MARKING THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH – POPE ENCOURAGES RECONCILATION, SOLIDARITY, PEACE IN RWANDA – FRANCIS WELCOMES EL SALVADOR BISHOPS ON AD LIMINA VISIT – VATICAN PUBLISHES ITINERARY FOR PAPAL TRIP TO FATIMA

The main news story of the weekend was the Vatican’s confirmation that Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to Egypt on April 28 and 29 in response to invitations from Egypt’s president, the Catholic bishops, Coptic Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of the Mosque of Al Azhar. He will visit the city of Cairo on this, his 18th foreign pastoral visit.

Weekend papal tweets:

SATURDAY: I invite you not to build walls but bridges, to conquer evil with good, offence with forgiveness, to live in peace with everyone.

SUNDAY: May St Joseph, Spouse of Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, bless you and watch over you. And best wishes to fathers!

MARKING THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH

Yesterday was, of course, March 19, a day normally marking the solemnity of St. Joseph and a big day in Italy because this feast also marks Father’s Day. However, because it fell on a Sunday in Lent, the solemnity of St Joseph and Father’s Day were transferred to today. However, I’m willing to bet that many Italian families got together Sunday to mark La Festa del Papà, Father’s Day!

If your name in Italy is Giuseppe (Joseph) or Giuseppina, March 19th if your name day, your onomastico. There are Italians for whom the onomastico is more important than the birthday. Many best wishes were sent out yesterday to Pope emeritus Benedict as he was born Joseph Ratzinger. By the way, on this solemnity churches and schools that bear the saint’s name hold festive celebrations.

March 19 was dedicated to Saint Joseph on a number of calendars as early as the 10th century, and it seems this became tradition in Rome in Rome by 1479.

Pope Francis on Sunday at the Angelus recalled the beatification the previous day in Bolzano, Italy of Joseph Mayr-Nusser. He said: “Because of his great moral and spiritual stature, Blessed Joseph is a model for the lay faithful, especially for fathers, whom we remember with great affection today.”

The new Blessed was a married layman and head of a family and big supporter of Catholic Action. However, when he was conscripted into the German army in 1944, he refused to take the so-called “Hitler oath,” was sentenced to death, and died on the way to Dachau concentration camp.

POPE ENCOURAGES RECONCILATION, SOLIDARITY, PEACE IN RWANDA

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis received the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in a private audience at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Monday.

President Kagame and his entourage subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said their discussions were cordial:

“During the cordial exchanges, the good relations that exist between the Holy See and Rwanda were recalled. Appreciation was expressed for the notable path of recovery towards the social, political and economic stabilization of the country. Likewise noted was the collaboration between the State and the local Church in the work of national reconciliation and in the consolidation of peace, for the benefit of the whole Nation.”

Pope Francis, it went on, “conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi. He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events and, evoking the gesture of Pope St John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, he implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests, and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission.”

“In light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy and of the Statement published by the Rwandan Bishops at its conclusion, the Pope also expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which, unfortunately, disfigured the face of the Church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory’ and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace, witnessing to the concrete possibility of living and working together, once the dignity of the human person and the common good are put at the centre.”

The Pope and the President then exchanged views “about the political, social and regional situation, with attention to those places that are suffering conflicts and natural calamities. A particular concern was expressed for the large number of refugees and migrants in need of help and support from the international community and from regional structures.”

FRANCIS WELCOMES EL SALVADOR BISHOPS ON AD LIMINA VISIT

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday received the prelates of El Salvador, who are in Rome for their ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’ visit.

Their visit takes place ahead of the March 24th feast day of the former Archbishop of San Salvador, Blessed Oscar Romero, and the 37th anniversary of his assassination by hired gunmen at the height of El Salvador’s civil war.

El Salvador, a Latin American Republic, has a population of around 6.5 million people, nearly 80 percent of whom are Catholic.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop José Luis Escobar’Alas of San Salvador and president of the Episcopal Conference said the primary pastoral challenges in El Salvador are “the defense of life, understood in its full sense as justice, truth and peace in a society marked by violence.”

