GOD WILLED AND LOVED OUR LIFE INTO BEING

You know the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the day!”

My day has been fairly upside down because of a number of unexpected events but I always try to find time to post a blog – I think the Lord knows that is always one of my plans for the day!

There is time for an update on my appearance on Newt Gingrich’s podcast, “Newt’s World”. I just learned we are over 21,000 downloads and counting. Heartfelt thanks for the enthusiastic emails I’ve received since the podcast aired Sunday! Two links:

Newt’s World Ep 11: Cookies With The Pope – Joan Lewis


To listen now: https://art19.com/shows/newts-world/episodes/c2005fcc-ced9-477e-885e-cba72c7ba1bb

GOD WILLED AND LOVED OUR LIFE INTO BEING

Pope Francis this morning in St. Peter’s Square continued his weekly catechesis on the “Our Father,” telling the faithful present, “we now consider the expression: ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us’.”

He began by noting that, “Since everything we have, including our very existence, comes as a gift from God, we are always in his debt, for our life was not simply willed, it was also loved into being.

“We can be confident, then,” he added, “that the Lord will always forgive our trespasses when we ask him with contrite hearts. Yet this grace also calls us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us. We see this in the parable of the unmerciful servant, who though having his own enormous debt written off, in turn refuses to cancel a much smaller debt owed to him. The message is clear: if you refuse to forgive, then you will not be forgiven.”

Francis then explained that, “God’s abundant grace is always demanding. Those who have received so much must learn to give as much, without holding some back for themselves.”

The Holy Father illustrated with a story of a priest he knew who went to hear the confession of a lady who was on her deathbed.

The Pope said, “the priest asked her if she repented of all her sins. ‘Yes’ was her answer.”

“Then the priest asked: ‘Do you forgive others? And the lady, at the point of death, said: ‘No.’

“The priest was distressed. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you.”

If we have problems forgiving others, said Pope Francis, we need to ask the Lord to help us to forgive.

Forgiveness stops spread of evil
Pope Francis noted that Jesus inserts the power of forgiveness into human relationships, saying it fills the gap left by justice in the world.

“Not everything in life is resolved by justice. Especially where it is necessary to put a stop to evil, someone must love beyond what is necessary, in order to restart a story of grace. Evil knows how to take revenge, and, if we do not interrupt it, [evil] risks spreading, suffocating the whole world.”

Thus, Pope Francis concluded, “this Easter week is an opportunity to offer others the most precious gift we have received: forgiveness.” (vaticannews)

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“WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN LOVED FIRST” – ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE CONSIDERED AT VATICAN WORKSHOP

“WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN LOVED FIRST”

Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the Our Father during his weekly general audience, focusing on “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”.

The audience took place in St. Peter’s Square under gray and rainy skies, soaking the nearly 15,000 faithful present for the papal catechesis. (Photos: Lucia Ballester for CNA)

The monsignori from the Secretariat of State who provide the various language translations of the weekly catechesis and papal greetings, as well as the visiting bishops and cardinals, who are normally seated near the papal platform but not covered from the elements, today were all bunched today under the protective canopy of the platform, just behind Pope Francis.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began the Holy Father, “in our continuing catechesis on the ‘Our Father’, we now consider how Jesus teaches us to ask God to ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Just as we need bread, so we have need of forgiveness. Every day!”

Francis noted that, “in the original Greek of Matthew’s Gospel, the word used for ‘trespasses’ carries the meaning of being in debt, and so Christians pray asking that God will forgive their debts. We are truly in debt to God because everything we have has come as a gift from Him: our life, parents, friends, creation itself. Likewise, we are only capable of loving because we have been loved first; we are able to forgive only because we ourselves have received forgiveness.”

But even if we were perfect, saint-like people who never strayed “we would always remain children who owe everything to the Father,” explained the Pope.

