THE POOR OPEN THE WAY TO HEAVEN FOR US

 

 

THE POOR OPEN THE WAY TO HEAVEN FOR US

It was a very special day at the Vatican Sunday as Pope Francis presided at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the First World Day of the Poor. The Holy Father had announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In his homily Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.…If in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven. … “For us, it is an evangelical duty to care for them as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor,a” said Francis, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.”

There were some 7,000 people at the Mass, of whom about 4000 were the needy and homeless, invited by the Vatican.

After Mass Pope Francis offered lunch in the Paul VI Hall. He spoke to them in off the cuff remarks, saying, “Welcome everyone! We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God’s blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. Rome is full of charity and good will today.”

Photos from L’Osservatore Romano photographer:

 

 

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO CARDINAL MAFI OF TONGA – SUNDAY IS THE 1ST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

Our pilgrimage began with a very early wakeup call this morning to attend 6:45am Mass offered by Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, who had joined the women of WINE yesterday afternoon at the Hotel Cenacolo (the Cenacle). He celebrated his first Mass for us about 7:30 yesterday evening, immediately after our arrival from a full day on the road – driving to and then visiting Siena, followed by a mid-afternoon visit to the Banfi winery (hopefully you saw my Facebook Live videos – I did 5 yesterday – no time to write a colum so videos had to suffice).

After a very rapid breakfast (!), we departed for Rome at 7:45 for a special event Msgr. Anthony had prepared for the group this morning with the Sisters of St. Teresa of Calcutta, including the women being blessed by and prayed over with a relic of St. Teresa! I missed that as I had to go to Vatican radio to record my weekly program, “Joan Knows,” but I’ve been promised my own visit and blessing at their house.

I’ll try to post some of the photos I took in Tuscany in coming days. If you know this region of Italy, you know it is a special place in God’s beautiful universe!

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO CARDINAL MAFI OF TONGA

Tune in this weekend to Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi of Tonga. He was the guest of honor at the October Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, which I also attended. Cardinal Mafi is the fourth Roman Catholic Bishop of Tonga. His first names, by the way, Soane Patita, mean John the Baptist. He was named a cardinal by Pope Francis on February 14, 2015.

Listen as he continues his story about life in Tonga, the Catholic Church in Tonga, his ministry as a bishop and now a cardinal – all that and much more. As I wrote last week, at times his words about the Church are like a beautiful homily – you won’t want to miss a minute!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

SUNDAY IS THE 1ST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

Pope Francis surpised not a few people Thursday afternoon when he arrived, unannounced, at a small “field hospital” set up in front of St. Peter’s Square to provide medical care for Rome’s poor. He greeted volunteers and poor people waiting to receive care ahead of the 1st World Day of the Poor on Sunday, November 19.

The field hospital was part of the initiatives linked to this world day of the poor, called for by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Holy See Press Office noted Thursday that the tent hospital is run by the Italian Red Cross and offers free medical visits for the poor and needy throughout the week from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

In a recent story, Vatican Radio noted that on Sunday, parishes in Rome and around the world will mark the first World Day of the Poor, a fruit of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has been tasked with the organization of the initiative called by Pope Francis.

Msgr. Geno Sylva, a council official, told the radio that, “The Holy Father announced this initiative, this occasion, this opportunity for grace during the Jubilee when he reached out to those who are socially marginalized and so this is an opportunity for the Church around the world to not only celebrate and assist and be with those who are poor, but also to change our attitudes about poverty.”

He pointed out that, “this World Day of the Poor is so beautiful because it’s nothing about power, it’s nothing about anything else but reciprocity, giving and receiving. …We are all poor in some way and everyone’s got something to offer, and this day can serve to open our minds and hearts, our attitudes towards the poverty that exists every day of the year.”

He explained that Pope Francis, “continues to focus the attention of the Church on how we respond to poverty institutionally, but also to people individually.”

The World Day of the Poor is being marked not only in Rome, the Pope’s diocese, but also in parishes around the world. For this reason, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has published information on its website in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this initiative

Some of the events organized in Rome include a prayer vigil in the church of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls on Saturday.November 18 at 8pm. Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass Sunday morning, November 19, in which an estimated 4,000 needy people will take part, followed by a lunch in the Paul VI hall.

LORETO: ‘HIC VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST’ – HERE THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH

THIS POST HAS BEEN AN 8-HOUR PROJECT OF DEVOTION, DEDICATION, AND THE PATIENCE OF JOB, GIVEN THE MYRIAD CONNECTIVITY ISSUES!  ENJOY!

Our WINE pilgrimage group visited the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto yesterday and, once again, it was a beautiful, almost mystical experience. We arrived just before 10 am from Assisi, a two-hour bus ride, just in time for the 10 am Mass after which we had more than 90 minutes to explore the basilica and the Holy House and have quiet time for further prayer.

We explored in small groups of 3 or 4, admiring the magnificent side chapels and those of the apse but spend much of our time in Mary’s Home. At one point I spotted a basilica volunteer and stopped to ask her where the American chapel was. In wonderful English she replied, “Come, I’ll show you.” When we got to the chapel, Kathy, one of our group was also there, and Sabrina spent the next 15 minutes telling us glorious stories and historic details about the Holy House. We were riveted and felt so privileged by her presence. She also showed us several other chapels, in particular the stunning Spanish Chapel, before we had to meet our group at 12:30. Grazie ancora, Sabrina! Thank you, again!

In the time we had before meeting Sabrina, I know I spent at least 45 minutes in the Holy House, entering on three separate occasions, the last of which was precisely at noon for the Angelus!

I hate to sound trite but truly, it doesn’t get any better than praying the noon Angelus inside the walls of the home where the Annunciation occurred, where the Word was Made Flesh, where the Holy Family lived!

My description of the Holy House and its journey from Nazareth to what is now called Loreto follows – this is the story I wrote after my first visit years ago. I am posting photos I took yesterday at the basilica but visitors are not allowed to take photos of the interior of the Holy House. The two pictures you see I found online – one shows the side walls and the altar with the image of Mary holding Jesus and the second shows the two doors on the side walls, the entryway and exit.

