POPE FRANCIS INVITES CHURCH TO CELEBRATE A WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

POPE FRANCIS INVITES CHURCH TO CELEBRATE A WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

In his post Jubilee of Mercy Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera, released today by the Vatican, Pope Francis invites the Church to celebrate an annual 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

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POST-PARIS SITUATION IN ITALY AND ROME – POPE FRANCIS TO VISIT GREAT SYNAGOGUE OF ROME JANUARY 17 – DECEMBER 8: JUBILEE OPENS, VATICAN CHRISTMAS TREE UNVEILED – ST. JOHN LATERAN PREPARES HOLY DOOR FOR JUBILEE

POST-PARIS SITUATION IN ITALY AND ROME

As I came back from a late afternoon television taping in a Vatican office on Via della Conciliazione, I walked down this broad avenue to and then through St. Peter’s Square. I saw a massive police presence in the small square at the end of Conciliazione, Piazza Pio XII, and around the larger, more famous square, and this was at 5 pm.

In fact, as I could tell by the usual barricades being set up for traffic flow tomorrow, St. Peter’s Square was being readied for Pope Francis’ general audience in the morning. I am guessing that the pilgrims intent on being there have been advised to get to the square fairly early for security checks. I also saw a number of new airport-style security machines that were placed among the colonnades, looking like they had just come out of the box.  I imagine many more of those will be arriving in coming days.

A friend told me today that there are military people stationed in the cars of the Rome metropolitana or subway and around the stations, all bearing machine guns. Two other friends, young men in a store I know, told me they were stopped by police near St. Peter’s Square and asked for ID. That will surely increase as the days go by, as people come for a general audience or the Sunday Angelus and as we near the December 8 start of the Jubilee Year.

When unusual and potentially dangerous situations arise in Italy or Europe, the U.S. embassies send notices to citizens who are registered with them. Here is the notice I got after the Paris attacks (I post this also for people who might be traveling or live in Rome who are not registered at an embassy):

“In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, the U.S. Mission in Italy reminds U.S. citizens in Italy to review the Worldwide Caution, which provides information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world, including Europe.

“Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.

“For further information:

“See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and France Country Specific Information.

“Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.”

In other developments in Italy (various news sources):

– Airspace over Rome will be closed-off to drones during the upcoming Catholic Holy Year, or Jubilee, over fears that the remote-controlled aircraft could be used by ISIS in a terror attack. As well as closing-off airspace over Rome to drones, security checkpoints will be set up at St Peter’s square.

– Italy has tightened security in the wake of the Paris attacks on Friday night. Some 700 extra troops have been deployed onto Rome’s streets to combat the threat of militants while security has been tightened at Italy’s borders and airports across the country.

Squares across Italy now bear impromptu memorials and messages of support for the French people but amid the display of solidarity, Italians are divided over how to confront the threat of Isis. In Rome, people came to the central square of Piazza del Popolo on Saturday night and lit candles, lay flowers and wrote touching messages in support of the French people. In the square in front of Palazzo Farnese – currently the seat of the French Embassy in Rome – a sea of flowers, candles and cards lined the ground by Sunday evening (as you saw in the photos I posted).

– On Saturday the Italian government raised its terror alert and warned that Rome could be a target for ISIS.

POPE FRANCIS TO VISIT GREAT SYNAGOGUE OF ROME JANUARY 17

Following the invitation from the Chief Rabbi and Jewish Community of Rome, Pope Francis will pay a visit to the Great Synagogue in the afternoon of Sunday 17 January 2016. It will be the third visit by a Pope to the Great Synagogue of Rome, following John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The visit will take the form of a personal encounter between the Pope and the representatives of Judaism and the members of the Community. A more detailed program of the visit will be published in due course

DECEMBER 8:  JUBILEE OPENS, VATICAN CHRISTMAS TREE UNVEILED

When the Jubilee Year of Mercy begins on December 8th, all eyes will be looking towards Rome. So the Governorate of Vatican City has decided to take advantage of the attention and unveil the St. Peters Square Christmas tree on the same day.

This year’s tree, says a Vatican Radio report, has been donated by the German region of Bavaria, and is a 32-neter high two-pointed Spruce. The tree arrives Wednesday, November 18 and is set to be erected overnight by the staff of the Vatican Gardens.

The 2015 Nativity scene of 24 life-sized figures will be donated by the archdiocese of Trento, in collaboration with the Friends of the Crib of Tesero group. Except for the Holy Family and Three Magi, the scene will depict rural buildings and typical Trentino clothing from the mid-twentieth century.

The Christmas tree will be especially unique this year. It was announced that the Vatican has joined forces with the Countess Lene Thun Foundation and recreated designs made by children suffering from cancer. This Foundation offers recreational therapy to children in oncology wards across Italy. The children were asked to come up with designs that represent their dreams and desires. Some of the children who designed the decorations will meet Pope Francis on December 8. They will present him with some of the decorations they made and accompany him to the unveiling of the tree.

The Christmas tree will be illuminated on December 18.

JOHN LATERAN PREPARES HOLY DOOR FOR JUBILEE

On Monday, the Holy Door of the papal basilica of St. John Lateran was freed from the brick wall that had hidden it since the year 2000. The Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini, said a prayer and then workers – seen in the photo – carefully tore down the wall that protects the Holy Door in between Jubilees.