He then warned against pride, defining it “the most dangerous attitude for every Christian life.” Pride is the worst sin, and quite insidious because it can “infect even people who live an intense religious life”. He then cited the First Letter of St John, saying, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”

Francis asked, “How can we not recognize, in the bonds of love that precede us, the providential presence of God’s love? None of us can love God as He has loved us. We need only gaze at a crucifix to realize this. Let us pray, then, that even the holiest in our midst will never cease to be in debt to the Lord. O Father, have mercy on us all!”

ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE CONSIDERED AT VATICAN WORKSHOP

Personalized medicine represents a revolution in medical science and raises several ethical challenges, says Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosts a workshop in the Vatican this week on “The Revolution of Personalized Medicine.”

The event carries a provocative subtitle: “Are we going to cure all diseases and at what price?”

Personalized medicine is a therapeutic approach that separates people into different groups according to their genetic information in order to tailor decisions, interventions, and drug therapy to the individual patient.

Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan, an expert in Internal Medicine at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, is the workshop’s Academic Director.

Professor Barilan told Vatican News’ Gabriela Ceraso that personalized medicine represents a dual revolution.

It promises a partial revolution in medicine, he said, because it aims at getting “more and more specific at the molecular level of every disease.” This means examining the genomic and molecular features of diabetes, for instance.

The bigger revolution, said Prof. Barilan, is “to try to abandon the concept of disease altogether and, on one hand, just collect lots of biological data (proteins, genes), have the computers calculate them, like Google does, and then come out with specific health instructions”.

Ethical challenges
Prof. Barilan admitted that personalized medicine poses several ethical challenges.

One general risk is conflict of interest and bias in the industry, though, he said, every industry runs this risk.

The doctor-patient relationship could also suffer as a result of personalized medicine, because computers could come between the two as they are relied upon in the place of doctors to analyze patient data.

“There is also a risk of having a new definition of what health is, and it’s not necessarily what we as persons and humans believe health is,” he said.

Risk of alienation
Personalized medicine, said Prof. Barilan, even runs the risk of alienating certain people from society, because they carry genetic traits or disease markers that could be classified as “high risk” or they might have a low response-rate to therapy.

It might even cause the “reorganization of human society along the lines of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you are as a biological creature,” he said.

Ultimate human goals
Prof. Barilan said the issues surrounding personalized medicine – and science in general – is related to “ultimate human goals,” or the perceived purpose of human life.

“Doing science and doing medicine without thinking about ultimate human goals and values is, in a way, futile or shallow, and could be extremely harmful.”

Both the Vatican and the scientists present at the workshop share a commitment to ultimate human goals, said Prof. Barilan, even if there is disagreement over what those goals may be.

POPE: I WAS “SERVANT OF HOPE” ON TRIP TO MOROCCO – LA SALLE MISSIONARY FOUND DEAD IN PERU

I’ll be in transit on my way back to Rome tomorrow so I will probably not have time to post on this page. Next post most likely will be Friday. See you then – but check out my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420

Say an extra prayer today for the De La Salle Christian Brother Paul McCauley and all his confreres (story below).

POPE: I WAS “SERVANT OF HOPE” ON TRIP TO MOROCCO

As is customary for a general audience after a papal trip, the Holy Father focused his catechesis on the meaning of his just-concluded visit to Morocco.

He began by explaining that, “last Saturday and Sunday I completed an apostolic journey to Morocco, and I thank His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the other authorities, for their warm welcome. Above all I thank the Lord for allowing me to take yet another step along the road of dialogue and encounter with our Muslim brothers and sisters, as a ‘Servant of hope’ in today’s world.”

Francis said that, “to serve hope in our day is to build bridges between cultures, and it was a joy and honor for me to be able to do this in the noble Kingdom of Morocco, meeting both its people and its political leaders. King Mohammed and I reiterated the essential role religions have in defending human dignity, promoting peace and justice, and in caring for creation, our common home.

The Pope noted that, “the question of migration was of particular importance and I was able to thank the Church in Morocco for its commitment towards migrants, and to encourage those who give generous service in realizing the words of Christ: ‘When I was a stranger you welcomed me’.”