He said the bishops are “working to recover family values, that is, of a solid and responsible family, which can save the whole of society.”

VATICAN PUBLISHES ITINERARY FOR PAPAL TRIP TO FATIMA

The Vatican today published the schedule of Pope Francis’ apostolic journey to Fatima, Portugal on May 12 and 13. (photo: news.va)

The Holy Father is scheduled to arrive at Monte Real air base on Saturday afternoon, May 12 where he will be welcomed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Afterwards he will be taken by helicopter to Fatima’s stadium of Fatima before travelling by car to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima where he will pray in the Chapel of the Apparitions, greet pilgrims present, and recite the Holy Rosary with them.

On Sunday, Pope Francis’ will meet with Prime Minister António Costa at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House, following which he will celebrate Mass in the square of the Basilica of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fatima.”

His final stop is a lunch with the bishops of Portugal at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House. Pope Francis will then return to Rome via Rome’s Ciampino Airport.

Here is the papal itinerary:

Friday May 12, 2017

14:00     Departure by air from Rome Fiumicino airport for Monte Real.

16:20     Arrival at the air base of Monte Real:  Welcome ceremony.

16:35     Private meeting with the President of the Republic in the Monte Real air base.

16:55     Visit to the air base chapel.

17:15     Transfer by helicopter to the stadium of Fatima.

17:35     Arrival at the Fatima stadium and transfer by open vehicle to the Shrine.

18:15     Visit to the Chapel of the Apparitions:  Prayer of the Holy Father.

21:30     Blessing of the Candles from the Chapel of the Apparitions:  Greetings from the Holy Father & Recital of the Holy Rosary.

Saturday May 13, 2017

09:10     Meeting with the Prime Minister at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House.

09:40     Visit to the Basilica of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fatima”.

10:00     Holy Mass at the churchyard of the Shrine:  Holy Father’s homily & Holy Father’s greetings to the sick.

12:30     Lunch with bishops of Portugal at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House.

14:45     Farewell ceremony in the Monte Real air base.

15:00     Departure by air from the Monte Real air base, destined for Rome.

19:05     Arrival at Rome Ciampino airport.

 

NATIONAL SHRINE CHOIR, IN ROME, CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY

NATIONAL SHRINE CHOIR, IN ROME, CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY

The choir of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. this year marks its 50th anniversary and, as part of those celebrations, the choir has scheduled several concerts in Rome.

The choir arrived Rome October 3, dedicating their first full day in the city to rehearsals and some sightseeing. Family members and shrine benefactors are accompanying the choir on their five-day stay in the Eternal City.

A special Mass for Pope Francis and his intentions was celebrated yesterday morning in a chapel of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral as bishop of Rome, with the choir providing the music. I have known choir director Peter Latona, as well as Msgr. Walter Rossi, director of the shrine and Callista Gingrich, a member of the choir, for years and was invited to the Mass and to speak to the choir afterwards about my work and my life here in Rome.

Last evening was the choir’s first public concert in Rome. They sang at the extraordinarily beautiful church of San Antonio dei Portoghesi (St. Anthony of the Portuguese) in the center of Rome. This is the Portuguese national church in Rome and is truly a jewel.

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The Portuguese ambassador to the Holy See was present, and the rector of the church, Msgr. Agostinho Borges, briefly addressed the crowd, reminding us all that the beloved saint we call St. Anthony of Padua was actually born in Portugal. He also reminded us that San Antonio dei Portoghesi offers concerts every Sunday evening at 6:30.

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The choir sings again this evening at the Italian embassy to the Holy See and I’ll try to record some music from that concert. For now I just offer a few photos from last night’s event.

