SOLIDARITY A MUST IN A POST-COVID WORLD

In what was could be considered a minor historical day for the Holy Father and Vatican, Pope Francis held his first weekly general audience in the presence of faithful since last March. Because of the coronavorus pandemic, the Pope has presided over these weekly events via live streaming for months, coming to the faithful from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace.

It was obvious from a number of things for those who attended the audience or followed on television, that the Vatican had carefully thought out how to accommodate the faithful without endangering anyone’s health. Two sections were marked off in the courtyard by wooden barriers, each section capable of seating 250 people at the current social distancing requirements.

This is from Tuesday afternoon:

Pilgrims could start going through security at 7:30 for the audience that began at 9:30 am. After security they would have temperatures taken, hands had to be sanitized and then there was the long climb up several huge, deep staircases to reach the San Damaso courtyard. I am sure there were many breathless people at the final step! I did see one baby carriage in the crowd as I watched tv coverage and had to wonder how it got to the courtyard (was elevator use allowed?).

All pilgrims wore facemasks as required but the Holy Father did not as he greeted people, shook a few hands, caressed several young people and did the elbow-to-elbow greeting so popular in Italy. The Secretariat of State monsignori who gave the summaries of the papal catechesis did not wear masks either. Nor was the microphone sanitized after each use has been suggested in such gatherings (as far as I could tell, although it might have been cleaned and simply not shown on tv).

The Holy Father seemed really very happy to be back in the presence of the faithful, as could be seen both before and after the catechesis in his interaction with the faithful. The courtyard is indeed a much more intimate setting for such a gathering than is St. Peter’s Square or even the Paul VI Hall which can seat 7,500 people.

SOLIDARITY A MUST IN A POST-COVID WORLD

ope Francis, continuing his reflections on the current pandemic, began by noting “we have seen how closely connected we are, dependent on one another precisely because we were created by God and share a common home. We can only emerge stronger from the present crisis if we do so together. The Church’s social doctrine thus speaks of the need for the virtue of solidarity.” (following photos by EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez)

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“The word ‘solidarity’ is a little worn and at times poorly understood,” said the Pope, “but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts – the odd sporadic act – of generosity. Much more! It presumes the creation of a new mindset; a new mindset that thinks in terms of community and the priority of life of all over the ‘appropriation of goods by a few’. This is what ‘solidarity’ means.”

“Think of the account of the Tower of Babel,” said Francis. “which describes what happens when we try to reach heaven – that is, our destination – ignoring our bond with humanity, creation and the Creator. It is a figure of speech. This happens every time that someone wants to climb up and up, without taking others into consideration. Just myself, no? Think about the tower. We build towers and skyscrapers, but we destroy community. We unify buildings and languages, but we mortify cultural wealth. We want to be masters of the Earth, but we ruin biodiversity and ecological balance.”

Still on the image of the Tower of Babel, Pope Francis said, “I remember a medieval account of this ‘Babel syndrome’ that occurs when there is no solidarity. This medieval account says that, during the building of the tower, when a man fell – they were slaves, weren’t they? – and died, no-one said anything, or at best, ‘Poor thing, he made a mistake and he fell’.

“Instead,” he continued, “if a brick fell, everyone complained. And if someone was to blame, he was punished. Why? Because a brick was costly to make, to prepare, to fire… All of this. It took time to produce a brick, and work. A brick was worth more than a human life. Every one of us, think about what happens today. Unfortunately, something of the type can happen nowadays too. When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news – we have seen it in the newspapers in these days. Thousands of people fall due to hunger and poverty, and no-one talks about it. Pentecost is diametrically opposed to Babel.”

“In the midst of crises,” concluded Francis, “a solidarity guided by faith enables us to translate the love of God in our globalised culture, not by building towers or walls – and how many walls are being built today! – that divide, but then collapse, but by interweaving communities and sustaining processes of growth that are truly human and solid. And to do this, solidity helps.

POPE SETS SEPTEMBER 4 AS DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR LEBANON

POPE SETS SEPTEMBER 4 AS DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR LEBANON

day’s general audience, held in the San Damaso courtyard, was the first since February in the presence of the faithful. Approximately 500 attended this week’s audience.

At the end of the general audience catechesis in Italian and summaries in a number of languages, Pope Francis, in the presence of a priest from Lebanon, made a heartfelt appeal for aid to that “beloved nation.”

Fr. Georges Breidi, 35, of the Congregation of the Maronite Lebanese Missionaries who is studying in Rome at the Gregorian University, presented the Holy Father with a Lebanese flag. As Fr. Breidi stood, holding one end pf the flag, Pope Francis held another as he read his appeal. The priest later said brief words in Italian and both the Pope and priest stood together with the faithful present at the audience to pray in silence for Lebanon. (Vatican media photo)

Dear brothers and sisters, one month after the tragedy that struck the city of Beirut, my thoughts still go to dear Lebanon and its particularly tried population. And this priest who is here has carried the flag of Lebanon to this audience.

As Saint John Paul II said thirty years ago at a crucial moment in the country’s history, I too repeat today: “Faced with the repeated tragedies that each of the inhabitants of this land knows, we become aware of the extreme danger that threatens the very existence of the country. Lebanon cannot be abandoned in its solitude “(Apostolic Letter to all the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the situation in Lebanon, 7 September 1989)

For over a hundred years, Lebanon has been a country of hope. Even during the darkest periods of its history, the Lebanese have kept their faith in God and demonstrated the ability to make their land a place of tolerance, respect and coexistence unique in the region. The affirmation that Lebanon represents something more than a state is profoundly true: Lebanon “is a message of freedom, it is an example of pluralism both for the East and for the West” (ibid.). For the good of the country itself, but also of the world, we cannot allow this patrimony to be lost.

