FRANCIS EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO PARENTS OF ALFIE EVANS – POPE PRAYS FOR ‘NUCLEAR-FREE’ KOREAN PENINSULA AND FOR NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS – HOLY FATHER, 3 VICTIMS OF SEX ABUSE MEET IN VATICAN – VATICAN OFFICIALS, GERMAN PRELATES TO DISCUSS COMMUNION IN MIXED MARRIAGES

Recent papal tweets:
April 28: I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.

April 29: Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war.

April 30: Be one with Christ when you pray, take care of your most vulnerable brothers and sisters, and work for peace.

I am fascinated by the news of the visit by German prelates to officials in the Vatican on the question of whether or not the Eucharist can be given to non-Catholic spouses in a mixed marriage.

I certainly thought I knew the teaching on this question.

In addition to what I had been taught, we have guidelines for the reception of communion in the Missalettes available to the faithful at Mass which basically states: Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to holy Communion. Non-Catholic faithful are then invited, if they wish, to approach the Eucharist with their arms folded over their chest to receive a blessing from the celebrant.

Here is what Canon law says:

For starters, we have Canon 842 §1. A person who has not received baptism cannot be admitted validly to the other sacraments.

And Canon 844:
Can. 844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and ⇒ can. 861, §2.
§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.
§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.
§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.
§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.

The German bishops’ decision to offer the Eucharist to the non-Catholic member of a mixed marriage has been inspired by their desire to implement certain provisions of “Amoris Laetitia,” the same document that has caused such angst by suggesting that, under certain circumstances, communion may be given to a couple who, validly married in the Catholic church but civilly divorced (thus, still married for the Church but in an adulterous union) and remarried in a civil ceremony.

The German prelates-Vatican officials meeting will be very interesting to watch.

FRANCIS EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO PARENTS OF ALFIE EVANS

Pope Francis received the news Saturday morning, April 28, of the death of Alfie Evans, and tweeted the following: “I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”

Pope Francis had been following Alfie with particular attention. He met with Thomas Evans, Alfie’s father, on the 18th of April, and made several appeals on his behalf. He had also expressed the desire that Alfie Evans be brought to the Vatican’s pedriatic hospital, Bambino Gesù, to be cared for.

POPE PRAYS FOR ‘NUCLEAR-FREE’ KOREAN PENINSULA AND FOR NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS

Sunday at the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis hailed the positive outcome of the Inter-Korean Summit and said he is praying for a future of peace for Koreans and for the world. He also mentioned the violence against Catholic communities in Nigeria and prayed for the achievement of harmony and peace there.
By Linda Bordoni (Vaticannews.va)

Calling for continued collaboration between the leaders of North and South Korea, Pope Francis said he is praying that their courageous commitment may achieve “a path of sincere dialogue for a Korean Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons.”

Speaking after the Regina Coeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope hailed the positive outcome of Friday’s Inter-Korean Summit and said he is praying so that “the hope for a future of peace and more fraternal friendship will not be disappointed, and that collaboration will continue to bear fruit for the beloved Korean people and for the whole world.”

Pope Francis has repeatedly prayed for dialogue and peace between the Koreas and for the historic Summit on Friday in which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in agreed to work to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

The Pope also turned his attention to and offered his prayers for Christians in Nigeria that, yet again, have come under attack.

“Last week the Christian community of Nigeria was attacked again, and a group of faithful were killed, including two priests,” he said. “I entrust these brothers of ours to the mercy of God, and pray so that those severely tested communities may find harmony and peace.”

Finally, the Pope looked ahead to the Marian month of May inviting all Christians to join him in praying in particular for peace in Syria. He said that Tuesday, May 1, a holiday in the Vatican and Italy, he will make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love where he will pray the Rosary, “praying in particular for peace in Syria and throughout the world.”

HOLY FATHER, 3 VICTIMS OF SEX ABUSE MEET IN VATICAN

Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis began individual meetings with three survivors of clerical sexual abuse from Chile following a major apology earlier this month. The encounters, which have no time limit, went throughout the weekend and into Monday.

The survivors – Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Andres Murillo – were invited by the Pope to stay at the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, where he has lived since his election in 2013.

In an April 27 statement (in Spanish) from the Vatican, spokesman Greg Burke said there will be no official statements on the encounters, as Francis’ primary intention is “to listen to the victims, ask them for forgiveness and respect the confidentiality of these meetings.”

“In this climate of trust and of reparation for suffering,” Bruke said, “the desire of Pope Francis is to allow those invited to speak for as long as needed, such that there are no fixed schedules or predetermined content.”