The group is exploring Assisi today but, because of huge connectivity issues and spending hours accomplishing literally nothing but trying to get wifi, etc. I will spend most of the day in my room, writing and posting photos and preparing Vatican Insider for this weekend.  I will join them for lunch in a short while.

LORETO: ‘HIC VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST’ – HERE THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH

Several years ago, as part of a series I was writing on shrines in Italy, I visited the Holy House of Loreto. It was my first trip to the Marché region and to this Marian shrine and it was a never-to-be forgotten weekend. I cannot locate the photos I took during that visit (this was before I had a digital camera where one can preserve photos on a memory card, in a computer and on CDs) but the following is my story.

Pope John Paul once said that “the Holy House of Loreto is not an ‘icon’ of abstract truth, but an event and a mystery: the Incarnation of the Word. It is with deep emotion that, when entering the revered chapel, one reads the words above the altar: ‘hic verbum caro factum est – here the Word was made flesh’.”

The Holy House of Loreto has, in fact, been one of the world’s premier shrines dedicated to Mary for over seven hundred years. According to tradition, the home in which Mary lived, in which the Angel Gabriel appeared to her, announcing she would become the Mother of God, and the home she shared with Jesus and Joseph, was transported by angels to this Italian hill town overlooking the Adriatic on the night of December 10, 1294.

In the third century, Mary’s dwelling in Nazareth was already used as a place of worship. The site of the Incarnation then consisted of a grotto (venerated today in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth) and an adjacent three-walled house over which a synagogue had been built. By the fifth century a more solid basilica had been constructed, and by the 12th century it was protected by the majestic basilica of the Crusades.

Tradition says that, when the Crusaders, protectors of holy places, were expelled from Palestine in 1291, the safety of the Holy House was in doubt. It was thus transported – and legend says angels had a hand in this – first to Illyria (modern day Croatia) and then in 1294 to Loreto, a laurel-covered hill in what were then the Papal States. The name Loreto comes, in fact, from the Latin “laurus,” meaning laurel. The adjective is “lauretan.”

According to Capuchin Father Giuseppe Santarelli, author of numerous books on this shrine, recent findings show that the so-called “translation” (the move) of the house to Loreto occurred not through angelic ministrations but through human intervention.

A recently discovered document from 1294 in fact testifies that one Niceforo Angelo, ruler of Epiro gave his daughter, as part of her dowry for her marriage to the son of King Charles of Naples, numerous precious possessions, including “the holy stones carried away from the House of Our Lady, the Virgin Mother of God.” Other documents from the same period assert that a 13th century family named Angelo or Di Angeli, saved the stones of the Holy House of Nazareth from destruction by Moslems and had them transported to Loreto in the Papal States for safekeeping.

“Angelo” means angel in Italian and Di Angeli means “of the angels.”

That part of Our Lady’s house which can be seen today – the original three stone walls – is encased in a rectangular, ornately sculpted marble enclosure called a screen which was commissioned by Pope Julius II in the 16th century and built according to a design by Bramante. The western external wall forms the backdrop for the shrine’s main altar.

The house itself is quite small, about 12 by 28 feet. Today there is an altar where the original house opened on to the grotto. Above the altar is a small statue of Our Lady with Child, clothed in the traditional dalmatic. The original 14th century statue, carved from cedar wood from Lebanon and darkened over the centuries by candle smoke, was destroyed by fire in 1921. The current statue was carved from a Lebanese cedar from the Vatican gardens, and was painted to resemble the earlier Madonna, though it is somewhat darker.

The three original stone walls are barely nine feet high: the masonry above them was added at a later date to accommodate a vaulted ceiling to make it more suitable for worship.

Archeological studies have revealed that the house had no foundations and was set high on a public road. Studies have also shown that the stonework is indigenous to Palestine and that the walls bear graffiti – words that are written or etched in stone – similar to writings in Palestine, and especially Nazareth. One, for example, bears an inscription in Greek, with two words that seem Hebrew (‘lamed’ and ‘waw’) that say “Oh Jesus Christ, Son of God.” This same invocation has been found in the Grotto of Conon in Nazareth, alongside the Grotto of the Annunciation.

About sixty graffiti have been found, many of which are considered by experts to be similar to those of the Judeo-Christians in the Holy Land, including Nazareth, of ancient times

The technique used for the outer finish of some of the stones is similar to that employed by the Nabateans and widespread in Palestine at the times of the Romans.

Five crosses made of a red material were found walled up among the stones of the Holy House. It is believed they belonged to crusaders or to knights of a military order that defended holy relics.

Still visible on the north wall, one of the two longer walls, is the wood lintel where the original door used to be. Today, pilgrims enter and exit by two small doors created in the north and south walls.

Entering the Holy House imbues the visitor with an indescribable sensation. When I was there, the silence was deafening. There is a definite feeling of awe – intellectual, physical and spiritual. Some pilgrims (because of limited space, only a few people enter at a time) appear to be in a trance. Yet others, like I did, gently finger the markings on the 2,000-year old walls, or simply lean against them for a time – as if to draw strength, as if to feel the presence of Mary and the Holy Family, as if to draw inspiration for prayer and – perhaps just once in a lifetime – to say the perfect prayer.

These hallowed walls seem like umbilical cords to our past. Walls which, if they could talk, would let us hear Mary at prayer, Joseph telling Mary about his work day, Jesus as he cries, talks or walks for the first time, the Holy Family around a table as they eat their nightly meal, perhaps with a guest. This was a family’s home – and so you wonder: Were there both tears and laughter? Hot, dusty days? Cold, winter nights? Sleepless nights? Did the Holy Family ever wonder where their next meal would come from?

What we know for certain is that this was a home filled with love.

While millions of pilgrims visit Loreto each year, no one knows precisely how many have come since that December night in 1294. Just as the pilgrims are countless, so too are the miracles and conversions linked to Loreto. Over the years many thousands of votive offerings have been left by the faithful “for graces received,” although only a few hundred are actually on display in the magnificently frescoed Treasure Room.