I encourage all Lebanese to continue to hope and to find the strength and energy necessary to start again. I ask politicians and religious leaders to engage with sincerity and transparency in the reconstruction work, dropping partisan interests and looking at the common good and the future of the nation. I also renew my invitation to the international community to support the country to help it emerge from the serious crisis, without being involved in regional tensions.

In particular, I address the inhabitants of Beirut, severely tested by the explosion: take courage, brothers and sisters! May faith and prayer be your strength! Do not abandon your homes and your heritage, do not let the dreams fail of those who have believed in the future of a beautiful and prosperous country.

Dear pastors, bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, lay people, continue to accompany your faithful. I ask you bishops and priests for apostolic zeal; I ask you for poverty, no luxury, poverty with your poor people who are suffering. You must give the example of poverty and humility. Help your faithful and your people to stand up and be protagonists of a new rebirth. May all of you be agents of harmony and renewal in the name of common interest, of a true culture of encounter, of living together in peace, of brotherhood. A word so dear to St. Francis: brotherhood. May this harmony be a renewal in the common interest. On this foundation it will be possible to ensure the continuity of the Christian presence and your invaluable contribution to the country, the Arab world and the whole region, in a spirit of brotherhood among all the religious traditions that exist in Lebanon.

It is for this reason that I would like to invite everyone to live a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon this Friday, September 4. I intend to send my representative that day to Lebanon to accompany the population: the Secretary of State (Cardinal Pietro Parolin) will go in my name to express my closeness and solidarity. We offer our prayers for all of Lebanon and for Beirut. We are also close with the concrete commitment of charity, as on other similar occasions. I also invite the brothers and sisters of other confessions and religious traditions to join this initiative in the ways they deem most appropriate, but all together.

And now I ask you to entrust our anxieties and hopes to Mary, Our Lady of Harissa. May she support those who mourn their loved ones and instill courage in all those who have lost their homes and part of their lives with them. May she intercede with the Lord Jesus so that the Land of Cedars may flourish again and spread the perfume of living together throughout the Middle East Region. And now I invite everyone, as far as possible, to stand up in silence and pray in silence for Lebanon.

 

WELCOME CHRIST’S GIFT OF HOPE IN DIFFICULT TIMES – THERE’S ALSO THIS….

WELCOME CHRIST’S GIFT OF HOPE IN DIFFICULT TIMES

In his final general audience to be streamed live from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on healing the world and made the universal destination of goods and the virtue of hope his focus.

He asked the faithful to “welcome the gift of hope that comes from Christ,” especially in times when so many “risk losing hope.” It is Christ, he said, who “helps us to navigate the tumultuous waters of sickness, death and injustice, which do not have the last word over our final destination.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” said the Holy Father, “In our continuing reflections on the effects of the current pandemic, we have seen how our world’s problems are becoming ever more evident and indeed more serious. Among these is social inequality, itself the fruit of an unjust global economy that creates boundless wealth for a relative few and greater impoverishment for the rest of our human family.”

Francis explained that, “In God’s plan, the earth was created as a garden, to be cultivated, not brutally exploited. As stewards of creation, we are called to ensure that its fruits, which are destined for all, are in fact shared by all. The Church reminds us that the principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods is the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”

The Pope stated, “When millions of people lack access to primary goods, when inequality and lack of opportunity threaten the very fabric of society, and when greed endangers the very environment in which we live, none of us can stand by idly.”

He stressed that, “Christian hope, which trusts in the transforming grace of the risen Christ, impels us to work for the healing of our world and the building of a more just and equitable social order.

Concluding, Pope Francis invited the faithful to “think about the children”, so many of whom are suffering due to this unjust economic system. Many are dying, hungry, lacking the opportunity to an education. After the crisis, he stressed, we must be better.

In language greetings following the catechesis, Pope Francis had special words for the Polish faithful: “I cordially greet all the Poles. Dear brothers and sisters, today the Church in Poland celebrates the solemnity of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Carrying the memory of my visit to that shrine alive in my heart four years ago on the occasion of WYD, today I join the thousands and thousands of pilgrims who gather there, together with the Polish Episcopate, to entrust themselves, their families, all humanity to her maternal protection. Pray to the Blessed Mother, to intercede for all of us, and especially for those who in various ways suffer from the pandemic, and bring them relief. Please pray for me too. God bless you!”

THERE’S ALSO THIS….

SAINT MOTHER TERESA was born on August 26, 1910 so today is the 110th anniversary of her birth!

CARDINAL ALBINO LUCIANI, PATRIARCH OF VENICE WAS ELECTED TO THE PAPACY 42 years ago today, taking the name John Paul, the first Pope ever to have a double name. He was also the first pope to abandon the coronation ceremony, not wearing the triple tiara. The Eucharistic celebration thus became the first papal inauguration ceremony. He was the last Pope to use the sedia gestatoria, the elevated chair by which Popes were formerly carried into rooms. He was the first Pope born in the 20th century, and the last Pope to die in the 20th century, after a pontificate of only 33 days, dying of a heart attack on September 28. He was not known as John Paul I until Cardinal Wojtyla succeeded him and took the name John Paul II.