Referring to his second day in Morocco, Pope Francis said, “after greeting priests, religious, consecrated men and women and the Ecumenical Council of Churches, thousands gathered for the Sunday Mass, where the parable of the prodigal son spoke to us of the beauty of God’s plan of forgiveness and reconciliation. Indeed, knowing our need of God’s mercy is vital, for only those who have been reborn and live in the Father’s embrace, can be servants of hope for our world.”

According to Vatican media, the Pope, in off the cuff remarks, said that some may wonder “why I go to see Muslims and not just Catholics? Why are there so many religions?” He answered these questions saying, “with Muslims, we are descendants of the same father, Abraham.”

Pope Francis explained that God permits many religions because of His permissive will; He wanted to allow this reality: “there are so many religions, some born from culture, but they always look towards the sky, look to God,” he said.

At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis pointed out that April 3 marks the VI United Nations World Day of Sport for Peace and Development. He said, “sport is a universal language that embraces all peoples and helps to overcome conflicts and unite people. … Sport is also a source of joy and great emotion and is a school where virtues are forged for the human and social growth of individuals and communities. I wish you all the best in both life and sport.”

LA SALLE MISSIONARY FOUND DEAD IN PERU

A member of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, Brother Paul McAuley, was found dead on Tuesday in Peru, on the grounds of an international youth hostel he had founded.
By Vatican News

De La Salle Brother Paul McAuley was found Tuesday morning by his students at the La Salle Intercultural Student Community in the city of Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Local authorities have announced an investigation into the circumstances of his death.

Brother Paul McAuley was a well-known defender of the environment, and an advocate for the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region. Originally from England, Paul McAuley moved to Peru in 1995 as a missionary. He worked among the poor in the capital Lima, and later in Moyobamba and San José de Amazonas.

Since 2000, Brother Paul McAuley had lived in Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon. He dedicated himself to various development and educational projects, especially among the indigenous populations.

In a statement released by the Episcopal Conference, the Bishops of Peru said they “mourned” the death of Brother Paul McAuley, and expressed their condolences to the Brother Visitor, Jorge Aguilar, the Superior of the Congregation in Peru; and to all the De La Salle Brothers.

In their statement, the Bishops called on the authorities “to clarify the facts and find those responsible” for Brother Paul’s death.

POPE FRANCIS’ CATECHESIS ON THE OUR FATHER – POPE HONORS ITALIAN MISSIONARY NUN AT GENERAL AUDIENCE – POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN IRAN – POPE TO VISIT MOZAMBIQUE, MADAGASCAR AND MAURITIUS

I posted a separate story on my Facebook page about today’s commemorative Mass in Rome to mark the third anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN. (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420)

POPE FRANCIS’ CATECHESIS ON THE OUR FATHER

In Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Our Father, focussing on the petition: “Give us this day our daily bread,” and saying this is where we present our needs to God.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” said Francis, reminds us that we are not self-sufficient. Prayer, he said, “begins with our daily concerns, our most pressing, concrete necessities of life,” and he invited the faithful to consider this prayer from the point of view of those who are in real need: “How many mothers, and how many fathers, even today, go to sleep with the anguish of not having sufficient bread for their children for the next day?” Seen from this perspective, “the words of Jesus take on new force.”

The Pope explained that, “with the request for ‘our daily bread’, rather than my daily bread, the ‘Our Father’ includes in itself an ‘attitude of empathy, an attitude of solidarity.” In this way, Jesus teaches us to present the needs of everyone to the Father.

The Pope then told the Gospel story of the feeding of the five thousand. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes was a true miracle, he said; but the greater miracle was the sharing. The young boy who shared his bread and fish “had understood the lesson of the ‘Our Father’, namely “that food is not private property… but providence to be shared, with the grace of God.”

In this miracle, Francis concluded, Jesus anticipated the offering of Himself in the Holy Eucharist: “Only the Eucharist,” he said, “is able to satisfy the hunger for the infinite and the desire for God that animates every human person, even in the search for daily bread.”