The imposing Basilica of the Holy House was begun in the latter half of the 15th century. Enormous bronze doors, set in the Renaissance-style façade, welcome us to the interior, which is in the form of a Latin cross, with a nave and two aisles. Twelve side altars fill the right and left walls. As we reach the Holy House, the basilica widens to reveal 13 stunning chapels built around the north, east and south sides of the shrine. These chapels were built with the offerings of the faithful including those from France, Croatia, English-speaking American Catholics, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.

The art work – frescoes, sculptures, marble work, and stained glass windows – are of such striking, exquisite beauty as to leave the visitor breathless. Make sure you have an excellent guide – or an excellent guidebook.

American, German and Spanish Chapels

The basilica is at the eastern end of the Piazza della Madonna and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic. It is flanked by an 18th century bell-tower and 16th to 18th century buildings that house a museum, administrative offices and those of the pontifical delegate to the shrine and the Universal Congregation of the Holy House. The latter was founded in 1883 for the purpose of spreading knowledge of and devotion to the Holy House of Loreto.

The feast of the Shrine of the Holy House is December 10th.

Loreto is a pontifical shrine, has a special juridical status and is administered by the Prelature of the Holy House. The prelate and pontifical delegate today is Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin.

Pope John Paul visited Loreto three times (1994, 1995, 2004). Pope Benedict visited Loreto in 2012 for the first time as Pope but he had been there on seven previous occasions between 1985 and 2002. In 1985, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he went on pilgrimage with the personnel of the Congregation. In 1988 the cardinal attended a three-day celebration during the Marian year. In 1991, he was in Loreto for a town twinning between Loreto and Altoetting, the shrine in Bavaria visited last year by Pope Benedict. In 1994, the cardinal went on pilgrimage with his personal secretary at the time, Msgr. Josef Clemens, in 1995 he went for an International Mariological Congress and in 1999 he went on a private pilgrimage with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. His last visit as cardinal was in November of 2002 when he stopped in Loreto as a guest of the then prelate, Archbishop Angelo Comastri, on his way to give a speech in Ancona.

Here’s one lovely story I found about the Journey of the Holy House of Loreto:

Now, in more detail, here is the story of the first stage in the journey of the Angels who carried the Holy House, high above the mountains and deserts of the Holy Land, across the expansive Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to Illyria.  On May 10, 1291, it quietly set down in the little hamlet of Tersatto, in Illyria now known as Croatia), far from the battle cries of Palestine.

It was early in the morning, when the local people discovered, to their great surprise, a house resting on the ground.  There was no foundation under it!  Curious to see what it was, they ventured inside.  They found a stone Altar.  On the Altar was a cedar statue of Mother Mary standing with Her Divine Son in Her arms.  The Infant Jesus had the two first fingers of His Right Hand extended in a blessing, and with His Left Hand, He held a golden sphere representing the world.  Both Mary and Jesus were dressed in robes.  Golden crowns were poised on both their heads.

The villagers were awestruck, but confused, until a short time later, Our Lady appeared to the local Priest and said,

“Know that the house which has been brought up of late to your land, is the same in which I was born and brought up.  Here, at the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, I conceived the Creator of all things.  Here the Word of the Eternal Father became Man.  The Altar which was brought with this house was consecrated by Peter, Prince of the Apostles.

“This house has come from Nazareth to your shores by the power of God, of Whom nothing is impossible.  And now, in order that you may bear testimony of all these things, be healed.  Your unexpected and sudden recovery shall confirm the truth of what I have declared to you.”

The Priest, who had suffered for years from an illness, was immediately cured.  He promptly told all the people, and word of this Gift from God, spread throughout the countryside.  Pilgrimages began coming immediately to the Holy House of Nazareth, in Illyria.  God had chosen to bring it to this little village, and the villagers lovingly responded by erecting a modest, quite primitive building over the house, to protect it from the elements.

However, the joy, the Croatians had experienced at having this most precious gift in their midst, was short-lived.  Three years and five months later, on December 10, 1294, the Holy House disappeared overnight from Croatia, never to return.  Saddened by the loss, Nicholas Fangipani, a devout man from Tersatto, built a small church, a replica of the Holy House, on a hill where the original had stood.  He placed an inscription:

“The Holy House of the Blessed Virgin came from Nazareth on the 10th of May, in the year 1291, and left on the 10th of December, 1294.”

The people from Croatia continued venerating Our Lady in their replica church.  So great was their devotion that Pope Urban V sent the people of Tersatto an image of Our Lady in 1367, which was said to have been painted by St. Luke, the Evangelist.

The people from Tersatto, or Fiume, as it was also called, grieved over the loss of the Holy House and the image of Our Lady.  A Franciscan recalled a group coming across to Loreto from Dalmatia as late as the 16th Century.  He wrote: “In one particular group, there were about 500 pilgrims from Tersatto, with their Priests.  They began their procession into the church of the Holy House on their knees, crying and weeping.  As they approached the Holy House, they wailed in their own tongue, `Come back to Fiume (Tersatto) O Mary, come back to Fiume, O Mary O Mary.’ 

 

A SUNDAY TO REMEMBER

Below is the story I wrote yesterday and could not post. When we got back to our hotel in Assisi this afternoon from a magnificent day in Loreto, my wifi issues were resolved and I therefore am able to share this with you. Teresa and Kelly and I spoke of this amazing Mass on her Monday radio program, in case you tuned in to that yesterday.

I will do what I can later this evening (or more likely tomorrow) to bring you the story of Loreto and some of the photos I took of this astonishing shrine! The church itself seems to be a shrine to house the shrine of the Holy House of Mary – much as the cathedral of Cologne was built as a stone reliquary to house the reliquary of the Three Magi.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I am writing from Assisi where I arrived only a few hours ago and, in less than an hour, will meet Teresa Tomeo, Kelly Wahlquist and the women of WINE – Women in the New Evangelization – for a get-acquainted dinner.

It has taken me well over an hour to get the computer up and working. I still cannot access wifi so have no idea of how or when I will be able to post this column. I’ve decided that prayer, not worrying, will be the only route to take in coming hours and days!

HOURS LATER…..Well, that dinner have long passed but stay tuned as I have a marvelous story to tell.