I was in Rome when he was elected. Years after his death, a priest friend in the Vatican told me that one day early in his brief pontificate, the Pope was signing a document. A priest assistant was at his side as he wrote, in Latin, Joannes Paulus I – John Paul I – and said “Your Holiness, you would only be John Paul I if there was a John Paul II. Pope Luciani looked up, smiling, and said, “There will be a John Paul II!”

For more: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-08/pope-john-paul-i-election-anniversary-42-years.html

GENERAL AUDIENCES WITH FAITHFUL TO RESUME SEPTEMBER 2:   The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household announced today that as of Wednesday, September 2, Pope Francis’s general audience will once again take place “with the participation of the faithful.” Following the hygiene directives issued by the competent authorities, the audiences for the month of September will be held in the Apostolic Palace’s San Damaso courtyard. They are open to anyone who wishes to participate and no ticket is necessary. Audiences will start at 9:30 am. Entry will be through the Bronze Gate under the right colonnade of St Peter’s Square starting at 7:30 am.

VATICAN NEWS FEATURED MELANIA TRUMP: “Republican Convention: Melania Trump appeals for racial unity – First Lady Melania Trump appeals for racial harmony and expresses compassion for those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic on the second day of the Republican party convention.” To read more: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2020-08/republican-convention-melania-trump-appeals-for-racial-unity.html</a

HEALING THE VIRUS OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE, INEQUALITY, MARGINALIZATION – WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ITALY NOW….

Definitely today’s good news story from EWTN! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=290962375534891

HEALING THE VIRUS OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE, INEQUALITY, MARGINALIZATION

As he has been doing throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis held a weekly general audience this morning in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace that was live streamed for the faithful around the world.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began, “in our reflection on the current global pandemic, we have seen that it has made us sensitive to an even graver virus affecting our world: that of social injustice, lack of equal opportunity and the marginalization of the poor and those in greatest need.”

He underscored that “Christ’s example and teaching show us that a preferential option for the poor is an essential criterion of our authenticity as his followers. Christian charity demands that, beyond social assistance, we listen to their voices and work to overcome all that hinders their material and spiritual development.”

Noting the worldwide desire for life to “return to normal,” Francis explained that, “Our desire for a return to normality should not mean a return to social injustices or to a delay of long overdue reforms. Today we have an opportunity to create something different: an ethically sound economy, centered on persons, especially the poor, in recognition of their innate human dignity.”

“The pandemic is a crisis” he continued, “and we do not emerge from a crisis the same as before: either we come out of it better, or we come out of it worse. We must come out of it better, to counter social injustice and environmental damage. Today we have an opportunity to build something different.”

“How sad,” the Holy Father commented, “it would be if, for example, access to a Covid-19 vaccine were made available only to the rich, and not to others in equal or greater need! It would be sad if this vaccine became the property of such and such a nation, not universal for all. The pandemic has laid bare the difficult situation of the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world. And the virus, while it makes no exception among people, has found, in its devastating path, great inequalities and discriminations. And it has increased them!”

The Pope concluded by saying he hoped “the Gospel might inspire us to find ever more creative ways to exercise that charity, grounded in faith and anchored in hope, which can heal our wounded world and promote the true welfare of our entire human family.”

 “Starting from this love anchored in hope and founded in faith, a healthier world will be possible.”

FOR VIDEO OF GENERAL AUDIENCE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-08/healing-the-world-an-opportunity-to-build-something-different.html

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ITALY NOW….

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, LARGEST AND MOST MAGNIFICENT FLOOR THAT EVER WAS MADE”

Siena has unveiled the extraordinary inlaid marble mosaic floors of its cathedral in as part of an eagerly-awaited annual event. The magnificent marble floor, covered with masonite sheeting for the rest of the year, can be visited from today until 7 October.

Visitors, who will be obliged to follow precautions to contain the spread of covid-19, will be able to admire the inlaid floor whose 56 panels were created between the 14th and 16th centuries. The interlocking “marble carpet” floor was described by Giorgio Vasari as “the most beautiful, largest and most magnificent floor that ever was made”.

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For information about how to visit the stunning floor, which contains allegories, virtues, and scenes from the Old Testament, see the Duomo di Siena website. https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/italy-siena-cathedral-unveils-beautiful-mosaic-floors.html

RAPHAEL SHOW IN ROME, A RESOUNDING SUCCESS, TO REMAIN OPEN 24 HOURS

Rome’s blockbuster dedicated to Raphael on the 500th anniversary of his death has been met with such demand from the public that organisers have taken the unprecedented decision to open the exhibition around the clock. The sell-out show, which had the misfortune to open just days before Italy shut all museums and went into lockdown due to the covid-19 pandemic, reopened on 2 June under strict visiting regulations.

The Scuderie del Quirinale controls the flow of visitors who are obliged to maintain social distancing, however this has not put off the public in the slightest, with the museum struggling to cope with the boom in demand for tickets. As the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition nears its final days, the museum will open to visitors from 08.00 until 01.00 from Monday 24 to Thursday 27 August, before opening 24 hours a day from Friday 28 until midnight on Sunday 30 August.

Billed as the greatest exhibition ever dedicated to Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, the show features no fewer than 100 paintings by the High Renaissance master, with 40 masterpieces on loan from the Uffizi in Florence.