Cruz, Hamilton and Murillo were each victims of abuse carried out by Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

The Pope invited the three men to come to the Vatican after receiving a 2,300-page report from Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who is highly regarded as the Vatican’s top abuse investigator and who traveled to the United States and Chile in February to investigate allegations of cover-up.

To continue reading: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-meets-with-three-survivors-of-clerical-sexual-abuse-from-chile

VATICAN OFFICIALS, GERMAN PRELATES TO DISCUSS COMMUNION IN MIXED MARRIAGES

From the Holy See Press Office – April 30, 2018:

On May 3, a group of German cardinals and bishops will meet in the Vatican with several heads of dicasteries and officials of the Roman Curia to confront the theme of eventual access to the Eucharist for the non-Catholic spouses in a mixed marriage.

The German delegation is composed of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising and president of the German Episcopal Conference; Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Co of Munster; Bishop KarlHeinz Wiesemann, of Speyer and president of the Doctrinal Commission of the German Episcopal Conference; of Regensburg, Vice President of the Doctrinal Commission; Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg and president of the Commission for Ecumenism of the German Episcopal Conference; Fr. Hans Langendörfer, S.J., secretary general of the German Episcopal Conference.

The dicastery heads and curial officials are: Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF); Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Msgr. Markus Graulich, S.D.B., under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; Fr. Hermann Geissler, F.S.O., bureau chief of the doctrinal section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

You may remember my post several days ago, a piece written for the National Catholic Register by my EWTN colleague, Edward Pentin. Here is the first part of that post as background to today’s statement from the press office.

Complete Letter of Seven German Bishops on Holy Communion for Protestant Spouses Published

The Register obtained a copy of the March 22 missive which expresses serious concerns about the recent German bishops’ decision to give Holy Communion to Protestant spouses in some cases. Sources say the seven bishops’ call for clarification, which is being fiercely opposed by the German episcopal conference, has the full support of Benedict XVI.

by Edward Pentin

In the March 22 letter, published for the first time in English below, the seven bishops say they “do not consider” the German bishops’ decision on Feb. 20 to allow Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion in some cases to be “right” because they do not believe the issue to be a pastoral one but rather a “question of the faith and unity of the Church which is not subject to a vote.”

The letter is signed by Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau.

The German bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal at their spring plenary meeting in Ingolstadt on Feb. 20, and the letter’s signatories affirm that out of the 60 bishops present, “13 voted no, including at least seven diocesan bishops.”

The majority of German bishops decided that permission could be granted to a Protestant spouse if, after having made a “serious examination” of conscience with a priest or another person with pastoral responsibilities, the partner “affirms the faith of the Catholic Church,” wishes to end “serious spiritual distress,” and has a “longing to satisfy a hunger for the Eucharist.”

At the time, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said the guide would be a “pastoral handout” and that the intention was not to “change any doctrine.” He said the proposal also ruled out any path for Protestant spouses to conversion, otherwise known as an “ecumenism of return.” It also left much discretion to the local bishop.

The proposal caused considerable concern, also in Rome: Cardinals Francis Arinze, Gerhard Müller, Walter Brandmüller, and Paul Cordes all decried the move. Cardinal Müller called the proposal a “rhetorical trick” pulled on believers, most of whom he noted are not theologians and stressed that interdenominational marriage is “not an emergency situation.” Cardinal Brandmüller said the German bishops’ weak opposition to the proposal was a “scandal, no question.”

In their letter, the seven bishops lay out four points calling for clarification: They question whether such a proposal is pastoral matter or one concerning the faith and Church unity; why a person who shares the Catholic faith on the Eucharist should not become Catholic; whether “spiritual distress” is really exceptional or simply part of striving for unity; and if a bishops’ conference should be making such a decision without reference to the universal Church.
They add that they have “many other fundamental questions and reservations” about the proposal and so prefer to seek a solution within the field of ecumenical dialogue which is “viable for the universal Church.”

“We ask for your help, in the light of our doubts, as to whether the draft solution presented in this document is compatible with the faith and unity of the Church,” the bishops say in closing.

The March 22 letter was sent to Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (he was not informed of the Feb. 20 vote either before or after it took place),Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the apostolic nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterović.

More here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/full-text-of-seven-german-bishops-letter-on-intercommunion-for-protestant-s

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PAPAL CATECHESIS ON HOW TO RECEIVE COMMUNION – POPE TO ATTEND WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IN DUBLIN

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON HOW TO RECEIVE COMMUNION

The weekly general audience was held in St. Peter’s Square today under sunny skies, something of a rarity in Rome in recent weeks, and Pope Francis continued his weekly series of catecheses on the Mass, turning to the “culminating moment in the rite of Holy Communion.”