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After the concert I met a young couple from Lisbon, Luis and Maria Levezinho, who are huge fans of EWTN. We spoke at length after the program and they specifically mentioned how much they enjoy Joan’s Rome and At Home with Jim and Joy! I now have a standing invitation to return to Portugal, especially next year for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima!

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THE PRODIGAL SON, A FATHER’S LOVE AND MERCY – ST. JOHN PAUL AND FATIMA

My reunion last evening with my former students of the Academy of the Holy Names was one of the most beautiful, moving, memorable evenings of my life! I intended to bring you that story today, along with some photos, but a technical issue (having to unwrap the enigma of an unknown password to access Internet) interfered with that and all I have been able to do was download the photos, so stay tuned tomorrow for a remarkable story!

In the meantime I have a golden nugget for you: I saw this in a novel I just finished reading and emailed it myself as I thought it was expressed a basic truth to extraordinarily well. The original author is Miles Kington – a British journalist, musician and broadcaster.

“Knowledge is knowing tomatoes are fruit but wisdom means not putting them in fruit salad”

THE PRODIGAL SON, A FATHER’S LOVE AND MERCY

(Vatican Radio) At his Wednesday general audience Pope Francis focused on the parable of the prodigal son to show how God welcomes us all with an unconditional love. Even in the most difficult situations, he told pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square, God waits for us and longs to embrace us.

 
Pope Francis began his reflections at the moment the prodigal son returns home, asking forgiveness for what he has done and telling his father: “I no longer deserve to be called your son”. But on the contrary, he continued, the only thing that matters to the father is that his son has returned home safe and sound. Thus he runs out to embrace him, restores his dignity by giving him clothes, sandals and a ring on his finger, and calls for a feast to celebrate his return.

 
The Pope said the father’s tenderness and mercy overflows and, in the same way, we know that even in the most difficult moments of our lives, God waits for us and longs to embrace us as his children. Jesus’ words, he went on, can encourage parents who worry about their children becoming alienated and tempted by all kinds of dangers. They can help priests and catechists who wonder if their work is all in vain. They can even help those in prison, or those who’ve made mistakes and are unable to see any future for themselves.

 
The Pope went on to explain how this parable talks about both the prodigal son and his older brother, who also needs to learn to accept the father’s mercy. Though he has remained at home with his father, his words display no tenderness or thought for anyone but himself. How sad for the father, the Pope exclaimed, with one son who went away and the other who was never really close to him!

 
Both the younger son, who is expecting to be punished, and the older son, who expects a reward for his good behavior, are not acting according to God’s love, which transcends both reward and punishment, the Pope said.
The two brothers do not speak to each other, they live different lives, but neither of them lives according to the logic of Our Lord. Their logic is overturned by the words of the father, “let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found”.

 

The greatest joy for the father, the Pope stressed, is to see his two sons reunited and recognizing each other as brothers.

 

Pope Francis noted that this parable ends without our knowing how the older brother responds to the father’s invitation to celebrate his brother’s return. Jesus is challenging each one of us, he said, to think about how we respond to God’s invitation, to open our hearts to his reconciling love and to become “merciful like the Father”.

ST. JOHN PAUL AND FATIMA

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said Our Lady of Fatima “invites us once again to turn to prayer, penance, and conversion.”
The Holy Father noted the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is commemorated this year on this Friday (13 May) during his remarks to Polish-speaking pilgrims at his General Audience.

 
“She asks us to never offend God again. She forewarns all humanity about the necessity of abandoning oneself to God, the source of love and mercy,” Pope Francis said.

 
“Following the example of St. John Paul II, a great devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, let us listen attentively to the Mother of God and ask for peace for the world,” – he continued – “Praised be Jesus Christ!”

 
Thirty-five years ago, Pope St. John Paul II was shot by Mehmet Ali Ağca during the General Audience, which took place on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima in 1981.

 

The saint attributed his survival to Our Lady, and gave one of the bullets used in the attack to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. The bullet was placed in the crown of the statue of the Virgin Mary which is housed at the shrine.