For full exhibition details see Scuderie del Quirinale website. https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-opens-raphael-blockbuster-24-hours-a-day-to-cope-with-demand.html

ROME ZOO INGENUITY IN FIGHTING AUGUST HEAT
Authorities at Rome’s Bioparco are ensuring the zoo’s residents are coping with the summer heat by providing the animals with swimming pools and refreshing frozen fruit. The Bioparco says that during the extreme heat the animals choose whether to go outdoors or stay in their shelters.

For those who venture outside there are new shaded areas as well as swimming pools for elephants, tigers, hippos, wolves and bears. Primates such as ring-tailed lemurs and macaques receive bamboo canes filled with yogurt and frozen fruit which, in addition to cooling them down, sharpens their food-finding skills, according to the zoo.

https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/romes-zoo-animals-cool-off-with-frozen-fruit.html

470 QUARANTINED AT RESORT WHEN STAFF MEMBER TESTS COVID POSITIVE

Local authorities ordered guests not to leave the Santo Stefano resort on Monday after the case was detected at the resort on Sardinia’s La Maddalena island. The region’s crisis unit conducted swab tests on some 470 vacationers and staff on Monday.

“We are waiting for the swabs to be processed, in the meantime we have arranged that no one leaves the resort,” stated regional health councilor Mario Nieddu.

Guests are allowed to move freely around the resort itself, but mustn’t leave, Italian media reports. Two guests reportedly tried to escape shortly after the lockdown was ordered, but were stopped by local police on their way to Olbia airport.

https://www.thelocal.it/20200819/coronavirus-sardinian-hotel-with-hundreds-of-guests-locked-down-over-positive-case

13 TO BE ORDAINED DEACONS AT MUNDELEIN SEMINARY – PAPAL AUDIENCE CATECHESIS FOCUSES ON HUMAN DIGNITY

13 TO BE ORDAINED DEACONS AT MUNDELEIN SEMINARY

Ryan Brady, a seminarian at Mundelein Our Lady of the Lake Seminary in Chicago will be ordained a transitional deacon this afternoon at 4 pm Chicago time in Mundelein’s chapel. I will be up late here in Rome to watch that beautiful ceremony online (https://usml.edu/aoc-diaconate-ordination/) when Ryan joins 12 other young men in the diaconate. Ten will become deacons for the Archdiocese of Chicago, two for the diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana in Uganda and one for the American Province of the Vincentians.

Say a prayer for all of these wonderful young men. It is my heartfelt intention to be in Chicago in May 2021 for Ryan’s ordination to the priesthood as we have a special bond – the bond of a chalice that was in my family for decades that is now in Ryan’s hands.

Here is the story of that chalice and our friendship: https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/a-chalice-goes-home/

PAPAL AUDIENCE CATECHESIS FOCUSES ON HUMAN DIGNITY

The second general audience of August took place this morning in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace and was carried online as has been the custom now for many months due to the Covid-19 crisis. When he resumed the weekly general audiences on August 5, after a staycation in the Vatican, Pope Francis announced a new series of catechesis and spoke of that as he introduced today’s audience.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began Francis, “in our continuing catechesis on the effects of the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, we now consider the theme of human dignity.”

He explained that “the pandemic has made us more aware of the spread within our societies of a false, individualistic way of thinking, one that rejects human dignity and relationships, views persons as consumer goods and creates a “throw away” culture. In contrast, faith teaches that we have been created in God’s image and likeness, made for love and for communion of life with him, with one another and with the whole of creation.”

“In the light of faith,” continued the Pope, “we know instead that God looks at a man and a woman in another manner. He created us not as objects but as people loved and capable of loving; He has created us in His image and likeness. In this way He has given us a unique dignity, calling us to live in communion with Him, in communion with our sisters and our brothers, with respect for all creation.”

The Holy Father said that, “Jesus tells us that true discipleship consists in following his example by spending ourselves in service of others. Our God-given dignity and the rights that arise from it are the ultimate foundation of all social life, and have serious social, economic and political implications. In responding to the pandemic we Christians are called to combat all violations of human dignity as contrary to the Gospel, and to work for the well-being of our whole human family and our common home.”

Pope Francis was joined in the papal library by monsignori from the Secretariat of State – seated at safe distances from each other – who read syntheses of the audience catechesis in several languages.

In greetings to Arabic faithful, the Pope, said: I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. The Bible teaches that every human being was created out of love, made in the image and likeness of God. This statement shows us the immense dignity of every person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of knowing himself, of possessing himself, of giving himself freely and of entering into communion with others. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil!

In greetings to faithful from Poland, Francis said:I cordially greet the Polish faithful. In particular, I spiritually accompany the hundreds of pilgrims who walk from Warsaw, Krakow and other cities to the Shrine of the Black Madonna. May this pilgrimage, made with caution because of the pandemic, be a time of reflection, prayer and fraternity in faith and love for all. August 15 marks the centenary of the historic victory of the Polish army, called “Miracle on the Vistula” that your ancestors attributed to Mary’s intervention. Today may the Mother of God help humanity to defeat the coronavirus. To you, your families and the Polish people, I assure you abundant graces. I heartily bless you!”

POPE FRANCIS RESUMES WEEKLY AUDIENCES AFTER JULY VACATION BREAK – POPE AT AUDIENCE LAUNCHES NEW CATECHESIS SERIES ON HEALING THE WORLD

An interesting article today by Vatican News on the background of weekly papal general audiences. Pope Frances resumed this weekly encounter today at the end of his brief working vacation in the Vatican. As he has done for months because of Covid-19, the catechesis was live-streamed from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace. Following that piece is a summary of Francis’ new weekly catechesis on “Healing the World.”

