DISCERNMENT OFTEN COMES IN UNEXPECTED SIGNS FROM GOD – A PAPAL SALUTE TO MOTHERS AND A PLEA FOR PEACE

Since we learned yesterday that China’s President Xi Jinping will be in Kazakhstan at the same time as Pope Francis (in one week!), it will be interesting to see if diplomats from either side – or both sides – would attempt to arrange a meeting between the two. Usually meetings at such a high level would take months to arrange but stranger things have happened in life. Many are asking: Would such a meeting be wise? Which side would gain – or lose – the most?

Stay tuned….

DISCERNMENT OFTEN COMES IN UNEXPECTED SIGNS FROM GOD

The weekly general audience took place today in St. Peter’s Square that, while hot and sun-splashed, was not enveloped by the scorching heat of weeks past.

Pope Francis took a ride around the piazza in the open papal jeep and was even joined by several children at one point.

Some Vatican media photos of the morning:

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He introduced the second catechesis on his new series on discernment by saying, “in the process of making sound decisions about the meaning and direction of our lives, we now consider the witness of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. As a young soldier, Ignatius was gravely wounded in battle. During his long convalescence, he was unable to read his favorite novels of chivalry and heroic exploits. The only books at hand were the lives of the saints.”

And this is often how the Lord works, said Francis. He works through what we see as “apparent randomness in the events of life.” Ignatius did not have his preferred reading but was instead driven to the unexpected joy of reading about saints, about lives that changed his life, the books that became a turning point.

“Reading them, at first reluctantly,” said the Holy Father, “Ignatius came to realize that the stories of the saints brought him lasting joy and happiness, while the other stories left him ultimately arid and empty. This insight was the origin of the method of prayer and discernment that Ignatius left us in his celebrated Spiritual Exercises.”

Pope Francis explained that Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, “speaks of the importance of distinguishing between worldly and spiritual thoughts, cultivating the latter, and allowing them, by God’s grace, to mature within our hearts. In time, then, we come to discern in prayer the often unexpected signs by which God makes himself known to us, leads us to conversion and shows us his will for our lives.”

A PAPAL SALUTE TO MOTHERS AND A PLEA FOR PEACE

At the end of the catechesis on discernment, Pope Francis pointed out that, “tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. Mary experienced God’s tenderness as a daughter, full of grace, and went on to give this tenderness as a mother, through union with the mission of her Son Jesus.”

He then expressed his “closeness to all mothers. In a special way, to those mothers who have children who suffer: those who are sick, those who are marginalized, those who are imprisoned. A special prayer goes to the mothers of young detainees: let hope never be lacking. Unfortunately, in prisons there are many people who take their own life, at times also young people. A mother’s love can save them from this danger. May Our Lady console all mothers distressed by the suffering of their children.”

The Pope also prayed for Ukraine and its people who have undergone a war for over six months. “I do not forget martyred Ukraine,” he said. asking everyone to “be a builder of peace and to pray that thoughts and plans of concord and reconciliation will spread in the world, …Today we are experiencing a world war, let us please stop!”

He entrusted the victims of all ways, especially the “dear people of Ukraine” to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“TRUE DISCERNMENT BRINGS SPIRITUAL JOY AND FULFILLMENT” – POPE: TODAY WE ARE EXPERIENCING THIRD WORLD WAR

Pope Francis’ September Prayer intention: For Abolition of the Death Penalty Pope’s September prayer intention: For abolition of the death penalty – Vatican News

The Vatican paper today dedicated a portion of the front page to a large photo of former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbaciov who has died at the age of 91. Calling him “a humanistic visionary,” L’Osservatore Romano reflected on his role in the history of Russia that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and to the two meetings that Pope John Paul had with Gorbaciov in 1989 and 1990.

I had only been working at the Vatican for several months in November 1990 but I was invited to be part of a small group of people to be present when John Paul and Gorbaciov met. We were in a hall near the papal study and I can remember today what I felt when a door opened and, not 8 feet from where I was standing, stood Pope John Paul and Gorbaciov! I knew I was living an extraordinary moment of history and was thrilled to be in the presence of two men who had brought about that moment, the events that truly changed so much of the world.

I was not a photojournalist so did not always have a camera at my beck and call like we do today. No cell phones in those days, so no personal photos – just my mind’s eye image of that moment in time.