A SUNDAY TO REMEMBER

I want to tell you about a Sunday Mass I will never forget. And that’s probably true of everyone who attended the 10:30 Mass yesterday at St. Patrick’s in Rome, the new home to Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics in Rome.

I arrived at about 10:15 and met Brother Daniel Griffin, who will soon be ordained a Marianist deacon, who frequently helps out at mass as an acolyte, Eucharistic minister or lector. He was scheduled to be a lector that day and I to be Eucharistic minister but he suggested we change as he wanted to help the priest who would say 10:30 Mass – a certain Fr. Whelan from the Gregorian University whom Fr.Greg, our rector, had asked to say the 10:30 Mass in his absence from Rome.

I am usually a lector and was quite happy to oblige, and prepared accordingly, studying the readings and preparing to carry up the Book of Gospels when Mass began and we processed in.

I was near the sacristy so could greet people as they arrived – Ambassador Callista Ginrich was there, as was her husband Newt, Teresa and Kelly came to this Mass, parishioners I knew and some I did not were all in attendance.

As the minutes passed and the clock said 10:30, there was no sign of Fr.Whelan. Fr. Post, who had said the 9 am Mass, had already left for Marymount school to celebrate the 11 am Mass.

Soon it was 10:35, then 10:40 and I told Daniel we should make an announcement explaining the delay in the start of Mass. Neither of us had a phone number for Fr. Whelan and in the meantime, the parish secretary had gone to the Maryknoll house to see about the availability of a priest.

At 10:45 I went to the ambo and announced that the priest scheduled to take Fr. Greg’s place had not yet shown up and we were trying to see if another priest was available – thus the delay, I suggested we all say a few Hail Marys as we tried to remedy the situation.

As I was walking back to the sacristy, a sister whom I’ve seen on several occasions, pulled me aside to say there was a Jesuit priest in their small group – perhaps he could help. She introduced me to Fr. Nicholas and he and I then went to the sacristy where I introduced him to Bro. Daniel. I learned in the meantime that Fr. Nicholas (whose last name I do not know as I write!) was a student at the Biblicum University.

Father was a little worried as he said he was from Indonesia and spoke some English but had never said Mass in English in public. We told him not to worry, that St. Patrick’s was a wonderful, caring, welcoming community. He was also concerned about not having a prepared homily but we suggested he announce this and say we could just remain a brief time in silent prayer, reflecting on the Gospel and readings.

 

We then processed into the church as the music began. Everything proceeded normally, music, the readings, responsorial psalm and it was time for the Gospel when, all of a sudden, a new priest appeared on the scene, walking humbly to where Fr. Nicholas and Daniel were standing, they all spoke briefly and, in a nanosecond, we learned this was Fr. Whelan, Fr. Greg’s original replacement for Mass!

Fr. Whelan read the Gospel and gave a delightful homily, explaining his lateness and saying his homily was composed in the taxi coming to church. He spoke on what he called the theme of the day’s Gospel, about being alert to when you were called to a task, about not being late when the Lord called. He said it was the perfect Gospel for him and us – that day – a Gospel about being prepared and not being late. His Irish accent was enchanting and, of course, Fr. Whelan was forgiven on the spot by all present.

Mass proceeded normally and at the very end, Fr. Nicholas, who had stepped in so well, so immediately, so wonderfully to preside at Mass, told us again that this was only his first ever Mass in English in public – you can imagine the applause!

By the way, we discovered to everyone’s great amazement and amusement that Fr. Whelan was one of Fr. Nicholas’ professors! I can imagine the conversation in coming days and weeks!

The two priests were in the vestibule after Mass and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many handshakes or hugs or words of thanks as I saw yesterday by the parishioners and visitors who attend St. Patrick’s.

It was a God-given moment Sunday. A lesson the Lord wanted us all to learn – that we must trust in Him – always!

I was worried before Mass about how to help people if we did not find a priest. Could we have a liturgy of the Word and use previously consecrated hosts for communion! I had no idea what to do – I only knew I wanted to help.  I should have just said, “Lord, as usual, things are in Your hands!”

Things were in His hands yesterday, they are as I write these words and they will be tomorrow, for each and every one of us!

 

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO CARDINAL MAFI OF TONGA – NUCLEAR WEAPONS EXIST “IN SERVICE Of A MENTALITY OF FEAR”

I am really excited to tell you about my guest in the interview segment this weekend – Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi of Tonga. He was the guest of honor at the recent Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii which I also attended. Cardinal Mafi is the fourth Roman Catholic bishop of Tonga. His first names, by the way, Soane Patita, mean John the Baptist. He was named a cardinal by Pope Francis on February 14, 2015.

Listen as he tells us how he learned he’d been named a cardinal, life in Tonga, the Catholic Church in Tonga, his ministry as a bishop and now a cardinal – all that and much more. At times his words about the Church are like a beautiful homily – you won’t want to miss a minute!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

NUCLEAR WEAPONS EXIST “IN SERVICE Of A MENTALITY OF FEAR”

“The threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned”

Friday was the first day of a two-day Vatican high-level international symposium on a nuclear-weapons-free world entitled “Prospects for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament,”‎ It was organized by the Vatican’’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

In a press release from the Vatican Secretariat of State announcing the symposium, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the dicastery, explained that, “this event responds to the priorities of Pope Francis to take action for world peace, to use the resources of creation for a sustainable development and to improve the quality of life for all, individuals and countries, without discrimination.”

Among those present to explore the possibilities for achieving disarmament in the 21st century were 11 Nobel Peace laureates, top United Nations and NATO officials, ‎heads of  major foundations and civil society organizations, as well representatives of bishops conferences, Christian denominations and other faiths.

The Nobel laureates:

S.S. Francesco -Sala Clementina: Simposio Internazionale sul Disarmo 10-11-2017

Friday, Pope Francis received the participants, and addressed them in English, expressing his “deep gratitude for your presence here and your work in the service of the common good. I thank Cardinal Turkson for his greeting and introduction.”

He began by noting that the symposium is addressing “issues that are critical both in themselves and in the light of the complex political challenges of the current international scene, marked as it is by a climate of instability and conflict. A certain pessimism might make us think that ‘prospects for a world free from nuclear arms and for integral disarmament’, the theme of your meeting, appear increasingly remote.”

