DURING COVID-19, DRAW STRENGTH FROM CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD – NEW STUDY COMMISSION ON FEMALE DIACONATE ESTABLISHED

CORRECTION FYI: The Good Friday meditation before the Crown of Thorns will be broadcast live from inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. local time FRIDAY APRIL 10, days before the first anniversary of the fire. This relic was spared during last year’s fire in the cathedral. This will be transmitted on the website of France’s Catholic television station, KTO. I do not know as I write if Vaticannews.va and/or EWTN will transmit this.

DURING COVID-19, DRAW STRENGTH FROM CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD

At today’s general audience that took place in the library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father focussed his catechesis on Holy Week and the Lord’s passion, linking them to the spiral of death and fear that has enveloped the entire world with Covid-19.

“At this time of anxiety and suffering caused by the current pandemic,” began Francis, “we all face uncertainty and may ask where God is to be found in this situation. During these days of Holy Week we can find solace in the account of the Passion of Jesus. Our Lord also faced questions, with many wondering whether he really was the promised Messiah.

“It was only after his death,” continued the Pope, “that a centurion confirmed that Jesus truly was the Son of God. He did this after seeing Christ suffer silently on the cross, which teaches us that God’s power is revealed in humble and self-sacrificial love.”

The Holy Father explained that, “We, like the disciples, may have preferred the Lord to manifest his strength by resolving our problems according to our own measure of what is right. Yet the death and resurrection of Jesus show that while earthly power passes away, only love endures forever. Dear brothers and sisters, let us draw courage from our crucified and risen Lord, who embraces our fragility, heals our sins, and draws us close to him, transforming our doubts into faith and our fears into hope.”

A NEW STUDY COMMISSION ON FEMALE DIACONATE ESTABLISHED

From the Vatican Press Office today:

During a recent audience granted to His Eminence Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father decided to establish a new study commission on the female diaconate, calling the following to be part of it:

President: Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi, Archbishop of L’Aquila.
Secretary: Rev. Denis Dupont-Fauville, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Members:
Prof. Catherine Brown Tkacz, Lviv (Ukraine).
Prof. Dominic Cerrato, Steubenville (USA).
Prof. Don Santiago del Cura Elena, Burgos (Spain).
Prof. Caroline Farey, Shrewsbury (Great Britain).
Prof. Barbara Hallensleben, Fribourg (Switzerland).
Prof. Don Manfred Hauke, Lugano (Switzerland).
Prof. James Keating, Omaha (USA).
Prof. Msgr. Angelo Lameri, Crema (Italy).
Prof. Rosalba Manes, Viterbo (Italy).
Prof. Anne-Marie Pelletier, Paris (France).

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR THOSE WORKING IN THE MEDIA – POPE AT AUDIENCE: A PURE HEART SEES GOD

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR THOSE WORKING IN THE MEDIA

Pope Francis prayer intention for Wednesday’s Mass at the Casa Santa Marta was “for all who work in the media, who work to communicate…. They are working so that people are not so isolated; for the education of children, to help us to bear this time of isolation.”

In his homily, the Holy Father focused on the struggle between Jesus and the Doctors of the Law over His identity. Jesus, he said, ultimately backs them into a corner, and they resort to insults and blasphemy.

To read a summary of his homily and to see the video of the papal Mass: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2020-04/pope-francis-daily-mass-prays-for-media-workers.html

POPE AT AUDIENCE: A PURE HEART SEES GOD

Pope Francis focused the catechesis of his general audience on the sixth Beatitude, which promises that those with a pure heart will see God.

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)
The sixth Beatitude promises that those with a pure heart will see God. Pope Francis began his catechesis explaining that anyone who seeks the face of God shows the desire for a “personal relationship” with Him.

Like the disciples at Emmaus, “blindness” comes from a foolish and slow heart, said the Pope. In this case, “one sees things clouded”, he added.

The Lord opens the disciples’ eyes at the end of their journey, which culminates in the breaking of the bread.

“Here lies the wisdom of this Beatitude,” said the Pope. “To be able to contemplate it, it is necessary to look deep within our hearts and make space for God”.