“TRUE DISCERNMENT BRINGS SPIRITUAL JOY AND FULFILLMENT”

Pope Francis began the weekly general audience by explaining that, “today we begin a new series of catecheses dealing with discernment, the process of making sound decisions about the meaning and direction of our lives.”

“In the Gospels,” he said, “Jesus uses everyday discernment practised by fishermen and merchants to teach the importance of wisely choosing to live a life in accordance with God’s will.” Jesus highlights how fishermen know how to choose – to discern – the better fish and how a merchant will know how to select – to discern – the better pearl.

“Authentic discernment,” stated the Holy Father, “calls for knowledge, insight and experience but also the wisdom of the heart, firm commitment and unremitting effort. … One chooses food, clothing, a course of study, a job, a relationship. In all of these, a life project is realized, and so is our relationship with God.”

“Discernment involves hard work. According to the Bible, we do not find set before us the life we are to live. God invites us to evaluate and choose. He created us free and wants us to exercise our freedom. Therefore, discerning is demanding.”

“As an exercise of our God-given freedom, spiritual discernment seeks to know our place in the Creator’s plan for ourselves and for our world. For our decisions, good or evil, can make the earth either, as God intends, a magnificent garden or a lifeless desert.”

The Pope noted how, “true discernment, born of our loving relationship with God and our human freedom, brings with it a deep spiritual joy and fulfilment. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide us in our daily efforts to live lives of holiness, wisdom and fidelity to the saving truth of the Gospel.

He added that making the best choice between a set of options also involves our emotions, since a well-made choice can bring us great joy.

POPE: TODAY WE ARE EXPERIENCING THIRD WORLD WAR

In the various language greetings that always follow the weekly audience catechesis, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff to Polish pilgrims today, saying, “Tomorrow you will remember the anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, which so painfully marked the Polish nation. And today we are experiencing the Third. May the memory of past experiences push you to cultivate peace in yourselves, in families, in social and international life.” “May Mary support you,” he added, “in your daily choice of goodness, justice and solidarity with the needy, generating hope, joy and interior freedom in your hearts. I bless you with all my heart.” And he invited them to pray in a special way for Ukraine.

Many times in the past, speaking of wars and outbreaks of violence in different part of the world, Pope Francis has used the expression “World War III,” saying this is happening in “bits and pieces.”

Also Remembering Iraq

At the end of the general audience catechesis, the Holy Father said, “I am following with concern the violent events in Baghdad in recent days. Let us ask God in prayer to give peace to the Iraqi people. Last year I had the joy of visiting, and I felt at first hand the great desire for normality and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities that make it up. Dialogue and fraternity are the way to face the current difficulties and reach this goal.”

 

LIFE AFTER DEATH: JESUS IS EXPECTING US. JUST ONE PASSAGE, AND THEN THE PARTY!

Every so often on my weekend radio show, “Vatican Insider,” I offer a Special Report in what is normally the interview segment, in particular when events assume an importance that can overshadow the content of an otherwise great interview. Much of the background information I researched for the Special I did last weekend about upcoming events in the Vatican, led to the blog that I posted yesterday, “Four Days in the Vatican: An August Surprise? If you want to listen to the full Special Report – which has even more info than I posted on my blog – click here: EWTN Audio & Radio Library Archive – Search & Listen Now | EWTN

Another thing I could have mentioned in my list of signs that could point to a resignation were all of Pope Francis’ recent general audience catecheses on the value and beauty of old age.

There had been 14 catecheses on this theme when, at the final weekly audience on June 22 (the 15th catechesi)s – and just before his July break and a pause in general audiences – the Pope announced the end of these catecheses.

However, he did resume talking about old age this month, with his 16th catechesis on this topic on August 10, then August 17 and now today, the 18th and final catechesis. The recent catecheses have been about old age and death and life after death, as you will see below in my summary of the general audience.

If old age is a diamond, even a diamond in the rough, the Holy Father looked at all the myriad, mesmerizing facets of this diamond, of this period of life, including himself in many of his reflections, often saying “we elderly.”

I could ask: Have these catecheses been an underpinning for Francis’ life and legacy, a solid foundation built to support, even strengthen, that legacy? We will all be there some day – old age – or we are now or we are on our way. Has Francis spent all these months giving the elderly a positive way to frame old age, a way to balance joys and sufferings without losing one’s balance?

Is he looking back at life and yet looking to the future at the same time?

