VATICAN INSIDER VISITS PARADISUS DEI – JUBILEE DOORS IN THE HOLY LAND TO CLOSE DECEMBER 3 AND 9 – THE LITTLE KNOWN MARIAN SHRINE OF ANJARA IN JORDAN

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS PARADISUS DEI

My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Steve Bollman, founder of Paradisus Dei, an amazing organization that helps families discover the superabundance of God within marriage and family life. Since its inception, Paradisus Dei has grown rapidly (largely by word of mouth), and has established itself as a large nationwide ministry. It has particular strengths in developing compelling programming and helping individuals discover the presence of God in the midst of communion.

As you will see on the organization’s website (https://www.paradisusdei.org/), during the Great Jubilee, Steve experienced a personal call to found a ministry dedicated to finding God within the context of marriage and family life. In 2001, he founded Paradisus Dei as a lay Catholic ministry and in 2002 he set aside his professional interests as an energy derivatives trader in Houston, TX to dedicate himself full time to the development of the ministry.

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As he was about to hold the first meeting at 6am on a weekday morning, he was told no one would show up. Except, 150 men came to the meeting. And it kept on growing. The growth has been amazing since then and today Paradisus Dei is in well over 500 parishes in the U.S.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

JUBILEE DOORS IN THE HOLY LAND TO CLOSE DECEMBER 3 AND 9

(Vatican Radio) Following the closure of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Doors in Jerusalem and Nazareth will be closed respectively on December 3 and 9, during Solemn Masses in the Church of All Nations and the Basilica of the Annunciation.

The Masses will be presided by Patriarchal Vicars Bishop William Shomali in Jerusalem, Bishop Giacinto Marcuzzo in Nazareth and by Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land.

The Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa spoke to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni of the meaning of the event in the Holy Land.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa points out that the Holy Door will also be closed in Anjara in Jordan that together with Getsemane and Nazareth are the three most significant Holy places in the Holy Land.

“The meaning is the same as it is all over the world: first of all to close the Jubilee Year but also to remind the community that the commitment to mercy for us Christians isn’t over, but must continue, especially here in the Holy Land where divisions and hatred are so evinent – mercy is the language that we Christians have to talk” he said.

Abp. Pizzaballa says that the Holy Year of Mercy has not had any visible effects at the macro level of politics and high level decisions, but he says at a ground level “with the people, in the communities, in the schools we have seen many initiatives of encounter and dialogue between Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims.”

THE LITTLE KNOWN MARIAN SHRINE OF ANJARA IN JORDAN

As I read the preceding article, I realized I knew nothing of Anjara and so looked up various sties about this shrine. Here is some information I culled from several web sites.

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Anjara is a biblical city in Jordan that is on most biblical tours of the nation and it is here that we find the shrine of Our Lady of the Mountain (sometimes written Mount). The church itself consists of a large hall to receive pilgrims who come venerate the life-size wooden statue of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus that was placed in a newly built grotto.

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It is believed that Jesus Christ and his disciples, including the Virgin Mary, passed through Anjara and rested in a cave in the Ajloun mountains during a journey between Jerusalem and Galilee. The cave in Anjara has long been a holy place for pilgrims and has now been commemorated with a modern shrine, precisely, the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain. The cave was also designated by the Catholic Churches of the Middle East as one of the five pilgrimage sites (the others being Mount Nebo, Machaerus, Tell Mar Elias near Ajloun, and the Jordan River region at Bethany beyond the Jordan) in Jordan.

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Anjara, a little-visited archaeological site, is believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Elijah.

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Here’s a link to a great story in the National Catholic Register about this shrine – a shrine I now have placed on my list of places the visit the next time I am in Jordan: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/jordans-devotion-to-our-lady

 

A YEAR OF MERCY ENDS, A HOLY DOOR IS CLOSED, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS GROWS

A YEAR OF MERCY ENDS, A HOLY DOOR IS CLOSED, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS GROWS

This past weekend was jam-packed with important ecclesial moments: the consistory Saturday to create 17 new cardinals, the closing on Sunday of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and the end of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy and the signing by Pope Francis’ of his post Jubilee Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”) at the end of Mass.

With the new cardinals, there are now 228 members of the College of Cardinals: 121 cardinal electors, that is, cardinals under the age of 80 who can vote in a future conclave and 107 non electors, those over the age of 80 who, though they may not vote in a conclave could theoretically be elected Pope.

