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 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.



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!


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!”