He tweeted today: As we approach the end of our lives, the essentials of life that we hold most dear become definitively clear to us. Our whole life appears like a seed that will have to be buried so that its flower and its fruit can be born.

LIFE AFTER DEATH: JESUS IS EXPECTING US. JUST ONE PASSAGE, AND THEN THE PARTY!

Pope Francis, at today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, began his remarks by noting that, “We recently celebrated the Assumption into heaven of the Mother of Jesus. This mystery illuminates the fulfilment of the grace that shaped Mary’s destiny, and it also illuminates our destination, doesn’t it? The destination is heaven. With this image of the Virgin assumed into heaven, I would like to conclude the cycle of catecheses on old age.”

He emphasized that, “Our Lady’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven is intimately bound to the resurrection of Jesus her Son and to its promise of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. … In the divine act of reuniting Mary with the Risen Christ, the normal bodily corruption of human death …is not simply transcended, the bodily assumption of the life of God is anticipated. … This is our destiny: to rise again.”

“Just as, in the moment we come out of our mother’s womb, we are still ourselves,” said the Pope, “the same human being that was in the womb; so, after death, we are born to heaven, to God’s space, and we are still ourselves, who walked on this earth.”

Francis explained that, “When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he describes it as a wedding feast; as a party, that is, like a party, a party with friends awaits us; as the work that makes the house perfect, and the surprise that makes the harvest richer than the sowing.” (Photos by EWTN-CNA’s Pablo Esparza)

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The Holy Father, addressing “my dear contemporaries,” pointed out that “in our old age, the importance of the many ‘details’ of which life is made — a caress, a smile, a gesture, an appreciated effort, an unexpected surprise, a hospitable cheerfulness, a faithful bond — becomes more acute. The essentials of life, which we hold most dear as we approach our farewell, become definitively clear to us. …. And the life of the risen body will be a hundred and a thousand times more alive than we have tasted it on this earth.”

Francis then told the story of how “the Risen Lord, not by chance, while waiting for the Apostles by the lake, roasts some fish and then offers it to them. This gesture of caring love gives us a glimpse of what awaits us as we cross to the other shore. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, especially you elderly, the best of life is yet to come. ‘But we are old, what more is yet to come?’ The best, because the best of life is yet to come. Let us hope, let us hope for this fullness of life that awaits us all, when the Lord calls us.”

Pope Francis recognized that there is “a little bit of fear, because I don’t know what this passage means, and passing through that door causes a little fear – but there is always the hand of the Lord that carries us forward, and beyond the door there is the party.”

So, concluded Pope Francis, “Let us be attentive, dear old people, contemporaries, let us be attentive. He is expecting us. Just one passage, and then the party!”

“HUMANITY NEEDS TO REDISCOVER THE IMPORTANCE OF ALLOWING THE OLD AND THE YOUNG TO INTERACT” – “OLD AGE MUST BEAR WITNESS TO CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE A BLESSING”

“HUMANITY NEEDS TO REDISCOVER THE IMPORTANCE OF ALLOWING THE OLD AND THE YOUNG TO INTERACT”

“Humanity needs to rediscover the importance of allowing the old and the young to interact.”

Pope Francis was true to those words of his audience catechesis when he welcomed an adorable little boy, perhaps 6 years old, who strolled with great self-assurance up to the stage during the end of the audience greetings in Italian. (minute 53 in the video). (CNA photos)

The young man stood near the Pope, serene and unmoving for a full 5 minutes, brought back to his family only at the very end of the audience after the papal blessing. A Vatican staff member did at one point bring a rosary to Pope Francis to give to the little fellow, who looked at the Holy Father the entire time with a seriously attentive expression.

The Pope spoke to him briefly and then resumed his catechesis, caressing the boy’s head or patting his shoulder.

There were a number of interesting moments at the audience, not least of which occurred when a Swiss Guard fainted as the catechesis was being delivered in Portuguese. There was a little break in the catechesis as he was being attended to and then a moment of general applause as he was helped to his feet. (minute 40:29).

Although last week he announced that he was ending his series of 16 talks on old age and the elderly, Pope Francis today resumed the theme of old age at today’s general audience with a twist, asking the faithful “to rediscover the importance of allowing the old and the young to interact and share experience and enthusiasm.” Pope at Audience: ‘Alliance between youth and elderly will save humanity’ – Vatican News

“OLD AGE MUST BEAR WITNESS TO CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE A BLESSING”

At the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the value of old age, focusing on Daniel’s prophetic dream about the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9-10).