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SATURDAY: “A MYSTAGOGY OF MERCY: LOVE, DO GOOD, BLESS AND PRAY

In his homily at Saturday’s consistory for the creation of new cardinals, Pope Francis told the new Eminences that, “The Gospel passage we have just heard (cf. Lk 6:27-36) is often referred to as the ‘Sermon on the Plain’.  After choosing the Twelve, Jesus came down with his disciples to a great multitude of people who were waiting to hear him and to be healed.  The call of the Apostles is linked to this ‘setting out’, descending to the plain to encounter the multitudes who, as the Gospel says, were ‘troubled’.

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“Instead of keeping the Apostles at the top of the mountain, their being chosen leads them to the heart of the crowd; it sets them in the midst of those who are troubled, on the “plain” of their daily lives.  The Lord thus shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’.”

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The Holy Father explained that, “there are four actions that will shape, embody and make tangible the path of discipleship.  We could say that they represent four stages of a mystagogy of mercy: love, do good, bless and pray.  I think we can all agree on these, and see them as something reasonable.”

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Then he noted that “the problem comes when Jesus tells us for whom we have do these things.  Here he is very clear.  He minces no words, he uses no euphemisms.  He tells us: love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you (cf. vv. 27-28).

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“Ours is an age of grave global problems and issues,” continued Francis. “We live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts.  We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant, or a refugee, become a threat, take on the status of an enemy. An enemy because they come from a distant country or have different customs. An enemy because of the color of their skin, their language or their social class. An enemy because they think differently or even have a different faith.  An enemy because…

“And, without our realizing it, this way of thinking becomes part of the way we live and act.  Everything and everyone then begins to savour of animosity.  Little by little, our differences turn into symptoms of hostility, threats and violence.  How many wounds grow deeper due to this epidemic of animosity and violence, which leaves its mark on the flesh of many of the defenseless, because their voice is weak and silenced by this pathology of indifference!  How many situations of uncertainty and suffering are sown by this growing animosity between peoples, between us!  Yes, between us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings.

“The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting.  We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the Church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals. We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin color, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites.  None of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches.”

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SUNDAY: A HOLY DOOR OF MERCY IS CLOSED BUT NOT THE HEART OF JESUS

In his homily at Mass on Sunday, Solemnity of Christ the King, after closing the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis said, “even if the Holy Door is closed, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open wide for us.” And he explained that the power of Christ the King “is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things.”

“In order to receive the kingship of Jesus,” said the Holy Father, “we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him.  How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world.  How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross.  The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works.

“This Year of Mercy,” he continued, “invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential.  This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission.  Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.”

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MONDAY: POST JUBILEE APOSTOLIC LETTER, MISERICORDIA ET MISERA.

Pope Francis signed his Post Jubilee Year Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, at the end of Mass Sunday and it was made public Monday morning, November 21. In this 7,400-word letter the Pope wrote: “In light of the ‘great graces of mercy’ we have received during the Jubilee, our first response is to give thanks to the Lord for His gifts. But in going forward, we must also continue to celebrate mercy, especially in the liturgical celebrations of the Church, including in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and in the other Sacraments, especially in Reconciliation and in Anointing of the Sick, the two ‘sacraments of healing’.”

The breaking news of that document was Pope Francis’ decision to extend indefinitely the permission he gave to priests at the start of the Holy Year of Mercy to absolve those who have committed the sin of abortion, an excommunicable offense.

In the Apostolic Letter he wrote: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.” And he also said: “There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled” with God.

Because abortion has always been a very grave sin, punishable by excommunication, the possibility of granting forgiveness always rested under the authority of a bishop. A bishop could hear the woman’s confession himself or delegate that to a priest who had been specifically trained in this area. However, in 2015, Pope Francis had said he was allowing all priests to grant absolution for an abortion for the duration of the Holy Year, which ran from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016.

Now, with a view to carrying out Francis’ vision of a merciful Church, priests may, on a permanent basis, absolve the sin of abortion, an act the Pope has called “this agonizing and painful decision.” Francis asked priests “to be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation” for faithful who had abortions.

Here is what he wrote, in part in the Apostolic Letter:

The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.