Come spend several minutes with me as we go to Assisi to celebrate today’s feast of St. Clare of Assisi. We visit the church named for her and venerate her perfectly preserved remains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZkyGvWcJrE

POPE FRANCIS RESUMES WEEKLY AUDIENCES AFTER JULY VACATION BREAK

By Vatican News

Pope Francis’s summer break is over. As of Wednesday, August 5th, Pope Francis resumed his weekly general audiences, which he suspends annually in July. The last public general audience held in the Paul VI audience hall took place on March 7.

These audiences begin at 9:30 local Rome time and last for about one hour. After public general audiences, Pope Francis customarily greets a number of people.

After the last public audience in March, the Vatican moved the audiences from St. Peter’s Square to the library of the Apostolic Palace in order to comply with measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 18, for the first time, Vatican News began offering an English commentary for the general audience.

As Pope Francis again picks up his weekly general audience, it will be his 318th catechesis. The only other time outside of July (vacation) that general audiences are suspended are during the papal trips. As soon as Pope Francis returns from such a trip, he always recaps his journey. Sometimes this happens the day following his return.

During the general audience, the Pope gives a catechesis on the Christian faith. Short summaries of these catecheses are translated into 7 languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish. Longer summaries of these catecheses are published on Vatican News and full texts can be found on the official Vatican web portal.

The general audiences can be viewed live with playback available on the various language channels of the Vatican Media YouTube channel.

So far, Pope Francis has completed 15 catechesis series. The first series was on the Creed, a theme he took up from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Themes that followed this series were on: the Sacraments, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the family, mercy, Christian hope, the Ten Commandments, the Our Father, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Beatitudes. The last cycle he began is on Christian prayer.

Sometimes, Pope Francis makes appeals at the conclusion of the general audience. Some of these appeals call for peace in areas ravaged by war and terror, others remind us of the plight of persecuted Christians, some appeal for Christian solidarity with victims of natural disasters, or draw attention to tragedies such as migration, unemployment or poverty. In his General Audience prior to the summer break, he prayed for the victims of an earthquake in Mexico. On June 10, he took the opportunity to condemn the tragedy of child labor.

Pope Paul VI held the weekly general audience in St Peter’s Basilica. When the Vatican audience hall was inaugurated on June 30, 1971 Pope Paul VI said: “We inaugurate this beautiful and large hall that We wanted to build above all for two reasons: to free St. Peter’s Basilica from the large and vivacious crowds that had become normal, and to offer Our visitors an even more suitable place for large gatherings.”

In 1963, Pope Paul VI commissioned the building of what would later become known as the Paul VI Hall. It seats 6300 people and is still used for general audiences in extreme cold or when it rains. In 2007, solar panels were installed on its roof.

With Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, attendance at the weekly general audience went beyond the capacity of Paul VI Hall. To deal with the huge crowds who wanted to attend them, the venue was moved St. Peter’s Square. In fact, as Pope John Paul II was entering St. Peter’s Square for the general audience of May 13, 1981 that an attempt was made on his life.

The coronavirus pandemic has now made this impossible. However, through radio, television and digital platforms, the Pope’s general audience is made available to millions of the faithful throughout the world with simultaneous commentary in French, German, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

POPE AT AUDIENCE LAUNCHES NEW CATECHESIS SERIES ON HEALING THE WORLD

Live streaming once again from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace, as he has done throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis today began a new series of weekly catecheses and announced the themes for coming weeks as well.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began the Holy Father, “In responding to the grave challenges caused by the present pandemic, we Christians are guided by the wisdom and strength born of the virtues of faith, hope and love. As God’s gifts, these virtues heal us and enable us in turn to bring Christ’s healing presence to our world.”

He then noted that these theological virtues, “can inspire in us a new and creative spirit to help us face today’s deeply rooted physical, social and spiritual infirmities and change the unjust and destructive behaviors that threaten the future of our human family.”

Francis said that, “today the Church seeks to continue the Lord’s healing ministry, not only to individuals but also to society as a whole. She does this by proposing a number of principles drawn from the Gospel that include the dignity of the human person, the common good, the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity and the care for our common home.”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis by noting the themes for future weekly encounters: “In coming weeks, I will reflect on these and other themes of the Church’s social doctrine, confident that they can shed light on today’s acute social problems and contribute to the building of a future of hope for coming generations.”

At the end of language greetings to pilgrims tuning in to the audience, Pope Francis prayed for Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.

“Yesterday in Beirut, near the port, there were massive explosions causing dozens of deaths, wounding thousands and causing serious destruction. Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”

According to local authorities, the explosion was caused by tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the port of Lebanon’s capital.

POPE FRANCIS: WE ARE NEVER ALONE IF WE BRING OUR LIVES TO GOD IN PRAYER – JOHN THE BAPTIST TEACHES US TO BEAR WITNESS TO JESUS

Italians today celebrate the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of many Italian cities whose name has also been given to countless churches in this country and around the world, including Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran. Often Italians celebrate their “onomastico” – their name day – with greater fervor and more gifts and parties than they do birthdays. So if your name is John, Joan or a derivative thereof, then “Buon onomastico” – Happy Name Day!

Covid has muted what are usually great celebrations in Rome on this day, especially the traditional musical festivals in and around St. John Lateran.

POPE FRANCIS: WE ARE NEVER ALONE IF WE BRING OUR LIVES TO GOD IN PRAYER

At the weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on how King David prayed while shepherding God’s people with his poet’s soul.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis focused his catechesis at the Wednesday general audience on the Biblical figure of King David.