POPE HONORS ITALIAN MISSIONARY NUN AT GENERAL AUDIENCE

Pope Francis on Wednesday honored Sr. Maria Concetta Esu for her tireless work as a midwife in Africa over the past 60 years.
By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)

Sister Maria Concetta Esu is an Italian nun who for almost 60 years has devoted her life to missionary work in Africa. In her profession as a midwife, Sister Concetta has delivered thousands of babies and at 85 her commitment to children, mothers and families continues.

In recognition of her tireless efforts, Pope Francis at the end of his general audience on Wednesday, honored this Sister from the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Joseph of Genoni, telling her this accolade was “a sign of our affection and our ‘thanks’ for all the work you have done in the midst of our African brothers and sisters, in the service of life…”

The Pope told the pilgrims present that he had met Sr Maria Concetta in Bangui in the Central African Republic during his visit to open the Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, adding, “that day, too, she came from Congo in a canoe, … to do her shopping in Bangui.”

While honoring this religious sister, the Pontiff also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all the missionaries, priests, religious and laity, who, he said, may not make the news, but “sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God in every part of the world.”

The Pope also spoke of Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, who he recounted “goes to the cemetery and visits the graves of missionaries; many young people who have died from diseases…” Pope Francis said that the Cardinal told him, ‘they all deserve to be canonized’, because their life has been ‘consumed’ in service.

Sister Maria Concetta, who is in Rome for a meeting with her Congregation, is due to return to Africa to continue her work. Bidding her farewell, Pope Francis said, “Let us accompany her with prayer. And may her example help us all to live the Gospel wherever we are.”

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN IRAN

Pope Francis conveyed his solidarity to the people of Iran after devastating floods that have caused many deaths and extensive damage.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the loss of life, injury and damage caused by flash floods in northern Iran that have killed at least 26 people.

In a telegram, signed on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis on Wednesday conveyed his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected and said he is praying for the deceased.

The floods are being described as an “unprecedented natural disaster”. Rescuers are still searching for survivors and hundreds have reportedly been injured in the country that is more accustomed to drought than to rain.

In his message, the Pope also said he is praying for the emergency personnel involved in rescue efforts and assured the people of Iran that he has invoked divine blessings of consolation and strength on those who grieve.

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani, who is accused by critics of mishandling the crisis, travelled to flooded areas to inspect the damage and promised compensation to all those affected.

Tuesday’s torrential rain struck 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, and the scale of the disaster has reportedly overwhelmed emergency services in some areas.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and thousands are being housed in emergency shelters.

POPE TO VISIT MOZAMBIQUE, MADAGASCAR AND MAURITIUS

A Holy See Press Office statement reveals Pope Francis will undertake an apostolic journey to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius in September.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis will travel to the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius and to the Southeast African nation of Mozambique in September 2019.

In a statement on Wednesday, Holy See Press Office interim director Alessandro Gisotti, revealed that the journey is scheduled to take place from 4 to 10 September.

He said the Pope will visit the cities of Maputo in Mozambique, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Louis in Mauritius. The program for the visit will be published in due time.

Pope Francis travels to the three nations as a pilgrim of peace, hope and reconciliation, all themes that are reflected in the official logos of the journey.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: GOD SEEKS EACH ONE OF US PERSONALLY – FRANCIS URGES SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN SOUTHEAST AFRICA

Keep your eyes and ears open in coming days as we might have an important announcement or two regarding some papal appointments, including the name of the new archbishop of Washington, D.C. Some red hats who are members of the Congregation for Bishops are in town and if I recall correctly, the congregation meets on the third Thursday of each month (which would be tomorrow) for some nominations.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: GOD SEEKS EACH ONE OF US PERSONALLY

At the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Our Father, focusing on the third invocation, “Thy will be done”.

