“LET OUR HEARTS OVERFLOW WITH THANKFULNESS….” – VATICAN INSIDER: A PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY HOUSE OF LORETO – HEAVEN, THE NEW JERUSALEM, IS “A STATE OF BEING, MORE THAN A PLACE” – POPE GREETS ARAB-SPEAKING FAITHFUL, ASKS PRAYERS FOR TRIP TO TURKEY – MEDIA Q&A ON PAPAL FLIGHT FROM STRASBOURG

“LET OUR HEARTS OVERFLOW WITH THANKFULNESS….”

(Colossians 2:7)

As I prepare this column on Thanksgiving eve, surely one of the most beautiful days that our nation marks, my heart overflows with the number of things for which I am grateful. I have so many reasons to be thankful that I don’t know where to start so let’s go to the top of a long list – my faith, my family, my friends, my countless friends all over the world who are, in many ways, my second family!!

I thank God countless times during each day for things big and small. I thank Him for my ministry (for that is how I see my work), for filling my life with faith and truth and for giving me the opportunity to share it with so many. I thank the Lord for my radio listeners, TV viewers and all of you who read this column.

I thank God for bringing truly amazing, unique, wonderful, spiritually tall people into my life – that list is SO long it brings tears to my eyes – as well as smiles of remembrance and joy!

As I look over the year since last Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for a successful eye operation last December and for being well on the road now to recovery from phlebitis. I am again up and about – my first day out in two weeks was Mass on Sunday and the last two days I have been able to run some errands in the neighborhood. Deo gratias!

And now, on the vigil of this beautiful time of the year, I wish you and yours safe travels, a wonderful family gathering, great meals, many hours of laughter and an equal number of hours of story telling, of “do-you-remember-when” moments.

I will be celebrating tomorrow by attending Mass with the American community of the Santa Susanna parish at 10 and then a second Mass at NAC, the North American College, after which there will be an abundant Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

Thanksgiving and Friday are EWTN holidays. If I can post something (probably photos!), I will – if not, you’ll understand! And for that I am thankful!

Psalm 95:2 – Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

As I said, I am finally out and about and enjoying being able to run errands and grocery shop for myself, but have been enormously thankful these past two weeks for the help offered by friends, and especially by my neighbors Francesco and Federica.

Today I was coming home from a short errand and had taken a bus that drops me off across the street from my home. At the bus stop is a pizzeria that I’ve gone to a number of times at the end of a long day when I feel like a slice or two of fresh pizza. The gal who works there knocked on the window when she saw me and, as I peeked in the door to say hello, I saw a large group of people. She said they were Americans from Louisiana and wanted me to meet them!

It was just before noon and they had just come from Pope Francis’ weekly audience. As I stepped inside, one of the ladies recognized me, yet another recognized my voice and several started to exclaim, “It’s Joan of Rome!” and then, all of a sudden, I was surrounded by fans!

It was a group from the diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana and we had a great time chatting for about 15 minutes. All knew me from EWTN, several knew me from Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo, and several more had heard me on Catholic radio in Baton Rouge with Dan Borné. I met a priest (and only wish I had written down his name) and a deacon and 23 people from several parishes. Some of the pilgrims had been confirmed in recent months whereas several others were preparing for confirmation.  They took a ton of photos and I asked them to send them to me.

VATICAN INSIDER: A PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY HOUSE OF LORETO

Join me on “Vatican Insider” this Thanksgiving weekend – if you are not travelling or out shopping for Christmas – for a wonderful pilgrimage to one of the premier Marian shrines in the world, to Loreto, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, for a visit to the shrine of the Holy House of Loreto. This Holy House, the house where the Bessed Virgin grew up, where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God, where Mary and St. Joseph and Jesus lived and laughed and prayed and shared meals and stories and life’s daily adventures.