HOLY DOOR - St John LAteran

Workers recovered a zinc box that contained the documents certifying the closure of the door at the end of the Year 2000 Jubilee. The box also contained 41 medals with the emblem of Pope John Paul II: A gold one minted in 2000; 23 silver ones representing the years of the pontificate of John Paul II at the time of the last Jubilee; and 17 bronze ones , one for each year since 1983, the year of the previous Jubilee.

Also present were the Cathedral Chapter of the Lateran; Msgr. Guido Marini, papal master of liturgical ceremonies, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the council in charge of preparing and executing the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

St John Lateran is the cathedral of the diocese of Rome, and the Holy Door will be officially opened by Pope Francis on December 13, the first Sunday of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Holy Year actually begins December 8 with the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica.

JUBILEE BULL OF INDICTION, “THE FACE OF MERCY”

JUBILEE BULL OF INDICTION, “THE FACE OF MERCY”

Saturday evening at 5:30 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated the First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, telling the faithful that there will be a Jubilee “because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Vespers followed a reading of part of the papal Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy that will open on December 8, 2015 and conclude on November 20, 2016. To one side of the Holy Door, the Regent of the Papal Household, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, as apostolic protonotary, read various extracts from the official document convoking the extraordinary Holy Year

The Holy Door:ST PETER'S  HOLY DOOR

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The Bull of Indiction was then handed to the four cardinal archpriests of the papal basilicas of Rome: Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican; Cardinal Agostino Vallini, archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran; Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls; and Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

In addition, to express his wish that the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy be celebrated in Rome and throughout the world, Pope Francis gave a copy of the Bull – thus presenting it symbolically to all bishops – to Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Vespers:

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A copy was received by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, born in Hong Kong and now secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on behalf of all the East. The African continent was represented by Archbishop Bartolomé Adoukonou, a native of Benin and currently secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture. For the Oriental Churches, the Holy Father presented the Bull of Indiction to Msgr. Khaled Ayad Bishay of the Patriarchal Church of Alexandria of the Copts.

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The 28-page Bull, titled “Misericordiae Vultus” (“The Face of Mercy”) opens with the declaration, “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.”

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Following is a summary in English of  the Bull:

The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, entitled “Misericordiae Vultus,” is made up of 25 numbered sections. Pope Francis has described the most salient features of mercy, focusing primarily on the theme of the light of Christ’s face. Mercy is not an abstract word, but rather a face to recognise, contemplate and serve. The Bull is developed in a Trinitary fashion (Nos. 6-9) and extends to a description of the Church as a credible sign of mercy: “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life” (No.10).

Pope Francis indicates the salient phases of the Jubilee. The opening coincides with the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council: “The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way” (No. 4). The conclusion will take place “with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King on 20 November 2016. On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all, with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace. We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us like the morning dew, so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future.” (no.5).

A special feature of this Holy Year is the fact that it will be celebrated not only in Rome, but also in all the other dioceses of the world. The Holy Door will be opened by the Pope at St. Peter’s on 8 December, and on the following Sunday in all the Churches of the world. Another novelty is that the Pope will grant the possibility of opening the Holy Door also in Sanctuaries, where many pilgrims will go in order to pray.

Pope Francis resumes the teaching of St. John XXIII, who spoke of the “medicine of Mercy,” and of Paul VI who identified the spirituality of Vatican II with that of the Samaritan. The Bull explains, furthermore, various salient aspects of the Jubilee: firstly, the motto , “Merciful like the Father”, then the meaning of pilgrimage and above all the need for forgiveness . The theme that is particularly close to the Pope’s heart is found in section No. 15: the works of corporal and spiritual mercy are to be resumed in order to “reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy”. A further indication is offered by Lent, with the sending out of the “Missionaries of Mercy” (No. 18), a new and original initiative by which the Pope intends to emphasise his pastoral care in a more concrete way. In paragraphs 20 and 21 the Pope considers the theme of the relationship between justice and mercy, showing that he does not stop at a legalistic view, but rather aims at a path that leads to merciful love.

Paragraph 19 is a powerful appeal against organised violence and against those who are “advocates and accomplices” of corruption. The Pope uses strong words to denounce this “festering wound”, and insists that during this Holy Year there must be true conversion: “This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched! When confronted with evil deeds, even in the face of serious crimes, it is the time to listen to the cry of innocent people who are deprived of their property, their dignity, their feelings, and even their very lives. To stick to the way of evil will only leave one deluded and sad. True life is something entirely different. God never tires of reaching out to us. He is always ready to listen, as I am too, along with my brother bishops and priests. All one needs to do is to accept the invitation to conversion and submit oneself to justice during this special time of mercy offered by the Church” (No. 19).

The granting of indulgences as a traditional theme of the Jubilee year is expressed in section No. 22. A final original aspect is offered by Pope Francis with regard to mercy as a theme shared also by Jews and Muslims: “I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination” (No. 23).

The Pope’s wish is that this Year, experienced also in the sharing of divine mercy, may be “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of throwing open the doors of his heart and repeats that he loves us and wants to share his love with us. … In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love. May she never tire of extending mercy, and be ever patient in offering compassion and comfort. May the Church become the voice of every man and woman, and repeat confidently without end: ‘Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old’”.

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