“Favored by God even from his youth, he is chosen for a unique mission that would play a central role in the history of the people of God and in our own faith.”

Jesus, said the Pope, is called “son of David” and fulfilled the ancient promises of “a King completely after God’s heart, in perfect obedience to the Father.”

David’s own story, said Pope Francis, begins in Bethlehem, where he shepherds his father’s flock. “He worked in the open air: we can think of him as a friend of the wind, of the sounds of nature, of the sun’s rays.”

The Pope said David is first of all a shepherd. He defends others from danger and provides for their sustenance. In this line, Jesus called Himself “the good shepherd,” who “offers His life on behalf of the sheep. He guides them; He knows each one by name.”

Later in life, when David goes astray by having a man killed in order to take his wife, he immediately understands his sin when the prophet Nathan reproves him. “David understands right away that he had been a bad shepherd,” said the Pope, “that he was no longer a humble servant, but a man who was crazy for power, a poacher who looted and preyed on others.”

Pope Francis went on to reflect on what he called David’s “’poet’s soul’ …He has only one companion to comfort his soul: his harp; and during those long days spent in solitude, he loves to play and to sing to his God.”

David, said the Pope, was not a vulgar man. He often raised hymns to God, whether to express his joy, lamentation, or repentance. “The world that presented itself before his eyes was not a silent scene: as things unraveled before his gaze, he observed a greater mystery.”

Prayer, said Pope Francis, arises from “the conviction that life is not something that takes us by surprise, but a stupefying mystery that inspires poetry, music, gratitude, praise, even lament and supplication in us.”

Biblical tradition, he noted, holds that David was the great artist behind the composition of the Psalms.

David, said the Holy Father, dreamed of being a good shepherd. He was many things: “holy and sinful, persecuted and persecutor, victim and murderer.”

Like him, events in our own lives reveal us in a similar light. “In the drama of life, all people often sin because of inconsistency.”

Pope Francis said that, like David, there is one golden thread that runs through all our lives: prayer.

“David teaches us to let everything enter into dialogue with God: joy as well as guilt, love as well as suffering, friendship as much as sickness,” he said. “Everything can become a word spoken to the ‘You’ who always listens to us.”

David, concluded Pope Francis, knew solitude but “was in reality never alone! This is the power of prayer in all those who make space for it in their lives. Prayer makes us noble: it is capable of securing our relationship with God who is the true Companion on the journey of every man and woman, in the midst of life’s thousand adversities.”

JOHN THE BAPTIST TEACHES US TO BEAR WITNESS TO JESUS

By Vatican News

In his greetings to the Italian-speaking faithful at the weekly general audience, Pope Francis recalled the liturgical solemnity of the day, noting that, “Today is the feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Let us learn from the one who was the forerunner of Jesus the ability to bear witness to the Gospel with courage, beyond our own differences, while preserving the harmony and friendship that form the basis of any credible proclamation of the faith.”

The Pope also said, in his address to the Spanish-speaking faithful, that both Saint John the Baptist and King David knew how to draw people’s attention to the true God.  He prayed that their example might be a source of encouragement for the faithful, so that “we may seek God’s friendship through prayer, and our example might help bring God to men and women, and men and women to God.”

Turning his thoughts towards the current temperate season in the Northern Hemisphere, Pope Francis expressed hopes that the summer might be “a time of serenity and a beautiful opportunity to contemplate God in the masterpiece of His creation.”

He prayed that, despite the Covid-19 crisis, the holiday season might be “a peaceful time of rest, enjoyment of the beauty of creation, and strengthening of the ties between us and God.”

GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER OF MOSES – FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE MUST BE RESPECTED ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE – ITALY AND TRAVEL IN THE COVID ERA: UPDATES AND INFO

Since so many of you – family members, friends and fans – have been in touch with me these many weeks and months with questions about the trip to Italy that you had to postpone from this spring, or a trip you have on your agenda for this fall, I am trying to follow events in both Italy and Europe as much as I can to bring you the latest news and updated information on travel.

When possible I will do so on a daily basis (see below). And, of course, anything can change on a daily basis. A number of airlines, for example, do not yet know when they can resume direct service to Italy.

I really am looking forward to saying WELCOME in coming months, to sharing a cappucino in Pza. Navona or a glass of red wine and a delicious dinner al fresco in one of Rome’s many splendid restaurants!

GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER OF MOSES

As has been the case for months now, this week’s general audience took place at 9:30 in the library of the Apostolic Palace, and Pope Francis dedicated his ongoing catecheses series on prayer to the prayer of Moses.

He delivers the principal catechesis in Italian and summaries are then given by multi-lingual staff members of the Secretariat of State, as are language greetings by the Pope.

The Holy Father began by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on prayer, we now consider the prayer of Moses. The book of Exodus portrays Moses – from a human point of view – as a failure. Yet at a certain point in his life, he encounters God in the wilderness.

“From a burning bush,” said Francis, “the Lord calls Moses to return to Egypt in order to lead his people to freedom. But Moses, faced with the majesty of Almighty God and his demands, resists the call, protesting his unsuitability for such a great task.

“Nevertheless,” explained the Pope, “God entrusts him with the responsibility of conveying the divine law to the people of Israel, and Moses becomes their great intercessor, especially when they are tempted or have sinned.”