The Pope said the vision—known as a theophany—highlights the connection between old age and youth.

Everything about the man in the vision is full of “vigour, strength, nobility, beauty, and charm”. Yet, noted the Pope, the man is described with hair as white as snow, like an old man. “The snow-white hair is an ancient symbol of a very long time, of time immemorial, of an eternal existence,” he said.

Beauty of a white-bearded God

Pope Francis stressed that there is no need to strip our faith of symbols when trying to explain the Bible to others.

“The image of God, who watches over everything with snow-white hair, is not a silly symbol. It is a biblical image; it is noble, and even tender.”

God, added the Pope, is both ancient and new, since He is eternity.

In the same way, humanity needs to rediscover the importance of allowing the old and the young to interact and share experience and enthusiasm.

“Old age,” said the Holy Father, “must bear witness to children that they are a blessing” by embracing the “mystery of our destination in life”.

Elderly bless life as it comes and goes

The Pope said the elderly have a unique way of bearing witness in such a way that is “credible to children.”

“It is irresistible when an old person blesses life as it comes their way, laying aside any resentment for life as it goes away. The witness of the elderly unites the generations of life, the same with the dimensions of time: past, present and future.”

At the same time, said Pope Francis, it is painful and even harmful to separate the ages of life and pit the old and the young against each other as if they were competing for the same resources.

Passing on wisdom of dying: Pope Francis concluded his catechesis by encouraging parents to allow their children to interact with the elderly, even as they near death’s door, so as to pass on “the wisdom of dying.” “The alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family,” he said.

“Death is certainly a difficult passage from life—but it is also one that concludes the time of uncertainty and throws away the clock. For the beautiful part of life, which has no more deadlines, begins precisely then.” (source: Vatican news)

POPE FRANCIS: OLD AGE IS WISE, NOBLE AND CREDIBLE – FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF CUBA’S WORST EVER FIRE

POPE FRANCIS: OLD AGE IS WISE, NOBLE AND CREDIBLE

Given the continuing very hot temperatures in Rome, this week’s Wednesday general audience was held inside the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall in the presence of thousands of faithful. (vatican photo)

Pope Francis announced that the day’s catechesis on old age would be the final one of 16 talks on this topic that he began in February. There were no general audiences in July, a quasi-vacation period and reduced work schedule for the Pope at the Santa Marta residence. When he resumed the weekly meeting last week, he spoke of his just-completed trip to Canada.

“Today” said the Pope, “we enter into the moving intimacy of Jesus’ farewell to his followers, amply recounted in the Gospel of John. The parting discourse begins with words of consolation and promise: ‘Let not your hearts be troubled’. ‘When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’. They are beautiful, these words of the Lord.

He continued: “Shortly beforehand, Jesus had said to Peter, ‘You shall follow afterward’, reminding him of the passage through the fragility of his faith. The time of life that remains to the disciples will be, inevitably, a passage through the fragility of witness and through the challenges of brotherhood. But it will also be a passage through the exciting blessings of faith.”

The Holy Father explained that “old age is the fitting time for the moving and joyful witness of expectation. The elderly man and woman are waiting, waiting for an encounter. In old age, the works of faith, which bring us and others closer to the Kingdom of God, are by now beyond the power of the energy, words, and impulses of youth and maturity. But precisely in this way they make the promise of the true destination of life even more transparent. And what is the true destination of life? A place at the table with God, in the world of God.

“It would be interesting to see whether in the local Churches there is any specific reference intended to revitalize this special ministry of awaiting the Lord – it is a ministry, the ministry of awaiting the Lord – encouraging individual charisms and community qualities of the elderly person.”

“Our life is not made to be wrapped up in itself, in an imaginary earthly perfection,” said Francis. “It is destined to go beyond, through the passage of death – because death is a passage. Indeed, our stable place, our destination is not here, it is beside the Lord, where he dwells forever.”

The pontiff then emphasized that “the conceit of stopping time – of wanting eternal youth, unlimited well-being, absolute power – is not only impossible, it is delusional.”

“Old age,” he went on, “knows definitively, by now, the meaning of time and the limitations of the place in which we live our initiation. This is why old age is wise: the elderly are wise for this reason. This is why it is credible when it invites us to rejoice in the passing of time: it is not a threat, it is a promise. Old age is noble, it does not need to beautify itself to show its nobility. Perhaps the disguise comes when nobility is lacking.