“A favorable occasion for this could be the 24 Hours for the Lord, a celebration held in proximity to the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This initiative, already in place in many dioceses, has great pastoral value in encouraging a more fervent experience of the sacrament of Confession.

  1. Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year,[14] is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.

“For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins.[15] For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.

Pope Francis also invites the Church to Celebrate a World Day of the Poor:

“During the ‘Jubilee for Socially Excluded People’, as the Holy Doors of Mercy were being closed in all the cathedrals and shrines of the world, I had the idea that, as yet another tangible sign of this Extraordinary Holy Year, the entire Church might celebrate, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor. This would be the worthiest way to prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, who identified with the little ones and the poor and who will judge us on our works of mercy (cf. Mt 25:31-46). It would be a day to help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Lk 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace. This Day will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as She perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy.”

Click here for the complete Apostolic Letter: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20161120_misericordia-et-misera.html

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS – THE STORY BEHIND THE HOLY DOOR OF ST. PETER’S BASILICA

Monday, November 21, the Vatican will publish an Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis on the occasion of the closing of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. The Letter’s title is “Mercy and Misery.”

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS

This weekend, as the Church welcome 17 new cardinals, 13 of whom are under the age of 80 and will be among the 121 cardinal electors in a future conclave, I take you inside the College of Cardinals on “Vatican Insider.” What is a cardinal? How are they chosen? What are their duties? What does the College do as a whole? When was it founded? And so on….(photo: news.va 2015 consistory)

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In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THE STORY BEHIND THE HOLY DOOR OF ST. PETER’S BASILICA

As you know, Pope Francis will close the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica this Sunday, thus officially ending the Jubilee of Mercy that began last December 8th. This Holy Door is always the first to be opened and the last to be closed. This photo shows Francis opening that door last December:

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St. Peter’s Holy Door was donated by Swiss Catholics to Pope Pius XII (1939-58) for the 1950 Holy Year. Designed by Siena artist Vico Consorti, and inaugurated on December 24, 1949, it has 16 panels, 15 of which depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. The last panel shows Pius XII opening this door.

Pilgrims entering the various Holy Doors are not really allowed ample time to explore the door itself, its symbolism and artistry or to touch part of it or even to say a prayer. Therefore, if you click here, you’ll be able to see those individual panels and read a brief explanation: http://stpetersbasilica.info/Interior/HolyDoor/Panels/HD-panels.htm

Here is a link to a piece by Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick on the foundry that produced these panels. Veronica has just retired but Vatican Radio re-aired this story, noting that it was the grandson of the original foundry owner, Ferdinando Marinelli who invited her to visit the family foundry.

She met him in Florence, says the Vatican Radio account, at his window on the world, an enchanting gallery on the banks of the River Arno seething with a myriad of bronze statues from different eras. Among them the impressive ‘Giambologna Neptune’, who seems to greet you as you enter.

And it was by this towering statue that Ferdinando Marinelli greeted her, ready to drive across the Tuscan countryside to his foundry which lies on the way to Siena, Vico Consorti’s city.

She was eager to visit his foundry and aware it was not the one where the Holy Door was cast by his grandfather but another more recent one. She knew too that Ferdinando Marinelli was sure to treasure that age old rapport of his foundry with the Vatican despite the more modern outreach he now enjoys right across the world. No surprise as for centuries the Church and the world of art have enjoyed an extremely prolific love affair.

Click here to catch a glimpse of Veronica Scarisbrick’s tour at the foundry http://www.fonderiamarinelli.it/

JUBILEE OF MERCY WINDING DOWN: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY

JUBILEE OF MERCY WINDING DOWN: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY

We might easily ask at some point: Where has the year gone? So many special events and audiences and Jubilee moments and the papal Mercy Friday surprise visits to the elderly, to children, to prisoners, to the sick, etc. The Pope called for this Year of Mercy on March 13, 2015, the second anniversary of his election.

Just a brief look at this past weekend, the penultimate Jubilee weekend:

SATURDAY in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis enthusiastically thanked some 600 of the total 4,000 Holy Year volunteers who assisted pilgrims from across the globe during the Jubilee: “You have been fantastic! I thank you,…. for your precious service that has allowed so many pilgrims to give life to this experience of faith in a positive way. Also Saturday: Pope Francis presided over the last special Saturday audience for the Jubilee of Mercy during which he called on Christians to witness to God’s mercy by being inclusive.