The photos are from the shrine’s website: http://www.santuarioloreto.it/default_eng.htm

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Join me on this pilgrimage by listening to Vatican Insider: As you know, in the United States, you can listen on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:

http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

HEAVEN, THE NEW JERUSALEM, IS “A STATE OF BEING, MORE THAN A PLACE”

On a gray, drizzly morning, Pope Francis greeted the faithful at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, by noting that, “the weather s not so great, but you are courageous, let us pray together today in presenting the Church to the people of our time. He underscored the theme of his catechesis, namely, “the fundamental truth that we must never forget: the Church is not a static reality, an end in itself, but that she is continually journeying through history to the kingdom of heaven, of which the Church on earth is the seed and beginning.

Looking to the horizon of heaven, of life after death, the Pope said: “Some questions arise spontaneously in us: when will this final passage take place? What will the new dimension of the Church be like? What then will happen to humanity? And to the Creation that surrounds us? These questions are nothing new, the disciples at the time of Christ asked the same questions.  They are ancient, human questions.”

He further explained that, “We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of mankind, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away, but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart.”

Francis said, “This is the goal toward which the Church projects itself: it  is the ‘new Jerusalem’, ‘Paradise.’ More than a place, it is a ‘state of being’ in which our deepest expectations will be fulfilled in abundance and our being as creatures and as children of God, will reach full maturity. We will finally be covered with the joy, peace and love of God in a complete way, without any limitations, and we will be face to face with Him! It’s lovely to think of this, to think we will all find ourselves up there! All of us in heaven.  It’s good, it gives strength to our soul.”

“In this perspective,” concluded the Pope, “it is nice to hear that there is a continuity and a communion between the Church in heaven and the Church still journeying on earth. Those who already live in the sight of God can indeed support us and intercede for us, pray for us from heaven. On the other hand, we are always invited to offer good deeds, prayer and the Eucharist itself to alleviate the suffering of souls who are still waiting for the bliss without end.”

POPE GREETS ARAB-SPEAKING FAITHFUL, ASKS PRAYERS FOR TRIP TO TURKEY  

At the end of the weekly catechesis, as is customary the Holy Father has greetings in several languages for the pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square. He speaks in Italian and Spanish whereas monsignori from the Secretariat of State address the faithful in French, German, Portuguese, English, Polish and Arabic. Today Pope Francis had special words for the Arab-speaking faithful, in particular those from Iraq and the Middle East: “The violence, suffering and the seriousness of the sins committed must lead us to leave all to the justice of God, who will judge each one according to his works. Be strong and cling to the Church and to your faith, so as to purify the world with your confidence; transform with your hope and heal with your forgiveness, with the love and patience of your witness. May the Lord protect and support you.”

Speaking Italian, the Pope noted that he will leave Friday on his three-day apostolic trip to Turkey and, in a reference to his meeting in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, he invited those present to pray that “Peter’s visit to his brother Andrew may bring fruits of peace, sincere dialogue between religions and harmony in the Turkish nation.” November 30 marks the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Orthodox Church.

MEDIA Q&A ON PAPAL FLIGHT FROM STRASBOURG

(VIS) – During his return journey Tuesday from Strasbourg, France, where he addressed both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis answered questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on the flight. The questions and the Holy Father’s answers are published below. Each journalist asking a question represented a language group (a French journalist for the French media, etc.) although the last journalist represented several European languages.

Q: “Your Holiness addressed the European Parliament with pastoral words that may also be regarded as political words, and which may be linked, in my opinion, to a social-democratic stance – for example, when you say that we must ensure that the true expressive force of populations is not removed by multinational powers. Could we say that you are a social-democrat Pope?”

Pope Francis: “This would be reductive. It makes me feel as if I am part of a collection of insects: ‘This is a social-democratic insect …’. No, I would say not. I don’t know if I am a social-democrat Pope or not. I would not dare to define myself as belonging to one side or another. I dare say that this comes from the Gospel: this is the message of the Gospel, taken up by the social doctrine of the Church. In reality, in this and in other things – social and political – that I have said, I have not detached myself from the social doctrine of the Church. The social doctrine of the Church comes from the Gospel and from Christian tradition. What I said – the identity of the people – is a Gospel value, is it not? In this sense, I say it. But you have made me laugh, thank you!”