Francis said, “the Lord’s gift of Himself at the Last Supper is renewed at each Mass in the offering of His body and blood under the signs of bread and wine. After the breaking of the bread, the priest asks us to acknowledge the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. His words invite us to acknowledge our sins, to trust in the reconciling power of Christ’s sacrifice, and to receive the medicine that unites us ever more closely to him.”

The Pope explained that, “at the moment of communion, we respond ‘Amen’ to the words ‘The body of Christ’. In this way, we signify our openness to the transformative power of God’s grace, which enables us to grow in the unity of Christ’s mystical body, which is the Church.”

“If it is we who move in procession to receive communion,” said the Holy Father, “in reality it is Christ Who comes to meet us, to assimilate us to Him. Being nourished by the Eucharist means letting ourselves be changed by the One Who comes to us.”

And the Pope gave a mini-catechesis on how to receive communion:

“The Church strongly desires that even the faithful receive the Body of Christ with hosts consecrated in the Mass itself; and the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is expressed with greater fullness if Holy Communion is done under both species, even with the knowledge that Catholic doctrine teaches that, even under one species, all of Christ is received. According to ecclesial practice, the faithful normally approach communion in a processional form and receive communion with devotion while standing, or while kneeling, as established by the Episcopal conference, receiving the sacrament by mouth or, where allowed, in the hand, as they prefer. After communion, silent prayer helps us keep in our hearts the gift received, as does a psalm or hymn of praise.”

“Nourished by the bread of life,” said Francis, “we become a living Eucharist; in a word, we become what we receive. Our silent prayer after receiving communion is gathered up in the final prayer of the Mass, which thanks God for making us sharers in this holy banquet and asks that we may grow daily in union with him, until we share at last in the wedding feast of heaven.”

At the end of the catechesis and greetings to pilgrims in various languages, Pope Francis announced that he intends to participate this summer in the August World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland, travelling there on August 25 and 26.

POPE TO ATTEND WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IN DUBLIN

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference warmly welcomed the announcement today by Pope Francis that he will attend part of the 9th World Meeting of Families that will take place August 21 to 26 in Dublin on the theme, “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”.

According to a press release from the Irish bishops, Pope Francis, 81, will arrive in Dublin on Saturday, August 25, and will take part in the “Festival of Families” in Croke Park. The Festival is the faith-based cultural concert of the World Meeting of Families six-day program. The next day, Sunday 26 August, Pope Francis will be the chief celebrant at Holy Mass in Phoenix Park, the concluding liturgy of the World Meeting of Families 2018. Full details of the papal schedule will be released at a later date.

The bishops said, “On behalf of the faithful of Ireland we warmly welcome today’s announcement, by the Holy Father himself, that he plans to visit Dublin in August for the World Meeting of Families. We are deeply honored that Pope Francis will come to our country to participate in this universal Church celebration of faith and joy, as well as of the contemporary challenges that face families. With great anticipation we also look forward to hearing the apostolic guidance of His Holiness during his stay with us.”

“Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin,” said the bishops, “as president of the World Meeting of Families 2018, has been charged with undertaking the significant task of organizing this global celebration and each of the other 25 dioceses on the island of Ireland is supporting the host diocese to ensure its success for the whole country and for the world. We eagerly await the visit of Pope Francis which no doubt will be an occasion of spiritual renewal for our laity, religious and clergy as well as a strengthening of Christian family life.

“The preparations for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin are benefiting from the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops in Rome which discussed the role of the modern family in the world and how the Church should respond. Both synods were hosted by Pope Francis and were preceded by a worldwide consultation. The subsequent publication by the Holy Father in April 2016 of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), represents the fruit of these synods as he reflected on the significance of the deep mutual love of spouses and on their love for their children for the good of humanity and for the stability of society.”

Also today, two Irish families presented the official World Meeting of Families 2018 “Icon of the Holy Family” to Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square. The Tobin family is from County Kildare and the Bushell family resides in Rome. The delegation was led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president, and Father Timothy Bartlett, secretary general, of the World Meeting of Families 2018. The group also included the iconographer Mihai Cucu.

EVERY TIME THE EUCHARIST IS CELEBRATED, THE WORK OF REDEMPTION IS CARRIED OUT – POPE TO PRESIDE PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN AND DRC

EVERY TIME THE EUCHARIST IS CELEBRATED, THE WORK OF REDEMPTION IS CARRIED OUT

At today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his new catechesis on the Eucharist, and said today, “we consider the Mass as the memorial of Christ’s passover from death to life. In the Bible, a “memorial” is more than a mere remembrance of a past event; it is the making present of that event, which enables us to share in its saving power. At every celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus pours out his mercy upon us, as he did on the cross, in order to renew our hearts, our lives and our entire world.

