“AUTHENTIC PRAYER IS A HOPE-FILLED GAZE DIRECTED TO GOD” – KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS FOUNDER TO BE BEATIFIED – CORONAVIRUS, ITALY: SHORT TAKES

“AUTHENTIC PRAYER IS A HOPE-FILLED GAZE DIRECTED TO GOD”

As he has done for several months now, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace, accompanied by monsignori from the Secretariat of State who, practicing social distancing, delivered summaries of the main audience catechesis in diverse languages.

Francis began his reflections by noting that, “in our continuing catechesis on prayer, we now consider the prayer of the just. In the book of Genesis, the accounts of the fall of Adam and Eve and of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, tell of the emergence and expansion of evil and sin across successive generations. We too still experience the presence of wickedness in the world. Yet God’s will for his creatures is for the good, not for evil.”

He went on to explain that, “in the first pages of the Bible we also see another, less conspicuous story, with Abel, Seth, Enoch and Noah, who acted humbly and prayed to God with sincerity. These just men of prayer were peacemakers who show that authentic prayer, freed from the tendency to violence, is a hope-filled gaze directed to God, which can cultivate new life in place of arid hatred.”

Francis underscored the fact that, “throughout history, righteous men and women of prayer – often misunderstood or marginalized – have ceaselessly offered up intercession for the world, invoking God’s power to bring about healing and growth. May we, like them, faithfully ask God to fulfil his work of transforming hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.”

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS FOUNDER TO BE BEATIFIED

Congratulations to the Knights of Columbus! Truly a red-letter day for them as their founder, Dr. Michael McGivney, is slated for beatification! Yesterday afternoon, in a meeting with Cardinal Becciu who heads the Congregation for Saints, Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of a number of decrees, including a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Michael McGivney, Diocesan priest, Founder of the Order of the Knights of Columbus. McGivney was born August 12, 1852 in Waterbury, and died in Thomaston on August 14, 1890.

The Vaticannews biography states: Venerable Michael McGivney was the founder of the Knights of Columbus, now the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. After studies in Canada and the United States, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop James Gibbons in Baltimore. He founded the Knights of Columbus as a mutual aid society, geared especially to working men and their families. He was known for his tireless work among his parishioners. He died at the early age of 38 from pneumonia. Following Wednesday’s announcement, the Knights of Columbus released a statement, where you can read more about the life of Ven Michael McGivney and the work of the Knights. 

CORONAVIRUS, ITALY: SHORT TAKES

THE COLOSSEUM IN ROME, ITALY’S MOST VISITED TOURIST SITE, WILL REOPEN on Monday June 1, after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. With over 7 million visitors a year, the Colosseum is one of Rome’s major tourist attractions. The Flavian amphitheatre, which is listed as world heritage, “will finally reopen to the public, under the banner of accessibility, welcome and above all, safety,” according to a statement from the archaeological site.

ITALY IS PUSHING FOR A COORDINATED RESUMPTION OF TRAVEL IN EUROPE FROM JUNE 15, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Monday evening. “For tourism, June 15 is a bit like the European D-Day,” Di Maio stated on Italian television channel Rai 1. “Germany aspires to reopen on June 15,” Di Maio pointed out, and “we are working on this together with Austria and other countries,” he added. His statements come as France and Germany have called for the borders to be reopened as soon as possible. So far, announcements of plans to reopen borders have been made by individual European countries despite the European Commission calling for more consultation. Di Maio hopes to be able to present “homogeneous indications to tourists” in all regions of Italy so tourists can move freely from one region to another. “We must save what we can save of the summer to help our entrepreneurs.”