“Indeed,” said Francis, “the escalation of the arms race continues unabated and the price of modernizing and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations. As a result, the real priorities facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty, the promotion of peace, the undertaking of educational, ecological and healthcare projects, and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.”

The Holy Father highlighted “the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices. If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned. For they exist in the service of a mentality of fear that affects not only the parties in conflict but the entire human race. International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”

Francis said, “Essential in this regard is the witness given by the Hibakusha, the survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, together with other victims of nuclear arms testing. May their prophetic voice serve as a warning, above all for coming generations!”

“Furthermore,” emphasized the Pope, “weapons that result in the destruction of the human race are senseless even from a tactical standpoint. For that matter, while true science is always at the service of humanity, in our time we are increasingly troubled by the misuse of certain projects originally conceived for a good cause. Suffice it to note that nuclear technologies are now spreading, also through digital communications, and that the instruments of international law have not prevented new states from joining those already in possession of nuclear weapons. The resulting scenarios are deeply disturbing if we consider the challenges of contemporary geopolitics, like terrorism or asymmetric warfare.”

Yet, said Francis, on a more optimistic note, “At the same time, a healthy realism continues to shine a light of hope on our unruly world. Recently, for example, in a historic vote at the United Nations, the majority of the members of the international community determined that nuclear weapons are not only immoral, but must also be considered an illegal means of warfare. This decision filled a significant juridical lacuna, inasmuch as chemical weapons, biological weapons, anti-human mines and cluster bombs are all expressly prohibited by international conventions.”

Highlighting the “’humanitarian initiative’ sponsored by a significant alliance between civil society, states, international organizations, churches, academies and groups of experts,” Pope Francis addressed the Nobel laureates: “The document that you, distinguished recipients of the Nobel Prize, have consigned to me is a part of this, and I express my gratitude and appreciation for it.”

He also underscored that, “this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio of Pope Paul VI. That Encyclical, in developing the Christian concept of the person, set forth the notion of integral human development and proposed it as ‘the new name of peace’. In this memorable and still timely document, the Pope stated succinctly that ‘development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be integral; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man’.

“We need, then, to reject the culture of waste and to care for individuals and peoples labouring under painful disparities through patient efforts to favour processes of solidarity over selfish and contingent interests. …. Lastly, there is a need to promote human beings in the indissoluble unity of soul and body, of contemplation and action.

“In this way,” concluded Pope Francis, “progress that is both effective and inclusive can achieve the utopia of a world free of deadly instruments of aggression, contrary to the criticism of those who consider idealistic any process of dismantling arsenals.” He quoted St. John XXIII: “Unless this process of disarmament be thoroughgoing and complete, and reach men’s very souls, it is impossible to stop the arms race, or to reduce armaments, or – and this is the main thing – ultimately to abolish them entirely.

“The Church does not tire of offering the world this wisdom and the actions it inspires, conscious that integral development is the beneficial path that the human family is called to travel.I encourage you to carry forward this activity with patience and constancy, in the trust that the Lord is ever at our side. May he bless each of you and your efforts in the service of justice and peace.”

 

POPE JOHN PAUL I, THE SMILING POPE, ON PATH TO SAINTHOOD – POPE ASKS VATICAN STORE TO STOP SELLING CIGARETTES – IN BRIEF

I am delighted to hear the news about Pope John Paul I! I was in his presence only a few times, the first being at the Mass that started his pontificate, and I remember thinking what a warm, smiley human being he was! Looking at closeups of the Mass, both photos and film, I even noticed what to me was a twinkle in his eyes! Most observers commented on his captivating, contagious smile and he was immediately called ‘the smiling Pope.’  I remember thinking, “he probably smiles in his sleep!”

I was in Rome when he was elected but in Cairo, Egypt when he died. When we heard the news in Cairo over BBC radio, we thought for sure the reporters were behind the times and that they were referring to Paul VI who had died on August 6. But no, they were referring to the new Pope, John Paul I who died after only 33 days of pontificate!

I was still in Cairo when John Paul II was elected – another story for another time.

One of my favorite stories from all those decades ago was the report that one day Pope John Paul was asked to sign a document and he wrote his name in Latin and placed the Roman numeral I beside it. A secretary or some official said, “But Holiness, there is no I after your name.” And John Paul is said to have replied, “There will be a John Paul II.”

John Paul only became John Paul I when there was indeed a John Paul II. The same for Pope Francis. He does not use a Roman numeral (even though he is the first to use the name Francis) but if there is another Francis, that Pope would be Francis II and the current one Francis I.  Hopefully that is clear!

As Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani wrote a book entitled “Illustrissimi,” a wonderful series of letters he penned to people, known and lesser known, real and fictitious, including Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, G.K.Chesterton, Maria Theresa of Austria, Charles Peguy, Trilussa, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, King David, Penelope, Figaro, The Pickwick Club and Pinocchio. They were warm and witty and Cardinal Luciani always made a point in each letter – about life, religion, business, fashion, etc.  For some great reading, try to find a copy!

Released just two days ago, a new book outlines details about the death of Pope John Paul I, new information that confirms that his death was the result of a heart attack, as previously held, thus debunking theories that the pontiff was killed in his sleep.Papa Luciani: Chronicle of a Death is by Vatican journalist Stefania Falasca.

POPE JOHN PAUL I, THE SMILING POPE, ON PATH TO SAINTHOOD

(Vatican Radio) Pope John Paul I has moved a step closer to sainthood with the recognition of his heroic virtues.  Pope Francis on Wednesday authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree approving his predecessor’s heroic virtues which confers on him the title ‘Venerable’. 

Pope Francis also authorized 7 other decrees along with that of John Paul I – two of them on martyrdom and 5 on heroic virtues.

Pope John Paul I whose heroic virtues Pope Francis has approved and declared him ‘Venerable Servant of God’ had a brief papacy of just 33 days, yet has left an indelible mark on the Catholic Church.