By Christopher Wells

“God is not ambiguous, He is not hidden behind riddles, He has not planned the future of the world in an indecipherable manner.” In his catechesis on the third petition of the “Our Father,” Pope Francis said that we can see the will of the Father expressed in the words of Jesus: God wills “to seek and to save that which was lost.” This, the Pope said, “without any shadow of doubt, is the will of God: the salvation of all human beings,” of each one of us individually.

Because of His love for us, God “knocks on the door of our heart” in order “to draw us to Himself, to lead us forward along the path of salvation.” The Pope said, “God is close to each one of us with His love, in order to lead us by the hand to salvation.”

“And we, in prayer, ask that God’s seeking might come to a good end, that His universal plan of salvation should be accomplished,” Pope Francis continued, “first, in each one of us, and then in the whole world.”

God’s desire for the salvation of human beings, and of the whole world, means that our prayer that His will be done does not mean “bowing our heads,” like slaves, to an unalterable fate. On the contrary, “God wants us to be free,” the Pope said. “It is His love that frees us.”

“Thy will be done,” he said, is “a courageous, even combative prayer” precisely because there is so much evil in the world, which is not according to God’s [antecedent] will.

The Our Father, Francis continued, “is a prayer that kindles in us the same love [that] Jesus has for the will of the Father, a flame that impels one to transform the world with love.” There is nothing of random chance in the faith of Christians, the Pope explained: “Rather, there is a salvation that waits to manifest itself in the life of each man and woman, and to be fully accomplished in eternity.” If we prayer, he said, “it is because we believe that God is able and desires to transform reality, overcoming evil with good.”

Pope Francis pointed to the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Lord prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; but not my will, but yours, be done!” Although He is “crushed” by the weight of evil in the world, Jesus “confidently abandons Himself to the ocean of love of the will of the Father.”

In His love, God will never abandon us, the Pope insisted: “He will always be with us, beside us, within us. For a believer, more than a hope, this is a certainty.”

Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis invited all those present in the Square to pray together the Our Father, each in their own language.

FRANCIS URGES SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CYCLONE IDAI IN SOUTHEAST AFRICA

Pope Francis is urging prayers and support for the many victims of Cyclone Idai, which has caused widespread destruction and flooding in the southeast African nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
By Devin Watkins

“In recent days, great floods have sowed mourning and devastation in various areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. I express my pain and closeness to those dear people.”

With these heartfelt words, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the families of the more than 350 people killed by Cyclone Idai, as well as his solidarity with the millions of people affected. The powerful storm made landfall on the coast of Mozambique last Thursday before spreading death and destruction halfway across southeast Africa.

Pope Francis made the appeal at the Wednesday general audience held in St. Peter’s Square.

“I entrust the many victims and their families to the mercy of God, and I implore comfort and support for those affected by this calamity,” he said.

Hundreds dead in Mozambique
Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique’s port city of Beira with winds of up to 170 kph on Thursday last week. Drone footage taken by the Red Cross showed the devastation wreaked upon one area, with empty plots seen where winds had blown entire buildings from their foundations.

Mozambique started three days of national mourning on Wednesday for the victims, who currently number in excess of 200. President Filipe Nyusi says the death toll may reach 1,000 as rescuers continue to recover bodies and hundreds remain missing.

Officials say the full extent of the damage will only emerge when floodwaters recede, and forecasters predict persistent rains through Thursday.

Zimbabwe mourns
In neighboring Zimbabwe, the remnants of Cyclone Idai also caused massive flooding, killing at least 98 people. The number of victims may rise to around 300, say officials.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited the hard-hit mountain community of Chimanimani. The bodies of some flood victims may have been swept down the mountainside into nearby Mozambique.

A local resident took a video at Chimanimani’s Catholic Church, where funeral services were held and women wailed in mourning. “Lots of people suffering. People didn’t stand a chance here,” he said.

Unknown destruction in Malawi
Malawi has yet to release details of any casualties from the storm. But the UN’s World Food Programme said Tuesday that projections from satellite images indicate that Cyclone Idai affected some 920,000 people in Malawi. More than 1.7 million were in its direct path in Mozambique.