POMPEII TO OPEN IN TWO PHASES AND WITH NEW TIME SLOTS FOR VISITORS. Italy’s archaeological site Pompeii reopens to the public in two stages after being closed for more than two and a half months due to the coronavirus lockdown. In the first phase, from May 26, visitors will be able to walk along a pre-established route through the ruins of the ancient Roman city that was buried under a thick carpet of volcanic ash in 79 AD. Visitors must book online and select a time slot for entry – scheduled every 15 minutes for a maximum of 40 people at a time. Tickets must be presented either using the QRcode or already printed. All visitors must pass through thermoscanners before entering the site and are obliged to wear masks for the duration of their visit as well as respecting social distancing: one metre outside and 1.5 metres inside. For the duration of the first phase tickets will be reduced to €5 before returning to normal prices on June 9 when the site reopens fully, with access to areas previously closed-off to the public. For full details about access, tickets and opening times see Pompeii website.

Speaking of Pompeii: if you have to be in lockdown…. https://news.yahoo.com/us-couple-waits-2-1-133541074.html

A GOVERNMENT CALL FOR 60,000 VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO HELP ENSURE SOCIAL DISTANCING in Italy sparked a new controversy within the ruling coalition. Photos of Italian beaches and piazzas crowded with people enjoying the first weekend outdoors continued to alarm authorities and experts. That prompted local authorities to issue a call to recruit 60,000 volunteers who will help people comply with the social distancing measures. The move, however, sparked a new political controversy, as the Interior Ministry complained that it was not informed of the initiative and several politicians expressed doubts over the new figures. The volunteers will oblige people — “with kindness” and without the possibility of imposing fines — to respect social distancing rules in the parks, beaches and clubs, while also supporting the weakest part of the population, including kids and elderly people. Civil assistants, or volunteers, must be older than 18 years of age, unemployed or low-income earners, and supported by social safety nets.

ROME TO HAND OUT MASSIVE FINES FOR DUMPED MASKS AND GLOVES. Rome is to issue fines of up to €500 for those caught dumping used protective masks or plastic gloves on the streets of the capital during the pandemic. The measure is part of a zero-tolerance approach by Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi who says she is taking the action after repeated complaints from the city’s refuse collectors who have to dispose of the used gloves and masks. Raggi said that “uncivilised people” were responsible for the “shameful behavior that, thanks to this measure, will be severely sanctioned,” reports Italian newspaper La Stampa. Environmental association Legambiente said recently that with rain there is a high risk of the plastic trash finding its way into the sea.

ITALIAN TENOR ANDREA BOCELLI ON TUESDAY DONATED BLOOD PLASMA after saying he had had the coronavirus. Bocelli told journalists at a Pisa hospital that he had had mild symptoms, a slight fever, and had practically been asymptomatic. Speaking at the blood sampling centre of Cisanello Hospital, he said his wife and children had also had COVID-19, but were now fine. His wife had also given plasma for the study, led by the AOUP association of Pisa, into treatment for COVID patients. He said he had discovered he had the virus after taking a test on March 10.Bocelli said he hoped his plasma would help find a treatment for the deadly virus.

(Sources: Brussels Times, ANSA, Wanted in Rome, AA)

PRAYER AND THE MYSTERY OF CREATION – POPE TRANSFERS VATICAN’S DATA PROCESSING CENTRE TO SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY – PLO INFORMS VATICAN OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Following is an interesting read from the New York Times that explains how residents of 11 countries that normally have huge numbers of tourists experience life in a non-tourist environment. As the Times writes: “We asked people in 11 of the most overtouristed places around the world what it’s like” now, in a coronavirus world. Places from Rome to Bali, Croatia to Barcelona, Amsterdam to Iceland.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/travel/coronavirus-travel-restrictions-tourist-attractions.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20200520&instance_id=18629&nl=the-morning&regi_id=84973144&segment_id=28532&te=1&user_id=248d4496ef882f1f1c056200ea9c8351

Opening up in Rome has meant that I had a hair trim Monday morning, went to confession, Mass and received communion that same afternoon and am going to my favorite restaurant tonight for the first time since March 8!

As a popular brand says, LG! Life is good!

PRAYER AND THE MYSTERY OF CREATION

At today’s weekly general audience, streamed live from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis began by saying, “In our continuing catechesis on prayer, we now consider the mystery of creation.”