Stating that we too can become intercessors, Pope Francis concluded: “With hands outstretched to God, Moses makes of himself a kind of bridge between earth and heaven, pleading for the people when they are most in need. In this way he prefigures Jesus, our great intercessor and high priest. We Christians are also called to share in this type of prayer, interceding for those who need God’s help, and for the redemption of the whole world.”

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE MUST BE RESPECTED ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE

Marking the Day of Conscience, inspired by the witness of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Pope Francis appeals that freedom of conscience be respected always and everywhere.

By Vatican News

During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled that June 17 marks the “Day of Conscience”.

The day was inspired by the testimony of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who, eighty years ago, decided to follow his conscience, and in doing so, saved the lives of thousands of Jews and many others who were being persecuted.

In his words on Wednesday, the Pope appealed that “freedom of conscience always and everywhere be respected”.  “May every Christian”, he said, “give an example of the consistency of an upright conscience enlightened by the Word of God.”

Aristides de Sousa Mendes’ act of conscience was deeply embedded in his Catholic faith. It led him to disregard the direct orders of his government to help those in need.

During the Second World War, de Sousa Mendes, despite knowing the consequences he would face for his actions, issued visas to all refugees regardless of nationality, race, religion, or political opinions.

“I could not have acted otherwise”
This sense of humanity and courage led to his ostracization from the world in which he had lived. He was unable to continue his job as a diplomat and was forbidden from earning a living in order to support his family. His children, too, were prevented from finding gainful employment.

He spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name but was ignored by the Portuguese political regime at the time.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes died in poverty on April 3rd, 1954 at the Franciscan Hospital in Lisbon. But even at the end of his life he knew his actions had been justified in saving thousands of innocent lives. As he put it himself“I could not have acted otherwise, and I, therefore, accept all that has befallen me with love.”

ITALY AND TRAVEL IN THE COVID ERA: UPDATES AND INFO

There is a very interesting and helpful website put up by the EU, the European Union, that answers all (or most) of your questions about travel to and within the EU. The site is called “Re-open EU” and, as it describes itself, it contains regularly updated information available in 24 languages: https://reopen.europa.eu/en/map/ITA

Users may select their preferred language and country of destination on the website, click on “go!” and find an interactive map providing the latest information on key point for travellers, such as: Is travel into the country for tourism purposes possible? Are non-essential (other than medicine and food) shops open? Are there any risk areas under lockdown in this country? And much more!

For example, in Italy (see below), the health situation is qualified as “green” by the EU at this point, which means that there are no areas in the country that are currently under lockdown.

You might be interested to learn that there is now a very interesting app in Italy called “Immuni” that, in the several days since it ended its test period in 4 Italian regions and has gone nationwide, has been uploaded by 2.5 million people in Italy. It is also now available in English. The app sends a notification to people who were in close contact with a user who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, alerting them of the risk of infection. Thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy technology, this takes place without the app gathering any date on the identity or location of its users: https://www.immuni.italia.it/?gclid=CjwKCAjw_qb3BRAVEiwAvwq6Vn8g8R-ShI6xbfm-mXFg_wUORJLlQDtKNk_Y7QkqgPIItypR22Um_BoC3CoQAvD_BwE

And here’s a link to all the travel info I posted yesterday on Joan’s Rome (and reposted in my Facebook page: facebook.com /joan.lewis.10420): https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/travel-in-a-covid-era-face-masks-forms-and-fewer-bags-italys-new-rules-on-flying-which-airlines-are-restarting-flights-to-italy-in-june/

 

PAPAL APPOINTMENTS IN THE U.S. – WRESTLING WITH GOD, A METAPHOR FOR PRAYER – POPE FRANCIS APPEALS FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ON WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOR

For Italians and most Europeans who are free to travel within the EU, European Union, a piece of good news from Rome: The Pantheon joined the Colosseum and Vatican Museums in reopening to visitors after the covid-19 lockdown in Rome. It reopened to the public on Tuesday, June 9 following a closure of three months due to Italy’s coronavirus emergency. Visitors are required to wear masks and have their temperature measured before entry, with visitor numbers controlled.

PAPAL APPOINTMENTS IN THE U.S.

Pope Francis on Wednesday named Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Saint Louis, USA. Bishop Rozanski, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, has been serving as the Bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-06/pope-francis-names-new-archbishop-for-st-louis.html

Pope Francis also named Rev. Bruce Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., member of the Baltimore Province of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), as auxiliary of Baltimore (U.S.A.). Up to now he has been interim delegate for the Hispanic Ministry of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus / Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Parish in Highlandtown (Maryland).

WRESTLING WITH GOD, A METAPHOR FOR PRAYER

For the first time ever, the Holy See Press Office today published English and Spanish translations of Pope Francis’ entire Italian-language catechesis at the general audience. On Sunday it published the papal Angelus reflections in both languages as well – another first.

For those who might never have attended a papal audience, after the Pope delivers the full catechesis on a theme he has chosen, summaries in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish are then delivered by monsignori who speak those languages and work in the Vatican.

I generally offer you a short or medium summary of the papal text but today bring you the full English text.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning! Let us continue with our catechesis on the subject of prayer. The Book of Genesis, through the occurrences of men and women of a far off time, tells us stories that we can reflect on in our own lives. In the Patriarch Cycle, we also find that of a man who shrewdly developed his best talent: Jacob. The biblical account tells us about the difficult relationship Jacob had with his brother Esau. Ever since childhood, there was a rivalry between them, which was never overcome later on. Jacob is the secondborn – they were twins – but through trickery he manages to obtain the blessing and birthright of their father Isaac (cf. Gen 25:19-34). It is only the first in a long series of ploys of which this unscrupulous man is capable. Even the name “Jacob” means someone who is cunning in his movements.