In the words of Vatican Council II, said the Holy Father, “as often as the sacrifice of the cross is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”

He noted that, “each Sunday, we enter into Christ’s victory over sin and death and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given a share in his very life. By making present the Lord’s paschal mystery, the Eucharist strengthens us to bear witness, like the martyrs of old, to his triumph over death and to love others as he does, freely giving of ourselves for their good.”

Francis explained that, “When we enter the church for Mass, we should think to ourselves: “I enter Calvary, where Jesus gives his life for me,” We should respond to this “in silence, in weeping,” and also with joy, because we have been saved from death and sin.

“Imagine,” he exclaimed, “that you are actually at Calvary. In that moment, you would look up and know that the man upon the cross is Jesus. Would you allow yourself to make chit-chat or take pictures?”No, because Jesus (is there)!”

The Pope was clearly on his message of last week when he decried the use of phones during Mass to take pictures, saying our attention should be entirely on what is happening at Mass, on what the priest is doing and saying.

POPE TO PRESIDE PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN AND DRC

Pope Francis tomorrow, November 23 in St. Peter’s Basilica, will preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This event is organized by “Solidarity with South Sudan” in association with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide, and invites Christians across the world to join in prayer for peace in the world, and especially for South Sudan and the DRC, two conflict-ravaged nations in which millions of displaced people are suffering the effects of violence and terrible humanitarian crises.

Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s aid organization, about the situation in the two African nations and asked him why it is important to raise awareness.

Michel Roy says it is hugely important to break through the indifference that surrounds so many ‘forgotten conflicts’ and situations of terrible social and economic injustice in various parts of the world.

“We have chosen South Sudan and DRC as two examples of peoples and countries that are suffering so much from conflicts that they have never wanted and of which they are the victims” he said.

Roy goes on to describe the political and economic interests that fuel the conflicts and continuing lack of security in both of those countries which have caused millions of people to be displaced and to suffer all the consequences displacement entails. There are also the interests of neighboring countries and, in many cases, multi-national organizations at stake: “To stop a war once it has started is really difficult,” he said.

The needs of the people are many, Roy explained, they are hungry, they need food and medical assistance, and while FAO has launched a humanitarian program it is only partially funded and far from sufficient.

Schools and churches have been destroyed, young people have been recruited into militia groups and the lack of international support means there is not hope in sight.

“The needs are humanitarian – also in places like the Central African Republic, Darfur and many other nations, there is urgent need for humanitarian response which the international community is not ready to give it seems” he said.

Roy speaks of the need to mobilize politicians at all levels and to put pressure on the international community “to find ways to come out of this tragedy”.

“Peace can be reached, it’s a question of will,” he said.

“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR CELL PHONES”

Various business appointments took up my morning and I spent much of the afternoon looking at new computers at a great store called Euronics (found several winning possibilities to replace my computer,which actually has worked all day!). Euronics has all imagineable types of electronics, household items from pocketsize to refrigerators and whatever fascinating new gadget is on the market. Euronics is not on any main bus route and so I took a taxi and had a fascinating learning experience.

I hailed a taxi in front of my house and on the side was written ‘mytaxi’. Taxi companies in Rome are usually known by their four-digit phone number, preceded by Rome’s area code, thus 06-3570 is one company, 06-6445 is another. Often their FB page or wesbite is the same number. I always enjoy chatting with taxi drivers, wherever in the world I travel, as they have their pulse on all sorts of matters. In Italy, conversations focus mostly on soccer and politics but often drivers can advise restaurants and stores – or give you advice about taxis.

My first driver today told me about the mytaxi app and I downloaded it as we rode to the store. Mytaxi is a service, as I have learned in only two rides, that far beats Uber here in Rome. Taxi drivers here must be licensed, have their photos taken, have insurance, etc. and they pay a very hefty fee for their license – kind of like the Medallion fees in New York.

Uber drivers have none of the same requirements and they pay only €5,000 for a license, compared to €150,000 or more a taxi driver pays. There have been strikes by taxis here because of Uber – there will be another one November 21.

In any event, when you use the mytaxi app, you know the driver’s name, the make of car, how far away (or close) they are, cell phone number, etc….this is all similar to what Uber shows you in my experience in the States. When you sign up for mytaxi, you insert your name and cell phone number and email. You may pay in cash or by credit card but you do not have to insert a credit card number on the app form if you do not wish.