It was noteworthy that the general audience was bring held in Laudato Si’ Week, a week established by the Vatican to mark the fifth anniversary of the publication of Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si’ On the Care for our Common Home” on May 24, 2015. In addition, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development that is behind this week also announced the celebration of a special Laudato Si’ anniversary year that will run from May 24, 2020 to May 24, 2021.

“The first pages of the Bible,” said Francis in his catechesis, “resemble a great hymn of thanksgiving for the goodness and beauty of creation, whose grandeur awakens a sense of wonder within the human heart and a desire to pray. The awe-inspiring immensity of creation stirs us to contemplate the mystery of our own being. Though we may experience the weight of our insignificance, we are not nothing. Prayer assures us that things do not exist merely by chance, and that our relationship with God is the source of our nobility.   (vaticannews photo)

The Pope went on to explain that, “Men and women, by nature, may be almost nothing; yet by vocation, they are children of a great King! Amidst the difficulties and trials of life, prayer sustains our appreciation and gratitude, for it gives vigor to our hope. The hope of those who pray can in turn help others to realize that life is a gift from God; that hope is stronger than despair; that love is stronger than death.”

“For the simple joy of being alive,” concluded Francis, “let us offer praise and thanks to our heavenly Father.”

At the end of the catechesis, monsignori from the Secretariat of State read summaries in various languages and transmitted papal greetings to the faithful.

Francis had “cordial greetings for all Polish people” tuning in for the online general audience, noting that, “In these days we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Saint John Paul II. A Shepherd of great faith, he loved to entrust the Church and all humanity to God in prayer. Choosing the episcopal motto “Totus Tuus,” (‘all yours’) , he also showed that in difficult times we must turn to the Mother of God, who can help us and intercede for us. His life, built on deep, intense and confident prayer is an example for today’s Christians. I bless you from my heart.

In greetings to Italian-speaking faithful, the Pope highlighted “the approaching feast of the Ascension of the Lord (that) offers me the opportunity to urge everyone to be generous witnesses of the Risen Christ, knowing full well that He is always with us and supports us along the way.”

At the start of the general audience, Psalm 8 was read by each monsignor in their own language (French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish):

LORD, our Lord,

How awesome is your name through all the earth!

I will sing of your majesty above the heavens

with the mouths of babes and infants.

You have established a bulwark against your foes,

to silence enemy and avenger.

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and stars that you set in place—

What is man that you are mindful of him,

and a son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him little less than a god,

crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him rule over the works of your hands,

put all things at his feet:

All sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,

and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

POPE TRANSFERS VATICAN’S DATA PROCESSING CENTRE TO SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY

With a Rescript promulgated on Wednesday, Pope Francis transferred the Data Processing Centre (CED) from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) to the Secretariat for the Economy (SPE).

By Vatican News

Pope Francis has made a shuffle in the Roman Curia. He has issued a Rescript transferring the Data Processing Centre, previously managed by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) to the Secretary for the Economy (SPE). It was made public on Wednesday by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, with a statement dated May 11.

It said that Pope Francis considers the transfer is needed “to guarantee a more rational organization of the Holy See’s economic and financial information.” Another reason cited is the eventual computerization of all its activities “so as to guarantee the simplification of activities and the effectiveness of controls, as they are fundamental for the correct functioning of the Entities of the Roman Curia.”

The transfer of the Data Processing Centre will proceed according to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between APSA President Bishop Nunzio Galantino and the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves.

Officials and personnel of the CED will move under the responsibility of the SPE, except those who, by common agreement and for better convenience, continue to be employed by the APSA.

The Prefect of the SPE will re-organize the services offered by the CED, guaranteeing what is necessary for the performance of the APSA’s institutional tasks.

Promulgated on Wednesday, the new measure of Pope Francis will come into effect on June 1, 2020.