“Old age is credible when it invites one to rejoice in the passing of time: but time passes . … Old age is the phase in life most suited to spreading the joyful news that life is the initiation to a final fulfilment. The elderly are a promise, a witness of promise. And the best is yet to come. The best is yet to come: it is like the message of elderly believers, the best is yet to come. May God grant us all an old age capable of this! Thank you.”

You may recall that Pope Francis began this series of catecheses on February 23, when he said: “We have finished the catecheses on Saint Joseph. Today we begin a catechetical journey that seeks inspiration in the Word of God on the meaning and value of old age. Let us reflect on old age. For some decades now, this stage of life has concerned a veritable “new people”, who are the elderly. There have never been so many of us in human history. The risk of being discarded is even more frequent: never as many as now, never as much risk of being discarded as now.”

FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF CUBA’S WORST EVER FIRE

Pope Francis conveyed his thoughts and prayers for the victims and families of the massive fire in Cuba that killed at least one person. Another 14 people are currently missing, and five others remain in critical condition.

“I want to express my closeness to those affected by the tragedy caused by the explosions of the Matanzas oil base in Cuba. Let us ask Mary our Queen of Heaven to watch over the victims and their families.”

Described as the worst fire in Cuba’s history, the blaze began on Friday night after lightning struck a fuel storage tank at the Matanzas oil depot, causing a massive explosion. The fire spread to a second tank on Saturday, triggering further explosions that caused the fire to spread.

Over 40% of the Cuban island’s main fuel storage facility was destroyed, and massive blackouts were reported. (source: vaticannews)

POPE AT AUDIENCE: CANADA, A PENITENTIAL VISIT “LIKE NO OTHER” – POPE FRANCIS ON 2ND ANNIVERSARY OF BEIRUT EXPLOSION

Pope Francis resumed the weekly general audience today, welcoming pilgrims in the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall, given the extremely high temperatures in Rome. He walked into the hall from an adjacent anteroom, walking slowly and using a cane. Pilgrims were delighted to have the Holy Father once again in their midst!


POPE AT AUDIENCE: CANADA, A PENITENTIAL VISIT “LIKE NO OTHER”

Pope Francis resumed the weekly Wednesday general audience after a July break, and dedicated his catechesis to his recent Apostolic Journey to Canada, a penitential pilgrimage dedicated to embracing indigenous peoples who suffered injustices over the centuries.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov (vaticannews)

The audience was held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall due to the intense summer heat in the Italian capital.

During his catechesis, the Pope recalled his “penitential pilgrimage” to the North American country, focused on healing and reconciliation with the nation’s indigenous peoples who suffered attempts to erase their culture and identity.

These injustices were perpetrated in the infamous historic government-funded residential schools system, with the cooperation of many members of the local churches.

In his remarks, the Pope remembered his time in Edmonton, Quebec, and his stop in the Arctic city of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut Territory.

A “penitential” visit like no other

The Holy Father said it was “a visit like no other.”

“In fact, the main motivation was to meet the indigenous peoples to express to them my closeness and my sorrow, and to ask for forgiveness – to ask for forgiveness – for the harm done to them by those Christians, including many Catholics, who in. the past collaborated in the forced assimilation and enfranchisement* policies of the governments of the time.”

In this sense, the Pope explained, his journey “was undertaken in Canada to write a new page,” and continue to walk together, always closer, with the indigenous peoples.

The Pope pointed out how apropos the motto of “Walking Together” was for the journey.

Repentance and reconciliation

Much analysis, the Pope suggested, “shows that, on the one hand, some men and women of the Church have been among the most decisive and courageous supporters of the dignity of the indigenous peoples, coming to their defence and contributing to raising awareness of their languages and cultures.”

“But, on the other hand,” he added, “there was unfortunately no shortage of those (who) participated in programmes that today we understand are unacceptable and contrary to the Gospel.”

In this sense, he reiterated, this visit was penitential, and even if there were many joyful moments, “the meaning and tone of the whole was one of reflection, repentance and reconciliation.”

Rejecting mindset of colonization and promoting indigenous

In Edmonton, he said, there was an honest and sorrowful remembrance of the past, which continued in Quebec with “a plea” for reconciliation born of hope through Christ, and concluded, in Iqaluit, with confident trust in the “healing” made possible by the power of the Risen Lord to make all things new.