“To see God it is not necessary to change our glasses or the place from which we are looking. Our heart needs to be liberated from its own deceit. When we realize that our worst enemy is often hidden within our own hearts, this is a decisive maturation process. That is the most noble battle against the interior deceptions generated by our sins”

To understand what “purity of heart” is, we must recall that in the Bible, “the heart does not consist solely in sentiments”. It is the “most intimate” part of the human being: “the interior space where a person is him or herself”, said the Pope.

The ‘pure of heart’ are not born that way. They have “lived an interior simplification, learning to renounce evil in itself”. The Bible calls this process “circumcision of the heart,” said the Pope. It is an inner purification that implies recognising the part of the heart that is under the influence of evil. This helps us to be led by the Holy Spirit, “through this journey of the heart to ‘see God’”.

In this beatific vision there is a future dimension: “the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven”, said the Pope. But there is also another, he continued: “To see God means discerning the designs of Providence in what happens, recognising His presence in the Sacraments, in our brothers and sisters, above all the poor and suffering, and to recognise God where He manifests Himself.”

A lifelong path of liberation begins in the furrow of the Beatitudes. This path is the Holy Spirit’s work, God’s work, when we give Him space.

“We are not afraid,” concluded the Pope. “Let us open the doors of our hearts to the Holy Spirit so that He may purify us and lead us on this journey towards joy and peace”.

THE GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE BEATITUDES, CORONAVIRUS, SYRIA, GOOD FRIDAY MEDITATIONS BY PRISONERS

What fun! I was quoted, but not by name, in the last sentence of this story about the coronavirus in Italy when Courtney quotes a “colleague who said ‘Christ is in Quarantine’” – that was my blog title a few days ago! https://www.foxnews.com/media/american-italy-coronavirus-quarantine-travel-restrictions

The Vatican announced today that on Sunday, March 15, Pope Francis’ private Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence will be transmitted on live TV from 7 to approximately 7:30 am. (Check online with Vatican media).

THE GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE BEATITUDES, CORONAVIRUS, SYRIA, GOOD FRIDAY MEDITATIONS BY PRISONERS

Following is the English language catechesis of the Pope’s general audience today. The audience was filmed in the library of the Apostolic Palace. The monsignors from the Secretariat of State who recite the catechesis in diverse languages joined the Holy Father in the library.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Beatitudes, we now turn to the fourth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt 5:6). Jesus speaks not only of hungering and thirsting for personal and social justice, but also points to a deeper yearning for righteousness in the eyes of God. Psalm 63 expresses this thirst thus: “O God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you” (v. 1). Saint Augustine puts it similarly: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Confessions, I, 1). This desire lies within every human heart and finds its fulfilment in Christ, who through the paschal mystery has reconciled us to the Father and calls us to share with everyone the Good News of our justification. The Beatitude promises us that by promoting justice in this highest sense, we will find true satisfaction, for our thirsting for righteousness will be quenched by the love God pours out upon his children.

After greetings in diverse languages, the Pope said in Italian:

At this moment, I would like to address all the sick who have the virus and who suffer from the disease, and to the many who suffer uncertainties about their diseases. I sincerely thank the hospital staff, the doctors, the nurses and the nurses, the volunteers who in this difficult moment are beside the people who suffer. I thank all Christians, all men and women of good will who pray for this moment, all united, whatever the religious tradition to which they belong. Thank you very much for this effort.

But I would not want this pain, this very strong epidemic to make us forget the poor Syrians, who have been suffering on the border between Greece and Turkey: a people suffering for years. They must escape from war, from hunger, from disease. Let’s not forget the brothers and sisters, many children, who are suffering there. I affectionately greet you, dear Italian-speaking brothers and sisters. I encourage you to face every situation, even the most difficult, with fortitude, responsibility and hope.

I would also like to thank the parish of the “Due Palazzi” prison in Padua: thank you very much. Yesterday I received the draft of the Via Crucis, which you did for the next Good Friday. Thank you for all working together, the whole prison community. Thanks for the depth of your meditations.