PLO INFORMS VATICAN OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

From the Holy See Press Office:

“Today, H.E. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, was contacted by telephone by H.E. Saeb Erekat, Chief negotiator and Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The latter wished to inform the Holy See about recent developments in the Palestinian territories and of the possibility of Israeli applying its sovereignty unilaterally to part of those territories, further jeopardizing the peace process.

“The Holy See reiterates that respect for international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions, is an indispensable element for the two peoples to live side by side in two States, within the borders internationally recognized before 1967.

“The Holy See is following the situation closely, and expresses concern about any future actions that could further compromise dialogue, while also expressing its hope that Israelis and Palestinians will be soon able to find once again the possibility for directly negotiating an agreement, with the help of the International Community, so that peace may finally reign in the Holy Land, so beloved by Jews and Christians and Muslims.”

“PRAYER IS AN ‘I’ IN SEARCH OF A ‘YOU’” – POPE ENCOURAGES DEVOTION TO OUR LADY OF FATIMA

Today marks the 39th anniversary of the day Pope John Paul was shot in St. Peter’s Square at the start of a Wednesday general audience. In a separate column later today, I post my memories of that day. Stay tuned!

“PRAYER IS AN ‘I’ IN SEARCH OF A ‘YOU’”

In his second general audience catechesis on prayer, Pope Francis this morning said, “we now consider its essential characteristics. Prayer involves our entire being yearning for some ‘other’ beyond ourselves. Prayer is a yearning that takes us beyond ourselves as we seek some ‘other’. It is an ‘I’ in search of a ‘You’.”.

“Specifically,” said Francis, speaking from the library of the Apostolic Palace, “Christian prayer is born from the realization that the ‘other’ we are seeking has been revealed in the tender face of Jesus, who teaches us to call God ‘Father’, and who wants personally to enter into a relationship with us.”

The Holy Father explained that, “In his farewell discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus no longer calls his disciples servants but friends. When we commune with God in prayer, we need not be fearful, for he is a friend, a trusted ally. Whatever our situation, or however poorly we may think of ourselves, God is always faithful, and willing to embrace us in mercy.

Francis highlighted God’s love, “We see this unconditional love on Calvary, for the Lord never stops loving, even to the end. Let us seek to pray by entering into this mystery of God’s unending Covenant with us. This is the burning heart of every Christian prayer: entrusting ourselves to the loving and merciful arms of our heavenly Father.”

After the catechesis in Italian, monsignori from the Secretariat of State gave summaries in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish, a well as greetings from the Pope in those languages.

POPE ENCOURAGES DEVOTION TO OUR LADY OF FATIMA

During today’s weekly general audience, Pope Francis urged the faithful to pray to Our Lady, reminding everyone that May 13 is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ (vaticannews)

“Today we celebrate the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima,” said Pope Francis in his greetings to Polish-speaking listeners at the weekly audience. “We turn our thoughts to the apparitions and its message transmitted throughout the world,” he added.

Pope Francis also recalled the attack on the life of Pope St. John Paul II in 1981. He pointed out that his predecessor experienced “the maternal intervention of the Holy Virgin” in sparing his life.

The Pope also said that Monday, May 18 marks the 100th anniversary of John Paul II’s birth. He said that he will celebrate his morning Mass that day on the altar over the saint’s tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica. “Let us thank God for giving us this saintly Bishop of Rome,” he said, “and ask him to help us: that he might help this Church of Rome to convert and strive ahead.”

Pope Francis then went on to pray for peace in the world, the end of the coronavirus pandemic, and the spirit of penance and conversion for the world through the intercession of Our Lady.

The Holy Father invited the Italian-speaking faithful to have constant recourse to Our Lady’s help, so that everyone might persevere in the love of God and neighbor. He prayed especially for the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.

Invitation to pray the Rosary
In his greetings to Portuguese-speaking faithful tuning in to the audience, Pope Francis urged Catholics to try to live this month of May with a more intense and faithful daily prayer. He pointed out that the prayer of the Rosary is one of the desires repeatedly expressed by Our Lady at Fatima: “Under her protection, the pains and afflictions of life will be more bearable.”