The Church’s desire, as it explicitly acknowledged the wrongs of the past, the Holy Father suggested, rejects the mindset of colonization, and esteems and promotes the indigenous cultures.

Pope Francis concluded by praying, “May the fortitude and pacific action of the indigenous peoples of Canada be an example for all indigenous peoples not to close themselves up, but to offer their indispensable contribution for a more fraternal humanity, that knows how to love creation and the Creator, in harmony with creation, in harmony between you all.”

* (“Enfranchisement” was the process of changing the civil status of Indigenous peoples from “Indians” to full Canadian citizens – a process of assimilation that often came at the expense of their indigenous identity. Originally voluntary, enfranchisement became compulsory in 1876 and remained so into the 1960s.)

POPE FRANCIS ON 2ND ANNIVERSARY OF BEIRUT EXPLOSION

During his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled the second anniversary of the devastating Beirut Port explosion.

Speaking of the “dear Lebanese people, “ he told pilgrims, “I pray that everyone may be consoled by faith, comforted by justice and truth, which can never be hidden. I hope that Lebanon, with the help of the international community, will continue on the path of rebirth, remaining faithful to its vocation to be a land of peace and pluralism, where communities of different religions can live in fraternity.”

In fact, it was on August 4. 2020 that an explosion occurred at the Beirut port that was so powerful that it killed over 215 and injured thousands, and so extensive that massive damage was caused to area buildings, stores, offices, and churches. Beirut will be rebuilding for years. (vatican media)

To read more: Pope Francis recalls second anniversary of Beirut Port explosion – Vatican News

 

POPE AT AUDIENCE: THE ELDERLY SHOW US THE TENDERNESS OF GOD

These might be my favorite words from today’s general audience on old age:

Pope Francis: “Technology is fascinated by this myth in every way. While awaiting the defeat of death, we can keep the body alive with medicine and cosmetics that slow down, hide, erase old age. Naturally, well-being is one thing, the myth that feeds it is another. There is no denying, however, that the confusion between the two is creating a certain mental confusion in us. To confuse well-being with feeding the myth of eternal youth. Everything is done to always have this youth – so much make-up, so many surgical interventions to appear young. The words of a wise Italian actress, [Anna] Magnani, come to mind, when they told her she had to remove her wrinkles and she said, “No, don’t touch them! It took so many years to have them – don’t touch them!” This is what wrinkles are: a sign of experience, a sign of life, a sign of maturity, a sign of having made a journey. Do not touch them to become young, that your face might look young. What matters is the entire personality; it’s the heart that matters, and the heart remains with the youth of good wine – the more it ages the better it is.”

Bless you, Holy Father!

I’m not worried about wrinkles because I don’t have any – but I do have laugh lines!

POPE AT AUDIENCE: THE ELDERLY SHOW US THE TENDERNESS OF GOD

Continuing his catechesis on the value of the elderly and old age at the weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the Biblical figure of Nicodemus, and said the elderly are messengers of tenderness, wisdom and love.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov (vaticannews)

The tenderness of the elderly shows us the tenderness of God. Pope Francis stressed this during his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he continued his series of catecheses “on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s Word.”

He reflected this week on the Old Testament figure of Nicodemus.

The Pope said he wished to emphasize “the tenderness of the elderly” and grandparents, highlighting how God is equally tender with us.

“Watch how a grandfather or a grandmother look at their grandchildren, how they embrace their grandchildren – that tenderness, free of any human distress, that has conquered the trials of life and is able to give love freely, the loving nearness of one person to others.”

This tenderness, he said, opens the door toward understanding God’s tenderness.

“This is what God is like, He knows how to embrace. And old age helps us understand this aspect of God who is tenderness.”

Born anew, not living forever

The Pope considered the words spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus: “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born anew” (Jn 3:3) by water and the Holy Spirit. This spiritual rebirth, he suggested, does not negate or detract from the value of our earthly existence, but “points it towards its ultimate fulfilment in the eternal life and joy of heaven.”

Our age, with its frantic pursuit of the myth of eternal youth, the Holy Father underscored, needs to relearn this truth and to see every age of life as preparation for the eternal happiness for which we were created.