TICKETS FOR GENERAL AUDIENCES, PAPAL EVENTS – POPE AT AUDIENCE: “DISCONNECT FROM TV, SMART PHONES AND CONNECT TO THE GOSPEL IN LENT”

TICKETS FOR GENERAL AUDIENCES, PAPAL EVENTS

For over 20 years, first at Santa Susanna and now at St. Patrick’s, the Paulist Fathers have made tickets for papal general audiences available to parishioners and visitors who come to the church for American Catholics in Rome. Every Tuesday morning, our secretary Rosanna went to the Vatican to collect the tickets she had previously requested and would hand out later that afternoon at the church.

Two weeks ago she requested about 200 tickets and the Vatican gave her – reluctantly – 20! Thus, that Tuesday afternoon only 20 of the several hundred people who came to St. Patrick’s could get tickets. What do you say to the others? You tell them the Vatican has changed their policy.

St. Patrick’s is proceeding as usual, notwithstanding changes by the Prefecture of the Papal Household. Rosanna will go to the Vatican on Tuesday mornings and will get whatever number of tickets they give her (hopefully the number she requested so pilgrims do not remain disappointed) and then distribute those on Tuesday afternoon. Here is what our website says: https://stpatricksamericanrome.org/index.php/pilgrims-in-rome/papal-audiences

I went to the website of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, the office that gives out tickets, and it explains how tickets may be ordered and offers a form to be filled out online and then faxed to (+39) 06 698 85863 or mailed to: Prefecture of the Papal Household, 00120 Vatican City State. The Prefecture does not have an email address.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: “DISCONNECT FROM TV, SMART PHONES AND CONNECT TO THE GOSPEL IN LENT”

Pope Francis held this week’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Ash Wednesday, reflecting on how the coming forty days are a good time to make room for the Word of God in our lives.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

“Lent,” Pope Francis told some 12,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “is a time in which to turn off the television and open the Bible.”

During his catechesis for the weekly general audience the Pope reflected on the 40 days spent by Jesus in the desert as He prepared for His public ministry and said that, in a sense, it is a time for us to imitate Jesus and seek a place of silence, where we are free to hear the Lord’s word and experience His call.

He said, “In the desert one hears the Word of God, one finds intimacy with God and the love of the Lord,” noting that Jesus taught us how to seek the Father, who speaks to us in silence.

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The pollution of verbal violence
He remarked on the fact that, for many of us, it is not easy to be in silence as we live in an environment that is “polluted by too much verbal violence,” by so many “offensive and harmful words” that are amplified by the internet.

“Lent is a time to disconnect from cell phones and connect to the Gospel,” he said, recalling that when he was a child there was no television, but his family would make a point of not listening to the radio.

“It is the time to give up useless words, chatter, rumors, gossip, and talk and to speak directly to the Lord,” he said. It is a time in which to dedicated ourselves to an ecology of the heart.

In a world in which we often struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord, Jesus calls us into the desert and invites us to listen to what matters, Pope Francis explained. And he recalled that when the devil tempted Him, Jesus replied, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

A place of silence and dialogue with the Lord
Thus, he continued, the desert, represented by the journey of Lent, is a place of life, a place in which to dialogue in silence with the Lord who gives us life.

The Pope also reflected on how an important part of our Lenten desert experience is the practice of fasting, which trains us to recognize, in simplicity of heart, how often our lives are spent in empty and superficial pursuits.

“Fasting is being capable of giving up the superfluous and going to the essential. Fasting is not only losing weight, it is seeking the beauty of a simpler life.”

The Pope also noted that the solitude of the desert increases our sensitivity to those who quietly cry out for help.

“Even today, close to us, there are many deserts, many lonely people: they are the lonely and the abandoned. How many poor and old people live near us in silence, marginalized and discarded.”

A journey of charity
The desert of Lent leads us to them, he continued. It is a journey of charity towards those who are weak and in need. Pope Francis concluded his catechesis reiterating that the path through the Lenten desert is made up of “prayer, fasting, works of mercy”, so that it may lead us “from death to life.”