SUNDAY, as Holy Doors were closed in Rome at three papal basilicas, and in the dioceses and many shrines of the world, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for some 6,000 poor and homeless people from countries in Europe and Africa. In his homily, he said: “We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetized and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side, or notice the grave problems in our world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news.”

Pope Francis had held a special audience on Friday with over 4,000 poor people who he said “are at the heart of the Gospel, …concrete people, not useless objects but precious persons.”

It was the poor who are in the heart, mind and words of Pope Francis who were seated in places of honor at a concert for them on Saturday and in the front pews during Sunday’s Mass.

On a personal note: Saturday I went to the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls as, of all the astonishing things, I realized I had not gone through the Holy Door here! I had time to explore this magnificent church once again, up close and personal, to take a few photos with my phone and to say the rosary.

You may have seen my Joan’s Rome Live video on Facebook about this mini pilgrimage, and here are some photos.

The very first photo shows, on the left side of the picture, one part of the Holy Door that pilgrims walked through this Jubilee year: That door was closed yesterday. On the right side of the photo is what is the back of the Holy Door that you see when you are inside the church. These will be closed and sealed against each other until the next scheduled Ordinary Holy Year in 2025.

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The center door of the basilica-

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Some interior shots, including the tomb of St. Paul –

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Some exterior shots as you exit the basilica –

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Some current excavation work –

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The Pope is always the first person to open a Holy Door on St. Peter’s Basilica, and other Holy Doors in Rome and around the world are opened after that. At the end of a Holy Year, the reverse is true: Holy Doors in Rome and around the world are closed before the Pope closes St. Peter’s Holy Door. This was also clear in the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy.

Francis closes the Holy Door of St. Peter’s on Sunday, November 20, Feast of Christ the King, a feast that was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 at the end of the Holy Year of 1925.

Vatican Radio had the following story on the closing yesterday, Sunday, November 13 of the Holy Doors at three papal basilicas – St. John Lateran, St Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

Representing the Pope in the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls were the archpriests of the Basilicas, respectively: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló and Cardinal James Michael Harvey.

According to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, it is estimated that 20.4 million people attended Year of Mercy events at the Vatican over the course of this year, many of them crossing the thresholds of the Holy Doors.

The opening of the door symbolically illustrates the concept that pilgrims are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of Jubilee, and walking through the Holy Door they were able to receive a plenary indulgence.

During his homily for the Mass at St. John Lateran, Cardinal Agostino Vallini spoke about how the Holy Door, just closed, was a visible sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, a year in which we learned “once again” that the fate of the world is not in the hands of men, “but in the mercy of God.”

He said that meditating on God’s mercy this year we have learnt that mercy is not a sign of weakness or surrender, but the “strong, magnanimous,” radiation of the loving omnipotence of the Father, who “heals our weaknesses, raises us from our falls and urges us to do good.”

Cardinal Abril y Castelló pointed out that although the Holy Door is being closed, “God’s door of mercy is always open” and he urged the faithful to be strong in this certainty and become credible witnesses of mercy in the world.

And in his homily, Cardinal Harvey also referred to the solemn closing of the Basilica’s Holy Door saying that “at the same time, we open an inner door to the next stage of our journey of faith, hope and charity”.

During his Angelus reflections on Sunday Pope Francis also pointed out that Holy Doors were being closed across the world, signaling the end of the Jubilee of Mercy.

“On the one hand, he said, the Holy Year has urged us to keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Kingdom, and on the other, to build a future on earth, working to evangelize the present, so as to make it a time of salvation for all.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POPE FRANCIS! – POPE FRANCIS TO OPEN HOLY DOOR AT HOMELESS SHELTER

This page might be a bit light tomorrow as I spend time in the morning and early afternoon recording my weekly Vatican Radio show, “Joan Knows,” and also preparing “Vatican Insider,” my EWTN weekend radio show. Tomorrow afternoon, however, I will be attending a prayer vigil at St. Mary Major for all those who, like myself, will be invested Saturday into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The investiture ceremony and Mass Saturday will take place at St. John Lateran.

Those will be two beautiful, memorable days in my life and I hope to share as much as possible with you. EWTN will be filming the investiture ceremony Saturday and I’ll let you know when you can view some of those images.

