EMERGENCY AND CHARITY: A REFLECTION BY CARDINAL TAGLE – IS CHARITY CONTAGIOUS?

Even though the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, born July 1, 1861, has temporarily suspended its print version, and thus delivery to the city of Rome and environs, it can still be accessed in multiple languages in its digital form at http://www.osservatoreromano.va You may also go to http://www.vaticannews.va and click on the yellow and white block on the right side of the home page.

Today I offer a thoughtful video message from Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, newly appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Until that appointment he was the archbishop of Manila, the Philippines.

EMERGENCY AND CHARITY: A REFLECTION BY CARDINAL TAGLE

What place does charity have in a time marked by the Coronavirus pandemic? Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and President of Caritas Internationalis, reflects with Vatican News on this question, urging us to conquer the virus and fear with the “contagious pandemic of love.”

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are faced with an emergency due to the coronavirus 19. An emergency, from the Latin word “emergere,” refers to an unforeseen occurrence that rises before us and requires attention. Emergencies are not new to us. Every year we experience earthquakes, typhoons, floods, drought and diseases. But they are often confined to a limited place and people. The current covid19 emergency is called pandemic, from the two Greek words: “pan”, meaning “all” and “demo,” meaning “people or population.” A pandemia affects all or nearly all people. We can say that the covid19 is a general or universal emergency. It affects nearly all of us. It invites a response from all of us.

During emergencies, we instinctively think first of ourselves, our families and the people close to us. We will do anything within our means to protect them. While this reaction is basically good, we should be careful so that we do not end up thinking only of ourselves. We should avoid fear from making us blind to the needs of other people, those needs that are the same as ours. We should prevent anxiety from killing genuine concern for neighbors. In an emergency, the true heart of a person also emerges. From an emergency that affects all people (pandemia), we hope to see a pandemic emergence of caring, compassion and love. An emergency crisis that erupts unexpectedly can be addressed only by an equal “eruption” of hope. A pandemic spread of a virus must produce a pandemic “contagion” of charity. History will judge our generation by the power of self-less love that this common emergency will have generated and spread or will have failed to do so. We thank the heroic people whose love and courage have already been a source of healing and hope these past weeks.

Experts say that we should wash our hands to avoid being contaminated by the virus and to avoid spreading it. At the trial of Jesus, Pontius Pilate “called for water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring as he did, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man. The responsibility is yours’” (Matthew 27:24). We should wash our hands, but not the way Pilate did. We cannot wash our hands of our responsibility towards the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the refugees, the homeless, the health providers, indeed all people, creation and future generations. We pray through the power of the Holy Spirit, genuine love for all may emerge from all human hearts as we face a common emergency.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/emergency-charity-cardinal-tagle-coronavirus-covid.html

IS CHARITY CONTAGIOUS?

I believe we all know, from days and weeks of devouring news stories online or listening to the radio or watching television, that people in the United States and so many other countries have stepped up to the plate when it comes to what Cardinal Tagle called “self-less love” and “an eruption of hope.”

Individuals, celebrated and unknown, as well as corporations and institutions have come forth with amazing charitable gifts and offers of help, including for example, a list of Italian fashion designers who are turning their ateliers over to producing masks and protective clothing for medical personnel.

I follow U.S. football and, while I would not be a ‘Jeopardy’ contestant for my vast knowledge of this sport, I do know a few names, mainly quarterbacks. I thus recognized the name Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback, when I read he and his wife gave $5 million to help fight coronavirus.

Football fan or not, I am sure you all know the story of Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, that is, the person in charge of Francis’ office for charity. Most of you think of the elemosineria as the Vatican office where you can obtain papal blessings. True – also true is that the monies paid for blessings go to papal charities. (www.elemosineria.va)

It is how Cardinal Krajewski uses that income that is the beautiful story.

CRUX did a great profile of this enormously generous and self-less prelate as he brings an “eruption of hope” to Rome’s homeless in these days of a pandemic: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2020/03/vatican-official-tells-clergy-there-is-a-gospel-in-the-making-on-the-streets/

Cardinal Krajewski has been in the Vatican for decades and those of us who knew him called him simply “Don Corrado” (‘Don’ is Italian for ‘Father’). I used to refer to him as the Pope’s “altar ego” because he was one of the ceremonial officials whom you’d always see at the side of Pope John Paul, and also of Benedict in his early years, at papal liturgies.