The ‘Smiling Pope’, as he is called in that short duration of his pontificate, gave nine speeches, three messages, wrote three Apostolic letters and four other official letters, gave two homilies and had five Sunday ‘Angelus’ prayers and four Wednesday general audiences. This short encounter, as well as his vast experience as a priest, bishop, Patriarch of Venice and then Cardinal, proved him to be a person of faith, humble and meek person yet tough when it comes to Church teachings.   Love of God and love of neighbor was his special hallmark.

Born on October 17, 1912 at Forno di Canale (Belluno, Italy), Albino Luciani was the son of Giovanni Luciani and Bortola Tancon. He  was baptized the same day at home by the midwife as he was in danger of death but formalized two days later in the Church by the curate. On February 2, 1935 he was ordained deacon and on July 7, 1935 ordained to the priesthood at St. Peter’s Church of Belluno diocese of Belluno e Feltre.

In February 1947 he graduated from the Gregorian University in Rome with a doctorate in Sacred Theology. His thesis was, “The origin of the human soul according to Antonio Rosmini”. On December 27, 1958 he was Consecrated Bishop by John XXIII at St. Peter’s Basilica together with the newly consecrated bishops, Gioacchino Muccin and Girolamo Bortignon.

In 1977 he participated in the IV Ordinary General Assembly in Rome of the Synod of Bishops regarding “Catechetics in Our Time”. August 10, 1978 brought him again to the Vatican after the death of Pope Paul the VI.

On August 26, during the second day of the conclave, he was elected Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and he chose his name John Paul I, wishing to serve the Church as his predecessors did. During his first Sunday Angelus, he humbly acknowledged that he chose that name knowing that he neither had the wisdom of the heart of Pope John nor the preparation and culture of Pope Paul. With this name he became the first Pope to take up a dual name in papal history.

Luciani vowed to serve as a teacher and a servant and had taken up Humilitas (Humility) as his episcopal motto which was evident even after he was appointed a pope.  He wished to do away with the papal coronation mass and chose to have just a papal inauguration. He also preferred not to use the ‘sedia gestatoria’ or the ceremonial throne like an armchair on which the Pope travels from St Peter’s Square.

Luciani, a warm, gentle and kind man with a friendly disposition, was loved by the people who were in awe of his persona. He had impressed people with his excellent oratory skills.  His ideologies reflected the spirit of humanity and showcased the immense love and warmth that he had for God and his people.

His swift six-point plan defined what the journey of his pontificate would be. He planned to renew the Church through the policies implemented by Vatican II, to revise canon law, to remind the Church of its duty to preach the Gospel, to promote Church unity without watering down doctrine, to promote dialogue and to encourage world peace and social justice.

His successors looked upon him as a gentle soul with a heart filled with love. If his immediate successor Cardinal Karol Wojtyła spoke of his values of faith, hope and love, Benedict XVI commented that it was due to his virtues that despite holding papacy for just 33 days, he was able to win the people’s hearts. For Pope Francis, John Paul I was an icon of mercy and humility and he has quoted him in his homilies and in an interview. His qualities of heart and mind made him affable.

Already two miracles are attributed to his intercession and are under examination. If any of them is recognized, he would be cleared for beatification.

POPE ASKS VATICAN STORE TO STOP SELLING CIGARETTES

From Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke:

The Holy Father has decided that the Vatican will cease to sell cigarettes to employees as of 2018. The reason is very simple: the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people. According to the World Health Organization, every year smoking is the cause of more than seven million deaths throughout the world.

Although the cigarettes sold to employees and pensioners in the Vatican at a reduced price are a source of revenue for the Holy See, no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk.

IN BRIEF

Pope Francis has sent a message to participants at a conference taking place in Rome on the theme ‘Pope Paul VI, the pope of modernity”. In the message Pope Francis notes that the conference is taking place 50 years after the publication of his predecessor’s encyclical ‘Popolorum Progressio’, often described as one of the key Catholic Social Teaching documents. That encyclical, he said, sought to be a “solemn appeal for concerted action in favour of integral human development”. The appeal remains just as urgent today, Pope Francis said, as poverty increases and peace is threatened on a daily basis in different parts of the world..

At 10.00 this morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience H.E. Mr. San Lwin, ambassador of the Republic of the union of Myanmar, on the occasion of the presentation of his Credential Letters. Myanmar is on the upcoming papal travel schedule, as he will be visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh, Nov.ember 27 to December 2.

During his upcoming apostolic visit to Bangladesh, Pope Francis will ordain 16 priests.   The Pope, who will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh, Nov. 27 – Dec. 2, will ordain the new priests on December 1 during an open-air morning Mass nat Suharawardy Udyan Park in the capital of Dhaka.  Some 10,000 people are expected to attend the Mass. There is only one seminary in Bangladesh, Holy Spirit Major Seminary. ‎ Ten of the future priests are diocesan, one is an Oblate of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and 5 are members of the Congregation of Holy Cross (CSC).

“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR CELL PHONES”

Various business appointments took up my morning and I spent much of the afternoon looking at new computers at a great store called Euronics (found several winning possibilities to replace my computer,which actually has worked all day!). Euronics has all imagineable types of electronics, household items from pocketsize to refrigerators and whatever fascinating new gadget is on the market. Euronics is not on any main bus route and so I took a taxi and had a fascinating learning experience.

I hailed a taxi in front of my house and on the side was written ‘mytaxi’. Taxi companies in Rome are usually known by their four-digit phone number, preceded by Rome’s area code, thus 06-3570 is one company, 06-6445 is another. Often their FB page or wesbite is the same number. I always enjoy chatting with taxi drivers, wherever in the world I travel, as they have their pulse on all sorts of matters. In Italy, conversations focus mostly on soccer and politics but often drivers can advise restaurants and stores – or give you advice about taxis.

My first driver today told me about the mytaxi app and I downloaded it as we rode to the store. Mytaxi is a service, as I have learned in only two rides, that far beats Uber here in Rome. Taxi drivers here must be licensed, have their photos taken, have insurance, etc. and they pay a very hefty fee for their license – kind of like the Medallion fees in New York.

Uber drivers have none of the same requirements and they pay only €5,000 for a license, compared to €150,000 or more a taxi driver pays. There have been strikes by taxis here because of Uber – there will be another one November 21.