Love of neighbor
Addressing German-speaking faithful, Pope Francis noted that the many examples of the love of God for us are a “strong invitation to love all the people we meet,” especially in this time of social-distancing due to Covid-19. He prayed that the Holy Spirit might fill us with charity and joy.

Our Lady of Fatima
Between May and October 1917, Our Lady appeared six times to three Portuguese children – Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, in a cove near Fatima, in Portugal. In those apparitions, Our Lady asked the children to pray the Rosary for the world and for the conversion of sinners.

Pope St. John Paul II visited Fatima three times – in 1982, 1991 and 2000. During his 2000 visit, he beatified Jacinta and Francisco. The liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated annually on May 13.

 

POPE FRANCIS: PRAYER IS THE BREATH OF FAITH – POPE APPEALS FOR END TO EXPLOITATION OF FARM WORKERS

As I write this column, I am also following online the Mass for the Swiss Guards who, normally on May 6 each year, hold the moving swearing-in ceremony for new Swiss Guards. If you speak some Italian (and a bit of French and German), you might be interested in watching this, whenever you have time (https://www.guardiasvizzera.ch/paepstliche-schweizergarde/it/chi-siamo/). After Mass there will be an awards ceremony in another part of Vatican City, The actual swearing-in ceremony has been postponed and will take place, hopefully with family and friends, on October 4, 2020.

POPE FRANCIS: PRAYER IS THE BREATH OF FAITH

At today’s general audience, held in the library of the Apostolic Palace, as has become traditional during these months of the coronavirus pandemic with strict social distancing rules in place in Italy and Vatican City, Pope Francis began a new series of catecheses on the them of prayer.

As is customary, multi-lingual monsignori from the Secretariat of State were present and gave summaries of the papal catechesis in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish.

“Today we begin a new series of catechesis on prayer,” stated Pope Francis. “Prayer is the breath of faith, a cry arising from the hearts of those who trust in God. We see this in the story of Bartimaeus, the beggar from Jericho. Though blind, he is aware that Jesus is approaching, and perseveres in calling out: ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

“By using the phrase ‘Son of David’,” explained the Pope, “Bartimaeus makes a profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah. In response the Lord invites Bartimaeus to express his desire, which is to be able to see again. Christ then tells him: ‘Go; your faith has saved you’. This indicates that faith is a cry for salvation attracting God’s mercy and power.”

The Holy Father noted that, “It is not only Christians who pray but all men and women who search for meaning on their earthly journey. As we continue on our pilgrimage of faith, may we, like Bartimaeus, always persevere in prayer, especially in our darkest moments, and ask the Lord with confidence: ‘Jesus have mercy on me. Jesus, have mercy on us!’”

 After the catechesis, in greetings for Italian-speaking faithful tuning in to the online general audience, Pope Francis pointed out that “the day after tomorrow, Friday, May 8 the intense prayer of the ‘Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary’ will rise at the Shrine of Pompeii. I urge everyone to join spiritually in this popular act of faith and devotion, so that through the intercession of the Holy Virgin, the Lord may grant mercy and peace to the Church and to the whole world.”

POPE APPEALS FOR END TO EXPLOITATION OF FARM WORKERS

Following the general audience catechesis on prayer and summaries in various languages, Pope Francis made the following appeal: “On May 1st, I received several messages about the world of work and its problems. I was particularly struck by that of the farm workers, among them many migrants, who work in the Italian countryside. Unfortunately, many are very harshly exploited. It is true that the current crisis affects everyone, but people’s dignity must always be respected. That is why I add my voice to the appeal of these workers and of all exploited workers. May the crisis give us the opportunity to make the dignity of the person and the dignity of work the centre of our concern.”

