POPE SUGGESTS AIDS THAT CAN HELP US WITH DISCERNMENT
At the general audience held in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father began the catechesis by stating, “Today we conclude our series of catecheses on spiritual discernment by considering some aids that can help us rightly to discern God’s will for our lives and our happiness.
Pope Francis began by noting that anyone who may have followed these catecheses until this point might be thinking, “what a complicated practice discernment is!”
And he responded to this possible confusion by saying that “in reality, it is life that is complicated and, if we do not learn how to read it, we risk wasting our lives, living it with strategies that end up disheartening us.”
As to the aids that can help us in discernment,” said the Holy Father, “We begin, naturally, with an encounter with the word of God and with the Church’s teaching. Quiet prayer with the Scriptures also helps us to sense the Lord’s presence, to hear his voice, and to become conscious of the deepest desires of our heart. In this way, we grow in love and closeness to Jesus, who assures us of the Father’s merciful love and, by his death on the Cross, reveals God’s power to bring life out of death and good out of evil.
In particular, said the Pope, we must development a personal relationship with Jesus as “friendship with Jesus and trust in God’s guidance of our lives is a great gift of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts and inspires our discernment at every stage. In the Church’s daily prayer, each canonical hour begins by asking God to come to our assistance. Trusting in that help, may we learn to discern wisely the paths that lead us to the Father and to respond each day to his loving offer of salvation.
Francis also explained that, “we can often have a distorted idea about God, thinking of him as a sullen, harsh judge, ready to catch us in the act. “On the contrary, Jesus reveals a God who is full of compassion and tenderness for us, ready to sacrifice himself for us.”
He stressed that, “we have a tender, affectionate Father who loves us, who has always loved us. When we experience this, our heart melts and doubts, fears, feelings of unworthiness are dissolved. This love is irresistible.”
In closing, Pope Francis noted that the Liturgy of the Hours opens the main moments of daily prayer with this invocation: “O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me.”
At the conclusion of the general audience, Pope Francis greeted a Ukrainian woman whose husband is a prisoner of war and their son. They came bearing gifts for the Pope, including a calendar showing the devastation of the Azovstal steelworks plant.
PAPAL APPEAL AT GENERAL AUDIENCE: “UKRAINIAN CHILDREN BEAR THE WEIGHT OF THE TRAGEDY OF WAR”
Pope Francis once again recalled the suffering of children in Ukraine due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, saying he has noticed that many of them find it difficult even to smile.
By Edoardo Giribaldi (vaticannews)
“When a child loses the ability to smile, it is serious.” With these words, speaking at the end of the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the children of Ukraine “who are suffering, suffering so much, from this war.”
Tragedy of the war
“In the feast of God becoming a child, let us think about the Ukrainian children,” he said, Pope, underlining the burden that they are forced to carry in the tragedy “of that war, that is so inhuman, so harsh.”
He encouraged everyone to offer their prayers for the children of Ukraine, who are enduring the bitter cold and lack of basic necessities.
“Let us think about the Ukrainian people this Christmas. They are without heating, without the main things to survive. Let us pray that the Lord may bring them peace as soon as possible.”
Solidarity of Poland
Greeting the faithful people of Poland, the Pope recalled a national tradition according to which, on Christmas Eve, they “leave an empty place at the table for an unexpected guest.”
“This year,” Pope Francis said, “that place will be occupied by the multitude of refugees from Ukraine to whom you have opened the doors of your homes with great generosity.”
“May the child of God born in Bethlehem fill each of you, your families and those you help with love.”
POPE FRANCIS’ CHRISTMAS SEASON LITURGIES
(CNA) – The Vatican has published Pope Francis’ Christmas schedule for this year, which includes five special liturgies and prayers between Christmas Eve and the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
During the Christmas Octave, the pope is also scheduled to give an Angelus address on St. Stephen’s Day on Dec. 26 and hold a Wednesday General Audience on Dec. 29.
Papal Christmas Mass – Dec. 24: Pope Francis will offer Mass for the Nativity of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 24. This “Midnight Mass” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Rome time (1:30 p.m. EST) with the traditional Kalenda Proclamation of the Birth of Christ and will be broadcast live on EWTN.
Christmas Day Blessing – Dec. 25: On Christmas Day, Pope Francis will give a traditional papal blessing at noon called the “Urbi et Orbi,” which in Latin means, “To the City and the World.” Along with the blessing, the pope gives an address that highlights humanitarian crises, war-stricken countries, and other situations around the world in need of prayer.
The pope typically gives this blessing from the central loggia of the basilica overlooking St. Peter’s Square (the same balcony from which a new pope is introduced), but last year Pope Francis gave the blessing from inside the Apostolic Palace to avoid a large gathering of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vespers on New Year’s Eve – Dec. 31: Pope Francis will pray the First Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. After vespers, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for Eucharistic Adoration and the “Te Deum” will be sung in thanksgiving for the past year.
Solemnity of Mary Holy Mother of God – Jan. 1: The pope’s first liturgy of 2022 will be in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis will offer Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. On this day, Pope Francis will also mark the 55th World Day of Peace.
Mass for the Epiphany of the Lord – Jan. 6: Pope Francis will offer Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. The Epiphany celebrates the revelation that Jesus was the Son of God. It focuses primarily on this revelation to the Three Wise Men.