It was a big weekend here at the Vatican as 40 new Swiss Guards were sworn in during a colorful and historical ceremony Saturday afternoon in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard. The Pontifical Swiss Guards were created by Pope Julius II in 1506 as a stable corps, directly dependent on the Holy See, whose main duties were to guard the person of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces. The traditional swearing-in date of May 6 commemorates that date in 1527 when 147 members of the then 189-member Swiss Guards lost their lives during the Sack of Rome when they fell in battle, protecting Pope Clement VII and the Church from the onslaught of the troops of Emperor Charles V.
Sunday, Pope Francis ordained 10 priests in St. Peter’s Basilica, delivering a homily on what was Good Shepherd Sunday according to the Gospel of the day. Sunday was also the Day of Prayer for Vocations. As Vatican Radio noted, “the Holy Father delivered the standard, prepared “template” homily found in the Roman Ritual for priestly ordinations, with three significant extemporaneous deviations from the text.” To read the VR summary: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-ordains-10-new-priests-on-good-shephe
Also this FYI: “Worldwide Masses Offered on Archbishop Sheen’s Birthday –
Grassroots effort hopes the prayers will move his canonization cause along.” http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/worldwide-masses-offered-on-archbishop-sheens-birthday
Let’s indeed pray that the dispute be ended and that Abp. Sheen’s cause for canonization be resumed! To think that this amazing man of God, a beloved Archbishop appeared on commercial TV for so long, with millions thronging to his show. You’d have the PC police all over him today if he attempted to speak about God and faith today on commercial TV! How vastly our country has changed – and how greatly we need a man like Archbishop Sheen on commercial television!
POPE WILL BRING “WISH OF PEACE AND HOPE” TO FATIMA
Pope Francis this morning welcomed the faculty, staff and students of the Pontifical Portuguese College in Rome, just days before his trip to Fatima to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to three shepherd children, two of whom, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto, he will canonize.
Thanking his guests for the visit, the Holy Father said, “For my part, I wish peace and hope in the Lord for each of you and your families and nations of origin. In Portugal, God willing, I’ll bring this wish in person, on my now imminent pilgrimage to the Shrine of Fatima, where a hundred years ago the Madonna appeared to the three little shepherds.”
Francis said, “the encounter with Our Lady was for them an experience of grace that inspired their love for Jesus. As tender and good teacher, Mary introduced the little seers to the intimate knowledge of Trinitarian love and led them to savor God as the most beautiful reality of human existence. I cannot but wish the same to all of you, dear friends.”
He told the priests present at the audience, “Whatever your academic specialization, your first concern always remains that of growing on the path of priestly consecration, through the loving experience of God: a close and faithful God, as Blessed Francisco and Jacinta and the Servant of God Lucia felt Him to be. Today, contemplating their humble yet glorious lives, we feel drawn to entrust ourselves, too, to the care of the same Teacher. And this is not a novelty. We always pray for this in to the most ancient Latin antiphon to Our Lady: “sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genitrix ”. It invites us to seek shelter under the mantle of a mother who takes us by the hand and teaches us to grow in the love of Christ and in fraternal communion.”
The Pope noted the rector’s words about how, “since 1929, in the college chapel, the gaze of the Mother of God has accompanied the supplications of those who approach the altar. Look to her and let her look upon you, because she is your Mother and loves you greatly; let her look upon you, to learn how to be more humble and also more courageous in following the Word of God; to welcome the embrace of her Son Jesus and, strengthened by this friendship, to love every person following the example and the measure of the Heart of Christ, to which the College is consecrated, finding love, hope and peace in Him.”
“The relationship with Our Lady,” explained Francis, “helps us to have a good relationship with the Church: both of them are Mothers. You know, in this respect, the comment of St. Isaac, the abbot of Stella; what can be said about Mary can be said about the Church, and also about our soul. All three are female, all three are Mothers, and all three give life. We must therefore cultivate the filial relationship with Our Lady because, if this is missing, there is something of the orphan in the heart.
“A priest who forgets the Mother, he continued, “and especially in moments of difficulty, is lacking something. It is as if he were an orphan, while in reality he is not! He has forgotten his mother. But in moments of difficulty a child always goes to his mother. And the Word of God teaches us to be like children, weaned in the arms of the mother.”
“I pray to Our Lady of Fátima,” concluded the Pope, “that she may teach you to believe, worship, hope and love like Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, and the Servant of God Lucia. And please, do not forget to pray for me.”
THE VATICAN OBSERVATORY AND THE MODERN ‘BIG BANG’ THEORY
At 11.00 this morning, in the Holy See Press Office, Via della Conciliazione 54, a press conference was held to present the scientific congress “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Space-Time Singularities,” that will take place from May 9 – 12 at the Vatican Observatory at Castelgandolfo. Participants included Bro. Guy Consolmagno, S.J., planetologist and director of the Vatican Observatory; Fr. Gabriele Gionti, S.J., cosmologist, Vatican Observatory; Dr. Alfio Bonanno, cosmologist, INAF, Catania Astrophysical Observatory; and Dr. Fabio Scardigli, cosmologist, Polytechnic University of Milan.
Following is the Vatican Observatory press release: What happens if you fall into a Black Hole? What happened in the early Big Bang? What is the ultimate destiny of the cosmos? These and other questions will be at the center of discussions at a scientific workshop on “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Space-Time Singularities” which will be held from May 9-12 at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo.
Among the 35 invited participants, are renowned scientists such as the 1999 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Gerald ‘t Hooft; 1988 Wolf Prize co-winner Roger Penrose; and cosmologists George Ellis, Renata Kallosh and Andrei Linde and Joe Silk.
Telescopes in apostolic palace of Castelgandolfo (the actual Vatican Observatory is elsewhere on the property in a former convent)(photo: JFL)
One of the aims of this conference will be to encourage a fruitful interaction among participants from both theoretical and observational cosmology, and to create a suitable environment for the emergence of new ideas and research directions in contemporary cosmology. In fact, the recent detection of gravitational waves has opened up a new way of seeing the universe and has also stimulated new speculations about the true nature of the singularities of Space-Time (Black Holes are examples of Space-Time singularities). Topics that the conference intends to explore are the limits of modern cosmology and the scientific challenges of the near future.
The conference celebrates the scientific legacy of Mons. George Lemaître, fifty years after his death. Lemaître was professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven and from 1960 to 1966 (the year of his death) he served as president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. A dedicated priest, he belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of Friends of Jesus, founded by Cardinal Mercier Bishop of Malines, who ordained him as a priest and promoted a renewal of priestly spirituality.
Lemaître was an outstanding cosmologist, nowadays considered one of the fathers of modern Big Bang theory. By the 1920s, astronomical observations of distant galaxies had revealed a mysterious recession motion whose origin was unknown; in 1927, Lemaître was the first to explain that this motion as the result of the expansion of the Universe, and not merely a peculiar motion of the observed objects. He obtained this result by solving the complicated equations of Einstein’s General Relativity Theory, at that time a very new idea which connects the mass-energy distribution of the Universe with the bending of the geometry of the Space-Time.
He became famous for his theory of the “primeval Atom,” known today as the Big Bang Theory. Through the cosmological solution he had worked out in 1927, he understood that, looking backwards in time, the Universe should have been originally in a state of high energy density, compressed into a point like an original atom from which everything started.
This Vatican Observatory workshop is a modern legacy of Lemaître’s scientific intuitions. The conference has also been organized with the support of INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica) and INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare).
More information about the workshop is available at: http://www.vaticanobservatory.va/content/specolavaticana/en/workshop-lemaitre.html