 

PETER’S PENCE COLLECTION TO BE MOVED TO OCTOBER 4 FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR DEATH OF GRAND MASTER OF ORDER OF MALTA – POPE ENDS CATECHESIS ON THE BEATITUDES, HIGHLIGHTS FEAST OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA

PETER’S PENCE COLLECTION TO BE MOVED TO OCTOBER 4 FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS  

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said in a statement today that, “In consideration of the current health emergency situation, the Holy Father has established that, for this year 2020 the Peter’s Pence collection, which traditionally takes place around the June 29th solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, be transferred worldwide to the 27th Sunday of ordinary time, that is, October 4, the day dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.” 

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR DEATH OF GRAND MASTER OF ORDER OF MALTA

The Holy See Press Office this afternoon released Pope Francis’ telegram for the death this morning of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, His Eminent Highness Frà Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto. The message was sent to the ad interim Lieutenant of the Order, Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo Do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas. (photo: EWTN Daniel Ibanez)

Pope Francis expressed his condolences to the entire Order of Malta for the death of “such a zealous man of culture and faith. I remember his faithful allegiance to Christ and the Gospel, combined with the generous commitment to exercise his office for the good of the Church with a spirit of service, as well as his dedication to those who suffer the most. As I share your pain, I pray for the respèose of his soul and invoke eternal peace for his soul with divine goodness.” 

Vatican news posted this story earlier today: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-04/sovereign-order-of-malta-announces-death-of-grand-master.html

POPE ENDS CATECHESIS ON THE BEATITUDES, HIGHLIGHTS FEAST OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA

Once again, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace, accompanied by monsignors from the Secretariat of State who translate his weekly catechesis into summaries in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish.

“Today,” noted Francis, “we conclude our catechesis on the Beatitudes with the final Beatitude: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.”

The Pope explained that, “all the attitudes contained in the Beatitudes, when lived for Christ, can lead to oppression by the world; yet ultimately this persecution is a cause of joy in heaven. The way of the Beatitudes is an Easter path, leading us from selfishness to a life guided by the Spirit. We see this in the saints who show that the experience of persecution can set the Christian free from worldly compromise.”

The Holy Father went on to say that, “Tragically, today many of our brothers and sisters still face persecution, and we express our closeness to them. May we too always remain ‘salt of the earth’, lest by losing the ‘taste’ of the Gospel we lead others to disdain it.”

“By God’s grace,” concluded Pope Francis, “whatever trials we do face can draw us to become more like Christ, who leads us to new life. In this manner, following the humble way of the Beatitudes, we will come to experience the kingdom of heaven: our greatest joy and happiness.”

In greeting to the Italian-speaking faithful, Francis said, “Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, co-patron of Italy. This great figure of a woman drew from communion with Jesus the courage of action and that inexhaustible hope that supported her in the most difficult hours, even when everything seemed lost, and allowed her to influence others, even at the highest civil and ecclesiastical levels, with the strength of his faith. May her example help each one to know how to unite, with Christian coherence, an intense love of the Church with an effective concern for the civil community, especially in this time of trial. I ask Saint Catherine to protect Italy during this pandemic; and to protect Europe, because she is the patron saint of Europe so that it remains united.

Catherine of Siena was born March 25, 1347 in Siena, Tuscany, and died April 29, 1380 in Rome. She was canonized in 1461. On April 13, 1866, Pope Pius IX declared Catherine a co-patroness of Rome. On June 18, 1939 Pope Pius XII named her a co-patron saint of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 and a patron sai
nt of Europe in 1999.

POPE FRANCIS: “THE EARTH IS GOD’S HOME, WE STAND ON HOLY GROUND” – POPE FRANCIS AND FRENCH PRESIDENT SPEAK ON PHONE – VATICAN OFFICE HEADS MEET TO DISCUSS COVID19 PHASE 2 – CARDINAL FARRELL: WE ARE ONE FAMILY

POPE FRANCIS: “THE EARTH IS GOD’S HOME, WE STAND ON HOLY GROUND”

Pope Francis dedicated the entire catechesis of today’s general audience to the April 22nd 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The press office published the original Italian-language text as well as the complete English translation. There were also summaries of the Earth Day catechesis in the usual languages of French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish.