You have to write the word “charity” in capital letters when it is in the same sentence as Don Corrado. Please pray for his health and well-being as he doubtlessly exposes himself to possible contagion in thee tumultuous times.

Another source of information on aid that is coming to Italy are embassies. The U.S. embassies, for example, have been emailing coronavirus-related alerts and messages to all U.S. citizens who have registered with them.

The U.S. embassy to Italy has a Twitter account in Italian and English that updates us on what they are doing: @AmbasciataUSA. That account, for example, posted news from Samaritans Purse that, with the assistance of the embassy, brought a field hospital and medical personnel to Cremona, Italy:
“To date, our medical team in Cremona, Italy has treated more than 100 patients at our Emergency Field Hospital. Each day, more patients with the #coronavirus are being admitted to our hospital. https://sampur.se/”

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See has a website filled with information about diplomatic ties, our history with the Holy See, speeches and engagements of the ambassador but also valuable information for American citizens residing in Italy in the coronavirus era: https://va.usembassy.gov/

So, the answer is YES, charity is contagious!

POPE AT MASS: “WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO REMAIN IN FEAR”

Today has been a busy one in many respects, although the first part of the day remained unchanged – prayer time, rosary, Mass, followed by breakfast and time online to check emails, the latest news and a variety of websites.

I realized that I’ve not had a lot of exercise lately (I usually walk a lot each day, going to destinations on foot when possible) and I decided to remedy that by cleaning the house. My goal each day is to clean one room at a time – thoroughly, completely, not just the topical dusting that momentarily makes you feel better and like you’ve actually accomplished something!

I tackled the living room first where, among other things, I have a 50-plus bell collection from all over the world. Not only did the glass shelves have to be cleaned, but each bell lovingly cleaned. That was an enormous amount of fun as each bell represented a place I had travelled to and each bell has many memories attached. As did those bells that have been given to me over the years. I so enjoyed reliving those memories! I could write a whole column “For whom the bells toll” just about my collection!

I needn’t go into more detail about cleaning (a sure way to bore people) and certainly will not so that every day with every room I tackle. I also have an amazing collection of plates from around the world but cleaning most of those means getting on a ladder so I’ll do that when someone else can help me.

I also decided to spend a bit more time in the kitchen today and right now I am savoring the aroma of a delicious beef bourgignon as it simmers! I made enough for several dinners so the effort was worth it. The hard part is having my table beautifully set for 6 people and eating alone! It just makes me look forward to future dinners with guests!

I posted a Facebook live video yesterday to tell my story – similar to millions here in Italy – of life in quarantine. I’ve had an avalanche of emails, FB messages and many other types of communication and just could not answer everyone individual so I hope the video helped as I tried to answer your questions: Joan, how are you doing? What is life like in Italy these days? Thanks SO much for your love and concern and friendship!

Apologies for the last two or three minutes of the FB live. When I touched FINISH, nothing happened. I must have touched it 6 times before the video actually closed, during which time I kept studying all the little icons I had not noticed before on my screen when I’d do a FB live. Pazienza!

Now, some Vatican news:

Each day of the coronavirus pandemic, as he celebrates his 7 am morning Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis has prayed for special intentions relative to the virus. His intentions have included prayers for those suffering hunger, for people in difficulty, for those who are weeping and for families facing financial problems. He has also said prayers of thanks to God for medical personnel and their “heroic example.” Today, Monday, March 30, Francis prayed for those in fear:

POPE AT MASS: “WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO REMAIN IN FEAR”

Pope Francis prayed for those overcome by “fear because of the pandemic,” and reflected on the two women from Monday’s readings during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. (playback included )
By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

The Pope’s intention for Mass on Monday morning at the Casa Santa Marta was “for the many people who are not succeeding in coping and remain in fear because of the pandemic. May the Lord help them to have the strength to cope for the good of society and the entire community.”