Francis said, “If we enter the desert with Jesus, we will leave it at Easter when the power of God’s love renews life. Just like those deserts that bloom in spring with buds and plants suddenly sprouting from the sand, if we follow Jesus, our deserts will also bloom.

Pope Francis also reiterated his closeness to those who are infected by Covid-19, to doctors, nurses, hospital staff and authorities dealing with the crisis. He said, “I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them.” He also turned his thoughts to civil authorities and to all those who are involved in assisting patients and in containing the spread of the virus.

POPE AT AUDIENCE: MEEKNESS UNITES US, ANGER DRIVES US APART – COUNCIL OF CARDINALS REVISING NEW APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION

POPE AT AUDIENCE: MEEKNESS UNITES US, ANGER DRIVES US APART

Turning his attention to the third Beatitude of Matthew’s Gospel – “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” – Pope Francis said a meek person is kind and without violence, and refuses to grow angry when passions run high.
(Vaticannnews)

“Anyone can seem meek when all is calm,” he told pilgrims at the general audience in the Paul VI Hall, “but how do we react when ‘under pressure’ or are attacked, offended, or assaulted?”

Jesus, said the Pope, is a model of meekness especially in how He suffered the Passion.

Pope Francis added that the Scriptures use the term “meek” for the poor and those without land.

So Jesus’ statement that the meek will inherit the earth would seem contradictory. But he promises it all the same, said the Pope. “It is the Promised Land. …That land is a promise and a gift for the people of God, and becomes a sign of something much greater than a piece of ground.”

He said the third Beatitude ultimately points us to our heavenly homeland.

The Pope went on to describe the traits of a meek disciple of Christ. “He or she has learned to defend their peace, their relationship with God, and the gifts of God: mercy, fraternity, trust, and hope.” Anger is the opposite of meekness, and destroys many important things when left uncontrolled.

“Anger has caused many brothers to cease speaking to one another. Meekness unites; anger divides.”

A person who is meek, concluded the Pope, is able to “win over hearts and save friendships, because people get angry but then they calm down.”

“This is how we can rebuild with peace.”

COUNCIL OF CARDINALS REVISING NEW APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION

The 33rd meeting of the Council of Cardinals was dedicated to a re-reading of the new document that will replace (the 1988) “Pastor Bonus” as well as a consideration of proposed amendments to the text.
By Vatican News

The Council of Cardinals met again this week for their regularly scheduled meeting in the Vatican.

According to a statement of the Holy See Press Office, Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Óscar A. Rodríguez Maradiaga, Reinhard Marx, Seán Patrick O’Malley, Giuseppe Bertello, and Oswald Gracias were present for the meeting, along with the secretary of the council, Archbishop Marcello Semeraro, and the assistant secretary, Bishop Marco Mellino.

Pope Francis was present for the proceedings, with the exception of the meeting on Wednesday morning that took place during the general audience. The final session took place on Wednesday afternoon, with Pope Francis in attendance.

The text of the new Apostolic Constitution on the reform of the Roman Curia, which has been revised in light of the contributions offered by the various dand by some experts, was the subject of an in-depth re-reading and revision by the Council. The cardinals also followed some suggestions received in recent weeks from cardinals resident in Rome who had not yet had the opportunity to send their proposals.

The reading of the text will continue at the next session, set for April 2020.

THE BEATITUDES, AN IDENTITY CARD FOR CHRISTIANS

THE BEATITUDES, AN IDENTITY CARD FOR CHRISTIANS

Pope Francis began a new series of catecheses this morning at the weekly general audience and announced that he would be focusing on the Beatitudes that Jesus proposed in his celebrated Sermon on the Mount.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began. “Today we begin a new series of catechesis on the Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus’ teaching provides a kind of ‘identity card’ for Christians. Like Moses on Sinai, Jesus gives these ‘new commandments’ from a hillside. He does not impose them but instead proposes them as the path to true happiness in the future that God promises to his faithful people.