The United Nations has directed $20 million from its emergency response fund to help people suffering in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

A LANDMARK EWTN TRANSMISSION – POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR ALABAMA TORNADO VICTIMS – POPE AT AUDIENCE URGES CHRISTIANS TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS

As I write Pope Francis is at Santa Sabina Church to preside at Ash Wednesday Mass and to receive ashes from Cardinal Josef Tomko. The cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples is 94 and has imposed ashes on three popes.

It is very interesting to receive ashes here in Italy as they are generally imposed on one’s head, not the forehead. This could be related to the day’s Gospel: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

In the case of Mass today with the North American College, as you will see in the video below, ashes are quite in evidence on the forehead!

A LANDMARK EWTN TRANSMISSION

EWTN transmitted via Facebook and social media the Mass that was celebrated at 6:45 this morning at the first Lenten Station in Rome, Santa Sabina, with the Pontifical North American College. Here’s the link:

It is also on the Facebook page of the seminary: https://www.facebook.com/PontificalNorthAmericanCollege/

At the end of Mass there were up to 4000 views. It was broadcast by EWTN live on twitter and YouTube as well.

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR ALABAMA TORNADO VICTIMS

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent a telegram of condolences in Pope Francis’ name to Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, Alabama for the victims of the devastating tornades in recent days:

The Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi Archbishop of Mobile

Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and the injuries caused by the tornado which struck Alabama in recent days, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all affected by this natural disaster. He prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead, especially the children, and healing and consolation to the injured and those who grieve. Upon all who are suffering the effects of this calamity, the Holy Father invokes the Lord’s blessings of peace and strength.

POPE AT AUDIENCE URGES CHRISTIANS TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS

During the weekly general audience Pope Francis continued his catechesis dedicated to the “Our Father”.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Christians to open their hearts pointing out that Christ’s victory has not yet been fully achieved.

To the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the general audience, the Pope said Jesus has come, and there are multiple signs of the kingdom, yet the world is still marked by sin and the hearts of many remain closed, which compels us to implore the Lord: “Your kingdom come!”

The world, he said, continues to be populated by so many people who suffer, by people who do not reconcile and do not forgive, by wars and by many forms of exploitation: “Let’s think, for example of the trafficking of children.” All of these facts are proof that many men and women still live with their hearts closed.

“Father: we need you!”
It is above all in these situations, said Francis, that we turn to the second invocation of Our Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come!” with which we say, ‘Father, we need you, Jesus, we need you everywhere” and “forever Lord, be among us!”

Recalling Christ’s words when he began his preaching in Galilee and proclaimed: “This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The Pope explained that these words do not contain a threat; to the contrary, they are an announcement and a message of joy.

Jesus, he said, does not want to push people to conversion by sowing the fear of God’s impending judgment, nor, he said, does he proselytize.

He announces, the Pope continued, that the signs of the coming of His Kingdom are manifest and they are all positive. In fact, he said, Jesus begins his ministry by taking care of the sick – both in body and in spirit – of those who lived a life of social exclusion, such as lepers, of sinners.

God is patient and gentle
Sometimes we may ask, he said, why does our petition, “your kingdom come” emerge so slowly?

It’s because God is not like us, he explained: “God is patient!” And he wants to establish his kingdom not with violence but with gentleness, “like a grain of mustard seed, which, though tiny, grows into a mighty tree.”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis urging Christians to pray the Our Father and to sow the words that implore the coming of His Kingdom in the midst of our sins and failures.

Let’s give these words, he said, “to those who are defeated and bent by life, to those who have tasted more hatred than love, to those who have lived useless days without ever understanding why. Let’s give them to those who have fought for justice, to all the martyrs of history.”

Let’s give these words, he appealed, “to those who have come to the conclusion they have fought in vain and that evil dominates this world.”