The Pope’s homily was a reflection on Psalm 23. He applied it to the two women presented in the readings for the Fifth Monday of Lent: Susanna and the woman caught in adultery (Daniel 13; John 8:1-11).

Two women
Pope Francis began his homily reciting the first half of Psalm 23, the Responsorial Psalm for the day. Both Susanna and the woman caught in adultery experienced the Lord’s presence in the dark valley, he said. Innocent Susanna had been falsely accused, the other had committed sin. Both had a death sentence hanging over their heads.

“The Fathers of the Church saw a figure of the Church in these women: holy but with sinful children. … Both women were desperate…. Susanna trusts in the Lord.

Two groups of men
The Pope went on to comment on the two groups of men present. Both groups “had positions in the church”. The group of judges, and the doctors of the law. Those who condemned Susanna were corrupt; those who condemned the woman caught in adultery were hypocrites.
en to our report

The women’s reaction
“One woman fell into the hands of hypocrites, the other into the hands of the corrupt. There was no way out…. Both women were in a valley of darkness…heading toward death. The first, explicitly entrusts herself to the Lord, and the Lord intervened. The second…knows she’s guilty. She’s ashamed in front of all the people…. The Gospel doesn’t say it, but surely she was praying inside, asking for some type of help.”

The Lord intervenes
Both the men and the women receive the Lord’s intervention. He justifies Susanna and forgives the adulterous woman, the Pope said.
“He condemns the corrupt ones, He helps the hypocrites convert themselves. He does not forgive the corrupt ones, simply because the corrupt person is incapable of asking for forgiveness…. They are sure of themselves, they destroy, and continue to exploit people…. They put themselves in place of God.”

“The Lord responds to the women. He frees Susanna from the corrupt men… To the other He says, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.’ “

Lessons learned

In Susanna’s case, the Pope continued, the people praised God. Those present with Jesus and the woman caught in adultery “learn about God’s mercy”. These are lessons we all need to learn because “each one of us has our own story, our own personal sins”, the Pope said. If we don’t recognize our own sins, then “you are corrupt”, he said.

“Let’s look to the Lord, who does justice, but who is extremely merciful… May each one of us, seeing how Jesus acted in these cases, entrust ourselves to God’s mercy and pray, trusting in God’s mercy, asking forgiveness, because God ‘guides me along the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness’ the valley of sin, ‘no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.”

For playback (the papal Mass can be seen live each morning on Vatican media) : https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2020-03/pope-fear-coronavirus-adulterous-woman-susanna-judges-hypocrites.html

LORD, HEAR OUR PRAYER….

LORD, HEAR OUR PRAYER….

Following is the English text of Pope Francis’ heartfelt reflections at the Urbi et Orbi prayer and blessing last night from both a dark, rain-drenched St. Peter’s square and the well-lit atrium of the basilica. Inside we were able to stay for some time in prayerful, powerful adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus truly among us, Jesus truly with us!

Each paragraph, indeed each sentence could be for each of us a powerful moment of prayer and reflection every remaining day of Lent. Let’s re-read this, a line at a time, and talk to God as we do so, begging His intercession, His forgiveness, His grace to “grow in wisdom, age and grace.”

I took the photos (obviously) from the television –

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“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

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“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we flounder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE HOLY HOUSE OF LORETO

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE HOLY HOUSE OF LORETO

This week, in what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider, I take you to Loreto, a town on the Adriatic coast of Italy for a visit to the magnificent shrine of the Holy House of Loreto. 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.

I took these photos during a pilgrimage in 2017 with the women of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization).

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In this coronavirus era where so many of us are quarantined at home and spending time with families, you might want to gather around together and listen to this great story

Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year to go from December 8, 2019 to December 10, feast day of the Holy House, 2020. I talk about that Jubilee but also note that, again because of the coronavirus epidemic, many events have had to be cancelled, postponed and moved to other, future dates.