Jesus had told Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”

Witness to God’s presence in our midst

The elderly, through their faith, wisdom and experience, can bear convincing witness to the presence of God’s kingdom in our midst and the authentic meaning of our earthly existence as a foretaste of that true “eternal youth” which awaits us in the new creation inaugurated by Christ and his Holy Spirit.

The Holy Father highlighted the beauty of old age.

“Old age moves ahead toward its destination, towards God’s heaven,” he said.

“Old age, therefore, is a special time of separating the future from the illusion of a biological and robotic survival, especially because it opens us to the tenderness of God’s creative and generative womb.”

Pope Francis concluded by praying, “May the Spirit grant us the re-opening of this spiritual – and cultural – mission of old age that reconciles us with the birth from above.”

“When we think of old age like this, we can say – why has this throw-away culture decided to throw out the elderly, considering them useless? The elderly are the messengers of the future, the elderly are the messengers of tenderness, the elderly are the messengers of the wisdom of lived experience. Let us move forward and watch the elderly.”

 

POPE FRANCIS: DO NOT USE WHEAT AS A WEAPON OF WAR! – POPE MEDITATES ON ELDERLY THREATENED BY “THROWAWAY CULTURE”

POPE FRANCIS: DO NOT USE WHEAT AS A WEAPON OF WAR!

At the end of the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis issued a heartfelt appeal not to use food as a weapon of war.

He said, “the blocking of grain exports from Ukraine, on which the lives of millions of people depend, especially in the poorest countries, is of great concern. I make a heartfelt appeal that every effort be made to resolve this issue and to guarantee the universal human right to food. Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war!” (wikipedia photo – wheat fields in Ukraine)

POPE MEDITATES ON ELDERLY THREATENED BY “THROWAWAY CULTURE”

Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience in a sun-drenched, hot St. Peter’s Square, and continued his series of catecheses on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s word.

Meditating on Psalm 71’s opening lines – “You, O Lord, are my hope; my trust, O Lord, from my youth,” Francis said the “Psalmist implores God’s continued protection and care. In our own day, his anxious concern is shared by many of the elderly, who see their dignity and even their rights threatened by the spread of a “throwaway culture” that views them as useless and indeed a burden to society.”

The Pope explained that, “In this throwaway society, this throwaway culture, elderly people are cast aside and suffer these things. A form of cowardice in which we specialize in this society of ours. Indeed, there is no lack of those who take advantage of the elderly, to cheat them and to intimidate them in myriad ways. Often, we read in the newspapers or hear news of elderly people who are unscrupulously tricked out of their savings, or are left without protection or abandoned without care; or offended by forms of contempt and intimidated into renouncing their rights.”

The Holy Father noted with sadness that, “Such cruelty also occurs within families – and this is serious, but it happens in families too. The elderly who are rejected, abandoned in rest homes, without their children coming to visit them, or they go a few times a year. … We must reflect on this.”

Click here for video (at bottom of page): Pope at Audience: The elderly can inspire a more just and humane society – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS DEPLORES “INDISCRIMINATE ARMS TRAFFICKING” – VATICAN PAPER WEIGHS IN ON TEXAS KILLINGS AND THE AMERICAN ARMS LOBBY

There are a number of news stories from the Vatican today, including the Holy Father’s weekly catechesis on the elderly, but I am dedicating this page solely to Pope Francis’ words on the Texas tragedy and to a very impactful editorial in today’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Please share this. I want as many people as possible to read the Vatican commentary. The paper hit a bull’s eye! But how many people will read it, agree with it, and then go about their merry way, asking for ever-more lenient gun laws.

If you want to know what it is like to own, use or carry a weapon in Italy, read on: What you need to know about gun laws and ownership in Italy (thelocal.it)

If America did that, would it end school massacres and other random killings of individuals or groups?

(Hopefully you also shared yesterday’s column, A SHEPHERD, HIS FLOCK AND CANON LAW)

POPE FRANCIS DEPLORES “INDISCRIMINATE ARMS TRAFFICKING”

At today’s general audience, in a sun-splashed and very hot St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis greeted the faithful in a number of languages after delivering the day’s catechesis on the elderly.

In English, with a solemn look on his face and tone in his voice, he expressed his anguish at the news of the killings in a Texas school: “I am heartbroken about the Texas elementary school killings. I pray for the children, for the adults killed and for their families.”