In any event, when you use the mytaxi app, you know the driver’s name, the make of car, how far away (or close) they are, cell phone number, etc….this is all similar to what Uber shows you in my experience in the States. When you sign up for mytaxi, you insert your name and cell phone number and email. You may pay in cash or by credit card but you do not have to insert a credit card number on the app form if you do not wish.

Mytaxi is offered in 70 plus cities in Europe and only recently came to Italy – is in Milan and Rome. It is a service of Mercedes Benz. I’ve only met two drivers on my first ‘mytaxi’ day but they were wonderful and very enthusiastic about mytaxi.

I am going to such lengths about this service because many of my readers live in Rome, and so many others travel to Italy and Europe. I’d use this over Uber in Rome any day – and, by the way, it will generally cost less. AND, you can earn bonuses in a number of ways – perhaps €5 or 10 for reccomending mytaxi to a friend.

As far as I know – but I will double check – they can’t come to the airport to pick you up as there are already long lines of official white taxis waiting outside the arrival halls and they have fixed fares to Rome (€48 from Fiumicino).

Joan’s Rome Tip of the Day!

“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR CELL PHONES”

I really loved the Pope’s catechesis at the general audience today, especially his off the cuff remarks about Who we receive in the Eucharist – the Lord! – and the awe we should have at the consecration in particular and when we receive the Lord in communion!

He mentioned the Eucharist as that is the focus of his new series of catecheses. In fact, he announced today, Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Today begins a new series of catecheses devoted to the Eucharist.  The Mass is the very ‘heart’ of the Church and the source of her life.  How many martyrs have died to defend the Eucharist!  Their witness confirms our Lord’s promise that by partaking of his body and blood we pass with him from death to life (cf. Jn 6:54).

“At every celebration of Mass,” said Francis, “our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.  The liturgical renewal called for by Second Vatican Council sought to help the faithful understand more fully and share more fruitfully in the Eucharist.  At Mass, Jesus becomes truly present and allows us in some way, like the Apostle Thomas, to touch his flesh and renew our faith in him.   In coming weeks, we will seek to grow in our appreciation of this great gift, so as to share more fully in its spiritual riches and beauty, which give ultimate meaning and direction to our lives.”

The Pope said he wanted “to give some answers to important questions about the Eucharist and the Mass in coming catecheses in order to re-discover, or perhaps discover, how the love of God shines through this mystery!

Explaining that, for Christians, it is essential to understand the meaning and the value of Holy Mass in order to be able to fully live our relationship with God, he added: “We cannot forget the great number of Christians who, in the entire world in two thousand years of history, have resisted until death in order to defend the Eucharist.” And there are those who, yet today, “risk their lives to participate at Sunday Mass”.

The Pope recalled the history of Christians in North Africa who were caught celebrating Mass in 304, during the persecutions by the Roman Emperor Diocletian: “When asked why they had faced such danger, the Christians said that their Christian life would end if they did not go to Mass.”

Those Christians, he said, were killed and became witnesses of the Eucharist, which they chose over their mortal lives.

The Holy Father explained that the word Eucharist means thanksgiving, because we thank God for allowing us to receive him.

Then, in the following remarks, many of which were off the cuff, the Pope said, “the Eucharist is a marvelous event in which Jesus Christ, our life, is present. To participate in Mass is to live once again the passion and redeeming death of the Lord. It’s a theophany, the Lord is present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. The Lord is there with us, present.

Impromptu: “So many times we go there, we look around at things, we chat among ourselves while the priest is celebrating the Eucharist, and we don’t celebrate with him. But it is the Lord! If today the president of the Republic or some other very important person of the world came here, I am sure we all would be close to him we would want to greet him. But just think when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you’re distracted – it’s the Lord! We must think about this” ‘But, Father, you say, Masses are boring’. ‘But what are you saying! The Lord is boring!’ No, no, the Mass is not, the priest is’ Then priests must convert, but it is the Lord who is there – do you understand? Don’t forget it – to participate in Mass is to live once again the passion and redeeming and death of the Lord.”!

“Now, Francis continued, “let’s ask some simple questions of the Lord.

“For example why do we make the sign of the cross and say the penitential act at the start of Mass? Here I want to make a little parentheses: Have you seen how children make the sign of the cross – you have no idea what they’re doing. If it’s the sign of the cross or they’re designing something (and with his hands the Pope gestures like child drawing). We have to teach children how to make the sign of the cross well. That begins Mass, that begins life, that begins the day. This means that we are redeemed with the cross of the Lord. Look at children and teach them to make a good sign of the cross.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “sometimes, at a certain point, the priest who presides the celebration says ‘Lift up our hearts’. He doesn’t say, “lift up our cell phones to take a picture!’ No, that’s a terrible thing, and I must say that I feel so much sadness when I celebrate Mass here in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cell phones raised up, not only by the faithful but also by priests and bishops. Please – Mass is not a spectacle, it’s going to meet the Lord and for this reason, the priest says “Lift up our hearts.’ What does this mean? No cell phones!”

THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN……

…….sometimes go astray!

I have never used the WordPress.com app in my iPad so this is just a test. As I wait for my laptop to reboot and start functioning (I have been trying for well over an hour since my return from the EWTN offices where I looked at new computers online), i just want to announce possible delays of a day, or even more, in posting blog columns if these issues persist. It is easy to post on Facebook but some blog readers have access to only wordpress, not FB, so this announcement is for you.
Well, let’s see what haspens when I hit POST!

POPE FRANCIS: WAR AND THE DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT – VATICAN DENIES ‘UTTERLY FALSE’ REPORTS OF ECUMENICAL MASS – #RED WEDNESDAY IN THE UK TO HIGHLIGHT PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

As I was taping a TV segment this afternoon on the rooftop terrace of the building where EWTN offices are located, a huge, extraordinarily colorful, long-lasting rainbow appeared over Rome! One of my colleagues took this photo but it truly does not capture the magical beauty of the rainbow or the way that many of Rome’s buildings became brightly lit in a golden hue against a sky filled with dark gray clouds in the fading sun.

Pope Francis this afternoon in the Santa Marta residence, received former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and members of the NGO, The Elders.