The photo of Pope Francis inside the Holy House is from Vatican Media from his visit last year on March 25.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE’S UNIVERSAL PRAYER, URBI ET ORBI, STREAMED ALSO IN SIGN LANGUAGE

POPE’S UNIVERSAL PRAYER, URBI ET ORBI, STREAMED ALSO IN SIGN LANGUAGE

A streaming channel in sign language for the hearing impaired is activated by Vatican News on the occasion of Pope Francis’ Extraordinary Universal Prayer for the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis has called for global participation “to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with the universality of prayer.”

The ceremony takes place today, Friday, March 27 at 6pm Rome time and will be broadcast live to the world by Vatican Media.

In an effort to make that participation as universal as possible, Vatican News has created new online streaming channel in sign language for people with hearing challenges.

For approximately one hour all believers are invited to join Pope Francis for the extraordinary ceremony which consists in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who follow live through the various forms of communication. This plenary indulgence will also be extended to those who may not be able to participate in the prayer through the media due to illness but who unite themselves in spiritual communion with the prayer.

You can join through all the Vatican Radio communications platforms including a dedicated channel on YouTube with translation into Sign Language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCONID8PEOo.

This service will be curated by Sr. Veronica Donatello, coordinator of Italian Bishops’ Conference Catechesis Section for people with disabilities. It will be broadcast in collaboration with the Bishops’ TV2000 network.

24 COUNTRIES CONSECRATED TO SACRED HEART OF JESUS, IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY – ST. JOHN PAUL’S PRAYER TO IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

May the entwined hearts of Mary and Jesus open to receive our supplications!

24 COUNTRIES CONSECRATED TO SACRED HEART OF JESUS, IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

CNA Staff, Mar 25, 2020 / 05:25 pm (CNA).- Twenty-four countries on Wednesday were consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Fatima, Portugal.

In a March 25 ceremony that included the recitation of the rosary and a litany asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for the afflicted, Fatima’s bishop, Cardinal Antonio Marto, renewed the consecration of Portugal and Spain to Jesus and Mary, and added the names of twenty-four other countries.

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Portuguese bishops’ conference announced last week they would re-consecrate Portugal to Christ and Mary on the evening of March 25. Shortly after the announcement, the Spanish bishops’ conference requested that their country also be consecrated in the same liturgy.

The Portuguese bishops subsequently invited the heads of other national bishops’ conferences to request that their nations be added as well.

In addition to Spain and Portugal, the other 22 countries consecrated at the request of their respective episcopal conferences are: Albania, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Slovakia, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Mexico, Moldova, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Romania, Tanzania, East Timor and Zimbabwe.

The cardinal also prayed for “children, the elderly and the most vulnerable,” asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to “comfort doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and volunteer caregivers. Strengthen families and reinforce us in citizenship and solidarity.”

During his remarks, the cardinal recalled that Saints Francisco and Jacinto Marto, shepherd children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1917, both died amid the victims of the Spanish flu pandemic.

Cardinal Marto prayed that the saints would intercede for “so many sick people who, these days and in a profound way, experience the solitude of isolation to which they are subject.”

In a statement, the bishops’ conference of Portugal noted that 36 years ago, on March 25, 1984, Pope St. John Paul II consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In Spain, more than 3,600 people have died of the coronavirus, while in Portugal, nearly 3000 are infected and almost 50 have died. More than 21,000 people have died around the world as a result of the novel coronavirus.

ST. JOHN PAUL’S PRAYER TO IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

On March 25, 1984, Pope John Paul II consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in an extraordinary ceremony in St. Peter’s Square before one of, if not the largest crowds ever to fill the square at the time, including cardinals and bishops from throughout the world.

What made the event extraordinary was that it was held in the presence of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima – the celebrated statue in the “capelinha” (little chapel) of the famous Portuguese shrine that was flown to Rome at the Pope’s request by the bishop of Fatima. The statue had been carried through the square and placed on the sagrato as the world watched with bated breath.

In union with the bishops of the entire world, this is the prayer that Pope St. John Paul said on that day:

Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!

From famine and war, deliver us.

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God,
deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!

THE ANNUNCIATION: “AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH” – A DAY OF DECREES

THE ANNUNCIATION: “AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH”

What a beautiful day this is – March 25, feast of the Annunciation!