Francis explained that “each Beatitude is composed of three parts: the opening word ‘Blessed’, followed by the situation in which those who are called blessed find themselves – poor in spirit, mourning, thirsting for justice – and finally the reason for which they are blessed.”

The Holy Father noted that, “the Beatitudes teach that we are blessed not by our present situation, but rather by the new condition that is ours by God’s grace. This first sermon of Jesus thus presents eight ‘doors’ through which we can encounter the power of God’s love to transform our lives and history. The Beatitudes point us beyond our limitations, tears and failures towards that Paschal joy born of Christ’s own victorious passage from death to life.”

The following photos were taken by EWTN/CNA’s Daniel Ibanez:

Here are the Beatitudes that Pope Francis will be studying in upcoming weeks.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

HOW TO GET TICKETS FOR PAPAL EVENTS (AN UPDATE) – POPE FOCUSES AUDIENCE CATECHESIS ON HOSPITALITY – POPE FRANCIS GREETS CHINESE MARKING LUNAR NEW YEAR

HOW TO GET TICKETS FOR PAPAL EVENTS (AN UPDATE)

This is a follow up to my Monday post on what seemed to be a big change in procedure for requesting tickets to papal events and liturgies. These changes were indicated in a recent letter sent out by the Prefecture of the Papal Household to dozens of parishes, seminaries, hotels, travel agencies and other Church-related institutions, that said henceforth all tickets requests had to come directly to the prefecture.

Having received the prefecture letter, our parish secretary nonetheless did what she had done for 20 years on Tuesday mornings: she went to the prefecture for tickets. She told me she got “roughly” 200 tickets (a few less than requested) in addition to another copy of the prefecture letter! She asked if there had been changes in the procedure and was told ‘no’. She asked if, under the new rules, she could return next week for tickets and was told ‘yes.’

However, she was told to tell all those who request tickets at our parish that they must now write directly to the prefecture! (http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/index_en.html). I am still trying to figure that out!

POPE FOCUSES AUDIENCE CATECHESIS ON HOSPITALITY

As he began the general audience this morning in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis announced a new catechesis, having concluded his reflections on the Acts of the Apostles last week.


“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said. “Today’s catechesis occurs in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, whose theme this year – on hospitality – was prepared by the Christian communities of Malta and Gozo.

Francis explained that, “the theme is based on Saint Paul’s dramatic experience of being shipwrecked at Malta, and the welcome he and his companions received there. Indeed, in contrast to the sea’s violence, the survivors received ‘unusual kindness’ as we saw in Acts 28:2, reflecting God’s love for them. This hospitality was then repaid when Paul healed many sick people, thus revealing God’s merciful love.”

The Pope continued his reflections by noting that, “hospitality is an important ecumenical virtue, which is open to listening to the experience that other Christians have of God. When we welcome Christians of a different tradition we reveal God’s love to them and receive the gifts that the Holy Spirit has sown in them.

“In this way,” he said, “we Christians are challenged to overcome our divisions and to show Christ’s love more effectively to others, especially the many migrants who, like Paul, face danger at sea, as they flee from peril. Working together like this will make us both better disciples of the Lord and more united as the People of God.

“Today,” underscored the pontiff, “the sea on which Paul and his companions were shipwrecked is, once again, a dangerous place for the lives of other sailors. All over the world migrant men and women face risky voyages to escape violence, to escape war, to escape poverty.”

As he greeted the English-speaking pilgrims present, the Pope said, “I offer a special greeting to the students from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. I also greet the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!”

POPE FRANCIS GREETS CHINESE MARKING LUNAR NEW YEAR

At the end of his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis greeted all those who mark the lunar new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. He urged prayers for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Also referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China, the Chinese New Year is one of the several Lunar New Years of Asia. It is celebrated by ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese people worldwide.

It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The New Year is dedicated to the Rat.

At the end of the general audience the Pope noted that on “January 25, in the Far East and in various other parts of the world, many millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year.”

“I send them my cordial greetings, wishing them in particular to be places of education in the virtues of welcome, wisdom, respect for each person and harmony with creation,” he said. “I invite all to pray also for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations: gifts which are so necessary in the world today.”