PENTECOST, CHARISMATICS AND RED ROSE PETALS AT THE PANTHEON – POPE FRANCIS WISHES TO TRAVEL TO IRAQ IN 2020

PENTECOST, CHARISMATICS AND RED ROSE PETALS AT THE PANTHEON

It was quite a joyful weekend in Rome! Tens of thousands of visitors and pilgrims for the Pentecost celebrations at the Vatican, including two papal MASSES, one on Saturday evening, the vigil of Pentecost and another Sunday morning. In addition to the huge crowds for those events – 50,000 at the vigil and 25,000 on Pentecost Sunday, hundreds more came to the Eternal City to mark the inauguration of CHARIS – Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service.

Under the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life – and willed by Pope Francis – this new service will “promote communion among the world’s Catholic charismatic communities and “highlight the importance of promoting the grace of baptism in the Spirit, activities for the unity of Christians, service to the needy and participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church.”

The result of a retreat weekend with students and theology professors at Duquesne University in 1967, Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement over the years grew, expanded and flourished and is now in 138 countries in the world, having touched millions of Catholic loves. The new organization, CHARIS, by the way, is not a governing organization but one in service to the renewal movement.

Also over the weekend was the traditional Pentecost shower of red rose petals from the “oculus” of the Pantheon, an extraordinary event that I have attended several times in recent years.

If you have ever been to the Pantheon, you know that its dome has a single, circular opening at the apex called the “oculus.” On Pentecost Sunday, after the 10:30 am Mass, tens of thousands of red rose petals are released into the church from the oculus by Roman firemen who have scaled the famous dome. Red, of course, is the color for Pentecost, and the petals bring us back to the first Pentecost when tongues of fire – the Holy Spirit – descended upon the Apostles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Monday was a big news day at the Vatican: Pope Francis expressed his desire to travel to Iraq: he convened a 4-day meeting of papal representatives (ambassadors), and the Congregation for Catholic Education released its document “Male And Female He Created Them ” – Towards A Path Of Dialogue On The Question Of Gender Theory In Education.”

Here is a link to the Vaticannews story on this document. It contains a summary of the 57 points presented in 33 pages: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-06/vatican-document-on-gender-yes-to-dialogue-no-to-ideology.html

Dated Vatican City, February 2, 2019, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, it was signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect, and Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary. As I write there is no direct link to the entire document on the Vatican news page. If one is not given eventually, I will study the feasibility of publishing part of the document each day.

POPE FRANCIS WISHES TO TRAVEL TO IRAQ IN 2020

Receiving members of the 92nd Plenary Session of ROACO, the Reunion of Aid Agencies that provides aid to the Oriental Catholic Churches, Pope Francis reveals it is his wish to travel to Iraq in the coming year.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis said on Monday he “thinks constantly of Iraq,” where he wishes to travel in the coming year.

He was addressing representatives of ROACO, the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches.

As he listed countries that fall within the Reunion’s reach and where the faithful continue to suffer – including Syria, Ukraine and the Holy Land – the Pope focused on Iraq.

He said he hopes it is able to build a peaceful future based on the “shared pursuit of the common good on the part of all elements of society, including the religious,” without falling back into “hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers.”

Iraq’s small Christian population of several hundred thousand suffered persecution and hardship when so-called Islamic State took control of large swathes of the country, but have recovered freedoms since the jihadists were pushed out. The country is home to many different eastern rite churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. It would be a first ever apostolic visit to the nation.

Thanking the members of the ROACO committee, which unites funding agencies from various countries around the world for the sake of providing assistance in different areas of life to the clergy and to the faithful of the Oriental Churches, the Pope said ROACO “attends to the pleas of all those, who in these years have been robbed of hope.”

Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Holy Land
Reflecting briefly on the particular situations in some of the countries and regions ROACO reaches, the Pope expressed sorrow for “the dramatic situation in Syria and the dark clouds that seem to be gathering above it in some yet unstable areas, where the risk of an even greater humanitarian crisis remains high.”

“Nor,” he said, “do I forget Ukraine, in the hope that its people can know peace.”

Then he expressed his trust in a Holy Land initiative in which, he said, “the Christian communities of the status quo are working side-by-side” with the cooperation of local and international actors.

Migrants and refugees
Pope Francis also highlighted the plight of migrants and refugees saying, “We hear the plea of persons in flight, crowded on boats in search of hope, not knowing which ports will welcome them, in a Europe that opens its ports to ships that will load sophisticated and costly weapons capable of producing forms of destruction that do not spare even children.”

Hope and consolation
The Pope did not neglect to underscore voices of hope and consolation that he said “are the echoes of that tireless charitable outreach that has been made possible also thanks to each of you and the agencies that you represent.”