Pope Francis’ brief message today (which I posted earlier on Facebook) and his praying the Our Father with Christians from around the world, all united to Rome at the same time, was a very moving experience. I had been looking forward to this since Sunday when he announced it and was just sitting down in front of TV when my doorbell rang! To say I was astonished is an understatement! No one is out and about and we are all in quarantine these days so who would ring my doorbell!

It was our doorman Carlo to tell me that the building’s satellite system, which had been down since Friday the 13th (yes!), hours after I got back from the US, was back up and the technicians wanted to know if I had satellite back. I checked my TV and all I saw was “no signal from the antenna.” And this was happening precisely at 12 noon when I wanted to see the Pope and pray with him!

Carlo and three technicians came to my place – masks and all – and with a few manoeuvers managed to get my satellite back up and running. I had opened the door for them before they arrived and was in the living room as they worked – we were all the required distance of separation if not more!

How are we living these days? I sanitized the door handle and everything else they had touched – just in case! Better safe than sorry, as the expression goes!

In any case, I prayed the Our Father ten minutes late but then did it several times today!

I have one amazing memory that I think about every year on this day, the feast of the Annunciation. It happened ten years ago…..

On February 18, 2010, I was in Lebanon on my way to Iraq when the government announced that it had made March 25 a national Christian-Muslim Day, something that had never occurred before in the history of Christian-Muslim relations. The decision was confirmed two days later during a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Prime Minister Hariri in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

On February 18, I was in the offices of a Catholic newspaper in Beirut where people were scurrying to get this announcement in the press! The first joint celebration occurred a month later on March 25 as an official national holiday sanctioned by the government of Lebanon. All public buildings, schools, banks and university were closed and the government encouraged private businesses to do the same.

For Christians, Mary is the Mother of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For Muslims, Mary is a much-revered figure as the Mother of the prophet Jesus. In September 1995 I was a member of the Holy See delegation to the UN conference on Women in Beijing. On September 8, a member of the Iran delegation came to our office with a beautiful picture of Mary, saying their delegation wanted to celebrate her birthday that day and this was their gift to us!

Fra Angelico’s Annunciation:

Two years ago, again in the Middle East, in Amman, Jordan for the first time Christians and Muslims held an inter-religious celebration to mark the Annunciation. Patriarchal vicar Bishop William Shomali said the celebration was part of the “theological, religious, and spiritual dialogue” that accompanies everyday life in Jordan. “We want to show the common points between Christians and Muslims on the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe.”

A DAY OF DECREES

Earlier today I posted two decrees from two different Vatican congregations regarding how Easter liturgies are to be celebrated worldwide in the Church during the coronavirus epidemic. You will probably get news in this regard from your own bishops but now you know the rules and understand what he will say we can do – and not do – and why.

Two more decrees came down from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – one is a Note for the presentation of the Decree Cum sanctissima on the liturgical celebration in honor of Saints in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, and the second is a Note for the presentation of the Decree Quo magis approving seven Eucharistic Prefaces for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Each is fairly lengthy and I do not have time now to summarize those now. However, if Vatican News posts a summary before I can get to that, I’ll put the link up here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

CELEBRATING EASTER LITURGIES IN A CORONAVIRUS ERA – INDICATIONS FOR PASCHAL CELEBRATIONS IN EASTERN CATHOLIC CHURCHES

CELEBRATING EASTER LITURGIES IN A CORONAVIRUS ERA

The following decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments was published today by the Holy See Press Office:

DECREE In time of Covid-19 (II)

Considering the rapidly evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and taking into account observations which have come from Episcopal Conferences, this Congregation now offers an update to the general indications and suggestions already given to Bishops in the preceding decree of 19 March 2020.

Given that the date of Easter cannot be transferred, in the countries which have been struck by the disease and where restrictions around the assembly and movement of people have been imposed, Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people and in a suitable place, avoiding concelebration and omitting the sign of peace.

The faithful should be informed of the beginning times of the celebrations so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes. Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help. In any event it remains important to dedicate an adequate time to prayer, giving importance above all to the Liturgia Horarum.

The Episcopal Conferences and individual dioceses will see to it that resources are provided to support family and personal prayer.

