SAVE CHRISTIANS, SAVE CHRISTIANITY, SAVE SYRIA, SAYS ALEPPO BISHOP

SAVE CHRISTIANS, SAVE CHRISTIANITY, SAVE SYRIA, SAYS ALEPPO BISHOP

The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, was present in Malmo, Sweden, for the one-day event with Catholics and Lutherans that marked the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop Audo, who is head of Caritas Syria, addressed the gathering Monday and made a heartfelt appeal for his fellow Christians, for Christianity and for “our beloved Syria” in the presence of the Holy Father. Pope Francis arrived Sweden late Monday morning to join Lutherans in commemorating this anniversary.

bishop-audo

Bishop Audo began his touching, moving testimonial by telling the faithful that, “almost all of the hospitals have been destroyed and 80% of the doctors have left Aleppo. In Syria, 3 million children no longer go to school. Physical and moral exhaustion has touched everyone, especially the poorest and among them, children and adolescents and the elderly.”

The Chaldean prelate added that, “our greatest sadness is seeing the rich and marvelous Christianity of this land is disappearing. He appealed to “the Christians of the world, Muslims of the East and West and all people of good will: Do not allow our beloved Syria to be destroyed and fragmented.”

The bishop also announced that, “Become Christians Together” is the motto of Christian humanitarian work in Syria, adding that that work “is focusing on how serving Christ must include serving others, especially the poorest and most needy.”

Immediately after his testimony, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and President of the Lutheran World Federation, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, read in Arabic and in English a prayer for Syria and Iraq. “May the Lord of history  change hearts,” “may peace can be stabilized among nations on the basis of justice and human rights,” and “may the spirit of peace descend on the peoples of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.”

THE SIX NEW BEATITUDES OF POPE FRANCIS – BE SALT AND LIGHT: EXPRESS FAITH IN PRAYER, SACRAMENTS AND SERVICE TO THE SUFFERING

THE SIX NEW BEATITUDES OF POPE FRANCIS

In his homily this morning at Mass for the small Catholic population of Sweden, Pope Francis focussed on the Beatitudes as recounted in the day’s Gospel according to Matthew, and added some “new” Beatitudes of his own.

In what was the final event of his overnight stay in southern Sweden to mark the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Holy Father celebrated Mass under gray skies and very chilly temperatures in a stadium in Malmo, where the faithful included Catholics from other Nordic countries as well as Filippino immigrants who work in these nations. (photo: news.va)

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“The Beatitudes,” said Francis, “are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian.  Here I would like to mention only one: ‘Blessed are the meek’.  Jesus says of himself: ‘Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart’.  This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love.  Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another.  It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity.

He explained that “the Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card.  They identify us as followers of Jesus.  We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.  Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy.”

Pope Francis then created his own list of six Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart.  Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness.  Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.  Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.  Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.  Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.  All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”

Pope Francis’ homily was quite beautiful, encouraging all of us aim high, as the saints did, and to remember that today’s Solemnity of All Saints, is a “celebration of holiness.  A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism.  A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters.  A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others.”

Click here for that full homily:  http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-celebrates-mass-at-malmo

BE SALT AND LIGHT: EXPRESS FAITH IN PRAYER, SACRAMENTS AND SERVICE TO THE SUFFERING

Following Mass in the Malmo stadium Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis had a message for the faithful before reciting the Angelus. Thanking God for his visit, Francis said, “As Catholics, we are part of a great family and are sustained in the same communion.  I encourage you to express your faith in prayer, in the sacraments, and in generous service to those who are suffering and in need.  I urge you to be salt and light, wherever you find yourselves, through the way you live and act as followers of Jesus, and to show great respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters of other churches and Christian communities, and with all people of good will.” (photo news.va)

malmo-angelus

The Pope noted that, “In our life, we are not alone; we have the constant help and companionship of the Virgin Mary.  Today she stands before us as first among the saints, the first disciple of the Lord.  We flee to her protection and to her we present our sorrows and our joys, our fears and our aspirations.  We put everything under her protection, in the sure knowledge that she watches over us and cares for us with a mother’s love.

Francis asked those present to keep him in their prayers, adding, “I keep you all very present in my own. Now, together, let us turn to Our Lady and pray the Angelus.”

Earlier the Pope expressed his “gratitude to Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm for his kind words, and to the civil authorities and all who helped in the planning and execution of this visit.” He also greeted the president and the secretary general of the Lutheran World Federation, the archbishop of the Church of Sweden, members of the ecumenical delegations and the diplomatic corps present for the occasion.