Mytaxi is offered in 70 plus cities in Europe and only recently came to Italy – is in Milan and Rome. It is a service of Mercedes Benz. I’ve only met two drivers on my first ‘mytaxi’ day but they were wonderful and very enthusiastic about mytaxi.

I am going to such lengths about this service because many of my readers live in Rome, and so many others travel to Italy and Europe. I’d use this over Uber in Rome any day – and, by the way, it will generally cost less. AND, you can earn bonuses in a number of ways – perhaps €5 or 10 for reccomending mytaxi to a friend.

As far as I know – but I will double check – they can’t come to the airport to pick you up as there are already long lines of official white taxis waiting outside the arrival halls and they have fixed fares to Rome (€48 from Fiumicino).

Joan’s Rome Tip of the Day!

“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR CELL PHONES”

I really loved the Pope’s catechesis at the general audience today, especially his off the cuff remarks about Who we receive in the Eucharist – the Lord! – and the awe we should have at the consecration in particular and when we receive the Lord in communion!

He mentioned the Eucharist as that is the focus of his new series of catecheses. In fact, he announced today, Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Today begins a new series of catecheses devoted to the Eucharist.  The Mass is the very ‘heart’ of the Church and the source of her life.  How many martyrs have died to defend the Eucharist!  Their witness confirms our Lord’s promise that by partaking of his body and blood we pass with him from death to life (cf. Jn 6:54).

“At every celebration of Mass,” said Francis, “our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.  The liturgical renewal called for by Second Vatican Council sought to help the faithful understand more fully and share more fruitfully in the Eucharist.  At Mass, Jesus becomes truly present and allows us in some way, like the Apostle Thomas, to touch his flesh and renew our faith in him.   In coming weeks, we will seek to grow in our appreciation of this great gift, so as to share more fully in its spiritual riches and beauty, which give ultimate meaning and direction to our lives.”

The Pope said he wanted “to give some answers to important questions about the Eucharist and the Mass in coming catecheses in order to re-discover, or perhaps discover, how the love of God shines through this mystery!

Explaining that, for Christians, it is essential to understand the meaning and the value of Holy Mass in order to be able to fully live our relationship with God, he added: “We cannot forget the great number of Christians who, in the entire world in two thousand years of history, have resisted until death in order to defend the Eucharist.” And there are those who, yet today, “risk their lives to participate at Sunday Mass”.

The Pope recalled the history of Christians in North Africa who were caught celebrating Mass in 304, during the persecutions by the Roman Emperor Diocletian: “When asked why they had faced such danger, the Christians said that their Christian life would end if they did not go to Mass.”

Those Christians, he said, were killed and became witnesses of the Eucharist, which they chose over their mortal lives.

The Holy Father explained that the word Eucharist means thanksgiving, because we thank God for allowing us to receive him.

Then, in the following remarks, many of which were off the cuff, the Pope said, “the Eucharist is a marvelous event in which Jesus Christ, our life, is present. To participate in Mass is to live once again the passion and redeeming death of the Lord. It’s a theophany, the Lord is present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. The Lord is there with us, present.

Impromptu: “So many times we go there, we look around at things, we chat among ourselves while the priest is celebrating the Eucharist, and we don’t celebrate with him. But it is the Lord! If today the president of the Republic or some other very important person of the world came here, I am sure we all would be close to him we would want to greet him. But just think when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you’re distracted – it’s the Lord! We must think about this” ‘But, Father, you say, Masses are boring’. ‘But what are you saying! The Lord is boring!’ No, no, the Mass is not, the priest is’ Then priests must convert, but it is the Lord who is there – do you understand? Don’t forget it – to participate in Mass is to live once again the passion and redeeming and death of the Lord.”!

“Now, Francis continued, “let’s ask some simple questions of the Lord.

“For example why do we make the sign of the cross and say the penitential act at the start of Mass? Here I want to make a little parentheses: Have you seen how children make the sign of the cross – you have no idea what they’re doing. If it’s the sign of the cross or they’re designing something (and with his hands the Pope gestures like child drawing). We have to teach children how to make the sign of the cross well. That begins Mass, that begins life, that begins the day. This means that we are redeemed with the cross of the Lord. Look at children and teach them to make a good sign of the cross.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “sometimes, at a certain point, the priest who presides the celebration says ‘Lift up our hearts’. He doesn’t say, “lift up our cell phones to take a picture!’ No, that’s a terrible thing, and I must say that I feel so much sadness when I celebrate Mass here in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cell phones raised up, not only by the faithful but also by priests and bishops. Please – Mass is not a spectacle, it’s going to meet the Lord and for this reason, the priest says “Lift up our hearts.’ What does this mean? No cell phones!”