Pope Francis on Monday drew attention to the serious damage that war causes to the environment, and urged all take care of it for future generations.  In a post on his Twitter account @Pontifex, Pope Francis wrote: “War always causes serious damage to the environment. We must not mistreat our common home, but take care of it for future generations.”

The Pope’s tweet came on Nov. 6 to mark the United Nations’ International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The environment is a favourite theme with Pope Francis, who has dedicated an entire encyclical to it entitled: “’Laudato Sii’, On Care For Our Common Home”.

In a separate message, the UN chief also urged for the protection of the environment especially in times of armed conflict, saying it is “an essential pillar of peace, security  and sustainable development.”  “War is a dirty business.  Smoke plumes from burning oil wells, looted industrial facilities, abandoned munitions and collapsed buildings are among the hallmarks of conflict,” UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres wrote in a message for Monday’s observance.

For that Message, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-un-urge-protection-of-environment-in-armed-co

VATICAN DENIES ‘UTTERLY FALSE’ REPORTS OF ECUMENICAL MASS

A news report has said that Archbishop Roche was involved in a commission looking at the possibility of an “ecumenical Mass”.

The Vatican has strongly denied reports that a commission has been established examining the possibility of a setting up an “ecumenical Mass” that would allow Catholics and Protestants to celebrate a shared Eucharist.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, the number two official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told The Tablet that reports of a joint Mass were “utterly false,” while Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, described them as “simply untrue.” (Source: The Tablet)

#RED WEDNESDAY IN THE UK TO HIGHLIGHT PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

(Vatican Radio) Catholic schools and churches across the United Kingdom will be floodlit red to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians across the world.

At least ten cathedrals will take part in the #RedWednesday initiative organised by the Aid to the Church in Need charity on November 22 which aims to promote faith and tolerance in society, stand in solidarity with victims of persecution, and oppose violence and oppression carried out in the name of religion.

Organisers – who chose red to symbolise martyrdom and suffering – are appealing for public buildings to be floodlit on the day. Among the schools and churches that have already pledged to take part are England’s National Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham, Cardinal Newman High School, Bellshill, St Columba’s Church, Inverness, and St Joseph’s, Pontefract.

Patricia Hatton from ACN said: “#RedWednesday is a unique opportunity to stand up for faith and freedom in this country and around the world and to shine a light on the persecution of Christians and other faith groups today.

“Together let’s make a stand for faith and freedom and help Christians and others – especially in the Middle East – who urgently need our support this Christmas.”

The charity is inviting people to a prayer service in Westminster Cathedral Piazza on November 22 at 6pm, which will be preceded by music, film and personal testimonies. They ask for those attending to wear something red.

For more information, visit acnuk.org/campaign/redwednesday

POPE FRANCIS: WAR AND THE DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT – VATICAN DENIES ‘UTTERLY FALSE’ REPORTS OF ECUMENICAL MASS – #RED WEDNESDAY IN THE UK TO HIGHLIGHT PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

As I was taping a TV segment this afternoon on the rooftop terrace of the building where EWTN offices are located, a huge, extraordinarily colorful, long-lasting rainbow appeared over Rome! One of my colleagues took this photo but it truly does not capture the magical beauty of the rainbow or the way that many of Rome’s buildings became brightly lit in a golden hue against a sky filled with dark gray clouds in the fading sun.

Pope Francis this afternoon in the Santa Marta residence, received former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and members of the NGO, The Elders.

POPE FRANCIS: WAR AND THE DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday drew attention to the serious damage that war causes to the environment, and urged all take care of it for future generations.  In a post on his Twitter account @Pontifex, Pope Francis wrote: “War always causes serious damage to the environment. We must not mistreat our common home, but take care of it for future generations.”

The Pope’s tweet came on Nov. 6 to mark the United Nations’ International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The environment is a favourite theme with Pope Francis, who has dedicated an entire encyclical to it entitled: “’Laudato Sii’, On Care For Our Common Home”.

In a separate message, the UN chief also urged for the protection of the environment especially in times of armed conflict, saying it is “an essential pillar of peace, security  and sustainable development.”  “War is a dirty business.  Smoke plumes from burning oil wells, looted industrial facilities, abandoned munitions and collapsed buildings are among the hallmarks of conflict,” UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres wrote in a message for Monday’s observance.

For that Message, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-un-urge-protection-of-environment-in-armed-co

VATICAN DENIES ‘UTTERLY FALSE’ REPORTS OF ECUMENICAL MASS

A news report has said that Archbishop Roche was involved in a commission looking at the possibility of an “ecumenical Mass”.

The Vatican has strongly denied reports that a commission has been established examining the possibility of a setting up an “ecumenical Mass” that would allow Catholics and Protestants to celebrate a shared Eucharist.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, the number two official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told The Tablet that reports of a joint Mass were “utterly false,” while Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, described them as “simply untrue.” (Source: The Tablet)

#RED WEDNESDAY IN THE UK TO HIGHLIGHT PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

(Vatican Radio) Catholic schools and churches across the United Kingdom will be floodlit red to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians across the world.

At least ten cathedrals will take part in the #RedWednesday initiative organised by the Aid to the Church in Need charity on November 22 which aims to promote faith and tolerance in society, stand in solidarity with victims of persecution, and oppose violence and oppression carried out in the name of religion.

Organisers – who chose red to symbolise martyrdom and suffering – are appealing for public buildings to be floodlit on the day. Among the schools and churches that have already pledged to take part are England’s National Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham, Cardinal Newman High School, Bellshill, St Columba’s Church, Inverness, and St Joseph’s, Pontefract.

Patricia Hatton from ACN said: “#RedWednesday is a unique opportunity to stand up for faith and freedom in this country and around the world and to shine a light on the persecution of Christians and other faith groups today.

“Together let’s make a stand for faith and freedom and help Christians and others – especially in the Middle East – who urgently need our support this Christmas.”

The charity is inviting people to a prayer service in Westminster Cathedral Piazza on November 22 at 6pm, which will be preceded by music, film and personal testimonies. They ask for those attending to wear something red.

For more information, visit acnuk.org/campaign/redwednesday