He said that by nourishing hope for the coming generations, we help young people “to grow in humanity, freed of forms of ideological colonization and with open hearts and minds.” He noted that this year, the young people of Ethiopia and Eritrea – following the greatly desired peace between the two countries – abandoned their weapons and are living in harmony.

The Pope concluded by asking those present to help him spread the message of fraternity contained in the Abu Dhabi Document and to continue to preserve those realities that, he said, have been practicing its message for many years now.

THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH – CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS

I hope all of you had wonderful Memorial Day yesterday, hopefully with family and friends and equally hopefully with good weather. I was able to see President Trump at Arlington Cemetery in the ever-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and his tribute to the fallen of past wars and his visit with families who lost members in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Several years ago I had a very personalized visit to this magnificent cemetery when a retired Navy Capitain friend of mine, a Vietnam war veteran, Ted Bronson, accompanied me for a very extensive visit, a true history lesson. I will never forget the day and one of the things on my bucket list is to some year at Christmas become a volunteer to lay Christmas wreaths at the tombs of our soldiers.

Most of my Memorial Day holiday was spent getting around Rome to electronic stores to look for a new laptop. I am waaaay overdue in replacing my current one which has served me well but is finally on its last legs. I had a list of specs from friends who are tech-savvy, and that helped enormously. I think I have narrowed it down and one of those friends will accompany me when he has some time off.

Now, re the news: I read this morning’s homily (see below) by Pope Francis twice. I was so intrigued by the first sentence, and then the rest of the homily, that I had to re-read it (and perhaps read in between the lines). Is there only one message here – or are there two? Is he talking about bishops who should ‘move on’? By the way, he is the Bishop of Rome. Or is this simply Francis’ reading of that Biblical account?

Pope Francis’ hoped-for trip to South Sudan is off – for now. Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke told journalists today, Tuesday, May 30, that, although the Pope still wishes to travel to South Sudan, hopefully alongside Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, such a trip is off for this year. The Vatican was tenatively looking at October.

THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH

(Vatican Radio) The true shepherd knows how to step down from his church, because he knows that he is not at the center of history, but is a free man who has served without compromises and without taking control of his flock. That was Pope Francis message during his homily at Mass celebrated on Tuesday in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.

“A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner” said the Pope.

His words were drawn from the first reading at Mass, where St Paul addressed the church leaders in Ephesus.  The Pope said that this reading could easily be called “A bishop’s leave taking” because Paul has left the Church of Ephesus in order to go to Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit called him to go.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take; be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position. The shepherd who doesn’t learn how to do this because he still has some links with his sheep that are not good, links that are not purified by the Cross of Jesus” said Pope Francis.

According to the Pope, St Paul had held a council with all the priests of Ephesus and during this council he had demonstrated three “apostolic attitudes.”

The first of these is never turning back. The Pope said that this is the worst of all sins, to turn back. This is the thing which will bring much peace to the shepherd, when he remembers that he is not a shepherd who has led the church through compromising. Pope Francis admitted that this attitude requires much courage.

The second attitude is obedience to the Spirit, without knowing what will happen. A shepherd must know that he is on a journey.

The Pope said that Paul was a shepherd who serves his sheep.

“While guiding the Church he had an uncompromising attitude, at that moment it was the Spirit who asked him to go on his journey, without knowing what would happen to him. And he went because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them. Paul said ‘Now God wants me to leave. I leave without knowing what will happen to me. I know only this – the Spirit had told him this – that the Holy Spirit had testified to me that trials and tribulations are awaiting me from city to city.’ This was what he (St Paul) knew. That I am not retiring. I am going away to serve other churches. The heart is always open to the voice of God, I am leaving this place, I will see what the Lord is asking of me. This is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”

The third attitude is “I do not consider my own life to be precious in any way. I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant” said the Pope.

“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops, the Pope, that their lives will be lives lived without compromise, lives on a journey and lives where they do not believe that they are the center of history and have learned how to step down. Let us pray for our shepherds.”

CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS

Big celebrations are set for the coming days when an estimated 35,000 members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement from around the world are set to converge on Rome for a huge series of events, workshops, Masses and a meeting with Pope Francis at the Circus Maximus on Saturday evening, June 3, the vigil of Pentecost. If guests wear the color of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit as firelike tongue – Rome will be awash in red.

Celebrations start Wednesday, May 31 and conclude Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square with Mass presided over by Pope Francis to celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the Church.

Following are organizational and events charts from the CCR website (http://www.ccrgoldenjubilee2017.org/pdetails.php?lang=en) (not sure if you can read these (or enlarge) – if not, go to the CCR website)