Pope Francis began the audience that took place in the library of the Apostolic Palace by noting that, “Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day. This is an opportunity for renewing our commitment to caring for our common home. We are called to cherish creation and all life within it, for the natural world is the ‘Gospel of Creation’, not a set of resources for us to exploit.”

He explained that, “To overcome our selfishness and rediscover a sacred respect for the earth, we need a new way of seeing – an ecological conversion – for the earth is also God’s home and we stand on holy ground. We can only be authentic custodians of the earth, and overcome the challenges before us – such as the coronavirus pandemic – by acting in solidarity with one another.”

The Holy Father, speaking of his May 2015 encyclical letter, said “As Laudato Si’ reminds us, we are one interdependent human family and so need a common response to the threats we face (cf. 164). In this Easter season of renewal, as we strive to love more deeply our common home and all our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need, let us implore our Heavenly Father: ‘Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth’.”

FOR FULL ENGLISH TEXT: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2020/04/22/0240/00522.html

POPE FRANCIS AND FRENCH PRESIDENT SPEAK ON PHONE

According to a vaticannews.va story, Pope Francis and French President Macron engaged in a telephone conversation focussed on the European Union’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the need for debt reduction in poor countries. The Holy See Press Office has said nothing about this but French President Emmanuel Macron’s communications office published the news.

Vatican news reported that Pope Francis took the opportunity to express his closeness and support to France where Covid-19 has claimed more than 20,000 lives during a telephone conversation with the French President. The president’s office said Pope Francis and President Emmanuel Macron spoke for about 45 minutes on Tuesday afternoon. It also said the Pope positively acknowledged “the constructive responses taken by France at the international level after the health crisis caused by the pandemic.”

VATICAN OFFICE HEADS MEET TO DISCUSS COVID19 PHASE 2 

A Holy See Pfress Office communique today stated that, “This morning in the old Synod Hall, an extraordinary meeting took place chaired by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the presence of the heads of the dicasteries and entities of the Holy See. The aim of the meeting was to reflect on a second phase of Covid19 emergency that will begin next May. The Holy See’s efforts to deal with the crisis in a sustainable way were underlined. In addition, the gradual reactivation of ordinary services was decided, while safeguarding the health precautions to limit contagion, so as to ensure service to the Holy Father and to the Universal Church.”

CARDINAL FARRELL: WE ARE ONE FAMILY

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, speaks about the decision to postpone the World Meeting of Families and World Youth Day, and about the lessons we can learn during these difficult times.

By Vatican News

Cardinal Kevin Farrell said that the decision to postpone two major ecclesial events was made out of prudence, and concern for the safety of the millions of people who are expected to take part.

The Vatican on Monday announced that the World Meeting of Families (WMF), set to take place in Rome in June 2021; and the next World Youth Day (WYD), scheduled for August 2022 in Lisbon, would both be pushed back a year, to 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Prudence and safety
In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Farrell explained that the organizational, logistical, and economic aspects of planning such events were important factors in the decision to postpone the events. Normally, planning for major international events of this kind takes place a year or more in advance. In these times, the Cardinal explained, “it would be imprudent of us to make that decision now, because we do not know exactly what the situation of our world will be as this pandemic comes to an end”.

He also expressed sympathy for people making plans for their families. Both the WMF and WYD draw large crowds from all over the world. It would be unreasonable to make plans for one’s family so soon after a major epidemic. Safety concerns are important too, Cardinal Farrell said: “It’s just not prudent” to have very large gatherings of people “until we know they are going to be safe”.

What we can learn
Cardinal Farrell focused on the importance of families, especially during a period when so many people are “locked down”. The family, he said, “is the most essential aspect of our social life. It is the basis of all social life”.

With so many people living closely together because of necessary health restrictions, families are learning how to care for each other more than ever before, Cardinal Farrell said. It is precisely in family life, that we learn how to value others and to care for them. He said he prays that this might be “one of the aspects” of the coronavirus emergency “that will most affect us”.

“We are one family”
The Cardinal said he believes the world will become “a smaller place” because we are learning that our lives are all interconnected. The Covid-19 emergency has affected every corner of the world, “which shows that the human race, we are all one family”. He said he hopes that “the greatest lesson we would all learn in this experience is precisely that: We are one family”.

 

“BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD”

I hope you are having a good day, wherever you are! Some time ago, and I don’t remember where, on Facebook I saw a whole bunch of memes regarding how we are faring during these stay home weeks. One asked if people were making travel plans,. If so, where were they going: Las kitchenas, Los Lounges, Santa bedrooomes, Porta Gardenas, Costa del Balconi, Saint Bathroome, or la Rotonda de Sofa?!

One thing we know about all those rooms: they probably are the cleanest in the neighborhood! Because cleaning our house, along with home-schooling children, inventing something that will change the future of humanity or writing the next best seller, is probably how we are occupying our “spare” time. That time we have on our hands when not running one of two or three errands allowed by law (in Italy, at least): essential work, going to see a doctor or going on an ‘essential’ errand (bank, groceries or pharmacy.

I went grocery shopping this afternoon – about a 7-block walk roundtrip from my place – and you know that when you get excited to go out and buy groceries, life has really changed! Or, as I read in one email: “Coronavirus has turned us all into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We’re told ‘no’ if we get too close to strangers. And we really get excited about car rides.”

I think I have been reading too many world statistics on Covid-19 – numbers are staggering even if, in many cases, they are going down instead of increasing. I needed a little humor and got it in some emails from family members and friends so am sharing a few of those.

Pope Francis is trying to pass the time as normally as possible with morning Mass, some private meetings, writing documents and today he held his weekly audience, coming to everyone around the world from the library of the Apostolic Palace, seated at safe distances from his monsignor collaborators in the Secretariat of State who read the multi-lingual summaries of the catechesis and impart the papal greetings.

We also learn that in recent days he has phoned a number of people, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. I posted the cardinal’s account of that phone call, and vaticannews did a story as well. I wonder if anyone has taught the Pope how to use Face Time!

Maybe I should send the Holy Father a post-Easter message and make sure my phone number is included!

“BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD”

The Pope began today’s catechesis by saying, “I am happy that this theme happens immediately after Easter because the peace of Christ is the fruit of His death and resurrection, as we heard in the reading of Saint Paul. To understand this beatitude, one must explain the meaning of the word ‘peace’, which can be misunderstood or sometimes trivialized.!

He then explained that “in our continuing catechesis on the Beatitudes, we now turn to the seventh Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” noting that there are two kinds of peace: “One kind of peace can be seen in the biblical term Shalom, which signifies an abundant, flourishing life. A second idea is the modern notion of interior serenity.

“Yet,” said Francis in a seeming inference to the coronavirus pandemic, “this second type of peace is incomplete since spiritual growth often occurs precisely when our tranquillity has somehow been disturbed.”

In this Easter season we see Jesus bringing the gift of his own peace, a fruit of his death and resurrection. The Lord bestows his gift not as the world does – where “peace” is often purchased at the expense of others – but by destroying hostility in his own person. A peacemaker then is someone who, by God’s grace, imitates Jesus in bringing reconciliation to others by giving of themselves, always and everywhere!

“Those who do so,” concluded Pope Francis, “are true children of God and show us the way of true happiness. Once again, I wish you all a happy Easter, in the peace of Christ!”

In greetings to Polish people watching the general audience online, Francis said: “I cordially greet the Poles. Next Sunday we will celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy. St. John Paul II instituted this in response to the request made of Saint Faustina by Jesus when He said, “I wish the feast of mercy to be a shelter and refuge for all souls. Humanity will not find peace until it turns to the source of my mercy”(Diary 699). We confidently pray to the Merciful Jesus for the Church and for all humanity, especially for those who suffer in this difficult time. The Risen Christ revives hope and the spirit of faith in us. I cordially bless you.”

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.