EWTN’s News Nightly will feature a brief conversation with me about this honor so tune in tonight or get your Tivo ready!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POPE FRANCIS!

Did you know that we almost did not have a Pope Francis because of a ship?

In 1927 Mario Bergoglio, the Pope’s father, made a 60-mile trip by horse carriage from his home in Portacomaro, Italy to the port city of Genoa to purchase tickets for a boat trip to Argentina that he had booked earlier for himself and his family.

He sat in the offices of the Navigazione Generale Italian Shipping Company where an agent checked his papers and then told him: “I’m afraid that all the staterooms are booked for the Princess Mafalda.” The future Pope’s father protested, saying he had made reservations months earlier and had not been notified of any changes. The agent, looking at Mario’s papers, said someone made a mistakes, the prices were too low and the Bergoglio cabin in steerage had been booked at a higher price. Mario tried to book a higher class – no luck .It seemed the family dreams of doing well in Argentina like other relatives were shattered.

Back home, Mario Bergoglio, explained things to the family. Two weeks pass. One day Mario comes home, waving a newspaper that he shows to his parents –Pope Francis’ grandparents Giovanni and Rosa – The banner headline read: “PRINCESS MAFALDA SINKS!”  There were survivors and most of the dead were from steerage class, the one Mario had originally booked.

Only two years later were the Bergoglios able to leave Italy for Argentina on the ship Giulio Cesare, arriving in Buenos Aires in February, 1929.

On December 17, 1936 Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis – was born.

By the way, the real Princess Mafalda of Savoy was captured by the Nazis during World War II for use as a hostage to manipulate her father. She died at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944. Her full name was Princess Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana of Savoy and she was the second daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and his wife Elena of Montenegro. The future King Umberto II of Italy was her younger brother.

Pope Francis was serenaded today by members of Italian Catholic Action whom he thanked for their commitment to welcome migrants. They also gave him a cake. (photo news.va)

BIRTHDAY CAKE

POPE FRANCIS TO OPEN HOLY DOOR AT HOMELESS SHELTER

(Vatican Radio) Friday, Pope Francis will open a Holy Door at a newly refurbished homeless centre run by the Church near Rome’s main train station. The radio’s Lydia O’Kane went along to see the newly completed project which offers a bed, a meal and ray of hope to hundreds of people every night.

As you arrive at the Holy Door of the Caritas centre for the homeless at Rome’s Termini Station you can’t fail to notice the mosaic logo of the Year of Mercy depicting Jesus the Good Shepherd by Marko Ivan Rupnik. (photo: ANSA, news.va)

DI LIEGRO HOMELESS SHELTER

The door will be opened by Pope Francis on December 18th and he will also have the chance to see for himself the newly refurbished dormitory and soup kitchen which are named after Caritas Rome founder Don Luigi Di Liegro and Pope Saint John Paul II.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new centre which he described as a place of dignity and welcome, the present Director of Caritas Rome, Monsignor Enrico Feroci quoted the words of Don Luigi who said, “a city in which one man suffers less is a better city”.

Those words are inscribed on the walls of the new pristine soup kitchen which caters for up to 600 homeless people every evening and offers a much needed respite from the streets outside where people can come, for warmth, contact with others, and a good meal.

As I make my way to the hostel itself, I am impressed by how welcoming they have made the 200 bed dormitories, each one with its own signature colour.

It’s taken years of work and co-operation to have both the canteen and hostel ready for Pope Francis’ Jubilee visit as Fulvio Ferrari, the Chief Engineer responsible for the project explains.

“We worked during two years… in the last 6 months, we worked a great deal and for the Jubilee”.

So why does he think Pope Francis chose to open a Holy Door here?

He says it’s because it is putting service at the heart of the Church’s mission. This is a centre that offers hope and help to all who pass through its doors, but here at Termini there is also general agreement that in this Jubilee of Mercy more and more people are increasingly in need of services like these.

 

A JUBILEE WEEKEND – ITALIAN PASTORAL INITIATIVE NURTURES SENSE OF DIGNITY, SELF-WORTH IN YOUNG

A JUBILEE WEEKEND

We are now in the first full week of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Francis, of course, as we all witnessed, opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday, December 8, thus officially inaugurating the yearlong Jubilee. And this past weekend we saw some of the first events on the Holy Year agenda, including the Holy Father’s Eucharistic Celebration for Latin America in St. Peter’s on Saturday, December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and his opening of the Holy Door at St. John Lateran, his cathedral church as the Bishop of Rome.