Q: “There was almost no-one on the streets of Strasbourg this morning. The people say they are disappointed. Do you regret not visiting the cathedral of Strasbourg that celebrates its millennium this year? When will you make your first trip to France, and where? Lisieux, perhaps?”

Pope Francis: “No, it is not yet planned, but one should certainly go to Paris. Then, there is a proposal to go to Lourdes. I have asked to visit a city where no Pope has yet been, to greet the citizens. But the plan has not yet been made. As for Strasbourg, a visit to the cathedral was considered but it would have meant already making a visit to France, and this was the problem.”

Q: During your address to the Council of Europe I was struck by the concept of transversality, especially with reference to your meetings with young politicians in various countries, and indeed you spoke of the need for a sort of pact between generations, an intergenerational agreement at the margins of this transversality. Also, if I may ask, is it true that you are devoted to St. Joseph, and have a statue of him in your room?”

Pope Francis: “Yes, it is true. Whenever I have asked something of St. Joseph, he has granted it to me. The fact of ‘transversality’ is important. I have seen in dialogue with young politicians in the Vatican, from different parties and nations, that they speak with a different music, that tends towards transversality, and this is valuable. They are not afraid of coming out of their own territory, without denying it, but coming out in order to engage in dialogue. They are courageous! I believe that we must imitate this, along with intergenerational dialogue. This tendency to come out to find people of other origins and to engage in dialogue: Europe needs this today”.

Q: “In your second speech, the one to the Council of Europe, you spoke about the sins of the sons of the Church. I would like to know if you have received the news on the events in Granada, Spain [alleged sexual abuse of minors by priests in the archdiocese, Ed.], that in a certain sense you brought to light…”

Pope Francis: “I received the news – it was sent to me, I read it, I called the person and I said, ‘Tomorrow you must go to the bishop’, and I wrote to the bishop asking him to begin work, to start the investigation and go ahead. How did I receive the news? With great pain, with very great sadness. But the truth is the truth, and we cannot hide it”.

Q: “In your addresses in Strasbourg, you spoke frequently of both the threat of terrorism and the threat of slavery: these are attitudes that are also typical of the Islamic State, which threatens much of the Mediterranean, which threatens Rome and also threatens you personally. Do you think it is possible to engage in dialogue with these extremists, or do you think this is a lost cause?”

Pope Francis: “I never give something up as a lost cause: never. Perhaps dialogue is not possible, but never close the door. It is difficult, one might say almost impossible, but the door is always open. You have used the word ‘threaten’ twice: it is true, terrorism is a threat. … But slavery is a real situation embedded in the today’s social fabric, and has been for some time. Slave labour, human trafficking, the trade in children … it is a crisis! We must not close our eyes to this. Slavery, today, is a reality, the exploitation of people … And then there is the threat of these terrorists. But there is another threat, and it is State terrorism. When the situation becomes critical, and each State believes it has the right to massacre the terrorists, many who are innocent fall prey alongside the terrorists. This is a form of high-level anarchy that is very dangerous. It is necessary to fight terrorism, but I repeat what I said during my previous trip: when it is necessary to stop an unjust aggressor, it must be done with international consensus.”

Q: “In your heart, when you travel to Strasbourg, do you travel as Peter’s Successor, as the bishop of Rome, or as the archbishop of Buenos Aires?”

Pope Francis: “As all three, I think. My memory is that of the archbishop of Buenos Aires, but I am no longer in this role. Now I am the bishop of Rome and Peter’s Successor, and I think that I travel with this memory but with these realities; I travel with all these things. Europe worries me at the moment; it is good for me to go ahead in order to help, as the bishop of Rome and Peter’s Successor; in this respect I am Roman”.