And, to great applause from the tens of thousands of pilgrims, he said: “It is time to stop indiscriminate arms trafficking! Let us all commit ourselves, so that such tragedies can no longer happen!” (vaticannews photo)

VATICAN PAPER WEIGHS IN ON TEXAS KILLINGS AND THE AMERICAN ARMS LOBBY

A front page editorial in today’s L’Osservatore Romano:

“Twenty-one victims, 19 of them children: this is the chilling toll of the umpteenth massacre committed in a school in the United States. This time, crying for the madness of an eighteen year old, killed by the police, the community of Uvalde, Texas, one of the states with the most permissive laws on the possession of weapons, in the name of that second amendment to the Constitution considered sacred, untouchable.

“It is as if we had stood still in the days of the wild frontier, with people always alert, ready to defend themselves from a possible external enemy, without realizing that the enemy is at home. Today, after yet another massacre, those who defend the possession of weapons and fight for ever less restrictive laws speak of horror, senselessness, say they are grieved, saddened and pray for the victims and their families: words that are offensive in the face of pain unspeakable of one who is crying a child.

“On Friday, some of them will probably participate in the annual assembly of the National Rifle Association, the powerful American arms lobby, to be held in Houston, not far from the site of the massacre. One cannot help but feel the weight of what happened, the weight of the many, too many, victims sacrificed every year on the altar of this alleged freedom. But how many scruples will there be when in Congress they block, as in the past, yet another law against easy weapons? What is lacking is the courage and determination to stop this death lobby. At stake are not only the civilization of a people, the dignity of a democratic nation, which would already mean a lot, but people’s lives.”

This is today’s front page of L’Osservatore Romano: a headline that says “Enough of indiscriminate arms trafficking! With a broken heart, the Pope prays for the victims of the massacre in Texas”

 

FAITH, LIVED OUT FULLY BY THE ELDERLY, IS A POWERFUL WITNESS FOR THE YOUNG

FAITH, LIVED OUT FULLY BY THE ELDERLY, IS A POWERFUL WITNESS FOR THE YOUNG

Before starting the catechesis at today’s general audience, Pope Francis was driven around a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for just over 10 minutes, seated in a swivel chair in the white, open jeep. Remaining seated due to his painful knee, for which he is being treated, he waved nonstop to the pilgrims and occasionally received an infant or toddler whom he hugged and kissed. (vatican photos)

Arriving at the raised platform, the Holy Father began the catechesis, saying, “In our continuing catechesis on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s word, we now consider the example of Eleazar, as found in the Second Book of Maccabees.

“At a time of violent persecution, the Jewish people were being forced under pain of death to eat meat sacrificed to idols. As an elderly and respected member of the community, Eleazar was told that if he merely pretended to do so, his life would be spared. Rather than betray his faith in God, Eleazar preferred death. His witness to the truth and dignity of the faith, even at the cost of his life, thus served as a powerful example to the young. Eleazar showed that faith is not an abstract idea or a set of rules to be followed, but a commitment of one’s entire being to God.”

“The central point is this,” Francis explained. “Dishonoring the faith in old age, in order to gain a handful of days, cannot be compared with the legacy it must leave to the young, for entire generations to come. But well-done Eleazar! An old man who has lived in the coherence of his faith for a whole lifetime, and who now adapts himself to feigning repudiation of it, condemns the new generation to thinking that the whole faith has been a sham, an outer covering that can be abandoned, imagining that it can be preserved interiorly!”

Pope Francis stressed that “the effect of such an external trivialization would be devastating for the inner life of young people. But the consistency of this man who considers the young! He considers his future legacy, he thinks of his people.”

Francis emphasized that, “in our own day, the witness of the elderly to a clear and consistent practice of the faith can counter the powerful cultural forces that would dismiss the faith as outmoded or irrelevant. By showing the dignity of a life of faith expressed in community worship and acts of charity, the elderly can help to strengthen the fabric of society and offer the young a model of integrity and fidelity valid for every age.”

Pope Francis, who is 85, said, “the practice of faith is not the symbol of our weakness, no, but rather the sign of its strength. We are no longer youngsters. We were not kidding around when we set out on the Lord’s path!”

“Dear elderly brothers and sisters, not to say old,” the Pope concluded, “we are in the same group. Please look at the young people: they are watching us. …. Young people are watching us and our consistency can open up a beautiful path of life for them. Hypocrisy, on the other hand, will do so much harm. Let us pray for one another. May God bless all of us old people. Thank you.”