POPE AT AUDIENCE: GOD SEEKS EACH ONE OF US PERSONALLY – FRANCIS URGES SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN SOUTHEAST AFRICA

Keep your eyes and ears open in coming days as we might have an important announcement or two regarding some papal appointments, including the name of the new archbishop of Washington, D.C. Some red hats who are members of the Congregation for Bishops are in town and if I recall correctly, the congregation meets on the third Thursday of each month (which would be tomorrow) for some nominations.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: GOD SEEKS EACH ONE OF US PERSONALLY

At the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Our Father, focusing on the third invocation, “Thy will be done”.

By Christopher Wells

“God is not ambiguous, He is not hidden behind riddles, He has not planned the future of the world in an indecipherable manner.” In his catechesis on the third petition of the “Our Father,” Pope Francis said that we can see the will of the Father expressed in the words of Jesus: God wills “to seek and to save that which was lost.” This, the Pope said, “without any shadow of doubt, is the will of God: the salvation of all human beings,” of each one of us individually.

Because of His love for us, God “knocks on the door of our heart” in order “to draw us to Himself, to lead us forward along the path of salvation.” The Pope said, “God is close to each one of us with His love, in order to lead us by the hand to salvation.”

“And we, in prayer, ask that God’s seeking might come to a good end, that His universal plan of salvation should be accomplished,” Pope Francis continued, “first, in each one of us, and then in the whole world.”

God’s desire for the salvation of human beings, and of the whole world, means that our prayer that His will be done does not mean “bowing our heads,” like slaves, to an unalterable fate. On the contrary, “God wants us to be free,” the Pope said. “It is His love that frees us.”

“Thy will be done,” he said, is “a courageous, even combative prayer” precisely because there is so much evil in the world, which is not according to God’s [antecedent] will.

The Our Father, Francis continued, “is a prayer that kindles in us the same love [that] Jesus has for the will of the Father, a flame that impels one to transform the world with love.” There is nothing of random chance in the faith of Christians, the Pope explained: “Rather, there is a salvation that waits to manifest itself in the life of each man and woman, and to be fully accomplished in eternity.” If we prayer, he said, “it is because we believe that God is able and desires to transform reality, overcoming evil with good.”

Pope Francis pointed to the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Lord prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; but not my will, but yours, be done!” Although He is “crushed” by the weight of evil in the world, Jesus “confidently abandons Himself to the ocean of love of the will of the Father.”

In His love, God will never abandon us, the Pope insisted: “He will always be with us, beside us, within us. For a believer, more than a hope, this is a certainty.”

Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis invited all those present in the Square to pray together the Our Father, each in their own language.

FRANCIS URGES SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN SOUTHEAST AFRICA

Pope Francis is urging prayers and support for the many victims of Cyclone Idai, which has caused widespread destruction and flooding in the southeast African nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
By Devin Watkins

“In recent days, great floods have sowed mourning and devastation in various areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. I express my pain and closeness to those dear people.”

With these heartfelt words, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the families of the more than 350 people killed by Cyclone Idai, as well as his solidarity with the millions of people affected. The powerful storm made landfall on the coast of Mozambique last Thursday before spreading death and destruction halfway across southeast Africa.

Pope Francis made the appeal at the Wednesday general audience held in St. Peter’s Square.

“I entrust the many victims and their families to the mercy of God, and I implore comfort and support for those affected by this calamity,” he said.

Hundreds dead in Mozambique
Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique’s port city of Beira with winds of up to 170 kph on Thursday last week. Drone footage taken by the Red Cross showed the devastation wreaked upon one area, with empty plots seen where winds had blown entire buildings from their foundations.

Mozambique started three days of national mourning on Wednesday for the victims, who currently number in excess of 200. President Filipe Nyusi says the death toll may reach 1,000 as rescuers continue to recover bodies and hundreds remain missing.

Officials say the full extent of the damage will only emerge when floodwaters recede, and forecasters predict persistent rains through Thursday.

Zimbabwe mourns
In neighboring Zimbabwe, the remnants of Cyclone Idai also caused massive flooding, killing at least 98 people. The number of victims may rise to around 300, say officials.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited the hard-hit mountain community of Chimanimani. The bodies of some flood victims may have been swept down the mountainside into nearby Mozambique.

A local resident took a video at Chimanimani’s Catholic Church, where funeral services were held and women wailed in mourning. “Lots of people suffering. People didn’t stand a chance here,” he said.

Unknown destruction in Malawi
Malawi has yet to release details of any casualties from the storm. But the UN’s World Food Programme said Tuesday that projections from satellite images indicate that Cyclone Idai affected some 920,000 people in Malawi. More than 1.7 million were in its direct path in Mozambique.

The United Nations has directed $20 million from its emergency response fund to help people suffering in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.