Also on Sunday, Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls opened the Holy Doors of this papal basilica. The only basilica yet to have its Holy Door opened is St. Mary Major, and that event will take place on January 1,  solemnity of the Mother of God.

At Saturday’s Mass for Latin America, Pope Francis said Mary “experienced the divine mercy, and hosted the very source of this mercy in her womb: Jesus Christ.” He said he hoped the Jubilee Year “will be a planting of merciful love in the hearts of individuals, families and nations.” Francis stressed that, “no sin can cancel [Jesus’] merciful closeness or prevent him from unleashing the grace of conversion, provided we invoke it.” He called on Christian communities be “oases and sources of mercy, witnesses to a charity that does not allow exclusions.”

Francis explained that the word “mercy” – “misericordia” – is composed of two words: misery and heart. The heart indicates the capacity to love; mercy is that love, which embraces the misery of the person. It is a love that “feels” our poverty as if it were its own, so as to free us of it.

At the end of his homily the Pope announced his February trip to Mexico, saying he will be at the Guadalupe shrine on February 13. After the homily and during the Prayer of the Faithful, Pope Francis moved everyone present when he prayed for his parents Mario and Regina, “who gave me life and transmitted faith to me,”and who were married eighty years ago.

Sunday, at St. John Lateran, as he opened the Holy Door, Francis remarked on the fact that this very same day bishops were opening Holy Doors in cathedrals throughout the world. He said that, “Doors of Mercy” will also be opened in places of poverty, need and marginalization.

The Holy Father said in his homily that this third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday, draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by fatigue; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason to be, with many concerns and the many forms of violence that hurt our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy.”

In a few off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis stressed the importance of God’s tenderness.

“God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything (is) done with the tenderness of the Father.”

Pope Francis called those who will cross the door to be “instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this.”

“The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries.”

To see where the Jubilee Doors of Mercy are in individual countries, click here: http://www.im.va/content/gdm/en/mondo/porte-della-misericordia.html

ITALIAN PASTORAL INITIATIVE NURTURES SENSE OF DIGNITY, SELF-WORTH IN YOUNG

Pope Francis Monday received the participants in a major pastoral initiative aimed at young people and sponsored by the Bishops Conference of Italy – the CEI. The Progetto Policoro began twenty years ago as a program to help unemployed young people of southern Italy to develop skills, find work, and most importantly, nurture a healthy sense of dignity and self-worth by creating and developing ties to the larger ecclesial and social community.

The Holy Father remarked that, in seeking to combine the Gospel with the reality of life, the Project represented an important initiative for the promotion of youth and a true opportunity for local development at national level. “Its key ideas have guided its success: the formation of the young, the establishment of cooperatives, the creation of mediation figures such as ‘community animators’ and a long series of concrete gestures, a visible sign of commitment throughout these twenty years of active presence.”

He told his guests, “You represent without doubt a sign of real hope for many people who have not resigned themselves but have instead decided to commit themselves courageously to creating or improving their opportunities for work”, and he invited them to “continue to promote initiatives for participation for young people in a community and participatory form.”

(sources: news.va, Vatican Radio, VIS)

 

POPE FRANCIS EXPLAINS THE MEANING OF THE JUBILEE – CHILDREN AT ROME HOSPITAL CREATING THEIR OWN HOLY DOOR

Apologies for the blank pages these last few days but I have been very much under the weather with the worst cold I ever recall suffering. Sitting at a desk and writing a column was the last thing on my mind. I am writing today simply because I am trying to reacquire some energy.

I did do the TV commentary Tuesday afternoon for EWTN for the papal visit to the statue of the Immaculata at Pza. di Spagna in Rome, and also my live radio show with Teresa Tomeo yesterday, albeit in slightly reduced form.

Below are two articles from news.va – I especially love the one about the children’s hospital patients designing their own Holy Door! I am corresponding, in fact, with a religion teacher who students have been doing the same thing, and I am willing to think that is happening in many schools.

And here is a carousel of photos from the Fiat Lux – Let there be light – sound and light show Tuesday at the Vatican. It might take a few seconds to load.