THE OUR FATHER, THE PRAYER OF 7 PETITIONS – POPE ON DEATH PENALTY: OFFER THE CONDEMNED THE POSSIBILITY TO CHANGE LIFE – PAPAL LITURGICAL CALENDAR FOR MARCH AND APRIL

THE OUR FATHER, THE PRAYER OF 7 PETITIONS

Pope Francis continued his weekly general audience catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, focusing on the words, “hallowed be thy name.”

Greeting the faithful for the first general audience of the year in St. Peter’s Square, Francis began by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on the Our Father, we now turn to the first of the seven petitions, ‘hallowed be thy name.’ Here we see the pattern of all prayer, which is always made, on the one hand, in contemplation of God, and on the other, in a sincere supplication for our needs.

“When we speak to God,” the Holy Father continued, “he already knows us better than we know ourselves, for even if God is a mystery to us, we are not an enigma in his eyes. He is like a mother for whom a simple glance enables her immediately to perceive the condition of her children. A first step in prayer, then, is to entrust ourselves to God and His providence.”

Pope Francis explained that “this leads us to pray: “Hallowed be thy name,” where we not only express our trust in God’s greatness, but also ask that his name be sanctified in us, in our families, our communities and the whole world. We can do this because it is God who sanctifies and transforms us by his love. Prayer casts out every fear, since the Father loves us, the Son lifts up his arms to support ours, and the Spirit works in a hidden way for the redemption of the world.

In greetings to Arabic-speaking pilgrims, Francis said: “I extend a cordial welcome to those present in the Arabic language, especially those from Egypt, Iraq and the Middle East. The invocation of the name of God has the sole objective of sanctifying it and not of exploiting it. ‘Hallowed be your name’ means to commit oneself so that one’s life may be a hymn of praise to the greatness of God; be a concrete manifestation of my faith in him; it means engaging in the way of holiness for others to glorify His holy name. May the Lord bless you and always protect you from the evil one!”

Monsignors who work in the Secretariat of State at the various language desks usually read a summary of the main papal catechesis and translate the Pope’s greetings to language groups as well, doing so in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic and Croatian. The Pope generally gives the main catechesis in Italian and delivers the Spanish summary in his other native language.

POPE ON DEATH PENALTY: OFFER THE CONDEMNED THE POSSIBILITY TO CHANGE LIFE

The Pope, in a video message, exhorts rulers and all those who have the responsibility in their countries to take the necessary steps towards the total abolition of the death penalty.

Pope Francis sent a video message to the “World Congress Against the Death Penalty” organized by the association “Together against the Death Penalty” ( ECPM) that is meeting in Brussels, Belgium, from February 26 to March 1.

ECPM acts to fight against the death penalty around the world. The association promotes the universal abolition through the creation and dissemination of publications and teaching tools, as part of public campaigns and lobbies governments at both national and international levels.

Click here for video with English translation: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-02/pope-death-penalty-abolition-brussels.html#play

PAPAL LITURGICAL CALENDAR FOR MARCH AND APRIL

MARCH

Wednesday 6 – Ash Wednesday Church of Sant’Anselmo, 4.30 pm Statio and penitential procession Basilica of Santa Sabina, 5 pm Holy Mass, blessing and imposition of Ashes

Sunday 10 – First Sunday of Lent – In Ariccia, beginning of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia

Friday 15 – Conclusion of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia

Friday 29 – Vatican Basilica, Celebration of Penance 5 pm

Saturday 30 and Sunday 31, Apostolic trip to Morocco

APRIL

Sunday 14 – Palm Sunday and the Lord’s Passion, Saint Peter’s Square 10 am Commemoration of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and Holy Mass

Thursday 18 – Holy Thursday of Holy Week, Vatican Basilica at 9.30 Chrism Mass

Friday 19 – Good Friday, Vatican Basilica at 5 pm – Celebration of the Passion of the Lord – Colosseum at 9:15 pm Via Crucis

Saturday 20 – Holy Saturday, Vatican Basilica at 8.30 pm Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Sunday 21 – Easter Sunday St. Peter’s Square, 10 am Holy Mass of the day – Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica at 12 noon “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing