for your testimony! It’s a beautiful example for newly married couples.”

I have some friends who today are marking their 20th anniversary – I hope they understood Francis’ words (read the next article). Also mentioned in this video is the fact that, due to the hot weather and sun the Vatican handed out umbrellas marked with the Vatican flag, so the sick in the front rows were not uncomfortable. http://www.romereports.com/2016/06/08/the-pope-thanked-several-couples-celebrating-50-years-of-marriage

A new cycle of catecheses on Jesus’ miracles was introduced by the Holy Father this morning at the weekly general audience. He focused on the first miracle quoted in the Gospels, that is, the wedding feast at Cana when he turned water into wine.

Earlier this year the Pope offered reflections on parables of mercy during this Jubilee Year, the Pope said Christ’s miracles were not performed so that people would “marvel” at them, but rather, through them, Christ revealed the Father’s love for us. They are also, he said, an invitation for the renewal of our faith.

Francis said at the start of today’s audience, “In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now consider the first of Jesus’ miracles, the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana.  Saint John fittingly calls these miracles “signs”, for by them the Lord reveals the Father’s merciful love.  Jesus’ choice of a wedding feast points to the deeper meaning of this miracle.  It is a sign of the new covenant that he came to inaugurate, the messianic banquet promised for the end times, where he is the Bridegroom and the Church his bride. 

“By changing the water kept for ritual purification into new wine,” continued the Holy Father, “Jesus signals that he is the fulfilment of the Law and the prophets.”

And the Pope then noted the last recorded words of Mary in the Gospels: “Mary’s command to the servants – ‘Do whatever he tells you’ – can serve as a program of life for the Church.  We are called constantly to renew our love for the Lord, and to draw new wine, new life, from his saving wounds.  The miracle at Cana reminds us that we are invited, as members of the Lord’s family, the Church, to draw near to him in faith, and thus to share in the joy of the wedding feast of the new and eternal covenant.”

A PAPAL AUDIENCE UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

I just received an email from friends of mine who are in Italy on vacation. Teresa and Rich attended today’s general audience and this is what she shared with me (and allowed me to share here):

“The Pope was in jovial form today, and made the Wedding at Cana seem as though it were truly a CELEBRATION!  …The Gospel message today came as a pleasant surprise.  The wedding at Cana. . .our 20th wedding anniversary. . . Thank the good Lord!  This was truly a gift to us!

“I think one of the biggest blessings today, came in the form of a young 4-year old boy from the Philippines, who’s family traveled some 14 hours by air to be present for the Pope’s Wednesday audience.  We met this family while standing in line to get into the piazza, early this morning.  This family came in hope of having a glance at the Pope, and for this lovely child of theirs to receive a blessing.  Sure enough, as Divine Providence would have it, this little boy was given to one of the Pope’s attendants to receive a blessing.  I snapped a few photos to give to his family.  They were delighted.  (No small miracle to find them after the service, but again, the Holy Spirit was at work!)”

Teresa sent the following photos, including the one where Pope Francis is blessing the little boy with Downs Syndrome.

Pope Blesses Child

Boy with Pope's attendant

JUNE 8: THE WORLD PRAYS FOR PEACE

On June 8, 2014, following his three-day trip to the Holy Land, Pope Francis prayed for peace in the Vatican gardens, joined by  President Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the state of Palestine.

At that time, he said, “I am profoundly grateful to you for accepting my invitation to come here and to join in imploring from God the gift of peace. It is my hope that this meeting will be a path to seeking the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide.

“Dear Presidents,” stated Francis, “our world is a legacy bequeathed to us from past generations, but it is also on loan to us from our children: our children who are weary, worn out by conflicts and yearning for the dawn of peace, our children who plead with us to tear down the walls of enmity and to set out on the path of dialogue and peace, so that love and friendship will prevail.

“Many, all too many, of those children have been innocent victims of war and violence, saplings cut down at the height of their promise. It is our duty to ensure that their sacrifice is not in vain. The memory of these children instils in us the courage of peace, the strength to persevere undaunted in dialogue, the patience to weave, day by day, an ever more robust fabric of respectful and peaceful coexistence, for the glory of God and the good of all.”

Today, two years later, is the second anniversary of that prayer for peace meeting.

Vatican Radio gave the following report on this anniversary:

The International Forum of Catholic Action, WUCWO, Italian Catholic Action, Argentinian Catholic Action and the National Justice and Peace Council of the Argentinian Episcopal Conference once again launched the initiative “A minute for peace.”

In response to the constant appeal by Pope Francis never to tire of praying and working for peace, the promoters of this initiative are asking their members and all men and women of good will to stop for a minute at 1 p.m. on June 8 – at the workplace, in the street, at home – to pray for peace.

The Tonga Islands were the first to pray for peace. In the capital Nuku’alofa, at 1 p.m. on 8 June, the women of WUCWO (World Union of Catholic Action Women Organizations) stopped in recollection, while in Italy, at that time, the new day was just dawning.

In Argentina at 1 p.m. on June 8, the bells of many churches in the different dioceses rang to invite the faithful to unite in prayer. Many institutions and organizations have joined in this initiative, including the Council for Religious Freedom, the Department for the Laity, the Islamic Centre of the Republic of Argentina, the Scouts, the Sant’Egidio Community, the Focolare Movement, the Christian Family Movement, the Federation of Catholic Workers’ Circles and the Catholic University of Argentina.

In Rome, at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, there was a group of young people who symbolically represented all the promoters of this initiative. At 1 p.m., in the nearby church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, there was a prayer presided over by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelisation and coordinator of the Jubilee of Mercy.

In Bethlehem, the local Catholic Action organized a prayer session in the Nativity Grotto. In Medellin, Colombia, young people and adults, as well as the very young, have prepared colored banners. In Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, the scene of continual violence during these last months, leaders and assistants of Catholic Action Movements  joined together in prayer and involved the whole population via radio.

The appeal for peace is available in more than 30 languages. In addition to Italian, English, French and Spanish, it may also be found in Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Birmanian, in the language of the Guarani Indos of Latin America, in the Hausa language spoken in Mali, the Togo Ewe and the Kikuyu of north Kenya thanks to the collaboration of leaders from the different countries.

This year, the organizerrs ask people to remember in a special way refugees and asylum seekers who desperately flee from wars, to tell them that they are not alone and to confirm our commitment to welcome them and to show them solidarity.

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