POPE FRANCIS EXPLAINS THE MEANING OF THE JUBILEE

(Vatican Radio) Reflecting on the meaning of the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis on Wednesday said that “especially in our times, in which forgiveness is a rare guest in the areas of human life, the call to mercy becomes more urgent”.

The Pope was addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience.

He said that mercy can contribute much in building a more human world and has a fundamental role to play everywhere: “in society, institutions, at work and even in the family”.

Recalling the fact that on Tuesday, December 8th, he opened the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy in St. Peter’s Basilica after having already done so in the Cathedral of Bangui in Central Africa, Pope Francis said, “today I would like to reflect with you on the meaning of this Holy Year, and answer the question: why a Jubilee of Mercy?”

He explained that in our age of profound changes, the Church needs the extraordinary moment offered by a Holy Year in which to offer her special contribution and make visible signs of the presence and closeness of God.

He said that the Jubilee is a favorable time to do so because by turning our eyes to God, the merciful Father, and to our brothers in need, it helps us focus attention on the essential content of the Gospel: “Jesus Christ, Mercy made flesh”.

“To celebrate a Jubilee of Mercy, he said, is equivalent to putting our Christian faith’s distinctive features back at the center of our personal lives and of our communities”.

“Dear brothers and sisters, Pope Francis continued, the Jubilee will be a ‘favorable time’ for the Church if we learn to choose ‘what God likes most’ without bowing to the temptation of thinking that there is something else that is more important”.

“Nothing is more important than choosing ‘what pleases God most,’ his mercy!” he said.

Pope Francis also remarked on the necessary work of renewal happening in the institutions and structures of the Church and described it as a life-giving experience which can guarantee that the Church continue to be “a city set on a mountain that cannot be hidden” (cf. Mt 5:14).

He said that the Jubilee Year will strengthen our certainty that “mercy can really contribute to building a more human world. Especially in our times, in which forgiveness is a rare guest in the areas of human life, the call to merciful, he continued,  becomes more urgent, and this everywhere: in society, institutions, at work and even in the family”.

In today’s world, Pope Francis said, mercy and forgiveness often appear overwhelmed by self-interest, hedonism and corruptness, while in the Christian life they can be stifled by hypocrisy and worldliness.   Forgetfulness of God’s mercy blinds us even to seeing sin for what it is.  That is why, he explained, this Holy Year of Mercy is so important.

The Pope concluded with the prayer that each of us may become ever more aware of God’s mercy at work in our lives and ever more effective in testifying to its transforming power in our world.

CHILDREN AT ROME HOSPITAL CREATING THEIR OWN HOLY DOOR

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome is allowing patients to create their own Holy Door for the Jubilee. The hospital is on the Janiculum Hill, that overlooks St. Peter’s Basilica, but many of the children are not well enough to make the journey. Bambino Gesu means Child Jesus.

Therefore, children from the oncohematology and other departments have been busy designing and creating their own version of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, drawing from scenes in the Old and New Testaments.

The project allows the children to use their senses, imagination, and artistic skills, as well as discover things about biblical history and spirituality.

The chaplain of the Bambino Gesù Hospital said the goal is to give to young patients and their families the feeling of being part of a community of love and mercy, and allow them to take part in the Extraordinary Jubilee.

“There is a deep connection between conversion and the suffering we experience in particular situations,” said Father Luigi.

“Suffering is not only physical pain, but also the inner suffering from lack of meaning,” he continued.

“The more the spirit of God pervades our lives, the less we suffer, because we feel less alone,” Father Luigi said.

The chaplain said the Holy Spirit is “strength and light,” and that “unity with God” helps people deal with suffering.

“ If this it is true for everyone, it is even more so in this place,” Father Luigi said. “The value of this [Holy Door], even if symbolic, is important because it invites us to be united with the Lord, especially in suffering.”

The Bambino Gesù Hospital’s Holy Door project is ongoing, and will involve various activities looking at traditional pilgrimage sites around the Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Bambino Gesù Hospital’s facility in Palidoro, located in the Suburbicarian Diocese of Porto-Santa Rufina, will become the site of one the Diocese’s official Holy Doors for the Jubilee.

On December 17, the Door of Mercy will officially be opened in the Hospital’s chapel by Bishop Gino Reale, thus becoming one of the four Holy Doors of the Diocese, which is situated in the northern part of the Province of Rome.