1 – Palm Sunday. The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in Cathedral churches the second form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted; in parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used.

2 – The Chrism Mass. Evaluating the concrete situation in different countries, the Episcopal Conferences will be able to give indications about a possible transfer to another date.

3 – Holy Thursday. The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle. On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.

4 – Good Friday. In the Universal Prayer, Bishops will arrange to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead, (cf. Missale Romanum). The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant.

5 – The Easter Vigil: Is to be celebrated only in Cathedral and parish churches. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained (cf. Missale Romanum).

Seminaries, houses of clergy, monasteries and religious communities shall follow the indications of this decree.

Expressions of popular piety and processions which enrich the days of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum can be transferred to other suitable days in the year, for example 14 and 15 September, according to the judgement of the Diocesan Bishop.

De mandato Summi Pontificis pro hoc tantum anno 2020.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 25 March 2020, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Robert Card. Sarah Prefect
Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary

INDICATIONS FOR PASCHAL CELEBRATIONS IN EASTERN CATHOLIC CHURCHES

Dispositions issued today from the Congregation for Eastern Churches:

Considering the rapid evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in many countries where faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches live, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches invites the Heads of all the Churches sui iuris to issue norms in accordance with the measures established by the civil authorities for the containment of the contagion and to encourage such conduct with the other Christian Churches, Catholic and non-Catholic, present on the same territory. Considering the different ritual traditions and the Easter celebrations according to their respective calendars, it is not possible to issue a unitary provision that would cover all the uses present in each Church sui iuris.

Nevertheless, it seems appropriate to share the following recommendations:

– The feasts are strictly to be kept on the days foreseen by the liturgical calendar, broadcasting or streaming those celebrations that are possible,so that they can be followed by the faithful in their homes.

– Consideration should be given to the adaptations that will be made necessary by limited presence at the liturgical service. The participation of the choir and ministers expected by some ritual traditions is not possible at the present time when prudence advises avoiding gathering in significant numbers.

– Those parts of the celebrations connected to some rite outside the church are omitted.

– Remind the faithful of the value of personal and family prayer, which is authentic ecclesial prayer and an important means of transmitting the content of the faith between generations. Also arrange, and distribute through the means of social communication, aids that allow an adult of the family to explain to the little ones the mystagogy of the rites that under normal conditions would be celebrated in the church with the assembly present.

– The riches of the Paschal celebrations, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, can also be valorised by suggesting that part of them be prayed at home and in families, with the aids to participation that are usually made available in each community every year.

– Priests who cannot celebrate the liturgy on their own pray the hours of the office, especially the psalms and those prayers that do not require a response from the choir and the faithful.

– On Holy Thursday, in the liturgical celebration of the morning, some Churches sui iuris celebrate the consecration of the Holy Myron. This celebration, not being linked in the East to this day, can be moved to another date.

– On Good Friday, encourage use – alone or with the family – of the precious texts that the oriental traditions present on this day for prayer around the Cross and the tomb of Christ.

– On the night of Pascha, families may be invited, where possible through the festive sound of the bells, to gather to read the Gospel of the Resurrection, lighting a lamp and singing some troparion or songs typical of their tradition that the faithful often know by memory.

Any baptisms scheduled for Easter are postponed to another date.

The provisions issued by the March 19 decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary remain valid. Since many faithful are accustomed to confessing in the period before Easter, where it is not possible to do so, let pastors indicate to the faithful the recitation of some of the rich penitential prayers from the oriental tradition, to be recited with a spirit of contrition.

Sincerely yours, ✠ Leonardo Card. Sandri Prefetto

Fr. Flavio Pace Sotto-Segretario

IN BRIEF (SO TO SPEAK)

As you hopefully know by now, two events in the Vatican with Pope Francis are scheduled for coming days: tomorrow, March 25, feast of the Annunciation (12 noon Rome time), and Friday, March 27 from 6 to 7 pm Rome time (announced by Francis at Sunday Angelus: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-calls-for-christians-to-unite-in-prayer-for-end-to-pandemic.html)

I have been asked by many people if the prayer the Pope has asked all Christians to recite, the Our Father, when he does so at noon tomorrow will be said around the world by Christians in sync with Rome or at their local time zone noon hour.