Forced to flee far from his brother, he seems to succeed in every undertaking in his life. He is adept at business: he greatly enriches himself, becoming the owner of an enormous flock. With tenacity and patience he manages to marry Laban’s most beautiful daughter, with whom he is truly in love. Jacob – as we would say in modern terms – is a “self-made” man; with his ingenuity, his cunning, he manages to obtain everything he wants. But he lacks something. He lacks a living relationship with his own roots.

And one day he hears the call of home, of his ancient homeland, where his brother Esau, with whom he has always had a terrible relationship, still lives. Jacob sets out, undertaking a long journey with a caravan of many people and animals, until he reaches the final step, the Jabbok stream. Here the Book of Genesis offers us a memorable page (cf. 32:23-33). It describes that the patriarch, after having all of his people and all the livestock – and they were many – cross the stream, remains alone on the bank of the river on the foreign side. And he ponders: What awaits him the following day? What attitude will his brother Esau, from whom he stole his birthright, assume? Jacob’s mind is a whirlwind of thoughts…. And, as it is getting dark, suddenly a stranger grabs him and begins to wrestle with him. The Catechism explains: “the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance” (CCC, 2573).

Jacob wrestles the entire night, never letting go of his adversary. In the end he is beaten, his sciatic nerve is struck by his opponent, and thereafter he will walk with a limp for the rest of his life. That mysterious wrestler asks the patriarch for his name and tells him: “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Gen 32:28). As if to say: you will never be the man who walks this way, straight. He changes his name, he changes his life, he changes his attitude. You will be called Israel. Then Jacob also asks the other: “Tell me, I pray, your name”. The other does not reveal it to him, but blesses him instead. Then Jacob understands he has encountered God “face to face” (vv. 29-30).

Wrestling with God: a metaphor for prayer. Other times Jacob has shown himself able to dialogue with God, to sense Him as a friendly and close presence. But that night, through a lengthy struggle that nearly makes him succumb, the patriarch emerges changed. A change of name, a change in hits way of life and a personality change: he comes out of it a changed man. For once he is no longer master of the situation – his cunning is no use to him – he is no longer a strategic and calculating man. God returns him to his truth as a mortal man who trembles and fears, because in the struggle, Jacob was afraid. For once Jacob has only his frailty and powerlessness, and also his sins, to present to God. And it is this Jacob who receives God’s blessing, with which he limps into the promised land: vulnerable and wounded, but with a new heart. Once I heard an elderly man – a good man, a good Christian, but a sinner who had great trust in God – who said: “God will help me; He will not leave me alone. I will enter Heaven; limping, but I will enter”. First he was a self-assured man; he trusted in his own shrewdness. He was a man impervious to grace, immune to mercy; he did not know what mercy was. “Here I am, I am in command!”. He did not think he was in need of mercy. But God saved what had been lost. He made him understand that he was limited, that he was a sinner who was in need of mercy, and He saved him.

We all have an appointment during the night with God, in the night of our life, in the many nights of our life: dark moments, moments of sin, moments of disorientation. And there we have an appointment with God, always. He will surprise us at the moment we least expect, when we find ourselves truly alone. That same night, struggling against the unknown, we will realize that we are only poor men and women – “poor things”, I dare say – but right then, in that moment in which we feel we are “poor things”, we need not fear: because God will give us a new name, which contains the meaning of our entire life; He will change our heart and He will offer us the blessing reserved to those who have allowed themselves to be changed by Him. This is a beautiful invitation to let ourselves be changed by God. He knows how to do it, because He knows each one of us. “Lord, You know me”, every one of us might say. “Lord, You know me. Change me”.

POPE FRANCIS APPEALS FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ON WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOR

At the end of the papal catechesis on prayer, followed by multi-lingual summaries and greetings to those tuned in via the media, Pope Francis appealed to the international community to protect the numerous boys and girls who are deprived of their childhood as they are forced into child labor.

“This Friday, 12 June,” began the Pope, “is the World Day Against Child Labor, a reality that deprives boys and girls of their childhood and jeopardizes their integral development. Given the current health crisis in various countries, many children are forced into jobs that are inappropriate for their age, so as to help their own families who are in conditions of extreme poverty. Many cases are forms of slavery and confinement, resulting in physical and psychological suffering. We are all responsible for this.

“I appeal that every effort be made on the part of institutions to protect minors, by filling the economic and social gaps that underlie the distorted dynamic in which they are unfortunately involved. Children are the future of the human family: all of us are expected to promote their growth, health and tranquility.”

 

POPE PRAYS FOR GEORGE FLOYD, DECRIES SIN OF RACISM, VIOLENCE

POPE PRAYS FOR GEORGE FLOYD, DECRIES SIN OF RACISM, VIOLENCE

Following his weekly general audience catechesis on the Prayer of Abraham, Pope Francis today, in language greetings for pilgrims listening via television or social media, had particular words for Americans about the death of George Floyd, racism and violence.

“Dear brothers and sisters in the United States,” began the Holy Father, “I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr George Floyd. My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that ‘the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost’.

“Today I join the Church in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and in the entire United States, in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism. Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world. May God bless all of you and your families.” (vaticannews photos)

From a peaceful march in  Houston, Texas –