According to the following reports (and others I’ve read), the prayer will be in sync with Rome:

(CNS) – Pope Francis has invited Christians around the world to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by joining him at the same time in praying the Lord’s Prayer at 7 a.m. Eastern time (noon in Rome) on Wednesday, March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

(www.vaticannews.va) – “The Philippine Catholic Church is joining two worldwide prayer initiatives of Pope Francis this week as a response to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. It is also reaching out to the homeless in the capital. “Heeding the Pope’s invitation, we recommend that we will pray together the Lord’s Prayer at 7:00 pm on March 25,” wrote Fr. Marvin Mejia, Secretary-General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a circular on Monday. Speaking during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called on Christians to respond to the pandemic with the “universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness. … In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven,” he said. He particularly invited Christian communities and leaders of Christian Churches to join in reciting the Our Father at noon on Wednesday, March 25, Rome time, or at 7:00 pm in the Philippines. (By Robin Gomes – vaticannews)

IN BRIEF (SO TO SPEAK)

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS – Pope Francis sends a message to mark the 57th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on May 3. Pope Francis begins his message by recalling a letter he wrote last year in which he chose four key words – pain, gratitude, encouragement, and praise – as a way of “thanking priests and supporting their ministry.” Today, he says, those same words can “be addressed to the whole people of God,” alongside a passage from Matthew’s Gospel that recounts the “remarkable experience of Jesus and Peter during a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee” (cf. Mt 14:22-33). Pope Francis says, “After the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and precede Him to the other shore, while He took leave of the people.” He explains: “The image of the disciples crossing the lake can evoke our own life’s journey.”  FULL STORY: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-francis-sends-message-for-world-day-of-prayer-for-vocations.html

U.S. SEMINARY STUDENTS SENT HOME: (CNA).- Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Pontifical North American College seminary has sent students to return to their homes and dioceses in the U.S. NAC rector Fr. Peter Harman told CNA by email March 23 that the decision to send students home had been made “in consultation with” the seminary’s board of governors. He added that about 20 or so students would stay at the seminary with the faculty as they are unable to get home or would not have a place to self-quarantine. Harman said seminarians will undergo a 14-day quarantine after returning home and their studies will continue through the means established by the Roman universities at which they take classes. “We made this decision for their safety, thinking that being in smaller groups at home would be safer than one large campus, not being able to assure direct health care here for the indefinite future,” he said. “We still have everyone healthy, and would rather undergo this convenience than jeopardize their health.”

VATICAN NEWSPAPER SUSPENDS PRINT PUBLICATION: L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily newspaper, announced today in its print and online editions that, as of March 26, it will have to temporarily suspend the printed editions of the paper in its daily, weekly and monthly editions until the coronavirus situation ends, and working conditions can return to normal. Distribution to newsstands in the city and printed copies to be mailed will halt. In fact, the newspaper will continue to be edited and can be viewed in digital format on the web page: www. Osservatoreromano.va in its new guise, simpler and more integrated with the Vatican News site, which will be inaugurated tomorrow, Wednesday 25 March, solemnity of the Annunciation. For those wishing to receive the paper in digital form, send your email address to: helpdesk@spc.va (JFL: daily, weekly and monthly editions are in Italian. I am not sure if the digital paper includes the weekly editions in other languages – am checking on that. I believe this is the first time in the paper’s history – founded July 1, 1861 –  that it has suspended printing. I have heard that some copies may be printed for Pope Francis, for the pope emeritus and for the Secretary of State. Click here for the March 13 and March 20 editions in English: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/osservatore-romano-pdf-english-weekly-edition.html

CORONAVIRUS IN THE VATICAN (HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE): Answering questions from journalists, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni, said: “At present there are four cases of coronavirus positivity found (in Vatican staff): in addition to the first case previously reported, one case is an employee of the Merchandise Office and two are employees of the Vatican Museums. The four people had been placed in solitary confinement before they tested positive and their isolation has lasted for over 14 days; currently they are being treated in Italian hospitals or at home.”